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Croque Monsieur

We first had this in Paris, France at Fouquet on the Champs d’Elysee and subsequently in Merida, Yucatan, Mexico at the wonderful Merci Restaurant. Merci is better with their homemade bread! Trust me! Below is the version I use at home.

Croque Monsieur

 Croque-Monsieur

A Croque-Monsieur is the French answer to the grilled cheese sandwich. Gruyere cheese, ham, and bread are topped with a creamy Béchamel sauce.

Preparation Time: 7 minutes
Cook time: 5 minutes
Total time: 12 minutes
4 sandwiches

Ingredients:

  • 8 slices whole wheat bread

  • 2 tablespoons butter

  • 2 tablespoons unbleached, all-purpose flour

  • 3/4 cup milk

  • 1/8 teaspoon sweet paprika

  • fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • Dijon mustard for spreading

  • 4 slices ham

  • 1 cup shredded Gruyere cheese (you can also use Emmenthal or other Swiss-style cheese)

  • OPTIONAL – 4 eggs

Instructions:

  1. Toast the bread until lightly browned on one side.

  2. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the flour and whisk until thick and bubbly. Gradually whisk in the milk, until the sauce is smooth and thickened. Whisk in the paprika. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Keep the sauce warm while your assemble the sandwiches.

  3. Lay four slices of bread, toasted side down on a broiler pan. Brush each one with Dijon mustard, to taste. Lay one slice of ham on each piece . Divide 1/2 cup cheese among the four sandwiches. Top with the second slice of bread, toastier side up. Divide the sauce among the four sandwiches, spreading it over the top. Add one fried egg per sandwich. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the sandwiches.

  4. Broil until the cheese is melted and the tops are bubbly and brown, five minutes or more in my toaster oven. Watch it carefully; yours may be different. Serve immediately.

I like to serve it with a small salad or grilled asparagus.

Link to recipe: http://goodcheapeats.com/2015/02/how-to-make-a-croque-monsieur/


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Easy Shepherd’s Pie

Who does not like shepherd’s pie? There are several variations out there. Sometimes it is called Cottage Pie. This one was a snap! The only tricky part was the roux, melting the butter and adding the flour. Make your life easier and use instant potatoes!

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Easy Shepherd’s Pie Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 lb. Ground Beef
  • 4 cups Mashed Potatoes
  • 1 tbsp Oil
  • 1 tsp Minced Garlic
  • 1 Onion, diced
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 cup Milk
  • 2 tbsp Butter
  • 2 tbsp Flour
  • 12 oz. Frozen Peas and Carrots, thawed (Use a can of mixed peas and carrots)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Grated Parmesan cheese

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 375.
  • Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat and add ground beef, onion and garlic.
  • Cook until browned and drain.
  • In another skillet or pan, melt putter and add flour.
  • Cook roux for 2 minutes.
  • Whisk in Worcestershire and milk.
  • Cook for 1 minute to thicken.
  • Combine beef mixture, gravy and thawed vegetables.
  • Place in baking dish.
  • Top with mashed potatoes and place in oven for 20-30 minutes until heated through. In the last few minutes sprinkle the cheese on the potatoes.

 

Shrimp, Tomato and Spinach Pasta

Eureka! Shrimp in the freezer. What to do? Checked the ingredients I had on hand and found this recipe for dinner. The worst part is cleaning the shrimp, so just cheat and buy them already cleaned and deveined…LOL. Substitute whatever protein you have available. As always, my changes are in red lettering.

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Shrimp, Tomato and Spinach Pasta

Ingredients

  • 5 medium tomatoes, fresh, chopped into large cubes ( one can of diced with juice depending on how much you like tomatoes)
  • 1 cup cooked spinach
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 or 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 small lemon
  • salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper (or more)
  • paprika
  • 10 oz fettuccine pasta
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated, for serving

