Monday, May 28, 2012

Mr. Crunch

It seems as though sandwiches are always getting ragged on. Like when you turn down every restaurant in Atlantic City, even though your BFF is starving, because you "don't feel like a sandwich". (Sorry, Shu.)

Or, as I was shopping for this recipe, the boyfriend (who never complains about sandwiches), turns and says to me, ever so disdainfully, " mean, we're just having a ham and cheese sandwich for dinner?" 

Just a ham and cheese sandwich?  

JUST a ham and cheese sandwich? 

Oh, no.  

No, no, no. 

This is much better than a ham and cheese sandwich. This is a roll-your-eyes-into-the-back-of-your-head-amazeballs-sandwich. Otherwise known as a Croque Monsieur, (a crunchy Mister).

serves 4
adapted from Bon Appetit

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 cup heavy cream
pinch of nutmeg
1 small bay leaf (or half of a large bay leaf)
salt and pepper

8 slices sourdough bread
8 oz. thin sliced Black Forest ham
8 oz grated Gouda, divided
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

In a small sauce pan, melt the two tablespoons of butter over medium heat. Whisk together with two tablespoons of flour, cook the flour for about a minute. Slowly whisk in the cup of heavy cream. Add the pinch of nutmeg and the bay leaf. Turn up the heat to about medium-high in attempt to reach a boil. Whisk the mixture often, for about 2 minutes, until the sauce thickens. It's going to get really thick, and it will seem like it happens all of a sudden. Don't freak out. Season with salt and pepper, and set aside.

Preheat broiler. On a foil-covered baking sheet, place 4 slices of bread. Distribute the ham equally among the 4 sandwiches-to-be. Top the ham with 6 oz of grated Gouda, saving the remaining 2 oz for later. Top each sandwich half with the remaining four slices of bread. 

Top the 4 sandwiches with half of the melted butter. Cook, buttered-side-down, on a skillet until golden brown, (about 2 minutes). Spread the remaining melted butter on the tops of the sandwiches before cooking the remaining side. When both sides are golden brown, return the sandwiches to the baking sheet. Top the sandwiches with the remaining 2 oz. of grated Gouda, and large spoonfuls of the cream sauce. Broil until the cheese/sauce begins to brown, about 3 minutes.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Peanut Butter Rice Krispy Treats

I've previously shared my love/fascination/appreciation for rice kripsy treats. At the rate we're going, they could be their very own food trend. Move over cupcakes, cake pops, and mini pies, rice krispy treats are going to rule this town.

Think about it! You have either plain, chocolate, or fruity rice cereal; the marshmallows come in all sorts of colors/flavors! Then, there's all the other flavors you could mix in: chocolate, peanut butter, mint, dulce de leche...

The krispy revolution has the potential to be amazing.

Here's one step closer to taking over the dessert world with crispy rice cereal treats, and all you need is 5 ingredients!

Yes, crispy...with a C. When this revolution starts picking up speed, we want to avoid lawsuits.

Peanut Butter Rice Krispy Treats

3 tablespoons unsalted butter
10 oz. package of mini marshmallows
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
6 cups crispy rice cereal
1 cup butterscotch chips

Prepare a 9x13 glass pan with nonstick spray.

In a large pot, melt the 3 tablespoons of butter over medium-low heat. When the butter is almost completely melted, add the 10 oz of marshmallows. Using a spatula, coat marshmallows with hot melted butter to help speed the melting process. Occasionally remove pot from heat to avoid burning the bottom.

When the marshmallows begin to lose their shape, add the 1/2 cup of smooth peanut butter. Continue to heat, stir, and remove from heat as necessary. Marshmallow mixture will begin to look sticky and stringy. Continue stirring together until just combined.

Remove pot from heat completely, stir in the 6 cups of cereal. Add the cup of butterscotch chips, and combine well. Scrape contents of the pot into the prepared pan. Use your spatula to flatten cereal mixture into desired shape.
Cool completely before cutting.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Dirty Rice

A go-to meal has to be tasty and easy. For some people it's Spaghetti, for others it's casseroles, for's Dirty Rice. Dirty Rice has become such a regular at our house that it's a miracle we aren't sick of it, yet.
As if rice weren't good enough on its own, it becomes a phenomenal main course when you add sausage, bell peppers, celery, onions, and spices.


Dirty Rice
adapted from My Life as a Mrs.

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, seeded, diced
4 stalks of celery, diced
1 lb hot Italian sausage links
2 tablespoons Cajun seasoning (this recipe provides more than enough)
2 cups Basmati rice
2 (14.5oz) cans of low sodium chicken broth
3 oz water
2-3 green onions (optional)

Heat the 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil in a large pot with a tight fitting lid. Over medium-high heat, saute the diced onion, bell pepper and celery until they begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the hot sausage links, and continue to cook alongside vegetables. Brown sausages on each side. Mix in the Cajun seasoning.

Add the 2 cups of Basmati rice to the pot, and stir ingredients together. Pour the 2 cans of chicken broth into the pan. Add the 3 oz of water and stir to combine. Bring the contents of the pot to a boil. Put lid on and reduce heat to a low simmer. Cook the rice untouched for 20 - 24 minutes. Fluff rice with kitchen tool, and place lid back on the pot. Allow rice to finish cooking in its steam/residual heat for about 15 minutes.

Slice sausage links before serving, top with chopped green onions, if desired.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins


I used to sell a lot of Costco muffins in high school. Each muffin earned us 50 cents in profit. Logically, this was how we decided we were going to fund our prom.

The sales were generally successful, but on one unfortunate occasion, I ended up with a box of non-costco muffins. The problem? They were a box of off brand bran muffins. Nobody wanted bran muffins!

