Archive for January, 2011


The Sandwich

January 30, 2011

 We are really enjoying our panini press.  I made this really simple and quick sandwich with it last night for dinner.  Everyone loved it.  Meeshie had hers plain, just the steak, but I added grilled onion, cheese, and horseradish to mine and my husband’s.  I love good horseradish on a sandwich.

If you don’t have a panini press, you can use a grill.  Because the steak is so thin, it doesn’t need a lot of time to cook.  Once you’ve put all the steak on the grill  it’s pretty much ready to turn over, and once you’ve done that, well you get the picture.  It should be done.

I had to cut the steak in half to fit on the panini press and I used one steak per roll, but you could add more if you want.  Just don’t over do it, otherwise you won’t be able to take a bite of the sandwich.

Steak Sandwich

  • 1 1/2 lb thin slices Bottom Round Steak
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 6 Hoagie Rolls
  • 6 slices of Provolone

Marinate the steak in olive oil, salt and pepper for 1-2 hours.

Preheat the panini press and line it with parchment paper.  Place the steak on the press, cover with additional parchment paper and cook for about 1-2 minutes.  You want to cook until you don’t see any red.  Don’t overcook it or it will be like leather.

Slice the rolls in half, brush with melted butter and minced garlic.  Place in the oven until golden brown.  Remove from the oven and place the cheese on one half of the rolls, return to the oven until cheese has melted.  Place cooked steak on rolls and enjoy.

You can also add grilled onion, grilled peppers and lettuce to the sandwich along with horseradish, if you like.  Serve with french fries sprinkled with truffle salt.



It’s a French Thing

January 27, 2011

I’m in a lunch rut.  Not for me.  I bring lots of great leftovers to work everyday.

My lunch rut has to do with Meeshie.  Her school offers hot lunch but I only let her get that once or twice a week.  That leaves me to think of something for her the other days.  That’s the problem.  All of my great lunch ideas involve the microwave and 3rd graders don’t have that option.  So every January I find myself in a lunch rut.  How many times can one person eat peanut butter and jelly or salami in a row?  A lot, I guess, but that doesn’t mean I have to enjoy making it.

I’m trying to think of new twists on the old classics.  So far I’ve been using crepes for the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

I love crepes.  They’re another versatile meal that can be eaten at breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert.  Plus you can have them hot or cold, therefore making them the perfect lunchtime meal for Meeshie.

Crepes are also pretty easy to make, once you get the hang of getting them into the pan and that usually takes one try.  They freeze well too and depending on the ingredients, you can make them sweet or savory.


  • 4 Large Eggs
  • 1/4 C melted Butter
  • 1 C Flour
  • Salt, I use Kosher
  • 2 C Half and Half

Whisk the eggs together in a medium-sized mixing bowl.  Slowly add the melted butter and whisk until combined.  Stir in the flour and salt and stir until combined.  Slowly add the milk.  The batter should be runny.  Let the batter rest, and refrigerate for at least an hour.

Place a little butter in a nonstick pan and put over medium heat.  Ladle to crepe batter in the pan tilting while adding the batter to completely and evenly coat the bottom of the pan.  Once the edge of the crepe begins to pull away from the pan, after about 1 to 2 minutes, use a spatula to get under the crepe and use your fingers to turn it over.  The crepe should be golden brown.  Cook for another minute, remove from the pan and put it onto a plate.

This recipe makes about 12-16 crepes.

I love crepes with ham and asparagus with bechamel sauce.  Or with fresh strawberries and whipped cream.  Or Nutella and drizzle of chocolate sauce.  Or chicken, tomatoes, basil and a white wine sauce.  Or … sorry, I can go on and on.  The possibilities are endless.




January 25, 2011

I’m continuing to enjoy some comfort food at our house.  The cold weather really makes it easy to do that.

What better comfort food is there than the potato pancake?  It’s versatile too.  You can literally eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  I prefer it for dinner myself, but I do love it for breakfast.  I really love it with sour cream and tomatoes.  Meeshie likes it with syrup and my husband likes it with syrup or sour cream.

The only issue I have with sharing this recipe with you is that I really don’t have a recipe for potato pancakes.  I just throw things into the bowl and know I have the right consistency by looking at it.  I don’t really measure too much out. 

But I’m going to try my best to share this.  It’s worth it.

Potato Pancakes

  • 1/2 lb Bacon, diced
  • 3-4 Large Potatoes, scrubbed clean
  • 1 Large Onion
  • 2 Eggs, beaten
  • 1/2-3/4 C Flour
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste
  • Vegetable Oil for frying

In a large skillet, fry the diced bacon until almost crispy.  While the bacon is frying, shred the potatoes and onion in a large bowl.  Add the bacon and about half of the grease to the potato/onion mixture.    The more grease you add, the more flour you’ll need to add.  Add the eggs, salt, pepper and flour.  Using your hands or a large spoon, mix the potato/onion batter.  It should clump together, but not be too watery.  You want it thick, like pancake batter, just not too thick.