Instructions

  1. Heat a large skillet on medium-high heat, add 1 tablespoon butter and 1 tablespoon olive oil until melted. Add fresh shrimp and half the minced garlic. Make sure shrimp is not crowded. Cook for 1 minute on one side until pink on that side. While it’s cooking, generously sprinkle paprika and salt over uncooked side of the shrimp. Flip the shrimp over and cook for another 1 or 2 minutes until pink on the other side.
  2. To the skillet with shrimp, add chopped fresh tomatoes, cooked spinach, and remaining amount of minced garlic. Add 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper (or more). Mix everything well, remove from heat while you cook pasta.
  3. In the mean time cook pasta according to package instructions. Drain and rinse with cold water to prevent pasta from cooking and getting mushy.
  4. Add pasta to the skillet with shrimp and vegetables with 1 or 2 tablespoons of butter. Add freshly squeezed lemon juice (depending on the juiciness of your lemon, it could be 1/4 of small lemon or 1/2 lemon). Don’t add too much lemon juice. Season with salt and more crushed red pepper. Warm it up on medium heat until shrimp is cooked through, and all ingredients are heated through.
  5. To serve, top with grated Parmesan cheese.

Lobster Thermidor

Just before I get to the recipe, I want to say thank you to the 6000 visitors as of today, who have checked out this blog. You give me inspiration to keep going just when I think I should move on to something else!!

The following recipe was posted by Rachel Ray who has her own cooking show.  I almost hate to say that I was clearing out the freezer and found small lobster tails asking to be used for dinner…LOL. I know, its a little rich, but consider it for a special dinner, make that ROMANTIC dinner…hope you will have an opportunity to try it.

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Lobster Thermidor (Rachel Ray)

Ingredients

4 (6 to 8-ounce) packaged lobster tails,  jumbo shrimp or prawns can be substituted

  • 4 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 1 small white onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • Splash dry white wine or dry sherry
  • 1/2 cup milk, eyeball it
  • 1/3 cup grated white cheddar
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika or crab boil seasoning, recommended: Old Bay
  • 2 tablespoons Parmesan
  • 2 tablespoons bread crumbs
  • Lemon wedges, for garnish
  • Handful parsley leaves mixed with 2 cups baby greens, for plate garnish

Directions

Bring a pot of water to a boil, 3 or 4 inches deep. Add lobster tails to the water and boil 7 to 8 minutes. Drain and shock under cold water to cool. Use kitchen scissors to cut away soft underside of tails. Remove meat and save the shells*, arranging them in a shallow casserole dish. Chop the cooked meat on an angle into chunks.

Preheat your broiler to high.

Heat a medium skillet and a small saucepot over medium heat. To the small saucepot, melt 2 tablespoons butter. Add finely chopped onion and cook 3 to 5 minutes until very soft. To the skillet, add remaining 2 tablespoons butter. When the butter melts, add chopped lobster meat and sauté.

Add flour to sauce pot with onions and cook together another 1 to 2 minutes. Whisk in wine or sherry, then milk. Remove sauce from heat and stir in cheddar cheese and paprika or crab boil. Season sauce with salt and pepper. Pour sauce over lobster meat and stir to combine. Pour lobster into and over the shells* in a casserole dish and top with Parmesan and bread crumbs. Broil on high until golden, 2 or 3 minutes. Serve each tail, spilling over with lobster bits in sauce, on a bed of mixed baby greens and parsley with wedges of lemon along side.

  • I did not use the shells…so much for my presentation…

Broccoli Chicken Divan

Once upon a time I had a similar recipe, bit it must have flown the coup with the chicken…LOL. Pinterest to the rescue again! I think you will enjoy it in its simplicity. I served this with some fresh asparagus which I cooked in the same water as the broccoli, I just kept it simmering after I removed the broccoli.

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Broccoli Chicken Divan

Ingredients

  • 1 pound chopped fresh broccoli
  • 1 1/2 cups cubed, cooked chicken meat ( I used leftover supermarket roasted chicken!!!)
  • 1 (10.75 ounce) can condensed cream of broccoli soup ( substituted Cream of Mushroom)
  • 1/3 cup milk ( I used evaporated milk for more creaminess)
  • 1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 1 tablespoon butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons dried bread crumbs

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C).
  2. Place the broccoli in a saucepan with enough water to cover. Bring to a boil, and cook 5 minutes, or until tender. Drain.
  3. Place the cooked broccoli in a 9 inch greased pie plate. Top with the chicken. In a bowl, mix the soup and milk, and pour over the chicken. Sprinkle with Cheddar cheese. Mix the melted butter with the bread crumbs, and sprinkle over the cheese.
  4. Bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes, or until bubbly and lightly brown.

