Roasted Tomato and Pesto Grilled Cheese

Tomato-Pesto Grilled Cheese.

Tomato-Pesto Grilled Cheese.

This is day two of being snowed-in.  Sidewalk is shoveled, but driveway not plowed!   Go figure that one.  Snowplow guy seems to be busy elsewhere.  Well, there’s still plenty of food in the house, so no rush about going anywhere.

Under these house-bound conditions,  almost as soon as breakfast is over, I start thinking about lunch.   Wouldn’t you?  I’m imagining some kind of a grilled cheese sandwich.  Most folks love the combo of tomato soup and grilled cheese, so let me see if I can cram the two of them together in a knock-your-socks-off sandwich.  Get ready for an ooey-gooey delight.

First we’re going to go to our refrigerators to gather up all the delicious things we’ll need.  If those things should happen to be roasted, pesto-ed, or melty, that’s ideal.

Today I’m lucky, I have some good things.  This is not always the case.  Sometimes all I have in the fridge is skim milk and some bendy celery with brown tops.   That’s why there’s frozen pizza, right?  Skim milk and bendy celery are not allowed in this sandwich.   Absolutely not,  not when I see some precious Romano,  cheddar and pesto in there, not to mention some beautiful red tomatoes.

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This is what it looks like to pack every delicious item in your refrigerator between toasted onion rolls.

(These are not the best photos I’ve ever taken, but I was too impatient to eat this sandwich.)

I’m the kind of person who likes to always have pesto on hand.  Quite some time ago I posted my recipe for homemade pesto(s), and I really recommend you make some for your refrigerator.  Made from herbs or spinach or kale (ignore that bendy celery),  you’ll thank yourself when you go looking in your refrigerator for some “good things”.  BTW, make lots–it freezes well, too.

On this sandwich we layer shredded cheddar, smeared pesto, roasted tomato puree, salty Romano cheese and mayo!

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Roasting the tomatoes intensifies their flavor and sweetness.  The pesto adds a happy green, garlic-y kick.  Two kinds of cheese because we’re the kind of people who deserve two kinds of cheese on our sandwich.  Spread the top and bottom of the sandwich with mayo and grill on each side until the center is warm and melty.

The center gets melty and warm.

The center gets melty and warm.

Now the pay-off.   Take that sandwich to your favorite comfy place and settle yourself into coziness.  Sit down on the floor if you have to, just relax and enjoy it.  Now eat slowly and savor every delicious bite.    Relax.  Read your e-mails, or check out Pinterest.  Only move when the desire for some chips or a beverage motivates you beyond laziness.  Bendy celery, get outta here!

 

ROAST TOMATO PESTO GRILLED CHEESE 

Yield:    Makes 2 sandwiches

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
  • 4 plum tomatoes, halved and seeded
  • 2 garlic cloves, unpeeled
  • 1/2 tsp. dried basil
  • dash of salt and pepper
  • 4 tsp. canola mayonnaise
  • 2 Tbsp. pesto
  • 2 oz shredded sharp cheddar cheese, (about 1/2 cup)
  • 2 oz. Romano cheese, thinly sliced
  • 4 slices of whole grain bread or rolls of choice

Directions:

1.  Preheat oven to 400*F.  Combine 1 tsp. oil, tomatoes, and garlic on a baking sheet.

Cut in half and seed tomatoes.

Cut in half and seed tomatoes.

Bake at 400*F. for 20 minutes.  Remove skins and discard. Squeeze garlic to extract the pulp, discard skins.

Roast with garlic.  Remove skins.

Roast with garlic. Remove skins.

2.  Combine tomatoes, garlic pulp, basil, salt and pepper in a mini food processor  pulse 10 times.

Place in mini processor and  chop finely.

Place in mini processor and chop finely.

3.  Spread mayonnaise on two slices of bread or top half of rolls. Spread pesto on remaining 2 slices bread or bottoms of rolls.

Spread mayo and pesto on bread slices.

Spread mayo and pesto on bread slices.

4.  Spread about 1 1/2 tablespoon tomato mixture on sandwich bottoms.  Cover with half the grated cheese on each bottom,  top that with thinly sliced Romano cheese.

