I was given a challenge… A Sandwich a Day wanted us to showcase our favorite sandwiches.
I’ve told you before how I could live on sandwiches alone possibly and how one of my most addictive sandwiches is my Avocado Tomato Sandwich. Sometimes I fail to come up with new ideas for sandwiches because I am so enthralled with this one still. I even dream about eating it sometimes.
But recently I have come to learn to love another sandwich… maybe not as fresh-tasting as the one above, but certainly very seasonal. Mixing apples, onions, thyme, almonds and blue cheese in between 2 pieces of bread might not seem very appealing, but oh, oh boy, how delicious it is. This has nothing to do with my Latin roots, but everything that I have learned to appreciate from my travels in the Northeastern part of the US.
Inspired by these crostini from Giada Di Laurentiis, this panino hits the spot on a cold winter night. I might even argue it works great for a nice cozy date in front of the fire. I think your date would be greatly impressed.
APPLE ONION RELISH PANINI WITH GORGONZOLA
2 slices of 100% whole grain bread
Gorgonzola Cheese crumbles
Toasted Sliced Almonds
¼ cup of Apple Onion Relish
Butter – for the outside of the bread/sandwich
- Pre-heat your Panini maker, or in my case, my George Foreman Grill.
- Spread cream cheese on the inside of both bread slices. This will be part of the glue that makes the sandwich stay together.
- On one slice, add the apple onion relish. Try to keep it as dry as possible so the moisture won’t seep out of the sandwich. Layer the toasted almonds and finish with the blue cheese crumbles.
- Close the sandwich with the other slice of bread, cream cheese on top of the almonds/blue cheese.
- Butter the outside of the slices with some softened butter.
- Place on the Panini maker and press lightly without forcing it too much. The sandwich will flatten as it toasts in the Panini maker.
- After a few minutes, the cheeses will be melted and the bread toasted on the outside. Carefully, remove the sandwich from the panini grill and allow it to cool slightly. This will allow you to cut into the sandwich without the breads sliding all over the place.
Enjoy with you favorite sparkling cider or tea.
Before I go on a trip or to a retreat, I like to clean my fridge as much as possible. I hate wasting food and throwing away food jut because it was left unattended on the fridge is just “a sin” to me.
So before I left for my Xmas retreat I was looking for recipes to use up fresh stuff I had in my fridge that I didn’t want to go to waste. When I came across this recipe on TV by Giada Di Laurentiis, I knew it would be perfect to use those apples that had been staring at me for a few weeks now. I do like apples, but I am super lazy when it comes to snacking on an apple. I also had brought some thyme and rosemary from my sister’s during our last trip there… and I knew the herbs could go bad if I waited too long to use them.
This was the perfect recipe then to cook a bunch of apples with thyme all at the same time.
APPLE ONION RELISH
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
3 small Gala apples, cored, and thinly sliced
1/4 cup rice vinegar or apple cider vinegar
2 tbs apple juice
2 tbs maple syrup
Salt and Pepper
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
- In a high-sided skillet, heat the butter and oil over medium heat.
- Add the onions, apple slices, salt, and pepper. Cook until the onions begin to soften, about 5 minutes.
- Add the vinegar, maple syrup, and thyme. Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions and apples are very soft, about 40 minutes.
This recipe is super easy… and you don’t need to tend to it too much. The smells in your kitchen will be divine.
This relish will go wonderful next to some scalloped potatoes, over creamy mashed potatoes, mashed parsnips, grilled Portobello mushrooms or even inside a sandwich.
I have a bunch of virtual friends and we decided at the end of last year to start sharing amongst each other the things we love to eat from the places we live. These virtual friends are spread all over the US and the world – Colorado, Florida, California, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Texas, Oklahoma, of course me in Puerto Rico and even one in Italy and another one in can’t remember if she’s in Iceland, Vietnam or Australia. That girl has me confused…
On our first round of our Foodie Exchange I got paired up the KATY, the only other vegetarian in our group. Can you believe our luck??? Well, they say there are no coincidences in life. It was up to the Universe that we would get to share what we love about our region. Katy lives in Maryland, close to DC and Baltimore… but she’s a lover of everything in her region including Pennsylvania where most mushrooms in the US are grown.
This is what I received from Katy…
But for the purposes of this post, we’ll concentrate on the baggie of dried morel mushrooms right there. Katy told me these are her favorites and that she preferred to send them fresh but was unable to locate them. So in its place she sent me these with instructions on her favorite way to eat them – sautéed with onions and thyme over toast. This is Katy’s favorite snack and she urged me to try it.
Katy is part of our Foodie Group for a reason… these toasts are amazing!!! I loved the earthiness of the morel mushrooms and how easy they are to put together. A great vegetarian snack or light lunch suitable for any foodie out there.
