BBLTCM Sandwich

photo-1…Basil, Bacon, Lettuce, Tomato, Chicken, Mozzarella, that is. Delicious!

I was craving a BLT and had some wonderful spelt bread my aunt had given me. Opened the fridge to find leftover Panko fried chicken from last night and mozzarella. Ran outside to grab some basil. Toasted the bread and stacked it all on, and voila! There lies the BBLTCM. Thought about adding some balsamic glaze, but it didn’t need it. Try it out!


  • bread of your choice
  • bacon
  • lettuce
  • tomato
  • basil
  • mayonnaise
  • fresh mozzarella
  • Panko fried chicken (heat up in broiler)
  • garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper (just to sprinkle on mozz and tomatoes)
  • balsamic glaze (Trader Joe’s has a good one or make your own!)

Cranberry Goat Cheese and Rosemary Stuffed Chicken with a Cherry and Balsamic Reduction

….Long title, I know.


I just got back from a week at my parents’ house for Thanksgiving, and I had a lot of leftover cranberry goat cheese that I got at Trader Joe’s on a pre-Thanksgiving special. My cousin came for dinner tonight and we were supposed to have grilled chicken, but something came over me and I didn’t feel like grilling tonight. So, I came up with this delicious stuffed chicken, served with roasted asparagus and stuffed tomatoes.

The champagne mustard, cranberry goat cheese and rosemary combo is killer. Creamy, tangy, sweet. Add a drizzle of the cherry and balsamic reduction and you’re on your way to heaven.

Ingredients for the chicken(serves 2 very hungry people)

  • 2 chicken breasts, bonless (skin on or off)
  • 1 log of Cranberry goat cheese (I got mine at Trader Joes)
  • 2 tsp. fresh rosemary, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp. champagne mustard (could substitute Dijon)
  • Garlic powder, paprika, salt and pepper, onion powder, mustard powder
  • Salt and pepper
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Cherry and Balsamic reduction


Butterfly your chicken breasts. Marinate each chicken breast with a few shakes paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, mustard powder, salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil. Rub around. Flip chicken and repeat. Let marinate for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350°.

Spread a thin layer of champagne mustard onto both sides of the butterflied chicken. On one side, add a layer of cranberry goat cheese and sprinkle with finely chopped rosemary.


Drizzle with olive oil and close the chicken. Tie together with kitchen twine.


Make the reduction. Don’t let it get too thick before the chicken is ready.


Add a little olive oil to a pan over medium high heat. Sauté the chicken until browned on both sides, about 7 minutes per side.


Move the chicken breasts to an oiled (or buttered) baking dish. Bake the chicken for 15 – 20 minutes at 350°. Serve with roasted asparagus and stuffed tomatoes.

Real Green Bean Casserole

The final result.

The final result.

Last night I made a modernized thanksgiving dinner, which of course had to include green bean casserole. My aunt always makes the Cook’s Illustrated green bean casserole recipe when she comes over and it is absolutely to die for!

I found this recipe while googling the recipe for the Cook’s Illustrated version of the casserole. I kept almost everything the same, except I added parmesan. This casserole was bomb and I am so excited that my mom is making it again on Thursday for the real deal Thanksgiving chow-down!

2 things that I believe are imperative in the making of this dish:

  • You must make the mushroom sauce from scratch – no substitutions for the canned stuff! The homemade mushroom sauce is what makes the casserole so creamy and delicious (and I don’t even really like mushrooms!).
  • Use haricot verts (French green beans – I got mine from Trader Joe’s) – please please please do not use canned green beans! It will ruin the dish.

2 little tips:

  • You can freeze this dish. To freeze just bake the casserole as usual but do not put the topping of parmesan, breadcrumbs and fried onions top! You have to freeze those separately and throw them on top of the casserole just before you want to re-heat it. Make sure to defrost the casserole before re-heating it.
  • You can make this dish up to a day ahead of time and then bake it when your ready. I would just make  sure to re-stir the green beans and sauce together right before baking. Also, don’t add the topping until you are ready to bake it.

Ingredients (serves about 8 and fills a 9 x 13 in. casserole dish)

  • 2 pounds haricot verts (French green beans)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 8 oz. baby bello mushrooms
  • 2 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 2 tbsp. fresh garlic, chopped
  • 3 tbsp. flour
  • 1 ½ cups chicken stock
  • 2 tbsp. dry sherry
  • 1 ½ cups half and half
  • 1 cup freshly grated parmesan
  • ¾ cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 container French’s French fried onions (about 2 cups worth maybe? – enough to cover the top)
  • 9 x 13 inch casserole dish


For the green beans: chop the ends off of the green beans and cut in half again.


