I had a day off during the week.
Glorious. Delicious. Relaxing. Exciting….kind of like skipping class, but without the consequences.
No alarm clock mid – week…whatttt? Yeah, kind of awesome. Lazy mornings that leak into mid-afternoon…my sweatpants are quite versatile, they can take me from pre-dawn to late afternoon…it is all in the accessories. Trade off those slippers with socks and you are golden.
My mid-week day off was in exchange for weekend work. I get two of these days once a month…which means I have to work one weekend a month. In the world of pharmacy…this is a pretty good gig. People still get sick after 5pm on Fridays… Weekends happen. But days off during the week are a great exchange if you ask me…Now if you had this whole being an adult thing down, you would schedule eye/dental/doctor/hair/etc appointments or do whatever it is adults do on their days off…clean? Organize closets? Prep a whole week worths of dinner? Fold laundry? I don’t know…but I don’t do those things until I have to….
No, I do zero of those above mentioned things… I lounge in sweatpants, watch endless amounts of Netflix and Hulu, drink coffee until late afternoon, catch up on my Google Reader, and spend the entire morning thinking of what to make for lunch. I have time to make a kick ass lunch…a lunch not found in a brown paper sack or in my case, my purse…I just toss things in as I am walking out the door every morning…apple, yogurt, a box of soup from Trader Joe’s that will last me all week…all fits in my purse, no paper sack needed. Saving the earth, one lunch at at time.
I had cheese on the brain this go around. And bacon. And was craving a favorite pizza combo. I had hearty crusty bread. Ranch, check. Leftover roasted chicken, always. It was destiny.
Let’s make a day off grilled cheese. The best kind.
Buttered crusty bread. Ranch. Extra Sharp Cheddar Cheese. Chicken. Bacon.
Done. Done. Done. Done. And. Done.
Step 1: Slather the non-buttered side of bread with ranch.
Step 2: Cheese.
And A LOT of it.
Step 3: Leftover Roast Chicken
Step 4: BACON!!!
Step 5: Even more cheese.
Step 6: Ranch slathered bread.
People, this is a masterpiece.
Step 7: Grill it. Or panini press it.
Step 8: Admire the masterpiece.
A tad cocky, perhaps. But this sandwich was AAAHHHMAAZZZING.
Step 9: Sit back, put your slipper/sock clad feet up, flip on some Friday Night Lights, and enjoy your mid-week kick ass lunch.
You earned it.
That morning was rough.
- 2 Slices thick cut crusty bread.
- 3 Slices Bacon, cut in half so you have 6 pieces of bacon
- 2-3 Tablespoons Ranch Dressing
- 2 Tablespoons Butter
- 3-4oz. Leftover Roasted Chicken, thinly sliced
- 1-2oz. Extra Sharp Cheddar, thinly sliced
- Extra Ranch Dressing for dipping – if you are like me and LOVE ranch.
- Cook bacon in a skillet over medium heat until crispy. Transfer bacon to a papertowel lined plate (to drain excess grease) and drain off grease. If you do not have a panini press (join the club!), use this skillet to make the grilled cheese.
- Butter one side of each slice of bread.
- Take one slice of bread, butter side down and slather the other side of the bread with 1 tablespoon of ranch dressing (or a tad bit more if you like). Place half of the cheese on top of the ranch. Layer on chicken and bacon. Top with remaining cheddar cheese.
- Slather remaining slice of bread with remaining ranch dressing and place atop the cheese, ranch side down, butter side up.
- Place sandwich on panini press and cook until bread is golden brown and cheese is melty. If you do not have a panini press, do not fret. Place non-stick skillet over medium heat. Transfer sandwich to skillet and cook until bread becomes golden brown and the cheese begins to melt. Carefully flip sandwich and cook the other side of the sandwich until golden brown. You may need to place a heavy pan atop the sandwich when you are grilling it, to smash it down a bit – helps stick it all together. I used a square pyrex dish.
- Remove from skillet, slice in half, and enjoy immediately.
I made bacon jam.
I am also watching golf…on TV.
Today is weird.
I don’t even know me right now.
I enjoy bacon. I am a fan of jam. I figured I would love bacon jam. I was right.
