National Grilled Cheese Day!

Very recently, as in this past month, I went to my local Biggby’s coffee shop downtown and saw they had listed today’s date as National Grilled Cheese Day. First, I told the monsters that they HAD to have a grilled cheese planned out to eat today. Their pick, today’s recipe. Grilled cheese with tomato soup. And yes, this really is how I normally make it for them. This was the only way it was made for me at home when I was growing up. I knew nothing about adding mayonnaise to bread. All I knew of was the soft squishy bread with not quite melted completely cheese. This is NOT the restaurant recipe. This is not my cheeses now. This is Kid-centric happy grilled cheese.

So, my other big growing up memory of grilled cheese was at school. I’m pretty sure they didn’t do the mayonnaise on the bread trick either, but theirs was always crisp and melted. I have an idea on how they did it and it isn’t microwave. Back then, it was much more a vessel of gooeyness to transport that richer than home tomato soup. And we always had mixed vegetables at lunch on those days. I wonder if they really did watch and approve of us finding a way to “get the veggies off our plates” yet magically ended up in us. Side note, maybe schools should do more soups so kids can enjoy more varieties of veggies by returning to those old tricks from growing up. But, yeah, I would dump my serving of mixed veggies into my soup and stir it up. It made everything a little more palatable for my pickiness. But, it was also on white bread. It was the ONLY thing I would eat with white bread on it. I was the kid who was more than happy to trade your wheat peanut butter sandwich for a wheat bread one. I still will. But that sandwich was so simple and yet tasted so good. I miss the elementary lunch ladies. OK, tell your kids to tell their lunchlady or lunchguy thanks if they enjoyed their food. The good ones need reminided from time to time.

So, yes, the soup is condensed. Campbell’s is the kids’ favorite and I’m not allowed to buy even the completely prepared because it “doesn’t taste right” otherwise. And the cheese I listed is the one that I have found melts the best. Use whichever you like more if you want it meltier or whatever else. No, I don’t recommend Kraft personally because it never melts right. And the directions are for an electric stove. Gas heats different and I still haven’t gotten that right because I make it for the kids too infrequently to do it right.

 

Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup

Serves 2

4 slices of whole wheat bread

4 slices of Helluva Good processed American Cheese

one piece of bread. Using one piece of plastic

Butter flavored cooking spray

1 Can Campbell’s Tomato Soup

1 can water

1 can milk

 

Heat flat pan on medium heat. Dump soup, water and milk in medium pot on medium low heat. Whisk until no lumps of soup can be seen. Butter one side of each piece of bread. Peel the plastic off of the cheese, saving one piece. Shingle two pieces of cheese together to make it the length of a slice of bread. Put the saved piece of plastic between the two sets of shingles. Lightly spray the pan with the cooking spray. Place two slices of bread, butter side down, on the flat pan. Top with the cheese shingles. Place the remaining two slices of bread on top with butter sides up. Heat until buttom is golden brown. Check the soup and stir to keep it from sticking to bottom of pan. Flip, using spatula. If soup starts bubbling, turn heat down to low or warm, dependng on which is lowest setting for your stove. Heat bread until golden brown again. Remove. Plate both items and enjoy.

 

Blown modem

Today’s post is brought to you by the iphone5c. Ouch. Love hating typing on this. But, on the upside: Spring is arriving. It has been warm enough I have considered wearing just my sweatshirt to work. But, that also brings rain.

Mine thing I love doing wen I need a pick up is to buy some flowers.

$13.99 bouquet including vase

This is carnations and baby’s breath bouquets bought from the grocery store

This bouquet I made myself. I bought two different bouquets for $5 each. Not cheap, but I wanted a white bouquet this time. I like to use baby’s breath on its own normally, but decided to do a play on normal ones. This time, I made the carnations the filler for the focus of lacy baby’s breath. I do like this very much, though know I need a smaller vase for smaller bouquets. I’m not meaning shorter; smaller diameter. The case I bought was the least expensive and I didn’t feel like making another store trip just for a vase.

