Apr 20 2013

PB&J Grilled Cheese #client #CheeseChatter

30 Days of Grilled Cheese

Did you know that April is National Grilled Cheese month? An entire month devoted to that melty, cheesy goodness from childhood! As far as I’m concerned, every day can be grilled cheese day—I can’t get enough of it, even as an adult!

PB and J Grilled Cheese

Grilled cheese is nostalgia. Whether it got you through some lean times or was a simple meal gathering family around the table, the first bite will always remind you of the past, giving you a chance to relive it again and again. Your childhood lives on every time you have one.

Moms love Land O Lakes® Deli American Cheese. I remember my mom ordering it at the deli counter when I was a child. We were always offered a slice of cheese each: a reward for good behavior yet unproven, a simple gesture of goodwill that we cherished. Sometimes we would savor it, other times devour it, but it has become part of the rituals remembered. Grocery shopping with mom just wasn’t the same without it. And I know that today, if I bring my kids with me to the deli counter, they, too, will be offered a slice of Land O Lakes® Deli American Cheese. The tradition carries on with a new generation.

PB and J Grilled Cheese

I love a solid bread and cheese combo, but sometimes you have to mix it up a bit, and that’s exactly what I’m offering today. English muffins with crevices built to capture the gooey peanut butter and chunky bits of bacon jam oozing inside. Two slices of Land O Lakes® Deli American Cheese to hold it all together with its melted creaminess. Acting as a peacemaker, it brings together seemingly opposing ingredients and makes everything work beautifully. This is a match made in heaven.

PB and J Grilled Cheese

5.0 from 1 reviews
PB&J Grilled Cheese
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Sandwich
Serves: 1
  • 1 sandwich-size English muffin
  • 1 Tablespoon natural peanut butter
  • 2 Tablespoons bacon jam
  • 2 slices Land O Lakes® Deli American Cheese
  • 1 teaspoon unsalted butter
  1. Split and lightly toast the English muffin just until the interior starts to get a little crispy, but not yet browned.
  2. Heat a cast iron skillet over medium to medium-high heat.
  3. Meanwhile, spread the peanut butter over the interior of one half of the English muffin, the bacon jam over the interior of the other half.
  4. Lay the slices of cheese over one half of the English muffin and top with the other half.
  5. Add the butter to the pan and once it's fully melted and starts bubbling, add the sandwich.
  6. Once the cheese starts to get a bit melty and the muffin is lightly browned, flip and repeat on the other side.
  7. Remove from pan once the other side is browned and the cheese is melted.
  8. Serve immediately.

Pin a Meal. Give a Meal. Now through May 1, Land O’Lakes will donate $1 to Feeding America every time someone pins or repins a Land O’Lakes recipe on Pinterest. That’s eight meals for a hungry family when you pin a recipe—and eight more every time anyone else repins it. Giving goes viral. Find your favorite grilled cheese recipe to pin on landolakes.com.

Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Land O’Lakes as part of the Kitchen PLAY Sidecar series. All opinions given are my own.

Apr 18 2013

Lemon Poppy Seed Mini Muffins

I’m a pretty casual kind of girl. I could live in my fleece bootcut pants and sweatshirts. In fact, I did when I was a stay-at-home mom. Ahhh…. those were the days. No dress code, no worries. No showers either. Ew.

Lemon Poppy Seed Mini Muffins

Sometimes you just want to be a little fancy. Put on a frilly frock, curl your hair, swipe on some gloss, and invoke the spirit of days long past. Tea time. I want to make this a reality, and I’m a little bit closer today.

Lemon Poppy Seed Mini Muffins

It could be a Hobbit-like wish for many meals a day, but I think we should make afternoon tea a part of daily life. Why let the Brits monopolize this tradition? Pull out the silver tea set and lay out an array of dainty little cakes. It’s time for a tea party!

Lemon Poppy Seed Mini Muffins

These mini muffins are touched with just a hint of lemon–no feeling like someone cleaned your mouth out with Pledge. They’re also just barely sweet, which makes them the perfect afternoon treat. A little something golden to nibble between sips. The only question left is one lump (of sugar) or two? I’ll put on the water.

