Monday, April 29, 2013

Buffalo Chicken Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

Someone please tell me where the time has gone.  Here we are at the end of April, already!  This freaks me out a little bit as I also realized this week, I'll hit the double digits until Baby Boy is estimated to make his entrance.  Whoa!  Good thing we already bought his infant carseat, crib (needs to be built still), and painted his nursery this past weekend.  If he decides to make an early entrance (please don't!!) at least we're somewhat prepared.  Still a million and a half things to do, though.

Anyway, with April being National Grilled Cheese Sandwich Month, I wanted to share one more grilled cheese recipe after already having shared my unorthodox Grilled Cheese Donut.

This one is still not traditional but at least all in the savory camp.  If you're a buffalo chicken lover, this recipe is for you.  The sauce is surprisingly sweet and has just enough spice to call it "buffalo".  I had some leftover day old bread from Jimmy John's so my sandwiches were tinyyy and took me longer than I'd like to butter and put the (yummy!) white sauce.  Still, the finger sandwich size made them extra fun to eat and would be good for tiny children hands :).  If you follow the recipe as written, you'll get 2 regular-sized sandwiches.

One Year Ago: Southwestern Stuffed Sweet Potatoes
Three Years Ago: Summer Corn and Vegetable Soup

Buffalo Chicken Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

Buffalo Chicken Grilled Cheese Sandwiches


For the White Sauce
  • 2 tablespoons non-fat Greek yogurt
  • pinch of sugar
  • pinch of garlic powder
For the Buffalo Sauce
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup Frank’s hot sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
For the Sandwiches
  • 3/4 cup cooked and shredded chicken (from about 1 small chicken breast)
  • 2 tablespoons minced red onion
  • 2 tablespoons minced celery
  • 4 1/2-inch thick slices Italian bread
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 4 slices cheddar cheese
  1. To make the white sauce: In a small bowl, stir together the yogurt, sugar, garlic powder and a pinch each of salt and pepper.  This can be made ahead if desired and refrigerated.  
  2. To make the buffalo sauce: Melt the butter in a small saucepan set over medium-low heat. Add the hot sauce, brown sugar and vinegar and stir until combined. Add the shredded chicken, red onion, and celery and toss to coat. If the chicken was cold, keep the pan over low heat and let it warm through a bit.
  3. Lightly butter one side of two slices of the bread. Flip the slices over and lay them butter side down on your work surface. Spread half of the white sauce the remaining non-buttered side of the bread. Top each slice with a slice of cheese and half of the chicken mixture and then place the remaining cheese slices over the chicken. Lightly butter one side of the two remaining slices of bread, then flip them over and use the other half of the white sauce to coat the unbuttered side. Top each sandwich with a slice of this bread to finish it (buttered side facing out).
  4. Heat a heavy-bottomed skillet or grill pan over medium heat. Place the sandwiches butter side down in the pan and cook until the bread is golden brown and toasted. Flip the sandwiches using a spatula and continue to cook on the other side until the bread is golden brown. Use the spatula to compress the sandwich as it cooks on the second side. Remove the sandwiches from the pan and let them rest for a minute or two, then slice in half (if desired) and serve.
Source: Barely modified from Tracey's Culinary Adventures

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Spicy Beef and Basil Vermicelli Noodles

By facebook fan request,  I'm sharing today recipe.  I know I said I'd share it on Friday but things got a little hectic in my household.  I'll make it up to you all by sharing a decadent dessert next week, how's that? :)

This dish is where worlds collide and have a balance of ying and yang.  There's hot and spicy meat mixed together with crispy, cool raw vegetables.  The lime gives it a fresh pop while the fish sauce gives it savory oomph.  It has AMAZING flavor overall and is a bit unique to my tongue.  The closest thing that I've eaten is Singapore Mei Fun (another favorite Asian noodle dish of mine!).

This dish is more meat than noodle but you can always adjust that to your tastes.  Personally I've been advised by my doctor to make sure baby gets plenty of protein and am still watching my carbs because I reallyyyy don't want to develop gestational diabetes or have to deal with the glucose test again.  That was awful!

I highly recommend you give this one a try if you're looking for something different!

