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Friday, September 28, 2012

White Bean Ragout with Poached Egg & Toast

Any fun weekend plans in store?

Whether you do or not, you should seriously consider making this.  It's fancy enough for company, and easy enough for a casual, relaxing evening at home.  Most of all, it's gooooooood.

White Bean Ragout with Poached Egg & Toast
adapted from Bon Appetit

3 medium onions, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper
4 garlic cloves, 3 grated, 1 halved
2 teaspoons tomato paste
sliced grilled or toasted ciabatta
8-10 tablespoons grated pecorino romano cheese, divided
2 (15 ounce) cans cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
4 cups vegetable broth, divided
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
6 eggs, poached
2 tablespoons chopped parsley

Pulse onions and pepper in a food processor until finely chopped.  Heat oil in a large heavy skillet over medium heat.  Add onion mixture and season with salt and pepper.  Simmer, stirring often, for 30 minutes, until vegetables have softened.  Add finely grated garlic and tomato paste and cook for 3 minutes, until paste turns deep red.  Measure 1/2 cup of mixture and set aside; reserve skillet.  Transfer remaining mixture to bowl and let cool completely.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Rub bread with halved garlic.  Place on baking sheet and sprinkle cheese on each slice.  Toast for about 5 minutes.  Set aside.

Heat reserved 1/2 cup mixture and beans in same skillet.  Cook for about one minute, until heated through.  Stir in 3 cups broth and bring to boil.  Simmer and scrape bits off bottom of skillet.  Cook for about 3-4 minutes, until liquid thickens.  Add tomatoes and remaining 1 cup broth.  Simmer 3-4 minutes, until tomatoes are tender.  Stir in 2 tablespoons cheese and salt and pepper.

Divide bread among bowls.  Top with bean mixture and broth.  Add egg.  Garnish with remaining cheese and parsley.  Drizzle oil on top, if desired.

Linked to:  Party Recipe Blog Hop

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Thursday, September 27, 2012

Blackened Tilapia Sandwiches with Avocado Spread

What new shows have you watched this season so far?  Anything you really love?  Hate?

I have a bunch that I'm looking forward to...but, I can't even begin to contain my excitement about the Dancing With The Stars All-Stars season that started this week.  I LOVE the show and having all the great ones from seasons past on at the same time makes me giddy.  Well, actually, Joey Fatone is the one who makes me giddy...

(did I say that out loud?)

So, now my nights are filled with TV watching, once again...good thing I can multitask and write my blog posts at the same time :)  And this sandwich is perfect for when life gets busy, thanks to back-to-school and the new primetime season.

Blackened Tilapia Sandwiches with Avocado Spread
slightly adapted from Cake, Batter and Bowl

for the avocado spread:
1 avocado, mashed
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
1/2 teaspoon salt

for the tilapia:
1 1/2 teaspoons thyme
3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3/4 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 tilapia filets
1 tablespoon canola oil

4 buns
sliced tomato
sliced onion

To make the avocado spread, mix avocado, lime juice, cilantro and salt together in a small bowl.  Refrigerate.

Mix all spices together in a small bowl.  Massage spice mixture evenly on both sides of each fish filet.  Heat oil over medium heat in a large skillet and cook filets on each side, about 3-4 minutes.

Spread avocado spread on one side of bun.  Add fish, tomato and onion.  Cover with other half of bun and serve.

Makes 4 sandwiches.

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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Sweet Cinnamon Crockpot Applesauce

We made our annual apple picking trip last week.  Bella and her friends had fun, even it kind of got old after a little while.  All of the apples were high up in the trees and they couldn't reach much of anything themselves!  Still, we had fun, and brought home a ton of yummy apples...and now the fun REALLY begins.

My friend Nicole had this delicious looking recipe on her blog that I knew I had to try.  The biggest bonus was that it was for the crockpot - perfect while working from home while I'm not able to babysit something over the stove.

Oh and we didn't just get apples from the farm...we got these a-MAZ-ing potato pancakes...because, you know, something had to "go" with the applesauce :)

Make a LOT of this - it'll go fast!

Sweet Cinnamon Crockpot Applesauce
slightly adapted from PreventionRD

12 medium apples, peeled, cored and quartered
juice of 1/2 lemon
2 cinnamon sticks
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup water

Place apples in crockpot and top with remaining ingredients.  Cook on high for about 4 hours or low for 6-8 hours.

