Red Wine Spaghetti

Buzzfeed is full of links to tasty recipes, lists of foods to try, and now Buzzfeed Tasty even gives us their own recipes. I’ve been on a wine kick, so I bought some red wines and got cooking. I’m surprised I never really thought about it, but you can boil spaghetti in wine! It’s a liquid so that makes sense right? Like when you boil rice in chicken broth to add extra flavor. I tend to drink sparkling wines, roses, and whites, but I’ll never turn down a good Malbec or red blend. Beware wine lovers, you’ll be using a whole bottle for this!

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups water
  • 1 bottle red wine
  • 1 lb. spaghetti
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1 cup Parmesan
  • 1/2 cup parsley (optional)

Instructions:

1) Measure 1/4 cup wine and set aside.

2) Combine water and the rest of the wine in a large pot. Bring to a boil.

3) Once boiling, add the spaghetti. Cook, stirring frequently, for about 7 minutes.

Be careful! When you add the spaghetti it will bubble up!

4) Reserve 1/4 cup cooking liquid and drain the spaghetti.

5) In a large skillet, heat oil on medium heat. Add garlic and pepper flakes. Cook for about 2 minutes.

6) Add reserved cooking liquid and the 1/4 cup of wine. Bring to a simmer. Add the pasta and toss.

7) Add the butter, salt, pepper, Parmesan, and parsley.

Final Thoughts: I’m not sure if I’m impressed with this or not. The idea is really interesting, and it is not much more difficult than making pasta normally. There’s a subtle hint of flavor that might be better with a stronger wine, because it seems like a waste to use a whole bottle of wine for just a little flavor. I also didn’t quite care for the texture of the Parmesan with the noodles. The noodles seemed drier and with the addition of the parmesan and olive oil, seemed to get oily quite quickly. Maybe I just need a different recipe? Have you guys tried this?

Chorizo Sweet Potato Hash

Pumpkin isn’t the only thing in season right now. Sweet potatoes are a diverse ingredient that pairs well with sweet and savory flavors, whether its sweet potato pie or whole roasted sweet potatoes. I found this recipe for chorizo sweet potatoes in Food Network magazine. I’ve never cooked chorizo, but I love to eat it!

The original recipe was stuffed whole sweet potatoes, but those are more difficult to take to work, so I cut them and roasted them instead.

Ingredients:

  • 4 medium sweet potatoes
  • 1/4 cup + 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp pickling spice (I’d never heard of it either! McCormick brand is in the spice aisle at the grocery store)
  • 1 cup plain fat-free Greek yogurt (if you don’t like eating this usually, buy the single serve cups!)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • kosher salt and ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup golden raisins
  • 8 oz chorizo
  • 2 Tbsp pine nuts
  • chopped fresh mint (optional)

Instructions:

1. Preheat the oven to 450. For whole potatoes, pierce all over with a fork and microwave 20-25 min. For roasted sweet potatoes, slice into bite-sized cubes. You won’t need to microwave the cubes.

2. Heat 2 Tbsp olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the pickling spice and cook about 1 minute, until toasted.

 

3. Transfer the spiced oil to a mini food processor or spice grinder. Grind or pulse until the pickling spice is finely ground for 1 minute.

4. Transfer the oil into a bowl. Stir in the yogurt, garlic, 1 tsp salt, and some pepper. Set aside.

5. Soak the raisins in 1/2 cup warm water for about 10 minutes.

Does anyone know what this does? I think it’s to rehydrate them? Maybe it makes them softer…

6. Heat 2 Tbsp olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chorizo and cook, stirring often, for 5-6 minutes. The meat should be brown and crisp.

 

Be careful when cooking this. It’s difficult to tell when the meat is fully cooked, because it has been spiced red.

