Mini French Dip Sandwiches – Shredded Beef

We ALL LOVE mini foods, am I right? Mini foods are perfect for parties, events, snacks, and they make you feel like eating a 1000 of them isn’t so bad. All hail the mini foods! I posted these on Instagram the other day and people LOST THEIR MINDS! I honestly didn’t think they were all that exciting and they were easy breezy beautiful cover girl so if you want the recipe to the world’s easiest sandwiches keep on reading!

The secret to these is the beef….always the beef. Let your beef cook for a good 8 hours which of course isn’t a big deal if you aren’t afraid of your Crockpot like me. I planned my whole day around these bad boys so I wouldn’t have to leave my house BUT Kayla wanted to go see IT….so I had to leave it ON. You guys, if I had not had cocktails at the theater I probably would have been stressed the whole time. I am paranoid about the Crockpot, okay?!

Ingredients

3lbs Chuck Roast
1 Package Kings Hawaiian Rolls – these are my favorite you can use what you’d like
Provolone sliced Cheese
Kerrygold Butter
S&P
Garlic Powder
1 Yellow Onion
Red Chili Flakes

THAT’S IT!!!!!

How To

Now, you won’t actually need all 3lbs of beef just for the sandwiches. I used the rest for shredded beef burrito bowls. I placed my chuck roast in the crockpot with S&P, chili flakes, 1 cup of water, garlic powder, a butter, and the onion cut in half. Turn on low for 8 hours. Done. Beautiful.

Fast forward to 8 hours later and you shouldn’t even have to “shred” this meat it should be falling apart in its’ own juices at this point. Take some beef and put it off to the side – however much you’d like for sandwiches. Now, the au jus – very important for french dips. Take ALL your liquid and get yourself a fat skimmer thing…..looks like this 31SuItie7aL

This will get rid of the fat in your liquid….now this is basically your au jus, I like mine a tiny bit thicker so I add a tiny bit of flour and butter. Done. Seriously guys, that easy.

Sandwich assembly!!

I take out the entire 12 rolls from the packaging and cut them in half like one giant piece of bread, then I layer my meat, cheese, and place the top on. I brush these GENEROUSLY with my favorite Kerrygold butter and bake at 350 for about 15 minutes or until the cheese melts and the beef is hot. Once out of the oven and cooled for like….a minute I cut them into the sandwich size. Perfect. Ooey Gooey – delicious! Let me know if you make these!

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Bruschetta Style Chicken

Do me a favor and sing the Indiana Jones theme song while you read this. Why? I don’t really know but it’s what I’m doing currently. Bruschetta, bruschetta, bruschetta is most likely one of my favorite foods. Ironic, because I do not typically like tomatoes raw. I love tomatoes that have been cooked for about 60 seconds…it’s weird I know. You’re the one following this crazy blog not me! Bruschetta….the way I make it is perfect as the toasted bread makes the tomatoes the exact texture I like, and lets out all the juices and flavor, but we aren’t making just regular bruschetta today because we are replacing the bread with chicken!

I make this dinner at least once a week because it is fast, healthy, and I always have the key ingredients in my fridge. I may write a fun exciting blog but all my fun stuff is generally saved for the weekend, and during the week I eat healthy, fast, and convenient foods. Please try this!

Ingredients – 2 Servings

2 Chicken Breasts or Thighs…. you know I’m a the dark side of the chicken girl
4 Roma Tomatoes  – Diced
1/4 Red Onion – Diced
1/4 Cup Good Quality Balsamic Vinegar – I used We Olive Aged Balsamic
Basil – Now, I’m going to throw you a curve ball here because I am not a huge fan of fresh basil….yea yea whatever, I like the flavor I just don’t like the wilted leaves etc….I used basil infused olive oil in this recipe, but you are more than welcome to use what you please
Fresh in water Mozzarella – 2 Slices
Garlic Powder
S&P
I made a side of sauteed mushrooms and pesto potatoes 🙂

