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summer grilling

Father’s Day meat & mushroom panino: always a hit with protein-loving dads

Happy Father’s Day to the fathers among us! Hope you are having an amazing weekend with your loved ones.

In case you’re wondering whether I’m making anything special to eat on this very special day – yes, I am. I am making a blended meat panino. I have been so inspired by the blenditarian movement and by last month’s Culinary Fight Club Blended Burger Challenge that I’ve decided to make something my family loves – a panino, and not just any panino: a blended meat & mushroom panino! Made up of a delicious mix of ground chuck and cremini mushrooms sitting pretty on Swiss cheese goodness, this truly is a great gift for the protein-loving dads 🙂

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The Culinary Fight Club Blended Burger Challenge: A fight is a fight is a fight – for a great cause

The first rule of the Culinary Fight Club is: You do tell people about the Culinary Fight Club 🙂 If you’re like me and like watching movies and immersing yourself into pop culture, then you must be familiar with the movie Fight Club, which features testosterone-brimming one-on-one fights, voyages into the unconscious and a breathtakingly charming Brad Pitt. What is the subject of Fight Club?  That’s actually a very good question, and many answers have been suggested ever since the movie was released, back in 1999. At the most basic level, the movie and the novel it’s based on are about the competitive spirit embedded in human nature, and about competition as the key to break free from the conformism imprinted on us by modern society. Ultimately, fighting is the key to Life, and a fight is a fight is a fight.

In a move that has pleased foodies and movie buffs alike, the concept of a fight club has been adapted to suit the culinary world under the name of the Culinary Fight Club, a national organization which hosts live cooking competitions. Contestants – be they home cooks or executive chefs – come together to compete, amass glory and new followers, and give back to the community. Indeed, what makes the Culinary Fight Club so special is this emphasis on competition with a higher purpose: ending hunger and helping local friends in need. To achieve this goal the Culinary Fight Club gives 20% of the proceeds from each competition to Fight2Feed, a nonprofit organization which provides service and support to hungry men, women and children.

I know about the Culinary Fight Club events and I love their emphasis on helping the community – and this is why the invitation to attend their latest cooking competition in Chicago was an offer I simply could not refuse 🙂

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Memorial Day sausage sandwich extravaganza: a different kind of pigs in a blanket!

There’s no time like the time you spend with your loved ones 🙂 This weekend my husband is off work, which means we will truly be celebrating Memorial Day together as a family. We went out to eat today, while tomorrow we’ll stay home and dear husband will do some grilling – and when we grill, we don’t hold back! We will for sure make the decadent sandwich below using fresh sausages we got on sale from the local grocery store. I will use a batch of Italian sausages for this purpose, but you can use brats as well (as we did in the past) with similarly spectacular results.

In creating this dish I was inspired by pigs in a blanket, the popular appetizer which involves hot dogs or small sausages wrapped in dough and baked until piping hot. Eating them straight out of the oven, sizzling with luscious juices and covered in buttery pastry, is definitely one of my greatest joys. This dish does resemble pigs in a blanket, but with a twist: the dough is replaced by lots and lots of bacon and pepper jack cheese. The more proteins, the merrier!

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My 4th of July bell pepper & black bean burger topping: fast to make and easy on the eye – and wallet!

I came up with this burger topping idea almost by accident. We used to love eating chutneys when we lived in the UK, and so I was looking for a burger topping similar to a chutney yet faster and easier to make. I also wanted the topping to have a good consistency and to be able to hold up beautifully when served on a burger. Last but not least, I wanted a relatively inexpensive burger topping, with ingredients that were easy to find and affordable.

Since we love peppers, bell peppers were a “must” from the start. I knew I needed a starchy element for my dish, and initially I didn’t know what that element would be. However, I did have a lot of canned beans in my pantry, so on a whim I decided to experiment with them – hence the “almost by accident” part. 🙂 After several rounds of “bean testing,” my conclusion was that canned black beans worked the best, especially in terms of texture.

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