Steak and White Cheddar Panini Sliders

Have you ever fallen in love with a dish from a restaurant, to the point where you continue to go to the same restaurant everyday for a week ordering said dish each and every time? Yeah, that hasn’t happened to me either, so I don’t know what you’re talking about. If it did happen to me, I’d probably have to come clean about the fact that I’ve been ordering the same steak and white cheddar panini everyday for lunch over the last week. Okay, last couple of weeks. That’s totally normal. I’ve been getting smarter though, I’ve started ordering the sandwich online now and picking it up in different disguises so that the workers don’t recognize me and think I have a problem. But the truth is I do have a problem. My problem is golden brown toasted ciabatta filled with sliced steak, caramelized red onions, melted white cheddar and a creamy horseradish sauce that makes this sandwich so irresistible. 

Just in case you’re wondering what restaurant serves this amazing sandwich, it’s Panera. Sure, it’s not the fanciest of places and yeah okay, they are everywhere, but you’d be surprised just how great their paninis are. It’s far more than a guilty pleasure. It’s awesome and super convenient for me because it’s right down the street, making it easy for me whenever I want a quick lunch. I get the half and half lunch special. Half a panini and half a cup of soup (baked potato soup or broccoli cheddar) with a tiny bag of kettle chips. It doesn’t get much better than that. So recently I’ve been telling anyone who’ll listen just how great this sandwich is. I’ve told my mom, my sisters, Julian, my cat Napoleon, the mailman, the guy next to me at the gas station. Literally everyone. I’m not ashamed to admit that I have a problem. So much so that I wanted to, no, needed to recreate this sandwich at home. I thought transforming it into sliders would be the best decision I’d ever make in my life because I could eat more than one and not feel guilty in the slightest. 

I like this recipe a lot because it’s easy to whip up. It’s one of those that doesn’t require a lot of thinking in the kitchen, which is nice and sometimes much needed. I’m around food all day long, cooking, baking, photographing and of course, writing about it. It’s no surprise that sometimes I get to the end of the day and the last thing I want to do is cook. This is the type of recipe that you can turn off your brain and get it going without stressing too much about any complicated steps or ingredients. Those are the best kinds of recipes, if you ask me. Not to mention that sliders are my life and I’m always down for making any kind of slider. I’m Slider King of the World, remember?! 

[Read more…]

Dinner for Two: Braised Meatballs, Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes & Roasted Kale

Let’s be honest, not every night is fancy dinner night. We’re not always in the mood to spend hours in the kitchen making a complicated meal, no matter how hard we try. The honest truth about it all is that even though we wish we could be Martha Stewart every single day of our lives, it’s unrealistic and not always doable. Things come up. We’re only human. Don’t be too hard on yourself. There are certain nights when tuna sandwiches, simple tacos or even a quick bowl of cereal make an appearance (as we eat standing up) and we call it good. You know the days I’m talking about. We don’t complain because we simply do not have the time or quite frankly, the energy to put much effort in the kitchen. But on those rare special occasions when we’re looking for something with a bit more glamour than cold cereal, it’s nice to venture out and make a meal that’s not only rich in flavor, but also super easy to make, while still looking like we’re royalty. We deserve to treat ourselves whenever possible.

Dinner for Two: Braised Meatballs, Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes & Roasted Kale is here to save the day. This is us taking an everyday classic and turning it into something a bit more fancy. This is us saying we don’t want cereal for breakfast. Braising the meatballs in a delicious pan gravy sauce not only makes them incredibly flavorful, but also allows them to cook for a while without drying out. Think Swedish meatballs but not because I’m not Swedish and I don’t even know what goes into Swedish meatballs. Roasted garlic takes the mashed potatoes to a whole new level. A one way ticket to Flavortown. And of course, the roasted crispy kale just makes us seem cool and hip since kale is everywhere at the moment. We’re just keeping up with the Joneses and I’m totally fine with that because roasted kale is sort addictingly tasty. I’m not even sure if addictingly is a word, but I’m making it one now. 

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, I didn’t want you to get caught off guard. Especially all my late planners out there, so I decided to share these recipes with the hopes that you’ll surprise your loved one and make them a romantic meal at home. Anyone can make a reservation at a restaurant, but not everyone can whip up a great home-cooked supper. So go ahead and cancel those reservations and get yourself to the grocery store! You only have two days to get everything together. Have no fear though, I know you can pull it off. I have all the faith in you.

