These sweet and savory sandwiches remind me of a restaurant that used to be in Austin called Bombay Bicycle Club. It was a special place we’d go for birthdays and I’m pretty sure that I almost always ordered the monte cristo. Theirs was full of meat and cheese, deep fried, covered in powered sugar and served with a side of raspberry preserves. And I think it came with fries. And I probably had a hot fudge sundae for dessert. This was back in the days of high metabolism. Those were good days.
When a post came up on the King Arthur Flour blog the other day about croque monsieurs and monte cristos I immediately added the ingredients to my grocery list.
I usually buy groceries a few days in advance, and sometimes (when Ben does the grocery shopping for me on Sunday afternoons) I will have groceries for the entire week of meals and not need to go to the store. The only problem with this is that sometimes I get to the day I had planned to make such-and-such for dinner and I don’t want to make it. That happened with this meal. It just seemed like more work than I wanted to put in to dinner that night. But in the end it was a really quick meal with less mess than I’d anticipated and more deliciousness.
I found this incredible brioche loaf at Whole Foods (set me back $8 but was totally worth it).
You can use any bread you like, but a soft white is pretty wonderful since it really soaks up the egg. These are triple-decker sandwiches, turkey and ham on one half and Emmentaler swiss on the other.
If you’re using thick bread slices you may want to smoosh the sandwich a bit with your hand.
After assembling the sandwiches you dredge both sides in a mix of egg and milk.
And then cook them until golden brown.
After cooking, sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve up with a side of raspberry preserves for dipping.
If you’re making more than 2 sandwiches just increase the amount of bread, meat and cheese. The egg is enough for probably 4 sandwiches. Set your oven to 200°F and put the finished sandwiches on a cookie sheet lined with foil while you cook the rest of the sandwiches. They won’t have the great crunch they do when they’re fresh, but at least they’ll be warm. To make sure your sandwiches are heated through and that the cheese gets perfectly melted, take the meat and cheese out of the fridge for 20 minutes before cooking so that it’s not cold when it goes into the pan and keep the heat medium-low so that the outside doesn’t cook too much before the center is warm. Enjoy!
Monte Cristo Sandwiches
Makes 2 sandwiches
- 6 slices of good white bread
- 4 slices of ham
- 4 slices of turkey
- 2-4 slices of swiss cheese (depending on the size of your bread and how cheesy and delicious you’d like your sandwich to be)
- 1 egg
- 2 tablespoons of milk
- powdered sugar
- raspberry preserves
- Heat skillet over medium-low heat.
- Arrange meats on bottom layer of bread, top with a slice of buttered bread, top with a slice or 2 of cheese. Repeat with other sandwich. If your bread is thick, press the sandwich down with your hand to flatten it slightly.
- Whisk egg and milk together in a pie plate or shallow dish. Dip both sides of the sandwich in the egg.
- Melt a little butter in your pan, then place the sandwiches in the pan and cook for 3-4 minutes on each side, making sure it doesn’t get too dark. If it is cooking too quickly, turn down the heat.
- Move sandwiches to a cutting board and slice in half. Move to plates and sprinkle lightly with powdered sugar.
The more I cook, the more I realize how much I absolutely love cooking comfort food. And eating comfort food. I really love eating comfort food. And I’ve been doing a lot of it lately. This meatloaf has been one of our favorites.
Covering your dinner with bacon can’t be a bad thing. This meatloaf is covered in 10 strips of bacon which give it great flavor and create a great slicing guide. I got this recipe from The Pioneer Woman, my go-to for comfort food. Try her pot roast! It makes me smile just thinking about it. The only change I made to this meatloaf was to add some caramelized onion.
I’ve made this twice now. The first time I followed the recipe exactly, but felt that the bacon was kind of soggy. So the next time I baked the meatloaf without the sauce at the beginning of the cooking time at an attempt to crisp it up a little before putting the sauce on. I think it was better, not so much that I could definitely tell a difference but enough that I will do it that way in the future. Either way the bacon is a great addition and makes this meatloaf spectacular. It would still be good without the bacon, so leave it out if you must.
