Monster Sandwiches

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.

Monster Sandwiches

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 Mash bash.

Monster Sandwiches

Monster Sandwiches 2

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)
toothpicks
large round cookie cutter, or biscuit cutter

Directions

  1. 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.

Pumpkin & Olive Oil Pull Apart Rolls

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. 

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Apple, Red Onion, & Cheddar Panini on Naan Bread

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.

apple picking 2015 7

Running up and down mountain sides? Check.

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Climbing trees? Check. (bonus points for ones over looking or over hanging mountain sides)

apple picking 2015 3

Eating fruit fresh picked from the vine? Check.

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Dad letting you carry and use a (very dull) pocket knife to cut your own fresh slices of fruit? Check.

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(and obviously extra, extra bonus points for the use of sharp objects)

apple picking 2015

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

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

Directions

  1. 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.

Chicken Cordon Bleu Paninis

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.

 Chicken Cordon Bleu Paninis 3

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.

Chicken Cordon Bleu Paninis

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

Chicken Cordon Bleu Paninis 2

1 lb chicken cutlets
1/2 cup flour
1 egg
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)
softened butter
dijon mustard
1/4 lb thinly sliced swiss cheese
1/4 lb sliced deli ham

Directions

  1. 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!

‘Knock Your Socks Off’ Tailgate Burgers

Rich, Creamy Mushroom Sauce. Pepper Jack Cheese. Juicy Hamburger. Soft, Fresh Pretzel Bun.

Are you drooling yet? It’s ok, your secret’s safe with me. These burgers, with their amazing mushroom awesome-sauce deserve nothing less. It’s the highest compliment this recipe could hope to achieve. That and plates licked clean. Just one bite, and you’ll see. And trust me, these will definitely ‘knock your socks off!’

Seriously, what more could you want in a burger? This is totally indulgent and just screams ‘GAME DAY’ or ‘dude’ food. Just be careful not to indulge in them too often, or they might just ruin a burger for you if it’s served up any other way.

‘Knock Your Socks Off’ Tailgate Burgers

 Pepper Jack Pretzel Bun Burgers with Mushroom Cream Sauce

1 lb ground beef
6 full-size of 12 mini pretzel rolls
6 slices pepper jack cheese, cut in half to make 12 pieces if using slider-sized buns
mayonnaise to spread over the inside of the rolls

Mushroom sauce
8 oz thinly sliced mushrooms
3 tbsp butter
2 tbsp minced garlic or 4 garlic cloves minced
1/2 cup diced white onion
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup heavy cream, or half and half
1/2 cup beef broth
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tbsp cornstarch + 2 tbsp cold water, mixed together

Topping
1/2 cup butter
2 tsp poppy seeds
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce

Directions

  1. Divide the ground beef into 6 patties, or 12 small patties if using rolls instead of buns. In a large skillet or dutch oven, cook the patties until browned on both sides and cooked completely through. After they’re cooked, set them aside, and discard excess grease.
    2. In the same skillet, melt 3 tablespoons of butter. Add in the mushrooms and garlic, and sauté until the mushrooms are tender. Add in the Worcestershire sauce, cream, broth, salt, and pepper. Bring the sauce to a boil, stirring constantly, and then stir in the cornstarch mixture. Once the sauce has thickened, remove it from the heat and set it aside.
    3. Slice open the pretzel buns and spread some mayo over the top and bottoms of each bun. Place the cooked patties on the bottom of bun and add the pepper jack cheese on top. Spoon a generous amount of the mushroom sauce over the top of each patty and replace the top of the bun. Put the assembled burger in a greased 9 x 13 baking dish. Melt the 1/2 cup of butter for the topping and stir in the poppy seeds and Worcestershire sauce. Spoon the melted butter over the top of the sliders. Cover the dish tightly with foil and bake at 375 degrees for about 15 minutes. Serve hot.

recipe adapted from Knock Your Socks Off Tailgate Sliders

Grilled Tandoori Chicken Burgers

What do you do when one of your readers asks about a specific genre of recipes? You try to accommodate, right? Any good blogger should. At the same time, when a new follower inquired as to what specific diabetic friendly recipes I offered, I was a bit embarrassed to not be able to offer any immediate suggestions. Which was even more upsetting when I consider how this has plagued my own family, more specifically, my grandmother who alongside my mom pretty much raised me in the kitchen.

Grilled Chicken Tandoori Burgers 3

Starting today, I will make an effort to provide more diabetic friendly recipes and add a specific tag for recipes more inclined to those who struggle with still wanting to eat well, but not sacrifice flavor. Grandma was one of those women. She lived food. She loved it. And each ounce of love was like a tangible thing we could taste, cooked into every bite of her meal. But as any diabetic knows, you’ve got to watch your sugar, and often that may mean sacrificing those oh-so-glorious carbs, which often break down into nothing more than simple sugars we don’t actually need.

