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Lobster BLT Sandwiches

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Ding! Ding! Ding! Balloons are dropping from the ceiling all around you. The crowds are cheering. The sirens are ringing. Brightly colored bits of paper confetti are obscuring your vision. Your heart is racing with excitement and your mind is filled with utter bewilderment…

You MAY have just been the 100,000th visitor to this blog. CONGRATULATIONS! I’d send you a real prize if I could, but I have no way of determining who the actual 100,000th reader will be. So, simply beam with pride in knowing that it might be you and accept this celebratory recipe as your grand reward!

According to my stats, some time today, this little food blog will reach its 100,000th view. Yowzers! I can only hope that this milestone represents 100,000 happy customers, 100,000 delicious meals,  and 100,000 satisfied bellies!

In celebration of this momentous occasion, I’ve got a special little dish for you; elegant in its simplicity, an unassuming sandwich on a croissant. But between those flakey, buttery layers of golden croissant lies a decadent lobster salad, lightly tossed in a champagne tarragon dressing. A few slices of crispy applewood smoked bacon and some ripe red tomatoes complete the dish. It’s a BLT sandwich in every sense of the word, simply swapping the traditional lettuce for a bit of luscious lobster; the perfect way to raise the level of a classic BLT sandwich into a celebratory meal!

Pescetarians, rest assured. This dish is for you too! Simply omit the bacon for a luscious lobster salad delight!

Lobster BLT Sandwiches

Ingredients

For the Champagne Tarragon Lobster Salad:

  • 1 pound lobster tail(s), cooked and chopped*
  • 2 tablespoons good-quality mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon champagne vinegar (can substitute white wine vinegar or lemon juice)
  • 1/2 shallot, finely diced
  • 5-6 fresh tarragon leaves, chopped
  • Salt and pepper

For the BLTs:

  • 2 croissants
  • 4-6 slices bacon, cooked
  • Tomatoes, sliced
  • Romaine lettuce, optional

Directions

To prepare the salad, whisk together the mayonnaise and champagne vinegar until smooth. Stir in the fresh tarragon and shallot. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper, as desired. Toss the lobster with dressing. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

To assemble the sandwiches, split a croissant in half. Place 2-3 slices of crisp bacon on the croissant. Top with fresh tomato slices and a generous scoop of lobster salad.

Makes 2 Sandwiches

* For ease and convenience, this recipe utilizes lobster tails. (You can use the meat from a whole boiled or steamed lobster, if desired.) My grocery store carries freshly frozen lobster tails in the seafood department. Defrost the tails in the fridge for several hours before using, until they are mostly defrosted and flexible. To roast the lobster tails, preheat oven to 450 degrees. Use kitchen shears to snip a slit through the top of the shell from the body end to the fan end. Carefully separate and lift the lobster meat from the shell, leaving it attached at the fan end. Rest the lobster meat atop the split shell. Drizzle with a tablespoon or two of melted butter. Bake for about 15 minutes, or until the lobster reaches an internal temperature of at least 145 degrees. Adjust cooking time based on the size of your lobster tails and how frozen/defrosted they are.

Shrimp Scampi Flatbread Pizza

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As predicted, every pizza joint in my area is suddenly a fish fry too! After Easter, the Friday fish fry specials will gradually fade away, but for anyone who abstains from meat on Fridays during this time of the year, your local pizza shop is probably your one-stop-shop for Friday takeout!

If you’re feeling like something other than pizza, fried haddock or frozen fish sticks, I’ve got a few ideas for you. For starters, I’ve got a new recipe for a shrimp scampi flatbread pizza. We’ll start with a basic shrimp scampi, which will drizzle over individual flatbread crusts, and bake with a bit of asiago and mozzarella cheese. Garlic-flavored naan (Indian flatbread) makes an especially tasty crust for this pizza. Many supermarkets now carry prepared naan, either fresh in the bread or international section or frozen. If you can’t get your hands on flatbread or naan, a thin prepared pizza crust would do the trick.

For the purpose of this pizza, small salad shrimp (the kind you can typically find cooked and frozen) work perfectly. If you’d like to use this scampi recipe for serving over rice or pasta, substitute the salad shrimp for larger, fresh shrimp and allow them to cook in the buttery garlic sauce.

