Monte Christo Brunch Pinwheels

A ‘Monte Christo’ brings back a lot of yummy memories.  Memories that often stem from the Blue Bayou restaurant inside the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at the famed, Disneyland!!

A Monte Cristo is a fried ham and cheese sandwich, a variation of the French croque-monsieur. In the 1930s–1960s, American cookbooks had recipes for this sandwich under such names as “French Sandwich”, “Toasted Ham Sandwich”, and “French Toasted Cheese Sandwich”. Swiss cheese is typically used.

Now, since we live in Texas and easily cannot get to one of my favorite haunts, I decided to make them at home for brunch.  Given I said the key word, “brunch”, I thought to make them into a finger food, if you will.  Fun for adults, yet easy for kiddos!  Here you get the same flavors, yet the ease of no frying involved and EVERYONE loves a dunking sauce!!

With the simpleness of preparation and lack of cleanup, I promise these will NOT disappoint!

The Starting Lineup

  • 1 (12oz) can refrigerated crescent rolls dough
  • 4 thin slices of deli ham
  • 4 thin slices of deli turkey
  • 8 slices of Swiss cheese
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
  • Raspberry preserves, warmed
  • Powdered sugar

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper and spray with nonstick.  Unroll the dough into 4 rectangles (2 triangular halves/slightly spreading out and making dough larger), and pressing together the perforations.

To each rectangle, spread a thin layer of the Dijon, followed by 2 slices of cheese (tear to fit), and 1 slice each of the turkey and ham.  Roll up, length-wise, into log form and using a serrated knife, cut into 4-5 slices.

Place each slice flat, onto the prepared baking sheet and brush the beaten egg over all the pinwheels.

Bake, for 10-12 minutes, until golden brown.  Transfer to a serving dish and drizzle with the warmed raspberry preserves, sprinkle the powdered sugar overtop and serve with the remaining preserves for dipping!  Enjoy!

MonteChristo1.jpeg

Michelada Pops

After a fun-filled weekend, we love to wake up with a “hair of the dog” sort of beverage.  Often, those are either a Mimosa or Bloody Mary, the Midwest inspired Red Beer or a south of the border, Michelada.  Now, like many first-world-problems, we sure do not  want our drink getting warm, so how do we keep it cool???…..

A Michelada (Spanish pronunciation: [mitʃeˈlaða]) is a Mexican cerveza preparada made with beer, lime juice, and assorted sauces, spices, and peppers.[1] It is served in a chilled, salt-rimmed glass.[2] There are numerous variations of this beverage throughout Mexico and Latin America.

We simply turn the flavors into a popsicle!  Yep!  Depending on your cocktail of choice, mix all of your non-alcoholic ingredients into your mold and freeze overnight.  Once you awake and need that oh so special beverage, you simply add your frozen delight to your seasoned beer and it keeps it ice cold and never dilutes the flavor, only enhances!

*If popsicle molds are not readily available, feel free to use an ice cube tray and add a few frozen cubes to each glass of lager.

**Another easy variation, is making popsicles/icecubes with freshly squeezed orange juice and adding to a wheat beer (i.e. Hefeweizen)

https://www.wayfair.com/kitchen-tabletop/pdp/fox-run-brands-frozen-ice-pop-maker-fru1290.html

The Starting Lineup

  • 2 1/2 cups Clamato juice
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce
  • A few dashes of hot sauce (i.e. Tabasco)
  • 2 tsp Tajin seasoning spice (a chile-lime-salt blend)
  • 2 tsp horseradish
  • “popsicle molds or ice cube trays)

Serve:

  • 6-8 bottles of light Mexican beer
  • Limes wedges
  • Tajin seasoning
  • Frosted pint glasses

In a large, glass measuring bowl with a spout, whisk all 7 ingredients together until combined (NOT the “serve” ingredients).

Carefully pour into popsicle molds and place in the freezer for 8 hours, or overnight.

To serve, squeeze a lime wedge around the rim of each frosted pint glasses and dip into Tajin seasoning.  Pour the beer 3/4th of the way into each pint and drop the popsicle, stick side up, into each glass.  Serve immediately.

*Again, if popsicle molds aren’t available, feel free to use an ice cube tray and add a few to each glass of lager.  Another variation, is fresh frozen orange juice with a wheat beer (i.e. Hefeweizen)

Michelada2

Honey Garlic Baked Cauliflower

When I get a hankering for some Asian flavors, this is one of my favorite go-to’s!  What I also love about this dish, is the different ways one can prepare it.  There are times that I just like it clean and simple with “naked” roasted cauliflower and a drizzle of sauce.  Other times, I will coat it with a super crunchy panko crust and toss it completely covered in sauce, then top it off with orange zest and sesame seeds.  Lot and lots of options here friends!

