Tag Archives: sandwich

Lover of Leftovers

1 Aug

Time. There are 24 hours in every day, but sometimes it feels like less.  So when I cook, I have to make it count for more than one meal.  Cooking big is a time saver. If I have a little wiggle room during the weekend to cook, I try to fill the fridge for the upcoming week. But even quick week night meals can provide leftovers for another meal.

Okay, it’s no secret that I love leftovers.  You can enjoy them for a second meal as is, but they can also be used as inspiration for a new dish.  I use my leftovers both ways.  If I cook a couple of extra pieces of chicken, that goes to work with me for a quick lunch at the office.  Using that chicken as inspiration for another meal might mean a nice chicken casserole or chicken salad sandwich.  Need some ideas?  Let me outline my leftovers from the past few days.

Night #1.  Leftover: Quinoa.  Used the next morning as an addition to breakfast oatmeal to power it up. Quinoa is a plant based protein loaded with beneficial amino acids. It was a satisfying protein and grain breakfast following an early morning workout at the gym.

Leftover quinoa added a nice nutritionally punch to morning oatmeal.

Leftover quinoa added plant protein to morning oatmeal.

Night #2.  Leftover:  Goat cheese.  It was leftover from a beet salad.  The next day goat cheese was a wonderful addition to a “gourmet” sandwich, adding delicious creamy flavor to a weekday brown bag lunch.

Leftover goat cheese not used for this salad added flavor to a sandwich.

Leftover goat cheese not used for this salad added flavor to a sandwich.

Night #3.  Leftover:  Home made vinaigrette.  I used this to drizzle over veggies going into the oven to roast.  Homemade vinaigrette is super flexible and great to have around. It is a delicious way to add a wonderful layer of flavor to most anything.

Leftover vinaigrette.  This isn't just salad dressing.  It has a zillion uses.

Leftover vinaigrette. This isn’t just salad dressing. It has a zillion uses.

Night #4.  Leftover: Roasted veggies.  These leftover roasted veggies made the most amazing salad. I also threw in some of that leftover quinoa so it was a complete meal.

Roasted veggies made an awesome sandwich, panini style!

Roasted veggies made an awesome salad! The added quinoa was the perfect protein for this dish.

Night #5.  Leftover:  Pesto, with a bonus of shredded chicken. (Nonleftover: frozen cauliflower). This made a quick pasta dinner.  Dinner was ready in the time it took for a pot of water to boil and pasta to cook.  The cauliflower cooked up quick in the microwave. It was tossed together with the chicken and pesto for a quick and easy one dish dinner for a busy night.

By now I am sure you get the picture.  Be creative.  When cooking, cook a larger portion than you need.  Toss leftovers in both the fridge and the freezer.  And start embracing the ease of the next meal using leftovers.  Let me know what ends up on your dinner table!

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Cheese, butter mayo…

8 Nov
How are these items related?

How are these items related?

 

This is a recent conversation between myself and my teenaged son.  In literary terms it is known as a drama.  Why? Because everything with teenagers has the potential to be a drama…

Quinn: Why do we only have hard butter in this kitchen?

Me: Because it is real butter and healthier for us than margarine.

Quinn: But I can’t spread it for a grilled cheese sandwich!  Ugh!  Stupid butter!

Me: Heat the pan up, melt the butter, and grill your sandwich that way.

Quinn:  Why can’t we just have the spreadable tub stuff?  Man! (insert a sarcastic cough/snort here).

Fast forward a couple of days.  I was chatting with a friend that happens to be an executive chef.

Me: My son was all ticked off because we didn’t have spreadable margarine for his grilled cheese sandwich the other day.

David: Just use Mayonnaise.  Its oil and egg.  And it makes a great grilled cheese.

Me: Do you mean use mayonnaise instead of butter on the bread grilling side?

David:  Yes.  Its simple.

Me:  Seriously?  (I realized my mouth was hanging open.  I felt a mixture of surprise at David’s suggestion and disappointment in myself because this did not occur to me unaided.  I was excited with the idea but mad at my big bad self for not thinking of this earlier…)

Oh yeah, this sent my mind spinning.  It made sense.  Mayonnaise is oil and egg.  So maybe, I thought, the grilled cheese would end up with a little “french toast” essence to it.  As far as chefs go, David has a fabulous palate with an opinion that I trust.  I couldn’t wait to try this!

Friday rolled around.  I grab a quick dinner on Fridays because my son is an athlete that plays varsity football on Friday nights in the fall.  I rush home from work, have a quick bite, and head out to the game.  It was the prefect time to make a quick grilled cheese sandwich before heading out.  It was time to go rogue!

