If you missed my love story about focaccia, you can read it here. The love is real. So real, in fact, that my recipe makes 2 whole loaves of the magical bread. That’s stupendous if you are having guests for dinner. It might even be stupendous if you are super duper hungry and plan to eat an entire loaf in one sitting. Don’t judge, please. I can neither confirm nor deny that this may or may not have happened.
However, since it’s currently just Travis and I typically eating the focaccia recipe at our house, we usually have plenty of leftovers. Perfect for creative leftover recipes like this focaccia grilled chicken sandwich! I’d like to say that this is a totally Italian take on a chicken sandwich…But then I threw some guacamole in there and made it a bit of a mutt of a recipe. Sorry I’m not sorry about that. It’s too delicious to be sorry.
Why is this focaccia chicken sandwich a winner? The bread is salty and rich, the cheese and guac are creamy, and the chicken and veggies are fresh and delicious. Oh, and then throw some herbs/spices on there and BOOM! You have a taste explosion. In your mouth.
So, first make the focaccia and enjoy it for all it’s worth with some pasta or whatever you may desire. Then, take what’s left and make yourself a sandwich that will leave you asking for more.
Focaccia Grilled Chicken Sandwich
Chicken sandwich with an Italian twist...focaccia bread, mozzarella cheese, and Italian herbs
Slice the focaccia loaf into quarters. Slice each quarter in half so there is a top and bottom half.
On a parchment lined baking sheet, place the bottom halves of the focaccia topped with the grilled chicken, mozzarella cheese, oregano/Italian herb blend, and red pepper flakes. Put the top halves of bread on the baking sheet next to the bottoms halves, cut side up (so they can toast).
Broil on high until the cheese melts and the bread is lightly toasted, about 3-5 minutes.
I’ve had a handful of meals that I would consider particularly memorable in my life. The meal after Travis and I got married in Savannah, Georgia immediately comes to mind as well as the meal Travis and I ate in a revolving dining room overlooking Niagara Falls. Then there’s the meal I shared with my family at Pinocchio’s restaurant at Disney World overlooking the It’s a Small World ride. Hey, just because I was probably 8 and eating chicken fingers doesn’t mean it wasn’t life changing.
I’d have to say that definitely in the top 5 most memorable meals in my life so far was the meal Travis and I shared in Rome in a little plaza overlooking the Pantheon. There are things that just don’t fade in your mind such as the red gingham tablecloth, the fact that it was probably 45 degrees but the heat lamp next to us kept us warm, the view (of course), and the FOOD. Focaccia was served along with my entree of Fettuccine Alfredo in a Parmesan cheese bowl. Yes, best day ever.
prepared biga (I could have used a larger bowl)
Let’s think about this a little longer to let it sink in. There was a basket of focaccia served to us, perfectly crisp from being smothered in olive oil before baking. There was Fettuccine Alfredo, possibly one of my most favorite dishes. There was a BOWL made out of Parmesan cheese. A BOWL, people. It was wonderful and I loved it. I ate it all. You don’t let focaccia and Parmesan bowls go to waste when you’re in Italy. You just don’t.
I won’t pretend that this focaccia can come close to the memory that I have of that meal. I have to face the fact that I do not live in a plaza next to the Pantheon so it’s a bit hard to recreate the mood. BUT, I will say that the time that goes into this bread is worth every last mouth-watering bite. You will not be disappointed. The ingredients are so simple but scrumptious when combined the right way. The bread isn’t greasy from the olive oil. It’s rich and crisp and wonderful. I have nothing more to say than go now. Go now, and make this bread. Now. Please.
Prepare the biga the night before baking the focaccia - combine 3/4 cups of lukewarm water and 1/4 teaspoon yeast in a medium bowl. Stir to dissolve. Mix in 1 1/2 cups of the flour. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rise in warm spot for at least 8 hours.The biga should be light and airy when it's ready.
Combine the remaining 1 3/4 teaspoons of yeast and 1/4 cup water in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the biga, 1 cup of water, 3 cups of flour and 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Mix for about 2 minutes on low, add 1 1/2 teaspoons table salt, and mix for another 3 minutes on low. If the dough is sticky, add the remaining 1/2 cup of flour in small increments until it is no longer sticky.
Place the dough in a large bowl coated with olive oil and cover with a damp kitchen towel.
Let it rise is a warm place until doubled, about 45 minutes. Knock down the dough and fold it over a few times before covering again and letting it rise another 45 minutes.
Coat two 9" metal* cake pans with olive oil (about 1/2 tablespoon each). Split the dough in 2 and place half in each of the cake pans. Spread the dough out until it reaches the edges. Cover with a damp kitchen towel and let rise for about 45 minutes.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Use your fingers to poke indentations in the dough. Pour 2 tablespoons of olive oil over each focaccia (this will pool in some of the indentations). Sprinkle the rosemary and sea salt (I used pink sea salt but regular sea salt is good too) over the focaccia and bake for about 20 minutes, until golden brown.
Cool on wire racks before serving.