How To

So, I wanted to grill my chicken and most of the time for this recipe I do BUT it was too stinkin hot outside so I got some color on the chicken in a pan and then baked the rest of the way through. However you choose to cook your chicken isn’t really important for this dish.
While your chicken bakes dice your tomatoes and onions. Helpful hint: when making salsas, bruschettas, or even just salt and peppering tomatoes themselves the ingredients in which you are flavoring the tomatoes with sticks to them much better if you have an oil involved. I tossed my tomatoes & onions with the basil olive oil from We Olive…. salt,pepper, and garlic powder. I let this sit in the fridge to marinate.
Balsamic reduction. Easy peasy. Take 1/4 cup of good quality olive oil and place in a pan over medium heat. Stir as the vinegar slowly reduces down to a syrup-like texture. Once your balsamic coats the back of a spoon it is reduced enough.
During the last 5 minutes of your chicken baking/grilling place your lovely fresh mozzarella to melt over the chicken.
I plate this by spooning the tomato mixture over the hot chicken(that’s my jam) and then drizzling the balsamic reduction.
Finished!!! Easy, fast, and healthy!

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Chicken Fried Steak Bites!

Okay, so like, did everyone know as a kid that chicken fried steak was actually steak and NOT chicken? I know I know it is in the name, Krystal but it tricked me every time! I would get so excited thinking we were having fried chicken to only be served this chewy fried steak. UGH.  I never really liked red meat as a kid and even now as an adult I rarely eat it. I tend to stick with fish, chicken, and 3-4 nights a week vegetarian. I am not a big red meat eater and when I am it has to be done right, and so I generally leave it up to the expert: 2nd dad. I can make chicken fried steak though, right? Yes! I made these a little differently by cutting the cube steak into pieces rather than “steaks” and making bites to dip in black pepper gravy. Baby, these were good. I am now a fan of chicken fried STEAK.

I found that chicken fried steak (CFS) is all about the gravy. Gravy is life. Gravy runs through these veins. I served these with mashed potatoes, because what else? These would be an excellent appetizer for a party.

Ingredients

2lbs Cube Steak (I cut mine into pieces) Cube steak is generally just top round that has been tenderized
2 eggs
1 1/4 Cup Flour (can substitute almond or coconut here) – reserve 3TBSP for gravy
S&P
Garlic Powder
Fresh Cracked Black Pepper
25-30 Saltine Crackers
1/4 Cup Panko
Vegetable oil for frying
1 1/2 Cups Whole Milk (coconut milk can be substituted)
1/2 Cup Beef Stock
3 TBSP Kerrygold Butter

How To

Set up your batter section while your oil is heating up for frying. As always with 99% of fried foods you COULD bake these by getting some color on them and then placing in the oven, but we are going authentic today. Beat your eggs in a bowl. In a separate bowl add the crushed saltines, garlic powder, pepper, panko, and flour. I do not add salt to this because the saltines have salt.

Cut the cube steak into strips. Place strips into eggs, then into the dry batter, and then into the fryer! Since these are strips and not full steaks they only take 4-5 minutes a piece in the oil. Place them on a paper towel once out of the oil to get rid of excess oil. Taste one to see if they have enough salt for your liking.

Now, the most important part – the gravy. Country gravy. I always make gravy with pan drippings but it isn’t possible with chicken fried steak since you know….you fry it. We will pass on using oil in our gravy. Melt your butter and make a roux with those 3TBSPs of flour we reserved. Once your roux is cooked add the milk and beef stock. I added the beef stock as a little trick for one you could split the milk/stock ratio and save some calories, and two it adds a beef flavor that the gravy would lack due to the pan drippings situation. Let your gravy thicken and right before serving add a TON of freshly cracked black pepper. Delicious!

I still prefer fried chicken…… but these were bomb! Bring these to your next event and as always if you make this recipe tag us on Instagram or Facebook!

 

Sweet Dozen Cones – Historic Folsom Ice Cream Shop

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Save the drama for your mama and go get some ice cream! I am a firm believer in if ice cream doesn’t make someone happy nothing will.

Sweet Dozen Cones opened up on Sutter Street in Historic Folsom about a week ago, but probably two by the time I publish this, and BOY has it been a mad house! Crazy busy! Crazy unique! Crazy fun!

