Fried Green Tomato and Shrimp Sliders

I’m on a mission in life to become the Slider King of America. I don’t really know if that’s an actual thing, but it sounds really cool. I can totally see myself being King of the Sliders, too. It’s definitely not a bad thing to have on my resume. If anything, it’ll make me well known by millions, right? At the very least, it’ll grant me some free sliders whenever I want. Which is always. Sliders everyday of my life sounds even better than being king. Don’t get me wrong, I still want to be king. Give me a slider kingdom to rule where all anyone ever eats are sliders. Where sliders just rain down from the skies above. Sounds like a dream come true, if you ask me. I’d walk down the streets of my kingdom pointing at people, screaming, “You get a slider. You get a slider. And you get a slider. And you get a slider!”

Last week I decided to torment you guys by putting up a recipe for Mini Challah Rolls—have you checked it out already?—with a promise to post a delicious slider recipe the following week. Well, guess what?! It’s the following week already, and here I am with the promised delicious slider recipe. And just in case you’ve been living under a rock or something, and aren’t familiar with the fact that I’ve had some great sliders on this blog before, I’ll refresh your memory.

This one time I got all kinds of crazy and made a big batch of pot roast in a slow cooker and put together some killer Pot Roast Sliders that I’m still day-dreaming about. I can’t seem to shake them out of my mind. If you like crispy onion rings and avocado and sriracha, then you’ll love those sliders. Then I decided to one up myself and I created these BLT Biscuit Sliders which is everything right in the world. Biscuits with jam and heirloom tomatoes and lots of crispy bacon and of course, avocado and lettuce. If all of that has you thinking, “Oh no he didn’t!” Well then just sit down and hold on tight because I’m about to blow your mind! I’m now bringing you these Fried Green Tomato and Shrimp Sliders. I couldn’t just use the same rolls I used before or even those biscuits, so I made some new buns. Challah buns. And I’m piling it high with a cajun remoulade sauce, fried green tomatoes, grilled shrimp, lettuce and pickles. It’s an explosion of delicious flavor upon delicious flavor. I don’t know what else to do right now, other than to go to a tall place and yell out “I’M KING OF THE SLIDERS!”

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Baked Vegetable Samosa Handpies

Have I ever told you how much I love Indian food? It’s my all time favorite type of food to eat, in case you didn’t already know that. I’m obsessed with it. I can’t get enough. Sometimes I even dream about eating Indian food, and not just a little dish here and there, no I dream about devouring an entire feast. Yeah, in my dreams I eat it every single day of my life and I never get tired of it. In my dream, samosas are falling from the sky like it’s raining and I’m out in the street eating them as they fall onto my plate. I’m trying very hard to make that dream come true but I don’t think the people in my life really appreciate it. I’m always the first to suggest an Indian restaurant when my family and friends ask where we should go eat. I always get a no. One of these days though they’ll say yes and when they do, I’ll be ready for it. 

I won’t tell you about the time I pretended to be super sick (lying on my deathbed) just so I can get a plate of Indian food out of pity. That was my only cure. It was a low point for me. Don’t judge. I will however, tell you about a time where I visited a close friend in North Carolina and we ate two Indian dinners in one night. IN ONE NIGHT. I guess we wanted to tour all of the city’s Indian Cuisine offerings. We started at one place and were forced (not really, we ate it willingly) to eat a bunch of delicious food. Then we ventured to another Indian restaurant (don’t ask us why) and within a few hours proceeded to eating an entire second dinner, filled with multiple dishes. Oh there were drinks in between that were involved and we made a night of it. Just me, my friend and a whole lot of curry and chutney and samosas. I was in heaven. 

So here I am today with a yearning for vegetable samosas and the need to share it with all of you, friends. It might seem a little daunting at first but fight that feeling. It’s not daunting at all. What we have here is nothing but delicious pockets of curry flavored potatoes and peas. I’m all for anything wrapped in buttery pie dough, especially if potatoes are involved. So let’s shout a big WOO HOO at the top of our lungs (not optional) and get to making and eating samosas. Let’s be adventurous and try new dishes because that’s how we find new favorites, right? These here are your new favorite. I just know it. 

