The Baker Upstairs

1.10.2020

Open Faced Chicken Parmesan Sandwiches

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These simple and quick open faced chicken parmesan sandwiches are so easy to make, and full of flavor!

These simple and quick open faced chicken parmesan sandwiches are so easy to make, and full of flavor!

One of the challenges of working at home is figuring out something to eat for lunch every day. When I worked as a nurse, I usually either packed a sandwich or leftovers for lunch, or grabbed something quick at the hospital cafeteria. But now that I'm at home every day, I seem to have run out of ideas for lunches completely. It feels like way too much work to cook something elaborate for just myself, and too often I just end up grazing all afternoon instead of eating a proper meal. I know in the grand scheme of things, this is hardly a big problem, but it is a small daily struggle. :) I've been trying to pull together a list of easy lunches that I can make with the ingredients I nearly always have on hand, and these open faced chicken parmesan sandwiches just made the list!

These sandwiches are so flavorful and delicious, and I love that they're made with just a handful of easy ingredients! I almost always have shredded rotisserie chicken from Costco on hand, and with a little marinara sauce and some grated mozzarella, I put together a super tasty sandwich. For the bread, I used my favorite sliced Tuscan Pane from Trader Joe's, but sliced french bread would also work great. I made the bread into garlic bread before adding my sandwich toppings, and it added so much delicious flavor to the finished sandwich. Toasting the bread beforehand also prevents sogginess and helps the sandwich hold itself together better.

These simple and quick open faced chicken parmesan sandwiches are so easy to make, and full of flavor!

These sandwiches are so savory and flavorful, and ready in less than thirty minutes. The recipe below is easily scalable, so you can adjust it to make as many or as few sandwiches as you like. I love eating them for lunch, but they'd also be perfect for a quick dinner, maybe with a side of tomato soup. Yum!
Open Faced Chicken Parmesan Sandwiches

8 slices french bread
4 tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
3 cups shredded rotisserie chicken
3/4 cup marinara sauce
2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 400. Place the slices of french bread on a baking sheet. Stir together the butter, garlic powder, oregano, and basil, and brush evenly over all eight slices of bread. Bake 8-10 minutes, until golden brown. Remove the bread from the oven and preheat the broiler. In a small bowl, mix together the rotisserie chicken and marinara sauce. Divide the chicken evenly between the four slices of bread. Top each slice with 1/4 cup of mozzarella cheese and sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Broil 3-5 minutes, until the cheese is melted and browned.

These simple and quick open faced chicken parmesan sandwiches are so easy to make, and full of flavor!

1.05.2020

Tuna Casserole

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This creamy comfort food tuna casserole is made from scratch, and totally delicious!

This creamy comfort food tuna casserole is made from scratch, and totally delicious!

I know what you're thinking - tuna casserole? Really? But, yes! Tuna casserole! And not just tuna casserole, but incredibly delicious, comfort-food-to-the-max tuna casserole. I know that for a lot of people, tuna casserole is that dish you grew up eating and always secretly (or not so secretly) hated. My husband talks about the tuna casserole from his childhood like it was the boogie man, always waiting around the corner to get him. (No offense at all to my mother in law - she's a lovely cook! I think he may have just been a picky child...)

I never ate tuna casserole growing up, so I had no opinion one way or the other about it. However, since I happen to love tuna, and love to make easy pasta dishes, I was bound to come up with my own recipe for it sooner or later. The first time I made this tuna casserole, my husband rolled his eyes at me, reminded me of his childhood tuna casserole-related trauma, and agreed to choke down a few bites for the sake of keeping the peace. Within a few minutes, he had finished his bowl and gone back for seconds. That is the power of this tuna casserole, my friends!

This creamy comfort food tuna casserole is made from scratch, and totally delicious!

The creamy homemade sauce is what really sets this tuna casserole apart. As a rule, I try to avoid using condensed soups (mostly because I don't like the way they taste), and making the sauce from scratch is almost as simple as opening a can. Mix in some shell pasta, tuna fish, and frozen peas, and you've got a delicious and hearty meal! If I'm in a hurry, I'll serve it straight from the skillet, but if I have a little extra time, I love to bake it in the oven with a buttery cracker topping for maximum deliciousness. My kids love this casserole as much as my husband does, and I love knowing I'm not scarring them for life by feeding it to them. :) Even if you don't think you'll like tuna casserole, you should definitely give this one a try!