Make sure to start the biga for this recipe the night (or at least 8 hours) before trying to make the bread. It's a long process, but worth it!
Pretty much everything in this recipe is divided! Please note the amounts needed for the biga and for the bread-making process in the directions.
*I tried this recipe in a glass baking dish and it did not come out as crispy as when I used the metal pans. However, you could use an 8x8" or 9x9" metal baking dish if you do not have round cake pans.
You want to know a secret?? I. LOVE. CHEESE. It’s actually not really a secret. I’d happily tell everyone I could that I love cheese. I just had to get your attention somehow…sorry :). If you have the same affinity for cheese that I do, you will most definitely love these white chicken enchiladas. No joke. I had a hard time photographing these enchiladas because they basically look like a pile of melted cheese all said and done. *sigh* Ok, yes, there are worse things in the world than too much cheese. But still, a real struggle to photograph.
This is a recipe I grew up on…not sure where my mom got it to be honest. But it was something relatively easy, quick, and tasty. Also, apparently with kids you make what they like and will eat. Speaking of which, my little one is finally eating some real food and it seems like he already has his opinions at 5 months old. I guess I thought for some weird reason that he would love everything but he tends to favor grains and avocado (and milk, of course!). Hmm. Sounds like me now that I think about it. I think we must be related or something…
This is really just the most basic form of this recipe, and it’s perfectly wonderful the way it is. However, you can spice it up a bit if you so choose. My mom would add chopped onions to the “adult” enchiladas because my sister and I were too grossed out by onions as children apparently. I’m starting to like onions more and I’ve found if you puree or grate the onions that you really only get some delicious flavor without too much of the texture of the onion. I’m sure you could add beans to this recipe, or your other favorite taco/enchilada fillings. When it comes down to it, it’s really all about the sauce and the cheese. You could cover a piece of cardboard with this sauce and cheese and it would be delicious…yeah, that was too far. Don’t attempt that. You get the point though.
If you love cheese, or chicken, or enchiladas, or anything good in life, then these are worth a shot. Perfectly creamy and cheesy with a little kick from the diced green chiles…yum!! Comfort food at its finest.
16 ounces shredded Monterey Jack cheese (or a Mexican cheese blend)
10 flour tortillas
Salsa or cilantro, optional, for serving
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Melt the butter in a sauce pan over medium heat. Stir in the flour, chicken broth, sour cream, and green chiles. Stir constantly until it comes to a simmer and thickens slightly. Remove from the heat.
Add a scoop of the sauce to the bottom of a 9x13 glass baking dish (about 1/4 cup) to keep the tortillas from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Fill each tortilla with a little cheese and chicken (you will need to split the cheese so that you end up with a little extra for the top, but use all the chicken between the 10 enchiladas). Roll, and place seam side down in the baking dish.
Pour the remaining sauce over the enchiladas.
Bake for 20 minutes at 350 degrees until heated through. Add any remaining shredded cheese on top and put back into the oven until the cheese melts.
Serve with salsa, cilantro, or your favorite toppings.
*To cook my chicken breasts, I coated them in olive oil, salt and pepper and roasted them in a 400 degree Fahrenheit oven on a foiled-lined baking sheet for 25-35 minutes.
Sometimes I can't fit all 10 enchiladas in one pan, so you can use two smaller pans instead (this freezes well once prepared).
Flavor From Scratch http://www.flavorfromscratch.com/
I know I’m a bit late here but I hope you had a wonderful holiday season and new year celebration! I find it hard to write 2017 on anything without wondering where 2016 went. Thinking back, this past year has sure been one to remember. Travis and I suddenly transformed from a couple to a family of 3 in a blink of an eye when our little guy arrived in August. There have been so many sleepless nights and diaper changes and too little time for cooking but we’ve made it so far!
Our first 2017 adventure involves wondering if we need a larger house. It’s funny how a house that seemed to work so well with the 2 of us gets loaded down so quickly with endless things for a tiny human being. He’s SO little…yet he requires SO MUCH stuff. My mind is baffled by that. Between looking what seems to be nonstop at houses online and a couple houses in person, I have to admit that I haven’t had a lot of extra time to come up with new and exciting recipes. What do I do when I have no time? I revert to my “go to” dishes that are simple and quick. Tacos are just that. And this taco seasoning can’t get much more simple!
My favorite part of this seasoning is that if I have ground meat (which is usually something I have in my freezer), I can make tacos with the spices already in my pantry! Don’t have tortillas?? What to do, what to do? I make them with this also simple but *amazing* recipe!
I’m sorry that I’m making it hard for you to come up with excuses not to make tacos. I’m not really sorry though because it’s hard to be sorry for something like that. I mean, they’re delicious. Top these tacos with a little salsa, guac, lettuce, and cheese and you’re on your way to an amazing meal. If you’re feeling fancy, make some rice or beans as a side and then it’s an extra special taco night!
So whether you’re busy like I am, or have all the time in the world, here’s to a new year with new adventures and more cooking!
Mix all the ingredients in a small bowl. Store in airtight container or spice jar.