Shrimp Scampi Flatbread Pizza

Ingredients

  • 4 flatbreads, Indian naan, or a thin-crust pizza shell
  • 6 Tablespoons butter
  • 1 shallot, finely diced
  • 1 head of garlic, cloves peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 cups cooked salad-sized shrimp, defrosted
  • Crushed red pepper
  • Salt
  • 2-3 Tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 cup asiago cheese, shredded
  • 2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Melt butter in a pan over medium heat. Add the shallots and garlic. Cook for about 5 minutes, until the garlic just begins to turn a golden brown. Lower the heat, if necessary, to prevent burning. Add the white wine and lemon juice. Simmer for about 5 minutes. Add the shrimp and gently simmer until heated through. Season with crushed red pepper and salt, as desired. Stir in the fresh parsley. Allow the scampi mixture to cool slightly.

To assemble the pizzas, place the flatbreads or naan onto baking sheets. Sprinkle approximately 1/4 cup asiago cheese over each flatbread or naan. Spoon some of the shrimp mixture, with a small amount of the buttery sauce, over the cheese. To prevent your pizza from becoming soggy, do not use too much of the sauce. A light drizzle around the pizza will be perfect. Sprinkle about 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese over the top of each pizza. Bake for about 12 minutes.

Makes 4 Individual Flatbread Pizzas

Looking for a few other meat-free dinner options? Check out these previously posted Gourmand Mom recipes:

Codfish Cakes


Pan-Fried Tilapia with Grapefruit and Shaved Leeks


Broiled Salmon Bruschetta


Coconut Crusted Tilapia with Tropical Fruit Salsa


Roasted Beets and Goat Cheese in a Citrus-Honey Vinaigrette


Cinnamon Apple and Brie Quesadillas


Broiled Halibut with Olives, Sun-dried Tomatoes, and Capers


Tropical Fish Tacos with Spicy Mango Salsa and Coconut Rice


Salmon Burgers with Horseradish Sauce


Heirloom Tomatoes and Fresh Mozzarella


Chilled Avocado Soup and Crab Cakes with Chipotle Remoulade


Buttermilk Battered Coconut Shrimp with Pineapple Chipotle Dipping Sauce


Hawaiian Garlic Shrimp


Shrimp and Asparagus in a Lemony Basic Alfredo Sauce


Asian-Style Turkey Meatball Sandwiches

I’m pretty sure I’m done with my holiday cookie baking for the year. Well, sort of. Ok, not really. I want to be done baking. I really do. I’ve softened more sticks of butter than I can count and my baking sheets are screaming for a break. The kids’ red wagon in the garage is overflowing with containers of cookies and chocolate confections, waiting to be sorted onto platters and into tins. By all accounts, I should be done. But then I keep thinking of just one more cookie I need to make this year. The current cookie nagging at me are those little buttery thumbprint cookies with marashino cherries. It may be my somewhat irrational pregnancy brain at work here, but I’m just not sure I can get through the season without those thumbprint cookies.

At the very least, I’m done baking for the next few days. I’ve still got a few more cookie recipes to share with you; Mexican Hot Chocolate Cookies, Sand Tarts, and two chocolatey treats. But I’m giving the baking sheets a brief rest as I move on to thinking about holiday parties!

This Saturday, I’ll be preparing the food for a friend’s holiday party. Though I’ve cooked for plenty of my own parties and brought dishes for potlucks, I’ve never actually cooked for someone else’s party. I am very excited for the opportunity. And she’s having my favorite kind of party to cook for; one with an all-hors d’oeuvres menu. I love hors d’oeuvres so much that my hubby and I skipped the full sit-down dinner route for our wedding and went with an all hors d’oeuvres extravaganza. It was an hors d’oeuvres dream come true. To me, there’s just nothing better than a perfect bite-sized package of flavor.

As excited as I am to be cooking for this party, I’m also nervous in a way I don’t usually feel about my own parties. There’s a different level of pressure in making the food for someone else’s soiree; an added self-imposed expectation that everything is perfect. As such, I’ve been doing test runs of each item on the menu; working out the final touches and fine-tuning the reheating procedures.

