Cheddar Stuffed Breakfast Sandwiches

Cheddar Stuffed Breakfast Sandwiches | Cravings & Crumbs

With Valentine’s Day coming up you may be on the lookout for the perfect date night.  Dinner is great and all, but if your date happens to run over to the next morning these cheddar stuffed breakfast sandwiches are definitely what you need to be making for your sweetie.

Cheddar Stuffed Breakfast Sandwiches | Cravings & Crumbs

Look, I’m not suggesting you invite your date to stay the night just so you can effortlessly whip these up in the morning and look like a magical god/goddess who can do anything, but if you just happen to spend the night with them and make these in the morning they’re definitely going to appreciate you all the more.  And for those of you in long-term relationships and those who live together, never underestimate the power of a novel act of love.  Especially when it involves melty cheddar cheese.  You have to keep things interesting, and yes, I am suggesting you keep the spark alive with cheddar stuffed breakfast sandwiches.  I have my  priorities straight.

Cheddar Stuffed Breakfast Sandwiches | Cravings & Crumbs

These are essentially a classic breakfast sandwich with a twist.  Based off the famous Juicy Lucy burger, we stuff the cheddar inside the breakfast sausage instead of melting it on top.  When you bite into it the cheese oozes out and honestly just makes me happy to be alive that I can enjoy little pleasures like these.  I stuffed these with sharp cheddar, but you could certainly stuff them with any cheese you like.  If you want them extra melty go for classic American cheese, but I found regular cheddar to be just fine.  I got pretty precise with the sausage measurements.  I didn’t want this to be too bulky so I experimented until I found the perfect amount for a thin layer on each side of the cheese, but with still enough bulk to keep the cheese in.  If while cooking you realize there’s a hole and cheese is oozing out, don’t worry, it will still be delicious!

Cheddar Stuffed Breakfast Sandwiches | Cravings & Crumbs

As for the eggs, cook them any way you like, but I highly suggest a runny yolk.  It just adds that extra bit of moisture and richness that brings the sandwich over the top.  All together, the light toasted English muffin gives way to a rich yolk, sausage, melty cheddar, and a bit of green onion for freshness.  This, my friends, is a very special breakfast sandwich that is best shared with a very special person.

Cheddar Stuffed Breakfast Sandwiches | Cravings & Crumbs

Cheddar Stuffed Breakfast Sandwiches
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Ingredients
  1. 120 g. breakfast sausage (4.25 oz. or a little more than ¼ lb)
  2. 24 g. cheddar cheese, sliced thinly or grated
  3. 2 eggs
  4. 2 english muffins
  5. 1 green onion, sliced
Instructions
  1. Divide sausage into four roughly equal portions and pat out into four patties the size of your english muffins. Add half the cheese to one patty, leaving a small border, then top with another patty. Press the edges gently to seal, then press either between your hands or between two sheets of plastic to make the whole patty even thinner and slightly larger in diameter than the english muffin. We do this because when we cook them the meat will contract and our patties will end up the same size as the muffins instead of smaller. Repeat with the other two patties and remaining cheese.
  2. Split the english muffins in half and toast lightly.
  3. Heat a small frying pan over medium high heat , spray lightly with nonstick spray, and add the patties. Cook, flipping halfway through, for about 8 minutes, until sausage is fully cooked.
  4. Remove the patties and place each on the bottom on the english muffins. Sprinkle each with green onions.
  5. Cook eggs how you like them, add to sandwiches and top with the english muffin tops.
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Nduja and Burrata Flatbread

Nduja and Burrata Flatbread | Cravings & Crumbs

This Nduja flatbread is off the charts and honestly one of my proudest inventions.  It has everything I love in a dish – it’s crunchy, has cured meat, burrata, baby greens and lemon – check, check, and check.  Oh yeah, and it only takes about 20 minutes to make.  That means less time cooking and more time indulging and that’s the kind of math I can get behind.

