Best Grilled Cheese Ever: Spinach Artichoke Grilled Cheese

I’m really quite the fan of grilled cheese sandwiches…Anything with cheese, where it’s melty and glorious is a must. Enough said there…I think. Let’s tell about how I stumbled upon this recipe…sitting in my hairdressers, Heather, waiting on the color in my hair to percolate into that perfect shade we adore so much, we cruised through Pinterest checking out great recipes…especially after I gave her some surprise brownies (made with black beans)!
When you add into the grilled cheese concept one of my favorite dip combinations it just puts the icing on the proverbial cake. 
*sighs*
I love Pinterest and I really thank it for some of the rockin’ recipes I have found and this has been by far a recipe that I saw, and then immediately went and bought ingredients and came home and made them.

Let just say a lot of my favorite ingredients are in this recipe: garlic, artichokes, cheese, bread, garlic, bread, cheese, artichokes…garlic.
After drooling over your garlic for quite some time you should perhaps chop some really super fresh spinach! Don’t forget to remove the stems!
Next crack open the cans or jars of artichoke hearts, I believe in the concept of “more is more.” So I love artichokes and um this is where I go way off from the original recipe…2 cans! Lay them on me! 
*drools just thinking about artichokes*

This is what I will term…a Hot mess…It doesn’t look super appetizing but its artichokes and spinach and oh man it’s sooooo good!

Let’s start up the heating of the skillet with a bit of an olive oil and butter mixture…then let’s slap on some cheese!

Perfectly toasted bread makes the grilled cheese yumminess that much better….

Spinach Artichoke Grilled Cheese
Adapted from A Couple Cooks

Ingredients

  • 2 cloves fresh garlic, diced
  • 3 cups fresh spinach, chopped
  • 2 cans artichoke hearts
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons sour cream
  • sliced Havarti cheese
  • sliced sun dried tomato cheddar
  • sliced fresh mozzarella
  • shredded parmesan
  • sliced turkey or ham lunch meat
  • slices bread
  • to taste kosher
  • butter



Cooking Directions

Sauteed Spinach!
  1. Dice the 2 cloves garlic.
  2. Chop the artichokes.
  3. Wash and stem the spinach, then chop it coarsely.
  4. Heat about 1 tablespoon olive oil in a skillet.
  5. Add the garlic and saute for 30 seconds.
  6. Then add the spinach and a pinch of kosher salt, and saute for a few minutes until just limp.
  7. Add the artichokes and saute for another minute or so, until heated through.
  8. Drain off any liquid from the pan.
  9. Stir in 4 tablespoons sour cream and another pinch of kosher salt.
  10. Spread butter (or olive oil) on one side of each of the bread pieces.
  11. Heat a griddle pan to medium high heat.
  12. Place pieces of bread on the griddle, buttered side down.
  13. On each piece, place slices of sun-dried tomato cheddar, fresh mozzarella, Havarti cheese and parmesan cheese, the spinach artichoke filling, lunch meat, some more cheese (1/2 cup cheese per sandwich), and the other piece of bread.
  14. When the bottom bread is browned, flip the sandwich and cook until the bread is toasted and the cheese is melted.

Enjoy!
~Nikki

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Nutella Gooey butter cake

Gooey butter cake…anytime this is said my ears perk, my tummy starts grumbling and my mouth starts watering. Gooey butter cake is almost the epitome of that desert that everyone loves and fights over to eat the last piece.

My sweety, Josh, loves gooey butter anything…he’s tried it all. Needless to say he had a huge chunk of this delightfully fun version of gooey butter cake! I mean adding Nutella to anything makes it somehow better right? I stumbled upon this recipe on two different blogs I follow, Plain Chicken and Let’s Dish Recipes.

First we just mix up a lovely chocolate cake mix with butter and egg. Then spread and smoosh into the bottom of your dish…as the base to your lovely gooey cake.

Next we take cream cheese, lots of gooey Nutella, egg, vanilla, butter, and powdered sugar…mix together toss on top of that lovely base we baked then put back into the oven. Yes, it will be gooey when you are trying to determine if it was done.

Nutella Gooey Butter Cake


Ingredients

  • 1 package devil’s food cake mix
  • 1 egg
  • 8 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 package 8 ounces cream cheese
  • 1 cup Nutella
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 8 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 16 ounce box powdered sugar

Cooking Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Combine the cake mix, egg, and butter and mix well with an electric mixer.
  3. Pat the mixture into the bottom of a lightly greased 13 by 9-inch baking pan.
  4. To make the filling: In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and Nutella until smooth.
  5. Add the eggs, vanilla, and butter, and beat together.
  6. Next, add the powdered sugar and mix well.
  7. Spread Nutella mixture over cake batter and bake for 40 to 50 minutes.
  8. Make sure not to overbake as the center should be a little gooey.

