Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Cuban Sandwiches (and a great leftover idea!)

Best sandwich ever. No seriously. BEST SANDWICH EVER! I could eat this every day! It was soooooo good! The pork cooks in the crock-pot for 8 hours and is delicious on its own. I could eat the meat with nothing else. But you add ham, pickles, honey mustard, cheese, bread and press it all together??? Heaven on a plate. Make this NOW!

If you want to go all the way, make THIS CUBAN BREAD for the sandwich. YUM!

Oh, and if you have leftover meat (because it makes a lot!), make tacos! I reheated the pork with a bit of lime juice, added cilantro, tomatoes, and sour cream.... another amazing dinner.

So now that gives you two reasons to make this. Go... go now! :)

Cuban Sandwiches
Recipe from Cassie Craves

For the pernil:

1 2-pound pork shoulder or butt
4 cloves garlic, finely minced
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon oregano or marjoram
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon white vinegar
2 teaspoons salt

For the sandwiches:

Sliced Swiss cheese
Sliced ham
Sliced pickles
Rolls (hoagie rolls or something oblong work best)
Honey mustard

1. For the pernil: Combine garlic, pepper, oregano or marjoram, olive oil, vinegar and salt. Rub pork with garlic mixture and refrigerate overnight. Cook in a Crock pot on low for 8 hours.

2. To assemble the sandwiches, mix together equal parts mayonnaise and honey mustard. Spread sauce on both sides of a roll. Layer cheese, ham, pickles, pernil, and another slice of cheese on the bottom of a roll; top with other half of roll.

3. Press sandwiches in a panini press or skillet until bread is crispy and cheese is melted.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Peanut Butter Brownie Trifle

You can't tell that this is a trifle by looking at the picture... sorry! We had company over for a BBQ and I made this for dessert. Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture beforehand and once it was time for dessert, I didn't want to make everyone wait while I got a good picture. So... here is the top. You'll just have to trust me that there are layers below! :)

You can't go wrong with the peanut butter/chocolate combination... at least not in my book! This trifle is made with layers of peanut butter chip brownies, peanut butter pudding, and peanut butter cups. So rich and so delicious!

*Note... I forgot the whipped cream but it works either way!

Peanut Butter Brownie Trifle
Recipe from My Sister's Kitchen

1 9X13 pan of your favorite brownie recipe with 10 ounce bag of peanut butter chips mixed in
5 ounce package vanilla instant pudding mix
3 cups milk
1/2 cup peanut butter
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup whipping cream, whipped and divided
24 regular sized peanut butter cups, divided

Cut or crumble brownies;set aside. Coarsely chop peanut butter cups; reserve 1/4 cup for garnish.

Combine pudding mix and milk in large bowl. Beat at low speed for 2 minutes or until thickened. Add peanut butter and vanilla; beat until smooth. Gently fold in half of whipped cream.

Place half of brownies in bottom of trifle bowl; top with 1/2 of chopped candy and half of pudding. Repeat layers. Top with remaining whipped cream, spooned or piped on. Garnish top with remaining peanut butter cups.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Homemade Beef Ravioli in Basil Cream Sauce

I love making homemade pasta. It is fun, easy, and tastes delicious! I especially enjoy making ravioli. They are little pockets of deliciousness! I have made cheese ravioli and asparagus ravioli but never a beef ravioli. To be honest, I am not sure if I have ever had a beef ravioli before.

I really loved these. The filling was delicious and the sauce was a winner. The sauce had a little heat to it from the diced tomatoes with green chilies. SO good. Nathan served himself seconds before I finished my plate and then he had thirds. That should tell you just how good this ravioli is! Enjoy!

Beef Ravioli in Basil Cream Sauce
Recipe adapted from A Blog About Food
1 lb ground beef
1/4 cup seasoned bread crumbs
3 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon basil
1 tablespoon parsley flakes
1 garlic clove, minced
1/8 cup onion, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon pepper

1 cup cake flour
1/4 cup AP flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 large egg yolks
1 1/2 TBSP olive oil
1/4 cup water

Blend together all dough ingredients in a food processor until mixture starts to form a ball. Knead dough on lightly floured surface, adding additional flour to prevent sticking, until smooth and elastic (6-8 minutes). Wrap dough in plastic wrap and let stand for 1 hour.

