Monday, September 28, 2009

Sandwich City

I have really been neglecting this blog lately and I want to say sorry to anyone who has been wondering what the heck is going on. I know it hasn't been that long since I posted but part of the neglect is that I haven't been photographing this week at all and so next week there will be a very small post. Part of this is due to the lack of sunlight available in the evenings, it has really been a bummer and has not made me want to take photos and part of it is that we are currently in the middle of a few large house projects: painting the garage and getting our wood floors refinished. The refinishing is requiring us to move every item (including ourselves and our kitties) out of our house for at least a week. It hasn't been easy so far and I haven't really even scratched the surface of the moving.

So I am going to a attempt to finish this post that I started almost a week ago and then it may be little while before you hear from me again. I just want to say, please don't leave me...
I will be back.

I was on a bit of a sandwich kick last week. On top of all of the sandwiches we were eating for dinner I also had them for lunch most of the week. Not such a bad thing since the simple sandwich comes in endless varieties. Welcome to Sandwich City!

These were my favorite of the entire week. A little spicy, crispy on the outside and creamy on the inside. And bacon... bacon makes everything delicious.

Spicy Grilled Bacon and Tomato Sandwiches with Avocado

good quality bread
bacon, cooked
pepper jack cheese
tomato slices
avocado slices

I think you know the drill on a grilled cheese sandwich. Butter the bread and grill (buttered side out). I like to put the cheese on both sides of the sandwich with the other goodies in between so the melted cheese sort of encases everything.

On the last official day of summer we grilled burgers. It was a nice way to bid the season ado. Although I don't think we will be packing up the grill anytime soon.

Grilled Cheeseburgers

I bought a packages of meat labeled "Sandwich Steaks" for this meal. I though they looked perfect for these sandwiches but it actually ended up being pretty tough and made the sandwiches a little hard to eat. Next time I will stick with the strip steak that the recipe called for.

Broiled Steak Sandwiches with Balsamic Vegetables
modified from Real Simple
makes 4 servings

1 lb strip steak
kosher salt and black pepper
4 plum tomatoes, halved
1 medium red onion, sliced in 1/4" rings
4 t olive oil
1 T balsamic vinegar
8 slices good quality bread
a handful of baby spinach
Parmesan cheese

Heat broiler. Season the steak with 1/2 t salt and 1/2 t pepper. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and place the steak on half of the sheet.

Toss the tomatoes and onion with the oil, vinegar, 1/2 t salt and 1/4 t pepper. Place on the other half of the baking sheet (tomato should be cut side down).

Broil, turning everything once, until the steak reaches desired doneness (4 minutes per side for medium rare). Remove the steak and return the vegetables until browned if necessary.

Slice the steak, against the grain, and assemble the sandwiches with the steak, tomatoes, onion, spinach and Parmesan.


I actually made this a couple of weeks ago and completely forgot to put it in the post. So I thought I would sneak it in here since the menu was a little short anyway. It was pretty good except the garlic was very overpowering and I used less than half of what the recipe called for.

Shrimp Scampi with Corn and Orzo
modified from Clean Eating
makes 6 servings

8 oz. orzo pasta
1 large ear corn, kernels removed from cob
3 T olive oil
3 cloves garlic, smashed
1 1/2 lbs raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 t cornstarch dissolved in 1 T cold water
3/4 t kosher salt
3/4 t black pepper
3 scallions, thinly sliced
1 T lime juice

Cook the orzo according to package directions.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium0high heat. Add the garlic and cook for about 30 seconds. Add the shrimp and cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes. Add the corn and cook until shrimp is just cooked through, about 1-2 more minutes. Add broth, cornstarch mixture, salt and pepper and cook, stirring, until liquid comes to a boil and sauce thickens. Remove from heat and stir in lime juice.

Drain the orzo, top with the shrimp mixture and serve.

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Monday, September 21, 2009

Good Bye Summer, Hello Fall

This is it... the last day of summer. Although I love fall I am a little sad to see summer go. I think because it really didn't start until halfway through July. But, there is plenty to be excited for. We put our flannel sheets on our bed and dug out our down comforter, the trees are just starting to turn and it is already promising to be a very colorful year (I heard once on NPR that the wetter the summer the redder the fall so this one ought to be amazing!) and I am always inspired and reinvigorated in the kitchen when the seasons change.

Yes, I do love fall, bring it on!


Jeremy came home one day with this great cast iron, enamel coated pan and I am now addicted to using it. I haven't cooked in cast iron since I was growing up and I had forgotten (or never really appreciated in the first place) how nice they are to cook in. This one still has a ways to go to get a good seasoning on it but I'm working on it slowly but surely.

Oven Roasted Chicken with Lemon Garlic Green Beans
from Real Simple
makes 2 servings

3 1/2 T olive oil
1 lemon, thinly slice half and juice the other half
2 gloves garlic, minced
1/2 t kosher salt
1/4 t black pepper
1/2 lb green beans, trimmed and cut in half
4 small red potatoes, quartered
2 chicken breasts, bone in, skin on

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Coat a large cast iron skillet or baking dish with 1 T of the oil. Arrange the lemon slices in a single layer on the bottom of the skillet.