Sweet Dozen Cones
Donut (Chimney) Cones
807 Sutter Street
Folsom, CA
Hours: Wed-Sun 12-8pm
http://www.sweetdozen.com/

This is a family owned and operated business, and when they say that – they mean it. Kyle and I went on a Saturday 4 minutes after they opened and both owners were there working and getting ready for the day. Want to know why their product is flying off shelves? One: it’s delicious. Two: they don’t just make ice cream and stick it in a pre-made cone. Their cones or what they call “Chimneys” which is sweet pastry that they then bake rotisserie style until golden brown is unique to Folsom. The very friendly lady making them while we waited for our order explained the entire process to me, because when you watch them make the cones it definitely does not look like they are frying them, but the finished product is crispy and flaky as if it were fried! I later looked up the technique that is very popular in Europe, and Hungary which the woman told me as well. How cool is that? Folsom got a culture lesson today, y’all. Chimneys (known as KĂĽrtĹ‘skalács in Hungarian or TrdelnĂ­k in Czech) are delicious and unique, bread-like freshly baked Hungarian pastries, named after their hollow, cylindrical shape. They have a satisfying crunch on the outside and a soft, fluffy dough on the inside. THIS is what your ice cream goes into you guys!

Ice cream…..it’s not really ice cream but gelato. Gelato is better than ice cream in my humble opinion. Really, the only difference is that gelato uses less cream, more milk, and usually more sugar, BUT it has less fat than ice cream. I obviously do not know their personal recipe at Sweet Dozen nor do I think they would share it but the gelato is creamy, holds it shape, and my favorite part – not overly sweet! Remember, you are getting fun ingredients with your cone so you wouldn’t want an overly sweet base.

Now, there are other things to eat here, but who really cares about those? It’s all about the cones. I joke. Kind of. They have a wide variety of pastries, you can get cones just by themselves loaded with cream cheese, nutella, peanut butter, etc. They have drinks and coffee and plenty of napkins. Now, the important part – what did we eat?

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I ordered the Cereal n’ Milk with Fruity Pebbles (they also had corn flakes and cinnamon toast…..my next one to try) and Kyle ordered the MVB – Maple Vanilla Bacon.

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I am not a big sweets eater, but I had been determined to get on of these bad boys since the night before. We drove around and could NOT find parking, so we left, was I bummed? YUP. Did I have a fit that I was going to have to come back? Nope. What did I do? Placed my order the next day at 12:04PM and they open at 12PM. I love these cones. They are not loaded with sugar other than the outside, but the pastry itself has little to no sugar, and it is STRONG. These cones are FILLED with gelato not just the top part you see, but the bottom portion is loaded with your treats and MORE gelato. My favorite part? I am not a fast eater and by the time I conquered that MOUNTAIN of top gelato my cone wasn’t even soaked through in fact it was still nice and crunchy by the time I finished the goodies inside as well. The cones hold up to the filling they are stuffed with. The flavor combinations here are unique. I am listing their website info below so you can check out all the cone flavors yourselves.

Final thoughts: I love it here. Everyone I met was friendly and more than happy to talk about their product. The inside seating can fit about 20 people give or take. Are they busy? You bet your butt they are. There were already 5 orders ahead of our own less than 5 minutes after they opened and every order besides ours was a family. Sweet Dozen is a unique experience with their doughnut like cones, gelato ice cream, and flavor combinations as far as the eye can see. And, it’s kind of good for you since the cones are baked, right? I will absolutely be returning and telling everyone I know about this place. Please remember when you visit local eateries such as this 90% of their products are HOMEMADE which is what makes them SO GOOD. I watched these cones being made and they are not easy and a lot of work is put into them, and then add on house made gelato. These guys are the real deal. They are worth the wait. They are worth the return.

Jalapeno & Coconut Milk Braised Salmon

I might be slightly obsessed with this recipe….and coconut milk. Super easy, tasty, healthy AND a fast meal to throw together. Does anyone else like chopped up fresh tomatoes on their hot food? Just me? I ONLY like tomatoes if they are diced and on hot food….I don’t like tomatoes on cold food. Don’t judge me.

