Happy 6th Birthday Closet Cooking!

Happy 6th Birthday Closet Cooking!

Today is Closet Cookings 6th Birthday!


This last year of Closet Cooking was full of new recipes and they might just be the tastiest ones yet! With all of the tantalizing new recipes added this year there are now almost 1700 recipes on Closet Cooking with no signs of stopping! When I first started Closet Cooking 6 years ago it was more of an experiment, a way of chronicling my adventures in the kitchen but with your support it has grown into so much more and it is now one of my passions and an obsession! Here's to another tasty year at Closet Cooking!

Taco Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Taco Grilled Cheese Sandwich
This will be the last new grilled cheese for the National Grilled Cheese Month and it is possibly the tastiest, the taco grilled cheese. The basic idea is to take all of the flavours of taco night and stuff them into one rather large grilled cheese sandwich! This sandwich starts with some taco seasoned ground beef made with a homemade taco seasoning and then it continues with the classic taco toppings including salsa , lettuce, tomato, sour cream, guacamole and it is of course finished with plenty of melted cheese! With all of those ingredients this is one large sandwich and with the salsa, sour cream and guacamole in there it can be one messy sandwich. Feel free to omit the salsa and sour cream from the sandwich and serve them on the side for dipping and it is also fun to serve this grilled cheese topped with them along with the guacamole and eating it with a knife and fork. This sandwich is definitely a nice way to celebrate the upcoming Cinco de Mayo in grilled cheese style!

BBQ Pulled Pork Grilled Cheese

BBQ Pulled Pork Grilled Cheese
The National Grilled Cheese Month is coming to an end soon but I still have a few grilled cheese sandwiches up my sleeves including this tasty BBQ pulled pork grilled cheese! In my opinion it is hard to go wrong combining succulent pulled pork in a sweet, tangy and spicy BBQ sauce and then smothering it in ooey gooey melted cheese! BBQ pulled pork sandwiches are often served with the addition of a cool and creamy coleslaw right in the sandwich and I see nothing wrong with adding some to the grilled cheese version either, though it does make for a slightly messier sandwich. The next time you make some pulled pork, make a lot to ensure that you have some leftovers for these BBQ pulled pork grilled cheese sandwiches!

Tom Yum Gai (Thai Hot and Sour Chicken Soup)

Tom Yum Gai (Thai Hot and Sour Chicken Soup)
One of my favourite things to order at Thai restaurants is soups as they are always so vibrant, fresh and tasty! As it turns out they are also really easy to make at home with just a few exotic ingredients that you should be able to easily find at a local Asian grocery store. This chicken soup balances spicy, sour, salty and sweet elements with a focus on the spicy and sour provided by the chilies and lime juice. Of course this soup is finished off with plenty of fresh herbs including kaffir lime leaves and cilantro. Whether you are looking for a warming soup for cooler days of a light soup for warmer days, this soup fits the bill nicely!

Hungarian Mushroom Soup

Hungarian Mushroom Soup

I first came across this recipe for a Hungarian mushroom soup a few years ago on All Recipes and as soon as I tried it, it became a favourite and a staple! I am a big fan of mushrooms and you really cannot go wrong with a tasty paprika and sour cream sauce so combining them all in a soup is bound to be loads of tasty! The final component of the flavour profile for this soup is the dill which I always enjoy using and it makes this soup truly sublime! Not only is this soup all sorts of goodness but it is also easy to make and it comes together fairly quickly so it is certainly a candidate for a weeknight meal. The one thing that you want to pay attention to when making it is when you add the flour, you want to make sure that you cook it well before moving on to add the liquids so that you do not end up with the taste of raw flour in your soup.

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

The other day I was looking for a snack and I wanted something light and healthy. Hummus, a mixture of pureed chickpeas, tahini (sesame paste), garlic and lemon juice, is one of my go-to appetizers in these sort of situations since despite being so simple, it is so addictively good! Although a basic hummus is amazing all by itself I like to change things up every once in a while by some extra flavour like in this case, roasted red peppers. The roasted red peppers add a nice sweetness and a hint of smokiness that goes really well in hummus making for a special treat indeed! One of the best things about hummus, other than eating it, is that you can throw it together in about 10 minutes so you can make it whenever you want and if you are entertaining you can whip up a batch at the last minute if not a day or two ahead of time. I like to serve hummus with toasted whole wheat pita wedges seasoned with salt and pepper for a healthy dipping option and they can be toasted in about as much time as it takes to make the hummus. Snacking on hummus is definitely a great idea when you have a case of the munchies and never fear leftovers as it goes well in sandwiches and wraps or even for breakfast!