In a bowl, combine the remaining oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper; add the green beans and toss to coat. Using tongs or a slotted spoon remove the green beans and arrange them on top of the lemon slices. Add the potatoes to the olive oil mixture and toss to coat. Using tongs or a slotted spoon, arrange the potatoes along the perimeter of the skillet. Place the chicken in the oil mixture and coat thoroughly. Place the chicken, skin side up, on top of the green beans. Pour and remaining olive oil mixture over the chicken.

Roast for 50 minutes.

This tomato was gorgeous. By far the best I have had all year (except maybe the $20 tomatoes Mom!) and could have just eaten a plate of them and been satisfied but I also had a perfectly ripe avocado and some delicious marinated olives and feta, and so, a salad was born. Oh, and we had spaghetti on the side.

Spaghetti with Italian Sausage and Zucchini and Salad

No recipe here. I just crumbled up two Italian sausage links and cooked them with a sliced zucchini and a half a jar of pasta sauce from the store.


When I first met Jer I had never heard of a Monte Cristo Sandwich so when he said that was what he wanted to have for his birthday that year I was utterly confused. Then he explained it to me and I was still confused. I thought it sounded pretty gross but I trusted him and we gave it a go. Well, I never should have doubted they were delicious. I have learned a few tricks since then to insure they are warm and melty all the way through, mainly, I pop them in the microwave for a few seconds before dipping them in the egg and putting them in the skillet. Otherwise it is hard to get the inside warm before the outside is burnt. This time I also put a little maple extract in the eggs and it added a little extra deliciousness.

Monte Cristo Sandwiches
makes 2 servings

4 slices sandwich bread
thinly sliced ham
thinly sliced turkey
sliced American cheese
sliced Swiss cheese
2 eggs beaten
1/8 cup milk
maple extract (optional)
maple syrup

Between two slices of bread, layer American cheese, ham, Swiss cheese and turkey (that is the order we like). Heat the sandwich in the microwave for about 25 seconds.

Heat a skillet on medium high heat. Beat the eggs, milk and extract (if using) in a shallow bowl. Coat the sandwich on both side with the egg mixture and place in the skillet. Cover with a lid. Cook the sandwich until golden brown on both sides. Serve with warm maple syrup.


Here it is.
My first batch of chili with the bounty from our trip. I have to say it was pretty darn good and I can't really think of anything I would do differently next time. Well, the one thing I may try is pureeing some of the chiles and chopping the rest (they were all chopped in this batch). I think it might give it a little thicker base. I brought home two kinds of chiles and one is hotter than the other. For this batch I used half and half and it had the perfect amount of heat for me. It will definitely clear your sinuses but it is not painful to eat. We have been eating this on top of everything: burritos, eggs, potatoes, quesidillas... I especially love it on scrambled eggs.

Green Chili
makes a lot of servings

1 T vegetable oil
1 pork tenderloin, cut into 1/2" chunks
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 yellow onions, chopped
~ 24 green chiles, roasted and peeled
1 14 oz can tomatoes, half pureed, half chopped
4 cups chicken broth
2 t cumin
2 t oregano
1/2 t kosher salt
1/2 t white pepper

Heat the oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Add the pork and cook until no pink remains. Add the onion and garlic and cook until lightly golden.

Add the chiles, tomatoes, chicken broth, cumin, oregano, salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for at least one hour (the longer the better).

If you want to thicken it up a bit, stir together 1/2 cup all purpose flour with about 1 T vegetable oil to make a paste. Add a ladle full of juice from the chili and mix well. Once the mixture is smooth and liquidy stir it back into the chili.

Serve over rice, burritos, chile rellenos, eggs... The possibilities are endless.

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Monday, September 14, 2009

Road food detox? Not so much...

Wow, it feels like ages since I have been here. Not home, we got home from our road trip out west over a week ago now, but here, at This Week's Menu. The trip was really smooth sailing, the car ran great (except for a little trouble with the steep elevation gain out of Denver, but it acclimated pretty quickly), we got great gas mileage for a 17 year old car with nearly 230,000 miles (we averaged ~32 mpg) and the driving was pretty easy. I think my favorite part of the whole drive was going through Western Iowa. We drove through the biggest wind farm I have ever seen and it was gorgeous. On the way out it was foggy and the enormous blades of the turbines spun in and out of view. It was really awe inspiring. Besides the driving (of which we did a TON) we got to catch up with a lot of old friends (some I hadn't seen for over 5 years!) and spend some time with family.

