Monthly Archives: March 2012

Chicken Cordon Bleu Paninis

Yesterday I scored an eightly dollar panini press for a little over twenty dollars.  Woo-hoo!  A new toy like that absolutely must be used right away, and so, I present to you the panini that drew this unsolicited commentary from Michael: “Oh my god!  Undoubtably the best thing I ever ate!  This is ‘Diners, Drive-ins and Dives’ good.”  Yup, yummy!

Lots of yummy for so few ingredients!  Adjust amounts for how many paninis you want to make.

  • cooked chicken breast strips  (just under 1 lb made 2 large paninis)
  • sliced deli ham (used half the package)
  • sliced swiss (2 slices per sandwich)
  • bread of your choice (this is jalepeno cheddar from Great Harvest)
  • dijon mustard

Warm up your panini press.  Slice the bread and spread both peices with mustard.

Add a layer of chicken strips.

Lay a slice of swiss cheese over the chicken, trimming a bit so it won’t melt too much onto your press.

Place ham slices on top of the cheese.

Then add more swiss.

Finally layer on more chicken.

Finish the sandwich with the second piece of bread and place in the pre-heated press.  (Alternately, you could use a fry pan, with a second fry pan on top of the sandwiches to weight them down and compress them.  You’ll need to flip the sandwiches halfway through the cooking time to brown both sides.)

Close the lid on your press and cook until the cheese is melty and the bread has grill marks.  My press takes about 15 minutes on high for this to happen.

Carefully remove the paninis to plates; cut in half to make them easier to enjoy!

Asparagus and a nice crispy-cold riesling is uber yummy with the melty-smoky-tender-toasted flavors of these paninis. 

Last night I made “meatball” paninis with leftover meatloaf, zesty pasta sauce, and mozzerella–very meatball-esque and delish!  All sorts of grilled sandwiches are running through my head now…..mmmmmmm!  Yummy!

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Filed under dinner, lunch, recipe

Celine’s Meatloaf

If you’re looking for a fancy, gourmet meatloaf, you’ll need to keep on a-googling.  This is the meatloaf my mom made back in the day.  The kind with just one kind of meat.  The kind with lots of onions.  The kind with a stripe of catsup baked right in.  The kind served with catsup (not pan sauce).  The kind that’s uber-super-extra yummy cold the next day as a sandwich.  Still with me?  May I present to you the meatloaf that is comfort food to me:

If you always have ground beef and onions in the house, you probably have the rest.

  • 2 lbs ground beef
  • 3-4 handfuls old fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 eggs
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • catsup

Preheat oven to 350F.

Place all ingredients except catsup in a bowl.

Remove any bling you wear on your fingers and mix using your hands just until combined.  Move the mixture to a loaf pan, pressing to shape your loaf.  Using the pinky-finger side of your hand, form a little furrow lengthwise down the center.  Fill the furrow with catsup.

Bake for 1 hour.  Remove from pan and place on a cutting board.

Cut into slices, serve with potatoes and a vegetable and there ya go.  Midwest comfort food from back in the day.  I turned fingerling potatoes into Mom’s salt potatoes.  The darker potatoes sparkle with the perfect amount of crystallized salt.  Nice combo with the meatloaf.

Just like Mom used to make.  Yummy.  ❤

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Filed under comfort food, dinner, Food memories, recipe

Frozen, Blended Coffee Nirvana

Just yesterday it was warm.  The sun was shining, birds were singing, crocus were blooming, spring had sprung.  Time for frozen coffee!  So smooth and creamy and caffeine-y…totally the best way to enjoy coffee when it’s warm out!  Ahhhhhh……

I learned to make “frozens” at my all-time FAVORITE local coffee shop, The Coffee Studio.  TCS was a great little shop that combined great coffee, pastries baked right there, art and attitude.  Unfortunately, the evil empire of Starbucks moved into the grocery store next door and squished the life out of this wonderful local shop.  Buy local coffee, folks.  Doing so supports your neighbors.  And, coffee really shouldn’t taste burned; just sayin’.

