Friday, September 30, 2011

Buy the Salad Chopper - You're Welcome.

I love this thing.

You know me - I love my knives, and I don't love cluttering my kitchen with gadgets that you don't need.  I have enough clutter in my house.  And when a bag of flour spills into the utensil drawer (yep, that happened), I hate cleaning all of the things that can't be thrown in the dishwasher.  HOWEVER...  THIS gadget is Jill-Approved.  It is so simple, so silly, and yet so awesome.  It is the Pampered Chef Salad Chopper

I've got to give props to my friend Colleen, a PC consultant, for selling me on this.  I was skeptical.  I even whipped out some veggies at the party, and tried it myself. I gave in (I do this a lot at Pampered Chef parties), but I use it ALL the time - I use is it to make chopped salads (I ate about 2 lb. of veggies for lunch today, for reals), salsa, chicken salad, "shredded" BBQ pork or chicken, etc.  It's really handy.  YES, my knife can do all of that, but this is really quick, and there's a lot less mess - just chop things up in the bowl you're serving them in, etc.  and you're ready to rock.  Just remember to rinse the chopper off right away, since you can't throw it in the dishwasher, and it's a pain to clean if you leave it.  I know this from experience. 

Oh - did you want a recipe?  Here's what I had for lunch (from the salad bar at the grocery store, expensive, I know, but so easy and FAST)....:

QUICK CHOPPED SALAD

heaps of spinach leaves
heaps of spring mix
a handful of baby carrots
a handful of cherry tomatoes
a few slices of cucumber
a handful of snow peas
a handful of red and yellow bell pepper strips I had in the fridge
a handful of broccoli florets
a handful of cauliflower florets
a few slices of red onion
a few slices of radish
a sprinkle of feta cheese crumbles
a sprinkle of sunflower seeds
a few strips of turkey (leftovers at home)
a tiny splash of balsamic vinaigrette
freshly ground black pepper

Put it all in a bowl (or in the to-go container, as I did), and then go nuts with the salad chopper.  Then eat.  Feel healthy. 

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Tweaked Garden Chicken Enchiladas

Love the freezer meal swaps, baby. 

I was down to bare bones (except for 10 pans of stuffed pork chops and 10 bags of beef stroganoff, and not really feeling like looking at them, let alone eating them), and then we did a meal swap last night.  I thawed out the garden chicken enchiladas, and boy, was it nice to have a hot, tasty meal ready to rock on a rainy, busy night!

I had made taco meat, just in case the kids complained about there being "green stuff" in them, since I didn't feel like drawing a line in the sand tonight.  Crazy thing is, I didn't even need it!  The only feedback I got was the fam felt like these were too creamy and yes, a little too cheesy.  Next time, we'd leave out the can of soup, and just try it that way.  We also used less cheese on top. 

The scallions and red peppers in the filling are so awesome!  My husband sprinkled on some fresh jalapeno since we'd just grabbed a handful from the garden.  He likes to "kick it up a [5] notch[es]" - the rest of us were content to skip the burning lip/mouth sensation. 

Oh - one more thing - this makes a whole 9" x 13" pan (8 enchies), so if you have a smaller family, you can make it in a couple 8" x 8" pans, or you'll just have some serious leftovers for luches the next day.  Technically, you can freeze the cooked ones, and then microwave for lunch, but that's not my favorite - kind of a freaky texture after a bit. 

Garden Chicken Enchiladas
8 oz sour cream
1 can cream of chicken soup, condensed (optional?)
2 c chicken breast, cooked and diced
10 oz chopped spinach, thawed and drained
½ c chopped red bell pepper
½ c chopped green onions
2 c shredded Mexican cheese (or maybe 1-1/2, or even just 1)
8 flour tortillas
To prepare for freezing: Combine soup and sour cream. Combine chicken, ½ c soup mixture, spinach, red pepper, green onion, and 1 c cheese. Spread ½ c on each tortilla. Roll up, place into greased 9 x 13 pan. Spoon remaining soup mixture over tortillas. Place the remaining cheese in a separate ziploc bag.

To cook:
Bake, covered with foil at 350 for 30 minutes or until hot and bubbly. Remove foil, sprinkle with remaining cheese and cook for 5 more minutes.  [Note: because I didn't read directions, I sprinkled on some cheese and baked them uncovered the whole time, with no adverse effects.]