Taste test in the making…one grilled cheese with butter and one with mayonnaise.  Yup.  I was going to try it.  I used the same pan, the same heat, the same bread and the same cheese on both sandwiches.  This had to be a true side by side taste test.

The results:  Both cooked up in about the same amount of time.  Both sandwiches browned nicely, and had a crisp outside bite with a creamy inside.  Surprisingly, the sandwich with the mayo on the grilling side was the favorite.  It had a “cheesier” flavor than the grilled cheese with butter.

At  first look at the picture in this blog, the food items do not look related.  But they are.   Try this.  Let me know what results and preferences come out in your household.  It is fun to experiment with food!

Soup-Rich warm comfort food! Yum!

21 Sep
Home made tomato basil soup.  Easy and delicious!  And the leftovers were fabulous.

Home made tomato basil soup. Easy and delicious! And the leftovers were fabulous.

 

As the weather continues to turn from steamy days to the cool crisp air of fall, I am on my comfort food fast track.  Last week, home made tomato basil soup filled the bill.  And if I may be so bold,  it was creamy, rich, and quite delicious. (Ouch!  It hurts to pat myself on the back!)

Tomato basil soup is a snap to make with just a few things on hand.  I used canned tomatoes, but had fresh basil still going crazy in it’s sunny patio pot.  I began by sautéing onions, celery, and garlic in olive oil.  Next, in went some canned tomatoes to simmer for a bit. I use a variety of tomatoes depending on what is in the pantry.  (Whole tomatoes are just fine to use if you have a stick or immersion mixer to smooth it out). Salt, pepper, and a dash of sugar is also necessary.  I use both black pepper and red pepper flakes because I like a little heat in my soup, but you can be light handed with the pepper if that suits your personal preference.

Even if using fresh basil, tossing in about a tablespoon of dried basil while the soup is simmering adds a nice flavor touch, and certainly adds to the succulent aroma.  When the soup starts simmering, the amazing scents of tomatoes and basil begin wafting through the air.  Pathetic true confession: sometimes when I am cooking and it starts to smell good in the house, I will go outside for a sec, then step back inside and let those incredible aromas hit me all over again.

Fresh basil.  The taste is amazing and the aromas are truly mouth watering!

Fresh basil. The taste is amazing and the aromas are truly mouth watering!

There are so many reasons to love soup.  The house warms up with delicious lingering scents, and you can really customize it for your own taste and occasion.  Add a little of this and a little of that.  And soup is super budget friendly.  Soup is also easily paired with a well toasted or grilled sandwich…the crisp texture  of the sandwich is wonderful with the warm smooth soup.  Very pleasing to the palate. Make it on the weekend and use the leftovers for a quick week night supper.

Amy’s Tomato Soup

  • 2 T. olive oil

    Simple soup ingredients.

    Simple soup ingredients

  • 1/4 cup each of chopped onion and celery
  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
  • 2 cups chicken stock (can use vegetable to make it vegetarian)
  • 2 32 oz. cans tomatoes
  • 1 cup milk (optional-and I use skim)
  • 1 small can tomato paste
  • 2 T. ketchup
  • 1/2 t. sugar
  • 1 T. dried basil
  • 2-3 T chopped fresh basil
  • Salt, pepper and red pepper flakes to taste

Put olive oil in large stock pot.  Heat briefly and add onion and celery. Sautee until soft, about 5 minutes, stirring constantly.  Add garlic and stir for another minute.  Gently pour in stock and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring twice.  Add all tomatoes, tomato paste, ketchup, salt, pepper, sugar and dried basil.  Give this a good stir.  Turn heat to medium to low and let simmer for 20 minutes.  Use immersion or stick blender to smooth out the texture, being mindful of the hot liquid.  Taste for salt and pepper at this time and adjust for taste.  Add fresh basil  and let simmer on low for 15-20 minutes.  You can whisk in the milk at this time if you choose.  Garnish with freshly grated parmesan cheese and fresh basil.

This is a fun recipe to tinker with.  Feel free to make it more hispanic by adding cumin.  Make it a little more greek by adding oregano.  Go for it.  Have a blast!  Welcome fall into your family kitchen by adding this fabulous comfort food.  Try this soup, make it your own, and then shoot me a note to let me know what you did.  I can’t wait to hear about your foray into fall comfort food!

 

 

No Labels Please.

22 Jun

Labels. I loathe and reject them! They are so limiting. The smart one. The athletic one. The workaholic. The baby of the family. Breakfast. Lunch. Dinner. That’s right. I hate labeling everything including meals. Boring! And limiting!

