reuben panini

Sometimes, all I am looking to make is something quick and easy.  Sandwiches and panini are always a good go-to for that sort of thing, and one of my all-time favorites is the reuben.  It’s just such a great combination of ingredients that you really can’t go wrong.

So, I know there’s probably a good amount of people out there wondering why on earth I’m using Italian bread as opposed to the traditional rye bread for this reuben.  To be honest, I just really dislike rye bread (gasp!) I know, I’m sorry.  By all means, if you enjoy rye bread, use it for your reuben.  I definitely would if I liked the flavor a little more.  Also, I had some leftover Italian bread in the apartment, so wanted to use that up rather than let it go to waste.

Hopefully you accept my reasons for using a bread other than rye, but I promise, the rest of the sandwich stayed in line with the classic recipe. Now, with just a few assembly steps, I was well on my way to reuben goodness:

Reuben assembly
  1. Slather the bread with the thousand island dressing.
  2. Pile on a few ounces of corned beef.
  3. Add sauerkraut, as desired. I  sauerkraut, so I piled it on there!
  4. Lay a couple of slices of swiss cheese on top of the sauerkraut.
  5. Place the other piece of bread on top of the soon-to-be reuben panini.
  6. Griddle the sandwich for about five minutes, until golden brown on the outside.
  7. Cut in half, and enjoy!

Nothing beats an (almost) classic reuben… Mounds of corned beef and sauerkraut, smothered under a blanket of savory swiss cheese — all between thousand island slathered, grilled bread — sounds (and tasted) amazing.

I ate this with a side of arugula lightly dressed in a lemon vinaigrette to make it a meal.

Quick, easy and tasty – yes please!

Reuben Panini
Reuben Panini

craved creation: mesclun salad

Craved Creation: Mesclun Salad

Every once in a while when I am out to eat, I have something that I know I will want to make for myself at home. When I come across these dishes, I do my best to take special care in tasting the food to figure out what makes up the dish so I can attempt to create it myself.

Sometimes this task is easier with certain dishes than others, like with today’s post – the Mesclun Salad that I had at Iron Hill Brewery.  The salad itself was pretty straightforward, considering the ingredients were listed on the menu.

Mesclun salad ingredients
Mesclun salad ingredients

The only part that required some creative experimentation was the orange-vanilla vinaigrette that dressed the salad. With a bit of fresh orange juice, vanilla extract, white wine vinegar, dijon mustard, s&p and extra virgin olive oil, I was able to come up with a close replica.

I have made this salad time and time again. I’ve made it just for myself and also for larger crowds at dinners and parties, but no matter what, there never has been any left of what was made.  It is a great salad to try for a little change from the norm, and the orange-vanilla vinaigrette adds a refreshing note that rounds out the plate.

If you don’t have the opportunity to try this salad at Iron Hill, I hope you’ll try it from my recreated recipe and enjoy!

salmon over sautéed asparagus with hollandaise sauce

For a few months now, I have had this casual fixation with eggs benedict.  I find myself ordering it 90% of the time I see it on a breakfast or brunch menu. If I had to guess what it is about eggs benedict that has me so captivated, I would have to say it’s the luscious and rich hollandaise sauce that finds itself on any version of the dish.  Actually, it has become such a “thing” in my life, that I now find myself craving it at home.

With the craving lingering while I was deciding what to make for lunch today, I landed on an eggs benedict-inspired dish, salmon over sautéed asparagus and grilled bread (topped with, of course, a homemade hollandaise sauce!)

To make up for the difficulty of making homemade hollandaise sauce, I made the rest of the dish as straightforward as I possibly could.  Four ingredients and nothing too crazy going on to prepare it.  A quick sauté of the trimmed asparagus and a sear of the salmon fillet, both laid thoughtfully over a perfectly toasty piece of italian bread, all finished with a fresh squeeze of lemon. That was easy!

