Pepperoni Pizza Grilled Cheese

If you are a pepperoni pizza lover and turn to a nice grilled cheese for comfort, this sandwich is for you. I know what some of you are thinking, a grilled cheese should only consist of bread, butter and cheese. But no matter what you desire to call it, this is a really tasty sandwich. What’s not to love…. gooey, warm cheese, that slight smoky bite of pepperoni covered in pizza sauce, all hugged between two slices of toasted, buttered bread. *sigh*.

Here’s what you need:

*spreadable butter

*bread slices, 2 pieces per sandwich; I used Italian bread but use what you desire.

*sliced cheese, 2 slices per sandwich; I used Monterrey Colby Jack blend

*pizza sauce

*pepperoni

Heat a griddle or large pan on medium heat. Butter one side of each slice of bread.

Place the bread buttered side down onto the heated griddle. Spread desired amount of pizza sauce onto the bread.

Place a slice of cheese on top of the pizza sauce.

Now layer on the pepperoni, add as many layers as you like….. I sure did.

Place another slice of cheese on top of the pepperoni. Spread pizza sauce on remaining slice of buttered bread; place bread butter side up over the pepperoni.

Cook about 3 minutes or until bread is a golden brown, turn the sandwich over and cook for another 3 minutes or until cheese is melted and bread is golden brown on that side. If the bread is getting too brown and cheese has not melted, turn down the heat.

Prepare for some crunchy, cheesy goodness.

Serve and enjoy!

Pan Fried Parmesan Chicken

Who doesn’t love pan fried chicken coated in a crispy, Parmesan crust. This is great for when you want something satisfying and quick. Heat up a quick side or two to go along with it and you have dinner. You can even make this into a tasty chicken sandwich, as my hubby loves to do.

Here’s what you need:

*1 C. flour

*1 tsp. salt

*1 tsp. cracked pepper

*2 eggs

*2 TBS water

*1 TBS hot sauce

*1 1/2 C. bread crumbs

*3/4 C. Parmesan cheese, finely grated

*2 tsp. onion powder, or more to taste

*2 tsp. garlic powder, or more to taste

*2 tsp. dried parsley or 1 TBS of fresh + more for garnish

*1 tsp. dried thyme, or more to taste

*1 tsp. dried majoram

*juice of 1 lemon

*3 garlic cloves, smashed

*canola oil

*3 or more boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pounded thin (about 1/4 inches thick)

In a shallow dish or bowl, mix together flour, salt and pepper.

In another shallow dish or bowl, lightly beat eggs, water and hot sauce until blended.

I know 1 TBS of hot sauce sounds like a lot, but it truly is not that hot because the chicken is coated in flour and bread crumbs later.

And yes, a third time is a charm, in another shallow dish or bowl, combine bread crumbs, onion powder, garlic powder, Parmesan cheese, parsley, thyme and marjoram.

Working with one piece at a time, dredge chicken in the flour mixture.

shake off any excess flour.

Then place in the egg mixture, coating both sides.

Then place in the breadcrumb mixture. As you will notice, there is not a lovely picture of the chicken in the breadcrumb mixture. By this point both hands were messy and the picture was forgotten….but I think you can get the hang of this step.

Set the chicken aside and do the same steps with the remaining pieces.

In a large pan, add enough oil to lightly cover the bottom. Do not turn on the heat yet. Place garlic cloves into the pan with the oil.

Turn the heat to medium and stir the garlic as the oil begins to warm. Do not walk away or the garlic may burn, burned garlic and oil do not mix…..trust me, I know. I still have flash backs.

When the garlic turns golden brown ( not dark brown or burnt)and is fragrant, take them out and discard or keep for other uses. Turn heat up to medium high heat. carefully add chicken to the pan. Cook chicken for 5 minutes and turn them over.

Continue to cook for approximately another 5 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink.

Place on a serving platter and squeeze the lemon juice over all of the chicken pieces. garnish with parsley and serve.

Dining After Quarantine

That right there…..that luscious, rich cannoli cake from Carrabba’s Italian Grill is a beautiful thing, in more ways than one. This past weekend my mom and I decided to go for lunch….out…in a restaurant. Her and I set aside a Saturday a few times a month to have a girls day, just her and I, no hubby’s allowed, so we can spend some time together. Before the pandemic, we’d meet for lunch then do our errand runs together. But then, like everyone else, everything came pretty much to a halt. We quarantined like every one else and only went out when necessary. Hubby and I did take out during the close down to help the local restaurants, and well, because we missed going and enjoying all the wonderful paces to eat. I’m a foodie ( hence the name foodie in the South) I love to try new places and different cuisines. So needless to say, it was so nice to sit down in a restaurant once again. It was, in a way, coming full circle because this was the last place we ate at right before Armageddon happened….we ate there on a Saturday then Sunday the news broke that by Monday and Tuesday it was all closing, except for take out and essential businesses. So, a few weeks after the restaurants could begin opening their dining rooms (with certain precautions of course) mom wanted to go back and enjoy once again, that wonderful, sinful cannoli cake. The kicker is, I don’t even like cannolis. But this is pretty much in a class of it’s own. It’s a vanilla cake with cannoli filling, with pistachios and a chocolate sauce with a chocolate chip crust and topped with a mini cannoli, I think I shed a tear or two while eating it. Yes, it was a cheat day, but lets face it, every quarantine day was a cheat day. Right!?

