Sunday, October 15, 2017

Creamy Garlic Mashed Potatoes

Mashed potatoes are easy to make. They are also great for dads to experiment with. So many flavors to explore. My kids favorite is Creamy Garlic. However you can vary things to be fun and flavorful. This might be one of your kids favorite recipes. In fact, they can be so good, they might be a request for school lunches. (Mine do)


5-10 Large Baking Potatoes (Red or White)
Garlic Pepper/Salt  (To flavor)
1/4 cup heavy cream (Milk to lower calorie count is fine)
1 stick of Butter (What the heck use the cream at this point)
Cracked Salt and Pepper
1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Additional Ingredients to change up your recipe

Bacon Bits
Finely Chopped Chives
Minced Garlic
Minced Onion
Soul Seasoning

Wash your potatoes and set aside. Set your stove top to med high. Cut and cube the potatoes so that you can boil them in a pot. Place the potatoes in a pot and provide cold water and a couple of tsps of salt just about an inch above the cut potatoes. Bring the water to a boil. When it is at a boil, start checking for firmness at around 10 minutes. Depending on the size of the cubes, check for tenderness and set aside when ready to mix in further ingredients.

In the pot or a separate mixing bowl, add the butter and cream first. Be sure to do this right away. Slice the butter in cubes to ensure a quick melt. Using a mixer, set to low at first mix in the butter and cream. Once you have a texture that is smooth (can be a little chunky at this point) add your additional ingredients. Blend for about 1-2 minutes until you get a smooth texture. Set aside and serve.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Braciole - Now That's Italian

Being a dad and a cook means that you have to take chances at both. Your kids want to see you stretch your comfort level a bit. For years, I wanted to teach myself how to make braciole. An Italian dish that can seem intimidating, but is actually quite easy to make. So I went out and asked a few Italian friends of mine their family recipes and learned braciole can have endless opportunities.

For anyone unfamiliar with braciole, it is a flatted steak (Pork or Beef) that is wrapped and tied with amazing ingredients and cooked very slowly in a tomato sauce. You can serve the braciole over pasta or on it's own. It is tender and full of flavor when done correctly.

Braciole has to be wrapped correctly. Some people use toothpicks while others use cooking twine. Skilled cooks can cook it without the twine or toothpicks if that wrap it carefully and compactly. 

Some ingredients include boiled eggs, spinach, fresh basil, prosciutto, along with a combination of seasonings. Fresh garlic is a must. As with all recipes, the fun is trying different ingredients each time you make it. 


Flank Steak or Thin Pork Cutlets (You will need a meat mallet or a good butcher has steaks and pork that is made to order for braciole) 
2 boiled eggs
Garlic Cloves
Basil or Spinach (I prefer Basil) 
Garlic Powder
Garlic thinly sliced
Cracked Sea Salt
Cracked Pepper
Grated Asiago or Parmesan Cheese
Olive Oil
Italian Bread Crumbs (1 cup) 

Optional Ingredients

Oregano (Fresh)
Provolone Cheese


On a cutting board flatten the steak or pork. If you are using a steak, densely coat with cracked sea salt for 30 mins. This will tenderize the steak. (Salt dissolves the proteins in fat that makes a steak tender) Remove most of the salt and begin to flavor the meat. Add 1 - 2 tsps of cracked pepper, salt and garlic powder to your liking. (Depends on the size of the meat) Next, spread 1 cup of Italian bread crumbs evenly. Add the basil, garlic and grated cheese. Thinly slice the boiled eggs and spread them towards the middle of the braciole. Add any other ingredients you feel would make a great addition. 
Next, roll the braciole tightly into a compressed spiral of 3-4  layers. Once complete, you can add the toothpicks or tie the braciole together to keep it tightly compressed. 

Browning the braciole - Using a cast iron skillet, heat the skillet to a medium - medium high heat with a thin coating of olive oil and garlic. Place the braciole on the skillet and brown the braciole on each side. Browning the braciole gives the meat a great flavor on the outside that compliments the ingredients on the inside. 

In a crockpot, add you tomato sauce base. You can use a jar (Yucky) or use our sauce on the blog (Yummy). It is up to you. Set the crock pot to low and cook for 6-7 hrs. This allows for the meat to become fully immersed in the flavors.

Remove the braciole and sprinkle grated cheese on top when taken out of the crock pot. Serve over pasta or on it's own and you have created a masterpiece. 


Sunday, July 23, 2017

Stuffed Long Hots

Long Hots are an Italian-American phenomenon in my area, especially in summer. We have them with everything. The amount of heat they produce can be mild to LOOK OUT!!! You truly never know what you will get, but they are simply one of the best peppers. Recently, local cooks have created an appetizer using long hots. They stuff them with a sausage mix and they are simply amazing. So I thought I would take a shot at making them.....and they were delicious.

I have to share, stuffed long hots are not an easy task. My first attempt was a disaster. I had to settle for a long hot salad as I had not idea what I was doing. My long hots were too small and stuffing them was impossible. So, first tip, the long hots have to be wide enough for stuffing. What I should have done is served smaller long hots split down the middle instead of trying to stuff them. Even with the wider long hots, you may have to cut them in half for stuffing. Only the largest and widest can be completely stuffed. Something I have not mastered yet do the the summer harvest is not at it's peak.

My sausage mix was outstanding and flavorful. Feel free to experiment with yours. No limits with this recipe. You can change your stuffing and experiment as you see fit.


