Dinner

Cheesy Frenchies

This is more than just a grilled cheese.  This is the ‘chocolate molten lava cake’ of grilled cheeses.  The Cheese Frenchie, a super crunchy, battered and fried sandwich with a cornflake exterior is stuffed with as much American cheese as humanly possible.  Resulting in just that one bite that oozes warm melted cheese everywhere!

The history of this famous 1960 recipe stems from the now long gone, small, drive-thru restaurant known as King’s Food Host, based in Lincoln, Nebraska.  They had their success in the 60’s and 70’s, branching out into other Midwest states, but after their closing the Cheese Frenchie still lived on!  Now, if you don’t make them in your own kitchen, the popular Don & Millie’s restaurant, also located in Nebraska (my home state!), can prepare them for you…just like the ones from years ago.

So given its a rainy, RAINY, Sunday afternoon, I think I will curl up on the couch with a good movie and a platter of those warm Cheese Frenchies and tomato soup!

 

The Starting Lineup

Makes 12 triangles

  • 6 slices white bread
  • 6 slices American cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1⁄2 cup milk
  • 3⁄4 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup corn flakes
  • 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • oil (for deep frying

Spread mayonnaise on bread, and use 2 slices of American Cheese each.  *ONLY American to stay true to the classic.

Cut sandwiches into triangles, cut off crust.

Combine egg, milk, flour and salt.  Dip the triangle sandwiches into egg/flour mixture.

Coat entirely with corn flake crumbs.

Deep Fry in oil at 375 degrees until golden and set on paper towel lined plate to absorb any extra oil.

Serve alongside a warm bowl of tomato soup or ketchup for dipping and a dill pickle!

CheesyFrenchies1

Chicken Cordon Bleu en Croute

Fancy title, right?  I agree (to my own question), but it’s really so easy that my mother could do it and I’m not even saying that meanly. 😉  *unlike me, she loathes the kitchen.

I have another affinity to this recipe, not just because of it’s taste, but largely in part that it was my first “1st Place” winning recipe in a magazine contest a few years back!  Yep, I received my first $check$ from this and I often wonder who else in the world has since made it in their kitchen.

Ok, on to the backstory of the famous Chicken Cordon Bleu for those not ‘in the know’…

“A cordon bleu or schnitzel cordon bleu is a dish of meat wrapped around cheese, then breaded and pan-fried or deep-fried. Veal or pork cordon bleu is made of veal or pork pounded thin and wrapped around a slice of ham and a slice of cheese, breaded, and then pan fried or baked. For chicken cordon bleu chicken breast is used instead of veal. Ham cordon bleu is ham stuffed with mushrooms and cheese.”

Now that we’re all on the same page, you will see how I fancied my version up with baking it in the puff pastry and adding a light pan sauce to it.  No messy frying involved.  Plus with it’s gussied up appearance, this make a for a great in-home date night meal or you can easily double or triple the recipe for a dinner party.

*If shallots aren’t readily available (note: they’re usually by the garlic in your produce section), you may use about a tablespoon of diced red onion + a minced garlic clove.

**The puff pastry will be located in your freezer section’s dessert aisle.  My go to is from Pepperidge Farm, fyi.

The Starting Lineup

Chicken

  • 2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 sheet puff pastry dough
  • 4 slices Swiss cheese
  • 4 thin slices ham, Black Forest ham from deli section preferred 
  • Egg wash (1 large egg, beaten with a tablespoon of water)

Pan Sauce

  • 2 tablespoons butter (1/4 stick)
  • small shallot, minced
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup chicken broth