For one coffee drink:

  • 4 TBSP total flavored syrup(s) of your choice  (This means if you use two flavors, 2 TBSP of each, for example.)  You could skip flavors entirely, if you prefer.
  • enough brewed coffee or espresso to fill your blender to the 1 cup line
  • 5 generous TBSP of Big Train Blended Coffee powder
  • ice–I pre-crush it (my blender is wimpy) and measure 2/3 of the cup I plan to use for the finished frozen coffee.

First of all, decide what flavor syrups you’re in the mood for.  Michael wanted white chocolate and hazelnut this morning, Mr17 had cookie dough and butterscotch, I had white chocolate, peanut butter and butterscotch.  I eyeball them into the blender, because I use the very bottom of the blender–where the blade is–to measure, but you can measure-measure until you get the hang of the frozen.

Then pour in enough brewed coffee or espresso to the 1 cup mark on your blender.  You can save coffee from the end of yesterday’s pot or brew fresh.  Espresso gives a richer coffee flavor!

Add 5 generous (meaning I don’t level the spoon) TBSP of the Big Train powder.  This magic powder is what provides the creamy, consistant texture of your frozen, keeping it from separating into liquid and ice.

Now time for the ice.  My blender is just a wimpy, basic blender and doesn’t do a great job blending ice cubes, so I do a rough pre-crush using a ziploc bag and this handy-dandy ice crusher thingy that came with my husband (bonus!).  A meat tenderizer or rolling pin  in pounding mode will work as well.

I pour the crushed ice into the cup I plan to use to a level of about two thirds.  If your ice is not pre-crushed, you’ll need about 1 and 1/2 of your cup-fulls.  These are nice insulated ones I got at Bed Bath and Beyond that have a straw with stirring fins at the base.

Dump the ice into the blender and blend until smooth.

Pour into your cup and sip away.

Or top with whipped cream and a coordinating ice cream syrup.  Can you say milk shake?!  Mmm-hmm.  These are dangerous.

We try to lesson the danger a bit by using sugar-free syrups and light whipped cream.  We have a variety of syrups so we can make a ton of different frozens.  I think about The Coffee Studio every time I make one.  This recipe comes close to the yummy frozens Kellie made there.  *Sigh* 

It’s cold and snowing here today, but the frozen was still yummy!  Here’s to Spring!  What are you doing to celebrate the season?

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Filed under drinks, recipe

Wild Margaritas

A couple weeks ago, Michael and I joined friends at  Tahona Tequila Bistro in Boulder.  We sat at the bar and were schooled in tequilas we had never heard of before.  Michael’s and my favorite was Hacienda De Chihuahua Sotol Reposado.  Not a true tequila, as it is not made from the required agave variety to be called tequila, but made from wild, organic, sustainably grown agave.  The Reposado is aged in oak barrels.  Reading the reviews in the link might make you think you’re at a wine review site, using words like warm spice, caramel, peppery, and complex.  It is super smooth, without the bite I usually associate with a tequila. This Sotol is THE yummy-factor in these margaritas, and what I wanted to share with you most in this post.

If you make your own margaritas, the ingredients will be pretty familiar.  I’m giving amounts in “parts” which can then be adjusted to make one margarita or a whole pitcher.

  • 1/4 part orange liqueur, such as Triple Sec (economical–the one I have for just that reason) or Cointreau (pricey, but yummy)
  • 1 part tequila (Get the Sotol–you’ll be soooo glad!)
  • 3 parts premade margarita mix
  • lime
  • kosher salt–NOT table salt–the bigger crystals of kosher salt are what you want here
  • ice

Start by assembling your ingredients.  Cut a small wedge of lime and run it around the rim of each glass to moisten it.

Tip the moistened rim into a bowl of kosher salt.

Add ice cubes.

Add the tequila, Triple Sec (Cointreau), and margarita mix.  I used a smallish shot glass to measure and doubled the amounts for these glasses.  Cut a lime wedge, squeeze it into the margarita, drop it in, and give it a stir.  Voila! 

Alternately, you could mix the “parts” in a cocktail shaker and pour into the glasses for a colder drink and a bit of flair.

