Sunday, October 24, 2010

This Just Ain't a Sweet Face, I Can Cook, Too!! ....(Kind of)

Roasted Pepper Sandwich 2

I knew it.  I just KNEW this was going to happen.

Continuing to advance in this competition I knew there would be some point I would have to cook or do something non-baking related.  Lo and behold, I made it to the next round (thank you... seriously, from the bottom of my heart).

As I read carefully through the prompt, there was a sinking feeling that came over the pit of my stomach...

Challenge #6: Road Trip!
For this challenge, you're tasked with creating a delicious meal that will travel well and still look great. From picnics and school lunches to bento boxes, or any other meal on the go, you need to whip up a entree, side, drink, and dessert to enjoy after hitting the road.

*Cue the horrifying screams of terror*


An entree, side, drink, and dessert??? Dessert was a piece of cake (hehe) but an entree?  A side?? A DRINK?!?  This being primarily a dessert blog you can imagine the whirlwind that was going on in my mind.

Meal to Go 4

Thankfully, I have a great resource to turn to when it comes to food.  I've mentioned before that I work with an extremely talented chef, named Kelly, who is a restaurant consultant.  When I told him my dilemma, his genius brought me a simple and easy yet delicious solution that even a cooking-phobic like me could execute.

The entree would be a sandwich.

The side would be some quick pickles.
Cookbook 2

Goat Cheese and Roasted Pepper Panini
Makes 4 Panini.

5 1/2 Ounces Goat Cheese (Softened at Room Temp)
3 Green Onions (Trimmed, Half of the Green Tops, Finely Chopped)
1 Tablespoon Italian Parsley (Chopped)
1 Tablespoon Basil (Chopped)
1 Garlic Clove (Small, Peeled and Finely Chopped)
Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper

2 Red Bell Peppers (Ripe)
2 Tablespoons Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
2 Tablespoons Lemon Juice
2 Tablespoons Capers
Small Pinch Hot Red Pepper Flakes
4 Michette or Round rolls

 Ingredients 2

Up above is the original recipe.  Having forgotten to purchase some of the ingredients like basil and red pepper flakes I figured maybe I could wing some of the parts.

As much as I don't frequent cooking, one thing I really do appreciate about the art of cooking is the ability to wing it.  With baking, you can't really do that.  If you run out of sugar in the middle of making Swiss Meringue Buttercream it's not as simple as leaving it out and substituting with Honey or Brown Sugar.  There's a chemistry behind all of the ingredients and you REALLY gotta know what you're doing.

Goat Cheese Mixture:

Put softened Goat Cheese, Green Onion, Garlic, Italian Parsley, Salt, and Pepper into a bowl and mix together well.
A quick trick on peeling Garlic:
Smash the unpeeled garlic with the side of a knife.  Super easy!
Peeling Garlic

Goat Cheese Mixture 3
Refrigerate for several hours and bring to room temp before serving.

Roasted Bell Peppers:
I decided to get one Red, one Yellow, and one Orange Peppers.

Take the Bell Peppers and roast until the skins are blackened.  If you don't have an open flame you can use the broiler.
Roasting Peppers

Roasting Peppers 3

Put into a bowl and cover so that it steams the Pepper.

After 15 minutes peel the skins off as best as you can.

Cut the tops off and take out the seeds then cut the Pepper into strips.
Roasting Peppers 8

Add the Extra-Virgin Olive Oil, Lemon Juice, Capers, Red Pepper Flakes, and Capers and gently toss together.
Roasting Peppers 7

Building the Sandwich:

I added Wild Arugula.

For the bread I used Ciabatta.
Sandwich Building

Sandwich Building

Roasted Pepper Sandwich

For the wrapping I used parchment paper.
Sandwich Bag 7
Tape together with masking tape.  Regular scotch tape won't really work.

Repeat to create a cover.
Sandwich Bag 6

Italian-Style Garden Pickles
Makes about 8 Cups
(I did about half this recipe)

Cookbook 3

I used Green Beans, Yellow Chiles, and Jalapenos.
Cutting Green Beans



Rosemary & Oregano.

Mix together in a bowl.