The other goal of the trip, to load up the car with some of our favorite food stuffs that we cannot get east of the Mississippi (or east of the very farm stand where we bought some of those items according to the woman running the stand) was a success! We brought home two bushels of roasted green chiles and three cases of New Belgium beer. I was nervous that the chiles may not survive the long trip but we cleaned and packaged them before we left and kept them on ice the whole trip and they fared just fine. I have already made one batch of chili, which I will not be posting this week because I have not yet gotten a single decent photo of it. But do not fear, it will be a staple at our house this winter and you all will probably get sick of it long before my freezer is empty!

On the last day of the ride home I was thinking the menu for the first week back needed to be a road food detox menu. Well, as you will see below, that didn't really happen. It was actually more of a comfort food/cooler fall weather menu. What can you do?


The first thing I felt like doing when we got home was baking. Jer suggested brownies or chocolate chip cookies but I wanted something a little more seasonal and something I could eat for breakfast. Not that I have anything against brownies OR chocolate chip cookies for breakfast but my "sensible" side won out this time. (The quotes are necessary here because I still snuck in some chocolate chips in place of the more traditional breakfast choice of nuts.)

Chocolate Chip Zucchini Muffins
modified from Use Real Butter
makes 24 muffins

3 eggs
2 c grated zucchini
2 c sugar
1 c vegetable oil
1 T vanilla
2 1/2 c all-purpose flour
1 t salt
1 t baking soda
1 c chocolate chips (I used the darkest one I could find)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix together all of the dry ingredients. In a separate bowl beat the eggs until foamy. Beat in the sugar and vanilla. Mix in the zucchini and oil. Add the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Fold in the chocolate chips. Spoon the batter into lined muffin tins and bake until golden and muffins spring back to a light touch. About 15 minutes.


This soup was pretty simple to make and is a great Summer/Fall transitional dish. The flavors of summer but the warm and creamy texture I crave in the fall.

Summer Corn Soup with Crisp Prosciutto
from Fine Cooking
makes 4 servings

3 very thin slices prosciutto
4 large ears of corn
4 T unsalted butter
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
kosher salt
2 cups low sodium chicken broth
2 medium red potatoes, peeled and diced
black pepper
2 t coarsely chopped fresh basil

Position oven rack about 4 inches below the broiler and heat the broiler on high. Arrange the prosciutto in a single layer on a baking sheet and broil until it begins to curl, 1-2 minutes. Flip the prosciutto and broil until appears crisp and has curled a bit more, about 1 minute. Let cool, then chop and set aside.

Slice the kernels off the corn cobs (you want ~3 cups of corn total). Reserve the cobs.

In a medium Dutch oven (or heavy pot) over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the onion and cook until softened and slightly golden, 5-7 minutes. Season with a generous pinch of salt.

Add four cups of water, the broth, potatoes, half of the corn, the cobs and 2 t salt. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer until the potatoes are tender, 10-15 minutes. Remove from the heat and discard the cobs.

Working in batches, puree the soup in a blender and transfer each batch to a bowl. Pour the pureed soup back into the pot and add the remaining corn. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the corn kernels are tender, 3-5 minutes. (I like mine to still have a little crispness to them so I stayed on the short end of the cooking time.) Season to taste with salt and pepper. Garnish each serving with the prosciutto and basil.

Jer requested tortellini this week and his favorite sauce with tortellini is Alfredo. I don't love it so I have never made it myself but I decided to give it a try. It turned out a little grainy, but I think it was because the cheese I used was pre-grated. Not good for melting. Other than that it was pretty darn good.

Tortellini Alfredo with Prosciutto and Peas
makes 4 servings

1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 clove garlic, grated
generous pinch nutmeg
1 cup grated Parmegiano-Reggiano
kosher salt and black pepper
1 cup fresh or frozen peas
8-10 thin slices prosciutto, chopped
1 lb fresh or frozen tortellini

Cook the tortellini according to package directions. Add the peas during the last few minutes of cooking time.

Meanwhile, combine the cream, butter, garlic and nutmeg in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and simmer, stirring frequently, for about 15 minutes, or until thickened and saucy. Remove from heat and stir in the cheese and prosciutto. Season to taste with salt and pepper.


When we got home from our trip my sweet in-laws had stocked our fridge with a few essentials; milk, eggs... and biscuits and gravy. Well, maybe that isn't an essential but it was sure was tasty the next morning when we got up. The gravy was in the dish above and I had it all cleaned and ready to return to them when I decided it would be perfect for the tuna noodle casserole. Something about the retro flowers and the retro food. I was also pleased with the color combination when I looked back at the photos.

Ah, the things I never thought about about before becoming a food blogger...

Tuna Noodle Casserole
makes 4 servings

3 cups wide egg noodles
1/2 onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1/4 cup peas
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup milk
1 can cream of celery soup
1 can tuna, drained
1/4 lb cheddar cheese, grated

Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Cook the noodles according to package directions.

Meanwhile, mix together all of the remaining ingredients (except the cheese). Stir in the drained noodles and sprinkle the cheese over the top. Bake for 20 minutes. Turn on the broiler and place the the dish on the top oven rack until the cheese starts to brown, 2-3 minutes.


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