Chicken Fajita Grilled Cheese

Chicken Fajita Grilled Cheese
Up next for National Grilled Cheese Month is a sandwich that is inspired by both a bar room staple and plain old family fun meal, chicken fajitas! Chicken fajitas are seasoned, grilled chicken, sauteed peppers and onions served with fresh tortillas and condiments like shredded cheese, salsa , guacamole , and sour cream. The ingredients for chicken fajitas are typically served separate at the table so that you can construct your own, the way you like it, and who doesn't like to make their own meal at the table? These fajitas grilled cheese are not served to construct 'as you like' at the table but you can certainly make them 'as you like' by filling them with what you want from just the seasoned grilled chicken and sauteed peppers and onions to fully loaded with the salsa, guacamole and sour cream. I like to fill the sandwich with just the seasoned grilled chicken and sauteed peppers and onions and serve it with the with the salsa, guacamole and sour cream on the side for dipping but loading them all up into the grilled cheese is also good! The next time you make chicken fajitas , make a double batch so that you can make these chicken fajita grilled cheese sandwiches for lunch the next day or forget waiting and just make a batch for these grilled cheese sandwiches!

Baked Avocado Bacon and Eggs

Baked Avocado Bacon and Eggs

I have been seeing these baked avocado bacon and eggs on pinterest for a while now and I cannot believe that it has taken me so long to make them! Both avocados and bacon are two of my favourite foods and eggs are not far behind so combining them together in one simple dish can only be loads of goodness! The basic idea is to cut an avocado in half, scoop out enough to fit an egg, fill it with the egg and then bake it until the egg is set the way you like. In total it only takes about 15 to 20 minutes and in that time you can cook some bacon up to sprinkle on top. Once baked you can eat it by the spoonful right out of the avocado shell or you can spread it on toast. The warm baked avocado is sublimely good and combined with a runny egg yolk and smokey bacon and you have a breakfast made in heaven! (See below for the runny egg yolk in all of it's glory!)

New Cookbook: Melty Grilled Cheese

Melty Grilled Cheese eCookbook - Get your copy now!

I am pleased to announce my latest eCookbook Melty Grilled Cheese!

I know that you knew that a grilled cheese cookbook was coming! I actually wanted to write the grilled cheese cookbook first but I kept coming up with new ideas for grilled cheese and other projects took priority... well, you know how it is... With National Grilled Cheese Month here I now have the opportunity to pull out all of the grilled cheese sandwiches that I have been experimenting with over the last few months and share them with you on Closet Cooking and in Melty Grilled Cheese.

Spicy Peanut Sauce Pad Thai

Spicy Peanut Pad Thai
I am a big fan of Thai cuisine and one of my favourite dishes is Pad Thai with another being anything with a Thai spicy peanut sauce and the was wondering about combining the two! The basic idea was to use all of the ingredients from pad thai including the rice noodles, shrimp, egg, bean sprouts, etc. and replacing the tamarind, fish sauce, palm sugar and chili sauce sauce with the spicy peanut sauce. This recipe is pretty much the pad thai recipe with peanut sauce and it is pretty easy to make. One thing that you want to do is to have everything prepared ahead of time as once the first ingredients hit the pan, everything is done in only a few minutes. The spicy peanut sauce works really well in this stir-fried noodle dish and although it is not pad thai it will definitely be making many appearances on my table!

Sloppy Joe Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Sloppy Joe Grilled Cheese
My next grilled cheese sandwich for National Grilled Cheese Month combines two childhood favourites, sloppy joes and grilled cheese, for one really sloppy sandwich that is kid approved! Sloppy Joes are a quick and easy meal consisting of a ground meat in a sauce that is served in a bun and as its name suggests it can be a little messy to eat. I figured that you really could not go wrong taking the filling of one already tasty sandwich and throwing it into a grilled cheese sandwich with plenty of ooey gooey melted cheese and golden brown, toasty and buttery bread! This is one of those cases where taking two things results in something that is greater than the sum of its part and this is one truly tasty grilled cheese sandwich! Like the sloppy joe, this grilled cheese can be a bit messy but it is definitely worth it! The next time you make sloppy joes, make extra for sloppy joe grilled cheese sandwiches for lunch the next day!

Ham and Bean Soup

Ham and Bean Soup

Whenever I make a ham dinner I always make sure to save the ham bone because it can be used in soups or stocks to which it adds a ton of flavour. (The ham bone keeps well in the freezer so even if I don't plan on making a soup right away I freeze it for later.) One of my favourite soups to use a ham bone in is the ever so simple and yet wonderful ham and bean soup! Ham and bean soup lends itself beautifully for a ham bone because the longer you simmer the ham bone, the more flavour you get from it and you need to simmer the beans for an hour or two in this soup anyways. Really this soup is as simple as it gets, you have your basic vegetables, the onions, celery and carrots in addition to the ham and beans and the ham bone provides all of the flavour. You do need a bit of time to let it simmer but it is really worth it! Despite being so simple this has to be one of the best soups around and it is pure comfort food that is bound to satisfy!

