Pretzel Pecan Chicken with Olive Oil Mash and Herbed Peas

Pretzels, Panko, and Texas Pecans add crunch and interest to a traditional dinner item.

Pretzels, Panko, and Texas Pecans add crunch and interest to a traditional dinner item.

I’m generally not a huge fan of chicken fingers, nuggets, etc. I blame childhood consumption of a certain restaurant’s nuggets – spongy, salty, and soggy are not adjectives one would like associated with dinnertime. I guess this is why I was really, really surprised that I liked these Pretzel Pecan Chicken Fingers so much.

I often marinade chicken in buttermilk. I find that the acids in the buttermilk help break down any toughness in the chicken and help to keep it very moist during the cooking process. I had picked up a bag of Providence Ranch Pecans during market day a few weeks back, and I tossed them into my favorite breading – panko breadcrumbs and crushed pretzels. Panko breadcrumbs are light and crisp, pretzels contribute a more substantial crunch, another layer of flavor, and an added punch of salt. This is why the recipe for the chicken does not call for additional salt; however, feel free to add it if you feel so inclined.

Mashed potatoes and peas are obvious choices for side dishes with chicken fingers. The key to having simple sides is to make them really, really well. The peas were fresh, shelled peas that I gussied up with a bit of butter and a pinch of minced parsley. If you have access to fresh, shelled peas from the farmer’s market by all means use those. If you don’t, use a steamer bag of frozen peas. My family probably couldn’t tell the difference, actually. And since I DESPISE peeling potatoes,  I usually keep varieties in the pantry that I can mash with the skins on; Yukon gold potatoes are my favorite.

Come to mama.

Come to mama.

And, lucky me, I had a bottle of Texas Olive Ranch’s Boom Blend Olive Oil. Boom blend is a specialty blend offered by the company which grows, processes, and bottles all their oils here in Texas. Rich, buttery, and decadent, this particular olive oil is one that you want front and center in any recipe. Use it as a dressing, toss it with some pasta, or mix it into some buttery Yukon Gold potatoes and you’re in heaven. Quality olive oil can take a boring side dish (like mashed potatoes) to somewhere outrageously glorious.

Admittedly, there are a lot of steps in this meal but none of them are difficult. Serve it with a nice, cold beer and you’re in comfort food heaven. Totally. Worth. It.

Planning your cooking order helps ease mealtime prep. I’m going to list each menu item separately, but here’s a general timeline to ensure everything is hot and ready all at once:

1. Fill a large pot with water and set heat to high; we need to bring the water to a boil.

2. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.

3. Proceed with breading the chicken. (I recommend setting the chicken in the marinade at least 30 minutes but not longer than 12 hours in advance)

3. Pop chicken into the oven. Drop potatoes into boiling water.

4. Once chicken is taken out of the oven, test potatoes for tenderness. They should be done.

5. Set chicken aside to rest, mash taters, doll up your steamed peas.

6. Crack open a beer (may I recommend a TEXAN beer, such as Franconia or Deep Ellum Brewing Company?)

7. Enjoy your fancy chicken and pity the folk eating their soggy, spongy nuggets.

Hand me a spoon. I'm gonna dig right in.

Hand me a spoon. I’m gonna dig right in.

IMG_4709

Pretzel Pecan Chicken with Olive Oil Mash and Herbed Peas

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Time: 1hr 30mins
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Pretzel Pecan Chicken Ingredients

2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts , cubed OR chicken tenderloins

2 cups buttermilk

2 tsp. Dijon mustard

4 eggs

1 cup panko breadcrumbs

1/2 cup ground pretzel pieces

1/2 cup finely chopped pecans

1 tsp. paprika

1/2 tsp. ground pepper

olive oil, for brushing the baking sheet

Directions:

1. Combine buttermilk and Dijon mustard in a baking dish. Add chicken cubes. Cover and set in fridge to marinade for at least 30 minutes.

2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Brush a foil lined baking sheet with a small amount of oil.

