Fondue

We’ve done fondue as a date and as a family activity a few times, and they’ve all been very fun. Of course traditionally it’s made with wine and Kirsch, but we leave out the alcohol and replace it with chicken broth. It’s best if you melt the cheese or chocolate before placing it in the fondue pot or slow cooker–and it’s also best if you slice everything before making the melted cheese. The cheese does tend to eventually turn into a lump after a long time of sitting, so the less sitting the better.

You can keep it simple and just dip a few things in cheese and chocolate. Or we’ve gone all out and done a cheddar fondue, Swiss fondue, hot caramel, and melted chocolate, all in the same sitting.

If you’re making it gluten free, just make sure that your items for dipping are gluten free–leave out the bread, pretzels, certain dessert items, and Rice Krispie treats if they’re made with Kellogg’s Rice Krispies (because those are made with malt flavoring).

Fondue

  • Servings: 6?
  • Difficulty: easy
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Prepare and chop all the items to dip first, then prepare the fondue.

Ingredients

Classic Fondue

  • 16 oz. Alpine Blend Shredded Cheese (or 8 oz. hand grated Swiss and 8 oz. hand grated Gruyere)
  • 2 Tbsp. Cornstarch
  • 1 c. Chicken Broth (plus more if it starts thickening while sitting)
  • 1/2 tsp. Minced Garlic (optional)
  • Pepper to taste

Cheddar Fondue

I’ve made the cheese sauce from the macaroni and cheese recipe with a lot of extra cheese added, but I’m hoping to try the classic fondue recipe above with cheddar instead of alpine cheeses and see if it works. I’ll update this recipe after I try it.

Chocolate Fondue

  • 8 oz. Milk or Semisweet Chocolate Chips (You can use fancier chocolate bars, but chocolate chips work fine.)

Caramel Fondue

  • (You could try melting wrapped caramels, or I’ve just made a smaller batch of homemade caramel and served it hot. Recipe below:)
  • 1 c. or equal of all ingredients:
    • Sweetened Condensed Milk
    • White Corn Syrup
    • Butter
    • Brown Sugar
    • White Sugar

Possible Foods to Dip

  • French Bread or Baguettes, cut into cubes
  • Sliced Salami
  • Ham Cubes
  • Steak Cubes (can cook stew beef with a little salt and pepper)
  • Cooked Fingerling Potatoes (a little bland, though)
  • Bell Pepper slices
  • Cooked Broccoli
  • Pretzels
  • Apple Slices
  • Pear Slices
  • Fresh Pineapple Chunks
  • Strawberries
  • Bananas
  • Marshmallows
  • Brownie Bites
  • Cheesecake Bites
  • Rice Krispie Treats
  • Graham Crackers

Directions

For classic fondue: In a bowl or gallon bag, place the cheese and cornstarch, then stir or shake to coat the cheese. Then in a pot over medium heat, warm the broth and garlic but do not allow to boil. Slowly add cheese mixture one handful at a time, stirring and allowing to melt completely before adding the next handful so it remains smooth. Lastly, add pepper to taste. Place in preheated fondue pot right when you’re ready to eat.

For chocolate fondue: Microwave chocolate chips for 30 seconds, then stir. Microwave up to 30 seconds more at a time, stirring between microwaving, until smooth. Place in preheated fondue pot right when you’re ready to eat.

For caramel fondue: Place all ingredients in a heavy pan, then turn the heat to medium-low and stir constantly or it may leave chunks or specks. Heat until it reaches desired consistency. Place in preheated fondue pot right when you’re ready to eat.


Hamburger Gravy

Jeff LOVES this meal and says he could eat it every fast Sunday after 24 hours of eating nothing. Jeff’s family used to have hamburger gravy pretty often when they were growing up. And they usually used 1 lb. of beef for their 8+ member family. But we like it very beefy and Jeff loves the leftovers, so we usually do 2 lbs. of beef and use a 5 lb. bag of potatoes to make mashed potatoes. It’s also very easy if you have pot roast gravy in your freezer, which we usually do. I just microwave it for several minutes to thaw before adding it to the beef.