One Year Ago: Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Stuffed Cinnamon Rolls and Stuffed Crust Pizza
Three Years Ago: Slow Cooker Carnitas
Four Years Ago: Szechuan Chicken

Spicy Beef and Basil Vermicelli Noodles

Spicy Beef and Basil Vermicelli Noodles

  • 1 pound lean ground beef (really, any ground meat would work...I had turkey and pork so that's what I ended up using this time) 
  • 1 Tbs. Chinese 5-Spice (Start with this much but add more to taste if you like a spicier, more pungent flavor!)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbs. freshly minced ginger
  • 3 Thai chiles, minced
  • 1 zucchini, cut into a small dice
  • 1 Tbsp fish sauce
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, cut into a small dice
  • 2 scallions, chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • 1/2 cup freshly chopped basil
  • 1 lime
  • 3 oz vermicelli noodles
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  1. Cook the vermicelli noodles in boiling water, then drain and rinse under cool water.  Set aside.
  2. While the noodles are boiling, brown the beef in a medium skillet until cooked through. Drain most of the grease.  Add the Chinese 5-Spice and a pinch of salt and pepper and sauté another minute. Add the garlic, ginger and chiles, sauté another minute.
  3. Add the zucchini and sauté another 2 minutes. Add the fish sauce and toss to combine. Add additional salt to taste.
  4. In a large bowl, combine the cooked vermicelli noodles, the beef mixture, diced red bell pepper, basil, parsley, scallions and a heavy squeeze of lime juice. Toss to combine. Serve with more lime slices if desired.
Source: Barely modified from Bev Cooks

Monday, April 22, 2013

SRC: Peanut Butter Cup Bars

This month's Secret Recipe Club assignment comes from Mele Cotte which apparently means "Baked Apple" in Italian.  I learned something new!  And I am so extremely glad to have found Christina's blog.  She has the most amazing looking desserts which made it oh-so-hard to pick a recipe this month.

I ended up letting my husband pick the recipe and no surprise that it involved his favorite combination of flavors...peanut butter and chocolate!  What made me happy was the fact that this recipe came together ridiculously quickly and easily.  All it requires is melting the ingredients on the stove top, pouring it into a pan, and allowing it to set in refrigerator.  Perfect for the novice chef or busiest of people looking to impress.

The concept is a peanut butter cup but in bar form.  It delivered!  My husband originally told me to take the pan of treats to work but after one taste, he changed his mind and hoarded them.  My father-in-law said it was the best "fudge" he has ever eaten and happily went for seconds.  What set these apart for me was the slightly crunchy texture that came from the graham crackers.  Who would've known?

Oddly, I don't have an 8x8 pan in my kitchen so used a 9x9.  This works fine but results in a thinner bar and more squares (yah!).  The thinner bar I actually enjoyed because any thicker it would be too rich for me to enjoy.  However, the increased surface area made my chocolate layer suffer slightly.  In the future, I'd increase the amount of chocolate layer and have noted these changes below.  In the spirit of being lazy and not wanting to buy a bag of peanut butter chips just for decorating, I used straight-up peanut butter that was melted slightly in the microwave.  Delicious and pretty, too!

One Year Ago: Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Stuffed Cinnamon Rolls (my first Secret Recipe Club time flies!)
Two Years Ago: Churro Bites
Four Years Ago: Grandma B's Spaghetti Meatballs

Peanut Butter Cup Bars

Peanut Butter Cup Bars

  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 3/4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 cup smooth peanut butter
  • 3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips (or chopped chocolate)
  • 2 Tablespoons smooth peanut butter
  1. Line a 9x9-inch square pan with foil, leaving enough to hang over the sides.  Butter the foil and set aside.
  2. In a medium saucepan, melt the 3/4 cup of butter over low heat. Once melted, remove from heat and stir in the powdered sugar. Add 1 cup peanut butter and graham cracker crumbs and stir until combined and smooth. Transfer the peanut butter mixture into the prepared pan, even out and smooth the top with a rubber spatula or by tapping it gently on the counter top.
  3. In the saucepan, melt the 1/3 cup unsalted butter. Add the chocolate and stir until almost completely melted, remove from heat, and continue stirring until completely smooth. Pour over the peanut butter layer and smooth into an even layer using a rubber spatula.
  4. Put the remaining 2 Tablespoons of peanut butter to a zip lock bag.  Microwave for about 30 seconds.  Snip the corner of the bag and drizzle in a decorative pattern on top of the chocolate layer.
  5. Refrigerate the Peanut Butter Cup Bars at least 30 minutes to set. Remove from the pan by lifting the foil and place on a cutting board. Cut into 25 bars (5 rows by 5 columns). Store in an airtight container.
Source: Slightly adapted from Mele Cotte

Secret Recipe Club

Friday, April 19, 2013

Grand Prize Winner for My 4th Blogiversary Giveaway!

