Grilled Turkey, Swiss and Balsamic Onion Sandwich

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Balsamic Onion Relish. What?!? I bought this. I needed it for a recipe and after scouring Amazon I found it. I only needed a little bit so I stuck the jar back in the fridge and forgot about it. Didn’t really know what to use the rest of it for.

Today I was making lunch for the Hubs. My plans were for a plain old turkey and cheese sandwich. Then I got the idea to grill it. He loves any kind of grilled sandwich. Who doesn’t? Bread, butter, crispy grilled goodness. Oh yeah!

Me, being the kind of person who likes to use up what is on hand, searched the shelves of the fridge to see what I could add to the sandwich to make it pop. Lo and behold I found this little jar of goodness just waiting to add some of that pop to said sandwich. I spread some of it on both sides of the bread, put turkey and Swiss cheese in and then grilled it.

Oh my! Such a simple addition but such a big taste. The Hubs described it as “delectable”! Sweet and savory at the same time. And….. grilled cheese!

This Piaz Balsamic Onion Relish is is made by the Apex Food Company in Apex, NC. The company was founded by two American women of Indian origin. You can read about their story here. The Piaz Balsamic Onion Relish is low calorie, has no trans fat, no added colors, no MSG, no artificial flavors, no preservatives and no high fructose corn syrup. What is there not to love here?

This is not your mother’s relish! It is definitely going to be a staple condiment in my house from now on. I can’t wait to come up with more ways to add flavor to everyday food. I’m thinking  pizza, burgers, steaks, flatbreads. Who knows where my tastebuds will lead me!

 

 

 

Strawberry Mango Salsa – Sweet or A Little Bit Savory. You choose!

I made this strawberry mango salsa yesterday for my nieces’ wedding shower in the Temecula Wine country. It was so delicious and so perfect for a gorgeous spring day. 

I made the sweet version of it for the shower but I made the “little bit” savory one for Easter today.  The sweet one can even be dessert like served with cinnamon sugar tortilla chips. I think it looks so pretty and will dress up any table. 

It seems that it is the time of year for everything strawberry! We even had strawberry mango pancakes for breakfast. (Not with the salsa though!) The grandkids were here for breakfast and we always dress up the pancakes with a little bit (a lot) of whipped cream and a few (a lot) sprinkles. Maybe that is why my grandkids say I make the best pancakes!

Here is the recipe for the salsa. Enjoy!

 3/4 cup finely chopped strawberries

 3/4 cup finely chopped mango 

 2 Tbsp finely chopped red onion 

 1/2-1 finely chopped jalapeño pepper seeds and ribs removed              

Juice of one lime                

NOW, here is where you decide if you want sweet or a little savory:

Add honey to taste for sweet 

 Or                                         

Add sea salt to taste for a little savory                       
Serve with tortilla chips or you can also serve it as a garnish for chicken, fish, or pork

Pulled Pork Anyone?

Pulled pork salad made from leftover Apple Juice Brined Pulled Pork

The stars recently aligned perfectly for the most amazing string of dinners! We recently hosted a couples bridal shower for our son and his soon to be wife. They will be married in May and will blend two families into one big “Brady Bunch”. She has four kids, he has two. “Here’s the story of a lovely lady……” Now I bet that song will be stuck in your head all day.

We did a bbq theme with pulled pork sandwiches, potato salad, cole slaw, watermelon, and a s’mores bar for dessert . It was super fun.

Getting s’more supplies ready.
I cooked the pulled pork on our Traeger Wood Fire Grill the day before the shower. This is the recipe I used. They have so many great recipes on their site and so far every one is a winner. If you do not have a Traeger, I highly recommend checking them out. The Hubs bought it at Costco because he HAD to have it. Even though we have a perfectly good gas grill and at the time we had and electric smoker as well. At first I didn’t see why we needed it so desperately.

This is the model we bought at Costco.
And then I cooked on it! Let’s just say that I LOVE IT and we DID need it! Everything, and I mean everything, that I have cooked on it has been so so good. I have made ribs, tri tip roast, pork loin roast, pork chops, steaks, salmon, prime rib, roasted whole chickens, and I even cooked our turkey this Thanksgiving on it. Actually, I cook on it WAY more than the Hubs does. We even gave our electric smoker to one of our sons because we don’t need it anymore. The Traeger can do it all.

