grilled vegetable sandwiches

Summer is ending.  Fall is arriving…slowly, but arriving.  We had a couple of evenings recently where we sat on the patio and enjoyed what had the makings of a cool breeze.  I think we’ve survived another desert summer!  Which is good and bad, because that means summer veggies are going by the wayside.  But it also means fall root veggies, key to many comfort foods and soups, will be in abundant supply.

While flipping through a cookbook looking for something entirely different, I came across these grilled veggie sandwiches which sounded (and looked) delicious.  My usual cooking routine includes incorporating a meatless meal or two each week.  And, since no one has put up too much of a fight, I’m not rocking that boat.  These veggie sandwiches were the perfect meatless meal, and made for a tiny celebration of the end of the season by using the last of the summer veggies.  For those of you in colder climates, the benefits will be two-fold: enjoying the last of summer vegetables and lighting up the grill one more time – before the lid is frozen shut!  Enjoy!!

Grilled Vegetable Sandwiches (recipe courtesy Cooking Light Superfast Suppers, Oxmoor House Publishing)

dressing©zouptonuts

sliced©zouptonuts

marinade©zouptonuts

grillbasket©zouptonuts

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbsp light mayo
  • 1 Tbsp fresh chopped basil
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into eighths
  • 1 (1 lb) eggplant, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch slices
  • 1 sweet onion, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch slices
  • 1 zucchini, cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch slices
  • Cooking spray
  • 4 ciabatta rolls, sliced in half
  • 8 oz fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced

Directions:

  • Prepare grill.
  • Combine mayo and minced basil; cover and chill.
  • Combine oil and next 3 ingredients in a large bowl.  Add bell pepper, eggplant, onion, and zucchini to dressing mixture;; toss vegetables to coat.
  • Place bell pepper and eggplant on grill rack coated with cooking spray; grill about 6 minutes.  Add onion and zucchini; grill 5 minutes.  Turn vegetables often, baste with dressing, and cook just until tender.  Remove from grill and keep warm.
  • Place bread on grill, cut side down, and grill 2 minutes.  Turn bread, cut side up, and place half of cheese slices on bottom half of bread.  Grill 1 minute or until cheese begins to melt.
  • Spread mayo mixture over top half of bread.  Top bottom half with vegetables, remaining cheese slices, and top half of bread.
  • Serve immediately.

sandwich©zouptonuts***Cook’s Notes:  I used a grill basket for the veggies, which made worries about losing vegetables through the grill grates a non-issue.  Choose a nice, hearty roll.  The ciabattas are great because they hold up well to the moisture from the dressing, grilled veggies, and melted cheese.  Also, I came across this little gem while working on the post; the website for the book Simply in Season, which offers a fruit and vegetable guide for tips on how to choose, store, prepare, and use selected fruits and vegetables.  Good stuff!

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simply egg salad sandwiches

Summer is upon us.  I’m giving myself permission to publish nothing but recipes containing the word “salad” from now until October!!!  I probably won’t, but today, with the temperature currently hovering about 106°, it’s tempting.  Salad is a cool word.  It doesn’t have the same heavy, sweat-on-your-neck connotations as, say, casserole.  I don’t know about you, but I felt infinitely more sweaty (sweatier?) typing “casserole” than I did typing “salad.”  Even in my climatically controlled office space.

On top of that, last weekend I was out of yogurt but didn’t feel like succumbing to peanut butter and jelly for lunch.  I did have, fortuitously, a couple of hard-boiled eggs.  The rest, as they say, is history.

Egg salad is one of those catch as catch can kind of foods.  You make of it what you will with whatever ingredients you can gather from the fridge.  There are no rules.  If it sounds good, add it.  It’s summer.  It’s hot outside (at least here in the desert southwest).  Throw caution to the 106° wind.  Enjoy!

2013-06-01

Simple Egg Salad Sandwiches (recipe adapted from Eat, Live, Run)

Ingredients:

  • 4 eggs, hard-boiled
  • 2 Tbsp mayonnaise (I used reduced fat mayo with olive oil)
  • 1 tsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp stone ground mustard
  • 1 stalk celery, rinsed, trimmed, and diced
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Mash eggs with a fork and add remaining ingredients. Chill in fridge or spread on whole grain bread with sliced onion and lettuce. Enjoy!

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Cook’s Notes:  I halved the recipe because I only wanted a half sandwich and gave the other half to the husband.  The recipe, as written, makes enough for two sandwiches.  Increase ingredients accordingly depending on how many mouths you need to feed or how much you want left over for tomorrow’s lunch.

pulled pork bbq (slow cooker style)

Can you ever get enough pulled pork?  I think not.

A friend gave  me this recipe a while back and I hadn’t made it for fear of being accused of being on some strange shredded meat binge.  Finally, the temptation was too great and I gave in, even though I had made shredded something-or-other fairly recently.  But it’s about the easiest recipe ever written and I was in an “I don’t want feel like lingering over dinner” kind of mood.  Four ingredients, people.  Four ingredients and that’s about all the lingering over dinner you’ll need to do.  I always feel like there’s some kitchen fairy magic going on with these meals.  Ingredients in, lid on, twelve hours later, dinner is served.

I’ve seen various recipes like this one calling for the addition of a carbonated beverage.  Does anyone know why?  Honestly, I’m not sure what the added benefit might be, because I think the meat really gets it flavor from the onions and whatever spectacular bbq sauce you choose.  So, if anyone can offer any hints as to why soda of any kind is frequently seen in slow cooker recipes like this, I’d love to know.  The finished product had absolutely no Ginger Ale overtones, whatsoever.

We always top our shredded meat with coleslaw.  We’re quirky that way.  Feel free to do the same, or just slather in more saucy deliciousness.  Enjoy!

