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Archive for the ‘Sandwiches’ Category

Chicken Sandwich with Sauteed Basil

In Chicken, Sandwiches on November 11, 2011 at 4:29 pm

SO sweet and delicious...and check out that phosphorus content!


Omigod. Don’t you just want to take a huge bite out of that picture? I can still taste the sandwich right now. Possibly because it’s been a couple of hours since I’ve eaten (starving!), but more likely because it was just that good.

My thing about this sandwich is the basil. We’ve all used basil as a seasoning and a garnish, but have you ever just cooked it as a vegetable? Thought not.

And what about balsamic glaze? Oooohhh yeah. Not the homemade kind, either. I’m usually all about the making-from-scratch, but not when it comes to balsamic glaze. See, when you make it at home, it usually just involves reducing regular balsamic vinegar. Not only does it produce fumes that will stink up your house and make your eyes water like your cat just died, but you miss out on the true flavor.

See, real balsamic glaze is the result of reduced balsamic vinegar, yes, but also grape concentrate. The end product has just the right balance of sweet and tart that your tastebuds will  start squirting saliva before it even gets to your mouth. Even if you don’t like balsamic vinegar, you’ll like balsamic glaze. Promise.

Then you combine the glaze and basil with tender, moist grilled chicken and a thick, juicy slice of tomato, and you’re in heaven. So why don’t I shut up and just tell you how to make the darn thing? It couldn’t be easier.

Makes two sandwiches:
Pound 2 chicken breasts to even thickness, and rub with salt, pepper, dried basil and oregano.

Sear them on high, then reduce heat to medium until they are cooked through. Do this on a grill instead of in a pan for extra yum.

While that’s happening, saute 2 handfuls of fresh basil over low heat with a tablespoon of olive oil and 1 clove of pressed garlic. Just keep swishing everything around until the leaves are wilted and tender.

Put the finished chicken on buns (because raw chicken would be gross, and I already told you to cook them. keep up.), and  divide the basil equally between the two sandwiches. Top each sandwich with a thick slice of tomato, and drizzle with a tablespoon of balsamic glaze.

See? Simple. Easy. Not easy peasy, because I loathe that term. Unless you’re three years old — then it’s cute. If you have the ability to speak clearly, please don’t ever say “easy peasy”. I would have to ban you from polite society. Thank you.


Nutrition Facts
Amount Per Serving


Total Fat
4.2 g

Saturated Fat
1.0 g

Polyunsaturated Fat
1.2 g

Monounsaturated Fat
1.0 g

136.9 mg

310.4 mg

700.1 mg

Total Carbohydrate
16.2 g

Dietary Fiber
1.1 g

0.5 g

57.6 g

Vitamin A
8.8 %

Vitamin B-12
14.9 %

Vitamin B-6
66.5 %

Vitamin C
9.6 %

Vitamin D
0.0 %

Vitamin E
2.5 %

6.2 %

8.6 %

10.7 %

16.0 %

20.0 %

13.3 %

139.0 %

Pantothenic Acid
21.1 %

49.9 %

19.2 %

76.1 %

21.0 %

14.8 %

*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.


Polenta Panini

In Breads / Grains, Sandwiches, Snacks, Uncategorized on May 5, 2010 at 7:03 pm
polenta panini

It's like a sandwich, but with polenta for bread!

So, are you tired of eating sandwiches? I was, but Mr. Gorilla LOVES them. I’m a fan, but have you ever noticed how time-consuming and expensive it can be to make a couple of really good sandwiches? Try this: go to the store and just buy the stuff you need to make sandwiches, and I don’t mean cheese sandwiches, either. Get a loaf of bread, a block of cheese, some kind of meat, a head of lettuce, a tomato, some mayo or mustard or some other topping, maybe some onion or olives, or whatever else you think you’d like. Before you know it, you’ve spend $40 on sandwiches! For $40, you could have had swordfish. Or lobster. I mean, come on.

So when I came across this recipe for Polenta Panini, I immediately got excited because a) I already had cornmeal to make the polenta with, and b) I already had cheese. The only thing I needed to buy was prosciutto – seven dollars. Done. And boy, were these great. Not exactly low-fat, mind you, but really good, especially with roasted asparagus and a nice salad. Perfect for spring. Hop to it.

