Dinner for One

It’s been a long time since I prepared a dinner for only myself, in this typically busy house it’s more common to cook for extras. Today was an oddity, my eldest is off with his friends for the week enjoy the last bit of summer before they head in their separate directions, my youngest had an opportunity to go out with friends, and my husband is at a work event.

We had a busy weekend after arriving back from vacation, and today was actually my first full trip to the grocery store so I tossed my original plan for dinner and picked myself up something simple.

I chopped up my tomatoes, mozzarella, and olives, then brushed the naan with the oil from the marinated tomatoes and mozzarella.

I decided to cook on my grill pan over medium high heat, and after turning the bread I topped it with the tomatoes, mozzarella, and olives, along with my fresh basil and torn prosciutto.


At the end, I sprinkled it with cracked pepper and some pepper flakes and enjoyed it with my wine.



Grad Party – Part 3

Today I made the glaze for the ribs after removing the last of the fat from my collected drippings. 

To my concentrated drippings I added the rest of my cheap balsamic vinegar (yes, cheap, only suitable as a marinade and for concentrating). And an equal part of water with 2 cups of dark brown sugar and proceeded to further concentrate the glaze.


After a couple of hours I had a thick vinegary sauce.

I also whipped up the dressing for my cole slaw that I’m planning to make on Saturday morning, since it is always better if you make it a day in advance. The dressing is very simple; I prefer a vinegar base to a creamy sauce. Sugar, vinegars (white wine, red wine, apple cider, and raspberry because I ran out of the red), and oil go into the blender.

This will keep in the fridge easily.

We’ve also been trying to minimize other food in the fridge, so have been keeping dinners simple this week: M-pizza, T-brats, W-sushi, and my hubby suggested cold cuts for dinner and my grad has friends over so I whipped up my version of Italian subs. It is fresh baguette, olive oil, olive tapenade, Prosciutto, hot capicola, peppered salami, fresh mozzarella, and basil.

Another “Eat” Inspired Sandwich

We are getting ready for tailgating and are going simple (and late) today since the boys have been stretching their limits of sleep deprivation with our high school’s silly start time of 7:10. Earlier this week I had lunch at Eat in Ann Arbor and they had another bacon sandwich which I had to try; it was amazing as usual and I knew my family would love it.

I just got back from the store where I bought a fresh baguette, bacon (plenty of extra since the boys will steal some), baby arugula, Michigan Honeycrisp apples, white cheddar, aioli (maple bacon), and onion jam (roasted garlic). I set about to baking my bacon and washing my arugula immediately. 

I cut the baguette in half to build one giant sandwich, and I smeared one side with the aioli and the other with onion jam. 

And then I layered the bacon, white cheddar, thinly sliced apple, and arugula on the onion jam side, finally topping the sandwich with the aioli side. 

Then I cut and wrapped the sandwiches for eating at the tailgate. Enjoy!

Italian Panini

I thought I had already posted this recipe, but a quick skim reveals that I am incorrect. 

This was originally just a concept that my husband had last September; we loaded up a loaf of Pugilese bread from our local market and a sandwich was born. 

We wrote it up:

Italian Panini

Entrées, Sandwiches, Tested and Approved!

Prep 30 mins ∙ Cook 30 mins ∙ Makes 4-6


  • 1 loaf Italian pugliese bread, cut in thirds (laterally), reserve middle third for another use
  • Coarse sea salt
  • Sage, fresh, coarsely chopped
  • ½ lb. Provolone
  • ½ lb. Capicola
  • ½ lb. Peppered salami
  • 8 oz. Sun dried tomatoes, drained, sliced, oil reserved
  • 8 oz. Roasted red peppers, sliced
  • 8 oz. Mozzarella, shredded
  • Basil, fresh
  • Arrabbiata dipping sauce


Drizzle the bottom half of the bread with olive oil (from the tomatoes), sprinkle with sea salt and sage. Layered with provolone, capicola, provelone, peppered salami, sun dried tomatoes, mozzarella, red peppers, fresh basil, and more mozzarella.

