Thursday, July 28, 2011

Sweet & Spicy Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

I live with a veritable grilled cheese master. It's kind of Dane's signature dish, if you will... always his first suggestion when he's in charge of lunch or dinner and the thing I jokingly tell him he's best at making. (While I am still teaching the boy to cook he does make many things very well... but it is true, he does also make a mean grilled cheese.) So imagine my nerves when I decided to tackle this recipe. I had no doubt it would be easy and delicious... but would it live up to the boy's high standards of a great grilled cheese?

The easy answer? Of course it did.

These sandwiches are every bit as yummy as their name makes them sound. The simple yet genius combination of flavors make these anything but your everyday ordinary grilled cheese. Slightly caramelizing the onions brings out an amazing sweetness that, when paired with the summer's sweetest, ripest tomato, lends an almost candy-like quality to the sandwich. Then the sharp flavors of the full-bodied cheddar and spicy pepper jack kick in, and suddenly you're on a whole new level of delicious. Serve it with the Summer Corn & Vegetable Soup I shared earlier this week, and you've got yourself a healthy, flavorful meal fit for even the busiest night in your week.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Summer Corn & Vegetable Soup

Let's face it, when the temperature outside begins to approach 100 degrees, soup is probably the last thing on your mind for dinner. But I encourage you, friends, don't rule it out! This soup is great for the summer because it uses a wide variety of fresh summer veggies, it can be served luke-warm, and it doesn't require hours of simmering on the stove. In fact, it only needs to boil once, and the whole thing can be ready from start to finish in about 30 minutes! Who doesn't love that? And the flavor cannot be beat. This soup is light and fresh, with a lovely creamy consistency and just a hint of sweetness from the summer corn. I highly encourage you - especially if you've got a garden at home threatening to take over your backyard - make this soup! It just might be the most surprisingly satisfying meal you'll have this summer.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Pasta with Fresh Roma Tomato Sauce

I wish I could say I liked tomatoes. Every summer I watch so many people revel in the flavor of sun-ripened tomatoes, juicy and plump and fresh. They look so good... nestled amongst fresh mozzarella and basil in a caprese salad, or the crown jewel atop a juicy grilled burger. But I just can't do it. Well, at least not raw. But I do love them cooked! I love them stewed and added to a warm winter soup, roasted with garlic and served over crusty bread, or cooked down and pureed into a lovely sauce...

...such as this one.

If you're like many people at this time of the summer, you've probably got a garden overflowing with tomatoes. Consider yourself lucky, as my humble little apartment does not afford me the pleasure of a garden.   But no matter. The point is, you should definitely make this sauce. It's a great way to use up some of those overabundant vegetables, and it's downright delicious. Imagine, Roma tomatoes, naturally sweet in their own right, simmered down until they are soft and succulent, together with summer sweet carrots, pungent onion, and earthy celery. Can you smell it? Now add a little white wine - go ahead, pour some for yourself too - and simmer away until the sauce is rendered luscious and sweet. Pour over your favorite pasta, sprinkle on a little Parmesan cheese and some fresh basil, and prepare to be amazed. All that flavor with no extra seasonings? Really? Really. It's really that simple. And that delicious.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Lamb Gyros

So, I have to admit... I was a gyro virgin until not too long ago. I honestly didn't even know what they were, and I certainly didn't pronounce the name correctly until my friend lovingly informed me that, "They're called yeer-ohs honey. YEE-rohs." Oops... how was I supposed to know they weren't JY-ros?

But finally last fall at Boise's annual Art in the Park, I popped my gyro cherry and bought one from one of the food truck vendors at the park. I was a little apprehensive - I'd honestly never eaten anything with lamb before, and what the heck was this stuff called tzatziki? But after I took one bite I knew exactly what everyone had been raving about. OMG yum.

I'd never really thought about trying to make my own until I saw this recipe in the cookbook I won from Annie. For some reason I thought the lamb would require hours of roasting and grinding yourself and all kinds of hard work. Boy was I wrong... these things are easy! And talk about tasty! This recipe brought back wonderful memories of that first gyro in the park, and was everything I expected. The cool tzatsiki perfectly balanced the hot onion, and the lamb was juicy and flavorful with just a hint of springy mint. I love the complexity of the flavors... each ingredient shines without overpowering, combining to create a flavor that is truly spectacular. And now that I know how easy these are to make, gyros will certainly be making a regular appearance in my life.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Chicken Enchiladas

I have been on the hunt for a good enchilada recipe for a very long time. Enchiladas have always been a favorite item to order at Mexican restaurants and I've always wanted to make them at home, but I've never found a sauce recipe I could stand. Fillings are easy. You can really fill enchiladas with whatever you want... chicken, shredded beef, cheese, beans... anything you want to your liking. But the sauce - yes, the perfect sauce always eluded me. Until now.

None of the sauces I tried before were ever quite right. They were always too spicy, too smokey, too... weird. But this one totally fit the bill. The flavor is out of this world. Don't worry when you see that the sauce calls for two whole onions, it's not a typo. It's totally on purpose, because that's where all the awesome flavor comes from. The onion adds a hearty, body-ful flavor to the sauce, that none of the other sauces have ever achieved. And, as if blending the sauce didn't make give it a creamy-enough texture all by itself, the last minute addition of just a little sour cream makes it rich without making it heavy. I like this sauce so much I think I might make extra next time and freeze some to have on hand.

But the one thing I was not prepared for was how BIG these enchiladas are. I'm used to wimpy enchiladas made with little corn tortillas, small enough that I usually need to eat two to get full. So when I saw that this recipe only made six enchiladas I was a bit worried. But don't fret guys... as you can see from the photos, these are monster enchiladas. I'm almost tempted to call them smothered burritos instead, because that's essentially what they are. But an enchilada by any other name tastes just as delicious. So call them what you will. But promise me you'll make them? You'll be very glad you did.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Crepes with Berries and Ricotta

Happy 4th of July friends! Ok, well almost 4th of July... we do still have one more day after all.

But it's Sunday! And you all know how special Sundays are in our house. You totally understand why I couldn't wait until tomorrow to share this with you.

I made these crepes for Dane and I last weekend, on the first Sunday morning we'd had together in over a month. After such a long hiatus from our Sunday morning tradition, I was looking to break from the usual pancakes and bacon. Oh, don't worry, I still cooked bacon. Like seriously. I think Dane might leave me if I ever fixed Sunday morning breakfast that didn't include bacon. ...just one of the many reasons I love the guy.

But back to the crepes.

Beautiful, beautiful crepes.

Reason number one why these crepes are awesome: they're red, white, and blue. Make these for the 4th of July and double your bad-ass American score.

Reason number two: they're super easy.

And reason number three? This one's going to come as shocker... they're delicious. They're light and airy just like any other crepe you've probably had, but with a little kick of lemon. Not a ton... just enough to let you know it's there. Just enough to say, "Hi! Good morning!" And the ricotta filling is a surprising complement. Sweet, but not too sweet and fantastically fluffy. Top it off with the season's freshest, juiciest berries and a light dusting of powder sugar, and you've got yourself one great summer breakfast.

Friday, July 1, 2011

The Learning Curve is now on...


Let's be honest... this step has been a long time coming. My humble little blog is slowly growing up, and I thought it was time that she joined the social networking world! Plus, 6 months is like 13 in "blog years" right? If she could tell me, I bet The Learning Curve would be begging for a cell phone next.

So take a glance over the left under the lovely picture of Dane and myself and press the "Like!" button to become The Learning Curve's newest fan! It would totally make my day if you did. :)
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...