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5.  Cover with sandwich tops.  Lightly coat outsides of sandwiches with cooking spray.

6.  Heat a large skillet over medium heat.  Add 1 teaspoon oil, swirl to coat.  Place sandwiches in pan; cook about 3 minutes or until lightly browned.  Flip sandwiches, and continue to cook until lightly browned and cheese is melted.  Cut in half and serve immediately.

7.  If you have a panini pan, sandwiches may be cooked in that instead of a skillet.

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SOURCE:  Carolyn’s Originals

 

Tuna Melts with Horseradish Mayonnaise

Tuna Melt with Horseradish Mayonnaise

Tuna Melt with Horseradish Mayonnaise

Let me introduce you to one of my very favorite sandwiches.  It’s high time you met.  You see, I’ve been making and enjoying this sandwich for quite some time now, but for  some reason I never took photos of it.  Bad lighting, too hungry (usually), cheese too melty, not attractive.  Oh, and I never wrote down the ingredients before.  I just make it on the fly.

This week I became determined to share it with you.  Even though it seems like a pretty ordinary, everyone-must-know-how-to-make-this, kind of sandwich, I figured that if we love it made this way, you just might like it too.  This particular combo of tuna fish, crunchy celery and scallions, and a tangy mayo-mustard-horseradish dressing on rye toast is mouthwateringly good.  It makes a great lunch, and can become a full meal when paired with a hot bowl of soup.  If you’ve never added some of these flavors to tuna fish salad, try it.  You may be surprised at how good it is.

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TUNA MELTS WITH HORSERADISH MAYONNAISE

Yield:   Serves 4

Ingredients:IMG_6956

  • 6 tablespoons mayonnaise, divided
  • 2  5-ounce cans solid white tuna, drained
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped celery
  • 2 scallions, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley, or 1 Tbsp. dried
  • 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
  • kosher salt and  black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard
  • 1 tablespoon prepared horseradish
  • 4 large slices rye bread, lightly toasted
  • 8 thin slices havarti cheese
  • 8 slices of tomato
  • dill pickles, for serving, (optional)

Directions:

1.  Position a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat to 475*F.

2.  Combine 4 Tbsp. mayonnaise, the tuna, celery, scallions, parsley, and vinegar in a large bowl and mix well.  Season with salt and pepper.

3.  Combine the remaining 2 Tbsp. mayonnaise with the mustard and horseradish in a small bowl;  spread on the bread slices and arrange on a baking sheet.  Mound the tuna mixture on top and pat it into an even layer.  Top each with 1 cheese slice, tearing it as needed to cover the tuna mixture.

4.  Season the tomato slices with salt;  Place 2 slices on top of each sandwich, then top each with another slice of cheese.  Bake until the cheese melts, 5 to 7 minutes.  Serve with dill pickles.

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SOURCE:   Carolyn’s Originals

 

 

Cobb Salad

Classic Cobb Salad

Classic Cobb Salad

I distinctly remember the first time I had a Cobb salad.  We were on a motor trip, driving through Virginia, when we stopped for lunch at a local restaurant serving “home-cooked” meals.  The day was very warm and since we would be continuing with our driving I wanted something cool and light for lunch.  Cobb salad was what I ordered, not knowing what to expect, but the description of it was enticing.

The salad lived up to its promise, having lots of my favorite foods in it and I thought it was delicious.  Since then I have made this salad many times and we enjoy it as our main meal in the summer  months when there is so much fresh produce available.

Recently Food Network Magazine ran an article on Classic Salads and the Cobb salad was one that was featured.  This is where I learned the background on the salad.  Quoting from the magazine, ” Cobb Salad , 1934.   This popular dinner salad originated as a midnight snack for  Robert Cobb, owner of the Hollywood Brown Derby restaurant in Los Angeles.”   The classic Cobb salad usually contains these essential ingredients:  chicken, bacon, hard cooked eggs, tomatoes, avocado and cheese on a bed of lettuce.

OOPS,  I forgot the cheese!

OOPS, I forgot the cheese!

The recipe that follows is the one from the Food Network article.  However I made some modifications when I prepared the salad.  I used some Rotisserie Chicken instead of cooking chicken breasts, and I substituted cheddar cheese for the blue cheese. ( It had not found its way onto the salad at the time of  photography.)

