Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Panini - yeah, it IS fun to say!

I've been in a bit of a cooking rut lately. Lots of burritos, quesadillas and paninis. Now, there really isn't much into making any of these, hence, my reason for not posting many recipes lately.

I made some killer paninis though and thought I'd share some delicious combinations for your next grilled cheese night.

I use a Turano Italian boule that is pre-sliced for my own ease. They are REALLY big pieces of bread, so Jim and I usually split one.

I still have some jarred pesto from making my pasta salad a few weeks ago, so I utilized that in my sammies. You could use homemade pesto OR just use some fresh basil leaves from your herb garden.

I also had some plum tomatoes b/c they were on sale at Joseph's. I splurged for this experiment and got some pancetta (it's like un-smoked Italian bacon) and some prociutto (Italian ham) - capicola would also be fantastic for these (it's a spicy Italian ham)

I always seem to have mozzarella cheese on hand too, so I used that.

My first panini had pesto, mozzarella, tomatoes and pesto. It was fantastic, but I thought it was missing something. Next time I quickly seared the tomatoes in a skillet. Voila! OMG! It made all the difference in the world. Sear or grill your tomatoes before putting them on a sandwich! It's a whole new flavor/texture sensation!

Late night on Saturday, Jim and I were hungry. I whipped up some pesto, prociutto and mozzarella paninis. Jim was IN HEAVEN. He didn't think he'd like it, but it was right up his alley. Italian Ham & Cheese!

The other day, I made some pancetta, arugula, pesto, mozzarella and tomato paninis. Italian BLT! It was fantastic as well.

Jake had a peanut butter & banana panini yesterday for lunch. Hey - we gotta use the whole loaf of bread and it is ginormous.

Jim had a chicken, cheese & bbq panini for lunch yesterday. 

Yeah, we've had A LOT of sandwiches lately.

 Here are some pics of some the sammies we had:

Make sure you press it down really well.

Then drizzle with olive oil and pop into a hot skillet or on a panini press (which I don't own)

I just manually press it down with my spatula.

You can make a sandwich out of about anything, so just think of this as some inspiration.

Here is a pic of me and one of my beautiful burritos that I've been alternating with paninis. Again, another versatile food. I make burritos out of all sorts of crazy things, but this one was chicken, tomatoes, lettuce,  avocado, salsa, sour cream & cheese. Pretty traditional, but still delicious.

Last night we had ground beef, poblano & refried bean burritos.

I told you I was in a cooking rut.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Thai Cashew Chicken Lettuce Wraps

These are light, but sinful tasting. Very low carb and full of flavor. My 2.5 year old was a HUGE fan tonight. You can add more veggies, but my husband is a picky guy. I personally would add some diced water chestnuts and maybe some diced canned mushrooms...This would be faaantastic with my spicy peanut noodles from last week on the side and would easily serve 6 people with the noodle dish. The three of us chowed down and still had a bit leftover and didn't have any side dish with it.

2-3 small heads of Boston/butter lettuce

1 cooked deli roaster chicken (or your own chicken equivalent - here is my roasted chicken recipe: http://thefrugalgourmom.blogspot.com/2010/03/whole-oven-roasted-chicken.html) - Cleaned and finely diced.  It was about 4 cups of diced cooked chicken.

1 bunch of green onions/scallions - minced (whites & greens)
1 carrot - shredded
1" ginger root- grated
2 cloves garlic- minced finely
1/2 diced poblano (or other spicier chili, I kept it mild so my kid could eat it)
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup of honey
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
1/2 cup of unsalted roasted cashews
A squeeze of citrus (I used orange because it was in the fridge, but lemon or lime would work too)

Put the chicken in a large bowl. Add the shredded carrot, scallions & chili pepper. Mix well.

Get a skillet hot and add the cashews. Let them toast for a minute or two while you mix them around. They will get a bit of color on them when they are done. Let them cool. Then put them in a ziplock bag and take out a little frustration on them. You don't want to make cashew butter...so just lightly tap them so they break apart. Add them to the chicken and mix well.

In a microwavable measuring cup, combine the soy sauce, honey, garlic, ginger & sesame oil. Microwave for about 1 minute and mix well with a whisk. Don't add all of the sauce at once. Drizzle it over the chicken mixture and toss. Taste it. They drier the chicken is and the more veggies you add, the more sauce you will need. My chicken was moist and I didn't have a lot of veggies, so I only used about 1/2 the sauce. You may need all of it. Just keep drizzling, mixing & tasting. Squeeze the citrus over it and mix again.

You can make this in advance and just pop in the microwave when you're ready to eat!!!!

This is my leftover dressing.

After I had made it and tasted it...I decided it needed some citrus. I found an orange in the fridge & used it.

Remove the leaves of lettuce & wash them. Dry them out and lay them on a dish. Serve family style. The kids will love to assemble their own "lettuce" tacos and have fun. Mine did.

P.S.  This chicken mixture would be unbelievable on top of a lettuce or cabbage salad with some red bell peppers and tomatoes! Yum-o-rama. Top with some crunchy chow mein noodles? Yum-yummity-oh-rama.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Spicy Thai Peanut Noodles

I don't know about you, but I love sweet combined with salty & spicy. This embodies those flavors. It's so easy and uses things that I have around the house most of the time. Beats paying $10 from a restaurant....and they are catered to YOUR tastes.

12-16oz of long pasta (spaghetti, thin spaghetti, linguini)
1/4 cup peanut butter (I used reduced fat)
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 cloves minced garlic
1 tsp grated/minced ginger
1-2 tsp Rooster sauce (depending on how spicy you like 'em)
a few shakes of toasted sesame oil
1/4 cup of roasted, unsalted peanuts (crushed/chopped)
1/4 cup of diced/minced green onions
1/4 - 1/2 cup of reserved starchy water from the pasta

Get the water on to boil and start the pasta. Put the peanut butter, soy sauce, garlic, ginger, rooser sauce, and toasted sesame oil in a microwavable container.

Warm up in micro for about 30 seconds. Whisk it together until it's all uniformly incorporated and set aside - it should look vaguely like chocolate.

When the pasta is done, set aside the starchy water, drain the pasta. Put the pasta back into the pan (unrinsed and hot) and mix in the peanut butter mixture with tongs. Add the starchy pasta water until it's not so super sticky. Then garnish with the green onions and crushed peanuts.

OMG. These are goooooood. The heat hits after you swallow the bite. It's not spicy, but just warm. Sweet, spicy, nutty, delicious. You MUST try them. Soooo cheap to make and soooo delicious.

My 2 year old GOBBLED these up. He's a big fan of peanut butter....and garlic....and noodles. So combine them all together? Winner winner, Thai noodle dinner!