Monday, June 30, 2008

Cheeseburger Hoagies

We went to my mom's house yesterday for swimming and dinner and to retrieve our dog who had been staying there while we were on vacation. Now tonight it's back to me cooking. I think I mentioned on Saturday how we wanted some vegetarian meals this week after our vacation binge, so when I was reviewing the blog for ideas I saw this and thought we hadn't had it in quite awhile.

Cheeseburger Hoagie Sandwiches
1 package (11 ounces) refrigerated French bread dough
4 slices reduced-fat American cheese, divided
12 ounces 95% lean ground beef
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup ketchup
2 tsp yellow mustard
1 cup thinly sliced iceberg lettuce
1 plum tomato, sliced

Preheat oven to 350. Place bread dough on cutting board, stretch slightly. Cut dough into four equal portions. Cut three diagonal slits on top of each portion of dough; place seam side down and 3 inches apart on cookie sheet. Bake 20-22 minutes or until golden brown. Immediately remove loaves from baking sheet to a cooling rack.

Cut two slices of the cheese into small pieces. In a 10-inch skillet, cook and stir beef, onion, and garlic over medium heat 8-10 minutes or until no longer pink, breaking beef into crumbles. Drain. Stir in ketchup, mustard, and cut-up cheese; stir until cheese is melted. Remove skillet from heat.

Slice each loaf lengthwise, end to end, cutting halfway through to center of loaf; spread open. Fill evenly with beef mixture; place on baking stone. Bake 6-8 minutes or until bread is toasted and meat mixture is heated through; remove from oven.

Cut remaining cheese slices diagonally in half; top each sandwich with one cheese traingle. Top sandwiches with lettuce and tomato slices.


The first time I made it, I used hoagie rolls and the second time I used the French loaf. I didn't like it with the French loaf cut into four pieces because they were too small. I forgot to get hoagie rolls when I was in the bakery section, so I got a French loaf again this time (which worked out because it was on manager's special for $0.99!), but I cut it into three pieces instead of four. Oh, and I use shredded cheese instead of the slices.

We're going to have leftover pasta salad with it and maybe some watermelon.


The portobello burgers were really good...and super filling! I had thought of buying two packages so we could each have two "burgers" but I didn't get them, and it turned out we didn't need them. The marinade gave the burgers a little more flavor, and the muenster cheese was really yummy.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Grilled Portobello Mushroom Burgers

Well, we made it home from our week at the beach. We had a really good time with the husband's family. The boy absolutely loves being at the ocean, so he had a blast. Although it breaks my heart because he keeps asking for "more ocean house." :( And of course now we're back in the blazing summer heat of Phoenix. Ugh. If anyone has an extra $30K lying around they don't know what to do with, I'd gladly take it off your hands so I could get a pool in my backyard. Someday...

Anyway, back to our regular routine. I was excited to see that portobellos were on sale this week because it seems like a long time since we've had them. Plus after vacation binge eating, we wanted some healthy stuff this week. Or rather the husband did...I've been thinking about making a tres leches cake all afternoon. ;) I didn't really know what I wanted to do with the mushrooms, other than grill them and throw them on a bun, so I did a Google search. This was the first recipe that came up, and it sounds really good. Who knew there were recipes on the Mayo Clinic website. I'm bookmarking it to check out some more later because I'm currently busy uploading pictures from our trip and looking at nursery bedding. Such a multi-tasker.

Grilled Portobello Mushroom Burgers
4 large portobello mushroom caps, 5 inches in diameter
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon sugar
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, optional
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 whole-wheat buns, toasted
4 slices tomato
4 slices red onion
2 bibb lettuce leaves, halved

Clean mushrooms with a damp cloth and remove their stems. Place in a glass dish, stem (gill) side up.

To prepare the marinade, in a small bowl whisk together the vinegar, water, sugar, garlic, cayenne pepper and olive oil. Drizzle the marinade over the mushrooms. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for about 1 hour, turning mushrooms once.

Prepare a hot fire in a charcoal grill or heat a gas grill or broiler. Away from the heat source, lightly coat the grill rack or broiler pan with cooking spray. Position the cooking rack 4 to 6 inches from the heat source.

Grill or broil the mushrooms on medium heat, turning often, until tender, about 5 minutes on each side. Baste with marinade to keep from drying out. Using tongs, transfer the mushrooms to a plate.