Nduja and Burrata Flatbread | Cravings & Crumbs

Look, I know it’s only Sunday, but I’m bringing you this nduja flatbread early in the week so you have time to gather the ingredients for next week’s happy hour.  Or, uh, if you’re me, your Wednesday night single lady dinner with a big glass of wine and a fresh episode of Criminal Minds…  Specifically, you need to source the nduja.  This is not a dish you run to the store at 6 o’clock after work to make for dinner, unless I guess your local grocery is pretty fancy?  My barometer of whether ingredients are fancy is whether I can get them at Trader Joes or not.
Actually, Trader Joes did have nduja a few years ago before I really knew what it was.  I bought it once, didn’t realize its full potential, and once I realized how amazing nduja was it was gone!  I tried writing them emails telling them they should bring it back, but they acted like I was asking them to bring back their tofu edamame nuggets.  No thanks.

Nduja and Burrata Flatbread | Cravings & Crumbs

What’s nduja?  It’s a spicy spreadable sausage from the Calabrian region of Italy.  I know, spreadable sausage sounds pretty much like meat paste, which might turn you off, but here it is a very good thing.  Trust me.  Once we cook the flatbread it becomes a thin, but highly flavorful layer on top of the lavash and any worries you had while you were smearing the salami mixture on the flatbread will be gone.  The burrata is just the cherry on top of this perfect flatbread.

Nduja and Burrata Flatbread | Cravings & Crumbs

So this weekend let all take a moment to just sit and enjoy this.  Have a glass of wine and relax for once in your hectic week.  I would say invite over some friends, but once you taste this flatbread I’m not so sure you’ll want to share!

Nduja and Burrata Flatbread | Cravings & Crumbs

Nduja and Burrata Flatbread
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Ingredients
  1. ¼ c. nduja
  2. 3 oil-packed calabrian chile or ¼ t. red pepper flakes
  3. 1 T. tomato paste
  4. 2 T. red wine vinegar
  5. 3 T. olive oil
  6. Salt & pepper
  7. Lavash bread
  8. 1 small ball burrata (about 4 oz.)
  9. 1 c. baby spinach
  10. ¼ lemon
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 450°.
  2. Chop the chiles finely, if using, and mix in a small bowl with the nduja, tomato paste, vinegar, olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Spread the nduja mixture thinly onto the lavash bread, leaving about an inch wide border. Place on a baking tray and bake for 5-7 minutes, until the lavash is crispy and golden brown. When you first pull it out of the oven, the middle of the lavash will still be a bit soft, but as it cools it will become crisp throughout.
  4. Tear the burrata into small chunks and distribute across the flatbread. Season with salt and pepper. Top with spinach and a squeeze of lemon juice.
Notes
  1. Nduja can be found at Whole Foods and other gourmet grocery stores. I've also found it at Cost Plus World Market. A good nationally available brand is La Quercia. Their nduja can also be ordered online from Murray's Cheese, Zingermans, and sometimes Amazon.
  2. If you can't find nduja a good substitute would be sobrasada, which East Bay locals can find at the Spanish Table in Berkeley.
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Gremolata Mushroom Pasta

Gremolata Mushroom Pasta | Cravings & Crumbs

I’m at that point in the year when vegetables just don’t sound good to me.  Sure, I want to eat tons of vegetables, my body is asking me to eat vegetables, but when I walk through the produce aisle at the store nothing calls out to me or gets me excited.  Except mushrooms.  Mushrooms and broccoli are my saving grace in winter.  

Gremolata Mushroom Pasta | Cravings & Crumbs

I’ve been cooking them all sorts of ways, but recently I was thumbing through Joshua McFadden’s new book, Six Seasons, and as I was flipping through the pages the heavens parted, birds started chirping, and there they were, these gremolata mushrooms.  Good ‘ol mushrooms.  

Gremolata Mushroom Pasta | Cravings & Crumbs

Sure, I felt a little lame that in a book with so many inspiring recipes for often overlooked vegetables (think celery root, kohlrabi, rutabaga, and turnips) I went straight for the familiar.  What I’ve found about McFadden’s recipes is that even with ingredients that you’ve cooked before, he presents them to you in a whole new light.  In this dish we start by sauteeing mushrooms with garlic and olive oil.  Simple, basic.  Then we cover them with briny capers, lemon zest and juice, more garlic, and a ton of parsley.  The gremolata totally transforms the mushrooms by brightening them up and adding interest.  For me, the secret ingredient is the lemon zest.  Using zest is kind of a cheffy trick that makes a huge impact, but as a home cook I often forget about it.  Here, it really makes the dish.  

