November 29, 2021

Tuna Melt

Yesterday I was sitting in a late afternoon meeting, and the guy next to me was eating a tuna melt. Nothing has ever really appealed to me about a tuna melt before, but as I was driving home and my mind started to wander I built this really epic tuna melt. I got home and asked Mike what he thought - he of course loved the idea since he's a fan of tuna melts, and any sandwiches that don't contain just the standard ingredients. I was pretty proud of myself that Mike actually wanted to eat a sandwich that I came up with, so here it is for you to enjoy!

Bread - two slices for each sandwich - duh
Pepper jack cheese
This coleslaw

Make this sandwich as you would any other panini or grilled cheese. Dry tuna, slice of pepper jack, pile on the coleslaw, and add some lettuce. All ingredients for this one are to taste, however much you like of each ingredient. I left the tuna dry because of the amount of mayo and goodness in the leftover coleslaw I had.

 Delish - for real!

November 28, 2021

Pork Tenderloin w/Coleslaw

My mom is an awesome cook, last night I was craving this coleslaw that she makes, and I was craving some kind of pork and barbeque sauce. The problem is I didn't want the versions I had of any of these things, so I created my own!

After Thanksgiving I thought I was going to burst and not be hungry for days, but of course that's never the case. We went out to eat even - how we justified that with all the leftovers we had in the fridge, I'm not really sure. I think it had something to do with one of our really good friends being home on leave from the army, and I think we would have done anything to spend time with him - we hadn't seen him since new years eve!

I should also mention that Mike was less than thrilled that I was serving him something that wasn't light (he blames me for a lot of things - the small gut he has grown since we started living together, his socks that seem to never be in pairs after I finish the laundry, his gray hair, etc.)

For the pork tenderloin:
1 pork tenderloin - duh.
1 jalapeno, sliced
1 tablespoon of orange juice
1 teaspoon of soy sauce
2 tablespoons of ketchup
1/4 cup of your favorite BBQ sauce

Start cooking the pork tenderloin over medium heat, for about 5 minutes a side. Add the remaining ingredients into a small saucepan, stir and heat through. When the pork has cooked for 5 minutes a side brush with the sauce and cook for a remaining 3 minutes a side. Let it rest for a few minutes, slice and serve it up with the coleslaw below.

For the coleslaw:
1/2 bad of coleslaw mix
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
1 and 1/2 teaspoons celery seed
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
3 scallions, sliced
3/4 cup mayo - use the light stuff or the olive oil stuff - (sorry Mike, we had neither!)
salt and pepper

Mix all of the ingredients into a medium sized mixing bowl, cover and let it sit until it's good and cold. Give it another good stir and serve it up! Enjoy!

November 24, 2021

Simple Sangria

Thanksgiving is here, and it came out of nowhere! We have had a lot going on the last few months and I guess I didn't even realize how much time had passed until now.Thanksgiving is one of my favorites - it's top two for sure next to the fourth of July. Mike and I have been blessed with family that lives close by, so we get to see everyone on the same day - which means we also get at least two different versions of Thanksgiving dinner! Jealous!?

This year I asked what I could bring, and everyone said nothing. Soo, I made Sangria and brought it anyway! I used nothing but Danza del Sol wine, no brandy in this recipe - I didn't want to take away from the taste of the wine. I will warn that this recipe has to sit overnight for it to be it's best, but no one here will judge if you make it, serve it, and drink it up without waiting!

1 bottle of Danza del Sol's Orange Muscat
1/2 bottle of Danza del Sol's Cabernet Franc
1 lime, sliced thinly and halved
1 lemon, sliced thinly and halved
1/2 pint of blackberries
2 handfuls (about 2 cups) cranberries, whole
2/3 cups sugar
3 cinnamon sticks

Sangria is so easy, ready? Put all of these ingredients in a large pitcher, stir and let it sit overnight. Yepp, that's it. Give it another stir when you are ready to serve it. Pour it over ice to serve, and spoon some of the fruit on top. You can also add a little bit of ginger ale or sprite to the top to make it sparkling - up to you. I didn't do that - again, I didn't want to take away from the taste of the wine!