I don’t have a roasting pan. Not sure why. I should probably get one. So I baked the meatloaf on a shallow baking pan lined with parchment. It releases a lot of juice, so I soaked it up with paper towels after it came out of the oven. I can see why a roasting pan would be helpful, but don’t fret if you don’t have one. You don’t need it.
This would easily feed 8 people, possibly 10. Ben and I can easily make 3 meals out of it. Sliced for dinner the first night, then meatloaf sandwiches for lunch or dinner a couple of times. Few things can beat a meatloaf sandwich on some soft white bread. Enjoy!
Bacon Wrapped Meatloaf with Caramelized Onions
From The Pioneer Woman
- 1 medium yellow onion, halved and sliced thin
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 cup milk
- 6 slices white bread
- 2 pounds ground beef (I used 1 pound of 85/15 and 1 pound of 93/7)
- 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/4 teaspoon seasoned salt
- 3/4 teaspoons salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/3 cup minced Italian parsley
- 4 whole eggs, beaten
- 10 slices Thin/regular Bacon
- 1 to 1 1/2 cups ketchup
- 1/4 to 1/3 cup brown Sugar
- 1 teaspoon dry mustard
- Caramelize the onion: Heat 1 tablespoon of butter and drizzle of olive oil over medium heat in a skillet. Add the sliced onion and stir the onion to coat with butter. Sprinkle with kosher salt and a generous pinch of sugar. Let cook, stirring occasionally and monitoring the heat so the onions do not burn, 10-15 minutes. Onions should be brown and soft. If the onions begin to crisp and burn and there is no moisture left in the pan, add a few teaspoons of water. Remove from the pan from the heat and let cool.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pour milk over the bread slices. Allow it to soak in for several minutes.
- Place the ground beef, milk-soaked bread, onion, Parmesan, seasoned salt, salt, black pepper, and parsley in a large mixing bowl. Pour in beaten eggs.
- With clean hands, mix the ingredients until well combined. Form the mixture into a loaf shape on a broiler pan, which will allow the fat to drain. (Line the bottom of the pan with foil to avoid a big mess!)
- Lay bacon slices over the top, tucking them underneath the meatloaf.
- Cook meatloaf for 15 minutes.
- While the meatloaf is cooking, make the sauce: stir together ketchup, brown sugar and mustard in a mixing bowl. Pour 1/3 of the mixture over the top of the bacon. Spread with a spoon.
- Bake for 30 minutes, then pour another 1/3 of the sauce over the top. Bake for another 15 minutes. Slice and serve with remaining sauce.
Granola is one of those foods I often see on lists with titles like, “Foods you Thought Were Good for You!” And I guess it’s true that many store bought granolas are full of sugar and other not-too-healthy ingredients. But if you make your own, then you have control over what goes into it. I’m not saying this is perfect health food or that it is “good for you”. But I do know that it is delicious.
This is my favorite granola. I brought a bag of it to Christmas with my family this year and everyone loved it. I’m pretty sure it was gone in just a couple of days. You can change the nuts and fruits in this to personalize it to your taste. If you like chocolate in yours, I’d suggest dark or semi sweet chips. My favorite combination is pecans, almonds, pumpkin seeds, cranberries, cherries and blueberries.
I like to eat this granola on top of some plain yogurt. Or I’ll mix a couple spoonfuls of it in with my Kashi cereal to make things a little more interesting.
This recipe came from a Bon Appetit magazine, probably 5 or 6 years ago. Since I started making it I’ve changed some things, but one thing I haven’t changed is the special instruction to store it in the freezer. By doing this the moisture from the fruit doesn’t soften the granola. I’ve never not done this. When I’m bringing the granola somewhere I keep the granola and the fruit separate until I find a freezer. If you’re brave enough to try storing it at room temp, let me know how it goes. Enjoy!
My Favorite Granola
Adapted from Bon Appetit
- 3 cups old fashioned rolled oats
- 1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
- 1/3 cup vegetable oil
- 1/3 cup dark brown sugar
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1/2-1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 cup roughly chopped pecans
- 1/2 cup roughly chopped almonds
- 1/2 cup green pumpkin seeds
- 1 cup dried cherries
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
- 1/2 cup dried blueberries
- Preheat oven to 325°F.