Now it's the moment that you've all been waiting for...the announcement of my Grand Prize Winner.  I hope that you've enjoyed my blog over the past 4 years as I really do appreciate all my readers.   I also hope that you had fun with this contest and the prizes I offered.

The Grand Prize winner is Heather K. of the blog Hezzi-D's Books and Cooks!  She most enjoyed my Southern Comfort (Drunken) Caramel Apple Pie.  That one is a definite goodie and I'm salivating just thinking about it.  I will be emailing you later today to get your address.

Thanks and Happy Friday, everybody!  I'll be back on Monday with a Secret Recipe Club blog reveal!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Winner #3 for My 4th Blogiversary Giveaway

The final second prize winner is Angela L!  She thought the oreo cake would be amazing and will receive whichever prize has not yet been claimed.  Thank you so much for reading, Angela!

For everyone else who entered, don't fret yet because you're still in the running for the GRAND PRIZE cookbook.  That winner will be drawn tomorrow!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Winner #2 for My 4th Blogiversary Giveaway

Today I drew winner #2.
Her name is Arla H.
Is that you?

I'll be emailing you to get your address and prize preference (cookies or chili mix).

For everyone else, stay tuned for 2 more prize draws on Thursday and Friday!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Winner #1 for My 4th Blogiversary

First winner is Christopher S. who said the beef stew was his favorite recipe!  I will be emailing you shortly to get your address so I can mail you your chocolates.

Stay tuned the rest of the week for the rest of the winners...including the GRAND PRIZE on Friday!

Friday, April 12, 2013

Grilled Cheese Donut

Happy National Grilled Cheese Day!

Today I'm sharing a sight to behold.  It's no ordinary grilled cheese.  It's an's a dessert.  It's a grilled cheese DONUT!

Instead of bread, the cheddar cheese is sandwiched between two Krispy Kreme doughnuts.  It's sweet, it's savory, it's one of the most amazing inventions ever.  I like to use Krispy Kremes because they have the softest and fluffiest melt-in-your-mouth texture but any yeasted glazed doughnut will work.  I'll admit I was pretty grossed out when I realized I was buttering a glazed doughnut but how else are you supposed to get that signature grilled bread texture?

The credit for the concept goes to Tom+Chee, a local Cincinnati joint that specializes in a menu of just grilled cheese and tomato soup!  It's now nationally known after being featured on Man v. Food and Amazing Eats.

What's your favorite grilled cheese?

Also, have you entered my 4th blogiversary giveaway?  4 prizes at stake and the rafflecopter ends soon!

Two Years Ago: Banana Split Cupcakes and Chinese Steamed Fish
Three Years Ago: Blueberry Citrus Cake
Four Years Ago: Crockpot Turkey and Cake Balls (Truffles)

Grilled Cheese Donut

  • Glazed doughnut (I prefer Krispy Kreme brand)
  • Unsalted butter
  • Sliced sharp cheddar cheese
  • Salt
  1. Heat a large skillet or griddle on the stove.
  2. Cut doughnut in half and lightly butter each side on the non-glazed surface.  Place one doughnut half butter side down then top with a slice of cheese (on the glazed side) and then sprinkle with a crank of freshly ground sea salt (a small pink of regular salt will also work).  Place the other doughnut half on top.  The buttered sides should both be facing outward.
  3. Grill on heated skillet or griddle. Flipping and removing when desired doneness is achieved and cheese is melted.
  4. Enjoy hot!
Source: Inspired by Tom + Chee

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

4th Blogiversary Giveaway and Chocolate Oreo Poke Cake

Four years ago today I started this blog.  Honestly, I can't believe it!