MOREL MUSHROOM TOASTS
½ bag of dried morel mushrooms
½ medium onion, sliced thinly
2-3 sprigs of fresh thyme
1 small garlic clove, smashed
Salt and pepper to taste
A whole wheat ciabatta roll, sliced in half
- Bring a small saucepot with water to a boil. As soon as the water boils, add the dried morel mushrooms to the water, cover and turn off the stove. Allow the mushrooms to reconstitute in that hot water for about 30 minutes.
- After the mushrooms are softened again, strain the mushrooms over a fine sieve reserving the liquid for another recipe.
- Take the drained mushrooms and pat the dry a bit. I cut the larger ones in half, but you don’t have to if you don’t want to.
- In a small skillet over medium heat, add the olive oil, the onions and the smashed garlic clove. Sautee them lightly for a few minutes. Add the softened morels and the thyme leaves. Season with salt and pepper. Cook everything together until the mushrooms have dried out a bit and looked cooked and “kinda alive”. Discard the pieces of garlic and set aside.
5. While the mushroom cook, drizzle some olive oil over the bread halves and toast in toaster oven. Slather some cream cheese or other spreadable cheese of your choice and place the morels and onions over the toasts with cheese.
This is a great snack or even a light lunch served with a simple salad on the side. Thanks Katy for introducing me to morel mushrooms… I had eaten them in restaurants, but never made them at home. And now, this has also become one of MY favorites, thanks to you.
I firmly believe that God or the Universe, however you prefer to say it, puts the right people in our path for us to learn and grow… And Annie Mariel has been a real blessing in my life. It’s as if God, in his all-knowingness, understands and knows exactly the type of person you need in your life at a certain time in your life.
We got along almost immediately since we met each other about 5 yrs ago in a conversational French class. We have lots of things in common – we’re both consultants, we both enjoy anything French, we both enjoy to travel, we follow yoga and spiritual practices, we are both vegetarians… bueno, almost vegetarians because Annie Mariel still eats seafood and shellfish on occasion. But she gets my idiosyncrasies of being vegetarian. She has passed on to me her love of running and we even applied to run the Amazing Race together… (oh boy!!!)
Annie Mariel is a great supporter and fan of KarmaFree Cooking… and for my last supper of 2012 she wanted to contribute by bringing a salad. She knew I was going to cook pasta. She asked me to make it as light as possible, so I pleased her by making the sauce all tomato, instead of mixing it with some cream or half and half, like I like to do on other recipes. She told me she would surprise me with the salad… and that she did.
This salad had a little bit of everything… and it was delicious! I asked Annie Mariel if I could feature her salad in KarmaFree Cooking and she agreed. I hope I make her proud. Try it for yourself…
ANNIE MARIEL’S COMPOSED SALAD
Sliced Red Onions
Crumbled Blue Cheese
Toasted Almond Slices
Crispy Fried Onions
Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing
- In a large bowl add all the ingredients. Toss lightly to combine
- Dress the salad with vinaigrette.
Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
½ cup extra virgin Olive Oil
1 tsp Dijon mustard
Sal and Freshly Ground Black Pepper
- Place all the ingredients in a empty glass or mason jar. Shake well to combine. Let rest for 10-15 minutes to allow the flavors to combine well.
- Serve on top of your favorite salad.
My grandpa instilled in us a love for avocados… to him, a salad with dinner would mean slicing a few “rajas” of avocado on the side. His favorite was rice and corn with ketchup and avocado. I know it sounds “kookie”, but you need to try it.
But the love for avocados comes from both sides of the family because once, while visiting my aunt and uncle in Miami, I had to buy a new suitcase to be able to travel with the 5 huge avocados my uncle bought for me to bring back home.
And as much as we love avocados, we don’t have a lot of family recipes using avocados. We just love them so; we do not see them as an ingredient in a recipe. They’re the exclamation point to any dish they’re added to!!! A few slices or wedges of avocado on the side of anything make the meal better. A soup??? Drop a few pieces of avocado inside to make it sing… A sandwich?? Slice a few avocados to make it creamier…
Lately I am training for a ½ marathon and I am trying to eat better and leaner. I am eating more salads, which I like, but I am particularly lazy to make them at home often. I’ve found the best way to fall in love with a salad is to make a killer dressing. Fall in love with a dressing and you’ll fall in love with the salad underneath.
And because I want you to love avocados as much as I do… I want to present to you a very easy avocado based dressing that’s much a dressing as a salsa to brighten other dishes too.
CHOPPED AVOCADO SALAD DRESSING
½ large avocado, cut into little pieces
1 small tomato, diced finely
½ small white onion, diced finely
½ cup Extra Virgin Olive oil
2 tbs Rice Vinegar
The juice of 1 small lime
½ tbs kosher salt
1 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
- Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl and allow the mixture to meld and combine a few minutes before serving over your favorite salad.
Because the dressing includes avocados, tomatoes and onions, it’s great for a simple lettuce-only salad. You don’t need anything else IMHO. But this dressing also works as a topping for tacos, for burritos, for enchiladas… or as a sauce in sandwiches.
If you want more recipes using Avocados from Mexico, visit this link here. And if you live in the US, check out the coupons for Avocados clicking right here.