cheddar crisps

DSC_0187-cheddar-cracker-left

As someone who enjoys baking, sometimes I tend to forget about the other half of the world. You know, that “savory” half. Baking isn’t all about cupcakes and muffins.

And honestly, sometimes there are only so many sweets you can take… I mean it’s rare but every once in a while I hit a wall where I feel like I am literally going to hurl if I see one. more. freaking. cookie. Like for real.

Enter: these crackers. Your saviors. They are here to give you a delightfully salty treat when one more cookie is the last thing you need. They are light and crisp and packed with cheesy flavor, thanks to the extra sharp cheddar.

You don’t have to use cheddar, but you will want to use a nice strong cheese to make sure your flavors stand out. Some browning on the bottom of your cracker will also help you in this department, as will a sprinkle of smoked paprika on top… if you feel so inclined.

cheddar crisps

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 35 minutes

Ingredients

  • 8 Tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cold, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 cup grated extra sharp cheddar cheese*
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/8 teaspoon white pepper
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 1 cup + 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour

Instructions

  1. In the bowl of a food processor, pulse butter until it is broken up. Add the cheese, salt, and spices and pulse until the mixture forms small curd-like pieces.
  2. Add flour and pulse until the dough forms into a loose dough with pea-sized clumps, about 1 minute.
  3. Turn dough out onto a clean work surface and knead it gently until a cohesive dough forms. Divide the dough in half and pat each half into a disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 1 hour, or until firm.
  4. Working 1 disk at a time, roll the dough out between sheets of parchment to 1/4-inch thick. Using a cookie or biscuit cutter, cut into round disks (I used a 1-inch cutter), placing the rounds onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Gather the scraps and re-roll and cut the remaining dough (I did this twice). Repeat with second disk of dough.
  5. Place baking sheet, lightly wrapped with plastic, in the refrigerator until you are ready to bake.
  6. When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350F degrees. If desired, sprinkle disks with sea salt and bake for 15 to 17 minutes until the bottoms start to brown.
  7. Once you remove them from the oven, sprinkle them with sweet or smoked paprika and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Notes

* Dorie uses Gruyere in her book, she also recommends Comte or Emmenthal as well. Any semi-firm cheese should work here.

* This dough can either be rolled and cut, as in the directions, or chilled into a log and sliced into 1/4-inch disks. Whichever you prefer.

http://wee-eats.com/2015/01/27/cheddar-crisps/

[ Recipe from Around My French Table by Dorie Greenspan]

lasagna grilled cheese

lasagna grilled cheese 1243

I know what you are probably thinking as you read this…

“Really, Natalie? Lasagna inside of a grilled cheese? Is that really necessary?”

No, of course not.

But the best things never really are, are they?

This idea came to me one day at lunch. I had brought some leftover lasagna and garlic bread to work, being the frugal girl that I am, and upon eating them realized that if I put my lasagna on top of my garlic bread I could consume twice the food in half the time!

It turns out that together they are a force to be reckoned with. Better than either two could ever dream of being on their own.

Then, lightbulb.

I immediately texted Future Husband to let him know of my genius plans.

“LASAGNA GRILLED CHEESE WITH GARLIC BREAD CRUST! PREPARE YOUR ARTERIES!”

lasagna grilled cheese 1252

It’s a simple equation, really. Lasagna = Good. Grilled cheese = Good. Lasagna + Grilled Cheese = Double Good!

Am I right?  I mean, I’m pretty sure the logic there is flawless…

FH, though initially confused by the idea, accepted its genius at his first bite. In fact, he loved it so much that he told me I should do a a whole post just about the bread, because the bread alone was THAT GOOD.

I won’t do that to you though, I’ve already drawn this out enough by first sharing the lasagna recipe with you separately, of course you can use whatever lasagna recipe you like.

So here you are… Lasagna grilled cheese… In all of its glory.

Delicious homey comfort food for those of us who don’t plan on donning bikinis anytime soon.

lasagna grilled cheese

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 15 minutes

Yield: 2 sandwiches

Serving Size: 1 sandwich

Ingredients

    For the sandwich
  • 4 slices sturdy bread
  • 2 slices leftover lasagna
  • 2 slices mozzarella
  • 2 slices provolone
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, finely grated
  • Garlic butter
  • 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 6 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped or smashed
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Instructions