Makes twelve 1/2 cup servings.

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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Bella's Birthday Cake

We had Bella's family birthday party over the weekend, and of course, I baked her cake.  Even though there's nothing spectacular about it, ingredient wise, I had to devote a post to it.


I did this.  I carved that 4, FREEHAND.  If you're a regular reader of this blog, you know this is a big deal for me.  I refused to spend the money on a #4 cake pan, only to use it once, so I crossed my fingers and went for it.  Not bad, eh?

AND, I did a crumb coat for the first time ever!  Yeah, I know, I'm late to the party.  It definitely made a difference.  Still not perfect, but better than usual.  I know this is amateur stuff to some, but not for this novice baker!

Of course, I had to include Bella's favorite color in there somehow...hence, the purple.  My nieces actually were planning on decorating the cake but we ran out of time.  It's too bad - it would have made it even better :)

Still can't believe my baby is 4!  Time really DOES go by fast...

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Monday, September 24, 2012

Stuffed Long Peppers

Several months ago, I asked my Aunt Joan for some of her recipes since I knew she had a lot of them written down.  She handed over a recipe box that was amazing, with papers that were turning yellow and tearing at the edges.  I had so much fun going through it, picking and choosing which ones I wanted to scan and keep.

Frank doesn't eat peppers so I waited until I was feeding a crowd to serve these up...one of many dishes that takes me back to me childhood.  The smell while they're cooking is enough to jog my memory.

I made these the day before I needed them and warmed them in the oven right before serving.  Now that I've done that, I know that next time I need more crushed tomatoes/sauce since it seemed to have absorbed into the peppers after reheating.  They were still delicious, but a little more sauce would have been nice.

Stuffed Long Peppers
from Aunt Joan

10 long frying peppers
3 cups Italian bread crumbs
3 tablespoons capers
chopped anchovies (I omitted)
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 egg
extra virgin olive oil
1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes (or 3 cups marinara)
(if using canned crushed tomatoes, add seasonings like basil, garlic powder, parsley, salt, pepper)

Cut tops off peppers and clean out insides.  Set aside.

In a bowl, combine bread crumbs, capers, anchovies, garlic and egg.  Add oil to the point where mixture becomes moist.  Stuff mixture inside peppers.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium high heat and add peppers.  Add tomatoes (and seasonings, if using) and brown peppers on each side.  Lower heat, cover, and simmer for at least 20 minutes.

You can reheat this later in the oven, or you can skip the frying step entirely and bake in the oven for a healthier alternative.

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Friday, September 21, 2012

Island Spice Pork Tenderloin

Thanks to our latest blogger's choice recipe swap, I have a new pork tenderloin recipe for our rotation!  We really loved it...many thanks to Ashley from Cheese Curd in Paradise.

It was pouring out and I didn't feel like busting out my Griddler, so I chose to cook it on the stove.  It was great!  You could also sear it first then throw it in the oven if you wanted to.

The flavors in this rub were fantastic.  And rubbing the pork with oil and HOT SAUCE?  Genius!

Thanks for a great dish, Ashley!

Island Spice Pork Tenderloin
slightly adapted from Cheese Curd in Paradise

1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 (approximately one pound) pork tenderloin
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons hot sauce

Combine first 7 ingredients in a small bowl.  Set aside.  Mix oil and hot sauce in a small dish.  Brush pork with oil mixture, then rub with spices.

Heat skillet over medium high heat.  Add pork and cook on each side (figuring it has 4 sides) for about 5 minutes.  Reduce heat if pan becomes too smokey.  After removing from stove, let rest for 5 minutes before cutting.

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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Frozen Berry Cobbler

Just because berry season is over doesn't mean you can't enjoy them.  If you're like me, you end up with a TON of them over the summer and freeze them since it's basically impossible to consume them all before they go bad.  Which is great, because then you can enjoy deliciousness like this all year long.

And of course, there's always frozen berries sold at your local grocery store.  They'll work just as well :)

The recipe is for a smaller portion than you see above - I tripled it for a large crowd.  Top this off with some fresh whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, and you're good to go!

