Archive | December, 2009

French Dip Cheesesteak Sandwich

29 Dec
We’re home! It was a loooooooooong drive, but we made it! It feels great to be back and even better to be sleeping in our own beds! Hope you all had a fabulous Christmas vacation with your families! We had a great time with lots of food, friends and family! Its sad it all had to end, but we’re happy getting back into the swing of things.
Well, today, I have a fabulous sandwich for you! You might say its a love child from a French Dip and a Philly Cheesesteak. I LOVE both sandwiches so much that I put them together and created one of the best (and easiest) dinners of all time. My husband could not get enough! My pictures really don’t do justice as to how incredible the flavors are together. REALLY…..INCREDIBLE.
Did I mention I have a cold? I can barely taste the food I eat and after eating this for dinner, it blew my mind as to how good it would REALLY be when my tasting ability is back up to 100%. Definitely will be making this one again. OMG so good!
So, the secret to getting this one on the table under 20 minutes (thats right- I said UNDER 20 minutes) is buying your pre-cooked, pre-sliced roast beef from the deli and getting one of those dry mix packets of Aux Jus (you know….the ones you just have to add water to). Then you just boil the aux jus, cook the veggies, and assemble the sandwich. Easy!
I promise this dinner will not disappoint.
French Dip Cheesesteak Sandwich
for 2 sandwiches
2 fresh Hoagie Rolls (or any roll thats crispy on the outside and soft on the inside)
10 big slices roast beef (from the deli, sliced pretty thin)
4 tablespoons butter, softened
1 garlic clove, peeled
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 green pepper, sliced
1/2 onion, sliced
1/2 cup grated cheese (use whatever you want/whatever you have– I used cheddar but I would recommend swiss!)
1 dry packet Aux Jus mix
Slice Hoagies in half lengthwise. Turn broiler on. Place rolls cut side up on baking sheet and put under broiler until golden brown. (Be careful! It won’t take long!) In small fry pan, preheat oil to medium high heat. Cook onions and peppers 5 minutes or until crisp-tender (or to your liking). Spread 1 tablespoon butter on each half of sliced rolls. Rub garlic clove onto buttered rolls. Divide cooked vegetables between both sandwiches. Place on bottom half of rolls. Top with 5 slices beef and 1/4 cup grated cheese per sandwich. Place back under broiler to melt the cheese (exclude the tops of the rolls). Make Aux Jus according to packaged directions. Once cheese has completely melted, remove from broiler. Top with other hoagie half. Slice sandwich in half. Serve with prepared Aux Jus.


QUICHE, baby!

24 Dec
FYI: Me and my crew are traveling for the next few days for the holidays, so no blog posts for a few days! SORRY! But, READ ON anyways!

Quiche sounds fancy, doesn’t it? Well, it is one of the easiest things to make that is so incredibly delicious for no effort. AND, my favorite part is you can throw anything into a quiche and odds are it’ll be good! My mom always puts spinach in hers and we ate it up as kids and didn’t care it was in there because it was so great!
As I was saying before, its a great way to use up some items in your fridge like leftover meat, vegetables, little chunks of cheese, your last few eggs, etc. etc..
If you want to impress someone who’s coming over for lunch or dinner, make quiche and have a simple mixed greens salad! Its a light and fresh meal that still can fill you up that doesn’t cost a whole lot.
Quiche is a fancy word for savory pie. All quiches typically have pie crust, eggs, cheese and some kind of filling like vegetables, meat or a combination of both. The filling is where you can take liberties and use whatever the heck you want! Just make sure you follow the rules which are:
1. Have a crust (preferably a premade super flaky one, cause you want this to be an easy fast meal!)
2. Fill with eggs–around 5 or 6
3. Add in lots of cheese
4. OF COURSE have salt and pepper
Thats it!
So, go wild my fellow cooks! You may be surprised how awesome these turn out!
Now, you can start with my Turkey Cheddar Broccoli Quiche, or try a Swiss Cheese and Ham Quiche, or a Southwest Quiche, or a Spinach and Tomato Quiche like my mom always made! Any way you make it, it’ll turn out perfectly!
This is a great way to sneak in vegetables for all you pesky eaters, too! I love fooling them! It makes my day. Doesn’t take much. I’m easy to please, I suppose.
Impress all your friends and make a quiche today! …….or tomorrow!
Turkey Cheddar & Broccoli Quiche
1 9 inch frozen pie shell
5 large eggs
splash of half & half (or milk)
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 green onion, chopped
1 1/4 cup steamed broccoli florets
1/2 cup deli turkey, cubed
1 1/4 cup grated cheddar cheese
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Using a fork, poke a few holes into the bottom of the pie shell. In large bowl, crack eggs. Whisk in milk and seasonings. Stir in rest of ingredients. Pour into pie shell. Bake for 30 minutes or until quiche is completely set (doesn’t giggle at all). Cool 10-15 minutes before serving. Great warm or at room temperature. Really great when served with soup or freshly tossed salad!

