Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Melty, Cheesy, Beefy, Juicy, Crispy Patty Melt

Hello, delicious patty-melt-on-sour-dough-because-I-don’t-like-rye….you are beautiful ;-)

Why no….I have no idea why my ass is currently 3 feet wide….do you?

Who doesn’t love a hot, melty, stringy, cheesy, crispy, grilled……..anything?! I didn’t grow up a fan of the patty melt – I hate rye bread. But at this stage of the game of life, I should consider myself lucky that I didn’t thank about swapping breads long ago- ‘cuz my caboose would be even bigger!

I don’t think y’all need to be told how make a patty melt – after all it’s just a patty of juicy ground beef (fyi, press it thin and make it a good inch all-around bigger than the bread if your meat is 80/20); lip-smackingly caramelized, grilled onions; Swiss cheese, 1,000 Island dressing and good bread. Yes, yes…..traditionally rye, but in this case – it as sour dough….about ¾ inch thick sour dough. The loaf was heavy, but we could tell the bread was ‘airy’ which told me ‘this will get totally crispy on the grill!’ (as opposed to a more dense bread that could get soggy on the inner sides).

What makes a patty melt different from a ‘grilled cheese with hamburger in it’? I don’t really know – but I can tell you this: it IS different! I think the trick to this awesome, juicy, cheese-oozing sandwich was time and temp on the griddle. The heat was not too high (you don’t want your sandwich to burn before the inside has gotten sufficiently melty) and not too low (butter on the outside takes so long to melt is hardly gets crisp ands golden…just more yellow). You want a good, medium heat and then, if you have a cast iron press (I used a cast iron bacon press), layh it on top of the sandwich to help concentrate that heat and get the most crispy, uniformly melted, hot sandwich ever!

Yeah, yeah, I know….my bacon press allowed me to create a ‘poor mans panini press’. If you have an actual panini maker, I’m sure this post will sound rather like a grandparent telling you how to crank up the old Victrola – but I beg you…indulge me.

Thanks much ;-)

You know…if you were making three or four sandwiches on a griddle, I imagine you could press the tips down with a bog ol’ cast iron pan and do all four at once! Who needs Oprah’s favorite Breville Panini Makes (at $119) when you can slap a pan on yer sammich?!

Anyhoo – on one of these cold days, treat yourself to a toasty hot, cheesy, dreamy, juicy patty melt – pick your own bread………….you know I will :-)

Monday, November 22, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

In my own humble opinion, this pumpkin pie looks good enough to eat – but you might notice the hardware that’d make it a tad hard to swallow! That’s because this isn’t real pumpkin pie….they are charms made of polymer clay!

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday - anyone who calls my house on TG gets a turkey greeting (I have a mean gobble, thank you very much)!

Anyhoo - I made a bunch of these for some of the ladies in my life that I not only adore, but get to see at Thanksgiving time. I love working with polymer clay – and being the food addict that I am, my favorite thing to make with the clay is…food ;-)

I made the tiny pies then made wire loops and inserted them into the back crust. Once they were baked, I attached a ring and strung the charms onto black cord necklaces.

Because I didn’t want the recipients to wear the necklace only a few days, I also made Christmas charms - not all food…

....and let each wonderful woman...
...pick the one they wanted most.

This first batch of charms were given this past weekend……then I went home and went kinda charm nutty and made……

…all of these! Somehow my hands worked liked the wind and I busted all of them out in a couple of hours.

I’m not sure which one is my fave…the hubs likes the presents the best. I really like the ‘Christmas Pudding’ though and the poinsettia ;-) I think my big sis will snag one of the Christmas Lights charms but what anyone else will pick is…well…anyone’s guess!

I had all the stuff on hand to make all of these charms, but should you choose to do some yourself, it doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg. Watch for coupons to your local Michael’s, Joann’s or other craft store and you can save big!

