Category Archives: American

A Real Grilled Cheese Sandwich

g4

Made with Colby and Cheddar cheese, these sandwiches are meatless, yet hearty! For more flavor, I added grilled onions and garlic. Another flavor trick is using mayo instead of butter or oil to spread on the bread before toasting it. Served with blanched broccoli, this sandwich was a simple and satisfying meal. A fun luncheon idea would be to let guests choose from their choices of cheeses and vegetables… so many varieties!

 

DSCF9516
Slices from Chef Jimi’s freshly baked French bread. You could use sourdough or any other loaf.

 

DSCF9509

 

 

DSCF9512

One of the best ways to make any grilled sandwiches would be to use a Panini press. Don’t have one? Don’t fear! Use a heavy pot or pan to press the sandwich on a stove top. After a few minutes on medium heat, you can flip the sandwich to cook the other side and that’s it!

 

g5

Asian BBQ Tacos: A Favorite!

Originally made on accident, Chef Jimi created the taco shells to be perfectly chewy and crispy. After a light, crispy crunch when you bite in, comes a soft medley of rice, meat, and bold BBQ flavors. Sweet, salty, with caramelized onions, garlic, and garnished with fresh green onions, these tacos are the best around.

Can be made with any meat. This time, we used pork. The pork was sautéed with grilled onions, garlic; a mix of Hoisin sauce, soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil, chili sauce, and Worcestershire. A little flour was used to bind it together. This is comfort food brought to another level.

taco1

Dark Chocolate Espresso Oreo Balls

Only 3 ingredients! Thanks to Grandma Bev for her Chocolate Oreo Balls recipe, which led to this slightly altered version. She made some for the holidays and nobody could eat just one. I changed it up only because I love dark chocolate.

choc5

Ingredients:

1 package (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened

1 package (16 oz.) Oreo cookies, crushed (I used a store brand and it was about 40 cookies)

12 oz. dark chocolate bark/bar, chopped (I used 4 packages of “Endangered Species Natural Dark Chocolate with Espresso Beans” which donate 10% of net profits to endangered animals)

  • Using a blender or mixer, mix the cream cheese with Oreo cookies.
  • Roll into about 1-inch balls, using wax paper to set them on if you need to
  • Chill for at least 30 minutes

choc2

  • Melt the chopped chocolate bars or bark in the microwavable bowl, 1 minute at a time, stirring occasionally

choc3

  • Using a toothpick or two spoons, roll the balls in the melted chocolate to coat. Set aside on wax paper or on a wire rack

choc4

  • Chill again for at least 30 minutes, the longer the better. Serve cold or room temperature.

Natty Patty Banana Nut & Chocolate Cupcakes

These are the most fun cupcakes! The biggest hit at Julius’s 4th birthday party. Small and cute, kids and adults love them. My favorite part is that instead of battling with frosting on top, the frosting is in the center!

c2

Ingredients:

  • 1 package Banana Nut muffin mix
  • 1 package or box Chocolate cake mix (and milk, eggs, or oil according to the back instructions)
  • 1 can or jar of white frosting, butter milk or vanilla
  • food coloring, liquid or gel, doesn’t matter (red, green, yellow)
  • Non-stick cooking spray or cupcake paper liners

Bake the chocolate cake package according to directions in a cupcake or muffin pan, lined or not (I’ve tried both, just do what you think is best for your muffin pan.

Separate the frosting into three even amounts. Mix in the food coloring a little at a time to get the desired color. I chose red to look like ketchup, green to look like lettuce, and yellow to either look like mustard or cheese.

The photo above features the yellow looking like mustard. Below is a photo that shows the yellow in a square outline to look like cheese corners. For best results, pipe the frosting out of a plastic bag corner with the tip finely cut off. All you need is a little frosting around the outside edges to be visible. You don’t need to fill the center.

c1

Cut the cooled chocolate muffin-tops off. This will be the “patty”. I discarded the bottom.

Cut the cooled banana nut muffin-tops in half and these will be the top and bottom “buns”.

Pipe on the frosting in whatever order you like, I put “ketchup” on top of the bottom bun, then the chocolate patty next. Then “lettuce, and cheese or mustard” on top of the patty. Make these ahead of time too, and save them in the refrigerator.

Jim’s Dough Makin’

Crostinis, loaves, croutons, French bread, Italian bread, pastries, he makes it all.

He gets upset when a grocery store doesn’t carry Pita bread.

He is… Chef Jimi Karanikolaou.


bun3

 

bun2

breadbowl1

bread2

bread

With a collection of recipes from his Grandma Bev, to his own creations, Chef Jimi is a bread connoisseur! He makes the best, buttery dinner rolls.  

