Monthly Archives: January 2013

Snow Day Magic

January 24, 2013

Even as an adult, there is nothing quite like that giddy feeling that you get  upon discovering that you have a snow day.  It’s one of those extra little perks of being an educator.  (Go ahead, say teachers have it easy- I permit you to on this one occasion- but rest assured, the moments of school leading up to a potential school day could make you lose your mind.  Just something to consider.)

Anyway,  snow days always take me back to my childhood in Western, PA.  Snow days were rare, and when they happened, it was because we had a TON of snow.  Every kid on the block let out a collective sigh of relief when Joe Denardo proclaimed a snow day.  And almost immediately, mum would open the cabinet and take down the Salton sandwich maker. 

Billy and I would put on our layers upon layers and head out to the frozen wonderland.  We’d have snowball fights with neighborhood kids, sled ride down Shelby Drive, and have igloo building competitions.  At the end of it all, we’d always come inside and warm up with a pocket sandwich. 

They were never anything fancy or remotely gourmet – obviously, I mean, we WERE kids, after all!  But usually, they were a twist on pizza, or ham and cheese, or perhaps turkey…whatever was on hand.
They were such a tasty treat, and the anticipation of waiting for that little red light to go out was almost too much to ever bear.  I remember that first sizzle as the bread hit the hot machine, and getting the timing JUST perfect so you had the absolute perfect shade of toasted pattern on your bread without letting cheese ooze out. 

Even now, the sandwich maker resides in our kitchen.  Same one.  It’s probably 25 years old, and still works like a dream.  Whenever I need that nostalgia, I take her out, and wait for that little red light. 

Maybe some day, I’ll go gourmet- as gourmet as a pocket sandwich can be, I guess… but for today, it’s a pizza pocket sandwich and snow day magic.

Until next time,
J

Breakfast Egg Biscuit

January 19, 2013

Today’s recipe credit goes right to my darling husband.  About a week ago, I had made cheddar biscuits to go with dinner.  You know the ones- the little bisquick pouch where you just add water, plop them on a baking sheet, and 8 glorious minutes later, you have biscuits!  It had made 6, and we had leftovers.  Wouldn’t you know it, the best breakfast sandwich was born… He took those leftover biscuits, added an egg, topped it with some guacamole, and wham! It’s breakfast.

Now, I will say, I’ve gone back and doctored these up a little since that first day.  Kevin likes his eggs over easy, and I only eat mine scrambled- however you like your eggs, this sandwich is a winner.  AND, if you make a batch of biscuits in advance (We now make them on Sundays and Wednesdays) you’ll really cut down your prep to plate time!

Breakfast Egg Biscuits

You’ll need:
1 pouch of bisquick cheddar garlic biscuits (or 3 cheese… They were out of those at our store, rats.)
1 100 Calorie pack of Wholly guacamole
1 tbsp shredded cheddar cheese
1 egg
1 slice canadian bacon, ham, bacon, or sausage patty… your choice (go with the pre-cooked- saves time!)

If you haven’t premade your biscuits, then you’ll need to preheat your oven to 450.  Mix 1/2 cup of water with 1 pouch of biscuit mix and stir.  Plop them onto a greased/ sprayed baking sheet.  It should make 6- sometimes, I get carried away with how much to spoon out, and I only get 5 and they are HUGE.  6 is the way to go.  Anyway, pop those in the oven for 8 minutes and then let them cool for a minute or two after they are done.

Now that you have biscuits ready, this gets so much easier.

Whip up 1 egg, and scramble in a skillet over medium, stirring as you go.  Generally, this takes about 2 – 3 minutes for one egg.  In the final minute, top with 1 tbsp shredded cheddar cheese, so that it has time to get a smidge melty.  (Such technical terms today)

Turn off the heat and let your egg sit for a moment while you split your biscuit.  Spread a spoonful of guacamole onto the top of your biscuit.  I like Wholly Guacamole’s 100 Calorie packs because 1 pack is just about perfect for 2 people or 2 biscuits.  Today, we used the spicy guacamole- it packs a nice little kick!  If you’re on your own- no worries… use a spoonful and then pack the rest into a container with a tiny splash of lemon juice- the lemon juice will keep it from turning brown, which only means that your guacamole got oxidized- not a big deal.  I’ll take the extras sometimes with some carrot sticks for lunch or a snack.

Transfer your egg to the bottom half of your biscuit and top with your meat selection-  I chose ham today, and no- I didn’t intentionally cut it to look like a heart, that was just by sheer dumb luck!  Cute, right?

Plop your guac. coated biscuit top back onto your bottom half and dig in.  The slight crunch to the biscuit combined with the creaminess of the guacamole and soft, cheesy egg… one perfect bite.  Match it up with a hot cup of coffee, and you are sure to have a great start to your morning.  Plus- it’ll keep you filled up til lunch!

I’d love to stay and chat more about breakfast, but my sandwich is calling my name- and if I don’t dive in soon, the puppy will find a way to make my sandwich his!  

Until next time,

Crockpot Tuscan Tortellini Soup

January 12, 2013

Can we just take a moment to enjoy the fact that this FINALLY looks like it’s suppose to?! 
Okay, I’m alright now…moving on…

This week proved to be a busy one, and like most busy weeks, I find myself longing for an easy, yet comforting dinner.  This week, that answer was in our crockpot – a good, old-fashioned “dump it all in there” recipe that is sure to please… and sure to give you enough for leftovers!  I love when dinner provides lunch for the next day!