Gremolata Mushroom Pasta | Cravings & Crumbs

Last, but not least, I added pasta and a ton of parmesan because its winter and I need to plump myself up to stay warm!  Adding pasta rounds out the dish and turns it into a full meal.  Next time you’re craving a satisfying meatless meal, or just want a freakin’ delicious mushroom pasta recipe, look no further!

Gremolata Mushroom Pasta | Cravings & Crumbs

Gremolata Mushroom Pasta
Serves 4
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Ingredients
  1. 3 T olive oil + a little more
  2. 4 cloves garlic, minced
  3. 2 whole cloves garlic, peeled
  4. 1 T capers, chopped
  5. Juice and zest of 1 lemon
  6. ½ c. flat leaf parsley
  7. Salt and pepper
  8. 1 lb mushrooms (crimini or fancier, whatever you feel like)
  9. ½ lb cavatappi or other similar pasta
  10. Grated parmesan
Instructions
  1. Add capers, lemon zest and juice to a small bowl.
  2. Heat 3 T olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Add minced garlic and cook until fragrant, but not browned at all, about 1 minute.
  3. Pour the hot garlic oil into the bowl with the lemon and capers. Add ¾ of the parsley, season with salt and pepper and set aside.
  4. Chop the mushrooms into large pieces. Heat a little more olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Use the flat side of a large knife to whack/smash remaining garlic cloves. Add the garlic and mushrooms to the frying pan and season with salt and pepper. Saute, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms are browned and crispy on the edges, 12-15 mins, adding more oil as needed.
  5. Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package directions. Drain, but don’t rinse.
  6. Add pasta, mushrooms, and gremolata and stir to combine.Top with remaining parsley and as much parmesan as you want.
Adapted from Joshua McFadden
Adapted from Joshua McFadden
Cravings & Crumbs http://www.cravingsandcrumbs.com/
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Endive Salad with Sherry-Fig Vinaigrette

Endive Salad with Sherry-Fig Vinaigrette | Cravings & Crumbs

Last week I shared the most amazing fried chicken with savory cornmeal waffles, the week before that was ginger miso skirt steak, so now we’re reining it all back in with this delicious and healthy endive salad.  After spending months thinking about this salad from the September issue of Bon Appetit and then this little salad from Deb Perelman, I knew it was time to make my own version.  The endive salads were calling to me!

Endive Salad with Sherry-Fig Vinaigrette | Cravings & Crumbs

I started by taking my favorite parts of both salads – the blue cheese from the BA recipe and the irregularly shaped hand torn croutons from Smitten Kitchen.  I made the croutons by pulling the insides from a thick slice of bread, making sure they were all about the size of half a walnut (er, a half of the walnut halves?  A quarter nut?  You know what I’m saying.)  Tearing instead of cutting the croutons gives them a lighter texture so that they almost shatter when you bite into them.

Endive Salad with Sherry-Fig Vinaigrette | Cravings & Crumbs

I came up with the vinaigrette simply because fig and sherry vinegar are ingredients I always want to use more of and they just sounded good together.  And surprise, they were!  The vinaigrette is a little sweet and a little tart, with complexity from the vinegar and shallots.  If you don’t have a bottle of sherry vinegar, you should probably go get one.  Not just for this recipe!  Sherry vinegar is my go-to splash of acid when I’m sauteing vegetables, it’s really good on roasted chicken and onions, and the tiniest splash at the end of cooking somehow brightens up and transforms french onion soup into the best ever.

Endive Salad with Sherry-Fig Vinaigrette | Cravings & Crumbs

My favorite part of this salad?  Ok, besides the cheese…  My favorite part is the texture.  The endive is incredibly crisp and refreshing, the croutons and walnuts provide two volumes of crunch, the cheese, nestled between the leaves, is creamy and salty, coating the tongue, and the blood orange is juicy and bright.  Most days spinach, arugula, and mixed greens will do, but for a truly interesting and textural winter salad I’ll stick with endive.

