Weekend Fare: Brunch & A Giveaway!

This Giveaway is now closed. Thanks to all who entered!

I’m late getting this post put together. My husband was home working on some paperwork today and the boys were busily cleaning their rooms. As the hours passed and we still really hadn’t eaten breakfast, I decided it was the perfect morning to make brunch. And thus this morning became a lovely morning of cooking for the men I love!

We enjoyed breakfast egg sandwiches and a fruited spinach salad. It was wonderful to spend time preparing for the day and feasting on the delicious, seasonal food.

The sandwich began with an inspiring loaf of rosemary olive oil bread. I decided to use parmesan as the cheese because I felt it would compliment the bread and not detract from it. The combination of flavors and textures proved fabulous.

BREAKFAST SANDWICH
Print These Recipes

1 egg
fresh grated parmesan cheese (or whatever cheese you prefer)
pepper to taste
2 slices bread (I used rosemary olive oil bread)
butter
1 slice cooked bacon
a few leaves of baby spinach
2-3 slices of tomato

Fry the egg in a litte butter – breaking the yoke. When it is almost finished, sprinkle parmsan cheese and allow to melt. Sprinkle with a little pepper.

Toast the bread – I put it under the broiler to crisp one side, leaving the other side soft. Butter one side of each piece.

To Build:
Top first slice of bread with baby spinach, then bacon, then the egg, then the tomato and top with remaining slice of bread. Serve immediately.

The salad was a delightful combination of fresh. The granola was perhaps the most interesting and most surprising addition. It took the salad right over the top and solidified it as a brunch salad. Simple and delicious.

BRUNCH SPINACH SALAD

Baby spinach or mixed greens
Creamy Balsamic Dressing (or dressing of your choice – a sweet poppy seed would also be lovely)
Fresh berries (I used raspberries and sliced strawberries)
Granola

Toss the greens with the dressing and place on plate. Top with berries and granola. Serve.

________________________________________

It’s been a very  LONG time since we’ve had a giveaway! Things have been busy and quite frankly, I just haven’t gotten around to it! However, a very thoughtful and generous reader and friend offered us this delightul book to giveaway. Thank you!

Do you like to entertain and set a beautiful table? Do you wonder how to pull together things you may already have to create ambience? Do you just enjoy creativity and love looking at beautiful inspiring photos? Then this is the book for you! The gorgeous photos of table ideas for all occasions will definitely inspire you. You can keep it simple or dress a table the would make Martha Stewart proud. Table Inspirations by Emily Chalmers is a lovely addition to any home. You won’t be disappointed!

Here’s the all important information on HOW TO ENTER:

Leave a comment on this post telling us 1 of your favorite summer dishes or a favorite summer recipe.
– Make sure we have a way to contact you!

For additional entries (just leave us a comment telling us which ones you have done!):
Subscribe via the link to the right or with google reader.
– Add us to your blog roll.
– Join our facebook group – The Cooks Next Door.
Facebook about this giveaway.
Tweet about this giveaway.
Blog about this giveaway.

There you go! You could earn as many as 7 entries. And if you already are in our group, subscribe etc, let us know and we will add in the extra entries!

This giveaway will be closed on Tuesday, June 7 and the winner announced on Wednesday, June 8!

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Off the Shelf: April Magazine Reviews

Bon Appetit (Stephanie): The advent of spring is celebrated throughout the pages of Bon Appetit with recipes highlighting ingredients like asparagus, radishes, peas, strawberries, leeks. After the long winter months, it’s such a pleasure to cook with fresh seasonal produce again. So many recipes sounded tempting: Garganelli with Asparagus, Artichokes, Favas, and Peas; Soba Noodle Salad with Salmon and Asparagus Radish, Arugula, and Red Onion Salad with Tangerines; Orange-Flower Pavlovas with Strawberries; Bacon and Leek Risotto with Poached Egg; Ginger-Pecan Scones. Doesn’t all of that sound springy and delicious?!

My pantry ingredients enticed me to make the Chickpea Salad with Lemon, Parmesan, and Fresh Herbs. I didn’t have the fresh parsley or basil on hand, so I did substitute 1/2 tsp of the dried herbs, though I’m certain fresh would have been better. Still, this made a nutritious, delicious, inexpensive lunch. I served it on a bed of shredded romaine. This will definitely become a standby recipe.