Ingredients

2 – 4oz Wild Caught Salmon Fillets
2 TBSP Kerrygold Butter
1 Tomato Chopped
1 Jalapeno sliced
1 Can Full Fat Coconut Milk
2 Cups Cooked Rice (I’m not going to tell y’all how to make rice)
1 Lemon

How To

Technically, braising translates to “stew” and we don’t really want to stew salmon but this technically isn’t poaching either so we are going to stick with the word braise. First things first! Find yourself a nice pan and put over medium heat with some oil and butter, once hot place your fish in the pan, and let each side get some color usually takes 1-2 minutes. Add your entire can of coconut milk and reduce the temperature to low. Add some jalapeno slices and the zest of your lemon with salt & pepper. How long you braise the salmon for depends on the temperature you prefer to eat salmon at. The salmon I used was wild caught but it was in my freezer and because I am weird about frozen meat I cooked it all the way through and the braising liquid keeps it nice and juicy. On low heat to cook your fillets all the way through takes only about 10 minutes. I plated rice, salmon, drizzled more of the liquid on top of everything, and fresh tomato with jalapeno. Squirt of lemon and you’re in business. This is going to be a staple in my house because not only do I love salmon but I love being lazy during the week like this recipe allows me to!20991252_1780055615342568_294596347_o

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Veggie Lasagna

Who doesn’t like veggie lasagna, and IF you raise your hand, why are you here?! I make many variations of veggie lasagna that I will post as it begins to cool down here in California…..if ever. I had a lot of requests for this lasagna and I figured it was safe to start with a basic veggie lasagna that can be customized to you or your family’s liking.

Is anyone else slightly traumatized by lasagna? Just me? My mother used to get the Stoufer ones ALL THE TIME, and if you’ve been reading this blog for long enough you know I am not the biggest fan on marinara or red pasta sauce EVEN MORE SO frozen sauce. Well, ONE TIME, and I repeat that it was only ONE TIME because everyone else in the household wanted regular lasagna my mom bought me vegetarian frozen lasagna which of course was made with alfredo. It was gross too! So, I didn’t eat lasagna until I began blogging and even then it was a few years before I dared to make my own. Now, I am a lasagna advocate. Dirty secret: I still don’t like and haven’t made red sauce lasagna. Oops. Maybe, I should work on that?

P.S EVERY YEAR for Christmas dinner my mom STILL tries to bring those nasty lasagnas in the house. She says “let’s just do something simple this year for Christmas dinner and get frozen lasagnas” and then baby jesus rolls over in his grave. No, Santa can pack those frozen lasagnas up and dump them over the Pacific.

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Ingredients
1 Box No Boil Lasagna Noodles – these things are amazing
3TBSP Kerrygold Butter
4 Cups Whole Fat Milk
2 Cups Grated Parmesan
3 Cups Shredded Mozzarella
4 Zucchini – Cut in half long ways then cut the halves in slices
2 Cups Mushrooms – Sliced
3 Cups Broccoli – Finely Chopped
1 Cup Sauteed Yellow Onion & 2 Cloves Garlic
3 TBSP Flour
2 Cups Ricotta
1 Egg
Fresh Basil
S&P
Red Chili Flakes
2 Roma Tomatoes for Garnish

How To

First you’ll need alfredo sauce, and you can absolutely buy store bought as I will not judge you, and I do it often. Yet, if we are making lasagna we are making lasagna…..I even have a pasta maker I could have dug out but I was having a flare up that day in my right hand so no rolling dough for me!
Alfredo is one of the easiest cream sauces to make and to make it a little tiny itsy bitsy healthier I use whole milk rather than cream. Take 3TBSP of butter and melt over medium heat, once melted add 3TBSP flour and whisk that around so the flour cooks(1-2 mins), and then add your milk. Let this come to a simmer and add the grated parmesan. Your sauce should thicken up once it comes to a simmer and boom – sauce is done! I let the sauce cool before assembly.

While your sauce cools you can make your ricotta mixture. In a bowl put the ricotta, egg, S&P, sauteed onions & garlic, red chili flakes, and some chopped basil. Mix.

