May Recap

Happy we-made-it-through-May! Phew. I’m so happy with my event, and also so happy I’m done. It is such a relief and a learning experience for me. I wanted to see myself do it better than last year, make good changes, and do it for the city I love and with the team I love. I’m so proud to design my route to show the parts of the city that are so special and to make it the weekend of a lifetime. This month is such a doozy and I’m thankful to also move on to have more wiggle room and free time. Just you wait for some fun June posts now that I can breathe again.

Maybe June will be the month I get back on my “year of the: craft”. I seriously fell off that bandwagon and have some catching up to do. cough:since:February:couch. Ms. K and I have thought about all our pinterest crafts coupled with sangria for a really great day. Maybe June will be the winner?

May seriously flew by. I think time is going by faster in my pre-30s. I FINALLY went to the Bacon & Beer Festival. So fun! Armed with a spork and 1 mini beer cup we traversed through the crowds and I loved seeing who had Bacon foods there. I’ve been dreaming of this day.
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I make ‘em a lot, so I figured I’d share Calzone Tips & Tricks. My #1 trick: fill. it. up. Seriously. Fill it more than you think.
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Mr. J helped me out with a guest post of his specialty Huevos Rancheros. His photos are drool-worthy.
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I successfully baked something! These Peanut Butter and Jelly Gramwiches were a shot in the dark but came out great!

Windsor got dog-shamed on the blog…but isn’t he so cute?
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Those are some of my favorite posts/happenings of May. Happy June!

Soft & Crunchy Taco Together

After seeing a LOT of Taco Bell ads for Dorrito tacos I remembered a taco they used to make with a hard AND soft taco together. I think it was a crunchwrap supreme or google images tells me maybe it was a gordita? I like the crunchwrap supreme name.

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I basically glued the soft tortilla to the crunchy shell with cheese. Glued together with cheese. What a wonderful phrase!

I layed the flour tortilla down and topped it with some salsa con queso and shredded cheddar.
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I placed the crunchy shell on top
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I then put them into the oven for 5 minutes, flipping once.
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It melted the cheese and softened the tortilla.
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They didn’t stay together perfectly, but gravity helped. These were totally fun and a little bit different. There’s no reason to eat twice the calories but they are automatically better than Taco Bell’s version.

P.S. Happy birthday to my Momma!

Eggplant Parmesan Pizza

My pizza today isn’t really Memorial Day themed, but it is a winner. New England’s weather hasn’t really been Memorial Day themed either. I’m not complaining though. I got the good weather when I needed it. My freezer was getting a bit out of control and I was wanting to use some ingredients. I dug around and found some frozen bredded eggplant, courtesy of Trader Joe’s. I thought I’d introduce Mr. J to it via pizza. It was delicious.
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This is so good. The eggplant is delightfully crispy while the ricotta is creamy and the mozzarella is stretchy. There are such good flavors and textures while being a Love.

Ingredients:

6 slices of bredded eggplant
pizza dough
1 1/2 cups marinara
2 tbs basil, chopped
8 oz shredded mozzarella
2 tbs Italian seasoning
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
2 tbs Parmesan cheese

Directions:

Bake eggplant slices for about 10 minutes, flipping once.
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Prebake pizza crust for 10 minutes until it starts to harden on the outside slightly.
Top with marinara and basil.
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Shake on some Italian Seasoning after topping with shredded mozzarella.
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Top with eggplant, and dollops of ricotta.
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Return to the oven and bake for 5-7 more minutes until all the cheese melts. Sprinkle with Parmesan before serving and let sit 3-5 minutes before slicing.
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I loved this one. Ricotta on pizza is to die for. It is perfectly melty and adds some soft texture. I thought it was a nice in-between of kind of a topping and kind of the base.

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Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars

These Peanut Butter and Jelly bars came out of nowhere. I agreed to make some sort of treat for the office when they hit a goal. The recipient would get a treat themed as the prize according to their role during our event. I hadn’t thought out what I’d make and figured I’d wing it when it happened. Welp. It happened earlier than I thought (which was a good thing) and SOMEHOW I was able to whip these babies up with ingredients at home.

