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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