A couple tips if you are making your own bouquets. First: Check your grocery stores and gas stations along with florists. You can sometimes make multiple bouquets from one bunch sold. Or, if you just need one or so more flowers, they can sometimes be less expensive. Second: Don’t pass up on a bunch because you don’t like all of the flowers together. You can easily get rid of a couple if that’s the case for a bouquet you’d enjoy. Third: Remember to cut the ends of your flowers at a slight angle when you put them in your vase. This allows the flowers to drink the water you put them in much better. In turn, it lets them stay alive longer. Fourth: Make sure there are no leaves or flowers below your water. That will cause rot, which will make the flowers die faster.

What flowers do you like in your bouquets? Do you have to need a reason to buy or receive flowers?

Caramel Chocolate Coffee

I’m looking for ways to get around all these soup recipes that call for blending. In some cases, like bean soups, I already figured a hack. Take some refried beans and remove some of the whole beans from the recipe. That adds the thickness of the beans along with keeping the amount of beans whole. Other times, I just take a potato masher and mash them that way. The choice depends on both how much energy I want to expend and what other ingredients are in there.  Delicate vegetables that just don’t lose shape when in the masher mostly (I’m looking at you spinach and kale), down goes the masher. Carrots and peas that are falling apart and I’m going to freeze most of it? Masher. Green beans, sweet potato, squashes? Throw some refried beans in. Adding some tofu or the italian sausage? Another case for the wonderful refried beans. Just bean soup? Oh, that ends up a mix of both. Just to throw everyone off.

It’s sad that my reasoning is not that I’m afraid of a blender. I’m not. I have a huge I think it’s a kitchenaid or else a cuisinart food processor packed up in a box from my old apartments.  I just never had either a regular blender or an immersion blender. I’m planning on changing that, but I’m certain I’m not the only person in the world who wants to not have most soups to say blend this after most recipes. One less thing to wash after each meal is always good along with an option for those who just don’t have the extra money to get one or the room to store it. That has me falling on canned purees. I know most people look down on them for the fact that hey aren’t fresh and homemade, but they are a good alternative. And there isn’t just pumpkin anymore. I found some canned sweet potato puree and another type of squash  in one store. I’m hoping to find more as people realise that not every creamy soup has to be blended to be creamy. But, there is another type of puree. And that’s what I’m currently experimenting with. Baby food. I actually got the idea when I was walking down the aisle looking for something else. The one store actually had baby purees by the household supplies, which held the dish soap I wanted. But, it made me look at them and realise that would make a good base for soup. They are constantly on sale and there are coupons for them everywhere. In fact, I am starting to find the purees in squeeze packs, so they can be in larger sizes. Need a cup of broccoli to make a soup? Grab a few jars. Just make sure to pay attention to the ingredients on the packaging. Some still have added sugars or other ingredients. But, it’s a reasonable option in exchange for the effort or losing out on making the recipe because you just don’t have the appliance to make it.

Like I said, I’m figuring out substitutions. Another thing I really love is my fancy coffees. I still haven’t completely figured out how to get them as frothy without a milk frother, but I find that the froth dies fast enough I would rather just have the flavor and full texture instead. That doesn’t need the frother. If my family is reading this, I still want that espresso machine with the frother though! Plus, doing nondairy nilk takes a different temperature and so more tools. Because we all know (at least some know) that I have seperate tools for coffee than cooking. I picked this recipe up between going to the Thai restaurant and getting their iced coffee and when I was doing that low carb diet a while ago and hated the tiny options available in sugar free. Seriously, coffee places, they do offer more out there than just vanilla, caramel, and hazelnut! And I’m not calling it mocha only because it’s not using espresso.

Caramel Chocolate Coffee

Serves 1

1/4 C Condensed Milk (either dairy or non-dairy will work)

1 Tbs. Chocolate syrup (there are low carb chocolate syrups or even no carb if that’s what you are watching)

1 Tbs. Caramel syrup (Same here or go to the ice cream area and grab a container of caramel syrup)

12 oz water

Coffee grinds to brew

So, get your coffee ready with the coffee and water. In your cup, first place the condensed milk on the bottom. Then, add your syrups. Mix them together until it is the same color. Pour your brewed coffee slowly in, stirring as you do. Sip.