Earlier this week, I decided to test the Asian-Style Turkey Meatballs with Hoisin Peanut Sauce. They’ll be served as an hors d’oeuvres during the party, with party picks and a bowl of the dipping sauce. But, for the purpose of my test-run, I turned them into a dinner sandwich, complete with a soft, doughy bun and crisp broccoli slaw.

Not only does this recipe make a perfect bite-sized appetizer for your next gathering, it makes a very satisfying meal any night of the week. All components can be made ahead of time, then reheated and assembled later, making it a perfect option for your upcoming holiday celebrations or a tasty weeknight dinner!

Asian-Style Turkey Meatballs

Ingredients

  • 1 pound Ground Turkey
  • 2 Eggs
  • 3/4 – 1 cup Panko Bread Crumbs
  • 3 Green Onions, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons Garlic, minced
  • 1 Tablespoon Soy Sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
  • Olive Oil, for baking pan

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Wipe the bottom of a baking pan with a bit of olive oil. Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Mix together until well combined. If the mixture is too moist to roll, add additional bread crumbs, a little at a time. Roll small balls, about 1″ diameter, and place in an even layer in the baking pan. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until fully cooked.

If preparing ahead of time, refrigerate until serving. To reheat, bake for 15-18 minutes at 350 degrees.

Makes 25-30 cocktail-sized meatballs


Hoisin Peanut Sauce

Ingredients

  • 1 cup Hoisin Sauce
  • 1/4 cup Creamy Peanut Butter
  • 1/2 – 1 teaspoon Red Curry Paste (or Cayenne Pepper)
  • 2 Tablespoons Soy Sauce

Directions

Whisk together all ingredients until smooth. If preparing ahead of time, refrigerate until serving. The sauce will become thick when cooled. Warm for a few seconds in the microwave to loosen up the sauce before serving.


Broccoli Slaw

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup Mayonnaise
  • 1 Tablespoon Rice Vinegar
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoon Sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
  • 3 cups Broccoli Slaw Mix (Julienned Broccoli, Carrots, and Red Cabbage)

Directions

Combine mayonnaise, rice vinegar, sugar, garlic, salt, and cayenne until well blended. Add the broccoli slaw mix. Stir until combined. Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour, stirring occasionally to distribute the dressing.

 

Daddo’s Tuna Burgers

My father calls me Amo. I call my father Daddo. My siblings are also all called by names with an -o tacked on to the end. I don’t remember when or why we began calling each other in this way, but there’s something about it which makes my heart throb with love for my family. It’s like our private family language. There’s love in that -o.

Recently, I shared my family’s top secret recipe for Connecticut Supper; a beefy, cheesy casserole-type dish, which is my dad’s specialty. But, my dad has other specialties too. And the one which most easily comes to mind is his recipe for tuna burgers. My dad’s tuna burgers aren’t actually burgers, in the traditional sense. They’re more of a tuna melt with a twist. Whatever you call them, they are delicious and make a super-simple meal, which is perfect on nights when you have no idea what to cook.

My dad prepares these foil-wrapped goodies by the dozen and throws the extras in the freezer for a quick meal anytime. I’d almost guarantee that when I visit my family for Thanksgiving, I’ll be able to find a few of these babies hiding out in the freezer. They won’t last long with me in the house!

So, next week, when you’re wrapped up with preparing pies and dishes in preparation for Thanksgiving, and haven’t a moment to think about what you’re going to eat for dinner, make these. Add a quick salad on the side. Dinner is served.

Daddo’s Tuna Burgers

Ingredients

  • 3 6.4-ounce packets Chunk Light Tuna in Water
  • 1/3 cup Mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup Olives, sliced
  • 6 slices American Cheese, chopped
  • 4 Tablespoons Butter
  • 6 Rolls (Vienna or Kaiser)

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine tuna with mayonnaise until well-mixed. Stir in the olives and cheese. Split the rolls in half and lightly butter the insides of both halves. Place a mound of the tuna mixture onto each bun and tightly wrap the buns in foil. Bake for 30-35 minutes until the insides are warm and melty and the buns are slightly crisp.

