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.

 

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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.

 

Quick and Simple Rice and Beans

It keeps trying to sprinkle here. The day is not too cold, but still is pretty gloomy. Not like the previous days. It feels too much like Spring still though. Right now, I’m on a cooking binge for the week. So, with the glut of food and packing being done, I still need to feed myself. My biggest thing is that I make enough of one thing that I can eat. Well, today, I just made a load of rice. I needed it for a couple different things and even still it was too much for the amount I made. I’m almost to the point of not having to cook for work meals for the next couple of weeks. My freezer is about to the stuffed point. So, that will help a bit. All my recipes I stretch to four servings, which gives me four weeks of options to eat. That’s also good when the recommended time to freeze foods seems to be a month to three.

My biggest thing is that I’m making myself try new foods that I wouldn’t have previously tried. I’ve never made cabbage rolls or stuffed peppers before. Now, I can say that I have. It’s easier to make cabbage rolls and I find that I enjoy making them. It’s taken me many years (maybe it was the meat stuffing that didn’t help things) but I find myself even liking eating them. But, I make more filling than I have the patience to roll. So, what do I do? I take the remainder and either put it in soup or else with fried cabbage to make an unstuffed cabbage. That makes quick meals for work that nobody else seems to touch. It could also be that the night shift doesn’t find interest in others foods because they all bring their own. Either way, I get to enjoy it.

Another recipe I never ate growing up is this addiction of mine. I never had a reason growing up to know about rice and beans except maybe school, which did that spanish rice. I don’t think it had beans in it though. It was red and clumped into a scoop that went with taco day. It looked so unappetising and I always tried to avoid it. But, when made to choose between eating the taco and eating the rice, I ended up eating the rice. No, I don’t remember there being much flavor in it either. So, when I first considered seriously trying vegetarian, I read all about rice and beans. Such a staple that I had never heard of. So, of course I had to try it. For a while, I ended up just buying a box to make of it. It was bland or nothing but spice. This, this is mine and it’s a little creamier with a bite from the beans. Using the bean mix, all I need to do is reheat it enough to the same temperature as the rice. And for future reference, I’m in love with coconut milk. It is richer than the others, even coming out of the box. I do buy the shelf stable kind because it’s cheaper than the refrigerated. Since I’m already reading the labels, I keep an eye out for the kind without carageenan. I’m not really all certain about the health risks, but currently I just want something with a little less extra. And since they are the same price, I choose to go without.

rice and beans

Cajun Rice and Beans

Serves 1

3/4 C cooked Jasmine rice
1/2 C bean mix
1 Tbs cajun spice blend
1/2 C boxed coconut milk

Put all ingredients in a 1 qt saucepan. Mix together until the spice blend is coating all of the rice. Heat on Medium low. Scoop it in a bowl and eat it all up.

How soon is Spring?

So, instead of sleeping, I’m currently sitting outside with my bowl of oatmeal (lemon poppyseed), cup of dirty chai, and pajamas. Yes, outside where the entire world can see me and with sandals on for footwear. My pajama ensemble lately has been including socks, so I know it looks bad. But, with weather this warm after the cold streak, I think I’ll enjoy it before I get too tired. This makes for the perfect end for a day. Of course, it’s a bank holiday, so there are quite a few people who are enjoying this day too. I’m sure there are a few others who are calling off today to enjoy the day. But, a nice part about working at night, I can enjoy the day without having to cut into the money coming in. Vitamin D, you are so welcome right now.

Over the weekend, I went out at night (which technically is illegal where we went because it is marked sunrise to sunset) to go walk a park path with the guy. I found myself wishing there was a park setup where there wasn’t that risk of getting in trouble for those who do work nights and want to do that outdoors on days off. I understand that most of the city will turn a blind eye as long as you aren’t doing something really bad, but there can always be the day one either runs into someone who wants to be a stickler for the rules or is having a bad day and decides to enforce the rule. But, this also was nice to do because we got to talk and relax. We both were feeling cooped up with the only option being us being in my room for any type of privacy. So, the two of us really enjoyed and laughed more during our exploring walk. We’re also figuring other places to park his car so we can do long walks on my days off and get to just be together. He brought coffee and I told him about my idea for when I have the girls out here in an apartment this summer.

The oatmeal was the first time I made it, and I didn’t do any measuring. I wasn’t even sure it would work. So, no recipe for this. I figure that closer to easter I’ll post a final recipe on it. That way, I know that it is right. It does taste quite like a lemon poppyseed muffin. It’s what I find funny, but so many like the tops of muffins. I find the best part is the bottom. I think there’s too many extras added to the top, so you miss out on the actual flavor and texture of the muffin. But, this oatmeal is fitting in perfectly with the weather I’m sitting in. I usually end up sweetening my oatmeal by adding flavors. Jams and chocolates are quite sweetening. My maple and brown sugar oatmeal is a distinct difference. Wait, maybe not since I’m really trying to eat it for the maple and the molasses flavorings. I am finding myself buying a lot of local stuff which ends up either being the same price or less than going to the grocery store. I know adding the girls will have my costs go up because the local meats are much higher, but I think that we can make it. They have all requested having meats still be in their diets, so this is going to be my compromise. It makes having a tight budget for food to begin with hard, but I will figure a way to do it. They just have to grab my old pans and pots to cook the meat in. My jam area in my fridge is growing from the selection I have, but I’ll hit TJMaxx as long as they still have my one jam. Darn it, I blame Ribena for my blackcurrant addiction.

I think I’ll try to end this with my new vinaigrette recipe. It’s worked quite nicely on both salads and the other part of my bean salad base.Yes, there are two different vinegars, but I’m kind of realising I’m a vinegar addict. I have more vinegars than anything else. I do need to get some more oils, but I see a vinegar and start drooling. Both of these are sweet vinegars, so they play nicely together. It does darken the look of the food, so if you are not wanting that, then change the vinegars to your liking. I won’t put servings on anything with dressings because I don’t pay attention to how much I use at once and I know everyone uses different amounts per item.

 

Malt Balsamic Vinaigrette

2 Tbs. Malt Vinegar (I used London Pub, but Heinz also makes a killer malt vinegar)

2 Tbs. Balsamic Vinegar of Modena

1 tsp. Black currant Preserves

Pinch Kroenig spice mix

Pinch Hickory smoked Salt

Olive Oil with black Truffles

Add all ingredients before Olive oil to a jar. Add olive oil to the top. Add lid. Shake until emulsified. If it doesn’t get to the thickness of your liking, add more olive oil. Shake again. Enjoy. Remember to reshake each time you use it because they WILL separate.