7. Add the pine nuts to the meat. Cook for 30 seconds until the nuts are lightly toasted. Remove from heat.

8. Drain the raisins and stir them into the chorizo.

9. Arrange the sweet potatoes on a foil-lined baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, then either rub the whole sweet potatoes with salt and pepper, or sprinkle evenly over the pieces.

Roast the whole potatoes for 10 minutes OR Roast the cubes for 35-40 minutes.

10. Top the sweet potatoes with the chorizo mixture. Serve with yogurt sauce on top or on the side!

Final Thoughts: I could eat this every day! Sweet potatoes and chorizo go so well together; the sweet and spicy flavors match perfectly. And the spiced yogurt sauce brings down a little bit of the heat. The pine nuts added some much needed crunch, though I probably could have cooked them longer.

A few weeks after I made this, I had a sweet potato and chorizo breakfast skillet. I like this better.

Venison Roast with Mushrooms

Have you ever watched a movie or a TV show where the family sits down for dinner, so they can feast on a beautifully cooked roast? I was always a little envious of the giant home-cooked meal. My family saved those kind of meals for holidays like Easter and Christmas. Sundays were usually what my mother called “scrounge night,” which meant we plundered the leftovers from the week or enjoyed a bowl of cereal. My father made simple meals of spaghetti and steam broccoli. I wanted to have a classy home-cooked meal like the Sunday roast.

I found this recipe for a roast. I used venison, but this recipe was originally designed for beef. Don’t be daunted by the thought of cooking a giant hunk of meat. It’s actually simple and amazingly delicious.

Ingredients:

  • 1 (4-5 lbs.) whole beef tenderloin
  • 2 Tbsp dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup black pepper
  • kosher salt
  • 16 oz. cremini mushroom, halved
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp butter

For the Sauce:

  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 2 tsp chopped thyme
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan
  • kosher salt and pepper

Instructions:

1)  Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

2) Rub the beef with the mustard, and season with salt and pepper.

3) Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the olive oil. When the oil shimmers, add the mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper.

I cut the mushrooms incorrectly! This is why you review your recipe. Cutting them this small made them shrink. There was definitely a smaller ratio of mushrooms to meat, which was unfortunate since the mushrooms were so delicious.

4) Cook for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and into a cast iron skillet.  Place the roast over top of the mushrooms. Add butter to the top of the beef.

5) Transfer to the oven and roast for about 35-45 min. The roast is finished when the internal temperature reaches 120-125 degrees.

 

6) Remove the beef and mushrooms from the skillet to a serving plate. Cover with foil and let rest about 10 minutes.

Resting is super important! If you cut into the meat right after it’s been cooked, you’ll lose all of the juices that keep the roast moist.

7) Place the same skillet over high heat on the stove. Add the wine and scrape up the brown bits stuck to the bottom of the pain. Simmer for 2-3 minutes. Add butter and thyme, then continue cooking for about 2 minutes. Slowly pour in the cream and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes, or until the sauce thickens.

See how much thicker?

8. Remove the skillet from the heat. Stir in the Parmesan cheese. Season with salt and pepper.

Removing the skillet from the heat when adding cheese keeps the sauce from breaking.

Final Thoughts: I was shocked at how simple this was. The idea of a roast always seemed like a time-consuming, daunting task. It’s a beautiful looking dish. Also, smother that amazing sauce over everything. I need to get my hands on another roast. Just typing this made me want to make it again.

Chicken Picatta

The first time I ever had chicken picatta, I was at California Pizza Kitchen. I had no idea what capers were, but it was chicken, lemon, and pasta, so I figured I’d try it. I instantly loved the flavors. Moist, dredged chicken over thin angel hair pasta is drenched in a bright, zingy lemon sauce. Capers add a pop of brine to counter any sweetness from the cream-based sauce. To this day, it is still my order of choice at CPK.

