When Is A Turkey Sandwich Not Just a Turkey Sandwich? When It’s This One…

Turkey, Mango Chutney, Apple, Grilled Cheese Sandwich

We eat turkey sandwiches most days of the week for lunch, so if we’re having one for dinner, it has to be special, and this one is. It makes for a sandwich that we happily devour as dinner, instead of feeling like we’re missing out on a real meal by having a boring turkey sandwich.

And yet it still retains so many of the benefits of a sandwich dinner: quick to prepare, easy ingredients, simple cleanup. A winner in every way!

Ingredients
Rye bread (seedless)
Sliced turkey breast
Mango chutney
Granny Smith apple, sliced very thin
Muenster cheese slice
Butter

Directions
Preheat a nonstick skillet over low heat.

Spread thin layer of mango chutney on two slices of bread. Add single layer of apple on top of one slice, and cheese on the other slice. Drape turkey over the apple slices, and top with the other slice of bread, cheese side down.

Butter the outside of the top piece of bread, and place it, butter-side down into the hot skillet. Add the rest of the sandwich, and butter the outside of the new top piece of bread.

Cook over low heat until bread is golden brown, then carefully flip the sandwich and continue cooking until the other side is golden brown.

Variations, Modifications, and Other Comments
Don’t like Muenster? Pick another kind of cheese – you just want something not so assertive that it overwhelms the other flavors.

Have another method of fixing grilled cheese? Prepare it however you like. If you’ve got a panini press that would work very well. If you want to take a heavy skillet and use it to press the sandwich while cooking that would also make for a tasty sandwich.

The apples don’t have to be Granny Smith, but a tart apple really balances the flavors nicely.

Not a fan of rye bread? Use whatever is your favorite instead. But the rye really is yummy; Mr. SJ doesn’t like rye generally, and he loves this sandwich prepared with it.

And of course the entire sandwich could be revamped if you don’t like turkey, although you’ll want to consider the flavors you’ve got when you pick a different “sauce” in lieu of the mango chutney. This is just our favorite!

Spicy Macaroni and Cheese

In honor of me kicking off regular food blogging, here is a spicy macaroni and cheese dish I made recently. Because it definitely had a kick to it.

Spicy Macaroni and Cheese

I love pasta. I could probably eat it close to every day and still not get tired of it. I especially love macaroni and cheese, and am always on the hunt for new versions of it.

Spicy Macaroni and Cheese

Ingredients:
1 pound short pasta. (I used campanelle)
olive oil
butter
1 onion, diced
1 can chipotle corn, drained
1 can diced jalapeño, drained
1 1/4 cups whole milk
1 1/4 cups grated Pepper Jack cheese
cayenne pepper
salt
pepper

Directions:
Cook pasta according to package directions.

Add olive oil and butter to large skillet over medium-high heat. (I add enough to generously coat the bottom of the pan. For mine, that’s about 1 tablespoon of each). Add onion and cook until well softened. Add corn and jalapeño and cook for one minute.

Reduce heat to low. Add milk, then slowly add the cheese and stir until melted. Add cayenne pepper, salt and pepper to taste. (I added about 3/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper, but the amount you add is completely up to you and your level of heat tolerance. You don’t have to add any at all!)

Drain pasta, reserving some of the cooking water, and add to cheese sauce. Stir gently to combine everything. Check seasonings and adjust as needed. Add reserved pasta cooking water if needed to thin out the sauce.

Variations, Modifications, and Other Comments:

  • You could substitute green chiles for the jalapeño, or use them in addition.
  • If I’d had a fresh jalapeño, I would have used that instead of the canned, and added it after the onion had softened slightly.
  • If I’d had any sweet peppers of any color I would have sauteed one along with the onion as well.
  • Habañero cheese would be delicious, but I’d probably dial back on the other spicy options if I went with that.
  • You could substitute evaporated milk for the whole milk, and get a lower-fat & calorie dish. You could also use low-fat or skim milk, although the final dish wouldn’t taste the same.
  • I don’t like much garlic which is why I don’t include any, but the inspiration recipe calls for it and most people would probably like it.

