Slow Cooker Pulled Chicken

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I’ve always felt like I’m missing out the pulled pork sandwich.  I don’t eat pork as I just don’t like it.  Well, except of course for bacon which seriously should be a food group in itself.  I mean one of our local restaurants serves bacon ice cream!  I’ve known self-proclaimed vegans, ok only one, who still sneaks a slice of bacon once in awhile.  Yes, the guilty party knows just who I’m talking about….

So here’s my answer to the pulled pork sandwich.  This pulled chicken has a real depth of flavor.  It is in a word fantastic.  It is slow cooked in the crock pot for 7 hours so it is super moist and so very flavorful.  And you will absolutely love how your house smells while it’s cooking.

This one’s a blue ribbon winner, winner chicken dinner for sure.  (Or lunch, or snack).

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Slow Cooker Pulled Chicken
 
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This pulled chicken will make you forget about pulled pork! It is made in the slow cooker and is so moist with a great depth of flavor Try serving it on a pretzel roll with a nice cabbage slaw on top.
Author:
Recipe type: Slow Cooker
Cuisine: Main Dish
Ingredients
  • 1 onion (sweet) – thinly sliced
  • 1 ½ lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 cloves garlic – minced
  • 14 oz can of crushed tomatoes (or tomato puree, diced tomatoes do NOT work!)
  • 1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 3 Tablespoons yellow mustard
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chipotle chile pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
Instructions
  1. Add the chicken and onion to the slow cooker.
  2. Mix all remaining ingredients in a bowl.
  3. Add the sauce and stir to cover all of the chicken and onion.
  4. Cook on low for 7 hours.
  5. Remove the chicken from the slow cooker and gently pull it apart using 2 forks.
  6. Add the pulled chicken back into the crock pot, stirring it into the sauce.
  7. *(recipe adapted from Pure Wow)

My favorite way to serve this sandwich in on a warmed or toasted pretzel roll with a nice vinaigrette cabbage slaw on top.  I’m obsessed with the pretzel roll actually.  I have a friend who serves them warmed with various types of mustard for dipping….yep, I’d be so happy to call that dinner.

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Pumpkin Pancakes

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Ok, I’ll admit it, one of my very favorite parts about Fall is cooking with pumpkin.  I love pumpkin everything and love trying new pumpkin foods.  I will try adding pumpkin to just about everything.  Not only does it taste amazing but it gives the foods a beautiful orange color….perfect for the Fall season.  These pancakes are easy and are always a huge hit.  The mild pumpkin flavor is delightful.  They remind me of pumpkin pie and really, I ask you, who doesn’t want pumpkin pie for breakfast?  I typically serve these pancakes with butter and pure maple syrup.  I also serve them with apple butter or fresh whipped cream sprinkled with cinnamon for something different.

But…..my absolute favorite topping for these pancakes and so many other things is cinnamon honey butter.  What?!  Yep, it’s as delicious as it sounds.  And it’s incredibly easy, here’s the method:

Mix 3/4 cup room temperature butter and 1/4 cup honey until smooth and creamy.  Mix in 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and 1/2 teaspoon of course sea salt or Kosher salt.  it’s that easy and it’s amazing on biscuits, bagels and toast.

Pumpkin Pancakes
 
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Author:
Recipe type: Breakfast, Brunch
Serves: 12, 4 inch pancakes
Ingredients
  •  1 ½ Cups Milk
  •  1 Cup Canned or Cooked Pumpkin
  •  1 Extra-Large Egg
  •  2 TBSP Vegetable Oil
  •  2 TBSP Cider Vinegar
  •  2 Cups All-Purpose Flour
  •  3 TBSP Brown Sugar
  •  2 tsp Baking Powder
  •  1 tsp Baking Soda
  •  2 ½ tsp Pumpkin Pie Spice
  •  ½ tsp Salt
Instructions
  1. In a bowl, mix together the milk, pumpkin, egg, oil and vinegar.
  2. In another bowl combine the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, pumpkin pie spice and salt.
  3. Then stir the flour mixture into the pumpkin mixture just enough to combine. Do not over-mix!
  4. Heat a lightly oiled griddle or frying pan over medium-high heat.
  5. Pour or scoop the batter onto the griddle, using approximately ¼ cup for each pancake.
  6. Brown on both sides and serve hot.

