Category: subs/sandwiches

A time to plant, a time to sow.

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Yes, I know, you’re all in “fall-mode” already. Me too. It’s hard not to be when Halloween has infiltrated every store & every blog (or Pinterest page) is pushing pumpkin desserts! And I’ve got those coming for you, too. But first there’s still some wrapping up to do when it comes to summer. Namely the garden.

Every year at this time, I start to dry my herbs. They continue growing until mid to late October, usually, unless it gets very cold at night very quickly. As do the peppers, sometimes. But the herbs usually get so large midway through the summer, that I end up cutting them back in late July and using most of them fresh (or freezing them). The rest I dry and add to my dried herb jars. Then I cut them back again in September. Drying fresh herbs is one of the easiest things to do, as is freezing them, and if you grow your own herbs I strongly suggest you do it! For cilantro, I suggest freezing it in olive oil. Basil is also good that way, as well as rosemary. You can freeze them in water, too, if you prefer. As far as drying them, there are, of course, quite a few different ways to do it… but this is what I do. I bought little jars from Ikea to store them in, but small Ball jars work too, as do cleaned out baby food jars. All you have to do is cut your herbs and give them a good shake outside to evict any unwanted tenants. Not cilantro, though, dried cilantro tastes nothing like fresh and it’s not really worth it. You’re better off freezing that. Anyhow, cut ‘em down and give ‘em a a shake or two… then give them a good rinse and let them dry overnight on a paper towel or clean dish towel. The next morning, tie the ends of each herb together to create a bunch, and tie with soft twine (or use a small rubber band). Place them in a brown paper lunch bag that you already labeled and “hang” them in it, gathering the top of the bag together around the bottom of the stems and tying it. Then hang the bags or place them in a cool, dry place for 2 weeks. After 2 weeks, you’ll have dried herbs (if not, let them hang another week, there shouldn’t be any moisture left in them). Take them out of the bags and gently tug, pull or scrape the leaves of the herbs off the stems with your fingers. You can crumble the basil, oregano & parsley at this point, if you wish. Place them in your jars and label. Or, if you have non-edible lavender, use it in a sachet. All done!

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Anyway… as you might have guessed, this is the last garden post of the season. Sad, yes. But each year it comes whether we like it or not. The good things far outweigh the bad: the fresh veggies that start to come in record numbers, the fresh herbs that grow like crazy, and the delicious meals, sauces & salsas that can come of them all.

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Except this year.

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This year I was lucky to get 8 Cajun Belle peppers, 4 SuperTasty Hybrid tomatoes and 1 Green Zebra tomato. That’s it. Of course, my herbs were huge and I got tons of use out of them all season, not to mention the pesto I’ll be making & freezing because my basil is taking over a small country. But my vegetables were not at all what they have been in the past. Why? I don’t know. The weather, maybe? I know the country is having the worst drought in two decades. But here in NY, it was a pretty wet summer (wetter than usual), but that flip-flopped from very very hot to very very wet almost constantly. The plants barely had time to dry out and recover from one storm by the time another one hit. Though really, I’m not sure. Maybe it was the crazy wind with all those severe thunderstorms (& tornadoes! WHAT?), maybe it was the really bad heat in between all that, maybe it was just me. My mind has been other places this summer, and I haven’t been as anal-retentive about keeping up with the gardening. I noticed some funky curly leaves on the tomatoes and I never even did anything about it. I haven’t weeded or used any fertilizer/plant food at all either. And maybe it was the fact that I chose heirloom tomatoes, not hardier disease-resistant ones this season. But regardless, no matter what the reason, that’s all I got so far. The “mystery plant” died sometime in mid-August, so I guess I’ll never know what it was (glad we weren’t taking bets!). Now my peppers & tomatoes will probably keep growing for a few more weeks, or at least until it gets too cold at night, but I doubt I’ll get much more out of them. Of course, if I end up with anything else, you’ll all read about it for sure. But basically, that was my bounty of 2012, and I was lucky to get it.

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But it was still worth it. Each tomato or pepper is one more tomato or pepper I didn’t have to buy.

