Philly Cheese Steak Sandwiches

This is a recipe from my book, 101 Things to Do with Cheese. I love how EASY it is and that it tastes like you ordered it from the CAFE or bistro around the corner. YUM!

Philly Cheesesteak Sandwiches
Olive oil
1/2 red bell pepper, cut into strips
1/2 green bell pepper, cut into strips
1/2 small onion, cut into strips

1 package good-quality roast beef lunch meat, cut into strips
2 to 3 hoagie or deli-style buns
Provolone cheese slices or Cheez Whiz

Heat a little olive oil in a frying pan and add the veggies. When tender and slightly browned, stir in the beef. Let the meat heat through and brown slightly as well. Open the buns and place cheese on both sides, whether using slices or spreading on the "Whiz." Divide the hot meat mixture evenly among buns and then let the cheese warm and melt slightly. Serves 2 or 3.

TIP: You can add sliced fresh mushrooms to the veggies when you are sauteing them, or stir in some drained canned mushrooms with the meat. It's really good!


School Lunch Peanut Butter Bars

School is BACK in session! Who doesn't love this peanut butter COOKIE and chocolate combo? These dessert bars always REMIND of school back in the day, so I figured this was the PERFECT time of year to feature this YUMMY recipe!

School Lunch Peanut Butter Bars 
1 1/2 sticks butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg
3/4 cup crunchy peanut butter (creamy works fine too)
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
2 cups oatmeal

Chocolate Icing
1 stick butter, room temp
2 cups or so of powdered sugar
Around 1/2 cup cocoa
3 or 4 tablespoons milk
1 to 2 teaspoons vanilla
Dash of salt

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Cream together the butter and sugars. Blend in the egg, pb, soda, vanilla, and salt. Stir in the flour and oatmeal. Spread mixture onto a greased cookie sheet and bake for 15 to 20 minutes; let cool completely. Don't overbake!

To make the icing, blend together the butter, powdered sugar, milk, cocoa, and vanilla. Taste and adjust if necessary. Spread over bars and then cut and serve!

TIP: The measurements on the icing aren't exact, but that's because I think it turns out better when you mix it all together to taste. I always start with 1 stick of butter, and then blend in the rest of the ingredients until it looks and tastes right. This frosting should be more on the thin side and easy to spread—almost like a glaze, but not quite!


Grilled Cherry and Steak Salad

Another CHERRY recipe! I wasn't kidding when I told you we had a lot of EXTRA cherries on hand! This salad was pretty SIMPLE, and extra tasty. Especially if you like SWEET cherries, salty cheese, and tender STEAK . . .

Grilled Cherry and Steak Salad
1 steak, cut of choice
Balsamic vinegar
Olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 onion, sliced into thin rings
20 to 25 cherries, halved and pitted
1 head romaine lettuce, torn or chopped
Gorgonzola cheese crumbles
Girard's Champagne Dressing (I use the light version!), or my Red Wine Vinaigrette (see Salad Dressings)

Brush steak with vinegar and oil and then sprinkle with salt and pepper; let come to room temperature. Grill to desired doneness in a grill pan or on a BBQ; slice into thin strips and set aside. In a grill pan, grill the onions and cherries, cut side down, until the onions are browned and the cherries are tender and warm, about 5 minutes. Divide the lettuce onto two plates and then top with equal amounts of steak, onion, cherries, and cheese. Serve with dressing of choice!    

TIP: This is a pretty simple salad that is loaded with flavor. Try to go easy on the dressing so you don't drown the great taste of the grilled ingredients. Also, a number of dressings would taste yummy paired with this salad, so don't feel like you have to stick with my two suggestions above!


Banana Split Bread

We all know BANANA bread is yummy, but how about with the addition of FRESH cherries, chocolate chips, and NUTS? This recipe is a must try when there are fresh CHERRIES around!

Banana Split Bread
1/2 cup butter or margarine, melted
3 to 4 very ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar (firmly packed AND heaping)
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 1/2 cups flour
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
12 to 15 cherries, pitted and roughly chopped
1/2 cup pecans or walnuts, chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix together the butter, bananas, sugars, vanilla, and eggs. Stir in the salt, baking powder, and flour until well mixed. Stir in the remaining ingredients. Divide into two loaf pans and bake for 40 to 50 minutes, or until done. When done, let cool in the pan 10 minutes and then remove and finish cooling on a baking rack.

TIP: This bread is so good straight from the oven with a little butter, but try topping a slice with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and then drizzle with chocolate sauce and caramel. Sooooo delicious! Make it even more of a "banana split" by adding fresh banana slices, whipped cream, and nuts on top of the ice cream!


Chicken Cherry Lettuce Wraps

I've had a ton of cherries on hand lately and decided to figure out some fun things to do with them, so be prepared for some really yummy cherry recipes over the next week or so!

I actually found a recipe on allrecipes.com that sounded delicious, but I wanted to make it even simpler than it already sounded, so I made a few adjustments. It turned out soooo good that I can't wait to make them again!

