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Bacon Brie and Fig Jam Grilled Cheese
11

I don’t know about you, but the best new thing I’ve found in my local grocery store in the past couple of years has been fig jam.  If you’re into jam-making, I’m sure it’s pretty easy to make but it seems that fig season flies by in an instant and I never seem to be ready for it.  So for now, I’ll stick with the stuff I can buy all year-round.  And what that means is that I can also make these bacon brie and fig jam grilled cheese sandwiches whenever the heck I want to as well.

There’s no need to complicate a grilled cheese sandwich so this one is easy: a thin layer of fig jam on one side of the bread, topped with crisp, smoky bacon and creamy brie, then grilled to perfection.  Cover the pan with a lid to trap the heat and help the cheese goo-ify itself – it’s a little trick of mine that works like a charm every time.  Served alongside a bowl of homemade tomato soup?  You may have trouble keeping enough fig jam stocked for these sandwiches!

Bacon Pesto Tomato Sandwiches
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While it would be perfectly acceptable for me to swoon about how this bacon pesto tomato sandwich is the only way to highlight your gorgeous tomatoes, I really want to talk about bacon here.  It’s not an ingredient that I often highlight in my meals mostly because I feel, unlike most of the food blogging community, that it’s a complementary ingredient – not the star.  However, the thick-sliced applewood-smoked bacon that I used in this sandwich is the star and I built the sandwich around it solely based on the fact that I had a few slices in the fridge that needed to be used up.

And that’s how it goes with me.  I can never seem to use up a package of bacon before freezing it (and gah! sometimes forgetting about it until it’s freezer-burned) or it gets pushed to the back of the fridge and is again, forgotten about (which is even worse!).  So with full intentions and an empty stomach, I fried up the leftover fridge-bacon in my kitchen buddy (the cast iron frying pan), sliced some fresh mozzarella and tomato, and whirled a creamy [nut-free] pesto around in the blender.  And by the time Kyle ambled in the door, absolutely filthy from playing in the yard, I had a killer sandwich ready for him.  I hustled him and his sandwich back out the door (“your shoes!!!”) and joined him for lunch on the porch.

Now you’ve just had a glimpse upon our Sundays in the summer:  Me trying to use up the leftovers in the fridge before we start a new week of meals and lunches…and Kyle, the mudhog, showing up when it’s time to eat.  Typical, easy-going Sundays.

DIY: Soft Flour Tortillas
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I’m so excited to tell you guys that I’ve got this big item to cross off my ever-daunting and always-growing to-make list!  These flour tortillas were major for me.  We eat a lot of Tex-Mex food that requires soft flour tortillas (and I always use them in place of corn tortillas) and when we have leftovers, I bring wrap sandwiches to bring to work.  And if you’ve been around these parts long enough, you’ll know that in the past couple of years, I’ve been DIY-ing more and more in order to cut out ingredients we can’t pronounce (check out the short and basic ingredient list below!) and to save a few bucks in the process.

These tortillas are my latest feat and when I tell you that they are soooo worth the little bit of effort, I’m not kidding.  After only 30 minutes, I had a warm stack of these guys ready to use for multiple meals.  And as far as quality goes, there is just no comparison with store-bought tortillas; where store-bought are rubbery and dry, the homemade version yields soft and always pliable tortillas.  You don’t have to worry about the bottoms splitting in your hand and you can fold them and roll them without any cracking.  Basically, for the Tex-Mex lovers that we are, these DIY soft flour tortillas couldn’t be more perfect.

DIY: Soft Flour Tortillas

Prep Time: 25 minutes

Cook Time: 5 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Yield: 12 (8-inch) tortillas

I rolled my tortillas out into 8-inch rounds and they yielded some pretty hefty-sized tortillas, even for soft tacos. So in the future, I'll reduce the size to 6 inches by cutting the dough into approximately 1 1/2 oz pieces (or about 16 pieces). If you want larger tortillas, like for burritos, cut the dough into fewer pieces and roll them out to 10 or 12 inches in diameter. If you don't have a food processor, you can make these tortillas by hand, using a pastry cutter or two knives to cut the ingredients into each other and a wooden spoon to mix everything up.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 heaping tsp table salt
  • 5 tbsp shortening, lard, or softened unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup warm water

Instructions

  1. In the bowl of the food processor fitted with the dough blade, pulse the flour, baking powder, and salt a few times to stir up the ingredients. Add in the fat and process in quick pulses until the mixture starts become crumbly. With the food processor on, slowly stream in the water through the feeder at the top, just until the a cohesive ball forms and starts traveling around the sides of the bowl.
  2. Turn the food processor on and let the dough knead for about 30 seconds. The dough should clear the sides of the bowl and be soft but not overly sticky.
  3. Turn the dough out onto a well-floured board or countertop and divide it into 12 equal-size portions, 2 oz each if you're weighing them. Cover the dough pieces with a kitchen towel and let them rest for 10 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, heat a large, dry saute pan (cast iron works great here) over medium-high heat.
  5. One at a time, roll the dough balls into thin rounds (about 8 inches each), dusting the top with just enough flour to keep the tortilla from sticking to the rolling pin. Try not to roll out too many at a time or they will start to dry out while they wait to be cooked.
  6. Lay one tortilla flat in the heated pan and cook on each side for 20-40 seconds, until the tortilla starts to bubble in places and the bubbled areas start to brown. While each one cooks, you can roll out the next tortilla to get it ready for the pan.
  7. Keep the finished tortillas covered with a kitchen towel to keep them warm and pliable until you're ready to use them. Unused tortillas can be cooled completely and refrigerated in a large zipper bag for up to 5 days.

Source

source: adapted from Confections of a Foodie Bride

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http://www.smells-like-home.com/2012/07/diy-soft-flour-tortillas/

Pulled Pork & Slaw Sandwiches
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Is there a better day to share a great crockpot meal with you than on a snowy day? I think not.  We’re getting pounded with 24″+ in CT today and while I made this pulled pork a couple of weeks ago, I’m kicking myself for not having something to throw in the crockpot today.  I mean, yes it’s wonderful to have the crockpot going while I’m at work and then come home to a fully cooked meal but it’s another thing to be home all day while dinner cooks and you get to smell it cooking.  Regardless of when you decide to make these sandwiches, you certainly won’t regret it.  They are drop-dead delicious; the pork made perfectly tender from a 8-10 hour day in the crockpot with a sauce that will make you cry when it drips down to your elbow because you aren’t going to want to waste any of it.  Did you see the coleslaw on top of these babies? It’s a must!  Slaw on pulled pork isn’t something I’ve seen much of here in the Northeast but we were willing to give it a shot and it totally makes this whole sandwich.  The cool, crisp, and tangy slaw with the savory and barely sweet pork gives you a sandwich you will not want to put down.

I know virtually everyone has a favorite recipe so I’d love it you’d link your favorite pulled pork (or chicken) recipe in the comments below.

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