Bacon and Date Grilled Cheese

Yes, you read it right. Date.

Date as in the big raisin looking thingy.

I put fresh dates on a grilled cheese. But not just any grilled cheese…..this is Gorgonzola and cream cheese. And BACON.

There’s something about Gorgonzola. You either really love it or you despise it.Wish I could talk my husband into liking those salty, sharp cheeses but he’s way too into Mozzarella to get it. Don’t pay any attention to him. But I love him dearly.

He just needs to learn how to love sharp, salty, crumbly cheeses – he needs to branch out from that creamy Mozzarella that he loves so much. There’s more to cheese life that than.

I have loved sharp cheeses my entire life. One of my favorites is Cracker Barrell Extra Sharp New York Aged Cheddar, but I don’t buy it a whole lot because I’m the only one in the family that will eat it. It’s very, very sharp and crumbles when you cut it. That’s the best.

Anyway…I was doing my daily (well, pretty much) trip to Publix, and they happen to have fresh Medjdool dates BYGO that day so I knew I had to grab a box.

Did I have a plan for these precious little things that were about to expire in a few days?

Hell no.

But what’s the fun of creating new food if you always have a plan? However, letting time slip by you and seeing what you bought is about to expire will light a fire under your ass.

So, I kept thinking about the bacon wrapped gorgonzola stuffed dates that I made a while back, which made me wonder…could I could deconstruct them into a dish?

No, too little ingredients.

With bacon in mind, I couldn’t stop thinking about a sandwich. I just purchased a bag of fresh mini buns a few days ago,  so I decided to to make some little baby sandwiches inspired by the stuffed dates. It’s a sweet bite at first from the date slices, but the Gorgonzola hits you with a sharp cheesy bite, then the bacon, and the salty/sweet combination comes together deliciously.

It’s a beautiful thing.

Bacon and Date Grilled Cheese

12 mini sandwich buns – I used Pepperidge Farm wheat mini buns

1 8 oz. package cream cheese

1 4 oz. package Gorgonzola cheese

1 lb. bacon, cooked

12 dates, pitted and sliced thin

Make the baby sammys. First, combine the cream cheese and Gorgonzola – make sure you mash it well to incorporate the crumbly Gorgonzola with the cream cheese to make a good mix.

Spread the cheese on both sides of the bread slices. Add the bacon, then date slices and top with the other half of the bun.

Add 1/2 stick of butter to a saute pan over medium-high heat until melted.

Grill sandwiches in the pan, carefully turning halfway until golden brown on both sides.

Remove from heat.

I have to say it…..

Get out the Fritos and cottage cheese.

If you don’t know me, that’s my favorite side to any sandwich. Just had to throw that in there.

These were absolutely amazing. The bite of the Gorgonzola that was toned a bit by the cream cheese… the sweetness from the dates and the fantasticness of bacon – it was a perfect combination for a great baby sandwich.

Have a great weekend!!

xoxo

~Dixie Chik~

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Salmon Burger with Grilled Pineapple and Spicy Mayo

A couple of months ago my husband and I went on a Caribbean cruise for our 7th anniversary. It was really our honeymoon, ’cause we never took one.

This was our third cruise; we took one last year and the year before with the kids on Disney. This time we went on Norwegian.

Let me just go ahead and tell you – if you haven’t cruised before you need to know this. Disney does all things perfect. It was such a mistake for us to go on Disney first, then another cruiseline.

We were one spoiled family for a week.

I’m not saying Norwegian was a bad experience. They just didn’t measure up….they skip the little things that make a difference and make you want to go back. Disney does those things. They really want you to be happy and to have a memorable experience; they cater to you.

I was literally escorted to the ladies’ room when I simply asked where it was. Escorted as in arm-in-arm.

And look, my son was spoon fed on our first night there.

Ridiculous? Maybe. Memorable and fun – yes.

See what I mean?

As far as Norwegian, probably the biggest area of disappointment for me was the food. Pretty much everything I had on the Disney cruise was fantastic, give or take a few things. I remember on our first Disney cruise having an asparagus soup that was so amazing I thought about it for months. They had the typical buffets, two restaurants with the same menu and a few that were different but you had to pay extra. I’m not paying an assload of money for a cruise just to pay extra to have some sushi.

Bottom line, Disney is magical. I teared up a little when we went to the farewell party on the top deck the last day. I’m not even joking.

*sigh*

Disney did not pay me for this, I promise.

One of the things I look forward to when I go on a beach/tropical vacation is fresh seafood. On our last cruise, I had a salmon croquette-type appetizer one night and for some reason I thought about it a few days ago, which led to another thought. What if I made a salmon burger?

