Category Archives: Sandwiches

Jalapeño Popper Grilled Cheese

So, any other Call the Midwife fans out there? The season finale was last night–and oh my goodness!!! If you haven’t seen that show, you are missing out. It’s my newest love this spring–right up there with jalapeños, both of which are QUITE surprising because I never have liked medical-type shows and I certainly have NEVER been a spice kind of person. But now I crave it. Spice and midwifes. Mhmm.

Jalapeño Popper Grilled Cheese | The Pajama Chef

The inspiration behind this incredibly cheesy, gooey grilled cheese with a kick is one of my absolute favorite restaurants, Scotty’s Brewhouse. Scotty’s is an Indiana chain and if we ever move from Indiana college towns I will be so super sad because pretty much everything there is great. From their waffle fries to their burgers to their salads, I’m just in love. We ate there at the end of April for my birthday and I randomly ordered this Jalapeño Popper Grilled Cheese. Why? I have no clue–it just sounded good. And it was good. So good in fact that I craved it for days on end, and was disappointed that this, of all times, was a date where Ben agreed to SHARE our entrees. He never wants to do that, but this time… man, what timing! Last week, I finally took it upon myself to recreate it at home. Allow me to introduce you to this masterpiece….!

Jalapeño Popper Grilled Cheese | The Pajama Chef

It is basically grilled cheese to the max. EEEEK! I can’t even describe it any further except to say it’s just awesome and you need to try it, like now. Cheesy, spicy, gooey. What more do you need to know? It has four kinds of cheese–sharp cheddar, Monterrey Jack, cream cheese, AND a pub cheese spread, and it also is amped up with sweet sauteed onions, crisp bacon, and spicy jalapeños! I mean COME ON! I apologize for the excessive use of capitalization and exclamation, but what can you do when something is this amazing?! Have you ever had anything like this before? This isn’t a healthy grilled cheese at all… but you can indulge a little on a Monday. In my case, I’ll be needing it to drown my sorrows about the end of this season of Call the Midwife… but in Ben’s case, he’ll be drowning his sorrows about the fact that the show has been renewed for season three. YAY! [Oh boys and their squeamishness.] Enjoy!

P.S. SHAMELESS PLUG! Please check out and like my new blog Facebook page… pretty please with a cherry on top? And sprinkles? And jalapeños? I started the page back in 2011 but just started using it over the weekend. Ha! Thanks! :)

Jalapeño Popper Grilled Cheese [a TPC original, inspired by Scotty's Brewhouse]
click to print

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced Vidalia onion
  • 2 jalapeños, thinly sliced [partially deseeded if desired]
  • 4 slices whole wheat bread [or something that's good for grilled cheese]
  • 2 tablespoons softened butter [divided]
  • 3-4 tablespoons cream cheese, softened [divided]
  • 2 ounces Monterrey Jack cheese, thinly sliced [divided]
  • 2 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, thinly sliced [divided]
  • 3-4 tablespoons cheddar cheese spread [I used Trader Joe's pub cheese with jalapeños, but I think something like this recipe would work too]  [divided]
  • 3 slices of bacon, crisply cooked and chopped  [divided]

Directions:

In a small skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. When shimmering, add onion and jalapeños, and cook for 4-5 minutes until soft. Stir constantly, and if they start to burn, reduce heat slightly. Remove from heat and set aside.

Next, preheat grill pan or panini press–I used a panini press set on medium.

Butter one side of each piece of bread. Then assemble by spreading a layer of cream cheese on the non-buttered side of one piece of bread, topping with Monterrey Jack cheese, sharp cheddar cheese, bacon, and half of the onion/jalapeño mixture. Spread the cheddar cheese spread on the non-buttered side of another piece of bread, then place cheese spread on the onion/jalapeño mixture. This leaves the buttered sides on the outside. Repeat with remaining ingredients.

Place on grill pan/panini press for about 5-6 minutes so cheese melts and outside gets crispy. Enjoy!

Time: 20 minutes.

Yield: 2 sandwiches.

Linked up with: Weekend Potluck.

About these ads

Mushroom Egg Salad

So, it’s been a long time since I’ve posted any recipes for a no-heat lunch and/or a 10 Minute Lunch. Sad day. Lately when I’ve been on campus, I’ve been eating a lot of PB&Js and soup for lunch, usually leftovers that I’ve stashed in the freezer. On the couple days a week that I work from home, my lunches have as of late have consisted of things like a giant bowl of popcorn, smoothies, and cereal. Healthy and complete meals, I know. But such is life. And thesis writing. However, I did recently put a new spin on egg salad… just as a little experiment since I had some mushrooms to use up. I wasn’t sure how the final product would turn out, but it was just so good that I had to share!