3 In a large bowl, whisk eggs. Set aside.

4 In a ziptop plastic bag, combine panko, pretzels, pecans, paprika, and pepper.

5. On your countertop, arrange from left to right: marinated chicken pieces, whisked egg, Ziptop plastic bag, and oiled baking sheet.

6. Working left to right, remove half the chicken and dip into egg wash. Place pieces into plastic bag and shake to coat. Arrange on baking sheet. Repeat with remaining chicken.

7. Bake in preheated oven for 20 – 25 minutes or until juices run clear. Let set for 10 minutes before serving.

Olive Oil Mash Ingredients:

1 – 1 1/2 lbs. of Yukon Gold Potatoes, scrubbed and diced. Peeling is entirely optional.

1/4 cup fine olive oil, such as Texas Olive Ranch

2 T. butter

1/2 – 3/4 cup broth (I used vegetable) or milk

2 tsp. sea salt

sea salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste

extra olive oil, for drizzling

Directions:

1. In a large pot, bring 2 tsp. of sea salt and about 6 – 8 cups of water to a boil. (Enough water come about 2 inches over potatoes)

2. Add diced potatoes and boil until very tender, about 20 minutes.

3. Drain potatoes, but do not rinse.

4. Add 1/4 cup olive oil, 2 T. butter, and broth or milk. With the broth or milk, start with 1/2 cup and add additional liquid by Tablespoon measures until desired consistency is reached.

5. Taste and adjust salt and pepper according to preference.

Herbed Peas Ingredients:

16 ounces of peas, fresh shelled or frozen

1 – 2 T. butter

2 T. finely minced, fresh parsley

salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

1. If using frozen peas, prepare according to package. If using fresh, shelled peas, simmer in hot water for 5 – 8 minutes until tender.

2. Toss cooked peas with butter (I start with one T. and add more, if needed) and season to taste.

Stovetop Barbeque Bacon Beans

IMG_4319

 

I am welcoming BBQ season with open arms.

I am welcoming the time of simple meals, cooked on the grill, and served with side dishes like roasted corn, potato salad, watermelon, and baked beans.

I am not looking forward to the stifling hot Texas heat or the mosquito bites and West Nile warnings that come with, but oh well.

The taste of homemade baked beans cannot be beat. Especially when there is a hefty amount of bacon involved. No fake bacon here, I use big chunks and -gasp!- bacon grease in this recipe.

I have never, ever had enough time to cook dried beans, make the sauce base, simmer the cooked beans in sauce, and finish in the oven. I came up with this recipe because I love scratch-made items (duh) and I don’t have time to spend 12 hours getting a freakin’ SIDE DISH ready. Hence, I use canned beans and came up with a way to cook the baked beans on the stovetop.

You.Don’t.Really.Have.To.Bake.The.Beans.

Sure, baking them really helps the sugars caramelize and get gooey. But, I have found that a long, slow simmer does the trick.

A slow simmer on the stovetop also means that my oven is free to finish off baby back ribs or bake a cobbler. Oh, to have a double oven…

These beans are KILLER the next day. I mean, outrageously good. Another option is to cook your beans the day before you plan to grill or as a make-ahead option for a potluck. Then all you have to do is gently reheat the beans on the stove, pack it up, and go.

Leftovers are also really good over white rice. Kind of a random combo, but I found it was really good.

Let’s get to Barbeque Bacon Bean Makin’!

