A “Rachel Sandwich”: A Funky Creation Inspired by a Food Truck Sensation!

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So I had to title this a “Rachel Sandwich” because that saying has been a staple in my group’s vocabulary since all of my little “brothers” were in high school….so almost 10 years!! Back in the old days, when I had 1-7 teenage boys traipsing through my kitchen after they got out of school, I made a lot of sandwiches, because they are quick and easy. But because I am who I am, they were not just simple meat and cheese, no, there were sweet peppers and garlic in the mayo and sauteed onions and broiled peppery tomatoes on top!! Hence making a “Rachel Sandwich” a special treat all on it’s own!

The inspiration for this particular sandwich occurred at the end of May, when I accompanied my Aunt to the Creedence Clearwater Revival concert at the beautiful Hudson Gardens. Even if you have never heard the name CCR, they sing such classics as Bad Moon Rising, I Put A Spell On You, Run Through The Jungle, and Who’ll Stop The Rain. I am absolutely sure you have heard at least one of their songs in your lifetime! Even if you have seen Hocus Pocus, then you have heard Bette Midler cover I Put A Spell On You, hahaha! Anyway, awesome show!! They can still rock it!

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Now they had about six food trucks at this concert, and I started off the night with some seriously delicious salted caramel sweet potato fries, but I was having a hard time choosing the main dish. Although the Filipino food truck really had me gunning for some authentic Pansit, it was a different truck that eventually caught my eye with its delightfully clever dish names! “Not Your Mama’s PB & J!” Say what?? Seared pork belly topped with a Thai peanut slaw and a smear of jalapeno jelly! Count me in!

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Salted Caramel Sweet Potato Fries

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Not Your Mama’s PB & J

Unfortunately, it turns out that I don’t like pork belly!! (Sorry BFF-brother-in-law!! Although, I feel like you just said that you loved pork belly just so Desiree and I would try it, lbvs!! Well, I did!) But I absolutely adore the idea! So I had to figure out a way….

Ingredients:

Coleslaw (unprepared, either in a bag, or finely chop both cabbage and carrots)

Thai Peanut Sauce* (either prepared or recipe follows)

Bacon–at least three strips per sandwich

Bread

1 jar Jalapeno Jelly

1 cup Brown Sugar

*Thai Peanut Sauce (Remember that my recipes are approximate):

3/4 cup peanut butter (I used 1/2 creamy, 1/4 chunky)

1/4 cup water

3 Tablespoons hoisin sauce

2 Tablespoons lime juice

2 Tablespoons soy sauce

1 Tablespoon granulated sugar

2 1/2 teaspoons chile-garlic paste

1-2 cloves of garlic finely diced or mashed (I kept mine kind of chunky, but I love raw garlic)

1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil (I used a ginger and soy sauce sesame oil)

Directions:

Prepare your Thai Peanut Sauce by combining all of the ingredients and whisking them thoroughly.

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Prepare your slaw. Whether you are dicing the cabbage and carrots yourself, or simply opening a bag like I did, combine the veggies with the Thai Peanut Slaw, making sure it is thoroughly saturated. Cover, and put in the fridge.

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In a separate bowl, combine about a cup of brown sugar and 2 big dollops of the jalapeno jelly. Mix well and set aside.

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Preheat oven to 350-375 degrees F.

Cook your bacon….

A few years ago, a very dear ol’ friend of mine taught me how to make “bacon quilts” for your sandwiches. *Explosion* Mind blown!! Perfect size for the bread and it keeps the bacon together inside! If anyone out there is a BLT fan like me, this method will change your life!!

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First, take your super long bacon strips and cut them in half, like this:

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Toss the half strips in the brown sugar and jelly mixture, making sure that every piece is coated.

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While they are marinating, spray your shallow baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray. I like to have my bacon elevated from the pan, so I put a cookie rack on top of a baking sheet that has slightly raised sides–this prevents the bacon grease from getting everywhere. Spray the rack too, if you’re using one.

Quilt the bacon! Do you remember those old DIY potholder loom kits? Where you had to weave each band over and under the other bands? Well this is basically the same idea!

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Remember Me??

Start with three pieces, and lay them out side by side (if one end is thicker than the other, then alternate the direction of the pieces so that it is not lopsided).

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In the opposite direction, add a fourth piece so that it lays on top of the outer pieces and under the center piece.

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The fifth piece will be the opposite, under the outer pieces and on top of the center.

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The sixth and final piece will be the opposite of the fifth, the same as the fourth.

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TA-DA!!! You just made your first bacon quilt! Repeat the process until you have the desired amount of quilts for your sandwiches.

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Bake your quilts until desired crispness. You can flip them, if you want, but be aware that the jelly/sugar mixture has made them quite sticky and you do run the risk of “fraying” the quilt.

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Once your bacon quilts have reached the desired crisp-ability, it is time to make the ‘wich.

Toast your bread. I used this delightful loaf from Sprouts:

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Smear desired amount of jalapeno jelly on one side of each of the slices of toast. I like the heat, so I used a healthy dose.

Lay your chosen quilt upon a slice of jellied toast.

Top with desired amount of the Thai Peanut Slaw and the other piece of jellied toast.

Slice it in half, if you would like, and ENJOY!! I served mine with both Sriracha french fries and regular fries!!