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Buffalo-Style Turkey Meatballs

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Ok, it’s deep dark confession time.  Yes, I’m a healthy eater but I love boneless buffalo wings, they’re definitely my favorite bar food and something I reserve as a rare and very special treat to myself.  That being said, I have tried for quite awhile to come up with a healthy alternative to the boneless buffalo wing, one that is completely guilt-free.  Here’s the result….

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These meatballs are really delicious and definitely satisfy that craving for a buffalo wing.  The sauce can be hot or mild, your choice.  I will say though that I think a mild sauce allows for you to be able to actually taste the meatball itself and that’s important because this meatball is absolutely delicious.  It is a light, summer-friendly meatball and I highly recommend eating them on their own without the sauce as a variation to this dish.  You could also substitute beef for the turkey.

I typically serve these with my homemade blue cheese dressing as a dipping sauce.

Buffalo-Style Turkey Meatballs
 
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Author:
Recipe type: main course
Cuisine: Meat dish
Serves: 20 meatballs
Ingredients
  • For the meatballs:
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 celery stalks - diced
  • ½ of an onion - diced (I used Vidalia onion)
  • 1 Tablespoon of fresh sage - chopped (5 large leaves) or 1 teaspoon dried sage
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 egg - lightly beaten (I used liquid egg white substitute)
  • 1 Tablespoon yellow mustard
  • 1 pound ground turkey (or ground chicken or ground beef)
  • 1 cup Panko breadcrumbs (or regular bread crumbs)
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • For the sauce:
  • 6 Tablespoons butter
  • ¾ cup hot sauce ( use your desired heat level)
  • 1 cup Blue Cheese dressing (optional)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  2. Heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the celery and onion, sage and oregano and cook until tender, approximately 3-4 minutes. Let them cool.
  3. In a large bowl combine the turkey, celery and onion mixture, egg and mustard. Combine the ingredients with your hands until well combined.
  4. Add the breadcrumbs, salt and pepper and mix them into the meat mixture with your hands.
  5. Form the mixture into 1 inch balls and place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  6. Bake for 20 minutes until browned.
  7. For the sauce:
  8. In a small saucepan melt the butter over medium heat.
  9. Add the hot sauce and whisk to combine until smooth.
  10. Toss the sauce with the meatballs and serve warm.
  11. Serve with blue cheese dressing if desired.
  12. Note - the meatballs can e made up to 2 days ahead and gently reheated in a nonstick pan on the stovetop or in the microwave. Then add the sauce before serving.

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Here’s my “Super Bowl” Southwestern Turkey and Bell Pepper Chili

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Well, it’s Super Bowl Sunday; a day that many people, myself included, think should be a national holiday.  Actually, I think the Monday after Super Bowl Sunday should be the holiday so that after all that partying and eating we don’t have to get up for work.  Come on, who’s with me?

Sadly, our worst blizzard of the winter decided to hit this morning cancelling Super Bowl parties all across the area.  Such a shame, especially when you’re the hostess and have already bought and probably started cooking all that great food.  Well, my plans certainly changed due to the weather so I decided to make a big pot of chili.  There’s no better comfort food for warming you up on a stuck-in-the-house blizzard day than chili.  So here’s my Super Bowl, a super bowl of turkey chili that is!

This one is kind of a no rules chili.  I know, I know, many of you will not think that this is an authentic chili.  Dad, I’m talking to you!  It is a bean-free turkey chili with a southwestern spice profile and I think it’s a healthy fresh take on traditional chili.  I would serve it with some chopped cilantro, a squeeze of lime, a little sour cream and a sprinkle of cheese…..yum!

