Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The Hobbit's Famous French Sandwich

A few years ago, I was fortunate to first have this "sandwich" at a company event and experience  The Hobbit Restaurant in Orange County, California.

ACT I Begins in the wine cellar

All guests are invited into the wine cellar to begin the evening. You are handed the evening’s menu and a flute of Hobbit Champagne, which is truly amazing. Hot and cold hors d’oeuvres are placed throughout the cellar for you to enjoy while selecting your wine for dinner. (This is where I ever so enjoyed their French Sandwich)

ACT II Guests are invited upstairs to their own table.

Act II includes a shellfish or fish course, followed by a fowl or light meat, and then a salad course. You are then invited to enjoy “intermission” – take a walk, relax on the patios or visit the kitchen to speak with the chefs (Of course, I loved visiting the chefs in their kitchen, while they prepared dinners).

ACT III A return to the table

Ten to fifteen minutes later you are invited to return to your reset table for Act III. A flavorful sorbet is next as a palate-cleanser. The main entrée is served complete with accompanying vegetables. Dessert arrives next, always available with an after dinner list of coffee drinks, liqueurs and fine cognacs.

I had been wanting to recreate this for years, but was just too intimidated.  I am so glad I did because it brought back wonderful memories of The Hobbit experience and was actually very easy to make.

Before our fall frost hit, I made this for lunch and we enjoyed it out on our patio one sunny weekend. This sandwich makes a wonderful lunch for guests or equally great to cut it up in small diamond shapes and serve as an appetizer for your upcoming holiday events.

The Hobbit's Famous French Sandwich
Adapted from The Hobbit Restaurant

1 package puff pastry dough (Pepperidge Farm)
Dijon Mustard
1/2 lb., Monterrey Jack shredded cheese (or Swiss cheese)
4 ounces, deli Salami or Ham slices
(1) egg

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Thaw pastry by leaving it out at room temperature for about 20 minutes.

Cover baking sheet with parchment paper.

Roll out thawed puff pastry sheet.
Spread mustard over pastry, leaving about 1/2" border around edges.

Add ham or salami slices on top of the mustard.

Cover with shredded monterey jack or swiss cheese.

Cover with second sheet of pastry and seal the edges.
Brush with egg wash (1 egg beaten with 1 Tbl. water)
Score top of pastry lightly with a sharp knife, careful not to
pierce the to layer.

Bake at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes,
or until golden brown.
Once baked, serve warm.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Two Ingredient Pumpkin Muffins

I can now check one event off my list...Volleyball Season Banquet - done.  After two months of planning and preparation, it is now over and I can breathe a sigh of relief.  The next morning, I felt like I had been hit by a train... all the anticipation and work, had finally kicked my butt, but it was definitely well worth it.

Personalized Gift Bags
 for all 44 players and coaches.

Floral team centerpiece at buffet table.

Custom monogram lollipops, bubbles and mini volleyballs.

Lighted centerpieces for each table.

I needed a quick, easy breakfast for the weekend and these little beauties were perfect!  I cannot believe how easy they were and I really cannot believe (being the semi-homemade baker) that I had never heard of these two ingredient muffins.  If you go on Pinterest, you can find countless combination possibilities.

Two Ingredient Pumpkin Muffins

1 (18.25 oz) pkg yellow cake mix
1 (15 oz) can pumpkin

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 12 cup muffin pan or line with paper liners.

In a large bowl mix together the cake mix and canned pumpkin until smooth.  Batter will be really thick.

Spoon equal amounts of batter into the prepared muffin cups.

** At this point, we sprinkled half of the muffins with mini chocolate chips and the other half with our family cinnamon/sugar blend...both additions were equally terrific.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of one comes out clean.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Sweet Shrimp and Spicy Sausage Skewers and No Sense

It's official, winter is here.  Yesterday in the city we saw our first snow.  One thing is for sure, never a dull moment around here.

I left for work at 7 am and it was 63 degrees, sun shining and a beautiful morning.  In less than 4 hours, the temperature dropped to 20 degrees, gail force winds, snow dumping everywhere...and there I was at coat, no gloves, no boots and obviously no sense.  After being here for 2-1/2 years you think I would learn to always leave the house prepared and keep my car packed with the winter essentials because we truly never know when a surprise blizzard is going to set in here.

This photo below, which was posted on Instagram tells the story perfectly of how yesterday went down.  That is the exact location on University of Colorado Boulder campus at 4 different times throughout the day...amazing!