Trying to make it at home seemed daunting, probably because I was worried about making a chicken picatta that would meet the same standards as the restaurant. The lemony chicken pasta I’ve made before is similar, but heavier than this recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. spaghetti
  • 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast cut in half
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup AP flour
  • 4 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup diced shallots
  • 3/4 cup chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup capers, drained
  • 2 Tbsp chopped parsley leaves

Instructions:

1) Salt a pot of water, and bring to a boil. Cook pasta according to the directions on the package.

2) Season the chicken with salt and pepper, to taste. Dredge the chicken in flour.

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Don’t let the chicken sit too long with the flour before cooking. It won’t be as crispy.

3) Melt 2 Tbsp butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken and cook, flipping once, for about 4-5 minutes per side.

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4) Melt 2 Tbsp butter in the skillet again. Add the garlic and shallots. Stir and cook for about 2 minutes.

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Don’t wash the pot! The brown stuff from the chicken will help flavor the sauce.

5) Stir in the chicken broth, wine, and lemon juice. Cook until slightly reduced, about 5 minutes.

6) Slowly whisk in heavy cream until thickened, 3-4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add the capers.

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I don’t think I let my sauce thicken enough, but at least the flavor was good.

7) Serve pasta with sauce and chicken.

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Final Thoughts: There are a few food bloggers whose recipes I will always recommend. Chungah of Damn Delicious is one of those bloggers. Her recipes never fail to be delicious and easy to execute. I wish I had let my sauce thicken, but it had a strong lemon flavor. Boyfriend dislikes capers, but I love the “pop” of brininess. Any tips on improving the consistency of the sauce?

 

 

Cacio E Pepe

Cacio e pepe sounds fancy, but is actually a simple pasta dish. It literally means “cheese and pepper.” If you love black pepper and noodles, this is the recipe for you. I love the strong flavor of the pepper, almost like eating spicy noodles with an earthy aftertaste. It’s a cheap and easy meal to put together. Keep in mind if you’re vegetarian that Parmesan cheese is not considered a vegetarian cheese option.

Recipes for this tend to vary a little, but both Epicurius and Bon Apetit have the same recipe. You can find it here.

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Ingredients:

  • Kosher salt
  • 6 oz. pasta (such as egg tagliolini, bucatini, or spaghetti)
  • 3 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cubed, divided
  • 1 tsp. freshly cracked black pepper
  • 3/4 cup finely grated Grana Padano or Parmesan
  • 1/3 cup finely grated Pecorino

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Some notes on the ingredients. I didn’t use two different types of cheese because I didn’t have any pecorino on hand. The different cheeses make for a better flavor, but not having fancy cheese on hand doesn’t make the dish impossible. Kosher salt adds a more robust flavor to balance the pepper, but sea salt or other salt works too. I used fettucine, but I usually prefer a thinner pasta.

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Instructions:

1) Boil a pot of water. Sprinkle in some salt. Add the pasta and cook al dente as directed on the box.

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2) Drain the pasta, but do not drain all of the water. Reserve 3/4 cup of water.

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I find it easier to ladle the water into a measuring cup first before straining pasta. Also, I’ve been told it’s a cardinal sin to rinse your pasta.

3) Melt 2 Tbsp butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the pepper and cook, swirling the pan, until toasted, for about 1 minute.

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I used the same empty pot. Saves on clean up.

4) Add 1/2 cup of the reserved pasta water to the pan. Bring to a simmer. Add the pasta and other Tbsp of butter.

5) Reduce heat to low and add Grana Padano, stirring and tossing with tongs until melted. Remove pan from heat; add Pecorino, stirring and tossing until cheese melts, sauce coats the pasta.

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6) Add more pasta water if sauce seems dry. Transfer pasta to warm bowls and serve.

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It seemed dry with just the 1/2 cup. The sauce should seem loose.

The pepper in this dish really packs a punch. I know I may not have the best tolerance for spice, but I’d even say this gets close to spicy. I think this would be better with a thinner noodle, but I enjoy the idea of making pasta different than the usual preparation. A jar of pasta sauce and plain noodles don’t compare to this Italian comfort food.