If you’re making it gluten free, just make sure that your gravy is gluten free. I usually make gravy from pot roast broth or beef broth and thicken it with cornstarch.

Hamburger Gravy

  • Servings: 6?
  • Difficulty: easy
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Easy and hearty–serve with mashed potatoes and corn.

Ingredients

  • 2 lb. Ground Beef
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 1-2 jars Beef Gravy (like this) or 1 container thawed homemade pot roast gravy from freezer (size can vary based on how much liquid you want)
  • (Serve with mashed potatoes and corn)

Directions

In a large deep skillet, brown the beef and add salt and pepper to taste. Add gravy and warm through. Serve with mashed potatoes and corn.


Ikea’s Swedish Meatballs

When the pandemic hit and people couldn’t go to Ikea for their Swedish meatball fix, Ikea generously posted their recipe for everyone. Granted, it’s not 100% the same, and the sauce is secret–so they posted a similar sauce. But it’s great. I generally ended up doubling the sauce and making a few other slight adjustments, so here’s the final recipe. Of course you should serve with lingonberries if you can find any (it’s hard unless you buy some at Ikea), but I have served it with cranberry sauce or I think even raspberry jam once.

Every time I make it, I forget the stipulation that you should refrigerate it for 2 hours. I usually just refrigerate it like 20 minutes to an hour. I don’t mind if my meatballs are a little flatter, because they hold together well enough. Last time I made it, I doubled the meatball recipe, which almost filled up a whole cookie sheet. And I made 1 1/2 times the sauce in the recipe below, and it was a good amount of sauce. If I’d doubled the sauce, it would’ve been tons. Also, I’m not sure it needs so much cream. I think next time I might use half cream, half milk. Haha, or just use all half and half.

If you’re making this gluten free, I did try it once using crushed tortilla chips instead of breadcrumbs. Haha, I’ll never do that again. It ended up tasting like oily chips. So you could use gluten free breadcrumbs, cornstarch instead of flour, and gluten free soy sauce, which is what I did last time (it’s the one in the picture)–and it was delicious. I may even try using crushed up Rice Chex instead of breadcrumbs. We’ll see.

Ikea Swedish Meatballs

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: medium-hard
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Adapted from Ikea’s officially released recipe.

Ingredients

Meatballs

  • 1 lb. Ground Beef
  • 1/2 lb. Ground Pork
  • 1 small Onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove Garlic (about 1/2 tsp. minced)
  • 100 g. Breadcrumbs (or gluten free breadcrumbs)
  • 1 Egg
  • 5 Tbsp. Milk
  • Generous Salt and Pepper

Cream Sauce (doubled from original, with some modifications)

  • Dash of Oil
  • 6 Tbsp. Butter
  • 2/3 c. Flour (or 1/3 c. cornstarch)
  • 2 1/2 c. Beef Broth
  • 2 c. Cream
  • 1 Tbsp. + Soy Sauce (or gluten free soy sauce/tamari)
  • 2 tsp. Dijon Mustard

Directions

In a large bowl, combine beef and pork, and break up any lumps with your hands. Add onion, garlic, breadcrumbs, and egg, then mix well. Add milk and season well with salt and pepper. Shape mixture into small balls, and place on a cookie sheet in the fridge for 2 hours (this will help them hold their shape while cooking). In a frying pan, heat oil on medium heat, then add meatballs and brown on all sides. When browned, add back to the cookie sheet. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.
For cream sauce: Melt butter and whisk in flour or cornstarch, stirring for 2 minutes. Add stock and continue to stir. Add remaining ingredients and bring to a simmer, allowing sauce to thicken. Add meatballs (not with the grease from the pan) and stir. Serve over mashed potatoes with lingonberry (or other berry) sauce.


 

FYI, here’s the original recipe from Ikea:

Sweet Pork

This sweet pork comes from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe, and is a lot like Cafe Rio’s. It’s amazing, and we’ve made it for several large group events and birthday parties. Plus, pork shoulder is often on sale for 99 cents, so the meat is surprisingly cheap (although the sauces make it more costly).