Cooking for me started in college about six or seven years ago (eep!) when I was living on my own without a meal plan and I needed a way to feed myself.  A few years later I started this blog as a way to collect and share my favorite recipes with friends and family.  If you want to read the full story about me, there's a link called "About Me" (how about that!) at the top of the page.

I'd say it was only in the past one to two years that I started taking this blog more seriously and began to network with other food bloggers and try to make my photos prettier.  Honestly, that's tough when you work full-time and are racing to get dinner on the table and have a hungry husband not patient enough to get that food photo staged justttt right.  I'm making a better effort but realize I will never be a professional photographer and that's okay by me :).

So back to my celebration.  Today I'm sharing a super simple cake.  Seriously, anybody can make it.  And that's kind of the point I want to make is that even the most inexperienced person can be inspired to pick up a recipe and follow it to create something delicious.  Heck, that's how my husband got started with his now infamous Peanut Butter Cup Brownie Bottom Cheesecake!

It's not my best food photography and that's to be expected because it was taken inside of a dimly lit restaurant when I brought it for my brother's birthday dinner in the dead of Winter.  I know that the days when I feel like I've created better pictures are ones where there's good light - on the weekends or in the Summer evenings.  I'll even admit that the recipe is really just doctored cake mix.  But no one has to know that because all they'll taste is how extremely delicious and moist it is :).

Now for the giveaway part. Four years of blogging means four prizes to celebrate!  I have one grand prize: a custom Tastebook filled with 100 recipes that have been featured on my blog. This was suggested by a number of my facebook fans so I hope that you enjoy it!  I'll also have three second prizes featuring some of my favorite local foods.  This was also a suggestion by my fans.  See, I really do do all of this for you!!

You can enter to win below and then next week, I'll pick second prize winners on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.  The grand prize winner will be announced on Friday!  So don't delay and join in my celebration!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Chocolate Oreo Poke Cake

Chocolate Oreo Poke Cake

  • 1 box Devil’s Food cake mix
  • Oreos, roughly chopped (you’ll need almost an entire package)
  • 1 large packet instant Oreo pudding
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 small tub Cool Whip 
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and grease a 9x13 baking dish.
  2. Prepare the devil’s food cake as directed on box; stir in a large handful of the chopped Oreos. Pour batter into a prepared dish and bake for about 30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  3. Combine the milk and Oreo pudding mix in a medium-sized bowl and whisk until smooth.
  4. While the cake is still warm, use a chopstick or the end of a wooden spoon to poke holes all over the top of the cake.  Quickly pour the pudding over the cake and spread evenly so it will soak into all of the holes. Top with more chopped Oreos. 
  5. Allow cake to cool completely. Spread the Cool Whip over the top of the cake and sprinkle with more chopped Oreos. Refrigerate for at least an hour.
Source: Sing for Your Supper 

Monday, April 8, 2013

Chicago-Style Deep Dish Pizza

It was our turn to host dinner club and we chose to bring back an oldie but goodie theme...Restaurant Copycats!  Last time we contributed Outback's Blooming Onion with Dipping Sauce and as a bonus I made some Clone of Cinnabon cinnamon rolls.  Our friends made Carraba's Chicken Bryan, P.F. Chang's Chicken Lettuce Wraps among others and it was by far one of the best dinner clubs because it was like having the best of what every restaurant had to offer.

Oddly enough, when it came time to pick the main dish that I was going to serve, I was at a loss as to what to make!  So I asked my wonderful facebook fans for advice.  Fans suggested everything from Cheesecake Factory's Cajun Chicken Pasta to Olive Garden's Chicken Scampi to Outback's Alice Springs Chicken and more.  All excellent ideas and then it dawned on me that there was one recipe I had bookmarked long long ago that I kept seeing on multiple websites and that would fit the bill.

Chicago-Style Deep Dish Pizza made famous by restaurants like Uno's Chicago Grill and Giordano's and Lou Manalti's.  There's even local takes such as Chi-nnati's Chicago-Style Pizza in Cincinnati.  Now, I won't get into an argument on whose pizza is best, whether Chicago-style means just deep dish or stuffed, or whether corn meal goes IN the crust or not because in the end, all that matters is that this particular recipe is pretty awesome!