Well, the good news is we had an opportunity to make this dish before we put the grills in hibernation and covered them up before yesterday's downpour of snow.  If you have a stove top grill pan it can also easily be made inside and keep you toasty warm for the winter.

Sweet Shrimp and Spicy Sausage Skewers
Courtesy of Traeger

21-24 Shrimp cleaned, peeled, & de-veined
8 spicy sausage links
½ cup apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1 teaspoon onion powder
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons honey
¼ cup canola oil
1 teaspoon dry thyme
Salt, pepper to taste

12-15 metal skewers

Mix together the vinegar, mustard, onion powder, garlic, honey, thyme, salt, pepper, and canola oil. Toss in shrimp, let marinade for 30 minutes.

Cut sausage links in half length wise, and then cut into 2 inch pieces.

Start the Traeger grill on smoke with the lid open until the fire is established (4-5) minutes. Set the temperature to 450 degrees F and preheat, lid closed, for 10 to 15 minutes.

Alternate the sausage and shrimp on the skewers (about 2 shrimp and 3 sausages per skewer). Place on grill, cook about 8-10 minutes until shrimp is cooked. 

*** You can also do this dish on your own grill, bbq or stove top grill pan.

One Year Ago: Pear Tart

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Cherry-Cheese Galette and Cherished Memories

My mom, hands down is one of the most great pie makers out there.  In fact everyone I know in Alaska (excluding me) knows how to make great pies.  My friends Felicia and Toni are incredible bakers and can whip out any kind of pie out there.  I never picked up the knack for it, and through the years have take the "semi-homemade" approach when it comes to pies.

My fondest memory of my mom making pies is the leftover pie dough.  She would gather all the extra dough pieces, let nothing ever go to waste and put them together in a little crust dessert for me.  My mom would shape it like a calzone, fill it with butter and sprinkled it all over with her special cinnamon/sugar blend.  She would bake it off and I couldn't wait to eat it.  Did your mom or grandma ever make this? 

This dessert (which my husband is now debating with and telling me that it should be served as a breakfast pastry) brings the warmth and goodness of my mom's cherry pie and blends it with my favorite...cheesecake.  So, whether you have it with breakfast or as a dessert, I hope you enjoy the comfort that it gives me.

Cherry-Cheese Galette

(1) refrigerated ready-made pie crust (like Pillsbury)
1/2 can cherry pie filling
1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese, room temperature
1 Tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
pinch of grated nutmeg

Cinnamon/Sugar Blend
1 part - cinnamon
3 part - granulated sugar
(Put both ingredients in a resealable container, like Tupperware and shake well, until completely mixed). You will have leftover blend, depending on your proportions.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Place a piece of parchment paper on a cookie sheet. 

To make the filling, whisk the cream cheese, lemon juice, sugar and nutmeg in a bowl.  Set aside.

Roll out the pie crust on the parchment paper into a 12-inch round. 
 Spread 3/4 of the cream cheese filling over the dough, leaving a 2-inch border.

Top with the cherry pie filling.  
Fold the edge of the dough over the filling.

Drizzle the remaining cream cheese filling over the cherries.
Sprinkle about 2 Tablespoons of the cinnamon/sugar mixture, 
all over the crust, cherries and cream cheese topping.

Put an inverted baking sheet in the lower third of the oven.  Put the baking sheet with the galette directly on the hot baking sheet in the oven.  Bake until the crust is golden, 20 to 25 minutes. Serve slightly warm.

One Year Ago: Pasta E Fagioli Soup

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Creamy Artichoke Bruschetta

It is now day 3 of Daylight Savings Time.  Everyone loves it when we "Fall Back" in time.  So far, I have not been a fan of it this year because all it means is one more hour of insomnia and the reminder that while everyone else is enjoying that extra hour of sleep, I am losing even more sleep.

I try to take advantage of any waking nights and am already thinking about upcoming holidays and family dinners.  For those of you entertaining this season, this is a great one for those guests.  Super easy, creamy and delicious!!  Sweet Dreams.

Creamy Artichoke Bruschetta
Adapted from

1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 loaf (small) baguette, cut into slices
1/2 cup Best Foods Olive Oil mayonnaise
1/8 cup sour cream
1 garlic clove, minced
1 (8-ounce) jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 tsp. garlic salt
2 tsp. fresh parsley, chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Place the bread slices on a foil lined baking sheet and brush with olive oil.

Bake the bread for 8-10 minutes until crispy and golden, set aside.

In a food processor, mix cream cheese, mayonnaise, sour cream, garlic, chopped artichokes, garlic salt, parsley and Parmesan cheese.