- Stir together oats, coconut, oil, sugar, honey, cinnamon, salt and nuts in a large bowl.
- Spread mixture evenly on a large rimmed baking pan. Bake, stirring occasionally, until golden, between 25 and 30 minutes. Watch carefully after 20 minutes. You do not want it to get too dark.
- Remove the granola from the oven and set the pan on a rack to cool, the granola will be soft. It will harden up as it cools.
- After it is cool, stir in the fruit. Store in a sealed container in the freezer.
Breakfast for me is almost always a piece of fruit and a bowl of cereal, unless my sweet man has suggested going to pick up donuts or breakfast tacos. When I scramble eggs for Carson I will sometimes scramble some for myself and toast up a piece of bread. Scrambled is really the only way I like my eggs. I cannot stand a runny yolk. I wish I could because I want so badly to order eggs benedict simply because I find it to be a beautiful dish. Alas, I am stuck with boring (and rather unattractive) scrambled eggs. Eggs are good for you. They are full of protein, and you can cook them quickly. They can be a really wonderful way to start your day. And there are ways to dress them up and make your eggs more interesting.
My mom would make us cheesy eggs as kids. The more cheese the better, specially if some of it got slightly crunchy on the edges of the pan. It’s kinda like fricco! You can’t go wrong stirring some salsa, cheese and crunched up tortilla chips into scrambled eggs for some cheater migas. I remember once my sister made scrambled eggs for the family with feta cheese and fresh dill. When I took out the carton of eggs a few weeks ago I saw the feta cheese and decided I’d add some to my eggs. Then I remembered that I had some spinach that needed to get used up or else I’d have to toss it, so I took that out as well. I wound up with quite a tasty breakfast and a nice change of pace from cold cereal.
This will serve one person, so adjust as needed for more servings. I use one whole egg and one egg white. Once upon a time I was scared of the yolk because that’s where that fat is! Then I wised up and realized that not only did I need fat in my diet, but a little yolk makes scrambled eggs much tastier. I tried making these eggs the first time by adding the raw spinach in with the eggs, but I didn’t like the way the eggs cooked. So the next time I sauteed the spinach in a teeny bit of olive oil, took it out of the pan and let it drain a little on a paper towel, scrambled my eggs, then added the spinach back in near the end of cooking along with the feta. I found this to be a much better method.
Spinach cooks down to practically nothing. So be very generous with the amount of raw spinach you cook. Better to have extra than to find yourself wishing you’d cooked more of it. As far as the feta goes, you don’t need much. It’s a very flavorful cheese, so a little goes a long way. The feta is also pretty salty. Use extra salt sparingly.
This is a great savory breakfast and a tasty way to eat more vegetables, something I am working on in my meals. Adding some fresh herbs in with the spinach would be lovely. Goat cheese would be a nice cheese to try instead of the feta. And there are other veggies you can add as well, cherry tomatoes, sauteed zucchini or peppers. Lots of options. Let me know if you come up with a spectacular combination! Enjoy.
Scrambled Eggs with Spinach & Feta
- 2 eggs
- a generous handful of baby spinach
- feta cheese
- salt and pepper
- olive oil
- Heat a medium sized skillet over medium heat. Drizzle a tiny bit of oil in the pan, then add your spinach. Sprinkle with a little salt and cook, stirring until spinach has just wilted. Transfer to a plate lined with a paper towel to drain off some of the liquid.
- In a small bowl whisk the eggs (or one whole egg and one egg white) until they are combined and a little foamy. I like to use a tiny whisk or a fork. A big whisk and such a small amount of liquid doesn’t really work well.
- Spray your pan with non-stick spray. Add the eggs and scramble as you like. My mom scrambles them into small pieces. I like them a bit bigger, so I let them cook for a little bit right when I add them to the pan, then I stir gently and infrequently until they just about done, a little undercooked. Add the spinach and feta to the pan and stir to combine. Season with pepper if desired and salt if needed.
