Saturday, January 29, 2011

Monte Cristo Sandwiches

Ever had a Monte Cristo sandwich!? Ya - me neither, until maybe 7-8 years ago. Thankfully that has been fixed & I am now well acquainted with this delicious little indulgence! (and by little I mean more a quaint/precious sort of a feel - definitely not small!) If you have ever wondered what it would be like to use French Toast to make a sandwich but weren't brave enough to actually take the plunge... don't worry! Somebody did and they called it a Monte Cristo! Mmmmm Boy! It's sweet, savory, hearty & filling. It's got a breakfast-for-dinner feel to it. Serve it up with some fruit & you'll have a full belly in no time!

The line up:

Hawaiian sweet bread, ham, turkey, Swiss cheese, eggs, milk, vanilla, nutmeg & powdered sugar.

So - normally when I make these I just start out by making a sandwich - bread, meat, cheese, meat, bread - and then I dip the whole thing into the egg bath. But this time my hubby jumped in & started dinner on his own & there was NO WAY I was gonna derail that one! LOL And he always has to fancy things up a bit so these pictures show you a higher maintenance way of making the sandwich... and it was great! But if you don't want to fuss this much, just build the darn sammy, dip it in the egg & fry it up on all sides. And you're done - Mommy Style!

OK - so step one is to make your egg bath. Mix the eggs, milk, vanilla & nutmeg in a shallow dish.

Give it a good whisk & then dip your bread.

Fry it up, just like you're making French toast...

If there's room on the pan/griddle you can also fry up the meat to bring a little more flavor out of it. If the pan's small, just do it after the bread. Make sure you get the cheese in between the meats so it doesn't make a melty mess!

Build your sandwich with the cooked sides of the bread toward the inside & then finish cooking the still-soggy-with-egg sides once the sandwich has the meat/cheese in it. Does that make sense? I hope it does... totally clear to me but sometimes clear to me = mud to every one else!!

Once the sandwich is done give both sides a sprinkling of powdered sugar.

Cut it in 2 & dig in!!!

Look at the gooey, delicious insides! Yum... Seriously. YUM!!!

Monte Cristo Sandwiches:

Sweet Hawaiian bread (slices, not rolls)
Ham slices
Turkey slices
Swiss cheese slices
6 eggs
1/4 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp nutmeg
Powdered sugar, for sprinkling

Option A - the easy way: Use the first 4 ingredients to build a sandwich. Mix the next 4 ingredients to make an egg bath. Dip the sandwich into the eggs bath & then fry it up in a med-hi pan, cooking all sides thoroughly (even the edges). Sprinkle with powdered sugar & serve hot.

Option B - high maintenance (but tastier) way: Mix up your egg bath. Dip each slice of bread into it & fry over med-high heat until side 1 is cooked. As this is going make a stack of sandwich guts, turkey-cheese-ham, and get it into the pan, too - put some color on it. Once side 1 of the bread is cooked, assemble the sandwich with cooked sides of the bread toward the inside of the sandwich with the fried meat in the middle. Continue cookie the assembled sandwich until both outer sides are thoroughly cooked. Sprinkle with powdered sugar & serve hot.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Winner, Winner!! High 5's for our Winner!

One good thing about doing such a quick 36-hour giveaway is that it closed before too many people got to enter! My last one had 166 entries. This one topped out at 30! Pretty sweet odds, eh!!?? So who was the lucky winner today - why none other than Comment #5!

Is #5 you!?? Well, if your name is Danielle it is! Thanks for entering, everyone, and a big congrats to Danielle! Happy shopping.

See you all tomorrow with another great recipe!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

It's CSN Giveaway Time!

*** CLOSED ***

Who want's $35!!?? I do, I do!

Well, if YOU do just enter this giveaway below & you could have a sweet $35 to spend on anything you'd like from the 200+ sites. Do you know CSN? I'm sure you do - they're kind of everywhere - it's a huge collection of stores that gives you a ton of selection and a convenient one-spot check out. They've got outdoor playsets at a site called Swing Sets and more - hello, new trampoline!! (Sadly ours finally bit the dust this winter after a good 3 years of abuse.)

They've got this over-the-toilet cabinet that I have been coveting for quite some time.

They've got some really pretty bedding, too!

