Monte Cristo Sandwiches
This sandwich was first introduced to me by my grandmother. Some of the best recipes involve a mix of flavors that seem unusual but come together in a wonderful way. I have made Monte Cristos for small groups and big groups and they always disappear quickly!!
A couple of tidbits that I find important when preparing Monte Cristos are:
-Use fresh deli meat if possible (tastes good either way but better with deli meat sliced thinly)
-Do not shy away from the powdered sugar! It’s important!!
-Follow the directions and let the sandwiches rest in the oven for at least 5-10 minutes. During this time gather everyone to the table and prepare to feast!
bread slices (Sourdough is pretty awesome)
white cheese (Provolone, swiss, monterey, mozzarella, etc.)
yellow cheese (Cheddar, colby, etc.)
eggs (about 3 to 6 or more depending on how many sandwiches you are making)
As you can see from the ingredient list, this recipe is open to much variation. Bread, cheese, and meat all variable to preference in a Monte Cristo.
DirectionsPut together your sandwiches in this order: bread, yellow cheese, turkey, ham, white cheese, bread (I like contrasting the light and darker colors). Beat eggs in a bowl and preheat your griddle to 350-375 degrees (or medium - high heat). Also preheat oven to 350 degrees and get a cookie sheet or other large pan ready. Dip one side of sandwich and then the other into the egg mixture and place on greased griddle (This part can be messy!). Make sure the sandwich soaks up plenty of the egg. Flip the sandwich when each side reaches a golden brown and then place onto cookie sheet in oven. When you finish grilling all your sandwiches, let them continue to sit in the oven for 5 to 10 minutes. This allows the cheese to finish melting and any runny egg to finish cooking. When ready, cut each sandwich in half, pile them onto a platter, and dust with powdered sugar. Serve with grapes or any other summer fruit and enjoy! Note - I like to provide a small bowl of additional powdered sugar and also dijon mustard as an option for people to add to their sandwiches if desired.
The following two recipes are among my favorite treats to bring to holiday festivities. They also make wonderful gifts! The pecans will fill your house with an amazing sugary, cinnamon holiday smell. The cranberry pepper jelly, well, I would pick a day when company or family members with sensitive noses are absent! Regardless, I love the canning process and the result is sooo yummy (and gluten free)! Merry Christmas and Enjoy!
2 cups Pecans
½ cup brown sugar
½ tsp salt
1 tbs water
1 egg white
1 tsp cinnamon sugar
Combine all ingredients. Spread mixture on greased cookie sheet. Bake at 300 degrees for 45 to 50 minutes.Keep an eye on the pecans towards the end, and use your judgement and taste buds to gage when they are finished. When finished, scrape the pecans away from the pan and let cool for 10 minutes. The pecans should be toasted and the sugar should be crunchy.
Cranberry Pepper Jelly
7 cups chopped red peppers (5-7 large)
1 cup cranberries (low bush)
1-2 fresh jalapeno peppers
4 cups apple cider vinegar
6 cups sugar
2 tsp salt
After chopping the red peppers, place 2 cups peppers and 1 cup vinegar in a blender and blend for about 5 seconds. Pour mixture into a large pot and then repeat two more times with the same ingredients and amounts. With your last cup of peppers, include the cup of cranberries and also the last cup of vinegar. Blend and pour into pot. Deseed and finely chop the jalapeno peppers, and add into pot. Add in sugar and salt, stir together, and bring mixture to a boil. Keep mixture boiling for 25 to 30 min, stirring occasionally until slightly thickened. Turn off heat and follow canning instructions. The jelly will continue to thicken as it cools.
This recipe should fill about 16 four oz jars or 8 eight oz jars. You will need a good set of tongs to handle the hot jars. Make sure your jars and lids have been washed in warm, soapy water. Before canning it is recommended that you also sterilize your jars and lids (not the bands!) in boiling water for about 10 minutes. Before filling, keep your jars and lids in hot water (doesn’t have to be boiling) so the sudden heat from the jelly and processing bath do not break them. Have a large pot of boiling water ready for the processing bath. When ready, fill the jars to just below the threading. Wipe away any jelly from the lip, place a lid onto the jar, and twist on the band. Complete as many that will fit in your pot (do not stack jars in bath). Place jars in boiling water for 5 minutes to process. When finished, pull the jars out and set somewhere where they won't be disturbed for 20-30 minutes. Repeat until finished. You will be able to tell the jars have processed when the top middle of the lid goes from convex to concave. A happy sound you'll hear is a small pop! which is the lid sealing. Do not worry if they don’t all “pop” but make sure they have completely sealed by lightly tapping the top with your finger. The sound will start as a low, hollow sound and change to a tight, high pitched ting when jar has been sealed. Once in awhile you may get a bad lid, a lip that wasn’t wiped sufficiently, a jar with too much or too little jelly, etc.. and the lid will not seal. Good news is it is still edible and will keep for quite awhile in the fridge, but do not give it away or store it as a canned good. If you have any questions or concerns feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
This dough can be used for pizza crust, rolls, breadsticks, calzones, monkey bread, cinnamon rolls, you name it! I generally can use one batch for two pizza crusts, breadsticks, and a small batch of cinnamon rolls. Store any leftover amounts of dough in your refrigerator and use within the next several days.