Polenta Panini

(adapted from Panini, by Viana La Place)

1 cup coarse cornmeal

1/2 cup fine cornmeal

6 cups water

8 ounces mozzarella cheese

4 ounces prosciutto

2 eggs, beaten

1/2 cup flour

3 slices toast

oil for frying


Bring the water to a boil in a large pot, and add the cornmeal in a slow, steady stream, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to medium-low, and stir until polenta pulls away from the side of the pan. This is supposed to take 30 minutes, but it only took about 15 minutes for me, because I have super powers.

Immediately pour the polenta into an oiled cookie sheet and let cool.

Meanwhile, cut the mozzarella into thin slices about 1 inch square, and cut the prosciutto slices into strips about 1 inch wide. These are gonna be so cute!

When the polenta is cool – and I mean COMPLETELY COOL – use a glass to cut it into as many rounds as you can get out of it. I got 12, I think. Remove the rounds from the pan and place them on a cutting board, and save those polenta scraps! They come in handy for stuff.

Put prosciutto and cheese on top of half the rounds, dividing everything evenly. Top with the remaining rounds.

Pour the flour onto a plate, and run the toast through a food processor to make breadcrumbs. See how I tricked you into that? Trust e – once you start using fresh breadcrumbs, you’ll never buy them in the store again. So, make you breadcrumbs and pour them in a dish.

Your beaten eggs should already be in a bowl. You’re not standing there with a pocket full of egg, are you?

Pour the oil (your choice) into a large pan until it’s about 1/4 inch deep, and heat on medium-high until it’s all shimmery and sputters when you drop a piece of polenta in. See? Those leftovers are already coming in handy!

Gently (GENTLY!) roll the edges of each sandwich in the flour, then the egg, then the breadcrumbs. It must be in that order. It won’t work, I’m telling you. Now is not the time for creativity.

Immediately after rolling, place the sandwiched in the pan and fry until golden on all sides. You may need to use tongs to get the sides, but I didn’t. Fresh breadcrumbs seem to cook better.

Only do a few sandwiches at a time – if you crowd the pan, they’ll take longer to cook and absorb more oil. Drain them on many, many layers of paper towels.

That’s it! I served mine with pretty tomato slices on top, but you don’t have to. These make a great snack, appetizer, or even dinner. Hey – they got the Mr. Gorilla stamp of approval!

polenta panini

Smile! There's cheese!

Burgers Parmesan!

In Beef, Sandwiches on March 3, 2010 at 4:50 pm

These burgers have a surprise inside!

Oooooh! A surprise? Yes! A surprise! Cheese! Inside the actual burger! Yes, it is possible, and no, it’s not illegal. There is cheese inside of, on top of, and underneath the burger. Cheeesy goodness. I know. This one is definitely NOT low-calorie, folks.

It is my holy combination of Chicken Parmesan and Cheeseburgers. A Burger Parm. So freakin’ good, it doesn’t even need a side dish. And no ordinary hamburger bun can stand up to it, either – you need to use ciabatta squares. Not only are they firm enough, but they have all those nice big air pockets to hold the sauce. I got mine at Target, believe it or not – they actually have a pretty decent little bakery there.

A note about the beef – I know everyone instinctively buys the leanest ground beef they can find, but you don’t want to do that when it comes to burgers. You just end up with a dry burger. It might work out okay for this particular recipe because of the tomato sauce, but in general, stick with 80/20. It’s jucier, and it’s cheaper. If you want to eat low-fat, don’t eat a cheeseburger, especially one with three slices of mozzarella cheese. Just sayin’.

Burgers Parmesan

(makes two giant burgers)


1 pound ground beef

1 cup spaghetti sauce

3 tablespoons parmesan

6 slices fresh mozzarella

2 individual ciabatta squares

a few fresh basil leaves


In a large bowl, mix the beef, 1/3 cup spaghetti sauce, and the parmesan cheese. Don’t mix it too much – just until combined. Divide into fourths.

Flatten each portion into a THIN patty. Place a slice of mozzarella each on top of two of the patties, then top with the other two patties. Like a sandwich, kind of. Pinch the edges together, and generally refine the shape into a burger-like one. Refrigerate for about an hour. Go watch that show you taped last night.

Now, heat a large (because the burgers are large) pan over medium-high heat, and preheat your oven to 425.

When the oven beeps, put the ciabatta squares inside, and turn it OFF. They will be perfectly toasted when you take them out, I promise.

