Posts tagged sandwiches

Portobello Philly cheesesteak sandwich

After having a lackluster Philly cheesesteak during a recent layover in Philadelphia, I’ve been craving a lighter version of this famous sandwich. For a change this week, I used beefy portobello mushrooms instead of steak.

Mr. Squid also added some lightly sauteed strips of deli ham into the mix. The key for a really good Philly–besides ditching the Cheez Whiz–is to prepare each fixin’ individually. So saute the onions and peppers, remove from pan; saute the portobellos and then mix everything back together.

Recipe

Prep time: 30 minutes

Servings: 4-5

Ingredients:

4 portobello mushrooms, cut into thin strips

2 sweet peppers, cut into thin strips

1/2 white onion, cut into thin strips

4-6 ounces Fontina or Muenster Cheese in slices

4-5 hoagie buns

5 deli sliced ham slices, cut into thin strips (optional)

Seasonings

1 tablespoon oil, divided

2 tablespoons chicken broth

Directions:

  1. Bring 1/2 tablespoon oil (I like grape seed) to medium-high heat in a heavy-bottomed saute pan. Cook the onions and peppers until just softened; remove from pan.
  2. Saute the portobello mushrooms in the remaining 1/2 tablespoon oil until just softened.
  3. Add the pepper and onion mix (and ham, if using), back into the pan. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  4. Place the cheese slices on top of the mixture. Add in the chicken broth and cover the pan so that the cheese is melted.
  5. Add the mixture into the cut hoagie buns.
  6. Sprinkle with hot sauce, if desired.

Kids’ reactions: My teen LOVED this meal. My middle child who is usually a big mushroom eater wasn’t quite sure what to make of this sandwich, but she ate about half of it without saying too much. My youngest said she didn’t like the peppers; I’m working on that…

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Cajun fried shrimp po’ boy sandwiches

Pickle juice. Who knew that was the secret ingredient to make a really great shrimp po’ boy sandwich?

To me a shrimp po’ boy needs three things:

Plenty of crispy shrimp
A crusty roll that’s soft on the inside
A rockin’ sweet and spicy mayo-based sauce

Looking through shrimp po’ boy recipes I decided to ditch the regular shrimp coating with cornmeal and go for panko instead (Japanese-style bread crumbs). That took care of #1.

As far as the bread, I went with a ciabatta roll so the bread would have enough heft to hold up to piles of crispified shrimp.

And the sauce. Thank you Annie’s Eats for the idea of mixing both Cajun spices and a hit of pickle juice in with the mayo. (I skipped the horseradish though.)

Is your mouth watering yet? It’s seafood time.

Recipe

Servings: 4 large sandwiches

Prep time: 20 minutes + frying


Ingredients

4 cups raw shrimp, thawed, tails removed

1 1/2 cups flour

3 eggs

3 cups panko

Tabasco (optional)

Vegetable oil

4 ciabatta rolls

Thin tomato slices

Shredded lettuce

Sauce ingredients

1/3 cup mayonnaise

1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard

1/2-1 Tbsp. pickle juice

1/4 tsp. paprika

1/4 tsp. garlic powder

1 tsp. Cajun spices

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Begin heating about 1 1/2″ vegetable oil in a wok to medium high heat.
  2. Meanwhile, pat the raw shrimp with a paper towel to make sure they’re dry.
  3. Create a dipping station with the flour in a shallow bowl, the eggs (whisked with a drop or two of Tabasco sauce) in another shallow bowl, and the panko in a third, shallow bowl.
  4. With the shrimp, dip them first into the flour, then the egg followed by the panko and place on a wire rack until you’re finished coating all of them.
  5. Add the shrimp in 3 batches to the hot oil. Fry for about 4 minutes, or until golden brown.
  6. Prepare the sauce by mixing all of the ingredients together and adjust the seasonings by adding more Tabasco or pickle juice.
  7. Slice the rolls 3/4 of the way through, slather with sauce on both sides then place several pieces of shrimp inside along with tomato slices and shredded lettuce.

Kids’ reactions: My teen declared the sandwich “so good” but was stuffed after about a half. My tween wanted hers sans sauce and finished the whole thing (she’s my shrimp girl). My youngest took one bite of the shrimp and reminded me, “I just don’t like shrimp, Mom,” and returned to her ham and cheese sandwich. Ah well, I’ll keep trying with her.

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The BEST turkey bacon club

Sometimes it’s true, sandwiches are a thrown together meal. They’re something you make if you run out of time to make something good. But they don’t have to be. And it’s not much more work to make a restaurant-worthy dish. I’ve found that what separates your average, blah sandwich from a kid-wowing version is a matter of construction (and if you have those party toothpicks to put in them, that helps too).