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Southwestern Turkey and Bell Pepper Chili
 
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This is a bean-free turkey chili with a southwestern spice profile and I think it's a healthy fresh take on traditional chili. I would serve it with some chopped cilantro, a squeeze of lime, a little sour cream and a sprinkle of cheese.....yum!
Author:
Recipe type: Chili
Cuisine: Comfort Food
Serves: 8 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 1 medium onion - diced
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 green bell pepper - diced
  • 1 orange bell pepper - diced
  • 1 red bell pepper - diced
  • ⅔ cup green chili peppers from a jar or 2 small cans of diced green chilis
  • 3 cloves of garlic - minced
  • 2 14.5 oz cans of diced tomatoes
  • 3 15 oz cans of tomato sauce
  • 1 15 oz can of whole kernel corn (no sugar, no preservatives) - or 1½ cups of thawed frozen corn
  • 1 Tablespoon cumin
  • ¾ teaspoon chipotle chili powder - or 1-2 teaspoons of regular chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • Kosher salt
  • Black pepper
Instructions
  1. Brown the ground turkey and the onion in a large stock pot over medium high heat. Set aside.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Add the bell peppers, a generous pinch of Kosher salt and black pepper and all of the spices. Sautee until crisp tender, approximately 6-8 minutes.
  3. Add the garlic to the peppers and sautee for 1 minute.
  4. Add the pepper mixture to the turkey.
  5. Add the tomatoes, tomato sauce, corn and green chilis to the pot.
  6. Bring the chili up to a simmer over medium high heat.
  7. Turn down the heat to very low and cook for 1 hour to let the flavors blend and intensify, stirring frequently.
  8. Serve with lime wedges, fresh chopped cilantro, lowfat sour cream and shredded cheese.

 

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Mexican Quinoa Casserole

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I’m going through one of those phases where I just don’t feel like cooking!  Yep, it happens to all of us once in awhile and now is my time.  It’s the holiday season and with that comes an elevated level of stress right?

So, ’tis the season for a super easy meal that’s delicious and on the table in a snap.  Don’t let the word casserole turn you off, this is a healthy one that’s packed with protein and whole grains….guilt free!  It’s so good for you that you won’t feel bad having a Christmas cookie for dessert!  The chicken can absolutely be omitted making it a vegetarian dish.

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The chicken I used here was, wait for it, canned chicken!  What, canned meat?  Let me tell you, it gets a bad wrap. It is all natural, preservative-free white meat chicken packed in water and it is your friend for a quick meal option.  I use it in casseroles, panini sandwiches, stirred into sauce over pasta and over greens for a nice entrée salad.

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This an extremely versatile dish, use what you have in your pantry.  Sub the enchilada sauce for salsa (I like the green salsa verde), green peas for the corn and white beans or chick peas for the black beans.  I’ve even omitted the beans all together and chopped up two black bean burgers instead.  Ground turkey is also a nice substitute for the canned chicken.  Make it your own.

Mexican Quinoa Casserole
 
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This guilt-free casserole is full of flavor and so healthy. Try omitting the chicken for a vegetarian main dish.
Author:
Recipe type: Casserole
Cuisine: Healthy Dinner
Serves: 4 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 13 ounce can of canned chicken (all natural, white meat, packed in water)
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • ½ cup canned black beans rinsed and drained
  • ½ cup frozen corn (I use roasted frozen corn)
  • 1 10 ounce can of mild enchilada sauce (or 10 ounces of salsa)
  • 1 4.5 ounce can of diced green chilis (I used ½ cup of jarred chopped mild chili peppers)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon chili powder
  • Kosher salt and black pepper to taste
  • 2-3 Tablespoons fresh cilantro - chopped
  • ¾ cup shredded Mexican cheese blend
  • ¼ cup shredded Mexican cheese blend
  • 2 Roma tomatoes - diced
  • low fat sour cream for garnish
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Spray a 2 quart baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.
  3. Cook the quinoa in 2 cups of water or broth according to package directions.
  4. Cook the frozen corn according to package directions.
  5. In a large bowl mix the quinoa, chicken, black beans, corn, enchilada sauce, green chilis, cumin, chili powder, salt and pepper to taste and the cilantro.
  6. Stir to combine all ingredients.
  7. Stir in ¾ cups of the cheese.
  8. Put the mixture into the baking dish.
  9. Top with the remaining ¼ cup of cheese.
  10. Bake for 15 minutes until the cheese is melted on the top.
  11. Serve immediately topped with the Roma tomatoes, a dollop of sour cream and a cilantro garnish.
  12. Store in the refrigerator for delicious leftovers for up to a week.