I will say eating out now is a little different experience, which is to be expected. Every one working there took the right precautions, wearing masks…. which were very classy I might add.. Did you ever think in your wildest dreams that we’d ever think a mask looked classy and stylish ( or I’d even squeee a little over a Wonder Woman one that I just recently bought…..I’m just sayin). They made sure tables were sanitized in between customers and of course, there was social distancing. The menus are scaled down, but the quality and the taste was still on the mark.

I have had a few people ask me was I apprehensive on eating out in a restaurant right now when we are still having cases of covid 19. Honestly, maybe a little, but I feel you just have to take the best precautions, don’t go wild and just continue to live and enjoy life. Yes, right now life is still different than it was several months ago, and it may never truly be the same again, but we have to adapt. I have always found that finding joy in the simplest things….in the crazy, messed up times of our lives, can keep us centered. That’s the one thing that I have learned from all of this, is to slow down, appreciate what you have, and enjoy all those little moments in between. I hope all of you are well and are able to find joy during these times. Maybe even put on your stretchy pants and go find that sinful dessert that you’ve been missing. You deserve it!

Spanish Rice with Chorizo and Corn

There is this little Latin grocery store that hubby and I like to go to when we are in that part of town.They have so many wonderful foods from different Latin countries that not only inspire me to cook new dishes, but also have certain brands that hubby used to eat when he was a kid in Guatemala. I’m not sure if I’ve ever mentioned it, but he is originally from Guatemala. He moved to the states to Boston when he was 10, then later moved down South when he met me, 11 years ago. My how time flies. Most of his family, including his mother (who has taught me some of her wonderful cooking when I get to see her) still lives in Guatemala. Since I’ve met my now hubby, it’s opened up a whole new world for me as far as cooking something different and delicious.

But I’m getting a little off topic, the grocery store…it’s not too big, everyone there is so friendly, helpful and patient…. especially to this girl who speaks only very few words of Spanish. I love wandering down the isles and smelling all of the wonderful meats and produce. There are so many cheeses and herbs and spices…oh my I could go on. On our recent trip I found some Colombian chorizo. I have cooked with the Mexican kind like in my Chorizo Cheese Burger with Guacamole, and the Spanish variety, but never Colombian. This kind is already cooked and similar to the Spanish one. It has more of a smoked flavor. So, I thought it would be great paired with a yellow Spanish rice. It turned out very tasty, hubby couldn’t stop eating it. The smokiness of the chorizo really adds to the dish.

Here’s what you need:

*1 box of Spanish rice. I used this brand, but you can use whatever you prefer.

*2 links of Chorizo, preferably Colombian or Spanish style.

*2 tsp. Olive oil

*1/2 small red onion, chopped

*3/4 C. frozen corn, thawed (I used the sweet yellow and white mix)

*2 Roma tomatoes, chopped

*1/3 C. cilantro, chopped + more for garnish

Cook rice according to package directions.

Slice the Chorizo into about 1/2 inch slices or thicker if you prefer.

Heat a large pan to medium high heat and add oil. When oil becomes hot, add chorizo to the pan.

Cook for about 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add onions.

Continue cooking for about 2 minutes or until onions are soft.

Next, spoon all of the rice into the pan with the chorizo and onions.

Then add in the corn, tomatoes and cilantro.

Gently stir to mix it all together.

Cook for another 2 to 3 minutes, stirring occasionally until heated thru. Spoon into a serving dish and garnish with cilantro.

Enjoy!

Cheeseburger with Guacamole, a Fried Egg and Cilantro Mayo

This burger was more of my hubby’s idea. He doesn’t cook, but he can come up with some really tasty ideas for a meal. It’s a nice, juicy cheeseburger with guacamole, topped with a fried egg and a cilantro mayo. This is definitely a two napkin burger.

