Spring is here, most days at least. And now that the weather’s getting warmer it’s one of my favorite seasons– picnic season! What re your picnic staples? One of mine Is almost always a good, hearty chicken salad sandwich recipe. I love taking my kids to a local park and watching them climb the ancient magnolias and run around and just be boys enjoying the fresh air and soaking in the sunshine. I also love being prepared for them falling out on the family blanket and after they’ve exhausted themselves and declaring how hungry they are, having an easy lunch on hand. Hello, Tex Mex Chicken Salad sandwiches.
Barbecued beef is one of my favorite ways to stuff a sandwich bun. Usually, it involves a beef roast that’s spent all day in the crockpot simmering in a rich sauce and steeped in juices until it’s falling apart and ready to melt in your mouth. This though, assumes that when I put everything in the crockpot that morning, that I actually remembered to turn it on before I headed out the door. So now, it’s dinner time and this dum dum still wants her barbecued beef. What’s a gal to do?
$5, $5 foot long …
You know the jingle I’m sure. And it’s a great deal, especially for such a generously proportioned sandwich. And not surprisingly, none of our kids have any trouble (at all!) putting one down in mere minutes. They’re easy, they’re good, and with children who inhale their food, the price is right on point for us.
Do you ever take a trip down memory lane and thank the good Lord that the early 2000’s were over a decade ago and can’t believe you ever embraced those questionable fashion trends? Like using your Dad’s old neck tie as a belt, or those chunky hair highlights, aka zebra head? Yeah.
Sometimes updates are a good thing.
Everywhere we go everything is decorated. And while there may be a whole spectrum of ‘holiday’ colors, red and green are by far the stars of this show. One thing I don’t see a lot of? Festive dishes.
Hold on, let me stop you right there. I’m not talking about the traditional holiday favorites. Or even all the cute ones made to look like Holiday favorites, like our Christmas Tree Pull-Apart Bread or our Christmas Tree Pancakes. Those are a given. I’m talking about ‘decorated’ festive dishes made specifically with Christmas colors in mind. My Mom used to say that at least half of her enjoyment in a dish wasn’t just taste or even presentation, but about the colors and whether or not they spoke to her. She loves a vibrant presentation, and I can honestly say that I’ve come to appreciate one as well.
I try to follow the news and stay abreast of current events, and there’s currently articles circulating everywhere on the web over the recent results of a scientific study that found cheese (yes, you read that right, plain old cheese) to be as addictive as hard drugs. Basically, cheese is crack.
This explains so much.
And it makes me feel much better about posting a recipe with the word ‘crack’ in the title.
My lunch is grinning at me. (help?)
I’m gonna go ahead and file that under the ‘Things I Never Thought I’d Say’ tab. And in this case it’s a good thing, because it means I’ve succeeded in making adorable, edible little monsters for my little monsters.
These are ready in mere minutes, making them a perfect addition to any little lunch box and easy enough to whip a batch large enough for the food table at just about any Halloween Monster
2 slices of your favorite sandwich bread, we used honey wheat
1 slice sharp cheddar cheese
2-3 slices of lunch meat, ham, turkey, or chicken
2 pimento-stuffed green olives
mayonaiise or mustard (optional)
large round cookie cutter, or biscuit cutter
- Use a large cookie or biscuit cutter, press into the slices of bread, pulling away crust and excess to cut into circles. Use a paring knife to cut jagged little ‘teeth’ into one side of the slice of cheese. Stack the slices of lunchmeat on the bottom piece of bread & put the slice of cheese on top with the jagged edge facing ‘out’ and slightly hanging over the edge. Spread a bit of mayo and/or mustard onto the inside of the other cut piece of bread and then top the sandwich. Break a toothpick in half & insert one half into a pimento stuffed olive & the other into the top of the sandwich. Repeat with the other one forming your monster eyes. Repeat as many times as needed for your desired number of sandwiches.
Skip the store-bought package of buns– these soft Pumpkin & Olive Oil Pull Apart Rolls are easy enough for anyone to make. As slider buns, as your new go-to dinner date, or even dipped in a hearty bowl of your favorite soup– whatever incarnation you enjoy them in, they’re perfect.