Brown the beef in a skillet and drain all the fat. Mix in remaining filling ingredients; set aside.

Roll out ravioli dough by hand or using a pasta machine. Using a ravioli tray, add a little flour across the tray to keep them to sticking to the tray. Put the first piece of dough across and fill each ravioli with the mixture. Put the second piece of the dough on top of the tray. Use a rolling pin to seal the sides of the ravioli. Flip the tray upside down and the ravioli will fall out.

To cook, bring to a boil 4-6 cups of water in a large pot and bring to a boil. Add 1 tablespoon of cooking oil. Boil for about 10 to 12 minutes. Toss ravioli in cream sauce (recipe below).

Basil Cream Sauce

2 tablespoons butter
1/2 lb mushroom, sliced
3 green onions, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
1 (10 ounce) cans diced mild tomatoes and green chilies, drained
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1 cup whipping cream
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt

Melt butter over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and next 3 ingredients; saute over medium-high heat 6 minutes or until mushrooms are tender. Stir in diced tomatoes and green chiles, basil, and cream; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes. Stir in Parmesan cheese; add salt.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Open Faced Turkey Avocado Burgers

Okay. seriously... how GOOD does that look???? It was AMAZING! I made this for dinner last night and I want another for breakfast. Not sure how good a turkey burger would be for breakfast, but I wouldn't mind finding out!

The flavor of this burger is out of this world. The burger itself is ground turkey, parmesan cheese, garlic, and pesto. You could eat it by itself. But you put it on top of a slice of toasted Italian bread topped with an avocado sauce and then add spinach, tomato, FRESH mozzarella, and a little basil.... OH MY WORD! You have to try this!

If you don't want this as an open faced burger, it would be fantastic on a regular toasted bun with the same toppings.


Open Faced Turkey Avocado Burgers
Recipe slightly adapted from Taste of Home


1 TBSP lemon juice
1/4 tsp worcestershire sauce
1/2 avocado
1/2 cup mayonaisse
1/4 cup sour cream
1 green onions, chopped
1/2 tsp salt
Dash cayenne pepper

1/4 cup shredded parmesan
2 TBSP pesto
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 tsp salt
1 lb ground turkey

4 slices Italian bread
Baby Spinach
Tomato Slices
Dried Basil
Black Pepper

Combine sauce ingredients; refrigerate until needed.

For burgers, mix cheese, pesto, garlic, and salt. Add turkey; mix well. Form 4 patties.

In a large skillet, heat 2 TBSP of oil and cook burgers 7 minutes each side or until inside temp reaches 165. Top with slice of mozzarella and cover pan to melt.

Brush oil on bread and toast. Top bread with avocado spread, spinach, burger, and tomato. Sprinkle top with basil and pepper.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

TWD: Honey Nut Brownies

Honey and Chocolate. Not a combination I would've thought of, but it was great! I omitted the nuts from mine and topped with a chocolate ganache. YUM!

Thanks to Suzy of Suzy Homemaker for hosting this week. The recipe can be found at her blog.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Cuban Bread

Occasionally Nathan will come home from work with a food request from one of his guys. I am always happy to bake for them because it gives me another opportunity to get in the kitchen! :)

Last week Nathan was asked if I could make Cuban Bread. I have never had Cuban bread but with a quick internet search I was able to find a recipe and I started it that afternoon.

The bread smelled amazing as it was rising and even better as it was baking! I wish I could tell you how it tasted, but I delivered both loaves straight to Nathan's work. I was told that the guy who they were for said, "Every time I take a bite of the bread I say, Thank you Mrs. Holtgrewe!"

If that isn't a good endorsement for the bread, I don't know what is! Now I want to make it again for myself! :)

Cuban Bread
Recipe from Taste of Cuba


3/4 tsp active dry yeast(1/3 envelope)
1/3 cup warm water
1/3 cup bread or all-purpose flour

The day before baking; mix the starter ingredients, dissolving the yeast in the water first. You want a thick paste when you add the flour. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let "ripen" in refrigerator for 24 hours. Leftover starter will keep for several days in the refrigerator and can be frozen.