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I cut those last three peppers off before they matured, because I wanted to use a variety of peppery heat in a dish I was making. The green tomato took forever to finish growing, it wasn’t done until last week. And the SuperTasty’s? Ugh. They were a struggle all season. Like I said, I could probably take some of the blame, if not most- I wasn’t 100% invested this year. But the weather was downright bizarre, so I’m just going to use that as my excuse. In all my years of having a veggie/herb garden, this is the first year my bounty was pathetic, so I guess I should be thankful. And the best part? Using fresh tomato slices from my own plant, and fresh oregano to make a fantastic light hot weather dinner: a tomato feta open-face sandwich, using one of my SuperTasty hybrid tomatoes & both kinds of fresh oregano.

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I feel almost silly for writing up the recipe for this, it’s so easy, but epicurious.com did too, so I’m in good company. This is a good way to enjoy the fruits of your garden on a really hot, sticky late summer night. Or a slightly warm early fall evening.

TOMATO-FETA OPEN FACE SANDWICH (from epicurious.com)

Ingredients:

  • Thick slices of white bread (Pullman loaf is ideal)
  • Olive oil (good quality oil meant for eating)
  • Tomato slices
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Slabs or crumbles of feta
  • Fresh oregano

Directions:

  1. Lightly toast thick slices of white bread, then drizzle with olive oil.
  2. Add tomato slices, salt and freshly ground black pepper, slabs of feta, fresh oregano, and more oil.
  3. Eat!

I bet this sandwich would look delightful with different colored heirloom tomatoes, and it would probably be amazing with blue cheese or Gorgonzola crumbles too. Noms.

I’ve got some balls. Meatballs, that is.

It is true. I’ve been told many times in my life that I “had quite a set on me” or “had some balls.” But this time I’m sorry to say it’s just in reference to meatballs, not me being a big-mouthed bitch. Maybe next time. A while back my friend Chichi from Bakeasaurus (Chichi is not her real name, it’s just what I call her… and yes, I did her blog logo) posted an evil picture on twitter. Evil. It was a picture of a homemade turkey meatball hero she made, all draped in cheesy deliciousness. Now, I don’t like turkey meatballs or turkey sausage, personally. I just don’t. So I decided since she gave me a hankering (yes, I said a hankering, problem?) that I’d make my own meatball hero’s using good ol’ ground beef meatballs.

I think I’ve said before that I don’t eat red meat much anymore, probably once every few months in the winter although in the summer it’s more often because of barbecues, but I still try and keep it no more than once or twice a month tops. Not only is it high in fat and cholesterol, but I try to go meatless as much as possible in general because of the environmental impact I’ve learned about from Meatless Monday. I’ve mainly just lost my taste for it altogether, I no longer crave steaks or burgers all the time. I do occasionally get a craving, and when I do I indulge it, because I believe when you crave something that you don’t eat often or ever, it’s your body’s way of telling you you need it (or something in it at any rate). So I can blame Chichi all I want for planting the seed, but in reality I was probably in need of some iron or something.

I had never ever made meatballs before, so I was a bit unsure of how this would come out. But it turns out, like anything else I’ve been intimidated to try, meatballs are stupid easy and cook really quick. So really, try them. They’re awesome. THEY’RE NOT JUST MEATBALLS… THEY’RE AMAZEBALLS! Since I’ve made these I’ve been wanting them almost constantly. Next time, I’m going to make chicken cutlet hero’s using  homemade fried chicken cutlets. I think the best part is that they don’t get soggy! You can load ‘em up with meatballs and sauce and cheese, and they won’t get mushy and fall apart. Using ciabatta is definitely a better bet than a regular ol’ sub roll (more about that at the bottom of the post).

