Monday, July 29, 2013

Smoked Salmon and Goat Cheese Panini

When we first moved to New Jersey, I kept seeing smoked salmon in the grocery store.  For the longest time, both Jacob and I kept picking it up and talking about how we wanted to make something with smoked salmon...but it just never happened.

Last week I saw Panini flavor profile suggestions, and this was on it, and I knew that we had to try it.  I love paninis and how fast they are to put together, so I put this on our Sunday afternoon lunch menu.
Smoked Salmon and Goat Cheese Panini
slightly adapted from Weight Watchers
7 ounces smoked salmon
2 ounces goat cheese
2 tablespoons of light mayonnaise

1) Layer desired amounts of ingredients on the bread. 
2) Press sandwich in a Panini press for about 3 minutes.

I know this is seriously a ridiculously easy recipe, but it tasted amazing.  I loved the strong flavor of the goat cheese and the salmon together.  To me, those two ingredients are meant to go together.  The mayo just provides a little moisture to the sandwich so it isn't dry, but you could easily leave it off.  I loved this sandwich and this post is making me want to run out and buy the ingredients to make it again.  If you're looking for a simple and delicious sandwich for a weekend afternoon, you have to try this. 

Friday, July 26, 2013

Cabernet Burgers

Nothing better than burgers in the summer, right?  Things in New Jersey got a little warm this last week, so I thought I'd participate in the Grilling swap hosted by Sarah at A Taste of Home Cooking.

I love running across new versions of burgers.  While sometimes there is nothing better than a regular cheeseburger, sometimes it is nice to splurge on ingredients and do something like a Cabernet burger.

Cabernet Burgers
slightly adapted from Kylee Cooks
2 cups cabernet sauvignon
1 tablespoon brown sugar

1/4 cup unsalted butter (1/2 stick), softened
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves, minced

1-1/2 pounds ground turkey
1/4 cup Cabernet glaze (above)
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Burger construction
4 slices white cheddar cheese
8 slices tomato, 1/2 inch thick
2 cups spinach

1) In a heavy saucepan over medium heat, combine the wine and brown sugar.  Cook until reduced to 1/2 cup, 25 to 30 minutes.  Set aside to cool.
2) In a small bowl, mix the butter and rosemary.
3) Warm up the grill (450-550 degrees).  Combine the meat and seasonings into four patties of equal size and thickness. 
4) Grill the patties over direct high heat, brushing with glaze for every 2 minutes.  During the last minute of cooking, place a slice of cheese on each patty to melt.
5) Lower the temperature of the grill to medium heat.  Brush tomato slices with oil, season with salt and pepper and grill until soft (2-4 minutes).  Spread the buns with the rosemary butter and grill until lightly toasted.  Build each burger with spinach, a patty, and tomato.

These burgers ended up being the type that cause juices to flow down your arms while you're eating them.  The wine made them very moist and juicy.  The grilled tomatoes made what is usually a common boring topping a little more delicious with char flavor.  My grocery store didn't have focaccia, so I just used regular buns, but I could see the focaccia taking this to another level.  I'm glad we had a chance to try these burgers, and enjoying them with the remaining bottle of wine was an added bonus.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pretzel Bars