Perfect with Mexican food–we had fish tacos with these–or as a wind-down on a Friday afternoon with some chips.  Yummy!  If you’re ever in Boulder, CO, I highly recommend Tahona’s on Pearl St.  Sit at the bar for the best “education.”  The food is fabulous as well.

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Filed under drinks, recipe

Slow Cooker Corned Beef and Cabbage

Just in time for St. Patty’s Day–classic Irish comfort food that practically cooks itself!  The March 2012 Everyday Food is full of awesome recipes, including this one.  Can you say yum?

Corned beef briskets are on sale pretty much everywhere right now, making this not only easy, but economical!  Gather everything, and toss it into the crockpot; you’ll have time to try to catch a leprechaun!

  • 2 celery stalks, cut into 3-inch pieces
  • 3 carrots, cut into 3-inch pieces
  • 1 small yellow onion, cut into 1-inch wedges, root end intact
  • 1/2 pound small potatoes, cut in half if large
  • 6 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 corned beef brisket (about 3 lbs) and spice packet, or 1 TBSP pickling spice
  • 1/2 head cabbage, Savoy if you can find it, cut into 1 1/2-inch wedges
  • grainy mustard for serving

Prepare celery, carrots, potatoes and onion.  Place them in a crockpot with thyme.

Place brisket on top, fat side up.  Sprinkle with spices and add enough water to almost cover the meat.  (This completely filled my crockpot–forcing an adjustment later….)

Cover and cook until corned beef is tender.  4 1/2 hours on high, or 8 1/2 hours on low.

Arrange cabbage over meat.  I moved the whole kit and kaboodle to a large pot on the stove–worked just fine.  Cover and continue cooking until cabbage is tender.  45 minutes on high, or 1 1/2 hours on low.  While the cabbage was cooking, I had enough time to make a loaf of Irish Soda Bread!  So fast,so  easy, and the perfect yummy addition to this comfort food meal!

Remove everything from the pot, carve the brisket and serve!  How ’bout a nice, cold, stout beer with this meal?!  Mmmmmm–perfect!

I ended up with not much left over, but plenty of brisket and potatoes to make a corned beef hash to have with over-easy eggs the next morning!  Yum!

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Filed under comfort food, crock pot, dinner, Holiday foods, recipe

Healthy Fruit and Nut Bars

Yup, healthy!  I found this recipe turning through the pages of the April 2012 Whole Living magazine in a section devoted to healthy alternatives for afternoon snacking.  I must say these bars are satisfying and best of all, really hit that sweet-tooth spot.  At 176 calories per bar, they are nearly 100 calories less than a Snickers.   You’d have to walk at a 3mph pace for half an hour to make up the difference if you chose the Snickers instead. 

I think I’m in love…

These are super-easy-peasy and quick to make.  Make ’em Sunday night and have a bar for each day of the work week, plus Saturday!

  • 1 1/2 cups dried fruit (I used a combo of apricots and cherries)
  • 1/2 cup raw nuts, toasted if you want (I used almonds)
  • 2 TBSP unsweeted shredded coconut, toasted if you like
  • coarse salt
  • 1/2 oz chocolate, melted (I used white chocolate–just sounded yummy with the apricots.)

Line a 9×5 inch laof pan with parchment paper, leaving an inch or so of overhang.

Place fruit, nuts and a pinch of salt in the bowl of a food processor and process until finely ground.

Transfer mixture to the prepared loaf pan and press firmly.

Using the parchment “handles,” lift the bars out and drizzle with melted chocolate, then top with coconut.

Chill in refrigerator until firm, about 15 minutes.  Cut into six bars and enjoy!

So, so yummy!  Wrap individual bars in parchment paper for on the go snackage.  Experiment with different dried fruits or combos and different nuts.  So many possibilites!  The big challenge? Keeping the rest of the fam out of your fruit and nut bar stash!  Might need to make more….

The rest of the nutrition info per one-bar serving: 176 cals, 8g fat (2 g sat fat), 0mg cholesterol, 25g carbs, 56mg sodium, 4g protein, 4g fiber.  