MARILLA’S AMAZEBALLS HOMEMADE MEATBALL HERO’S

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1 cup (maybe more) fine dry Italian-flavored bread crumbs
  • ¼ cup freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano
  • ¼ cup freshly grated pecorino romano
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • Pinch dried basil
  • Pinch dried oregano
  • Pinch dried parsley flakes
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the hero’s themselves:

  • Ingredients for the homemade sauce, or 1 jar of sauce
  • fresh ciabatta rolls
  • fresh mozzarella cheese

Directions:

  1. For the meatballs: Mix meat, bread crumbs, cheeses, eggs, oregano, parsley, basil and salt and pepper to taste in a large bowl. Gently shape mixture into 1 & ¾” meatballs, cover with plastic wrap, and set aside. Get together the materials for your sauce.
  2. In a skillet, pour about ½ cup olive oil. On medium heat, cook the meatballs until they’re browned on all sides.
  3. Make the sauce according to the recipe, and when it’s done simmering, combine the meatballs into the sauce pot. Cook for 45 minutes on low, as the sauce recipe says.  Or heat up the jar sauce and add the meatballs, then cook them for about 20 minutes. While they’re cooking, slice your rolls and mozzarella cheese so it’s all ready when you need it. Some of the meatballs might break off a bit into the sauce- that’s fine.
  4. Turn on your broiler and open your ciabatta rolls. Put about three to four meatballs and some sauce on each, then top with a few slices of mozzarella cheese. when your broiler is ready, put the hero in and let the cheese melt. Take it out, let it sit for a minute, slice in half if you like, then serve.

The most beautiful-est hero ever.


Since you’ll only need 3-4 meatballs per hero, you’ll have a bunch left over. My advice is to to this: cook only the amount you need according to this recipe. For the rest, cook them thoroughly in the skillet (making sure there’s no pink inside). Let them drain and cool on a paper towel covered plate, then put them in a tupperware and freeze them for another day.

If you like a thicker sauce, use crushed tomatoes instead of whole. That’s what I did this time. The sauce can also be doctored up to your liking: add garlic, meat, etc. If you don’t want to make your own sauce, jar sauce is okay too. Just make sure the meatballs are very browned before putting them in the sauce, and then cook them in the sauce for about 15-20 minutes. Also, as far as the meatballs go, you can make meatballs with any meat you like. If you wanna use half pork, half beef, go for it. You wanna throw some lamb in? Fine. Turkey meatballs? Fantastic. Even veggie meatballs or pretend meatballs using mushrooms? That’s fine too. Just be sure to alter your cooking time accordingly. Turkey, chicken & veg-based foods cook faster than beef and you don’t want your meatballs to be tough or rubbery. You can also season them however you like. If you like onion in them, put in some chopped onion. Do whatever you like. If you’re gonna eat it, you should like it. So make it how you want it!

Around here some people like their hero’s on garlic rolls, so an easy way to do that is to spread a little olive oil on the roll, then spread some minced garlic on it, and pop it under the broiler just long enough for it to get warm. Then take it out and make your hero and put it back under for the cheese to melt. Mmm. Garlic-y, tomato-y, cheesy goodness. And I seriously stress the importance of ciabatta rolls here. They’re hard on the outside with a really nice moist interior and will resist the soggy-ness that most hero’s end up being. If you must use regular sub rolls, toast them a bit before using them for this, so they’re a bit harder. But seriously, go get some ciabatta. You’ll thank me for it.

On a totally unrelated note, since this post is about as far from vegan as one can get… check out my girl Jeanine’s blog, Vegan Nourishment, which she recently got up and running. A really talented artist designed her logo too *ahem* So if you’re vegan or vegetarian or even gluten-free, definitely bookmark her blog because she’s going to be posting recipes that are all three. Wow that rhymed.

French-toasted chicken sandwiches.

This recipe idea is possibly one of the best I ever saw but never would’ve thought of myself (and now I’m consequently kicking myself for not doing so). I got this recipe from the book Eat Cheap but Eat Well by Charles Mattocks, aka “The Poor Chef,” another author I met at the Lord & Taylor fundraiser last week. It combines the idea behind French toast, where you dip the bread in an egg mixture before you cook it, and the classic French sandwich croque monsieur, in which the bread is slathered with butter and then fried. Its another easy and affordable and most importantly quick meal that’s both fun and delicious. The entire book is filled with amazing meals so I highly suggest you check it out for yourself. Plus, Charles is a really nice guy! And he’s Bob Marley’s nephew, which is kinda cool.

