Tuesday, June 29, 2010

it's lunch, time for a sandwich!

Yup, I made another sandwich today. Let me backtrack a little; one of my favorite things that I ate while in Germany was salami on a hard roll with butter. I have enjoyed that treat a few times since I took that trip in 1998 (oh my gosh, was it that long ago). Another side note: Bill is back home. Sort of. He is now working on this side of the state more than he's working on the other side. Now I have to go back to stocking food for him for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Since he's working at home too, I need to accommodate his dietary needs again.

Yesterday I bought salami at the deli counter. I had her slice it thin, because I just like it better that way. Then I perused the bakery for some hard rolls. I found a garlic roll so I decided to try those. Now, as I mentioned, I liked my salami with butter. But that's sort of labor intensive and my mouth was watering. Wait! I have mascarpone cheese. I'm not a fan of American cheese with my salami and hard roll, but as my mouth started to water even more, I knew I was onto something with the mascarpone.

It's easy to spread, like spreadable butter. It doesn't have too much flavor, I started substituting it for butter in my macaroni and cheese, but it has more depth to it then butter. And it's half the calories, or fat. Something like that. Let me just tell you that I have a new favorite sandwich. It was delicious. Once again, my invention paid off!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Sandwiches again?

Like Joey on "Friends" I am a fan of sandwiches. To my knowledge, so is Bill (if he ever read my blog he could add his two cents...). For dinner last night we had blt's, tonight I decided to make one of my favorite sandwiches but change it up a bit.

I thought I'd share what I made because it was delicious. I take chicken breasts, usually three because that's how many come in the package, and drizzle them with olive oil, salt and pepper. I flip them over and do the same thing to the other side. Then they go on the grill, about ten minutes per side. I let them rest and then I slice them lengthwise. In the past I've used puffed pastry and refrigerated croissants, this time I had a loaf of rustic Italian bread, so I cut it into thirds, slice those in half and lightly toast them. I made a homemade aioli with mayonnaise, fresh chopped garlic and fresh chopped basil. I spread that on the halves of bread. I layered the chicken, fontina cheese, and arugula on each sandwich. The bread was still nice and chewy, the chicken comes out juicy every time I grill it that way. I like the flavor that the lettuce gives and the fontina cheese is nice and mild. It starts to melt a little bit when you put it on the warm chicken. Mmm. The basil in the aioli was a first attempt and I liked the extra flavor it gave. I only used three leaves so it wasn't overwhelming.

That was my chicken sandwich!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

still cookin'

As I've mentioned a couple of times I have really gotten into cooking; more so since we moved back to Grand Rapids and I started working from home. Finding the time to cook, experiment and learn has opened a new door into my culinary world. I enjoy it immensely. I enjoy looking through recipes, watching Food Network and creating my own inventions.

Somewhere along the way, I had heard of baking a pizza in a cast iron skillet. We finally bought one! Bill uses it to make breakfast potatoes (a weekend staple in our house). I also recently acquired a piece of granite stone that I can use to roll out dough, something I cannot do no matter how much flour I use on my regular counter tops. This "scrap" piece sits on a butcher block island and has proved to be very useful. I have also found a recipe for homemade pizza dough. The store bought dough always falls apart and it never bakes in the middle even when I par bake it. All things combined in my mind (it's complicated, but that's how my brain works, trust me it all came together in there) and I decided to make a pizza in our new cast iron skillet.

I found a great blog, "Last Night's Dinner" where a cast iron skillet pizza was discussed in great length. I used the baking portion from that blog, and combined it with two other pizza recipes. First I made the dough on my granite stone. Then, I caramelized a Vidalia onion in the skillet, I added Italian sausage and cooked it until it was cooked through (not browned). I put the onions and sausage on a paper towel lined plate while I rolled out the dough. The dough was thin enough that it wasn't deep dish thick, but I pressed it up against the sides. I spread out tomato sauce, and drizzled the edge of the crust with olive oil. Then I added the sausage and onion. I topped it with several types of cheese. Of course I used mozzarella (shredded, not fresh, next time I'm going to try fresh), I used some feta, Parmigiano Reggiano, and when it came out of the oven, I topped it with plain fresh grated Parmesan.

This was the result. It was delicious. I was quite proud. The dough cooked all the way through and it was nuclear hot when we bit into it. I tried telling Bill I was holding back and now that I know he's not going to leave me after ten years, I can finally show off my cooking talents. He isn't buying it, but he is enjoying my cooking.

We plan on trying country fried steaks again (the first try almost burned down our first apartment, we've learned a lot since then and are more confident that we'll be 100% successful in our 2nd attempt, especially with the skillet) and Bill will be frying up chicken. But those will have to wait until cooler weather returns. We need to get back out to the grill.

Don't forget, I love to share my cooking, so if you ever want to come visit just give us a call!!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Another Trip to the Gardens

It's the beginning of the unofficial start of summer. Hopefully there will be more posts on here as I have a relatively lazy summer with a few major events. In one month I will be in Vancouver for Quota, Skylar will be back for a week later in July, Bill and I will be traveling to PA to visit Shannon and Greg in their new home, and then Bill and I will be celebrating our 10th anniversary on August 26!!!

For Memorial day weekend, our friend Heather W. came to visit. We got a lot of work done outside in the flowerbeds. Then Heather and I visited Meijer Gardens. The Chihuly exhibit is there until September. It was a gorgeous day and we both got great photos. Here are a handful of my photos.

The purple spikes in the pond near the arch.

The waterfall will glass babbles sprinkled throughout, with the iris blooming.

More glass babbles in this pond.

The blue glass spike.