On our event, the participants, volunteers, and staff go bananas over these gramwiches. They seem to only be available in huuuuge quantities (like catering quantities, not even wholesale quantities). I attempted a homemade version and they were amazing. Maybe we were just starved and up to our eyeballs in calls/emails/etc but these seemed perfect. I’m not a big baker so that’s precisely why I don’t need to be humble about these babies. Stellar.
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Adapted from Ina Garten’s Peanut Butter & Jelly Bars

Ingredients:

2 sticks butter
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup peanut butter chips
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup jam (I used strawberry)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup oatmeal
1/2 tsp cinnamon
5 graham crackers, crumbled

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350-degrees and grease a 9×9 baking pan.
Using a stand mixer, mix 1 stick of butter, sugar, and vanilla for about 2 minutes.
Add peanut butter, eggs and mix until combined, scraping down the sides.
Mixing on low, add flour, baking powder, and salt until combined.
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Add peanut butter chips and mix by hand.
Press into the bottom of the baking pan.
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Top with jam.
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Melt other stick of butter and mix with brown sugar, oatmeal, cinnamon, and graham crackers into a crumble.
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Add topping to the pan.
Bake for 30 minutes. Allow to cool before cutting.
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These were so good. You know what makes them this good? The butter. The topping was so good because all good things have butter in them. It makes such a difference.

I totally need to make these again. I’d probably up the jelly ratio…and maybe I’d double the batch.

Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad Wrap

My event is over. Phew. I’m still just so tired. My head is spinning. There is a lot of stress, pressure, and info swirling but I’m happy. I’m happy how it went. I’m happy how our team did, annnnd I’m happy I don’t have to do it again this weekend already.

Now I’m detoxing. We work so hard and so long that eating and sleeping aren’t top priorities. Now I need to eat real food. I love organizing our meals but feeding that many people, with enough options, is exhausting. Every meal we were at I was thinking of if the next needed confirmations, to be picked up, or paid for. Now I’ll slowly get back to real life.

Ingredients:

1 large chicken breast (or 2 small, or 3 tenders)
1/2 cup creamy caesar dressing
2 tbs Italian dressing
1 head romaine lettuce
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1 cup croutons
1 tomato
1/4 cucumber
2 tortilla wraps

Directions:

Marinade chicken in 1/2 of the caesar dressing and Italian dressings overnight or for at least 4 hours.
Grill chicken until cooked through completely.
Chop/slice lettuce, tomatoes, and cucumber while chicken cooks.
Toss lettuce, Parmesan, and remaining dressing.
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Cut cooked chicken into bite size pieces.
Assemble wraps drizzling with extra caesar dressing.
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It was really good. I used tomato basil wraps and they have a nice sweetness to contrast the dressing. The chicken was really good off the grill.
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Sandwiches are such a quick dinner. The quantity of chicken for this is so small, but is the perfect amount for a wrap. It is definitely an economical way to include some protein.

Totally unrelated. Here’s the pup Windsor. He was feeling ashamed after being told to get his head out of the dishwasher. He’d love to be a pre-wash if not told to stop…but isn’t that face so cute??

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Bacon & Beer Festival

I did it. I went to Bacon & Beer Fest. Finally! The tickets sell out in the first 10-minutes online. Luckily, Ms. L was on it and grabbed a few. It benefits Community Servings and Lovin’ Spoonfuls. I love those two groups but was disappointed that there was zero representation of the organizations.

The event was great, though now it is a bit outdated. Better late than never. The lighting and crowds didn’t make it an ideal photo-op, but I had to snap a few while juggling my beer cup and spork.

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Check out the crowds. There were restaurants on the floor and breweries and more restaurants around the edges on 2 levels.
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Bacon, cheese, and fig spread on a crustini:
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This was huge and not our favorite, but I really liked the idea.
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This mac & cheese had smoked pork and avocado cream.
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This was my favorite sweet bite of the day. It was a take on a smore from Petit Robert.
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Pigs in a Blanket

Let’s reminice, shall we? I randomly remembered going out to breakfast, as a kid, on the Cape, and getting pigs in a blanket. Once I thought of it, I was obsessed. It may have happened the very next night. I am kind of on the fence about sweet breakfast. It always seems like a good idea at the time, but I really only want savory items in the morning. This is such the best of both worlds.

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When I was a kid, I got sausage links with a pancake rolled around it. The crumbles just seemed much easier. And I was using sausage from the freezer.

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I served them with some brown sugared apples
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They were fluffy and sweet with the perfect hint of savory.

Guest Post: Huevos Rancheros

Today Mr. J provides a guest post for you. He’s quite the cook, though he doesn’t get as many chances to make dinner. With dinners like this, he could be cooking a lot more often! 

First and foremost, I do not claim to have a Mexican cooking background nor is this an authentic recipe. This was my interpretation of Huevos Rancheros based on looking at a few recipes online and determining what we had on hand for ingredients. I was looking for a quick weeknight breakfast meal for dinner and came across several Huevos Rancheros recipes online, many of which offered different variations on preparation and ingredients.

I didn’t have all the ingredients to make a fresh salsa, so I chopped some fresh tomato and added it to some existing jar salsa to freshen it up a bit.