    Make the garlic butter
  1. Melt butter over medium-low heat in a small pan. Add garlic and salt; continue cooking over low/medium-low until very fragrant and cloves are lightly-browned and the salt has dissolved. Keep an eye on the butter making sure not to burn either the butter or the garlic.
  2. Remove from heat and pour into heat-proof container, straining out the garlic cloves. Set aside until ready to use.
  3. Make the grilled cheese
  4. Gently re-heat the lasagna in the microwave. It doesn't need to get super hot but you will definitely want to take the chill off.
  5. Heat a skillet over medium heat until hot. Arrange your mise en place so you can work quickly.
  6. Brush the outsides of your bread slices with garlic butter and gently press into the parmesan cheese. You can butter the insides if you want to, I mean at this point our arteries won't really notice the difference.
  7. Place two pieces of bread with the insides-down (buttered-sides up) on the skillet to toast.
  8. Once toasted flip the bread and top 1 slice of each sandwich with mozzarella and lasagna then with provolone. Top with other slice of bread (buttered side still up) and tent with foil (or a lid) until cheese just begins to melt, being careful not to burn the bottom bread.
  9. Carefully flip the sandwiches to toast the second side and tent again with foil if the cheese still needs help melting. Continue cooking until the bottom is completely toasted.
  10. Remove from heat and cool slightly before serving.

Notes

* This would also be great as an open-faced sandwich. Just place the cheese and lasagna on one piece of the bread and tent to melt the cheese. Enjoy with a fork and knife.

* I used skillet lasagna for this grilled cheese but I suspect regular lasagna would work just fine (and be a bit less messy).

http://wee-eats.com/2014/04/28/lasagna-grilled-cheese/

lasagna grilled cheese - wee-eats.com

skillet lasagna

skillet lasagna 1213

It’s been in the upper 90s around these parts lately, but this weekend is supposed to be cold and rainy (read: 70s with a 40% chance of rain) so I’ve got comfort food on the mind.  Even though I’ve already got a recipe for lasagna, this one is a bit… different.

It will not consume your afternoon to create.  It will not take hours of sauce-making and simmering, nor meticulous layering of ingredients. This, my friends, is a stove-top lasagna. As in, a lasagna that you make on the stove.

As in a 30(ish)-minute feast.

As in all of those spectacular lasagna flavors and ingredients without having to layer a single thing.

This skillet lasagna involves making your own sauce on the stove-top, stuffing a few lasagna noodles into it, adorning it with dollops of creamy ricotta cheese, and broiling some nice melty cheese on top.

If you’re into that whole broiled-cheese thing (I definitely am).

I just make my “usual” quick meat sauce, you can use your own favorite sauce recipe if you like. If that’s not easy enough, you can even cheat and make it with store-bought pasta sauce (I won’t tell).

skillet lasagna 1220

skillet lasagna

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 40 minutes

Yield: 1 11-inch skillet (6 to 8 servings)

Ingredients

  • 1/2 pound ground beef* (vegetarian option below)
  • 1/2 pound Italian sweet sausage, casings removed (about 2 or 3 links)
  • 1 small or 1/2 large onion
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 15-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 cup shredded Italian cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper (optional)
  • 4 to 5 no-boil lasagna noodles, uncooked, broken into pieces
  • Ricotta mixture (below)
  • Parsley and/or basil, minced, to sprinkle on top
  • For ricotta mixture
  • 1/2 cup ricotta (whole-milk is best for this)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons parsley, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 Tablespoons parmesan, finely grated

Instructions

  1. Mix ricotta with remaining ingredients for the ricotta mixture, set aside.
  2. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and cook the ground beef and sausage together until well-browned, about 8 minutes.
  3. Add onion and continue cooking until softened, about 5 minutes more. If you have formed a crust on the bottom of your pan, deglaze the pan with a few tablespoons of water, stock, or wine.
  4. Reduce heat to medium-low and add garlic and continue to cook, stirring, until fragrant.
  5. Add crushed tomatoes and red pepper and stir to combine. Add 1/2 cup of shredded cheese and stir again.
  6. Tuck broken noodle pieces into the sauce and drop dollops of ricotta mixture on top. Simmer uncovered about 20 minutes.
  7. After 20 minutes, sprinkle remaining 1/2 cup of shredded cheese over the top of the lasagna and preheat your broiler on high for about 5 minutes.
  8. Carefully place your pan in the under the broiler for about 5 minutes until cheese is melted and bubbly. VERY CAREFULLY remove pan from oven and sprinkle with parsley and/or basil if desired. Allow to cool slightly (about 5 to 10 minutes) before serving.