Bring a large pot of water to boil and add 1-2 tbsp. salt (don’t skimp on the salt! – this is not the healthiest veggie dish ever created…). Blanch the green beans for about 6 minutes, or until desired firmness (the green beans will not continue to cook when baked – they will just be reheated).

Make a large bowl of ice water. When the beans are cooked to your liking drain them and then dump them into the ice bath. Leave for a few minutes and then drain again and dry the green beans. Set aside.

For the sauce: Clean the mushrooms with a damp paper towel. Remove the stems and cut them into small chunks. Melt 2-3 tbsp. butter in a large pan. Over medium heat, add the garlic, mushrooms, and some salt and pepper. Cook the mushrooms for about 5 – 7 minutes, stirring frequently. Whisk in 3 tbsp. flour and cook for about 2 minutes.

Add the chicken stock about ¼ cup at a time (you want the sauce to get thick so you need to add a little at a time, and whisk around frequently).  Once all chicken stock is combined, add the sherry and whisk. Bring this mixture to a simmer and stir occasionally.

Add the half and half and simmer until the sauce thickens, about 15 – 20 minutes. If the sauce does not thicken the way you want then you can combine 1 tbsp. cornstarch with 1 tbsp. cold water and then whisk it into the sauce. This should thicken it, if not, repeat.


Taste the sauce for seasoning.

Once the sauce is thickened and tasty, add the dry green beans and stir together with the sauce.


Combine the grated parmesan, panko breadcrumbs, and French fried onions. Mix together. Spread evenly over top of casserole, covering the entire thing.


Bake at 400° for 20 minutes, or until bubbling lightly.

Apple Pie Martini

I am calling this a martini, but I don’t have any martini glasses so the next best thing was a mini mason jar. Kind of fitting for an apple pie martini though!

This drink was created when my roommate and I decided to have a modernized thanksgiving dinner and also wanted an ode to college. There were many a-night spent enjoying apple pie shooters. The traditional college way of enjoying an apple pie shooter is to lean your head back and have someone pour a little vodka in your mouth, a little apple juice, and then topping it with whipped cream and cinnamon.You must then lean forward and shake your head about to mix the shot together and by golly it tastes just like pie!

For tonights meal, I have made this drink acceptable for a 24 year old like me. Instead of a shooter and apple juice, it has morphed into a martini with apple cider (a little, tiny bit more mature…maybe).

Ingredients (makes 2 drinks)

  • 3 oz vodka
  • 3 oz apple cider
  • About a ½ cup whipped cream (not cool whip!)
  • A heavy sprinkle of cinnamon


Pour all ingredients into a cocktail shaker. Shake and serve in whatever glass you fancy.

Nanny’s Cranberry Relish

This is my Nanny’s recipe. I grew up eating this at Thanksgiving each year and when she passed away I decided to make sure this relish did not go missing at Thanksgiving. I much prefer a cranberry relish over cranberry sauce. I even did a taste test last year to ensure that I favored the relish more strongly. I would not turn down a cranberry sauce, but when I have the choice I wil always go with relish.

This relish is so incredibly easy, cheap, and flavorful. You do not have to cook it and it takes about 5 minutes to make.

It will last in the fridge for up to 2 weeks and can be used in a variteyty of applications: on a thanksgiving burger, on a turkey or chicken sandwich, in chicken salad, mixed into plain or honey greek yogart for a healthy and refresing breakfast, on toast, as an appetizer on a baguette with brie or chevre and perhaps some apple, in a pastry, or even stuffed into a chicken breast with chevre and caramalized onions and all wrapped in a blanket of puff pastry. That chicken idea might actually be next in the line-up…

Ingredients (makes about 3 cups)

  • 3 cups fresh cranberries
  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • Juice of 1 ½ large naval oranges
  • Zest of 1 orange


Rinse cranberries, drain, and add all other ingredients. Mix altogether with a hand immersion blender or a Cuisinart until very finely chopped, but not pureed.

Thanksgiving dinner: Modernized

Turkey sliders with gouda and cranberry mayo served with real green bean casserole and chipotle sweet potato fries. My beverage of choice tonight is an apple pie martini (along with the usual wine – tonights wine is Clarksburg Wine Company’s Delta Blanc  – it is alright but not my favorite).

HOLY. SMOKES. This was absolutely fantabulously wonderful. The thyme in the turkey burgers was an ode to the stuffing flavors that are usually present at thanksgiving. The cranberry mayo, caramelized onions, and gouda were the perfect toppers for the burgers – creamy, tangy and sweet all at the same time.

You can really use any kind of bread – I would suggest a dinner role as representative for a Thanksgiving regular: buttered rolls.

I would also like to note that this is the best green bean casserole that I have ever consumed. Making the cream of mushroom soup from scratch really makes a 100% difference in creaminess and overall amazingness. I think it is super important to use haricot verts instead of regular ole green beans because of their thickness and crunchiness. I also added parmesan, because, let’s face it, everything’s better with parmesan…

A few other side notes:

  1. You can freeze green bean casserole. Just make sure to freeze the topping separately.
  2. These sliders would make a wonderful hors d’ouevres.

