Swanky Sandwiches

We’ve all been there.  Wanting to make supper, needing it to be quick but not a tired old sandwich.  Get ready for the swanky sammie.

This delicious creation comes from Blue Apron.  It came together quickly and had a satisfying crunch when we bit into it.  Yum!



  • 1 12 lbs chicken breasts, chopped
  • 4 sandwich buns
  • 13 cup basil pesto
  • 14 cup grated pecorino cheese
  • 4 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese
  • 2 tablespoons gheeor 2 tablespoonsbutter
  • 1 tablespoon italian seasoning
  • 15 ounces tomato sauce


  • Halve the rolls.
  • Pat the chicken dry with paper towels. Season with salt and pepper. In a large pan (nonstick, if you have one), heat the ghee on medium-high until melted. Add the seasoned chicken in an even layer. Cook, without stirring, 3 to 4 minutes, or until lightly browned. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, 3 to 4 minutes, or until browned and cooked through. Turn off the heat.
  • While the chicken cooks, in a small pot, heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil on medium-high until hot. Add the tomato sauce (carefully, as the liquid may splatter) and Italian seasoning. Season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, 3 to 4 minutes, or until slightly thickened. Turn off the heat. Taste, then season with salt and pepper if desired.
  • Assemble the paninis using the halved rolls, pesto, cooked chicken, mozzarella (tearing into small pieces before adding), and the pecorino; season with salt and pepper. Wipe out the pan used to cook the chicken. In the same pan, heat a drizzle of olive oil on medium until hot. Add the paninis. Place a heavy-bottomed pot (or pan) on top and press down. Cook, occasionally pressing down on the pot, 4 to 5 minutes per side, or until the cheese is melted and the bread is lightly browned (if the pan seems dry, add a drizzle of olive oil before flipping). Carefully transfer to a cutting board and halve on an angle.
Charlotte · Cornelius · Denver · Hickory · Lincolnton · Micanopy FL · Mooresville · Morganton · Myrtle Beach · Shelby · Winston-Salem

Best of Restaurants: Sandwiches

Not your girlfriend’s sandwich.

Chicken Salad Croissant from Croissant’s Bakery in Myrtle Beach

Chicken Salad Croissant, Broccoli Cheddar Soup & Ambrosia Salad

Club Sandwich and Pulled Pork Ban Mi from Hatch in Hickory

Club Sandwich at Village Tavern in Winston Salem

Smoked Turkey Club Sandwich at Crepe Cellar

The Cuban at Sports Page in Denver, NC

Chicken Salad Sandwich from Harvest Moon Grille in Lincolnton, NC

Basil Grilled Chicken Sandwich at The Crispy Crepe in Charlotte

Hot Fried Chicken at Root & Vine in Morganton, NC

Cuban Sandwich at Root and Vine in Morganton, NC

The Cuban at Old Florida Cafe in Micanopy, FL

Philly Cheese Steak Sandwich from Moyers Lakeside Eatery in Mooresville, NC

Wagyu Meatloaf Sandwich from Barrel and Fork in Cornelius

Turkey and Ham Sub from Heavenly Hoagie in Mooresville, NC

Philly Cheesesteak from JackBeagles in Mount Holly

Chicken Katsu Banh Mi from CO in Charlotte

Cuban Sandwich from J Bird’s Deli in Shelby, NC

Chicken Salad Club Sandwich from Common Market in Charlotte


Simply Good Sandwiches

Sandwiches represent a certain failing for me.  Whenever I can’t get a home cooked dinner on the table, I rely on this old staple to sustain my hungry people.  It’s a default if my kids won’t eat what I’ve made (yep, I’m one of those parents who don’t MAKE the kids eat what I fix.)  But I’ve learned that sometimes, when you make a sandwich, there is a certain comfort in being able to take your plate and eat in front of the TV while watching Seinfeld re-runs.  Here are some of my favorites:

Club Sandwich

Perfect for an easy summer dinner, especially with fresh homegrown tomatoes  Club Sandwich


  • 3 slices toasted bread
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 2 slices American cheese
  • 4 slices shaved ham
  • 4 tomatoes, sliced, divided
  • 4 leaves lettuce, divided
  • 4 slices crisp bacon, divided
  • 2 slices Monterey jack cheese
  • 4 slices shaved deli turkey


  • Spread mayonnaise on one side of a piece of toast; add layer of American cheese, ham, two slices of tomato, two leaves of lettuce, and two pieces of bacon.
  • Spread mayonnaise on second piece of toast and place on top, mayo side down.
  • Spread mayonnaise on top of that second piece of toast.
  • Layer Monterey Jack cheese, the rest of the tomatoes, lettuce, turkey and bacon on top.
  • Spread mayonnaise on third piece of toast and place on the stack mayo side down.
  • Slice the sandwich in quarters diagonally.
  • Skewers or long toothpicks may be used to hold all the layers together.


Grilled Chick N Wrappers

Grilled Chick N Wrappers
Grilled Chick N Wrappers

A wrap is a kind of sandwich, right?  I made this one for the family last night and it was a spot hitter.  You know, it hit the spot?  OK, so it comes together easily, and even though the word “grilled” is in the title, you just cook up the chicken in a skillet.  I suppose actually grilling it could only improve its flavor.