Cook for 20 minutes on low in a panini press and then wrap in foil and cook at 300°F for 10 minutes.

Cut into 6 wedges and dip in the warm arrabbiata sauce.


The middle third of the bread is unused, it makes a great appetizer with a bit of seasoned olive oil and fresh mozzarella.

Paprika Recipe

Today, we modified our own recipe and made sandwiches for each of us. It was similar…

I used sliced buttered olive sourdough bread, brushed with an olive oil-balsamic mix.

Onto that I layered kalamata tapenade, fresh mozzarella, roasted red peppers, sun dried tomatoes, fresh basil, prosciutto, more basil, peppered salami, more fresh mozzarella, and last another slice of buttered olive sourdough bread, brushed with an olive oil-balsamic mix.

Perfect sandwiches after slowly cooking on the panini press. 

Play with your food! Enjoy!

Apple and Fontina Grilled Cheese

On Labor Day, Bon Appétit posted 16 Grilled Cheese That Prove Perfection Does Exist. A few caught my eye and I shared the links on my Facebook page. We “kind of” tried the Apple and Fontina Grilled Cheese on Monday; yes, it was fairly edited to match our own tastes and preferences.

So what did we do?

  1. Buttered pumpernickel – not cocktail
  2. Balsamic Dijon mustard – not tarragon
  3. Shredded Fontina
  4. Peppered turkey – our addition
  5. Spinach – plenty, not just 4 leaves
  6. Sliced apple – we had Granny Smith, used the mandolin
  7. More shredded Fontina
  8. More Dijon
  9. Another slice of buttered pumpernickel

And then we put it on the panini press – delicious!

The crispness of the apples was awesome.



Apple and Fontina Grilled Cheese

Prep Time: 15 minutes | Cook Time: 10 minues | Servings: Servings: 4 | Difficulty: Easy


  • 8 slices pumpernickel bread
  • ¼ cup balsamic Dijon mustard
  • 8 ounces Fontina cheese, grated (about 2 cups)
  • ½ lb. peppered turkey
  • Baby spinach leaves
  • 1 Granny Smith Apple, thinly sliced
  • Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
  • ¼ cup (½ stick) butter, room temperature


Butter bread on the outside, and spread each with mustard.
Layer shredded fontina, peppered turkey, spinach, sliced apple, and more shredded fontina. Top with remaining slice of bread and cook slowly in a large skillet or on a panini press.

Source: http://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/apple-and-fontina-grilled-cheese

Paprika Recipe

BBQ Pork Brie Sandwich

I still have a number of posts to complete, my work days have been extending so long that I simply have been exhausted. Today, I got home 12 hours after I left this morning. My husband and I discussed going out for dinner, but we only had little over an hour before we would need to be home for our son finally getting home for his birthday.

He pointed out that we had Brie and pork in the fridge and a loaf of French sourdough. He wrapped my son’s presents and I set to slowly sautéing some thinly sliced red onions we also had in the fridge. I also thinly sliced my leftover bacon wrapped pork and a round of Brie. After the onions were done, I threw the pork in the same pan with barbecue sauce and a few splashes of smoked tabasco.








I stacked the Brie, pork, some baby spinach, the caramelized onions, and more Brie onto the buttered bread and then carefully moved them onto the panini press.



Perfect. It took 30 minutes, and my work day stress is gone.


Happy Wednesday.

Paprika Recipe

Double Pork and Pear Sandwich

With busy weeknights we end up making a lot of sandwiches, and I’ve been trying to add a few new one to the repertoire. 

When I made the menu for this week I skimmed Epicurious and saw few different sandwiches that had pear in them which I thought was incredibly unique. 

I didn’t have a recipe to work from, just a concept; at the grocery store I picked up a good bread, horseradish bacon mustard spread, peppered bacon, Boar’s Head porketta, white cheddar, arugula, and a Bartlett pear.

