Croque Monsier sandwich

There are many different recipes for making “Croque Monsieur” sandwiches (literally “Mister Crunchy”, ranging from a simple toasted ham and cheese sandwich (such as this one), to sandwiches requiring a special shell-shaped press, to sandwiches topped with Mornay sauce and broiled. Croque Monsieur sandwiches are a favorite mid-mountain treat for us on our annual family ski trip, so I thought it would be fun to make them at home, too.
This version is very simple (you don’t even need a recipe, really), kid-friendly and VERY delicious. I used wheat bread, instead of white, because that’s just what we always keep around.

BBQ Meatballs

BBQ Meatballs from The Pioneer Woman’s wonderful website
Click here for the recipe.
These were tender and delicious. They definitely aren’t, as PW mentions, “spaghetti and meatballs”-type meatballs, but are more the sort of thing that you would expect to find on a toothpick at a cocktail party. They are great as an entree, too, though, with some pesto fusilli and a big green salad. They would be great in a meatball sub, too.

Butterscotch Pudding

Butterscotch Pudding from Cooking Light magazine
Click here for recipe
This recipe was phenomenal. I made it exactly according to the recipe directions and didn’t have any problems, although some of the on-line reviewers mention that they had difficulty getting a thick enough consistency. I think as long as you get it going at a pretty good boil for 1 minute, it would be hard for it to be too thin. It was really popping and bubbling; there were actually little droplets flying out of the pan, so be careful!
When I make this again (because I definitely will), I will cut back the sugar a tiny bit. It was pretty sweet. I also think this could be divided into 8 servings, instead of 6, because it’s pretty rich, as well (but not overly so.)
VERY good and a big hit with my sis-in-law, who is a new mom and needs all the calcium she can get (this pudding has almost 200 mg per serving!)

Chicken Pad Thai

Chicken Pad Thai from Food & Wine magazine
Click here for recipe.
So sorry for the washed-out photo. Again.
I made this for dinner tonight (with some edamame) and it was a HUGE hit with Hubby (he didn’t even add any sriracha; he said it was perfect “as is”.) and me. Boy liked it, but it was a tiny bit too spicy for him (he was also returning from a school trip, pretty much too exhausted to eat, so his meter was a little “off.”) Girl isn’t home from her trip yet, so she didn’t eat this with us. It would definitely have been too spicy for her. The spiciness could very easily be dialed down, though, to accommodate the eaters in your crowd.
I also made this for my little brother and his wife, who welcomed a lovely new baby boy into the world almost two weeks ago (my adorable and brilliant nephew, Jack Henry).
Seriously. Check out the cuteness; it’s downright blinding!
My sis-in-law called to thank me and said she loved this, too, so this will definitely be a “repeat” item.
Oh, and the sprouts? Fear not the salmonella outbreak, worrywarts. I sprouted them myself. I love this thing and am going to try shiso sprouts next.

Tiramisu Affogato

This recipe (from August 2008 Bon Appetit magazine) is amazingly easy and was absolutely delicious. This would be the perfect thing for a dinner party if you’re serving Italian food and want a dessert that is tasty, universally appealing and impressive, but very easy to execute. Seriously, I had this on the table in less than 5 minutes (I used Ghirardelli Sweet Ground Chocolate, which we keep on hand to decorate fancy coffee foam, instead of grinding my own, so that saved a little time). While I sent Girl out to the garage (where the extra freezer is) to retrieve the ice cream, I whipped the cream. While I scooped the ice cream, she crumbled the ladyfingers and Hubby made the espresso. Boy? Well, he mostly said, “Is it ready yet?” Luckily, it was ready so quickly, he didn’t have to wait long…
This would still be a lightning-fast dessert to execute, even if you didn’t have any help…