The added bonus to sangria tasting so good it that it's SO pretty too!

{Photos were made possible with plenty of help from Jan.}

No - I wasn't paid to write about Danza Del Sol wine... I just like it... you should too... go ahead, click through and join the wine club - next shipment is in December!

November 23, 2021

Truffle Brownies

Have you ever had a delicious truffle - the kind with chocolate ganache in the center? This is a brownie based on that type of chocolate truffle. This recipe is based on a Martha Stewart recipe - I took it to a family gathering, where dessert is always appreciated! :-)

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
3 ounces semi-sweet or milk chocolate chips, melted
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1/4 cup milk
2 tablespoons cocoa powder

4 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
2/3 cup heavy cream
1 vanilla bean, scrapped
In a mixing bowl, beat together all the ingredients for the cake. Grease a 9 inch round spring form pan, and bake at 325 for about 30 minutes, it will be a very dense looking brownie when it comes out. Set it aside, as it needs to be completely cooled before you add the ganache topping.

If you have never made ganache, it's kind of putsy - you have to do it in a certain order to make it set up properly. So, heat the heavy cream in a saucepan until it's simmering. Give it a stir. In a bowl add the chocolate and the vanilla seeds from the middle of the vanilla bean. Pour the hot heavy cream over the chips in a bowl. Now, let it sit for about 5 minutes. Do not touch it! At the five minute mark, give the mixture a stir, then walk away again. Come back after about another 10 minutes, and stir it again. Continue this pattern until the ganache is completely cooled. Then pour over the cooled brownie. Put it in the fridge for about a half hour.

When chilled, cut it up and serve it - yum!

November 22, 2021

Grilled Cheese

Here is another fancy grilled cheese - this one was thought up by Mike. We had some leftover truffle butter, and he thought that it would go great on a grilled cheese. Yet again he was right.

Gruyere cheese
Truffle butter
Beefsteak tomato slice
Normal butter

Butter one slice of the bread with normal butter and place it in a skillet butter side down. Slice the cheese, and cover that piece of bread. Add the tomato, then add truffle butter to the other slice of bread and place it with the truffle butter on the inside onto the tomato. Using the normal butter, spread it all over the top of the sandwich. Cook on medium heat until golden brown, then flip and do the same for the other side.

Side note: I'm not huge on tomatoes on sandwiches, so I would have used arugula instead... just me!


November 21, 2021

Minestrone Soup

I have this week off of work - and the first thing I wanted to make was something WARM. First snow was Saturday, and it officially put me in the mood for the holidays, and for soup! This minestrone is basically a combination of my favorite things.

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 white onion
3 cloves of garlic
1 large zucchini
1-2 teaspoons of Cayenne pepper
1/4 pound of prosciutto
1 small carrot
32 ounces of chicken stock
1 (15 ounce) can of cannellini beans
1 (15 ounce) can of fire roasted tomatoes
1/4 pound of pasta - I used Gemelli
1/3 pound chicken, shredded

Peccorino romano cheese and basil for garnish

Chop the onion, mince the garlic, and cut up the zucchini, add to a large pot with the olive oil. Cook until the onion is translucent. Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Turn the temperature down, and simmer until the pasta is cooked through and the carrots and zucchini are soft. Serve in a shallow bowl with plenty of cheese on top, crusty bread if you want it, and basil! Enjoy, and get warm!!

November 16, 2021

Truffle Butter Fettucini

I have a SLIGHT obsession with truffles. I use truffle oil on pizza and flat bread... and now I have discovered truffle BUTTER. It completely lived up to my expectations, as a matter of fact, it's heavenly.

I was perusing my extensive cookbook collection the other night, and I came across a fettucini dish that called for truffle butter - I immediately went to whole foods to see if I could find it. Sure enough they have little 3.5 ounce tubs. It's expensive, but so worth it. My hat goes off to Ina Garden for this one - it's amazing.