But, I digress. Back to the pulled pork. I made way to much for the shower. I am terrible at figuring out amounts of food to have for a crowd. I always (not an exaggeration) cook too much. I bought 28 pounds of pork shoulder for 30 or so people. I could have got away with about 10 less pounds. Hence, leftover pork.

Not to worry. We made more sandwiches for dinner one night. The really pretty pulled pork salad above for another night. Pulled pork tacos last night. And last tonight we used up the remainder for pork and cabbage (my favorite).

I served the pork and cabbage over brown rice with a side of the left over watermelon and it was delish!

Here is how I made it:

Pork and Cabbage Easy Style

Serves 4

Ingredients:

1 onion, finely chopped

1 garlic clove, minced

1 1/2 Tbsp grape seed or canola oil

1 tsp toasted sesame oil

2 cups leftover pulled pork

1 small head of cabbage medium shredded

Soy sauce to taste

Crushed red pepper flakes to taste

Heat grape seed oil in large sauté pan. Add onion and garlic and sauté for about 4-5 minutes until onions are soft. Add toasted sesame oil and pork and heat pork through stirring frequently. Once pork is heated through add the cabbage. It will look like a lot of cabbage but it shrinks down as it cooks. Continue cooking and stirring frequently until cabbage is cooked. Add soy sauce to taste as you are cooking the cabbage. Make sure to leave the cabbage with a little “bite” to it so it doesn’t taste soggy.

Serve over brown rice with a little sprinkle of crushed red pepper flakes.

Enjoy! And check out those Traegers next time you see them at Costco!

 

 

 

 

Crispy Roasted Chickpeas from thekitchn.com

Oh my! These little nuggets. Add them to a salad, use as a topping on soup, or just snack on them. They are so tasty and pretty much guilt free. You will want to stock up on chickpeas. Trust me!

These are so simple to make and add such a nice crunch. They are also super versatile as you can add whatever spices you desire after you roast them.

I found the recipe here at The Kitchn. I just discovered this site and you MUST check it out. It has everything you could possible want or need to know on how to prepare great meals. Learn how to make baklava, how to care for your knives, five mistakes to avoid when making cupcakes, dinner for a crowd ideas, and so so much more! I’m telling you, this site has it all. I have a feeling I will be spending many, many hours over there at The Kitchn.

Here is what you need to make these Oven Roasted Chickpeas:

 

2 15-ounce cans chickpeas
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon salt
2 to 4 teaspoons spices or finely chopped fresh herbs, like chili powder, curry powder, garam masala, cumin, smoked paprika, rosemary, thyme, or other favorite spices and herbs

Get the directions here. And while you are there, get lost in all of the goodness to be had!

An Extra Tasty Cup of Joe

I get to see my grandchildren all the time. I go to their awards ceremonies at school, their sports games, and their piano recitals. Sometimes their parents drop them off for a couple of hours so they can go run errands or go out. Sometimes I pick one of them up from school and spend a few hours with them. Often I run into them around town at Costco, Target or the mall.

The other day I met my son and his kids at Target. They were getting ready to go on a little mini-vacation and the kids needed some shoes and sunscreen. I really enjoyed watching my very manly man son help his daughter try on the cute pink shoes she decided on. Reminded me of when I used to go shopping with my dad. Did you know that whatever you eat when you are out shopping with your dad has no calories? That’s what my dad always told me and who am I to question him!

After Target we decided to go get a cup of coffee at the nearby Starbucks. My grandson had been clutching a fistful of dollar bills as he was shopping. It was money he had received from the tooth fairy the past weekend for losing two teeth. I thought he was looking around Target for something to spend them on but he was still holding them as we walked into Starbucks.

We got to the counter and he said he wanted to buy my coffee. I asked him why and he said, “Because I love you.” Now, I could have told him that it was sweet of him to offer but he didn’t need to. Then he would have been able to save his money for something else. But I didn’t do that. We went right up to the counter and I ordered my coffee and he bought it for me. I could see the look of pride on his face as he paid the barista.