Frozen Berry Cobbler
from Rachael Ray

3 cups (24 ounces) frozen berries of your choice
1/3 cup plus 4 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons AP flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 sticks cold butter, cut into small pieces
2/3 cup whole milk
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Grease an 8x8 baking pan.  Mix berries with 1/3 cup sugar and 2 tablespoons flour.  Spoon into baking dish.

In a large bowl, mix together remaining 1 1/2 cups flour and 3 tablespoons sugar with baking powder and salt.  Cut butter into flour mixture using pastry blender or 2 knives until it resembles coarse meal.  Add milk and vanilla and stir with a fork to form wet, sticky dough.

Drop rounded teaspoons of dough over berries to cover them.  Sprinkle remaining 1 tablespoon sugar on top and place dish on middle rack of oven.  Place foil on lower rack to catch any potential drippings while baking.  Bake for 45 minutes or until top is golden brown and fruit filling is bubbling up through crust.

Let cool for at least 20 minutes.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

Linked to: Sweets for a Saturday

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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Three Bean Vegetarian Chili in the Crockpot

Remember those cute little honey cornbread mini muffins I showed you last week?  Well, they're back, alongside the main dish that I served them with.  Unfortunately, I only got one picture, but I think we all know what chili looks like :)

Yes, that's a crockpot you see.  I'll bet it makes you love this even more, right?  This really was delicious - I can't wait to make it again!

Three Bean Vegetarian Chili in the Crockpot
slightly adapted from Prudence Pennywise

2 jarred roasted red peppers, drained and chopped
1 large onion, chopped
2 teaspoons cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons crushed red pepper
2 tablespoons chili powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups vegetable broth
1 1/2 cups canned pumpkin puree
1 (28 ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 (15 ounce) can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 (15 ounce) can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 (15 ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed

Add all ingredients to crockpot.  Cook for 3-4 hours on high, or 6-8 hours on low.  Garnish with cheese, sour cream, chopped scallions, diced avocado - if desired.

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Monday, September 17, 2012

Buffalo Chicken Sliders for a Virtual Baby Shower!

Happy Monday, everyone!  Hope you had a great weekend.  I did - a wonderful time with family/friends, along with a lot of exciting sports - with both of my favorite teams winning yesterday, I'm feeling the spirit.  So, the timing of this post couldn't be more perfect!

My friend Jessica, from The Jey of Cooking, is expecting her second child one month from today.  And it's a girl!  Her adorable little boy is going to be a big brother :)  So exciting!

Jey is a huge baseball fan, so what theme would be more perfect for her virtual baby shower than ballpark food?  It's an All-Star event that will have you all yearning for your favorite stadium eats!

Many of you know that I pretty much love buffalo ANYTHING.  And I think Jey does too.  So, I think she'll appreciate my contribution, which is quick, easy, delicious...perfect to eat while rooting for your home team.  I'd normally make this in the crockpot for a large crowd, but since I was only feeding myself and Frank, I made a faster version.

Jey, congratulations again...I hope we hit this virtual baby shower out of the park for you!

Buffalo Chicken Sliders
3 boneless chicken breasts, cooked
1/4 cup (approximately) Frank's Hot Buffalo Wing Sauce
1/4 cup blue cheese dressing
slider rolls

Shred cooked chicken and place in a bowl.  Add hot sauce and dressing and mix.  Taste and adjust ingredients according to your liking.  Spoon onto slider rolls and serve.

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Friday, September 14, 2012

Eggplant, Prosciutto & Cheese "Sandwiches"

Not long ago, I told you about my sister's mother-in-law and her delicious pitacella.  Nina's food was always truly amazing.  Every Christmas, she'd surprise her large crowd of guests with a different main course...goat, rabbit, quail...no matter what, you knew it was going to be special.  And don't even get me started with her lasagna.

There were many dishes of hers, however, that I wasn't fortunate enough to try while she was still with us.  I noticed a picture of one after my sister's recent trip to Italy.  She was on her biennial trip with her husband, daughters, father-in-law, and brother-in-law Tony, visiting Nina's family.  Whenever they go, they're brought back to Nina's home cooking, courtesy of her sisters and cousins.

The picture that Tony posted immediately made my mouth water.  I asked him to describe what it was, and knew right away that I needed to make it ASAP.  His cousin made it while he was in Italy, but it was a dish that he said Nina made often.  He had an idea of how she prepared it but wasn't exactly sure, so I did my best to replicate it.

