Saturday, September 17, 2011

Smoked Salmon and Pesto Sandwich

This was another sandwich creation that stemmed from mine and Clementine's recent visit to Postino Winecafe. They had a bruschetta with smoked salmon and pesto that was incredible. I couldn't stop thinking about it. I love the combination of pesto and salmon. My mom makes a really tasty pesto salmon, but since the husband doesn't like salmon I don't get it very often. Clementine came up with the idea of making a sandwich version of the bruschetta. When she told me about it when she had the idea, I was tempted to run out and buy the ingredients to have it too. Last weekend I was able to go to Trader Joe's, so I figured I'd pick up some smoked salmon there to make these sandwiches for the husband and me.

Smoked Salmon and Pesto Sandwich
Source: My BFF Clementine

olive oil
1 par-baked ciabiatta loaf
1 4-ounce package smoked salmon
1/2 package of softened cream cheese
3-4 tablespoons of pesto (store-bought or homemade)
1/4 red onion, minced finely
1/2 small jar of capers

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place the whole ciabiatta loaf directly on the oven rack for 10 minutes, so the crust may get crisp and the inside may get warm. Remove from oven with tongs and let cool slightly on a cutting board. (Note: if your ciabatta loaf is fully baked, use a 350 degree oven for more like 5 minutes.)

Once bread is cool enough to handle, slice the entire loaf lengthwise and brush some olive oil on both the top and bottom halves. Spread 1/4 cup of softened cream cheese on each half. On the bottom half, sprinkle capers and red onions over the cream cheese. Layer the smoked salmon on next. On the top half of the bread, slather pesto sauce over the cream cheese layer. Place top and bottom halves of the loaf together to assemble one large sandwich. Cut into individual sandwich servings and serve immediately.


Wow. Wow. Wow. This may have been the best sandwich I have ever had. It's at least one of the top five. It was so good, I was tempted to run to the store to get more smoked salmon and ciabatta bread. I may have gone if I hadn't already consumed a few glasses of wine at that point. Jen Clementine put tomatoes on hers when she made them, but I wasn't sure I'd like it with tomatoes, so I left them off. I have to say, this was the perfect combination of ingredients. My bread was perfect--crunchy on the outside but soft inside, creamy from the cream cheese, salty with the smoked salmon and capers, the rich pesto. Wow. This is something we will definitely have on a regular basis.

Best. Sandwich. Ever.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Pintrest Chicken and Broccoli Casserole

I know I waxed poetic about my love for recently. I think my addiction is growing...I may need an intervention at some point. There are just so many yummy recipes, crafty projects, neat house ideas, cute outfits. Sigh. Complete time sucker, let me tell you.

Anyway, if you have a Pintrest account, chances are you've seen this recipe. I'm fairly certain everyone I know on Pintrest pinned this at some point in the last couple weeks. I love a good casserole, so I was excited to make it. Plus my brood loves broccoli, and I loved finding a casserole recipe that didn't include cream of something soup. Turns out it's from a blog called Get Off Your Butt and Bake. I haven't checked out many other posts, but I think I probably will. She calls it Chicken Broccoli Supreme. I changed mine up a bit from how the recipe appears on that blog, so the recipe below is how I made it.

Pintrest Chicken and Broccoli Casserole
Source: Adapted from Get Off Your Butt and Bake blog

1 lb. broccoli (steamed slightly if fresh, thawed if frozen)
3 cups cooked chicken breasts – Break up in small pieces
3 cups Grated Cheddar Cheese, divided
1 tube Ritz Crackers
1/2 stick melted butter
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder

1/3 C. Butter melted
1/4 C. Cornstarch, dissolved in 1/2 C. COLD Water
1/3 C. Chicken Broth
1/4 tsp. Salt
1/4 tsp Pepper
2 Cups skim milk
1 1/2 cups of the above Cheddar Cheese


In greased 13×9 pan, layer the broccoli and chicken, then set aside. In saucepan over medium heat, combine the sauce ingredients--melted butter, cornstarch dissolved in water, chicken broth, seasonings, and milk. Stir well, and continue stirring until sauce has thickened. Turn heat down to low, and add 1- 1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese. Stir until melted. Pour over the chicken and broccoli. Top with 1- 1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese.

