It was a fabulous weekend at the beach, with plenty of fun in the sun. Everyone in my family loves Caprese salad with fresh tomatoes, mozzarella, and home-grown basil. With a little inspiration, we turned the salad into delicious grilled sandwiches.
I didn’t include amounts in the recipe below, but use your intuition and you won’t go wrong. You do want to be sure to keep the grill on fairly low heat; the bottom of the bread burned in a few places which made for some crispy sandwiches. Just enjoy them on the deck, and no one will have to clean up the crumbs!
These fancy grilled cheese sandwiches are perfect for either lunch or happy hour. They were a great way to celebrate the true arrival of summer.
Caprese Sandwiches on the Grill
Italian bread, sliced
Fresh mozzarella, sliced
Mix olive oil and minced garlic. Brush one side of bread slices, and place facedown on grill. Cook for 1-2 minutes, until just lightly browned. Turn bread over, and place tomatoes and mozzarella on bread. Close grill cover, and cook for 3-4 minutes. Place basil leaves on mozzarella. Remove sandwiches from grill, and drizzle with balsamic vinegar.
For those times when you want fajitas but don’t want to stand in front of the stove, this recipe from Budget Bytes is for you! You mix your fajita ingredients, a blend of spices, and a bit of oil in a baking dish. When it comes out of the oven, you give it a spritz of fresh lime juice. It’s just like something you might get at your favorite Mexican restaurant.
The recipe is incredibly flexible; if you would like to make a vegetarian meal, just leave out the chicken. I don’t like peppers, so I used a mix of 1 lb. chicken, 1 large onion, 1 large zucchini, and an 8 oz. package of sliced mushrooms. I might even throw in some tomatoes next time.
The key to the flavor is the blend of spices including chili powder, paprika, and cayenne pepper. I used an extra dash of cayenne so the mixture had some heat. I served it on a whole grain tortilla with cheese, which cooled things down a bit. This made lunches for the week, but would also be a good dish to serve for your next fiesta!
Asparagus is here! A sure sign of spring, even if there is still snow on the ground. I was so excited that I went ahead and bought 2 bunches.
I had seen this recipe on Serious Eats, but I had to make things a little simpler. This is really just like traditional egg salad, with over a cup of steamed asparagus mixed in. There’s enough vegetable to provide some flavor and crunch (well, it would have been more crunchy if I didn’t overcook the asparagus like I always do!) The dressing of mayonnaise, mustard, and vinegar gives the salad some tang.
This makes a great spring lunch, and you’ll forget all about that white stuff that still litters the ground.
Asparagus and Egg Salad
5 medium eggs, boiled for 10 minutes, peeled and chopped
1 lb. asparagus, ends trimmed, cut into 1″ pieces, and steamed
1/3 c. light mayonnaise
2 T mustard
2 T red wine vinegar
Salt and Pepper
Place egg and asparagus in a large bowl. In a small bowl, mix mayonnaise, mustard, and red wine vinegar. Mix dressing into eggs and asparagus. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve in pita, or on top of a green salad.
I saw this recipe for Slow Cooker Jerk Chicken from Budget Bytes and was drooling. The original recipe calls for using bone-in chicken and broiling it at the end, but I took the easy way out with boneless, skinless chicken thighs that were on sale. At the end, I just shredded the chicken right in the pot.
This crockpot meal took less than 5 minutes to throw together, and made a great dinner served with a big salad and a dinner roll. It also made a couple of lunches, served over steamed sugar snap peas. There is a fairly spicy aftertaste from the serrano pepper; if you want a completely mild dish, leave the pepper out entirely. If you want even more heat, chop it up and keep it in the crockpot when you shred the chicken at the end! I liked this version, and am already anxious to make it again soon.
Slow Cooker Jerk Chicken
2 T brown sugar
1/4 c. soy sauce
1 T minced garlic
1 t ground ginger
1 t thyme
1 t allspice
1 T cinnamon
2 1/2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 large onion, peeled and sliced
1 orange, sliced
1 serrano pepper, sliced
Mix sugar, soy sauce, garlic, ginger, thyme, allspice, and cinnamon in a small bowl. Place chicken in the bottom of the crockpot. Pour spice mixture over chicken, and rub it in with your hands. Place onion, orange, and pepper slices in crockpot, nestled between the chicken pieces. Cook on High for 4 hours.
Remove orange and pepper slices. Shred chicken with 2 forks.
-Lightly adapted from Budget Bytes
I went back to the basics this week and made a fairly standard chicken salad. I wasn’t going to blog about it, but it actually came out really good. Sometimes it’s nice to appreciate the simple recipes!
I had some boneless, skinless, chicken on hand, which I simmered on the stove until done. Then I let the chicken cool slightly, and shredded it with two forks. I stored it in the refrigerator, and used it for a few purposes. My favorite was this chicken salad, which I enjoyed on pita bread.
I liked the combination of flavors and textures with the chicken, celery and raisins. There wasn’t a lot of mayonnaise, but just enough to hold it all together. If you’re going to take this as a packed lunch, I recommend you bring the chicken salad in a container, and stuff the pita right before serving. This keeps the pita nice and soft and makes a great sandwich!
3/4 c. shredded poached chicken
1 celery stalk, diced
2 T raisins
1 T light mayonnaise
Mix all ingredients in a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper.
My cooking club theme this month was paninis! It was a really fun theme – we had two panini makers going to make a diverse selection of sandwiches. We had different breads, different fillings, and even a dessert panini. (Note: We never ever skip dessert in this club!)
Here’s the lineup:
Fig and Prosciutto Panini – the salty ham and sweet fig grilled on thick bread made a great combination
Sicilian Panini – Italian coldcuts, fresh mozzarella, roasted red peppers, and pesto grilled on crusty Italian bread; a superb replica of the sandwich served at Dave’s Fresh Pasta
Buffalo Chicken Panini – creamy buffalo chicken on toasted Pillsbury croissants; a creative and delicious way to get your ‘buffalo chicken’ fix
Greek Egg Panini – hard boiled egg, fresh baby spinach, sliced red onion, and feta cheese on whole wheat pita
And last, but not least – Paula Deen’s Sweet Dessert Paninis with banana, Nutella, marshmallows, and chocolate. Words can’t describe it.
Here’s a few photos of the event:
Do you have a panini maker? Is it gathering dust somewhere? After Thanksgiving, drag it out and try some of these combinations!
Grilled cheese just might be my favorite sandwich. I can eat it for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. It’s very important that the bread is crispy and the cheese is melty. (Spellcheck doesn’t like the word “melty”, but you know what I mean!)
This fall, I’ve gotten into a kick of making grilled cheese sandwiches with Cabot 75% Reduced Fat Cheddar and fresh slices of apple on whole wheat bread. Cheese and apples are always a great combination, and this makes for an awesome sandwich on a chilly day.
OK, so this isn’t a real recipe, but I do have some important tips. First, cut the apples slices very thin so they’ll soften slightly as the sandwich cooks. Second, make sure to place half of the cheese slices under the apples, and half of them on top. This will ensure that the cheese melts onto both sides of the bread with the apple slices in between. And finally, serve any remaining apple slices on the side of the sandwich.
I was not paid by Cabot to mention their cheese, and the cheese was not provided to me as a sample. But I do love the fact that Cabot reduced fat cheeses have a great texture, and really melt when you make a sandwich!