Spicy Gingerbread Cookies

21 Dec
Happy Holidays everybody! Are you ready for lots of rest and relaxation? ME TOO! Except, we’re going to be moving and traveling on the 26th! Crazy, right? No rest for us, until we are back and settled.

Anyways, I thought I’d post a pretty traditional Christmas cookie recipe that lots of people have come to love. This cookie has slightly crunchy edges with a chewy center that has spicy ginger and cinnamon flavors. At first, I thought the flavor was a little too strong, but as I kept eating them, I came to like the intense flavor! So, if you don’t like a strong spicy ginger and molasses flavor, cut the increments for those two ingredients in half and omit 1/2 cup flour (although, depending on the moisture and humidity where you are, you might have to add a little of that flour back in to get a good consistency–you want it slightly sticky) Yeah, these cookies are awesome and everyone here ate them all up! Holiday baking at its finest in this recipe!
Spicy Gingerbread Cookies (or my husbands title: Gingerdoodles!)
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup vegetable shortening
1 1/4 cups brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup molasses (or 1/4 cup for a milder flavor)
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger (or 1/2 teaspoon for a milder flavor)
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour (or 2 cups if making the less spicy version)
1/4 cup granulated sugar (for rolling dough balls)
Whip butter, shortening and sugar until light and fluffy. Add in molasses, egg and vanilla. Scrape sides of bowl and stir again. In separate bowl, mix all dry ingredients and spices. Slowly incorporate dry ingredients into butter mixture until thick, uniform dough has formed and no dry ingredients can be seen. Place dough into refrigerator for 30 minutes to 1 hour. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove and scoop dough into tablespoons. Roll into ball and toss in granulated sugar. Place two inches apart on greased baking sheet. Bake 12 minutes. Cool 3 minutes on baking sheet and remove to cooling rack. Store in air tight containers for up to 4 days. YUM!

Vegetable Sage Soup

18 Dec
Are you all ready for the holidays? After a long day of shopping yesterday, both my husband and I are all ready for Christmas to come! We just need to wrap everything. Yikes.
Well, this soup is not only delicious, its packed with lots of cheap and yummy veggies that add flavor and great texture after you blend it up! Really any vegetables that you have in the fridge could work. Carrots, potatoes and squash are great choices that are inexpensive and blend up quite nicely to offer a great texture. This soup can warm you up on a cold day and you don’t need to feel bad about eating two or three servings because its just vegetables! This is my kind of meal! And, I know I know, there’s pumpkin in this recipe, SO, if you’re sick of pumpkin, you can omit it and your soup will still be fabulous. Blended vegetable soups are all the rage in my house. I love ’em and can’t get enough. The possibilities and combinations are endless! Make some soup today!
Vegetable Sage Soup
2 tablespoons butter
1 onion, chopped
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
2 turnips, rinsed and chopped
1 parsnips, peeled and chopped
1 cup pureed pumpkin (NOT pumpkin pie filling)
6 cups chicken stock, or just enough to cover all the veggies
3 fresh sage leaves, chopped (about 1/4 teaspoon dried…or more if you really like the flavor)
1 bay leaf
2 pinches dried thyme
1/2 cup cream, half & half, milk, whatever you have
In large pot, melt butter. Mix in all prepared vegetables except for the pumpkin. Sauté 8-10 minutes or until vegetables start to get a little color. Stir in pumpkin, stock and seasonings. Simmer 20-30 minutes until all veggies are fork tender. Remove bay leaf. Blend soup until smooth. Stir in cream and taste. Adjust seasonings to your liking. Keep soup warm on stove top until ready to serve. Be sure to not boil soup once dairy has been added!

Strawberry Cheesecake Cookies

16 Dec
I was craving cheesecake the other day. I didn’t want to make a WHOLE cheesecake because at my house, I’d be practically the only one to be eating it which is not so good for the waistline. So, I opted for an easier and possibly healthier version of strawberry cheesecake in a cookie form.
Man are these good! Like, insanely good! Like give them to my husband to take to work before I eat them all good. I’m trying to be better at this whole self control thing, especially around the holidays, but I pretty much just threw that out the window for these little babies. I’m off to a GREAT start. (please note the sarcasm)
Not only are these so fast to make, they are cute, fresh and sweet all at the same time! I made the cookies from leftover sugar cookie dough I had in the fridge. Instead of doing plain frosting, which is the norm for this time of year, I made an intense cream cheese frosting with only 3 ingredients. Thats right! You heard me! THREE ingredients. I love when something so great comes from such little work. I promise you will love these! Go make a batch and don’t be surprised if you’re tempted to eat them all in one sitting.
Strawberry Cheesecake Cookies
any sugar cookie dough you have, homemade or store bought
1 8-oz. package cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
Roll and bake sugar cookies according to the recipe you are following. Let them cool before topping them. To make the cheesecake icing, whip room temperature cream cheese with sugar and vanilla until smooth and mixed well.
**I only use 3 ingredients (and no butter) because I want a strong tangy cream cheese/cheesecake flavor.
Wash and slice strawberries. Top each cookie with 1-2 tablespoons of cream cheese frosting and sliced strawberries. I was generous with the ‘cheesecake’ icing and was able to top 14 cookies.
See how easy that was?

