#FoodieExtravaganza: Grilled Cheese

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Happy April everyone! Did you know April might just be the best food month EVER?! Coffee cake day, caramel popcorn day, and healthy kids day are among the fun food holidays this month, along with BLT month and soft pretzel month. But today, Foodie Extravaganza is celebrating grilled cheese month, hosted by Lauren of From Gate to Plate.

Grilled cheese is a go-to lunch or dinner in my house for days we just don’t feel like cooking. I’m looking forward to the great list from this event to add some twists to the classic sandwich.

I decided to go sweet. I was going to use cream cheese, but I had mascarpone in my fridge and decided to use that. To be honest, I would have preferred the extra tang from the cream cheese, but my husband loved it as is. Use whatever you enjoy best. I only used two slices of bacon but next time, I’m going to up that to 3. Those bacony bites were the best ones!

An Original Recipe

Bacon Apple Mascarpone Grilled Cheese

Ingredients:

  • 2-3 strips center cut bacon
  • 1 small Granny Smith apple, diced
  • 2 tsp brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 4 slices whole wheat bread
  • 2 tbsp mascarpone cheese
  • butter, for spreading

Steps:

  1. In a small skillet over medium heat, cook bacon until crispy. Remove and set on a paper towel lined plate.
  2. Cook apple in the bacon grease until tender. Stir in the brown sugar, cinnamon, and a pinch of salt. Crumble the bacon and stir into the apples. Remove from heat and set aside.
  3. Spread butter on one side of each slice of bread.
  4. Spread 1 tbsp mascarpone cheese on the non-buttered side of two pieces of bread. Top with half of the apple mixture.
  5. Spread a thin layer of more mascarpone cheese on the non-buttered side of the remaining bread. Place cheese side down on top of the apples.
  6. Cook grilled cheese until golden brown, flip and repeat until cheese is soft and gooey.

BAM grilled cheese | Sew You Think You Can Cook

Be sure to check out the rest of these ooey-gooey grilled cheese recipes:

Caramelized Onion Bacon Grilled Cheese by Rebekah at Making Miracles

Grilled Cheese in the Garden by Camilla at Culinary Adventures with Camilla

Spicy Pear Grilled Cheese by Kelly at Passion Kneaded

Griddle Baked Quesadillas with Poblano Rajas by Wendy at A Day in the Life on the Farm

Ham, Apple, and Sharp Cheddar Grilled Cheese by Carlee at Cooking with Carlee

French Toast Grilled Cheese with Balsamic Berry Compote by Rholinelle at The Joyful Foodie

Grilled Cheese with Caramelized Onions and Spinach by Tara at Tara’s Multicultural Table

Chicken Cordon Bleu Grilled Cheese by Marissa at Rae Gun Ramblings

Muffuletta Grilled Cheese by Stacy at Food Lust People Love

Open Faced Italian Grilled Cheese by Kathleen at Fearlessly Creative Mammas

Chicken, Bacon, and Avocado Grilled Cheese by Jacklyn at Mrs. Penguin

Southern Grilled Cheese by Teri at The Freshman Cook

Mac and Cheese Grilled Cheese by Lauren at From Gate to Plate

Fried Lemon and Chicken Wraps

Here it is, the moment you’ve all been waiting for. Today I unveil my first New Years Resolution Original Recipe Creation! I developed Version 1 of this recipe on January 22nd. It was lacking a balance of flavor and the fried lemon wasn’t as successful as the fried tangerines in the Stir Fried Beef with Tangerines. I developed Version 2 on February 5. By happy circumstance a plan b (or would it be plan c?) the lettuce cups were transformed into a wrap. Applying mayonnaise to the wrap really provided the chicken mixture with that missing component. When you make this feel free to add your favorite sandwich toppings – tomato, lettuce, etc.

recipe development

In Version 1 I made a sauce using pomegrante molasses and honey. Wesley eating  sew you think you can cookBut still the chicken mixture was too dry. I made a note to cook the ground chicken as if it were taco meat. So I added chicken stock. I also increased the herbs and added chopped onions, a serrano pepper, and garlic to help create a depth of flavor. In tasting the meat during Version 2 I was pleased. We decided that that pomegranate sauce wasn’t necessary – and I wanted to see if my son would try it – which I couldn’t do with honey in the recipe.