With that I’ll wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving ;-) Here’s hoping you don’t get too full and that you make warm family memories to take you into this joyous holiday season!

By the way - to all my family and friends...I love all of you! I am so lucky to have you in my life. All of you are what I'm thankful for every day of the year.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

World's Best, Loaded, Baked Potato Soup!

I went to Heaven twice this past weekend. The first time was when my sister and I made this most delicious, loaded, baked potato soup. The second time - was when I made the soup again the next day! I'd sent a bunch home with my big sis since we'd cooked it up together - it's so much more fun to share the wealth ;-) But by the time my husband put clams and a handful of bay shrimp in his half of what was left, and my daughter and I had a bowl each - it was gone! And I have to tell you....this soup is SO freaking amazing I had no choice but to make it again.
Not only is this soup PERFECT when made to the letter of the recipe below - but I believe it could very well be the grand base for a million other soups (*note- the original recipe calls for whole milk - the first go-'round we used 2% as I never buy whole milk and it was PLENTY thick. Round two, I used skim as that's what I always buy and it was a thick and velvety as the first batch - trust me). I'd first halve the amount of potatoes in it and I'd probably dice them whereas in the original recipe, you simply put the scooped out chunks tater of any size right into the pot. Depending on what other ingredients I'd add, I also might use my immersion blender to make the soup silky smooth with tates rather than chunky at all. BUT...think of the varieties of soups you could make just by tossing in your favorite ingredients! Like I said, the hubs threw in a can of clams and a small handful of bay shrimp to create Slumgullion - but what I wanna try is a bag of frozen super sweet corn and a can or two of green chilies! But what about leftover ham, or sweet or spicy sausage? Maybe roasted garlic cloves or roasted peppers and onions - Holy Moly the list is endless...ENDLESS I'M TELLING YOU! Besides the fact that I adore this soup 'as is', it may be my my newest fave recipe only because it's SO versatile and I can make it the way I want it when the moods strikes me..whatever my mood might be! If I've ever wanted you to try ANYthing on this site before...this is THE one thing I beg you to cook up. It's super easy, really fast and insanely good!

Loaded Baked Potato Soup

9 baking potatoes
2/3 cup butter
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
6 cups skim milk (can use 2% or whole as well)
1/2 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 cup bacon bits
4 green onions, chopped
10 ounces shredded Cheddar cheese
1, (8 ounce) container sour cream

Prick potatoes with a fork and cook in the microwave until soft baked (you can do this step ahead of time if you choose). Scoop out the baked potato flesh into bowl. In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Whisk in flour and cook for about 2 minutes, stirring constantly till mixture bubbles, then cook a minute more to dispel a flat 'flour taste'. Whisk in milk, a little at a time, stirring constantly (will be very thick when first few additions of milk are whisked in - just keep whisking and adding in all milk). Stir until this mixture begins to thicken - about 5 minutes. Add in potatoes, salt, pepper, bacon bits, green onions and the cheese. Stir to incorporate. Add in sour cream and heat through. Serve topped with additional bacon, onions and cheese if desired.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Arriba! Mexican Shredded Beef!

You know when you buy a piece of meat on sale and you maybe cut it in half and freeze one-a the halves for later use? Can’t it be so easy to forget about that frozen hunk-a meat?! When we recently bought a rather large pot roast on sale, I vowed that when placed half in a freezer bag that I would not let it go to waste. And this past Sunday, we cooked up that wonder cut of beef and made it into the most succulent, delicious Mexican, shredded beef I’ve ever had. Shredded beef is a great change-up for tacos and nachos, etc. We use many different proteins in our Mexican, hamburger, ground turkey, chicken…but this was SO dang good and we’d always wanted to try it. Besides…after my daughter announced, the last time we had actual pot roast dinner – that she didn’t like pot roast – I knew we had to try something different with it….and you know what? She liked it! Ha!