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Turkey Sweet Potato Skillet

What a flashback! Right when I started this blog, I picked a healthy recipe off of Pinterest and gave it a try. I consider this to be the first delicious meal I ever made. Yes, I forgot an important ingredient, but I cooked this all on my own. My first triumph: this Ground Turkey Sweet Potato Skillet.

I forgot to buy peppers at the grocery store. I scrambled to defrost the meat. I remember struggling to chop vegetables. My very first attempt was a complete mess, disorganized from the start. Remaking this dish really gave me the chance to measure my progress.

Ingredients:
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lbs. extra lean ground turkey
  • 1 tsp garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 cup onions, diced
  • 1/2 cup yellow pepper, diced
  • 1 1/2 cups sweet potato, diced
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • a pinch of red chili flakes (I left this out because I’m a wimp)
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
  • parsley for garnish

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Something to note about the ingredients. Be sure to defrost your meat before you get started. If it’s been in the freezer for a while, place the whole package in a bowl or bag and let sit in the refrigerator overnight. It should be thawed by dinner time.

Instructions:

1) In a skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat.

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2) Add the ground turkey and garlic. Use a spatula to break up the turkey while it cooks. Stir occasionally, cooking for about 5 minutes.

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3) Add the onions and yellow peppers. Cook until the onions are soft.

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Both vegetables will look translucent (see-through) as they soften.

4) Add the sweet potato, chili pepper, salt, and pepper.

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5) Cover the skillet and cook until tender, about 10 minutes. Stir occasionally.

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At this point I drained much of the fat off. I used more meat than the recipe required, so there was quite a bit of leftover fat. I didn’t drain it before hand to let the fat flavor the dish as it cooked.

Here the recipe offers 2 options. Either:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Add the cheese to the skillet and place the pan in the oven for a few minutes to melt the cheese. OR

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Add the cheese to the hot skillet. Place the lid back on the pan for 5 minutes.

Personally, I am terrified of the broiler so I sprinkled cheese on top and covered the pan.

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I was actually disappointed by this. The food was plain despite multiple attempts to season. I think it would have packed a better punch if I hadn’t accidentally minced my onions. I still love the sweet potatoes, but the turkey seemed like it would be better if it had been marinaded prior to being cooked, or if it was served with a sauce. Still, this is a healthier dish and, provided there isn’t extra salt in your turkey, a low sodium option as well.

 

 

 

3 Ingredient Tomato Soup with Pasta

At the front of every issue of Food Network magazine is a calendar with suggestions for simple meals that don’t really require a recipe. One of those recipes has become a staple for days when I’m tired and don’t really want to put that much effort into making dinner.

I used to be suspicious of 3-5 ingredient recipes because I assumed you were giving up something in order to make the dish easier to cook. This is not the case. Often getting back to basics brings food back to life. And sometimes, fewer ingredients means less work and less time consumed cooking. It’s the perfect answer for lazy nights.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 can of tomato soup
  • Pasta
  • Cheese

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The original recipe calls for three items: 1) a can of tomato soup, 2) orzo pasta, and 3) goat cheese. I have tried this with multiple cheeses, brands of soup, and types of pasta. It really is a combination that can be changed in any number of ways to suit your preferences. My favorite is Campbell’s tomato soup (I tried organic soups but found them too sweet), gnocchi, and goat cheese. The goat cheese really adds an extra creaminess so I would really recommend you give it a try!

On a lazy weekday night, I grabbed some gnocchi and a can of soup from the pantry and some shredded cheese. The pictures are here, but honestly it’s very simple.

1) Cook the pasta according to the package.

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I made gnocchi. You boil water, add the gnocchi, then remove the pasta with a slotted spoon when it starts to float. For 99% of other pastas, you’ll boil water, cook the pasta, and strain it.

