Tomato Sandwich Recipe

I am feeling a little nostalgic this week. Monday my Grandmother would have celebrated her 94th birthday. It is hard to believe she has been gone for almost seven years. I have been missing her lately. 

When my sister and I were lucky enough to go stay with my grandparents during the summer we would have so much fun. Normally, we would only make the trip from Florida to Tennessee for Thanksgiving, so being able to go during the summer was a treat. We would pick blackberries, help Granddaddy with his garden and help Grandmother with canning and preserving.

I don’t know what they do to the soil in Tennessee but I tell you it is magical. I remember seeing a hot house cucumber at the grocery store in my twenties and I thought, my Granddaddy grew these in his garden when I was a kid, way before they were cool and they were delicious! And can we talk about the tomatoes? I mean talk.about.the.tomatoes. I have never tasted a tomato that is as good as one from Tennessee. #Truth.

I learned to love tomatoes those summers spent at my grandparents’ house. That love is still with me. The tomatoes here in Florida don’t really hold a candle to the ones we had those summers with Grandmother and Granddaddy, but around this time of year they are just about as good as they are going to get and I will eat my weight in tomato sandwiches and swim in memories of our summers in Tennessee.

That was my long-winded way of saying that these sandwiches are memory machines. For these, I was feeling wild and added some avocado but I will always have a special place in my heart (and stomach) for the original: a juicy tomato on toasted bread, with salt, pepper and mayo. That was it. Simple and so delicious.

So if you are in Tennessee, enjoy your magic soil and amazing tomatoes. Feel free to send me some if you think of it. I will just be here making these wishing I was eight again.

Happy Birthday Grandmother.

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Princess approved!

 

Tomato Sandwiches
Serves 2
Summer tomatoes are the best.
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Ingredients
  1. 2 large tomatoes, sliced
  2. 4 slices whole wheat bread, toasted
  3. 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  4. 1 avocado, mashed
  5. Salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Toast the bread slices
  2. Split the mayonnaise between the slices (1 tablespoon per sandwich)
  3. Spread each slice with the mashed avocado
  4. Top with the sliced tomatoes, salt and pepper
Steph in Symmetry http://stephinsymmetry.com/
 xo

Summer Pasta Salad Recipe

Can we talk salad bars for a moment? I’m normally not a huge fan of buffet-type restaurants. I love to eat but these types of restaurants normally make money on me because I can never go back for more than my initial plate. This is probably because I am intrigued by most everything on a salad bar and will normally try a little of everything. Thus the one and done.

My husband and I used to live in Atlanta for a short time right after we were married. I loved Atlanta. I always say, if Atlanta had a beach I would still live there. There are so many things to do and so many delicious places to eat. I became a forever-fan of Thai food while there and have yet to find anything quite as good here in Orlando. Even  if we were just running to grab a bite for lunch it was almost always delicious.

There was a Jason’s Deli right across the street from where I worked while we were there. On a lunch break one day I was introduced to the chain. I know what you are thinking, Jason’s Deli? Really? Yes, stay with me. My girlfriend and co-worker at the time was with me and suggested I try the salad bar. Boy am I glad she was there. Best.decision.ever. This salad bar had everything you could imagine. The hard-boiled eggs weren’t chopped, they were whole (awesome)! But my favorite by far, the reason I would return to this location at least 10 times after this (we only lived in Atlanta for 9 months), was the pasta salad. It was flavorful and went perfectly with the rest of the salad fixins, but the most memorable part is that it was made with spaghetti noodles. Now, I don’t know about you, but normally if I were to make pasta salad, I would use small pasta shapes- shells, farfalle or wagon wheels if I could find them, but I never thought to use spaghetti. Well, my friends, it is still to this day my favorite pasta to use for pasta salad.

We have a few Jason’s Deli’s around here now and I’ve gone in hoping for salad bar excellence but have been disappointed each time. Don’t me wrong, the salad bar is still good, but no spaghetti pasta salad to be found (whole hard-boiled eggs were there though!). Since I can’t re-live my Atlanta Jason’s Deli experiences, I’ve decided that making it at home is definitely the best way to go.

I make all kinds of pasta salads these days but this version is one of my favorites. So in time for your 4th of July barbecue or cookout, here is a recipe I like and hope you will too!

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Summer Pasta Salad
Serves 4
Great for any cookout. This pasta salad uses spaghetti noodles!
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Ingredients
  1. 1/2 pound spaghetti pasta (I used Gluten Free Barilla because I really like the texture)
  2. 1/2 cucumber, diced
  3. 1/4 red bell pepper, diced
  4. 1 small tomato, diced
  5. 2 slices cooked bacon
  6. 2 oz cheese (I used Colby but you can use any hard cheese you like)
  7. 1/3 cup black olives, chopped
Dressing
  1. 1/3 cup mayonnaise
  2. 1/2 avocado
  3. 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  4. 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  5. 1 tsp oregano
  6. Salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. While you are chopping the veggies, cheese and bacon, cook the pasta per the box instructions. Once you drain, rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process.
  2. In a food processor or blender mix all the ingredients for the dressing.
  3. Mix the pasta and the veggies, then pour the dressing over to coat.
Notes
  1. I used Gluten Free pasta for this because I really like the way the texture holds up the next day. It dries out a little bit, but that is how I like my pasta salad. Feel free to use regular semolina pasta, it will be great!!
Steph in Symmetry http://stephinsymmetry.com/

 

 

Dark Chocolate Brown Butter Brownies

Some days call for butter, sugar and lots of dark chocolate.  It could be the weather,  it could be because you need something to fill the void left by the terrible How I Met Your Mother finale, or it could be for no reason at all.