2013-03-12

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Pulled Pork BBQ

Ingredients:

  • 4 lbs pork roast (shoulder or butt)
  • 2 large onions
  • 1 cup ginger ale
  • 1 (18 ounce) bottle favorite barbecue sauce (I like Sweet Baby Ray’s) barbecue sauce, for serving (optional)

Directions:

  • Slice one onion and place in crock pot.
  • Put in the roast and cover with the other onion, sliced. Pour over the ginger ale. Cover and cook on LOW for about 12 hours.
  • Remove the meat, strain and save the onions, discard all liquid. With two forks, shred the meat, discarding any remaining fat, bones or skin.
  • Return the shredded meat and the onions to the crock pot and stir in the barbecue sauce. Continue to cook for about another 2 hours on LOW.
  • Serve with hardy rolls and additional barbecue sauce. Any leftovers freeze very well.

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Cook’s Notes:  Shoulder or butt are recommended because the meat shreds very well.  It is a fattier cut, but the fat pretty much falls away after cooking and is easily removed from the crock pot before shredding.  Also,  the original recipe cooked for 12 hours the first round, and another 4 to 6 after straining, shredding, and adding the sauce.  I think mine would have been cooked to mush by that point.  Another 2 hours to let the flavors develop was plenty for us.  Also, the original recipe gave a tip on how to freeze ready-made sandwiches.  Personally, that just sounds disgusting.  I can only envision a soggy pile of goo coming out of the microwave upon re-heating.  My preference is to keep the meat and bread separate until I’m ready to eat.  Most importantly (as with any shredded meat sandwich where sauce or coleslaw is involved), make sure your sandwich buns can stand up to all that moisture.  I noted to serve with “hardy rolls” in the directions above, and I can’t emphasize that enough.  Unless you don’t mind eating your pulled pork with a fork.  In which case you can simply call this recipe pork-on-a-fork!

slow-cooker pulled beef and beer sliders

The Super Bowl!  Ahhhh, yes.  There’s only one reason I agree to attend gatherings centered around professional sports and that’s the food.  I can only stomach the antics and machismo of a bunch of overpaid prima donnas if my own stomach is full of good grub.  Oh, and if there’s beer!  Because what you’ll need to pair with this recipe is not wine (sorry, my dear Carolyn), it’s beer.  We paired it with Bell’s Amber (a craft brew from my native Michigan) and the combo was delicious.

Serving the beef as a “slider” sandwich is perfect for a party where there’s going to be a lot of other food, too.  Our friends had laid out a nacho/taco bar and pork carnitas, so we added the sliders with toppings of cole slaw, pickles, peperoncinis, and some sharp Vermont cheddar cheese.  The meat was incredibly tender and flavorful, and the mini sandwiches were a hit with the kids, too.  This recipe is definitely a keeper – lots of flavor with pretty minimal work, and would be yummy any time of year when you’re feeding a crowd.  Enjoy!

Slow Cooker Pulled Beef and Beer Sliders
(recipe courtesy Jersey Girl Cooks)
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 Ingredients:
  • ½ cup finely chopped onion
  • 3 lb beef roast (chuck, bottom round or shoulder roast works)
  • salt and pepper for seasoning
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 12 ounces beer
  • ½ cup BBQ sauce (I used Sweet Baby Rays Sweet & Tangy)
  • 12 to 16 mini slider rolls or potato rolls
  • optional: serve with extra BBQ sauce, cheese, pickles, peperoncinis or crispy onions
Directions:
  1. Place the chopped onion in the bottom of the slow cooker.
  2. Season roast with salt, pepper and garlic powder, then place roast in the slow cooker.
  3. In a small bowl, mix together the beer and BBQ sauce. Pour over the roast.
  4. Cook on low for 8 to 10 hours.
  5. When meat is cooked, shred and serve on slider rolls with any of the suggested extras…or, anything else you prefer.

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***Cook’s Notes:  I used a round roast which cooked up beautifully in about 10 hours.  I strained the juice and saved it for re-heating leftovers.  Next time I might tinker with the quantities of beer and BBQ sauce called for during cooking.  I would have liked a little more BBQ flavor, but the meat was still delicious when prepared per the recipe.

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slow cooker shredded beef sandwiches

The other day I was flipping through a stack of recipes, lamenting the heat and begrudging having to cook dinner for the next string of 110+ degree days.  It was also one of those days I was particularly missing my mom – grief is such a long, strange process.  About a third of the way through the pile of recipe cards, this one fell out and fluttered to the floor.  My mom had handwritten it for me when she visited the last time before she died.  It was a staple in her repertoire when I was growing up.  I took it as something of a sign:  Mom’s recipe, no slaving over a hot oven required.  Thanks, Mom.  I needed that.

These sandwiches are perfect no matter what the weather.  They’re savory and comforting in the cold, and easy-peasy in the heat.  They’re also great for a pot-luck when you’re feeding a crowd.  Best ever cole slaw recipe to follow.  Enjoy!

Shredded Beef Sandwiches 

Ingredients:

  • 3 lbs beef chuck pot roast, trimmed
  • 1/3 c vinegar
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/8 tsp garlic powder

Directions:

Trim fat from roast and place in 3 to 4 quart slow cooker.  Combine vinegar, onion, bay leaves, salt, cloves, and garlic powder; pour over meat.  Cover and cook on low heat for 11 to 12 hours or until meat is very tender.  Remove meat and use forks to shred, discarding any bones or fat.  If desired line hearty rolls with spinach or lettuce leaf of your choice, or top with cole slaw.  Strain meat juices, skim fat.  Serve juices with sandwiches for dipping.  Serves 8 to 10.