The Delectable Burger

These burgers are my take on In-N-Out Burgers. In-N-Out is a classic burger joint located mostly in California. I highly recommend you go there. I will say that they have the BEST burgers.

For the buns, we used homemade burger buns by Chef Jimi.

burg8

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 1 egg
  • Mustard
  • Burger buns
  • 1 onion, chopped finely
  • Lettuce
  • Tomatoes
  • Cheddar cheese (we used ones mixed with Colby cheese)
  • Extra Virgin olive oil
  • Butter
  • Salt and pepper

burg3

Secret Sauce: I admit, I have never used measurements when making this. Maybe one day I’ll update this post with exact measurements. Until then, we’ll keep it called the “Secret Sauce” because you have to figure out. MWUAHAHAHAHA!

  • Mayo
  • Ketchup
  • Mustard
  • Pickle Relish
  • Vinegar
  • Salt and pepper

In a pan, add about 1 tablespoon of olive oil and stir in chopped onions. Add salt and keep heat on medium-low, so the onions can sweat out and caramelize. This can take up to 20 minutes, and you may want to adjust the heat.. keeping it on low for a long period, but then turning it up at the very end to get a little charring going on.

burg1

In a mixing bowl, combine the ground beef with the egg, salt, and pepper. You can leave the egg out, I like it because it binds the meat together. Then separate into even balls, and flatten each one into a patty. Keep in mind the patty will shrink when cooked, so don’t be afraid to make them larger than you think.

burg2

Spread a thin layer of mustard on each patty before cooking. This gives the meat a great flavor you wouldn’t expect.

burg4

Have some butter in a pan and set it to medium-high. Sear the patty for about 3 minutes, mustard side down. Then spread mustard on the other side. Flip and add a slice of cheese on top. Cover with a lid to melt the cheese. They’re done after about another 3 minutes. Set on a plate and cover to keep warm.

burg5burg7

While the patties are cooking, you can toast your buns in another pan. Just with a little butter at the bottom. If the heat is pretty high, it’ll only take a couple minutes.

burg6

My preferred arrangement of ingredients:

  • Sauce smothered on each bun
  • Then grilled onions on each bun
  • Lettuce on bottom bun, then tomatoes, then patty, then top bun

burg9

These were made a little small, but larger than sliders. Perfect for each person to have two.

Spinach. Not just for Popeye..

Spinach can be juiced, put in salads, sandwiches, creamed, and so much more. Here are a few ways I’ve used it.

Stir–Fry

spinach

  • In a pan, add a little olive oil. The spinach will wilt so much that you don’t want too much oil to make it soggy. The spinach can also look like it’s over crowding the pan, but you can pile it pretty high.
  • On medium heat, slowly stir, letting the several layers wilt.
  • Add minced garlic, salt and pepper.
  • That’s it! SO good as a side for rice and stir–fried meat.

spinach2

This is how much the same pan reduced down. I leave the garlic pieces a little bit chunkier in this dish and it’s amazing.

Spinach & Artichoke Dip

This was soo good that we forgot to take an official photo. This picture was found but it captures the need we had to cut up crostini bread to eat with the dip right away.

spinach3

  • 1 small package (10 oz.) of frozen chopped spinach
  • equal parts chopped artichoke hearts (jarred, canned, or frozen, doesn’t matter)
  • 1 package (6 to 8 oz.) of cream cheese.. Melt slightly in microwave.
  • 1/3 cup mayo
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • salt and pepper

Serve at room temperature or warm.

Just Raw

DSCF5736

Great as a salad or as the greens in a hearty sandwich.

The Simple Breakfast

Bacon… and… Eggs.

The most simple yet satisfying breakfast I can think of.

  • Preheat oven to 425°F.
  • Align bacon on baking dish.

breakfast

  • Place bacon in oven for about 10 minutes or until desired crisp.

breakfast2

  • In a small pan, spray lightly with non–stick spray, and crack 2 eggs in (I wouldn’t do more than 3 at a time).
  • Add salt and pepper.
  • Keep on medium–low heat.

breakfast3

  • Immediately place a lid on. I like my eggs over–easy so it takes just a few minutes.

breakfast5

If your eggs are very fresh, you’ll notice a layer that isn’t cooking very well. Tilt the pan back and forth a little until the edges of this layer reaches the heat. That helps. FYI: This layer is called the middle albumen and is very high in protein and riboflavin! 

breakfast6

The bacon looks super greasy here so I normally place them on paper towels when they’re done.

breakfast7

I would always like at least one piece of toast to sweep up what’s left of the yolk on my plate.