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Filed under Gluten-free, recipe, snack

Celine’s Spiced Pecans

These pecans are a holiday staple in my family.  After Mom and Dad moved to New Mexico, they met a pecan grower in the area around Deming.  A bag of shelled pecans could be expected to arrive here just after Thanksgiving, and then just before Christmas, I’d get a call from Mom asking if I’d made “The Pecans” yet.  Mom served these at every Christmas open house, and shared the recipe with lots of people.  She had a cute story of one friend who loved them, but had decided to never make them again because they were too tedious and time-consuming to make.  This baffled Mom, so she asked why.  The friend had dipped each individual pecan in egg white and then hand-coated the dipped pecan in the cinnamon sugar mix!  I can still hear Mom’s “Ha!” after sharing that story.  🙂 

Anyway, this week I made “The Pecans” because my sister wanted a bread pudding recipe, and I always use them in that recipe.  Look how cute they look in one of my new little birdie bowls!

Beware, these can be addictive….and you really don’t need to dip and coat the pecans individually!

  • 1 egg white + 1 tsp water
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 TBSP cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 pound shelled pecan halves

Preheat oven to 300F.  Line a jelly roll pan (baking sheet with sides) with parchment paper or a silicon baking liner.

Place cinnamon, sugar, and salt in a gallon-sized ziploc bag.  Seal and shake/swirl to mix.

Place egg white and water in a large bowl.  Beat until frothy.

Add pecans to the bowl and stir to coat.

Place coated pecans in the ziploc with the cinnamon mixture.  Shake/swirl to coat pecans evenly.

Pour onto prepared baking sheet.  Bake for 30 minutes; give ’em a good stir after 15 minutes.

Remove from the oven and stir again.  Cool in the pan.  Be careful if you decide to sample before they’re completely cool….not that I do this.  Well, maybe I ALWAYS do this.


Crispy, crunchy, spicy, a little sweet with a hint of saltiness, “The Pecans” are a perfect holiday buffet sort of yummy, a lovely addition to a platter of cookies, and are also perfect for gifting. 

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Filed under dessert, food gifts, Food memories, Holiday foods, recipe

Perfect Bread Pudding

I have to thank my sister for this post.  (Thanks Sissy!)  This week, she texted me for a bread pudding recipe.  I hadn’t made this in ages, but thought she’d enjoy the recipe with pictures, ala Somethin’ Yummy, rather than an emailed recipe.  So happy she asked, because now I have a whole muffin tin full of perfectly portioned bread puddings that filled the house with the yummy aromas of cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla.

I had everything I needed:

  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 3 cups 1/2″ day-old bread cubes
  • 1 cup chopped/crumbled spiced pecans (Mom’s recipe–to be blogged soon!) or pralines

Wisk eggs, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla together.

Wisk in cream and milk.

Fold in bread cubes and pecans.

Tap floating bread cubes with a spoon to submerge them as much as possible into the custard.  Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 350F.  Generously butter the 12 wells of a muffin tin with 1 TBSP butter.

Spoon bread and custard evenly into the 12 wells.

Bake for 30-35 minutes; until the centers are firm.

Serve with a spoonful or two or three of melted vanilla ice cream.  If you want to be all fancy, call this melted ice cream Creme Anglaise.  (They are essentially the same thing!)  The tops are crisp, the centers creamy and soft and yummy, with a lovely pecan crunch.

Michael and I enjoyed the fresh, slightly tart flavor of red raspberries with the yummy just-sweet-enough, cinnamon-y bread pudding.  I’m also loving the perfect portions created using the muffin tin; just enough to have that comfort food pampering, not enough to sabotage the efforts to eat more healthily.

I think just a bit of butterscotch or caramel sauce would also be yummy…or a scoop of ice cream….or strawberries….or with a late harvest riesling….or maybe just a quick zap in the microwave later for a midnight snack!  Hope you enjoy these, Sonia–did you notice Aunt Katrine’s plates?!  ❤

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Filed under comfort food, dessert