I dare you to wait until the dessert has cooled to try eating it…when it first makes its way out of the oven its delicious and gooey and warm…after it’s cooled its delicious and gooey…
This is one dessert that when shared with the ladies I work with…didn’t make it home.


Enjoy!
~Nikki

Honey Sesame Chicken


I should start off by apologizing to those of you who disdain crock pots in all of their glory…I have come to realize that crock pots are really quite a nice contribution to a working families meal plans. I used to be that person who had this disdain for anything crock pot…. until I tried this recipe.
For those of you who don’t have those fancy new crock pots that the insides lift out of the base…my recommendation get one. It’s so hard to clean this old one we share in our house. I’m always afraid I’ll ruin ours by getting water in any number of areas.

I stumbled on this recipe from Chef in Training the other day, and I almost wrote it off as a non-recipe because I didn’t want to do something in a crock pot…yes I am one those people mentioned above who disdained crock pots…

Anyway. I thought heck, why not…you want to try more things and do more in your cooking besides baked goods…

“save”

It should be noted, I don’t like to follow recipes exactly to the t, but I really do mean well…

With that all being said, I tried to make this dish the night before. So…you can only get so far with that…duh…raw chicken…crock pot…leave it on low all night all day…you’ll end up with some foreign looking chicken parts…

I started by just getting my sauce ingredients (honey, soy sauce, diced onion, ketchup, canola oil, garlic, and red pepper flakes) mixed well in a tightly sealed bowl so I could keep it in the fridge overnight and then I could set it out in the morning before I went to work so my mother could put it all in the crock pot later in the day.

I cry when chopping onions…I hate it! I come close to it with garlic. Which brings up an excellent question…how do you all get rid of that garlic smell that seems to permeate from your fingers for weeks on end after touching it?

I used these nice little chicken tender frozen pieces instead of a chicken breast or thighs. I just wanted the easiest bit of meat that I could find in our freezer, and dear lord bones and then taking the meat off bones…not my favorite!


I don’t really have any pictures of it during the cooking process until the end when I finished it. I love coming home to the smell of something super awesome cooking and then getting to play with it and finish it up.

In haste to try something new, we used rice noodles, which claim to be this amazing supplement to fried rice. We found them a bit dull to go along with the honey sesame chicken…however; we have used them before and liked them in other preparations.




Honey Sesame Chicken, crock pot style
from: Chef in Training




Ingredients

  • 2.5 lbs boneless, skinless chicken
  • to your liking salt and pepper
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 4 tablespoons diced onions
  • 4 tablespoons ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 4 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 6 tablespoons water
  • to your liking sesame seeds

Cooking Directions

  1. Season both sides of chicken lightly with salt and pepper, put into your crock pot.
  2. In a small bowl, combine honey, soy sauce, onion, ketchup, oil, garlic, and pepper flakes.
  3. Pour the combined ingredients over the chicken.
  4. Cook on low for 3-4 hours or on high 1.5 – 2.5 hours, or until chicken is cooked through.
  5. Remove chicken from crock pot, leave sauce behind.
  6. Dissolve 4 teaspoons of cornstarch in 6 tablespoons of water and pour into crock pot. Stir to combine.
  7. Replace lid and cook sauce on high for 10 minutes or until slightly thickened.
  8. Cut chicken into bite size pieces, then return to pot and toss with sauce before serving.
  9. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve over your choice of rice or noodles.




Momma T’s recommendations: More red pepper flakes it wasn’t spicy enough for me, and also cashews or something on top would have added a really nice crunch that it seemed to be missing
Nikki’s recommendations: less honey, dice the onions finely, and thicken the sauce more
Pappa T’s recommendations: the sauce needs to be a lot thicker…this has been his comment on everything recently…perhaps a theme for him


Enjoy!
~Nikki

The TegCaprese Salad

We’ve always done some kind of tomato, fresh mozzarella and basil salad. It’s just something we grew up with. It was always something I knew I didn’t have to fight my brother for a lot, but I definitely had to fight my Dad for seconds. We’ve never come to blows, but someday if there is a basil shortage, mozzarella shortage and also a tomato shortage, and we only had one spoonful left, I do think we might have some kind of “war.” More than likely….thumb wars…



Anyway, we have many variations and always feel free to substitute anything. We’ve used all different kinds of mozzarella cheese, some fresh, some herb encrusted, some small little balls of mozzarella or large slices.