IMG_4324

STOVETOP BARBEQUE BACON BEANS

Serves 4 as a side dish (Don’t be afraid to double or triple)

Ingredients:

1/2 cup water

1/3 cup ketchup

3/4 cup brown sugar

1 tsp. molasses

1 T. apple cider vinegar

3/4 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

1 T. Dijon mustard

1/2 tsp. smoked paprika

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. black pepper

1 tsp. hot sauce, such as Sriracha

6 strips of bacon, or about 1/2 a package of bacon, cut into one inch chunks (Reserve 1 T. spoon of drippings)

2 T. olive oil (I used Texas Olive Ranch’s Mesquite Olive Oil)

1 small onion, small dice

1/2 green bell pepper, small dice

1 clove garlic, minced

15 oz. can pinto beans, drained and rinsed

15 oz. can light red kidney beans, drained and rinsed

Directions:

1. In a medium bowl, whisk together all ingredients from water through Sriracha. Set aside.

2.  In a medium saucepan, cook bacon pieces over medium heat until cooked through. Remove from pan and set on paper lined plate. Discard all but 1 – 2 T. bacon fat drippings.

3. Add 2 T. olive oil to pan, stirring with wooden spoon to loosen and browned bacon bits.

4. Add in diced onions and peppers and cook, stirring frequently, over medium heat until very, very soft and browned.

5. Add in minced garlic and cook, stirring constantly, for 30 seconds.

6. Pour in the sauce mixture that you had set aside previously.

7. Add cans of rinsed beans and cooked bacon pieces. (Save a small handful of cooked bacon pieces for garnish)

8. Bring to a high simmer and cook, stirring frequently, for about 2 minutes. Lower heat to low and cook, simmering, for at least 30 minutes but ideally one hour.

9. Garnish servings of beans with reserved bacon pieces and serve.

Grilled Chops with Garlic Scape Pesto and Savory Pancetta Farina

IMG_4068

So, this recipe has a crazy long name. I don’t really know what to do about that – all the words are pretty necessary.

This is a showstopper of a dinner – perfect for warm Texas weekend afternoons and a nice party entrée.

The side dish was really special: farina cooked with chicken stock, olive oil, pancetta, cream, parmesan, and salt and pepper. It was creamy, cheesy, and comforting – definitely naughty.

Farina is essentially cream of wheat and a cousin of grits, in case you were wondering.

Combining meat and pesto is a little old hat, but by using garlic scapes and parsley it created an interesting departure from trusty ol’ basil. Kind of chimichurri-ish minus the red wine vinegar.

Don’t have garlic scapes? Use the green part of a scallion.

Truth be told, I actually feel a little silly to be writing a grilling recipe.

For starters, I’d previously mentioned that I have a fear of the grill. I don’t know why. It’s hot and sometimes flames shoot out of it…maybe that’s why?

Secondly, it is RAINING outside, dude.

Anyway, this was what I made for my Mother’s Day dinner. I really prefer to stay away from large crowds, so the hermit in me says to just cook at home. Plus, I see this as a guilt-free excuse to use copious amounts of olive oil (specifically, Texas Olive Ranch), butter, carbs, and pancetta.

And then wash it all down with two margaritas that I forced my hubby to make for me.

Tequila, olive oil, and Mother’s Day? Sounds like a fun time to me.

IMG_4030

When making pesto, or any type of fresh herb sauce, using the highest quality items you can will yield the best results.

All my produce was organic and I was lucky to score garlic scapes in my co-op share from Urban Acres.

IMG_4046

 GARLIC SCAPE PESTO

(Pesto recipe makes enough to marinade four chops, plus enough for condiment)

Garlic Scape Pesto Ingredients:

4 large garlic scapes (or about 1/2 lb.)

1/2 lb. good quality Parmesan Cheese, chopped

zest of one lemon

juice from half a lemon

1 small bunch of parsley

3 T. pine nuts

1 cup of high quality olive oil (I used Herb Garden from Texas Olive Ranch)

1/2 tsp. fresh ground pepper

1 tsp. coarse sea salt

Directions:

1. Roughly chop garlic scapes.

2. Place all ingredients (except for olive oil, salt, and pepper) into the work bowl of a food processor. Pulse a few times until ingredients are roughly blended.

3. With motor running, pour olive oil through work chute of food processor and continue to run until all ingredients are combined and finely mince.

4. Add in ground pepper and sea salt and pulse to combine.

5. Pesto will keep tightly sealed an in refrigerator for about one week. I take half of my pesto and freeze it for later use.