Chicken Scallopine

Pioneer Woman’s Chicken Scallopine
This recipe is from Pioneer Woman’s wonderful website. I haven’t tried a lot of her recipes before, but the ones that I have tried have been winners. This one was no exception. I sauteed the mushrooms before the chicken, because I like them when they get all golden-browned and they also add great flavor to the fat that the chicken will eventually get cooked in. I used whole-wheat spaghetti instead of linguine, because I already had some in the pantry and I served it with some sauteed spinach on the side.
We had a lot of pasta and spinach left over, and a bit of the sauce, so I took what was left of the sauce and added a bit more broth, lemon juice and cream and some more parmesan and simmered it down until it had thickened, then dumped in the the leftover spinach and poured it over the leftover pasta for what I hope will be a good lunch tomorrow. Mmm…

Barefoot Contessa’s Mexican Chicken Soup and Jalapeno Cheddar Cornbread

Ina Garten’s Mexican Chicken Soup and Jalapeno Cheddar Cornbread (click for recipes)
Both of these recipes were fabulous. I think that Ina’s recipe will replace mine for future use. The tortilla slices really give the soup a nice, thick texture. I added a can of black beans (drained and rinsed) for a little extra interest (and nutrition.) The cornbread was great, too, but I exchanged one of the cups of flour for another cup of cornmeal, because the idea of cornbread with more flour than cornmeal just didn’t seem right to me. Very crumbly, but very tasty.
By the way, I used Penzey’s jalapenos in both the soup and the cornbread and it was perfect – just enough of a spicy kick without being too much (particularly for Girl, who is pretty sensitive to heat.)

Chocolate Malted Creme Brulee

Chocolate Malted Creme Brulee
Dear Chocolate Malted Creme Brulee:
It’s true that our relationship didn’t start off on the right foot. When your recipe first turned my head and I attempted to prepare you, I didn’t read clearly enough and realized that I had misjudged you. You cannot be rushed. On that day, our paths were not meant to cross. You are not a last-minute kind of dish…Oh, no, not you… to gain access to your company, a suitor must begin early in the day and allow for plenty of time to allow you to simmer and then cool again, gently stirring, then warm you up again in a sultry oven bath…and then chill again, before the eventual climax of sugar and open flame.
After that first initial attempt, it would have been easy to turn away forever, dismissing you as “fussy” or “time-consuming” or even “high maintenance,” but to do that would be to forever miss out on your creamy goodness, your decadent richness, your vanilla bean-speckled loveliness. How shall I describe what one would forever lose if one is unwilling to put forth the effort that is necessary? A warm version of a rich chocolate malt, with a crisp and crackly-sweet crust that melts in your mouth? Something sweet and wholesome enough to put a smile on the face of not one, but two, innocent children, but sultry and decadent enough to satiate two jaded adults as well?
Yes, it’s true…you’re not “easy”, but if one is willing to read carefully and plan ahead, then you will make it all worthwhile.
Chocolate Malted Creme Brulee, I love you.
Until we meet again,
Yours very sincerely,
This recipe is originally from the “RSVP” column in Bon Appetit magazine, from a now-closed Martha’s Vineyard restaurant called Bittersweet, and not available “officially” online anywhere, but some lovely soul has done us the favor of typing it in here. I halved the recipe (yes, I halved an egg yolk) to make 4 portions, but this is so rich that the portions could easily be sized down and baked in smaller ramekins to serve more.

Baby Shower

My “little” (9 years younger, but almost a foot taller than me) brother and his wife are expecting their first child in a few weeks. Some friends recently hostessed a shower for them at our house. Here are some of the photos that I took, but I didn’t take many and took most of them before the party even started.

Brother has better photos (and even some video) on his own blog here.
This was the Shower Menu:
Iced Tea, Wine, and Pineapple Lemonade
Crudites with Dip
Mini Slider burgers
(1 Tbsp of Baby Bam and a generous sprinkle of low-sodium Montreal Steak seasoning per pound of ground beef, formed into patties with this device, served on dinner rolls)
Mini Mac and Cheese Bites
Hershey Kiss Cupcakes