By now your pan should be hot, so cook your burgers to desired doneness. Remember – they look thick, but some of that is cheese, so don’t over cook them. Mine took about ten minutes, flipping halfway through.

Remove the burgers from the heat and set aside. Remove the Ciabatta from the oven. Now run your hands under cold water because you didn’t use an oven mitt.

Slice the ciabatta squares in half. Spread two tablespoons of sauce on the bottom half, top with a slice of mozzarella, add the burger, put two more tablespoons of sauce on top, add another slice of mozz, and a few basil leaves. Now put the top of the bun on.

Stand back and admire your work, but try not to drool on the floor. Just take a bite. Try not to wear a white shirt. You’ll see.

Surprise! omg....

Roasted Italian Panini

In Sandwiches on February 24, 2010 at 5:23 pm

An homage to the red, white, and green!

Okay, so it’s not technically a panini – it’s not pressed and grilled. But it is toasted! And besides, when I hear “Italian sandwich”, I think of a giant LaSpada sub, overstuffed with salami and provolone and dripping with oil and vinegar. This is not that. This sandwich is actually pretty common, but the twist here is that you roast your own peppers and tomatoes. Beats the pants off the store bought!

I’m actually frequently inspired to make this sandwich because I have had the best version of it in the world, and I am constantly attempting to reproduce that, to no avail. Let me set the scene:

Mid-afternoon on Italy’s Amalfi coast. September. The sun is shining, the sky is a magical shade of blue. You’ve been wandering up and down the (very hilly) streets of the tiny coastal villages, browsing shops and investigating cathedrals all day long. You’re hungry, your feet hurt, but you are so totally blissed out on the Italian sunshine (it really is different there) and scenery that the last thing you want to do is go back to the hotel. So you’re walking along the waterfront and you come to this little beach-shack type of building, with a wooden deck over the stones, extending out into the water. “Oh, how lovely,” you think. Then you realize it’s a restaurant, and you are the only customer. Sometimes it’s actually good to be the only one! You find a table, and relish the fact that you have the deck to yourself – very peaceful and quiet, except for the seagulls and the distant sounds of tourists on the beach.

You look to your right and see this –

You look to your left and see this –

You realize you are, in fact, here –

At this point, you are giddy with delight and hunger, and the waiter brings your sandwich. The ciabatta bread was baked on premises that morning by the waiter’s mom, who’s been doing this for thirty years. The prosciutto was farmed and cured by his cousin in a neighboring village, and sliced thin enough to read through. The pepper, tomato, and basil were grown at the family farm not a mile away, and brought in fresh a couple of hours ago. Then you take a bite and die of pleasure.

That is the experience I try to re-create every time I make this sandwich, and I fall short every single time. Of course, I only have supermarket ingredients to work with. And no Italian sunshine. Alas. But the sandwich is really freakin’ good anyway! Try it!

Roasted Italian Panini


2 filone or ciabatta rolls

6 ounces fresh mozzarella

6 slices prosciutto (paper-thin)

2 red bell peppers

2 Roma tomatoes

1 cup (or so) fresh basil leaves

drizzle of olive oil


This part can be done ahead of time – cut the peppers in half, and slice the tomatoes. Arrange them all on a foil-lined baking sheet – peppers cut-side down, and drizzle the tomatoes with the oil.  Roast at 350 for about an hour. Keep an eye on them – When done, the peppers should be blackened and wrinkly, and the tomatoes should look all dried out with blackened edges. Remove from oven and let cool. Once cool, the skin should peel right off the peppers.

Halve the rolls, and arrange the peppers on the bottom. Put as much as you like, but remember they provide much of the moisture to the sandwich, and the taste mellows after roasting. So don’t be afraid of the pepper.

Slice the mozzarella quite thick, and arrange on top of the pepper. I already know you’re going to sneak pieces of cheese while you’re making the sandwiches. No need to hide.

Next, arrange the prosciutto atop the cheese. Curl it artfully, and allow a bit to hang out the side so everyone can see how thin it’s sliced.

Now arrange the fresh basil leaves on top of the prosciutto. You can snip them if you like, but then it tends to fall out of the sandwich. I prefer them whole.

Now top with a few slices of roasted tomato and the top of the roll.

Toast at 425 for about 5 minutes, or just until roll is toasted and cheese begins to get soft. The basil will dry out and get dark, but don’t you worry – that will only improve the taste even further.

