Patty Melts


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This may be one of those recipes that you read and wonder just how bi-polar my diet is.  Occasional indulgences are (I hope) OK, and they're probably even more OK when you make them at home, able to control your ingredients.  That's at least what you can tell yourself to make yourself to feel better about making diner classics like patty melts at home. 

I'm not even sure if I've had a patty melt in a restaurant, but when I saw Pioneer Woman make it on her Food Network Show, it seemed like the right thing to do was to make one ASAP. 

These were so good, and easy! and they were even so good reheated.  If you make burgers at home and are looking for a way to jazz up burgers, this is it.  I'm in love and I don't care who knows it.  I made some changes, but encourage you to visit PW's site for the original recipe, as well as a plethora of other great recipes and reading.

Patty Melts
inspired by The Pioneer Woman
Makes 4 sandwiches

1 lb ground beef (I recommend lean)
1 large or 2 medium white or sweet onions, thinly sliced (rings or slivers, it doesn't really matter)
8-16 slices of provolone cheese
8 pieces rye bread
Butter/olive oil
Salt, Pepper, Worcestershire Sauce

Heat a large skillet over medium heat.  Add 1-2 Tb. butter (or olive oil, if you prefer) and add sliced onions.  Cook over medium or even medium low heat, stirring occasionally, until onions are caramelized, approx. 30-45 minutes.

In the meantime, prep your ground beef:  preheat a grill pan or other skillet to medium-high.  In a medium-large bowl, add beef, approx 1 tsp. Kosher salt (1/2 tsp table salt), freshly ground black pepper, and a few dashes Worcestershire sauce.  Lightly mix to incorporate, and form into four equally sized patties.  Grill the patties to desired doneness (approx 10 minutes total for med-well to well done), flipping halfway through.  This could vary for your stove, or even your own personal tastes.

Wipe off grill pan.  Once the onions are done, assemble and grill sandwiches:
Butter 1 side of each slice of bread.  Place buttered side of four pieces facing down.  Top with 1-2 slices cheese, then the hamburger patties, and then the caramelized onions.  Top with more cheese and the other slices of bread, buttered side up.  Grill in grill pan (or skillet), over medium heat, until cheese is nice and melted.


  • Caramelizing onions is almost alchemy.  Low and slow is the name of the game, and it's worth it!  They go from sturdy, crisp, and white/yellowish to an almost velvety-soft, medium to deeper brown color.  The flavor is mellowed and sweeter.  Here is a good visual guide.  If you don't want to wait that long, you can of course use slightly higher heat and cook for a lesser time.  The effect won't quite be the same, but it'll still be good.
  • My husband can handle 3-4 slices of cheese on his patty melt, which really covers both slices of bread and is ooey gooey and delicious.  When you think about the cheese, plus the beef, plus the butter used in the recipe, you get that this isn't exactly diet food.  Feel free to make it a little less bad for you by using 2 slices per sandwich.  I did that and didn't feel deprived.
  • To reheat:  wrap in foil and place into a 350 degree oven for 10-15 minutes, until center is warm and cheese is melted.
  • Serve with fries, a salad if you're like some Givenses who believe the two will balance out, or chips.

Meatless Mondays- Slow Roasted Tomatoes + Pasta


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Not too long ago I discovered Brit + Co, which highlighted a recipe for slow roasted tomatoes, which is an at-home method for making "sun dried" tomatoes.  If you like sun dried tomatoes, these are a great recipe for you.  The slow roasted tomatoes have the intensity and complexity of flavor that sun dried tomatoes have but have a softer texture, which can be nice.  They're also a good way of using up or preserving tomatoes you have lying around that might otherwise go bad.  I made the recipe as is:

Slow Roasted Tomatoes
from Smitten Kitchen

Cherry, grape or small Roma tomatoes
Whole gloves of garlic, unpeeled
Olive oil
Herbs such as thyme or rosemary (optional)

Preheat oven to 225°F. Halve each cherry or grape tomato crosswise, or Roma tomato lengthwise and arrange on a parchment-lined baking sheet along with the cloves of garlic. Drizzle with olive oil, just enough to make the tomatoes glisten. Sprinkle herbs on, if you are using them, and salt and pepper, though go easily on these because the finished product will be so flavorful you’ll need very little to help it along.

Bake the tomatoes in the oven for about three hours. You want the tomatoes to be shriveled and dry, but with a little juice left inside–this could take more or less time depending on the size of your tomatoes.

Either use them right away or let them cool, cover them with some extra olive oil and keep them in the fridge for the best summer condiment, ever. And for snacking.

* I don't know how many tomatoes I started out with, but I ended up with 1- 8 oz jar.  I filled the jar with the tomatoes, surrounded them with olive oil, and stored them in my fridge.