In my dreams I am someone who eats nothing but good-for-you foods, mainly fruits and vegetables, that are all beneficial to my health and do things like make my skin glow, provide me with all my daily vitamins, and will add years to my life. I grow all my own vegetables and get my eggs from the chickens I’m raising in my backyard. In that backyard I am hanging my clothes out to dry on the clothesline. In reality I love a greasy hamburger with cheese and bacon served up with a plate of crispy fries and followed by a creamy vanilla milkshake. I’ve never grown anything edible besides some tomatoes that didn’t make it through the season. And I actually hate the way clothes feel and smell after drying outside. I’m nothing like I am in my dreams. I like healthy foods, but I also really like to indulge. I’ve visited both extremes of unhealthy habits with food and over time I’ve become better able to understand that there is a healthy balance between the two. I believe that there is a time to indulge in cheesy macaroni and a time to take it easy and fill your body with nutritious vegetables. This dish allows you to have your mac and eat it too.
Upon first reading this recipe in Fine Cooking I dismissed it as being way too much work. I came across it again a few weeks later and thought I should give it a try. It turned out to be really delicious and not terribly time consuming. This is nothing at all like the ooey gooey cheesy macaroni and cheese I usually make, so it isn’t truly fair to compare them. However, the flavor of this macaroni was full and rich thanks to the sharp cheese and fresh thyme. Since it’s a warm baked pasta dish it still serves as comfort food, but it doesn’t carry all the butter, whole milk and cheese (and guilt) of the full fat version. One of the best parts about it is the cauliflower and onion puree. There’s half a head of cauliflower in this! And it adds a wonderful flavor and creaminess as well as a good amount of vitamin C. Purees are a great way to get more vegetables into your diet, and I’m going to look for ways to do more with them. There are only so many salads and sides of steamed broccoli a girl can take before she needs some real food. And while you eat this you can feel good knowing you’re getting some of your daily veggies.
There are a few things I did that are different from the original recipe. I used macaroni instead of penne. I used heaping measurements for the cheese because, well, I just love cheese. And I used 2% milk instead of 1%. I know there is a big difference between the two, and next time I will try 1% if I remember to pick some up. Ben and Carson both drink 2%, and I have recently made the switch to almond milk, so that’s all the milk we have in our house most of the time.
If you make this dish start to finish it probably wouldn’t take you all that long, but it dirties a lot of dishes. One of those dirty items is a blender, and I kinda hate cleaning the blender, not sure why. As a stay-at-home mom I rarely have the luxury of making dinner leisurely and I also don’t want me or my husband to be stuck with a bunch of dishes when all we want to do is sit down after the kids are in bed. So, here are some ways to make this easier and less stressful to prepare.
- Make the vegetable puree earlier in the day, or even the day before, and store it in the fridge. Warm it up in the saucepan and continue the recipe from that point.
- Grate the cheese ahead of time and store in the fridge in ziplocs or tupperware. (I prefer bags because I can throw them away. But that’s because I am lazy and wasteful.)
- Cook everything, put it in the pan, cover and put in the fridge. Bake it that evening or the next day.
Give this a try. Even if you hate cauliflower I think you’ll like it. And if you have any healthy and delicious recipes to share, please do!
Cauliflower Mac and Cheese
- 4 cups 1-1/2-inch cauliflower florets (about 1 lb.; from 1/2 head)
- 1 medium onion, peeled and sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled
- salt and pepper
- 12 oz. macaroni noodles
- 2 cups 2% milk
- 1 tsp. dry mustard
- 2 tsp. chopped fresh thyme
- 2 oz. coarsely grated sharp white Cheddar (about 1/2 cup)
- 1-1/2 oz. finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (1-1/2 cups using a rasp grater)
- Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat to 375°F.
- Put the cauliflower, onion, and garlic in a steamer basket set over 1 inch of boiling water in a 6- to 8-quart pot. Cover and steam until the cauliflower is tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer the cauliflower, onion, and garlic to a blender.
- Fill the pot three-quarters full of salted water and bring to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook for 3 minutes less than the package timing. Drain and return the pasta to the pot.