So when you may be in a time crunch, midweek, but still want something fun to put on the table for dinner, THIS is great!  It is healthy, sweet, savory, spicy and can be tweaked oh so easily to fit your family’s palate.  I’m sure after trying this recipe, it’ll be a back pocket staple!

The Starting Lineup

  • 1 head of cauliflower, cut into bite size florets
  • 2 cups Panko bread crumbs, plain
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced

Sauce (can be doubled for larger cauliflower heads or to fully coat vs drizzled)

  • 6 Tbsp honey
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 6 Tbsp water + 2 tsp cornstarch (whisked into a slurry)
  • 1 Tbsp low-sodium soy sauce or Tamari
  • 1/2 Tbsp sriracha or chili-garlic sauce (<–if you like more heat, like myself)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper.  Pour the Panko breadcrumbs onto the sheet in a flat layer and spray with a bit of cooking spray.  Bake for about 5 minutes until a golden brown.

Dip the cauliflower into the beaten egg and shake off any excess.  Place, one by one, onto the slightly browned Panko and gently roll and press all of the breadcrumbs onto the cauliflower.

Place back in the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes until the cauliflower is cooked and exterior is a dark, golden brown.

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While the cauliflower is cooking, you can prepare the sauce.  In a small bowl, combine the water and cornstarch, set aside.  In a small saucepan, combine all of the remaining ingredients and bring to a gentle simmer for a few seconds.  Next, whisk in the cornstarch slurry to the saucepan and keep on a simmer/whisk for a couple minutes, until it starts to thicken.  Remove from the heat and the sauce will thicken even more.

Drizzle (or coat) over your baked cauliflower bites and top with the thinly cut scallions.  Serve over rice and don’t forget those chopsticks!!

*Can be made without the panko for low-carb or gluten free/ GF Panko can be substituted as well.

**A fun addition of orange zest and sesame seeds are always tasty too.  If you really like the orange flavor, add a bit of the zest and squeeze of juice to the sauce.  

BakedHoneyCauli

Southwest Succotash

Ah, good ol’ succotash!  An American classic that has been served on supper tables for decades and, for some reason, is one of my favorite words to say.  Today though, we’re giving the southern staple quite a southwestern twist!  The added ingredients of avocado, black beans and jalapeno are balanced out with a tangy and sweet vinaigrette.  Now, by all means, please add in the original versions most popular ingredient, lima beans (I really do like them).  Though, I suppose they can be optional and given there are still beans in the mix, no one will be the wiser…

 

The Starting Lineup

  • 2 cups cooked/grilled corn, fresh or frozen *grilled fresh is ideal
  • 2 avocados, cut into 1/2″ cubs
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 cup finely diced red onion
  • 1 cup black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped 
  • 1/2 cup frozen, thawed lima beans (optional)

Vinaigrette

  • 3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Juice of 1 fresh lime, plus zest
  • 2 Tablespoons honey
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper, each or to taste

 

In a large bowl, combine the prepared vegetables and beans.  In a small separate bowl, whisk together the vinaigrette ingredients.  Make sure to taste for seasoning (i.e. more salt? pepper?  Maybe an added tablespoon of honey?)

Pour the dressing over the corn salad, toss to coat and chill in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours.  Serving suggestion:  Plate under grilled chicken, steak or fish or serve with tortilla chips.

SouthwestSuccotash

Creamy Bacon and Pea Pasta (one-pot)

When you combine the flavors of smoky and salty bacon with sweet green peas and creamy pasta, something magical happens.  Well, magic may be a strong word, but at the very least something your taste buds would deem incredible!

This is a neat recipe, because you can take such simple everyday ingredients and elevate them into a dinner worthy of a party…aka “dinner party” ;).  Plus, all it takes is one large pot, yes just one, and about 30 minutes of your time.  It just can’t be beat!

The Starting Lineup

  • 8oz penne pasta
  • 6 slices thick cut bacon
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup peas, frozen
  • 1 cup mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 Tablespoons cream cheese
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup (8oz) sour cream
  • 1/4 parmesan cheese

In a large pan, fry the bacon over medium-high heat until it is crisp.  Set the bacon aside and remove all but 2 tablespoons of the bacon grease.

Next, add in the mushrooms and onions to the pan and sauté until they begin to soften.  Add the garlic and continue to cook for 1-2 minutes, followed by the chicken stock, milk and pasta to the same pan.  Bring to a low boil, cooking for 7-10 minutes (covered) or until pasta is al dente.