So, you wanna win? I'll give you TWO tries.

1st - are you a follower? Great - that's entry #1. Leave me a comment telling me you follow my blog.

2nd - take a peek at their site & let me know what you'd drop your $35 on.

That's it! Don't forget to leave your email so I can contact you with your gift code!
Open to US & Canadian residents only.
Let's make this a quick one - deadline for entry is Friday night - as in a day & a half! 9:00pm PST.

Thanks and good luck!!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

French Onion Roast

I love the crock pot. I love being able to throw stuff in it in the morning & just have it magically ready when it's dinner time! This is the roast we had for dinner tonight. I'm always on the look out for new way to prepare a big hunk of beef in the crock pot so if you have a recipe that you love, please feel free to share it in the comments! This one was a very onion heavy roast - and I mean that as a good thing! Of course the kids opted to have their minus the onion, but Hubby & I laid them atop our meat & enjoyed! And, if you're a lover of French Onion Soup, the broth left behind from this roast is an excellent base!

What you'll need:

A roast - I actually used a London Broil I had in the freezer, onions, olive oil, salt, pepper, brown sugar, Dijon mustard, apple cider vinegar, beer (optional).

I had every intention of making this with the beer, but we're not beer drinkers here & you can't just buy a single beer at the grocery store. I kept meaning to grab one at the gas station quick mart but forgot - so we went without it tonight. And it was still good. The beer really does give it good flavor, though - and don't worry, the alcohol cooks off so it's still totally kid friendly!

Start out by getting a pan nice & hot. Add a little olive oil - like 2 passes of the pan. Salt & pepper your meat & add it in. Make sure it's really hot before adding your meat. We're searing it to try & keep the juices locked inside. If you put it in the pan before it's good & hot you'll just kinda steam the meat & waste your time.

While that is going (total of about 10 minutes - be sure to get all sides!) slice your onions into rings & pop them into your crock pot. YES, I use the liners - and if you haven't tried them yet WHY NOT!!? I cannot sing their praises enough (as I'm sure you've noticed!!) Love them.

Again, while your meat is still searing, mix up your broth, sugar, mustard & vinegar. If you're using the beer add it in here. If you're not, use more broth in its place.

Set the beef on top of the bed of onions then pour the liquid down over it.

Put on the lid, set it to low & walk away for a solid 8 hours... maybe 9, maybe 10. When it's done pull it out & let it rest for a few minutes.

Slice it up & serve it with a generous heap of onions. For the broth, you can either just spoon on the liquid as is or you can thicken it up with some flour or cornstarch & make a gravy of it.

Mmmmm...... Enjoy!

French Onion Roast:

1 boneless roast, about 3-4 pounds
Olive oil
Salt & pepper
4 onions
3 Tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
1 1/2 cups beef broth
3/4 cup beer (optional - if omitted use more broth)

Heat the oil in a skillet over high heat. Salt & pepper the meat and add it to the hot pan. Sear all sides for a total of about 10 minutes.

While the meat is searing, slice onions into rings and place in the bottom of crock pot.

In a bowl, mix broth, beer, brown sugar, mustard & cider vinegar.

Once meat is seared place on top of onions in crock pot. Pour broth mixture over the top. Cover, set to low & allow to cook for 8-10 hours.

Slow Cooker on FoodistaSlow Cooker

Friday, January 21, 2011

Oreo Stuffed Brownies

Back before I decided to try my hand at this blogging stuff there were a few blogs that I would visit & admire. There were 2 food blogs & 2 craft blogs - that was it.. Now that I've gotten my feet wet & know my way around there are exactly 51 that I get news feeds from! Crazy, huh!!? And if I weren't so anti-clutter & the kind of girl that goes through my "Blogs I'm Following" list & deletes ones that I've lost interest, in that number would be far more embarrassing. However, my very, very first introduction to the whole concept of food blogging was a girl named Jenny and her blog named Picky Palate. That was about a year & a half ago & I still check back on her to see what new ideas she's come up with. She has one of the most creative minds when t comes to concocting sweets! This is one of her creations.


A box of brownie mix & the fixings to prepare it, a package of Oreos, any kind will do.

First mix up the brownie batter, according to the box.