Make 6 Burgers

Four Variations on Thanksgiving Leftovers

Preparing a Thanksgiving feast for a crowd can be both exhilarating and utterly exhausting. At the end of the day, your kitchen looks like a tornado has whipped through it and you probably feel as if you’ve completed a triathlon. But, your belly is full, your guests have been well fed, and if you’re lucky, your fridge is filled with leftovers. Those are all things to be most thankful for.

Is there anything better than Thanksgiving leftovers?? I think not. Perhaps the most joyous part of a fridge full of Thanksgiving leftovers is being able to put your feet up for a few days, recover from the cooking marathon, and live off of the ready-made meals in your fridge. While it would be perfectly delicious to just reheat a plate of Thanksgiving dinner each night, it’s nice to add a little variety to leftovers; make it feel like a fresh meal every night. With that in mind, I offer you four simple variations on Thanksgiving leftovers.

Thanksgiving Leftover Variation #1 – Turkey Soup

Don’t let that turkey carcass go to waste! There’s so much flavor waiting to be extracted from those bones. Get the broth started right after dinner. Simply throw the whole turkey carcass into a large pot, cover with water, and simmer (partly covered) for 3-4 hours. Don’t worry if there’s still some meat or turkey skin hanging on the turkey! Just throw the whole thing in the pot and let it start working while you sit down to enjoy some pumpkin pie. Once it’s simmered, strain the broth and refrigerate overnight. The next day, you can finish making the soup. Click here for my step-by-step guide to making a basic chicken soup. You can follow the same process for turkey soup.

Thanksgiving Leftover Variation #2 – Open-faced Thanksgiving Sandwich

In my opinion, this is the best way to use leftovers on the day after Thanksgiving, when you’ve still got a bit of everything in the fridge. Simply reheat some leftover turkey, stuffing, and mashed potatoes. Spread some cranberry sauce on a lightly toasted slice of thick, doughy bread. Then, top the cranberry sauce with the hot turkey, stuffing and mashed potatoes. Drizzle hot gravy over the entire thing and enjoy. This is a knife and fork kind of sandwich; simple, hearty, and satisfying.

Click here for more details on making an open-faced turkey sandwich any time of year.

Thanksgiving Leftover Variation #3 – Roast Turkey, Brie, and Homemade Apple Butter Melts

This is my new personal favorite. Such a perfect combination of flavors. I happen to love apple butter; always have and probably always will. You can find it in most grocery stores, usually near the  jams and jellies. Look for one which doesn’t contain a lot of unnecessary added sugar or corn syrup. Apple butter really doesn’t need anything other than apples and a bit of apple cider or apple juice. Apple butter is a cinch to make at home. So, if you can’t find any at your store, follow my simple recipe to make your own. And, if apple butter just isn’t your thing, substitute some leftover cranberry sauce on these sandwiches. It will pair beautifully with the brie.

For the sandwiches, thinly slice brie and spread it onto a sturdy piece of bread. I prefer to use ciabatta or pain de campagne, but any doughy, crusty bread should work. Spread apple butter (or cranberry sauce) onto another piece of bread. Place a few slices of roasted turkey breast between the bread slices. Loosely wrap the sandwich in foil and bake for about 20-25 minutes in a 350 degrees oven, until the cheese has melted, the bread feels slightly toasted, and the turkey is warm.

Homemade Apple Butter

Ingredients

  • 5-6 Apples, peeled, cores removed, and coarse chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups Apple Cider
  • Cinnamon Stick (optional)

Directions

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Simmer the apple pieces in the apple cider for about 20 minutes. If desired, add a cinnamon stick to simmer with the mixture. Then, puree the apples until smooth. Pour the puree into an oven-safe covered pan and place in the oven for about 5 hours. The apple butter will darken to a rich brown as it cooks.

Thanksgiving Leftover Variation #4 – Turkey Salad Sandwiches

Turkey Salad is a simple and delicious way to breathe new life into the remainder of your turkey leftovers. I love it on a lightly toasted bagel with a slice of swiss cheese. To make a basic turkey salad, simply chop or tear your leftover turkey into small pieces. Add some finely diced onion and celery. Combine with just enough mayonnaise and mustard to bind the salad. Season with salt and pepper, as desired. Stir in some dried cranberries for an extra tasty touch!