Well, as expected, it was delicious!  After all, what could be bad about mozzarella and prosciutto sandwiched between juicy fried eggplant?  Especially when the king of all cheeses is involved - Parmigiano Reggiano.

I can only hope that Nina would be proud of my interpretation :)

Eggplant, Prosciutto & Cheese "Sandwiches"
1 eggplant, peeled and sliced into thin rounds
3 eggs
2 cups Italian bread crumbs
salt and pepper
3/4 cup Parmigiano Reggiano, grated, divided
12 ounces prosciutto, thinly sliced
1 log mozzarella cheese, sliced
extra virgin olive oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Crack eggs into a bowl and beat with a bit of water.  Place bread crumbs on a flat plate, add a bit of Parmigiano Reggiano, and mix.  Dip eggplant slices in egg, one at a time, letting excess egg drip off before coating both sides with bread crumbs.

Heat oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet.  Add eggplant and brown on both sides, sprinkling with a bit of salt and pepper.  Remove and place on paper towel lined plate.  Repeat process until all eggplant is cooked.

Lightly oil a baking pan.  Place eggplant on bottom.  Top each slice with a few slices of prosciutto, then mozzarella.  Top with eggplant and sprinkle Parmigiano Reggiano on top.

Bake for about 12-15 minutes, until cheese is melted.  Top with more Parmigiano Reggiano, if desired.  Serve.

Makes around a dozen "sandwiches".

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Thursday, September 13, 2012

Honey Cornbread Mini Muffins

I mentioned in a few other posts about a party our entire family had last month for our Italian cousins who were visiting while on their honeymoon.  I took a lot of pics of everyone's American contributions (everyone made American food so they got to try lots of different things!) and meant to do one big post about it, but haven't been quite as organized as I anticipated.  So, here is one of the things I made.

I found a great recipe for cornbread to go along with my crockpot 3-bean chili (coming soon, I promise!) and went with minis since we were feeding a huge crowd.  These muffins were SO delicious...a nice combo of sweet and savory goodness that can just be popped right into your mouth.

'Tis the season for soups and stews, so this recipe is coming just in time!

Honey Cornbread Mini Muffins
slightly adapted from The Neelys

1 cup yellow cornmeal
1 cup AP flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk (I used 1%)
2 eggs
1/2 stick butter, melted
1/4 cup honey

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Mix cornmeal, flour, baking powder, sugar and salt in a large bowl.  In another bowl, mix milk, eggs, butter and honey.  Add wet ingredients to dry.  Stir until just mixed.

Line or grease a mini muffin tray (24) and evenly distribute batter.  Bake for about 11-13 minutes, until golden.

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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Tortilla Española

I've shared many frittata recipes here, which are common among my Italian culture.  There's nothing easier or more versatile, especially when you have lots of delicious leftovers to use up.

I tried the Spanish version in the midst of my "how the hell do I use up all these eggs?" period.  I've had this before but never made it myself.  It was delicious, even 2 days later.  I had it for breakfast AND for dinner :)

This is perfect for brunch, when you need a few dishes to make ahead to save some time.  And, like I said before, it makes for a great dinner (or lunch) with a nice salad.  Or a sandwich!  Endless possibilities.

Tortilla Española
from Spain - On the Road Again

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 1/4 pounds waxy potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
1 onion, thinly sliced
salt and pepper
8 eggs
chopped fresh parsley for garnish

Heat oil in large non-stick pan or cast iron skillet over medium-high heat.  Allow it to get very hot, but not smoking.  Add potatoes and onion and season with salt and pepper.  Reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally.  Adjust heat if necessary so vegetables don't brown.  Cook until potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork, about 15 - 20 minutes.

Beat eggs with salt and pepper in a large bowl.  Add potatoes and onions to bowl, then pour mixture into skillet.  Spread potatoes evenly in pan and cook for about one minute, until egg mixture is set on the bottom.

Reduce heat to medium-low and cook for 20 minutes, or until quite set.  Carefully flip tortilla over (or do what I did - invert it carefully onto a large plate, then slide into pan bottom side up) and cook another 5 minutes, until set.