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Kale and Artichoke Dip

So long spinach. Goodbye. It was nice knowing you. Until next time. You’re out of the picture. You’ve been replaced by a new green. Something much more marketable and hip and tasty, and do you want to know something, spinach? People really love the new you, too. It’s sad, but true. They can’t get enough of it. It seems to be everywhere right now. No matter where I turn, BAM, I run into it. You can’t escape it, spinach. You’re done. Cooked. No one wants you anymore. You were popular, what, in the eighties? You’ve had a nice run though, so you can’t complain. I think it’s better to go while you’re still on top. While people still remember you with admiration and nostalgia. Take the high road, on your way out. It’s the only sophisticated thing to do. One day you’ll look back at this moment and think to yourself, “Everyone was right to trade me in. I am a loser. I’ve reached my full potential.” It’s okay though, cheer up spinach. Think of all the happy and healthy times you brought all those people throughout the years—that is before kale came into the picture and stole all of your thunder, rendering you pretty much useless and unwanted. Word on the street is that even Popeye the Sailor Man is getting all his strength from kale these days. Talk about hitting rock bottom, spinach. Hitting the cold hard concrete. In the pouring rain. Shut out with nowhere to turn to. 

There there spinach, don’t cry. It happens to the best of us. You should be happy that kale is getting its chance in the spotlight. It’s nice to share. Between you and I, spinach, I think it’s just a fad. People in this town like to jump on band wagons. You see, in no time they’ll get bored of kale, throwing out words like “one note” and “non-versatile.” I can see it already. You’ll be back on top…eventually. Oh spinach, I’m not saying it’ll be tomorrow or anytime soon. I’m sure it’ll be a long while before people forget about the wonder that is kale. It’s pretty magical, but I’m sure you don’t need to hear that right now.

I guarantee you though, that there will come a day when everyone drops kale like it’s hot. It’ll lose its cool factor and they’ll move on to something new and exciting. Something bigger and better. That’s where you come back in, spinach. You swoop in with a new and improved look. A rebranding so to speak. When Popeye comes running back, you say, “Get lost Sailor Man! I don’t need you!” Get yourself a new spokesperson and reinvent yourself. That’ll win America’s hearts back once again. Then you’ll slap kale in the face and send it running back to the dark hole from whence it came. You’ll have the last laugh, dear ol’ spinach. I know it’s difficult to see that right now because of all the tears and anger towards kale, but you’ll see how right I am. Hey! I know what will cheer you up! I made some dip, maybe you’d like some. Dip always makes me feel better. I tried out this new recipe. It has artichokes and lots of cheese and this deliciously wonderful green in it. Oh what green, you ask? You don’t know it. It’s a new green, spinach. Something out of this world. You’re still number one though (in my heart), and that’s all that matters.

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Brussels Sprouts and Apple Quiche

I’m going to be completely honest with you all right here, right now. I feel like you need to hear my confession. I’m currently knee deep in denial friends and I can’t help it. It’s not even the good kind of denial, it’s the bad kind. I actually don’t know if there’s a good kind of denial but I feel like there might be, and if this was the good kind I’d sure know about it. So I’ll reiterate, it’s not the good kind. I refuse to believe or even acknowledge that it’s mid-November already. I don’t want to even think about saying it out loud because I feel like if I do, then that’ll make it real. It’ll put it out there and I’m not ready for that kind of permanence. Seriously though, where has the time gone? Where is it heading so fast? Hey time, slow down a bit yeah? Why are you in such a hurry? You’re moving way too fast for my taste. I feel like it was Thanksgiving and Christmas 2012, just yesterday. I keep asking everyone I encounter—from the cashier at the grocery store, to the mailman, even the dog on the street—”Can you believe it’s almost the end of the year already?!” They responded to me just as shocked as I was, except of course for the dog. He just looked at me and tilted his head to the side. Probably thought I was a piece of bacon or something. The sense of time lost on him no doubt. Memo to myself, I need to think more like a dog and lose my sense of time. Added to my to-do list.