It makes a lot, and we usually freeze the leftovers in quart bags to use in the future. You can use the sweet pork to make into sweet pork burritos with seasoned black beans and cilantro lime rice, or into sweet pork salad with the beans, cilantro lime rice, pico de gallo, and jalapeno ranch dressing.

And luckily this one is naturally gluten free.

Sweet Pork

  • Servings: A LOT
  • Difficulty: medium
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Great for big gatherings, and it freezes well.

Ingredients

Seasoning

  •  1 Tbsp. cumin
  •  1 Tbsp. Paprika
  •  1 Tbsp. Onion Powder
  •  1 Tbsp. Chili Powder
  •  1 Tbsp. Garlic Powder
  •  2 tsp. Salt
  •  1/2 tsp. Black Pepper

Pork

  •  3-5 lbs. Pork Shoulder (or boneless sirloin pork roast, but it’s not as good)
  •  1 c. Root Beer or Cola
  •  1 c. Green Salsa (aka salsa verde. Herdez is great, but use Mild–medium is surprisingly hot)

Sauce

    •  2 c. Red Enchilada Sauce (Rosarita is good)
    •  1/2 c. Brown Sugar
    •  8 oz. Chopped Green Chiles
    •  1 c. Green Salsa

Directions

For seasoning: Combine all the seasoning ingredients together in a small bowl. Measure out 2 Tbsp. of the mixture and save for later. Cut the pork roast into large chunks (4-6 inches) and rub the remaining seasoning mixture (not the reserved 2 Tbsp.) evenly over all sides of the pork.

For pork: Add the soda and green salsa to the slow cooker. Stir to combine. Add the seasoned pork. Cover and cook on low for 8-9 hours or high for 5-6 hours until tender. Transfer the pork to a cutting board or pan and shred. Discard all but 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid in the slow cooker, then add the shredded pork back.

For sauce: To the pork in the slow cooker, add the 2 tablespoons of reserved spices and the rest of the sauce ingredients, then stir to combine. Cover and cook on high for 15-20 minutes until heated through.


Pork Ribs

Man, pork ribs are amazing when they’re so tender that they fall off the bone. This recipe is very simple but very delicious–haha, and not very specific in terms of measurements. Of course these can be a little greasy, so you may want to serve it with something light.

And luckily this one is naturally gluten free as long as the rub and BBQ sauce don’t have gluten (which most don’t have gluten anyway). Also, you may want to use a dedicated gluten free brush when you’re brushing on the sauce, since gluten can be trapped in the bristles.

Pork Ribs

  • Servings: varies
  • Difficulty: easy-medium
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Amazing, especially when tender.

Ingredients

  • Pork Back Ribs
  • Rib Rub (like Famous Dave’s)
  • BBQ Sauce

Directions

Using a knife or spoon, pull the silver skin off the ribs. Rub a small amount of rib rub all over (not too much or it will be overwhelming), then wrap the ribs in foil and cook at 275° for 4 hours or until tender. Then remove at least the top layer of foil (carefully–there may be lots of hot juice), brush on BBQ sauce, and broil or grill for a few minutes until the sauce caramelizes.


Easy Chicken Parmesan

This comes from a recipe book that Jeff’s Mom put together, so I like to think of it as Grandma Marilyn Mitchell’s recipe–except I may have added a little more parmesan cheese. I love it so much. It’s easy, we basically always have the ingredients, it’s delicious, and it’s healthier than breaded chicken parmesan. In fact, I even prefer the flavor to breaded chicken parmesan. Also, this calls for parmesan cheese–don’t bother with the fancy shredded kind. The regular powdered Kraft kind works great.

Depending how thick the chicken is, if it’s still slightly frozen when you put it in the oven, or if you have lots of chicken in the pan, it generally takes 40-55 minutes. So of course check for doneness by checking for an internal temperature of 165°.

And luckily this one is naturally gluten free. I’ve also made it with dairy-free cheese instead of mozzarella on top, and it’s still delicious.

Easy Chicken Parmesan

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Great for weeknight meals or special occasions.

