Jalapeno Popper 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.

Bar. Food. Nirvana.

This sandwich tastes just like a jalapeno popper should — spicy, smoky, tangy, fried. CRONCH through the buttery toast like crispy breading on the outside, into the creamy filling, with meaty bacon, gooey cheddar, and bright, acidic pops of pickled jalapenos. And then have a beer.

Jalapeno Popper Grilled Cheese Sandwich
Recipe Type: Sandwich
Author: Bake Up, Little Suzy
Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 10 mins
Total time: 20 mins
Serves: 1
CRONCH through the buttery toast like crispy breading on the outside, into the creamy filling, with meaty bacon, gooey cheddar, and bright, acidic pops of pickled jalapenos. And then have a beer.
Ingredients
  • 2 slices white bread
  • Butter
  • 3 slices bacon, cooked
  • 2 slices Cheddar cheese
  • 1 ounce cream cheese
  • 1 teaspoon green onions, chopped
  • 5 slices pickled jalapeno, chopped
Instructions
  1. Combine cream cheese, green onions, and jalapenos in small bowl. Mix until smooth.
  2. Top each slice of bread with cheddar cheese.
  3. Spread cheese mixture on one slice of cheddar.
  4. Top with bacon.
  5. Close it up and butter the outsides of the bread.
  6. Griddle on medium-high heat until the cheese is melted and the bread is golden brown.

 

Corn and Bacon Empanadas with Orange-Infused Honey Drizzle

Big news, imaginary internet people: I’m having the best week ever!

After eight long months of unemployment, as of this morning I have a job.

I’m the newest member of the marketing team at Free Spirit Publishing, and I couldn’t be happier about it. Everyone I’ve met there over the course of the three (count ‘em, three!) interviews feels like a friend already, and they (we!) do really important work – publishing books on positive youth development and resources for kids and teens.

I start in two weeks, so I guess I’d better get used to waking up before Days of Our Lives.

And there’s another reason I’m on cloud nine these days. I made an Argentinian-inspired dinner for Mom and Handsome Greg on Saturday night, and the corn empanadas with orange-infused honey were – gosh, can I even say it? – the best thing I’ve ever made.

I don’t like to play favorites, and that’s a really big thing to say, but these empanadas with their sweet, sticky sauce deserve the accolades.

The combination of flavors and textures – sweet, succulent corn, biting peppers and onions, salty bacon, gooey cheese, bright cilantro, crispy fried dough, and floral, citrusy honey – absolutely warrants my blatant abuse of tired adjectives.

There was much more orange honey than needed for the 12 empanadas, and it’s been a treat finding other things (besides a spoon) off of which to lick it. For starters, Mom’s popovers:

Continue reading for the recipe for Corn and Bacon Empanadas with Orange-Infused Honey Drizzle

Continue reading

Scallops with Pineapple and Cucumber Salsa

Do you want the good news or the bad news?

The good news is my little theater company won a spot in the Minnesota Fringe Festival again this year! We’ve got a great show in the works – a musical revue of songs about growing up.

The bad news is we may not be able to do the show at all. Normally I fund the show myself out of my sorry-ass checking account. Times being the way they are, that’s not a possibility this year. My theatrical co-conspirators and I are planning to put up a fund-raising page on Kickstarter.com, and hopefully we’ll be able to raise the money we need by the Fringe withdrawal deadline in mid-March.

And so, in the coming months you might find cheap and easy casseroles and sandwiches in my galley kitchen as I prepare and scrimp and save for the festival. Hopefully this beautiful and elegant appetizer recipe will tide you over until I can get back to cooking hard-core.

Cucumber Pineapple Salsa

This scallop dish started off the final schmancy-town dinner I made for Mom and Handsome Greg before I threw myself into Fringe last year. Wonton skins are fried and shaped into crispy bowls to carry the seared scallops and spicy-sweet pineapple and cucumber salsa.