Place each mushroom on a bun and top with 1 tomato slice, 1 onion slice and 1/2 lettuce leaf. Serve immediately.


I don't have lettuce or tomato, and I don't really want just onion slices, so I'm going to top them with Muenster cheese. I also need to make a pasta salad. Maybe I'll throw some water on to boil for that when I go downstairs to get some limeade. I treated myself today to Simply Orange brand Limeade. I think it has crack in it...that stuff is awesome. It's kind of pricey, but 1) it was on sale, and 2)I can't have beer or margaritas to cool off in this darned heat, so I figured I was justified.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Pigs in a Blanket

I told you it was no-frills week at our house! Let me just say that driving school last night SUCKED. I think I would have rather gotten the two points on my license than sat through that. Really it just reaffirmed my belief that most people driving are complete idiots. I did learn, however, that in AZ, it's legal to have an alcoholic beverage in the backseat of a taxi. That wasn't covered in class, but it was in the book from the AZ DMV.

Anyway, we're having Pigs in a Blanket tonight. I made them awhile back when I went to San Diego with some friends. Our kids all loved them. My sis-in-law, Tracie, made them for dinner when we went to Houston back in February, and the husband devoured them. Tracie mostly made them for the kids because she'd made really yummy tortilla soup for us, but the husband and his brother had some, too.

Pigs In A Blanket
8 hot dogs
4 slices American cheese, each cut into 6 strips
1 can refrigerated crescent dinner rolls

1. Heat oven to 375°F. Slit hot dogs to within 1/2 inch of ends; insert 3 strips of cheese into each slit.
2. Separate dough into triangles. Wrap dough triangle around each hot dog. Place on ungreased cookie sheet, cheese side up.
3. Bake at 375°F. for 12 to 15 minutes or until golden brown.


Super easy and so tasty. And it could be vegetarian if you used the veggie dogs for it.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Nothing tonight!

I forgot I have to go to stupid Defensive Driving School tonight for a ticket I got a few weeks ago. Lame. It's from 5:15 until 10:30. 10:30?!?!?!? Seriously?! And then I have to drive home after that? My friend Kimberly thought it was a ploy to make you tired so you cause another accident on the way home and repeat the cycle. I'm not counting her theory out...

So, no dinner here. The boy is going to stay at my mom's house tonight, the husband's going to happy hour, I guess I'm going to get fast food.

I'll be back tomorrow with one last recipe before our big week-long vacation!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Spaghetti Salad

We're having a low key dinner week. For one thing, it's too freakin' hot here in Phoenix to want to cook. Well, not if you're 18 weeks pregnant but really then all that you'd want is that half gallon of Blue Bell ice cream you bought at the grocery store today and a spoon while sitting on the couch with your feet up and the ceiling fan blowing above you. For another, we're heading out of town later this week, so I didn't want to buy a ton of groceries.

Last night we had brats and Pasta Roni. Not very exciting. Tonight we're having some chicken burgers from Trader Joe's (Chile Lime Chicken Burgers, I think they are), and I'm making a pasta salad that's going to be our side dish for the rest of the week. This recipe is from a family friend that I've known for literally my whole life. At one of my bridal showers, guests were asked to bring a dish to share and write down the recipe for me, so this is what our friend Julie did for me. I loved the salad when I was little, so I was super excited to get it, but I also love that it's in her handwriting. Don't you love recipes like that? Plus I love pasta salad in the summer when it's too stinkin' hot to want to eat.

Spaghetti Salad
20 ounces thin spaghetti, broken in pieces and cooked
2 pints cherry tomatoes
1 red onion, chopped
2 green peppers, chopped
1 lb. mushrooms, sliced
Sprinkle lots of parmesan cheese
4 T. Salad Elegance
1 large bottle Italian dressing

Combine pasta and vegetables. Top with cheese, Salad Elegance, and dressing. Mix well.


I forgot it was thin spaghetti, so I bought regular. I also got grape tomatoes (is there really a difference?), and I skipped the green peppers because one was $1.29 at my grocery store. WTF?! That's what I usually pay for one red pepper that isn't on sale. Sheesh. Darn gas prices driving up grocery prices.