- While the pasta cooks, add 1 cup of the milk, the dry mustard, 1 tsp. salt, and 1/2 tsp. pepper to the vegetables in the blender and purée until smooth. Transfer to a 3-quart saucepan and stir in the remaining 1 cup of milk and the thyme. Heat over medium-low heat until hot but not boiling, about 3 minutes.
- In a small bowl, mix the Cheddar and Parmigiano. Add all but 1/2 cup of the cheese to the sauce and stir until the cheese is melted. Add the sauce to the pasta and stir to combine.
- Transfer the pasta and sauce to an 8-inch square baking dish and sprinkle with the remaining cheese.
- Bake until heated through and the cheese is beginning to brown, 20 to 30 minutes.
You can’t argue with the raw ingredients here. Who doesn’t love pesto, tomatoes, mozzarella cheese and freshly grated parmesan? The time and effort this takes is another thing to love about this recipe. I recommend this to anyone who doesn’t have the luxury of tons of time to make dinner but still wants something that didn’t come from the freezer or got picked up on the way home from work. But I sure do enjoy Ben walking through the door with a pizza box every now and then…
While wasting time on Pinterest, I stumbled upon this recipe from Skinnytaste.com. I took the basics of the recipe, kind of ignored the measurements, and whipped this up in no time last week. We loved it and will have it again I am sure.
I had everything I needed for this meal already in my kitchen except for the chicken. The version of myself I aspire to be would’ve used the pesto she’d made last summer with the basil from her garden and then froze in matching labeled containers (see post on Skinnytaste). Instead I used a jar of Giada pesto from Target. And while lacking in fresh from the garden flavor, it was good.
This can easily be adapted to serve 1 person or a dozen. You can slice fresh mozzarella or use the bag of shredded mozzarella, but provolone would be a great choice as well. If you have a different type of pesto, try it out. I think a nice sprinkle of fresh chopped basil would be a great and beautiful finish. The ingredients below are what you will need, but the amounts are merely suggestions. If you want a healthier option, use the measurement from skinnytaste. I didn’t even measure. So use your judgement and make it how you like it.
Skinnytaste slices each chicken breast lengthwise into 2 cutlets. For her this may be portion control, but I think it’s a great way to prepare the chicken even if you aren’t concerned with all that. The chicken cooks more evenly this way and with some of the ridiculously thick chicken breasts I’ve bought in my time it makes a lot of sense to slice them this way for cooking.
Pair with pasta and steamed veggies or crusty bread and a nice green salad. Enjoy.
Tomato & Pesto Chicken
Slightly adapted from Skinnytaste
- Boneless skinless chicken breasts (1 per person), sliced lengthwise into 2 thin pieces if breats are especially thick
- Basil pesto, 2-3 teaspoons per chicken breast
- Small tomatoes such as roma or campari, about 1 per chicken breast depending on their size, sliced 1/4 inch thick
- Shredded mozzarella cheese, 1-2 tablespoons per chicken breast
- Freshly grated Parmesan, to taste
- Salt and Pepper
- Preheat oven to 400°F.
- Pat chicken dry and season with salt and pepper.
- Arrange in pan sprayed with non-stick spray or foil lined and sprayed for easier clean up.
- Spread desired amount of pesto on each breast and bake for 10-12 minutes, a few minutes longer if you did not slice the chicken into thinner pieces. Chicken should be almost done.
- Remove from the oven and place sliced tomatoes on each chicken breast. Sprinkle with mozzarella and then Parmesan cheese.
- Return to the oven and bake for an additional 5-7 minutes, until cheese is melted and just begins to brown.
When my dear, sweet sister Sarah came to help with Betsy right after she was born, she made us dinner. She made these incredible vegetable enchiladas with sweet potato and black beans. They were delicious. The really wonderful thing about them was the goat cheese. I would’ve never thought to do that, and I would’ve never thought it would’ve been as terrific as it was. I tried to recreate them last week and while Ben and I really enjoyed them, they weren’t quite like Sarah’s. So I’ll have to get an enchilada lesson from her the next time we’re together.
