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’m embarrassed to admit it, but in the past I’d always bought my pizza sauce in a jar. I had tried a couple of times to make a version at home, but it always tended to turn out a bit watery. A couple of weeks ago, the good people at Red Pack offered to send me an assortment of their products. While I love fresh tomatoes with all of my heart, a cook always needs a stash of good quality canned tomatoes in their pantry. I’ve long been a fan of Red Pack products, ever since Cook’s Illustrated named their canned whole tomatoes #1 in it’s category.  Needless to say, I was much obliged!

The first thing I made when my package arrived was this pizza sauce. It is definitely a winner! It only takes 5 minutes, and the flavor is unparalleled. I used a can of pureed tomatoes, which I think is the key. Before I had used diced tomatoes, and pureed them myself…which, is what I think what led to the water-logged sauce. Less water content from the “get go” is a good thing. I add a bit of chili pepper flakes to my sauce, as we like a little kick of heat. This makes enough for 2-3 large pizzas, depending on how saucy you like your pies. It’s also a great simple tomato sauce for something like meatballs.

Thanks to Red Pack, I have a lovely canned tomato assortment to pass along to one of my lucky readers! Who couldn’t use some staples for the winter months ahead? Read on for the fine print.

I hate to admit it, but I used to dislike cilantro. I thought it tasted like soap. Thankfully, I’ve since come around and now I can’t get enough of the stuff. One of my favorite uses for it, which I find myself making often around here, is pico de gallo. Obviously, it’s a great condiment for any Mexican dish. But, it is also a wonderful accompaniment to serve on top of broiled fish or grilled chicken. Not to mention it’s totally figure friendly.

I’ve found that I get pretty decent results year-round with Roma tomatoes. Of course this summer is at it’s prime with summer tomatoes, but it’s nice to be able to have a fresh tomato salsa in these dreary winter months that is edible! I like a more predominant onion flavor in my salsa, so I use white onions. If you like a milder onion flavor, try using red onion or scallions instead. If you don’t like things spicy, remove the “ribs” and seeds from the jalapeno before chopping. Or, if you want to kick the heat up a notch, try using a serrano or habenero pepper in place of the jalapeno.

Sesame noodles are one of my very favorite things in this world. They’re great on their own for lunch, or you can toss it with any number of meats or veggies to make a more substantial meal. I’ve always loved the pre-packaged sesame noodles that I could buy in the deli of a local grocery chain. But, as with most things, I knew a homemade version had to be much better.

For December, its been unseasonably warm here in Maryland. In all honesty, I’m ready for that cold snap – but it hasn’t come yet. It feels so odd to be hunting for our Christmas tree in 65 degree weather! I normally wouldn’t be hungry for a cold pasta dish in December. But, last week I had about a half pound of pasta leftover from a meal – so I halved the recipe and took some pictures. They made a delightful side dish for a roasted pork loin that I made later in the week.

I like to add a smidgen of peanut butter, for a Thai twist. Also, some Sriracha for a little kick of heat. I used a thicker pasta noodle for this batch, but usually use a thin spaghetti. I usually like to add a bit of diced roasted red pepper as well, but I didn’t have any handy. No matter, it’s still perfect. A great dish to enjoy for lunch throughout the week!