Baby it’s cold outside!

The roads to the library were treacherous this morning, but I got ‘er done! Got in some solid studying and was happy I (purposely) left my laptop back at the apartment. When I wanted to take a Facebook break or check my e-mail (I have a tendency to compulsively check my e-mail), I would have had to actually get up and go to a computer. Hmm…and lose my spot? No thanks. Not only was I not tempted because I didn’t have my laptop, but I had my roommate change my Facebook password until finals week is over. One day without it and I’m only semi missing it!

So I plan on being a lot more creative with my meals in the upcoming weeks (and next semester I’ll be in Rome, so COME ON, delicious food will abound! :)), but the reason my meals are kinda lame right now is because I have to use up my meal-plan money before I high-tail it outta here for the “year.” This translates into me eating pretty basic/standard meals that can be thrown together with items at the school store (convenience items, soups, salads, sandwiches, oatmeal, etc.). Just a week more of (relatively) boring meals and then, I promise, ciaotochow’s food will be much more exciting 🙂

Here is a tribute to one of the most underrated “meals” – the sandwich. Can I just say, there are so many different combinations. Look at it this way. You’ve got a HUGE selection for the foundation of your sandwich: pita bread, 12-grain whole-wheat (lots of fiber! Keeps ya regular 😉 Hey, it’s science…), “classic” white, english muffins, sandwich thins (from brands like Arnold’s), ciabatta rolls, tortilla wraps, fresh-out-of-the-oven bagels, homemade biscuits, hot dog/hamburger rolls, pretzel rolls.

Here’s my open-faced taco sandwiches. Easy peasy: slightly toast an English muffin, then layer on your taco meat (refried beans/black beans or chicken/pork/steak would also work) and your shredded cheese. Put into the broiler for a couple of minutes (until the cheese melts). Then take it out and sprinkle with lettuce and tomatoes. Add a little bit of salsa or sour cream on top, if you’d like. A delicious way to use up that extra taco meat! (Such as the time I made tacos for myself and made so much that I had enough for 5 more meals. Needless to say, it was kind of necessary for me to get a little creative because tacos were comin’ out of my ears!) P.S. Anyone can make this meal. ANYONE. And, for those of us who are super busy – it’s a perfect, quick meal. Faster than Jimmy John’s? Possibly 🙂

This meal was, again, “using” up something I had made for a previous meal. I had made Italian sausages (sweet, not spicy!) in the oven to put into my spaghetti with marinara, but was looking for a new way to enjoy the others that I had already grilled. After class one day, I stopped at Whole Foods and picked up this absolutely EPIC pretzel roll. I can’t even describe the taste to you: it’s like a pretzel, but soft…like a soft pretzel! haha. As I was typing this, I realized that was exactly what it tasted like. Soooo yummy. I actually drizzled a lil’ bit of ketchup ( or catsup? hehe) on there and it was divine. Alongside it? Those are my specialty…oven-baked, sweet potato fries! As I’m starting out on this culinary journey of mine, these were a huge step in the right direction for me. You simply wash the potato (obvi :)), peel off the skin, then chop it into whatever size pieces you like. Drizzle the pieces with EVOO (extra-virgin olive oil) and sprinkle some sea salt over the top. Bake in the oven at around 400-425 degrees for around 30 minutes (I just kept an eye on them, flipping them every 10 minutes or so). Take ’em out when they’re to your preferred level of “crispiness.” Whoaaa baby. These bad boys are addicting! You can dip ’em in whatever you like (I found I didn’t even need a dipping sauce; the sea salt and natural flavors of the sweet potato were tasty enough on their own), but I put ketchup on the side just in case, naturally 🙂 maybe i’ll start saying catsup now. To be cool.