Hobo dish my way

I was trying to entertain myself while I was starting to get better and found myself looking for recipes to make. One of the things I was looking for were Irish dishes for St. Patrick’s Day. I found way too many recipes for corned beef and cabbage. I’m so very certain that is not ALL the Irish ate. So, the search will continue for the next year. But, I did find a recipe for irish stew that is already vegetarian. So, I may make that if I feel up for it. More likely, I’ll just take some of my variant on bangers and mash in to work to go with the cabbage and potatoes that I can eat from the Jiggs meal that they are bringing in for us. Someone else can eat my corned beef. I’ve never really been much of a fan of it even when I was eating meat. But cabbage, a partial head steamed or fried with butter sounds quite nice. I also finally found a recipe for mushy peas. Tofish and chips, I have found your side dish.

As I kept down the rabbit hole of recipes, I stumbled on some other international recipes. Or they were labelled international recipes. I suppose they could have originated from there, but the one dish made me a little curious. But, I adapted it a bit for my tastes and what I had. I don’t think it ended up being the same recipe. And it sent me back to some old memories. The girls’ dad introduced me to a restaurant that he liked to go to for pancakes and hobo potatoes. For the longest time, unless they were mashed or french fries, I hated potatoes. A baked potato could cause a battle on how long I could sit there for dinner. And potatoes for breakfast, no thank you. But, he would order them when we went out. I still had a very sweet tooth order, so I would get a lot of chocolate chip or sweet types of pancakes. One time, I was still hungry (pregnant with the middle one) and so he told me that he was full but still had some of the hobo potatoes left. It was fried potatoes with onions and green peppers and covered in cheese. I ate it and found they weren’t that bad. So, future times going there, I added that to my order. The restaurant is still there, but since being back out here, I haven’t gone. It was funny that one of the guys I worked with told me he knew of this little hidden gem of a place for pancakes and that I should go there one day. It ended up being the same restaurant.

This is my version of the memory of that plate and a spin off of the other recipe. I should let you know that I really do hate to cut onions, so learned a trick from my previous job. Buy frozen precut onions or onion blend. The same can go for green peppers. I’m still working through a bag of mirepoix blend mix and so I can’t do an exact break down of how much, but it has a blend of celery, onion, and green peppers. This was the Kroger blend, so yours may have more of one ingredient than another. Mine seems to have more of the onion than the rest.

Hobo potatoes

Serves 1

1 peeled sweet potato, halved vertically and cut into thin slices

1/4 C Mirepoix blend frozen vegetables

2 Tbs garlic spread

1 vegetarian italian sausage, sliced

2 Tbs dairy free shredded cheese (I’m still working through my Love your Veggies cheese but any that will melt will do)

 

In an 8 inch skillet, melt the garlic spread over medium heat. Add the frozen veggies. Once they are defrosted in the pan, add the sweet potatoes. Cook for a couple of minutes. Add the sausage. Continue cooking, while occasionally flipping and stirring the dish, until sweet potatoes are softened and a light sear is on at least one side of all ingredients. Add cheese. Let melt slightly. Take off heat and plate. Enjoy.

Camper Pizzas

Today’s post is brought to you by means of me having a burning from spices mouth. I’m working on a new soup recipe and I used possibly too much of the pepper spice. Or else it’s just a spicier type than I’ve previously been using. This feel is like when I eat really spicy chili. Nose did start to run towards the end. There’s a couple of rough spots in it, but I think I may end up liking it enough. At least I don’t think the lead stomach garbage gut would have turned it away. He only did that once. A very special dog, yes he was.

I remember when I was younger that we would go camping. Honestly, it was nowhere near roughing it. A more accurate statement would have been the glamping they talk about now. We had a popup camper with it’s own stove, sink and refrigerator in it. My little black and white television my uncle replaced ended up going in there. (Still miss the one he broke; that one was so cool.) Yes, some nights we cooked over the campfire, but it was more reserved for flaming torches of marshmallows and camper pies. Camper pies are not camper pizzas. Camper pizzas were reserved for the toaster over that was pulled out either when we ran out of propane for heat (see, even had heater that worked until the last few years) or it was raining enough that mom was cooking inside. She was more likely to use the toaster oven than to turn the stove on.And don’t ask to have them made when at home. That was reserved only for the trips.