Grilled Tandoori Chicken Burgers

Unleavened naan bread is a much more diabetic friendly option than traditional burger buns. The burgers are made from ground chicken, a much leaner meat than ground beef, with an amazing array of different spices that while seeming so different, bring their A (+) game. These ‘tandoori’ style burgers are topped with fresh veggies, and finished off with a healthy mint yogurt sauce in lieu of the traditional mayo.

So much tastier. So much yum in each bite. Calories and sugars reduced, yet every ounce of flavor is easily tripled.

Grilled Tandoori Chicken Burgers

Grilled Chicken Tandoori Burgers 4

1 1/2 lbs ground chicken breast
4 green onions, sliced thinly
3 tbsp grated fresh ginger
2 tbsp  lemon juice
1 tbsp paprika
2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
salt and pepper to taste
Naan bread
cucumber, thinly sliced
cilantro leaves
red onion, thinly sliced

Mint Yogurt Sauce

1 heaping cup Greek yogurt
1 tbsp fresh mint, chopped
2 tsp cumin
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
salt and pepper, to taste

Directions

1. Put the chicken, green onions, and all of the spices in a bowl and mix well. Form into 4 patties.
2. Mix the yogurt sauce in a small bowl. Set aside.
3. Cook the Tandoori Chicken Burgers on a preheated grill over medium-medium high heat, roughly 3 minutes per side. Throw the Naan bread on the grill during the last few minutes, flipping once, to warm through.
4. Top the cooked burgers with a few sliced cucumbers, red onion, and a generous handful of cilantro.
5. Either add a healthy dollop of yogurt sauce to the top or spread it onto the insides of the naan bread.

Shrimp Salad

Nows when I’m gonna need to call all my other bargain shoppers to the table. I’m sure there’s a fair number of you who ( like I did for w a y too long ) think seafood, or at least quality seafood is out of your budget. Well let me just tell ha that that ain’t the case, at least it’s not the case if you’re willing to bide your time, wait for a good sale, and then stock up. Even then though, I can’t always swing the grocery money enough to actually stock up. That being said, I do keep my eyes peeled for when my local grocery’s brand of salad shrimp go on a great sale. For just a few bucks I can grab a few bags and almost never feel guilty about it.

 Shrimp Salad 2

Now salad shrimp are a bit smaller, ok — A LOT smaller than their often more expensive, uncooked counterparts, But they’re absolutely perfect for recipes/meals like this shrimp salad. What can I say? We all love us some shrimps, so even if there’s no fancy shrimp cocktail for us I’m all about finding the wiggle room between fancy and none.

Shrimp Salad

This is salad makes a perfect sandwich ‘meal’. Even better? If I make it for lunch the sons think we’re oh-so fancy, and they have no idea just how simple it really is.

Shrimp Salad

Shrimp Salad 3

1 lb cooked shrimp, peeled and de-veined 1⁄2 cup mayonnaise 1⁄3 cup chopped celery 1⁄4 cup finely diced onion 2 teaspoons Old Bay Seasoning 2 teaspoons lemon juice 1⁄4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

Directions

1. Cut shrimp in half, or just break them up a bit later on when you stir everything together. In a medium sized bowl, combine the shrimp with the remaining ingredients. Stir just until everything’s evenly incorporated. Chill for an hour. Serve the prepared, chilled shrimp salad on bed of lettuce as a sandwich on toasted bread.

Copy Cat Chick-Fil-A Sandwiches

There’s just something about a chicken sandwich, specifically, a Chick-Fil-A chicken sandwich, that is just out of those world delicious. Especially in the realm of fast food. And who can blame them for the uber simple, streamlined menu. It’s hard to top perfection. And perfect the boneless, fried chicken breast they have. And for years we’ve craved that taste, paired with delicious dill pickles. And for years I’ve been angered, depressed, even sickened once by my failure to achieve anything close to it at home. Don’t get me wrong, I usually will find any reason to justify coughing up some extra cash for a pit stop at the nearest one, but sometimes this just isn’t possible. (Heeellllooo, Sundays at lunch time, every single time, when we pull in only to face palm after realizing, duh! they’re closed) And yet, the craving still demands to be satisfied. So what’s a gal to do???