Long Hot Peppers (Wide as possible)

Stuffing Mix
Sweet, Medium or Hot Ground Sausage Mix (1 pd.)
1-2 eggs
1/2 cup of Italian Bread Crumbs
Asiago Cheese Grated (1/4 cup)
Cracked Salt and Pepper 1 tsp
1 tsp Garlic salt
1 tsp Oregano
Thinly slice garlic

In a bowl, mix all the ingredients for the stuffing mix. Crack the eggs over the mix. This allows for the mixture to stick consistently. You can add the cheese in the mix or as a topping on the peppers if you decide to slice them because they are too small. What you want to do is experiment with the consistency. You may need to add more bread crumbs if you feel the mix needs it. That's what is great about trying something new, you can experiment with the recipe to your liking.

There are multiple ways to cook them. You can use a Cast Iron Skillet (my favorite) coated with Olive Oil. I love the skillet because a seasoned skillet absorbs and redistributes the flavors evenly in my opinion. Another option is to cook them on a gas grill. The fire roasted flavor adds a different twist. Lastly, you can cook the peppers in the oven. (Broiling at the end would be my recommendation for the tops of the peppers and melting the cheese.)

Try different cheeses and add different flavors to the mix. You can add red wine, crushed red pepper, or any Italian Mix you find at the grocery store.

So good.....enjoy!

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Fish Fry (Fried Haddock)

I am a lucky dad. Early on, my kids love fresh fish. Whether we catch them, or buy them from the market, they absolutely love a good fish fry. What makes cooking with your kids so valuable is it extends their palette. By introducing them to foods as early as possible, they become adventuresome and want to try new foods.

This is a basic recipe for new cooks. Easy to make, and soooo good.


Fresh Haddock Filet(s)
Italian Bread Crumbs (1 cup)
Flour (1 cup)
Panko (1/2 Cup)
Cracked Pepper (1 tsp)
Cracked Salt (2 tsp)
Soul Seasoning (1 tsp)
2 eggs with milk whipped
Cooking Oil (1/8 - 1/4 inch to cover the skillet or fry pan)
Ice Water in a bowl

Prior to getting all the prep work done, rinse the fillets and keep them in a bowl of ice water until ready to fry. Next, you will want a mid size bowl for the egg mixture and a large size bowl for the breading mixture.

Preparation for the breading is to add all the ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Set aside and setup by the stove egg mixture bowl for dipping, the breading, then the fry pan.

Prep the fry pan at a medium heat.

Once ready, dip the filet in the egg mixture, then the breading on both sides, and set in the fry pan. On a medium heat, each fillet should be ready to a golden brown about 5 minutes on both sides. Periodically peek prior to flipping the filet. Flip the filet carefully to avoiding breaking it. Cooking on the skin side first also allows for firmness and prevents the filet from breaking.

Serve on a plate with some kettle chips or fries with a lemon wedge. You have one great fish fry.

Some additional ideas for the breading are kettle chips in a sandwich back pounced to the consistency of Panco. Sea Salt and Vinegar would give it a nice flavor. You can change the breading each time you make it by trying different mixtures.

Tarter Sauce

Tarter Sauce is easy to make, and so much better than store bought sauce.


Mayonnaise (Hellmans)
Dill Hamburger Slices Diced
Cracked Salt (1/8th tsp optional)

Additional Options
Minced Onion
Sweet Pickle Relish
Lemon Juice

I prefer a simple tarter sauce, which is the top 3 ingredients. Served fresh its the best. However, I have made it with the additional ingredients when I want a change of pace. As with all Cooking It Up With Dad recipes, be creative.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Pop Tart Milk Shake

My boys asked me the other day to make them Pop Tart Milk Shakes. At first I thought....meh, but the idea grew on me. And then we discovered after some experimentation that they are delicious.
You can have the same fun we did because pop tarts have so many flavors. We used Hot Fudge Sundae Pop Tarts for our creation. Try you own and have fun!


2 Pop Tarts
Vanilla Swirl Ice Cream 3 scoops (Any flavor is fine when experimenting)
1.5 Cups milk
10-15  Ice Cubes
2 tsps of sugar
1 tsp vanilla

In a blender, add the ice first and the rest of the ingredients in any order. Set your blender to milk shake mode and check for a thick consistency to your liking. (Adding more milk helps when the consistency is too thick) Serve immediately and enjoy.


You can add whip cream with pieces of pop tart on top for additional fun.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Egg Salad

I love Egg Salad. The kids enjoy it because it is a great sandwich for the lunch box.


6 boiled eggs  (Adjust the ingredients accordingly based on the size of your family)
2 tablespoons of Mayonnaise
1 tablespoon of Mustard
1 tsp cracked pepper and salt
1 tsp of paprika
1 tsp Slap Yo Mama Seasoning
Sliced Olives (Green or Black)

Boil the eggs for 8 minutes. Set aside in cool water for a few minutes. Crack the eggs and dice or slice them in a mixing bowl. Some people like to use a food processor. I personally like the large egg white chunks in my salad. Add the mayonnaise and mustard and stir to a thick consistency. Next add the olives and seasonings. Refrigerate for an hour and serve. (You can eat right away if you want, I just like my egg salad chilled)

Some variations: You can add fresh dill or chili powder to replace the other seasonings. Some people add garlic powder or onion powder. Olive Oil is a nice addition along with some scallions on top. As with all recipes, experiment with your kids to your liking.