Banh Mi Sliders

Finished tray of banh mi

Two years ago, I had never tasted Vietnamese food. And today I would “Hey, Kool Aid” through a brick wall if I thought there was a banh mi on the other side of it.

Open Banh Mi

What can I say? People change. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m scary allergic to bell peppers, ginger, coffee, curry, and wasabi. But (in recent months) that hasn’t stopped me from experimenting with Asian flavors I’ve never before tasted in entirely inauthentic ways!

Close up banh mi

This delightfully tiny, non-lethal slider version of the classic banh mi features sweet and savory pork, quick pickled vegetables, sriracha mayo, salty peanuts, and fresh cilantro on sweet Hawaiian rolls.

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Crab Cakes with Orange Aioli

The good news is my little show opens in less than two weeks and we’re right on track. The bad news is my little show opens in less than two weeks and I’m plagued with the world’s worst chest cough. For better or for worse, I’ll soon be standing in front of hundreds of people at the Illusion Theater in Minneapolis, and I’m hoping with all I’m worth that I won’t be up there honking like an agitated goose.

Thank goodness for Air Supply’s Greatest Hits to ease my anxiety.

Crab Cakes
I’m comforted, too, by the memory of the last meal I prepared for Mom and Handsome Greg that I truly tasted—Crab Cakes with Orange Aioli—before cough drops became my primary source of sustenance and “mentholyptus” killed my taste buds. The crab cakes were exceptionally crabby—you could easily add more breadcrumbs and make more cakes. They were moist and flavorful with a crispy, golden crust, and the accompanying dip was a perfect balance of creamy mayo, pungent garlic, and bright, fresh orange zest.

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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.

Continue reading for the Bean-y Crostini recipe

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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!

Green Chile Chicken Enchiladas

Green pepper is my sworn enemy.

The conniving nightshade sneaks into salsa, it prowls in pasta, and it lurks in jambalaya, waiting to make its deadly move. Just one bite of a bell pepper and I’m a pathetic wheezing heap, my lips swollen like a Hollywood collagen job gone terribly wrong.

For years I avoided green salsa in every Mexican restaurant, for fear that the lovely olive color might be enhanced by the scoundrel bell pepper. And as a sad consequence, I never tasted the delightful tang of tomatillos.

Until now. I made this recipe for Mom and Handsome Greg, and instantly fell madly in love with the tart tomatillo sauce warmed through with a healthy teaspoon of smoky cumin. I filled corn tortillas with a luxurious and creamy chicken mixture, then doused them with the silky tomatillo sauce and topped them with a generous handful of gooey cheese.

Next time I make this dish I’ll use white cheddar – the orange cheese with the green salsa was a little off-putting. Otherwise it was perfect.

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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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Candied Dijon Bacon Grilled Cheese with Pickled Jalapenos

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.

Oh my god I’m full. My hair is full. My eyelashes are full.

It’s probably best to share this one with a friend – one whom you love VERY, VERY MUCH – because it’s quite rich. Don’t get me wrong, it’s magically delicious, but it’s really heavy.

Expect an explosion of flavors – spicy, sweet, salty, tangy, with a tiny bit of char on the tips of the bacon.

I originally planned to use cheddar rather than provolone, and it was a good thing I didn’t. There’s SO much flavor in the other ingredients. An assertive cheese might’ve been too much.

The brown sugar and Dijon melts a bit into the cheese, creating a delightfully sticky, messy sauce.

I’m only sharing this sandwich with you because I love you.

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

Continue reading for the Candied Dijon Bacon Grilled Cheese with Pickled Jalapeno recipe

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