So I mentioned this idea to my husband and sister when she was over last week and it immediately grossed them out. They said they almost threw up in their mouths a little when I said it. How dramatic… I personally think they just don’t want to admit what a great idea it was because they didn’t have it first. Don’t you?

Today I made this concoction with all the things in my head I thought would work. I had a feeling this would taste good. I was wrong.

It wasn’t good. It was amazing. I absolutely loved it.

Salmon Burger with Grilled Pineapple and Spicy Mayo

1 16 oz can salmon, with those little round bones removed (they are edible by the way, but they gross me out)

1 egg

1/3 cup bread crumbs

1 tsp stone ground mustard

1 tbsp soy sauce

1 tbsp chives

Fresh pineapple slices

Mayo

Srirachia sauce

Fresh bagels, halved and toasted

Green leaf lettuce

Combine the salmon through chives in a mixing bowl, refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to a couple of hours. Mix mayo with the Srirachia, using enough of both to your taste. If you put a little bit of the Srirachia, you’ll get a little kick without too much heat. It’s one of those things you have to test to know what you can handle.

This spicy mayo is so good.

Prepare grill and make burger size patties with the salmon mixture. Add both burgers and pineapple rings to the grill. Pineapple should be done after about 3 minutes each side – depending on your grill, the burgers about 5-6 minutes each side.

Spread the mayo on each side of the bagel; add the salmon burger, then lettuce and pineapple.

Your belly just asked you to make this.

xoxo

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Summer Garden Salad with Bleu Cheese and Balsamic Vinaigrette

I want to share a simple recipe for a summer veggie salad I made last week that is a perfect side dish for whatever you’re grilling this Memorial Day – and it requires minimal effort.

Ok, well the chopping requires a little bit of effort if you aren’t a lunatic like me who thoroughly enjoys chopping.

In that case, you could use a chopper. Or something like that.

In my fridge I had some vegetables that were on the road to going bad, and I was having an intense bleu cheese craving. This beautiful salad is the outcome of those circumstances.

And, thank you Sunny of And Love It Too! for giving me such a fantastic name!

You all had fantastic names, by the way, but I was drawn to this one…

Summer Garden Salad with Bleu Cheese and Balsamic Vinaigrette

Salad

1 green bell pepper, diced

1 zucchini, diced

1 yellow squash, diced

1 16 oz can petite diced tomatoes

1 cup crumbled bleu cheese

Dressing

1/2 cup olive oil

3 tbsp balsamic vinegar

1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

1 tbsp sugar

1 tsp seasoned salt

Combine the veggies in a large bowl. Drizzle the dressing a little at a time, tasting along the way until you’re content. Add cheese and toss.

Kisses

~Dixie Chik~

 

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Jalapeno Jack and Potato Mini Muffins

I had such a good Mother’s Day. We relaxed, cooked, and (yay!) my sister came down from Nashville for a visit. On Saturday, my husband and kids wanted to celebrate early because:

1.   My husband has no patience.

2.   My family is the sweetest ever.

3.   My husband has no patience.

My sweet husband has a history when it comes to gifts. If he gets me something he’s excited about he absolutely cannot wait, therefore he has a hard time surprising me. Let me give you my favorite example.

Our second Christmas together, we were in the mall shopping for gifts and decided to split up for a little while. After about an hour or so he ran up to me and handed me a box – he had a look on his face like he was five years old – he said “open it, this is your Christmas gift.”

I said, “Mark, it’s not Christmas.”

He said, “I know. Open it.”

I said, “Are you sure, I mean Christmas is two weeks away?”

“OPEN IT!”

My God, that man has no patience to save his life.

It was a stunning necklace that I would have never expected. If there’s one thing Mark has, it’s the ability to score when he’s trying.

This year for Mother’s Day, they gave me fun stuff for my camera (score), and my daughter gave me a fabulous bracelet (another score). She has such good taste. They also told me that on Sunday I could stay in the kitchen and play until my heart was content; they had the laundry, the grocery shopping, etc. What a gift.

I love my family.

But, I just wondered….aren’t they aware that I’m in the kitchen cooking every Sunday anyway? Were they just trying to give me a guilt-free day? That had to be the case – and of course it’s much more fun when there are no obligations getting in the way of my kitchen play.

So, keeping with tradition, my sister and I did our normal routine during her visits….cooked, talked, cooked, had wine, cooked, etc. You get the picture.

