Recipe Posts

Simply Homemade: Taverns

Honesty time: I seriously didn’t realize no one knew what taverns were was outside of our little northeast Nebraska corner of the world until I met my husband. He hails from the city of Omaha and had never heard of this sandwich until I made it for him. After realizing this, I knew it was my duty to share this recipe with any of you who are also unfamiliar with this dish. Prepare yourselves!!!

Don’t you dare call this a sloppy joe! It is sloppy to eat but it’s a no-go on the joe 😉 This right here is tavern meat, folks! I’ll admit, my version varies from the traditional recipe I grew up eating but the only real differences are that I swap the measurements for ketchup and mustard because my kiddo isn’t a huge mustard flavor fan (yet!). I do also sometimes opt for the onion powder option as a substitute for chopped onions; don’t judge me! It saves me a little crying while chopping, speeds up the cooking time a few minutes, and save us an hour at dinner time from my kiddo picking out each minuscule onion piece she finds. I love how simple this dish is and so easy to adjust with adding your own favorite seasonings towards the end. I personally like the addition of a sprinkle of steak seasoning and chipotle roasted garlic seasoning for a little more zip but that’s just my preference.

Pro tip: turn oven onto high broil setting and place buns in for a minute or two while meat mixture finishes cooking. Toasted buns make for the best sandwiches in my humble opinion! It’s funny really, as a kid I had soo many issues with textures. I can’t decide if this signals a step in the right direction that I’m adding another crunchy texture to this dish OR if I’m just avoiding the possibility of the soggy texture bun. Either way, I love taverns with toasted buns and have a feeling you will too!

Deliciously seasoned and flavorful meat mixture, check! Toasted buns, check! Time for toppings? Oh yeah! Chips on top to add a little crunch factor + added salt and a sliced pickle for some snap…mmm, mmm, mmmmm! Next time you’re wanting a taste of small town Nebraska that reminds you of your days as a carefree kiddo eating a messy sandwich off a flimsy paper plate while wearing a white t-shirt (without a care in the world), give this recipe a whirl!

Taverns

  • Servings: Approximately 8-10 sandwiches
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Flavor packed loose meat sandwich that will take your taste buds back to childhood!

Ingredients

-2 pounds hamburger meat

-1 can tomato soup

-1/2 onion, chopped or 1 tablespoon onion powder

-2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

-1 teaspoon chili powder

-2 tablespoons mustard

-4 tablespoons ketchup

-1/2 teaspoon salt

-1/2 teaspoon pepper

-Package of hamburger buns (optional: sliced pickles and potato chips) to serve with

Directions

1) In large skillet, brown and drain hamburger meat over medium heat.

2) Add chopped onion and sauté another 3 minutes until soft (if you have picky eaters you can substitute out this step).

3) Add all remaining ingredients and stir well then continue to cook over medium low for an additional 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

4) Serve in hamburger buns with additional mustard, ketchup, potato chips, and pickles as optional toppings!

Are Roux For Real?

For real, I cannot believe how many people don’t know how to make a basic roux. Just in case you don’t know this word, it’s pronounced ‘roo’. A roux is such a staple in so many amazing recipes and my goal is to make it as simple as possible for all of you. Next time you recall the knowledge gained from this post, feel free to crack yourself up thinking of this silly title 😉

Let me break it down for you, a roux is a very basic sauce base used in combination with added spices and/or cheeses and generally ends up being a thickening agent. Ahhh…the magic of this trifecta of ingredients: butter, flour, and milk! Melt the butter, add in the flour and cook just until the flour loses some of the flour-ness flavor and sloooooowly add in milk, whisking well after each pour of the liquid. Really, the key to this is keeping it slow and smooth. Play some blues or slow jazz in the background to get the right tempo for cooking it. This is not a top pop or hard rock playlist kind of recipe, trust me 😉 Keep the mixture smooth by whisking continuously over low heat and being patient as the liquid is gradually added in.

Want to know my favorite part of making a roux? Once you master it, the possibilities for you in your new cooking world are endless! Roux plus potatoes and ham? Hello scalloped potatoes and ham dish! Roux plus hot sauce and fresh cracked pepper and sausage? Hi there, sausage gravy ready to pour over biscuits for breakfast! Roux plus cooked veggies and chicken broth? Cheesy creamy veggie soup, oh yeah! Roux plus cheese and more cheese and yet another kind of cheese plus some shells? Mac n cheese, yes please! Roux plus cooking liquid from roast turkey? Om nom nom gobble gobble gravy!Alright, I could go on and on clearly but you get the gist, right? Rouxs are life in the cooking world!

Alright, let’s get into it for real now. For any good roux, you need equal amounts of a fat and a flour. My go-to is good ol’ fashioned butter but sometimes a recipe will call for something else and that’s totally fine. The different the fat, the different the end result flavor! Make sure you melt it over low heat until the foaming disappears. Next, the flour. The biggest thing is to make sure that you use the same quantity of flour as you did with the butter. The next big thing is to make sure you mix it into the butter fully and keep it cooking over low heat for just a bit without letting it burn to the bottom. Remember the movie Finding Nemo? Just keep swimming..only this song is reminding you to just keep stirring!!! From there, you will have a giant butter and flour lump in your pan and you will be wondering how this is a sauce. Hang in there with me!