IMG_4058

Grilled Chops with Garlic Scape Pesto and Balsamic Reduction

Ingredients:

2 x 1/4 pound pork sirloin chops OR

4 center cut pork chops

1/4 recipe Garlic Scape Pesto, plus 1 T. per serving (reserved)

2/3 cup balsamic vinegar, divided

salt and pepper, to taste

2 tsp. sugar

Directions:

1. Into a large zip-top plastic food storage bag, place your pork chops, pesto, and 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar.

2. Seal bag and “mush” all ingredients until chops are thoroughly coated. Let marinate in fridge for at least one hour, but no longer than 8.

3. Following the directions of your barbeque, over medium heat, grill chops until cooked through and a meat thermometer reads 145 degrees, per food safety standards.

4. Remove from grill and loosely tent pork chops, allowing to rest at least 10 minutes before slicing and serving.

5. Meanwhile, in a sauce pan, bring reserved 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar and 2 tsp. sugar to rapid bowl. Pour into this mixture any loose cooking juices that have accumulated on the resting pork plate.

6. Allow balsamic vinegar to boil over medium heat until reduced by half and syrupy, about ten to 15 minutes.

7. Slice grilled pork chops and drizzle with balsamic reduction. Serve each portion with about 1 T. Garlic Scape Pesto for dipping.

IMG_4053

SAVORY PANCETTA FARINA

(Serves 6)

***This cooks so quickly, you MUST have all your ingredients measured and handy before beginning the recipe***

Ingredients:

4 oz. chopped pancetta

1 tsp. olive oil

1 cup instant farina (I found this in the bulk section of my market)

4 cups chicken stock

3/4 cup grated Parmesan Cheese

2 tsp. grated lemon zest

1/3 cup heavy cream

1 T. olive oil

salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

1. Over medium heat, in a large saucepan, fry pancetta in 1 tsp. olive oil until cooked through and crispy. Remove from pan, including any rendered fat, and set aside. You must set aside the fat since we are adding a water-based liquid to the pan next. (Water plus hot oil = danger!)

2. To hot pan, bring chicken stock to simmer. Add in farina, and using a whisk, stir constantly to remove any lumps. The farina should cook in 1 – 2 minutes, tops.

3. Quickly add in all remaining ingredients, including rendered pancetta drippings. You may choose to add in a splash more stock or cream, to your liking. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve this dish with a nice glass of wine if your feeling classy.

If not, feel free to force your husband, wife, partner, friend, kids, to make you a margarita.

Enjoy!

IMG_4066

Glazed Orange Rosemary Chicken Breast

IMG_3655

Happy Monday, Y’all!

Although earlier was not very happy. I had to stay home sick today from work. I’ll spare you the details. Luckily, there is a Minute Clinic inside the pharmacy down the road from my house.

I put on the cutest black and white flowered wrap-around dress that I’d gotten from Old Navy. I have been super excited to wear this dress. Being 5’1″ tall usually means that I can’t find a maxi dress that isn’t so long it looks like I’m playing dress up from a giant’s closet. Old Navy has a Petite Department on their website and…tadaaaaa…this season they’re selling maxi-dresses for us vertically challenged folk.

It was sooooooo windy today. And although I felt horrible, I was super excited to be wearing this dress. (It’s the small things, you know) I’d even dug out some wedge sandals. SCORE! I pulled up into the CVS parking lot and, very lady-like, got out of my car. I took two steps. Out of nowhere, I got hit with a blast of wind not unlike a mini tornado of doom. Yeah. You know what happened next. The super cute wrap-around dress I’d been coveting since last summer was suddenly NOT wrapped around. Imagine: Curtains blowing open.

At least there were only ten people in the parking lot. *Note Sarcasm*

I like to look on the sunny side of things, though. At least I’d shaved my legs today. 😉

Speaking of sunny things, today I have for you a nice Orange Rosemary chicken breast! (See how I worked that transition there?)