Grease up a muffin pan with some PAM. Grab your Oreos & drop them in the batter. Scoop them out, all sloppy & covered in drippy batter, and plop them into the cups of the muffin pan - one per cup.

Once your pan is full put it in a 350 oven for 10 minutes.

Ready for the magic reveal!!??

Seriously, though - I was in such a hurry making these that I got a little sloppy with the batter & cooked them a smidge longer than I'd intended, so this reveal is less than impressive.


It's OK to laugh at me.

But after you see the inside I think you'll get over that horrible picture!

How fun is that!!?? A little Oreo cookie nestled into the center of a perfect serving of brownie. Her prep on these was a little different that what I did, but I think the end results are just the same - a sweet little treat with a surprise hiding inside!

Oreo Stuffed Brownies:

1 box of brownie mix
ingredients to make brownies
1 pkg. Oreo Cookies, any variety

Heat your oven to 350. Prepare brownie batter according to the package instructions. Leave it in the bowl.

Spray muffin pan generously with cooking spray. Dip Oreos in brownie batter then place in the cups of the prepared muffin pan. Bake about 10 minutes, until brownies are cooked through (be careful not to over-bake!) Remove from oven & immediately run a butter knife around the edges of the brownies. Allow to cool in the pan for about 5 minutes.

Makes entire package of Oreos.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Chicken Pockets (aka Chicken Pillows)

When Zac & I first moved here to Nevada 7 years ago we were the new people at church (and we only had 1 kid - man that seems so foreign now! LOL) and a wonderful family full of children invited us over for dinner so we could all get to know each other. They served something they called Chicken Pockets. I'd never had them before- or anything like them - but I absolutely loved them! I wasn't much of a foodie back then so I just thought "YUM!" and never thought about it again. But a few years back as I kept coming up with more & more little mouths to feed (yes, I know how that happens!! LOL) these little kid-friendly fellas came to mind. I did a very exhaustive internet search trying to remember the ingredients that she'd used & pass on the recipes that had things I didn't want. With a little tweeking from one recipe to the next I now have a good chicken pocket recipe to call my own. I hope you try 'em & like 'em!

Shopping list:

Crescent dough, cooked chicken, shredded cheddar/jack, green onion, celery, cream cheese, salt, pepper, garlic powder.

Start out mixing everything but the chicken in a mixing bowl.

Once the mixture is creamy & well combined add in the chicken & stir it up.

Unroll your dough into 8 triangles & add about 2 tablespoons of the chicken mixture to the center of the triangle.

Now carefully grab the 2 corners opposite of the right angle on the triangle & fold them up to meet the right angle. (I've also done it with only 1 tablespoon of chicken against the short edge & then carefully rolled them like a traditional croissant - that's more of a lunch buffet/appetizer type size - these are dinner sized that I'm showing you here!)

Seal all the open edges by pinching them shut. Make sure to get them all sealed - you don't want the filling to ooze out as it heats up!

Now just set them on a cookie sheet & bake in a 350 oven for 12-15 minutes.

Aren't they so pretty!!!?

From here just let them set for a few minutes then serve 'em up! You can eat them plain if that's your style. We like to dip them in Ranch. I also noticed a few of the recipes I searched serving them with a chicken gravy made with some cream of chicken soup thinned down with a little broth or milk.

Mmmmmm..... warm, rich, oozing deliciousness.
Hello, friend.

Chicken Pockets:

2 cups chicken, cooked & shredded
1 (8oz) block of cream cheese
2 green onions, thinly sliced (I use kitchen scissors)
1 stalk of celery, chopped small
1/2 cup shredded cheddar/jack cheese
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
2 cans refrigerated crescent dough

Combine everything but the chicken in a bowl. Mix until well combined. Add chicken; stir well.

Unroll crescent dough into triangles; add 2 tablespoons of chicken mixture to each triangle. Carefully fold up 2 angles to meet at the right angle of the triangle. Seal all edges by pinching with your fingers.

Bake at 350 for 12-15 minutes, until golden brown. Serve warm with Ranch dressing or chicken gravy for dipping.

(When my neighbor makes these she likes to dip the unbaked crescent in some melted butter then into breadcrumbs to give them a crispy finish. Just another option to consider!)