Ingredients

  • 1 jar Pasta Sauce
  • 1/2 c. + Parmesan Cheese
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 3 Chicken Breasts, cut in half to make 6 (about 1 1/2 lb.)
  • 1 1/2. c. Mozzarella Cheese

Directions

Pour sauce into a greased 9×13″ pan. Stir in 6 Tbsp. parmesan cheese. Lightly salt and pepper the chicken breasts. Add the chicken to the sauce and turn over to coat both sides. Top with mozzarella and remaining parmesan cheese. Bake at 375° for 40-55 minutes or until the chicken’s internal temperature reaches 165° and the cheese is melted and slightly brown. Serve over pasta.


Pizza Dough

This is from Bobby Flay’s recipe, just with a few clarifications and more info. It’s one of Food Network’s most popular recipes. You can make it with bread flour or all purpose flour. We usually opt for the all purpose flour because it’s cheaper and is still great. The longer you can give this dough to rise, the softer and fluffier it will be. I generally start making the dough 3-4 hours before we want to eat, so there will be plenty of time to rise.

It’s a fun activity for a date night, family cooking, or even holidays, especially when you toss the dough in the air. We’ve had a few times when we’ve made individual pizzas with our guests, so they can put on whatever toppings they’d like.

If you’re making this gluten free, I find that any bread-based recipe will not translate well–because gluten is so integral to the rise and structure of bread. And because gluten free dough ends up being like Play Doh or frosting after you mix it. So you’ll want to use a different recipe like this one.

Pizza Dough

  • Servings: 2 pizzas
  • Difficulty: easy-medium
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You can use bread or all-purpose flour for this great dough.

Ingredients

  • 3 1/2 c. Flour (plus more for rolling)
  • 1 tsp. Sugar
  • 1 envelope Instant Dry Yeast
  • 2 tsp. Salt
  • 1 1/2 c. Water, 110 degrees
  • 2 Tbsp. Olive Oil (plus 2 tsp. for oiling the bowl)

Directions

Fit a stand mixer with a bread hook, then combine flour, sugar, yeast, and salt in the bowl to combine. While the mixer is running on low speed, add water and 2 Tbsp. oil until dough forms into a ball. Then beat 5 minutes on medium speed to help form gluten. (If the dough is too sticky, add flour. If it’s too dry, add water.) Scrape the dough out of the bowl onto a floured surface and knead into a ball.

Grease a large bowl with the remaining oil, add the dough, and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Place in a warm area to double in size (longer is better–I generally like at least 2 hours). Then turn out onto a floured surface and divide in half. Cover and let rest for at least 10 minutes (I generally opt for 30 minutes).

Toss or roll out the dough and top with sauce, cheese, and toppings as desired. Bake on a preheated pizza stone at 450 for at least 15 minutes until the crust is golden brown underneath.


Turkey

Before I went off to college, I wanted to make sure I knew how to do everything for Thanksgiving. Of course a turkey is pretty easy–it may seem intimidating, but mostly you just put it in the oven and cook until you reach the appropriate temperature.

If you’re making this gluten free, of course turkey is naturally gluten free–but be sure either not to stuff it, or just stuff it with a gluten free stuffing. Sometimes turkeys can have sauce mixes or weird basting that might have gluten, but most are just fine–just check the ingredients.

Turkey

  • Servings: varies
  • Difficulty: medium
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Just cook until the internal temperature barely reaches 165° to keep it juicy.

Ingredients

  • 18-22 lb. Turkey (for Thanksgiving of course)
  • Small skewer for neck flap (if stuffing)
  • Bread heel (if stuffing)
  • Cooking Spray
  • Large disposable roaster pan (if large turkey)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Onion and garlic powder (optional)
  • Celery and Carrots

Directions

For thawing a giant turkey, take it out of the freezer and put it in your fridge about a week before. When it’s thawed, wash turkey and take out innards. Look on bag to see how many pounds and how long to cook–the manufacturers are the experts. For an 18-20 lb. turkey, it often takes about 4 hours to cook.