Start by whisking together all the ingredients for the vinaigrette and set aside. Preheat oven to 350° F. Spread walnuts and breadcrumbs on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and salt and toss to coat. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until nuts are fragrant and breadcrumbs are toasted. Remove and allow to cool while you prep the rest of the ingredients. Remove any bruised outer leaves from the endive and discard. Chop into about 1” sections and separate the leaves into a salad bowl. Slice the stem and bottom ends from the blood orange, then slice the peel and pith off in sections from top to bottom, following the curvature of the fruit. Holding the skinned orange in your hand, use a paring knife to carefully cut in between the segment walls to remove the segments and add to the salad. If you want, squeeze the juice from the remaining membrane into a small cup - this is the chef’s treat! Dice or crumble blue cheese. Roughly chop walnuts. Add cheese, walnuts, and breadcrumbs to the salad. Dress the salad with the vinaigrette and toss.

Endive Salad with Sherry-Fig Vinaigrette
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Ingredients
  1. 1 lb endive
  2. 1 blood orange
  3. ⅓ c. raw walnut halves
  4. ½ c. hand torn breadcrumbs
  5. 2 oz. blue cheese
  6. Olive oil
  7. Salt
Vinaigrette
  1. 1¼ t. fig preserves
  2. 1 T sherry vinegar
  3. 2 T olive oil
  4. 1¼ t. finely minced shallots
  5. ½ t. dijon mustard
  6. Salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Start by whisking together all the ingredients for the vinaigrette and set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 350° F. Spread walnuts and breadcrumbs on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and salt and toss to coat. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until nuts are fragrant and breadcrumbs are golden brown. Remove and allow to cool while you prep the rest of the ingredients.
  3. Remove any bruised outer leaves from the endive and discard. Chop into about 1” sections and separate the leaves into a salad bowl.
  4. Slice the stem and bottom ends from the blood orange, then slice the peel and pith off in sections from top to bottom, following the curvature of the fruit. Holding the skinned orange in your hand, use a paring knife to carefully cut in between the segment walls to remove the segments and add to the salad. If you want, squeeze the juice from the remaining membrane into a small cup - this is the chef’s treat!
  5. Dice or crumble blue cheese. Roughly chop walnuts. Add cheese, walnuts, and breadcrumbs to the salad. Dress the salad with the vinaigrette and toss.
Cravings & Crumbs http://www.cravingsandcrumbs.com/
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Spinach Salad with Honey Garlic Vinaigrette

 

Spinach Salad with Honey Garlic VinaigretteHere we go with another recipe from the Gjelina cookbook.  Last time we made a decadent mushroom toast that was so ridiculously delicious and comforting and would satisfy any meat eater.  (Gotta like mushrooms though, that’s a requirement).  This time I figured I would go for something much lighter.  I’ve been eating a lot of spinach salads for lunch and wanted some new flavor combinations to keep it interesting.

Spinach Salad with Honey Garlic Vinaigrette

Flipping through the pages of the cookbook was so inspiring that I had a list of recipes to try before I was even halfway through.  A constant goal of mine is to find new ways to cook and enjoy more vegetables and Gjelina is the perfect cookbook for that since vegetables are their main focus.  I actually checked this cookbook out from the library years ago when it first came out and wrote it off for all the subrecipes and complexity included in the recipes.  This time around I was more in a mindset to pick and choose where to spend my effort.  The recipes are so great that even if you don’t make every single thing from scratch or find each obscure/gourmet ingredient it will still end up so much better than your average recipe.

Spinach Salad with Honey Garlic Vinaigrette

What originally drew me to this recipe was the beautiful picture and the contrast between the deep green of the spinach and the golden brown of the croutons.  Remember what I was just saying about choosing where to spend your effort?  Well in this recipe don’t skip the homemade croutons!  Not only is there nothing better than homemade croutons, but I love how thinly they’re sliced.  They end up crispy, but still somewhat delicate.