frying lemonsOne thing I knew for certain for this first recipe creation of the year was that I wanted to fry lemons. Version 1 I used regular lemons but they were still bitter. I decided to go on a search for Meyer lemons. I’m so glad I found them because they fried up much more nicely – I also increased the amount of cornstarch. The cornstarch created an almost tempura-like batter to the lemons. These lemons were amazing!

I still wanted to serve the chicken in lettuce cups. I still had the head of bibb lettuce from Version 1 but it was up against the back wall of the fridge and was frozen. I salvaged a couple leaves for photography purposes – and Stuart ate them. I almost put my serving in a pita pocket but decided instead on using a tortilla. Stuart stated that they still needed a sauce of some kind. I agreed and added mayo to my wrap. It was perfect! It’s amazing how something so simply can help to meld the flavors and give it “completion.”

I hope you give my recipe a try and let me know what you think!

An Original Recipe

Fried Lemon and Chicken Wraps

Ingredients:

  • 2 C + 1 tbsp vegetable oil, divided use
  • 1 meyer lemon, sliced in circles
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 1 serrano pepper, seeds removed and diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 lb ground chicken
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 C chicken broth
  • 4 tortillas
  • mayo

Steps:

  1. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat until it reaches 350 degrees F.
  2. Toss lemon slices in cornstarch. When oil has reached temperature fry lemons for 4 minutes. Remove to a paper towel lined plate.
  3. Remove oil to a heat proof container and carefully wipe out skillet. To the same skillet, add a fresh tablespoon of oil. Saute the shallot, serrano, and garlic until tender. Add the ground chicken and season with basil, thyme, S+P.
  4. When chicken is fully cooked add chicken broth and cook until absorbed.
  5. Cut fried lemons into quarters.
  6. Spread mayo on tortilla, add the chicken and some lemon slices. Optionally, add lettuce and tomato, or your other favorite sandwich toppings.

Fried Lemon and Chicken Wraps | Sew You Think You Can Cook

#10DaysofTailgate: Maize and Blue Chicken Salad

Tailgate LogoOn this, the second Saturday of the #10DaysofTailgate event, which is hosted by Camilla of Culinary Adventures with Camilla, I have decided to put a spotlight on my other college football team – The Michigan Wolverines. My dad is a UM alum so I grew up bleeding maize and blue. And even still, I have a soft spot for the University of Michigan and those Michigan helmets!

When Not Ketchup stepped up and offered participating bloggers a sample of one of their dipping sauces I immediately knew that I’d be signing up for their Blueberry White Pepper flavor. Because when it’s football season, red is out of the question! On the back of the bottle is the slogan “Leave the red stuff for the kids.”

I wasn’t sure what to expect from the flavors of the Not Ketchup. Before receiving my bottle I was thinking of creating a barbecue sauce with it. After all, ketchup is included in most barbecue sauce recipes. I thought of doing Maize and Blue sliders and using cheddar cheese for my pop of yellow. But when I tasted this unique dipping sauce I decided to go in a different direction. Not Ketchup LogoThe blueberry flavor is nicely balanced by the white pepper and the sauce is rounded out by the tang from the apple cider vinegar.

With such a light and flavorful sauce I decided to make chicken salad instead. I knew that mayonnaise would mellow out the tartness of the sauce while fresh apple would still keep it bright and light. The beauty of chicken salad is that you can add in whatever flavors you like! I have never had a chicken salad with corn in it before, but I knew that I could satisfy my “maize” requirement with a little corn. And as a bonus, the grocery store had yellow tomatoes! My original recipe chicken salad is bright and refreshing. It isn’t drowning in dressing and has many textures and unique flavors to satisfy any pallet. I encourage you to order a bottle of Blueberry White Pepper Not Ketchup and give this recipe a go!