Sockeye salmon over sautéed asparagus and grilled bread

You could honestly stop here and have a perfectly delicious meal on your plate. However, there’s just something amazing that happens when you drizzle some warm, buttery hollandaise over the top. So, if you are up for it, I highly recommend you try to make it.

I should probably admit now that — I’ve never made hollandaise sauce before working on this post.  However, by following this recipe, I was able to make it successfully(…err kinda). I did run into a little challenge because the sauce ended up breaking when I got a little overzealous. BUT failure was not an option, so with a bit of finagling (adding another egg yolk and some careful whisking) I was able to bring the sauce back to its happy place.

Hollandaise sauce

Yum!  This dish was everything I wanted it to be and more. The crispy bread, tender asparagus, moist salmon and buttery hollandaise kept me smiling, bite after bite.

I’m not sure how long this relationship with eggs benedict will last, but it is nice to know that I am capable of making my favorite component all on my own.

Here’s the recipe! How did an attempt at hollandaise sauce go for you?

Salmon over sautéed asparagus with hollandaise sauce
Salmon over sautéed asparagus with hollandaise sauce


pan-seared chicken & spring pea couscous

Spring has sprung!  Or at least, it officially has as a couple of weeks ago. Although you can still feel the chill of winter in the air here in Philly, it hasn’t stopped the grocery stores from starting to stock up on fresh spring produce. So, I figured I’d follow their lead and make a dish that looked and tasted like the spring season — pan-seared chicken breast over an herbed, spring pea, pearled couscous.

chicken and pea couscous ingredients

Normally, I take the road more traveled and buy boneless, skinless chicken breast when I am making anything chicken related.  However, this time I threw my inhibitions to the wind…I bought bone-in chicken breast with the skin. I did this for a couple of reasons:

  1. I love chicken when it has that crispy, flavorful skin (while it’s maybe not the most healthy option, who says you can’t indulge from time to time?).
  2. It was a little cheaper by the pound and I figured if I really didn’t want it with the skin or bone, I was capable of getting there on my own at home.

So, I went for it and I am so happy I did. I ended up making a lemon zest, garlic and thyme mixture to stuff underneath the skin, which gave the chicken a delicious, bright flavor.

Pan-seared chicken

As for the couscous, I started with my favorite type, pearled (sometimes you’ll see it referred to as Israeli couscous).  It’s larger in size than your everyday variety and I personally enjoy the texture much better.  I followed the directions on the box, with one exception → I switched out some of the water it called for with freshly squeezed lemon juice. I wanted the pasta to absorb the lemon during the cooking process, rather than just squeezing some over it at the end. Once it was cooked and fluffed, I added butter, green peas, fresh chives and fresh mint to bring in the spring flavors I was after.

Spring pea couscous
Spring pea couscous

I was really happy with how this dish turned out in the end. The fresh herbs, lemons and peas all provided yummy notes of spring (and that crispy chicken skin was also delish).  Here’s the recipe for you to try!

What are some of your favorite spring-inspired dishes?

Pan-seared Chicken with Spring Pea Couscous
Pan-seared Chicken with Spring Pea Couscous


welcome to live laugh cook

Nutella Mocha

I am so happy to start this blog — it’s been a long time coming and to finally sit here writing my first post is so exciting!  Since I was a little girl, I have enjoyed cooking (and eating).  Whether it was helping my parents with a meal, using my easy bake oven or just thumbing through cookbooks, food always kept a smile on my face. Not only do I love the process of taking ingredients and turning them into something delicious, but also, I love indulging in the finished product.  All that being said, you should know that food created by others is equally satisfying to me.  In fact, right now I’m in a coffee shop enjoying a yummy nutella mocha latte.

If you love food half as much as I do, I hope you will come back often to read, interact and hopefully, get inspired. Feel free to stop by the about page to learn a little more about Live. Laugh. Cook. (and me)! Otherwise, read on, enjoy and Live. Laugh. Cook. 

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