Leftover Salmon Croquettes with Avocado Salsa and Skillet Fries

14 Dec
Shoot are these recipes great together AND apart! From last nights dinner, we had leftover salmon and baked potatoes and I didn’t want to eat the same thing twice so this is what I came up with for lunch today! Not bad, right? So, I used one pan for this entire meal and kept things warm in the oven while I finished other parts. I first pan fried my baked potatoes to create 5 minute steak fries and then cooked some veggies for the salmon croquettes. Once my salmon mixture was done, I formed my little patties and fried them up! Tasty little devils, they are! And, the avocado salsa takes it over the top. Seriously. I took one bite and thought my life was complete. Anyways, really easy recipes to get a well above average somewhat healthy meal minus the cooking in oil and butter parts. Sometimes, it pays to not be stingy on the butter! Hope you all like these!
Just so you know, buying salmon for us is a rare occurrence because its pretty pricey. If you can’t afford salmon, you can use a cheaper white fish or even canned tuna. It will have a different flavor, but the variations are all equally delicious.

Salmon Croquettes
16 oz cooked salmon, approximately(when I crumbled it all, I had about 2 1/2 cups of meat)
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup onion, diced
1/2 cup bell pepper, diced (any color will do-I used yellow)
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1 egg
2/3 cup plain bread crumbs, divided
1/2 teaspoon lemon pepper (optional)
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon light cooking oil (such as canola, peanut or vegetable)
In large skillet, melt 1 tablespoon butter. Sautee onions and peppers on medium heat until they become tender, about 5 minutes. In large bowl, crumble precooked salmon into large chunks. Gently stir in cooked vegetables, cilantro, egg, 1/3 cup breadcrumbs and seasonings until combined. Divide mixture into equal sized patties. I made 8 medium sized ones. Once patties are formed dip in remaining 1/3 cup breadcrumbs. Using the same pan you cooked your vegetables in, heat 2 tablespoons butter and 1 tablespoon oil on medium to medium high heat. Place your formed patties into hot pan. Fry 2-3 minutes per side or until darker golden brown crispy crust has formed. Once they have completed cooking, serve immediately or keep warm in a 200 degree oven.
Avocado Salsa
1 large Haas avocado, diced (try to get a ripe one)
1 roma tomato, diced
juice of 1 lime
3 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
In small bowl, combine all ingredients together being sure all cut sides of avocado have had contact with lime juice to prevent oxidation -ie browning. Serve with salmon croquettes or tortilla chips. Tasty tasty stuff this is!
Skillet Fries
2 baked potatoes (leftovers, baby!)
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon light oil for frying (see above)
Cut baked potatoes into large wedges. In large skillet heat oil and butter to medium high heat. Place wedges cut side down into pan. Let potatoes brown and get crispy on one side before flipping to the other. Brown potatoes to your liking. Once brown, remove potatoes and sprinkle with salt and pepper immediately. Great with any meal! Fabulous fries!

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Pancakes

11 Dec
My name is Lauren and I’m addicted to pumpkin recipes.

I know I said I’d stop with the pumpkin recipes after Thanksgiving, but there was pumpkin calling to me from the cupboard! And, there’s nothing more comforting than any sort of carb thats warm thats made with cinnamon, nutmeg and pumpkin. Its such a great combination. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again- I just can’t get enough pumpkin! Its sort of a problem….but what a great problem to have! I’m embracing it!
Anyways, this is such a great comforting breakfast! It comes together in no time because I use pancake mix that I add in pureed pumpkin, spices and chocolate chips to. It only takes a minute or two more to mix it together than making plain pancakes and these are so much better! And, let me tell you that when you spread on the butter and top these with maple syrup, magic happens. Its just incredible! Maple, pumpkin, chocolate, cinnamon….its amazing! A perfect meal for a lazy saturday or sunday morning!
Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Pancakes
1 1/2 cups prepared pancake batter
1/3 cup pureed pumpkin
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 cup chocolate chips (or more if you’re feeling up to it!)
Stir in pumpkin, spices and chocolate to prepared batter. Pour batter onto hot greased griddle and cook like regular pancakes. They’ll be done when they’re golden brown and the chocolate is all gooey and melty! Top pancakes with butter and maple syrup.