Sandwich construction? I know–you probably haven’t spent much time thinking about this. My hubby, who happens to be the official “constructor” around our house, sets up a sandwich-making station. Sandwiches are serious business for him. He believes you have to put on the mayo just so and put the ingredients on in the right order for the sandwich to stay together. At first I teased him about this. But then, I had one of his sandwiches and I had to admit—he had a point. His sandwich, packed turkey and bacon, didn’t fall apart on the plate.

Now my kids look forward to sandwich night. Sometimes we mix turkey and bacon for a club. Other times we pair ham and sharp cheddar cheese. Of course you can come up with whatever meat, cheese and veggie combo that your family likes, but instead of throwing it together, put a little time into crafting a towering sandwich that your kids will love, and ask for again. Bonus for you–easy clean up!

Recipe

Prep time: 15 minutes

Servings: 4-6

Ingredients

1 loaf of sandwich bread (white or wheat or some of both)

1 pound deli-sliced turkey breast

1 pound bacon

Hot sauce (optional)

Mayo

Tomato

Lettuce

Directions

  1. Cook the bacon according to the package directions (alternatively, you can use deli ham or precooked bacon).
  2. Toast three slices of bread for each person.
  3. Cut the tomatoes into slices.
  4. Shred the lettuce into long strips.
  5. Put out a plate to construct each sandwich.
  6. Slather two pieces of bread with mayo (if you want, add a few drops of hot sauce). On the first piece place one slice of turkey.
  7. Put the second piece of bread with mayo on top of the meat. Add lettuce, then tomato, then a strip or two of bacon and another piece of turkey on this layer.
  8. Top with the third piece of bread (the one without mayo).
  9. Push the top piece of bread down with your hand and then cut the sandwich in two parts.
  10. If you have decorative toothpicks, insert now!
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Grown-up grilled cheese

Portabella-gruyere grilled cheese sandwich. Yes it can–and should–be done. Or what about green chili-cheddar grilled cheese? See the humble grilled cheese sandwich gets a bum wrap. Yes you can slather margarine on two sides of bread and pop a piece of tasteless American cheese in the middle and call it done. But you don’t have to.

With a few tricks, I like to make what we call grown-up grilled cheese at our house. Okay, I should confess, it’s also an excuse to feel like I’ve made my kids a decent meal instead of just “settled” on grilled cheese. Plus, they really do taste good.

Let’s talk cheese

Don’t get me wrong, I actually like American cheese. But I pick up the deli slice variety instead of the kind that you peel off plastic. American cheese gives your sandwich the meltiness it needs to be, well, a grilled cheese. Sure, other cheeses may melt okay, but nothing beats the meltability of American. So I pair it with other varieties to get the flavor–and the texture–right. Some of my favorite combos:

American + Fontina (a mild, creamy Italian cheese)

American + Gruyere (a hard cheese that’s almost a cross between Swiss and Parmesan)

American + Extra Sharp Cheddar

Bread basics

You just can’t skimp on the bread if you want a decent grilled cheese. Airy bread absorbs the butter on the outside instead of keeping it crisp. End result: soggy sandwich. I usually choose an Italian deli bread, hearty whole wheat, rye, or even make some on my own.

Deconstructing grilled cheese construction

And now for putting the sandwich together: You want a crisp outside bread layered with hot cheese on the inside right? You might even want to throw in some slices of ham, turkey, tomato, mushroom, or a combination. The key is that you want everything warm or else you’ll end up with an unevenly heated sandwich (almost as bad as soggy!). So, for example, say you want to put ham in the sandwich. Heat the ham on the griddle before you put it on the melting cheese. Ditto for a slice of tomato, or mushrooms. The one exception I can think of would be green chiles.

Now to put it altogether you’d normally put one slice down, lay a few slices of cheese and then put another slice of bread on top right? Try this instead–cook the bread slices side by side and then bring them together once the cheese has started to melt. Again, the goal here is a crispy, evenly cooked sandwich.

Brushing butter

You don’t need a lot of butter on the bread to make it crisp. I melt a little butter in the microwave and then brush it on the bread. This spreads the butter more evenly, and thinly, than a butter knife.

Mushroom-gruyere grilled cheese

Servings: 2 (you can easily double or triple this recipe)

Ingredients

4 bella mushrooms

3 slices American cheese

Several small slices of Gruyere (about 4 ounces)

4 slices deli ham

4 slices hearty Italian bread

To give you an idea how I put this sandwich together (well, actually I was the photographer and my hubby did cooking duty), I’ll break it down.