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. Chicken: Cut each breast horizontally through the center to create a total of four pieces. Place pieces between two sheets of plastic wrap, pound gently to an even thickness, then season with salt and pepper.
3. Heat olive oil and butter in a skillet or sauté pan over medium-high heat. Place two chicken breast pieces in pan at a time and cook 2–3 minutes on each side to brown. Repeat with remaining chicken, then set aside to cool (no need to fully cook the chicken). Keep the skillet handy for further use; do not clean.
4. Cut the sheet of puff pastry dough into four squares. On a floured surface using a floured rolling pin, roll each square until doubled in size. Layer a slice of Swiss cheese, a slice of ham and piece of seared chicken on the dough diagonally and fold the dough ends over the stack to form a pocket. Turn seam side down and place on parchment-lined baking sheets. Repeat with remaining pieces of cheese, ham, chicken and pastry dough. Place two croutes on each baking sheet.
5. Brush tops with the egg wash. Place both baking sheets in oven and bake 25–30 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool about 5 minutes.
6. Sauce: About 15 minutes before the chicken is done, start the sauce. On medium-high, heat butter in the same pan used to sear the chicken. Add the minced shallot. When shallot starts to soften and brown, add the flour, stirring constantly to make a golden roux. Pour in the wine to deglaze the pan, then add the broth. Stir continuously until reduced by about half.
7. Spoon sauce onto plates and set two chicken croutes on each plate.  I like to serve our with a side of steamed or roasted asparagus.  Enjoy!

ChickenCordonBleu

 

Adobo Shrimp Primavera

If this is your first time on my site, you may have noticed that I like to take your traditional recipes and give them a twist and a spike in flavor!  Who needs hum-drum?

Though it’s technically still winter and we definitely  have our cold days and nights, we also have some quite warm days (it is bi-polar Texas after all) and I was just totally over the typical stew dinner.  So here I give you my “Adobo Shrimp Primavera”, just in time for our approaching Spring!

This alfredo has a great smoky and slightly spicy flavor from both the chipotles and the adobo seasoning, but it keeps with tradition using cream and parmesan cheese.  You can also use your favorite fresh vegetables of choice for the primavera aspect and if you don’t care for shrimp, then use chicken!  ..or hey, keep it vegetarian and enjoy the best aspect of all…that sauce!!

https://www.goya.com/en/products/adobo-with-pepper

 

The Starting Lineup

  • 1 lb large fresh or thawed shrimp
  • 1-1/2 tsp Adobo seasoning (i.e. Goya brand)
  • 16oz pasta noodles of choice
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1 yellow squash, thickly sliced
  • 6oz asparagus, cut into thirds
  • 1 cup fresh spinach
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1-2 Chipotle in Adobo peppers, finely diced + 1 Tbsp sauce (use 1 pepper for mild sauce)
  • 1 cup heavy cream (half & half ok)
  • 3/4 cup parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish

 

Place the shrimp in a bowl and toss with the Adobo seasoning, set aside.

Bring a large stock pot of salted water to a boil and cook pasta according to package directions.  Drain and set aside.

In a large non-stick pan over medium-high heat, add the oil and butter along with the squash, asparagus and spinach.  Sauté for 3-4 minutes.

Next, stir in the halved cherry tomatoes, heavy cream, diced chipotle pepper + sauce and the shrimp.  Toss and cook until shrimp are opaque, about 6-7 minutes.

Finally add in the cooked and drained pasta noodles and parmesan cheese; toss and cook until the cheese has melted, about 2-3 minutes.  Taste for more Adobo seasoning and/or salt if needed.

Serve in a large bowl along with extra parmesan cheese to garnish and warm crusty bread for soaking up the rich, slightly smoky and spicy cream sauce.  Enjoy!!

ShrimpAlfredo

Caprese Stuffed Portobello’s (w/ semi-homemade Parmesan Risotto)

In the mood for Italian food but tired of the same ol’ pasta dish? going for the “Meatless Monday”? or maybe even the gluten-free route?  Well, as always, I have a goodie that fits all of those bills!

Honestly, my reasoning for this creative dish was that my oldest son and I are mushroom fanatics and my dear husband was out of town with work (dang trains!).  The “my husband” part is important to this because he does NOT eat meals without meat.  Salads are for the meat he eats, aka cows. 😉 but I digress…

I relished at the opportunity of a meatless meal and obviously that is where the Portobello fit in!  Rich and meaty in it’s own right that pairs so well with Italian flavors!  Now for the non-heavy, gluten-laden feeling, I went with rice…and in Italian fashion, I tweaked it to a cheat-sheet risotto!