Then I set to building:

bread (buttered on the outside), mustard, porketta

peppered bacon
shredded white cheddar
shaved pear

more porketta

more shredded white cheddar
more mustard


Make-ahead Sandwich

Once again, I considered writing up Sunday dinner, but I have to go to a specialty shop to find tamarind paste, so I thought it would be a better option to talk about the other meal that I made this weekend. While most of us are familiar with making sandwiches the night before for school lunches, it’s good to know that there are some sandwiches that get better if you make them in advance instead of just soggy. 

During soccer and lacrosse seasons we thrive on sandwiches that can be prepped in advance in some way. This particular sandwich is one that is better if you make it the day before and it is equally good served cold and room temperature. 

The ingredients are fairly simple, and for a shortcut you can purchase an artichoke tapenade in addition to the olive tapenade or you can make your own olive tapenade for a complete home-made taste. 

On Sunday, I mixed it up a bit based on what I had onhand. I started with the artichoke spread.  


The ingredients are chopped in order and then mixed well together in a bowl.   
 And the olive tapenade; I made a few extra sandwiches so I mixed Kat Kora’s tapenade with my own. (My tapenade is a mix of olives (some garlic-stuffed), a sun dried tomato, basil, oregano, and red-wine vinegar.)     

   And then I sliced the fresh mozzarella; it’s best to let it drain.     

From here I moved to sandwich prep. I used rolls that were ~4×4″ today, but I’ve also used small loaves and large loaves.   

Each of these gets about a ½ cup of the artichoke spread.    
Which is topped with mozzarella.  
And then salami and the olive tapenade (~2T.). 

And the best part, I wrap them in Saran wrap and eat them later. My husband and I split one, but the boys eat a whole sandwich after all of their activities. They pack well in coolers and are truly best the next day.  

Artichoke, Fresh Mozzarella, And Salami Sandwiches

Entrées, Sandwiches, Tested and Approved!

Makes 4 sandwiches ∙ Difficulty Easy ∙ Source Bon Appétit | August 2003


  • 28 ounces artichoke hearts, drained, chopped (2 cans of 8-10 hearts)
  • 1/2 cup sun dried tomatoes, packed in EVOO, chopped, drained (oil reserved)
  • 3/8 cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
  • 1/8 cup Romano cheese, freshly grated
  • 1/2 cup basil, freshly chopped (large bunch – this is the quantity of chopped basil)
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil, from tomatoes
  • 4 ciabatta rolls, split in half lengthwise
  • 12-16 ounces fresh mozzarella, water packed, drained, sliced
  • 8 ounces peppered salami, thinly sliced
  • 8 Tbsp olive tapenade (green or black), (Kat Kora’s is good!)


Chop artichoke hearts and tomatoes with oil in food processor; transfer to bowl. In same processor bowl, chop basil, then add to artichoke mixture. Mix in cheeses. Season to taste with salt and pepper. 

Divide artichoke mixture among bottom halves of rolls. Top with cheese, then salami. Spread top half of each roll with 2 tablespoons tapenade. Place atop salami. Press sandwiches lightly to compact and wrap each tightly in plastic wrap. Refrigerate sandwiches at least 4 hours and up to 1 day.

Weeknight Meals


When I made my menu this past week, the one thing I wanted on it was burgers; it’s finally gotten cold here in Michigan and neither the grill nor I are fond of it. My husband got me a cast iron grill pan for Christmas so it was time to break it in. I really have been trying to add  more salads to our meals and with burgers in my head my thoughts when to other summer favorites. Asian Cole slaw came to mind; I haven’t had it in years since that little packet of “seasoning” is horrible, all salt and preservatives. I decided that someone must have solved this dilemma and set to finding an alternative.

I’m very thankful for another blog I came across, GimmeSomeOven; she solved it. I only made one intentional change: bagged Cole slaw kits don’t look appetizing to me so I shredded cabbage and carrot. I also made an unintentional change, I forgot to add the edamame in my haste.