On a side note, aren’t y’all excited that the Farmer’s Markets are coming out of hibernation?

Here’s a lovely Rosemary Olive Oil that you can find at many DFW area markets or online here 

IMG_3623

 

Roasted Sweet Potatoes are the perfect complement to the chicken. I roasted mine for five minutes before squeezing the chicken in.

IMG_3633

Isn’t fresh citrus juice just loverly?

IMG_3628

The Orange/Rosemary flavor combo is a nice departure from your typical lemon marinade. The glaze is simply brought to a boil,

allowed to thicken, and finished off with a bit of unsalted butter and fresh parsley. Divine!

Keep in mind that you’ll be making the marinade and the start of the pan sauce in one bowl. Before adding your chicken, you must first remove half the liquid.

It is important to keep your sauce base away from raw chicken germs!

IMG_3636

Glazed Orange Rosemary Chicken Breast with a side of Roasted Sweet Potatoes

Serves 2, may easily be doubled or tripled

Ingredients:

1 cup fresh orange juice

1/2 cup Rosemary Olive Oil (You can easily substitute 1/2 cup olive oil plus 1 T. fresh, minced Rosemary or 1 tsp. dried Rosemary)

1 T. course ground Dijon mustard

1 tsp. sea salt

1/2 tsp. ground black pepper

2 chicken breasts, boneless skinless

2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and diced

1 tsp. olive oil

sea salt and pepper

2 T. pure maple syrup

2 T. butter

1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped

Directions:

1. In a large bowl, whisk together fresh orange juice, rosemary olive oil, Dijon Mustard, sea salt, and pepper. Remove half of this mixture and place into the refrigerator. To your large bowl, add in your chicken. Cover and refrigerate at least 30 minutes to a few hours, turning occasionally. You can also pour the marinade into a gallon sized Ziploc bag and add your chicken. Squeeze out all air and refrigerate. This alternate method is helpful if you don’t want to be bothered with flipping your chicken.

2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

3. Toss diced sweet potatoes with 1 tsp. olive oil and sea salt and pepper to taste. Please sweet potatoes onto foil lined baking sheet. Roast for five minutes.

4. Remove sweet potatoes from oven and stir around. Place your marinated chicken (discard used marinade) amongst the sweet potatoes.

5. Roast for 25 minutes, stirring potatoes every so often to ensure they do not burn on one side. (Your chicken breast should be 165 degrees according to a meat thermometer.)

6. While your chicken is roasting, make your Orange Rosemary Glaze.

7. In a saucepan, combine previously reserved orange juice mixture with 2 T. pure maple syrup. Whisk over medium-high heat and bring to a low boil.

8. After mixture has been at a low boil for a few minutes, you will notice it begins to thicken. This is seen by the bubbles “lingering” at the top of the glaze without immediately popping. This means your glaze is D-O-N-E.

9. Remove saucepan from heat and whisk in butter and fresh parsley. Spoon over chicken and serve.

You can most definitely grill your marinated chicken breasts and serve with this glaze. I bet it would be amazing!

Okay, confessional aside…I don’t often grill because I’m scared of fire. Don’t laugh. I’m also scared of broilers. And now, thanks to the Dallas Winds, I am terrified of mean,tiny tornadoes. I’ll stick with jeans from now on.

IMG_3651

 

Chili con cornbread

IMG_3336

There’s something about chili that just screams comfort food.

And versatility, too. You can eat it a zillion different ways: on baked potatoes, French fries, tater tots, hamburgers, hot dogs, crushed Fritos corn chips, or just straight up.

There are also a zillion different ways to top it: cheddar cheese, crema fresca, sour cream, white onions, green onions, chives, chopped cilantro, and on and on.

And let’s not even get started about the many, many different ways to prepare it.

