Garlic Butter

Here is our aforementioned Garlic Butter recipe. It comes from All Recipes, but I greatly reduce the amount of garlic salt compared to the original. Don't worry, it is still plenty potent.

• 1 cup butter, softened
• 1 tbsp garlic, crushed
• 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
• 1/2 tsp garlic salt
• 1 tsp Italian seasoning
• 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
• 1/4 tsp ground paprika

In a small bowl, combine softened butter, crushed garlic, and parmesan cheese. Season with garlic salt, Italian seasoning, pepper and paprika. Mix until smooth.


Variations on a Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Who knows how many grilled cheese sandwiches I have consumed in my lifetime. I'm at the point where they just don't excite me much any more. Over the years I have done various things to try liven them up a bit, such as working in a little parmesan or other seasonings when buttering the bread.

Lately I have been regularly perusing our cookbook American Sandwich for new ideas. I noticed the sandwich for Vermont, the "Cheese Dream," which sounded unusual yet intriguing. Essentially it is grilled cheese combined with french toast, and it is actually pretty good.

Cheese Dream Sandwich

• 2 slices quality sandwich bread
• 1 egg
• 1 tbsp milk
• Sharp cheddar cheese, sliced
• 1/2 tbsp butter
• Maple syrup (if you are adventurous)

Lay out slice of bread and cover with cheese; top with remaining slice. Lightly press sandwich together. Whisk the eggs and milk together until frothy and place mixture in a shallow dish.

In a frying pan or griddle, melt butter over medium heat. Dip each sandwich in the egg batter, letting excess drip off, and place it in the frying pan. Fry sandwiches over medium heat until golden brown on each side. Slice sandwiches in half, and serve with maple syrup for dipping (I haven't gotten up the courage to try it with syrup yet).

One disclaimer—the original recipe calls for Grafton cheddar cheese and Vermont maple syrup. Alas, I do not have either of those things. I imagine those local specialty flavors would take the sandwich to another level.

Then just today I was surveying the various ingredients we had in our fridge trying to decide what to have for lunch. When Kristen asked what I was going to have, I declared with some uncertainty "a grilled pizza sandwich." Confused, she asked what that was, but I informed her I was still concocting it in my mind. Here's what I ended up making.

Grilled Pizza Sandwich

• 2 slices quality sandwich bread
• Garlic butter
• Mozzarella cheese, sliced
• Tomato sauce
• Pepperoni

Spread garlic butter over one side of each bread slice and flip over (we have a really good garlic butter recipe, perhaps I'll have to post that another time). Add a thin layer of cheese, a modest scoop of tomato sauce, pepperoni, then another layer of cheese, and top with the remaining slice of bread.

Heat a frying pan or griddle over medium heat. Grill each side until golden brown and the cheese is melted. Slice in half to serve.

I was surprised at how good this little improvisation turned out. I will definitely be making it for myself again (assuming we have the same assortment of ingredients in the fridge). And I'm willing to bet Eddie is going to love this sandwich as well.


Taco Seasoning

I ran out of my big taco seasoning from Costco and wanted to make tacos so I searched online and found this recipe which I really like. It gives me some satisfaction to make my own seasoning as opposed to using pre-made stuff. I also have a homemade marinade for fajitas that is really good too. So in honor of Cinco de Mayo coming up, here you go.

Taco Seasoning
I don't remember where I found this, maybe All Recipes.

• 1 T chili powder
• 1/4 t garlic powder
• 1/4 t onion powder
• 1/4 t oregano
• 1/2 t paprika
• 1 1/2 t cumin
• 1 t salt
• 1 t pepper

Mix in a small bowl. Store what you don't use. It doesn't make a ton, but more than I use for one batch of tacos. It is good if you add it to shredded chicken and a little bit of water.

Fajita Marinade
This Week for Dinner

• 1/4 C lime juice
• 1 tsp honey
• 1/4 tsp oregano
• 1 tsp chili powder
• 2-3 garlic cloves pressed
• 1/2 tsp salt
• ground pepper
• 1/4 C light olive oil

Enough marinade for 2 pounds of chicken breasts. Marinate chicken for several hours. Grill then serve with tortillas, grilled onions and green peppers.


Fresh Tomato Marinara Sauce

We're still making our way through all the fresh vegetables we got from Bountiful Baskets. A cool thing about getting all the fruits and vegetables you might not normally buy is that you have to learn new recipes to use it all.

It was late last night, time for dinner, no meat in the house, and we'd already had tortillas with beans, the end of the chicken, cheese, and tomatillo salsa for lunch after a morning full of soccer and precipitation. While we have a ways to get to get through all our tortillas, I wasn't feeling like more Mexican for dinner.

I found this marinara recipe, since we had several fresh tomatoes we needed to use. Dinner was really basic, just spaghetti, the sauce, garlic toast, and salad.

During the dinner, we had the following conversation:

Rob: Brynlee, do you notice anything different about dinner tonight? Something about what we're eating? Or actually, more about what we're not eating?

Brynlee: Ashlee's gone.

Rob: And we usually eat Ashlee for dinner?

Brynlee: Oh. Let's see. There's no meatballs.

Of course, when Brynlee said dinner was different due to a lack of meatballs, that's not to say we always have meatballs. We have chicken more often than we have meatballs, but the meatballs would be the obvious type of meat to go with spaghetti.

So she did pick up on it pretty quickly when asked about it but I don't know if she'd have noticed there was no meat if I hadn't asked. We had some Swiss Chard Curry last week with no meat in it, and no one noticed. I'm reminded of the first time we had veggie burritos, and we weren't allowed to look inside the burritos until we had tasted them, presumably because if we'd known it was just zucchini and other vegetables, we would have refused to try them.

Another memory brought back when putting together this sauce was of the huge stock pot full of spaghetti sauce that would simmer all day after harvesting the tomatoes, onions, and various herbs and spices from our garden in the fall and then canned or frozen.

Here is the recipe as I found it online:


2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped green pepper
2 garlic cloves, chopped
3 cups (about 3 large) peeled, chopped tomatoes
1 can(6 oz.)no-salt-added tomato paste
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon basil
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon fennel seed


Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion, green pepper, and garlic. Cook, uncovered, 2 to 3 minutes. Add remaining ingredients. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, until tomatoes are very tender, about 15 to 20 minutes; stir occasionally. Cool 5 minutes.

Place cooled tomato mixture in blender jar 1 or more cups at a time. Cover and blend at stir about 30 seconds after each addition. Blend at puree about 30 seconds. Return mixture to saucepan. Simmer over low heat about 5 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve over fresh pasta.

We didn't have any green pepper or fennel seed, so I just left those out. I had tomato paste, but I just never got around to putting it in. I added some parsley, and every time I tasted it I added more oregano. I dipped the tomatoes for 10-15 seconds in the boiling spaghetti to loosen up the skins for easy peeling, then just quartered the tomatoes and smashed them up in the pot while they cooked. I didn't run it through the blender, just served it extra chunky.