Heat up the oil in a large skillet, I use the same one I had the bacon in.  Put enough oil in the pan to allow them to fry.  I use a large soup ladle to spoon into the hot skillet.  Cook for about 8 minutes a side, or until golden brown.  Try not to overcrowd the pan, otherwise you’ll have to adjust your cooking time.  

Transfer to a cookie sheet lined with paper towel to drain.  You can transfer the pancakes to another cookie sheet and place in a warm oven until you are done cooking all the pancakes.

Serve with sour cream, sliced tomatoes, apple sauce, powdered sugar, or syrup.

You can eat them as a side or as an entrée.

This recipe makes about 12-16 large pancakes.


It’s Really Cold Outside

January 23, 2011

I know it’s January in the midwest, but apparently that’s news.

I saw the weatherman the other night go on and on about how cold it is outside.  And guess what it’s going to snow this week too.  Really?  I’ve lived in the Chicagoland area my whole life and this is news?  It’s January after all and we have weeks left of this weather.  Midwesterners take this in stride.  Windchill, snow, below zero temperatures.  It’s not really that awe-inspiring to me. 

But that doesn’t mean we can’t have something to keep us warm.

Like soup.  Really good soup.

This one fits the bill.  This soup has a great flavor and is creamy but not too creamy.  I love a good cream soup.

Asparagus Soup

  • 1/4 C Butter
  • 2 Carrots, chopped
  • 1 Medium Onion, chopped
  • 3 Celery Stalks, chopped
  • 2 Garlic Cloves, minced
  • 1/4 C Flour
  • 4 Cans Chicken Broth (14 1/2 oz)
  • 1 Large Potato, peeled and diced
  • 2 lb Asparagus
  • 1 C Half and Half
  • 1 C White Wine
  • 1 T Worcestershire
  • 1 T Soy Sauce
  • 1/2 t Pepper, or more to taste
  • 1/2 t Truffle Salt, or more to taste

Melt the butter, add the onion, carrots, celery and garlic.  Saute until tender.  Stir in the flour and cook for 1-2 minutes.  Slowly add the broth.  Stir until smooth.  Bring to a boil.  Add the potato and chopped asparagus, reserving some of the tips for garnish.  Reduce heat and simmer until potato and asparagus are very tender, about 20 minutes.  Puree the soup.  Add the wine, half and half, soy sauce, Worcestershire, pepper and salt.  Bring to just boiling point and serve.

Serve this alone, with your favorite bread, or with a sandwich.

Just try to stay warm, ‘cuz it was warmer in Anchorage yesterday than it was in Chicago.


Breakfast Panini

January 20, 2011

Here’s another great panini sandwich.

Have I mentioned how much fun I’m having with this panini press?  Truly, I’m having so much fun with this toy.

It’s another recipe from heat oven to 350 degrees.

I know that I’ve said this before, but I do love that site.  Lots of fun recipes.

You could easily add some scrambled eggs to this recipe, if you’re so inclined.  Or just keep it the way it is, with the cheese and the apples and the sausage.  Yum!

What I really love about this recipe is that it’s so simple.  You can easily make this during the week and because you line the press with parchment paper there’s not too much clean up.  It’s a virtual grab and go meal.  Way easier than the drive-thru.

Breakfast Panini

  • 1 loaf  of Sourdough Bread
  • 1 whole Granny Smith Apple, Peeled And Chopped
  • 1 pound Cooked, Sliced Breakfast Sausage, regular or maple flavor
  • 16 slices Sharp Cheddar Cheese
  • 8 Tablespoons Butter

Preheat the panini maker and line it with parchment paper.

Butter one side of each piece of bread. On the non-buttered side, add two slices of the cooked sausage, 1/8 of the apple and two slice of cheddar cheese. Top with another piece of bread (butter side out) and place another piece of parchment paper on the sandwich.  Heat until the bread is toasted and the cheese has melted. Serve.


Blueberry Bread Pudding

January 18, 2011

I love bread pudding.  This one is unique because it uses croissants.

My girlfriend Carol gave me this recipe a while ago.  I finally gotten around to making this.

I’m so glad I did. 

The hardest thing about this recipe is finding croissants.  Which says a lot about how easy it is.  The flavor of this pudding is divine.  You could easily substitute other fruit if you don’t like blueberry.  I think that strawberries or cherries will work well in this pudding.

I actually had some vodka infused blueberries in the freezer that I used.  The vodka added another layer of flavor but it’s not necessary.  If you add vodka, I would suggest adding 1-2 T.