Spread about 2 Tablespoons (depending on the size of your bread) of the mixture onto each slice of bread and sprinkle with the shredded mozzarella cheese.

Broil in the oven on high for 5-7 minutes until cheese is bubbly and slightly golden on top. (Watch closely to prevent from burning).

* Forgive the burnt ends in my photo...I must have fallen asleep while watching the oven.

One Year Ago: Cherry Cheesecake Brownies

Friday, October 31, 2014

Monster's Boo, Little Bear, and New Booze

Happy Halloween to you and yours.  Have a safe outing tonight and as I always tell my girls, "Make good choices".

This year both girls surprised me and actually dressed up with all of their friends.  As you recall, last year they boycotted costumes.  The students at their school had the best costumes this morning...such creativity with the young minds out there.  The extra added bonus of the day is Chipotle Restaurant.  Today if you go in with your costume on, they will give you "Boorito" only for $3.00.  Love it !!  Solved the problem of starving teenagers after school this afternoon.

Little Boo from the movie Monsters Inc.

My little bear, complete with her
jar of honey (actually gold foil Kisses).
A new spooky looking drink we recently discovered is called "TY KU" Citrus Liqueur.  The bottle actually glows - coolest thing I have seen in a very long time (we obviously don't get out much).  Our bar concierge at PF Chang's turned us on to it.  He called it "Skittles in a Bottle".  He was not exaggerating a bit either.

Naughty Lemonade 

2 oz. TY KU Citrus Liqueur
4 oz. Fresh Lemonade
Splash of Pear Flavored Vodka

Pour in a martini shaker over ice.  Shake well.  Pour in a old fashion glass over ice.  Cheers!

One Year Ago: Tamale Casserole

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Fall's Cobb Salad

If you have been following this blog for awhile, you know how much I "love Tuesdays"...not really. Yesterday was no exception either.  What is it about Tuesdays and the mayhem that follows me on this one particular day?
Poor Angus even had a bad day.
It started off at 5 am when my husband was frantically looking for towels and he grabbed the shop vac out of the garage.  My eyes were barely open and I knew nothing good had happened.  I wanted to crawl back under my covers and hide from whatever mess was lurking out there for us to clean up.

My Theo has been having tummy troubles (most likely eating the bad crab apples that have taken over our yard as of late.  He couldn't wait for us to let him outside and I won't describe what was at the door...such a lovely aroma before my first cup of coffee.

Fast forward to a crazy, busy day complete with a migraine headache and incorporating taking the area rug to the laundromat from the morning mess and playing twins taxi in the early evening.  I was so frazzled, I resorted to take out Chinese for dinner, which if you know me, is definitely not like me.  Good thing there weren't many dishes, because "I" get hit with a homework assignment.

My younger daughter had diligently done lengthy research and typed up her report earlier in the week, as directed (or so she thought).  She was to put it into a newspaper type format, which I thought looked great, since she didn't even have a newspaper to refer to and it was just the rough draft.  Well, for the final draft, it needed to be an exact typical newspaper layout, complete with the columns, line spacing and font line up.  I have said it once before and I will say it much controversy that comes from the internet, it really does come in handy sometimes.  Bless Google and their online templates, which saved us once again. Unfortunately, we didn't finish until midnight last night, which meant very little sleep and ask my husband, I am not the most pleasant person when it comes to sleep deprivation.

The good news of the week is my husband and I made a new friend and his name is Josh.  Josh Cellars has an incredible array of wines that are not only very affordable, but also beautiful taste.  I typically have not been a Cabernet fan in the past, but Josh has changed my outlook.  I also love Josh Cellars' philosophy of giving back and their philanthropic community support.  This Cab goes wonderfully with our new favorite Fall Cobb Salad.  I think I will be inviting my new friend for dinner tonight (if there's no more surprise homework).

Fall's Cobb Salad

2 cooked chicken breasts, boneless, skinless, and diced
4 slices cooked bacon, cut in small pieces
2 large hard boiled eggs, peeled and diced
5 cups romaine lettuce, cut in bite size pieces
1 pear, peeled and diced
1/3 cup Craisins (dried sweetened cranberries)
1/2 cup smoked Gouda cheese, diced

Honey Mustard Dressing (your favorite brand) or your own homemade version

To assemble the salad, plate with a layer of the romaine lettuce at bottom of serving plate or bowl. Add remaining salad ingredients and drizzle with your favorite Honey Mustard dressing.

Can be served as a meal for 2 people, or a hearty side salad for guests with a nice butternut squash soup.

One Year Ago: Chicken Tortilla Soup