Slowly, add in part of the milk/broth and whisk your little heart out until it has combined with that lump. Don’t panic that the lump keeps returning after the first few small additions of liquid. Gradually, that lump will evolve into a thick paste. From there, the more liquid you add, the more smooth the sauce will be. Now you’ve got that base sauce I was telling you about where you can add spices and cheeses and etc to your heart’s desire! You can also play with the beginning of this recipe by sautéing some chopped onions and/or garlic into the butter before resuming the rest of the process. Now that you’re familiar with what a roux is, you’ll likely notice it as being the beginning of multiple recipes you see. Roux=blank canvas for flavor and thickening. My biggest hope is that you retain the knowledge gained and put it to the yummiest uses possible!

Basic Roux

  • Servings: Approximately 1 cup
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Super simple basic roux ratio to get you started with that staple sauce!

Ingredients

-2 tablespoons butter (or fat of choice)

-2 tablespoons flour

-1 cup milk or broth (or liquid of choice)

Directions

1) Melt butter in saucepan over low heat until liquified.

2) Add flour to the butter and whisk in well until combined then continue to cook over low heat one minute, stirring continuously.

3) Pour about a quarter of the liquid into the saucepan, whisk in well until combined mixture is smooth then repeat until all the liquid is combined well.

4) Add in desired spices/cheese/veggies/protein/etc and, if needed, thin out by adding more liquid until you reach your desired consistency.

Simply Homemade: O’Henry Bars

I know, I know…most of you think these bars are called scotcheroos. But that name is simply just not accurate for this recipe, sorry to disappoint you all! These are O’Henry Bars and you are only allowed to make and/or eat them if you call them by their real name 😉

These have been a staple snack and family favorite for as long as I can remember. From church bake sales to potlucks to after school snacks, these bars are always a hit! They don’t have to stay refrigerated, they last a couple days (if they aren’t devoured immediately), and they transport easily. Bonus: these bars only require a couple ingredients to make and nothing crazy expensive either! Honestly, I can’t begin to tell you how many batches of these have been made by my family. Or, for that matter, how many servings I’ve consumed in my lifetime… but, let’s not go there since it’s just after New Year resolution time and I’m still under the gloriously incorrect impression that this is the year I may finally stay away from delicious “extra’s” like snack foods other than celery sticks. Haha, just kidding, no way am I passing up an O’Henry for veggies…I’m trying to get healthy, not go crazy!

All in all, these bars do at least have a little nutritional value what with the cereal and peanut butter, right?? And you could totally change it up and use Nutella spread on top or organic peanut butter or whatever else you health-conscious mind needs to justify this delicious snack. As for me and my house, we will stick with the original and I will add salad to my dinner meal plan for the week 😉 I’ve said it before but, seriously, life is about balance. The happiness gained from enjoying these bars offsets any guilt-about-snacking imbalance, trust me!

O’Henry bars are so simple to make and so addictive to eat, you are sure to love them. Only a couple tips with this post… First, make sure you use your favorite brand of peanut butter and good morsels of chocolate and butterscotch. I know it’s tempting to buy the off brand version to save a couple bucks but trust me, the end result will not be the same! Second, feel free to use off brand cereal and corn syrup. After many, many taste tests, those ingredients seem to have barely distinguishable effects on the end product’s taste! Third, melt and mix and spread thoroughly..lumps and dry pieces and too thin of a top layer have no place in this recipe!

Last, and most important, make sure to label them as O’Henry Bars and pass along the recipe as such. As a Northeast Nebraska small town girl at heart, there is simply no other name appropriate. Scotcheroos sound like a joke whereas Mr. O’Henry‘s bars demand respect! Also, I love it when people are confused by the name and then realize these are basically scotcheroos only sooooo much better. All joking aside, I hope you enjoy this recipe!!!

O'Henry Bars

  • Servings: Approximately 16 bars total
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Deliciously simple staple recipe for a go-to batch of bars!

Ingredients

-1 cup white sugar

-1 cup light corn syrup

-1 teaspoon vanilla extract

-1 cup peanut butter

-6 cups Rice Krispies

-1 cup chocolate chips

-1 cup butterscotch chips

Directions

1) Add sugar and corn syrup to pan and heat over medium high heat while stirring until the mixture comes to a boil.

2) Remove pan from heat and add in peanut butter and vanilla, stirring well to combine.

3) Pour Rice Krispies into large mixing bowl and pour contents of pan over the top then mix all together well.

4) Pour combined mixture into 9×13″ sprayed pan and even out with spatula until fairly smooth and even on top and spread out to every side.

5) Melt chocolate chips and butterscotch chips together in microwave, stir every minute until combined and smooth.

6) Pour chocolate mixture over cereal mixture in pan and spread evenly.

7) Cool pan in the fridge for approximately half hour until top is set then slice into bars and serve!