P.S.  I put this under the "Mexican" category, but I know, it requires a pretty loose interpretation of "Mexican". :)

Monday, September 26, 2011

Scrumptious Scones

I love to bake almost as much as I love to cook.
 

I haven't had time to bake much, and I don't like doing it in the summer when the house heats up.  But now, the weather's turning cooler, and I need desserts for lunch boxes and bread for sandwiches. And these scones.  They're fairly easy, and oh, so good.  I think you could freeze some, but they just don't last long enough around here for that.  I've included my favorite flavor combo - Craisins & white chocolate chips - feel free to share any flavor combos you experimented with in the comments!


Scrumptious Scones
1 c. sour cream (not fat-free)
1 tsp. baking soda
4 c. all-purpose flour
1 c. granulated sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
1 tsp. salt
1 c. unsalted butter
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 c. Craisins
1/4-1/2 c. white chocolate chips

In a small bowl, blend the sour cream and baking soda, and set aside. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease two large baking sheets.  In a large bowl, mix flour, salt, sugar, baking powder, and cream of tartar. Cut in the butter. Stir in the sour cream mixture, egg, and vanilla into the flour mixture until just moistened. Mix in Craisins & white chocolate chips.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead briefly.  Divide in half; form each half into a ball, and then roll or pat each ball into a 3/4 inch thick round.  Cut into 10 wedges, and place each scone 2” apart on prepared baking sheet. Bake 12 to 15 minutes until golden brown on the bottom.  Remove from pans and cool on wire racks.  Enjoy!

P.S.  Other flavor ideas:  cinnamon chips, mint extract & chocolate chips, almond extract & strawberries, etc.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Chicken Tortilla Soup

Chicken Tortilla Soup is really good.  Really good.
This is one of those soups I just throw stuff in the pot without measuring, so I decided to go to the pro for a recipe with actual amounts, and some fab photos.  My photos made my soup look quite unappetixing, even though it tasted great.  The Pioneer Woman is a far better food photographer, so check out HER recipe and pics HERE.  This is pretty much how I do it, thought I've never done the cornmeal thing - I think I shall try it. 

I prep the soup without the beans, and freeze it for our meal swaps, and to bring for "comfort meals."  I let it cool completely, and then distribute it into gallon-size freezer storage bags, and freeze them flat.  (You can also use containers, but I make gigantic batches, and the stack factor is nice for storage.)  It's so easy to take out and thaw right on the stove.  REMEMBER - if you thaw a bag of soup in the fridge, put it in a bowl.   You'll be glad you did.  You can include the can of beans, and if you want, a little baggie of tortilla strips, but I like to make those fresh - it's not hard. 

Here's my "recipe" for the tortilla strips:
a couple flour tortillas
EVOO in a mister
chili powder
garlic powder (optional)
sea salt

Cut the tortillas into thin strips.  Spritz them with olive oil.  Spinkle the seasonings over, and mix up a bit with your fingers.  Stick 'em in the oven - under the broiler is fine, but you need to pay attention!  Otherwise, heat it to about 375 degrees and bake until they start to brown.  Stir them a bit part way through. 


Sprinkle those babies over your soup, and then add all of your favorite toppings.  Today, we had shredded cheese, avocado, sour cream, and some chives since I didn't have cilantro or scallions.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Slow Cooker Balsamic Chicken

We're on the road for a funeral, so here's on from my to-do list to try out.  I'll let ya know what our family thinks when we get home.

Slow Cooker Balsamic Chicken:
4-6 boneless, skinless, chicken breasts
2 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
1 onion thinly sliced (Not chopped)
4 garlic cloves
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp each: dried oregano,basil, and rosemary
1/2 tsp. thyme
ground black pepper and salt to taste

Season chicken breasts with salt & pepper.  Pour the olive oil on bottom of crock pot, and add chicken.  Layer sliced onion, herbs, and garlic cloves over top.  Then pour in vinegar and top with tomatoes. Cook on high 4 hours, serve over angel hair pasta.