Pardon this iPhoned and Instrgramed photo. I’m honestly just proud that I took a picture at all. And to be quite honest I like that if I don’t try to take a good photo, then I can have an excuse for taking crummy ones. One day I’ll start taking better quality pictures…
These enchiladas are a healthier option when you’re craving Tex-Mex. They aren’t heavy laden with cheese, and they can be totally vegetarian if you choose to skip the chicken. You really won’t miss it. The goat cheese adds a perfect tangy surprise. If you don’t like goat cheese, add some regular shredded cheese to the filling.
Sarah cooks like I wish I could. She doesn’t really measure anything. She doesn’t really follow a recipe. She just makes what she thinks will be good. And every time she’s done that when I’ve been around to taste the end result, it’s been quite yummy. I tried to take some inspiration from Sarah and cook without measuring cups or spoons, so my measurements below are approximate. The beautiful thing about that kind of cooking is that if you don’t have or like something below you can replace it with something else and not get too preoccupied with doing things a specific way. Just taste as you go to make sure you have the flavor you want. I used a packet of chicken taco seasoning, but you can use your favorite spices to make your own seasoning mix.
Other ingredients that I would consider trying in these enchiladas are corn, green chiles, spinach, mushrooms, shredded carrots and zucchini. In place of chicken you can use ground beef or turkey, or some shredded pork if you happen to have some left over from another meal.
I realized when I started to put these together that I didn’t think to get any sauce and wondered if Sarah had even used any. So I asked her and she said she just used a can of enchilada sauce. And of course I had no enchilada sauce. What’s a girl to do? Make her own enchilada sauce of course. And where does one find a recipe for enchilada sauce? The internet of course. I just Googled “homemade enchilada sauce” and I found this little gem. I followed the recipe except for a couple things. I didn’t have any tomato sauce so I pureed a can of diced tomatoes after draining off some of the juice. In place of the self rising flour I used regular. I used the spices it called for and as it cooked I tasted and added a little more chili powder, some paprika and I believe a little more salt since I didn’t have onion salt. It tasted ok, but I was worried about how it was going to turn out on the enchiladas. Turned out to be wonderful paired with the enchiladas, and something I’m going to make again the next time I need enchilada sauce.
Now I know flour tortillas are not what is traditionally used for enchiladas. I used flour because that’s what Sarah used. I might try corn sometime. If you decide to, make sure to soften them in warm chicken broth or in the microwave to soften. If you skip that step they will crack when you go to roll them up.
Sweet Potato and Black Bean Enchiladas
- 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
- kosher salt
- 1 large sweet potato, cut into small dice
- 1 red bell pepper, chopped
- 1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
- 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
- 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
- 2 cups cooked, chopped chicken (optional)
- 2 tablespoons taco seasoning
- goat cheese, 3-4 ounces
- 8-12 flour tortillas (taco or burrito size)
- 1 can enchilada sauce (or make your own using the recipe below)
- shredded cheese, optional
- sour cream and cilantro for serving
- Heat oven to 400°F. Toss sweet potato, bell peppers and onion together with olive oil and salt on a large rimmed baking sheet.
- Bake for 30-40 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from oven and let cool a bit.
- Combine vegetables, black beans, chicken (if using) and seasoning. Taste and season as needed.
- Crumble goat cheese into filling and combine gently, keeping the goat cheese in good sized chunks.
- Scoop some filling into a tortilla and roll to close. Fill generously but do not overfill, the tortilla should overlap itself by at least 1 inch. Place seam side down in a greased pan. Repeat with remaining tortillas fitting them tightly in the pan. You may need 2 pans depending on what size tortillas you use.
- Reduce oven to 350°F. Top with enchilada sauce, cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil (add cheese if using) and bake for 15 minutes more.
- Serve topped with sour cream and chopped cilantro.
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 1/4 cup chili powder
- 8 ounce can tomato sauce
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon paprika
- salt to taste
- Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Stir in flour and chili powder, reduce heat to medium, and cook until lightly brown, stirring constantly to prevent burning flour.
- Gradually stir in tomato sauce, water, cumin, garlic powder, and salt into the flour and chili powder until smooth
- Continue cooking over medium-low heat approximately 10 minutes, or until thickened slightly. Season to taste with salt.