Flip out onto a clean plate and let rest for 5 minutes.  Add parsley and serve warm or at room temperature.

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Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Keep remembering

Yes, this post may look familiar, since it's exactly what I said one year ago today.  My feelings remain the same and I guarantee they always will.

I remember exactly what I was wearing.  A sleeveless pink knit shirt, gray pants, gray wedge sandals.

I remember the commute into work.  It was a gorgeous, sunny day.  Perfect September weather (just like today).

I remember getting the phone call minutes after it started.  And trying to continue to conduct business, not realizing just yet exactly what was happening.

I remember fighting my way out of the city, and eventually back to my place in Hoboken, right across from the river...right across from the devastation that was unfolding.

I remember the people coming off the ferries that night who were covered in white dust, and helping them find their way to buses so they could eventually get home to their loved ones. 

I remember the people who I knew and others who were lost in the buildings that I spent so much time in...in the buildings that I was scheduled to be at for a meeting at 8am on September 12th.

I remember every.single.minute. of that day.

Today marks the 11 year anniversary of when our lives changed.  And I will always remember. 

Spend today doing something happy.  Never let them get you down.

(photo from History. com)

Monday, September 10, 2012

Orzo Salad with Zucchini, Feta & Olives

As much as I love the fall, I have to remind myself that technically, it is still summer.  It reached 80 degrees yesterday (with low humidity!) so the weather is still keeping it real.

Not that it needs to be summer to enjoy some of this deliciousness.

With the addition of kalamata olives, this salad was amazing.  Make this soon!

Orzo Salad with Zucchini, Feta & Olives
adapted from Real Simple

8 ounces orzo (1/2 box)
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
3 small zucchini, thinly sliced, cut into half moons
salt and pepper
1 cup kalamata olives
2 cups crumbled feta
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill

Cook orzo according to package directions.  Drain and run under cold water to cool.

While orzo is cooking, combine oil, vinegar, red pepper and zucchini in a large bowl with a bit of salt and pepper.  Let marinate for about 20 minutes, tossing occasionally.

Add orzo, olives, feta and dill to to zucchini mixture.  Toss to combine.  Serve immediately, at room temp or cold.

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Friday, September 7, 2012

Easy Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread (What's Baking?)

Yeah, I went there...in early September!  I couldn't help it.

I wanted to bake something with Bella that I could pack as a little treat in her lunchbox, and this seemed perfect.  Actually, it WAS perfect.  She couldn't get enough of it.

I would have thrown some nuts in, but her classroom is nut free.  Next time, I'm definitely adding walnuts and keeping the bread all to ourselves here at home.

It just so happens that our What's Baking? hostess for September, Jenna (author of Jenna's Cooking Journey) asked us to back a quickbread this month.  Looks like I killed two birds with one stone :)

Dare I say - welcome, fall!

Easy Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread
from King Arthur Flour

1 cup vegetable oil
2 2/3 cups sugar
4 eggs
1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling!)
2/3 cup water
3 1/3 cups AP flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly grease two 9x5 loaf pans.

In a large bowl, beat together oil, sugar, eggs, pumpkin and water.  Add flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, nutmeg and vanilla.  Stir to combine.

Mix in chips.  Divide batter in half if you want one loaf without them, using half the amount.

Spoon batter into prepared pans.  Bake for about 70 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out of center clean.  Remove from oven and cool on rack.

Linked to:  Sweets for a Saturday

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Thursday, September 6, 2012

Chicken Piccata

Yesterday was Bella's first day of school.  I know many of you in different parts of the country have been back for a while, but not here in NJ...back to school is always after Labor Day.  

The last few weeks of summer vacation proved to be a bit challenging for us, but now we're heading back into a routine, and hopefully things will improve.  Bella LOVES school and I think she really missed it.  The fact that she was asleep by 6:30 last night is pretty good proof that she had a great time :)

Lots of moms around the country are now way busier than they have been in a few months, between school, sports, activities, and everything else that this time of year brings families.  Which makes dinners like this even more valuable.

On the table in 30 minutes, but it tastes like you spent all day slaving over a hot stove.  Score!

