easy recipes

DIY Sandwich Bar


It's hard to believe Super Bowl Sunday is almost here. To be honest, I'm not really an avid fan of football but I sure do LOVE the snacks: spicy wings, 7-layer dip, sandwiches and wraps...the commercials aren't half bad either.

One of the biggest challenges I face when I entertain is spending less time in the kitchen and more time with my guests. Give yourself a break and set up stations that allow your guests to prepare their own food, leaving you with the freedom to just sit back, relax, and WAIT, WHAT???  Not have to cook?

I thought this DIY sandwich bar would be perfect for Super Bowl Sunday as all ingredients can be prepped beforehand. I chose kind of a spicy manly sandwich for the occasion but feel free to choose whatever assorted meats, cheeses, veggies you desire. Have fun with it and get those creative juices flowing!  I made things EXTRA interesting by whipping up a SPICY condiment -- Ghost Pepper Mayo.  I found this wonderful Ghost Pepper Salt from a local spice store here in Dallas called Baked Spice they had a crazy selection of spices as well as awesome deals on vanilla beans (if you're a baker you'd go insane).  Be on the lookout if you live in Dallas because Artizone will be delivering their products soon!

DIY Sandwich Bar
Recipe Type: Entree
Author: Joy Zhang
Prep time: 20 mins
Cook time: 20 mins
Total time: 40 mins
Serves: 4-6
DIY sandwich bar -- prep the ingredients, sit back and relax!
  • 1 loaf sourdough
  • 1 pound bacon
  • 2 avocados, sliced
  • 1 head romaine lettuce, or 2 cups of fresh greens
  • 1/4 cup mayo
  • 1 lemon slice, squeezed
  • pinch of ghost chile salt
  1. Preheat oven to 400F. Line large baking sheet with foil for easier cleanup. Line bacon slices on baking sheet and place in oven for 15-17 minutes depending on the thickness of your bacon. Taste test is required -- take it out when bacon is golden and mostly crispy. Set on plate lined with paper towels to soak up any remaining oils. Set aside.
  2. Lightly butter sourdough slices and toast. Slice pieces of sourdough in half and set aside.
  3. Meanwhile clean and chop lettuce and slice avocados and place into separate bowls.
  4. In a small bowl mix mayo with ghost chile salt and lemon juice. Taste and add more spice if needed.
  5. You may warm up the bacon before serving if preferred. Arrange all ingredients to your liking and invite your guests to dig in. Don't forget the toothpicks!



A Healthy Pasta Recipe

So remember last week when I went over the tutorial on how to properly cook an egg? Now I'm introducing a recipe that will incoporate what you've learned. The best part about this recipe is that it's simple (15 minutes to be exact), hearty, delicious and healthy -- packed with whole wheat pasta, nuts, olive oil, crushed red pepper and of course the perfect soft-cooked egg.

Now for people who don't spend much time in the kitchen, cooking can be a daunting task. The prep work, the dishes, the mess made in between -- but with practice and patience these things become easier and before you know it you'll be moving around the kitchen like a pro. Today I'm going to talk you through the steps of this recipe so you'll only be spending 15 minutes from start to finish and the cleanup is minimal (one pot, a large bowl and one baking sheet). See? It's all about baby steps, work with me now :)

Today I'll be featuring a Whole Wheat Linguine tossed with a Toasted Chile-Pecan Pesto topped with Soft-cooked Egg Spinach and Goat Cheese. I will provide the recipe below but I'd like to talk you through the thought process for the recipe so you'll only be spending 15 minutes in the kitchen opposed to an hour.

Ingredients for a Healthy Pasta Recipe:

(serving size 2 - prep time 5 minutes - total cooking time 15 minutes)

- 8 oz dried whole wheat pasta

- 4 oz pecans, toasted

- 4 dried red chilies, stems removed

- 1 teaspoon kosher salt

- 1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper

- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

- 1 cup of spinach, washed

- 2 eggs, soft cooked

- 2 oz goat cheese, crumbled

- fresh basil for garnish if desired

Preheat your oven at 350 and boil your water first. Once your water is boiling, cook your pasta until al dente (firm, but not hard) -- about 8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon or a mesh hand strainer, remove the pasta and set aside in large bowl but KEEP your water. Place the pot back on the heat and bring it to a boil again then proceed to follow the directions on how to make a soft-cooked egg.

While you are waiting for your soft-cooked egg go ahead and toast your pecans and chile peppers for 5 minutes at 350 F. Due to the high oil content in pecans, it doesnt take long for them to toast so keep a watchful eye to prevent them from burning. Once the nuts and peppers are toasted and fragrant mash them together with 1 teaspoon of kosher salt and 1 teaspoon of crushed black pepper in a mortar and pestle. If you do not own a mortar and pestle you can use a food processor, if you do not own a food processor chop the mixture roughly with a knife.

Once the egg is about 1 minute from being done, place your pasta and and your cup of raw spinach in a large strainer and dip it into the hot water -- this will blanch (quick cook) your spinach and heat up your pasta again. Drain the water and place the pasta and spinach in a large bowl and mix it with your pesto mixture along with a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil. If the pasta seems a little dry, spoon about 2 tablespoons of the reserved pasta/egg water into the mixture. Remove the egg from the water and carefully cut it in half. Top with goat cheese crumbles and serve imediately. Feel free to garnish with fresh basil if desired.

*** Some tips to keep in mind

- I minimized pot usage by keeping it to one pot. I used the hot water to cook my pasta as well as my eggs and spinach. This idea can be used for several recipes, less dishes to wash are always a win.

- By wrapping baking sheets in foil it keeps you from scrubbing gunk off the pans, especially when you're just toasting nuts -- you can simply toss the foil and you should be left with a clean pan.

- Make sure the large bowl you pick to hold and mix the pasta can double as the serving bowl/platter as well -- another dish saved! Yes :)

So as you can see this recipe was simple to do, minimum kitchen mess and hopefully you find it delicious and satisfying. It's the perfect pasta dish for health conscious eaters, novice cooks and anyone looking for a quick dinner option.