CLASSIC COBB SALAD

Yield:   serves 4 – 6

Ingredients:IMG_4487

  • 8 slices thick cut bacon, chopped
  • 4 large eggs
  • kosher salt
  • 2  6-ounce skinless, boneless, chicken breasts
  • zest – in wide strips – and juice of  1 lemon
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 sprigs thyme
  • 1 Tbsp. black peppercorns
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 shallot, minced
  • 1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 avocados
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 large head Bibb lettuce, torn into pieces
  • 1 head romaine lettuce, cut into pieces
  • 4 ounces blue cheese, crumbled

1.  Cook the bacon in a medium skillet over medium heat, until crisp.  Transfer to paper towels to drain.

2.  Meanwhile, place the eggs in a saucepan and cover with cold water by about 1 inch.  Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, then cover, remove from the heat and let stand 10 – 12 minutes.  Drain, then run under cold water to cool.  Peel under cold running water.  Chop the hard-cooked eggs and season with salt.

3.  Combine the chicken, lemon zest and juice, bay leaves, thyme, peppercorns and large pinch of salt in a medium saucepan;  Add enough cold water to cover the chicken b 1/2 inch.  Bring to a bare simmer over medium heat ( do not boil) and cook until a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the chicken registers 160*, about 7 minutes.  Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and let rest 5 minutes.

4.  Meanwhile, make the dressing:  whisk the vinegar, shallot, mustard and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a serving bowl.  Whisk in the olive oil in a slow, steady stream until emulsified; season with pepper.  Dice the chicken and toss with 1 tablespoon of the dressing in a separate bowl.

5.  Halve, pit and dice the avocados.  Season the tomatoes with salt.  Add the Bibb and romaine lettuce to the serving bowl on top of the dressing.  Arrange the bacon, hard-cooked eggs, chicken, avocados, tomatoes and cheese in rows on top of the lettuce.  When ready to serve toss the salad and season with salt and pepper.

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SOURCE:  Food Network Magazine

Apple, Cheese and Bacon Quesadillas

Apples, bacon and cheese quesadillas.  A lovely combination.

Apples, bacon and cheese quesadillas. A lovely combination.

Are you a recipe clipper?  I think that anyone who enjoys cooking is always looking for new recipes, and magazines are  good resources for recipes.  I count myself in that group of cooks who are  always “on the hunt”.  In fact I tear out so many recipes that I have a system for organizing them and deciding which ones are keepers and which ones don’t make the cut.

For anyone who might benefit from my system,  this is what I do:

1.  Read magazine and “dog-ear” pages with a recipe that interests me.

Fold over pages that have recipes that interest me.

Fold over pages that have recipes that interest me.

2.Before discarding the magazine, look again at those pages and decide if I want to try the recipe.  If yes, then I tear out the page, and it goes into a pile with other torn-out pages.

The pile of torn-out pages grows large.

The pile of torn-out pages grows large.

3.  When the pile gets precariously high, I designate an afternoon or three?, and go through them all.  If I’m still interested in any of the recipes I trim them more carefully, and then file in folders that are named in broad categories, like bars, cookies, desserts, soups, chicken, etc.

My file of files.

My file of files.

4.  When I want to make something new, or have ingredients on hand to use, I go to a specific folder to see what’s there that I might want to try out.

5.  Then I make the recipe to test it out.  If it meets my requirements such as did we like it,  was it straightforward and easy to prepare, have readily available ingredients, reasonable cost to make,  cooked in a reasonable time frame?  Then it gets mounted into a notebook as a “keeper”, that will enter my cycle of recipes; or become a go-to when I want to make something special.

I have several afternoon's work to do!

I have several afternoons’ work to do!

I have written all the above with tongue-in-cheek, as I can imagine you are thinking to yourself (or saying out loud even) “what, is she crazy?”   Well, yes. a little.  According to the Myers-Briggs Personality Assessment Test I am a pointy-head sequential in the grand scheme of things, and detailed organization is one of my traits.   Ha-ha-ha!    🙂

OK, so what does all this have to do with today’s recipe?  The story is this:  on Saturday, my husband went out on an errand, and before he left, he asked me what we would be having for lunch.  I replied that I didn’t know, because my supplies were pretty low, and we had eaten up all the leftovers.  But I reassured him  that “I’ll think of something”.  So while he was out I consulted my folder labeled ” Pizza and Sandwiches”, and in there found a recipe for Apple and Brie Quesadillas that I had been wanting to try.