This is my favorite, and a favorite with my family as well. I like it just on the verge of being too spicy. It’s a delicate balance, and one’s tolerance for scoville units is definitely open to personal interpretation. This chili is pretty middle of the road – a great recipe for kids. I love chili spooned over a big wedge of slightly sweet, homemade cornbread. I love the balance of spicy versus sweet. And then, of course, I have to top it off with some sour cream and green onions. Heavenly.

IMG_3299

Being that I live in Texas, it would be an absolute sin to make my chili with Wallyworld ground beef. I’m fortunate enough to live near a great butcher shop, Local Yocal, which is owned by the Farmers that raise the grass-fed beef they sell. They also provide an outlet for other quality artisans; check it out here. They also sell delicious local eggs, too. I used these in my cornbread.

I stopped in the market and had a great time perusing the assortment. The woman that helped me pick what to purchase was an absolute gem. I just wish I had gotten her name so I could give her the proper acknowledgement. Ultimately, she recommended using half grass fed beef and half Wagyu beef in my chili. Boy, I’m glad I listened. That was some pure beef magic, right there.

“Is there really a difference between grocery store beef and locally sourced?” YES! Their grass-fed beef was very clean, a crisp, focused, beef taste without any background noise as I call it. Y(ou know, that faint plastic wrapped taste that grocery store beef has after sitting in the case for so long?) The Wagyu beef was also delicious; a very rich, almost buttery taste. Incredible. Indulgent.

I used the Chipotle infused special edition olive oil from Texas Olive Ranch to sauté my beef and onions. The specialty line is available at Farmer’s Markets in Texas, but a suitable substitute would be Rattlesnake from Texas Olive Ranch, which can be purchased at larger grocery chains in Texas as well as at Local Yocal.

IMG_3295

Even my terrier wanted a bowl of chili. Check out the photo-bomb below. You know she was just waiting for me to drop that bowl. Now, let’s get down to it, shall we?

IMG_3330

CHILI CON CORNBREAD

Makes 6 – 8 servings

CHILI

Ingredients:

1 lb. ground beef.

1 large onion, diced

2 T. olive oil

2 tsp. salt

1 tsp. garlic powder

2 tsp. garlic, minced

1 1/2 T. Worcestershire sauce

1 cup water

8 oz. tomato sauce

15 oz. can diced tomatoes

15 oz. can pinto beans, undrained

15. oz. can kidney beans, undrained

15 oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed

2 T. chili powder

1 t. ground chipotle

1 t. ground ancho chili powder

1 t. smoked paprika

1 t. ground cumin

1 t. oregano

1/3 cup fresh parley, minced

Directions:

1. In dutch oven, heat 2 T. olive oil over medium high. Add onions and cook until softened. Add minced garlic and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds.

2. Add ground beef, salt, and garlic powder. Cook until beef is browned.

3. Add remaining ingredients and bring to boil.

4. Once boiling, lower heat to low and allow to simmer one hour. Stir every fifteen minutes or so.

That’s it! Easy peasy. This chili makes a lot and it freezes wonderfully.

IMG_3303

CORN BREAD

Ingredients:

1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted in a large glass bowl

1/2 cup sugar

2 eggs, room temperature

1 cup buttermilk

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup cornmeal

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 cup corn kernels (optional)

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and generously butter a 9×9 baking dish or line a muffin pan with liners.

1. Melt butter in the microwave in a large Pyrex bowl. Whisk in sugar and set aside.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, and salt.

3. Returning to the large bowl with the melted butter/sugar, whisk in the eggs.

4. Quickly stir the baking soda into the buttermilk, pour into butter mixture and whisk to combine.

5. Gently whisk in dry ingredients, stirring just until combined. Small bumps are a-ok.

6. Pour into baking dish and bake for 35 minutes. If you are making muffins, bake 20 – 25 minutes (my oven bakes them perfectly in 22 minutes)

IMG_3323

“Don’t Follow Me, I’m Lost” Steak and Cheese Panini

IMG_3247

Fellow veggie friends, I am sorry.

See, I’m married to a carnivore and have spawned one carnivorous daughter. And they loooooooooove their steaks.