Mushroom Egg Salad | The Pajama Chef

While I know that egg salad isn’t going to win any beauty contests, adding some extras to a traditional salad definitely ups the taste value!! My mushroom egg salad includes a savory blend of sautéed mushrooms and caramelized onions to add some unexpected heartiness  to lunch. Though this egg salad is a bit more involved than most, it is definitely worth it. You can sauté the mushrooms and caramelize the onions while fixing dinner at night, and then throw the rest of the salad together afterwards… leaving you a gourmet lunch ready for the next day! Win win! I seasoned this egg salad with a little fresh and tangy lemon and dill and let me tell you… it was so good. I couldn’t just stop at one sandwich and I bet you won’t either! Hope you enjoy!

Mushroom Egg Salad | The Pajama ChefMushroom Egg Salad [adapted from Let's Eat!]
click to print

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup yellow onion, diced
  • 4-5 small baby bella mushrooms, cleaned and thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 3 hardboiled eggs, chopped
  • ~1 tablespoon mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon whole grain dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • zest of 1/4 lemon
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon dried dill
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • bread, spinach/lettuce, tomato for serving

Directions:

In a small skillet, heat 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions, season with pepper, and cook, stirring often until onions begin to soften, about 3 minutes. Then reduce heat to low and cook for 10-12 minutes or until lightly caramelized. Stir occasionally during the process, but for the most part they can be left alone. Remove from skillet when done and place in a medium bowl to cool.

Next, add remaining 1/2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil to skillet set over medium heat. Add mushrooms and sauté until golden, stirring often, about 7-9 minutes. Remove from skillet and place in bowl with onions.

Add eggs to mushrooms and onions, then prepare dressing. In a small bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, mustard, lemon juice, lemon zest, and 1/4 teaspoon dill.

Pour dressing over egg mixture and toss to coat, then taste and add more dill and/or ground pepper as desired. If more dressing is needed, thin with extra mayonnaise or lemon juice.

Serve on bread with spinach and tomato as garnishes.

Time: 30 minutes.

Yield: 2 sandwiches.

Note: Can easily be doubled, tripled, etc.

10 Minute Lunch #5: Black Bean Wraps

So…. I totally realize black bean wraps are nothing new, nothing exciting, nothing original. You can probably google a bazillinon kajillion different variations right now. Or you don’t even have to, because who really needs a recipe for a simple black bean wrap?

The truth is… you don’t. And the truth also is… I don’t have and/or use one either.

But guess what? I’m sharing this non-recipe anyways… for a couple reason. First of all, I realized over the long weekend that I hadn’t shared any of my 10 Minute Lunches with you in way too long. Like, two months too long. Whoops. :( And secondly, I eat this easy black bean wrap [or a variation thereof] for lunch quite often and find it quite tasty [especially when there are no leftovers that sound good or I'm not feeling particularly inspired and needalunchlikenow.] Since I assume I’m not the only one who ever finds themselves in that situation…uninspired, hungry, pressed for time. If that’s you, then this go-to non-recipe recipe for black bean wraps is for you.

Maybe this is a little simplistic, but so what? It’s packed with flavor, texture, and tons of good-for-you nutrients and protein. Simply top a whole wheat tortilla with Mexican-spiced smashed black beans and lots of fresh veggies for a lunch that you’ll be looking forward to all morning long. I used spinach, red onion, bell pepper, avocado, and tomato, but feel free to use whatever strikes your fancy. Top your wrap with some cheese and you’re good to go! This lunch is filling, portable, inexpensive, and packed with fresh flavor. You can heat it up or eat it cold, depending on your preference and work situation… it’s great either way. I hope you love it as much as we do!

What are some of your go-to non-recipe recipes?

Black Bean Wraps
click to print

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup black beans, rinsed and drained
  • desired seasonings: garlic powder, cayenne pepper, cumin, oregano, crushed red pepper, etc. + lime juice [I used ~ 1 1/2 teaspoons total, plus a splash of juice]
  • whole wheat tortilla
  • baby spinach
  • red onion, diced
  • avocado, sliced
  • roma tomatoes, sliced
  • red bell pepper, sliced
  • grated cheese [I used cheddar + pepperjack]
  • salsa or sour cream, as desired

Non-directions:

  • Mash together black beans with seasonings and a little lime juice.
  • Place baby spinach on a whole wheat tortilla, then top with black bean mixture. Add red onion, avocado, tomato, bell pepper, and cheese along with salsa or sour cream if desired.
  • Roll up and enjoy!

Time: 5 minutes.

Yield: 1 delicious lunch! [or more if you multiply the black bean mixture]

Linked up at Successful Together.

10 Minute Lunch #4: Cinnamon Curry Tuna Wraps

So, I was very, very brave on Wednesday. Perhaps you saw my tweet? I rarely, if ever, tweet, but I felt that my midday activities were worthy of such public notification.