CHICKPEA SALAD WITH LEMON, PARMESAN, AND FRESH HERBS
Bon Appetit, April 2011
Print This Recipe

1 15- to 15 1/2-ounce can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed, drained
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 small garlic clove, pressed
1/3 cup (packed) freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Coarse kosher salt and fresh ground pepper

Combine rinsed and drained chickpeas, chopped fresh basil, chopped Italian parsley, fresh lemon juice, extra-virgin olive oil, and pressed garlic clove in medium bowl. Add grated Parmesan cheese and toss gently to blend all ingredients thoroughly. Season chickpea salad to taste with coarse kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.

DO AHEAD Chickpea salad can be made 4 hours ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Serve salad chilled or at room temperature.


Everyday Food (Stephanie): Every couple of months I get my hands on an issue of Everyday Food, and while I’m not wowed by every page, there are always several recipes that pique my interest. In this issue I did find recipes I hope to try sometime: Sauteed Collards with Bacon; Raspberry Cornmeal Crumble Bars; Shredded Chicken with Kale and Lentils; Mushroom Risotto with Spring Herbs. Overall though, I felt like a Celebration of Spring theme seemed rather absent (other than the Easter Dinner menu: Salmon with Brown Sugar and Mustard Glaze; Salt and Pepper Rolls; Asparagus and Green Beans with Chili-Orange Oil; Balsamic Red Onions; Simple Lemon Cake). I would have enjoyed more lightened-up, spring produce featuring recipes.
We don’t eat much cereal in our house, but I love a bowl of granola now and then. So, I decided to try two variations of granola recipes: Pistachio-Apricot Granola and Cherry-Lime Granola. Both were quite tasty! (Though I didn’t have enough of the lime zest, so the lime flavor didn’t come through as strong as I would have liked.) I make my granola with Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free Rolled Oats, so my husband can enjoy the bounty as well. These recipes are a little on the pricey-side as the nuts and dried fruits can be expensive, but it’s fun to experiment with different flavors. The basic quantities are endlessly adaptable to your pocketbook and palate.
PISTACHIO-APRICOT GRANOLA
Everyday Food, April 2011
3 cups rolled oats (not quick oats)
1 cup unsalted, shelled pistachios
1/4 cup unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/3 cup honey
1 teaspoon ground cardamom (I used 3/4 tsp cinnamon + 1/4 tsp nutmeg)
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1 cup dried apricots, diced medium
Preheat oven to 300°F. In a large bowl, combine oats and pistachios. In a small saucepan, combine butter, honey, cardamom, and salt over medium. Cook, stirring occasionally, until butter melts, 1 to 2 minutes. (Or, place ingredients in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave until butter melts, 1 to 2 minutes; stir until combined.)
Pour butter mixture over oat mixture and toss until oats and nuts are completely coated. Transfer to a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet and spread in an even layer.
Bake until oats are lightly golden, 30 to 35 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes. Let cool completely; stir in apricots. (Store in an airtight container at room temperature, up to 3 weeks.)
CHERRY-LIME GRANOLA
Everyday Food, April 2011
3 cups rolled oats
1 cup raw almonds
1/4 cup unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/3 cup agave nectar or honey
1 packed Tablespoon fresh lime zest, finely grated
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1 cup dried tart cherries
Preheat oven to 300°F. In a large bowl, combine oats and pistachios. In a small saucepan, combine butter, agave, lime zest, lime juice, and salt over medium. Cook, stirring occasionally, until butter melts, 1 to 2 minutes. (Or, place ingredients in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave until butter melts, 1 to 2 minutes; stir until combined.)
Pour butter mixture over oat mixture and toss until oats and nuts are completely coated. Transfer to a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet and spread in an even layer.
Bake until oats are lightly golden, 30 to 35 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes. Let cool completely; stir in apricots. (Store in an airtight container at room temperature, up to 3 weeks.)
Saveur (Alaina): This is consistently a great magazine full of information and great recipes. They nearly always include international recipes which I really like.
Sandwiches was the tantalizing theme of this month’s issue. You may recall, that I am crazy about sandwiches. So, of course, I had to feature this magazine in the review. I made two of the over 40 sandwich recipes. It was a little hard to narrow it down! They were quite different but both were popular with my crew.
The first was the Elena Cruz – yes, I partly chose it because it shares my name and also because it sounded delicious – it was. The second was the California. Yum. I made it as written and then after I tried it that way and loved it, I added some bacon and loved it even more. Sigh. Sandwich Nirvana. There are so many more to try…
CALIFORNIA SANDWICH
Saveur, April 2011
Print This Recipe
¼ cup buttermilk
¼ cup sour cream
¼ cup mayonnaise
1 tbsp. finely chopped chives
1 tbsp. finely chopped parsley
½ tsp. garlic powder
¼ tsp. onion powder
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
4 slices multigrain sandwich bread
2 slices Monterey Jack cheese
½ cup alfalfa sprouts
1 avocado, peeled, pitted, and thinly sliced lengthwise
1 ripe tomato, cored and thinly sliced
Whisk together buttermilk, sour cream, mayonnaise, chives, parsley, and garlic and onion powders in a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper, and spread on all bread slices. Place 1 slice cheese each on 2 slices of bread and top with sprouts, avocado, and tomato. Season with salt and pepper, and cover with remaining 2 slices of bread.
Makes 2 sandwiches (You will have extra sauce, which would be delicious as a salad dressing.)