If this is a keeper, for a freezer meal I'd add all of the ingredients into a freezer bag, and then include a box of angel hair pasta.  I'm thinking you could also layer these things in a foil pan, and then bake it after thawing in the fridge (cooking the pasta separately). 

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Just Say No - But Not to Nana's Chicken!

I am really, really bad at saying no. 

I always end up saying yes to way too many things, and then get myself worked up into total disaster mode, and then I have to blow it all up and start over.  That's where I am right now, so I haven't had time to blab about food, or try any new recipes.  BUT, I just got a note from a friend who gave this one thumbs up after having it tonight - it's a really good recipe I tried for the first time from my friend Marla's freezer meal exchange.  Give it a try!

Nana’s Chicken
6 boneless skinless chicken breasts
½ t cayenne red pepper
1 ½ t dried mint
1 t salt
1 ½ cups cornflake crumbs
½-1 c. olive oil
3 t granulated garlic
2 t black pepper
To prepare for freezing: Combine all dry ingredients in Ziploc bag. Add oil and mix thoroughly. Add chicken and mix to coat all breasts. Freeze. Package cornflake crumbs in separate Ziploc bag.
To cook: Thaw in refrigerator overnight to allow breasts to marinate. Dip in cornflake crumbs. Line baking sheet with foil and coat with cooking spray. Bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Pizza Night

...but I made dinner!

So, I'm all excited that I'm saving money and cooking a meal at home on a Friday night rather than going out or ordering something, and the husband calls, and says, "hey, let's order pizza tonight."  ..............."Sure!" I say, as I turn off the crock pot... Oh well - hot lunch for tomorrow (slow cooker stroganoff)! 

So instead of a recipe I actually MADE tonight, here's one on the menu plan for next week - it's come through my inbox a few times: Chicken Chilaquiles.  We're gonna taste-test it, and then if it passes, I think it would make a good freezer meal - you can freeze feta cheese, too, so you can even include a bag of the cheese!

Here's the recipe:

1 tablespoon olive oil
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 can (28 oz.) whole peeled tomatoes, in puree (I'm going to use my own tomatoes, since I have a TON)
2 canned chipotle chilies in adobo, finely chopped (about 1 heaping tbsp.) plus 1 tbsp. adobo sauce
Coarse salt
1 small cooked rotisserie chicken (about 1 3/4 lb.), skinned, shredded (about 4 cups)
1/2 cup lightly packed cilantro leaves, chopped, plus 4 sprigs for garnish
4 cups (about 3 ounces) tortilla chips
1/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream
1 3/4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled (about 1/4 cup)

Combine oil and garlic in a large (3-to-4-quart) saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until fragrant and sizzling, 1 to 2 minutes.  Add tomatoes with their puree (breaking tomatoes up), chipotles and adobo, and 1 cup water. Bring to a boil; season with salt. Reduce heat and simmer rapidly until lightly thickened, 6 to 8 minutes.  Add chicken and cook, stirring, until hot, about 1 minute. Remove from heat; stir in chopped cilantro.  Divide chips among four shallow bowls; top with chicken mixture and sauce. Garnish with cilantro sprigs, sour cream, and feta. Serve.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Stuffed Pork Chops

I stuffed 44 pork chops today. 

I also made eleven 4-person servings of meat/veggies for slow cooker beef stroganoff.  Now I don't feel like making dinner! ;)  A freezer meal swap is coming up - can ya tell?  I love the looks I got at the stores today, with massive quantities of everything - people look at me like I have some major issues with food.  I just smile a little weirdly back, unless they dare ask, and then we talk meal swaps. 

Tonight, we'll have the pork chops - I'm sure I'll get over it after I smell them cooking! I call these kid-approved, but on particularly picky days, Mr. No Veggies takes the stuffing out and just eats the pork chop, which is fine with me.  Here's the recipe:

Stuffed Pork Chops
4 thick cut boneless pork chops
1 package Stove Top stuffing mix - I also sauteed some mushrooms, onions, garlic, and threw in some fresh sage and thyme from my garden.  Kind of a semi-homemade approach...

To prepare for freezing: Cut a pocket in each chop.  Prepare stuffing according to the package directions. Stuff pork chops. Wrap each chop separately in plastic wrap and place in Ziploc bag. To split: Remove desired # of chops from the Ziploc bag as needed. [Instead of this, I packed 4 stuffed chops into a foil pan, and covered with foil.]