Breakfast does not have to be oatmeal. eggs, toast, bagel, or cold cereal. These foods can be eaten any time of the day. And if it’s last night’s leftovers for breakfast who cares? There is nothing wrong with chicken, rice, and broccoli for breakfast. If that is what sounds good, go for it.  Dinner has to be a big hunk of meat and a couple of side dishes?  Nope.  Not in my book.  Sometimes a bowl of cereal is perfect for dinner. Sometimes eggs and toast work. My youngest son’s favorite dinner is breakfast! For many years his special birthday dinner request was breakfast, or what some would label as breakfast food.

I am going to tell a story through pictures. It is the story of a meal. But I will not label it. And I will not reveal what time of day I enjoyed this meal (which, by the way, features several servings. I only had one!). I will toss a caveat in saying that it is not a story for the faint of heart. It is of adult nature….it features…dare I say it….bacon and bacon fat. Totally obscene! Outrageous! But it is moderation in the use of the fat that allows my conscience to let this dirty little secret out.

Fresh!  Beautiful!

Fresh! Beautiful!

Lucky for me I have friends who have what I lack…namely a green thumb. This bowl is full of fresh peppers and tomatoes. I was the lucky recipient of this lovely fresh bounty, and I let it inspire me. It took me to a very unexpected place.

Bacon.  Decadent!

Bacon. Decadent!

I began my homage to these fresh ingredients by frying up some bacon in my beloved old cast iron skillet. While the bacon was crisping, I started cutting up the peppers and tomatoes.  When it was done, I scooped out the bacon to drain on  paper towels and disposed of most of the bacon fat in the skillet.  I  left a bit of the grease in my skillet though. The aromas in my kitchen started deepening, layering. Man, was I hungry now!

Pepper mania!  yes!!

Pepper mania! yes!!

I tossed those fresh peppers and tomatoes into that bacon fat. Yes, that’s what I said. Right into the fat. Well here is where I kind of compounded the naughty factor. While the peppers were frying up I went to the fridge and hung on the door. Hunting. Digging. Then I popped to the pantry. Nope…nothing there…went back to the fridge. Here comes more of the naughty…I was seriously misbehaving with that bacon grease!

Peppers to the side...eggs in front!

Peppers to the side…eggs in front!

I pushed the veggies aside and tossed in eggs. Frying eggs in bacon fat. Yup…I warned you! Totally obscene! And completely delish! But my conscience would not allow this dish to be totally devoid of some sort of nutrition. So I made some whole grain toast. No butter.  Next I just  tossed eggs, peppers and tomatoes on the toast. The bacon was on the side.  Fabulous!

YUM!

YUM!

I will not label this meal, nor will I reveal the time of day that this meal was consumed. Let me just say that it was amazing! I cook with bacon grease maybe once or twice a year. I love great food cooked in different ways. And in moderation, I think that everything can be enjoyed. As I said, I only cook with bacon fat occasionally. This dish was certainly worth the wait..and totally label free.

 

Leftovers. What’s in the fridge?

19 Mar

Dinnertime.  What to fix…?  The fridge is full of leftovers, so lets pull something together.  What is in the fridge tonight?

Leftover…

  • chicken
  • chopped onion
  • parsley
  • orzo
  • carrots
  • pimento cheese
  • crusty bread
  • berries

I usually keep chicken and vegetable stock as a staple in the pantry, so I decided to make soup.  I pulled out my soup pot, put it on the stove, and added 2 tablespoons of butter.  When that was hot and bubbly, I added the chopped onion.  While those began cooking, I coarsely chopped the leftover carrots and tossed those in with the onions.  After about 4 minutes, I added 2 cartons of chicken stock and chopped fresh parsley.  I gave it a  nice stir to mix.  It started to smell delicious!

That started bubbling away.  Next the chicken went into the soup.  It was leftover grilled chicken and seasoned nicely.  The wonderful smoky scents wafting through the kitchen were warm and comforting.  I began preparing the sandwiches.  I spread the pimento cheese (home made, by the way, leftover from a dinner party a few nights prior) over the crusty bread and got a big skillet out for the sandwiches.  I added the orzo to the soup and gave the it a nice stir.  After a couple of minutes, I tasted it.  Ah yes…it was well on its was to yummy! I sprayed the skillet with fat free cooking spray and in went the sandwiches.  Grilled pimento cheese sandwiches have become a family fav.

The children set the table.  Out went the berries, soup, and grilled cheese sandwiches.  Voila!  A quick dinner was on the table, and since leftovers were used, it was a super budget friendly meal.  Leftovers are fantastic for a quick meal.   Toss something simple together and enjoy a nice family meal.  And remember, since you cooked dinner, the kids are washing all that tuppperware from the leftovers!   Bon Appetite!

