The Nicest Thing and a Summer Sandwich Spectacular!

Welcome  Don’t you just love it when your brain lands on pleasant memories?  Sometimes it takes some coaxing from an outside source to remember some of the little bests in life.  We also have a summer sandwich spectacular for our recipes today. Yay!

Food For Thought  In one of my recent self-help reads, there was a chapter titled “How’s Your Soul?”  The author discussed how this makes a much better question, especially among friends, than the typical “How are you?”  She identified three key strategies for “soul care.”  I like this idea of soul care, and believe there’s even more strategies out there to improve how we feel, deep down in our souls.

One of the focus points was to “catalog our compliments.”  For some people, well for me anyway, it’s easy to focus on the negative, the failures, and what’s not going right.  But if we take the time to look back over our life and think about the compliments we have been given, we hopefully see that we are successful and just as often good at things as often as we’re not.  This is not intrusive on being humble or modest, but a reflection on what’s going well and the talents we have been blessed with.

One of the exercises was to answer this question:  What is the nicest thing anyone has ever said to you?  That was tricky, but fun!  I really had to look back over the last forty years and reflect on different types of compliments I have been given.  A few have been on appearance, some of been for my cooking, while others were for my teaching and work with kids.  I’ve been told I’m organized, efficient, punctual, and “have it together.”  These are all lovely compliments, but on any given day, I could struggle with these, leaving me feel like I’m falling apart.  Even worse, someone comes along to tell me I’m NOT successful or acceptable in one of these areas.  So what was the nicest thing someone said to me that has left a lasting imprint on my soul?

When I was in college, there were several girls in my dorm that stated I was the happiest, most cheerful person they had ever known.  Now that, my friends, is a compliment!  These kind words were said to me over 20 years ago and I still remember the people that said it, we were standing, and how it made me feel.  Believe me, this type of compliment goes a lot further than telling someone they have a nice shirt or a cute new haircut.  I’ve always felt this was the nicest thing because how we act and treat people has a much bigger impact on them and their lives than how we appear.

When I was an RA in that dorm, taking care of those girls in my own way, they did not care what brand of jeans I had on or if my shoes were cute.  They needed me to be positive, encouraging, and cheerful for them.  They needed me to remind them of the rules and policies with gentleness, kindness in my voice and a smile on my face.  When they were homesick or having boyfriend problems, they needed an understanding ear, a calm perspective, and a strong shoulder to cry on.  After a hard day of classes, they needed a friendly face to welcome them “home.”

These are the legacies we really leave for others.  It has nothing to do with our clothes and make-up.  It’s not about what car we drive or if we can “hook them up” with the right people or places.  Our true legacy has to do with how we treat people.  What will their memories tell them about us when we’ve moved on.  Do you want to be remembered as the person that was always in a hurry and didn’t take the time to listen?  Do you want to be remembered as the person who acted haughty and conceited?  Or do you want to be remembered as the nicest, the kindest, the friendliest, the most cheerful, or the happiest?

Today’s Scripture

Today’s Recipes  It’s a Summer Sandwich Spectacular today!  I love low-fuss meals for summer.  Sometimes a light salad or simple sandwich is all I need for my summer supper.  However, my family has a hearty appetite.  Okay, honestly, I do too!  But that’s the beauty of sandwiches.  They can be light and healthy or hearty and robust, depending on what you’re in the mood for.  I’m going to share some options from the hearty and robust category today.  These recipes each make 6 sandwiches, but you can adjust as necessary.  We wrap our leftover sandwiches in foil and reheat in the oven at 375 for 20 minutes.  You can also wrap in a paper towel and microwave for one minute, but this reheat method will lose the crispiness of the bread.  But you do have options!

I’m going to start with my absolute favorite sandwich…the Cuban!  I do not shy away from pork, so I love that this classic sandwich has ham and pulled pork.  I also love mustard, pickles, and cheese, so I really can’t go wrong here.  It gets even better by making the bread nice and crispy as you press it while grilling.  No sandwich press?  Oh, me neither!  So I make mine in a nonstick pan, and then place my large, HEAVY cast iron skillet on top of the sandwiches.  This presses them down nicely, giving a nice golden crisp crust to the bread.  It really is a great trick and works for most any pressed sandwich.  My version is slightly different, as I use a crusty French bread instead of traditional Cuban rolls.  I also use spicy brown mustard instead of regular yellow and provolone cheese instead of swiss.  I will admit, this is not necessarily a healthy sandwich, but so good and filling!