Here’s what you need:

Cilantro Mayo:

This was for 3 serving

*1/3 C. mayonnaise

*1 tsp lime juice

*1/2 tsp. hot sauce; or more to taste

*1 tsp. garlic powder; or to taste

*1/4 tsp. smoked paprika

*1/8 tsp white pepper

*1 1/2 TBS chopped cilantro

Guacamole:

*1 large avocado or 2 small ones

*juice of 1 lime

*onion powder; to taste

*garlic powder; to taste

*1/2 tsp salt; or more to taste

*chopped cilantro (or dried); to taste

*1/2 small red onion, diced

*1 Roma tomato; chopped

For the Burger

*1 LB ground beef (preferably 80% lean and 20% fat ratio)

*1 TBS Worcestershire sauce ; or to taste

*2 tsp. garlic powder; or to taste

*2 tsp. onion powder; or to taste

*1 tsp. salt; or more to taste

*sliced cheese; I used Colby Monterey Jack blend

*1 egg per hamburger

*hamburger buns

For the cilantro mayo, make this at least 30 minutes before serving, this gives the flavors to come together. In a small bowl add mayo.

Then add rest of the ingredients for the cilantro mayo. Mix well.

Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

For the guacamole, follow the recipe from here: Chorizo Cheese Burger with Guacamole, then mix in the onion and the tomato.

Place a piece plastic wrap onto the guacamole and covering the bowl. This will keep it from turning brown for a short amount of time; set aside.

In a large bowl, place ground beef and add Worcestershire sauce, onion and garlic powder, and salt.

lightly mix together, making sure not to over mix or beef will be tough.

Form in to patties making an indentation in the middle.

Heat a large cast iron skillet on medium high heat. When skillet is hot add the patties.

Cook for about 5 minutes or until a crust forms on the bottom. Turn over and cook for another 3 to 5 minutes.

Place cheese slices over the patties and cover the skillet.

Continue cooking for about 1 minute or until cheese melts. On a side note, yes, there is one patty that is not dressed for the party….you know there is always that one person who has to be different. Gotta love them any way.

Place patties on a platter and cover loosely with foil.

In the same skillet, drain off some of the fat and turn the heat down to medium. Crack eggs into the skillet, salt and pepper the eggs to taste. The eggs will cook fast. I like mine sunny side up (yolks facing up and not turned over while cooking), but if you prefer over easy, turn them over for a few seconds then remove from the skillet.

While eggs are cooking, toast the hamburger buns.

Place patties onto the bottom buns.

Spread the guacamole on top of the patties, then top with the fried egg.

Spread on desired amount of the cilantro mayo onto the top bun.

Place on top of the patties. Serve and enjoy!

Bacon, Egg and Cheese Waffle Breakfast Sandwich with Raspberry Jam

I don’t know about you, but the only time I pull out my waffle maker is to… well… make waffles. So, needless to say it isn’t used a whole lot. I’ve seen many recipes using the waffle maker and on those occasions I tell myself that I’m going to try those, but then I move on to something else. So, my lonely little waffle maker stays hidden away (ok not exactly hidden, but more like shoved to the back because I needed more space) and does not get used. Well, today is the day it gets to shine. I decided to make a bacon, egg and cheese breakfast sandwich……with raspberry jam.

Here’s what you need:

Hubby did not want to try one until….. as he said, you go first…. so this is for one serving, but you can make as many as you desire.

*2 slices of bread; I used white bread, but use any kind.

*2 slices of bacon

*2 eggs

*salt and pepper to taste

*1/3 C. Shredded cheese; I used Monterrey Jack Cheddar blend

*raspberry jam; to taste

In a medium skillet ( I used a no stick skillet because I wanted to cook the eggs in the same pan for less clean up), cook bacon until crisp; drain and set aside. Wipe out bacon grease from the pan leaving a small amount to cook the eggs.

In a small bowl, add eggs and beat with a whisk. Heat skillet on medium heat, add eggs, salt and pepper. Cook while lightly stirring with spatula until thickened and there is no more liquid from the egg; set aside.

Heat waffle maker on medium and spray with no stick spray.

Spread raspberry jam on the bread slices. Place one slice into the waffle maker.

Place egg on top of the bread.

Top with the bacon and then the cheese.

Top with the other bread slice, jam side down. Close waffle maker and cook until golden brown, about 3 minutes.

Serve and enjoy!

Hot Dogs with Guacamole and Bacon

This is my version of the Mexican hot dog. If you love guacamole and bacon, then this one is for you. I think next time I might add a red sauce, but this one is a nice change from your average hot dog.

Here’s what you need.

*hot dogs

*2 strips of bacon cook and crumbled; or more to taste

*hot dog buns

Guacamole:

*avacado

*cilantro

*juice of 1 lime

*onion powder; to taste

*garlic powder; to taste

*salt; to taste

*1/2 small red onion, finely diced

*1 roma tomato, seeded and diced; or more to taste

Cook bacon, crumble and set aside.

Heat a small or medium skillet, depending on how many hot dogs you have, to medium high heat. Add hot dogs and cover. Cook for about 5 minutes, turning a few times so they will cook evenly on all sides.

Prepare guacamole. Recipe found in the post for Chorizo Cheeseburger with guacamole .