Mission Fiesta

Tomorrow afternoon we will celebrate my little one’s second birthday. Where in the world did two years go?? It seems like only yesterday that I was waddling around, anxiously awaiting his birth. And now he’s this tiny little man. So utterly perfect.

I really love throwing birthday parties. There’s a good possibility that I actually enjoy throwing the party more than the kids enjoy celebrating the party. And with a little bit of thoughtful planning, I find it to be a relatively stress-free and enjoyable experience. In my opinion, a stress-free party is all about planning a menu which can be mostly prepared the day before and requires minimal fuss on the day off. I like dishes served cold or at room temperature or trays of food which can be reheated in the oven, while still maintaining their fresh taste and appearance. I avoid things like burgers, which need to be cooked in batches during the party and usually result in people standing around waiting for the platter to be refilled. I think burgers are great for barbecues, but for birthday parties, I like all the food to find its way to the table at the same time. Just my personal preference.

I also like to vary our party menus so that there’s always something new for our guests to enjoy. I’ve also got a few party standards, which I make again and again, like the Dinosaur Bar B Que Macaroni Salad. For this little fiesta, I’ll be serving an assortment of sandwiches and salads. Hopefully there will be a little something to delight everyone’s tastebuds.

Sandwich and Salad Party Menu

Sandwiches

Waldorf Chicken Salad on Pain de Campagne

Egg Salad on Marble Rye

Honey-Roasted Turkey Breast with Lorraine Swiss, Thinly Sliced Pears and Honey-Mustard on Mutligrain Baguette

PB&J on White

Roast Beef, Cheddar, and Apple with Horseradish Sauce on Onion Rolls

Prosciutto and Figs with Gorgonzola Cream on French Baguette

Fresh Mozzarella and Roasted Red Tomatoes with Basil Pesto on Ciabatta

Salads

Dinosaur Bar B Que Macaroni Salad

Greek Couscous Salad

Ambrosia Salad

Napa Cabbage  Salad

Today’s mission was simple. Prepare as much of the food as possible.

I started with the Ambrosia Salad. Ambrosia is a childhood favorite of mine. Seriously, it’s hard to disappoint kids with a salad whose main ingredient is marshmallows. My Aunt Theresa is the queen of ambrosia, so I use her recipe, which couldn’t be simpler. There are no set measurements and it’s almost impossible to mess up. Simply mix a bag of mini marshmallows with a can or two of strained mandarin oranges and a can or two of strained pineapple tidbits. Then mix in about 1/2 cup of sour cream. If desired, throw in a cup of shredded coconut. Stir and refrigerate. Make a few hours or a day ahead of time. If desired, garnish with marashino cherries.

Next, I got to work on the Greek Couscous Salad, another simple and delicious side salad. Simply cook some couscous according to package directions. Allow it to cool for a few minutes. Then, I made a greek vinaigrette using lemon juice, red wine vinegar, olive oil, garlic, a bit of greek seasoning, salt and pepper. Toss the couscous in the dressing. Throw in some crumbled feta cheese, chopped kalamata olives, marinated artichoke hearts, and sun-dried tomatoes.

The macaroni salad is one of my recurring regulars. I use the Dinosaur Bar B Que recipe, found in their cookbook. As I’ve mentioned before, I have a bit of an aversion to mayonnaise. So, I tend to avoid salads dripping in mayo. The Dinosaur recipe is hands-down my favorite macaroni salad, since it incorporates a good amount of creole mustard into the dressing, which cuts the mayo consistency. The flavor is fantastic! The salad starts with a pound of small pasta shells. Throw in some chopped celery, tomatoes, and green peppers. For the dressing, combine a cup of mayo (Hellmans, of course) with 1/4 cup of Creole Mustard. (I tend to add a bit more mustard). Add a teaspoon of brown sugar, 4 cloves of minced garlic, salt, and pepper. Toss the dressing with the pasta and veggies, then refrigerate to cool.

