Pizza Sandwich


Hi.  My name is Jenny and I enjoy food that tastes good in a hurry.

I was blessed with a Cuisnart Panini maker for Mother’s Day and I’ve been using it like crazy for the past few weeks.  Having such a fancy new tool in my arsenal of kitchen stuff  make’s me feel almost illegally happy.

…but that doesn’t take much!

I can’t say I invented this pizza sandwich, but I’m proud to brag that it came to me in a moment of “Oh Crap, what is my 2 year old going to eat for dinner.”  Running out of nuggets was a blessing in disguise…now these sandwiches are requested more than anything else (“Pizza Sandwich, Mom! Pweeeeeees!!”).

Disclaimer: This is not fancy.  This is not special.  This is only super yummy and easy.  I make them for myself frequently.

This sandwich takes only about 8 minutes to make

  • While your panini grill is firing up, get out 2 pieces of bread, mozzarella (shredded or otherwise) and some pizza or marinara sauce.
  • Sauce both faces of the bread liberally.
  • Add a pile of cheese (and any toppings)
  • Assemble sandwich and place in panini maker.
  • Cook for 4-6 minutes (until cheese is melted and starting to ooze out).
  • Eat….and realize how freaking awesome 3 little ingredients can be!  For the visual learners, here’s a photo tutorial.  Scroll to the bottom for a few tips!




PizzaSandwich4PizzaSandwich5 PizzaSandwich6


Tips on making the perfect pizza sandwich:

1) DO NOT butter the outsides of the bread (one of the very few things in life that butter does not improve).  It took me many paninis to realize the sogginess was a result of buttering the bread.  Lightly dust the panini plates with some cooking spray, if desired.

2) Use bakery fresh bread.  Makes all the difference.

3) A sprinkle of Italian seasonings on the cheese tastes great.

4) If making for kids, this is a great one to sneak a few spinach leaves into.  They’ll never know!

5)Let your panini get screaming hot first.  Otherwise the bread won’t have that crunch.

What are the tried-and-trusted sandwiches in your home??


Preserved Lemons…the Beginning



I heard about preserved lemons on a cooking show a few weekends back and felt motivated to try them.  Basically, you put lemons and salt in a jar with lots of lemon juice and let it sit for one month.  My kind of recipe!!  The radio talk show host discussed in length all the different things you could do with preserved lemons and the juice: marinades, salad dressings, sauces, sprinkle it on chicken or potatoes, etc.  I was intrigued and decided to try it.  I found many recipes on how to construct this apparently life changing stuff, and in the end went with this one from the radio show that I was listening to when I first heard of them.  I liked the idea of “sil gris” (or gray sea salt) over regular salt.  Made me feel special to use such a fancy ingredient (doesn’t take much to impress me!).  My dad picked this up at All Spice for me…$8 for a big bag (I used about half).Lemons4

I did not add the optional Juniper Berries because I have no idea what they are or where to get them….and I didn’t want them to go to waste should this incredibly simple recipe not turn out how I hope (which may very well be the case – since I am one of those “the easier it is, the more likely I am to mess it up” people).  So far, preserved lemons = easy as can be!

Step 1: Wash lemons.

Lemons1Step 2: Cut the tips off the lemons.

Lemons2Step 3: Cut each lemon into quarters lengthwise, leaving them attached at one end.

Lemons3Step 4: Pack lemons with salt (sel gris if you prefer to feel fancy).

Lemons5Step 5: Cram them into a jar and fill with lemon juice until lemons are covered. Seal jar.


Step 6: Wait 4 weeks, agitating daily and adding more juice, should the lemons become exposed.

*tick tock tick tock*

My note on this recipe so far are this:

1) Get more than 8 lemons if you use the same side jar that I did.  I crammed about 8 lemons in the jar, but used the juice of another 5 lemons to fill the jar.

2) Pick lemons that are more long and narrow than round and fat.  I had a hard time getting mine into the jar, so I cut some of them in half and shoved them in.  I hope this doesn’t completely ruin the whole thing! (But how could it really?)

4) If you have any little cuts on your hands for whatever reason, you might want to slap on a pair of rubber gloves first!