8 ounces of egg fettucini - what I used, and honestly I would have used just plain old fettucini
1/2 cup heavy cream
3 ounces truffle butter
Chives, chopped for garnish
Parmesan-Reggiano cheese, shaved for garnish
Ground pepper

In one pot bring salted water to a boil, add the pasta and cook according to the box. Once the pasta is cooked, reserve about 1/4 cup of the salty/starchy pasta water.

In another pot on VERY low bring the heavy cream to a simmer. Then add the truffle butter, when it's fully melted add in the reserved pasta water.

In a large bowl combine the noodles with the sauce and mix well. Plate and garnish with the chives, ground pepper and parmesan. Savor every single bite!

Seriously, pictures don't do this dish JUSTICE, so just try it!

November 15, 2021

Pumpkin Roulade

These things are awesome. Some people call them pumpkin rolls, I like the fancier name... "pumpkin roulade" just sounds more sophisticated. This particular version would even be good for thanksgiving dessert. (Don't listen to this mom, you're still expected to make pumpkin pie!) The only problem with this recipe is that it requires patience, and I don't have a whole lot of that. Another really important thing that you need for this parchment paper - a lot of it! Don't even think about making this recipe without it.

Ingredients for the cake:
3/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
3/4 canned pumpkin pie mix

Ingredients for the filling:
6 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 vanilla bean, split open and scraped
1 cup of heavy cream

Other items:
Parchment paper
Large tea towel
Powdered sugar, sifted
Candied ginger, optional - I did not add any, but if you like candied ginger chop it up and fold it into the filling

Preheat the oven to 375 and in a jelly roll pan (16x18) cut parchment paper to fit the bottom of a pan, then butter and flour it. Put all the ingredients for the cake into a mixer, and beat until smooth. Pour into the prepared jelly roll pan and bake for about 10 - 12 minutes.

While that is baking,  lay out the tea towel onto a flat surface and using a sifter cover the tea towel in powdered sugar. When the cake is done baking, take a knife and run it around the outside of the pan. Then pick up the pan and flip it upside down onto the tea towel (yes, while it's still warm). Peel back the parchment paper, then sift powdered sugar on top. Then gently roll the towel over the cake until it's completely rolled up. Let it cool COMPLETELY.

While the cake is cooling, whip up the filling. Add all the ingredients into the mixer and beat until smooth, and pretty stiff.

When the cake is cool, unroll it, fill it with the filling and then roll it back up. Slice it and serve. Personally, I think it would have been better chilled.

November 14, 2021

Apple Cider French Toast

I love french toast - really thick sourdough french toast. I wanted to try something different though, so on a lazy Sunday morning I whipped up this version. Since it's November apple cider syrup seemed appropriate. Our goofy dog Abby even sat really nicely next to me while I was eating this one hoping to have a bite.

1 loaf of unsliced bread
3 eggs
1 cup of milk
3 cups apple cider
1 and 1/2 cups brown sugar - I used dark brown
2 cinnamon sticks

In a medium sauce pan bring the apple cider, brown sugar and cinnamon sticks to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and allow it to cook for about 30 minutes. When done it should be reduced by about a third, set aside. 

Slice your loaf of bread. Mix together the eggs and milk in a bowl, and soak the slices of bread for about 20 seconds each side, you want even the middle to be a little wet. Cook in a frying pan until golden brown, cover in the apple cider syrup, and top with walnuts.


November 10, 2021

Zucchini Pizza

I feel like we are on a pizza kick at our house - what's weirder is that none of them seem to have sauce! This one is great if you have zucchini lying around and you don't know what you are going to do to get rid of them... or if you are serving a vegetarian for dinner, etc.

I will tell you that after making it one way, I would have rather made it a different way - I'll outline both for you, no worries!

1 store bought pizza dough
1 medium white onion
1 brick parmesean-reggiano cheese
2 medium sized zucchinis
Olive oil - about a tablespoon
Salt - about a teaspoon

(Yepp, that's it!)

