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by on October 27th, 2014

The Ultimate Patty Melt

A Diner special…..




I feel like I have led a very sheltered life when it comes to sandwiches; bologna – yes, ham and cheese – yes, some great pulled pork – yes, reuben – yes, pimento cheese, tuna and the usual sandwich spreads; but I have never had a patty melt. So, it’s just a hamburger you say, well this so called burger wanna be was great. Every bite crunchy from the toasted rye bread and the cheese gooey because it was browned very slowly.

The Patty Melt is a sandwich that is probably on every diner’s menu and I read it originated in the 40′s-50′s from California restaurateur Tiny Naylor. He had, I think, one of the first drive-in diners. The sandwich isn’t a grilled cheese, it isn’t a burger or a reuben; it’s a mixture of all of those. American, cheddar or Swiss can be used or in this case, I’m using white cheddar and Swiss so I get a little more goo. You want an oval shaped patty also so it will fill all corners of your rye bread.

From everything I have read on the subject of Patty Melts a good light colored rye bread is a must and you want to have a big heaping pile of caramelized onions ready to top the patty. Some other tips I read about are make sure your patty is thin and “oval” in shape (mine wasn’t because I had this big pile of meat and wanted to use it), use mayonnaise instead of butter to spread on the “outside” of the bread before toasting because it has a higher smoke point (I’m using both), and the sandwich bread is grilled (not toasted).

I’m breaking with tradition and adding two strips of bacon. What more can I say about a hamburger crossing over to become this delicious sandwich. Serve this with some french fries (I did a salad) and sit back and enjoy this fantastic sandwich.

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by on October 22nd, 2014

Blueberry Almond Coffee Cake

Have a cup of tea to go with this Blueberry Coffee Cake




I was looking on Pinterest one day for something to do with all these blueberries I still have in my freezer and came across this recipe from Cozy Country Living. I did add some lemon and lemon zest to the recipe just because I feel like lemon goes really well with blueberry recipes.

The picture of the coffee cake also looked delicious since it was baked in round pans instead of an oblong pan like most coffee cakes are baked in.

A hoarder of frozen berries I am. I have to admit I either pick a ton of the things or when they are on sale for $1/carton I buy like $40 worth and then vacuum seal them thinking I will use them for smoothies etc during the year and then all of a sudden it’s time for new berries to be picked and I still have some left from last season.

The only think I don’t like about using frozen blueberries in baked goods is that I end up with purple dough. Even though purple IS my favorite color I would rather my cakes/breads etc. be speckled with the fruit rather than take on the color and tint my dough. Whatever happens when it gets mixed and baked, it’s still delicious in the end.

King Arthur Flour offers a secret to baking with frozen berries. They say to rinse your frozen berries with cool water until the water runs clear and then pat dry with paper towels. They showed several examples on their website with the berries being used both ways and you can really tell the difference — I should never have purplish/green blueberry baked goods again.

I took these cakes to my craft circle on Tuesday to be shared with whoever can get to them first.  Like I’ve said before, I love people trying the things I bake and if they like them, then I can persuade them to look at the blog.

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by on October 17th, 2014

Israeli Couscous with Tarragon

With or without the seafood you should try this.




Tarragon is one of those herbs that I never use. Besides putting it in chicken salad for sandwiches (which I’m not crazy about) I don’t really know what to do with it. We did add it to our herb garden this year but I have to admit I just watered it and looked how pretty it was growing but never got out and snipped a little for a dish. (*NOTE– big confession below.)

One night in Vancouver CA (hub) had that wonderful Green Pea Risotto with pan seared Halibut; I had scallops and tiger prawns with a chili citrus butter sauce and it was perched on top of Israeli couscous. Normally I feel like I can pick out all flavors in a dish. Every bite I took of this dish got better and better, and I could never identify the flavor that I was loving in this pile of tiny pearl shaped pasta. The pancetta was easy (it was listed on the menu) but I could not come up with that mystery ingredient. Finally I flagged down the waiter and he said he would ask the chef. Surenuf, it was tarragon. Both our plates had roasted golden beets, baby carrots (with green tops) standing up on the plate and mine had broccolini, which all really went well with the couscous.