ELENA RUZ (Cuban Turkey Tea Sandwich)
Saveur, April 2011
Print This Recipe
1 Cuban roll or brioche bun
2 tbsp. cream cheese, softened
2 tbsp. strawberry jam
3 oz. sliced turkey breast
1 tbsp. unsalted butter
Split roll, spread cream cheese on bottom half, and top with turkey. Spread jam on top half of roll and close sandwich. Heat butter in a 10″ skillet over medium heat; cook sandwich, weighing down with a cast-iron skillet and turning once, until golden brown and heated through, 3–4 minutes. Cut in half, and serve hot.

Weekend Fare: Meat Piroshki

These tasty meat pies go by many names internationally. In Kazakhstan, you can find them being sold on the street corners and in bakeries – they are nearly always wonderful! These hearken back to bierocks that my husband enjoyed and pierogies that are traditional for our friends. Whatever the name, these are great for travel, for making ahead, and for freezing. I think they would be really good with some cabbage or other vegetables in them as well.

MEAT PIROSHKI
adapted from Cooking for Kaz: Meals for Hope, Volume 2
Print This Recipe

 Meat Filling:
1 med. onion, diced
1 T. oil or butter
8 oz. ground beef
salt & pepper to taste
pinch of nutmeg
fresh herbs (opt.)
1 egg

Brown the onion and ground beef together with oil or butter if needed. Add seasonings. Allow to cool. Add egg. Stuff in piroshiki dough as described below.

Dough:
1 ½ tsp. dried yeast
pinch of sugar
5 Tb. warm water
5 Tb. butter, softened
1 lb. (about 4 c.) flour
1 tsp. salt
8 T. milk
2 eggs, beaten

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Dissolve yeast and a sugar in the warm water. Mix in the softened butter, flour, salt, milk, and eggs. Knead into smooth dough (I let my mixer do the kneading). Leave to rise until it has doubled in volume. Punch down. Roll out dough until quite thin. Cut out in small circles and brush the inner edges with milk. Stuff with filling and fold into semi-circle or canoe shape. Bake for 10 minutes until golden brown.

Simple Supper: Sloppy Joes

Sloppy joes are an easy, delicious meal that can easily be adapted to serve a crowd! We recently had 20 people for dinner and these sandwiches were perfect. I like to serve them with veggies & dip, fruit, and chips. They are also wonderful leftover. Anyway, this is my take on the sloppy joe!

SLOPPY JOES
Print This Recipe

1 lb. ground beef
1/2 c. onion, diced
1/2 c. green pepper, diced
1 can (15 oz) diced tomatoes (petite diced would be really great!)
1 can (8 oz) tomato sauce
3 Tb. quick oats
1 Tb. Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. brown sugar
1/2 tsp. seasoned salt
dash of cayenne pepper

Brown beef, onion, and green pepper together. Add all other ingredients and simmer for 20 -30 minutes. Serve on buns. Makes 6-8 sandwiches.