1 ½ cup warm water
2 ¼ tsp. active dry yeast
1/3 cup sugar
½ cup milk
1 tsp. salt
5-7 cups of flour
1/3 cup butter (room temp. or slightly softened)
Combine warm water and yeast in mixing bowl and let sit until dissolved. Add in sugar, salt, milk, and 3 cups of flour. Mix on high for at least 3 minutes. Add in butter and continue to mix on high until batter is smooth. Start adding flour slowly with the mixer on a medium/low setting. Add about 1 cup of flour at a time to start, then gradually less and less until the batter pulls away completely from the bowl. At this point you can either knead the dough for 5-10 minutes by hand, or you can use a dough hook if your mixer has one.
Let dough rise in a greased bowl for about 30-60 min in a warm place. (Note – if you are making rolls or monkey bread, you can skip this step by immediately forming the rolls and letting them rise in the pan.)
Once your dough has doubled it is ready to use.
Banana Chocolate Chip Batter Dip
Perhaps some of you have seen those healthy cookie dough or cake batter dips circulating the internet. Well this is an adaptation from that idea. It is low fat, gluten free, dairy free, and wheat free. However unfortunately it is not calorie free… sigh
Banana Chocolate Chip Batter Dip
1 15 oz can Garbanzo Beans
½ cup water
1 cup dried pitted dates
¼ cup brown sugar
2 tbs vanilla
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup mini chocolate chips
Dump all the ingredients, except the chocolate chips, in a food processor or a really good blender. Blend until smooth and then mix chocolate chips in by hand. Serve with animal crackers, fruit, graham crackers, or maybe just eat it with a spoon! Enjoy!!
Turkey Basil Fried Rice
This meal was created for entry into a recipe challenge contest hosted by Chow.com and Outlook. With each entry Outlook pledges to contribute $10.00 to the charity Common Threads. Common Thread’s mission is to teach children in underserved communities how to prepare healthy meals. The challenge was to create a recipe using ground turkey, brown rice, basil, and carrots. Also the recipe needed to have 10 ingredients or less. Here is my entry and also my dinner for the next couple nights. Good thing it is yummy!
Turkey Basil Fried Rice
2 cups brown rice
1-1.5 lbs ground turkey
3 tbs soy sauce
4 tbs oil
1 carrot shredded
6 green onions chopped
20 basil leaves chopped
8 oz can pineapple
3 tbs sweet chili sauce
Put rice in a pot with 4 cups of water and bring to a boil. When water has reached boiling point, turn off stovetop leaving your pot on the burner, cover with lid, and let sit for about 30 minutes for rice to cook. Put 2 tbs of oil in a large saucepan or wok and cook ground turkey on medium high until cooked through. Place chopped green onions, basil leaves, and shredded carrots in with the meat and cook for another minute or two. Push meat mixture to the side, break your eggs into the pan, and scramble them in the space away from the meat. When the eggs are almost completely scrambled, add in the rice, pineapple (including the juice), soy sauce, sweet chili sauce, and the other 2 tbs of oil. Mix gently until the eggs are fully integrated into the rice and meat. Serve hot and enjoy!
Scrambled Egg Braid
Tonight was “Brenner”. For those unaware of the term, it is breakfast for dinner. I have no shame in scrambling eggs, flipping pancakes, or frying up bacon for an evening meal. There are few mornings in the week with sufficient time to take advantage of the myriad of tasty options that can be consumed for breakfast. Thus “Brenner” has become a frequent occurrence in our household. This recipe was developed on such an occasion.
Scrambled Egg Braid
1 ½ cups flour
1/3 cup butter
½ tsp salt
4 tbs water
¾ cup cheddar cheese
6-8 slices of your favorite breakfast meat (ham, bacon, sausage, etc…)
Combine flour and salt, cut in butter, and mix in water. Roll into a long oval shape about 9 inches wide and 12 inches long and place onto a greased sheet pan. Beat eggs, reserve a small portion for brushing the top of the braid, and scramble the rest in a saucepan. Salt and pepper the eggs to taste. Place meat down the middle of your rolled out dough covering only the middle 3 inches of your 9 inch width. Place cheese and then eggs on top of meat. Cut 1 inch wide strips 3inches deep into each side of your dough. You should have about 12 on each side. Now start folding alternating sides and overlap your strips. When done, brush with reserved beaten egg, and bake for 20 minutes at 350 degrees. To really get that golden look, at the end of your baking, set oven to broil, and leave braid in for a couple minutes. Keep close watch as it can burn very easily on broil! Serve with fresh fruit and juice and enjoy!
