Tomato Basil Grilled Cheese

I was never much of a grilled cheese fan growing up, and I am still not a big fan of cheddar grilled cheese, but I have grown up a little bit, and branched out. I have previously posted a grilled cheese recipe here, but I saw another one a few days back that I wanted to try. Unfortunately I couldn't find the recipe this evening when I went to make dinner, so I winged it.

2 pieces honey whole wheat bread
fresh mozzarella, sliced
1 tomato, sliced very thin
20 basil leaves, rolled and sliced

Heat a pan over medium-low heat. Spray one side of one piece of bread with evoo and place it evoo side down in the pan. Put down a layer of mozzarella on top, then a layer of sliced tomato, then the chopped basil, then another layerof mozzarella. Top it with the second piece of bread, then spray the top with evoo. Very slowly toast the bread while the cheese melts. When it is toasted, put a plate over the pan and flip the entire thing to turn the sandwich without everything falling out. Let the other side toast, then remove from the heat and cut in half to serve.

The fresh mozzarella cheese makes this an amazing sandwich, and the slow roast and the fresh basil just make it that much better. This will definitely be made again.

Rating: 4.5/5
Why? mmm....melty and basily. It is just a little rich for me, next time I will work on slicing the mozzarella thinner.


Chocolate Syrup

When I was growing up, every day when I got home from school, my sister and I would make chocolate milk for our after school snack. Most of the time we had powdered Nesquik, but sometimes we had Hershey's syrup instead and that was amazing.On pinterest recently, I saw a pin for homemade chocolate syrup, and thought it looked really easy, so a few days ago I made it. Long story short, I'm never buying this in a store again.

1.5 cups sugar
3/4 cup cocoa
dash of salt
1 cup water
1 tsp vanilla

Mix the sugar, salt, and cocoa together in a saucepan, then add the water and stir it all together. Heat it over medium heat, stirring frequently until it comes to a rolling boil, then let it boil for 90 seconds while stirring constantly. Remove the pan from the heat and add the vanilla. Stir it all together, and pour into a pint sized jar, then let it cool. Store in the refirgerator.

Seriously, this stuff tastes like the real deal. The original poster said she found it in an old Betty Crocker cookbook, and I guess it is completely logical that it started from something people made on a semi-regular basis, but it had just never occurred to me to make it. I didn't change anything in the recipe.

Rating: 5/5
Why? Easy and in comparison to the ingredients on a Hershey's label, far fewer chemicals. From Answers.com, "Hershey Syrup's ingredients include High Fructose Corn Syrup, Corn Syrup, Water, Cocoa, Sugar, Contains 2% or Less of: Potassium Sorbate (a Preservative), Salt, Mono and Diglycerides, Xanthan Gum, Polysorbate 60, Vanillin, Artificial Flavoring." Um...I'll take the one I made.


Creamy Garlic Pasta

This pasta should be called "Holy Cow Amazing Garlic Pasta" but that's a bit of a mouthful, although very descriptive. This will definitely be made again and again. But how could it not be amazing when the original recipe comes from a blog called the cheese pusher? I did make some tweaks to her recipe, as I'm pretty sure it would have been approximately 1000 calories per bite, but still.

2 tsp olive oil
4-6 garlic cloves
1 tlbs butter
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1/3 box whole wheat linguine
1/2 cup grated parmesan
1/3 cup non-fat Greek yogurt
1-2 Tlbs chopped fresh parsley

Mince the garlic cloves while warming the olive oil over medium heat. Saute the garlic cloves for 1-2 minutes, then melt the butter in the pan. When the butter is melted, add the salt, pepper, and chicken broth. Turn the temperature up to medium-high, then bring it to a boil. Add the linguine, and let it boil until it is cooked. Keep a close eye on the pasta, as it can easily burn with this little liquid. When the pasta is cooked, turn the temperature down to medium-low, and stir in the parmesan until it's totally melted. Take the pan off the burner and stir in the Greek yogurt and the parsley.

Seriously, this is amazing. My cats BOTH came and whined by the kitchen wanting some of this, and it's unbelievable. I did cut her recipe in half, changed the heavy cream to Greek yogurt, changed the regular pasta to whole wheat pasta, reduced the salt, doubled the garlic, and increased the chicken broth.

Rating - 5/5
Why? Super easy, super tasty, and keeps the vampires away. ;)


Honey Mustard Dressing

This school year, I have been taking salad to school every day for lunch. It is a loaded salad, with a mix of green leaf lettuce and spinach as the base, and black beans, garbanzo beans, olives, tomatoes, red peppers, and carrots on top. At the beginning of the year, I also brought salad dressing, but soon realized that no salad dressing was that healthy, so I decided to make my own. The original recipe is from allrecipes.com, but I have made some significant changes. I make this once a week and have it every day.