All you have to do is make up the rub, poke garlic into the meat and toss it all in a crock pot with onions and peppers and leave it for 7 hours. I’m telling you it could not be any simpler! Totally give this a try – you will be glad you did J Yum, yum, yum!

Start by poking a few slits into the roast and filling each one with a peeled clove of garlic….
Spoon all of the rub ingredients into a bowl and mix’em up good – then rub’m all over the meat. Next, slice up the two jalapenos, onion and green pepper... Massage both sides of the roast with the rub, put it in the crock pot, cover with the peppers ands onions and pour in the liquid. It’ll seem like a very small amount if liquid, but trust me….this pot’ll brew up plenty of wonderful ‘juice’!

Cover the pot and go about your busy day for approx 7 hours for a 3 ½ pound roast.

Once it’s done, slap that chunk-a beauty meat down on a cutting board. Trust me, you’ll only need to use a fork to ‘smash’ through the meat as it be practically falling apart on itself – Note…remove any fat and all other ‘oogeys’ as you go! No one wants to bite into a blobbity! Leave the garlic cloves whole...smash through them or remove them – you’re choice. We left them whole – see – there’s one at about 9 o’clock!
Return meat to flavorful, brothy liquid until ready to serve. Depending on what you’re gonna do with it, you may choose to strain the meat (save the broth!) or simply let it drain of into the pot as you use tongs to remove servings of the tender, beef.
Now that your meat is done, you can use it in any way you choose..but here's what we did. We heated up some pinto beans (not refried beans...the whole ones are better here – and placed a few beans and some of the beef on a warmed small corn or flour tortilla.
Then dressed with a little lettuce, cilantro, tomatoes - (and some cheese if you choose) – all that was left to do then was to dig into juicy, beefy heaven!

Mexican Shredded Beef

3 ½ to 4 pound pot roast
6 cloves garlic – peeled
1 tablespoon paprika
(or smoked paprika)
1 tablespoon celery salt
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1/2 tablespoon ground black pepper
1/2 tablespoon chili powder
1/2 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt
1/2 teaspoon mustard powder
1 large onion, sliced
1 green bell pepper, sliced
2 jalapeno chili peppers, seeded & sliced
4 fluid ounces beer (can sub beef broth or cola)
1 1/2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoons liquid smoke flavoring
1 can rotelle tomatoes with chilies and cilantro
1 can green salsa verde

Poke as many holes in roast as garlic cloves you have, and push a clove into each hole. Combine all spices in a bowl, mix together and rub all over both sides of meat and place roast in crock pot. Slice onion and peppers and scatter over roast in pot. Combine all liquid/wet ingredients (last 5 ingredients) and pour over veggies & meat in pot. Place lid on crock pot and cook on low setting for 7 hours. Remove meat to cutting board or platter and shred with a fork. Return meat to liquid in pot and keep warm until ready to use. If not using right away, you can keep meat in it’s liquid in the fridge. A thin, top layer of fat will form on top once chilled in refrigerator. Once ready to reheat, you may choose to discard this or you can mix it back in as mixture reheats.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Creamy White Chicken Chili

Do any of the following weather conditions apply to where you are right now?

Pleasantly sunny with a fall bite in the air

If so, you NEED to make this creamy white chicken chili! It is one of my all tie favorite dishes and I can hardly believe I’ve never featured it here before. I can also hardy believe I don’t have a better picture of it! Crap! While it looks rather washed out above, this chili if FULL of flavor with green chilies, tender chicken, creamy white beans and silky ‘broth’. It is a winner - especially in the winter – but it’s great ANY day.