I tell ya, this will be a staple in my home from here on out!  On Mondays.  On day’s my carnivore husband is away. 😉

The Starting Lineup

Caprese Stuffed Portobello’s

  • 4 large Portobello mushrooms, “gills” scraped out of center)
  • 2 ripe Roma tomatoes, sliced 1/2″ thick and quartered
  • Fresh mozzarella (sliced, torn or small individual ball’s i.e. BelGioiosa or Galbani, etc)
  • Fresh basil, torn
  • 2+ Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
  • Balsamic reduction (i.e. FINI brand), garnish drizzle
  • Parmesan cheese, garnish

Semi-Homemade Parmesan Risotto

  • 1 box risotto (parmesan flavor if possible, i.e. Lundberg Creamy Parmesan Risotto), substitute low-sodium chicken broth/stock in place of water required
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
  • Italian flat leaf parsley, chopped for garnish

_____________________________________________________________________________________________

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, line baking sheet with foil or parchment.

“Risotto”

Prepare similar to your package directions:  Toast the Arborio rice with the 1 TBSP olive oil in a large skillet or sauce pan over medium heat for 2 minutes.  Add 2 1/2 cups chicken broth and seasoning packet to rice, stir, bring to a boil.  Reduce to a simmer, leaving uncovered for 20 minutes, until rice is tender, stirring occasionally.  Once thickened, add in the butter and parmesan cheese; fold in the parsley.  *If too thick, stir in 1/4 cup more chicken broth at a time. 

Meanwhile….

“Caprese Stuffed Portobello’s”

Place your cleaned out Portobello onto your baking sheet, hollow side up.  Drizzle with a bit of olive oil.  Layer on the fresh mozzarella cheese, followed by the sliced tomatoes, a bit of the fresh basil and a hefty pinch of salt and pepper.  Drizzle a bit more olive oil overtop.  Place in the preheated oven for 15-20 minutes, until cheese appears melty and gooey and tomatoes slightly roasted; juices appearing.

To serve:  Spoon the creamy risotto in a bowl making a slight well.  Place the roasted Caprese Stuffed Portobello overtop that well you made and sprinkle with a bit more fresh basil and a drizzle of balsamic reduction.  Enjoy!

CapreseStuffedPortobello

 

Texas Breakfast Patty Melt

Lord help me, I just cannot keep up with the overnight-oats, acai breakfast bowl brunch eaters of late.  When it’s the weekend, all I crave is some stick-to-your-ribs, hungover (remember, I said “Lord help me”), diner style goodies!  Whelp…here it is!

Speaking of diner style, I often enjoy the famed patty melt when frequented, so here I did a morning spin on it.  Also, in true Tejas fashion, I had to kick it up a bit with some yee-haw hot peppers!  All in all, I may never go back to the regular guy…seems a bit boring now.  Everyone knows I’m into the rebels of the world!…Lord help me.

The Starting Lineup

  • 8 slices Texas toast (or rye, sourdough, etc)
  • 1-1/2 lb breakfast sausage
  • 8 slices thick cut bacon, cooked crisp
  • 4 eggs, fried
  • 4 American cheese slices
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 poblano pepper, seeded chopped
  • 1-2 jalapeno peppers, sliced (seeded optional…how spicy do you like it??)
  • 4 Tbsp butter, divided
  • 2 Tbsp mayonnaise
  • Pickled jalapenos (optional)

In a large heavy bottomed skillet, melt 2 tablespoons butter over medium-low heat.  Add in the chopped onion along with the poblano and jalapeno peppers.  Allow to cook down for at least 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.  This creates the very soft, translucent patty melt style onion you’re familiar with.

Meanwhile, make 4 large, but thin patties out of the breakfast sausage.  Cook the sausage patties along with the bacon till cooked through.  Remove to paper towel lined plate.  To that same pan, cook up your eggs to you desired doneness (over-easy, over-hard, scrambled..)

Assemble Sandwiches:

Coat each slice of bread with the mayonnaise, the side that you’ll be grilling.  The mayo creates a nice “crust” when cooking.