Off The Shelf: July Magazines

Here it is time for another edition of monthly cooking magazines! We hope you enjoy!

Cooking Light (Heather) – this is a big, beautiful summer issue but I found it sad that the only thing that really grabbed me, after several perusals, was the Greek Yogurt Parfaits. There is an attractive article on main dish salads, but they all seemed exotic except for the Southwestern Cobb Salad. I did find the melon and ketchup articles helpful but found many of the other summer recipes to be things I may never attempt (filet mignon, striped bass, shrimp salad).

I will say that the article on fruit cobblers looked amazing! Blueberry-Peach Cobbler, Plum Cobbler, and Blackberry Cobbler sound like perfect desserts for summer evenings.

If you are interested in alternative burgers you will love their Lamb Burger, Poblano Beef Burger, Salmon Burger, Turkey Burger, and Brisket Burger. There are also articles on a Sydney Beach BBQ and Food in Singapore.

My take: If you are into gourmet grilling and lots of seafood this is a great issue for you.

We tried the Greek Yogurt Parfaits with wheat berries and the result was a lovely, nutritious (and festive) breakfast.

GREEK YOGURT PARFAITS
(Cooking Light, July 2010)
Print this recipe

1 cup uncooked grano (or wheat berries, brown rice or barley)
12 cups water, divided
1/4 cup orange blossom honey (I used local honey)
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
4 cups plain 2% Greek-style yogurt (I strained 6 cups plain yogurt through cheesecloth for an hour or so to thicken it)
2 cups fresh berries (such as blackberries, blueberries, or sliced strawberries)

Soak grano in 6 cups water overnight. Drain. Place in a medium saucepan with remaining 6 cups water over medium-high heat; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes or until grano is just tender. Drain well. Stir in honey and salt.

Spoon 1/4 cup yogurt into each of 8 parfait glasses. Top yogurt with 3 Tbsp. grano and 2 Tbsp. berries. Repeat layers with the remaining ingredients.

Serves 8.

Everyday Food (Heather) — This issue is a devoted to summer fun and food and I found it very inspiring. You will find an article on wax beans, recipes for potato salad, picnic sides, beautiful summer drinks, summer roll how-to’s, main dish salads, grilled pizzas (my new fascination), an amazing array of burgers, dinners on the grill (complete with desserts), uses for tomatoes and cucumbers, and cool fruit desserts.

I’ll be keeping this issue close by for future summer inspiration.

At first glance I thought the Antipasti Sandwich was too complicated for my budget, but when I realized I could create a cheap date for my husband and I by making this, I didn’t have to think twice. It was so delicious! Of course a big part of making a good sandwich is finding good bread and I just happened to luck out on that one. So, if you try this sandwich, be sure to look for a loaf that will do the recipe justice.

ANTIPASTI SANDWICH
(Everyday Food, July/August 2010)
Print this recipe

coarse salt and pepper
1 medium zucchini, thinly sliced lengthwise
1 red bell pepper
1 loaf crusty bread (about 1 pound), sliced in half lengthwise
1 can (15.5 ounces) cannellini beans, rinsed and drained (or garbanzo)
1 garlic clove, roughly chopped
1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1/2 pound mortadella, prosciutto, or thinly sliced deli ham
1/2 cup fresh parsley leaves
1 cup marinated artichoke hearts, drained and quartered or sliced
1/2 cup shaved Parmesan (1 ounce)
1/2 cup pepperoncini, drained and halved if large

Sprinkle a double layer of paper towels with salt and place zucchini on top. Sprinkle with salt and roll up like a newspaper. Let sit 10 minutes to draw out excess liquid.

Over a low gas flame or under the broiler, roast bell pepper until skin is charred, 10 minutes, turning frequently. Place in a bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Let sit 10 minutes. Rub bell pepper with a paper towel to remove skin, then core, discard seeds, and slice fresh into strips.

Pull out about 2 cups bread from inside loaf halves. In a food processor, combine beans, garlic, lemon juice, and oil and puree until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Completely cover inside of both bread halves with an even layer of bean puree.