The recipe was inspired by The Pioneer Woman’s Not-your-granny’s-mac-and-cheese.

One Bite at a Time: Project 26 {Cook Staples From Scratch}

Project 26, Cook Staples From Scratch, is another one of those projects that I’m already sort of doing. However, just last week I was thinking that I should try and make yogurt because with a boy that loves it, our family goes through a ton of it every week. Making it myself might save some money.

Honestly though, making yogurt isn’t something I’m ready to try just yet. I feel like my brain needs to be sharper before I tackle something that seems like it has the potential to make us very sick. If baby girl would ever sleep through the night, maybe I’d feel like I trusted myself to follow directions on how to make it. I did just see a post again from someone who always makes it, and she makes it sound so easy. I’m going to have to try it soon.

Granola though? Granola I make now, after getting fed up with the price for premade granola. Oatmeal is CHEAP, and granola is not. Plus, by making it myself I can pick and choose what I want in it. Coconut? Yes, please. Almonds? Of course. Raisins? Not a chance.

I make bread from time to time, but I still have never managed to make a sandwich loaf that satisfies my husband. Or me for that matter. I keep practicing. English muffins are another one I’d like to master, but so far I can’t quite get them to taste exactly like the brand I love.

This is a project where I think as long as I’m able, I’ll continue to increase the number of items I make myself. It’s a process, and I’m still working on it.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.

Thanksgiving Recap

For the first time ever I cooked the entire Thanksgiving dinner, and it really wasn’t too bad! I planned it all out in advance and scheduled what I would do when, both in the days leading up to Thanksgiving and the day of.

In hopes that it might be a help in the future, here’s a recap of what I did and how well it all worked, and what I’ll do differently next time (because I’m sure there will be a next time.)

Menu:
Cheddar cheese ball & crackers (from The Best of America’s Test Kitchen 2008)
Fresh veggies & dip
Relish tray with olives & pickles

Turkey breast (Butterball, preseasoned)
Mashed potatoes (recipe from my mom)
Dressing (Stove Top)
Glazed carrots (blended about three recipes together)
Green bean casserole
Rolls (from a now-defunct website)
Cranberry sauce (from a can)
Gravy (from the packet that came with the turkey + a packet of mushroom gravy.)

Pumpkin pie (from A Passion for Baking)
Apple pie
Peanut butter fudge pie (from The Baker’s Dozen Cookbook)

Biggest success was the turkey breast (juicy & flavorful), mashed potatoes (so good), and the peanut butter fudge pie (amazingly tasty & pictured above).

Biggest disappointments were the rolls (for homemade, they really weren’t any better than frozen), the carrots (too much cinnamon), and the green beans (they weren’t bad, I just still haven’t found my perfect recipe and will keep looking.)

Working ahead was very helpful to keep the day of from being too stressful. I made the dough for the rolls on Monday. Tuesday I made the cheese ball. Wednesday I made the pies and prepped all the veggies except for the potatoes. Thursday morning I drew up a schedule of events so I wouldn’t forget about things like shaping the rolls or reheating dressing.

Next time I’d like to try a different green bean casserole recipe, skip the carrots all together (we had more than enough veggies thanks to the appetizer of raw veggies & dip), try pumpkin rolls, and make my own dressing. I’ll probably try different pie recipes just because I love to do that, but all three pies were a success.

And if I get really ambitious, maybe try a roasted turkey roulade, because that looks amazing.

Did anyone else fix their first Thanksgiving dinner? Have success with any new recipes?

More Cake

Here’s the second cake I made for my class. I got some more help from my instructor on this one (I think she really liked the design I had and wanted to make sure it looked good because it was all I could do to not have her take over the whole thing). She did the dark outline of the mane and helped mound up the frosting to give a three-dimensional effect for the face. And she mixed the gray color. The rest is all me. I copied a onesie of my son’s, then did a transfer of the design using piping gel, then filled in the design with frosting.