The thought that Thanksgiving is just around the corner is giving me anxiety and it’s starting to sink in. It’s creeping up fast and I have not yet begun to prepare myself for this gigantic holiday. Don’t get me wrong, physically I’m prepared. I’m always ready to eat large amounts of delicious turkey and sides and pie until I can’t move anymore and all I want to do is take a nap or eat some more. (Whichever comes first.) If I could, I’d do that everyday of my life. I’m totally kidding (but not really). Thanksgiving happens to be my favorite holiday—just in case you didn’t already know that—second of course to the 4th of July. But we’ll save that conversation for another time. This isn’t a 4th of July post. So at the moment Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. That’s all you need to know. Someone might need to slap me a couple of times to shake me out of this trance though. My mind still thinks it’s summer, and I have the unusually warm weather here in LA to thank for this. It’s mid-November, it shouldn’t be this hot! Get it together California, you’re killing me!

As my mind tries desperately to get into the right mindset for the upcoming holidays,  I decided to let this post give me the inspiration and boost I’ve been looking for in order to prepare myself for all the cooking and eating (and eating) that’s sure to come soon. I figured that if I used ingredients typically found around the Thanksgiving table, I’d be able to get inspired and get my act together. So I bring to you this Brussels Sprouts and Apple Quiche. I think it screams Thanksgiving without beating you over the head with it. It’s more like “Oh hey, morning after Thanksgiving meal! You look mighty tasty,” instead of, “Oh wow this is like Thanksgiving exploded all over the place,” and that’s something I can totally get behind. I don’t know if this post really helped or not. Just continue to lie to me. Let me be in denial for a few more days. I’ll deal with it next week, but for now I’m going to eat this quiche and pretend that it’s not, absolutely not, mid-November and I think you should do the same. We’re all better off this way.

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Potato Tacos

My oldest sister tends to not eat meat from time to time, and from time to time I mean like every day. Something I’ve had to come to terms with and accept. Oh she’s not strictly vegetarian or anything like that. She just prefers to torture me by not eating meat or chicken or pork. Talk about total weirdo. Gosh how embarrassing, I can’t believe we’re related. Alien alert. I kid, of course. There’s nothing wrong with being vegetarian. Insert my mother telling me, “be careful what you say because you’ll probably end up married to a vegetarian for the rest of your life.” And as luck would have it, I’m smitten with a vegetarian, go figure. Thanks mom! If I didn’t love meat and chicken and pork myself, basically all foods, I’d be one too. I just wouldn’t have the will power or strength to give up certain things like bacon and pepperoni. Did I mention bacon? My sister does have a soft spot for seafood though, which makes up for it I guess, but that’s a whole other story for another time.

Said sister also happens to really love potatoes. One time, she even went as far as to say that she could eat potatoes everyday, in every which way imaginable. It went something like this, “I could eat potatoes every day, in every which way imaginable.” Whoa just like that. She’s the type of person who could eat mashed potatoes with a side of fries and potato salad and not care about what people think. On Thanksgiving she pretty much only eats mashed potatoes and gives thanks to the people who invented mashed potatoes. Talk about climbing Mt. Starch, but you know what, I’m okay with that. Mostly because I’d be right there with her eating all those potatoes until the end of time. Although I’d have a side of tater tots on top of all them other taters on my plate. We’re potato loving people, what can I say? Perhaps in another life I was a potato? I was going to say potato farmer but somehow potato came out and I was too lazy to fix it. Maybe I was a potato though. I’d probably make a good potato too, just give me a couch and stand back. Ba rum bum pisshh. If I was a potato in my past life—which I’m not saying I was but I’m not saying I wasn’t either because you never know—I was most definitely probably a russet potato because let’s be honest, good ol’ russets are the best potatoes. We grow big and are perfect baked and stuffed with sour cream and butter and cheese and bacon and chives served with a gigantic steak on the side. Yes I did just say “we.” Us fellow potatoes that is.