I don’t pass judgment on dietary/lifestyle preferences, which is why when I’m out and about Dallas and find a really good cut of meat I usually get some for the family.

Earlier today, I intended to swing by Green Grocer to get a green juice. However, the onramp to 75 was shut down and I was forced to try to find my way over to Lower Greenville. Key word:try. I really don’t know what I did. I thought I could cut over and pick up Greenville by taking some side street, but instead I found myself in Deep Ellum. This was a good thing, really! I’m just glad I didn’t end up in Louisiana, to be honest.

Driving down Elm, I saw the signage for Rudolph’s Market, so I went inside; come to find out it has been in business 118 years! That’s crazy. Anyways, I love me a family business so I picked up a package of a cut of beef called “Philly Steak”. I just knew my two meat eaters would love me for it. Rudolph’s also sells breads from Empire Baking Company , and I picked up a yummy looking loaf of Jalapeno Cheddar.

IMG_3215

Vegetarians, avert your eyes! Look away!

I then went skipping wandering a bit further down Elm. I didn’t really know where I was going. My husband shouldn’t let me out of the house, I tend to wander and collect things. (Dogs, cool rocks, pictures of sunsets, loaves of bread, stuff like that) My husband wants to see if he can have one of those teddy bear toddler leashes made in adult size. He blames the Red Bull. I blame my overconsumption of Jack Kerouac novels and a teenage fascination with “On The Road”.

Anywho, I then saw the signage for Mozzarella Company, which sells cars. Just kidding. They sell cheese, lots and lots of delicious cheese. I had so much fun inside that store. I was lucky to have met the owner, Paula Lambert. She opened Mozzarella Company 32 years ago! What an accomplishment. I enjoyed discussing cheeses with her, and even sampled her newest flavor cheese which is infused with lemon. Divine! I told Paula what I had purchased at Rudolph’s and she suggested a Black Pepper Garlic Cacciota cheese. My husband and 8 year old went gaga over it.

IMG_3214

If you ever find yourself “lost” in Deep Ellum, make sure you swing by this place. It’s the only one I know of where you can meet the person that makes your cheese!

Okay…redirecting here. Let’s get to the recipe, shall we? This Panini is super easy to make. Perfect for a weeknight dinner.

STEAK AND PEPPERED CHEESE PANINI

IMG_3213

INGREDIENTS:

1 1/2 lbs. steak, thinly sliced

1 T. Worcestershire Sauce

1/2 cup Mesquite Olive Oil (Texas Olive Ranch, as always) OR 1/2 cup olive oil plus 1/2 tsp. liquid smoke

1/3 cup vinegar or lemon juice (I used Pecan Balsamic)

1 tsp. hot sauce

Sea Salt

1/2 red onion, sliced

2 – 3 T. olive oil, separated, for cooking onion slices and steak slices

1 loaf of nice, crusty bread

1 clove garlic, halved

1/4 lb. quality cheese (if you aren’t in the Dallas area, use any mild white cheese plus a nice dose of cracked black pepper)

Optional condiments: Greens, sliced tomatoes, jalapenos, spicy carrots, etc.

DIRECTIONS:

1. In a large Ziploc bag, combine the Worcestershire, oil, vinegar, hot sauce, and shake to combine. Add your slices of steak and let marinate for 15 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, in large sauté pan over medium high heat, heat enough oil to cook red onions until starting to brown. Remove from pan.

3. Remove marinated meat and discard remaining marinade. Generously sprinkle sea salt onto steak. Working in batches, fry steak slices in oil until browned and cooked through. Set aside.

4. Cut clove of garlic in half, rubbing the cut end over your slices of bread.

5. Layer sliced steak, cheese, onions, and any other desired condiments into a sandwich.

6. Using a Panini press, cook sandwich per machine directions. If you don’t have one, use a large pan and place your Panini in the middle. Using a small pan, gently press down on your sandwich. After 1 – 2 minutes, flip over and repeat the pressing. Viola!

IMG_3250