[Read more…]

Mediterranean Taquitos

It doesn’t take a lot for me to be impressed with food. I love food so much that I try not to discriminate against anything—except for my hatred of coconut and mango but that’s a story for another time—so I’ll essentially eat everything that is presented to me and I’ll thoroughly enjoy it too. I tend to get really excited over the simplest of dishes. They don’t necessarily have to be super fancy with a million ingredients, half of which I can’t even pronounce, in order for me to like it. Where’s the fun in that? Good food can be simple and you don’t have to sell your arm or your leg to get it either. I’m all for trying new things and expanding palate because I’m a firm believer of having to try everything at least once before writing it off as something I do not care for. How else will you know if you like something or not, if you don’t try it? There’s nothing more unnerving, or scary for that matter, then when I overhear people say they don’t like a certain dish or ingredient, yet they’ve never tried it before and refuse to give it a chance. Come on, let’s be more adventurous. Food isn’t scary. Food is delicious.

A few weeks ago I visited a Mediterranean restaurant by my place—we’ve made a promise to venture out and explore our neighborhood more because there are so many options close by to us and yet we always end up going to the same restaurants—and they make the very best Greek-style street food around. I decided to try something new and picked the Mediterranean Taquitos, although if I’m being honest I probably would’ve picked the taquitos regardless because I happen to really love taquitos. But that’s not the point of this story. They were incredible and I couldn’t stop talking about them all night so Julian eventually told me to make them for my blog, mainly because he wanted some at home but also because I’m sure he wanted me to stop talking about them. Little did he know that I’d still be talking about them till this day and now I’m mentioning them even more because I’ve just barely shared them with you. 

I’ll be talking about these taquitos for a while, and no one can stop me. Can you blame me though? I know that when you give them a try yourself, you’ll be talking about them too. Go ahead and make them already so we can have a discussion around the water cooler. There’s so much to talk about, like the delicious yogurt-marinated chicken filling, the flaky lavash and of course that creamy feta and olive sauce on top of a crisp Greek-salad topping. It doesn’t get any better than that. 

[Read more…]

Idaho Potato Spanish Mac and Cheese

I’m the biggest fan of mixing my starches and carbs together to create one satisfyingly delicious dish. If you ask me, potatoes, cheese and pasta are meant to be together forever. Maybe that’s because I don’t think of potatoes as a starch or a carb, that’s crazy, especially when we all know it’s a vegetable. So therefore it’s perfectly acceptable to have potatoes with a side of rice or pasta or bread, or perhaps even all three of them at the same time in the same meal. Have I totally lost my mind? Sure, but at least it’s for something as delicious as carbs on carbs on carbs. I’m no stranger to this logical way of eating, either. Ask my mamma about how when I was a little boy I’d only want to eat rice and potatoes all day long. It was one of my favorite things to have for dinner. White rice with a side of “any kind of potatoes” you can imagine. I wasn’t picky. Although there was this one dish in particular she would make for me where she’d boil whole potatoes, drain them and allow them to cool down. She’d then peel the potatoes, cut them in half (length wise) and then quickly pan fry them until crispy on both sides and while they were still hot she’d sprinkle salt on top with a squeeze of fresh lime juice. Might sound like something so ordinary but let me tell you, they were out of this world….especially on top of some white rice. I did warn you, I was a weird kid. 

I’ve teamed up with Idaho Potato to bring you a few new and exciting recipes this month, and if you’ve been tagging along with me for the ride then you’ll know this is the fourth recipe in this partnership made in heaven. We’ve come to the end of the month and for this last recipe I decided to go comfort food all the way home with one of my favorites, mac and cheese! Idaho Potato Spanish Mac and Cheese just made so much sense to me, you know? A manchego cheese sauce mixed with pasta, green olives, caramelized onions and peppers, crispy Spanish chorizo and of course lots of shredded potatoes. It’s all of the ingredients I love in Spanish cuisine rolled into one deliciously American classic. 

This isn’t the first time I’ve added potatoes to a mac and cheese recipe, though, and you know what, I’m sure it won’t be the last. The first time I made magic happen was with this Irish Colcannon Mac and Cheese last week. First it was Ireland and now Spain, I guess I should just jump on the theme I’ve created here, and start a new series called “Mac and Cheese From Around The World!” Or something like that. I’ll have to work on the name a bit more. You’d be surprised how far I can take this. The ideas are already spinning around in my mind. In the meantime though, let’s take a trip to Spain together. I think you should add mac and cheese to your upcoming weekly meal plan. Don’t let me convince you though, let the recipe speak for itself! 