Chicken Piccata

4 boneless chicken breasts
1 egg
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup AP flour
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
1/2 cup chicken stock
chopped fresh parsley 

Beat egg in a small bowl with 1 tablespoon of lemon juice.  Set aside.  Mix flour and pepper in a shallow dish.  Dip chicken in egg mixture, then flour.  

Melt butter in a large skillet and brown chicken.  Add remaining lemon juice to chicken broth, then add to pan.  Cover and simmer for 20 minutes, turning chicken halfway through.  Garnish with fresh parsley, if desired.

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Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Sweet Ham & Swiss Sliders

I've been intrigued by this recipe for a long time now, so I recently tried it and took it along to a party.  What a crowd pleaser!  And it couldn't have been easier to make.

I mean, seriously, what's not to love about this?

I made a few adaptations, like using large onion rolls cut in 4, instead of slider rolls (gotta improvise when you can't find what the recipe calls for!), and I also made a batch with turkey instead of ham.  They were equally delicious :)

I think this post is perfect as far as timing goes, considering football season has begun!

Sweet Ham & Swiss Sliders
adapted from Heather Likes Food

8 large onion rolls
24 slices ham (or turkey)
16 slices swiss cheese
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
8 tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup brown sugar

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  In a 9x13 baking pan, or on a rimmed baking sheet, place bottom halves of rolls.  Top each with ham and cheese (enough so all is evenly distributed among all of the bread).  Spread a little mayonnaise on each top half roll and place on top of ham and cheese.  Make sure rolls are snug together.

In a small bowl, combine mustard, butter, garlic powder, Worcestershire sauce and brown sugar.  Mix until combined.  Pour evenly over rolls.  Cover with foil and refrigerate until ready to bake (or bake right away).

Bake covered for 10 minutes, then remove foil and bake for another 5-10 minutes or until tops are browned and cheese is melted.

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Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Happy 4th Birthday, Bella!

I can't believe another year has gone by...my baby girl keeps getting bigger and bigger, and it's happening WAY too fast!  Bella's birthday was on Sunday, and we did lots of celebrating...starting with her favorite breakfast (chocolate chip pancakes!) at her favorite diner, a day in the city, and dinner with family.  We had a great time.

Our lucky girl is having 2 parties - one for family, one for friends - later in the month.  So, there's lots more celebrating to come!  In the meantime, we invited one of her friends over to help her bake some delicious birthday cookies.

I was selected by the DailyBuzz Food Tastemaker program to participate in  the Nestle Toll House Birthday Sugar Cookies experience, and it made for a perfect pre-birthday playdate activity!

The girls had a blast helping out.  Plus, they loved seeing all the different designs on the cookies.

But most of all, they loved eating them :)  They wouldn't sit still for a second...they were so excited!

These cookies are perfect for a special birthday treat, especially when you get the kids involved!  The package comes with 24 of them, so there's plenty to go around.  Pick some up today - I found them very easily in the refrigerated section of my local supermarket.

Happy birthday to my beautiful girl!

This post is brought to you by Nestle Toll House Birthday Sugar Cookies. Bake some birthday love.

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Monday, September 3, 2012

Sage Pork Chops (Secret Recipe Club)

Happy Labor Day, everyone!  And more importantly (at least in this house), happy belated birthday to my sweet baby girl, who turned 4 yesterday!  More on that later this week.  Right now, it's down to SRC business.

My assignment this month was Mellissa's blog, A Fit and Spicy Life.  I wasn't familiar with her blog before this month, so I took a good look around to see what I had to choose from.  I also noticed that she just got married!  What a special time for her.

I chose this dish because it looked really good, plus I had pork chops ready to go.  They were delicious and perfect for a quick and easy weeknight meal.  Another great find, thanks to SRC.  Thanks, Mellissa!

Sage Pork Chops
slightly adapted from A Fit and Spicy Life

4 boneless pork chops
salt and pepper
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 onion, finely chopped
2 teaspoons fresh chopped sage
1/4 teaspoon thyme
1/2 cup white wine

Season pork on both sides with salt and pepper.  Heat oil and butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add pork and cook until browned, about 3-4 minutes per side (depending on thickness of chop).  Plate and cover loosely with foil to keep warm.

Add onion to skillet and cook until softened.  Add sage, thyme and wine.  Simmer until sauce reduces down to about 1/3 cup.  Stir in any juices in plate.  Drizzle sauce on top of pork and serve.

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