Refried Bean Crostini

My blog is having a mid-life crisis. I’m a little concerned that my blog may get a flashy, new template, buy a convertible, and start dating a much younger blog.

See, when I first began sharing recipes from my tiny galley kitchen, I imagined my recipes would feature ingredients like fiddlehead ferns, duck confit, persimmon, and dry vermouth (Vermouth?! You can’t HANdle vermouth!).

Beans on Toast

And here I am, two and a half years later, blogging about refried beans on toast and wondering, what happened? Well, the truth is, a tasty, satisfying lunch that never fails to remind me of my most memorable summer happened.

Beans on Toasts

The summer before my junior year of high school I went on a service trip to a tiny village outside of Mexico City. Each morning we traveled in the back of a pick-up truck along the side of a mountain to our work site. After a few hours of labor, that same pick-up returned with our lunch – a tray full of crusty rolls smeared with refried beans, topped with a slice of American cheese. And it might’ve been the heat, or the hard-earned hunger, or perhaps it’s my fuzzy memory, but I’m pretty sure those simple sandwiches were better than all the fiddlehead ferns and duck confit in the world.

And so, in a fit of gooey nostalgia, I recreated my favorite culinary memory. I toasted split club rolls and topped them with a generous dollop of refried beans dressed up with prepared salsa and cumin. A thin slice of pepper jack cheese melted over top sealed the deal.

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Top Ten Recipes of 2012

Happy Holidays, imaginary internet friends! And congratulations on surviving the end of the world. Now I’m off to Barnes and Noble to demand a refund for my Mayan wall calendar. Wish me luck!

In the meantime, I hope you’ll take another look at the 10 most popular recipes I shared this year.

S’mores Fried Ice Cream with Chipotle Chocolate Sauce

 

Asparagus Lasagna Slice

Asparagus Lasagna with Pancetta, Goat Cheese, and Lemon

 

Baked Churros with Cinnamon Ice Cream and Dulce de Leche

 

Loaded Baked Potato Grilled Cheese Sandwich

 

Cinnamon Roll Grilled Cheese Sandwich

 

Oatmeal Cream Pies

Homemade Oatmeal Cream Pies

 

Cookies and Milk

Toffee Cashew Cookies

 

pie crust crackers

Chicken Pot Pie Soup with Pie Crust Crackers

 

Jalapeno Popper Grilled Cheese Sandwich

And the most popular recipe of 2012:

Pepperoni Stuffed Chicken

Pepperoni Stuffed Chicken Breasts

Here’s to a delicious (and gooey) new year!

Lamb Burgers with Capicola and Cucumber-Goat Cheese Spread

I think I may be in danger.

For the past four days, I’ve been shooting my mouth off about how much I despise the Minnesota State Fair, and I fear the devoted fair-goers may turn up at my door with pronto pup-topped pitchforks and propane torches.

But I just can’t seem to help myself. Sweet cracker sandwiches, how I hate the fair. I hate the hokey state fair news coverage, and the ubiquitous on-a-stick jokes, and the questionable odors perfuming the air near the farm building, and the huge lines for rickety rides, and most of all, the mobs of people who invade my neighborhood for 10 days each August, taking every last parking space, along with the very last deep fried morsel of my patience and good will.

I’ve become the summertime Grinch.

While my fellow Minnesotans are enjoying the Great Minnesota Sweat Together, I grumpily hibernate in my apartment, leaving only to fight my way to work and back through streets filled with meandering jaywalkers, pushing strollers and dragging over-sized stuffed animals.

And forget about having company! I wouldn’t dream of asking my guests to brave the crowds and fight for parking during the fair. So it’s a good thing I hosted my summer picnic, starring Greek-inspired lamb burgers well before the vendor trucks and fair-goers descended upon my street.

The burgers were encrusted in garlic, oregano, kosher salt and red pepper flakes before I seared them to a juicy medium rare. Then I topped the burgers with spicy capicola and nestled them in chewy, soft ciabatta rolls dressed in a tzatziki-inspired goat cheese and cucumber spread.

I’m fairly certain my heart grew three sizes that day.

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Loaded Baked Potato Grilled Cheese Sandwich

In honor of National Grilled Cheese Month, I’m posting a different grilled cheese sandwich every single day through the month of April. You’re welcome.

There couldn’t possibly be a better sandwich creation to end National Grilled Cheese Month than this rich, satisfying delight.

I wanted to make a grilled cheese that tasted like a loaded baked potato, but the crispy, buttery potato bread, smoky bacon, tangy sour cream, and messy strands of gooey cheddar invoked the textures and flavors of late-night potato skins instead. I was happily surprised, and maybe a little tipsy.

I’m going to miss National Grilled Cheese Month. No, I’m not crying. I just have cheese in my eye.

For general grilled cheese tips, visit the inaugural grilled cheese sandwich post.

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Pear and Gorgonzola Grilled Cheese Sandwich

In honor of National Grilled Cheese Month, I’m posting a different grilled cheese sandwich every single day through the month of April. You’re welcome.

I think it’s clear by now that I like grilled cheeses with a spoonful of sugar. You can candy coat your sammich with honey, jam, brown sugar, and best of all, fruit. If you start with a ripe, tender pear, the fruit will melt right along with the cheese for a soft and luscious, salty-sweet, flavor-packed filling between two slices of golden, bitter beer bread.

I’m really going to miss National Grilled Cheese Month.

For general grilled cheese tips, visit the inaugural grilled cheese sandwich post.

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English Muffin and Blackberry Jam Grilled Cheese Sandwich

In honor of National Grilled Cheese Month, I’m posting a different grilled cheese sandwich every single day through the month of April. You’re welcome.

Do you remember that vacation you took to Provence, when you lounged in the sun with your lover, picnicking on creamy cheese, a fresh, crisp baguette, and a glass of regional wine? No?

Yeah, me neither. But I imagine that such a perfect, sunny picnic tastes an awful lot like this grilled cheese sandwich. No, I’m not even kidding. (OK, maybe a little.)

I split the English muffin with a fork and flipped it inside out to grill the cut side to a perfect golden crunch. The jam swirled into the melted provolone to make a gooey, sticky sauce. Bon appetit!

For general grilled cheese tips, visit the inaugural grilled cheese sandwich post.

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Spicy Apricot and Bacon Grilled Cheese Sandwich

In honor of National Grilled Cheese Month, I’m posting a different grilled cheese sandwich every single day through the month of April. You’re welcome.

I think you’ll remember this sandwich’s delightful cousin, the Candied Dijon Bacon Grilled Cheese with Pickled Jalapenos. The two share a number of common features – they’re sweet, spicy, smoky, and salty.

But today’s creation provides a very important advantage: since you’re not coating the bacon, it takes less time to prepare, and you can make with the eating sooner. Everybody wins!

For general grilled cheese tips, visit the inaugural grilled cheese sandwich post.

Continue reading for the Spicy Apricot and Bacon Grilled Cheese Sandwich recipe

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