Spinach Salad with Honey Garlic Vinaigrette

Spinach Salad with Honey Garlic Vinaigrette
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For the vinaigrette
  1. 3 T red wine vinegar
  2. 1T lemon juice
  3. 2 cloves garlic, minced
  4. 2T shallots, minced
  5. 1T honey
  6. ½ c olive oil
  7. 1t Dijon mustard
  8. Salt and pepper
For the salad
  1. Day old bread
  2. Olive oil
  3. Seasonings
  4. Baby spinach
  5. Golden raisins
  6. Goat cheese
  7. Kalamata olives
  8. Castelvetrano olives
Instructions
  1. Combine the shallots and garlic with the vinegar and lemon juice in a small bowl or jar and let macerate 5-10 minutes. Then add the rest of the vinaigrette ingredients and stir or shake to combine.
  2. Preheat oven to 350° F. Slice bread very thinly, about ¼” and lay out on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and any other seasonings you like (garlic powder and dried basil would be a nice place to start). Bake for 10-15 minutes, until golden brown.
  3. Assemble salad by adding the spinach and golden raisins to a large bowl. Slice the olives in half and add to the bowl. Crumble the goat cheese on top. Break the croutons into bite sized pieces and add. Finally, toss with the vinaigrette, 1 T at a time until you reach your desired level of coating.
Notes
  1. I don’t have any measurements here because in a salad it’s all to your taste. Add a little of this and that, it really doesn’t matter as long as the main ingredient is the spinach.
Adapted from Gjelina
Adapted from Gjelina
Cravings & Crumbs http://www.cravingsandcrumbs.com/
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Fancy Mushroom Toasts

Fancy Mushroom Toast | Cravings & Crumbs

I have a sort of foodie friend in the office I work in.  We chat about recipes we’ve tried, new ingredients we found, what we’re going to cook over the weekend, cookbooks, pretty much anything food related.  I love finding people who love to cook because talking to them gets me excited about new flavors, cuisines, and ingredients that I might not have been familiar with or known about before.

Fancy Mushroom Toast | Cravings & Crumbs

A few weeks ago he came into the office on Monday morning talking about a meal he had at Gjelina over the weekend.  He led with the dessert heavenly butterscotch pots de creme then he moved on to the mushroom toast.  I have no idea what else he ate there because we couldn’t move past the mushrooms.  Oh my god, the mushroom toast.  The chef says he can’t take these off the menu because the customers will revolt.  They’re that good.

Fancy Mushroom Toast | Cravings & Crumbs

Like any obsessive home cook, he had already bought the cookbook and was ready to try to recreate them at home.  I wouldn’t have thought much more about these mushroom toasts except to ask for a follow-up the next week.  But the next week he hadn’t made them.  The week after that he bought a mixture of fancy mushrooms at the farmer’s market, but was stymied by the homemade creme fraiche, which had to be cultured at exactly 78° F…  Three weeks I waited for the report on the mushrooms toasts!  And in the meantime I found myself reading blog posts of people who had recreated them and scrolling through instagram shots from the restaurant just to see what they looked like in their natural habitat.  Yeah, I know I have problems.

Fancy Mushroom Toast | Cravings & Crumbs

Eventually i had to take matters into my own hands.  A quick trip to my local produce market to pick up mushrooms and good bread and a jaunt over to Trader Joe’s for reasonably priced creme fraiche and I was ready!  I was out of garlic confit, although I have a recipe for my version right over here, but I wasn’t going to let that stop me.  I quickly infused some garlic in oil, used that to toast the breads.  You can toast them in the toaster, but for this recipe it’s much better on the stovetop (or grill, as the original recipe calls for) because the outside will be incredibly crunchy, but the inside of the slices will still be moist and springy.  A quick saute of the mushrooms, reduction of some white wine and shallots, and the addition of some creme fraiche and I was eating the best lunch I could ask for!

Fancy Mushroom Toast | Cravings & Crumbs

The recipe notes say that the chef enjoys a big slab of mushroom toast with an earthy glass of red wine for dinner and I must say he’s on to something.  Normally you might match the wine to whatever type of wine you used in the dish, but here the earthy meatiness of the mushrooms is perfect with red.  This is a decadent and delicious vegetarian appetizer or main course that I would be more than happy to eat again and again.

So here it is, a doable version of the original.  Although homemade garlic confit and homemade buttermilk creme fraiche would undoubtedly be amazing with this recipe, if they’re holding you back from making this recipe then don’t do them!  If you do want to go the extra mile, you can find the original recipe in full here.