I choose number three.

I’m late to this game but I am happy to jump on the brown butter bandwagon. It has such a great flavor. You can add it to savory and sweet dishes and it just makes them nuttier and better. These brownies are super-dark, super-dense and super-brown-buttery. I am certainly a fan and will not admit to how many I ate. My kids on the other hand, were not fans. “Mommy they smell delicious but do not taste delicious”. Oops. More for me.

While I do think they are delicious, I will warn you if you aren’t into dark chocolate (e.g., my children) you might not be crazy about them. I am a little obsessed with all things dark chocolate so these are my new favorites.

The brown butter is a bit of a labor of love. You have to babysit a little bit but once you do it a couple of times it is easier and you won’t be like me, paranoid that I was going to burn it at any second. I actually found this post super helpful. Once the butter is melted it foams and then when the foam starts to subside is when the browning is really happening. When you are done you are left with some brown bits in the bottom that give the great flavor.

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I know this pic isn’t the best but those are the bits!!! They are the good stuff.

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This is the Himalayan Pink Salt. It has great flavor and it a bit more subtle than kosher salt.

I used larger chocolate chips. You may want to chop yours if you like smaller bits of chocolate.

I used larger chocolate chips. You may want to chop yours if you like smaller bits of chocolate.

I really didn’t want to wait for them to cool to cut but miraculously something distracted me so they were safe until I cut them (I won’t mention what happened to the mixing bowl/spoon). I got 12 brownies from my 9×13″ pan.

See how they are super-dark? That makes them super-good!! 

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Brownie 1

Here is the recipe! I hope you make them for no reason at all!!

Dark Chocolate Brown Butter Brownies
Yields 12
Super dark, super dense with great brown butter flavor.
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Ingredients
  1. 2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter cut into pats
  2. 1 1/2 cups white granulated sugar
  3. 1 cup brown sugar
  4. 2 tsp vanilla
  5. 4 eggs
  6. 1 cup unsweetened dark cocoa powder
  7. 1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips (I used 60% cacao)
  8. 1 cup all purpose flour
  9. 1 tsp Himalayan pink salt
For the Brown Butter
  1. Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat until foam is gone and brown bits appear.
For the Brownies
  1. Add butter, and both sugars to a stand mixer with a paddle attachment and mix until fluffy (about 5 minutes at Speed 3).
  2. Add vanilla and then the eggs one at a time (mixing between each addition until combined)
  3. In a separate bowl combine cocoa powder, flour and salt and stir with a wisk.
  4. Add half the dry ingredients to the wet until combined, then add the remaining half until everything is incorporated.
  5. Remove bowl from mixer and then stir in the chocolate chips.
  6. Pour into a 9x13" baking dish lined with parchment paper and greased (I used Pam).
  7. Bake at 350 degrees for 26-29 minutes.
  8. Let cool and then cut.
Adapted from Something Swanky's "Browned Butter Brownies"
Steph in Symmetry http://stephinsymmetry.com/
xo 

Kabocha Squash Recipe

I am a big fan of squash. Zucchini and I have been BFFs for a while now and we have started using Spaghetti Squash in place of pasta which is really tasty. So,when I found Kabocha Squash on sale at the new produce market I’ve been going to recently, I grabbed one. I have seen some really great pics on Instagram lately showcasing their yumminess, and I thought I would give it a try.

They are really sweet and delicious. I think I may have cooked mine a tad too long because they were kind of mushy, but I will just cut back on the time a little next time. While this isn’t much of a recipe, I thought I would share my adventure with you.

They are unassuming from the outside.

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But inside they are so pretty.

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 The hardest part for me about squash is cutting them! You need a really sharp knife, elbow grease, leverage and patience. I cut mine in half first, scooped out the seeds and then cut into crescents.

I put about a tablespoon of coconut oil on a sheet pan and stuck it in the oven while it was preheating for about 3 minutes so it was easier to distribute over the pieces.

Then I tossed the squash in the oil, added salt and pepper.

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I roasted them for 20 minutes at 425. As you can see they are a little mushy. 9 minutes on the first and then 5 on the second will work a little better.

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I think 9 minutes on one side and then flipping them for about 5 minutes on the other side would work better. But they were still delicious. The skin was soft and I ate it too!

Here is the recipe (if you can even call it that) more of a method I guess.

Enjoy.

Roasted Kabocha Squash
Serves 4
A super yummy side dish that is ridiculously easy.
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Ingredients
  1. 1 Kabocha Squash
  2. 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  3. Salt and pepper
Instructions
  1. Cut squash in half with a very sharp knife and scoop out the seeds with a spoon
  2. Cut halves into crescent shapes
  3. Preheat oven to 425 degrees
  4. While oven is preheating put coconut oil on a sheet pan and stick in for about 3 minutes or just until the oil melts but isn't too hot to touch
  5. Toss squash pieces in the oil and add salt and pepper
  6. Roast 9 minutes on first side then turn over and cook an additional 5 minutes
Steph in Symmetry http://stephinsymmetry.com/
 xo

Pimento Cheese Recipe

For my first recipe in the “Hand Project” I thought I would go with something simple but delicious. The purpose of this project is to take the recipes given to me by my Grandmother (via my Aunt Beverly. Hi Aunt Bev-Love you!) and re-create each one and share them here.

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That’s my Grandmother in the middle.

My plan is to stick to the recipe as close as possible, but I may change them here and there to either make them a teenie bit healthier (only if I can keep the integrity of the recipe intact) or make them fit into our lifestyle. I will also make sure to include any changes I mak to the original recipe, via notation. Okay, enough housekeeping back to the cheese baby.

This is one of those recipes that really gets my memories going. My Grandmother used to make the BEST pimento cheese. We would sit at the table and spread it on crackers while sipping glass-bottled Coke (with peanuts of course). There are a few recipes that just scream “Hand Family”. When I think of us, this is definitely one of them. I didn’t actually have the written recipe on this one so I am going by memory.

I have tried tweaks here and there over the years. I will admit that I have used pre-shredded cheese several times. It tastes okay but the consistency just doesn’t work. I think the anti-clumping additive that is in the pre-shredded kind keeps the mayonnaise from sticking the correct way. I also like the way that when you shred your own cheese the actual shred is thinner. So, when you stir it all together some of the pieces break up and mush (technical term) with one another to create a really good spread. As opposed to the pre-shredded kind, where if you like to put the finished product on say Wheat Thins (that is my favorite way to eat it), the shreds of cheese hang off the sides of the cracker and fall off when you take a bite. No bueno. Don’t get me wrong, if I’m short on time (or motivation) I will definitely skip shredding on my own, but it really makes a big difference. Break out the shredder. Do it.

I also tried adding cream cheese once. Meh. It just adds bulk without flavor. It is good if you are looking for more of a spreadable, cheese-ball-type consistency, but I don’t like to take away from the sharp flavor of the cheese and I tend to like mine a little more mayo-y.

The addition that I have made recently that I will definitely be keeping is Wickles Pickles. So here is the thing with these pickles. They are so great. They are similar to a bread and butter pickle but the are spicy! The heat is just enough to add great flavor without being painful. My husband and I are fans of their sandwich relish too, but the pickles are perfect for this and really put it over the top. I used to spread my pimento cheese on a cracker and just put a pickle on top like a little hat and it was great.  But then I got hungry and the hungrier I get the lazier I am. So I decided to cut the Wickles up and incorporate them into the pimento cheese. Mind blown. So good. I’m not sure my Grandmother would like the addition as she wasn’t a real fan of super-spicy. If you aren’t a fan either, I would suggest trying just plain bread and butter pickles, but make the hats first to see if you like it, then stir it in if you do!

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Wickle Hat

 

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Incorporated into the mix

 

**Now the servings depend on what you want to do with this. We normally just make ours to put in a container and use over the course of a few days on crackers, dipped with raw veggies, etc. If you want to make grilled cheese sandwiches out of them (I would definitely recommend that-not even joking, so good) the servings will change a bit. Obv.

Pimento Cheese Recipe

Total Time: 20 minutes

Number of servings: 4

Per Serving 364 calories

Fat 34 g

Carbs 1 g

Protein 14 g

4


Ingredients

  • 1 8 oz block of Sharp Cheddar Cheese
  • 1/3 cup Mayonnaise
  • I use full-fat for this but you can use light

  • 1/4 tsp Paprika
  • 1 4oz jar diced pimientos
  • 1/4 cup Wickles Pickles
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. I use my handy box grater and shred the block of cheese over a plate. I’m weird and like it when the cheese comes all the way to the top of the inside of the grater and then falls everywhere when I take it off. Mature, I know. My kids like it because the cheese that falls off the plate is fair game.
  2. Next I put the cheese in a mixing bowl. I don’t shred over the bowl because my knuckles always hit the sides and it is annoying. Once the cheese is in the bowl I add the pimientos. I usually drain half the liquid from the jar before adding. Mix that up and then add in the mayonnaise. At this point it is about stirring and sprinkling. I then add the paprika (not sure if this was in the original recipe, I think it is an addition but it works.), salt and pepper and mix everything until combined.
  3. You can serve immediately but I recommend refrigerating for at least an hour so the pimento flavor is there. I store mine in an airtight container for up to a week and just use (remember the Wheat Thins?) as needed.

Enjoy.

xo