Tag Archives: lunch

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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Leftovers (Fajita, Potato, Mushroom) Quiche

Earlier this week I made fajitas and mushroom burgers and steak fries.  I ended up with enough fajita filling for a couple fajitas–one serving, a serving of steak fries, and 7 mushrooms.  I needed to make dinner for three, hmmmmm, what to do?  Lucky for me, I had a box of two premade pie crusts, half and half, and eggs.  Pie crust+half and half+eggs+leftovers=quiche!  Woo-hoo!  Dinner for 3 plus breakfast the next day!

Have a look at what you have for leftovers.  If it sounds like a yummy combo to you, you’ve got quiche!  Here’s the basic quiche recipe.  I made two quiches, so doubled the recipe.

I used about 1 cup fajita filling, chopped a bit, 7 or 8 steak fries and 7 mushrooms, sliced.

Preheat oven to 375F.

Start by sauteing the mushrooms in 2 TBSP butter.  As a rule, I only use pre-cooked add-ins in a quiche.

Cut up the fajita stuff and the potatoes and added to the mushrooms to heat through.

Line two pie pans with the premade crusts and sprinkled a half cup of cheese in the bottom of each and divided the fajita-mushroom mixture between the two pans, topping with another half cup of cheese each.

Mix the custard according to the quiche recipe, divide between the two pans.

Bake 45 minutes or until golden and a knife stuck in the center comes out clean.  Wait 5-10 minutes, cut into wedges and serve!  Since my leftover quiche was sort of Mexican-flavored, I topped it with a small dollop of sour cream and an avocado slice.

Everyone loved this quiche, and it didn’t seem like leftovers! 

As pretty as it is yummy, and a great way to stretch a food dollar. 

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Mushroom Swiss Burgers and Steak Fries

Football.  Playoffs.  Michael in the mood for burgers.  Get in the car and head out on a 30-minute one-way drive to Red Robin for take-out?  I think not!  I’m sure I can make a gourmet-esque-ish sort of burger, can’t I?  Sure I can!

What I can’t do is show you all the pictures I took.  My cell phone ate them.  Sounds like a homework excuse, huh?  Moving on anyway–I’m confident I can talk you through this easy-peasy gourmet burger and fries without as many pics as usual.

For the steak fries:

  • 1 tsp sweet paprika
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 4 medium potatoes
  • 2 TBSP olive oil

Preheat oven to 375F.  Slice potatoes in half long ways, and then into wedges–5 or 6 wedges per half.

Mix paprika, salt, garlic powder and pepper together.  Place potatoes in a roasting pan lined with parchment paper, drizzle with olive oil and season with spice mix.  Toss to evenly coat with your hands. Bake for 30 minutes, stirring after 15 minutes, until fork tender and starting to crisp.

While your fries are baking, make your burger flavor-y and moist by adding a few things.  For every pound and a half of burger, gently mix in:

  • 1 tsp grill seasoning (or salt/pepper combo)
  • 1 TBSP worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 cup chopped and sauted onion

Finely chop and saute the onion until translucent. 

Gently work grill seasoning, worcestershire sauce and onions into the burger, just until combined.  Over-working the raw meat will make your burgers tough.  Use your hands, making sure to wash before and after handling raw meat.  Form 4 burgers, gently shaping them with the centers thinner than the edges–this will make the burgers stay flat instead of puffing up in the middle.  Pan fry or grill to desired done-ness.  4-5 minutes per side for medium.

Clean and slice 6-8 mushrooms.

Melt 3 TBSP butter over medium heat and saute 3 cloves minced garlic until just  starting to turn golden.

Add mushrooms and saute until tender.  Deglaze with a splash of dry white wine.  Cook for an additional 2 minutes.

In the last 3 minutes of cooking the burgers, top with mushrooms.

And then top with a slice of swiss cheese.

Place a foil tent over the burgers to help the cheese get melty.

Starting to melt!

Spread buns with dijon mustard, place burger between, serve with steak fries!

Yum!  Remember that splash of wine needed to deglaze the mushrooms?  The big bonus of not running for take-out, aside from not going out in the cold? Being able to sip on that wine while cooking.  Nice.

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Quick and Easy Fajitas

My husband Michael is a huge fan of Mexican food; he would eat it every day, every meal.  Yup.  I like to experiment with new things that don’t always end up hot and spicy.  So after a few days of not-Mexican food, it was time.  Leftover steak from Western Colorado Cheese Steak paninis was perfect for a big ol’ batch of fajitas.

Fajitas are super easy to make and come together quickly, especially if the meat you use is already cooked.

  • 2 bell peppers, thinly sliced, colors of your choice
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced, rings separated
  • 1 hot pepper of your choice, minced (This is a jalepeno and ended up WAY more spicy than usual!  Does it look threatening?  Not unusually so…)  
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • a shake or two of red pepper flakes (I opted out of these, as it became apparent that the jalapeno would be plenty, plenty hot enough!)
  • 1/2 pound meat of your choice, pre-cooked, thinly sliced.  Or tofu or mushrooms if you want to keep your fajitas vegetarian.
  • tortillas
  • toppings of your choice–the usual suspects–avocado, sour cream, cheese, tomatoes, green onions, black olives,….