Blueberry Bread Pudding

  • 8 Croissants
  • 2 C Fresh or Frozen Blueberries
  • 5 Large Eggs
  • 2 C Half and Half
  • 1 C Sugar
  • 1 t Cinnamon
  • 1/2 t Nutmeg
  • 1 t Vanilla
  • 2 T Slivered Almonds

Heat the oven to 375 degrees. 

Cut the croissants into 2 inch pieces, toast them in the oven for 10 minutes.  Remove and cool. 

Raise the oven heat to 400 degrees.  Butter a 9-inch square glass baking dish.  Combine the toasted croissants with the blueberries in the baking dish.  Whisk together the eggs, half and half, sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg.  Stir in the vanilla.  Pour over the croissants and sprinkle with the almonds. 

Place the baking dish in a large baking pan.  Add enough hot water to come halfway up the sides of the dish.  Bake for 50-60 minutes or until the pudding is set and the top is golden.  Make sure to check the pudding after about 10 minutes.  Take a spoon and push the croissants down in the egg mixture. Remove the baking dish from the water, cool on a wire rack. 

Serve warm or at room temperature.

This pudding would be a wonderful addition to a brunch.

This makes 6-8 servings.


Clam Chowder

January 16, 2011

It’s pretty cold around here today.  A perfect day for soup.  Or chowder.  I love a good clam chowder.  This one has a great flavor.  My husband, who isn’t a clam chowder fan, likes this one.  I think it’s because I rinse the clams. 

I’m not a fan of a chowder that’s too fishy and sometimes canned clams can be just that.  But because they are rinsed, you don’t have that.  Plus the little bit of tabasco gives it a hint of heat.

I made this a few days ago and have been enjoying it for lunch almost every day.

You can enjoy this as a meal or pair it with a sandwich.

Clam Chowder

  • 6 slices Diced Bacon
  • 2 Medium Sized Carrots Thinly Sliced
  • 2 stalks Celery, Thinly Sliced
  • 1 Small Onion Chopped
  • ½ Small Green Pepper Chopped
  • 1 clove Garlic, Minced
  • 3 T Flour
  • 1-½ pound Thin Skinned Potatoes
  • 2 – 8 Oz. Bottles Clam Juice
  • 8 – 6.5 Oz. Cans Clams (chopped and whole-I use half of each), rinsed and drained
  • 1 C Chicken broth
  • 1 whole Bay Leaf
  • ½ t Tabasco
  • ¼ t Fresh Ground Black Pepper
  • 1-½ t Worcestershire Sauce
  • ¾ t Dried Thyme
  • 3 C Half and Half
  • In a stock pot, cook bacon over medium heat until crisp. Remove from the pan, drain and set aside. Discard all but 3 T of the drippings. Add carrots, celery, onion, green pepper, and garlic to the drippings and cook, stirring often until soft .  Add the flour to make a roux, cooking for another 5 minutes.  Cut potatoes into 1/2″ cubes. Add to vegetable mix along with the clam juice, chicken broth and the bay leaf. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes.  Stir in the clams, tabasco, pepper, Worcestershire, thyme, half and half and bacon. Heat until steaming over med. low heat. Season to taste with salt.


    Pretzel Crusted Chicken

    January 13, 2011

    I wanted to make the pecan chicken strips for dinner the other night but realized I didn’t have any pecans.  I went through them all during my Christmas baking frenzy.  We really love the pecan chicken too.  Since I had already committed to the chicken I went through the pantry to see what I could do about a substitute.

    I did have some almonds but I didn’t want to substitute with just that.   That’s when it hit me, pretzels.  The pretzels and the almonds compliment each other, but you could easily just use pretzels in this recipe.

    Pretzel Crusted Chicken

    • 2 whole Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts
    • ½ C Milk
    • 1/4 C All-purpose Flour
    • 1/2 C Finely Chopped Pretzels
    • 1/4 C Finely Chopped Almonds
    • 1/4 C Italian Breadcrumbs
    • 1/2 t Truffle Salt
    • ½ t Black Pepper
    • 1/4 t Shallot Salt
    • 2 T Cooking Oil
    • 2 T Unsalted Butter

     Cut chicken into strips, about 8-10 pieces per breast. Place in a bowl, and add the milk.  Set aside and soak the chicken in the milk for at least a half an hour.  

    In a shallow dish, mix flour, pretzels, almonds, breadcrumbs, salts (if you don’t have truffle and shallot salt you can substitute season salt), and pepper. Dredge chicken in flour mixture. In a heavy skillet, heat oil and butter until sizzling. Place chicken pieces in the skillet and allow to brown lightly.  If there is not enough room in the skillet for all the pieces, cook them in batches turning each piece over and placing them on a plate until each piece is browned.  Put all the pieces back in the skillet and place the skillet in  a preheated 375 degree oven. Bake for 15  minutes.