 

 

Escargots in Garlic Butter, Bleu Cheese and Sambuca Liqueur

Okay, so the holidays have passed. Truth is I have never shared this recipe for some strange reason, but it is traditional for us on Christmas Eve. We never grow tired of it. Over the years we have refined it with the sambuca liqueur…LOL. Give it a try for Valentines Day with a great wine and crusty French bread.

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Snails in Garlic butter with Bleu Cheese and Sambuca Liqueur
Escargots au beurre de l’ail gratiné a l’anise y fromage bleu (FR)

(serves 4)   4 escargot dishes : 6 escargots in each

24  escargots

½ cup unsalted butter

4 large garlic cloves, more or less, finely chopped

1/3 cup bleu cheese, more or less

½ cup ground up Caesar salad croutons, plus garlic salt added to taste

1 to 2  Tbsp  black Sambuca or any anise liqueur

Salt to taste

Preparation  Preheat your oven to 475 F  (270 C)

1         Place butter in a microwavable ramekin, add the chopped garlic and some salt and melt slowly.  Let stand to develop flavor.

2         Place an escargot in each hole of the four escargot dishes.

3         Add some powder garlic to the crouton crumbs for more flavor.  Crumble in the bleu cheese. Stir with a fork to coat the cheese as much as possible.  Drizzle in the Sambuca and stir the mixture to more evenly distribute the flavours. Add more salt, too, if you wish.

4         Drizzle the garlic butter mixture evenly over all the escargots.  Sprinkle the crumb mixture over everything.

Bake in oven for approx. 10 minutes, or until crumb topping is browned.

 

Parmesan and Thyme Baked Potato Slices

Having bought a huge bag of small potatoes from…you guessed it…Costco, I was stuck as to what to do with so many. Voila Pinterest. I followed the recipe by slicing those little gems using my trusty mandoline. I should have used regular potatoes as it would have been easier. Nevertheless, the flavour was great and doing them in muffin tins simplified serving. Great if you are serving a nice roast or fish.

Parmesan and Thyme Baked Potato Slices

Prep time 15 mins Cook time 1 hr. Total time 1 hr. and 15 mins

 Ingredients

  • Makes about 4-6 servings
  • 3 tbsp (45g) butter, melted
  • 2 tbsp (25g) Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tsp (3g) garlic powder
  • 1 tsp thyme leaves
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 8-10 gold potatoes (1.4 kg) sliced thin (about 1/16 inch -1.6 mm thick)

Directions

 Preheat the oven to 375°F (190C). Butter 12 muffin cups and set aside. Cut the potatoes into thin slices.
Place potato slices into a large bowl. Add melted butter, Parmesan cheese, thyme, garlic, salt and pepper. Toss to coat evenly.
Layer the potato slices into stacks and place in the prepared muffin cups. Sprinkle some freshly ground black pepper. Heap up the potatoes as they will fall into the tins while baking.
Bake until the edges and tops are golden brown and the centers are tender, 55 minutes to 1 hour.

Remove from the oven, let them rest for 5 minutes then remove from pan and garnish with Parmesan cheese and thyme.

 

Pumpkin Crunch Cake

Never tired of pumpkin…LOL. This is much better than a pumpkin pie! Oh so easy…

Pumpkin Crunch Cake Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 box yellow cake mix
  • 1 can (16 oz.) pumpkin
  • 1 can (12 oz.) evaporated milk
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cup sugar (reduce sugar to half cup brown and quarter cup white) as it does not need all of this)
  • 4 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 cup melted butter
  • whipped topping

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Grease bottom of 9X13 pan.
  3. Combine pumpkin, evaporated milk, eggs, sugar, pumpkin pie spice and salt in bowl then pour it into your pan.
  4. Sprinkle your dry yellow cake mix evenly over pumpkin mixture.
  5. Sprinkle chopped pecans and walnuts over the cake mix.
  6. Drizzle melted butter evenly over everything.
  7. Bake your pumpkin crunch cake for 55 minutes or until top is turning golden brown. Cool completely, cut and serve with whipped topping or French vanilla ice cream. Refrigerate leftovers.