ThermoPop

I decided to poach chicken for my chicken salad. I like using poached chicken for chicken salad because poaching allows the chicken to absorb extra flavor and by cooking it in liquid it ensures the meat will stay moist. I even got to test out the Thermopop by ThermoWorks! With nine colors to chose from, I was ecstatic to find that I was sent the orange one! Remember – red is out of the question during football season. I have gone though a few different temperature gauges in my short cooking career. The very first one I had I broke by leaving it in the oven. TW Logo-Stacked 123C-1(Please note: The ThermoPop is not designed to be left in the oven.) After that I bought a digital one as well as a candy thermometer. Neither of these devices compare to the ThermoPop. Not only do their bright colors make it a fun kitchen gadget, but it also means it won’t get lost in my drawer of utensils. It comes with a matching “sheath” to keep the probe free from dirt and damage when not in use. The ThermoPop is also easy to use. A simple touch of the front button turns the device and backlight on (the backlight will automatically turn off after 10 seconds to save power), a button on the back will adjust the temperature from degrees Fahrenheit to degrees Celsius, and probably the best feature, another button will rotate the large digital display 90 degrees. There’s no more twisting your head in awkward angles to read your thermometer and there’s no need for a magnifying glass to read the temperature either.

An Original Recipe

Maize and Blue Chicken Salad

Ingredients for chicken:

  • 2 large chicken breasts
  • 1 tbsp sea salt
  • 1 tbsp peppercorns
  • 1 lemon, quartered
  • 1 small red onion, quartered
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed

Steps for chicken:

  1. Fill a pot with 2 quarts water. Add ingredients for chicken.
  2. Bring pot to a boil, reduce heat to medium and allow to cook for 25 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through. Remove and let cool before cutting into bite sized cubes.

Ingredients for chicken salad:

  • 3 C cooked, cubed chicken (recommended recipe above)
  • 1 C diced apple (I used honeycrisp)
  • 1/2 C diced yellow tomato
  • 2 ears roasted corn, kernels removed (or 2 C)
  • 2/3 C blueberries
  • 3 scallions, chopped
  • 1/3 C mayonnaise
  • 1/4 C buttermilk
  • 2 tbsp Blueberry White Pepper Not Ketchup
  • 1/4 tsp dried mustard
  • 1/8 – 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (to taste)
  • 1/4 – 1/2 tsp kosher salt (to taste)

Steps for chicken salad:

  1. In a large bowl gently toss together chicken, apple, yellow tomato, corn, blueberries, and scallions.
  2. In a small bowl whisk together mayo, buttermilk, Not Ketchup, dried mustard, cayenne, and salt.
  3. Gently coat chicken salad with the dressing.
  4. Serve on toasted buns, in lettuce cups, wrapped in a tortilla, or with crackers.

UM Chicken Salad 4Maize and Blue Chicken Salad

I do still want to make a barbecue sauce and a salad dressing with the Not Ketchup, and I know it would be fantastic over wings. The possibilities are endless. So leave the red stuff for the kids and order some today!

Thank you Erika and Jesse for sponsoring our event.

Disclaimer: I was provided a bottle of Blueberry White Pepper Not Ketchup and a ThermoPop from ThermoWorks through this event, however all opinions and statements are my own.

Don’t forget to enter our giveaway and be sure to check out the other bloggers who posted more tailgating recipes today:

Starters
Chicken Bacon RanchTaquitos by Things I Make (for Dinner)
 Cherry Chipotle Glazed Wings by A Day in the Life on the Farm
Firewired Pancetta-Wrapped Seafood by Culinary Adventures with Camilla
Mains
Savory Duck Handpies by The Not So Cheesy Kitchen
Slow Cooker Smoky Date Barbecue Chicken Sandwiches by A Kitchen Hoor’s Adventures
Smokey Red Lentil Chili by Debbi Does Dinner Healthy
Thai Beef Skewers by The Pajama Chef
Sips
Apple Cherry Spice Cocktail by CafeTerraBlog
Dips
Kicked up Spinach Dip by Miss Laura’s Kitchen
Pizza Dip by Making Miracles
Sweets
Peanut Butter & Chocolate Hard Pretzels by The Spiffy Cookie

Fried Chicken Salad

When we moved to Ohio we spent a week with Stuart’s family in northern Alabama. As a welcome, his aunt provided dinner for us – fried chicken!