Let me tell you, it was the sweetest cup of coffee I have had in a long time. And I drink it black! I can’t tell you how much it touches my heart when I see my grandkids showing love to others through kind acts and giving. Of course they can get a bad case of the “will you buy this for me?” when we are out shopping with them and we sometimes  frequently give in to it. But when they show their generosity towards you? Heart melt….

How can you not enjoy a cup of coffee as sweet as that?

 

 

Mother’s Day Gift Idea. Personalized Recipe Towels by LindsayBurckDesigns on Etsy.

I love this towel! “Love a towel? you say. I say “Yes!” The reason that I love this towel so much is because the corn bread recipe that is on it is my Gramma Jessie’s actual recipe written in her actual handwriting! Every time I use this I get the warm fuzzies that remind me of being a child and being in the kitchen with my Gramma.

“Where did I get this towel?” you ask. I got it on Etsy at LindsayBurckDesigns. On her site Lindsay says “These beautiful flour sack towels are printed with a special image to honor your loved one—it could be a recipe, receipt or other memorable photo. The 100% cotton fabric towels have your image printed directly into the fabric, which means that the towels are easy to wash and iron.”

Photo from LindsayBurckDesigns

I bought ten of these from LindsayBurckDesigns and gave one each to my DILs, my sister, and my nieces and my cousin. What a beautiful way to honor my Gramma.

They wash up like a dream the image has not faded at all over the many, many wash cycles they have been through. And because they are 100% cotton they feel soooooo good!

These towels would make the perfect Mother’s Day gift for the special mom in your life who loves being connected to family.

Head on over to LindsayBurckDesigns on Etsy to check out how easy it is to order them. You will love them! I promise!

Nine Years of Book Club. What Have We Read?

Photo credit: SheKnows

 

I mentioned my book club last week and the hot cross buns that I made for our meeting. I don’t know if you noticed the picture that shows the list of books we have read in our nine years together. Thought that some of you would like to know what was on that list!

One of our members keeps track of all the books that we have read together as a club and on our anniversary each year brings us a copy of the list. We love to look over it and remember (or sometimes not remember!) our literary journeys.

We are planning a trip to Napa Valley next Spring break to celebrate our 10th anniversary as a group. The spouses are tagging along as well and we are really looking forward to it. Perfect getaway for our Wacky Wednesday Wino Weaders!

Funny thing about the spouses, they have a “Not Book Club”. After “the girls” had been meeting monthly for about a year they were feeling kind of left out. So now on the last Wednesday of the month while we are meeting they all get together and have pizza and beer. I think they look forward to their meeting as much as we look forward to ours!

If you are in a book club, if your are thinking of starting a book club, or if you just love to read, here are our books choices through the years. I asked each of  my girls to choose one favorite and I puts a star next to those choices. Happy reading!

2008
Lost and Found by Carolyn Parkhurst

Beautiful Boy by David Sheff

*The Curious Case of the Dog in the Night by Mark Haddon

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

The 13th Tale by Diane Setterfield

Bel Canto by Ann Patchett

God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy

The Red Tent Anita Diamant

2009
*The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski

The Wednesday Letters by Jason F. Wright

Molokaii by Alan Brennert

The Year of the Fog by Michelle Richmong

The Memory Keepers Daughter by Kim Edwards

Loving Frank by Nancy Horan

The Invisible Wall by Harry Bernstein

The  3rd Angel by Alice Hoffman

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pic Society by Annie Barrows