Anyone ever cooked with this stuff before?  I’m dying to hear some first hand accounts. 🙂


Easy and Impressive Stuffed Brownies

It’s snowing outside.  I was panicked about what to do yesterday with a squirrelly 2 year old, so we baked these:OreoBrownies1


Yes…its snowing so we baked.  And Yes, it’s May 3rd and there is a blizzard going on.  We are having the most bizarre weather here in Iowa!!  This is what we were doing on Monday (normal for this time of year)…




And this is what it looks like outside today…



I am regretful about jumping the gun and planting my garden last weekend when it was 75 degrees and sunny, but luckily I have a raised garden bed that can be moved into the garage for such strange occasions.  My herbs are very sad without sunshine!  And so am I…and so are my kids.  Just when I thought cabin fever was clear for take off, it’s back in full force.

So, I bake.

And I thank the blogging gods for Sally.

Just when I get bored with a recipe, she swoops in with a tastey twist on something simple and it makes my day.  She posted these brownies a while back.  Her method : put Oreo’s inside your brownies before you bake them (she added frosting, too, but I left that out).OreoBrownies2


Do you have a box of brownie mix?  Do you have 12 oreos?  Then make these.  Now.  It’s easy!

  • After you make the batter, pour half into your prepared pan.
  • Add a layer of Oreo’s.
  • Cover with the rest of the batter.
  • Bake.

Easy and they impress your friends (just don’t tell them how easy they are).  OreoBrownies3


The cookies get really soft and fudge-like as the brownies bake.  The brownies come out fudgy as can be and the cookies add another dimension to the already delicious chocolate flavor.  You could also do a homemade brownie recipe with these if you have guilt about using a box mix, but over achieving is hardly in my vocabulary lately!

Peanut Butter Cream Cheese Brownie Cups


I am guilty of assuming that the more words there are in a recipe’s title, the better it is.  This isn’t always true since I love things like chocolate cake and bread, but in the case of Peanut Butter Cream Cheese Brownie Cups, my theory is right as rain.  This simple recipe that I found on my favorite recipe sharing website, Tasty Kitchen, is easy and it turned out mighty tasty.  I was pleased as punch with how they came out!  The peanut butter and cream cheese adds 2 amazing flavors to an already perfect treat.  You can’t go wrong here!  This is one of those easy to make recipes that people give you way too much credit for (“Wow, you made these??).  Feel free not to tell them how easy they actually are.


Either use boxed brownie mix or use a ‘from scratch’ recipe.  I recommend – in ANY situation requiring brownies – that you try this recipe for Killer Brownies. They are heavy, fudgey (is that a word?) and go amazingly with a cup of coffee in the afternoon when both your kids are finally sleeping at the same time and you get a few blissful minutes to yourself to catch up on some Real Housewives series or the Bachelor (omg. Can you believe Tierra this season? Poor Sean).  *sigh*  …but I digress.


Basically, make some brownie mix according to the packaging or recipe. Top it with a simple peanut butter and cream cheese mixture.  Put them in the oven and bake.  Then cool and eat!  A few tips I’ll share with you since this was my maiden run:

-melt the cream cheese and peanut butter slightly so they pour over brownies before baking.  I just softened mine and it didn’t melt down in the oven like I assumed it would.



– make sure to leave enough room in the cups to add plenty of the topping! Brownies don’t rise much, but you want to make sure you leave enough room on top for a couple of generous scoops of the peanut butter cream cheese mixture.  Go ahead…put on more than the recipe says!


We are locked inside today avoiding a lovely high temperature of 8 degrees.  Thankfully, there are plenty of these sinful treats to keep us warm!  Don’t worry, we have plenty of the “playing in a bed sheet fort” game to keep us active to offset the probably copious calories in each Brownie Cup (yeah right).


Quick and Easy Breakfast Sandwich – No pan needed!

So there is nothing ‘ultimate’ or totally-over-the-top-amazing about this sandwich.  But, it’s quick, it’s easy and it’s really tasty, if you enjoy simple things like melted cheese.  It seems like we have been so busy lately that breakfasts have become pretty lack luster.  That’s why this little sandwich has been showing up at the table in our house.  Super simple…here we go.

You’ll Need:

1 egg

1 tsp milk (preferably not skim)

slight dash of Lawry’s Seasonings

1 piece of American Cheese

1 English Muffin

Butter (for your muffin)

Begin by combining the egg, milk and Lawry’s in a small bowl and scramble them up.

Spray a small ramekin with non-stick cooking spray.


Pour the egg mixture into the ramekin.