To cook: Thaw. Bake in 350 degree oven for 30 minutes or until no longer pink inside.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

My Favorite Bowl of Chili

I'm sad to see summer go, but I do love fall in Wisconsin. 

When it gets chilly out, it's time to break out the comfort foods - and this is a great chili recipe, adapted from Cooks Illustrated. Last time I made it, I did it just 1 day in advance, and it was good, but the day after that it was even better – I’d definitely recommend trying to make it 2 days in advance, even 3! 

It freezes well, but it doesn't last long around here.  We like to serve leftovers over baked potatoes with sour cream, scallions and a little cheddar cheese, and salad on the side.  If you freeze it in smaller portions you can send then along with the working spouse for a great lunch to be reheated.  I've even sent along a little container with all of the toppings, too. 

 
Simple Beef Chili adapted from Cooks Illustrated recipe

Makes about 3 quarts, serving 8 to 10

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 medium onions , chopped fine (about 2 cups)
2 red bell peppers, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 yellow or orange bell pepper, diced
2 jalapeno peppers, diced (more if you like really spicy, or leave out if you really don't - we add 3)
6 medium cloves garlic, minced or pressed through garlic press (about 2 tablespoons)
¼ cup chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (more if you like really hot & spicy chili)
1 teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper (more if you like really hot & spicy chili)
2 pounds 85 percent lean ground beef
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes, with juice
1 can (28 ounces) tomato puree
Table salt (Kosher salt is fine, too)
2 (15-ounce) cans red kidney beans, drained and rinsed (could add after thawing if you freeze - then they won't get as mushy - and my family is a little kidney-bean shy, so I just added 1 can of beans)

Brown & drain ground beef. Set aside. Heat oil in large Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering but not smoking, 3 to 4 minutes. Add onions, bell pepper, garlic, chili powder, cumin, coriander, pepper flakes, oregano, and cayenne; cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are softened and beginning to brown, about 10 minutes.

Add meat, beans, tomatoes, tomato puree, and 1/2 teaspoon salt; bring to boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, for 1 hour. Remove cover and continue to simmer 1 hour longer, stirring occasionally (if chili begins to stick to bottom of pot, stir in 1/2 cup water and continue to simmer), until beef is tender and chili is dark, rich, and slightly thickened. Adjust seasoning with additional salt. Serve with lime wedges and condiments if desired, or let cool, and store in gallon-sized freezer bags or other storage containers. To prepare, thaw in the refrigerator overnight, and heat in Dutch oven or slow cooker.

Slow Cooker Option: At the end of step 1, transfer the cooked beef mixture to a slow cooker; add the rest of the ingredients as directed in step 2. Cook the chili on the high setting for four hours.

Delish toppings to have on hand: diced fresh tomatoes, sliced avocado, sliced scallions, chopped red onion, chopped cilantro leaves, sour cream, and shredded cheddar or jack cheese, a few fresh lime wedges

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Mmmmmm.....Granola

This isn't really a meal, and it's probably not freezer-friendly, but it's darn good, so I'm sharing it anyway.  I was going to make a batch today, but since I can't have the windows open with this dumb Minnesota smoke, I decided to wait. 

Griping aside, this is a delish and healthy granola recipe, and you can customize it to your liking.  My man likes it with yogurt in the AM, as do I, since it hides the texture of yogurt ((I might be the only person in the world who doesn't really like yogurt), and it's good by the handful, too!  Feel free to share your favorite custom versions.  To save a few dishes, I basically throw all the dry stuff other than the fruit on a jelly roll pan, mix it up a little, then drizzle the wet stuff over it.  We sometimes sprinkle some random healthy stuff like flax seed in it, too.