Preheat your oven to whatever temp the pizza dough package tells you - in my case it was 400 degrees. Grate the zucchini, place in a medium bowl, and sprinkle about a teaspoon of salt over top of it. Set that aside. Doing this will make the zucchini render all of it's water, which means that on your pizza the zucchini will be kind of crunchy instead of soggy, which is exactly what we want in this case.

Mince the onion and cook in a frying pan on medium high heat until translucent, then set those aside. Roll out your pizza dough and cover with the cooked minced onions. Pull out a clean dish towel, and place it on top of the bowl containing the zucchini. Flip it upside down so that all the zucchini is now inside the dishcloth. Over the sink wring it out really well. Then, sprinkle on top of the onions. Grate the cheese, and top the pizza. Bake per the instructions on the pizza dough label - for me it was about 30 minutes.

Pull it out of the oven when the crust is golden brown and the zucchini that isn't covered in cheese starts to brown around the edges, Enjoy!

Now - when I make this again, I will do a few things differently. First of all I would slice the onions and caramelize them and second I would use probably 1 and 1/2 zucchinis instead of two. This is just my personal preference, change it to fit your own preferences!

*Recipe adapted from Rachael Ray

November 9, 2021

Steak Fajitas

We can't get enough fajitas in our house, the problem is finding different variations that still hit the spot, but aren't the same version. This is a steak fajita with poblano peppers and sweet potatoes, and it's not only really good, but really colorful!

1 poblano pepper
1 large sweet potato
1 medium red onion
1 lb. steak, whatever you prefer - I used skirt steak
Olive oil - about 2 tablespoons
2 cloves garlic, minced
Lime juice, optional - I squeezed mine over the top at the end
Whatever else you want to top yours with - sour cream, salsa, this green chili and avocado sauce, etc.

Chop up the poblano pepper into thin strips and slice your onion. Peel the sweet potato and cut into 1/4 inch thick slices. In a frying pan, pour in the olive oil, garlic, poblano pepper, sweet potato and red onion cooking on medium high heat until the sweet potatoes are soft and the onions are translucent - about 10 minutes.

In another pan, salt and pepper your steak and cook on each side for about 4 minutes - this will keep it on the medium rare side (where I like it) cook it longer if you prefer.

Heat your tortillas, and assemble your fajitas - enjoy!
*Recipe adapted from Rachael Ray

November 8, 2021

Green Chili and Avocado Sauce

I stumbled upon this recipe this past summer while it was still grilling season - the theory is that you can stick all of these items on a skewer, and grill it with whatever else you are making, then you can blend it up and serve it all together. Of course, living in Minnesota means that the grilling season is a lot shorter - so I brought this one indoors and just used a frying pan with grates.

1 avocado
1 small onion, quartered
2 tomatillos, halved
4 peeled garlic cloves
1 jalapeno, seeded
1 poblano pepper - I used an anaheim, just in case the picture below throws you off (it was all the grocery store had).
splash of lime juice
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon olive oil
Cilantro to taste

Slice everything up, and throw them on the grill - or in a grill pan. Once everything is slightly charred, toss into a blender with the water, lime juice, cilantro, salt and pepper. Blend it up, and serve with just about anything - grilled chicken, tacos, fajitas, etc. Or the dish I'm posting in the morning! :-)

*Recipe adapted from Rachael Ray

November 7, 2021

Peanut Butter Pretzel Tart

I believe this one was adapted from a Rachael Ray magazine recipe, but I'm not 100% on that. I pull recipes I want to try, and stick them in a 3 ring binder, which is an awesome idea. But, sometimes there isn't a label on each page. So, I'm PRETTY SURE, this was adapted from a Rachael Ray!

We had family over the other night, and needed a good dessert - this one just so happened to hit it out of the park! The fact that it's easy and it doesn't take long just makes it better.