Creamy White Chicken Chili

3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into ½ inch pieces
1 medium chopped onion
1 ½ tsp garlic powder
1 T vegetable oil
3 cans (15 ½ oz each) great northern white beans, rinsed and drained
1 can chicken broth
2 cans (those small cans) chopped green chilies
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp dried oregano
½ tsp pepper’1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 cup sour cream
½ cup whipping cream (can use half-n-half)

In large skillet, sauté chicken, onion and garlic in vegetable oil until chicken is no longer pink.
Add beans, broth, chilies and seasonings. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes stirring occasionally. Remove from heat**. Stir in sour cream and whipping cream. Heat through. Serve immediately.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Maple Bacon Pan-Cake

So many great things about this dish…. It’s easy, it’s fast, it’s cheap, it’s something different and it’s good! It’s got the sweet/salty thing going on and what’s better than that?

This hot and tasty breakfast dish came to me from allrecipes.com about two months ago. I clipped it together with all the other recipes I’ve printed off myriad recipe sites that I one day mean to make – but this one called to me way more than any of the others. I mean, the thought of bacon and maple syrup together was enough to make me print it in the first place, but those things nestled in a hot, oven baked pan-cake – with cheese no less…finally this past Sunday I could ignore it no longer!

I must admit – I changed things up just a titch…I had ‘Hormel Real Bacon Pieces’ on hand so I used those instead of cooking up actual, raw bacon – which I didn’t have. I don’t think it made one bit of difference with the exception of it being faster and easier than if I’d had fried up the bacon myself. Also, the original recipe calls for cheese in it as well as on it – but I didn’t want my daughter to freak out about the se cheese before she had a chance to like this dish, so I left it off the top. She never knew it was inside and even though I figured I’d tell her afterward, I thought, “why?” Because I want her to continue to like it! Matter of fact, she asked me to use sausage next time in place of the bacon……done ;-)

Mapley-Bacony Pan-Cake

8 oz/ 1 cup bacon (REAL bacon ‘bits’ NOT ‘Bacos! Or actual cooked bacon, chopped into small pieces) - divided
1 cup baking mix – like Bisquik
¾ cup cheddar cheese – shredded
½ cup milk
1/3 cup maple syrup
2 T white sugar
2 eggs, slightly beaten
Additional maple syrup for drizzling

Preheat oven to 250 degrees and spray a 9” pie plate with non-stick cooking spray. Cook and crumble/chop bacon if necessary. Mix all ingredients – save for 1/3 of the bacon – in nixing bowl until combined. Pour into pie dish and bake on middle rack of oven for 12 minutes. Sprinkle top of pancake with remaining 1/3 cup bacon and bake an additional 5 to 7 minutes or until puffed and very light golden brown. Meanwhile, warm the additional maple syrup. Serve ‘pan-cake’ hot drizzled with hot maple syrup.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Simple-Ly Perfect Sunday Mornings

(*Note* - the font is all screwy today! Can't get it all the same! I know it probably doesn;t mater to you...but this is me we're talking about! ;-) - okay...on with the show...

Don’t you love Sunday mornings? With the exception of peeping through heavy lids and realizing, “Ahhhhh….it’s Saturday”, Sunday mornings are very hard to beat. From the moment I open my eyes, I know that a quiet house, a hot pot of coffee and the Sunday paper will soon be all mine as I curl up in my favorite corner or the couch donning fuzzy slipper socks with a cozy blanket draped across my lap.

The other nice thing about Sunday mornings….breakfast. Saturday’s don’t get much breakfast, if any ‘cuz there’s stuff to do – gotta get ready for the day and head out on those errands or dig into the house cleaning. But Sundays cal for something extra….something hot and savory, maybe a special sweet from time to time - even it’s as simple as a couple of egg whites and toast, there IS breakfast that MUST be had.

This past Sunday I cut up and cooked 6 slices of thick-sliced bacon and tossed it’s chewy, smoky goodness into fluffy, barely creamy, scrambled eggs. I added a little sliced green onion for a bit freshness and an extra crisp, English muffin toasted just-so. Simple, hot, full of flavor and delicious.

A perfect, cozy breakfast to crown my perfect, cozy, Sunday morning,

Thoroughly enjoy each and every one of your mornings :-)