My egg salad recipe couldn’t be simpler. Hard boil some eggs. Cool the eggs under cold running water. Remove the shells and cut the eggs in half. Remove the yolks and place in a bowl. Use a fork to crush the yolks. Combine with enough mayonnaise and mustard until creamy. Season with salt and pepper. Chop the egg whites and add to the bowl. Slice a few green onions and add. Stir until well mixed.

I prepared my recipe for Waldorf Chicken Salad, which you can find here and my Basil Pesto recipe, which you can find here. To keep things simple tomorrow, I also sliced the mozzarella and the figs and prepared the honey-mustard sauce, horseradish sauce, and gorgonzola cream for the sandwiches.

For dessert, I baked my little guy a giant cupcake, using my favorite chocolate cake recipe, found here. I decorated the top with a dumptruck and candy rocks, per his request.


I made a double batch of the cake batter, so that I could bake some cupcakes. But, I way overfilled the cupcake pan, which caused the cakes to overflow. They began to fall apart when I tried to remove them from the pan. They were not in any condition for frosting. So, rather than waste the perfectly tasty cakes, I made Muddy Cups; a perfect addition to the Construction theme we’ve got going on. I stuffed the slightly mangled cupcakes into the bottom of small plastic cups. Then I covered them with a scoop of chocolate pudding and sprinkled them with crushed Oreos and candy rocks.

I’ll also be serving a Caramel Apple Cake and Peanut Butter and Jelly Baklava. Those recipes will follow at a later date.


It was a productive day and we’re in good shape for tomorrow’s party. All that remains for tomorrow is composing the actual sandwiches, baking the Caramel Apple Cake, and decorating, of course! Should be a fun, stress-free, and tasty party!

PB&J French Toast

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In the three years and some odd months that we’ve been parents, we’ve been fortunate that our children have been mostly happy and mostly healthy. But during these past few weeks, our littlest guy has been sick. What started as a typical ear infection, treated with amoxicillin, led to an allergic reaction and two weeks worth of running back and forth between our doctor’s office, multiple emergency rooms, and specialists. As this week progressed, we thought we were through it. No more swelling. Very mild, occasional hives. No fever. No pain. Happy baby. Happy parents.

Until yesterday, when my momentarily healthy baby woke up from his nap with a scalding fever and complaining of pain in his leg; the opposite leg from the one which led us to last week’s all-nighter at the ER. Another visit to the doc revealed an angry red throat, seemingly unrelated to everything else. The poor little guy can’t seem to catch a break. A call to the orthopedist reassured us that the additional leg pain was a normal part of the reaction, if anything about these past few weeks can be called normal.

As I’ve learned during these past few weeks, there is nothing more nerve wracking for a parent than having a sick child. Watching our baby deal with all of the symptoms and the resulting medical tests and treatments has been so heartbreaking. The weight of trying to stay informed and make the best decisions for our baby has been emotionally draining. I wish I could just take the sickness away from him; put it on me instead. I’d do it in a heartbeat if I could.

With everything that’s been going on, I have to admit that I’ve been spoiling both of the kids a bit; a couple extra treats after dinner, little presents from the store, endless hours of snuggles. They need a little extra spoiling and I’m equally compelled to give it.

So, when it came time to make dinner this evening, I wanted to make something a little special for the kids;  a little treat at the end of a long week.  My first thought was breakfast for dinner, which is always a treat in my book. Perhaps some banana-nut pancakes or maybe chocolate chip waffles. Then, I started thinking about my comment yesterday, about my picky eater’s love for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. And that is how we ended up eating Peanut Butter and Jelly French Toast for dinner.

PB&J French Toast

Ingredients

  • 8 Slice of Thick-Cut Bread (like Texas Toast)
  • 6-8 Tbsp Peanut Butter
  • 4-6 Tbsp Jelly or Preserves
  • 3 Eggs
  • 1/4 cup Milk
  • 1 tsp Vanilla
  • 1/8 tsp Salt
  • 2-3 Tbsp Butter, for the pan
  • Syrup and/or Powdered Sugar, if desired

Directions

Spread a thin layer of peanut butter on 4 slices of bread. Spread jelly on the other 4 slices. Put the slices together into 4 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. In a small baking dish, whisk together the eggs, milk, vanilla, and salt. In a pan, melt some of the butter. Dip both sides of each sandwich in the egg mixture. Cook for a few minutes on each side until lightly browned and the eggs are fully cooked.