Add in the cup of frozen peas to the pasta and gently stir until they have defrosted.  Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the cream cheese and sour cream.  Crumble the crisped bacon overtop and gently fold into the pasta.  Salt and pepper taste.  To serve: sprinkle shredded parmesan cheese overtop.  Enjoy!

CreamyBacon&amp;PeaPasta

Slow Cooker White Bean & Sausage Soup

Due to the wacky weather of a Texas Spring, it fortunately still affords us the opportunity to enjoy a warm bowl of soup.  Now, I won’t delve into the rich, hearty, creamy versions that I indulge in come Fall and Winter.  I will, however, sit down to a light broth style.

This meal is so stinkin’ easy as you simply cook and sauté your sausage and onions and then it all goes into the pot!…or the slow-cooker so to speak.  *In many, if not all, slow-cooker meals, I advise always sautéing you’re veggies prior.  Your dish will have SO much more flavor!  Same goes with meatloaf, precook your veggies first people, do not add them to your meat blend raw!…I digress…

So back to THIS bowl of light and flavorful soup, my other tips and/or advice is to use the hot Italian sausage, not the mild or the sweet.  If you insist on the others, so be it, but I promise this soup is anything but spicy.  Also, please drain and rinse your beans with a fine mesh sieve or colander.  Removing the extra starch the beans contain in the can will ensure a light broth.

Now, I suggest if you’re in a slump for what to make this week, please try this out!  You can serve it with warm bread and butter, a half sandwich or a light salad… and life will be good.

The Starting Lineup

  • 4 (15oz) cans of white cannellini (or great white northern) beans, drained & rinsed
  • 2 (32oz) cans or boxes of low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 (14.5oz) cans of Italian-style diced tomatoes
  • 3 cups spinach leaves, fresh/bagged
  • 2 lbs of hot Italian sausage, casings removed
  • 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • Salt & pepper, to taste
  • Fresh basil, torn (garnish)
  • Parmesan cheese, grated (garnish)

In a skillet on your stovetop, over medium heat, brown the Italian sausage with the onion, garlic and a hefty pinch of salt and pepper.

Drain and add the cooked meat mixture to your slow cooker along with the beans, chicken broth, tomatoes and spinach leaves.  Set the slow cooker on HIGH for 3-4/LOW for 5-6 hours.

To serve:  Ladle into bowls and top with a bit of the fresh basil and parmesan cheese and serve with warm crusty bread.  Enjoy!

WhiteBeanSausageSoup

Balsamic Strawberry Chicken Quesadilla

I’m quite the advocate of a great balsamic reduction.  No, not the vinegar (though good where it is needed), but the rich, slightly sweet glaze.  Now, while I mainly consume it over pillow-like soft slices of mozzarella sprinkled with coarse salt, I felt I needed to broaden both the sauce’s and my horizon.  With that being said, I have concocted the easiest hand-held, Springtime delight!

Likely from my raising in Arizona, I am quite partial to the quesadilla, so I decided what better than to “stuff” a few of my favorite light and fresh ingredients into a tortilla and grill up!

Man oh man, when I tell ya that the popular Mexican favorite doesn’t have to contain south-of-the-border ingredients after all!  It was everything sweet, tangy, crunchy and fresh with the addition of fruit and herbs, vegetables, goat cheese and pecans…last but not least, the balsamic reduction to bring it all together!

*If you like it extra, ooey-gooey cheesy, please feel free to add mozzarella as well! 🙂

The Starting Lineup

  • 2 large chicken breasts, boneless and skinless
  • 6 flour tortillas (regular, spinach, low-carb, whole wheat, etc)
  • 1 pint strawberries, hulled and quartered
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 cup fresh spinach leaves
  • 1/3 cup pecans, chopped
  • 4oz goat cheese, crumbled
  • 1 (8oz) bottle Balsamic Reduction (not to be confused with vinegar)
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • Salt & pepper, to taste

In a Ziploc bag, combine the extra virgin olive oil, a hefty pinch of salt and pepper and 1/4 cup of the balsamic reduction with the chicken.  Zip up, massage to coat and set aside for 20-30 minutes to marinate.

Grill the chicken, until cooked through and the juices run clear; thinly slice.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat with the butter.  On each tortilla, layer an even amount of the cooked chicken, strawberries, spinach leaves, pecans and goat cheese crumbles.  Fold in half and cook each side of the quesadilla until golden brown in color.

To serve:  Slice into wedges with a pizza cutter, sprinkle with a bit more fresh basil and drizzle the remaining balsamic reduction overtop, enjoy!

quesadillaStrawBasilChx

 

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