Chicken Cherry Lettuce Wraps
Olive oil
2 large chicken breasts, cut into smaller-than-bite-size pieces
Salt and pepper
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 1/2 cups matchstick carrots, roughly chopped
1/2 cup chopped green onion
25 fresh cherries, pitted and then chopped (I quartered each half)
1/3 cup slivered almonds, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons teriyaki sauce
1 tablespoon honey
Lettuce leaves (iceberg, big leaves of romaine, leafy green, etc.)

Heat the oil in a frying pan and then add the chicken and season with salt and pepper. Toss around until starting to brown and then sprinkle with the ginger and cook completely, stirring with your spatula; remove from heat. Stir in the veggies, cherries, and nuts. Mix together the three liquids and then pour over mixture in pan and stir to coat. Serve with lettuce leaves to wrap. Yum!

TIP: Experiment with the ingredients! You could add chopped water chestnuts or cashews instead of almonds. I'm sure some chopped bell pepper would be a nice addition as well, along with cucumber or even a small amount of leftover rice. This filling, including the lettuce, would also taste fab rolled up in a tortilla!


Healthy Veggie Lasagna

I'm still trying to use up some of my SUMMER squash! This easy lasagna really hits the SPOT, and it's a great way to sneak in TONS of veggies. :)

Healthy Veggie Lasagna
1 zucchini, halved and then sliced
1 yellow squash, halved and then sliced
1/2 onion, chopped
1/2 to 3/4 cup thinly sliced carrots
1 cups chopped fresh spinach or Swiss chard
1 jar (1 pound 10 ounces) spaghetti sauce
4 ounces light or fat-free cream cheese, softened
1 container cottage cheese (I think it's the reg 16-ounce, not the "tall" container)
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
1 box lasagna noodles
1 1/2 cups grated mozzarella cheese, divided

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a frying pan, lightly saute all of the veggies together until just tender. Spread a spoonful of sauce in the bottom of a 9 x 13-inch pan and set aside.

In a bowl, combine the cream cheese, cottage cheese, Italian seasoning, and 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Place 3–4 lasagna noodles over sauce in bottom of pan. Top with half of the cheese mixture, half of the veggies, 1/3 cup mozzarella cheese, and some of the sauce. Place 3–4 noodles on top and repeat layers. Cover with 3–4 more noodles and remaining sauce. Top with remaining cheeses. Cover and bake for 45–50 minutes, then uncover and bake 5–10 minutes more. Let stand 5–10 minutes before serving.  Makes 8 to 10 servings.

TIP: Other great veggies in this dish? You can substitute or add in any of these: chopped red or green bell pepper, sliced or diced black olives, corn, sliced mushrooms, chopped broccoli, kale, etc. Also if you have more leftovers than you know what to do with, freeze individual slices in a plastic Ziplock container and save them for lunches or another dinner!


Easy Chicken Teriyaki Bowls

Here's another way to use up some of that EXCESS zucchini you might have this time of YEAR. The base of this RECIPE comes from my sister-in-law, Amanda. It is SOOOO good. Thanks for sharing!

Easy Chicken Teriyaki Bowls
1/2 onion sliced
1 zucchini, halved and then sliced
1 other summer squash (I used a yellow)
1 cup sliced carrots (this time I had the matchstick variety)
1/2 to 3/4 cup fresh or frozen peas 
1 large can good-quality chicken
Black pepper
Favorite teriyaki sauce (I use Soy Veri from Costco)
Warm cooked rice

Saute the veggies in olive oil in a large frying pan until tender. Stir in the chicken and season with some black pepper. Gradually add the teriyaki sauce to taste and then serve in bowls over warm rice.

TIP: This recipe is soooo versatile. You can make it according to whatever you have on hand. During the winter when there's a little less fresh produce around, I usually throw in some bell peppers and broccoli instead of the squash. But like I said, put in whatever your family likes and I'm sure it will be good!  


Stuffed Zucchini

Zucchini is on! How are you using up your EXCESS? I love zucchini brownies (hmmm, upcoming post?) and ZUCCHINI bread, and I especially love this STUFFED zucchini that I discovered while watching the Food Network. Giada DeLaurentis came up with this TASTY dish and, with just a few little tweaks, I'm sharing my VERSION with you below! (P.S. I apologize for the very "red" photo. I should have used different plates!)

Stuffed Zucchini

Olive oil
1/2 onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon dry parsley leaves
1 large egg
3 tablespoons ketchup
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
1 pound ground turkey (or ground beef would be fine)
2 large zucchini, ends removed, halved lengthwise and crosswise (so 8 total pieces)
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
1 jar marinara sauce (I prefer a chunky veggie type)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Drizzle olive oil over the bottom of a 9 x 13-inch pan; set aside.

In a bowl, mix together the onion, parsley, egg, ketchup, garlic, salt, pepper, cheese, and breadcrumbs; stir in the turkey. Use a small spoon or melon baller to hollow out the centers of each piece of zucchini and remove the seeds. Fill zucchini with meat mixture and set in prepared pan. Sprinkle the bell pepper pieces over top and then pour marinara sauce over all. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes, or until meat is thoroughly cooked and zucchini is tender. 

TIP: I don't always use all the meat mixture, so I cook it up and freeze it for another use—like adding to my spaghetti sauce. Also, try spooning the extra sauce from the pan over top of each serving of this dish to make it extra juicy!

Zucchini on FoodistaZucchini