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Panini Friday

Right after the New Year begins we have a tradition. We take the boys up to Powderpigs ski school on Friday nights and while we leave teaching our little rascals to someone else, we enjoy a great night of skiing (or snowboarding) and food with some great friends.

Since we head up to the slopes around 5:30 I have been plagued with what to make my husband and kids that is healthy, delicious and portable. I can’t stomach to send them up to the slopes on McDonald’s and the guilt was getting to be too much. I had to think of something. Last Friday I reached into my cabinet to get my toaster out when I saw my Panini press. My prayers were answered – delicious, wholesome and I can add lots of protein in there. I love making Panini’s because the possibilities are endless. Different breads, meats, cheese, veggies, fruits, aioli, infused oils…I couldn’t wait!

My first pass was a roasted turkey, gruyere, apricot and chive Panini. It oozed deliciousness and judging by how my hubby devoured it on the road up skiing, it did not disappoint. Enjoy!

Turkey, Gruyere, Apricot and Chive Panini
(recipe makes one panini)

Ingredients
2 slices of bread (use whatever you have on hand or whatever looks great at the bakery. I used two slices of a crusty Artisan bread for this sandwich)
4 slices roasted turkey breast
1 ½ oz. gruyere cheese
1 T. apricot jam
5 chives
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

Direction

1. Heat Panini Press
2. Drizzle both sides of bread with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper
3. Turn bread over and slather jam on both sides. Layer turkey, cheese and chives on one slice of bread and cover with the other.
4. Place in Panini press until golden and cheese oozes.

One Way I Plan To Be More Organized In 2010 – Weekly Meal Plans…

So I hope that this resolution will stick. I have been sick as a dog and stuck in bed, so I was able to get a jump start on this resolution by perusing some old issues of Cooks Illustrated as well as log many hours of Food Network time. So, here it is below. I must say that not only does it sound great, but when I went to the grocery store this afternoon, my bill was just over $50. Now, $50 for me, is amazing! Generally I can’t walk into a grocery store without leaving with at least $100 of loot, so this just might be an economical resolution as well…Bravern here I come! For those of you not in the Seattle area, the Bravern is an amazing new shopping establishment complete with a Neiman Marcus, Sur La Table, Louis Vuitton and Anthropologie.

OK, so enough with the rambling, here is the weeks menu:

Tuesday, December 29th: Sesame Noodles with Shredded Chicken
Wednesday, December 30th: Maple Glazed Pork Tenderloin with Roasted Red Potatoes and Sweet Potatoes
Thursday, December 31st: HAPPY NEW YEAR! We are partying with friends tonight!
Friday, January 1st: Black Bean and Chorizo Enfrijoladas
Saturday, January 2nd: Prawn Gratin with Angel Hair Pasta
Sunday, January 3rd: Sauteed Chicken Breasts with Orzo and Green Beans

So, last night I made the Sesame Noodles with Shredded Chicken. It was good, however in my case I used fresh, Chinese noodles I found in my produce section and the texture was mushy. Next time I will stick with regular spaghetti noodles as I think they will hold their shape better. Other than that, I would definitely make this again. It is an easy one dish meal, very easy to prepare and has a decent amount of vegetables.

Sesame Noodles with Shredded Chicken
(Please note that this recipe is made to be enough for two people. If you want to make it for more, I would double it.)

Ingredients

Sauce
2 ½ T. soy sauce
1 t. sesame seeds
2 T. peanut butter (chunky or smooth)
1 T. rice wine vinegar
1 T. light brown sugar
1 ½ t. grated, fresh ginger
1 garlic clove, minced
½ t. hot sauce
Hot water

Noodles
1 8 oz. boneless, skinless chicken breast, cooked and shredded
1/3 lb. dried spaghetti
1 T. toasted sesame oil
½ red bell pepper, cored, seeded and sliced into thin strips
1 carrot, grated
2 scallions, sliced thin
1 T. chopped, fresh cilantro

1. Blend all Sauce ingredients until smooth. Add hot water 1 T. at a time until the sauce has the consistence of heavy cream. (I used 2 T. of water for this.)
2. Cook noodles according to package directions
3. When noodles are cooked, transfer to a bowl and toss with sesame oil.
4. Add bell pepper, carrot, scallions, chicken and sauce to the pasta and toss.
5. Garnish with fresh cilantro.

Enjoy!

The Love Season

I have been somewhat of an insomniac for years. I am not sure why, but about once every 2-3 months I have a 3-4 night range where I can’t get more than 2 hours of sleep per night. Needless to say it is torturous, but I am able to weather this storm with some good books and during my latest bout, I came by some books by an amazing author, Elin Hilderbrandt.

I love Elin’s books for so many reasons. First, they are what I would categorize as chick-lit, and I LOVE chick-lit. Second, as it turns out, one of the authors favorite past times is cooking, so her books almost always have a surrounding or underlying theme of food. And finally, Elin has a family, so many of her books surround marriage and family issues, both of which I can definitely relate to.

The most recent book I have read from Elin was entitled, “The Love Season.” This is the story of Renata Knox, a 19 year old, newly engaged, college student, who is going to Nantucket to meet her wealthy fiancés parents for the first time. Renata goes to Nantucket with the intention of also visiting her estranged Godmother, Marguerite. Renata, whose mother, Candace died when she was only four years old, has never been allowed to visit her Godmother, who was also her mother’s very best friend. Once a renowned restaurateur, Marguerite sells her award winning restaurant after the death of Candace’s mother and becomes a recluse.

Against Renata’s father wishes, Renata calls her godmother with the intention of finding out the mystery behind her mother’s death and to have many more of Renata’s questions answered. The book spans two days when Renata is visiting the island and includes flashbacks from Marguerite’s past.

I had so much fun reading this book and was mesmerized by the story and by the way the author can so speak about food in such an illustrious manner. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.