 

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Roasted Butternut Squash Soup, Fall Comfort Food at its Finest

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I hosted a lovely Fall themed lunch a couple of weeks ago for family and friends.  I served this roasted butternut squash soup as my first course.  On the whole, I think butternut squash soup can tend to be on the bland side.  I believe one of the reasons for that is the cooking method of the squash.  Most butternut squash soup recipes boil the squash until tender.  Instead, I roasted the butternut squash in the oven and it made for an amazing soup with a depth of flavor that was anything but bland.

This is all the tastes of Fall in one warm comforting soup bowl.  My guests are still talking about this soup, and asking for the recipe.

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup, Fall Comfort Food at its Finest
 
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Author:
Recipe type: Soup
Cuisine: Fall
Serves: 8-10
Ingredients
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 medium sized carrots
  • 3 celery stalks
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 teaspoon whole nutmeg - grated on the microplane
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2-3 pound butternut squash (1 large sheet pan full) cut into 1½ inch cubes
  • 8 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • Kosher salt
  • black pepper
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Place squash on a large baking plan and drizzle with olive oil. Mix the olive oil evenly over the squash with your hands. Sprinkle generously with Kosher salt and black pepper.
  3. Roast the squash for approximately 30 minutes until soft, turning after 20 minutes.
  4. Add the olive oil to a soup pot and heat over medium heat.
  5. Sautee carrot, onion and celery with the cinnamon stick until softened, approximately 10 minutes.
  6. Stir in the spices.
  7. Add the broth and bring to a boil.
  8. Turn the heat down to simmer.
  9. Mash the squash in a bowl with a potato masher.
  10. Add the squash to the soup pot and simmer for 30 minutes.
  11. Use an immersion blender or blend in batches in a food processor or blender until smooth.
  12. Stir ½ cup of half and half into the soup before serving.
  13. Note - this soup stores beautifully in the refrigerator for days. I often make it the day before and refrigerate it overnight. Wait to stir in the half and half until you're ready to heat and serve the soup.

 

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Here was my table décor for the luncheon; simple but elegant and very festive for Fall.

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Turkey Sloppy Joes

 

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It’s been a crazy week here and I’m being pulled in what feels like endless directions.  It’s just the time to take one evening and make a big batch of comfort food that can get me through the week.  Ground turkey was on sale at the market so enter turkey sloppy joes.  This is one of my favorite Fall dishes as it’s comforting and super easy to prepare.  I always make a double batch as it saves well in the refrigerator for a few days and also freezes well.  I like sloppy joes served in different ways.  Of course there’s the traditional way on a toasted whole wheat or pretzel bun but I really like it in warmed corn tortillas.  I also serve it over brown rice or whole grain pasta like a meat sauce.  I’ve even made an outside-the-box taco salad with it which is great with some roasted squash and baked tortilla chips. But two of my favorite ways to serve this mixture is over roasted spaghetti squash and inside the cavities of roasted acorn squash halves.  Wow, now that’s a great big serving of Fall on a dinner plate!  Enjoy and be sure to let me know your creative ideas for serving sloppy joes.

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I use a medium dice on the bell peppers and a small dice on the onion which seems to be the right texture for the sloppy joes.  I always use a variety of colors with the peppers as it looks so nice and fall-like.  Yellow and orange seem to be the prettiest.