I'm sure there will be more pasta salad recipes to come during this opressive heat of summer in Phoenix. Or if you have one you love, send it to me!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Off for a few days

We're going to a baseball game tonight, and tomorrow we're going to my parents' house to celebrate Father's Day with an afternoon of swimming and dinner made by my mom. I'll be back on Monday night with something...not sure what, but something!

Friday, June 13, 2008


The casserole was really good! I hope Andrea and her family liked it. I just have to say that her little baby girl was so precious!! And so tiny! I had some reservations about how the sauce was going to turn out when I was cooking it because the mushrooms absorbed all the butter. I think maybe next time I'd saute the mushrooms in one tablespoon of the butter and reserve the rest to melt after I'd cooked them to help with the roux. Oh, and I didn't have enough milk to double the recipe, so I used a cup of milk and a cup of half and half I conveniently had in the fridge from a failed attempt at making ice cream last week (who knew you had to freeze part of the ice cream maker...not me, and that's why I don't have fresh peach ice cream in my freezer right now).

Anyway, the sauce thickened up nicely once everything was added. I think the recipe said to use medium low heat, but I had it on medium to medium high most of the time. I read somewhere once that mushrooms should be cooked at higher heat because of their high water content, otherwise they just get blah. Oh, and I added some peas in to the bowl with the ham and spaghetti before pouring in the sauce. I used a whole bag of peas, but I was doubling the recipe.

The husband took a bite and declared it immediately to be a keeper. If you don't dig on swine, I think chicken could easily be substituted for the ham.

Ham and Pasta Casserole

My friend Andrea had a baby last week, and our MOMS Club is taking her family dinner. Tonight is my night. I wanted to make something with ham and came across this recipe in my search. When hams were cheap at Easter I bought a nine pound one because they were so cheap. Smart, right? You should see the amount of ham I have left. Since I'm trying to use up what's in our freezer, ham seemed a logical choice. I'm making two of them so we're going to have it as well. I hope it's good. I hate making new things when taking dinner to someone in case it's horrible. If it doesn't turn out, I'll stop and get them pizza instead.

Ham and Pasta Casserole
6 ounces spaghetti, cut into small lengths
2 cups diced cooked ham
3 tablespoons butter
4 to 6 ounces mushrooms, sliced
4 to 6 green onions, trimmed, thinly sliced
4 tablespoons flour
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt
1/4 teaspoon garlic seasoned pepper or other pepper blend
dash cayenne or other hot pepper, as desired
salt or more seasoned salt and pepper, to taste
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese

Cook spaghetti in boiling salted water, following package directions. Drain and rinse in hot water; combine with ham in a large bowl.

Heat butter over medium low heat; add sliced mushrooms. Cook, stirring frequently, until mushrooms are tender; add green onions. Stir in flour until blended in thoroughly. Gradually stir in chicken broth and milk. Add seasoned salt, pepper, and hot pepper. Cook, stirring constantly, until thickened. Taste and add more salt and pepper, as needed. Stir into the spaghetti and ham mixture; stir in cheese. Bake at 325° for 25 to 30 minutes, until bubbly and cheese is melted.


I think I might throw some peas in, too, to give it a little more color. I'm not sure how the sauce is going to taste...I'm guessing I'll end up tweaking it a little, but I'll have to taste it and see what I think. Sounds pretty easy, and most of the stuff for it I had on hand already. Reading it over, I bet it would be good substituting half the chicken broth for white wine and gruyere for the cheddar. But, Andrea's nursing and I'm knocked up, so I'll probably leave the wine out just to be safe. I'd cook it enough to get the alcohol out of it, but better to not chance it I figure. If we like it, I may try that variation on it at some point!


The pork chops were decent. Turned out I had used the last of my rosemary, so I just went with the Pasta & Co House Herbs. I wish Phoenix had more cool places like Pasta & Co. Whenever I go to Seattle, I'm generally in an "I hate Phoenix" funk for a week or so. Seattle just has so much personality and character, while Phoenix is one big suburb with nothing but Applebee's and Walmarts. Anyway. The pork chops were okay. I don't think I'd ever grilled pork chops before, so mine was a little dry, but it was one of the thinner ones.