2010
The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton

*The Help by Kathryn Stockett

The Piano Teacher by Janice Y.K. Lee

The Prize Winner of Defiance Ohio by Terry Ryan

First, Do No Harm by Lisa Belkin

*Cutting For Stone by Abraham Verghese

Little Bee by Chris Cleave

The House at Riverton by Kate Morton

Saving Cee Cee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman

*The Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford

2011

The Moonflower Vine by Jetta Carlton

The Hand that First Held Mine by Maggie O’Farrell

The Zookeeper’s Wife by Diane Ackerman

*The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein

*The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls

Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathon Safran Foer

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

Mocking Jay by Suzanne Collins

Catherine the Great by Robert K. Massie

2012

The Water is Wide by Pat Conroy

Wild by Cheryl Strayed

Same Kind of Different as Me by Ron Hall/Denver Moone

The Mermaid Chair by Sue Monk Kidd

The Whistling Season by Ivan Doig

To Kill a Mocking Bird by Harper Lee

Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden

Rebecca by Daphne DuMaurier

2013

Look Again by Lisa Scottoline

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Mary Coin by Marisa Silver

With or Without You by Domenica Ruta

The Almond Tree by Michelle Cohen Corasanti

Bad Monkey by Carl Hiassen

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

The Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

East of Eden by John Steinbeck

2014

Breath, Eyes, Memory by Edwidge Danticat

Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson

Found Manuscripts of Accra by Paulo Coelho

A Dogs Purpose by Bruce Cameron

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

The Perfume Collector by Kathleen Tessaro

She’s Come Undone by Wally Lamb

Songs of Willow Frost by Jamie Ford

The Other Typist by Suzanne Rindell

2015

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult

Still Alice by Lisa Genova

The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown

The Dinner by Herman Koch

 In the Woods by Tana French

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

After You by Jojo Moyes

The Lake House by Kate Morton

Salem Falls by Jodi Picoult

2016

I am Malala by Malala…..lalala

The Widow by Fiona Barton

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

The Likeness by Tana French

Commonwealth by Ann Patchett

The Little Paris Book Shop by Nina George

2017

The Virgin Queen’s Daughter by Ella March Chase

The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty

 

Super Simple Baked Cream Cheese Wontons

Remember the sushi party we had last Sunday? These little nuggets were the appetizers. Um…..yum!

I have never made anything with wonton wrappers before. They seemed a little intimidating to me. Sheesh! They are easy peasy!

You can whip up this four (yes, four!) ingredient appetizer in practically no time and really impress your guests.

I adapted the recipe from this one but instead of frying them in oil I sprayed them with some cooking spray and baked them. Save calories whenever possible!

We used Panda Express Sweet Chili Sauce for dipping and it was the perfect touch. It would be fun to make these and experiment with different dipping sauces. I’m thinking sriracha mayo, wasabi mayo, buffalo sauce, fig jam. Use your imagination!

Super Simple Baked Cream Cheese Wontons

Makes 24 Wontons 

INGREDIENTS

8 oz Cream Cheese

3 green onions – chopped small

1 tsp Sesame Oil

24 Wonton Wrappers

INSTRUCTIONS

Preheat oven to 400.

In a small bowl beat cream cheese, green onions and sesame oil.

Place about 2 tsp of cream cheese mixture in center of each wonton wrapper.

Wet the edges of the wonton wrapper and fold in half to form a triangle or bring opposite edges together to form bundle.

Place wontons on a baking sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes at 400 degrees.

Let’s Bake Those Hot Cross Buns!

So. Those hot cross buns I made for my book club. Yep. Gotta say, they were delish!

I adapted a recipe from The Pioneer Woman that I found here. I do love the PW. I think her and I could be besties. Hey Ree! I played with the ingredients a bit to use stuff that I had on hand so I didn’t have to run out to the grocery store in my jammies.

I messed up a step when I was adding the yeast so I started a second batch just in case. Even with the mess up both batches were yummy. I ended up with about 48 buns. The neighbors were happy to receive the extras! (It also helps placate them while we have construction going on in our backyard.) The construction guys were pretty happy to get some also. It takes energy to pound those nails.

First I heated up some condensed milk, water, canola oil, and sugar to just under a boil. I let it cool for awhile until it was about 120°. You need it about this temperature for the yeast to do its magic when you sprinkle it in. I forgot to sprinkle the yeast on the liquids before I mixed in the flour on the first batch! Wasn’t sure what was going to happen but it was all good!

After adding some of the dry ingredients it was time to let it rise for a bit. I like to use Pillsbury flour when I do my baking. It gives me consistent results and I trust the brand.

Multiple risings going on here. Look at those cute towels. That is my Grandma Jessie’s cornbread recipe on them!