This creamy comfort food tuna casserole is made from scratch, and totally delicious!

Tuna Casserole

for the casserole:
1/2 pound shell pasta
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 cups milk
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 large can (7 ounces) tuna packed in water, drained
1 cup frozen peas

for the topping:
1/2 sleeve Ritz crackers, crushed
2 tablespoons melted butter

Preheat the oven to 350. Cook the pasta according to the package directions. While the pasta is cooking, melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Whisk in the flour, stirring well so that the flour is completely incorporated. Cook 2-3 minutes, until golden and bubbly. Slowly add the milk, a little at a time, whisking constantly to prevent lumps. Cook, stirring frequently, until the sauce is smooth and thick. Add the salt and pepper, taste, and adjust seasonings as needed. Stir in the tuna and frozen peas, and cook until the peas are warmed through. Stir the cooked pasta into the sauce. In a small bowl, mix together the crushed Ritz crackers and melted butter. Pour the pasta mixture into a 9 x 9 baking dish. Sprinkle the cracker topping over the top, and bake 20-25 minutes, until the topping is golden and the sauce is bubbling. Let stand 5-10 minutes before serving.

This creamy comfort food tuna casserole is made from scratch, and totally delicious!

1.02.2020

Cinnamon Waffles with Peach Syrup

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These cinnamon waffles with peach syrup are so delicious, and so simple to make!

These cinnamon waffles with peach syrup are so delicious, and so simple to make!

Happy New Year! It's that time of year again to re-evaluate our priorities and focus on what's most important to us. I usually have a long list of New Year's resolutions and ways I want to improve myself, but this year my only goal is to eat everything on Bill Oakley's "Best Things I Ate in Portland in 2019" list. I know it sounds like a ridiculous (and fairly unambitious goal) but it actually accomplishes several things for me: it encourages me to get out of my rut of only ordering food from the three restaurants within a mile of my house, it encourages me to explore the city (since I tend to never cross the river unless I absolutely have to), and it gives us lots of ideas for date nights and lunch dates. I'm excited to try all of the delicious foods this coming year!

This time of year also seems like a great time to get organized and give the house a thorough cleaning. I always like to do an inventory of my pantry and freezer, and make a plan to use up everything that's getting close to its expiration date so I can restock with fresh food. We had such a bounty of fresh fruit this summer, and I saved a lot of it in the freezer for winter days, knowing it would make me happy to taste the summer fruit when it's gloomy outside. I made these cinnamon waffles with peach syrup using some peaches I picked and froze last July, and they were a bright little taste of summer on a cold winter day!

The cinnamon waffles are a slight variation on my golden butter waffles, and I love that they're crisp on the edges, and light and fluffy on the inside. The cinnamon and brown sugar make them extra delicious! The peach syrup is so quick and easy to make, and it adds so much delicious flavor. I finished the waffles with a dollop of whipped cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon, and served them with a little thick cut bacon on the side. It was a totally delicious breakfast!
Cinnamon Waffles with Peach Syrup

for the peach syrup:
1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen peaches, chopped
1/4 - 1/2 cup sugar (depending on the sweetness of your peaches)
1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 tablespoon corn starch
2 tablespoons water

for the cinnamon waffles:
2 eggs
1/2 cup oil
1 3/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons brown sugar

To make the syrup, add the peaches, sugar, and lemon juice to a medium pot and stir well. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium heat. While the mixture is heating, dissolve the corn starch in the water and whisk until smooth. Add the corn starch mixture to the peach mixture and stir well. Let simmer 2-3 minutes, or until slightly thickened. Remove and let cool slightly before serving. Store in the refrigerator.

To make the waffles, in a large bowl, beat the eggs until fluffy. In a small bowl or measuring cup, whisk together the oil, milk, and vanilla. Add the milk mixture and stir to combine. Add the flour, baking powder, salt, and brown sugar, and mix until just combined (small lumps are ok). Let sit five minutes. While the batter is resting, preheat your waffle iron. Add the batter and cook according to your waffle maker's directions. (For my belgian waffle maker, 1 cup of batter cooked for 3 1/2 minutes was perfect.) Serve hot with peach syrup poured over the top.
These cinnamon waffles with peach syrup are so delicious, and so simple to make!
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