Transfer sandwiches from oven to plate to mouth. I know.

Big Fish Sandwiches with Rosemary Potatoes

In Fish, Sandwiches, Vegetables on February 17, 2010 at 5:45 pm

Who likes onions on their fish? ME!

So I was shopping for seafood the other day, when my eyes and my heart were arrested by the most beautiful tilapia fillet I’ve seen in a loooong time. It was big, pale, perfectly formed…so I elbowed the old ladies in from of me out of the way so I could get to it first. I was so proud of it! I carried my new purchase home, and I was astonished by how light it felt – like a feather! I looked at the sticker, and it said it was a little over a half pound. Zoiks! Despite it’s size, it was a very loose, airy fillet, I supposed. And I needed to feed two gorillas with it. Hoboy. What to do?

Fish sandwiches to the rescue! Fill ’em up with bread an lettuce, and they won’t realize they get a paltry 1/4 pound of fish each! But fish sandwiches are so repetitive – lettuce, tomato, tartar sauce. Boooring. So I decided to experiment a bit, just to see what would happen. As it turns out, this was one of the good ones! Oh, it was delicious. A beautiful melange of flavors. Divine. And rosemary potatoes, to boot! Go to it!

Fish Sandwiches – Experiment 1


1/2 pound tilapia fillet

1/2 cup onion sliced THIN (as in, you can read through it.)

salt, pepper, basil

4 thick slices bread, lightly toasted

2 tablespoons pesto

1 Roma tomato, sliced thin

2 large leaves of lettuce (I used iceberg, use what you have)

1 tablespoon tzatziki


Rub the fish with salt, pepper, and dried basil. Really coat the sucker.

Saute onions in olive oil over medium-high heat for a couple of minutes, until they get tender, then push them to the cooler side of the pan (only you know where that is on your particular pan. If you cook often, it’s that side you curse when you’re making eggs), and add the fish. Don’t flip the fish too often – you want to sear each side nicely, and the middle will remain moist and delicious. Cook until opaque.

Keep the onions separate from the fish! Never the twain shall meet! Otherwise you’ll have a devil of a time trying to separate them.

Now let’s build our sandwich:

Lay out two slices of bread. I had a homemade loaf that I hacked two honkin’ slices off of, therefore, I am superior.

Spread each slice with 1 tablespoon pesto. Nice and thick, you know. It’s flavoricious.

Divide the tomato slices evenly between the two sandwiches, and arrange directly on top of the pesto. You’ll thank me for this.

Fold the lettuce leaf as necessary to fit, and place that on top of the tomato.

Cut the fish into large, rough chunks, and place on top of the lettuce.

Remember the onion? Now’s the time! Divide them equally between the two sandwiches, artistically scattering them across the top of the fish.

Drizzle each with a bit of tzatziki, add the top piece of bread, and you’re good! Better than good, in fact. You’re excellent.

Yes, they are delicious.

Rosemary Potatoes


about 2 pounds petite red potatoes, quartered lengthwise

1/3 cup olive oil

1 tablespoon dried rosemary

salt and pepper to taste


Soak the potatoes in ice water for an hour or so. I don’t know why (ask a chemist), but it helps tremendously.

Meanwhile, combine the oil, rosemary, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Don’t be shy with the salt and pepper – remember potatoes tend to absorb salt, so if you don’t care a snap of the fingers for your arteries, be generous.

When the potatoes have finished soaking (wouldn’t you love a nice soak right about now?), add them into the bowl with the oil mixture, and give it a good toss. Make sure everything is nice and coated.

Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil, shiny side DOWN. Dump the potatoes onto the baking sheet, oil and all – but DON’T SCRAPE THE BOWL! Don’t wash it yet either. We’ll need that later.

Arrange the potatoes skin-side down, and make sure they don’t touch. Tedious, yes, but it makes a difference. Don’t they look like brave little soldiers all lined up?

Roast them at 425 for about 45 minutes. Don’t get alarmed – they’re supposed to get all brown and bubbly!

When they’re done, transfer the potatoes back to the dirty bowl from earlier – there should still be some oil and bits of rosemary sticking to the sides – and give them a brief toss. This kind of pumps up the flavor quotient a bit.

And now you’re done! Go enjoy the velvety softness of you potatoes. You’re welcome.