Bacon Sweet Potato Bites

I never really liked sweet potatoes until I went to college in Memphis. Growing up I think sweet potato fries looked too much like carrots for me to give them a try. After trying the fries at Young Avenue Deli in Memphis, I became obsessed. I went to Sam's Club this weekend and bought sweet potatoes in bulk; I eat them so often that this is actually necessary. Usually, I just wrap them in foil and throw them in the oven, then stuff them with cheese, spices, and fruit, but I wanted to try something new.

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Getting {grilled} Cheesy

Grilled Cheesey-Happiness Homemade

There are few things more comforting in this world than the combination of bread and cheese. I wrote about French Onion Soup as my favorite comfort food almost a year ago. But today, instead of talking about delicious bread soaking in a brandy-beef broth with gooey cheese melted over it, I will be talking about an equally delicious and gooey food-- the grilled cheese.

It’s no secret that my family loves grilled cheese; my little brother used to eat one every day for breakfast. I  jumped on the grilled cheese bandwagon and started eating them myself a few weeks ago and have been playing around with a few variations, mostly based on what leftovers were in my fridge. They are so easy to make, and with so many choices, I never feel like I am eating the same thing! So defeat your lunchtime boredom with these 20 fancified grilled cheese!

1. Wake the f*** up!: Swiss cheese, avocado, 1 or 2 fried eggs, siracha, english muffin

2. Mademoiselle: Brie, honey, pear, croissant

3. French Onion Soup: Caramelized onions, reduced brandy and beef stock, Gruyere cheese, ciabatta

4. Caprese: tomato, basil, mozzarella, focaccia

5. Broccoli-Cheddar soup: Broccoli, cheddar, ham (optional), focaccia

6. Fall harvest: Apple butter, rosemary, cheddar, ciabatta

7. You ate my sandwich? MY SANDWICH!?: Turkey, apples/cranberry sauce, gravy, brie, wheat bread

8. Grown-up: Balsamic glaze, brussel sprouts+minced garlic, havarti, brioche

9. Summer lovin': Peaches, mascarpone, honey, rosemary, croissant

10. Minimalist: Fried sage, Fontina, challah

11. Tree hugger: Grilled vegetables, goat cheese, basalmic, wheat bread/ciabatta

12. Texan: goat cheese, blackbeans, guacamole, cornbread/texas toast

13. A step up: Gruyere, prosciutto, arugula, and tomato, Focaccia

14. Jalepeno popper: jalepenos, sourdough, cream cheese, jack/cheddar cheese, biscuit

15. Lazy Sunday: brie, blueberries, french toast

16. Pregnant woman: Cheddar, bacon, pickles, sourdough, white bread

17. Steakhouse: Steak, gorganzola, arugala, basalmic reduction, brioche

18. Southern gentleman: fried chicken, cheddar, waffle

19. Be Mine: roasted strawberries, dark chocolate, mascarpone, french toast

20. Baltimore: crab, mac and cheese, hot dog bits, old bay, sourdough

If you are dizzied with delight after reading this list and just don’t know where to begin, I asked our resident grilled cheese expert to lend a helping hand and recommend his top 5 from this list (in no particular order)- Caprese, Fall Harvest, Lazy Sunday, Southern Gentleman, and Baltimore (not pictured).

The Caprese
The Fall harvest (#6)
Lazy Sunday (#15)
Southern gentleman (#18)

If sometimes you want the comfort of grilled cheese without the heavy carbs that come with it,  here are two options for the grilled and the cheese without the bread.

.*HEALTHY OPTIONS*

1.Grilled Zucchini rolls with herbed goat cheese and kalamata olives

2. Grilled portobello mushrooms, roasted red bell peppers, goat cheese

Enjoy the comforting gooeyness my hungry friends! But beware, it can get messy.

the Lazy Sunday goes fast!

No Clean-Up Dinner

My biggest problem with cooking has always been what a mess I make. I love the modern family episode where Cam makes a mess in the kitchen, promises to clean it up later, and then leaves so Mitchell will clean it for him. This is exactly what I would do at home. Sadly, just like Mitchell, my family learned my trick and stopped cleaning up after me. This left me with a few options.. 1. Stop cooking. This was so not going to happen, I love to cook and I love to eat.

2. Stop being messy. I like to say that I'm not a messy person, but don't believe me. I a messy and I probably always will be.

3. Hire a maid or butler to clean for me. I'm still looking at this option. Is anyone out there willing to clean my kitchen? I can pay you with gratitude and leftovers.

None of these options are panning out, so I decided to try cooking things that offered a minimal chance of mess. Cooking in parchment was the perfect solution! I could prepare, cook, and eat out of one package. Finally I found my perfect meal, healthy, easy and no mess. I'll be making this a lot.

Ingredients (serves one) 1 fillet of fish, preferably cod or halibut Salt Butter Asparagus Vinegar or white wine (or both) Bay leaves Parchment paper

Preparation -clean fish, place on a sheet of parchment paper and sprinkle with salt

-cut asparagus (however much you like) into 2" long pieces and place around the fish

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-pour a tablespoon of your acid over the fish and asparagus. I chose to do a teaspoon of rosemary vinegar and a teaspoon of Conundrum white wine blend (amazing wine)

-place one or two, depending on your taste, bay leaf(leaves) on top of the fish

-fold your parchment paper into a half moon shape. Fold and crease the edges as many times as you need to keep the pocket closed (probably not more than 2 or 3 times)

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-cook for 15-20 minutes at 425

-remove from the oven, open the pouch, and enjoy!

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No-fail Pizza dough!

I love pizza, but I haven't really had the chance to make it from scratch very often. Something about throwing food in the air and all the flour needed to roll out the dough frightens my mom. I think her aversion to it comes from the time my youngest brother threw full, open GoGurts into a ceiling fan in a newly painted room. But now that we are older, I finally got to make homemade pizza with my brothers! This base recipe is great on its own, but with a few changes it can make an awesome breakfast, dinner, or desert pizza!

Base recipe:

  • 2 c. flour
  • 1 t. salt
  • 2 t. baking powder
  • 2/3 c. water
  • 1/4 c. vegetable oil

Preparation

Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl, add water. Next knead the mixture on a floured surface until it is easy to roll out onto a pizza pan. brush outer edges with vegetable oil. Cook at 425 for 3-5 minutes. Remove from oven and put whatever toppings you please. Return to the oven for 15 minutes. Remove, let cool, and enjoy!

 

Variations coming soon!

Summer Drink Series: Mint Simple Syrup

Mint Simple Syrup- Happiness Homemade When temperatures get into the hundreds (yes, Baltimore is that hot) even the most refreshing drink can't make me sit outside. Instead, I'm watching a Real Housewives of Beverly Hills marathon and flipping through Bon Appetit. In their June issue, they feature a "Summer Cooking Manifesto" containing 21 laws, with #18 being "simple syrup is liquid gold." This could not be more true, I can’t go without it and always keep a jar of around the house. It can be added to anything -- drinks, sorbet, ice pops -- and it's incredibly easy to make. This summer I started making it with mint, and now it doesn't just add sweetness, it adds a pop of flavor, too!

Simple syrup can be kept for two weeks, so make it now and check back for part three of my summer drink series for great ways to use your new simple syrup!

What you need...

Mint Simple Syrup- Happiness Homemade

Preparation

Mint Simple Syrup- Happiness Homemade Mint Simple Syrup- Happiness Homemade Mint Simple Syrup- Happiness Homemade

Sweet x's and o's,

Megan