Arrange zucchini on bottom half of bread. Top with meat, parsley, roasted pepper, artichokes, Parmesan, and pepperoncini. Sandwich with top half of bread and wrap tightly in plastic. Place on a baking sheet in refrigerator. Place another baking sheet on top and weight with several heavy cans. Let sit at least 3 hours (or up to overnight). To serve, unwrap and cut into wedges with a serrated knife.

Serves 6 to 8. (My sandwich served almost 3)

Bon Appetit (Alaina) – What a wonderful issue filled with delicious looking photos and recipes. There were many dishes that are perfect for summer entertaining and grilling – there is a whole grilling section! There are a few versatile sauce recipes which looked so good. There is also a fantastic drink and dessert sections – the dishes look absolutely wonderful.

After perusing the issue and looking at the lovely pictures, I decided to make the grilled corn. It was excellent except for the fact that the corn I purchased was rather disappointing. I have yet to enjoy a truly excellent ear of corn this summer and to be fair, it’s a bit early for it. But the butter on this was simple to make and the flavor was delightful!

GRILLED CORN with HONEY-ANCHO CHILE BUTTER
(Bon Appetit, July 2010)
Print This Recipe

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature, divided
1 tablespoon ancho chile powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon granulated garlic or garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
8 ears of corn, husked

Ingredient Tip: Ancho chile powder is available in the spice section of many supermarkets and at Latin markets.

Melt 2 tablespoons butter in small skillet over medium-low heat. Add chile powder and cumin; stir 10 seconds. Transfer to medium bowl; stir in honey and cool.

Add oregano, coarse salt, granulated garlic, onion powder, and 6 tablespoons butter to butter mixture. Mix until smooth. DO AHEAD Can be made 2 days ahead. Cover; chill. Bring to room temperature.

Prepare barbecue (medium-high heat). Grill corn until charred in spots, turning often, about 13 minutes. Transfer corn to platter. Serve with honey-ancho butter.

Food Network Magazine (Alaina) – Well, I already gave you a coleslaw recipe yesterday from this inspiring issue. The pull-out was for different kabobs and they have great ideas! I’m looking forward to using a couple of the kabob recipes for a family dinner later this month. The magazine features many summer drinks, great grilling and cook-out recipes, a variety of side dishes, and a delightful collection of desserts.

 One section was especially intriguing – 30 ideas for serving hotdogs. And so, the recipe I chose came from there. I was so surprised at how truly wonderful this recipe came out – the tomato and basil with the hotdogs provided an excellent flavor combination. And I’m excited to try some the other great ideas! [On a side note, I purchase hotdogs at Costco that are nitrite/nitrate-free, msg free, and are all beef hotdogs. They are very good, fairly affordable, and I feel okay about serving them to my family! ]

BRUSCHETTA HOTDOGS
(Food Network Magazine July/August 2010)
Print This Recipe

Toss 2 diced tomatoes with 1 chopped garlic clove, 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar, 2 tablespoons olive oil, some torn basil and salt. Serve grilled hot dogs on toasted Italian buns; top with the tomato mixture and drizzle with olive oil.

Weekend Fare: Burgers & Potato Salad

I love cookouts! They are often informal and the food is nearly always delicious! We enjoy hosting them a lot in the summer. We grill hotdogs or hamburgers or chicken or steaks and eat on the deck – drinking in the beautiful weather, enjoying the food, and sharing conversation and laughter. Since we are headed into the summer season and have a holiday weekend before us, it’s the perfect time to share a burger and a potato salad recipe. There are so many variations of these American classics and I usually keep mine pretty basic.

CLASSIC BURGER
Print This Recipe

1 lb. ground beef
1 egg
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. fresh ground pepper
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 c. onion, grated 
4-6 slices cheese

Combine all ingredients. Shape into 4-6 patties. I make mine fairly thin and push down in the center to help prevent the burger from shrinking too much. Grill to desired doneness. Melt cheese on each patty and serve on a bun with toppings.

 (We like bacon, avacado, tomato, lettuce, onions, and sauteeed mushrooms.) Enjoy!