  1. Cut up 3-4 baby bella mushrooms.
  2. Melt one tablespoon butter in a large, non-stick skillet. With a kitchen brush, use some of the butter to brush the outside of each sandwich bread slice. Set aside.
  3. Put the mushrooms into the butter and cook until soft.
  4. Remove the mushrooms from the pan and add the ham slices. Cook for about 2 to 3 minutes, then remove.
  5. Add your bread slices to the pan with the buttered side facing out. Lay one and a half slices of American cheese on one side and slices of Gruyere on the other.
  6. Place the hot mushrooms on the Gruyere side and the ham on the American cheese side (the hot ingredients help melt the cheeses).
  7. Cook the bread until it becomes just crisped on the outside. Press the ham/American cheese bread side onto the Gruyere-mushroom side and continue cooking for about 1 minute.
  8. Remove from the pan and serve. Note that the outside of the bread will have more flavor because it cooks in a pan that also had ham and mushrooms. Mmmmm.

Grown-up grilled cheese is perfect to serve on a family night movie night. There’s plenty of other fun ideas about how to pull off a movie night at Movie Night on a dime at Better Homes & Gardens. I like the idea of recreating a drive-in at home. I’ve been looking through the site as part of the Motherboard team.

Your turn, do you like grilled cheese? Do you ever add something fun? And do you have movie nights with your crew? What do you serve?

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Ready for a Picnic Crispy Chicken Sandwiches with Spiked Mayo

Crispy chicken sandwich

My husband has a thing about picnics.

He’s not one to pick up fast food fried chicken or settle for hastily made sandwiches. Picnics are something to look forward to, not an excuse to throw leftovers into a basket and call it a meal. I let him know that as long as he’s willing to fix something special—and clean up the mess—I’m more than happy to eat what he creates.

Shrimp po’ boy sandwiches, Rueben sandwich egg rolls, and a list of other eclectic, tasty picnic meals have followed. But my favorite is the crispy chicken sandwich that he spikes with flavored mayos.

Making these sandwiches takes some effort. The chicken is coated in breadcrumbs and then fried. We use panko crumbs, it’s a Japanese variety that fries well and keeps its crispness better than a regular brand (you can find it in the Asian cooking section at the grocery store). And instead of picking out store-bought rolls, I make sandwich buns at home—of course, you can always buy some to cut down the time it takes to make the meal, but the rolls are easy to make. And the sandwiches make for a tasty, memorable picnic meal.

Recipe for Crispy Chicken Breasts
Prep time: 40 minutes chicken, 3 hours, buns (largely unattended)
Servings: 6

Ingredients
3 large, skinless, boneless chicken breasts
2 eggs
About 1 cup flour
About 2 cups panko crumbs
Salt, pepper
Garlic powder, onion powder
Oil for frying

Directions
Halve the chicken breasts lengthwise (I choose to halve the chicken breasts instead of pounding them out to make them thinner). The chicken breasts will be easier to cut if they’re slightly frozen.

Sprinkle the chicken breasts with a little salt, pepper, garlic powder and onion powder. Prepare three shallow dishes: In the first place the flour. In the second whisk the eggs and pour them in; you can also add either a little soy sauce, Tabasco, or Worchestershire sauce into the eggs for an extra hint of flavor (about a ½ teaspoon). In the third bowl, place the panko (or bread) crumbs.

Dip the chicken breasts into the flour, then eggs, then panko crumbs, pressing the crumbs onto the chicken to ensure a thorough coating. Place the coated chicken breasts on a wire drying rack while you finish the other chicken breasts. You may need to add more of the dipping ingredients.

Place about ½ inch oil in heavy, skillet with high sides. Heat the oil to medium high (we use a tapletop, electric skillet for frying). Add the chicken breasts two a time and fry until the crumbs take on a golden color. Check the chicken with an instant read thermometer after frying—the temperature should read 165 degrees.

Allow the chicken breasts to cool on a wire rack.

Homemade Sandwich Buns
This recipe is a variation of the homemade bread recipe. Here are the tweaks to create buns from this bread recipe:

  • Use 1 cup milk to replace some of the water—so you’ll be adding 1 ½ cups water and 1 cup milk. The milk will make the buns softer.
  • Add 1 more tablespoon sugar, so a total of 3 Tablespoons sugar.
  • After the dough has risen, form the dough into 8 rolls (or 10 if you prefer smaller sandwiches). To form the dough balls, separate the dough in two, and then separate each half into 4 equal parts. Knead each part for a few minutes and then press down the sides to form a ball (instead of rolling the dough into a ball). Place the dough balls onto a lightly greased baking pan. Make sure the dough balls are far enough apart so that when they double in size they won’t touch.
  • Optional: Before cooking, brush the buns with an egg white wash and add sesame seeds or poppy seeds.
  • Allow the buns to cool for at least 30 minutes or an hour before slicing.

