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by Sarah Steimer

Bill and I love making awesome sandwiches. An old roommate of Bill’s once even said that he’s never seen someone make a sandwich that looked so good.

Note: I did not include specific ingredient amounts for this recipe because it really depends on how many sandwiches you’re making, how big the bread is, etc.

  • ciabatta bread
  • roast beef
  • gouda (we used a non-smoked gouda)
  • sauerkraut
  • spinach
  • Dijon mustard

Layer the roast beef, sauerkraut and spinach on the bread – if you work in this order, the spinach acts as a barrier between the sauerkraut and the bread so the bread does not get mushy.

Heat the sandwich in a panini press (I use my small George Foreman machine) or in the oven until the bread is browned. Remove the sandwich’s lid and add the Dijon mustard.

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by Sarah Steimer

I made a similar sandwich for our grilled cheese guide last year, but this dish uses both a different cheese and herb. What really took this to another level for me was rubbing the bread with garlic. It really cuts back on the grapes’ sweetness and gives the meal a more robust flavor.

I’m keeping the ingredient measurements open-ended. You can pretty much guess how much of everything you’ll need depending on whether you’re just making this for lunch or as an appetizer for company. If you would like me to be more specific, just say so in the comments and I’ll happily oblige.

—S

  • olive oil
  • grapes, rinsed and sliced in half (not necessary to slice, but it keep them from rolling off the bread)
  • thyme leaves (pulled from the stem), plus a few springs for garnish
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • bread
  • 1/2 piece of garlic
  • goat cheese or other spreading cheese

Heat enough olive oil in a small pan to just cover the bottom. Over low heat, add the grapes, thyme, salt and pepper. Be careful when adding the grapes, the natural juices from the fruit will cause the oil in the pan to spit a little. Sauté the grape mixture until the grapes have browned some and softened.

While the grapes are cooking, toast the bread. Rub the garlic half over the toasts generously, then spread with the goat cheese — try to keep it within 1 tablespoon per piece of bread, you don’t want the cheese to overpower any of the other flavors.

Top the goat cheese toasts with the cooked grapes and add sprigs of thyme, if desired, as a garnish.

Recipe adapted from: Mango & Tomato

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by Sarah Steimer

This is a very simple recipe, but sometimes it’s good to have a quick standby — especially for lunch. Plus, I’ve had a few people tell me they’re never quite sure of what to do with kale so I wanted to share something that is easy on the taste buds but still really healthy.

  • 2-3 large leaves of kale
  • water
  • olive oil
  • 2 small soft corn tortillas
  • 4 tablespoons or so of crumbled feta cheese
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Rinse the kale and finely chop. Toss the kale in a small sauté pan over medium- low heat with salt and pepper, adding a few tablespoons of water as you go so the kale may wilt. Remove the kale from the pan and set aside.

While the pan is still hot, add enough olive oil to coat the pan. The heat should still be medium-low. Wipe one side of one of the tortillas in the oiled pan and set the tortilla aside. Place the other tortilla in the pan and top with half of the feta cheese, the kale and then the rest of the feta. Place the oiled tortilla on top, oiled side up.

Let the bottom tortilla crisp and brown, about 3-4 minutes. Pick the quesadilla up with a spatula and flip over. This is a little easier if you lean the pan on an angle when you flip it. Cook for another 3-4 minutes or until this opposite side is browned and crisp.

Remove from the pan and cut into four pieces. Serve with fresh salsa or guacamole.

Makes one serving.

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by Sarah Steimer

I’ve been eating a variation of this sandwich for lunch for a few days now. This is one of the best breads I’ve used – it has walnuts, carrots and other interesting ingredients, from Bennison’s Bakery in Evanston, Ill.

  • 2 slices of good bread
  • olive oil
  • 2 leaves of chard (any kind will do, I’ve used both rainbow chard and ruby chard)
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped onion
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced
  • 1-2 sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2-4 slices fresh mozzarella

Heat the olive oil in a sauté pan. Add the onions and garlic, cooking until fragrant.

Remove the stems from the chard leaves, cutting a bit into the leaf itself to remove some of the thicker stem/rib. Chop the stems into about 1/2-inch pieces. Add to to the pan with the onion and garlic, also adding the chopped tomatoes.

Roughly chop the chard leaves and add to the pan as well, adding salt and pepper. Toss the ingredients in the pan, allowing the leaves to cook down. Once the chard is wilted, remove from the heat.

Place the mozzarella cheese on the bread slices, then top with the chard mixture.

Makes one serving.

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by Sarah Steimer

Don't make this if you're very, very hungry - like we did. Not that it won't fill you up, it will. It just takes a little longer to prepare than you would expect and the fantastic smells will kill you.

  • 4 flour tortillas*
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 jalapeno, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 2 15-ounce cans black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 12 ounces beer (this is the average bottle size – choose a milder beer like an amber ale or lager)
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 1 cup chopped bell peppers (or another vegetable of  your choice, or just more corn)
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 8 ounces shredded cheese – we went with Monterey Jack

    Neither corn nor peppers are in season where I live - BUT this was the perfect time to whip out the veggies I blanched and froze at the end of last summer!

Spray a springform pan with oil, or apply oil with a paper towel. Place one tortilla in the bottom of the pan, trimming the edges if necessary.

In a pan with oil, add the onions, garlic, jalapeno, cumin, and salt and pepper to taste. Sauté until onions have softened.

Add the beans and the beer, bringing the liquid to a rolling boil. Reduce to a simmer and allow the liquid to almost completely evaporate. The recipe said this should take 8-12 minutes but I think that was a complete lie. It felt more like 15-20 or so. But we were also wildly hungry so it may not have taken that long.