Notes

* You can use all beef or all sausage if you like, or even leave out the meat and add more veggies (mushrooms or lentils) to make it vegetarian. * Be sure to use an oven-safe skillet when making this and be very careful when moving the hot pan to and from the oven.

http://wee-eats.com/2014/04/25/skillet-lasagna/

easy skillet lasagna | wee-eats.com

cheesy spinach dip

cheese 3

You know what is hard to photograph?  Cheese.

It really seems like it shouldn’t be.  It’s like, ooey, gooey, melty, delicious cheese… it’s practically doing your job for you!  Except once you put it in front of the camera, it becomes a shiny, globby, hot, goopy mess.  (Note to self:  Due to the way you photograph and the rules of the transitive property, you may actually be made of cheese.  Look into this more later.)

Anyway, you know that I liked this recipe a whole lot, because I decided to share it with you anyway.

cheese 1

And… I ate that much on my own.  Just for you.  For pictures! (Well, that’s what I told my other half when he asked what happened to the rest of it, at least… but I know my secret is safe with you!)

And yes, I know that it’s fall and everything should be all pumpkin and apples which is great and all but… it’s also hockey season!  And I heard that there’s this thing called “football” too… or so I’m told.  Anyway, what that means is sports are happening, which means there may be more gatherings than your used to, and you may have a house full of hungry people who are looking for something delicious to shove into their face holes.

Well, my friends, this is your secret weapon.  It takes almost no time to assemble , it uses ingredients that you most likely have in your house anyway (much like my apple muffins), and then you just let it hang out in the oven for about 20 minutes or so and VOILA!  Hot and gooey cheese dip for all your friends to savor!

You can thank me later.

Cheesy Spinach Dip

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 25 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 (1-ounce) packet ranch dressing mix; I used Aaron's favorite
  • 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened to room temperature
  • 1 (8-ounce) container sour cream
  • 1 (7-ounce) package frozen spinach, thawed and drained
  • 1 (10-ounce) can tomatoes or tomatoe with chiles(like Rotel); drained
  • 1 + 1/2 cups cheese of your choice; separated (I used cheddar)

Instructions

  1. 1. Preheat oven to 375F
  2. 2. Ensure spinach is drained as much as possible (see notes)
  3. 3. In a large bowl, mix the ranch dressing, cream cheese, and sour cream together. Add spinach, tomatoes/chiles, and 1 cup of the cheese and stir to combine.
  4. 4. Pour mixture into greased casserole dish (I used a 2-quart baking dish) and cover with remained 1/2 cup of cheese.
  5. 5. Bake in preheated oven about 20 minutes, until dip is bubbly and cheese is browned to your liking. I like to broil mine a bit towards the end because we are a pro-burned-cheese family.

Notes

* I used cheddar cheese because we got a giant block of it at Costco, I suspect some monterey jack or pepperjack would do well here too... maybe even provolone or fontina, add a sprinkle of Italian herbs and you just went from Mexico to Italy, friends! Moral of the story is that you want something good and melty.

* To drain spinach, I wrap mine it in a couple layers of paper towels and press as hard as possible to extract the liquid over a collander. I usually repeat this about 2 or 3 times to get as much liquid as possible out.

http://wee-eats.com/2013/11/19/cheesy-spinach-dip/

[ Recipe adapted from Food.com ]

 

apple and brie bruschetta

bruschetta apple 9796

Ok, so I  noticed (after the fact) that I’ve been posting my bruscetta recipes on Tuesdays.

And I’m a total idiot because if I had actually planned it I could have given it a catchy name like, “TOASTY TUESDAY!” or “Tuesday Toast” or … ya know… something with alliteration.

Alliteration is the best.

Anyway, this might actually be the easiest of all the bruschetta recipes because you don’t really have to make anything, you just need to be able to slice an apple without cutting your fingers off.  I realize that this is easier said than done sometimes, but it’s really that easy!

Just spread some super-creamy brie on a piece of toast, top it with a drizzle of honey, and then put your sliced apples on top!  Voila!  I used to drizzle the honey on top, because I thought that looked prettier, but I learned that it’s much neater to put the honey UNDER the apples.  No more sticky honey fingers!

If you love bruschetta as much as I do, you should probably visit my other recipes:

Apple & Brie Bruschetta

Printable Recipe

  • 1 loaf french bread, sliced cross-wise and toasted
  • 2 to 3 medium crisp apples, like granny smith
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
  • Creamy brie, at room temperature
  • Honey

1.   Slice and toast your bread as desired.  Slice apples and toss with lemon juice to help prevent browning.

2.  Spread each slice with brie while still slightly warm.  Drizzle with honey and top with sliced apples.

3.  Sit back and enjoy!

 

bruschetta-apple-9 pin