The recipe called for a Granny Smith apple, Brie cheese and flour tortillas.  Now, I didn’t have any Brie to work with but I did have some cheddar, and some Monterey Jack.  So I improvised, using those cheeses,  a Rome apple instead of Granny Smith, and added some crumbled bacon to the mix to create my recipe for Apple, Cheese and Bacon Quesadillas.  When my husband came home he said, ” I see it didn’t take you long to think of something”.    They were very good, we liked them very much,  I’ll make them again.  End of Story!

Makes a satisfying light lunch.

Makes a satisfying light lunch.

Included here is the original recipe for Apple and Brie Quesadillas, and how I modified it.

APPLE, BRIE  (and BACON)  QUESADILLAS

SERVES   2   Adjust amounts accordingly for more servings.

  • 1  Granny Smith apple  (or other firm apple), thinly sliced
  • 4  teaspoons olive oil, divided
  • 4   8-inch flour tortillas  (I  used  2  10-inch tortillas)
  • 8 ounces Brie cheese, sliced, rind removed  ( I used a combination of grated cheddar, and Monterey Jack cheeses, about 1 cup )
  • 2 strips bacon, cooked and crumbled  (my addition)
  • 1 Tablespoon whole-grain mustard
  • 1 Tablespoon maple syrup

1.   Preheat a grill pan over medium-high heat.  Toss the apple slices with 2 teaspoons olive oil and cook, turning occasionally, until marked and tender, 3 to 4 minutes.

Spread apples on grill pan and cook till barely tender.

Spread apples on grill pan and cook till barely tender.

Try to get some nice grill marks on the apples.

Try to get some nice grill marks on the apples.

2.  Lay the tortillas on a cutting board.  Top each with half the apple, half the bacon, and half the cheese, placing the filling on only half of  each tortilla.  Then fold the tortillas in half to cover the filling.

Spread a layer of apples and bacon on half the tortilla.

Spread a layer of apples and bacon on half the tortilla.

Top with shredded cheeses.

Top with shredded cheeses.

3.  Heat the remaining 2 teaspoons olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat.  (I sprayed mine with olive oil spray and cooked them on the grill pan I used for the apples.)  Working in batches, cook the quesadillas until golden brown and the cheese melts, about 2 minutes per side.

4.   Meanwhile, mix the mustard and maple syrup in a small bowl.  Slice each quesadilla into wedges.  Drizzle with the maple-mustard syrup before serving.

Serve with a drizzle of maple syrup.

Serve with a drizzle of maple mustard syrup.

SOURCE:   modified from a recipe in Food Network Magazine,  April 2012

Corned Beef Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Grilled Corn Beef and Cheese Sandwich.

Grilled Corn Beef and Cheese Sandwich.

Did you know  that everyday is some kind of National Food Holiday?  And some days celebrate more than one kind of food.  I don’t usually pay much attention to this sort of thing because some of them are just plain silly.  For instance, you could get pretty tipsy if you celebrate National Mulled Wine Day,  or bust a gut for National Nutella Day, or get really greasy fingers on National Fried Chicken Day. See what I mean?

However there is one that I could get into in a big way.  I really love grilled cheese sandwiches, and if there was a day to celebrate them, I would eat them all day.  Well,  SURPRISE! Grilled cheese is so highly regarded it has not just a day, but a whole month devoted to it, and this is it.  April is National Grilled Cheese Month.  Yea, I am totally in.

If you like corned beef and you love grilled cheese sandwiches, then you are gonna love this sandwich that combines both along with some glazed onions cooked in dark beer.  WOW! what a combination.

With some corned beef left from our Irish meal, I made these sandwiches for a weekend lunch.  You can make the sandwich anytime using corned beef from the deli, but I used what I had on hand.  You start by slowly cooking sliced onion in a little butter with some sugar, salt and pepper, then add dark beer such as porter or stout.  Let that cook slowly to condense it into a syrupy liquid.  Add the corned beef and heat it up.  Then layer up the sandwich, and grill it.  Rich, gooey, filling and soooo good.