I created one cheese pie and another with pepperoni.  There are a number of pizza aficionados in the group (with my husband and our friends Daniel and Scott).  The boys agreed this was pass-along-the-recipe-please worthy pizza and better than some of those that we bought in restaurants.

First of all, I LOVE that it uses a plain 9-inch round cake pan to make this.  No fancy equipment needed!  The crust is thick, buttery, and full of airy pockets from the laminating process (don't let it scare you and check out step-by-step photos in Brown Eyed Baker's post; it's easier than it seems!).  The simple homemade sauce is chunky and full of flavor.  And the cheese, well, you cannot go wrong with cheese and I was told this was just the right ratio of crust to cheese to sauce for a deep dish pizza.

Tomorrow is my 4th blogiversary so come back for a sweet (literally!) recipe and giveaway in celebration.  Then on Friday, I pay homage to National Grilled Cheese Day with another recipe copycat that is so radical you won't want to miss it!

In the meantime, if you can't get enough copycat recipes, be sure to check out my copycat label!  I make sure each post is tagged with key words to make it easier for you to find recipes with similar ingredients and/or themes.  You can find these tags at the bottom of each post or the full list can be found on the right side bar below the Archive section.

Chicago-Style Deep Dish Pizza

Chicago-Style Deep Dish Pizza


For the Dough:
  • 3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 1 1/4 cups water, room temperature
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon + 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
For the Sauce:
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup grated onion
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1/4 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh basil
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • Crushed red pepper, to taste (optional)
For the Toppings:
  • 1 pound (4 cups) mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • Pepperoni, Italian sausage, mushrooms, onions, green peppers...whatever you want to add inside if you like to load your pizza with toppings.  Personally, I'm a purist!
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese 
  1. To Make the Dough: In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, salt, sugar, and yeast. Add water and melted butter.  Using a dough hook, mix on low speed until fully combined, 1 to 2 minutes.  Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl occasionally if needed.  Increase speed to medium and knead until dough is glossy and smooth and pulls away from sides of bowl, 4 to 5 minutes. If you do not have a mixer, you could use a food processor or knead by hand. Coat a large bowl with 1 teaspoon olive oil. Transfer dough to bowl and turn to coat in oil. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until nearly doubled in volume, 45 to 60 minutes.
  2. To Make the Sauce: While dough rises, melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, oregano, and salt; cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid has evaporated and onion is golden brown, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in tomatoes, sugar, and crushed red pepper flakes if desired.  Increase heat to high and bring to a simmer then lower heat to medium-low and simmer until reduced to about 2½ cups, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat then stir in the basil and olive oil.  Season with salt and pepper.
  3. To Laminate the Dough.  Turn the dough out onto a clean dry work surface and roll into a 15x12-inch rectangle. Spread the softened butter over the surface leaving a ½-inch border along the edges. Starting at the short end, roll the dough into a tight cylinder. With seam side down, flatten the cylinder into an 18x4-inch rectangle. Cut rectangle in half crosswise. Working with one half, fold into thirds like a business letter; pinch seams together to form ball. Repeat with remaining half. Return balls to oiled bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and let rise in refrigerator until nearly doubled in volume, 40 to 50 minutes. Meanwhile, adjust oven rack to lower position and preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  4. To Bake the Pizzas: Coat two 9-inch round cake pans with 2 tablespoons olive oil each. Transfer 1 dough ball to work surface and roll out into a 13-inch circle. Transfer dough to the pan by rolling the dough loosely around a rolling pin and unrolling into pan. Lightly press dough into pan, working into corners and 1 inch up sides. If dough resists stretching, let it relax for 5 minutes before trying again. Repeat with remaining dough ball.
  5. For each pizza, sprinkle 2 cups mozzarella evenly over surface of dough. If you're using any toppings, layer them now on top of the cheese. Spread 1¼ cups tomato sauce over the cheese (or toppings) and sprinkle 2 tablespoons Parmesan over sauce. 
  6. Bake until crust is golden brown, 20 to 30 minutes. Remove pizza from oven and let rest 10 minutes before slicing and serving.