Assembly – Take a ladle of your sauce to the bottom of your baking dish, lay out a layer of noodles, generously coat that layer of noodles with the ricotta mixture, lay out your veggies in any fashion you desire(I keep my zucchini thicker cut so that they don’t turn to mush, also no bake noodles are PERFECT for zucchini because they absorb any water the vegetable lets out), layer of cheese, and more sauce! Repeat until you are out of noodles or out of ingredients.

Foil the top of your lasagna and place in a 400 degree oven for 40 minutes. Remove foil and let cook for an additional 15-20 minutes to let the cheese on top get nice and bubbly.

I garnish with some chopped tomatoes, chopped basil, and mix those with some olive oil, S&P, and a squirt of lemon. Lasagna is heavy and this is a fatty dish so having some acidity helps cut through the fat and cleanse your tongue for the next bite! I hope you enjoy!

Slow Cooker Chicken Noodle Soup – A Lazy Girl’s Dream (Featured Article)

Article & Photos  – Rayann Benson

I don’t know about you, but I love Fall.  There’s just something about the changing leaves, the approaching holidays and the cooler weather that is a breath of fresh air for me.  Unfortunately, Sacramento has yet to receive the “It’s Fall!” memo, and so we’re still dealing with nearly 80° weather.  Ew.

Nonetheless, I am still celebrating my favorite season by whipping up my favorite comfort foods like soup and chili.  Sacramento weather, you’re not the boss of me!

Last week I pulled my slow cooker out for the season.  If you do not currently own a slow cooker, you are missing out on one of the greatest things to grace a kitchen since the invention of sliced bread.  Although I love to cook, many times during the week I lack motivation with dinner and end up making the same dish over and over and over again.  Nothing wrong with consistency, but that kind of routine definitely starts to wear on you.  My slow cooker is my saving grace for these situations.  Just a little bit of morning planning and I have a flavorful and delicious dinner waiting for me when I’m off work that I barely have to lift a finger for.  A lazy girl’s dream.

I made the decision to make chicken noodle soup while I was making the carrot cake for my niece – gotta find some way not to waste them, right?  Well, funnily enough, I accidentally threw away the leftover carrots during one of my weekly refrigerator purges… hence why the carrots you see in my photo aren’t diced, they’re carrot chips.  I had to make a quick run to the store and grabbed these out of convenience.  But, they do add an interesting texture to the soup?  I know, I know, that’s a stretch.

Chicken noodle soup is one of my favorite soups to make because of how versatile it is. However, it can quickly become a bland meal if not properly seasoned, which is why it’s important to use pungent herbs and spices in the soup.  I honestly eyeball the spices and seasonings I add but for the sake of the recipe have included actual measurements.  Also, I personally choose to have extra veggies in mine to make it heartier, but you can adjust the amount you add to meet your tastes.

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Slow Cooker Chicken Noodle Soup

Ingredients

  • 2lbs boneless skinless chicken breast, frozen *
    • Because it is such a lean meat, I use frozen to keep it from drying out while cooking – you could also use another cut of fresh chicken, such as thighs)
  • 2 stalks celery, diced (1 cup)
  • 6 medium carrots, diced (2 cups)
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons lemon-pepper seasoning (preferably Trader Joe’s brand)
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • ÂĽ teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
    • Be mindful on how much you add – the lemon-pepper seasoning already includes salt and pepper. I omitted adding additional salt, and added ½ teaspoon pepper.
  • 32 ounces low sodium chicken broth
  • 24 ounces unsalted chicken stock
  • 2 cups egg noodles

Directions

Place chicken breasts at bottom of slow cooker and top with celery, carrots, onion and garlic.  Next, add parsley, thyme, basil and lemon-pepper seasonings.  Stir in chicken stock and broth then season with salt and pepper, to taste.  Cover and cook on low heat for 6½ hours.

Remove chicken from slow cooker and shred, using two forks.  Stir shredded chicken and egg noodles back into the slow cooker, then cover and cook for an additional 20-30 minutes (or until egg noodles are tender).  Serve warm, and enjoy!