I couldn’t tell you the last time I’d had fried chicken. (Other than Chick-fil-A, of course.) It’s not something I have, or even crave, that often. But when it’s made right it makes me wonder why I haven’t been enjoying it more! Perfectly seasoned, crispy batter and juicy meat makes for finger licking good eats.

But what do you do with the leftovers?

Damaris Phillips, winner of last season’s Next Food Network Star, has an answer!

Chicken salad.

I really like chicken salad (as long as it’s made with mayo and not Miracle Whip). I love it on top of a croissant, between toasted bread, and eaten with crackers. There are many options when it comes to chicken salad mix-ins: from nuts, to fruits, to vegetables, even bacon and cheese.

When I watched Damaris make this on her show Southern at Heart, I immediately wanted to make it. I was ecstatic to have the opportunity! This chicken salad is fantastic. I love the tang from the buttermilk, the kick from the cayenne, the crunch from the celery, and the zip from the scallion. I even followed Damaris’s suggestion and served it on a croissant. That buttery, flaky bread is the perfect vessel for the chicken salad.

I encourage you to go out and get some fried chicken, or make your own, just so you can have this chicken salad. Bring it to your next tailgate, go on a picnic, or spice up your weekday lunchbox. Find any excuse you can to make this sandwich!

Fried Chicken Salad

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 C mayonnaise
  • 1/4 C whole-grain mustard
  • 1/2 C buttermilk
  • 1 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne
  • 5-6 C cold fried chicken, diced
  • 3 stalks celery, diced
  • 3 scallions, sliced

Steps:

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together mayo, mustard, buttermilk, Italian seasoning, and cayenne. Stir in chicken, celery, and scallion.
  2. Create sandwiches with croissants. Makes 6-8 sandwiches.

*This recipe is adapted from Damaris at http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/damaris-phillips/fried-chicken-salad-sandwiches.html*

Fried Chicken Salad

Grilled PB&J

Last week I was home sick from work. Which was great because I slept until 10:45 and then got to catch up on some of my favorite Food Network shows while curled on the couch drinking orange juice and water. But the biggest problem with being home during the day is what to do for lunch.

I have a confession to make.

I hate making lunch. I don’t know why. Sandwiches are always easy to put together, but I just hate doing it! Pulling out so many ingredients to simply place between bread for a not-so-spectacular sandwich just doesn’t seem worth it! When it comes to packing lunches for work, it’s usually leftovers or PB&J. And always a serving a fruit or vegetable.

My usual go to at home lunch is a grilled cheese sandwich. But I just wasn’t feeling it. So I decided to try grilling a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

One question: Why haven’t I done this before?!

The crispiness of the bread and the ooey-gooey warmth of the peanut butter make for a completely different sandwich. This sandwich is almost bordering on breakfast – it reminded me of a stuffed french toast.

And the possibilities are endless – use Nutella, any flavor jam or jelly you like, marshmallow cream, fresh fruit…

Grilled PB&J

Ingredients:

  • 2 slices of sandwich bread
  • butter or margarine, for spreading
  • peanut butter, for spreading
  • jam or jelly, for spreading

Steps:

  1. Heat a small skillet over low to medium heat.
  2. Butter one side of each slice of bread. Spread peanut butter on the opposite side of one slice and jam on the other. Sandwich together so that both buttered sides are facing out.
  3. Place sandwich butter side down in warm skillet. Cook over medium heat until bottom piece of bread is golden.
  4. Flip sandwich to toast the 2nd side until the bread is golden and the filling warm.
  5. Slice on a diagonal and serve.