2) Drain the water from the pot (if you haven’t already). Add the tomato soup and pasta.

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3) Mix in the goat cheese. Or sprinkle cheese into the hot soup.

The heat can be very low or off. If the pot is hot, it will melt the cheese.

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It’s not exactly “cooking” per se, but it is marginally more challenging than making a box of mac & cheese. Plus it gives you the chance to experiment. Add spices, try different cheeses, and different pastas for new flavors and textures. First, I’d really recommend the original orzo, tomato soup, and goat cheese combo if you’ve never tried it. Then make it your own! Share what you’ve added and I’ll try it on my own!

Chicken with Lemon Cream Sauce

Starting Foodie Learns to Cook Version 2.0 doesn’t mean that I want to completely abandon the progress I’ve already made. From 2015 to the end of 2017 I’ve cooked and baked dozens of recipes. With my boyfriend’s photography skills and a little more experience under my belt, I’ll be re-visiting those old recipes and moving them here to the new blog.

When I first made this I only barely managed to make the pasta and chicken. At the end of my old post, I noted that I would have liked to have some vegetables with it. I made roasted asparagus this time, but I won’t share that here right now. If you want to make a full meal, you can use bagged steam-able vegetables or even canned vegetables.

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This recipe comes from Kevin & Amanda, a husband-wife cooking team. Check out their website for the full recipe and their instructions for Crispy Lemon Chicken Pasta.

This is a simple meal to put-together, but it may not be the healthiest of all recipes. The chicken is “dredged,” meaning the chicken is coated in flour prior to being pan-fried in butter. This creates some texture contrast between the pasta and the thick, creamy sauce.

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Ingredients:

  • 8 oz. angel hair pasta
  • 1 lb. chicken breast, pounded to about 1/2 in. thick
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp garlic salt
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 5 Tbsp butter, divided
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice (about 1 lemon)
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

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Some notes about these ingredients. I don’t think it really matters what kind of pasta you use. If you have shells or bow-ties in your pantry, they’ll work just as well. I love angel hair, so that’s what I used, but even fettuccine noodles are an acceptable substitution.

Also, you will need a way to zest the lemon. Zesting means taking either a zester or cheese grater to the rind of the lemon and grating off a bit of the peel. I didn’t realize my boyfriend didn’t have one so I had to make due. Trust me it’s much easier to just use the zester.

Directions

1) “Cook your pasta according to the package.” Boil lightly salted water. Add the pasta and cook as directed. Drain and set aside.

2) Pound your raw chicken flat. You can do this with a meat mallet or rolling pin.

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If I remember correctly, I actually used a hammer the first time. It was all I had.

3) Season the chicken with salt, pepper, and garlic salt on both sides.

There are measurements in the ingredients if you’re not sure, but this is fairly simple to do without measuring. Pour a little into your hand and rub it directly onto the chicken. I completely forgot the garlic salt, but it didn’t drastically change the flavor of the chicken.

4) “Dredge” the chicken. Pour some flour onto a plate. Once the chicken has been coated in spices, place the chicken onto the flour and coat it thoroughly.

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5) Heat 2 Tbsp butter in a large skillet over medium to medium-high heat. When the butter is hot and starts to turn brown, add the chicken and cook for 3-5 minutes. Then flip the chicken onto the other side and cook for another 3-5 minutes. Once the chicken is cooked, remove the chicken from the pan and set aside. Do not clean out the pan!

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I had my heat higher and still needed longer than 3-5 minutes per side. I ran into this problem the first time I made this chicken. My chicken may not be pounded thin enough. When I first removed the chicken, it was still underdone. (I don’t care what the Internet says, there is no such thing as “medium rare” chicken.) There’s no shame in putting it back in the pan to finish cooking. Add extra butter if you need it.

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6) In the same pan, add the remaining 4 Tbsp butter. Once the butter is melted and foamy, add the garlic and stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the cream and bring to a simmer (meaning it should be bubbling).