Spiked Mayo
¾ cup mayo (I prefer lime mayo found in Mexican grocers)

Making flavored mayo is easy—there are endless possibilities for creating a unique addition to your sandwich.

  • Spicy mayo—add 2 teaspoons chili powder, ¼ teaspoon cumin and 5 to 10 drops of Tabasco sauce to the mayo. Stir, adjust seasonings and add salt and pepper to taste.
  • Herbed mayo—add 2 teaspoons dried or 1 tablespoon fresh basil, ¼ teaspoon oregano, ¼ teaspoon garlic powder, and ½ teaspoon red wine vinegar to the mayo. Stir, adjust seasonings and add salt and pepper to taste.
  • Honey-mustard mayo—add 2 teaspoons regular, Dijon or a mix of the two types of mustard to the mayo. Whisk in ½ Tablespoon honey. Stir, adjust seasonings and add salt and pepper to taste.
  • Come up with your own combs using herbs, spices and more!

Assembling the sandwich

  1. Cut the bun in half lengthwise.
  2. Add a generous slathering of spiked mayo to the top half of the bun. Place shredded lettuce, then tomato on this half. (Thin slices of red onion are also good!)
  3. On the bottom half add a thin coating of spiked mayo, then the chicken breast.
  4. Put the two halves together. Enjoy!
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Inspired by Bluesberry: Blueberry Barbecue Sauce

Blueberries

Photo credit --b--

I used to think blueberries were relatively small and tasteless–that was until I moved to the Midwest. Here, the blueberries are packed with a juicy, sweet tangy punch. And there’s not one or two large berries in a container, it’s the tiny ones that are in the minority. So when I saw flyers up announcing a local ‘Bluesberry Fest’ dedicated to–yup, blueberries with a little live Jazz mixed in–at a local grocers I knew I had to drop by.

Mustard Seed Market and Cafe has two stores located in the greater Cleveland area. The stores try to provide customers with the freshest local ingredients along with a number of organic products–think Trader Joe’s meets Whole Foods with a farmer’s market thrown in. For the Bluesberry Fest each department had to offer samples of recipes using the berry.

My kids are always up for trying new-to-them recipes and with a familiar ingredient like blueberries, I figured we’d be roaming the store for hours. The first few samples were fairly expected (not that they weren’t tasty!)–spinach salad with feta, blueberries and a light vinaigrette; and a fruit salad tossed with fresh mint. Then, there was blueberry salsa. I figured the blueberries would taste out of place alongside tomatoes, red onions, cilantro, lime and jalapenos. Instead the berries offered a kick of sourness to the salsa that gave the standard pico de gallo new life. Served with blue corn tortilla chips, I could also see this salsa used as a garnish with grilled pork chops or chicken (or eaten straight, with a spoon).

There were plenty of other blueberry samples, from coleslaw to lemonade and of course, muffins, but the afternoon of tastings left me wanting to refashion recipes using blueberries either as the star or the secret ingredient. Last night Mr. Squid and I cooked up a batch of blueberry barbecue sauce. As with the salsa, the sweet and sour blueberries gave the barbecue sauce a depth of flavor that perked up our pork sandwiches. I’d love to pass along the recipe–and it’s no secret–but it was a ‘little-or-this-and-that’ kind of experiment.

Here’s what went into our sauce:

In a medium-sized sauce pan we melted two tablespoons of butter and then added a cup and a half of blueberries along with half of a yellow pepper, diced. We let that cook on medium-high heat until the sauce became nearly syrupy. Then came the doctoring: we added barbecue sauce from a bottle (maybe a cup) along with a little deli mustard, yellow mustard, apple cider vinegar, Tabasco, hickory spice, Worcestershire sauce and a dash of salt. We probably would have added a little bit of soy sauce too if we hadn’t run out earlier in the week.

The blueberry barbecue sauce brought a tangy flavor and deep purple color to our pork sandwiches (we topped them with some crumbled queso fresco cheese). I knew our sauce had to be good when my youngest daughter got up and roamed the kitchen looking for seconds (there weren’t any). While I wouldn’t top a burger with the sauce, it would make for some memorable wing sauce or topping for pork loin. Have you been experimenting with summer berries lately?

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