If you have the cravings for ham and bean soup but do not have a ham bone on hand, don't worry, you can get a soup that is almost as flavourful using ham hocks.

Cuban Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Cuban Grilled Cheese Sandwich
Up next for National Grilled Cheese month is a simple grilled cheese take on the Cuban sandwich where instead of using a Cuban bun and cooking it pressed style we use bread and butter and cook it grilled style. The Cuban sandwich consists of a really tasty combo of roast pork (preferably Cuban roast pork ), ham, pickle, mustard and plenty of melted swiss cheese. Although this is just a minor variation on the Cuban sandwich, it is a good one and one worthy of making an appearance National Grilled Cheese month; I mean you really can't go wrong taking an already amazing sandwich and wrapping it in toasted buttery bread.

Roasted Cauliflower and Mushroom Quinoa Salad in Balsamic Vinaigrette

Roasted Cauliflower and Mushroom Quinoa Salad in Balsamic Vinaigrette

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Two of my recent food obsessions have been quinoa and cauliflower and it was past time for me to use them both in a dish together! Another thing that I have been enjoying lately is whole grain salads where the recipes follows some basic guidelines including starting off with quinoa or a whole grain like farro, a vegetable or two, possibly some beans and/or nuts, a cheese and a dressing. As soon as I had the idea of using quinoa and cauliflower together one of these salads sounded like a great way to go! Of course I had to go with roasted cauliflower since it is so addictively good and I figured that I might as well roast some mushrooms up at the same time. For this salad I decided to omit any beans but I did throw in some walnuts and a balsamic vinaigrette. Which cheese to use was the only real question as there a few good options including feta, blue cheese and the one that I chose, a creamy goat cheese. Goat cheese is a particularly nice option for salad like this because if you add it to the salad while the ingredients are still warm, it starts to melt into the salad spreading it's goodness throughout. This salad goes well either warm or cool and it makes for a nice side or even a light meal. If you want to bulk it up a bit for a meal you can add some chickpeas and serve it on a bed of greens such as kale, spinach or lettuce. I have to say that the roast cauliflower, mushroom and quinoa combo was a nice and tasty one and healthy to boot!

Kale, Butternut Squash and Mushroom Miso Soup

Kale, Butternut Squash and Mushroom Miso Soup
The other day when I was cleaning out my fridge I came across a tub of miso and that reminded me that it had been far too long since I last made miso soup! Miso is a Japanese ingredient that is made with fermented soybeans and it is used in a lot of different dishes including miso soup. Miso soup is a Japanese soup that is made with dashi , a Japanese broth packed with umami, miso and various other ingredients like tofu and vegetables depending on the region and time of year. One of the things that I like most about miso soup is that it is so easy to make and if you have the dashi on hand it only takes a few minutes to prepare. You can add pretty much any ingredients that you want to your miso soup and I like to use whatever vegetables are currently in season and keep things nice and healthy! This time I went with a tasty combo of kale, butternut squash and enoki mushrooms. Miso soup makes for a quick, easy and healthy breakfast, especially when combined with a bowl of nattou on rice!

Dashi

Dashi

Dashi is a Japanese broth or stock that is used in many Japanese dishes from soups to rice bowls to okonomiyaki and even in omelettes. One of the reasons that it is used in so many dishes is because it is packed full of umami and it adds a ton of flavour to anything that you use it in. There are several different kinds of dashi but the main one is made with kombu, a dried kelp, and katsuobushi or bonito flakes or dried, fermented and smoked skipjack tuna. These days dashi is commonly made with an instant powder but it is so easy to make from scratch once you get your hands on the kombu and katsuobushi. You can find both the kombu and katsuobushi in a local Asian grocery store and these days some larger grocery stores have them in the Asian section or sometimes in the sushi section. Once you have your dashi a good place to start using it is in a basic miso soup!

Chicken Gyro Grilled Cheese (aka The Gyro Melt)

Chicken Gyro Grilled Cheese (aka The Gyro Melt)
Up next for National Grilled Cheese month is a chicken gyro grilled cheese with all of the flavours of a chicken gyro! This is one really impressive grilled cheese containing chicken souvlaki , a Greek style grilled meat on a stick, tomato, onion, tzatziki, feta, and plenty of melted cheese, preferably a Greek melt-y cheese like kasseri. Normally gryos are made with meat that is roasted on a vertical spit but chicken souvlaki is easier to make at home and just as tasty; I mean your really cannot go wrong with grilled meat on a stick! When I had the opportunity to visit Greece a few years ago I had a few gyros and my favourite by far was a chicken one where there were roasted red peppers layered in between the chicken on the spit and since then I have always added roasted red peppers to my gyros and my gyro grilled cheese just had to have them! I have to say that this is one really tasty addition to my grilled cheese lineup and definitely worth the effort to make!