 Copy Cat Chick-Fil-A Sandwiches

She keeps right on trying, dammit!! And lo and behold, we finally have a winner folks! I kid you not, the flavor is spot on. I was even able to feed everyone, at 1 sandwich a piece with only two breasts. Two! and yes you read that right. I can’t even get over these, that’s how good they were. The hubs, the sons, everyone has asked for them repeatedly. Anytime I ask what we should have for supper, this is there answer. The hubs liked it so much he had two, two, and then stared down my sandwich every.single. bite. I took the entire meal. He even told me to name my price! Oh the things I can get that man to do for a bite of this sandwich. (cue the witchy, evil laugh) But really, that honey do-list? Totally, nonchalantly pushing it across the table…

The secret? The marinade before the seasoned breading. It’s pickle juice. And no for all the pickle haters out there, it doesn’t leave the chicken tasting pickle-y. For added authenticity, serve these on buttered, toasted hamburger buns with two pickle slices each.

Copy Cat Chick-Fil-A Sandwiches

Copy Cat Chick-Fil-A sandwiches 2

1 boneless, skinless chicken breast (we get 3 patties er breast)
1/4 cup dill pickle juice
1 egg
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup flour
1 tbsp powdered sugar
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp celery salt
1/4 tsp dried basil
tiny dash of cayenne
Oil for frying (about a cup), if you’re going for authenticity use peanut oil, I usually just us vegetable oil and they still taste phenomenal
Buns (buttered and toasted)
dill pickle slices/ ‘chips’

Directions

1. Wrap the chicken loosely between plastic wrap and pound gently with the flat side of a meat tenderizer until it’s only about ½ inch thick all around.
2. Cut the breast into two, or three, pieces, as evenly as possible.
3. Marinate the chicken in pickle juice for at least 30 minutes, and up to one hour.
4. Beat the egg with the milk in a bowl.
5. Combine the flour, sugar, and spices in another bowl.
6. Dip the chicken pieces each into the egg on both sides, then coat in flour on both sides.
7. Heat the oil in a skillet (1/2 inch deep) to about 345-350 degrees.
8. Fry each cutlet for 2 minutes on each side, or until golden brown on the outside and cooked through.
9. Remove from the skillet onto paper towels. Blot to remove any excess oil, and serve on toasted buns with pickle slices.

Crockpot French Dip Sandwiches

The tenderest, juiciest seasoned pot roast ever is cooked in the crockpot before being piled high on crusty baguettes with melted provolone cheese. Served with their own yummy au jus, these Crockpot French Dip Sandwiches are dippable perfection you just can’t get enough of.  

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Pesto Alfredo Meatball Subs

The sons love spaghetti and meatballs. Mention lasagna. Our mouths are watering. Soup’s simmering on the stove? There’s more than a 50/50 chance it contains some sort of pasta.

We eat A LOT of pasta. A. Lot. We love pasta, but I feel like 9 times out of 10, no let’s be realistic, like 8 times out of 10 the pasta is just a caveat for other yummy things. Like meatballs. And cheese. And sauce. And who needs all that extra pasta when it’s the goodies that ‘dress’ it that you really want. So let’s forgo the pasta tonight and just stuff all that yum in a bun. Mmmkay?

Pesto Alfredo Meatball Subs

Any great meatball sub needs two things: great meatballs and a great sauce. For this here ‘recipe’. Heck, who’re we kidding? It’s basically just one big suggestion of some things to nuke and then stuff together into a bun for a fun flavor fiesta in your mouth around dinner time. Suggestions are good, right?

Back to the great sauce. You’re more than welcome to make a from scratch Alfredo sauce. But this recipe idea or delicious suggestion, is a favorite around here because it’s so darn easy. I can’t beat a quick throw together sandwich, that I don’t feel guilty about serving for dinner on busy nights. I mean as opposed to bologna and cheese or a pb & j on the go these things are gourmet! Since I’m going for quick and easy, I just use a jar of our favorite store bought Alfredo sauce. I can’t be Martha Stewart every night of the week. We froof the sauce if with the addition of our favorite pesto and it’s a 5 star combo. Again, I use frozen store bought meatballs, or homemade, it just depends what I’ve got on hand and what kind of time frame I’m working with.

Serve these with a simple tossed salad and you’ve got great taste in simple meal form.

Pesto Alfredo Meatball Subs

Pesto Alfredo Meatball Subs 2

16  frozen meatballs
14 oz Alfredo sauce, any brand
2 tbsp basil pesto
4 slices of provolone cheese
4 sub rolls

Directions

1. Cook the meatballs according to the package directions.
2. Add the Alfredo sauce and pesto to a small pot or pan and stir together. Heat it over medium/low heat, or just until heated through.
3. Spread some of the sauce on the insides of each roll, like you would mayonnaise or butter. Place 4 meatballs in a roll and drizzle them with more sauce. Fold and tear each slice of provolone roughly in half and place 2 halves on top of each sub to cover the meatballs.
5. Place the prepared subs onto a baking sheet and cook them in the oven at 450 for about 5 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and the roll is lightly toasted.