After the rise and adding a bit more of the dry ingredients it was time to turn the dough out on to the counter and incorporate the cinnamon sugar and raisins. This was a fun step. Play Doh anyone?

I formed the dough into golf ball sized pieces and placed them on the cookie sheet and let them rise again.

Then it was time to brush them with the glaze, pop them in the oven, let them cool, and drizzle that yummy frosting cross on them.

This recipe makes buns that are light, almost croissant-like. The cinnamon sugar/raisin ratio is perfect. So so good with a cup (or two) of good coffee in the morning.

Let me know if you try them for your Easter festivities this year. These will for sure be a part of our tradition from now on!

Books and Buns Hot Cross Buns

Yield: about 24 buns

1  12oz can Carnation® Evaporated milk

1/2 cup water

1/2 cup canola oil

1/2 cup C&H sugar

1 package fast rising yeast (2 1/4 tsp)

4 cups Pillsbury All-purpose Flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

2 tsp salt

1 tsp cinnamon

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup raisins

1 egg white

Splash of heavy cream

ICING

1/4 cup warm water

1 TBSP light corn syrup

1/4 tsp almond extract

3 cups powdered sugar

Combine the evaporated milk, water, canola, and 1/2 cup sugar in a saucepan. Heat over med low heat while stirring to just under a boil. Set aside and let cool to 120°.

Transfer liquid to a large bowl. Sprinkle yeast over liquid. Add 4 cups of flour and mix until combined. Dough will be sticky. Cover with a really cute towel and let rise for one hour.

Mix 1/2 cup flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl. Add to dough and stir until combined.

Combine cinnamon and 1/4 cup sugar in small bowl.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and press to flatten a bit. Sprinkle a third of the cinnamon sugar and a third of the raisins on top. Fold the dough over on itself and flatten it again. Repeat with a sprinkling of a third of the cinnamon sugar and a third of the raisins. Fold it again and repeat the sprinkles one more time. Fold it again.

Put a little bit of flour on your hands and roll golf ball sized rolls. Turn the edges of the balls under themselves slightly to get a nice rounded shape. Place on a lightly greased cookie sheet and cover and let rise one hour in a warm place.

Preheat oven to 400°

Mix egg white with a splash of heavy cream and brush on each bun when they have finished rising.

Bake for 16-18 minutes or until tops of buns are deep golden brown.

Remove from pan and all to cool on a cooling rack.

Make icing:

Stir warm water, corn syrup and almond extract in a small bowl until syrup have dissolved. Add liquid to the powered sugar and beat with a hand mixer until smooth.

Once buns are cooled, scoop icing into a small zippered sandwich bag and snip the corner a little bit. Make the crosses with the icing on each bun.

 

 

 

 

 

Books and Buns

Book club! Who’s in one? I LOVE mine. We just celebrated the nine year anniversary of ours. We call ourselves the WWWW. Wacky Wednesday Wino Weaders. Let me tell you, we have fun.

Look at that wine glass! Perfect for our WWWW.

There are seven of us in our book club. We are all neighbors. Last night we were reminiscing about how when we started we were really just acquaintances. A friendly wave to each other and neighborly chit chat was about the extent of our relationship.

Over these last nine years we have developed a special bond that we each treasure. We know that if any one of us needed something the others would be right there for us.

We have read 93 books together. Some amazing ones. Some ok ones. Some not so amazing ones. We have laughed, cried, agreed, disagreed and had some great wine (I mean discussions!).

So what, do you ask, do those hot cross buns pictured above have to do with books. I will tell you!

The book that we read for last night’s meeting was “The Husband’s Secret” by Liane Moriarty. It was a great book and we all gave it the thumbs up. The story is set in Australia and part of the story takes place on Good Friday. Well, I guess everyone in Australia eats hot cross buns on Good Friday because for a while in the book it seems like every single character is eating one! The author made them sound so good. I am telling you, it gave me a craving for one, even though I really couldn’t remember ever eating hot cross bun. So I HAD to make some to take last night. Because…… carbs, cinnamon, raisins, frosting. I think we may have a new Good Friday tradition in our house!

Do you like to read? Are you in a book club? I highly recommend it!