I wish I could say I invented potato tacos. Mostly because I’d be rich and famous and people would love me and my name would be synonymous with a totally delicious dish that involved potatoes—something I was in my past life, did you know that? But also because I might’ve already told people I invented potato tacos which isn’t necessarily true. I mean, Jonathan Melendez Potato Taco Inventor just sounds so cool, right? That’s what my business cards say. The first time I had potato tacos, actually, was when I was younger. My potato-loving sister dated a guy whose mother made amazing potato tacos. In my opinion she should have stayed with the man just for that alone, but that’s neither here nor there. Anyhow like I was saying, my sister’s boyfriend’s mother knew how to get down with potatoes and subsequently changed my potato obsessed life forever. Cut to me now telling people I invented potato tacos and was a potato in my past life. Just you wait until my high school reunion rolls around. I’ll totally spread those lies like no one’s business. I’ll also exit the reunion in a helicopter, right after my big dance finale. And if you get that movie reference, you and I are now best friends. Let’s have potato tacos for dinner, yes? I’ll tell you all about how I invented potato tacos and what life was like for me in Idaho as a russet potato.

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Caprese Panini and Roasted Tomato Soup

I have the craziest soup stories of when I was a child. Nothing out of this world crazy, like all I ever wanted to eat as a kid was soup or anything like that. This is a whole other level of crazy. This kind of weirdness I blame on my mother, and now of course I’m sure my mom is somewhere reading this thinking, “Oh naturally, the mothers are always the first to get blamed.” But the truth of the matter is that this is in fact her fault. Where should I begin? I guess I should start from the beginning and when I get to the end, I’ll stop. You should know that I only like eating soup on the hottest days of the year. No that’s not a typo, you read that right. The hottest days of the year. That’s when I want a steaming bowl of soup the most. Not on cold rainy days, like normal people; no I crave soup when the sun is blazing and when we’re all wearing nothing but shorts and tanks. When it’s so hot outside and you’ll do anything to cool off, that’s when I want soup. In the worst possible way. When you’re drenched in sweat because it’s so freaking hot and when the last thing you’ll want to do is eat soup, that’s when I’ll want nothing but soup.

So where does my mother come into this picture? How is it her fault you ask? Well she would only make soup for us on the hottest days of the year. We’re talking about full-on big pot of soup boiling away on the stove while the sun is baking the world outside. I’d be playing in the backyard while my mother cooked, and I remember staring up and seeing the windows full of condensation and steaming from the heat radiating not only outside but inside as well. I knew she was making soup. We all knew. Her reasoning behind it—and to this day I have the same reasoning now because of her—is that the heat from the soup will cool you off. Heat cancels off heat. I’m not sure if and how that works but somehow it made sense. I didn’t question it, and if there was anything I learned as a kid, it was that mothers are always right. Write that down.

So there I was, little ol’ young me drinking my hot soup on a hot day not knowing that something was off. Thinking that every kid ate soup on scorching sunny days. Totally normal. Of course I ate the soup without hesitation because if I’m being honest, it’s the best soup I’ve ever eaten. My mom makes really great soup and I’m not just saying this because I’m throwing her under the bus here.  Now that I’m older I’ve come to the realization that hot summer soups, isn’t a thing. No matter how much my mom wishes it were. So for those of you who love soup during the cold seasons—what an odd thing to crave on cold days really—I decided to make a soup post. Much like everything in life, soup is a lot better with a side of bread. Bread wasn’t enough for me though so I decided to make this soup with a side of a sandwich. An accompaniment of a sandwich wasn’t sufficient enough for me however, so I decided to serve the soup alongside a panini. A boring panini wasn’t going to cut it, so I stuffed this one with lots of fresh mozzarella and tomatoes and a homemade basil spread that is super addicting.  Although soup is only tasty when it is served in the summer (thanks mom) I’m willing to overlook that little tidbit because this soup and sandwich combo is up there on the deliciousness scale. Get at it folks.

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