To your 1st slice of bread, layer the cheese, sausage, onion-hot pepper mix, bacon, egg (and another slice of cheese and pickled jalapenos if desired).  Top with remaining slice of bread, again, mayo side out.

Add remaining 2 Tbsp butter to a hot, wiped-clean skillet and carefully grill each side to a golden brown perfection!  Enjoy my friends!!

TexasMelt

Pozole Verde de Pollo

I’mmm baack….with my awesome “Spanglish” in the kitchen!  Which, more often than not, means that something yummy is cooking up!  So today, mi amigos, I bring you a Carly rendition of pozole (or posole, depending what side of the tracks you’re on)!

In translation, pozole means “hominy”, which is basically a large, soft corn kernel.  This hominy is then stewed with a meat, peppers, and broth and served with various toppings for your taste bud’s enjoyment.

Now, typically, I like to make the rojo (red) version with seared pork chunks, but today I went out of my comfort zone and opted for verde (green) and chicken!  I must say, though quite different flavor profiles, this one is equally amazing!  A bit tart from the tomatillos, but the charred peppers and garlic yield that smokiness you want and they both pair wonderfully with the slightly salty broth and tender shredded chicken.

In closing, winter is not yet over (but please hurry up) and we still crave that bowl of warm soup on a cold day.  So next Domingo (that’s Sunday to my non Spanglish friends), try out this pot of yumminess!  It will not disappoint!

 

The Starting Lineup

  • 1 lb tomatillos, husked, rinsed & halved
  • 4 poblano/Anaheim chiles (you can mix and match if desired)
  • 2 jalapeno peppers
  • 6 cloves garlic, in skins
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro, with stems
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 2+ teaspoons cumin
  • 2+ teaspoons Mexican oregano
  • Kosher salt & pepper, to taste
  • 2 Tbsp canola oil
  • 2-3 lbs chicken thighs, boneless/skinless, cut into rough chunks
  • 1 white onion, diced
  • 6 cups low-sodium chicken broth/stock
  • 28oz can white hominy, drained
  • 4-8oz can chopped green chilies, drained

Garnish ideas

  • Radishes, thinly cut into matchsticks or sliced
  • Avocado, sliced or 1/2″ chunks
  • Cabbage, shredded
  • Mexican crema/ sour cream
  • Pickled onions
  • Lime wedges
  • Peppitas, toasted
  • Tortillas, warmed

Verde Sauce

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees.  Line a large baking sheet with the tomatillos (cut side down) and also place the poblano/Anaheim and jalapeno peppers along with the whole garlic cloves (still in husks) beside them.

Place your baking sheet on top rack, 6-8″ from the broiler and turn the warm oven to HI Broil.  Watch closely with oven door cracked, but allow the tomatillos to brown and soften and the peppers to bubble up and char, turning with tongs as needed.  Remove and place all of the charred peppers in a large zip lock gallon bag.  Close and allow peppers to steam for 15-20 minutes.  Once time is up, peel off the pepper’s skin and stems and scrape out the seeds from each.  You can also squeeze the roasted garlic out of their skin.

In a blender, combine 1/2 cup of chicken broth with the now roasted tomatillos (and any sheet pan juices left behind), steamed chilies and peppers, garlic cloves, cilantro, cumin,  Mexican oregano, lime juice and a pinch each of salt and pepper.  *If you like a thin broth, you can now strain this through a fine mesh sieve into a bowl and discard any extra skins/seeds.  However, I like the rustic’ness of it all and do not strain.

__________________________________________________________________________________________

In a large Dutch oven pot (with lid), heat 2 tablespoons of canola oil over medium-high heat.  Add in the cut up chicken thighs and sear and brown all sides; also add in the diced onion.

Once seared, pour the remaining chicken broth over the browned poultry to deglaze the pan; scrape up all of the brown bits on bottom of pan with a wooden spoon.  Flavor right there!

