Most of my male friends are pretty good cooks. We all share the same passion for great restaurants and the thought and preparation that it takes to put together a remarkable meal. I’ve taken several cooking classes and while I’m in a minority as one of the only guys there at the class, I think the trend is that men are fending more for themselves in the kitchen and enjoying it.

One such guy was my good friend Cleto J. Augusto from Long Branch. He was a great cook, taking the time to gently meld the flavors of spices and sauces. We called him Bubba. Bubba was the best, very funny with a great personality and a passion for sports and politics. His impressions of Joe Torre and Hank Stram we're priceless.

As an actor Bubba frequently spent his time between Jersey (New York) and L.A. You’ve seen Bubba on Seinfeld, Frazier and was the Geico fairy in pink tights (and we never let him forget that one!) He was in dozens of commercials and sitcoms.

Several summers back, while spending time back here on the east coast, Bubba stayed with me at the Ranch to cut down on expenses. It was great. He would whip up great dishes and I thoroughly enjoyed his company. My summer with Bubba was filled with great eats, watching the ballgames every night, smoking cigars and having an adult beverage or two. Life was good when Bubba was back in Jersey.

When I put together my cookbook I asked him to send me a recipe. He sent me 100, all very good but this one I especially enjoy! Thanks, Bubba, and thanks, Leslie, for allowing Bubba to spend the summer at the ranch!

What you'll need:

3 tbsp. vegetable oil, separated
1 1⁄2 lbs. beef stew meat, 1⁄2 inch pieces
1 small onion, diced
1⁄4 cup of Worcestershire Sauce
1 can of beef broth
1 tbsp. butter
1⁄4 cup corn starch (dissolved in water)
8oz. container sour cream
Salt & pepper to taste
White wine (amount is a guy's choice)

(Chopped mushrooms, celery, carrots and bacon may be added at your choosing. Bacon should be cooked before hand and crumbled after draining and added at the very end to maintain crispness.)

How to put it together:

In a large pan heat 1 1⁄2 tbsp. of vegetable oil and brown beef over high heat. Browned meat droppings on the bottom of the pan are very acceptable. Remove meat from pan and set aside.

In the same pan add the other 1 1⁄2 tbsp of vegetable oil, and the butter, and sauté onion and any other vegetables that you want to use. Sauté vegetables to medium softness. Stir in Worcestershire and beef broth, then salt and pepper to taste.

Bring to boil, add meat and some white wine. Bring to a second boil. Then turn heat to low and simmer, covered, for 1 to 1 1⁄2 hours. Once the meat is tender, bring the stew back to a boil and slowly pour in cornstarch mixture, while stirring, to thicken.

Lastly stir in approx. two tbsp. of sour cream (and the bacon, if you chose it) before serving over noodles or white rice. A special Guy may skip the corn starch/water mixture simply by coating the meat with flour right before you brown it. The flour will do the work right before your very eyes as you continue the recipe.

The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 weekend host Big Joe Henry. Any opinions expressed are Big Joe’s own.

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Best coffee shops & cafes near NJ beaches

When it comes to food, New Jersey is known for many things such as pizza and pork roll. Don't count us out when it comes to coffee.

With all the hustle and bustle involved in the average New Jersey resident's day, coffee is essential. It doesn't matter whether you're living in the cities of North Jersey or the vacation spots at the shore.

In fact, as the former owner of two Jersey shore coffee houses, Coffee Dot Comedy in Sea Isle City and the Daily Grind in Ocean Grove, I know firsthand how much people at the Jersey shore love their coffee.

With respect to that, I asked my social media following where the best coffee houses at the Jersey Shore were, especially since my two places no longer exist.

Below is what they came up with. (And see this other article for their coffee shop and cafe recommendations for Central Jersey.)

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