The potatoes I made, however, were AMAZING. I had only ever grilled potatoes when making shish kabobs before, so I wasn't sure how they'd turn out. I used one pound of red potatoes and diced them up (cut the potatoes into fourths and then diced up from there). I microwaved half a stick of unsalted butter (I only ever use unsalted butter) and added in some Montreal steak seasoning (actually it was Pasta & Co Seasoning Salt, but it's pretty similar to Montreal steak seasoning). I tossed the potatoes in that. I made a little tray out of aluminum foil (two sheets because I didn't have heavy duty) and poured the lot in there, then wrapped up the foil into a pouch. Because I was worried about butter leaking out and messing up my grill, I wrapped another piece of foil around the packet. Threw it on the grill on medium heat for 35 or 40 minutes, turning once. They were AMAZING. The husband said they were the best potatoes he'd ever had. WOW! I'll definitely be making those again. The only downside was that they'd been on for about 20 minutes by the time the pork chops went on, so I think that might be one of the reasons the pork chops were a little overdone because the grill was so hot.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Grilled Pork Chops

Okay, I'm back!!! The boy and I spent a long weekend in Seattle visiting my friends and family. We had a great time, and I ate like a queen. We stayed in a part of the city I wasn't really familiar with so it was fun to explore a new area. And within two miles of the house we were staying in, there was a cupcake bakery and a pie bakery. Seriously...a bakery JUST for cupcakes and one JUST for pie. Talk about a pregnant woman's dream! The cupcakes were brother bought half a dozen for us to much on while we were there, and I got a strawberry rhubarb pie for my mom. We're suckers for rhubarb because it's hard to come by here in AZ, but my mom used to grow it in our backyard in Seattle. Oh yeah, and I had the BEST Chinese food I have ever had in my life. I just know I'm going to be eight months pregnant and wake up in the middle of the night craving their Seven Flavor Beef or Honey Walnut Prawns.

Anyway, in the days leading up to the trip I didn't do a whole lot of cooking, so I didn't bother posting. We had paninis a couple times, spaghetti...seriously, nothing exciting. We got home Monday night, and last night I had the year end banquet for my MOMS Club chapter. I got off easy since I'm on the board and just had to take drinks, but man alive did we feast! The boy and husband had pizza which they were both excited for. You'd think we never have it the way they get excited for pizza. Sheesh.

So it's back to the real world for me now for a bit. We leave again next Friday for a week at the beach in CA with my in-laws. My father-in-law is retiring (a week from yesterday!) and turning 65, so we're going to celebrate. It's going to be us, the in-laws, and my husband's sister, her husband, and their two boys. Should be fun.

Anyway, I'm still trying to use up things I have on hand because every food storage spot in my house seems to be overflowing. You'd think I was a squirrel saving nuts for winter. I have no idea how I accumulated so much food. I have a Pampered Chef cookbook that has good recipes for the summer--either grilling or not much cooking involved--so I flipped through that and found a good sounding pork chop recipe. I'm going to look up grilling potatoes, too, and try to throw on some red potatoes I got at the store yesterday as well.

Grilled Rosemary Pork Chops
4 boneless pork chops, cut 3/4 to 1 inch thick (about 6 ounces each)
4 tsp olive oil
2 tsp Rosemary Herb Seasoning Mix

Prepare grill for direct cooking on medium. Use a pastry brush to brush both sides of pork chops with oil. Sprinkle evenly with seasoning mix. Place pork chops on grid of grill. Grill, covered, 12-16 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 160 for well done, turning once while cooking.


I've said it before and I'll say it again. I hate how Pampered Chef recipes call for their products. I guess it makes sense, but I don't have "Rosemary Herb Seasoning Mix." So I'm going to use some rosemary and maybe some Pasta & Co House Herbs, which is similar to Italian Seasoning. Darn it...I meant to pick up more of that while I was in Seattle and spaced. Actually I just wasn't ever near one of their locations. My parents are still up there and don't come home until tomorrow. Wonder if I could convince my mom to swing by one before they leave. If she happens to call maybe I'll mention that I meant to get some.

I found this recipe for grilled potatoes that I think I might try. I just have to remember to get them on the grill before the pork chops. I'm not very good at timing all parts of a meal to be done at the same time. I think I have some peas in the freezer, so we'll probably have some of those, too. I'm kind of excited to be making real dinner again. Seems like it's been a really long time.