*If you’re making a large quantity and want to serve them all at once, heat your oven to about 250 degrees. As you finish cooking each batch, place them on a piece of foil or a baking sheet in the oven to keep warm until you’re ready to serve.

If desired, sprinkle with a bit of powdered sugar. You can serve the French Toast with syrup on the side, though it’s honestly sweet enough as is!

Roast Beef, Bleu Cheese and Caramelized Onion Panini

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I owe you an apology. I have no idea how I’ve gone through almost a hundred posts without making caramelized onions. I’m so sorry. It was neglectful, thoughtless, and downright irresponsible of me! I’m going to make it up to you today with a caramelized onion photo guide and an easy panini sandwich recipe featuring the sweet oniony goodness.

Yesterday, after baking the first two loaves of peasant bread with rosemary, I decided to bake two more loaves, using honey instead of sugar, olive oil instead of butter, and a bit of sea salt instead of rosemary. Just because I like to play with food. Now we’ve got more bread than any family could need. This leaves me with a few options. I could freeze the bread, but that would take up space, which is at a premium in my freezer. I could try to find a poor wandering cathedral builder and his family to donate it to, but I haven’t seen one of those in years. Lastly, I could make sandwiches for dinner. Sandwiches it is!

The large flat loaves of peasant bread scream panini to me. A panini is essentially a pressed sandwich, often grilled or toasted until hot and melty. You do not need any special equipment to make panini. A heavy pan or foil-wrapped brick will do the trick. You can toast the sandwich in a skillet or grill pan with the foil-wrapped brick on top to ‘press’ the sandwich. Flip the sandwich after a few minutes to toast the other side. Another alternative is to cook the sandwich on an actual grill with a heavy pan or foil-wrapped brick on top. Today, I’ll be wrapping my sandwich in foil, placing a cast iron skillet on top, and baking it in the oven until it’s hot and melty.

You can use any type of bread for panini sandwiches, but something flat and dense will work best. Popular panini breads are ciabatta or focaccia. If you have the time, bake a couple loaves of my peasant bread recipe. It’s easy and delicious! You can fill your panini with any combination of meats, cheeses, spreads, and vegetables. My sandwich fillings were inspired by the leftover bleu cheese I had in the fridge. Bleu cheese got me thinking of roast beef, which led me to the caramelized onions. I’m also adding a bit of shredded mozzarella for flavor balance and extra meltiness.

To see my photo guide on How to Caramelize Onions, click here.

Roast Beef, Bleu Cheese, and Caramelized Onion Panini

Ingredients

  • Roast Beef, thinly sliced
  • Caramelized Onions
  • Bleu Cheese, crumbled
  • Mozzarella Cheese, shredded
  • Loaf of flat, dense bread

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Slice the loaf of bread in half.

Place the roast beef in an even layer on the bottom half of the bread.

Sprinkle caramelized onions on top of the beef.

Sprinkle with bleu cheese crumbles.

Sprinkle with some shredded mozzarella.

Place the top half of bread on top.

Tightly wrap the sandwich in foil.

Place the sandwich on the middle rack of the oven. Place a heavy skillet or foil-wrapped brick on top.

Bake for about 20 minutes. Then, unwrap and enjoy.


Buffalo Chicken Sandwich

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During college, I spent some time waitressing, bartending, and short-order cooking at a local bar and restaurant. Hands down, the most popular item on the menu was the Buffalo Chicken Wings. By my hundredth order, I was quite the expert. I don’t make wings at home very often, because I can’t stand the clean-up. But, on occasion, I’ll make Buffalo Chicken Sandwiches, as I’m doing tonight. Great taste, without the chicken wing bones or the mess!

At the restaurant, which was located just a short distance from Buffalo, we used Frank’s Red Hot, which is purportedly the hot sauce used in the original Buffalo wings. Like your wings hot? Use straight hot sauce. Like them medium-spicy? Use half Frank’s and half melted butter. For mild wings, increase the butter. Good, good stuff!