Next, pour in the Verde sauce you made in your blender along with the drained hominy and green chilies (I also like to add another teaspoon or so of cumin and Mexican oregano here again).  Stir to combine.  Bring to a boil, drop way down to a simmer and cover.  Let cook, stirring occasionally, for 2-3 hours.  Slightly shred chicken chunks, if desired.

Serve

Ladle into bowls and top with your desired garnishes, serve with warm tortillas.  Enjoy!

PozoleVerde2

 

Oaxacan Steak Quesadillas

Oaxaca (wha-ha-ka) cheese is a delightful semi-soft, stringy, cows-milk white cheese that could be best compared to mozzarella!  The Oaxaca cheese is a stretched, curd cheese that is formed into a ball, often resembling a softball in size, that you can shred for the gooiest of dishes.

All of the quick info above being said, why not make a quesadilla inspired by the southern Mexico state!  To keep with the flavors of the real SOUTH of the border, I have decided to incorporate other commonly used ingredients from Oaxaca while infusing it with a couple of my own.  Plus, I just really NEED steak in my life, but by all means, make this a veggie’dilla if you wish!

*I LOVE these marindes and always have them on hand for many dishes!https://www.goya.com/en/products/cooking-bases-sauces-and-marinades/ready-to-use-marinades

 

The Starting Lineup

STEAK (& marinade)

  • 2-3 lbs flank steak (or pounded skirt steak)
  • 1/2 cup of GOYA Marinade Naranja Agria 
  • 1/2 cup of GOYA Marinade Mojo Criollo 
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, smashed and chopped
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped with stems
  • 1 tsp cumin

QUESADILLA

  • Tortillas (fresh corn to be authentic, but flour will work and taste fust fine too)
  • 1 Tbsp canola oil
  • 1 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup white onion, chopped
  • 1 serrano/or jalapeño, finely chopped (seeding optional)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 lb fresh mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 cup fresh spinach leaves (or a few chopped Epazote leaves if possible)
  • 2 tsp kosher
  • 1 cup Oaxaca cheese, shredded or thinly sliced
  • 1 cup cheddar-jack cheese, shredded

OPTIONAL (fillers and garnish)

  • Avocado slices
  • Squash blossoms (though hard to find)
  • Pico de Gallo
  • Cilantro
  • Mexican crema or sour cream
  • Chopped cabbage/carrot slaw
  • Queso Fresco or Cotija cheese crumbles
  • Salsa/hot sauce

______________________________________________________________________________

STEAK:  In a gallon zip lock bag or baking dish/bowl, combine the meat with the marinade ingredients; toss and massage to coat.  Zip up or cover and let sit for 30 minutes on the counter or 2-3 hours in the refrigerator.

When ready to eat, remove the steak from fridge about 20-30 minutes prior to cooking.

Cook the steak (medium-high heat on the grill or cast iron pan on stove) till desired doneness.  Let rest for at least 5 minutes or more.  Cut across the grain into thin slices.

QUESADILLA:  Heat the canola oil and butter in a large sauté pan, over medium-high heat. When melted and butter is slightly browned, add in the onion and sauté about 3 to 4 minutes.  Add the serrano (or jalapeno) and chopped garlic and cook until fragrant, for about a minute.

Next add in the sliced mushrooms and let cook down for 3-5 minutes, letting the juices come out, which will in turn allow them to dry out.  Follow that with the fresh spinach leaves and salt.  Continue to stir and sauté until mushrooms and spinach have wilted and the mixture is not too wet, but not too dry.

ASSEMBLY:  Again, whether grill or stove top pan, heat to medium and place a tortilla into a dry pan and warm/char (30 seconds).

Flip tortilla over and start to layer the 2 cheeses, the sliced steak and the mushroom-spinach mixture over half of the tortilla (I also added a bit of sliced avocado to this), fold in half and cook a couple minutes until golden brown.  Flip and cook the other side till browned and cheese is gooey!

SERVE:  Place on a platter and cut into wedges (pizza cutter!!); serve with your choice of accompaniments.  I chose pico de gallo, a crunchy cabbage slaw, cilantro, Mexican crema and salsa!  Enjoy!!

OaxacanSteakQuesadilla

 

%d bloggers like this: