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Saturday, January 15, 2011

When neighbors come bearing gifts...

I think it's safe to say that Frank's third love is his snowblower.  He and our male friends are always talking about them...who has the best one, whose snow removal technique is most efficient, etc.  There aren't too many "guy things" I have a hard time understanding, but this one definitely boggles my mind.  But hey, as long as my driveway and walkway are clear and I don't have to touch a shovel, I'll just smile and look pretty...

Our neighbor (a restaurant owner) is obviously very much in love with Frank's snowblower too, because he gave us what you see below as a "thank you" to Frank for helping him out with his walkway and sidewalk.

That would be a big ol' honkin loaf of seriously awesome Italian bread, and a delicious loaf of raisin walnut.  Mmmm.

So, what's the saying?  When neighbors give you bread, make...panini!  (and overnight french toast casserole for tomorrow, mom-in law is coming for breakfast)

This bread totally brought me back to Sunday dinners at my grandparents'.  I mean, of course I've had amazing bread like it a million times since then (for those not from this area, you just don't get better bread - or bagels - anywhere else) but while I was cutting it, it just brought back memories of Nonno.

Earlier in the day I threw together a crockpot soup that I've made before, not knowing what else we'd be having...so it doesn't necessarily sound like it "goes" with the Cuban panini (well, really a pressed sandwich) that Frank requested...but they both tasted damn good, which is really all that matters.

Here's the soup:

Mushroom Barley Soup
1 cup barley, rinsed
1 package button mushrooms (8 oz), sliced
12 baby carrots (approx), chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 large onion, sliced
4 garlic cloves, chopped
8 cups beef broth
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 bay leaves
2 teaspoons dry thyme
salt and pepper to taste

Add all ingredients to the crockpot and stir to combine.  Cook on high for 3.5 hours (***this may vary depending on your crockpot - mine is a 6 qt. Cuisinart***).

Remove bay leaves.  Spoon into bowl, add fresh parsley and serve.

Serves 6-8.

And now, the very-unattractive-looking-but-oh-so-delicious sandwich:

Cuban Pressed Sandwich
swiss cheese
roast pork ***see recipe below***
chopped dill pickles
bread.  REALLY good bread.

Slice the bread and put mustard on both sides.  Add ham, cheese, pork and pickles.  Close sandwich, lightly butter each side, and place on griddler.  Slowly close lid and cook for 5-7 minutes, or until bread has browned and ingredients have combined.

Cuban Style Pork Tenderloin
adapted from Rachael Ray

1 pork tenderloin, trimmed
Extra virgin olive oil 
1 small onion, minced
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 lime, zested
1 clementine, zested
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Coat tenderloin with oil. Combine onion, garlic, citrus zest, salt, and pepper and pat evenly onto the tenderloin. 
Heat a large skillet. Sear tenderloin on all sides. Place in hot oven and roast for about 25 minutes. 

Earlier today I announced the winner of my second giveaway!  Spread the word and have your friends "like" my Facebook page so that we can hit 350 fans and announce the next one.  
Thanks for all of your support so far...today is exactly one month since I started my blog and I've been having a blast!  Hope you're all enjoying it as well :)

Linked to: Saturdays with Rachael Ray hosted by Taste and Tell

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At January 15, 2011 at 9:21 PM , Blogger Lisa said...

I think I'm going to make the soup this week! Looks delish!

At January 16, 2011 at 2:35 PM , Blogger Kristin said...

THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!! How did you know I have been looking for a good Mushroom Barley soup???? I'm all ready to make this during the week now!

At January 18, 2011 at 3:59 PM , Blogger kecarr said...

YEAH :) My husband & i LOVE the Cuban sandwich at Cheesecake Factory. This recipe is perfect- I think I have my menu for tomorrow night. I love your blog- you helped me realize how much I miss cooking- I made a great lasagna Sat night for us & my mother.

At November 8, 2011 at 12:17 PM , Anonymous Jenna said...

What a great neighbor gift! I wish my neighbors gave me loaves of gourmet bread. =)


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