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 1 pound  ground white meat turkey
  • ½ tsp. each: ground thyme, paprika, and onion powder
  • 1 tsp. each: garlic powder, salt, and pepper
  • ½ cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 large tbsp. plain greek yogart
  • Cranberry Mayo
  • Caramelized onions (use 2 medium yellow onions)
  • 8 Dinner rolls
  • 1 bag Alexia’s chipotle sweet potato fries (or regular if you don’t like a little spice)
  • Real green bean casserole


Preheat oven to 400°. First make the green bean casserole. This can sit while you prepare everything else and be put in the oven during the last 20 minutes.

Mix the hamburger meat: put 1 pound ground turkey and add thyme, paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper, panko, and  greek yogurt. Mix altogether with your hands. Form into 8 smaller patties and press your thumb into the middle of the burger patty (this helps it not to become a ball when it cooks). Set the burgers on a plate and place in fridge.

Make the cranberry relish and then use that to make the cranberry mayo. Set both in fridge to let the flavors meld together.

All of the above can sit for at least 5 hours until you’re ready to cook everything.

Start baking the sweet potato fries.

Wrap the dinner rolls in tin foil and bake for 15 minutes.

Bake the green bean casserole (it takes about 15 minutes as well).

Drizzle a little olive oil into a cast iron fry pan and when the pan is nice and hot cook the sliders over medium high heat.  (I would not advise grilling these burgers unless you get a ground turkey with a fair amount of fat it in which is hard because turkey is so lean). Sear both sides and then lower the heat and allow to cook for 5 more minutes or so. When you flip the sliders add sliced gouda and melt. Take the sliders off the heat and allow to sit for a few minutes.

Serve the sliders on top of a dinner roll with champagne mustard (or Dijon), the caramelized onions, and a healthy portion of the cranberry mayo. Skewer the sliders with a toothpick (or in my case, a wooden kebob because I ran out of toothpicks) to keep them from falling all over your plate.

Serve the sliders with green bean casserole and sweet potato fries.

Shrimp Scampi

I hate to brag, but I was once told (recently) that my shrimp scampi was better than the nice Italian restaurant’s that we were at. WHAT a compliment!!! Due to the fact that this meal is absolutely delicious (and the fact that I have 4 bags of frozen jumbo shrimp in my freezer), we have it a lot around here.

The scampi sauce has a slight sweetness that is barely noticeable and I think that is one reason it is so delicious. The sweetness helps to counteract the zing from all them tasty lemon. I have been pondering why this is so for months and have recently come to a conclusion about why my recipe has a certain sweetness to it. I think it because when I zest my lemon, I am quite careful to only get the zest, and none of the rind, which easily happens if you zest more than one time in a spot. This may make no sense at all, but that’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it!

Scampi is quick and easy, and most of the ingredients are a staple at our house. Serve it over a bed of angel hair pasta and alongside a salad and bread. You can always ditch the angel hair and it with couscous, rice or risotto, or you could serve the shrimp a la carte. Tonight, we had steamed broccoli to accompany our lemony shrimps and pasta.

Ingredients (serves 4)

*The shrimp can be fresh or frozen and whatever size you want – but I would suggest medium to jumbo since shrimp shrink when cooked.

  • About 20-25 shrimp, deveined and shells removed
  • Zest of 4 lemons
  • ½ cup fresh lemon juice
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 tsp. Gourmet Garden Italian Herb Paste
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 2 splashes of white wine
  • Parmesan, for topping
  • Pasta (angel hair or thin spaghetti is best, but spaghetti will do as well)


Devein and remove the shells from the shrimp. Mince the garlic. Zest the lemons (I use a microplane). Juice the lemons.

In a large Ziploc bag marinate the shrimp with 2 tsp. lemon zest, a few shakes onion powder, 1 tsp. herb paste, 1 clove minced garlic, a few dashes of salt and pepper, a splash of white wine (I use pinot grigio or sauvignon blanc), and 2 tbsp. olive oil. Mix around in the bag to distribute the marinade. Let marinate at least 20 minutes.

In a sauté pan combine the rest of the herb paste, minced garlic, lemon zest, lemon juice, olive oil, and a splash of white wine. Simmer on medium low for about 20 minutes.

Put the pasta on and allow it to cook.

With about 5 minutes to go until the pasta is ready, pour the shrimp and marinade into a pan that has been heated over medium to medium-high heat (I use my cast iron pan). Cook the shrimp until just pink, about 4 minutes. Add the butter to the scampi sauce and stir it until it is smooth and the butter has melted.