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I preheated the oven to around 250 degrees, and then heated some olive oil on a griddle pan. I dropped two flour tortillas on the pan for about 2-3 minutes per side, just long enough to get some browning and bubbling, and then transferred them to the oven to stay warm.

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The eggs are the key ingredient in my mind, and I noticed some recipes taking a shortcut by using scrambled eggs. I prepared them sunny side up, because the runny yolk ties everything together and is so delicious.

When the eggs were almost done, I pulled the tortillas from the oven and topped with shredded cheese,

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Then topped that with the sunny side up eggs,

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Followed by the salsa,

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Finally finishing with more shredded cheese and a dash of parsley.

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I was really pleased with how these turned out. They didn’t take more than 10-15mins to prepare and are perfect for a quick and easy weeknight dinner.

What I Ate: Hot Ham & Cheese with Poppyseed Sauce

Here’s a copy-cat recipe from Pioneer Woman making a pretty tasty spread for sandwiches

I made these kind of envisioning that they would bridge the gap between winter and spring. They’re also easy. And they’re cheap. Yup, spring-ish/easy/cheap fit the bill perfectly. Work is a bit crazy right now. I can’t believe it is May. I’m not sure if I should feel like crying or puking right now.

Ingredients:

2 rolls
1/4 pound sliced honey ham
2-4 slices of American cheese
2 tbs stone ground mustard
2 tbs mayo
1 tsp poppyseeds
1/2 tsp red wine vinegar
1/2 tsp chopped garlic
1/2 tsp honey

Directions:

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees
Mix ingredients for the sandwich spread: mustard, mayo, poppyseeds, vinegar, garlic, and honey.
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Assemble sandwiches
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Cover and bake for 10 minutes.
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I liked the spread, but I don’t know that I’d purposely make it again. It might be a fun option at a sandwich bar or making the every-day-lunch more exciting. I don’t use horseraddish often but maybe that was really the missing link. I think this spread was just OK but when Ree Drumand makes it, there’s prob a reason why she adds horseradish.

This is a mild spread. I love condiments so this one was only “ehhh” to me. The sandwiches were melty and warmed through while not having any butter or grease. I think they were a pretty good option to keep things different but I might not make them all that regularly.

Cost breakdown:
rolls: 2 @ $0.45 each
ham: 1/4 pound @ $4.99 per pound 1.24
cheese: 1/2 pound @ $5.99 per pound 2.99
mayo: <$1.00
stone ground mustard:  <$1.00
poppy seeds: <$2.00
total: about $7.13 for 2 sandwiches or $3.56 each (prob wayyy less if you already have mayo/mustard/etc)

If you have leftover poppy seeds whip up some everything bagel dip!

Calzone Tips and Tricks

I make calzones a lot and have figured out some helpful tips I think are worth sharing. There’s nothing worse than spending the time to buy everything, assemble, bake, and then discover it feels like there’s nothing inside! They are easy to prep and work perfectly to prep in advance.

1) Preheat the oven to 400-degrees AND preheat the pan or pizza stone.
This helps the bottom of the calzone get crisp enough and not soggy.

2) Prep inside ingredients while the oven is preheating. Today’s example is turkey meatballs, shredded mozzarella, and fresh spinach. I like to keep fillings simple and varied. Mess around with the cheese a veggie or whatever else. The best calzones have a few textures and don’t only have wet ingredients.

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some of my favorites have been: Chicken Cordon Bleu (chicken cutlets, shredded swiss, and ham); Cheeseburger Calzone (ground chicken, American or cheddar, tomatoes, spinach, and special sauce); Prosciutto, Apple, and Brie (with only those ingredients or swapping pear for apple); and of course turkey meatball, spinach, and mozzarella.

3) Assemble your calzone on the surface you’re baking it on. I can’t even imagine trying to move a calzone. By using a hot pan or pizza stone it will actually cook the bottom of your calzone a tiny bit while you assemble! Multi-tasking! Fill that calzone more than you think is necessary. Seriously. Really fill it up so much that you have to stretch the dough to close it up. You want layers and the filling to reach completely to the edges and piled high.
turkey_meatball_filled_590_390 Close it up by pinching the dough around the insides. Put some pressure on the fillings to spread them out again. Don’t squish it completely though.

4) Cut some slits into the top so air can come out. This allows it to vent and cook better. I bake mine for about 30 minutes or so at 400-degrees. Bake for 15 if you’re going to freeze it and cook it the rest of the way later, or if you’re serving it another day. Then you’ll bake it the rest of the way and it won’t be overcooked. Brush the tops with eggwash if you want them shiny. I often skip this and just spray a bit of olive oil over the tops for some shine.
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5) Cut and enjoy! Or, Label with preheating instructions if you’re not the one cooking it the rest of the way.
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