Last, I had some leftover mac & cheese, that I modified when I made it. It was a stir and serve type of recipe and I strongly favor baked macaroni and cheese; at least in this house no one complained.

I told the boys I wanted bacon burgers and asked if they had any opinions, I got one, “can we add green onions and pepper jack cheese too?”

I started with the peppered bacon; I bake it to avoid the mess. Lay out in a single layer, place the tray in a cold oven, set the oven to 400, and bake for 12-20 minutes depending on the thickness. 
Then I formed the burgers, after a quick peek in the fridge, I put salt, pepper, garlic powder, chopped green and red onions, and barbecue sauce in them.

I then set to making the slaw, starting with the dressing:

And toasting the noodles and almonds for a nice crunch.
 I tossed it just before we ate. 

and served with a cucumber g&t



I’ve started sharing rides with another family for my son’s Wednesday training, and it has given me more time to do more for dinner. When I planned the menu, I came across a recipe for Caramel Chicken, it’s not as sweet as the name implies; the vinegar, garlic, and ginger add a bit of spice and tartness that makes it delicious. Rather than the asparagus I had on my menu I remembered that I still had some extra cauliflower and broccoli in the veggie drawer which I cut up and roasted. Roasting broccoli and/or cauliflower is fairly easy, on a rimmed cookie sheet drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and pepper, then add you flavor of choice (I squeezed half of a lemon over the veggies). Bake at 400°F for 20-25 minutes.


By far the easiest meal on the day of eating; I made it on Sunday. I definitely recommend making this in advance, the potatoes help to thickest the soup as it rests in the fridge, and the flavor become richer. Mine didn’t have any fat to remove, but as I’ve mentioned before, I trim my beef really well.


Crunchy Asian Ramen Noodle Salad

Prep 10 mins ∙ Cook 10 mins ∙ Makes About 8 servings ∙ Source Gimmesomeoven.com


Salad Ingredients:

  • ½ cabbage, shredded
  • ½-1 cup carrots, shredded
  • 2 (3-ounce) packages of ramen noodles, crumbled (discard the seasoning packet)
  • 1 cup shelled and cooked edamame
  • 1 avocado, peeled, pitted and diced
  • 1 mango, peeled, pitted, and julienned (or diced)
  • ½ cup thinly-sliced almonds
  • ½ cup thinly-sliced green onions (scallions)

Asian Vinaigrette Dressing

  • ⅔ cup vegetable oil
  • ⅓ cup honey (or agave)
  • ⅓ cup rice wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • ¼ teaspoon sesame oil
  • pinch of salt and black pepper


To Make The Salad:

(Optional first step: Heat oven to 425 degrees. Spread the crumbled ramen noodles and sliced almonds out on a baking sheet, and stir a bit to combine. Bake for about 5 minutes, or until the almonds and noodles are slightly toasted and golden. Remove baking sheet, and give the mixture a good stir to toss. Then return it to the oven and toast for an additional 3 minutes. Keep a very close eye on the mixture so that it does not burn. Remove and set aside.)

Add ingredients (including the vinaigrette) together in a large bowl, and toss until combined.

Serve immediately, or cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days. (This salad is much better eaten the first day, as the noodles lose their “crunch” the longer it sits, and the avocado may brown a bit.)

To Make The Vinaigrette:

Whisk all ingredients together until combined.

Green Chile Macaroni & Cheese

Prep 45 mins ∙ Cook 30 min ∙ Makes 4-6 ∙ Difficulty Medium ∙ Source Food.com | Roaring Fork Restaurant


  • 3 fresh poblano chiles, 1 chopped
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ cup chopped red bell pepper
  • ½ cup chopped red onion
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1-1½ cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 1 lb. macaroni, cooked
  • 4 cups grated cheese (mexican, cheddar)
  • salt, to taste
  • ground black pepper, to taste
  • Panko, for topping (optional)


1. Char 2 poblano chile directly over gas flame or in broiler until blackened on all sides. Transfer to paper bag; seal. Let stand 15 minutes. Peel, seed, and coarsely chop chile. Transfer to processor; puree until smooth. Set aside.