Serve the shrimp and scampi sauce on top of the pasta. Enjoy!

Crock Pot Chicken Burritos with Spanish Rice

I generally don’t love crock pot recipes for the pure fact that I enjoy the act of cooking a meal. However, I found these crock pot chicken and spanish rice recipes from Iowa Girl Eats and I really wanted to try it. It was so easy and tasty! I added chicken broth and onions to the salsa mixture and oh man it was moist and flavorful! I will be making it again and again. It would be good for any kind of Mexican meal: burritos, enchiladas, chimichangas, tostadas, quesadillas, taco salad, etc.

I served the burritos with the Spanish rice and refried beans.

For the chicken

*This recipe (with just 2 chicken breasts) made enough for 2 large burrito sized tacos plus 2 days of leftovers. I would only double the recipe if you are cooking for more than 4 people.

  • 2 large chicken breasts, cut in half lengthwise
  • 8 oz. mild salsa
  • 1 small yellow onion
  • ¾ packet taco seasoning
  • 1 cup chicken stock/broth
  • Taco shells
  • Optional toppings: tomatoes, lettuce, sour cream, black beans/refried beans, cheese (I use monteray jack), salsa, corn, avocado.

For the rice

  • 1 cup long grain rice
  • ¼ cup onions, minced
  • ¼ cup carrots, minced
  • ¼ cup corn
  • ¼ cup peas
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 cup salsa (I used the salsa that was left over in the crock pot from cooking the chicken)
  • Garlic powder, salt, pepper, olive oil


Put a thin layer of salsa on the bottom of the crock pot. Layer 2 pieces of chicken then salsa and half of the taco seasoning and half of the onion. Then repeat with the last 2 pieces of chicken and pour the chicken stock on the top of everything. Mix around a little. Cook on high for 3 ½ hours.

*My crock pot is narrow, so I had to layer my ingredients. If your crock pot is newer and wider (mine is circa 1970), then you can just put a little salsa on the bottom of the pot then layer everything on top and cover and cook.

After 3 hours, check to see if the chicken is ready. When you pick it up with a fork it should fall apart (may need to cook for longer than 3 hours). When this has happened, take it out of the crock pot and set on a plate to cool. When cool enough to handle, shred the chicken with your fingers.

Remove most of the salsa from the crock pot and put into a big bowl. Add the shredded chicken back into the crock pot and stir around. You will probably need to add a little salsa back into the crock-pot from the reserved bowl. You want enough salsa on top to keep the chicken moist and warm it back up (so you want it covered, but only slightly).

While the chicken is re-warming, get your toppings ready and make the rice.

For the rice: Mince the onions and carrots. Saute them in a pot with a little olive oil, salt, pepper, and a dash of garlic powder for about 5 minutes. Add the salsa, rice, and vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low then cover and simmer until rice is cooked, about 20-25 minutes. Add the peas and corn with about 10 minutes left in the cooking process.

Serve with the tacos and refried beans.

Parmesan-Panko Crusted Tilapia

My roommate loves fish. Me, not so much. I’m more of a shellfish girl. Anywho, I gave in to her requests for fish and decided to pan fry the tilapia we had, thinking that it would mask the fishy flavor that I generally don’t love. It was muy bueno! I served it alongside lemon-dill orzo and lemon-dill butter for drizzling overtop of the fish, along with a lemon wedge and steamed broccoli. Quite a delicious meal that any fish-hater will fall madly in love with.

Ingredients (serves 2)

  • 2 tilapia filets
  • 1 lemon
  • ½ cup flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 ½ cups panko breadcrumbs
  • ¼ cup parmesan cheese (grated)
  • 2 tbsp. dried dill (optional)
  • 3 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 2 tbsp. butter


Prep your ingredients: finely grate the parmesan (you want it to mix into the flour and be somewhat of the same consistency).

Pour flour onto a large plate. In a large, flat bowl whisk 2 eggs together. Put panko onto a third plate and mix in the finely grated parm and the dill. Cut the lemon into slices.

Arrange the bowls in this order: first is the flour mixture, second is the egg, third is the panko mixture.

First, squeeze lemon on both sides of the fish filets and sprinkle salt and pepper on both sides. Then dip both sides into the flour and shake off excess. Then dip both sides in the egg mixture. Then into the panko parm mix. Press the panko down onto both sides so that it has a nice, thick coating on each side of the fish. Set on a plate and repeat with the second filet.

In a large sauté pan add the vegetable oil, butter, and a round or 2 of the pan of olive oil. Turn heat up to medium high. When the oil is really hot (you will know it is hot when you spritz a little water into the oil and it sizzles) add the fish. Cook the fish on each side until it is crispy and browned. Remove the filets and drain quickly on a paper towel.

Serve the fish with a lemon wedge, lemon-dill butter, and lemon-dill orzo.