 

Rhubarb Strawberry Custard Pie

After 12 years of searching we finally found rhubarb here in Yucatan!! In the last month we have bought up almost all of it, washed it, cut into chunks and frozen in 4 cup quantities for later use. The only problem is that we seem to be using it all up now…LOL. When there’s a glut…??? This pie is incredible, as is the Strawberry Rhubarb Pie Ice Cream!!!

Let us know if you make it and what you thought…

Rhubarb / Strawberry Custard Pie (Makes one 9 inch pie)

* Pinterest recipe adapted from the English Kitchen (Marie) whose recipe I found too sweet for my taste and too juicy and I wanted cream in the recipe.

1 short crust pastry to fill a 9 inch diameter, deep style pie dish or just buy one at your supermarket!
4 cups of diced rhubarb / sliced strawberries
¼ cup of caster sugar (icing sugar)
3 TBS cornstarch
2 TBS flour
1/4 tsp salt
2 large eggs
½ cup golden syrup
½ cup heavy cream
1 TBS butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 230*C/450*F

Place the chopped rhubarb into a large mixing bowl.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the sugar, corn starch, flour and salt.
Mix in the egg, beating it in well, and then stir in the golden syrup, cream and the melted butter. Mix well.
Pour this evenly over top of the rhubarb and mix well to coat the fruit.
Transfer mixture into the prepared shell.
Bake in the heated 450F/230C oven, covered lightly with foil, for 15 minutes.
Decrease the oven heat to 180*C/350*F Remove foil and bake for 30 to 40 more minutes, until the crust is nicely browned and the rhubarb is tender.
Remove from the oven to a wire rack and cool until the pie is firmed up, about 45 minutes, before serving.
Delicious!!

 

Persian Saffroned Lamb

This is a great recipe for lamb lovers! If you are not into lamb then use beef… The sauce is incredible! I plated this dish with the saffroned rice over which I put the lamb and lots of sauce. For a complete meal, steam some great snow peas. Use any leftover sauce over some pasta for another meal the next day. So…what to serve for dessert? How about a wonderful strawberry rhubarb pie ice cream??? Watch for this recipe NEXT WEEK….

Persian Saffron Lamb, Slow cooker Style

• 2 – 3 pound boneless leg of lamb, or an equal amount of lamb shanks cut in cubes.
• 1 onion
• 2 Tablespoons butter, ghee, or neutral cooking oil of choice
• 2-3 Tablespoons pumpkin pie spice.
• 2 Tablespoons ground turmeric
• 1 teaspoon ground cumin
• 1 teaspoon coriander seed
• 2 Tablespoons saffron water (boil 1/4 cup water to the temperature you’d use to make tea. Add a pinch, approx. 1/4 teaspoon saffron threads to the water. Save the remaining water to add to whatever rice you choose to cook. I prefer Jasmine rice.
• 1 head of garlic, cloves peeled and left whole (6 to 8 cloves)
• 2 15 oz. cans chopped Roma tomatoes
• Salt and pepper to taste
1. Remove fat from lamb using a sharp knife.
2. Chop onion into half moons. In a large Dutch oven. cooking pot, or skillet, heat fat over a medium heat and add onion, stirring often.
3. Allow onion to cook about five minutes. As it cooks, salt and pepper the outside of the meat. Remove onion from the pan. Place meat in the pot and sear it for 2-3 minutes per side…enough to get a nice crust on it. Remove meat from the pan and place, carefully, on a heat-safe surface.
4. Place onion back in the pan and add all spices EXCEPT saffron. Stir often, and cook for about 30 seconds, or until you begin to catch the scent of the spices. Put onion into slow cooker immediately.
5. Add the whole garlic cloves.
6. To the slow cooker, add the lamb, canned tomatoes, saffron water, and a pinch or two of salt and pepper (you can always adjust salt and pepper later).
7. Cook on high setting for 30 minutes. Stir. Cook an additional 2.5 to 3 hours.. Once the meat is done, taste sauce, adjust seasoning accordingly, serve over saffroned rice, and enjoy!