CORNED BEEF GRILLED CHEESE SANDWICH

Worcestershire sauce and whole grain mustard contribute their flavors, too.

Worcestershire sauce and whole grain mustard contribute their flavors, too.

MAKES  2

  • 1  1/2  Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 small onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • salt and pepper
  • 3/4 cup dark beer, such as porter or stout
  • 2 ounces deli sliced corned beef, cut into strips
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon whole grain mustard
  • 1  1/2 cups grated cheese
  • 4 slices marble rye bread

1.  Melt 1/2 Tablespoon butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the onion and sprinkle with the sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper to taste.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and golden, about 10 minutes.

Cooking the onions with seasonings.

Cooking the onions with seasonings.

Add the Worcestershire sauce, mustard, and beer and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the onions are tender and the liquid is slightly syrupy, about 8 more minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in the corned beef.

Corned beef added into the pan.

Corned beef added into the pan.

2.  Divide half the cheese between 2 bread slices;  top with the corned beef mixture, and the remaining cheese and 2 bread slices.

Layer up the ingredients on the rye bread.

Layer up the ingredients on the rye bread.

3.  Melt the remaining 1 Tablespoon butter in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the sandwiches and cook, pressing occasionally with a spatula, until the bread is toasted and the cheese melts, about 4 minutes per side, adding more butter to the pan if needed.***

***  I used my panini pan to grill the sandwiches, and instead of using butter to toast them, I spread mayonnaise on the outer sides of the bread.  This makes a nice golden toasted sandwich.   I read somewhere that chefs in restaurants use mayonnaise for grilled sandwiches, so now I do it, too.

Don't let the remainder of that beer go to waste, enjoy it with your sandwich.

Don’t let the remainder of that beer go to waste, enjoy it with your sandwich.

SOURCE:  Food Network Magazine,  March, 2013

Thai Butternut Soup

Thai Butternut Soup

Thai Butternut Soup

I have a confession to make—I don’t like foods that are hot and spicy.  However my husband LOVES that kind of food.  A dilemma of hugh magnitude when you are the cook and there is only the two of you to cook for.  Which one to please?    Well, being the cook has its privileges, so I’m the one who gets the kind of food I like most of the time.  Don’t get me wrong Mr. D. is always happy and complimentary of what I cook, but what I’m saying is that I don’t go out of my way to make a dish especially for his tastes when I know that I won’t like it.IMG_3486

This recipe, then, is a first.  I made it especially for him.  I had something else lined up for me to eat because I was prepared not to like it.  Surprise!!  I liked it. I had never cooked with red curry paste before and I expected it to be hot and spicy.  However that was not the case and this soup turned out to be quite mild.  You can certainly “turn up the heat” if that is your taste, by adding more curry paste, or a little Sriracha sauce.  I also found that the squeeze of lime into your bowl is necessary for a little tang.

THAI BUTTERNUT SOUP

SERVINGS:    4

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 teaspoon canola oilIMG_3477
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 2  1/2 teaspoons red curry paste
  • 1  1/2 teaspoons minced fresh garlic
  • 1 teaspoon minced (grated) fresh ginger
  • 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth ( or vegetable broth for a vegetarian version)
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 2 ( 12 oz.) packages frozen pureed butternut squash**
  • 1  (14 oz.) can light coconut milk
  • 1  1/2 teaspoons fish sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped unsalted, dry-roasted peanuts
  • 1/4 cup cilantro leaves
  • 1 lime cut into 8 wedges

** If you can’t find frozen pureed squash, you can make this soup with 4 cups cubed butternut squash.  Just add some additional cooking time–about 10 minutes–in step 2.  That is what I used to make the recipe.

1.  Heat a medium saucepan over medium-high heat.  Add oil; swirl to coat.  Add onion; sauté 3 minutes.  Add curry paste, garlic, and ginger;  sauté  45 seconds, stirring constantly.

2.  Add broth and next 5 ingredients ( through salt ); cover.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, simmer 5 minutes,( or 15 minutes if using fresh squash) stirring frequently.  Puree the soup mixture with an immersion blender, or in batches with a standard blender.  Blend until smooth.