Place the ramekin in the microwave for 30-40 seconds or until the egg is fully cooked.  You’ll have to experiment with exact times…my microwave does it perfectly in 38 seconds, but yours may be different.  It will blow up huge, like a marshmallow during the cooking process, don’t be scared (or grossed out)…it’ll be yummy.  It should look like this when it’s done.

Place the egg on your toasted and buttered english muffin and slap a piece of cheese  on it…good to go (I recommend not burning your muffin like I did on this sandwich)!


Here are some variations for this with this handy breakfast that are also quite good:

Add a few small bits of feta to your egg before cooking and add a slice of tomato to the sandwich.

Add bacon, sausage or ham to make it a ‘proper’ breakfast sandwich.

Use a bagel or toast instead of an English muffin.

Get crazy and make yourself a personalized sandwich…and relish in the fact that you don’t have to clean a pan afterwards!


English Muffin Bread

This English Muffin Bread is easy to make and really yummy.  Dense and fantastic fresh or toasted up later, I make it quite often.  The recipe came from my Aunt Ann, who is quite the cook herself.  I owe her a great thanks for not only this recipe, but also my first Pioneer Woman cookbook and many of my much used kitchen gadgets.  The recipe itself is pretty old though…like, old enough that the back of the recipe card had an alternate method should you want to ‘bake’ the bread in your microwave.  Tempting to try, just to see what would happen…I’ll let you know if I ever do.  Until then, here is the recipe for your conventional oven.  The recipe makes 2 loaves, but is easily halved if you don’t need both.

English Muffin Bread

yields 2 loaves

2 packages active dry yeast (or 4 1/2 tsp)

6 cups unsifted flour

1 Tbl sugar

2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp baking soda

2 cups milk

1/2 cup water

cornmeal for dusting pan and loaf tops (about 1/2 cup)

Put on your apron and let’s get started!!

Begin by greasing 2 loaf pans and dusting them with cornmeal.  Set aside.

Combine 3 cups of flour (not all 6) with the sugar, salt yeast and baking soda.

Combine the water and milk and heat until warm (I microwaved mine for about 1 minute).

Add the liquids to the dry ingredients (still leaving 3 cups of flour aside) and mix well.

Add the remaining 3 cups of flour and mix thoroughly again.

When formed into a dough, divide it in half and loosely shape into loaves.  Place them gently in the loaf pans and sprinkle cornmeal over the tops.

Cover the pans loosely with plastic wrap and allow to rise in a warm place for 45 minutes.  They should fill the pans once risen.

Bake loaves in a preheated oven at 400 degrees for 25 minutes.  When the loaves are done, remove them immediately from the pans and allow them to cool.

Enjoy this fun bread! It’s great for sharing or sopping up juices from Pot Roast (which is what I will be doing with this bread tonight!).

Easy Beef Tortilla Soup

Who doesn’t love hot, hearty loaded soup?  This Beef Tortilla Soup is a twist on a recipe my mom uses all the time when cooking for large groups (she uses chicken).  I like to make this during chilly weather and, because it makes a pretty large serving size, there are usually plenty of leftovers (which are even better the next day).   This recipe is so stinkin’ easy to make…there are really only 2 steps to it. So, get out your trusty can opener and follow along!

Beef Tortilla Soup

1 onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 lb. ground beef

2 teaspoons chili powder

2 tsp cumin

1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes

3 cups chicken stock

1 lg family size chicken rice soup

2 cups whole corn kernels

1 (4 ounce) can chopped green chile peppers

2  (15 ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Salt and Pepper

Crushed Tortilla Chips

Shredded Monterey Jack Cheese

Sour Cream

Let the can opening begin!

Step One: Brown the beef with the onions and minced garlic.

Once the meat is browned, add the contents of the pan to your crock pot (drain the fat first, if you so desire).

Add the rest of the ingredients to the crock pot and stir.  Try not to get a crick in your wrist from opening all those cans of beans, soup, corn and tomatoes!

Cover and let cook on warm for about 4 hours.  The longer this soup cooks the better as the flavors will meld really nicely.

Before serving up the soup, adjust the seasonings as desired with more salt, pepper, cumin or chili powder.  Then ladle into bowls and top with sour cream, cheese, crushed up tortilla chips.

Soups on, everyone! Grab your spoons and a spot on the couch…this soup calls for getting cozy!