1/3-1/2 cup Greek yogurt
1-2 Tlbs horseradish mustard*
1-2 Tlbs honey
1 Tlbs lemon juice
dash of milk (optional)

In a pint jar, mix all the ingredients except the milk. Stir it well to combine. If the dressing is too thick, thin it out with a little bit of milk. Keep refrigerated.

I like this a lot with the horseradish mustard, but if you can't find it, you could probably use dijon mustard and prepared horseradish, or just use dijon mustard instead. I think the horseradish gives it a nice zing. I also like that this recipe is easy to adjust for taste, with more or less honey and more or less mustard. I also like that it keeps really well. I changed the original recipe from regular mustard to dijon, majo to Greek yogurt, and increased the amount of lemon juice.

rating - 5/5
Why? Quick and easy, and no preservatives.


Roasted Balsamic Green Beans

Since joining Pinterest, I have saved many, many recipes to try. I have actually tried many of them, some successfully, some not so much. This one was definitely one of the successes, to the point that I even ate the mushrooms, which I normally hate. I have modified it slightly from the original.

6-8 cremini mushrooms
1 lb fresh green beans
1/2 Tlbs olive oil
1 Tlbs balsamic vinegar
salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
2 Tlbs grated parmesan

Trim the ends off the green beans and cut them in half, then wash and dry them.* Slice the mushrooms into 1/4"-1/2" slices. Put the mushrooms and the dry green beans into a bowl that seals tightly, and add the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. Toss it well to coat everything evenly. Put a layer of tinfoil down on a baking pan and spray it with olive oil. Spread the green bean mixture on the tin foil. Try to make sure everything is in a single layer. Put the pan in the oven at 450 for 20-30 minutes, checking often after 20 minutes. Beans should be slightly crispy on the outside. Pull them out and sprinkle the parmesan over the top before serving.

I can easily eat an entire pan of these by myself, and I don't even like mushrooms. In the original recipe, she adds the salt and pepper at the end, but I think it is more evenly coated and tastes better when you add them at the beginning. I also have trouble with the beans sticking to the tin foil unless I spray olive oil on it. Also, you might need to sitir the beans once during the baking process.

* Once you've washed the green beans in a colander, lay them in a single layer on half of a dish towel, then fold the other half over the top and gently press down. Let the beans sit for 15 minutes or so and they will be completely dry. It is important that the beans be dry before you put them in the oven or they will be soggy. I have tried this recipe with frozen green beans and while the taste is good, the beans get soggy easily.

Rating - 5/5
Why? It' easy, delicious, and awesome.


Dijon Crusted Halibut

I love fish, especially halibut, and growing up in the northwest, and now living in Seattle, I have easy access to lots of amazing, fresh fish. Halibut is hands-down my favorite kind of fish, and I recently got a Living Social deal to the fish market in Pike place, so when my aunt and cousin came to visit, I pulled it out and we went shopping for dinner at the market. On the train home I found this recipe and I've used it almost exactly here. It was so good that the three of us inhaled over a pound of halibut at one sitting.

1/4 cup mayonnaise*
1 Tlbs dijon mustard
1 Tlbs horseradish
1 Tlsb lemon juice
1/4 cup dry bread crumbs
1 Tlbs grated parmesan
1 lb halibut filet**

1 Tlbs butter, melted
1/4 cup dry bread crumbs
1 Tlbs grated parmesan

Mix together the first set of ingredients (except the halibut) into a paste, then mix the second set of ingredients in a separate bowl. Put a piece of tin foil on a pan, then lay the halibut, skin down, on the foil. Spread the paste on all sides of the fish (except the skin side), then sprinkle the second breadcrumb mixture over the top. Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes or until the fish flakes easily (it may be longer than 20 minutes if your filet is thick). Let it sit 3-4 minutes before serving.

I used my fingers to spread the paste, as it is quite thick and I was related to all the people eating it, but you could probably use a knife or a spatula if you're squeamish.

*I really dislike mayonnaise, but my mom left some here that I wanted to use up, so I used it in this recipe. I think it would also work well with sour cream, and possibly Greek yogurt, so I will try that next time.

**My dad does not like fish, so I used the same mixture on some chicken for him, and it was delicious.

Rating - 5/5
Why? This is easy and really delicious....it just makes the fish better than it already is.