Growing up, I hated pretzels.  I just couldn't get over the dryness of them.  Recently, I've started loving them.  I love dipping them in peanut butter as a snack.  Since I'm going through a pretzel phase, I thought it would be fun to bake with them.  I found these on Pinterest and they had peanut butter and pretzels, so I knew they would be perfect.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pretzel Bars
from Cinnamon Spice and Everything Nice
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup ground pretzels (measure after crushing)
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup melted butter
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1 cup coarsely chopped pretzels, for topping
1) Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a 9" x 13" baking pan with parchment, leaving long ends to use to remove the bars from the pan.
2) To make the crust:  Whisk together the flour, ground pretzels and sugar until well combined. Mix in the melted butter using your fingers to evenly distribute it. You should have a soft but not wet dough.
3) Press the dough evenly into the pan and bake for 10 to 12 minutes. While the crust cooks make the filling.
4) To make the filling: Using a microwave melt the chocolate chips, stirring every 30 seconds until smooth and creamy. Add the peanut butter and stir until well combined and smooth.
5) Pour the filling over the warm crust and spread out evenly. Tap the pan on the counter to allow air bubbles to escape.
6) Press pretzels (either crushed or whole) down so that they stick into the chocolate. 
7) Chill in the freezer for 1 hour. Use the parchment to lift the bars out of the pan onto a cutting board. Use a large chef's knife to slice into squares or bars. Serve frozen, chilled or at room temperature.
 I took these to a get together and everyone broke into them before the main course was even ready.  Everyone was so surprised how good they were, definitely an amazing dessert for the amount of time that it takes to get it together.  To me, this dessert was the perfect blend of sweet and salty.  The crust is kind of crumbly, so definitely eat these over a napkin or plate. 

Monday, July 8, 2013

Secret Recipe Club: Oreo Cookies and Cream Cheesecake Bars

This month for the Secret Recipe Club, I was assigned The Busy Mom CafĂ©, written by Nancy.  The Secret Recipe Club is a challenge in which you are assigned a blog and you have a  month to choose anything you'd like to make from that blog. 

I haven't posted since the last Secret Recipe Club reveal day.  I took on another person's responsibilities at work this month and have been exhausted every day when I get home.  My husband has been amazing and has stepped up and taken over a lot of dinners. 

Since it has been getting warmer, I decided to make Cookies and Cream Ice Cream last weekend.  Oreos were on sale and so I had an extra package, and instead of eating through row after row of them myself, I decided to make these delicious bars from Nancy's blog that I had been thinking about since I first received her blog.  Please head over to Nancy's blog and check out her other recipes.  She has a lot of breakfast recipes that sound incredible.

Oreo Cookies and Cream Cheesecake Bars
recipe from THE BUSY MOM CAFE
1 package Oreo cookies
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

3-8 ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup sour cream, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs, room temperature

1) Preheat oven to 325°F. Line a 9 x 13-inch pan with foil, leaving a 2-inch overhang on two sides, spray with cooking spray.
2) Place 28 Oreos in a food processor and process until finely ground. Pour the crushed Oreos into a large bowl. Melt 4 tablespoons of unsalted butter in a small bowl. Add the melted butter, and stir crumbs and butter are all combined.
3) Place the cookie-crumb mixture in a foil-lined pan. Using your fingers, press the mixture firmly and evenly into the bottom. Bake for 10 minutes, then remove to a cooling rack while you make the filling.
4) Crush up the remaining Oreos in half, so that your oreos are roughly chopped, and set aside.
5) Combine in a large bowl the cream cheese and sugar. Beat the combo with an electric mixer on medium speed for about two minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl with a spatula and beat again until uniform. Beat in sour cream, vanilla and salt. Scrape down the bowl and mix again.
6) Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each. After beating in the last egg, scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and beat one more time, to make sure the mixture is fully combined.
7) Pour in the chopped/ crushed oreos into the filling mixture. Stir in chopped Oreos with the same rubber spatula. Pour the cream cheese mixture over the baked cookie crust. Smooth the top with the rubber spatula.
8) Bake for 40 minutes or until the filling is set around the edges but still slightly wobbly in the center. Remove the pan to a wire rack to cool to room temperature, about 1 hour or longer.
9) When the cheesecake has set and cooled cover it with aluminum foil and place in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours or more.

These bars were amazing.  I loved the amount of cookie per cream cheese in each bar.  Mine took awhile to set-up, so don't make these right before you have to take them somewhere.  I had my husband take these to work minus the one that is pictured above, and he said that the guys in his office devoured them.  Thanks for a great recipe Nancy, these bars were every bit as delicious as they looked and sounded.