Speaking of cool, this is like a cooler, more sophisticated grilled cheese, with chicken. Its really delicious, and you can add whatever you like to it; onions, peppers, etc… or remove options, like the tomato. Its great for kids, but also parties, etc. You could make a vegetarian version using just cheese and veggies, or even make a sweet version using Challah bread and chocolate! The possibilities are endless.

FRENCH-TOASTED CHICKEN SANDWICHES

Serves 4, or 2 very hungry people

Ingredients:

  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • Dash of freshly ground black (or white) pepper
  • 8 slices sandwich bread
  • 2 cups sliced cooked chicken (about 1/4 inch thick)
  • 1 large tomato, thinly sliced
  • 2 sprigs fresh oregano, chopped
  • 3 ounces Gruyere, Swiss or mozzarella cheese (about 3/4 cup), preferably sliced but shredded could work too
  • Butter

Directions:

  1. In a shallow bowl, mix together the eggs, milk, Parmesan and salt and pepper. Lay out a baking sheet or piece of aluminum foil large enough to hold 4 pieces of bread. Dip one side of each of the 4 pieces of bread into the mixture so that the outside is coated but the bread isn’t soggy. Lay the bread egg-side down on the prepared surface.
  2. Top each slice with an equal amount of chicken. Cover the chicken with slices of tomato. Sprinkle the tomato with oregano and cover with the cheese.
  3. Dip one side of the remaining bread slices into the egg mixture, adding more milk if necessary, and place the slices egg-side up on top of each sandwich. Trim off any chicken, tomato or cheese that extend past the ends of the bread.
  4. Over medium heat, melt enough of the butter in a medium-size skillet to cover the bottom. Carefully add 1 or 2 sandwiches. When the bottom is golden brown and firm, carefully flip over to the other side, adding more butter as necessary. Repeat until all the sandwiches are done.
  5. Serve immediately, while warm.

Yum! Super good, super easy, and super filling. I look forward to making more recipes from this book, and of course sharing them with all of you!

In other news, Yoyo‘s Earth Day tote giveaway went off without a hitch today! The winners are TRACEY, ESTHER, BRIANNE and J.INGLE! Congratulations ladies! In case you were wondering, the totes are filled with tons of good stuff, including two recipes from me, printed out on fancy-schmancy designed-and-created-by-myself recipe cards (with special handwritten messages on the back).

To the rest of you, wanna see what you didn’t win?

Of course, that giant CUPCAKEREHAB watermark isn’t on them, they’re bigger, and much cooler. Bet you’re sorry now that you didn’t enter, huh. They’re both recipes you can find on here, but you won’t find them all pretty like that. Oh well, maybe next time when Yoyo has a contest- you’ll enter!

Shrimp Po’ Bubba’s… or Po’ Arwyns.

I love shrimp. I could eat it all day I think. I’m partial to fried shrimp, though. Fried in any capacity: tempura, beer batter with tartar sauce, shrimp parmigiana, coconut shrimp, etc. Arwyn (my cat) also loves shrimp. She’s not really as picky as me though- she likes any kind of shrimp. She eats around the coatings or sauces she doesn’t like. I’m not as evolved as that so I stick to what I like. And I likes fried shrimp.

The queen of frying, Ms. Paula Deen, made this and therefore I had to. I renamed them Shrimp Po’ Arwyns because of my cat who, just a few minutes ago, ate the remaining shrimp off her own little plate. No tartar sauce ;)

SHRIMP PO’ BUBBA’S ARWYN’S

Uncle Bubba’s Fry Mix:
  • 6 cups self-rising flour
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
Shrimpy goodness:
  • 2 pounds, uncooked shrimp, peeled (tails left on), deveined and butterflied
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 eggs
  • ¼ cup water
  • ½ cup Louisiana hot sauce (recommended: Texas Pete)
  • 2 cups Uncle Bubba’s Fry Mix
  • Peanut oil, for deep frying
  • Tartar sauce, or Cocktail sauce, for dressing
  • Lettuce and tomato slices, for topping
Directions:
  1. Lightly sprinkle the shrimp with salt and pepper. In a small bowl mix the eggs, 1/4 cup water and hot sauce. Place the fry mix in a shallow dish. Dip each shrimp in the egg mixture and then into the fry mix.
  2. Cook’s Note: If the fry gets lumpy you can sift it to make smooth.