4-1/2 tsp active dry yeast - (2 envelopes or 2 cakes of compressed yeast)
1 Tbsp sugar
1-1/2 cups warm water
3 to 4 Tbsp lard or solid vegetable shortening, at room temperature
1/2 batch starter (see above recipe)
1 Tbsp salt
4 to 5 cups bread or all-purpose flour

Dissolve yeast and sugar in 3 tablespoons of water in a large mixing bowl. When the mixture is foamy (5 to 10 minutes), stir in the lard, the remaining water, and the 1/2 batch of starter.

Mix well with your fingers or a wooden spoon. Stir in salt and flour, 1 cup at a time. You want to get a dough that is stiff enough to knead. You can also mix and knead in a mixer fitted with the dough hook or in a food processor fitted with the double blade, as the processor dough hook will not handle this job easily.

Turn dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 6 to 8 minutes, adding flour as necessary. The dough should be pliable and not sticky.

Transfer to a lightly oiled bowl, cover and let rise in a warm, draft-free spot until it doubles its' bulk, about 45 minutes. Punch down.

To form the loaves, divide the dough in 4 pieces. Roll out each to form a 14-inch long tube, with rounded ends (sort of like a long meat loaf) Put 2 of the loaves on a baking sheet, about 6 inches apart. Cover with dampened cotton dish towels and let rise in warm, draft-free spot until double their bulk, about 1 hour. If you want to let it rise at a slower pace, you can do it in a cooler spot and even in the refrigerator, but give it 3 to 4 hours instead.

Preheat oven to 350 F

Lay a dampened piece of thick kitchen string or twine (about 1/8 " thick) all along the top length of the loaf. Bake until the breads are lightly browned on top and sound hollow when lightly tapped, about 30 minutes.

Let them cool slightly and remove the strings. They will leave a distinct little ridge on top. Transfer loaves onto a wire rack for cooling.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Happy St. Patrick's Day

Just wanted to share a picture of what the kiddos and I worked on this morning... Rainbow cupcakes with shamrock cookie on top. :)

(To make the rainbow cupcakes, tint white cake batter different colors and layer the different colors in cupcake liners.)

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

TWD: Citrus-Craisin Sunshine Muffins

I made these muffins for breakfast this morning and they were a hit! They are very fluffy with flat tops and very citrus-y. Definitely a yummy way to start the day!
I made a few changes to the recipe to fit what I had on hand. The recipe calls for currants and orange zest but I substituted craisins and lemon zest. Since there is orange juice in the batter there was still a nice orange flavor. I loved the combination of orange, lemon, and craisins. SO GOOD!
Thanks to Lauryn of Bella Baker for hosting this week. The recipe can be found at her blog.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Chicken stuffed with Sun-Dried Tomatoes, Olives, and Mozzarella

I love, love, love quick meals that look fancy. This chicken dish is just that. Look at that chicken... it is stuffed full of olives, sun dried tomatoes, and mozzarella cheese. It looks amazing and tastes amazing! The best part of it, though? Ridiculously quick and easy. Add this to your menu and make it soon... you won't be disappointed!!!

Chicken stuffed with Sun-Dried Tomatoes, Olives, and Mozzarella
Recipe from Elly Says Opa

2 boneless/skinless chicken breasts
6-8 kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
3 Tbsp. sundried tomatoes, sliced
2 slices mozzarella or provolone cheese
1/4 cup flour
1/4 tsp. thyme
salt and pepper
2 tsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. chicken broth
2 Tbsp. white wine

Preheat the oven to 350.

Cut a pocket into your chicken breasts and fill each one with the sundried tomatoes, kalamata olives, and a slice of mozzarella cheese.

Mix together the flour with salt and pepper and the thyme. Lightly dredge the chicken breasts in the flour mixture.

Heat an oven-proof skillet over medium heat and add the oil. Once smoking, add the chicken breasts and sear, about 2 minutes per side. Place the pan in the oven until chicken is cooked through, about 15 minutes.

Remove the chicken from the skillet and place the pan on the stovetop over medium heat. Add the chicken broth and wine, scraping up the browned bits and reducing the liquid by half. Spoon the sauce over the chicken breasts.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Chicken Tamale Casserole

I don't usually make casseroles. I'm not sure why. I don't have anything against them, but they usually don't appear on my menu. I saw this recipe a while back and bookmarked it because something about it called out to me.