Add the red onion and tomato.

and mix well. Cover with plastic wrap if not using right away or it will become brown.

Place hot dog in a bun, top with guacamole and bacon.

Enjoy!

Oven Fries

Have you ever noticed how many different types of fries there are? You have your standard cut fries, then there is the curly kind, the steak cut and the popular crinkle cut. There is also the shoe string, which I seem to down those tasty ones pretty quickly because they are so small, and let’s face it, you can grab a hand full of those beauties. I have even seen smiley face fries, though I’m not really sure I want a fry smiling at me while I dunk it in my ketchup pepper mix and eat it. But I’m sure kids might love them. I usually buy the frozen kind that comes in a bag and pop them in the oven until they get nice and crispy, but as my hubby pointed out the other day, I never make my homemade oven fries any more. I knew that was the hint of want homemade oven fries. So of course, that’s what I made.

Here’s what you need:

*russet potatoes ( I find these seem to work the best, but if you prefer another kind, go for it)

*olive oil

*salt and pepper to taste

Wash and peel the potatoes. I like leaving some skin on them, but you can do it how you prefer. Cut the potatoes into desired thickness.

Place potatoes in a large bowl and cover with cold water.

Let them soak for 30 minutes. This helps get rid of the starch in the potatoes and help them crisp up better.

Drain potatoes then place on a towel.

They look kind of cozy don’t they? Dry them really well.

Preheat the oven to 450°.

Place potatoes in a large bowl, pour in the olive oil and sprinkle the potatoes with salt and pepper

toss to coat.

Spread potatoes in an even layer on a large baking sheet.

Cook for 30 minutes, turning potatoes half way thru cooking time, or until done.

Serve and enjoy!

Carne Asada

Carne Asada is great in tacos, burritos or you can just eat it with a side of rice and beans…. or what ever you choose really, because it’s your meal right? Carne asada is usually made with flank or skirt steak, grilled then sliced. I couldn’t find flank or skirt steak, so I used thinly cut chuck steak. It was such a hot day when I made this, that instead of grilling it out, I cooked it in a very hot cast iron skillet. I marinated the meat so it would be tender since this would not be cooked slow like chuck steak is usually cooked. I have to say, the marinade that I came up for this was insanely delicious. I think it will now be my go to marinade.

Here’s what you need:

*chuck steak, flank or skirt steak

Marinade:

*1/4 C. soy sauce

*1 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce

*1/4 C. Red wine

*Juice of 1 lime + more for after steak is cooked

*juice of 1 orange + 1 tsp. orange zest

*1/4 C. olive oil

*3 garlic cloves, minced

*1 tsp. ground cumin

*1 tsp. ground coriander

*2 tsp. dried cilantro or 1/4 C. chopped fresh cilantro ( I had to use dry because my store was out of fresh cilantro) + more for garnishing

*1/2 tsp. Chipotle powder or more to taste

*1 Tbs. canola oil for the skillet

Mix all in of the ingredients for the marinade in a measuring cup or a bowl; set aside.

Place beef in a large dish (large enough so the beef can lay flat).

Pour marinade mixture over the beef.

Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours or more. 45 minutes before cooking, take beef out of the marinade mixture and dry with paper towels; discard marinade.

Heat a large cast iron skillet on medium high heat. When skillet is very hot add 1 Tbs canola oil, then add beef.

The skillet might smoke a little because of the high heat, but that is ok. Cook on one side for 2 minutes, flip the meat over and cook another 2 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board and let rest for 5 minutes, then slice against the grain. Squeeze some lime juice over the beef and garnish with cilantro. Serve in tacos, burritos or as a main meal.

Creamy Parmesan Peppercorn Dressing

I love a good salad. One of my favorite salad dressings, besides Caesar, is Parmesan Peppercorn. I can never seem to find a good one at the grocery store. So I came up with this quick, easy one that tastes really delicious on just about any salad. Most of these ingredients you probably already have on hand and can whip this up in no time.

Here’s what you need:

*1/2 C. Mayonnaise

*1/4 C Sour cream

*1/2 Tbs. Lemon juice

*2 Tbs finely grated Parmesan cheese (I used the kind that comes from one of those shaker tops…. you know which one I’m talking about… don’t judge it’s good)

*cracked peppercorns, to taste

*1 tsp. Dill weed

*1 tsp. Garlic powder

*Milk, enough to thin out the dressing to the desired consistency.

In a small bowl or small glass jar add mayonnaise.

Next add sour cream.

Then add Parmesan

Cracked peppercorns

Lastly the dill, garlic and lemon juice.

Add milk a little at a time and stir until you reach the desired consistency. Serve on your favorite salad.

I like to store the dressing in a small glass jar.

Store up to 5 days in the refrigerator.

Enjoy!