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I definitely preferred the bacon quilt over the pork belly, but I would strongly suggest trying the REAL Not Your Mama’s PB & J, if you ever run across it!!

Coke, Curry, and Quinoa!! Another Funky Flavor For Your Tastebuds!

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Hello again! Here is a Thai inspired dish this time!

This past Saturday was shopping day. We are a shop-once-a-month family, so this is actually a BIG deal because I do one massive bout of shopping in one day (usually). With a month’s worth of groceries I have to store, it tends to become a game of stuff or pitch, which is exactly what happened. The inspiration for this particular meal started with 3/4 empty box of quinoa–another drawback to shopping in bulk, giant boxes full of unlabeled individual packs that don’t have the directions on them, forcing you to keep that cumbersome giant box–that I was tired of kicking around, hahaha!

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So I had my side down, but what about the main dish? Well, I grabbed a chicken breast and went to work!

(If you did not read the Sugar & Spice Over Rice, then allow me to reiterate that all of my measurements are approximations, and that I am far from professional! I specialize in making cheap taste good!)

Ingredients:

1 large chicken breast cut into chunks

Thai Peanut Quinoa and Grain Blend

1 can of cola (I used Coca-Cola)

1 tablespoon of oil

Frozen Stir Fry Veggies

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Sauce/Coating:

2 tablespoons of curry powder (can be very strong!)

1 tablespoon of ground ginger

1 tablespoon cornstarch

Dash of the Tobasco Salt

Salt and Freshly Ground Lemon Pepper to taste

3 tablespoons crushed Wasabi Soy almonds (I used a sandwich bag and the flat end of a meat tenderizer mallet)

Splash of coke (later)

(I also randomly put about a teaspoon of peanut butter in the sauce at one point–to be elaborated upon later)

Directions:

1. Dice your chicken and put it in a bowl. Cover with some of the cola to help tenderize it (have you seen what coke does to the paint on your car?) Mix the dry ingredients to make your coating for the chicken.

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2. Dredge the chicken pieces in the curry almond mixture.

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3. Put the oil in the skillet and allow to heat, then toss in your chicken one piece at a time (otherwise they might stick together because of the cornstarch).

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4. Brown the chicken and then add your frozen veggies!

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5. Continue cooking until the chicken is thoroughly cooked and the veggies are at your desired level of ‘done’–if you like your veggies a little crisp, then this method should work just fine. If you prefer a soft veg, I would suggest starting them in a separate pan, and adding them to the chicken once they are both done.

In my experience, the cornstarch really got rather thick, so at one point I added a splash of coke to just thin it out!

Also, while preparing the quinoa, I had the tiniest bit of peanut butter left in the jar, so, on impulse, I added it to the chicken. I don’t really think it affected the flavor much, but this was delicious, so I don’t want to leave it out just in case it was what MADE the sauce! “No sauce? But the sauce makes the dish…” (The Count, Waxwork, 1988

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6. Dish up!! The quinoa I used came with peanuts as a garnish, so to follow suite, I used some of the Wasabi Soy (spicy!) almonds on my chicken!

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A Very Fairy Picnic!

Me and the bean (my step-daughter Railey)

Me and Railey

The reason the category “Carpe Adventure” exists at all is because I promised Railey that all summer long, we would have adventures every Thursday.  Thursday is my day with her, just the two of us, and I have all these fun things planned.  School ended last week and so it was time for our first adventure, a fairy picnic!

My fairy costume!

My fairy costume!

Railey's fairy costume!

Railey’s fairy costume!

The menu was simple as befits a picnic and consisted of watermelon wands, flower shaped tuna fish sandwiches, blueberries and blueberry lemonade.

Railey helped me make the food and we started with the watermelon wands.

We used a star shaped cookie cutter.

We used a star shaped cookie cutter.

I cut the watermelon into slices and she used the cookie cutter to make the star shape.

We popped the star shaped watermelon out.

We popped the star shaped watermelon out.

Once the watermelon stars were out we found some old, food-safe sticks and stuck them in the watermelon.

Viola!  Watermelon wands!

Viola! Watermelon wands!

We found more use for the cookie cutters when we made the sandwiches.  We used them to cut flower shapes out of some wheat bread.

Isn't she an adorable fairy helper!

Isn’t she an adorable fairy helper!

Once the flower shapes were done I mixed up some tuna and made some lovely, fairy sandwiches.

Flower shaped tuna sandwiches!

Flower shaped tuna sandwiches!

We whipped up some blueberry lemonade and found an old Easter basket.  We packed everything up, grabbed a fairy blanket and headed outside!

Our fairy picnic basket!

Our fairy picnic basket!

We had a wonderful time eating our delicious food.

She may have munched a piece of the wand off, but the magic is alive and well.

She may have munched a piece of the wand off, but the magic is alive and well.

Having adult level patience I waited until after we took a picture to eat my wand!

Having adult level patience I waited until after we took a picture to eat my wand!

Once we finished our meal, Railey worked off her food running around the lawn while I took the opposite approach.

I took a fairy nap!

I took a fairy nap!

All in all it was a great way to start our summer adventures and we enjoyed it immensely!

Fairy Best Friends!

Fairy Best Friends!