RECIPES: Chef Dad's favorite foods he's made for us

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After 15 years, Chef Dad is retiring from television. We will miss him and his delicious recipes. But before he leaves, here are three favorite recipes from our anchors that he's made over the years.

1) Chef Dad’s Italian Sloppy Joes


  • 1 ½ Cups of Marinara (your favorite)
  • 1 lb. Ground Beef
  • 1 lb. Italian Sausage (you can buy links then remove the casing)
  • 1 Tbsp. Olive Oil
  • 1 tsp. Oregano Flakes
  • ¼ tsp. Crushed Red Pepper
  • ½ tsp. Salt
  • ¼ tsp. Pepper
  • 1 pkg. Hamburger Buns
  • Sliced Mozzarella or Provolone Cheese (optional), see below
  • Sliced Pepperoni (optional), see below


  • Heat a large deep pan or pot over medium-high heat for 5 minutes then add your olive oil.  Add meats plus salt & pepper until completely cooked.  Chop meat into a fine consistency while it’s cooking.  When it’s done, drain off the fat by pouring contents into your large strainer, like the one you use to drain your spaghetti.
  • Put meat back in pan then reduce the heat to medium-low.  Pour the pasta sauce over meat.  Add the oregano flakes & crushed red pepper then stir to combine.  Simmer for 15-20 minutes until you have a nice thick consistency.  Taste for seasoning and adjust as you like.
  • Put pepperoni and/or cheese on the bun if you like, then scoop the desired amount of meat mixture onto the bun and serve.
  • This recipe makes about 8-10 sandwiches. 

Cook's Note:  Double or triple this recipe if you’re having a party.  Simply cook up the dish then transfer the meat mixture into a crock-pot on its lowest temp so your friends can serve themselves while you enjoy the game.  Can it be made a day or two ahead of time?  You bet!  But don’t buy the buns until the day you plan to serve them.

2) Chef Dad’s Magic Bars


  • 1 ½ Cups Graham Cracker Crumbs
  • ¼ Cup Sugar
  • 6 Tbsp. Butter (unsalted, melted)
  • ¼ Cup Toffee Bits
  • 1 ¼ Cups Semi-Sweet or Milk Chocolate Chips
  • 1 ½ Cups Sweetened Coconut Flakes
  • 1 Can Sweetened Condensed Milk


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Use aluminum foil to line the inside of your 9 x 13 casserole dish.  Lightly spray the foil with cooking spray for easy removal of these magic bars when they are done cooling.  If you have the new Reynolds Wrap® (non-stick variety), you won’t need to spray your foil.
  • Combine graham cracker crumbs, sugar and melted butter in a bowl then mix well.  Put in your casserole dish and press down to make your crust.  We only want the crust on the bottom of the pan.  There is no need to try and come up the sides of the dish.  Use a flat-bottomed measuring cup to press the crust flat.
  • Next, evenly sprinkle the toffee bits over the crust, then the chocolate chips then the coconut.  Now evenly pour the can of sweetened condensed milk over the top. Bake for 25 minutes or until the coconut starts turning golden brown
  • After removing from the oven, allow the dish to cool on your countertop for 1 hour then put in your fridge for at least 1 hour and up to overnight so the bars firm up before we try and cut them into squares.
  • Remove from the refrigerator then lift the entire (uncut) bars from the casserole dish by grabbing the foil.  Remove the foil then cut into squares and serve.

Cook's Note: These can be stored in a zipper bag in your fridge for at least one week and up to 3 months in your freezer. The perfect size square is about 1 ½” because these are very rich. 

3) Chef Dad’s Cheese Dogs in a Blanket


  • 4 All Beef Hot Dogs (¼ pound size), quartered lengthwise or 8 Reg. dogs cut in half
  • 3 Slices of American or Cheddar Cheese
  • 1 Package of Puff Pastry (from your grocer's freezer section then thawed)
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 Tbsp. Water
  • Salt & Pepper


  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  • After puff pastry has thawed in your refrigerator, lightly flour your work surface.  Unfold your pastry sheets then sprinkle the top side with a light dusting of flour.  Use a rolling pin to get the sheet an extra 4” inches wider and taller.  Use a pizza cutter to cut pastry into pieces that are almost as wide as the width of your hot dog and about 3” high.
  • Slice your cheese so that you end up with 16 pieces that are ½” high.  You don’t need to be exact, but we are looking to make our cheese into pieces about the same height as the sliced hot dog.
  • Beat your egg and water together in a small bowl then use a pastry brush to paint the top of your pastry with the egg wash.  Lay the quartered hot dog on the bottom portion of the square then a piece of cheese alongside the hot dog.  Roll the pastry around the hot dog & cheese covering it completely.  Place wrapped hot dog (seam side down) on a baking sheet.  Repeat until done.  Paint the top of each dog with the egg wash then sprinkle with a very light dusting of salt & pepper.
  • Bake for 20-25 minutes or until nicely browned on top.  Serve with any condiment (mustard, ketchup, BBQ sauce) of your choice or the following dipping sauce.
  • This recipe makes 16 appetizer servings.

Cook's Note: If your butcher doesn’t carry “Chicago” Style ¼ lb. hot dogs, you should be able to find the kosher brand (Hebrew National®) ¼ pounders in the hot dog section.  For an easier cleanup, use parchment paper (not foil or wax paper) on the bottom of your baking sheet.

Optional Dipping Sauce:

  • ½ Cup Yellow Mustard
  • 2 Tbsp. Ketchup
  • 1 Tbsp. Mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp. Hot sauce
  • Mix well together.

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