2. Heat oil in heavy large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add chopped chile, bell pepper, onion, and garlic. Saute until soft, about 4 minutes. Add corn; stir 1 minute.

3. Add cream and chile puree, bring to boil. Add cooked macaroni and grated cheese. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Pour into a 9×13″ pan sprayed with nonstick spray and sprinkle with panko. Bake for 30 minutes at 350°F.

Caramel Chicken

Makes 4 ∙ Source Bonappetit.com


  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2½-3 pounds skin-on, bone-in chicken legs and thighs
  • Kosher salt
  • 8 garlic cloves, peeled
  • ⅓ cup (packed) light brown sugar
  • ¼ cup (or more) unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 2 slices ¼”-thick slices peeled ginger
  • 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • ¼ cup reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 3 scallions, thinly sliced
  • Cooked white rice (for serving)


Heat oil in a large wide heavy pot over medium-high heat. Season chicken with salt and, working in 2 batches, cook until golden brown and crisp, 6–8 minutes per side; transfer to a plate. Add garlic to pot and cook, stirring often, until golden, about 2 minutes; transfer to plate with chicken. Pour off fat from pot.

Return pot to medium-high heat and add ½ cup water, scraping up browned bits. Add brown sugar; stir to dissolve, then cook, stirring, until mixture thickens and turns a deep amber color, about 4 minutes. Carefully add vinegar (it may bubble up; sugar will crystallize); stir to dissolve sugar.

Add ginger, broth, and soy sauce, then add chicken, skin side up, and garlic.

 Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer gently until chicken is cooked through, 20–25 minutes. Transfer chicken to a plate.

Bring cooking liquid to a boil and cook until thick enough to coat a spoon, about 10 minutes. Return chicken to pot; turn to coat. Top with scallions and serve with rice.

Irish Beef Stew

Makes 4 to 6 servings ∙ Source Bon Appétit | March 2001


  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • 1¼ pounds stew beef, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 6-8 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 cups beef stock or canned beef broth
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 1 cup porter beer
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled, cut into ½” pieces
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 cups carrots, peeled and cut in ½” pieces
  • 2 tablespoons parsley, freshly chopped



Heat oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add beef and sauté until brown on all sides, about 5 minutes.

Add garlic and sauté 1 minute. Add beef stock, tomato paste, sugar, thyme, Worcestershire sauce and bay leaves. 
Stir to combine. Bring mixture to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, then cover and simmer 1 hour, stirring occasionally.Meanwhile, melt butter in another large pot over medium heat. Add potatoes, onion and carrots. Sauté vegetables until golden, about 20 minutes.

   Add vegetables to beef stew. Simmer uncovered until vegetables and beef are very tender, about 40 minutes.

Discard bay leaves. Tilt pan and spoon off fat. (Can be prepared up to 2 days ahead. Cool slightly. Refrigerate uncovered until cold, then cover and refrigerate. Bring to simmer before serving.) Transfer stew to serving bowl. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.

Busy Week

So I was really excited this week, I was going to post about the meals I had planned which included 3 favorites. This week had other plans for me though, I had to attend a dinner for work, winter soccer practice started this week, my eldest forgot his cleats at home one day, my husband had a late work meeting, and I had a parent meeting to attend for my younger son’s lacrosse. Whew.

Fortunately, this is part of why I plan, when something changes, I already have all the ingredients available for the entire menu and I can switch it up to fit the new plan. Last Saturday in addition to braising the short ribs, I made burgers for dinner and had a few left over. Along with my Sunday cooking I made the filling for Buffalo Chicken Grilled Cheese Sandwiches. I got this recipe a few years ago from my good friend Dawn; it’s great for any busy week, because you can make it in advance and anyone who can put together a grilled cheese can cook it. I thought we would have these on Monday because  we all eat at different times, but with me not home, my husband and eldest opted for the burgers and this got moved to Wednesday. I put the pork shoulder for the Chili Verde in the freezer and moved on.

