Sunday, April 26, 2015

Ann Arbor's New Grillcheezerie Sandwich Shoppe

Fancy Grilled Cheese Night is a theme we often have at our weekly game night gatherings. I also bought Greg the book Grilled Cheese, Please! as a gift, and it has informed a number of our meals outside of game night. 

So it was with great excitement that I saw a sign go up many moons ago on a building on Packard near downtown Ann Arbor that said "Grillcheezerie." Whaaat? An entire sandwich shop built around the glorious grilled cheese? I could not wait for this place to open. I checked for them on GrubHub every time I ordered delivery at work, which, sadly for my savings account, was an awful lot this past winter. (I find GrubHub to be a convenient way of finding new places to order food, though a lot of times it is cheaper to order directly from the source rather than through them.) 

One night at the bookstore, when I was short on time and resources, I decided I would order dinner and gleefully went through the Grillcheezerie's online menu. I didn't go with one of their house-designed options, wonderful and enticing as they were, and instead made my own sandwich: Meunster cheese, chicken (free range), caramelized onion, and wild mushrooms. Mmm.... I am drooling at the memory of that sandwich. I made it a combo and got some roasted garlic tomato soup that turned out to be some of the best tomato soup I have ever had! And, of course, since they offered it, I had to go with a bottle of Faygo Red Pop. Classic. 

I see now that they have added S'more Bread Pudding to the menu, so obviously I must eat there again, hopefully in the shop this time. Parking over there is really annoying, so I generally avoid the need to. But S'more Bread Pudding? I will make the effort! 

If grilled cheese maybe isn't your thing (that's weird, dude), you can also order mac 'n cheese or a salad with chips, coleslaw, a pickle, and a regular pop that isn't Faygo (again, that's kind of weird). And S'more Bread Pudding. 


Sunday, April 19, 2015

Creamy Chicken Broccoli and Quinoa Casserole Revamped

I really should have learned this lesson by now: ALWAYS USE THE LARGER CASSEROLE DISH. Especially when I plan on using about twice as much chicken as the recipe calls for because the meat is about to go bad and needs to be cooked now or never. I did heed my previous lesson "It always takes at least twice as long as it says it will" and prepared a few things in advance before heading into work so I'd save time when I got home, so good on me there.

Here is the recipe I followed and modified to suit my needs, which I will detail below.

First up, I didn't have poultry seasoning, which is a little unlike me. Since moving in with Greg over two years ago, a lot of my cooking habits have changed. Because Greg is allergic to chicken broth (one of my former staples also), we decided to substitute Herbes de Provence for the poultry seasoning. Naturally, this gave it a different flavor than the original recipe - a great one! It did require me to add some salt later, but that's no biggie. I also left out the bacon and used the last of a block of cheddar that was wanting to mold in the fridge.

Believe it or not, but nothing really went wrong with this recipe. I had exactly enough quinoa (the reason that I chose this recipe to begin with - that quinoa had been sitting in our cupboard far too long), nothing bubbled over or made a mess. I just had to switch to the larger casserole dish because there wasn't enough room for the broccoli, but since the chicken was already mostly cooked and the sauce had thickened, this really wasn't a mess and nothing went wrong. Broccoli was added, cheese was shredded over-top, and the whole thing was popped back in the oven for another ten minutes.

I loved this casserole. I see a lot of potential for additions and substitutions here, too. Instead of Herbes de Provence, we could use any of a number of herb collections in our cupboard, and trust me when I saw there are a lot. Red pepper flakes could add a kick, maybe some African smoke.

I love recipes that let me play! I just think of a list of ingredients as guidelines rather than Gospel. If I am ever feeling stuck in a recipe, or don't think I can afford to go out and buy a bunch of ingredients I may never use again, there is always another way. ADVENTURE!

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Honey and Garlic Chicken Strips

I was looking through my Pinterest boards again for dinner ideas again and came across this recipe for Honey Garlic Chicken. I thought to myself, "Hey, this looks easy and tasty!" Well, it  was tasty... I really need to remember that the recipes I find online never work out the way they're supposed to. I recommend this recipe. Consider this a warning of what not to do with it.

First off, I emptied every pot of honey we had in the apartment and still only came up with half of the 1/2 cup the recipe called for. This actually ended up not being a problem. What went awry here was the soy sauce. I didn't realize that Greg had used up the last of our soy sauce on a previous dinner. My mind had a difficult time comprehending how my kitchen could run out of soy sauce. Greg suggested I use some of the copious packets of soy sauce that, for unknown reasons, collect in our fridge and on top of the toaster oven. I'm a bit of a soy sauce snob (Kikkoman all the way!), but I didn't see much choice as it was late, I was hungry, and I didn't feel like running to the store. Next time, I will run to the store.

This recipe, like most breaded chicken recipes, calls for dipping the raw chicken breasts into egg whites before the flour mixture, but I prefer olive or canola oil because it both feels less wasteful to me (those 2 eggs could have been breakfast), and I like how it crisps up better.

It took sooo looong to cook the strips. I'd taken 2 chicken breasts and cut them in half. Some of the breast pieces were thicker than others. What should have taken about half an hour took over an hour. If I do this again - and I very well may because Greg really liked this dish -  I will probably cut the chicken into chunks. It cooks faster and more chicken is exposed to and coated in the sauce.

I ended up adding salt near the end because the soy sauce packets (which were a mistake) were not salty enough. I thought the sauce tasted funny, but Greg disagreed, and I do think the salt helped. I guess I would like to make this again with the proper ingredients, though I am impressed that I managed to pull it together with what we had. It really was quite easy, the chicken just didn't want to cook in the middle. Thoroughly cooked chicken is very important.

I paired this honey and garlic chicken with canned carrots because that's what we had. Next time, I will make rice for sure. I keep saying "next time." I guess I better add soy sauce and honey to the shopping list!

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Shredded Brussels Sprouts: Original Recipe

One of the last times I made Brussels sprouts,  I decided that buying the bag of pre-shredded Brussels sprouts is much easier  and so much less time-consuming than shredding them myself. So on our last trip to Trader Joe's, I grabbed a bag because we both really enjoyed the shredded sprouts more than the whole or half cut sprouts.

I didn't have any particular plan for them. As they started to brown a little in the fridge, I realized I had to do something with them and soon! So I went through the cupboards and fridge and came up with the following:
  •  1 bag shredded Brussels sprouts
  •  2 tablespoons julienne cut sun-dried tomatoes
  •  1/4 cup crushed pecans
  •  a few healthy dashes of lemon juice
  •  generous twists of Trader Joe's garlic salt grinder

All of this was tossed together and thrown in a frying pan with canola oil (so it wouldn't burn)  over medium heat. Brussels sprouts cook pretty quickly and turn a darker, brighter green so you know they're done. Right before I turned off the heat, I finely grated over-top some white block cheese that was starting to go bad in my fringe and mixed it into the sprouts.

Voila! A tasty side dish for dinner (which was beef in the crockpot). It was really fast, too. I love Brussels sprouts! I wonder if they're difficult to grow...