Tag Archives: dinner

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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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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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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Nina’s Groutburgers

Yup, “groutburgers.”  Mr17’s granny, Nina, got this recipe from friends, and we think the name derives from “kraut burgers” because of the cabbage in the filling.  Savory filling wrapped in a soft bun, mmmmm–yummy! 

Nina always makes jillions of these, I cut her recipe in half–enough for dinner and leftovers for the three of us. double the recipe for a potluck!

For the bread:

  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1 pkg dry yeast
  • 1 cup lukewarm milk
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup (half a stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3 1/2-4 cups flour

For the filling:

  • 1 pound ground meat (Nina always used beef, I used chicken, ’cause that’s what I had–surprisingly yummy!)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1/2 small head of cabbage, grated
  • salt, pepper, garlic powder, or any other seasonings you like to taste

Start the bread first.  Dissolve the yeast in warm water.  

Mix in milk, sugar, butter, salt, egg and 2 cup of the flour. 

Beat until smooth and add enough of the remaining flour to make the dough easy to handle.

Turn dough out onto a floured surface.

Knead until smooth, about 5 minutes.

Place in a greased bowl; turn greased side up.

Cover and let rise in a warm place until double; about 1 1/2 hours.

Punch down dough, cover and let rise a bit more while you make the filling.

Preheat oven to 375F.

Brown the ground meat and onions together.

Add the cabbage and cook until cabbage is tender.  Add seasonings and let it sit while you prepare the dough.

Divide dough in half.  Roll out each half and cut into 5″ (ish) squares. 

Divide the filling in half and place evenly onto dough squares.  Use the rest of the filling with the second half of the dough.

For each square, pull up two sides and pinch them together along the seam.  Pull up another side and pinch it to the others, and finally pull up the last side to make a little packet.  You may need to get creative with the “squares” from the corners of your rolled-out dough.  Mine ended up kind of triangular.

Place the groutburgers on a parchment or silpat-lined baking sheet.  I needed two sheets for all of my little burgers. 

Bake 20-25 minutes, until golden brown.  Brush with butter if you like.

Serve ’em up at least two per person.  Plenty for me, but the guys had seconds! 

Eat as is or cut them in half.  Dip in whatever you like–mustard (my fav), catsup (Mr17’s fav), or some sort of combo (Michael liked mustard and hot sauce).

You might be thinking that this is a complicated way to have a burger.  Well, it kinda is, but the result is so WAY better than a burger!  Tender-soft dough with a savory meat and veggie filling all wrapped up in a one-handed meal.  Yummy!  I make them when I have time to dink around with a yeast dough; not a recipe for an in-a-hurry week night!  Groutburgers are a perfect grab-and-go lunch.  Mr17 takes them to school and eats them cold.  I like to nuke them for a few seconds. 

Once you have the technique, play with the fillings….how ’bout a mushroom-swiss burger this way?!  BTW, this dough is also fabulous to use as a base for cinnamon rolls….mmmm!

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Kris’ New Orleans Red Beans and Rice

The quarterly pick-up parties at one of our favorite wineries, Reeder Mesa Winery, are fabulous events with great food, entertainment and of course, great wine!  The party that falls in February always has a Mardi Gras theme.  Last year, one of the owners made this recipe, and sent each of us home with the recipe card.  I finally made it this week.  So, so yummy!

Not many ingredients, but BIG flavor!

  • 1 pound dried red beans (Kris swears by ordering them from New Orleans, I am a last-second sort of gal and got these at the local grocery.)
  • 1 pound andouille sausage, sliced (or any other smoked, spicy sausage)
  • 2 cups onions, chopped (1 large onion)
  • 5 cloves garlic, peeled (these will melt into the beans while they cook)
  • 1/2 cup celery, chopped
  • 1/2 cup green onions, chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning to taste, if you have it
  • 3 cups cooked rice

Wash and pick over beans.  Place in a 4-qt casserole or pan with 8 cups water.  Cover and soak overnight.

Pour off water, replace with 4 cups fresh water.  Add sausage, onion, celery, garlic, green onions and parsley.  Cook in crockpot on low for 8 hours, or simmer on stovetop til beans are tender.

Look how rich and yummy!  Add salt, red and black pepper and Tony Chachere’s.

Mash up 1 cup of the beans and stir back into the pot to thicken.

Serve over cooked rice!  Yummy!

I like to mix mine all together.

The spices in this recipe are just-right spicy for me.  Michael added additional hot sauce–he loves his food WAY hotter than I do!  However spicy you like, red beans and rice makes for a warm and yummy comfort food meal!

Here’s a picture of a couple revelers from the pick-up party!  Laissez les bons temps rouler, girls!

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The Best Ham and Potato Soup Ever!

I don’t know what got me thinking about potato soup.  It’s not something I make all the time, and not usually something I make especially well.  In fact, Mr17’s Dad is the potato soup master.  He doesn’t measure or anything, just throws things in and it turns into the perfect cold-weather comfort meal.  Well! (Stands proudly, hands on hips, much like Yul Brynner in the King and I.)  I think I have him beat.   (Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.)

Oooohhhh yeaaaahhh.  I have a new favorite ingredient and a combination of stove-top and crock pot that brings it over the top!

  • 1 package smoked ham shanks
  • 6-7 potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 5 carrots, peeled and sliced into coins
  • 1 celery heart, chopped, leaves too
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
  • 1 quart chicken broth
  • pepper to taste
  • 5 TBSP butter
  • 5 TBSP flour
  • 2 cups milk

Ham shanks are my new favorite ingredient for soups that usually have ham in them.  Cook them in with the soup, bones and fat and all.  You will be rewarded with bigger pieces of super-tender ham along with a richer broth.

Place the ham shanks and chicken broth in a 6 quart pot over medium heat. 

Meanwhile, mince the garlic, chop the celery, onion and carrots and add them to the pot.

Then chop the potatoes and add them to the pot.

Season with black pepper to taste and add water to cover the ingredients if needed. 

Cover and cook for half an hour, then transfer everything to a crock pot.  Cook on high for an additional four hours, while you go see a movie.  I recommend The Decendants.  With George Clooney.  In Hawai’i.  (Really, really good movie, plus it takes place in places I’ve been so it seemed like a vacation!)

Come out of the theater into the greyness of a typical January afternoon, drive home, open the door and rejoice in the amazing aroma of the best ham and potato soup that is almost ready!

Melt the butter in a pan over medium heat.

Stir in the flour to create a roux.  Cook until it bubbles.

Then add the milk, 1 cup at a time.  Use a whisk if lumps start to happen.  Remove from heat when thick and smooth.

Remove the ham shanks from the crock pot and separate the meat from the fat and bones.  Shred the meat with a fork.

Add the milk mixture to the crock pot, and then the ham meat.  Stir to combine.

Ladle up a nice big bowl-full and garnish with a bit of shredded cheese and fresh chopped chives.  Maybe toast and butter a couple pieces of a nice crusty bread.  Now there ya go.

Maybe if you get close enough to your monitor you can smell the wonderful creamy, smoky, comfort-food yumminess of this soup. 

Maybe you’ll just have to take my word for it, until you make some for yourself.  And then—shhhhh don’t let your family hear—hide any leftovers in the fridge for YOUR lunch.  Mmmmmm, yummy!

This soup got an “Oh. My. Gosh!” from Mr17 on his way to get his second bowl.  I couldn’t get him to commit on whether my soup is better than his Dad’s.  Well played on his part, even though mine IS yummier!

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Celine’s Swedish-Style Meatballs

My mom made the best meatballs, and always served them with red sauce and pasta. However, these meatballs have a unique flavor–very un-Italian–and are cooked in an unusual way.  This got me to thinking they just might have Scandinavian roots.  Sure enough, the Swedish meatball recipes I found are made in a similar fashion and also include spices not normally associated with Italian meatballs.   I wonder if she knew, or if this is a recipe from the Scandinavian side of the family and she never even thought about it.  No matter, they are super tender and yummy!

Here’s what you’ll need to make meatballs just like Mom made ’em:

  • 1 pound burger  (Always hamburger while I was growing up.)
  • 2 slices of bread, soaked in water, wrung out and shredded
  • 1/4-1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1/2 tsp mace
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 egg
  • flour  to coat meatballs
  • 2 bay leaves

Start by soaking the bread in water. 

When the bread has soaked up all the water it can, wring it out, shred it and add it to a bowl with the burger, onion, mace, salt pepper and egg.

Using your hands, gently mix everything together just until combined.  Over-working raw meat will make it tight and tough.

I use a cookie scoop to make uniform-sized balls, forming them a bit in my hands.  Roll each one in flour.

Place meatballs in a large skillet with 1 TBSP butter and 1 TBSP oil.

Brown on all sides.  This will cause a loss of roundness, exactly how they always look.

When meatballs are browned all over, cover them with water, add bay leaves, bring to a boil, and simmer for 20 minutes.  The flour coating the meatballs will become a gravy coating!

Meanwhile, cook the pasta of your choice according to package directions.  Gently mix pasta, sauce and meatballs.

Serve some up on a plate,

add some finely grated parmesan cheese,

and have a bite of that tender, yummy meatball.

After reading other Swedish meatball recipes, I want to experiment a bit with Mom’s original recipe and serve them more Swedish-style.  The gravy of this recipe sounds the most enticing to me–it uses a bit of ligonberry preserves!  I also liked the idea of cardamom in the meatballs.  I don’t think Mom would mind a bit of tinkering for the sake of Scandinavian yumminess.

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