Considering a Name Change

Last May when I started this blog I kinda figured it'd go the way of a lot of my projects - fail & fizzle out once the initial enthusiasm wore off. So I didn't put too much thought into the name. I just thought of a phrase that usually associates with food. When Hubby & I are out & I smell a burger joint or BBQ place with some meat over the flame I'd breathe it in & say "Mmmmm.... Do you smell that!!?" I'm sure you've all done it - driving past McD's & you can smell the fries; pass a KFC in a parking lot & you can smell the finger lickin' goodness; walked into a smoothie bar & smell all the fresh squeezed oranges; walk into your own home after being out all day to the aroma of the crock pot meal you put in that morning. Before you ever taste food you see it. Before you see it you smell it. Smell is the first sense that tells you something good is cooking! So the name made sense.


Within a month or two I didn't really like it anymore. Once I realized I was going to stick with this food blog stuff I felt like the name wasn't good enough anymore (because I know I've also used the phrase in the darkness of my bedroom as I close my eyes & our beloved dog releases a little pressure, if you know what I'm saying!!! LOL) I've been wanting to change it but haven't really put in the brain power to come up with something better. And now that I'm in the running for a Beautify Your Blog complete makeover, now is the time to do it!! So that's where YOU come in!


Please leave me some suggestions - and if I happen to choose yours you might just get a little treat in the mail!! Thanks, everyone! I look forward to your suggestions!

Monday, January 17, 2011

I am in a CONTEST! And I need YOUR vote!

There's a blog named Infusion Design Studios that was/is running a contest for a complete blog makeover. The nomination stage was the first half of January and I made it in the TOP 10!!

Woo hoo!! *High 5*

But now I need YOU to go vote for me! You can vote once per day so pretty, pretty PLEASE click this link (the flashing picture below) & throw a vote my way! There is no log-in or signing up for anything - you just click the link, check the button beside Do You Smell That!!? and hit submit! I would be SO appreciative if you'd do it... every single day until midnight on January 28 - that's next Friday!

The other 9 blogs in the running have anywhere from 130 - 738 followers! YIKES! That's some intimidating competition so PLEASE go give me a click!


Friday, January 14, 2011

Mexican Rice

I grew up in the California Bay Area where there was no racial majority at my high school. It was such a culturally diverse place to grow up and I LOVED it. Not only did I have access to a great mix of friends, but I had access to their authentic, wonderful food! There were little hole-in-the-wall restaurants and mom & pop shops tucked into nearly every single shopping center. And it was wonderful! The Chinese food was one of my favorites, but miles above it were the Mexican cafes! And my all-time favorite is a good carne asada burrito - grilled beef, whole pinto beans, a little rice & lots of salsa. Ahhhh..... I digress. The Mexican food/culture is one of the biggest things I miss about home! I learned to cook a few things, though - so when I'm really craving it I can whip up some authenticity here at home. This is the rice we had with our carne asada street tacos the other night. Good stuff!

You'll need:

Instant white rice, olive oil, onion, garlic, chicken broth & salsa - I always use Pace Picante Medium.

Start out by mincing your garlic (or using the jarred stuff as I sometimes do) and dicing up about 1/4 of the onion (you'll only need 2 tablespoons). Put the oil in a skillet over medium heat & get it hot. Add the onion & garlic; saute about 5 minutes. Just get some color on it but watch closely - the garlic will sneak up & burn on ya!

Add the rice - just straight outta the box. Don't cook it or anything - just toss the dry rice in the pan. Give it a few stirs & brown it up a smidge. Maybe 5 more minutes.

After that add in your salsa & chicken broth.

Cover the pan & reduce the heat. Simmer for 20 minutes, stirring once or twice as it cooks.

Serve it up!!
(I totally forgot to take a freshly plated picture - sorry, you get my plate after I'd eaten most of my dinner!! LOL I had to add some new rice so I could get this pic for you!!)

Mexican Rice:

2 Tbsp oil
2 Tbsp chopped onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1 1/2 cup minute rice
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup salsa (Pace Picante, medium is my recommendation)

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion & garlic; saute about 5 minutes.

Mix in rice & stir occasionally. Once it begins to brown add broth & salsa.

Reduce heat, cover & simmer for 20 minutes, stirring once or twice.