By Monday, I knew how the week was shaping up, so the minute I got home, I set to work on Oliver Clark’s Meat Loaf for dinner on Thursday. Last Thanksgiving, I received a cookbook from my friend Jan; she and her family joined us for the meal. Cookbook, is an understatement for the book, Essential New York Times Cookbook, by Amanda Hesser, 2010, there are no pictures but the stories and writing within are beautiful and the recipes (which I have tried so far) are wonderful. This is one of those recipes, it is found on page 554; the only substitution I made was to use baby bella mushrooms, otherwise, don’t change a thing the flavor is perfect. When I was recently married, I made a meatloaf that was primarily ground beef and a box of Stove Top, this puts that to shame. Yes it is more work, it took me 30 minutes to put it all together instead of 5. The time you put in is a noticible difference. I separated the beef mixure into two loaf pans and  froze half. I put the other half in the fridge wrapped in foil until Thursday when I put it on a rimmed cookie sheet and baked as directed.

Just before dinner I quickly sautéed the remaining mushrooms and French beans in the pan I used for the bacon.

Buffalo Chicken Grilled Cheese Sandwich

cook 10 minutes ∙ makes 4 servings ∙ difficulty Easy ∙ source Dawn

  • 8 slices French bread, sliced ¼” thick
  • 6 ounces cream cheese
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
  • ¾ cup blue cheese crumbled (optional – can replace with ¼ cup ranch dressing)
  • 2 cups rotisserie chicken, shredded
  • ¼ cup mayonnaise
  • ⅛ cup onion, minced
  • ¼ cup celery, minced
  • 5 Tbsp buffalo wing sauce (such as Frank’s red hot sauce)
  • Soft butter or margarine


In a mixing bowl, whip the cream cheese until smooth and creamy, scraping the sides of the bowl once or twice. Add the cheddar cheese and mix well, then fold in the blue cheese. Mix in the remaining ingredients.

Prepare bread as you would for grilled cheese sandwiches, buttering the outside. Spread this mixture on top of four of the prepared slices and top with the remaining four slices.

Heat a large sauté pan or griddle over medium-low heat. Add the sandwiches and toast each side until golden brown, about 5-8 minutes. Serve.
Oliver Clark’s Meat Loaf
source: Essential New York Times Cookbook | Amanda Hesser | 2010 – page 554


  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 medium onions, finely chopped
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1½ large portobello mushrooms caps, finely chopped
  • 1 green pepper, cored, seeded, and finely chopped
  • 2 lbs. ground beef
  • 1 lb. ground pork or sausage
  • 1 cup bread crumbs
  • ½ tsp. onion powder
  • 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • ½ tsp. Cajun seasoning
  • ⅓ cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
  • ¼ cup ketchup
  • 1 tbsp. mayonnaise
  • 2 tbsp. whipped cream cheese
  • 3 large eggs
  • ½ lb. bacon


1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Sauté the garlic and onions in 2 tablespoons of oil in a large skillet until the garlic is golden and the onions are translucent. Remove to a bowl. Add a dash of saalt and pepper: it’s important to season well here. (SMS Note: It’s more than a dash, season well.)

2. Place all the remaining ingredients except the eggs and bacon in a bowl. Paw at it with two forks, combining thoroughly but not overmixing. Mix in the eggs and the onions and garlic. Scrape the mixture into a large baking dish and shape into a loaf about 4 inches wide and 3 inches high.

3. Bake for 50-60 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, midway through the baking time, sauté the bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until pale, limp, and partially rendered, about 5 minutes. Adorn the meat loaf with it and finish cooking.


Trust the time in the recipe so as not to overcook. Can be prepared in advance; allow to sit at room temp for an hour, if possible, before baking if prepared in advance.