Lemon Poppy Seed Mini Muffins

Lemon Poppy Seed Mini Muffins
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Breakfast/Brunch
Serves: 48
  • ½ cup whole milk, minus 1 Tablespoon milk, plus 1 Tablespoon white vinegar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup (8 Tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 large eggs
  • ½ vanilla bean, scraped
  • 1 teaspoon pure lemon extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon Himalayan pink salt
  • 2 Tablespoons poppy seeds
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line 2 mini muffin pans with paper liners or spray with baking spray and set aside.
  2. Measure out the milk, add the white vinegar, and let sit.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, beat together the granulated sugar and butter. Add the eggs, vanilla bean scrapings, lemon juice, and lemon extract, beating until well incorporated.
  4. In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt with a fork.
  5. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and pour the milk/vinegar over the top. Stir with a silicone spatula until just blended. Stir in the poppy seeds.
  6. Portion out into prepared baking pans, filling no more than ⅔ full (these will rise quite a bit).
  7. Bake for 13-15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  8. Cool in pans for 15 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely
These can also be prepared in the NordicWare mini bundt/tea cake pan (makes 30 tea cakes). Be very careful not to overfill, however. You'll need either 2 of these pans or 1 tea cake pan and 1 mini muffin pan.


Apr 16 2013

Awesome Sauce, in the Flesh. The Piggy Flesh.

You’ve heard the phrase “awesome sauce” before, right? This is it right here. In the flesh. The piggy flesh.

Bacon Jam

Bacon jam might sound like a practical joke, but one taste will convince you that it is heaven-sent. This is the king of condiments, the gilding of the lily. Toast or burger, it equally accentuates the positive and makes the ordinary extraordinary. Bacon jam is awesome sauce.

The first time I heard of bacon jam was from one of those monthly snack box companies. It immediately became my Christmas gift for The Big Guy that year. But buying bacon jam gets expensive, especially when you’re trying to support an addiction.

Bacon Jam

The only way to ensure an ample supply of this piggy goodness is to make it yourself. And you have no excuse not to when it’s this easy to throw together. You need to babysit it a bit in the beginning, but once everything is mixed together and simmering away, concentrating all those flavors into perfection, it practically takes care of itself. A couple hours of your time will provide you with many meals of happiness–totally worth it!

I’m giving you a few days’ notice because you’re going to want this awesome sauce for the recipe I’m posting on Saturday. Get on it! And get on the edge of your seat… you’re going to love this!

Bacon Jam

This recipe has been adapted from Foodie With Family and Martha Stewart.

Bacon Jam
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Condiment
Serves: 24
  • 2 pounds thick sliced bacon, cut crosswise into strips
  • 3 Tablespoons reserved bacon fat
  • 2 large yellow onions, sliced thinly
  • 4 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
  • ⅓ cup apple cider vinegar
  • ⅓ cup + 1 Tablespoon dark brown sugar, lightly packed
  • ⅓ cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 cup brewed coffee
  • 3 dashes dried chili pepper seasoning
  • 1 dash ground cloves
  1. Place the sliced bacon into a large enameled Dutch/French oven (or 2 cast iron skillets) and cook over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until fat is rendered and bacon strips are crispy. (The fat will get real foamy right around the time this happens.)
  2. Using a slotted spoon, remove the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate and pour the bacon fat into a jar with a tight-fitting lid to store in the refrigerator for later use. Reserve 3 Tablespoons of the fat for this recipe.
  3. Add the 3 Tablespoons bacon fat, onions, and garlic to the Dutch/French oven and cook over medium to medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until the onions are translucent (about 7 minutes).
  4. Add the vinegar, brown sugar, maple syrup, coffee, chili pepper, and cloves, cooking over medium heat until it starts boiling. Boil for 2 minutes, then add the bacon back into the pot.
  5. Cook over medium to medium-low heat, simmering the mixture and stirring from time to time to make sure there's nothing sticking to the bottom of the pot.
  6. Simmer until the liquid has thickened considerably and the onions are just starting to melt. This could take a few hours, but for me, it only took about an hour.
  7. Turn off the heat and let cool a bit in the pot, then transfer to your food processor fitted with the blade. Pulse until mixture reaches desired consistency. Store in glass jars with tightly fitting caps in for up to 4 weeks in the refrigerator, or up to 6 months in the freezer.
You'll fill 3 8-ounce wide mouth mason jars with these proportions, but feel free to adjust to how much you need.