3.  To serve:  Ladle about a cup into each of 4 bowls;  top with 2 tablespoons peanuts and 1 tablespoon cilantro.  Serve with lime wedges.

Serve with peanuts, cilantro, and a wedge of lime.

Serve with peanuts, cilantro, and a wedge of lime.

Oh, Yes!  This was very good and we both liked it.  Velvety smooth and creamy, but not too thick.

A further dilemma has developed/is developing:   What’s a cook to do when the number of spices, condiments and sauces is increasing in number and space to store them is static?   Since becoming more adventuresome in my cooking, a whole line of Asian-inspired ingredients is now trying to fit into my storage cabinet.   If anyone has a solutions to this ever growing problem I’d like to hear about it.  Please!   : )

SOURCE;   Cooking Light,  March 2013

Chicken Crescent Ring

Chicken Crescent Ring

Chicken Crescent Ring

I made this recipe just recently for a birthday party where the menu consisted of appetizers, finger sandwiches and desserts.  I’ve had this recipe for a long time and had completely forgotten about it until I read a blog posting over at the Rantings of an Amateur Chef where he describes this sandwich.  I suddenly knew it would be perfect for the birthday party we were going to.  So, thank-you to Pat for his post and for reminding me of this great sandwich idea.

Many years ago I went to a Pampered Chef house party.  The hostess was preparing baked items on a pizza stone, and talking about how useful the stone is in addition to making pizza on it.  I was one of many who purchased the pizza stone that evening.  I’ve used it often and always have success in getting a nice crispy crust on my pizzas, but I don’t think to use it for much else, until I made this sandwich. It is not essential to have a pizza stone, so if you don’t have one don’t worry,  you can use a metal pizza pan just as well.

When you serve this, your guests will be impressed with your creativity, and how delicious the sandwich is.

CHICKEN CRESCENT RING

SERVINGS:   about 16

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 can chicken, broken up  ( about 1 cup )
  • 4 slices bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled
  • 1 cup Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 Tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 Tablespoon dried parsley
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoon green onions, sliced
  • 2 Roma tomatoes, sliced vertically into wedges
  • 1 medium red pepper
  • 2 cups lettuce, shredded
  •  2 rolls, refrigerated crescent rolls

1.  Preheat oven to 375*F.  Lightly grease a pizza pan or stone,

2.  Mix mayonnaise, mustard, parsley, and sliced green onion.   Set aside.

Make the dressing with mayo, mustard, parsley and green onions.

Make the dressing with mayo, mustard, parsley and green onions.

3.  Mix chicken, bacon, 3/4 cup cheese and 1/3 cup mayonnaise mixture.

Mix together, chicken, bacon and shredded cheese.

Mix together, chicken, bacon and shredded cheese.

4.  Unroll crescent dough, separating into triangles.  Arrange in a circle, overlapping wide ends in and points hanging out over the edge.  Leave a  5 – 6 inch circle empty in the center.  ( see picture )

Lay out triangles in a circle with wide ends toward the middle, and points out.

Lay out triangles in a circle with wide ends toward the middle, and points out.

5.  Spoon chicken salad onto rolls at the wide ends.

Spoon chicken salad onto wide ends of triangles.

Spoon chicken salad onto wide ends of triangles.

Wrap the points over and tuck underneath.

Wrap points over and tuck under.

Wrap points over and tuck under.

6.  Slice tomatoes into wedges and tuck one piece into each open space in the ring.

Tomato wedges tucked into each open space.

Tomato wedges tucked into each open space.

7.  Bake 20 – 25 minutes.  Just before end of baking time, sprinkle remaining cheese on top and allow to melt.  Remove from oven to cool slightly.

8.  To serve:  Cut top off red pepper, remove ribs and seeds.  Spoon in remainder of dressing.  Place pepper in center of ring, and garnish around pepper with shredded lettuce.  Cut into servings so that each one has a piece of tomato.

Serve with red pepper in the center and garnished with shredded lettuce.

Serve with red pepper in the center and garnished with shredded lettuce.