Ingredients for the crust:
1 and 1/2 cups salted pretzels
1/4 cup brown sugar
6 tablespoons butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 350, grind the pretzels in the food processor. Add the brown sugar and the melted butter, mix well, it will be crumbly. Press into a 9 inch round tart pan, and even up the sides. Bake for about 18 minutes until golden brown. Remove from the oven, and let it cool.

Ingredients for the filling:
4 ounces cream cheese
1/2 cup peanut butter
3 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla

Beat the cream cheese, peanut butter and butter together until smooth. Add the brown sugar, and mix well.  Set aside. Then beat together the heavy cream and vanilla together until slightly stiff. Fold together the cream cheese, peanut butter and butter mixture with the heavy cream and vanilla mixture. Pour into the crust. Cover and refrigerate for about three hours. When you're ready to serve it cover it in caramel sauce! So delish.

November 4, 2021

Black Bottom Cupcakes

I was a very lucky kid to grow up across the street from a couple who were always welcoming to my little sister and I. We referred to them as "Miss Jean" and "Mr Harry" - we still do. They were the people we ran to when our mother told us we couldn't do something we wanted to do, they would then explain why our mother was right, but somehow it always made more sense coming from them - why is that?? We would go over as a family and hang out on summer nights, and Miss Jean and I would always go through food magazines scoping out new recipes. But, my favorite thing was when they would cat sit while we were out of town - this sounds weird, but it's not I swear. Miss Jean would BAKE while we were gone, and would leave treats for us at our house. This was always something to look forward to, and one of her recipes that I just loved were her black bottom cupcakes. Lucky for me, she shared it!

Ingredients for the cupcake:
1 ½ cup flour
1 cup sugar
¼ cup cocoa
1 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
1 cup water
1/3 cup oil
1 Tbsp. white vinegar
1 tsp. vanilla

Ingredients for the filling:
1pkg. cream cheese, softened
1 egg
1/3 cup sugar
1/8 tsp salt
1 cup chocolate chips- I think I ended up using the whole bag - oops!

In two separate bowls, beat together ingredients until smooth.  Preheat the oven to 350, and fill the cupcake tins about 1/3 of the way full, then scoop out a generous scoop of the cream cheese filling on top. Bake for about 35 minutes.

Viola! How awesome do these look??

I had two of these for breakfast ...I mean I had toast.

November 3, 2021

Grilled Ceasar Salad

A couple nights ago, Mike and I went out to dinner with his mother and I had an awesome ceasar salad. I have been thinking about it ever since, so I hit the grocery store and whipped up my own version.

1 head of romaine hearts, whole
1/2 cup mayo - not miracle whip
1 clove garlic
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard
1 teaspoon celery seed
Skim milk - just a splash
Croutons - to taste
Parmesan cheese - to taste

In a small mixing bowl add together all ingredients, leaving the milk for last. Whisk together all the ingredients and add a splash of milk, you really just want it to be a bit thinner so you can pour it easily. Take out a skillet and heat to medium high heat. Add the whole head of romaine heart onto the skillet. Rotate sides every minute, and remove from the heat. Cut the base off of and fan it out a bit. Drizzle the dressing over the top, sprinkle parmesean cheese, and croutons. Enjoy!

November 1, 2021

Grown up Grilled Cheese

When I was a little girl I would always request "girl" cheese sandwiches. I have no idea why I thought that's what they were called - did I think they were only for girls? Or did I just flat out miss pronounce it? Either way I think I was young enough to pull it off!

This is a classic grilled cheese sandwich with a twist.

Red onion
Gruyere cheese
2 slice of bread per sandwich - however many you are going to make.

Simple instructions if you've ever made a grilled cheese before.... butter one slice of the bread and place it in a skillet butter side down. Slice the cheese, and cover that piece of bread, do the same with the red onion and the avocado. Butter the other slice of bread, and place it on top of the ingredients, butter side up.

Cook on medium heat until golden brown, and serve.

I know... the ingredients seem a little odd, but just try it, you will NOT regret it!