The only problem with making a recipe that isn't necessarily a dish in itself is that you then have to put some thought and effort into what else you're going to make with them.  I mean, you could eat these by themselves, and they might make a good accompaniment on a meat and cheese tray or something, but I wanted to use them as a star in a dish.  It took me forever to get around to making something.  I used half the tomatoes to make Drew and me a pasta dish.  It was a good choice.  A really good choice.  We both said we would eat and want this again, and Drew's heart doesn't leap at the thought of pastas like mine does.

I made a variation on spaghetti aglio e olio (spaghetti with garlic and oil), and used the slow roasted tomatoes it it.

The more I look at some of my pictures, the more I realize I am a terrible photographer.  Don't let that deter you from making this tasty and simple dish!

Spaghetti Aglio e Olio with Slow Roasted Tomatoes
feeds 2

4 oz. long pasta, such as spaghetti or fettuccine (or a mix, if you're like me and have a little of both)
1/2 jar (4 oz) slow roasted tomatoes and oil
6-10 cloves garlic, depending on your own love of it
1-2 Tb olive oil
Grated/shredded Parmigiano Reggiano cheese

Boil noodles until al dente in a large pot of salted water.  Drain pasta, reserving 1/2 cup pasta water.  Slice your garlic cloves into slices and your oven roasted tomatoes into strips.  In a large, shallow pan, pour the oil from the tomatoes into the pan and add additional olive oil to coat the bottom.  Heat over medium to medium low and add garlic.  Saute on low, being careful not to brown the garlic.  Add the tomatoes just to heat.

Toss in the pasta and reserved pasta water if needed to coat the noodles.  Add cheese.  Serve and eat with a green salad.

Coconut Chicken Cutlets



Are you a recipe hoarder?  Do you have lots of cookbooks, subscribe to food magazines and keep most to all the issues, print off recipes and keep them in a special place, and have a Pinterest recipe board (or boards) composed of hundreds of pins? 

We used our 8-inch skillet to pound the chicken

No?  Oh, well nevermind then.  Forget I asked.  Oh, you might be?  Maybe we can start a club.  This particular recipe comes from my collection of recipes I have hoarded.  I try to eventually get around to them, and I'm glad I got to this one.

Maybe I'm more of a food trend follower than I thought, but the increasingly popular coconut seemed ubiquitous, and I loved how Rachael Ray incorporated it into this dish.  It's quick, easy, and is great for summer or when you're just longing for warmer days. 

I made the pineapple preserves from scratch, and have to confess I overcooked them, but they still worked pretty well.  Drew and I both agreed that we'll be looking forward to making this recipe again. 

Since I didn't want to buy certain ingredients, I modified the recipe a little.  I'll link to the original in the recipe title and post as I made it.

Coconut Chicken Cutlets
from Rachael Ray
to serve 4 or more

8 chicken cutlets, slightly pounded
Salt and pepper
1 cup flour
2 eggs
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
1 cup grated unsweetened coconut
1-2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
1/2 cup pineapple preserves    
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar 
1-2 tablespoons chicken stock
2 scallions, whites and greens sliced

Pre-heat the oven to 250˚F. Place a cooling rack over a baking sheet and place them in oven. Arrange three shallow dishes: Place about a cup of flour on the first dish for dredging the chicken. Beat the eggs with a splash of water in second dish. Combine the panko breadcrumbs and coconut in the third dish.

Heat a thin layer of EVOO (eyeball it) in a large skillet over medium heat. Season the chicken cutlets with salt and pepper, then coat them in the flour, then the egg and lastly, the breadcrumb-coconut mixture.

Fry the cutlets in two batches until deep golden in color, 3-4 minutes on each side. Keep the chicken crisp in the warm oven and repeat with the remaining chicken.

In a small skillet over medium-high heat, stir together the pineapple preserves, rice wine vinegar, and chicken stock. Reduce until thickened, about 2 minutes. Stir in the scallions. To serve, arrange the chicken on a platter and pour the sauce over the top.

  • Rather than buy chicken cutlets, I used four chicken breasts.  The larger ones, I cut in half (thickness wise) and pounded slightly, and the smaller ones I just pounded out.  
  • You can find pineapple preserves at the grocery store with the jelly/jam section, but all the ones I found contained high fructose corn syrup.  As an alternative, I decided to make my own and used this recipe:  Combine 1- 10 oz can crushed pineapple in juice and 1 cup sugar in a medium saucepan.  Heat to boiling over high heat, and cook 20 minutes, stirring constantly until thickened or until mixture reaches 220 degrees on a candy thermometer.  You may need to turn the heat down to med or med-high once it reaches boil.  You do on my burner.