I must apologize for the poor quality of the pictures of the finished dish.  In my hurrying I forgot to bring my camera, and so these pictures were taken by someone else with their  camera and then sent to me via e-mail.  I think you can still get the idea of how attractive this is to serve, however.

SOURCE:   Pampered Chef,   via The Ranting Chef.com

A Loaded Panini

By day #4 of not having a refrigerator, I’m really getting to the bottom of the barrel in terms of what I can create for a meal.  This is what I have to work with:  some deli sliced smoked turkey,  sliced cheddar cheese and sliced provolone,  a few strips of bacon, and a tomato.  Does that sound to you like it could become a sandwich?   That’s what I thought, too.  EXCEPT we don’t have any bread.  So, I had to cheat a little.  I stopped at the grocery store and got a few rolls.  So for dinner this evening we had Toasted Panini Sandwiches with Sweet Potato chips and pickles.

 Grilled turkey, bacon, cheese and tomato panini.

Grilled turkey, bacon, cheese and tomato panini.

A while ago I treated myself to a Panini//Grill pan.  I’m so glad I did.  I no longer use the electric sandwich toaster I had been using, choosing now to make grilled sandwiches on the stove top using the panini grill.  Plus this grill pan is great for grilling burgers or steaks and chops quickly indoors if you can’t use the outdoor grille.  Note that the pan comes with a weighted flat cover that is used to compress sandwiches, or anything else that you want to keep flat as it grills.

Panini Grill Pan

Panini Grill Pan

This is a little off today’s subject, but I also have a George Forman Grill that I don’t use.  I’m not pleased with the results when I use it.  Instead of getting a nice browned sear on meats, mine seem to steam-cook rather than grill.   Am I doing something wrong?  If anyone reading this has any suggestions for me I’d love to hear them.  Thanks.

The rolls I purchased were sesame bulky rolls.  So, starting with the rolls, slice each one in half, and spread each cut side with a little mayonnaise.   Next start layering in the fillings:  thinly sliced turkey breast, as many slices as you like, and  sliced cheese.

Sliced turkey and sliced cheese placed on the split rolls.

Sliced turkey and sliced cheese placed on the split rolls.

Then lay on the already cooked bacon slices, and sliced tomatoes.  A sprinkle of seasoned salt on the tomatoes is good, or regular table salt.

Lay on the bacon and tomato slices.

Lay on the bacon and tomato slices.

Lightly butter the bottom of each roll and place on the heated panini grill pan.  Place the flat weight on top of the sandwiches to press them, and toast till nicely browned on the bottom.  Now lightly butter the tops and flip over so the top get toasty and browned, the filling continues to heat and cheese melts.  Be careful to keep the heat on low or the rolls will become too crisp before the fillings heat and melt.

This is what the sandwiches looked like while grilling,

Sandwiches grilling.

Sandwiches grilling.

And this is what the finished sandwiches look like:

Plated sandwich with sweet potato chips and pickle.

Plated sandwich with sweet potato chips and pickle.

Note the  top side of the sandwich; it has grill markings on it, and the top is nice and toasty.  I like to use sesame rolls for this because the sesame seeds get toasted and their flavor is more pronounced.   Yum!  Wish you could taste this—-it was great.

A great sandwich whether for lunch or a light supper.

A great sandwich whether for lunch or a light supper.

Turkey Frame Soup

Black Friday!    A day when millions of people hit the stores to start their Holiday shopping, and what am I doing?   Making soup.  It’s my ritual.  The evening before, after everyone has eaten their fill, I put  the leftover food, and what’s left of  Mr. Turkey into the fridge because I don’t want to do anything else that’s food related.

Friday morning after a leisurely start with my coffee,  I remove all the remaining large pieces of meat from the turkey frame, break the frame apart and put it all into a large soup kettle with a few vegetables to season it and start making the stock for the soup.

The beginning of a delicious turkey soup.

A long slow simmer turns all that goodness into a tasty broth, the basis for the soup.  I really miss the soup when we have TG dinner elsewhere and I don’t have a turkey frame to work with.  Once the stock is made, you can freeze or refrigerate it until you are ready to make the soup.  The recipe that follows is one I developed quite a few years ago, and I make it pretty much the same way every time, but you can improvise in your choice of vegetables and the type of pasta or noodles you add.  I am liberal with my use of seasonings, and this is a full, hearty and very satisfying soup.