Continue reading for the Scallops with Pineapple and Cucumber Salsa recipe

Continue reading

Green Rice

Last weekend I made a special dinner for Handsome Greg’s birthday. The meal began with his favorite pepperoni-stuffed chicken, and ended, sadly, with a boxed yellow cake mix and canned chocolate frosting.

I’d planned to make individual Boston cream pies, and in my birthday dinner dream, I would emerge from the kitchen looking like Donna Reed, carrying rounds of moist, airy sponge cake, layered with silky pastry cream and topped with glossy chocolate ganache.

By noon on Saturday, I had to face the fact that my Donna Reed fantasy was not to be realized that day. I was already behind schedule on the cooking and cleaning, when my very first attempt at making pastry cream ended with a gloopy bowl of disaster Play Doh. D’oh!

Dessert was ruined. I called Mom, had a bit of a temper tantrum, and asked her to drop everything and run to the store for a can of chocolate frosting to top the back-up boxed cake mix in the pantry. And because my mom rules, she humored me and my ridiculous meltdown, and she saved dessert.

I really think this time (yes, THIS TIME) I have learned my lesson about trying new recipes on special occasions. The truth is, I hate testing recipes, because I don’t want to have to make the same recipe twice. I’m always eager to try new recipes, so going back to old ones, even to make corrections, seems a terrible bore.

Green Rice

But I can change. And I’m starting with this recipe for spicy herbed green rice. I made it last summer for Mom and Handsome Greg to accompany a pineapple braised pork roast, and it’s so good, and so cheap, and so simple, that I promise to make it, as is, again and again!

Scallions

Or maybe next time I’ll change it up and add roasted poblano peppers…

cilantro

Continue reading for the Green Rice recipe

Continue reading

Salsa Fresca

I was REALLY going to try to write about something other than my show this week, but well, screw it. The show has taken over my life; it makes sense that it would take over my blog.

Last week, I met with the marketing and publicity team of Those Were the Days to conceptualize our promo photo and finalize the copy. In honor of the occasion, I planned to host a Cuatro de Mayo Marketing and Publicity Meeting at my place. I got a call from my theatrical co-conspirator, Tall Paul, at about 9:30 Wednesday morning, when he let me know that he threw out his back, couldn’t drive to my place, and would I mind terribly hosting the meeting/fiesta at his place?

Um, am I a caterer? Apparently I am! I made chicken tacos, Mexican black beans, chipotle risotto, and this bright, beautiful salsa. Oh, and cinnamon ice cream for dessert. Then I packed it all up in plastic containers and schlepped it over to Paul’s apartment for the meeting.

The salsa is ridiculously simple to prepare, with a huge flavor payoff. Keep or remove the ribs and seeds of the jalapeno to adjust the heat level to your preference.

Continue reading for the Salsa Fresca recipe

Continue reading

grilled fish tacos with cucumber salsa, sriracha dressing, and corn nuts

Last week, Minnesotans enjoyed a warm and sunny, puddly teaser thaw, and it seemed spring was just around the corner. Sadly, winter made an all-star comeback this morning, and the icy Minnesota wind that chapped my ears as I left for work sounded especially smug.

"Corn ... Nuts!"

I’m still pouting over my not-trip to Mexico, so I’m sharing another not-authentic Mexican recipe. These delightfully spicy and crunchy fish tacos look winter square in the face and say, “BITE ME.”

As much as I love batter fried fish (fish and chips, like, woah), I don’t really like deep frying in my kitchen.

Grilled Tilapia

Or, more accurately, I don’t like cleaning up the mess left by deep frying in my kitchen. So rather than dragging out the kitchen kettle and dealing with all that oil, I marinated the fish and grilled it on my little electric grill.

I made a cucumber salad instead of the more traditional cabbage slaw, but that left me with a pretty soft, squishy taco.

So I took a little inspiration from Heathers, and added a handful of Corn Nuts for some crunch. I drizzled the top with a spicy and tangy sriracha dressing, and saved the leftover dressing to use as a dip for tater tots, à la the Bulldog.

Recipe below the fold

Continue reading