    This makes 4 generous servings of chicken.


    Breakfast Treats

    January 11, 2011

    We love toaster strudel.  Meeshie can easily go through a box in less than a week and  I don’t like to buy them unless they’re on sale.

    Pop tarts, on the other hand, are not something we have on any regular basis.  It’s probably the cardboard-like flavor of them.  If I buy them they can sit in the pantry for quite a while.

    Until I made pop tarts and toaster strudel over the weekend.

    The toaster strudel I made with the panini press, but it can easily be made in the oven.  The pop tarts were made in the oven, but could easily be made in the panini press.

    I made  brown sugar cinnamon and strawberry.  I plan to make raspberry and almond soon.

    The brown sugar cinnamon ones are hands down the best I’ve ever eaten.

    Pop Tarts

    • Your favorite pie crust, you may need two depending on the size of the dough
    • 1 Egg
    • 1 T Water
    • Jelly Filling:
    • 3/4 C Jam-I used Strawberry
    • Brown Sugar Cinnamon Filling:
    • 1/2 C Brown Sugar
    • 1 1/2 t Cinnamon
    • 4 t Flour

    For the brown sugar cinnamon filling, whisk together the brown sugar, cinnamon and flour and set aside until you’re ready to assemble.

    Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and roll into a 9×12 rectangle and about 1/8″ thick.  You want to make sure that the crust isn’t too thick or you’ll have a really crusty pop tart.  Cut into thirds and form about 9 3×4 inch rectangles.  Place a heaping tablespoon of filling into the center of each rectangle, keeping about a half inch perimeter.  Brush the perimeter with the egg and water mixture.  Place a second rectangle of dough on top of the first.  Press the tines of a fork all around the edges of the rectangle.  Place the tarts on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Prick the tops of the tarts with a fork.  Refrigerate for about 30 minutes. 

    Place in a preheated 350 degrees oven and bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. 

    You can keep them in an air tight container or freeze them.  Stick them in the toaster to heat before serving.

    Makes 9 regular or 18 mini pop tarts.

    Toaster Strudel

    • 2 Sheets of Frozen Pastry, thawed
    • Your favorite filling-see above
    • 1 Egg
    • 1 T Water
    • Glaze:
    • 1 C Powdered Sugar
    • 2-3 T Milk

    Unfold the pastry on a lightly floured surface.  Divide the pastry into 6 equal rectangles.  Place a heaping tablespoon of filling into the center of each rectangle, keeping about a half inch perimeter.  Brush the perimeter with the egg and water mixture.   Place a second rectangle of dough on top of the first.  Press the tines of a fork all around the edges of the rectangle.

    Place in a parchment paper lined preheated panini press.  Place an additional piece of parchment on top of the pastry.  Lower the lid until it’s hovering just above the tarts, about 1/2 inch away.  Grill for about 10 minutes or until the tarts are puffed and golden.

    Remove from press and drizzle with glaze.

    These can be kept in an airtight container in the fridge and quickly microwaved before eating.

    Makes 6 regular or 12 mini toaster strudel.


    Honey Soy Marinated Chicken

    January 9, 2011

    This is one our favorite new chicken dishes. 

    I found this great marinade from my friend Kathy in Greendale (Thanks Kathy!)  She sent me the link after she made the recipe for her family.  The original recipe is for chicken thighs.  I’ve yet to make it that way.  I’m actually not a huge fan of dark meat and for some reason every time I’ve made this I’ve used a whole chicken. 

    It’s in our rotation a lot.  The flavors are so good.

    Honey Soy Marinated Chicken

  • For the marinade:
  • 3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 3 Tablespoons Soy Sauce
  • 5 Tablespoons Honey
  • 4 cloves Garlic; Minced (or Substitute 1/2 Teaspoon Garlic Powder)
  • ½ teaspoons Ground Ginger
  • ½ teaspoons Ground Pepper
  • Salt And Pepper, to taste
  • One whole chicken, about 4 pounds
  • 1/2 an Onion
  • Mix the first 6 ingredients together in a large plastic zip-top storage bag. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add the chicken to the plastic bag.  Marinade for at least 12 hours.  I like to put the marinade together and add the chicken a day ahead.

    Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Place the chicken in a baking dish along with the marinade.  Place the 1/2 an onion in the chicken cavity.  Cook for about an hour and half depending on the size/weight of your chicken.  You can place tin foil on the chicken about half way through the cooking process if you want.  If not the chicken will get very black but it won’t affect the taste.  The chicken will be very juicy and tasty.

    Serve with your favorite sides.

    Here’s the original recipe as it is intended.

    Enjoy it either way!

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