P.S. Why sweet potatoes are not only delicious, but nutritious to boot (and should be on your grocery list):

-According to Discovering Nutrition (3rd Edition) by Paul Insel, R. Elaine Turner, and Don Ross, sweet potatoes are an “exceptionally high source” of Vitamin A, which is important for our vision, cell development (growth and reproduction), and immunity (whip up some sweet potato fries or mashed sweet potatoes to kick those winter colds to the curb!). Sweet potatoes contain beta-carotene (which is found in many yellow and orange fruits and veggies, including cantaloupe, carrots, and squash). Beta-carotene is a carotenoid, a colorful plant pigment that is a precursor to that wonderful vitamin A we all need. Diets rich in beta-carotene are linked with a lower risk of heart disease and cancer prevention. But wait! That sweet potato “fry” you eat (baked, not fried right? :)) also helps protect your skin from damage by UV light. Holla!

Back to the sandwich thing (wow, I got off topic!) Then you have a major decision (No, not about what you want to be when you grow up, silly. About the toppings!) There are a plethora of topping choices: cheese, roasted vegetables, cranberries(!), etc…. Add to that the wide range of spreads/dressings (spinach & artichoke hummus, classic yellow mustard, balsamic vinaigrette, lite italian dressing)…now we’re talking! You can eat a sandwich straight-up after you’ve skillfully put that beast together, or you can grill it on the stove, panini-it if you’ve got a panini maker (or use a heavy griddle to flatten it yourself), put it in the oven so the cheese gets all melty and delicious….can you see why I have a love for sandwiches? One of my friends from high school’s favorite ‘sammich (word choice courtesy of my dad) was ketchup & bologna. Strange? Possibly. But my philosophy is: if you can dream it, you can make it (and enjoy it!).

This is what I had for din-din tonight. I had some leftover (yes, another way to use up the still-tasty “remains” from a previous meal) grilled chicken that I sliced up and paired with swiss cheese (from my sissy :)), spinach, and cranberries (Craisins). I plopped it all on 2 slices of Brownberry Whole-grain 12-grain bread (what a name but man, if you haven’t tried this bread…you are missing out!) that I spread with some hummus. I grilled it on the stove and couldn’t believe how delicious this simple sandwich was. The swiss cheese melted sweetly over the chicken, and the tanginess of the cheese paired really well with the tangy little pops of the cranberries. Mmm mmm good.

Now I’m off to continue my studying…hope you’re inspired to dream up your own ‘sammich creation. Trust me – the possibilities are ENDLESS. (Hey, even bologna and catsup is fair game!)

What’s in your dream sandwich? What kind of bread, cheese (or no cheese?), meat/veggies, extra toppings, spread/dressing? Tell me!

Also, this is really important: ketchup, catchup, or catsup?

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About ciaotochow

ciao to chow: initially created as a little spot on the web devoted to the "chow" I find while studying abroad in Rome. But really, ciao to chow is about my life: the day-to-day experiences, funny stories, moments of laughter, and the food...that continue to inspire me and make me grateful for each new day.
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6 Responses to Baby it’s cold outside!

  1. Layne says:

    Can I just say again, I need you to come in as a guest speaker in science class. (I’m referring to your highly-skilled knowledge of beta-carotene and its vitamin friends) ;o) Keep up the great posts, lady!

    • Hannah says:

      I’m loving your posts. I just ate a turkey, provolone cheese, and butter on wheat bread. Not too exciting, so your little blog is making me crave something more unique 🙂
      I’m not too picky with ‘sammies but I’ll eat anything with grilled veggies on it, especially roasted red peppers. Oh, and pesto, lots and lots of pesto 🙂

  2. Julie says:

    Stop distracting me from studying, darnit! My favie is: “panini bread,” AKA sourdough, turkey or grilled chicken, provolone, spinach, tomatoes (sliced or sun dried) and PESTO! haha, there seems to be a reoccuring theme here. Otherwise, I love good ol’ PB&J!

    • ciaotochow says:

      i am so glad we’re going to be together for 4 solid months – i could LIVE off of this sandwich! Can we make it our mission to find Italy’s best pesto? (or caprese sandwich…)

  3. Pingback: Christening the Panini Maker | ciaotochow

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