There Will Be Cake!

cake with three flowers

After thinking about doing it for several years, I’ve signed up for a cake decorating class at a local store. So far I’ve had two classes and I’ve made one cake. I’ll be making two more cakes during this course, and then I hope to take the additional courses as well; I’ve been having fun and now after buying the equipment and supplies and stuff I want to make sure I use it.

What’s not so good so far is that I HATE “decorator’s icing”. As in the nasty stuff made with shortening and lots of powdered sugar. I’ve added clear vanilla and butter flavor but it still just tastes like nothing but sweet and it leaves that nasty film in your mouth. It’s somewhat discouraging to spend the time (and money on ingredients) making a cake and then not wanting to eat it. Fortunately the instructor will be teaching us a better tasting frosting recipe soon and we can use it and some other versions; we just had to start with the basic one that’s easier to use. Whew.

Tomorrow I’ve got class again. I need to bake another cake and make three more batches of frosting before class. I had hoped to do both today but the boy was a bit of a terror and R was unable to watch him at all to let me focus on what I’d need to do. Well, he could have after G went to bed but that was 9:30 and by then I was too tired to do anything. Yes, our baby does stay up until 8:30 or 9:00 usually. Yes, tonight was later than normal, but not really that much later considering his nap times today.

Overall I’m pleased with my first cake since I started not having any idea how to use the icing bag even. I know it could be better, but hey, it IS my first one.

I Absolutely Positively Disagree

Simple Bites has a post up today about the ten spices you absolutely, positively must have on your spice rack. I realize that they’re being a bit dramatic for effect but still. Absolutely positively??

I have 8 of their 10, and I can barely count a 7th because I don’t remember using it in YEARS. A 6th I use maybe once a year.

My top ten?

  1. Kosher salt. Yes, I definitely agree with them there. Although I still use table salt sometimes, and sea salt other times, I use kosher salt all the time.
  2. Black pepper. I have a pepper grinder I LOVE so getting freshly ground pepper is very easy, and so tasty.
  3. Oregano. We love Italian flavors and I find I use this frequently.
  4. Hot sauce! I’m not even sure how many types we have, but our go-to ones are pretty basic: Tabasco & Franks
  5. Greek seasoning blend – love this on fried potatoes on weekend mornings.
  6. Dill. I absolutely adore the flavor of dill and go overboard using it in potato, egg & tuna salads. Yummm!
  7. Chili powder & cayenne pepper. I know, kind of cheating to group them as one, but I almost always use them together. Not 100% of the time, but probably 95%.
  8. Bay leaves. Not so much during the Spring & Summer, but during soup season I use these regularly. I got some huge ones from Penzey’s which have so much more aroma than the ones I’d always gotten from the grocery store.
  9. Nutmeg! I actually like the taste of nutmeg much more than cinnamon, so I usually reverse the amounts listed in most recipes. I keep whole nutmeg in the freezer and grate it whenever I need it.
  10. Cinnamon. My husband especially loves cinnamon, so I end up using it often for him. Although, I think I use it exclusively for sweet dishes, never savory.

And what is it that I don’t have in my pantry that was recommended?

  • Curry powder – I DETEST curry; something in almost all curry blends literally makes me shudder and gag. It’s so bad I don’t even want to make an effort to figure out what it is (maybe the tumeric?) in order to avoid it if possible. I just steer clear. R hates it as much as me, so there is no push from him for me to ever use it so we just don’t.
  • Cumin – before getting married I could have almost lumped cumin in with the chili powder & cayenne pepper above; I used it regularly. Then I learned that my husband thinks cumin makes food smell like dirty feet. Specifically, his youngest brother’s nasty feet. Yeah, I haven’t used it since. Who wants to bring up that horrific smell memory for someone they love?
  • While I do own arrowroot, I haven’t used it in forever. In fact, I’d need to check to see if it can go bad before I’d want to use what I’ve got in the cabinet. I don’t really cook stirfrys to use it for thickening so it just sits unused on the shelf. I think I got the bottle from my mom, who helped stock my kitchen when I first moved up here.
  • And it’s ground ginger that I use so infrequently, and never in savory dishes. Gingerbreads or similar items are about it.