I can’t play golf. I have never played one hole let alone a front nine or back nine or a full eighteen, which honestly is a little overkill. I can count the number of times I have played putt putt on my left hand (or right for that matter). My only attempt at golf was as a kid, we hit golf balls in my grandparent’s orchard…I spent more time searching for my golf balls in the bean/corn fields that flanked the sides of the orchard. A result of hooks and slices. I never grasped the ability to hit is straight. And those miniature golf pencils used for keeping score …we used those to keep score of the never-ending gin rummy game. That has to count for something. No?Read More
Ever feel like you are just one step behind, just a little late. I think I am perpetually meant to be one step behind, I mean, I am kind of good at it. Getting to the party just a little past fashionably late. Where you sneak in and close the door quietly behind you so that the party in the next room isn’t disrupted and so that you can sneak in without being truly noticed, because you don’t enjoying being the center of anything. You slip your shoes off and place them next to a pair of wedges that you take notice of and quickly snag a glance at the designer/brand and make a quick mental note to add those to your wish list and wonder/hope if they are still available in your size. You take quick inventory of your socks, praying there are no holes and that they are matching. You toss your jacket and scarf over an empty chair and slip ever so quietly into the background of the party, scanning and searching for a friendly familiar face.
This one step behind phenomenon is kind of ironic, seeing how I am one of the most punctual people I know. I learned early on that to be early is on time, on time is to be late, and to be late is to be left behind. This may have pertained to team sports and practice and bus schedules and wasn’t meant to be a life lesson, but it has stuck with me.
I have gotten used to showing up to the party a bit late….I am just glad I get to the party, safe and sound.
So when I discovered the glories of grits, I just assumed I was probably the last to figure this out. And I think I am. The grit party started hours ago and here I am, sneaking in…trying to pretend that I have been here from the start. But I haven’t and that is OK…it doesn’t matter when you show up, just that you do. So here I am…tying on my party hat, grabbing a cocktail, and joining in on the party.
- 4 Cups Water
- 1 Cup Stone Ground Grits (or polenta)
- Salt and pepper
- 2 Cups Shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese
- 3 Tablespoons Butter
- ⅓ Cup Whole Milk
- 1 Pound Shrimp, peeled,deveined, tails removed
- 6 Strips Thick Cut Bacon, chopped
- 2 Bunches of green onions, thinly sliced (about 1 cup)
- 2 Tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
- 2 Cloves Garlic, minced
- 4 teaspoons Lemon Juice (from a lemon shaped bottle is fine)
- In a medium sauce pan, bring the water to a boil. Add 1 teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper. Stir in grits and whisk to combine. Reduce temperature to low. Cook for about 20 minutes (or according to package directions) until water is absorbed and the grits have thickened. Remove from heat and stir in butter, milk, and cheese.
- Meanwhile, rinse shrimp and pat dry.
- Fry the bacon in a large skillet until crispy. Remove with a slotted spoon onto a plate lined with paper towel. Set aside.
- Discard all but 3 to 4 tablespoons of bacon grease. Add shrimp to bacon grease and cook until shrimp turn pink (just a few minutes).
- Add bacon, green onions, parsley, garlic, and lemon juice. Cook for about 3 more minutes.
- Serve the shrimp over a healthy helping of grits. Serve immediately.
adapted slightly from Bobby Flay
Apple butter is probably one of my favorite foods this side of the Mississippi. Now if you go west of the Mississippi, all bets are off. I mean, who knows what I will encounter. Wisconsin and a whole state of cheese are west of the Mississippi…While apple butter would surely hold a spot in the top 5, cheese surely may knock it down a few notches. However, cheese and apple butter in combination, as in sliced and slathered on a cracker…now we are getting some where. But I am getting ahead of myself.
Apple butter. Wanna know my favorite way to eat it? No? To bad, this is my blog. My favorite way to enjoy this scrumptious spread is by the spoonful. That is right, straight from the jar, by the spoonful. Or fork. Or knife. The utensil doesn’t really matter…I would use my finger, but that would be uncouth, and couth, well couth I have . Sometimes.
Apple butter, if you are new to the world of fruit butters, actually contains no real butter. Sorry butter lovers. No butter has ever been harmed in the making of a fruit butter. Apple butter is simply a concentrated version of apple sauce. Apples and cider (or water) are cooked long and slow together, concentrating the flavor and caramelizing the sugars, giving it that deep brown color. Oh apple butter, how I love thee. While apple butter is great simply by the spoonful, slathered on saltines (my second favorite way to enjoy), biscuits, or toast…or another favorite, substituted for jam or jelly on a peanut/almond butter sandwich (so good!)…it is suberb in baked goods and savory dishes. I have used it here, and here, and you can find a ton of recipes here. As you can see, I am not a newbee to the world of apple butter. I am an apple butter conisieur if you may.