7) Add the lemon juice and zest. Whisk to combine. Reduce the heat. Add the Parmesan cheese and whisk until smooth.

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Here’s another part where you can take the recipe as a suggestion. Add cheese a little at a time. Taste it! If you think it needs more cheese, add some more. If it tastes just right, then it’s ready to serve. It should be slightly thick, creamy, and have a light lemon flavor.

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8) Serve hot!

You can lay the chicken on top of your pasta, then drizzle the sauce. It’s up to you!

Cooking my lunches every week had gotten to the point where cooking seemed more like a chore. Going back to one of the first recipes I ever made, then cooking it all over again really shows the progress I’ve made. A good photographer doesn’t hurt either.

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What I Learned:

My mise en place was a mess. I was cooking in someone else’s kitchen with ingredients that someone else purchased for me. I didn’t have garlic salt and nearly forgot to put pepper on the chicken. I love garlic so I think it would have put this dinner over the top.

My boyfriend’s house is still something of a bachelor pad. He didn’t have a zester. I’m so used to having one that I didn’t think to ask until it was time to zest the lemon. We ended up using a vegetable peeler then essentially mincing the zest.

Cooking the chicken all the way through seems to be a recurring issue with this recipe. I would err on the side of caution and cook each side for 5 minutes at least, then cook more if needed.

I’m very proud that I was able to balance everything and cook a full meal. All of the food finished around the same time so I could serve it hot. This isn’t the first meal I’ve ever made for my boyfriend, but it is one of the most put together. Looking back I never thought I’d be able to make a real meal for my boyfriend. It may have taken a little longer than expected, but at the end of the day we got to sit and share a tasty meal.

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Give this recipe a try! What mistakes did you make? Did you change anything about the recipe? Comment and share the pictures of your food!

Gooey Grilled Cheese

Most American kids grew up on grilled cheese. It may not be a part of the most balanced diet, but it is easy (and cheap) to make. Though the concept is simple, it can very easily be customized and dressed up with different breads, cheeses, or even adding extra ingredients. For now we’ll be starting with a very basic plain grilled cheese. Once you’ve mastered the art of grilled cheese, try mixing it up!

Ingredients:

  • 2 slices of sandwich bread
  • 2-3 slices of cheese, room tempera
  • Butter or margarine, softened

You can use virtually any kind of bread. I’d recommend starting with large pieces of sandwich bread. You can also choose any kind of cheese. For this blog post, I chose Havarti, and my boyfriend chose smoked Cheddar. Most often, I use gouda.

Instructions:

1) Spread the butter or margarine onto your bread. I only did one side (because there’s less mess), but many people I’ve met prefer to butter both sides. You’ll want to thoroughly coat the bread.

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2) Heat up a skillet over medium to medium-high heat.

3) Place one piece of bread butter side down in the skillet. Place your cheese on top of the bread. Add the second piece of bread, butter-side up.

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Some people like to add extra butter to the pan, but I find that makes my grilled cheese soggy and greasy.

4) Let the one side cook for a bit (depending on how dark you like the bread). I usually wait until the cheese droops and I can smell the butter. Using a spatula, quickly slide it under the bread and flip the sandwich to the other side.

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Don’t worry! You can flip it over as many times as you need to get the right done-ness.

5) Make more and serve!

Optional: Get creative with your grilled cheese! Add a condiment like mayo or mustard on the inside of the sandwich. Use mulitple kinds of cheese. Add bacon! Or even try different kinds of bread. We bought some garlic bread and made smaller grilled cheese packed with buttery, garlic, cheesey flavor!

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Now I realize that grilled cheese is not a full meal. I’ll be making tomato soup from scratch soon, but for now open up your favorite can or carton of soup and heat it up on the stove. Or even go buy some from the local deli, grocery, or restaurant (like Panera).

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Got any favorite unique additions to your grilled cheese? Comment your suggestions below!