But, tonight it is cold and my mouth burns. I find myself wishing for the warm weather that came with most of the trips. I miss sitting by a fire drinking either a soda or a beer from a bottle. Yes, the beer wasn’t until I was older most times (my parents did give me some to drink when I was younger with conditions attached) but I still occasionally drink soda bottles by a fire.Other than that, I seem to find it almost as peaceful as it was then. I made myself a healthier version of them earlier today. Well, I guess you could call it healthier. Instead of the white english muffins that would have been baked or broiled on them previously, I used whole wheat ones.Growing up, the only nod towards vegetables on it would have been canned mushrooms. Pepperoni was the name of the toppings then. Now, I put spinach, tomatoes, and green peppers on them. I even made one a pesto sauced instead of traditional pizza sauce. It was yummy.

Muffin pizzas

Left is my regular muffin pizza and right is a pesto almost a caprese style pizza

Camper Pizza

Serves 1

1 English Muffin, cut in half horizontally

2 Tbs pizza sauce

2 Tbs cheese

Toppings of choice

Microwave instructions:

On a microwave-safe plate, place both halves of the english muffin. Top first with the pizza sauce, then add the toppings. Finally cover with the cheese. Place in microwave from 1 1/2 minutes to 2 minutes, when cheese is melted and ingredients are hot. Remove from microwave. Enjoy.

 

Toaster Oven instructions:

Preheat toaster oven to 375 degrees. Cover oven pan with aluminum foil to prevent sticking. On each half of muffin, add pizza sauce, then toppings, and finally cheese. Place on pan and then stick in heated oven for approximately 5 minutes or until cheese is bubbly and golden. Pull pan out. Wait for them to cool a little. Enjoy.

Microwave version will not have them as crispy as in the toaster oven version. They still taste good either way.

Where is Spring?!?

No seriously. It was so nice while I was sick and now it’s snowing. And they say it’s only supposed to get worse. I guess since we had such a mild winter, I should have expected it. I remember why I hate snow. It’s cold and wet and stings when it’s falling. Blech. All I want to do is curl back up in bed and hide from it. On the upside, I did get paperwork I needed to get in done. But, to walk in the cold weather is quite annoying. Worse was standing to wait for the bus. The snow adds up ON me and I have to brush it off, which then shows how it’s getting my jacket wet.

So, to compensate foe the cold weather, I’m taking to eating warm and filling food. Like another oatmeal. My stomach is still getting better, so I’m coddling it by trying to feed it as little harsh foods as possible. Which means I haven’t had much coffee yet. I figure I can wait on that acid a few more days. The little I had was a couple of sips from the guy’s mug last night when we got together. I must admit, I miss the flavor of it. My warm drink is tea right now. Considered making a coconut milk drink, but I don’t have the flavorings to add that I’d want.  Summer plan? Get berries and herb plants and make some syrups to add to milk for steamers. I probably could make some now too, but don’t like the idea of the cost to buy the ingredients. Imagining an apple cinnamon syrup now. Ok, I’ll stop drooling over the idea.

But, speaking of cinnamon, I have to admit to a bit of a love for it. I can only think of one time where I overdid cinnamon and that was when I had a bottle lid come off while pouring cinnamon on applesauce. At one point, I used to grate fresh cinnamon on everything. In fact, I usually use it in place of sugar when making homemade spaghetti sauce. Plus, I’ve been known to add it to chilis and sloppy joes. It adds a spice and a sweetness to a dish that is pretty subtle when used in moderation (not when dumping half a bottle in at once). But, I can never bring myself to eat cinnamon sugar toast. I remember 4-H projects that had that as an option both growing up and when the kids took it. I gag over the flavor. It’s too much sugar sweetness to me. But, otherwise, I love it.

Here is a recipe for an apple and spice oatmeal. I was trying to go for an apple pie type feel and I think I did ok. For some reason, I misplaced my ginger powder and did not feel like opening another jar. So, I changed plans and added the crystallized ginger. It ended up giving the texture of something to bite along with the creaminess of the oatmeal itself. Adding the nutritional yeast gave me a slight hint of a cheesiness to go with an apple pie. I know, people think that you should eat ice cream with apple pie, but I learned in high school that lots of places eat it with cheese and I found that it makes it taste quite nice. So, I tried to make a play on that with this oatmeal.