Apr 15 2013

Olive Toffee Brownies–A Kitchen Play Progressive Party #client

This month’s Kitchen PLAY Wild Card Progressive Party features Lindsay Olives. 5 courses have already been served–you can find them here–but the 6th is missing. That’s where I come in. Because those willing to accept the challenge of conceiving a 6th course, completing the meal, will be entered in a random drawing for $200. I accept that challenge!

Olive Toffee Brownies

The obvious thing missing from this Progressive Play party was dessert, but dessert is not the first thing you think of when considering olives. In fact, I can’t recall ever choosing olives when seeking dessert. With their unique flavor, it’s hard to imagine them working well with sweets–they’d clearly overpower them. This was a problem. But I was not to be dissuaded. If this would be a challenge, then let it be a real one and see if this could work!

My first thoughts centered around olive oil ice cream with a balsamic sauce, cooking chopped olives in the sauce. However, the olives I was hoping to use–California Green Ripe Naturals–could not be found despite making 4 stops in search of them. All I could locate were the Recloseable containers of pitted olives, more suited to snacking than ice cream. I would have to change my game plan.

The more I pondered my options, the more I fell back on purees. Pureed apples, prunes, and bananas sitting in for oil. Pureed black beans and garbanzo beans for flour. There had to be a keen way to use pureed olives in a dessert. This seemed like the best avenue to pursue.

Olive Toffee Brownies

So I whizzed a container of drained and rinsed olives around in my mini food processor, and I got to thinking. What kinds of desserts do you not mind a bit of a briny taste? Where do salty and sweet work well together? (Where don’t they work well would have been a more likely candidate for an answer!) And I settled on brownies. I would use these pureed olives to replace some of the butter and all of the salt, adding a dimension to this fudgey treat never before experienced! Eureka!

I’ll admit I skeptical. It took some courage to sample the batter. There were still some small chunks of olive despite meeting with the blade and I could see them there, a sharp reminder of the lunacy I was pursuing. A tentative lick. And then another. Before I knew it, I had licked the spatula clean. It was exactly that salty-sweet combo I sought, the kind that you just can’t get enough of. This would be it! This would be perfect!

Your best bet is to not tell tentative tasters what’s inside. An open mind is necessary, for preconceived notions will only ruin the experience. For the brave souls who venture forward on this quest, they will be rewarded with something special. A whole new way of eating olives that messes with the mind a bit, but presents such a strong case for including them that it’s difficult to imagine NOT having them in your brownies. Free your mind and give it a try–you won’t be sorry!

Olive Toffee Brownies

Olive Toffee Brownies
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 15
  • 8 Tablespoons (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, cut up
  • 5 ounces semi-sweet/bittersweet chocolate, cut up
  • 3 ounces unsweetened bakers chocolate, cut up
  • 5 large eggs
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1 vanilla bean, scraped
  • 6⅕-ounce can Lindsay Olives Recloseables, large pitted olives, rinsed, drained, & pureed (comes out to about ¾ cup once pureed)
  • 1¼ cups white whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup toffee bits
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease and line a 9x13 baking dish with parchment paper. Set aside.
  2. Melt the butter and chocolate in a double boiler, or in a microwave at 50% power at 30-second intervals. Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle, beat together the eggs, sugars, and vanilla bean scrapings until lifting the paddle from the bowl produces ribbons.
  4. On low speed, mix in the pureed olives.
  5. Continuing on medium-low, mix in the chocolate in a constant stream.
  6. Add the flour and let it mix on low until just combined. Remove bowl from mixer.
  7. Stir in the toffee bits, then spread into the prepared baking dish.
  8. Bake for 45 minutes, or until there's a nice crust on top and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out slightly moist.
  9. Cool completely before cutting and serving.
This is a sweet treat, for sure. If you'd like to reduce that, you can use more unsweetened chocolate and less semi-sweet/bittersweet chocolate, keeping it at a total of 8 ounces.
The toffee bits pretty much melt into the brownies, but that's part of their charm. They create little pockets of moistness that are pretty awesome.

Dislosure: This post is sponsored by Lindsay Olives as part of a Kitchen Play Progressive Party. All opinions given are my own.

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