I’m usually not one to make something, and then blog it immediately. But, I just had to share these wonderful cheesecake bars with you guys before the end of the year. I’m going to try to lose some of this remaining baby weight (yeah, it’s been a year, but that’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it!) in 2012, so I wanted to make myself a decadent treat to “go out with a bang”. Obviously, a good choice was made.

I mean, what’s not to love? Oreo crust + Cheesecake+ Nutella? To-die! Took no time at all to make, either. The food processor does all of the work for you. And, because of the parchment lining – cleanup is a snap. I’m not going to try to sell these anymore, because I shouldn’t need to. Just do yourself a favor and make them. I hope everyone has a safe and happy New Year! Here is to plenty of good eating, drinking, and friendships in 2012. Cheers!

The backbone of any good soup is a good stock. Whether it’s chicken, beef, seafood, of vegetable – it’s key. When I was first learning to cook, I had the hardest times with soups. It seemed so easy, yet, I kept messing it up. It was always too bland, or too overly seasoned. Thankfully, after a few bunk batches, I got the feel for it. It is almost too easy in it’s simplicity. Some chicken scraps, carrots, celery, onion – combined, transform into liquid gold.

You could easily substitute a turkey carcass, if you happen to have one lying around. It’s quite possible a few of you might! I like to make the stock a day ahead, and refrigerate overnight. That way the fat separates to the top of the stock, and I can skim it right off before reheating to make the whatever it is I might be doing with the stock. I find that poultry, more than anything, renders a ton of fat. So, I always like to remove as much as I can. I don’t even bother peeling the onions or the carrots. I literally stumble to the stove in the morning in my PJ’s, throw the stuff in the pot, and call it a day. Doesn’t get much easier than that, folks!

The French Dip. I think that it is, quite possibly, the best sandwich ever. Crusty bread, thinly sliced beef, melted cheese, beefy broth. It’s a meal I’ll turn to often when I want to pull something together quickly. If I have leftover roast beef, that’s great. Or, a good quality roast beef from the deli counter is another feasible option. It’s instances like this in which I wish I had a deli slicer at home. I’ve seen them for around $100, but I don’t know – they seem…cheap. I use a good slicing knife, but it’s hard to get super thin slices. I’ll  get a few good ones, but then my wrists start to get tired and the slices get thicker. No matter, still delicious. A great way to use up your leftover roast beef from Christmas dinner.

I like to use Campbell’s canned beef broth for my dipping jus. If I have any pan drippings left over from the beef, I’ll add them to the broth as well. Also, while I’m generally not a fan of seasoning packets – McCormick does make a really good beef jus mix. I’ve used that in a pinch as well.  Serve alongside some crispy oven fries (that are also delicious dipped in au jus – just sayin’), this is a delicious, easy to put together meal.

I never thought I’d say that a meat-stuffed cabbage would be my new favorite dish, but it is true. I guess that’s what living in a house with three guys will do to you! I’d tried a recipe for stuffed cabbage a while back, and I didn’t like it. It used bratwurst, which I’m not the biggest fan of in the first place. Plus, I think the dish and I had just gotten off on the wrong foot to begin with. Cabbage rolls were always something I saw other families eating, and were kind of grossed out by. Meat and cabbage, okay. But, to slather it in tomato sauce? Weird.

I came across this recipe on Pinterest, and I couldn’t wait to try it. I had originally written in Swedish meatballs into our menu for the week, but decided to swap it out for the cabbage rolls where the main ingredients (ground pork and beef) were the same. Completely and totally blew everyone away! They are braised in red wine, and that really does something for the cabbage. Cabbage can be such a harsh flavor, but the wine balances it right out. And, the cabbage mellows the wine out. It’s a win-win! The rice combined with the ground meats really lightens up the texture of the filling, too. Often meat fillings can be so dense and rubbery – this was just right. Also, I’m pleased to report that the tomato sauce fits right in perfectly. You really can’t go wrong when the base for the sauce is the delicious beefy, wine-y braising liquid. If you’re looking for a last minute Christmas Eve supper, look no further. With a little bit of prep work leafing the head of cabbage (that I actually found quite fun!), this is a dinner that takes care of itself on the stove top – so you can spend more time doing the fun stuff. Plus, the scent of it bubbling away is intoxicating…

Also, I finally hopped on the Facebook bandwagon. Stop by and say howdy over there, if you are so inclined. I hope everyone has a very Merry Christmas!