This version uses a herb encrusted rope cheese from Costco. Those of you who are huge fans of Costco, we drive 3.5 hours to our closest Costco every once in a while to obtain this beaut. Clearly, we don’t go often, so we savor what we have.



Any kind of tomato you want to use, we used yellow sweet tomatoes.

Basil!!!!!



There are no measurements for this recipe…I’ve never much enjoyed measurements


TegCaprese Salad


Your choice of Mozzarella or other preferred cheese
Your choice of Tomato
Fresh Basil (use as little or as much as you want)
olive oil (optional)
balsamic vinegar (optional)


Chop ingredients as fine or as chunky as you want, mix together in bowl. Cover with your favorite balsamic dressing or create your own with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.



Close up of the pretties that go into the salad, this is before I dressed with a Balsamic dressing we bought at the store. 

 This is how a real woman eats her burgers. Covered in the TegCaprese salad. Dear lord! Heavenly!

Check out not only the lovely burger but the yummy mixture on top! This is the perfect salad for my honey and I by the way love tomatoes, he hates them. I get all of his tomatoes, while he enjoys his delicious cheeses. Let’s just say if you have a similar situation like that you’ll be able to share and share a like.


Enjoy!
~Nikki

Happy (Belated) Easter


Well, first off I want to start by saying Happy Easter to everyone. I’m a bit behind on my blogging. Been a bit busy and distracted lately with work and life.

I started out having a rather lovely weekend, involving a nice relaxing Saturday, I decided to tackle a project my Mom had on her “list,” this thing grows daily as she finds more tasks that she needs to do, yard work, housework, etc. Needless to say I figured me taking some gumption and doing this would be a nice surprise. Plus!!! It looks awesome!


I guess I could say what I did…we used to have a top waterfall by our front door, and then a waterfall leading down to a lower pond by our basement. Due to yard work and other things that went on the bottom pond got axed. Now a waterfall to nothing…it’s not that cool…or aesthetically appealing. My mom was thinking something floral or herbal in the sections would be really pretty. I not only agreed, I thought it was brilliant. Hence why I jumped at this task on her list.

Needless to say, draining the yucky water out of each section, drilling holes in the bottom, lining with rocks, and then covering with a thick layer of dirt was a fun task…and I’m not your typically get my hands dirty kind of girl. I wash my hands constantly when handling raw meats…so it’s hard to work in dirt. Yuck!


After accomplishing this feat of a project I decided that was it for me. I was done. I thawed some shrimp and added to some fun shaped pasta and made some shrimp mac and cheese. Not too shabby…



Sunday rolled in with a lovely day and a few more projects to complete. First, what was I going to cook from scratch this weekend that I could blog about, and also be something nice to enjoy for Easter? Raspberry Oat Bars! Yum! Plus, I’d found this lovely jar of Raspberry preserves at the store, that wasn’t Smuckers…so I knew the recipe was meant to be. No offense Smuckers, but I wanted something a bit more…

I got this recipe from Ziplist, my new iPhone addiction app. I highly recommend it if you don’t already use. Plus a lot of really great bloggers use the app directly on their blogs, so you can just click a button and add it to your recipe box/list.



Raspberry Oat Bars
adapted from All Recipes


INGREDIENTS:
¾ cup butter, softened
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 ½ cups rolled oats
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking powder
1 (13 ounce) jar raspberry preserves (originally called for 10ounce, what does one do with leftovers…)


Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. I like to use convection bake a lot, I just feel like my baking is a bit more even and I get happy little treats instead of sad…Grease a 9×13 inch pan, then line pan with parchment, grease parchment.
2. In large bowl, cream together the butter and brown sugar, until smooth. While this mixture is creaming. Measure out and combine in medium bowl your oats, flour, salt, and baking powder. Stir into the creamed mixture.
3. Now to get our hands dirty. Dive right in and crumble the mixture a bit until it’s a nice crumbly consistency. Take about half of the mixture and press into the bottom of the pan onto the parchment.
4. Next spread the preserves on the crust. Then crumble the rest of the mixture onto the top for a truly divine look.
5. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes in preheated oven. Until light brown. Cool completely, then enjoy!

Anywho, I didn’t take step by step pictures this time, I was too into making and baking and moving on to another task…spraying off all the nasty crap that falls from the tress in good ole Missouri…



~Nikki