It all started a few minutes before I was going to break for lunch. I’m fortunate enough to have a campus job I can do remotely [at home (!)], so I had been working hard all morning and happened to glance over at my phone as it lit up with a call from my dentist office. I hadn’t been since December, and already have my next appointment scheduled, so I thought it was odd. When I answered the call, I found out that the claim for the x-rays/checkup in December had been denied and that my insurance company claimed my coverage had been terminated.

Terminated? News to me.

After I told the nice lady from the dentist office that I knew I had coverage and thanked her for calling before sending me the $150 bill, I logged into my insurance account online to get some info and called Ben for instructions on what to say to the insurance company when I called [he works in insurance so he's a pro at these things]. Then I took a deep breath, expecting the worst, and dialed the phone. Pretty much right away I talked to someone and found out that, imagine that, I do have dental insurance. Righto.

And I did on the date of my last appointment, too. Well looky there.

But apparently the claim had been mis-processed as a medical claim, not a dental claim, so that’s what the situation was. A few questions later, I was good to go, and called Ben and my dentist office back with the good news. :)

Then I skipped to the kitchen and whipped up this tasty tuna salad lunch in a jiffy, thanks to some inspired googling earlier in the day.

Like my insurance snafu that I went into expecting the worst and emerged happy in a matter of minutes, this tuna salad might seem risky from the exterior. However, I’m confident that one bite will turn your uneasiness into delight at this 10 Minute Lunch that makes a double portion–perfect for an extra filling lunch or lunch for two.

Fragrant curry powder pairs with sweet cinnamon, tangy mustard, and crunchy celery for a new take on boring tuna. You can take this wrap on the go, or enjoy it at home… perhaps even hot with cheese, if that’s your thing. It’s not mine–that would certainly not be the happy ending that my insurance claim situation and tuna wrap found, but if it’s yours… go for it! :)

How do you like your tuna?

Cinnamon Curry Tuna Wraps [inspired by Allrecipes.com]

Ingredients:

  • 6 ounce can tuna in water, drained
  • 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
  • 1/2 tablespoon whole grain Dijon mustard
  • a third of a stalk of celery, chopped in small pieces
  • lemon pepper
  • dash ground cinnamon
  • smidgen curry powder [yes, smidgen is an actual measurement, but it’s just a small amount so don’t fret if you don’t have this measuring spoon
  • 2 tortillas, for serving
  • spinach, for serving

Non-directions:

  • Mix together all ingredients except spinach and tortillas, then adjust seasonings if necessary.
  • Layer spinach on top of each tortilla, then top each with half of the tuna salad.
  • Roll into a wrap and enjoy!

Time: 5 minutes.

Yield: 2 delicious lunches!

10 Minute Lunch #3: Extraordinary Grilled Cheese

Another 10 Minute Lunch for you! So, what makes this grilled cheese extraordinary? Let me give you a hint.

It starts with bacon.

and ends with avocado…

and has some bell pepper in there too.

Whoa.

ohmygoshiwantanothernow. Please?

So my inspiration for this quick Wednesday lunch was derived from all those fancy grilled cheeses and quesadillas and stuff that I’ve seen on Pinterest [follow me!] but never think to make. I didn’t want to take the time to look up recipes… so I just improvised. To make my Extraordinary Grilled Cheese, I paired flavorful white cheddar cheese with creamy avocado, crisp bacon, and sweet bell pepper strips and grilled it up on the stove real fast. A filling, fun lunchtime entree to brighten up a dreary day of graduate schoolwork. Works for me!

Sorry it’s not packable. Melted cheese never really is… sad day. But this is awesome [even if it's not awesomeforyou], so you can enjoy it on days you will be home. Like tomorrow. Saturday=grilled cheese day. If that’s not a tradition, it should be.

And if you have more time, maybe add some caramelized onions or roast those bell peppers up. More depth of flavor is always welcome in my book. :) But it’s also great as-is, and is a nice change up from your regular friend to tomato soup.

Hope you enjoy!

And in case you want some lunchtime reading, my husband, Ben, has recently started contributing to a video game blog. Check out his review of Assassin’s Creed Revelations here! [Not that I really know much anything about video games, but hey... maybe some food-lovers are also video game addicts too! :)]

Extraordinary Grilled Cheese

Ingredients:

  • 2 slices wheat bread
  • butter
  • white cheddar cheese
  • bell pepper slices
  • 2 slices bacon, cooked
  • avocado slices
  • freshly ground black pepper

Non-directions:

  • Heat skillet over medium heat.
  • Butter one side of each piece of bread.
  • Assemble sandwich, with butter side out, with cheese and peppers on one slice of bread and bacon, and avocado on the other [put avocado next to bread so bacon sticks].
  • Sprinkle freshly ground black pepper over the avocado.
  • Cook in skillet, flipping after a few minutes, until both sides are golden brown and cheese melts.
  • Enjoy!

Time: 10 minutes or less.

Yield: 1 delicious lunch.