I am really glad I saved it... it was delicious! It is definitely a convenient, easy meal, but isn't that the point of a casserole? I wasn't exactly like a tamale, but it was so good and a keeper!


Chicken Tamale Casserole

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese, divided
1/3 cup milk
2 eggs
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
1 (14 3/4 ounce) can cream style corn
1 (8.5 ounce) box corn muffin mix
1 (4 ounce) can chopped green chilies, drained
cooking spray
1 (10 ounce) can red enchilada sauce
2 cups shredded cooked chicken breast
1/2 cup sour cream (optional)

Preheat oven to 400°.

Combine 1/4 cup cheese and next 7 ingredients (through chiles) in a large bowl, stirring just until moist. Pour mixture into a 13 x 9–inch baking dish coated with cooking spray.

Bake at 400° for 15 minutes or until set. Pierce entire surface liberally with a fork; pour enchilada sauce over top. Top with chicken; sprinkle with remaining 3/4 cup cheese. Bake at 400° for 15 minutes or until cheese melts. Remove from oven; let stand 5 minutes. Cut into 8 pieces; top each serving with 1 tablespoon sour cream.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

TWD: Corniest Corn Muffins

I sometimes (okay, all the time) feel like a broken record on Tuesdays. But what can I say? Dorie Greenspan is a baking genius and pretty much ALL of her recipes rock. Seriously. They all rock. :)

These corn muffins are no different. I have a honey corn bread recipe that I always use. I love it and have been making it for years. I thought that this recipe would be good, but I didn't expect them to be SO good. Made with buttermilk and filled with lots of corn... oh my word. SO GOOD! The leftovers that were sitting on the counter were calling my name like they were chocolate chip cookies. They were so hard to resist!!!

Thanks to Jill of My Next Life for hosting this week. The recipe can be found at her blog.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Chicken and Gnocchi Soup

A month or so ago I went out to lunch at Olive Garden with some friends. I had the chicken and gnocchi soup and thought it was delicious. When I got home that day, I looked up a recipe for the soup and saved it. Of course, life happened and I didn't get around to making this until last night. Boy oh boy... it was worth the wait!

I couldn't find frozen gnocchi at the store so I decided to make my own. It isn't difficult or time consuming, so don't shy away from it. All you do is boil potatoes, mash them, mix in flour and egg, roll into a rope, and cut. Easy peasy and oh so delicious. Here is my 1 pound of gnocchi all ready to go into the soup.....

While the gnocchi is totally the star of this soup, we can't forget about the celery, onions, carrots, garlic, spinach, chicken broth (I threw in a little bouillon to up the chicken flavor), cream, and half and half. This soup was AMAZING! Nathan had two huge bowls and wanted more. This soup has earned a spot in our regular recipe rotation!


Chicken and Gnocchi Soup
Recipe adapted from

1 large chicken breast, cooked and diced
4 cups chicken stock
1 cup half-and-half
1 cup heavy cream
1 stalk celery, diced
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 carrot, shredded
1/2 onion, diced
1 1/2 cups fresh spinach, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon thyme
1/2 tsp chicken bouillon
salt and pepper
16 ounces potato gnocchi (recipe below)

Saute the onion, celery, garlic, carrot in oil over medium heat until onion is translucent.

Add chicken, chicken stock, salt, pepper, bouillon and thyme. Heat to boiling, then add gnocchi. Gently boil for 4 minutes, then turn down to a simmer for 10 minutes.

Add spinach and cook for another 1-2 minutes until spinach is wilted.

Mix in cream and half and half; heat through.

Recipe from Allrecipes

2 potatoes
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 egg

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Peel potatoes and add to pot. Cook until tender but still firm, about 15 minutes. Drain, cool and mash with a fork or potato masher.

Combine 1 cup mashed potato, flour and egg in a large bowl. Knead until dough forms a ball. Shape small portions of the dough into long "snakes". On a floured surface, cut snakes into half-inch pieces.

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Drop in gnocchi and cook for 3 to 5 minutes or until gnocchi have risen to the top; drain and serve.

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