 

Robin’s Favorite Cuban Sandwich (makes 6 sandwiches)

  • 1 large loaf of crusty French bread, cut into 12 slices
  • 6 TBS mayonnaise or Miracle Whip
  • 6 tsp spicy brown mustard
  • 12 slices deli-style ham
  • 12 oz. fully cooked pulled pork (I used Appleton Farms unsauced shredded pork from Aldi.  One package is 12 ounces.  This is a great product when you need some pulled pork for a recipe and don’t want to smoke your own!)
  • 18 dill pickle slices
  • 18 slices provolone cheese
  • 2-4 TBS butter

Warm pulled pork according to package directions.  Spread a tablespoon of mayonnaise or Miracle Whip on six slices of bread.  Spread a teaspoon of mustard on the other six slices of bread.  On each of the six slices of mustard bread, place a slice of provolone, 2 slices of ham, another slice of provolone, 2 ounces of pork, another slice of provolone, and 3 pickle slices.  Top with the mayonnaise bread slice.  In large skillet, melt 2 tablespoons of butter.  When butter is melted and skillet is hot, gently place two of the sandwiches.  Directly on top of this place a heavy iron skillet, pressing down firmly.  After about 4 minutes, or so, remove skillet and carefully flip sandwiches.  Place skillet back on top of sandwiches, pressing down firmly, allowing the sandwiches to finish cooking, about four more minutes.  Repeat this procedure until all sandwiches have been grilled to golden brown and melty, gooey perfection!

 

Who doesn’t love a good patty melt?  This patty melt is full of onion flavor, right down to the onion, garlic, and parmesan butter spread added to the sourdough bread before grilling.  Sound good?  Try it and see!  My one “beef” with this burger is that I can’t seem to get my patties to fit the size of the sourdough slices.  Maybe you will be more successful at making oblong-shaped burgers.

Patty Melt with Onion-Garlic-Parmesan Sourdough (makes 6 burgers)

  • 12 slices sourdough bread
  • 4-6 TBS soft butter or margerine
  • 2 TBS grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 1/2 tsp garlic powder, divided
  • 1 1/2 tsp onion powder, divided
  • 2 large onions, sliced
  • 2 TBS butter
  • 2 TBS Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 pounds ground beef (85/15 is ideal for this)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 6 provolone cheese slices

In large skillet melt 2 tablespoons butter over medium-high heat.  Add onions.  When onions begin to brown, add 1/4 teaspoon each salt and black pepper, along with the Worcestershire sauce.  Continue to stir and cook onions until thoroughly cooked, about 12-15 minutes.

While onions are cooking, make the meat mixture.  Place ground beef in large bowl.  Add 1/4 teaspoon each salt and black pepper.  Add a teaspoon each onion powder and garlic powder.  Mix meat completely and form into six even patties.  When onions have finished cooking, remove the onions to a separate bowl.  In same skillet, cook burger patties in batches (I can cook three at a time in my pan).

While burgers cook, prepare butter spread for the bread.  Place 4-6 tablespoons of soft butter or margarine in a medium bowl, depending on how big your bread slices are and how much butter you like to use when making grilled sandwiches.  Add a half teaspoon each of onion powder and garlic powder along with two tablespoons of grated parmesan.  Mix together completely and spread on one side of each bread slice.

Once burgers are cooked to desired doneness, remove from pan.  Place 2 slices of bread in skillet, butter-side down.  Top each with a slice of provolone cheese, some of the onions, and a burger patty.  Top these with another slice of bread, butter-side up.  Cook until cheese is melted and carefully flip to other side, continuing to cook until both sides of bread are golden brown.  Repeat this procedure until all sandwiches have been grilled.

 

Finally, today, we have the Ultimate Jalapeno Popper Grilled Cheese.  It is the best of both worlds…jalapeno poppers meets grilled cheese sandwich.  Rich, gooey, spicy, and filling…just plain good!

 

Ultimate Jalapeno Popper Grilled Cheese (makes 6 sandwiches)

  • 12 slices sandwich bread
  • 8-oz block cream cheese, softened
  • 12-oz center cut bacon, about 15 slices
  • 5-6 fresh jalapenos, diced
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 6 slices cheddar cheese
  • butter, for skillet when grilling sandwiches

In large skillet, cook bacon until crisp; remove strips to paper towels to drain.  In large bowl, add cream cheese, diced jalapenos, garlic powder, onion powder, pepper, and 3 strips of the bacon, crumbled.  Stir together until well combined (I find a potato masher does well when working to blend cream cheese and other ingredients.)  On six of the bread slices place a slice of cheddar cheese and two strips of the bacon.  On the other six slices of bread spread some of the jalapeno cream cheese mixture.  Put one of each of the bread slices together to make a sandwich.  Remove bacon grease from skillet and wipe out with paper towels.  Melt butter over medium heat in skillet.  Place sandwiches in skillet, 2 or 3 at a time, grilling 3-4 minutes per side.  If you happen to have any of the jalapeno cream cheese mixture left, it also makes a great dip!