When I was buying the ingredients for this, I bought a container of tarragon, totally forgetting we had planted it this year. Well, maybe after the tarragon I bought withers and gets thrown away I can find a new use for what I have growing outside.

Blue Crab Restaurant in Victoria was where we had both of these wonderful meals and what made it even better is that we were perched right on the water where we could watch all the ships and cute little water taxis come and go. So, another toast to our 45th anniversary.

Some info on couscous.  It was voted as the third-favorite dish of French people in 2011. It is known as a North African dish and is made from two different sizes of husked and crushed semolina and is normally cooked by steaming but can also be cooked in a liquid.  You know when it is done when it is tender, not al dente and not mushy.  The grains should be separate and taste moist, not wet or dry. So, now that you have that information, venture out and try this recipe.

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by on October 12th, 2014

Spinach Bacon Egg Muffins

Skip the drive through today.





If I never hear the words “Egg McMuffin” it won’t be soon enough.  All the years of driving and trying to find something for breakfast I have finally had enough of the golden arches egg dishes. The last trip we did to Asheville we stopped once for a chicken biscuit; and after a few bites I’m liking the chicken, of course, but not the biscuit. The finally on the trek home I decided to try the cinnamon roll. Of course, that is a lot higher in calories and sugar but at least it wasn’t another Egg McMuffin, or biscuit of some type.

I’ve made a version of this Spinach Bacon Egg Muffin before but never got around to posting it. So, when I came across this recipe, it was so pretty I just had to make it. And mine pretty much looked like Eat Drink Love’s version except I made my muffins in mini muffin pans.

This recipe is very versatile and you can make whatever adjustments you want.  I changed her bacon to real bacon because I do not like anything that is suppose to taste like something else.  Same with the cheese; I used normal cheddar cheese not reduced fat. For a change, try crumbled sausage and swiss and maybe some mushrooms. Some other ingredients I have in mind to try the next time will be sautéed bell peppers, green onions, asparagus with Swiss would be great. Bottom line, put whatever you want in with the eggs and give them a bake. You will enjoy them whatever you decide to put in yours.

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by on October 7th, 2014

Chicken Cacciatore

You don’t have to save this for a cold winter’s night.



This was one of the first classic Italian dishes I use to cook as a newlywed and that’s been over 45 years ago. The recipe I originally used came from my Betty Crocker Cook Book For Two and I use to serve it over some type of pasta.  The other night when I made this for friends I did a whipped cauliflower dish that had some cream cheese, butter, parsnips and Parmesan cheese all mixed up to a delicious goodness.

Normally, I think of chicken cacciatore as a comforting winter dish but it IS Fall so why not cook something that fits the season. Here in Texas I can’t wait for a breathtaking cold day to make a dish like this because it may never come. When I think of comfort food I think of dishes like this that are slow braised and cooks leisurely in my purple Le Crueset Dutch oven. I decided to do some of the initial cooking on the stove top but wanted to finish it off slowly in the oven so the house fills with Italian aromas so good you think some Italian grandmother was standing right beside you making the dish telling you to add a pinch of this or that; and the biggest reason for finishing in the oven was I wanted to get my stovetop cleaned back up before company arrived.

The mushrooms in this dish are a new addition and I chose to use bone-in chicken thighs where I use to buy a whole cut-up chicken. I used half boneless thighs because of a friend who hates bones in anything even though I keep trying to convince him that anything cooked on a bone will have more flavor. So his thighs benefited from the bone-in thighs that cooked right along with all those boneless pieces of meat.

The rest of my meal consisted of my mashed cauliflower dish, Stephanie’s Magic Beans, and my Baby Blue Salad I posted a few days ago.

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