POTATO SALAD
Print This Recipe

10 c. red potatoes, diced
4 stalks celery, diced
1/2 c. red onion, chopped
1 Tb. dried dill (or 1/4 c. fresh)
1 c. mayo
1/2 c. plain yogurt
1/4 c. milk
 1 Tb. yellow mustard
1  Tb. dijon mustard 
Salt & Pepper to taste

Place the diced potates in a pot with cold water. Boil until just tender. Drain and allow to cool. Add celery and red onion, salt & pepper to potatoes. In a separate bowl, mix mayo, yogurt, dill, milk and mustards. Pour dressing over potatoes and carefully stir to combine. Refrigerate until serving – at least an hour to allow flavors to develop. This serves a lot.

Weekend Fare & A Giveaway!

It’s hard to believe the end of the week is nearly here! I finally am getting back in to the cooking groove – just in time to leave. 🙂 This week I made a salad with chicken and veggies, bbq chicken pizza, and today’s featured recipe – chicken salad. Yes, it was chicken week. I cooked four chicken breasts on Monday and made them last for three meals. It worked well and everyone enjoyed the dinners!

A good chicken salad is wonderful and yet I have a hard time finding it. I vary mine with one exception – it always has some kind of fruit in it. The fruit is often grapes but I’ve also used craisins and various other things. My version today includes apples as well as grapes. I like the natural sweetness the fruit adds as well as the color! 

ALAINA’S FRUITED CHICKEN SALAD
Print This Recipe

1 1/2 – 2 chicken breasts, diced
1 apple, cored and finely diced
1/3 c. red or green grapes, quartered
2 stalks celery, finely diced
2 Tb. red onion, finely diced
1 Tb. lemon juice
1/3 c. mayonnaise (I often use half mayo and half plain yogurt)
1 tsp. dried dill OR 1 Tb. fresh dill
Salt & Pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients. Serve over spring greens or lettuce or as a sandwich filling. (We really liked this served over the greens with water crackers on the side). Serves about 4.

_____________________________ __________________________

Nothing like waiting until the end of the month for our giveaway! This beautiful cookbook is the Williams-Sonoma Seasonal Celebration Spring book by Joanne Weir. The pictures alone will inspire you to try recipes and experiment with spring produce! It offers recipes such as Fresh Pea Soup w/Lemon Creme Fraiche, Asparagus-Parmesan Cheese Puffs, Spicy Deviled Eggs, Spinach & Bacon Souffle, Lemon Cloud Tart, and many more.

TO ENTER:
– Leave a comment on this post telling us your favorite cookbook or spring recipe.
– Make sure we have a way to contact you!

For additional entries (just leave us a comment telling us which ones you have done!):
– Subscribe via the link to the right or with google reader.
– Add us to your blog roll.
– Join our facebook group – The Cooks Next Door.
– Facebook about this giveaway.
– Tweet about this giveaway.
– Blog about this giveaway.

There you go! You could earn as many as 7 entries. And if you already are in our group, subscribe etc, let us know and we will add in the extra entries!

I leave tomorrow so I will try to close the giveaway sometime next week but the winner will not be announced until after May 9.

Weekend Fare: Pulled Chicken Sandwiches

This recipe is delicious as well as quick and easy! I found the recipe in the November 2009 issue of Cooking Light. We enjoyed these sandwiches with oven fries. I really like the combination of flavors – it makes a smoky, sweet, slightly spicy, bbq.

BLACK PEPPER AND MOLASSES PULLED CHICKEN SANDWICHES
( adapted slightly from Cooking Light, November 2009)
Print This Recipe

3  Tb.  ketchup
1  Tb.  cider vinegar
1  Tb.  prepared mustard
1  Tb.  molasses
3/4  tsp.  chili powder
1/2  tsp.  ground cumin
1/4  tsp.  freshly ground black pepper
1/8  tsp.  ground ginger
12  oz.  skinless, boneless chicken thighs or breast, cut into 2-inch pieces
4  sandwich rolls, cut in half horizontally
12  dill pickle chips

Combine first 9 ingredients in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; cover and cook, stirring occasionally, 20-25 minutes or until chicken is done and tender. Remove from heat; shred with 2 forks to measure 2 cups meat. Place 1/2 cup chicken on bottom half of each roll. Top each with 3 pickles and top half of roll.