Golden Granola
1/4 cup butter, melted (unsalted, and do't substitute margarine!) or 1/4 c. coconut oil
1/4 cup honey
1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
3 c. old-fashioned oats
1 c. coconut flakes
1 c. chopped walnuts, sliced almonds, or no nuts if you can't have 'em
2/3 cup raisins, Craisins, or other dried fruits (or chocolate, if you want to thumb your nose at fruit)

In a bowl, stir butter, honey, cinnamon and salt until well blended. Combine the oats, coconut and walnuts in a greased 13-in. x 9-in. x 2-in. baking pan (or spread on a jelly roll pan - it will bake faster). Add butter mixture and stir to coat evenly. Bake at 275 degrees F for 50-60 minutes or until golden brown, stirring every 15 minutes. Add raisins/other dried fruits. Cool, stirring occasionally. Store in an airtight container.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Bell Pepper Soup - Garden Fresh!

Now is the time to use some of those delish bell peppers from the garden, and some of your fresh herbs, before they wither away until next year.  Try this soup - make some for tonight, and freeze some to share or enjoy another night!

Bell Pepper Soup
1 tbsp. evoo
3-6 bell peppers (green, yellow, red, orange, yellow - you pick), diced
1 tbsp. garlic, minced
2 tbsp. fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley, chopped
2 tbsp. fresh basil, chopped, or 2 tsp. dried
2 tsp. dried oregano
64 oz. can tomato juice
4 c. water
1 can (14.5 oz) petite diced tomatoes
salt & pepper to taste
small pasta shells or rice
1 recipe turkey meatballs (make them small)

Heat oil in large pot over medium heat. Add onion, and cook 2 min. Add peppers, and cook, stirring often, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, basil, parsley & oregano. Stir in tomato juice and water, bring to a boil, stir. To freeze: let cool completely, freeze.

To prepare: thaw soup in refrigerator, reheat. Add meatballs while reheating, and stir in al dente pasta just before serving. Could also use rice. Garnish with fresh chopped parsley if you have it, and maybe little shredded sharp cheddar cheese.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Mmmmm....Baked Manicotti

It feels good to be back in the kitchen.

Wow - I kinda got busy there for a bit - I got to go back to work in the office where I used to work, and had a blast, but then all of my usual work and housework got behind, and the September schedule insanity kicked in - our family was actually quadruple-booked one night!!  That's just ridiculous.  The freezer meals came in handy last week, for sure. 

Anyway, I am borrowing a recipe from my heros at Cook's Illustrated - they keep testing when I'd give up and say I can't make it.  This manicotti recipe is FAB, and I will NEVER, EVER stuff a tube of pasta EVER again when I can do it this way.  It's also meatless, which a nice thing to throw into the mix whenever you can.  This dish is great for serving a crowd if you're willing to roll a lot of manicotti, and it freezes great. 

Baked Manicotti from Cook's Illustrated
Serves 6 to 8

"We prefer Barilla no-boil lasagna noodles for their delicate texture resembling fresh pasta. Note that Pasta Defino and Ronzoni brands contain only 12 no-boil noodles per package; the recipe requires 16 noodles. The manicotti can be prepared through step 5, covered with a sheet of parchment paper, wrapped in aluminum foil, and refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 1 month. (If frozen, thaw the manicotti in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 days.) To bake, remove the parchment, replace the aluminum foil, and increase baking time to 1 to 1 1/4 hours."

Tomato Sauce
• 2 28-ounce cans diced tomatoes (in juice)
• 2tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
• 3medium cloves garlic , minced or pressed through garlic press (about 1 tablespoon)
• 1/2teaspoon hot red pepper flakes , optional
• Table salt
• 2tablespoons chopped fresh basil

Cheese Filling and Pasta
• 3 cups part-skim ricotta cheese
• 4 ounces grated Parmesan cheese (about 2 cups)
• 8 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese (about 2 cups)
• 2 large eggs , lightly beaten
• 3/4teaspoon table salt
• 1/2teaspoon ground black pepper
• 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
• 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
• 16 no-boil lasagna noodles (see note above)

1. For the Sauce: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Pulse 1 can tomatoes with their juice in food processor until coarsely chopped, 3 or 4 pulses. Transfer to bowl. Repeat with remaining can tomatoes.  (I use my trusty immersion blender here!)

2. Heat oil, garlic, and pepper flakes (if using) in large saucepan over medium heat until fragrant but not brown, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in tomatoes and 1/2 teaspoon salt and simmer until thickened slightly, about 15 minutes. Stir in basil; adjust seasoning with salt.