I’m talking about Crockpot Tuscan Tortellini Soup.  So easy, so tasty, so going into the normal dinner rotation plans.

You can’t smell it through this blog, but trust me, the moment you walk in the house… heaven.

Grab your crockpot and let’s boogie down!
You’ll need:

1 can of diced tomatoes
1 can of diced chicken in water – that sounds gross, but it’s not. I promise.
1/3 bag of baby spinach (about 2 cups)
1/2 bag of shredded carrots ( about a cup and a half..I don’t know, eyeball it)
1 can of diced potatoes
8 cups of chicken stock
2 tbsp italian seasoning

2tbsp minced garlic
2 bay leaves
1/4 cup grated Parmesan/ Romano/ Asiago blend
1 bag frozen cheese tortellini- you’ll need these later…


Dump it all into the crockpot and heat on LOW for 6-8 hours.
When you come home after work, remove the bay leaves, and dump the bag of frozen tortellini into the soup.  Give it about 10 minutes… 15 if you are patient, and then dinner is ready! 

I serve it up with cheddar biscuits and garnish the soup with extra cheese.  This dinner is amazing, and the left overs- even better!

Happy Eating,
J

Note: I loved this with the potatoes, however, in the future I might try a variation by replacing the potatoes with white cannelloni beans.
Talk amongst yourselves…

Bleu Cheese Stuffed Dates

January 7, 2013

Amid my frustration with formatting this blog’s design, I figured I’d take a moment to share the recipe for those dates that I’ve been promising.

The Great Date came into our lives almost a year ago.  Last January, my dear husband and I went to Rustico in old town Alexandria to celebrate his birthday.  We had decided on Rustico for their wide beer selection, but had no idea that the food would be so fantastic- and that, is when we had them.  The most amazingly delightful stuffed dates that I’ve ever had.  A buttery, yet crisp coating that combined both elements of sweet and savory; creamy blue cheese at just the right degree of melted…That night, we ordered 3 orders of the appetizer and gorged on them so much that we nearly didn’t even eat our entrees! 

Much to my dismay, they were a seasonal item that has since been removed from the menu- I checked…it isn’t back yet this year either.  And that, is where my quest began.  You guessed it, another quest to recreate something at home.  Only this time, I had far more success finding my ingredients than that last incident with the quail eggs.  (I’m still not over that, by the way… I WILL find them somewhere, and that grilled cheese shall be mine!)

Ahem- as I was saying.  Challenge, accepted.  I decided the fateful day would be New Year’s Eve and that I would make delicious stuffed dates for us to enjoy with our best friends that evening.  A few days beforehand, I set out to get all of my ingredients and go forth with attempt #1 of blindly recreating these dates. 

Let me just say- attempt 1 = fail.  Not a horrible failure, but MAN was it a hot mess in our kitchen. Stuffing the pitted dates with a piping bag = not worth my trouble.  Blue cheese was magically everywhere EXCEPT inside the date.  Not only that, but I made the coating far too sweet.  And lastly, to top it off, I burned them.  Good thing I only made a dozen, and I had a ton more ingredients.  Oh well, onward to attempt 2.

Attempt 2 was a bit wiser- I sliced the pitted dates open and stuffed them with a spoon… without making the cheese melty first.  WISE decision- noted.  Also, I fixed my coating mixture to contain less sugar.  Third, I realized that the dates were sticky enough on their own that the coating would stick, and didn’t require the eggwash first.  I love when I can eliminate a step!  Lastly- I decreased the temperature and the cook time.  This round, I only made 6- no sense making a million when it’s only a test batch!   Attempt 2 was far more successful than attempt 1, but they still just weren’t quite right.

I needed to sleep on it.

In my dreams, I was haunted by those perfect little dates.  Damn things… what was it about them that was different than mine??  the filling was spot on… the flavor was pretty darn close… but the way they were cooked- That was it.  Something was just off.  And then, at about 2am, it hit me.  Maybe I shouldn’t bake them!

THUS- Attempt 3- the final attempt and batch for our friends… was born.  And, I might add- pretty close to perfect. (Although- Rustico, if you happen to see this… HOW DO YOU MAKE THEM?!)

The Great Date

10 oz  pitted dates- I used Mariani
4.4 oz danish blue cheese, extra creamy – I used Castello Rosenborg
1/4 cup plain bread crumbs
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp brown sugar
1/2 stick butter

Slice your pitted dates in half lengthwise, and stuff each with about a tsp of blue cheese.  I smashed it in a bit and then gave the date a small squeeze to close it up a bit. 

Combine your breadcrumbs cinnamon and brown sugar.  Roll each of the cheese stuffed dates in the breadcrumb mix.

Melt a half stick of butter in a skillet over medium high.  Toss your coated dates into the skillet and toss in the butter with a spatula for about 3 to 5 minutes.  Sprinkle with another tsp of mixed cinnamon and white sugar before turning over into a bowl.

Let cool for a moment, and serve warm. 

They taste even better as they cool a tiny bit.  Enjoy!
Happy Eating,
J

Big Changes

January 5, 2013

Long ago when I began this blog, I had no idea how popular the phrase “modern day Martha” was… Or what I was really diving into. During our short time together, I’ve realized a few things, readers…
1) that phrase is everywhere
2) I am a bit more culinary and a bit less crafty than dear Martha
3) I’m lost in a sea of bloggers…
4) this blog is not eye pleasing what so ever

So, that means a few changes…
Hopefully the majority will be completed this weekend. We need a revamp! New name, new look… Same me.

Oh- and the recipe for those dates…they were tasty!