Food Foul

5 Mar

I was short on time tonight.  I dashed from work to the gym.  After my workout, I zipped into my grocery store.  They usually make pretty good sub sandwiches there, so I was going to cheat a little and get subs for supper.  I figured I would grab subs, a green salad and some fruit.  That would make an acceptable supper on a busy weeknight.

In the store I stepped up to the deli counter sweaty, rushed, and really hungry.   I ordered a sandwich for my son.  After that sandwich was made, the deli guy asked what else I wanted.  So I proceeded to place the order for my sandwich.

Me:  I would like turkey with swiss cheese on a whole wheat sub, toasted.

Him: (as he began getting the meat and cheese) And you want it toasted?

Me: Yes please.

Him: Okay.

Now this is where the major food foul occurred.  He got the 6 inch sub roll, sliced it open, put the cheese on it, and then the turkey on top of that.

Me silently screaming in my head: DUDE!  A sandwich being toasted ALWAYS has the cheese on top to get hot and bubbly!

Me for real: (Stifling my indignity) Excuse me, can you please place the meat on the bread and the cheese on top of that before toasting it?

Him: Um, oh, sure.  No problem.

I could not believe my eyes.  Who in the world puts cheese and then meat on a sandwich to toast in an open face manner?  I wondered if that is my food quirk or just plain proper protocol to put cheese on top of the meat when building a sandwich.  When I got home, I recounted the food foul for my son as we were eating dinner.  He too was incredulous.  “Everyone knows that cheese goes on top of meat when making a sandwich” he said with a snort and an eye roll (a somewhat innate response that all teenagers have perfected when stating the obvious).  There.  A teenager validated my position, so I must be right…right?

I am the first to acknowledge food quirks. Everyone has them. Eating involves preferences, and one can get…uumm…perhaps a tiny bit demanding  when expressing food preferences. It can, at times, be challenging to maintain proper decorum when observing a serious food foul with regards to a preference that has been expressed.  In the spirit of being a proper food fan, one must maintain good manners and control in food foul situations so as not to let our quirks get the best of us.

Basic sandwich building, for me, begins with the bottom part of the bread.  Depending on the toppings, an initial slather of some type of mustard is usually in order.  Next comes the sandwich meat.  Then the cheese.  (Toasting, if preferred, occurs now). After that, the veggies get piled high.  Then the top bread of the sandwich finishes it off.  This is appropriate sandwich order in my opinion.  And it is my layering preference.  It’s the order of a sandwich building system.   And it’s just how I like my sandwich.

So is this really protocol for building a sandwich?   Do I think that this is the way a sandwich should be made because this is how my mother taught me, and then I taught my kids?  Was this a major deli food foul?  Let me know what you think about proper protocol for sandwich making.  What is your order of ingredients?

salad splendor

21 Apr

Spring is here…well for many of us!   Some folks are still braving some pretty cold weather, but spring is here, at least by calendar standards!  No matter what the weather outside is telling us, it is April.  Farmers markets, with beautiful fresh ingredients, are opening up. It is time to stroll through the farmers market and get some nutritious crisp vegetables.   Get ready to dress those vegetables up nice and pretty.  And put away that bottle!

Okay, so I am not going to put Hidden Valley Ranch out of business.  But I can certainly make a better salad dressing than they can!  I can tailor my salad dressing to any taste and to any salad.   Dressing out of a bottle?  How passé!  Showcase those beautiful vegetables and make a delicious salad dressing yourself!  It is simple and takes only moments.  Here we go!

Vinaigrette

  • 1/2 c. Olive Oil
  • 1/4 c. vinegar (I get creative with this, as there are many flavorful vinegars to choose from. My favorite “go to” is balsamic.)
  • 1 T. Lemon juice
  • salt to taste
  • pepper to taste
  • 1 T. Dijon mustard
  • 1 t. honey (optional)

Whip ingredients together with a fork.  Taste.  Adjust seasoning if necessary.  Serve!

Salad dressings are great fun to adjust to taste.  This vinaigrette is just a starting point, so go have fun with it.  Put in a little more of this, a little less of that, and make the fresh spring vegetables on your dinner table shine.  I use this vinaigrette on sandwiches too.  I like putting lettuce, arugula, bell and banana peppers on a deli style sandwich, and this dressing really adds delicious bold flavor kick to a sandwich when drizzled over the vegetables.

So have a salad, or top off a sandwich, enjoy these lovely spring vegetables and dress them up with a yummy fresh vinaigrette!

Creamy Bleu Cheese Dressing