Being a coniseiur, one would assume I have narrowed down the best brand…and you would be correct. My go to for apple butter is Musselman’s. Hands down, the best out there. I am always stocked with a jar in the pantry and an open one in the fridge. So you can imagine my thrill, when Musselman’s contacted me to devlope a recipe for them, using their apple butter. A chance to eat more apple butter? Where do I sign up?
Apple butter bacon pizza is where my brain went. I am sucker for anything salty and sweet. Sweet and Salty. Sugar. Salt. I am a goner. Once my brain went there…there was no turning back. And this time around, pizza was my vessel for the salty sweet combination. If you are wondering if apple butter would make a perfect pizza sauce, then you would be correct and do you wanna be my friend? Never mind. Any way… apple butter slathered on a homemade or store bought crust and then topped with layers of toasted pecans, crispy bacon, caramelized onions, and lots of shredded gouda cheese is the perfect pizza for a chilly friday night. Watch out though…with the salty sweet combination…you may not be able to stop at just one slice or one pizza!
- 1 (15-inch) unbaked pizza crust (from scratch recipe follows, or use store-bought refrigerated pizza dough)
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 2 teaspoons unsalted butter
- 1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
- Pinch of salt
- 1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 1 cup Musselman’s Apple Butter
- Pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)
- 6 strips cooked bacon, roughly chopped
- 1 ½ – 2 cups shredded Gouda cheese
- ⅓ cup pecans, roughly chopped
- About 2 cups baby arugula to finish
- Preheat oven to 450 F.
- In a medium skillet or cast iron skillet, heat olive oil and melt butter over medium heat. Add onions. Toss onions to coat.
- Let onions cook, without stirring, for about 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, give the onions a stir and add a pinch of salt. Let onions cook for another 5 to 7 minutes, without stirring.
- At this point, remove skillet from heat momentarily, and add balsamic vinegar. Stir to incorporate. Place skillet back onto heat and continue cooking until onions are caramelized and broken down, about another 10 minutes or so. Remove from heat and set aside until ready to build pizza.
- Place unbaked pizza crust on a cookie sheet or pizza stone and bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven.
- Evenly spread apple butter over crust and sprinkle a pinch of red pepper flakes over the apple butter. Spread caramelized onions over apple butter, and then sprinkle chopped bacon and pecans evenly over the onions. Top with shredded Gouda. Place in oven (still at 450 F) and bake for an additional 8 to 12 minutes, or until cheese is bubbling and browning.
- Remove from oven and let sit for about 5 minutes before slicing.
- Slice pizza and top each slice with fresh baby arugula to finish.
- Note, cooking times may vary if using store-bought refrigerated pizza dough.
1 (15-inch) crust
3/4 cup warm water (about 110°F)
1 package active dry yeast
1 Tablespoon flour
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 ¾ cup flour, divided
1 ½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons olive oil
1. In a small bowl, whisk together warm water, yeast, 1 tablespoon flour and sugar. Let sit for 5 minutes. It should form a foamy like layer. If it doesn’t, your yeast is dead, and you need to start over with new yeast and make sure your water isn’t too warm.
2. In a mixing bowl, with dough hook attached, mix to combine 1 ¼ cup flour and salt. With mixer on low, slowly add yeasty mixture and olive oil. Continue to mix until flour is all incorporated, and then slowly add remaining flour (tablespoon by tablespoon) until the dough forms a soft ball that is no longer sticky. This mixing should take about 8-10 minutes. Turn dough out into a lightly greased bowl, cover, and let rise for about 60-90 minutes, until doubled in size.
3. Once the dough is doubled in size, punch down dough and let rest for an additional 5 minutes. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and roll or stretch dough into a 15-inch circle. Place dough onto a cookie sheet or pizza stone.
**This blog post was sponsored by Musselmans and while they offered to provide me with apple butter to create this recipe, I declined seeing how I already had 2 jars in my pantry, ready and waiting.**Read More
I hated BLT night growing up.