Later in the day, my high school crush was starving. Being the great salesperson that I was, I encouraged him to buy a muffin. He was so stoked to "see" chocolate, and I was so excited about finally landing a sale that I didn't correct him. Sorry, P. 

Well, no confusion here. These lemon poppy seed muffins are sweet, and straightforward. They are exactly what you expect them to be. Delicious with a hint of sunshine. (Or lemon zest, whatevs)

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins
slightly adapted from Annie's Eats

2 cups AP flour
2 tablespoons poppy seeds
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar, divided
2 large eggs
zest of 1/2 lemon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup plain yogurt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin tin with paper liners.

Into a medium bowl, sift the 2 cups of flour, 2 tablespoons of poppy seeds, 1 1/4 tsp baking powder, 1/4 tsp baking soda, and the 1/2 tsp of salt. Whisk together to combine.

After reserving two tablespoons for later, pour the remaining sugar into a mixing bowl. Zest half a lemon into the sugar. Use the back of a spoon to press the zest into the sugar. Beat sugar mixture together with softened butter until light and fluffy. Mix in the eggs, one at a time. Add the teaspoon of vanilla and mix well.

Alternating twice with the plain yogurt, add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients. Combine ingredients between each addition.

Divide the batter among the 12 muffin liners, and top the muffins-to-be with the reserved sugar from before. Bake muffins for 18 - 20 minutes, turning the pan once while baking. Let muffins cool in pan for 5 - 10 minutes, before cooling completely on wire rack.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Smoked Salmon Salad

Eggs are my best food friend. I'll make them for breakfast on the weekends, I'll cook them in a spicy tomato sauce for dinner, and sometimes I can scramble them into leftovers and have fried rice for lunch! Leftover pasta? Spanish rice? I've put eggs on them before, too. Usually, when a meal is lacking in protein, my go-to solution is to plop an egg on it.

It's easy to see why as soon as I saw this salad, I had to make my own. There was only one problem...

I had never poached eggs before.

What's even sadder is that I had never EATEN poached eggs before. (Not counting shakshuka, of course.)

Luckily, a simple Google search lead me to Deb's fabulous post on how to poach an egg. (Seriously, where would I be without her?) I was off! Cracking eggs into a little bowl and pouring them into a whirlpool of almost-boiling water. It was scary, fascinating, and energizing all at the same time. When I scooped the eggs up and place them to dry on a paper towel, I couldn't help but notice the charming resemblance to a certain pixar character ...

Once you get passed the egg poaching, this salad comes together with ease.

Smoked Salmon Salad with Poached Eggs
inspired by JungleFrog
makes 2 large dinner servings

for salad
1 package of pre-washed Spring Mix Salad (feel free to use your favorite greens)
8 oz. smoked salmon

for dressing
3 oz. canola oil
1 oz. extra virgin olive oil
1 oz. red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
Fresh cracked pepper and sea salt


Combine greens in a medium bowl.

In a smaller bowl, whisk together oils with vinegar. Add the lemon juice, Dijon mustard, Worcestershire, and garlic powder. Whisk until well combined. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Add your desired amount of dressing to greens, making sure to toss the vegetables and coat well. Plate your dressed greens, topping each serving with smoked salmon and two poached eggs. Sprinkle pepper and salt over the eggs and enjoy!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The Un-postables!

As I've mentioned before, the recipes I am posting have been part of 2 challenges I am taking part of. Reddit's 52 Weeks of Cooking and 52Weeks of Baking challenge have both encouraged me to post on here somewhat regularly.

Sometimes life keeps me from writing about my kitchen adventures, so I'm going to fill you in on a few recipes that never made it to the blog.

Back in Week 7, when both the cooking and baking challenge were "love-inspired", I introduced you to my love's favorite giant dessert.  What I didn't share with you, was the meal he cooked. A dish that is dear to both our hearts, Mussels with Chorizo, Tomato, and Wine.

Week 9 was both simple, and tricky. The baking challenge asked for a cookie recipe, while the cooking challenge asked that I prepare something with coffee as one of the ingredients. That was the week I took a stab at Joy's Coffee Bacon Sandwich.

The blog missed out on a post again on Week 10, which were recipes inspired by a book, movie, or television. As a passionate Harry Potter fan, I was excited to finally make those Butterbeer Cupcakes. That week, I also made a Giant Chocolate Chip Cookie in honor of this guy

I made something savory for the baking challenge on Week 11. That week, the cooking challenge simply asked for "breakfast", which I made with my BFFFFF out in Northern California. Come to find out, Sausage Breakfast Scrambles aren't the most photogenic dishes....

Week 12 asked that the challengers cook something featuring cheese. After seeing this recipe from How Sweet It Is, I had to make Baked Buffalo Chicken Pasta. On Week 13, I made a no-bake oreo cheesecake, unfortunately, it was all gone before I could take the picture.

Week 16 was a decorating week of the baking challenge: flowers. I never end up fulfilling these, (much like weeks 12 and 4 of the challenge). To be fair, I do try to eventually use the technique. As far as cooking, Week 16 asked for something with asparagus, so I opted for Bacon Asparagus Pizza

Week 17 was a treat for our house. Not only did we cook lemon-peppered salmon for the challenge, (which asked for a recipe from childhood), but I also made a giant twix bar for the baking challenge which required that I make something with layers.

For Week 18, I'll be making a special salad, (which should be up on the blog, soon!). The baking challenge asked that I transform a drink into a dessert. My gut reaction was to make raspberry lemonade cupcakes, (YUM!), but instead I went for my interpretation of a cup of herbal tea. Vanilla Lavender Cupcakes with Honey Cream Cheese Frosting.

There are still plenty of weeks left, even though it certainly feels like things at work are winding to an end. Luckily, the end of the school year should lead to fewer iphone pics, and more posts to read! Enjoy!