Add the peppers, corn and scallions until heated through. Remove from the heat.

Layer about 1/2 cup or so of the mixture onto the tortilla in the pan, followed by a handful of cheese and top with another tortilla. Repeat and finish with the last tortilla on top, sprinkling some extra cheese on this.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes, or until the cheese melts and starts to brown. Remove from the oven and let sit for 5 minutes before cutting.

Makes about four servings.

*I don’t have a springform pan and, instead, used an 8-inch cake round and smaller tortillas. Because the sides of my pan were not very high, we were only able to layer four tortillas and had about two cups of the black bean mixture left.

Recipe adapted from: Elly Says Opa!

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by Sarah Steimer

I used some of the last of my winter fingerling potatoes in this chili. You can use a regular potato instead, but I like the pink tint some of my Red Thumb fingerlings added.

  • 1/2cup onion, chopped
  • 1 15-ounce can navy or great northern beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 potato, diced OR a large handful of fingerling potatoes, diced
  • 1/2 cup canned artichoke hearts, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, chopped
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice

Heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil a medium pot or Dutch oven. Add onions and cook until softened.

Add the beans, potatoes, artichoke hearts, garlic, oregano, cumin, chipotle pepper and lime juice. Add the vegetable broth and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and let the chili simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until the potatoes have cooked through.

Makes about two servings.

Recipe adapted from: The Mosaic Kitchen

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by Caitlin Saniga

BLT salad

Don't worry. If your bagel BLT idea goes bad when you've left the bagel in the fridge for too many days, you can turn the sandwich into this awesome salad.

For the croutons:

  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1/8 teaspoon onion powder (Try adding just a few dashes.)
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder (A few dashes works here, too.)
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 savory bagel (Plain, cheese, jalapeno, onion, or another flavor that would make a good crouton. Stale works, too.)

For the dressing:

  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon Italian dressing
  • salt and pepper

For the salad:

  • 4 cups loosely packed spinach
  • 10 grape tomatoes, halved, or 1 Roma tomato chopped into pieces
  • 4 strips of bacon, cooked to a crisp, broken into bits
  • 1/2 cup cheddar cheese

To make the croutons, start by preheating the oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, whisk together 2 teaspoons olive oil, onion powder, garlic powder and dashes of salt and pepper. Cut the bagel into bite-size cubes, anywhere from 1  inch to 1/2 inch thick. Put the bagel pieces in the bowl of oil and toss to coat. Spread bagel pieces over an ungreased baking sheet and place in the oven. Cook 8-10 minutes, or until bagel pieces turn golden.

To make the dressing, whisk together 1/3 cup olive oil, Dijon, Italian dressing and dashes of salt and pepper.

To assemble the salad, toss spinach, tomatoes, bacon bits, cheddar cheese, croutons and dressing, and divide between two bowls.

Makes 2 salads.

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by Sarah Steimer

This was the result of having some fresh veggies and needing a simple dinner idea for my family when they came to visit.

  • 1 green zucchini, small to medium
  • 1 yellow squash, small to medium
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 cup corn, fresh or canned
  • 1/3 red onion
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro
  • 1 cup shredded cheese (pepper jack is great)
  • 8 soft tortillas

    Using both yellow and green zucchini with the red pepper really pops some color into an otherwise bland-looking quesadilla.

Dice the onions and pepper. Thinly slice the zucchini to about a 1/4-inch thick or less. In a medium saucepan, heat a few tablespoons of olive oil and add your vegetables. Saute over medium heat, adding salt and pepper, until tender.

Place half the cheese on four of the tortillas, then evenly distribute your vegetables on top. Add cilantro and more cheese – this way the lid will stick. Place another tortilla on top.

Cook the quesadillas in a pan, on a grill OR (I found this to be the easiest) in a sandwich-maker. Cut the quesadillas into quarters before you cook them, so the flipping process isn’t easier and you don’t drive yourself nuts trying to keep all the veggies inside.

Serve with plain, low-fat yogurt (healthier than sour cream!) and salsa.

Makes four quesadillas.

Recipe: Sarah Steimer

Photos: Sarah Steimer

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by Sarah Steimer

We got an enormous bag of spinach at the farmer's market --- where the vendor insisted we needed two bags.

  •  spinach
  • apple, sliced thin
  • candied walnuts (refer to this recipe)
  • feta
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons mustard (either Dijon or spicy brown)
  • 3 tablespoons Olive Oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Make a bunch of candied walnuts, you'll find something to do with them.

In a small bowl, combine the vinegar, mustard, oil, salt and pepper. Whisk together and set aside.

Put together your salad. Which I will not explain how to do. Top with the vinaigrette and serve.

Makes about two servings.

Recipe adapted from: Life Tastes Like Food

Photos: Sarah Steimer

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by Sarah Steimer

Use a good cornbread recipe for this, not some junk you add water to and throw in the oven. Have some southern class.

For the cornbread (optional, if you have your own recipe)

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened

Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and cornmeal. Add eggs, milk and shortening and beat with a mixer until smooth. Pour into a greased 9-by-9 inch or 8-inch round pan. Bake at 425 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes.

Let the cornbread sit out for a day or two, becoming stale. Cut into cubes or crumble. Place on a baking sheet and put under broiler in oven, or bake at 375 until the pieces crisp.

For the salad

  • 2 cans black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 or 2 red bell peppers, diced
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes, quartered (or 2 large tomatoes, chopped)
  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar (I used apple cider because that’s what I had)
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Mix the oil, vinegar, salt and pepper and set aside.

Toss the beans, bell pepper, onions, basil and cornbread together. Add the dressing and serve immediately.

Makes six to eight servings.

Recipe adapted from: Ezra Pound Cake

Photo: Sarah Steimer

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