Monday, April 16, 2012

Grilled Sandwiches with Homemade Garlic Herb Cheese and Asparagus "Fries"

Some nights, I am just pooped. 
This is due to two factors: 
1) I have an autoimmune disease that hates me and 
2) I am a stay at home mom to an almost two year old boy. 
I don't, however, use this an excuse to order pizza or Chinese or send my husband through a drive thru. The way I see it, in the time it takes to wait for delivery or go out of your way to drive through somewhere, you can easily make dinner. Here is an example of a 10 minute meal! Still working on making this meal 100% clean, but it can definitely be altered to be vegetarian!

I was inspired to make this sandwich based on an amazing sandwich I had on the French side of St. Maarten in early February. I've been dreaming about the day I can revisit Le Petit Cafe! The sandwich was on a baguette with some of the most delicious creamy garlicky goat cheese I've ever had! I have yet to find a goat cheese of that caliber, so I took some of the flavors of the sandwich and turned it into something I can make at home. I also had some asparagus to use up so I made asparagus "fries" to go with our grilled sammies!

Sooo good! Here's the prep work:

I like to use whipped cream cheese or neufchatel because it's so much easier to stir and spread. If you have some at hope, you can whip it with an electric mixer for a few, or you can buy it whipped at your grocery store. There are a lot of yummy organic cream cheeses out there without a ton of "gums" in them if you look hard! The measurements for the spread are kind of vague; I like a strong garlic flavor, but if you don't start with less garlic and add more in if it's not strong enough for you. Also, I know I've mentioned it before, but I use Litehouse brand freeze dried herbs in this recipe! I haven't started this year's herb garden and it's so nice to have freeze dried on hand because it tastes very close to fresh.

4 TB whipped cream or neufchatel cheese

2-4 cloves of garlic, minced 

1 TB fresh chopped or freeze dried basil

Whip these all together with a fork. This is a better arm workout than a Shake Weight if you don't use whipped cheese. Real talk.

I like to use sourdough bread for this recipe. You can use another kind if you prefer, but it has to be a thick, hearty bread. This won't work on a soft bread. 

Soften up some butter and bread on one side each of two piece of bread. On the non-buttered side, spread cheese. Yes, I know this means you get butter on your cutting board or whatever you're using. Suck it up or come up with a better way, cause I sure haven't! :) Also take this opportunity to lay out your other fixin's. I use turkey, fresh tomatoes and romaine. I think this would also be yummy if you sauteed red peppers, red onion and spinach in a little EVOO and used it, but we'll attempt that another time.

Heat a nonstick skillet on medium heat. There is definitely an art to the perfect heat for a grilled sandwich; too hot and you'll burn it, but too cool and it will get mushy. If you have a panini maker, you can probably use it in lieu of a skillet. Put your first piece of bread in the skillet butter side down. Then layer on your fixins, and top it off with the other piece of bread, butter side up. Once the bottom has gotten nice and golden toasty, CAREFULLY flip your sammy. There is an art to this. Use a big spatula and keep your hand on the sandwich to keep it from opening up and spilling out all into your skillet. But don't burn your hand. See? It's an acquired skill. 

If you want to add the asparagus "fries" as a side, you can saute fresh asparagus for a few in a skillet with about 2 TB EVOO. Grind some fresh sea salt and pepper over it, and sprinkle with enough Parmesan cheese to cover in an even layer.  Let it cook on medium-high about 2-3 minutes until the parm is nice and golden, but don't let it burn! My husband actually asked me if I fried it. HA! I don't fry things. 

 Here is my handsome son enjoying one of his "fries". 

YUM! :)
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Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Southwest Sweet Potato Burritos

Welcome back! I apologize for not updating this blog more. There's no excuse for it other than I got lazy. BUT now my family and I have moved to a new city which offers so much more fresh, quality food that I can't help but be inspired in my cooking again!

So tonight, I bring you our dinner.

Pay attention, veggie heads! This is an all vegetarian meal, and if you edit the condiments and buy the right tortillas, it's vegan. I love that. My husband didn't even miss meat, and he's a very "meat and potatoes" kind of guy. The beans and sweet potatoes make it very hearty! As a note, you saute the veggies in oil, and I used vegetable. You can use whatever oil you have on hand, with the exception of a strong olive oil.

How freakin delicious does that look?!

Well, I'll tell ya. It was the bomb. Here's the recipe:

Southwest Sweet Potato Burritos

2 TB oil

2 large sweet potatoes

1 large red pepper

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed

1 bag frozen corn

1 red onion

1 teaspoon cumin

1/2 teaspoon chipotle seasoning

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper

1 teaspoon fresh cilantro

First, peel the sweet potatoes if you want. I don't care whether the skin's on or not so I leave it. It doesn't affect the taste whatsoever.
Chop up your sweets to about 1/2 inch cubes. If you're bad with eyeballing sizes like I am, just cut them into what looks like bite sized to you. Like a Hershey's Miniature! Here's where I save a lot of time. I steam the chopped potatoes in Ziploc Zip N Steam bags. 7 minutes in the microwave and they are steamed to fork tender perfection. If you don't have these handy little buggers on hand (as you should!), you can put them in a loosely covered microwave safe bowl and nuke 'em for 4-6 minutes soften them up.
While your sweets are in the microwave, heat up your oil in a good sized non-stick skillet on medium-high heat. While your oil is heating up, you can take this time to chop your pepper and onion into bite sizers. Once your oil is hot, add the peppers. Let them saute for 2-3 minutes before adding the onion. Once you throw the onion in, let it all cook, stirring occasionally, until the veggies are crisp tender.
Add your sweets, corn, cumin, chipotle, and crushed red pepper. Cook another 2-3 minutes (keep stirring!) and toss your beans in there. Once everything is heated up, dust your cilantro over the top and give it another quick toss.