TURKEY FRAME SOUP

YIELD:   about 10 servings

MAKING THE STOCK:

  • 1 meaty turkey frame.  Leave generous amounts of meat attached to the bones.  This is what goes into the soup.

    A meaty turkey frame, ready to make stock.

  • 3 quarts of water (12 cups)
  • 1 or 2 onions quartered, no need to peel
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 1 large rib celery, cut into chunks
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • several sprigs parsley

1.  Break turkey frame apart or cut with kitchen shears; place in a large soup kettle with the water, onion, vegetables, salt and parsley.  Bring to a boil; reduce heat, cover and simmer for 1 1/2 – 2 hours.

2.  Remove the frame; when cool enough to handle, cut off meat and coarsely chop.  Discard bones.  Strain broth; discard solids.  Return broth to soup kettle to continue making the soup or package in freezer containers to freeze for later use.  I usually make the broth in the morning and after straining I refrigerate it to solidify the fat and then skim if off before continuing to make the soup.

MAKING THE SOUP:

  • 1  (14 1/2 ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 Tablespoon instant chicken bouillon granules
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 4 cups assorted fresh vegetables:  any combination  of sliced celery, chopped onion, sliced carrots, sliced mushrooms, green peas, or cut green beans)
  • 1 1/2 cups uncooked noodles ie, medium egg noodles, small shell pasta, or elbows.

Rich turkey stock, the basis for a good soup.

1.  Return the broth to the large soup kettle and heat over medium heat.  Stir in undrained tomatoes, bouillon granules, oregano, thyme, and pepper.  Stir in fresh vegetables.

2.  Bring to boiling;  reduce heat, cover and simmer for 45 minutes.  Stir in uncooked noodles and cut up turkey.  Simmer uncovered, 8 – 10 minutes till noodles are done.  Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper as needed.

Turkey Frame Soup, thick and hearty.

SOURCE:   A Carolyn Original

Cranberry Tarragon Chicken Salad Sandwich

Sandy has come and gone, but certainly won’t  be forgotten.  Good-bye to a not-so-nice lady!  I’m so thankful that we came through it in good shape.  Our only hardship was the loss of electricity for about 48 hours. Compared to other families who suffered extensive damage and even loss of life I feel particularly lucky.  The shorelines of Ct., New York and New Jersey were devastated and it will take a very long time- if ever- to get things back to normal.

In preparation for the super storm and the  likelihood of not having any power for some time, I roasted a chicken so I would have some meat to work with in creating other dishes. That worked out well because  I have a gas stove so we were in pretty good shape.   One of the lunches I fixed was this recipe for chicken salad sandwiches.

Cranberry Tarragon Chicken Salad Sandwich

Usually, when I make chicken salad I put in a little dried tarragon, along with the chopped celery, and green onion.  But this time I also added some dried cranberries.  The inspiration for this came from the fact that on my last trip grocery shopping I found a loaf of Cranberry Wheat bread.  This is available for a limited time from now through the Holidays, and I thought it would be good toasted,  but it also worked out very well as a backdrop to the chicken salad.

I served these yummy sandwiches with some sweet potato chips and apple cider.  For two people in the midst of a hurricane, this was quite a good lunch, if I do say so.  If you decide to try this, try to find bread or rolls with either cranberries or orange in it.  That seems to elevate the sandwich to something a little more special.

CRANBERRY TARRAGON CHICKEN SALAD SANDWICH

YIELD:   makes 4 sandwiches

This is what you do;

In a medium-size bowl, mix together all of the following:

  • about 2 cups chopped cooked chicken,  white and dark meat mixed
  • 1 rib celery, finely chopped, leaves included
  • 1 scallion, sliced,  white and green parts
  • 1 teaspoon dried tarragon
  • 1 Tablespoon dried cranberries
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise, or more as needed to moisten it all.

Bread or rolls of choice, preferably with added cranberries.

Sweet potato chips make a nice accompaniment.

Substitute some of that left-over Thanksgiving turkey in place of the chicken, for another variation on this sandwich.

SOURCE:  A Carolyn Original