Saturday night we decided to make comfort food… Salisbury Steak and mashed potatoes. Ok, saying that we went a bit overboard with the amount of potatoes we made is an understatement. I had two pyrex bowls full of them when we cleaned up. Hey – it’s the Southern way – you cook like you’re going to feed the entire freakin’ neighborhood. I have no idea why, that’s just what our mothers raised us to do.

So…what does a girl do with a Sunday free to do whatever she wants and an ass load of leftover mashed potatoes?

She makes Potato Mini Muffins. With pepper jack cheese, of course.

Monterey Jack and Potato Mini Muffins

Makes 24 mini muffins

1 1/2 cups mashed potatoes

2 cups all-purpose flour

3 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

2 eggs, beaten

1/2 cup sour cream

1/2 stick butter, softened

1 cup whole milk

1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese

Preheat oven to 400° and spray a mini muffin pan with baking spray. I used two pans that yield 12 muffins each.

In a stand mixer on low, combine all ingredients until completely incorporated. Spoon evenly into muffin tins and bake for 12-15 minutes, or until slightly brown. You may want to set the timer for 10 and watch them since all of our ovens cook differently!

They are so moist – butter is so optional.

Now you’ll rethink throwing out those leftover mashed potatoes.

xoxo

~Dixie Chik~

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Crab-Mango Pico de Gallo

Would you be interested in the difference in salsa and pico?

Salsa is wet. It happens to be the Spanish word for “sauce”, from what I’ve learned. I’m always wanting to be schooled.

Tell that to my mother who will remind me of my grades from high school. But hey, I made it through nursing school….15 years later, but I did it! With stellar grades, by the way. I was on the Dean’s list until those nasty nursing classes!

Anyway, Pico is a bit more dry. Well…can be dry. I like mine with a good bit of lime juice. And lots of heat.

Here’s a tidbit I found today:

Pico de Gallo [pronounced Pee’ Koh de Gah” Yoh] means “rooster’s beak”.  According to The New Food Lover’s Companion, the name may refer to eating Pico de Gallo by picking it out of the bowl with thumb and fingers.  While Pico de Gallo may be made using similar ingredients to salsa, it may also include cucumbers, tropical fruits including mango or pineapple, corn, or other ingredients not typically found in other salsas.  While it may be considered a form of salsa, Pico de Gallo may also be drier than cooked or fresh salsa.

Last Sunday was one of those days spent in the kitchen. When I say the day was spent in the kitchen….I’m not kidding. I woke up at 4 am (it’s that internal clock thing because I go to work very early during the week). So, since I was up and all obviously the first thing I did was go to the kitchen for my caffeine. Then I realized the biga for my ciabbata was ready. Yes, biga. If you don’t know what that is, then click

With the caffeine from my Coke Zero setting in, I made ciabatta. We had plans for family to come over and grill out later that day, so the bread was followed by potato salad, a marinade for grilled chicken, homemade pancakes (might be a post soon – these were fantastic), with scrambled eggs and bacon. At this point it was about 9 am – the family decided to get up and join me.

The last thing I made was this pico.

I have to tell you; I was a bit hesitant about the crab in this but at the same time really curious about what the taste combination would be. I made a batch of pico sans crab, then threw a little in a bowl and mixed the two together.

Success. I had to high-five myself because the kids were texting/playing video games and Mark was mowing the grass.

Not sure why I was surprised; it’s always those spur of the moment recipes that are thrown together at the last minute that are the best. There have been so many times when I do that throw-together-thing and turns out sooooo good, but then I can’t remember what ingredients I used!!

Sooo…

I finally got smart.

I got a little notebook that stays in one of my island drawers that I pull out every single time I start cooking.

Wanna see??

Isn’t she pretty? Snagged her at Publix for $2.79.

Onto the Pico.

Crab-Mango Pico de Gallo

Serves about 4

Crabmeat – 4 oz from a pack of 8 oz -keep in mind I used imitation, but I’m sure real crabmeat would be even better.

1 15 oz can petite diced tomatoes, drained and rinsed in a collander

1 medium sized yellow onion, diced

1 whole jalapeno pepper, washed, seeds removed and diced (use two if you want heat)

1/4 cucumber, washed and diced

1 mango, diced – for a tutorial on how to cut these click here

2 tbsp dried cilantro (I really wanted to use fresh but my Publix had none. Damnit, Cinco de Mayo)

Juice of 1 lime (use your judgement here, you may want more or less)

Salt to taste

Combine all ingredients.

Dip with tortilla chips, pita chips…whatever you can get your hands on.

Enjoy!

xoxo

Dixie Chik

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