To use with taco meat, brown 1 pound of ground turkey or beef in a skillet. Drain the excess fat. Add 1.5-2 tablespoons of taco seasoning and a splash of water (about 1/4 cup) to the skillet along with the ground meat. Combine until the meat is coated with seasoning.
Oh. Man. I CANNOT wait to tell you about these Christmas morning cinnamon rolls! I am so excited that we will, in fact, be having these Christmas morning! It’s like a present to me. I’ll have to remember to write myself a thank you card…
This is our first Christmas as a family of 3 and Travis and I decided this year we needed to start some traditions of our own. First of all, we are traveling A LOT over the holidays. Or at least it feels like that. I’m pretty sure it just seems like we’re traveling more than we are because we need to pack a truckload of stuff with us now that we have a little one. Either way, we made it a point to actually be at HOME for Christmas day. I don’t think we’ve ever actually been home for Christmas day as a couple so this will be fun!
Another new tradition is apparently shopping online because we have no time to shop anymore. I’m starting to feel old because I know I’m totally late to this online shopping thing. BUT, with a baby, online shopping is the best thing since sliced bread.
However, as Travis and I discussed traditions we pretty much focused most of our attention on food. Doesn’t it always go that direction?? Isn’t it wonderful?? As I thought about past family holidays, I remember the decorations and presents and snow and fun that we had. None of that was lost to me, but what I remember most is gathering around the table with family and enjoying a meal full of love and traditions. So this was like a BIG deal to come up with our own family traditions.
Some of my most cherished holiday memories come back to baking with my grandmas, mom, and sister. Luckily, my family will be doing a little baking when we visit them so that tradition lives on! I still needed to do a little baking of my own though! That’s where these rolls come in. These cinnamon rolls are actually my grandma’s yeast dough recipe (passed down to her from her mom) that we usually would use to make bobalki (another amazing concoction for another day) and poppy seed rolls (like cinnamon rolls, but with poppy seed filling).
All you Slovak or Polish folks know what I’m talking about when I refer to poppy seed in terms of sweet treats. Most people think of the gross dry poppy seeds they find on bagels. No. Just no. This poppy seed filling I refer to is sticky and sweet and delicious. I think they take the poppy seed and engulf it in a tub of sugar and corn syrup and it comes out magical. So when you make these cinnamon rolls, I dare you to replace the filling with just a can of Solo poppy seed filling. I’m salivating thinking about it. *Warning, it may take some time to fully enjoy the amazing goodness of poppy seed filling if you haven’t grown up with it. Travis is not quite there yet…My brother-in-law is finally in love with it, but he has a few years on Travis in the poppy seed tradition.
Travis agreed that we can make poppy seed rolls as part of our usual tradition on Christmas. However, since we were just figuring things out we landed on the cinnamon roll version for this year. And it’s hard to complain when you land on something so delicious. So I’ll share some of my poppy seed creations later. But for now, enjoy these cinnamon rolls! They will surely help make my Christmas morning so, so wonderful!
Christmas Morning Cinnamon Rolls
Gooey and sweet cinnamon roll treat perfect for special occasions!
Scald the milk in a sauce pan over medium heat. Remove from the heat and stir in the vegetable shortening until melted. Stir in the sugar and salt. Set aside to cool to lukewarm (about 10 minutes).
While the milk mixture is cooling, dissolve the yeast in the lukewarm water in a large bowl. Let the yeast sit about 5-10 minutes (until the milk mixture is cooled).
Add the milk mixture and eggs to the yeast mixture. Add in 3 1/2 cups of the flour and mix well. Add the remaining 3 cups of flour and knead until the mixture is smooth, about 5 minutes.
Cover the dough with a towel or plastic wrap and let rise 1-2 hours, until doubled in size.
Grease two 9" round cake pans.
Combine brown sugar and cinnamon for the filling.
Divide the dough into 2 and roll one of the halves out on a well floured surface until it is 12x18 inches. Brush a thin layer of melted butter over the dough and sprinkle on half of the filling.
Roll the dough, so you end up with a log 18 inches long. Cut into 12 pieces. Place pieces in cake pan, with a little space around each roll so it can rise again.
Repeat with the second batch.
Let the rolls rise about another hour.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
Bake rolls for 15-20 minutes, or until golden brown.
Combine icing ingredients. Once the rolls are slightly cooled (about 15 minutes), you can drizzle the icing on the rolls.
To help the dough rise (especially when it's cold), I turn my oven on to the lowest temperature for about 5 minutes then turn the oven off. Then I put my dough in the oven to rise. Make sure to take it out before you preheat the oven to bake!!
You can freeze the rolls once they are cooled but before you put the icing on. To do this, remove the rolls from the pan after they are cooled and wrap in plastic wrap (I also wrap with aluminum foil after the plastic). To serve, defrost in the refrigerator and top with icing. If you want them warm, you can reheat them in the microwave or in the oven prior to topping with icing.
Rolls are best eaten fresh, but can last a couple of days (but they really won't make it that long!).
By Flavor From Scratch
Flavor From Scratch http://www.flavorfromscratch.com/