Melt the half stick butter, and add the poppy seeds, garlic and onion powders, and stir well. Crush Ritz crackers in large zip-lock bag with a rolling pin. Don’t crush too small. Add crumbs to the melted butter. Sprinkle crumbs over the top of the grated cheese.

Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes, or until hot & bubbly.


I used frozen broccoli for mine, so I just threw some in a microwave steamer for a couple minutes so it wouldn't be frozen. I didn't want to completely heat it for fear it would get soggy in the casserole. The original recipe calls for two sleeves of crackers and an entire stick of butter for the topping. I thought that was a bit much (plus my kids are cracker monsters and had eaten all but the one sleeve of crackers I stashed away, so I really didn't have much choice), so I also cut down the amount of butter too. I was worried it was going to be a bit bland, so I threw in the garlic and onion powders to give it a little kick. It really helped. I think next time I would probably season the chicken a little, too. I baked mine earlier in the day and just threw the chicken breasts in a pan into the oven; in hindsight I should have done something to them so there'd be a little more flavor. You could easily add some seasoning to the sauce as well.

All in all, this was a casserole that we really liked. Boy #1 put up a bit of a stink about eating it, but the rest of us all enjoyed it. I think he was just having an off day--chicken, broccoli, and cheese are all things he normally loves. Who knows with five year olds. Am I right?! This is definitely something I'd make again, especially since most of the ingredients (aside from the crackers, which my family just tears through too quickly) are things I normally have on hand.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Grilled Shrimp and Sausage Skewers with Smoky Paprika Glaze

I was cleaning out some stuff from my nightstand recently and happened across an issue of Bon Appetit magazine (or as the husband likes to call it, Bone Ape Tit) from last summer that had a tasty looking shrimp skewer on the cover. I love a good skewer, but my kids aren't big on shrimp, so I figured this would make a great dinner for the husband and me some Friday night.

Grilled Shrimp and Sausage Skewers with Smoky Paprika Glaze
Source: Bon Appetit, June 2010 issue

3/4 cup olive oil
4 large garlic cloves, pressed
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
5 teaspoons smoked paprika
4 teaspoons Sherry wine vinegar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
12 uncooked extra-large shrimp (13 to 15 per pound), peeled, deveined
12 1-inch-long pieces andouille or other fully cooked smoked sausages (such as linguiƧa; about 16 ounces)
12 cherry tomatoes
12 2-layer sections of red onion wedges
Nonstick vegetable oil spray

Whisk oil, garlic, thyme, smoked paprika, Sherry wine vinegar, salt, black pepper, and crushed red pepper in medium bowl to blend for glaze. Transfer half of glaze to small bowl and reserve for serving.

Alternately thread shrimp, sausage pieces, cherry tomatoes, and sections of onion wedges on each of 6 long metal skewers. Arrange skewers on large rimmed baking sheet. DO AHEAD Can be made up to 6 hours ahead. Cover and chill skewers and bowls of glaze separately.

Coat grill rack with nonstick spray and prepare barbecue (medium-high heat). Brush skewers on both sides with glaze from 1 bowl. Grill until shrimp are opaque in center, turning and brushing occasionally with more glaze, 6 to 8 minutes.

Arrange skewers on platter. Serve with remaining bowl of glaze.


I absolutely love grilled cherry tomatoes. Regular cherry tomatoes I can really take or leave, but when they're grilled...oh man. This dinner came together really fast which was great. I've discovered something about paprika, too. It's worth the money to buy good quality paprika, not just whatever is the cheapest spice at the store. I really don't like the flavor of cheap paprika, but this was fantastic! The glaze had a great smokey quality to it from the paprika and a kick as well from the red pepper. The husband and I both gobbled this up. It was so good! It's definitely something I'd make for another date night dinner.

Glazed and ready to go on the grill