I also hated beets. Brussel sprouts. Dried beef gravy (is this made only my family?). Tunafish or egg salad lunches. Pot roast. Hamburgers. Pickled eggs. Breakfast in general. Steak.
But BLT night was my nemesis. I just wasn’t a fan of bacon. WHHAATT??? True. My breakfast meat of choice was sausage. Had they been SLT sandwiches, I would have been all over those like white on rice. But bacon? Ugh. What a chore. And then there was the whole toast situation…kids don’t like toast. Or crust, which is what bread becomes when it is toasted. One big piece of crust, which was only edible when well coated with butter, cinnamon, and sugar. Or grape jelly, spread lovingly by your mother – because, seriously, even at 29…a piece of toast, buttered and jellied by mom tastes better than if the Julia Child had done it. Am I right, or am I right? How to properly spread jam and butter on toast is taught in child birthing class….this I am sure of.
Thankfully, I grew out of this (and the rest of my dislikes). And it has turned into one of my most comforting meals during the summer. My absolute adoration of bacon helped turn the tables. I can not be trusted with bacon. I can only prepare what I plan on using. There is no, making the whole one pound and storing the leftovers in the fridge and tossing a bit in my eggs for breakfast or crumbling a slice or two in my salad for lunch or mixing it in soup for dinner. No. I will just snack on the bacon, all day long. Instead of a granola bar…2 slices of bacon. How about carrot sticks and hummus? Ha, good one. 2 more slices of bacon. Apple? Hehe, you are funny. Bacon. It is like I am making up for lost time. Trust me friends, I am not joking. I will actually snack on bacon. Do not do this.
How do you like your BLT? All-American soft white bread or thick and crusty sourdough? Toasted? And do you slather mayo all over that bad boy? I’ll take my BLT with real mayo, iceberg lettuce (no fancy stuff here), and sourdough (or anything thick and crusty) toasted. And, well, with avocado. I know, I know, I know. BLT sacrilege, right? Lets call it a California BLT and be done with it. The smoothness and creaminess of the avocado adds such a great texture contrast to the crispy and crunchy bacon, lettuce, and toast. How come mid-westerners call anything with an avocado, Californian? Suppose Californians order Ohio BLTs or Iowa chicken club sandwiches when they don’t want avocados?
But hey we aren’t eating a sandwich today. Nah, I figured I would deconstruct the sandwich and toss together a salad. So this really isn’t a recipe, because who needs a recipe for a salad? It is more like a plan…a little bit of this, a touch of that, and adjust to taste. Salads are super simple and great for the summer, or at least what we have left of summer. This would be great as the main dish or perfect along side a juicy hamburger.
And I am off to eat the rest of that bacon…
- ½ Loaf of day old French, Italian, or Sourdough bread ( I used Italian)
- 4-6 Tablespoons Olive Oil
- 3 Garlic Cloves, peeled and crushed (not chopped)
- Salt and Pepper
- 1 Ripe Avocado, pitt removed and scooped out of shell
- 1 Large Handful Fresh Cilantro (about ½-3/4 Cup)
- 2 Garlic Cloves, peeled
- ½ Cup Olive Oil
- ¼ Cup Red Wine Vinegar
- 1 Teaspoon Lemon Juice
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- 6-8 slices of Bacon, cooked and roughly chopped.
- Tomatoes, sliced into wedges
- About 6-8 Cups of Lettuce – a good mix of arugula and romaine
- salt and pepper
- Make the croutons first. Preheat oven to 200F.
- Cut stale bread into 1 inch by 1 inch cubes ( no need to measure, just guess) and spread them out evenly, in a single layer on a baking sheet.
- In a small saucepan, combine olive oil and crushed garlic. Saute garlic for about 3 minutes ( you do not want the garlic to brown). Remove from heat and discard garlic.
- Pour olive oil over bread cubes and toss to coat. Place in oven and bake for about 40-60 minutes, depending on how crunchy you like them. I prefer mine to be a bit chewy in the center, so I removed mine after 45 minutes.
- Remove from oven and let cool.
- While the croutons are baking, prepare the salad dressing. In a food processor, combine the avocado, cilantro, garlic, olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Process until smooth. Taste and adjust salt and pepper to your liking.
- Toss together bacon, lettuce, tomato, and croutons. Drizzle with salad dressing. Enjoy!