There’s nothing quite like the fresh air of the mountains, and living in Virginia we’re fortunate enough to be only a hop, skip, and a jump from the nearest range. A kind of peace comes over me and my heart is so full when I watch my boys be boys, especially the older they get. And our local (ish, it’s only 40 minutes away) orchard offers them every opportunity to embrace everything innately boyish about themselves.
Running up and down mountain sides? Check.
Climbing trees? Check. (bonus points for ones over looking or over hanging mountain sides)
Eating fruit fresh picked from the vine? Check.
Dad letting you carry and use a (very dull) pocket knife to cut your own fresh slices of fruit? Check.
(and obviously extra, extra bonus points for the use of sharp objects)
Every year we have a blast, and I love being able to look back on our memories forever captured in photos, but ever year we come home starving, and that’s despite the fresh cider and fresh cider donuts we gorge on while there.
This year, I dug right into one of our several bushels and had a piping hot batch of grilled naan-witches ready to serve in no time. Meltty, tangy sharp cheddar, the bite of red onion, crispy, sweet apple slices, and a bit of sass from our favorite honey mustard made this the perfect grilled cheese sandwich to celebrate one of our favorite Fall traditions.
Apple, Red Onion, Cheddar Panini on Naan Bread
2 pieces of naan or other bread (use four pieces if the slices are small, I had 2 large naan pieces)
1 Apple, cored and sliced
sharp cheddar cheese, sliced
red onion, thinly sliced
your favorite honey mustard
- Place a layer of cheddar cheese slices on the bottom piece of naan. Layer on sliced apples, then the sliced red onion, and then top that with another layer of cheddar cheese.
2. Spread a layer of honey mustard on the inside of the top piece of naan and then place that on top of apple, onion and cheese, closing the sandwich.
3. Place the sandwich in the panini press until heated through, about 6 minutes. Cut the sandwich in half (if you’re using larger slices of naan) and serve.
We love Chicken Cordon Bleu. And how could you blame us? I don’t know many people who could resist a crispy chicken breast stuffed with ham and oozing melted Swiss cheese? And while most people are familiar with at least the basic concept of the original stuffed and pan fried version, we haven’t stopped there. We love all things cordon bleu. All. The. Things.
Especially our pinwheels version, and in the colder months we really enjoy turning it into a hearty bowl of soup for supper. But we can’t ever seem to stop. We’re always on the lookout for those fun new ways to enjoy old favorites. And thank goodness for it, because it’s how we stumbled onto this sandwich idea.
This recipe is basically everything you love about Chicken Cordon Bleu and its flavor profile, stuffed into a crisp, crusty grilled panini.
Chicken Cordon Bleu Paninis
1 lb chicken cutlets
1/2 cup flour
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
salt and pepper, to taste
oil, for frying
4 ciabatta rolls, or other bread (we also like thick slices of sourdough)
1/4 lb thinly sliced swiss cheese
1/4 lb sliced deli ham
- Preheat your panini press to high.
2. Place the flour, egg, and panko each into separate, shallow bowls. Whisk the egg slightly to blend it together. Season each piece of chicken with salt and pepper, and then coat each piece in flour, egg, and panko, in that order. Set the breaded chicken aside.
3. Heat a few tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat and add the chicken. Cook until the chicken is cooked through and golden and crispy on each side, about 4 minutes per side. Remove the cooked chicken from the pan and set aside.
4. To make the panini, take the ciabatta rolls and slice them in half lengthwise. Butter the top and bottom of each roll, yes the OUTside. Next spread a little mustard on the bottom half of each roll, the inside of the bottom half. Layer on the cheese and ham by placing a slice of cheese on both the bottom and top pieces, and a piece of ham on just the bottom. Next, place a piece of chicken on the bottom half of each sandwich. Top the sandwiches and move to the panini press.
5. Pressing down on the panini press, grill until the sandwiches are golden brown and the cheese is melted, about five minutes. Serve warm, and enjoy!