Upside-Down Applesauce Pear Cake
Admittedly I am a pear snob. It is my favorite fruit when at that perfect degree of softness, but too soft and well…. It is a good thing I love to bake. This recipe is not as particular on how ripe the pear should be. So if you happen to find a forgotten pear in the back of your fridge (like I have on numerous occasions) then give this recipe a try.
Applesauce Pear Cake
½ cup coarsely chopped pecans
½ cup butter (1 stick)
1 cup brown sugar
1 tbs cinnamon
2 cup flour
1 tbs baking powder
1tsp baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 ½ cups applesauce
1 tsp vanilla
Pinch of nutmeg
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9 inch springform pan, or any other similarly sized cake pan. Slice pear into 12-14 slices and arrange slices in bottom of pan. Sprinkle pecans on top of pears. In saucepan melt together butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon. In medium bowl combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Pour half of the saucepan mixture over the pears and pecans and then pour the other half into the bowl with the flour. Add in the egg, applesauce, vanilla, and nutmeg to the flour mixture and then pour batter over pears. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes. (Note – I had to put a sheet pan underneath the springform pan to catch drippings that made it through the bottom) Let cool for 5-10 minutes. Remove from pan, serve warm, and enjoy!
Great Alaskan Chocolate Sheet Cake
2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
2 sticks butter
6 tablespoons cocoa (unsweetened)
1 cup water
½ cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 eggs (slightly beaten)
1 stick butter
5 tablespoons cocoa (unsweetened)
6 tablespoons buttermilk
4 cups powdered sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 cup chopped pecans (toasted)
Mix together flour and sugar in a large bowl. In a saucepan over medium-high heat, bring butter, cocoa, and water to a boil. Once bubbling starts, pour over flour mixture and stir. Add in buttermilk, baking soda, vanilla, cinnamon, and eggs. Mix thoroughly and then pour into a greased sheet pan. You can use a variety of sizes 9”x13” or bigger. I like to use a cookie sheet to make it extra big and thin for more frosting coverage! Bake for 30 min at 350 degrees F. Make sure to keep and eye on the cake when baking in different size pans for that will change the cooking time. Now while you are waiting on the cake it is time to make the frosting. Add butter, cocoa, and buttermilk to a saucepan and bring to boil. When ready, pour mixture over 4 cups of powdered sugar in a medium sized bowl. Mix well then add vanilla and pecans. I like to toast the pecans before adding them. Put them on a pan in the oven at 350 degrees for about 5 to 7 minutes, and keep an eye on them they burn quickly. Let cake cool for 5 to 10 minutes and then pour frosting over cake while it is still warm. Serve with ice cream and enjoy!
Buttermilk substitute - A quick substitute for buttermilk is to place 1 tablespoon of white vinegar or lemon juice in a baking cup and fill the cup the rest of the way with milk. Let sit for 5 minutes and voila! You have a cup of buttermilk.
Panko Halibut with Cucumber Avocado Relish and Spicy Mayo Sauce
A clean kitchen, a full pantry, and a free evening is a wonderful trifecta. A combination that while rare should immediately be taken advantage of by the experimental cook. On an evening such as this, with music blaring and a choice filet of Alaskan Halibut I set to work on a japanese themed dish. With some of my favorite sushi ingredients In mind and on hand i was hoping to develop an easy yet visually and tastefully impressive meal. I hope you enjoy the following recipe.
Serves 3 to 4
Spicy Mayo Sauce
1 cup mayonnaise
¼ cup Sriracha Hot Chili Paste
Combine mayonnaise and sriracha. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use. This sauce is very versatile. From fish, to hamburgers, to sandwiches, to dipping sauce, don’t let any leftover go unused!
(Don’t forget to start cooking your rice!!)
Cucumber Avocado Relish
1 cup chopped cilantro
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
Peel, deseed, and dice cucumber and avocado. Add together oil, vinegar, sugar, and soy sauce. Mix dressing with cucumber, avocado, and cilantro. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
1 Halibut Filet (no skin)
1 cup panko
1 egg (beaten)
½ cup flour
½ teaspoon salt
shortening for frying
Combine flour and salt. Cut halibut into 3-4 inch pieces. Preheat shortening in deep fryer to 350 degrees. Now dip each piece of fish first into the flour (shake off excess), then the egg, and finally the panko. Fry for about 1 to 3 minutes. Check your biggest piece to make sure the fish is cooked thoroughly by breaking it in half and verifying the inside flesh of the fish flakes easily. Place cooked pieces on paper towels to absorb the excess oil.
Serve fish over rice and top with cucumber relish and then the spicy mayo. Don’t be shy about experimenting with this recipe. This could be done with a variety of meats and veggies. As always have fun, eat well, and enjoy!
Skinning Halibut - An easy way to skin halibut is to cut the filet down the middle (skin side down) just through the meat and not the skin. Then pull/cut the filet starting at the middle away from the skin.