Since I had all of the ingredients on hand, I made my own bleu cheese dressing for tonight’s sandwich. Sans mayonnaise, of course. A prepared dressing would work great too. (FYI, my preferred bleu cheese dressing is Marie’s. You can usually find it refrigerated in the produce section.) Adjust the butter and hot sauce ratio according to your tastes. Following my recipe as written will give you a medium-hot sauce.

Buffalo Chicken Sandwich

Ingredients

For the Chicken

  • 1 pound Thin-Cut Chicken Breasts or Chicken Tenderloins
  • 1/2 cup Flour
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 2 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 3/4 cup Frank’s Red Hot Sauce
  • 4 Tbsp Butter, melted

For the Dressing

  • 1 cup Sour Cream
  • 1/2 cup Crumbled Bleu Cheese (such as Roquefort or Gorgonzola)
  • 1 Tbsp Lemon Juice
  • 1/2 Tbsp Garlic, minced
  • Salt and Pepper

For the Sandwich

  • 4 Rolls
  • Lettuce
  • Tomato Slices

Directions

For the dressing, combine sour cream, crumbled bleu cheese, lemon juice, and garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Stir until well combined. Refrigerate for a few hours or overnight, if possible. Stir before using.

For the chicken, season with salt and pepper. Roll each chicken breast or tenderloin in flour, so they are lightly coated. Heat olive oil in a pan over medium/medium-high heat. Cook chicken for a few minutes on each side until lightly browned and fully cooked. An instant-read meat thermometer inserted into the middle should read 165 degrees.

Combine melted butter with the Frank’s Red Hot. Toss the cooked chicken in the sauce. Spread bleu cheese dressing onto the rolls. Top with lettuce, tomatoes, and the sauce-coated chicken.

Makes 4 Sandwiches

Brunch to BBQ – Meal #2

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The brunch was a fantastic success, but I must admit that there was a point just post-brunch, when I seriously questioned my grand plan of throwing a party consisting of two separate meals. I mean, after the brunch, I didn’t think any of us would ever be hungry again. Half of us lay paralyzed in a food coma, while the kids climbed all over us and added props to our slumber. The other half was entranced by the steady hum of vuvuzelas while watching the world cup game.

My sister, in a post-brunch food coma

But we managed to peel ourselves off the floor and head outside to play a few games and enjoy the post-rain cool temperature. Eventually, there came a time where we could see another meal in our future.

The weather forecast had been predicting scattered storms throughout the day, so I planned to make sausages with roasted peppers and onions, figuring that if the weather were nice, we’d fire up the grill for the sausages and if it rained, I’d roast them in the oven. Around the time we were ready to eat, the weather was holding steady and dry. But out of sheer laziness, we decided to roast them in the oven anyway. Our menu consisted of the Roasted Sausage, Peppers, and Onions on rolls with provolone cheese, corn on the cob, and a pasta salad courtesy of my sis.

Here are the details and a few recipes from our Brunch to BBQ Meal #2…

Roasted Sausage, Peppers, and Onions


Ingredients

  • 6 Italian Sausages, hot or mild
  • 3 Bell Peppers, sliced
  • 2  Onions, sliced
  • 1 Tbsp Garlic, minced
  • 1-2 Hot Cherry Peppers, chopped
  • 2-3 Tbsp Olive Oil

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cut each sausage in half. (This will allow the sausages to release some of their yummy juices into the pepper and onion mix.) Combine sausages, sliced bell peppers and onions, chopped cherry peppers, and garlic in a baking dish.  Drizzle with a bit of olive oil. Toss to combine. Bake in the oven for about 45-60 minutes, until the sausages are fully cooked and lightly browned. The peppers and onions should be soft, but not mushy. Toss the mixture every 10-15 minutes to ensure that the sausages brown on all sides.

Enjoy on a roll with a slice of provolone cheese.

Kitchen Sink Pasta Salad

My sister brought along a Kitchen Sink Pasta Salad. The recipe comes from the Food and Wine section of the NBC Today show’s website. You can find the recipe for Kitchen Sink Pasta Salad by clicking here. My sister added slices of turkey pepperoni, which were a nice touch. This pasta salad can be served chilled or at room temperature, which makes it a perfect party dish!

Steamy corn on the cob...for 25 cents a cob, you can't beat it!

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