Source: Cook's Illustrated, January-February 2010 as seen on and adapted by Brown Eyed Baker

Friday, April 5, 2013

Asparagus and Ham Stuffed Potatoes

Have you ever cooked a meal using just your microwave?  No, I'm not talking about TV dinners here.  I'm talking about a home-cooked from scratch meal.

Today's recipe was the perfect way to use up my remaining Easter ham meat and it was sooooo easy because it was made (almost) entirely in the microwave.  If you don't have leftover ham, you could easily use lunch meat, ham steak, or buy some of that pre-diced ham.  The whole meal is on the table in about 30 minutes and has a good mix of carbs, veggies, meat, and dairy.  Talk about getting in the entire food pyramid!

Honestly I was surprised by how much I loved these.  Just like these potatoes looked visually bursting at the seams, they were also bursting with powerful flavor bits.  I can only imagine the possibilities of this base recipe with other fillings - cheddar, broccoli and chicken; steak, caramelized onions, and blue cheese?  Oh the possibilities of quick, wholesome meals are endless!

I made a few modifications.  The biggest being substituting Greek yogurt for the sour cream.  The nutritional swap is awesome and your tastebuds won't know the difference.  I added more of it and the cheese because I love a creamy potato. For an extra punch, I added parmesan to the topping.  Divine!

Two Years Ago: Spaghetti and Meatballs
Three Years Ago: It was a breakfast themed dinner club with Country Fried Steak and a Belgian Waffle Bar with Strawberry Topping, Pancake Syrup, and more then rounded out with easy Bacon Egg and Toast Cups.

Asparagus and Ham Stuffed Potatoes

Asparagus and Ham Stuffed Potatoes
  • 4 medium russet potatoes (about 8 ounces each) 
  • 1/2 bunch asparagus, trimmed of woody stems and cut into 1/2-inch pieces 
  • 1 cup diced ham 
  • 3/4 cup fat-free Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup shredded Swiss cheese, divided
  • 4 Tablespoons shredded parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh chives or green onions, divided 
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt 
  • 1/4 teaspoon white or black pepper 
  1. Use a fork to pierce potatoes all over. Microwave on MEDIUM, turning the potatoes once or twice, until soft, about 20 minutes. 
  2. Meanwhile,steam asparagus in a steamer basket on the stove until just tender, 2 to 3 minutes. 
  3. Combine the steamed asparagus with ham, Greek yogurt, 3/4 cup Swiss cheese, 6 tablespoons chives or green onions, salt and pepper in a bowl. 
  4. When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, cut off the top third then gently scoop out the flesh, leaving enough to keep the sides intact; Combine with the ham mixture.
  5. Place the potato shells in a microwave-safe dish and evenly divide the ham mixture among them. (They will be very well stuffed.) Top each stuffed potato with 1 tablespoon of the remaining Swiss cheese and 1 tablespoon of the Parmesan.
  6. Microwave on HIGH until the filling is hot and the cheese is melted, 2 to 4 minutes. Garnish with the remaining chives or green onions.  If desired
Source: Modified from Eating Well

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Steak, Asparagus, and Chimichurri Pasta

Is it Spring, yet?

I'm still waiting for the time where delicate flowers begin to poke their heads out of the ground and start to bloom.  Fat robins hatch their young and begin to chirp. Fresh produce can be found and it becomes warm enough to begin grilling again.

Steak, Asparagus, and Chimichurri Pasta

What I have to share with you today is a dish that envelopes the concept of Spring to me.  Fresh grilled steak slices covered in a light and flavorful chimichurri sauce.  Tossed with bright green asparagus and pasta. It's fresh, healthy, and can be thrown together in a pinch!  For those that are on Clean Eating diets, you could easily adapt this recipe to use 100% whole grain pasta.

In case you've never had chimichurri before and are not sure what to expect, I call it Green Goodness.  It's essentially the Argentine version of pesto.  If you love garlic and herbs, you'll love this!