Use broiler pan with rack for smaller birds or a large disposable pan for Thanksgiving-sized birds. Put foil in bottom of the broiler pan and spray the rack. OR for the large disposable pan, place the pan on a cookie sheet for added stability, then spray the pan and place celery and carrots under the turkey so it won’t stick.

If stuffing: Stuff the neck first–flip the bird on its breast, then hold the neck flap out while you gently spoon in the stuffing. Skewer the neck flap closed, attaching it to the main body. Then flip it on its back to stuff the large cavity. Optional: You can salt and pepper the large cavity before stuffing (or just before baking without stuffing). Gently spoon stuffing into the large cavity, not compacting it too much. Place a piece of bread in to cover the stuffing before putting the legs back in the holders.

If NOT stuffing or if you’ve already stuffed the turkey: Preheat the oven to 325°. Spray with Pam before putting in oven so it won’t dry out. Then lightly sprinkle skin with salt and pepper–and garlic and onion powder if you’re using them. Pull wingtips behind so they won’t burn–like it looks like the turkey is lounging and putting its wings behind its head while sunbathing. Haha. Place turkey breast-side up, then place the pan in the oven. [For small turkey, pour about 2 c. water in bottom of pan so the drippings won’t burn.] Cook 1 hour at 325° before covering. Place a tent of foil loosely around the turkey, not tucked around the turkey. Fold in the middle so the turkey won’t overbrown.

If not brown enough near the end, take off foil at last half hour. To check doneness, breast should be 165° and thigh should be 185°. After removing from oven, cover turkey with foil to keep heat and let turkey sit 15-30 minutes before carving so juices can sink back into meat.

For more gravy juice, in water, simmer neck and gizzard with carrot, celery, onion, bay leaf, 2 bouillon cubes (or 2 tsp. Members Mark Chicken Base) for about an hour. Then strain and use juice for gravy (about 1 qt. + water).


Steaks

Of course the real answer when cooking steaks is to cook them until their internal temperature reaches your target temperature (like 135 for medium rare because the temperature will raise another 5-10 degrees as it sits). We’ve tried marinating steaks, but really when you have good beef, you don’t want the amazing beef flavor being overwhelmed by marinade. Save the marinade for a cheap cut of beef, and just stick with Canadian steak seasoning.

And of course these are naturally gluten free.

Steaks

  • Servings: varies
  • Difficulty: easy
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Nice and simple.

Ingredients

  • Beef or pork steaks (almost any variety)
  • Canadian steak seasoning

Directions

Preheat the grill on medium high. For diamond pattern, grill 2 minutes, then turn 45 degrees. Then grill 2 more minutes and flip over. Do the same thing on the other side–grill 2 minutes, then turn 45 degrees and grill 2 more minutes. The target temperature for medium rare for beef is 135, and pork should reach 145. Let rest 5-10 minutes before serving.


Salmon (pan seared)

Pan-seared salmon is great if you’d like a little bit of crust on your salmon or if you’re trying to make it really fast. The baked one goes pretty fast too, but we generally opt for the pan-seared one lately. Just make sure to press out extra water from the salmon so it sears better.

And of course this one is naturally gluten free. Just make sure that your garlic butter hasn’t been contaminated with bread crumbs from previous uses.

Salmon (pan seared)

  • Servings: varies
  • Difficulty: easy
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Like most seafood recipes, try not to make leftovers with this one–it’s better fresh.

Ingredients

  • Salmon Filets
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Olive Oil
  • Garlic Butter (for gluten free, make sure it’s a new tub or not contaminated with old bread crumbs)
  • Lemon Juice (optional)

Directions

Place paper towels under and on top of filets, then press out extra water. Season the salmon filets with salt and pepper. Heat a small amount of oil in a heavy pan on medium-high heat. When the oil shimmers, add the salmon filets. Brown the salmon for 2-3 minutes (even with a crust if desired), then flip the salmon. Place a dollop of garlic butter on each salmon filet and let it melt. Squeeze in a little lemon juice over the fish, and spoon the melted butter and lemon juice over each filet before serving.