  3. Heat 3 to 4-inches of peanut oil (in a Dutch oven or deep-fryer) to 350 degrees F.

  4. Place the shrimp in the pot and fry until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Remove with a clean strainer or slotted spoon and drain on paper towels for a minute.

  5. Serve on a toasted hoagie roll with tartar sauce, lettuce and tomatoes.

A few edits, if you will:

  • I use tartar sauce on mine, which is what the original recipe called for. But some people prefer cocktail sauce (see above photos) so have that available as well.
  • I didn’t have self-rising flour so I made one using a cheat and it worked just fine. I also omitted the water in the egg/hot sauce mixture- it made the batter too watery and none of it stayed on the shrimp when they were put into the oil. Also, in the aforementioned mixture I used plain old Tabasco sauce, which I love, instead of Louisiana hot sauce but you use whatever you want or whatever you have on hand.
  • My fry mix didn’t get lumpy at all, so I didn’t have to sift, but I made only one pound of  (jumbo) shrimp and halved the fry mix recipe (and the egg mixture, of course) and still have a ton of mix left over.. so keep that in mind. But thats okay because it keeps for 4 months in an airtight container.
  • I myself would add some paprika and maybe cayenne to the fry mix, it was a bit bland for me. But I live on hot sauce and my taste buds are immune to an extent so its really a matter of taste.
  • I did not butterfly the shrimp, either, but thats pretty obvious.
  • You’ll need a candy thermometer to check the temp of the oil, too. But you should have one of those anyway. If not- go get one.

Happy summer!

Chicken parmesan subs = the bomb.

This recipe is a Rachael Ray recipe. I know people either love her or hate her; I happen to like her. I like her recipes more- a lot of them are supereasy and supersimple and can be made when you don’t have a lot of time, and believe it or not, I don’t usually.

My family loves these. I do too, although I tend to change it up and-due to my love of anything hot& spicy- I sometimes omit the tomatoes when putting the chicken on the roll, smother it with Tabasco, and then smother it with mozzarella. Mmmm, classy huh? I don’t care I love it. But thats just me. So really, the recipe is an outline. You could use provolone if you wanted, or doctor up the tomato “sauce” to fit your likes. You could even use regular tomato sauce for people who don’t like tomato chunks *cough*Jay*cough*… Basically this is a no-brainer. You don’t even NEED a recipe for this. Its chicken parm subs, how easy is that? A trained monkey could make this. God… I wish I had a trained monkey to make this for me. I’dhave one right now…

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
  • One 26-ounce box chopped tomatoes
  • Salt and pepper
  • Crushed red pepper & Oregano
  • 4 thin chicken cutlets
  • 2 tablespoons butter, softened
  • Two 6-inch firm-textured hoagie rolls, split
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

DIRECTIONS:

1. In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add 3 garlic cloves and fry until lightly golden, about 5 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes and cook until heated through, about 5 minutes. Season the sauce to taste with salt, pepper, crushed red pepper and oregano. Add the chicken and simmer, stirring occasionally, until cooked through, about 10 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, preheat the broiler. Spread a little butter on each hoagie roll half, place cut side up on a small baking sheet and broil until golden and crunchy, about 3 minutes. Gently rub with the remaining garlic clove and set aside.
3. Distribute half of the mozzarella on the roll halves. Arrange the chicken and some sauce over the cheese and then top with the remaining cheese. Broil until the cheese is melted and bubbly, about 3 minutes. Sprinkle a bit of oregano on top and serve immediately.

These would probably be great for kids too. Its a messy food, and kids LOVE messy foods.