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Turkey Sloppy Joes
 
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I make a large batch of these as they're delicious and tend to go fast. You could definitely cut the recipe in half. But I warn you, you'll miss not having leftovers of this dish!
Author:
Recipe type: Main Course, What's for dinner?
Cuisine: Comfort Food
Serves: 6-8
Ingredients
  • 2 pounds ground turkey
  • 2 cans tomato sauce
  • 4 cups of assorted bell peppers - diced medium (I used green and orange)
  • 1 medium Vidalia onion - diced small
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon chipotle chili powder
  • Kosher salt
  • black pepper
  • corn tortillas
Instructions
  1. Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium high heat.
  2. Cook the ground turkey until no longer pink.
  3. Reserve a tablespoon of the turkey drippings and then drain any excess fat off the turkey.
  4. Put the turkey into another bowl and set aside.
  5. In the same skillet add the tablespoon of turkey drippings and a small drizzle of olive oil.
  6. Heat the skillet over medium high heat.
  7. Add the peppers, onions and all of the spices. Stir until well combined.
  8. Cook the peppers and onions until they're tender but not soggy, about 8-10 minutes.
  9. Turn the heat down to medium.
  10. Add the turkey back into the pan along with the tomato sauce.
  11. Stir well and heat everything all the way through.
  12. If the sauce is too thin you can add some tomato paste to thicken it up.
  13. I've never chosen to do this as the sauce on the leftovers gets thicker after you refrigerate it.

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Roasted grape tomatoes

roasted.tomato.pasta.3Fall is officially upon us and this week brought chilly temperatures along with having to turn on the furnace for the first time!  Ok, and my space heater I’ll be honest.  Cold weather is my nemesis, my arch enemy to be certain.  I’m truly just cold most of the time, even in the summer!  I mean, it’s a real problem.  And it’s not just cold, it’s a chilled down to my very core type feeling.  So I wear sweaters, keep coats and blankets in the car for those just in case moments and cook!  Because, being in a hot kitchen is definitely good when you’re chilly.

In the spirit of Fall I was in the mood for a comfort food meal.  And surely, when I think comfort food, I think pasta!!!  I’m still growing those grape tomatoes and I wanted a way to use a large number of them in one recipe.  Enter my preferred cooking method….roasting!  Roasting tomatoes and garlic brings out a natural sweetness in them and provides such a depth of flavor to the dishes you use them in.

grape.tomato.garlic.raw.2Start by slicing the grape tomatoes lengthwise and mincing the garlic.  Mix them with olive oil, Kosher salt and black pepper and place them on a sheet pan.  I actually used a spicy harissa flavored olive oil.

They come out sweet and delicious.  You can use them over pasta, as a topping for bruschetta and stirred into rice or cous cous.  You could also just eat them right off the sheet pan, they’re that yummy!

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Roasted grape tomatoes
 
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Roasting the tomatoes and garlic brings out a natural sweetness in them. Try using a spicy flavored olive oil for added flavor.
Author:
Recipe type: roasted tomatoes and garlic
Cuisine: Vegetables, Vegetarian
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 2 pints of grape tomatoes (I used red and yellow) - cut in ½ lengthwise
  • 4 cloves of garlic - minced
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil - I used 1 Tbsp of a spicy harissa flavored olive oil and 1 Tbsp plain olive oil.
  • Kosher salt
  • black pepper
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Place the tomatoes and garlic on a sheet pan.
  3. Drizzle them with the olive oil and sprinkle with Kosher salt and pepper.
  4. Mix the tomatoes with your hands until evenly coated with the oil.
  5. Roast in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes until soft and juice forms on the pan.