This is really good if you heat up a tortilla and schmear some mashed avocado on before wrapping it up. The hubby likes it with a schmear of sour cream and a handful of taco cheese. Any way you condiment it, it's delicious.

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Monday, January 31, 2011

Buffalo Chicken Dip

This past Sunday, we had a work meeting at which everyone brought a munchies dish. A munchies dish is something that you take some of, then go back and visit it so often and or such a long period of time that you never actually need lunch or dinner that day. Like the ever-popular meatballs & wienies, Buffalo Chicken Dip is one that, once you've tried it, is a must-have munchies dish.

I totally thought I'd made this up, by the way. I thought I was some culinary genius who had revolutionized the way we would all eat wings! I was wrong. Turns out the recipe originated in the Frank's Red Hot kitchens. I guess I can concede to Frank's.


2 cups cooked shredded chicken (I used canned; you can't tell)

1/2 c. wing sauce (I prefer Hooter's)

1 c. ranch dressing, or bleu cheese if you prefer

2 8 oz. pkgs. cream cheese, softened

8 oz. cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Stir together softened cream cheese and dressing. It works really well with a hand mixer, but if your cream cheese is soft enough, you can definitely get away with using a firm spoon. Spread evenly in 13x9 glass dish. Meanwhile put chicken in small skillet with wing sauce and let simmer on low so it can soak up the flavor. Once it's all simmery and yummy-smelling, spread over cream cheese mixture. Bake for about 15 minutes, then sprinkle cheese over the top and bake until cheese is melted. I prefer to enjoy it with Fritos Scoops, but it's also good with Tostitos Scoops or celery!

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Saturday, January 22, 2011

Chicken & Mushroom Farfalle

Tonight was one of those nights where I completely forgot to lay something out to thaw. I went in to work for a couple hours and didn't even consider the fact that I had to cook dinner a few hours after getting home. Therefore, I was left with choosing from either leftovers or items from my fridge. Chicken Mushroom Farfalle was born.
I happened to have some of those pre-cooked Tyson Chicken Breast Strips in my fridge (had a coupon!). I also had a half box of Barilla Plus Farfalle and thought there HAD to be some way to combine the two. Just my luck, I had some portabello mushrooms in the fridge!
My first cooking rule of thumb is that I am in LOOOOVE with Litehouse freeze-dried herbs. This means I always have a supply of pseudo-fresh basil, red onion and chives on and at all times. Keeping this in mind, I took the mushrooms, some minced garlic (which I also keep on hand) and my basil and tried to figure out how to turn it into a sauce. I also feel like it's important to keep chicken broth/stock on hand just in case! Thank goodness for this philosophy.

1/2 bag Tyson Grilled & Ready Oven Roasted Chicken Breast
8 oz. Barilla Plus Farfalle (or any bow-tie pasta)
1/2 c. chicken broth (I use low-sodium)
1/4 c. white cooking wine
1 TB olive oil
3 Portabello mushroom caps, diced
2 cloves minced garlic
2 TB minced onion
2 TB fresh basil (or freeze-dried!)
1 TB parsley
4 TB low-fat cream cheese

Get water boiling in pot large enough to accommodate your farfalle. Most recipes recommend 6 cups but I never measure; it's one of those things where most people know how much water to use. Not going to walk you through boiling water. I do suggest blopping a sploosh of olive oil in the water and maybe a dash of salt. The olive oil helps the pasta from sticking together and salt helps keep a steady boil. Throw your farfalle in the water and give it a stir.
Heat up a skillet on medium-high and sploosh your olive oil in there. Let it get warm, then add your mushrooms. Let them get tender, then add the minced onion and garlic. Cook for around a minute, just so it all gets warm and the flavors meld. Now, when I say minced onion, I mean the dried kind from the spice aisle. If you're using fresh onion that you've minced, you're less lazy than me. You'll need to put your onion in when you first add your shrooms so they can get tender as well.
One your shroom mixture is cooked, add the chicken broth and wine. Lower your head to medium-low. Your liquid will make this beautiful sizzly sound when you pour it in; if it's a gentle sizzle, you're at the right temp. If it sounds like a Fry Daddy, turn your heat down a smidge. Add your chicken and spices at this time, too. By the way, let's not forget about that farfalle. Give it a stir. It takes about 12 minutes to cook, but if you never stir it it will stick, even with the olive oil. Give it some love.
You back? Good.
Your sauce should smell really good about now, and your chicken should be warm. At this point, your farfalle should be about done, so stir in the cream cheese. Let it melt in the pan and give your sauce a pretty mushroom color. Once it's melted, turn off your burner. Just like on the Hamburger Helper box, "sauce will thicken as it stands". Take this time to drain your farfalle, set the table, maybe make a nice green salad. Serve the sauce over the pasta. Ok, take a quick taste. It's so good, isn't it? It's almost decadent. And, bonus! It's low in cals. 208 per serving, in fact. This recipe makes 4ish servings, so use your judgement on what a serving size is.
My 7 year old daughter asked for seconds on this and she will not touch a mushroom. I was pleased. Let me know how it turns out for you! Pin It