Fancy Mushroom Toasts
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Ingredients
  1. ⅓ c. olive oil
  2. 5 large cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
  3. 2-4 slices good bread (depending on size)
  4. ½ lb mushrooms (see notes)
  5. Salt and pepper
  6. 2 T minced shallots
  7. 1 T butter (optional)
  8. ½ c. dry white wine
  9. 1T fresh thyme
  10. ½ c. creme fraiche
  11. 2 T fresh parsley, chopped
Instructions
  1. Add the olive oil and garlic slices to a small frying pan over medium-low heat. Cook until garlic slices are beginning to brown on the edges, then remove with a slotted spoon and save for later. Remove oil from heat.
  2. Use a pastry brush to brush a thin layer of garlic oil on both sides of the bread. Heat a frying pan over medium heat for 10 minutes, then add the bread in a single layer. Cook until the bread is crispy and browned on the first side, then flip and cook the second side in the same manner. Remove the toasts to a plate.
  3. Separate or chop mushrooms into bite-sized pieces. This will mean different things based on which mushrooms you have so use your best judgment of what size mushroom chunks will fit nicely on your toast. Turn the heat under the frying pan to medium high and add 3 T of the garlic olive oil to the frying pan. Add mushrooms, season with salt and pepper, and cook undisturbed until seared and well browned, about 5 minutes. Stir the mushrooms, add the shallots and the butter if the pan seems like it needs more moisture. Cook for 1-2 minutes, then add the wine, thyme, and reserved garlic slices and continue to cook until reduced by half.
  4. Stir in the creme fraiche and cook until thickened slightly, 1-2 mins. Stir in the parsley, taste and season again with salt and pepper, then spoon the mushrooms evenly over your toasts.
Notes
  1. Although these are fancy mushroom toasts, you should feel free to use any mushrooms that you have access to or can afford. I really know nothing about fancy mushrooms so I picked these based on looks and price and ended up with oyster and brown clamshell. The original recipe suggests a mix of nameko, hen of the woods, chanterelle, porcini, or matsutake. However, the mushrooms share the spotlight with the sauce and toast and as I was eating these I thought they would be just as delicious with regular old sliced crimini.
Adapted from Gjelina
Adapted from Gjelina
Cravings & Crumbs http://www.cravingsandcrumbs.com/
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Steak Roll-Ups, A Template

Steak Roll Ups | Cravings & Crumbs

I know everybody likes to laud casseroles and stir fries as the perfect way to use up kitchen scraps, but I’d like to add steak roll-ups to that list as well.  With some leftover ingredients and a little bit of creativity you can have a dish worthy of guests and no one needs to know you threw it together with what you found in the bottom of your produce drawer. Read More

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Apple Bacon Dutch Baby

Apple Bacon Dutch Baby | Cravings & Crumbs

Here in the Bay Area we don’t get seasons in the same way everyone else does.  When others are enjoying shorts and sunshine in July we’re wearing sweaters and long sleeves.  And when everybody else is enjoying their first hot pumpkin spice lattes of the season I’m making this dutch baby in 75 degree weather with no cold weather in sight.  The thing about this dutch baby is, I’m sure it would be delicious on a chilly fall morning eaten leisurely with a hot cup of coffee and something good to read, but it was just as good eaten at 2 pm in my living room after my photoshoot with the ceiling fan on.  It’s that good. Read More

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Grilled Zucchini Crostini

Grilled Zucchini Crostini | Cravings & Crumbs

Summer is here and with it comes a bounty of produce.  Although my zucchini plant is just at the blossoming stage now, I know that one day i’ll blink my eyes and suddenly i’ll have more squash than I know what to do with.  So, before we get to that desperate stage when we have zucchini coming out our ears, I present to you this simple and delicious grilled zucchini crostini. Read More

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BBQ Chicken Salad with Creamy Poblano Dressing

BBQ Chicken Salad with Creamy Poblano Dressing

I have a thing for summer food.  What do I mean by “a thing”?  Well soups, stews, and roasts are great, but what I really want year round is to be able to eat something light, flavorful, and that hopefully was grilled outside.  This summer salad hits all the marks. Read More

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