Grilled PB&J

Slow Cooker Lemon Chicken

Chicken and Hummus Pita

My mother-in-law was visiting a couple of weekends ago for a “sew-cation” so I planned the weekend menu in advance to stay organized. Knowing she loves chicken thighs, this recipe was sure to be a hit. The fact that it’s a slow cooker dish is an extra bonus when we want to maximize sewing time and minimize kitchen time.

Additionally, the recipe calls for 12 chicken thighs.  Normally I’d halve a recipe of this quantity but it provided extra chicken which I used for the best pizza ever the next night. And for lunch the next day we enjoyed pita pockets with hummus, chicken, banana peppers, olives, and cheese while sitting on the back porch in the sun.

I served the chicken with another Roland product I got from Food Blog South, Roasted Garlic Israeli Couscous. Rice or orzo would be other great side options.

Slow Cooker Lemon Chicken

Ingredients:

  • 12 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 2 tbsp olive oil, divided use
  • 1 lemon, sliced
  • juice of one lemon
  • 1 C chicken broth
  • 1/4 C flour
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 3/4 C pitted green olives

Steps:

  1. Season both sides of chicken with S+P. In a large, nonstick skillet over medium-high heat sear thighs in olive oil – about three minutes per side. Unless your skillet is massive, this will need to be accomplished in two batches.
  2. Transfer chicken to slow cooker. Add lemon slices and olives.
  3. Whisk together broth, lemon juice, flour, and cumin. Pour over chicken.
  4. Cook on LOW 6 hours.

*This recipe is adapted from emeals at http://blog.emeals.com/slow-cooker-clean-eating-meal-plan-lemon-chicken-thighs-with-olives-recipe/*

Slow Cooker Lemon Chicken

Garlic Bread Grilled Cheese

Last week we were kept indoors and out of the office because of a winter storm.

Those of you new to Sew You Think You Can Cook, I live in Florida.

I know we won’t be getting any sympathy from our Northern friends, but keep in mind the Sunshine State gets snow once in a bluemoon. Therefore, our cities don’t have the need, nor could ever justify the budget, for equipment to handle icy roads. I saw on Facebook a fantastic meme of a beautiful Florida Sunset that said, “In Florida we salt margaritas, not sidewalks.” That couldn’t be better said; it’s why people relocate from the white North!

We definitely didn’t have it as bad as Atlanta and other Southern towns, but roads – and more importantly bridges – were closed Wednesday, January 29th. We were sent home from work at 2:00 pm on Tuesday with an expected return of 12:00 pm Wednesday. The return date and time were pushed back to Thursday at noon!

In having been out of town the previous weekend for Food Blog South I hadn’t yet been grocery shopping. We’ve been surviving on empty – frozen pizzas, breakfast foods, leftovers, and grilled cheese. There was a package of chicken thighs in the freezer which I used for grapefruit chicken (to be shared at a future date).

It was pretty cold when we were in Birmingham and Sunday morning our car (Edgar) wouldn’t start. Edgar was so dead that we couldn’t even shift gears into neutral to push it out of the parking spot. Thankfully my in-laws joined us and we were able to get a jump good enough to make it to the local Auto Zone. The battery was fried and a new one installed – a battery with a higher cold temperature rating! It’s a good thing too because on Wednesday Edgar was cocooned in a sheet of solid ice.

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This recipe is probably the simplest recipe I have yet to share, and probably will ever share. It’s your typical grilled cheese, with an Everson twist. My father-in-law would always season the buttered bread with garlic powder, and that’s how my husband still prefers to eat it.

Garlic Bread Grilled Cheese

Ingredients:

  • 2 slices of sandwich bread
  • butter or margarine, for spreading
  • garlic powder, for sprinkling
  • 2 American cheese singles

Steps:

  1. Heat a small skillet over low to medium heat.
  2. Butter one side of each slice of bread. Sprinkle garlic powder on buttered side of each slice.
  3. Place one slice of bread butter side down in warm skillet. Top with both cheese singles and the other slice of bread, buttered side out. Cook until bottom piece of bread is golden.
  4. Flip sandwich to toast the 2nd side until the cheese is melted.
  5. Slice on a diagonal and serve.

Garlic Bread Grilled Cheese

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