[Read more…]

Irish Colcannon Mac and Cheese

I recently partnered up with Wisconsin Cheese to celebrate National Cheese Lover’s Day. This might come as a shock to many of you, but I Jonathan Melendez, am a cheese lover. There I said it. I’m a cheese lover from way back, and I’m not afraid to admit it. I have to be honest though, I actually had no idea a day celebrating people like me existed. Cheese lovers. Finally there’s a holiday where my non-stop eating of cheese all day long is perfectly acceptable. That’s cheese for breakfast, cheese for lunch, cheese for a snack and cheese for dinner. All the cheese you could ever possibly dream of. I can’t think of a better way to celebrate such a momentous occasion than with a big heaping serving of macaroni and cheese. Maybe even two servings. What? It’s my holiday, I’ll party if I want to. It’s the mother of all cheese recipes, but this isn’t just any ol’ mac and cheese recipe. This one here is a fancy mac and cheese recipe. I couldn’t do a simple everyday take on it. Where’s the fun in that? 

I’m going to warn you right off the bat, because I believe in full disclosure…sometimes, this is actually going to be somewhat of a shortened post. I’ll share a few photos and funny anecdotes (obviously) like always, but for the recipe itself you’ll have to visit the site it’ll live on All Things Mac and Cheese! Just like the name states, it’s mac and cheese everything and anything. You’d be surprised what you’ll find on there. Sure, I could go on and on and tell you all about it, but I figured it would be a lot easier for you to just go and check it out yourself. Plus, I’m too lazy to type anymore than I already have to. The most important thing though is that my Irish Colcannon Mac and Cheese recipe is on it, so there’s definitely something to search for. 

Listen to me going on and on about mac and cheese when we should all be out there celebrating National Cheese Lover’s Day. What are you waiting for? There’s so much cheese to eat and so much mac and cheese to make. If you start now, you might (just might) be able to catch up to me. I can’t make any promises that I won’t beat you. It is my holiday after all. 

[Read more…]

Idaho Potato Chicken Pot Pie

Idaho Potato Chicken Pot Pie is the third installment in my quest for total potato domination. Believe it or not, that’s my number one mission in life. There’s actually a double dose of tater action in this recipe with the crust stealing the entire show, in my humble opinion. What do I know, though? I only run this blog. Don’t take my word for it. Try it for yourself and then decide. I’ll be here waiting to say, “I told you so,” but in a totally nice way I promise. Anyhow, I’m calling it a Baked Potato Crust which I predict will take the world by storm, and it’ll be the only way we eat pie crust from now on (as it should be). Shredded Idaho potatoes, crispy bacon, sharp cheddar cheese, and chives are folded into a bowl of flour, sugar, salt, butter, shortening and ice water, creating a flaky pie dough that I’d be willing to bake off in large batches and eat by itself. Someone might have to come over here and stop me. That’s the only way the madness will end. *Insert evil laugh here.* 

When I was coming up with this recipe I developed the crust first—no surprise since it’s the most important part to any pie—and I tried to end the recipe brainstorming right then and there. Somehow the little voice in my head convinced me otherwise, making me aware that not everyone is like me and will want just a pie dough recipe all by itself, with no filling. That’s crazy talk talking. What kind of pie is that Jonathan? So I figured why not make a savory pie with it? And then chicken pot pie popped into my head immediately. The only logical thing to do next was to make sure I added even more potatoes to the recipe, so I decided a boatload of diced potatoes would accidentally find its way into the creamy pot pie filling as well. Oops. 

Just in case you haven’t been keeping up (shame on you) there has been two other partnership Idaho Potato recipes this month. The first one was a slider to end all sliders, Baked Idaho Potato Sliders. Last week I debuted the incredible Idaho Potato Carne Asada Fries. Think nachos but on fries. Like whoa. But listen to me going on and on about the past, right now, the only thing that matters is this CHICKEN POT PIE! I’m yelling because I’m excited, and because I accidentally hit the caps lock button. Anyhow, it’s still winter so let’s get our comfort food on y’all. 

[Read more…]