Mrs. Carla Monti

Mrs. Carla Monti

Friday, August 7, 2015

Chicken Bacon Ranch Paninis!

I love watching the Food Network and the Cooking Channel, especially since I am home all day with my newborn baby girl. My favorite chefs to watch are Giada and the Barefoot Contessa. I love how Giada makes everything with perfectly (smaller) sized portions, while I enjoy the elegance and finesse of how the Contessa makes her dishes.

One chef that I am not typically a fan of is the Pioneer Woman (Ree). I find that she cooks with way too much fat, and the whole 'far out on the farm' premise isn't really appealing to me.

Having said all that .... I found myself watching an episode of her show the other day and fell in lust with these simple panini she made. I vowed to dust off my parents old panini press and try them out. They came out incredible!

Recipe link: Paninis!

The recipe calls for chicken breasts sliced in half, but I took this step out by purchasing thinly sliced chicken breasts at my local supermarket. I seasoned them simply with salt and pepper and cooked them in a pan with plenty of butter.

Next, I crisped up half a pound of bacon in the microwave. I love this method for cooking bacon, as it is easy and the bacon always comes out super crispy! I lay down two paper towels on a large glass plate, then 4-5 bacon strips, then two more paper towels, and cook on high for 4 minutes. That's all it takes for super crispy, delicious bacon!

Finally, it is time to assemble the sandwiches. The other players here are a nice thickly sliced loaf of bread (I went with a garlicky Tuscan loaf, but ciabatta or crusty French bread would work well), slices of sharp cheddar cheese, ranch dressing, and butter.

The first step is to put ranch dressing on each slice of bread, and then place a chicken breast on top.

Next: add the bacon!

Cheese it up:

And finally, butter the remaining sides of the bread (both sides!) so that they get a nice crispy, toasted texture from the panini press.

Last step: press and enjoy!

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Pulled Pork Sandwiches!

I've been a fan of pulled pork sandwiches ever since I tried my first one five years ago at a house party in New Jersey. The hostess had used her slow cooker to make the pulled pork, and the tenderness of the meat. combined with the juicy flavor, was something I've always wanted to re-create.

I found a simple recipe online. I bought a 3 3/4 lb pork shoulder, bone in, and prepared a simple spice rub for the meat. The spice rub consisted of garlic powder, salt, pepper, cayenne, cumin, and paprika. Once the meat was seasoned, I placed it into the slow cooker, and covered it with two bottles of root beer. I set it on the low setting for 6 hours. After it had cooked all the way through, I took the meat out onto a cutting board and shredded it, removing the large chunks of fat that remained. I drained and cleaned the slow cooker pot. Once the meat was shredded, I put it back in the pot, and added half a bottle of barbecue sauce. I put it back on the low setting for one hour, and then prepared the sandwiches. Delicious!