3. For the cheese filling: Combine ricotta, 1 cup Parmesan, mozzarella, eggs, salt, pepper, and herbs in medium bowl; set aside.

4. To assemble: Pour 1 inch boiling water into 13 by 9-inch broilersafe baking dish, then add noodles one at a time. Let noodles soak until pliable, about 5 minutes, separating noodles with tip of sharp knife to prevent sticking. Remove noodles from water and place in single layer on clean kitchen towels; discard water in baking dish and dry baking dish.

5. Spread bottom of baking dish evenly with 1 1/2 cups sauce. Using soupspoon, spread 1/4 cup cheese mixture evenly onto bottom three-quarters of each noodle (with short side facing you), leaving top quarter of noodle exposed. Roll into tube shape and arrange in baking dish seam side down. Top evenly with remaining sauce, making certain that pasta is completely covered.

6. Cover manicotti with aluminum foil. Bake until bubbling, about 40 minutes, then remove foil. Remove baking dish, adjust oven rack to uppermost position (about 6 inches from heating element), and heat broiler. Sprinkle manicotti evenly with remaining 1 cup Parmesan. Broil until cheese is spotty brown, 4 to 6 minutes. Cool 15 minutes, then serve.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Creamy Wild Rice Soup with Smoked Turkey

I love soup when it starts getting chilly. 

There is nothing like a good bowl of soup on a cold night.  This is a great recipe from Cooking Light magazine, so it's even HEALTHY!  We've done it for a meal swap before, too, so you can freeze it, and it works just fine. 

Creamy Wild Rice Soup with Smoked Turkey - Cooking Light
(Jan 2000 issue -great bowls of soup)

2 tsp. butter
1 c. chopped carrots
1 c. chopped onions
1 c chopped green onion
1 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary or 1/4 tsp. dried
1/4 tsp. black pepper
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 cans (16 ounces) chicken broth (fat-free, less sodium, like Swanson Natural Goodness)
1 1/2 c. chopped smoked turkey breast
1 c. uncooked wild rice
1/3 c. flour
2 3/4 c. 2 % milk
2 tbsp. dry sherry
1/2 tsp. salt

Melt butter in Dutch pan over med high. Add carrots and next 5 ingredients. Saute 8 mins until browned. Stir in broth, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Stir in turkey & rice, bring to a boil. Cover & reduce heat and simmer 1 hr 15 mins until rice is tender.  (Slightly undercook it for freezing.)

Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cup, level with knife. Combine flour and milk in small bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add to pan. Cook over med heat until thick, stir frequently. Stir in sherry and season to taste.

To freeze: let cook completely, and leave about 1" of space for expansion during freezing.
 
To prepare: let thaw in fridge, and heat on stovetop. Add some chicken broth and or milk to thin it out if needed.  Serves 8 (1 c. servings)

Monday, September 5, 2011

Grilled Cheese with a Twist

I lived on grilled cheese in college.
I made them in my dorm - I lived across from the kitchen, which was usually gross, since weird food odors lingered, but it was convenient for whipping up a grilled cheese!

My go-to grilled cheese has evolved since then - we like an Italian bread with sesame seeds, American cheese for melting, and a spritz of EVOO. I have a grill pan and a bacon press, and they both work pretty much like a panini press, so I use those, most times. The press also helps melt the cheese and heat the toppings through a little more quickly and evenly.

But TODAY, the kids were gone, so we made a grown-up grilled cheese: we had a few slices left each of sourdough bread and asiago cheese bread, so we made 1 of each, and shared. We spritzed the bread with EVOO, and layered basil farmer's cheese from Brennan's (soooo good), thinly sliced Roma tomatoes we picked in the garden this morning (sliced with the Pampered Chef tomato knife I just got - really nice!), and a few fresh basil leaves I grabbed when we were out there. D.E.L.I.S.H.

I know someone who builds these babies, and then wraps them tightly, and freezes them before grilling/panini-ing, and then thaws them in the fridge and makes paninis, thus making this a freezer-friendly meal. You could do it with any combo of toppings - chicken, spinach, different cheeses, etc. I can't comment on this, as I've not tried it yet, but you've done it, tell me what you think! Or if you're game for trying it, let me know the results! 

Thursday, September 1, 2011