 

Apple Pie Oatmeal

Serves 1

1/2 C oats
1 Tbs Chia seed
1 C water
1 Tbs brown sugar
1/4 tsp nutmeg
2 tsp cinnamon
4 pieces crystallized ginger
1/4 C applesauce
1 pinch nutritional yeast

 

Mix oats, chia and water in microwave safe bowl. Heat between 2 to 3 minutes in microwave. Check your wattage to see what is best. Add remaining ingredients. Mix together. Enjoy.

Joys of being sick

So, my big plan of keeping a local honey regimen is a little screwed. I’m going to have to just lessen the amount of honey for the next week. Why? Well, I’ve been down with a stomach bug for the past few days and slept past when I could make the time to get to the market before it closed. Upside, I’ve lost a couple pounds from not being awake long enough to even eat. Then, what I would eat wouldn’t stay down for a day. I’m finally able to have applesauce and crackers. A new thing to add in: rice. But, my plan is to keep it a mild rice because I’m not sure what will upset my stomach. This is the first time in a while that I’ve been sick like this. So, I currently have a pot of rice going. At one point, my fancy kind of rice for being sick is what I’m going to put today. It’s applesauce rice. Should I add that I’m almost done with a big jar that I bought from Aldi’s a while back and I just opened it a day ago? Yep, not much food right now and it’s all comfort food.

I have learned something else over the past couple of weeks. I can NOT do blog posts over my phone. I tried and it was just too much of an issue due to my phone that I found myself almost giving up blogging at all. I am fine with adding pictures here from my phone, but posts themselves must be done by computer. So, that means that I either have to do better at planning some future posts for when I either have lots of work ahead or I have to carry my laptop with me everywhere. I think future posts looks much more interesting. Otherwise, I’ll do like now and not have anything on for a while. That makes me sad to have, so I can’t have that as an option.

But, something I’m missing that I want to figure out how to make again is paprikash. Growing up, that was the recipe that was looked forward to. Mainly, I wanted the dumplings after they had soaked in the soup for a day or so. It traditionally has either chicken or veal in it. Since I am no longer eating either, it is going to require me to make a lot of changes. At least the dumplings will stay the same. I’m thinking of doing a mushroom to give the meat feel, but since the meat was more shredded up, I’m not sure of that. Another option in my head is to get some shredded veggies and do it that way. It ends up being a cream type of soup with the sour cream. My thoughts there are to make a roux and add some almond milk to it. I figure that coconut milk will be wrong here flavor wise, so something more neutral for the milk with a roux would do well on thickening. But, this is all along the lines of planning, so it will be a far in the future item for recipe. But, first I need the right paprika. Ok, that sounds snobby, but I will admit to having a preference to the red box of paprika as that is what I grew up using. In some cases, a spice is a spice. But in others, a spice tastes so different from brand to brand. And paprika is one of those. But, part of being sick makes me want my comfort foods. And that is one of them.

An interesting thing is that when they say you should reintroduce foods from a stomach illness, there is the BRAT(TY) diet. For me that turns into the RATT diet. Yeah, I can live off of a 80’s hair band diet. I can’t have bananas because they make me sick I remember seeing it growing up, but not eating too much because it was more for mom. I kind of remember getting yelled at for eating too much at once when I was bought some, so maybe that’s the other reason. I want to save it for a nice treat and never can figure a good time to have it. So, I’m giving up on buying it. If the urge to have it hits me, I can go get one on my way to work or take a trip to get one, but that also means that I’m seriously craving it if not a work day.

This recipe is for a nice change on regular rice or for a dessert that is not so creamy. I’m sure it can work for other rices, but I’ve only made it with arborio. Let me know how it comes for you if you use different.

 

Applesauce Rice

Serves 1

1 C Arborio rice, cooked

1/2 C natural applesauce

1 Tbs cinnamon

Reheat rice if it is not already hot. Mix applesauce with cinnamon. Add rice to applesauce. Mix until completely blended together. Enjoy.