Weekend Fare: Reuben & Oven Fries

I know, I know, I just gave you a whole post on grilled sandwiches but since we just celebrated St. Patrick’s day and corned beef was a pretty good deal, I couldn’t help but share this recipe. We grew up enjoying reubens – my mom made her rye bread from scratch and we couldn’t get enough of the sauerkraut, swiss, and corned beef combo. It has even been a birthday favorite! I made  my rye bread from scratch for these but we won’t talk about that since I was not very happy with it. And perhaps it should be noted that I am mostly German – I was born liking sauerkraut.

REUBENS
Rye bread, sliced
Butter
Saurkraut, drained
Corned beef, cooked & sliced*
Thousand Island dressing (you can make your own – 1 c. mayo, 1/4 c. ketchup, 1/4 c. sweet relish combined)
Swiss Cheese slices

Butter the outside of the bread and layer meat, saurkraut, dressing, and cheese. Grill over medium high heat until golden and cheese is melted.

*I cooked the corned beef on high for 4-5 hours in my crockpot (until tender) with the seasoning packet and half a can of Guinness. Delicious!  

We also regularly enjoyed oven fries growing up. They are quick and easy and so much healthier than the fried version. You can also make them with sweet potatoes which I LOVE! 

OVEN FRIES
1 1/2-2 potatoes/person
1 tsp. olive oil/person
salt and pepper to taste

Peel and cut potatoes into desired size and shape (I cut mine into long skinny fries). Toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Bake at 450 degrees for 20-30 minutes or until tender.

Weekend Fare: Grilled Sandwiches

It’s impossible to describe just how much I love grilled sandwiches and paninis. Let’s just say, I can get pretty excited about a good sandwich. I don’t have a panini press so I order them out sometimes. And for us, the sky is the limit when we are grilling sandwiches. So today, I’m going to give you some ideas that hopefully you can take off with to make your own perfect sandwich. Grilled sandwiches are great for on-the-go weekends or for enjoying with a bowl of soup and company.

All sandwiches start the same – two pieces of bread buttered (or drizzled with oil) on the outside. The kind of bread is totally up to you.

Some Favorites:
Sourdough
Rye or Pumpernickel
Farm
Whole wheat
White
Raisin Cinnamon

Then add some kind of spread to the inside of the bread.

Some Ideas:
Mustard – brown, spicy, dijon, yellow, champagne – there are so many varieties!
Mayonnaise (or Miracle Whip if you are so inclined – we are not :))
Peanut Butter
Honey Mustard (I make my own by combining dijon, mayo, and honey)
BBQ Sauce
Honey
Cranberry Sauce or a Chutney
Olive oil
Flavored Mayonnaise (I like to add Balsamic Vinegar)
Marinara

Next, choose a protein (or two or three).

A Few Ideas:
Cheese
Turkey
Ham
Beef
Pastrami
Peanut Butter (yes, I’m listing it twice – my kids love it!)

Then add toppings. You can add however many you want, in whatever order you want, and at any time (before or after grilling).

Some Many Ideas:
Cheese
Avacado
Cucumber
Pear (thinly sliced)
Apple (thinly sliced)
Orange
Bananas
Tomato
Bacon
Pancetta
Carmalized Onions (or raw – I like red onions)
Peppers (any color – grilled or raw)
Olives
Sauerkraut
Fresh Herbs
Lettuce
Arugula
Spring Mix
Sprouts

I must note that I think most (though definitely not all!) good sandwiches include cheese. So I will list a few that I think are especially excellent on grilled sandwiches but again – choose your favorite!

Cheese (probably my favorite food ever):
Swiss
Provolone (smoked or otherwise)
Fresh Mozzarella
Brie
Havarti
Sharp (or even extra sharp!) Cheddar
Gouda

Choose the ingredients, build your sandwich, and grill it over medium heat (turning once) until the cheese is melted and the bread is golden on each side. Cut in half (or not – I like mine cut diagonally) and enjoy. My kids really like grilled pb & j or pb & honey with bananas. I like pretty much any kind as long as it has cheese.

Yum. Now I want a sandwich!