In a pot add White Wine Vinegar, Water, Sugar, Salt, Black Peppercorns, Fennel Seeds, and Bay Leaves (I think it was supposed to be dried ones, oh well).
Pickle Mixture 2

Fennel Seeds

Bring to a boil then down to a simmer for 3 minutes.
Pickle Mix

Pour over the vegetables and herbs.
Pickled Green Beans 6
Bring to room temp and store in the fridge up to a month.  
This is edible within the first few hours of chilling, but flavor improves over time.

We had these awesome Le Parfait jars at our office so I used them.
Pickled Green Beans


I had some amazing Ginger Ale.  Kelly had an idea to spice up the drink by adding some sort of fruit juice to it.  It ended up being pears.

Since I didn't have a juicer I decided to puree it.
Pear Puree
Push through a fine sieve.

It turned out fine but as soon as it was pureed it started turning brown!  Next time, add lemon juice before pureeing!


I had some chocolate puff pastry left over from the last pizza challenge so I decided to make Chocolate Palmiers.  

Puff Pastry

No need to reinvent the wheel when you don't have to.
Palmier 5
(Try to make the folds as wide as possible. 
This was too short so they came undone in the oven.)

Chill it in the freezer for about 20 minutes so it's easier to cut.

Sprinkle with sugar.
Palmier 2
Bake at 425 degrees for 6 minutes then flip them over.
Bake for another 6 minutes or until the center is baked.

To add something extra I dipped them in chocolate.
Palmier 3

Meal to Go

I had to work on Saturday so I packed everything up and took it to work.

Meal to Go 3

Our office is small and filled with lots of different kitchen supplies.  The conference table is a kitchen table with a wooden block as the top.  My desk is a stainless steel counter top, too.  It's fun working with a chef.

Lunch 2


Pear Ginger Ale
The Pear puree turned really brown but it tasted really good with the Ginger Ale.  It mellowed out the intense Ginger. 

Lunch 3

I must say... it wasn't as horrifying as I had imagined.  A special thanks to Kelly: Thanks for your help in planning... and eating!


  1. Could you photos get any more beautiful? I think not. I loved the scared face! You have my vote.

  2. I love this! This would definitely travel well and taste delicious. I love veggie type sandwiches and usually incorporate avacado (WHICH DOES NOT TRAVEL WELL)- but your choices were wonderful and so full of flavor. You have my vote!

  3. well done (good job overcoming your fears!) and cutely packed (I like how you wrapped the sanwiches)

  4. Just fabulous! Love it. You're a fine cook. Voted (=

  5. think it all looks crazy delicious. Good job - you had nothing to be nervous about.

  6. Oh you are a better cook than almost anyone. GREG

  7. do you deliver? ;D great job, nadia!

  8. you make a mean looking sandwich! the whole lunch looks delicious! well done!
    Leila @ My Barbarian Table

  9. I enjoyed reading this post so much! :) It reminds me of the way I love to cook :)
    You've got my vote! Good luck! :)

  10. Very nice pictures! You got my vote :) Good luck!

  11. Soo impressed with everything you made! Lovely pictures too, btw. :)

  12. I love that you used recipes that are published to inspire you, also I love palmiers! LOVE THEM, you've got my vote.

  13. Your photos are spectacular. Excellent post!

    A vote for you.


  14. Beautiful Sandy and I actually really appreciated the paper wrap tutorial - Cheers!

  15. Looks like you CAN cook! Great job!

  16. How flippin' adorable are you??? Love everything here. Great job!

  17. I absolutely love your photography style. All of the process photos are fabulous!! Just voted!

  18. Awesome job!! Especially since you're not used to non-baking cooking :) I'm sure this added some fun to your work day! Good luck :) :)


  19. I'm pretty sure that photograph of the pepper on the stove could win some kind of award. I mean, really. Wow! That should be in a frame!!

  20. Amazing. Your menu and photographs are beyond stunning and I love the way you put your collages together. Voting for you for sure :)

  21. You guys are so great. Thank you so much for all of your wonderful comments! I appreciate so much what everyone has to say. =D

  22. It looks great! that last picture, wow, looks so delicious

  23. Wow this is good food especially the lovely pickles...

  24. Nobody would say you had a scare of preparing desserts...Real fun cooking

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