Kimchi and Bacon Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Kimchi and Bacon Grilled Cheese Sandwich

In addition to trying out some new grilled cheese recipes during National Grilled month I wanted to update a few older ones and top on my list was one of my favourites, the kimchi and bacon grilled cheese! Kimchi is a spicy fermented cabbage that works surprisingly well in a sandwich with lots of ooey gooey melted cheese! Bacon and kimchi are like a match made in heaven and I can hardly resist adding some to a kimchi grilled cheese! It actually works out kind of well since kimchi can be a little wet and since you don't want a soggy grilled cheese is is a good idea to saute the kimchi a bit to reduce the excess liquid and using a little bit of the bacon grease works perfectly!

Jalapeno Popper Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Jalapeno Popper Grilled Cheese Sandwich

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April is National Grilled Cheese Sandwich month and that was all the excuse that I needed to try out some new grilled cheese sandwich recipes! Not too long ago, while I was devouring a batch of the ever so addictive jalapeno popper dip , I was thinking about other ways to enjoy that amazing flavour combination and the idea that stuck was the one for a jalapeno popper grilled cheese sandwich. As soon as I had that thought I knew that I would have to try it and this was the perfect time!

Sweet Chili Chicken and Avocado Enchiladas

Sweet Chili Chicken and Avocado Enchiladas
Ever since I made the Thai inspired sweet chili chili dressing it has been haunting my dreams and I have been obsessing about using it again! Really this sweet chili dressing is addictive enough to eat by the spoonful or even drink by the bottle full but I wanted to use it in another recipe and enchiladas sounded like the perfect option! I was thinking that chicken and sweet chili would be an amazing combination for enchiladas, I mean you really cannot go wrong with smothering chicken in a tasty sauce, wrapping it in tortillas, and drowning it in melted cheese! I did however want to fill the enchiladas out a bit and cool and creamy avocados were and excellent way to do so! The sweet chili sauce and melted cheese combo works surprisingly well together in these chicken enchiladas and the avocados bring bring everything together!

Caramel Apple Grilled Cheese Sandwich (with Bacon)

Caramel Apple Grilled Cheese Sandwich (with Bacon)
Up next for grilled cheese month I bring you a grilled cheese sandwich inspired by caramel apples! That combo of tart juicy apples with sweet caramel sauce is simply irresistible and the the sweet and savoury apple and cheddar combo is not too far behind so why not combine the two? This sandwich is really easy to make, simply combining cheddar cheese, sliced apples and caramel sauce in a grilled cheese! The one caveat about this sandwich is that fresh apple slices tend to pop out of it when you eat it but you can alleviate this by sauteing the apples a bit to tenderize them first. It really comes down to whether you prefer the crisp apples or the ease of eating the sandwich but either way you are in apple, caramel and ooey gooey melted cheddar heaven. Although the caramel apple grilled cheese sandwich is amazing all by itself, you can make it even more decadent by adding bacon; where the salty bacon balances the tart apple and sweet caramel sauce nicely.

Ham and Egg Breakfast Quesadillas

Ham and Egg Breakfast Quesadillas
Are you lucky enough to still have some leftover ham from Easter? (Or do you have some bacon on hand?) These ham and egg breakfast quesadillas are a great way to enjoy it in a tasty breakfast that is easy to make and comes together in a matter of minutes! It is so easy to add some leftover ham into scrambled eggs for a tasty breakfast but why not try doing something new and fun like quesadillas? You could throw pretty much anything that you want into these quesadillas and since I like mine spicy I tend go with salsa and jalapenos along with the ham, eggs and cheese. After a few days of these amazing ham and egg breakfast quesadillas I will be sad to see the rest of the leftover ham disappear!

Bacon Double Cheeseburger Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Bacon Double Cheeseburger Grilled Cheese Sandwich
April is National grilled cheese month! Given my obsession with grilled cheese sandwiches you can bet that there are going to be some new grilled cheese sandwiches on Closet Cooking over the next few weeks starting off with these absolutely tasty bacon double cheeseburger grilled cheese sandwiches! The idea here is to include all of the flavours of a mouth watering bacon double cheese burger in grilled cheese form. This sandwich starts out with the bacon and then it moves on to some ground beef that is seasoned with some classic burger patty flavours such as onions, garlic, worcestershire sauce and salt and pepper or steak seasoning. You can't have a burger without some condiments like ketchup and/or mustard and since you don't really want a soggy grilled cheese sandwich I add them to the ground beef and cook off some of the excess moisture. Up next is the double cheese, the cheddar and mozzarella, followed by the fresh condiments including shredded lettuce, diced tomato and pickle. (You could skip the lettuce and tomato but trust me they work well in the sandwich without wilting or making it soggy.) I have to say that these are one of my new favourite grilled cheese sandwiches and they taste just like a bacon double cheese burger, only better!