I used the roasted tomatoes over a whole grain thin spaghetti that I coated with basil pesto.  I sautéed some peppers, onions and mushrooms that I added to the pasta as well.  An easy vegetarian meal that’s the perfect comfort food for a chilly night!roasted.tomato.pasta.2

 

 

 

 

 

Grilled Pepper and Onion Taco Salad with Chipotle Ranch Dressing

Taco.Salad1 Comfort food, as defined by urban dictionary, is a food that gives emotional comfort to the one eating it.  These tend to be favorite foods of childhood, or linked to a person, place or time with which the food has a positive association. I really can’t link taco salad to a specific person or place but it’s definitely one of my comfort foods.  I also love experimenting with my taco salads adding new and unique ingredients.  It’s not just meat, cheese, lettuce and chips these days. bellpeppers2 I feel this one is a true summer taco salad.  I browned some ground turkey, seasoning it with my homemade taco seasoning blend and grilled some bell peppers and Vidalia onion on the grill until they get tender with good grill marks.  The chipotle ranch dressing is, in a word, fabulous.  All the creaminess of ranch dressing with the addition of a smoky, mildly spicy flavor from the chipotle pepper. chipotle.ranch.dressing Experiment with your own ingredients as add-ons.  I like avocado, thin sliced radishes, cojita cheese and of course, a dollop of sour cream or crème fraiche.

Grilled Pepper and Onion Taco Salad with Chipotle Ranch Dressing
 
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Author:
Recipe type: Main Course, What's for Dinner?
Cuisine: Mexican, Tex-Mex
Serves: 2
Ingredients
  • ½ cup canola mayonnaise
  • ½ cup sour cream (or Greek yogurt or a combination of the two)
  • 2 canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
  • 1 Tbsp of the adobo sauce from the can
  • 1 Tbsp lime juice
  • ½ cup cilantro
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • ½ tsp Kosher salt
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • ¼ cup buttermilk
Instructions
  1. Place all ingredients in a bowl and whisk with a wire whisk until fully blended and creamy.

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Turkey Panini with fresh sage and fig preserves

turkey.panini.fig.preserve.3This sandwich is like Thanksgiving dinner contained in a delicious, melty package!

I enjoy finding new and unique food items and then creating recipes using those items.  True story, I was shopping for a rug at Marshalls/TJ Maxx and of course, found myself perusing through the gourmet food aisle.  Typically there’s the usual bottles of BBQ sauce and bags of dry pasta.  But this particular day I happened across a jar of all natural fig preserves.  I love fig products.  Fig balsamic (my favorite flavor of vinegar), fig bars and don’t even get me thinking about fig newtons!  Anyway, I digress…

This delicious sandwich is made with deli turkey, swiss cheese, a chiffonade of fresh sage leaves and fig preserves contained within two thick cut slices of sourdough bread.  Wow, my mouth is watering just thinking about it.  I’ve served it here with a garden salad for a complete meal.

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Turkey Panini with fresh sage and fig preserves
 
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Author:
Recipe type: Sandwich
Serves: 1
Ingredients
  • 2 slices of sourdough bread
  • deli turkey meat (amount to taste) - I use a nitrate-free low sodium honey roasted turkey
  • 2 slices Swiss cheese (or more depending on your taste)
  • 3-4 fresh sage leaves - sliced into ribbons, a "chiffonade"
  • 1 Tablespoon fig preserves
  • Butter
Instructions
  1. Butter a slice of bread and lie the butter side down onto a surface to build the sandwich.
  2. Spread the bread with ½ of the fig preserves.
  3. Place one slice of cheese onto the preserves.
  4. Place the sage ribbons onto the cheese.
  5. Next add the turkey, followed by the other slice of cheese.
  6. Butter the second slide of bread.
  7. Spread the non-buttered side of the bread with the fig preserves putting the butter side out.
  8. Place the sandwich onto the Panini press and cook until it becomes nicely browned and the cheese is melted.
  9. Alternate cooking method:
  10. If making this sandwich on a skillet:
  11. Cook it over medium low heat until the bread is nicely browned and the cheese is melted.
  12. I put a foil tent over the sandwich, leaving the sides open for the steam to escape. It melts the cheese nicely while letting the steam escape so the sandwich is not too soft and soggy.
  13. Turn the sandwich over and cook the second side.

 

 

 

 

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