Two Years Ago: Fish Tacos

Steak, Asparagus, and Chimichurri Pasta

Steak, Asparagus, and Chimichurri Pasta


For the Chimichurri
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 cups Italian or curly parsley, loosely packed
  • 1/2 cup cilantro
  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp red wine vinegar
  • 3 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes (adjust to your desired heat tolerance...I could have used more!)
  • 1 tsp salt
For the Pasta
  • 1 lb pasta (I used Rotini but the original recipe called for Rigatoni)
  • 1 lb skirt steak
  • 1 lb thick asparagus, tough ends removed
  1. Make the chimichurri by placing all of the ingredients in a blender or food processor and pulsing until all large pieces of parsley, cilantro, and garlic are gone.  You can also do this by hand by finely chopping the garlic, parsley, and cilantro then whisking together with the remaining ingredients.
  2. In a gallon sized ziplock bag, combine flank steak and about 1/4 cup of the chimichurri sauce.  Return to the refrigerator to marinate overnight.
  3. When ready to cook, heat your grill to medium-high heat.  For those in colder climates still, you can use a grill pan on your stove.  Here's the one that I use!
  4. Once the grill is hot, place the steak on and cook to desired doneness (I do about 4-5 minutes on each side), flipping once.  Grill the asparagus , turning often to ensure it doesn't burn.  Remove the asparagus when it is tender but still crisp, about 4-6 minutes.  Remove the steak and allow it to rest 5 minutes.  Slice the steak into thin strips and cut the asparagus into 1-inch pieces.
  5. While grilling, bring a large pot of water to boil.  Salt the boiling water then add pasta to the boiling water and cook until al dente.  Drain and return to the pot.
  6. Toss the pasta and asparagus with chimichurri sauce until well coated (about 2/3 of what remains).  Top with slices of steak and drizzle with additional chimichurri before serving.  Any extra chimichurri sauce can be refrigerated for up to 3 weeks.
Source: Slightly modified from Bitchin' Camero

Monday, April 1, 2013

Ham Bone, Greens, and Bean Soup

How was your Easter?

I made our "Easter Dinner" last weekend when we had our families over to do our baby's gender reveal.  Part of that meal included a nearly ten pound spiral sliced ham and I knew that ham bone was going to be turned into something special.

If you've been following my blog for awhile, you know that I love making soup.  I love finding ways to use up the bones and carcass of that leftover, picked over Easter or Christmas ham, Thanksgiving turkey, or what have you.  They make THE BEST start to the most flavorful soups you have ever eaten so don't throw away those leftover bones!

This particular soup is filled to the brim with healthy vegetables like kale, cabbage, and carrots.  I love the sweet flavor that the cabbage and carrots lend to the soup which is complemented by the savory saltiness of the ham.  Last but not least, the kale gives it a little bit of a peppery flavor and a super punch of Vitamins K, A, and Calcium.  No wonder it's celebrated as a super vegetable!  The original recipe called for bacon but I left it out because I didn't have any at home and am trying to avoid eating too much cured meats during my pregnancy.  You can add it back in if you want to but I can honestly say that nobody missed it.  I did add a can of tomatoes for color and flavor, instead.

My extended family and I were more than pleased with this soup.  It was the perfect start to our Easter Meal Part II (courtesy of my Mother-in-Law).  I'll definitely be making it again!

Two Years Ago: Mini Whole Wheat Bagels
Three Years Ago: Berry Buttermilk Cake

Ham Bone, Greens, and Bean Soup

Ham Bone, Greens, and Bean Soup

  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 large carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 2 celery stalks, trimmed and sliced
  • 1 large onion, peeled and diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 8 cups of water (may need more)
  • 1 leftover ham bone with some meat still attached
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 (15 oz) can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 head green cabbage, shredded (about 8 cups)
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 bunch kale, stems removed and leaves torn or chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  1. Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat.  Add the carrots, celery, and onion.  Cook until softened, about 5 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook for a 1 minute longer.
  2. Add 8 cups of water and the ham bone with meat still attached.  If needed, add more water to cover the ham bone completely.  Add bay leaf and Italian seasoning.  Bring the mixture to a boil.
  3. Add the beans and reduce heat to medium-low.  Simmer for 30 minutes.   Stir in the cabbage and diced tomatoes, simmer for 30 minutes more. Finally add the kale and simmer until the kale is soft but still vibrantly green, about 15 minutes.
  4. Remove the ham bone from the soup.  Pick off the meat.  Shred or chop the larger any larger pieces then add all meat pieces back into the soup.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Source: Modified from Cook This Now by Melissa Clark as seen on The Kitchn