Clean and slice bell peppers into thin strips.

Peel and slice onions thinly, separating rings, mince the jalepeno.  (Look at those teeny, tiny pieces of jalapeno.  Look at the pile of them compared to the pile of everything else.  Really seemed reasonable at the time.)

 

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  When the oil starts to shimmer, add veggies and saute until they start to caramelize.  This was when I discovered the jalapeno was uber-spicy-hot.  The evil vapor steam rising off the tiny, tiny jalapeno bits rose up and jumped down my throat.  By then it was too late to reduce the amount of jalapeno, but I did opt out of red pepper flakes.  Good decision.

Add meat, cumin (and red pepper flakes if using), and heat through. 

Warm tortillas.  Pile a healthy bunch of yummy, fragrant fajitas into tortillas and top as you wish.

I’m here to tell ya that these fajitas were yummy, but hot-hot-hot because of that jalapeno!  I had to get more sour cream.  And water.  And a tissue.  Michael was happy-happy-happy with the heat.  Happy hubby=a very good thing.

If you have leftover meat from something, fajitas are one of the quickest ways to get a yummy dinner on the table.  Perfect for anyone with a super busy schedule or anyone (like me) who forgets to plan something for dinner, then happily remembers, “Oh!  I can make fajitas!  Yummy!”  Feel free to leave out the jalapeno altogether.  🙂

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Western Colorado Cheese Steak

Isn’t it wonderful when an idea comes together?  Last summer I pickled some peppers from my garden.  Corno di Toros–meaning horn of the bull, as these peppers curl as they grow and are reminisant of bulls’ horns.  I planted them because they are heirlooms, and I am a total sucker for heirloom plants of any kind.  Anyway, everything I read about them indicated they were a mild sweet pepper.  I commenced my pickling and thought, “hmmmmm…these smell kinda hot.”  I took a small bite.  HOT!  Wow.  I continued pickling them and thought about how I might use them this winter; some way to bring a bit of summer garden into the grey days of winter.  Some sort of cheese steak? Like a panini?  Totally forgot about the pickled peppers, until dear friends gave us Wild Onion Salsa for Christmas.  And then today, flat iron steaks were on sale at the grocery store!  Ta-Da!  The premire of the Western Colorado Cheese Steak!

Feel free to adjust ingredients according to what you can find, of course.

  • 1 small flat steak, like a skirt steak or a flat iron, grilled medium-rare
  • cheese; I used swiss
  • dijon mustard
  • your favorite bread; this is a semolina batard
  • pickled hot peppers
  • onion salsa; not hot, kinda sweet, actually.

Grill the steak medium-rare.  Often these flat steaks get tough if you grill them all the way to medium.  Let the steak rest while you get other ingredients ready.  After at least five minutes, cut against the grain into thin slices.

Preheat a panini press or contact grill.  I have a contact grill my mom insisted I needed…..she was right!

Cut bread into slices.  I cut on the diagonal to get larger slices.  Spread each slice with mustard.  Then layer on cheese slices, thin slices of steak, then peppers, then onion salsa.  lay more cheese on the other bread slice, then more cheese then the top bread slice.

Grill the sandwiches until the cheese is melty and everything is heated through, 5-10 minutes.Cut in half and devour!  Look at all those yummy layers!

I really loved the grilled combo of sweet onion, briney hot peppers, savory steak and melty cheese.  It would have been even more yummy if it were snowing, the summer garden contrast with the snow would have been perfect!

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Nina’s Enchiladas

Mr17’s Granny, Nina, makes the most unique-est and yummiest enchiladas in the land!  She is the queen of comfort food in great abundance–no one goes hungry at Granny’s house!  Everyone looks forward to Granny’s cooking–especially these enchiladas, and maybe the butterscotch cake….or the snickerdoodles….or the pot roast…..  Oh, Mr17 is so lucky to have a Granny like her–because of her cooking and just how wonderful she is in so many ways.  ❤

The ingredients are simple, the spicy heat is easy to control, and I’ll bet even someone who doesn’t much care for Mexican food will LOVE these.  I mean, just look at the ooey-gooey creamy-cheesy yumminess that is a Nina’s Enchilada:

Run to the store for anything you don’t have…

  • 1-1 1/2 pounds of chicken, cooked and diced or shredded (Save money by watching for your grocery to mark down chicken close to its freshness date!)
  • 3 medium potatoes, diced, cooked, drained (I have 10 little potatoes left from last summer’s garden.  I have a habit of using the bigger ones first.)
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup  (Store brand is cheaper and tastes the same!)
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup
  • 1 can Rotel tomatoes, spiciness of your choice–I like original
  • 1 can diced green chiles–spiciness of your choice
  • grated cheese–I ended up using a little more than half a pound
  • 12 flour tortillas

Preheat oven to 350F.  Oil enough pans to hold 12 enchiladas–I use an 8×8 and an 8×12. 

Cook potatoes and chicken.

Dump cream of mushroom, cream of chicken, Rotel tomatoes and a couple big handfuls of cheese into a large bowl.

Stir to combine and separate 1/3 of the mixture into a small bowl.  Reserve.

Add chicken, potatoes and green chiles to the large bowl.  Stir until all ingredients are well distributed.

Warm the tortillas to make them easier to work with.  Place them one at a time into a prepared pan, fill with chicken mixture and roll; line them up seam-side down.

Continue rolling until you’ve made 12 enchiladas.  Cover with the reserved mixture.  Be sure to spread the mixture to completely cover the tortillas all the way to their edges.  (Uncovered tortilla edges will get hard in the oven.)

Top edge-to-edge with cheese; another two large handfuls or so.

Bake for 30 minutes or until cheese is melty and bubbly.  (If you bake them too long, the bottoms get hard.)  Oh the aroma of these enchiladas when you take them out of the oven…

Serve with your favorite toppings.  My faves are tomatoes, green onion, avocado and sour cream. 

These are so quick and easy, they are perfect to take to potlucks or occasions when you want to take food to a friend.  They are also spectacular left over for lunch the next day! 

For me, the spiciness is perfect with original Rotel and mild green chiles.  Michael would prefer it hotter.  How hot is the perfect yummy-hot for you?

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Lentil Soup and Corn Bread (Vegetarian, Gluten-Free and Dairy-Free!)

Vegetarian, gluten-free, dairy-free….but most of all, a warm, hearty and seriously yummy winter comfort food dinner.  I have good friends, who between them, have these food requirements.  I love to have friends over for dinner, and these two really challenged my usual repertoire.  Advice from a  few gluten-free cookbooks and a search of recipes I usually make, resulted in this really wonderful combination!

The soup couldn’t be easier, and the corn bread is adapted from my cooking bible, The Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook.

For the Lentil Soup:

  • 2 quarts vegetable broth
  • 2 cups water (to start–you will probably add more water later to adjust the thickness of the soup)
  • 2 cups lentils, rinsed
  • 1-16oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup rice (I used a wild rice mix.  My original recipe calls for 1 cup barley–a product with gluten.  If you can have gluten and prefer barley, by all means use that instead! I was also thinking quinoa might be yummy…)
  • 2 cups chopped onion (1 large or 1 1/2 medium onions)
  • 2 cups chopped celery (1 celery “heart”)
  • 2 cups chopped carrots (4-5 carrots)
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil (I used canola.)
  • 2 TBSP chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 TBSP salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1 envelope dry onion soup mix
  • 2 packages frozen chopped spinach, partially thawed.

NOTE: Check all packaged ingredients to be sure they are gluten-free.

Place everything EXCEPT the spinach in a large stock pot over medium heat.  Bring to a boil and then cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 50 minutes to an hour.  Leave the spinach packages sit on the counter to start thawing.

After the 50-60 minutes, add the spinach.

Stir to combine, cover and continue to simmer until lentils are tender and rice (or barley) is cooked through; an additional 10-20 minutes.  At this point, you can let the soup sit at a low simmer or in a crock pot until you’re ready to eat it.  How easy-peasy is that?!

For the Corn bread:

  • 1 cup rice flour blend (recipe below, after the slideshow)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup yellow corn meal
  • 1 tsp powdered xanthan gum
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup unflavored almond or soy milk (I used almond milk)
  • 1/4 cup grapeseed oil

Preheat oven to 425F.  Grease a 9x9x2″ pan with a vegetable shortening.

Stir rice flour blend, sugar, baking powder, salt, and xanthan gum together in a medium bowl.

Add corn meal, stir to combine.

Add eggs, almond milk and grapeseed oil; stir until just smooth–do not over-beat, or your corn bread will be tough.

Pour batter into the pan. 

 Bake 20-25 minutes–until golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean.

Cut into slices and serve with the Lentil Soup!  Yummy!

I ended up adding an additional 4 cups of water to my soup, and it was still thick and hearty.  The corn bread–my first attempt at making it gluten-free–turned out crispy on the top, with a light, tender texture inside.  It was way yummy, and tasted just like corn bread with regular wheat flour! 

This meal would be delicious with just the fam, but was extra yummy spiced with conversation, laughter and good friends.  ❤

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Rice Flour Blend:

  • 2 cups white rice flour
  • 2/3 cup potato starch
  • 1/3 cup tapioca flour

Mix all the ingredients thouroughly and store in an air-tight container.

All of these ingredients, and the xanthan gum, can be found at health food stores and larger supermarkets.

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Filed under comfort food, crock pot, dairy-free, dinner, Gluten-free, lunch, Potluck, recipe, Vegetarian