The Perfect Picnic Sandwich

This beautiful Spring day led me to want to go on a nature hike. I have to admit, I love taking my kids on nature hikes. Fresh air, new growth, and simply hanging out with my kids is something wonderful. So with a hike in mind, I was thinking of what to pack to eat.  I scanned the kitchen, and noticed this great thin sliced bread that I picked up at my local panaderia (Mexican bakery), some fresh baby arugula, and a couple of other items that would make a really great sandwich.

The Perfect Picnic Sandwich
Ingredients:

  • Baby arugula, washed and patted dry
  • Herbed cheese spread
  • Roma tomato, thinly sliced
  • Thin sliced salami, or Prosciutto, or leave out if you prefer a good veggie sandwich
  • Thin sliced white bread
  • Radish, thinly sliced
  • Toothpicks

Lay out the bread. Add the cheese spread to all three slices. On the first slice of bread, layer the arugula, tomato, and salami. Top with another slice of bread, spread side up. Do the same by layering the arugula, tomato, and salami. Top with the last slice of bread, spread side down. Cut on the diagonal.

With a toothpick, pick two thinly sliced radishes per pick, and insert into the top of each sandwich.

Wrap up and bring out during the perfect time during your hike.  Enjoy.

Irish Soda Bread

Irish Soda BreadIt’s that time of the year where you begin thinking of corn beef and cabbage, nice Irish stews, and the standard beers. I know what I have been thinking of, and my little helper was asking me to make bread. My four year old daughter and I decided to make an Irish Soda Bread. A bread so nice and packed with raisins which she really loves. This is a sure make, not only during St. Patrick’s Day season, but any time of the year.

This recipe takes less than 10 minutes to prepare and about an hour to bake.

Ingredients:

  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup of sugar
  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 4 cups of all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 cups of Buttermilk
  • 1 cup of raisins

Begin by preheating your oven to 350 degrees. Grease a baking sheet with some butter.

To a mixing bowl, add in the sugar and butter. Begin to cream this. As it comes together, add in one egg at a time, and combine. To a different mixing bowl, add in your dry ingredients and mix really well. Now, add some of the dry ingredients into the butter and sugar mixture, continuing to mix. Add in some of the buttermilk. Repeat this process until you have a nice dough.

On a floured surface, lay out your dough and add flour to the top of the dough, as well as your hands. This can get a bit sticky, but have no fear. The goal is to knead the dough for a few minutes, bringing it all together until it is no longer sticky.

Now, shape the dough into a round shape, approximately 7 inches or so in diameter and place on the greased baking sheet.  With a perforated knife, make an X in the middle going about an inch down into the dough. Place in the oven and cook for approximately one hour, until golden brown and hollow when you tap on the top. You can always do the knife in the middle, and if it comes out without dough on it, you are good to go.

Serve warm, sliced, toasted, or dip a slice in an egg wash and make french toast. Serve it any way you like it.

Never iron a four-leaf clover, because you don’t want to press your luck.  ~Author Unknown

Homemade Pancakes

Homemade PancakesYou have probably heard me say on this site that I am an advocate of a warm breakfast, especially on the weekends. As my wife and I both work during the week, those weekday mornings are hard to tackle, but we try. The kids usually go for their default breakfast settings; waffles cut into dipping strips with syrup, and often times a piece of fruit, while the oldest goes for cinnamon and sugar toast with yogurt. Not bad.

I know I recall my childhood, and for the most part, during those weekdays, it was a couple bowls of either pre-sugared cereal such as Franken Berry, Count Chocula, or Boo Berry, or be it Frosted Mini Wheats, loaded with extra sugar. So with that said, I am happy for my children, and not to offend my parents and also letting them know that that sugar loaded cereal was delicious, that my kids are off to a good start in healthy eating. Wait. Did I say healthy eating? As the subject states ‘Pancakes’, I have yet to mention all of the fun stuff, you can put on them, of which is mostly sugar-related items such as chocolate, syrup, powdered sugar, and a variety of fruit.

As I tend to make breakfast during the weekend, I often make a batter of some sort as it is great to keep the kids quiet, and it allows them to participate in making breakfast. This past weekend we had a pancake feast.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 cups of all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp double acting baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp of salt
  • 2 tbsp of sugar
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 1/3 cup of milk. (Shorten the amount to 1 cup if you want thicker pancakes)
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • Condiments (syrup, powdered sugar, chocolate chips, variety of berries)

To get started, add your flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt to a large bowl, and mix well. In another bowl, add your wet ingredients, including the egg, oil, and milk.

Combine the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, and mix well to remove any lumps. This creates your batter.

My kids eating pancakes

Next, heat your skillet, and brush it lightly with some vegetable oil. Pour your batter (I used a one cup measuring cup) onto the hot skillet, and cook until it becomes bubbly on the top. With your spatula, or other flipping device, turn it over. You should have a nice golden brown. Cook for a couple of more minutes on the side, and plate. Stack them high, and get ready for your pancake party.

This recipe makes roughly 7 medium-sized pancakes.

Enjoy.

Baked Mostacholi

Baked MastacholiI have said it before, and I will say it again. My wife loves pasta. She could eat it daily! As I like pasta, it is not one of my go to dishes, however because of its diversity, I do make it often. From spaghetti, to macaroni and cheese, to a variety of pasta salads, it is always a sure winner. Well, yesterday was one of those days where I did not have anything planned, and that weekend question came about (and one of my favorites at that), which was “What should we today?”. My wife said, lets order pizza. I thought, nah, we have pizza for the kids already in the freezer, so with that thought, I was thinking, how about a pasta to go with it? A pasta with a homemade cream sauce, something comforting from a long day with the kids. Baked mostacholi it was.

Ingredients:

  • 1 box of mostacholi, cooked for 10 minutes in salted water
  • 1 stick of unsalted butter
  • 2 cups of sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup of fresh grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup of flour
  • 2 tbsp basil
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped
  • 1/2 stick of pepperoni, diced (optional)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 cups of milk

Begin by cooking your pasta. In the meantime, add the butter to a medium pot. Once melted, add in your flour and mix to combine. Add some salt and pepper, toss in the basil, garlic, and pour in the milk. Mix well, and continue to stir as you bring the sauce to a boil. Add the parmesan cheese, and one cup of the cheddar to your sauce. Toss in the chopped onion and pepperoni. mix well. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  To a large, greased baking pan (13×9), add the pasta and sauce and mix well. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes. Once cooked, add the remaining cheese to the top and bake another 3 minutes until melted. Remove from the oven, and let it set for a few minutes before digging into it.

First off, get ready to say a prayer because this dish is hard to resist seconds. If you do go in for seconds, I’m sorry that it is that good, however a few sit ups, push ups, and jumping jacks will help you feel better.

It’s comfort food. We need it. We love it.

Big question is, how do you make your matacholi?