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 8 boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 sweet onion
  • 1 cucumber
  • 8 ounces Monterrey jack and cheddar cheese blend
  • 6 slices hickory smoked bacon
  • 16 ounces shredded Lettuce
  • ranch salad dressing
  • 6 (10 inch) flour tortillas
  • 1 lime


  1. In a skillet heat olive oil on medium.
  2. Cut the chicken thighs into strips and add to skillet.
  3. In a separate skillet, fry the bacon.
  4. While they are cooking, slice the onion, cucumber and set aside.

  5. When chicken is done and the bacon is done, remove from skillet and set aside.
  6. Assembly time. Heat the tortilla in microwave for 15 seconds.
  7. To the tortillas, add the ranch, lettuce, cucumbers, onion, bacon, cheese, and then chicken and squeeze a little lime juice over and wrap like a burrito.

Pressed Chicken Tortas

I got this recipe when I was using Blue Apron.  They have some really great recipes, probably the best service I’ve found.  This one seems long, but it’s just because they over-explain all steps 🙂  Give it a go.  Delicious sammy!

Photo credit: Blue Apron

  • 4 Boneless, Skinless Chicken Thighs
  • 4 Torta Rolls
  • 2 Limes
  • 1 Romaine Heart
  • 1 Avocado
  • 1 Tomato
  • 1 Red Onion
  • 1 bunch Cilantro
  • 3 oz Queso Fresco
  • 3 Tbsps Pepitas
  • ½ cup Low-Fat Sour Cream
  • 2 tsps Chicken Torta Spice Blend (Ancho Chile Powder, Mexican Oregano, Smoked Sweet Paprika, Garlic Powder & Ground Cumin)

Wash and dry the fresh produce. Halve the rolls. Core, halve and thinly slice the tomato. Crumble the queso fresco. Pick the cilantro leaves off the stems; discard the stems. Cut off and discard the root end of the lettuce; roughly chop the leaves. Quarter the limes. Halve, pit, peel and thinly slice the avocado; top with the juice of 2 lime wedges to prevent browning. Peel and halve the onion; small dice 1 half and thinly slice the remaining half. In a medium bowl, combine the diced onion and the juice of 4 lime wedges.

Pat the chicken dry with paper towels; season on both sides with salt, pepper and (reserving a pinch) as much of the spice blend as you’d like, depending on how spicy you’d like the dish to be. In a large pan (nonstick, if you have one), heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil on medium-high until hot. Add the seasoned chicken. Cook 4 to 6 minutes per side, or until browned and cooked through. Transfer to a cutting board to cool slightly. Wipe out the pan.

While the chicken cooks, add the sour cream and remaining spice blend to the diced onion-lime juice mixture. Stir to thoroughly combine; season with salt and pepper to taste.

When cool enough to handle, thinly slice the cooked chicken. Place the bottoms of the rolls, cut sides up, on a clean, dry work surface. Divide the sliced chickenavocado, as much of the sliced onion as you’d like (you may have extra), the tomato, half the queso fresco and the cilantro between the roll bottoms; season with salt and pepper. Top with the juice of the remaining lime wedges and the roll tops.

In the pan used to cook the chicken, heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil on medium until hot. Working in 2 batches, add the tortas. Place a heavy pot on top of the tortas to press them down. Cook, occasionally pressing down on the pot, 3 to 4 minutes per side, or until lightly browned and slightly flattened. Transfer to a cutting board or plate.

While the tortas toast, in a large bowl, combine the lettuce, pepitas,remaining queso fresco and as much of the dressing as you’d like (you may have extra dressing). Toss to combine; season with salt and pepper to taste. Cut each toasted torta in half diagonally; divide between 4 plates. Serve with the salad on the side. Enjoy!

Another favorite is LEMONY CUCUMBER CREAM CHEESE SANDWICHES.  I made these for a Broker luncheon at a home I had listed in Lincolnton during the summer and they were cool, refreshing and tasted of summer.  The original recipe is from Chew Out Loud.


PREP TIME: 1 hr 15 mins TOTAL TIME: 1 hr 30 mins
YIELD: 4 cups


    • 4 chicken breast halves, bone in
    • 8 ounces green olives, chopped
    • 1 cup mayonnaise


  1. Skin chicken, put in pan, cover with foil. Bake at 375 for 75 minutes. Cool, pull from bones and chop finely. Add mayo and chopped olives.
  2. *Depending on how big your chicken breasts are, you may want more mayo and olives. Make it to your favorite consistency.
Charlotte · Restaurants

Firehouse Subs at the Epicentre in Charlotte

We were honored to be invited by the Co-founder of Firehouse Subs to attend an invitation only soda/sandwich pairing at Firehouse Subs at the Epicentre in Charlotte on Tuesday night.  At first I was skeptical, thinking it was a marketing ploy designed to garner good reviews for their restaurant, but hey, free food won over my good sense.  I am so glad I didn’t pre-judge.  That tasting has made a customer of me for life, and I’ve already told 4 people so much about my experience, that they too are anxious to go.  Brilliant is what that marketing plan was!

Before going in, we walked around a bit to see what the Epicentre had to offer.  Turns out that place is pretty cool.  It’s a little expensive to park, but well worth it for the plethora of restaurants, clubs and fun stuff.  Here are a few of the things we saw while strolling:

Bank of America Corporate Center top IMG_1645 IMG_1646 IMG_1647 IMG_1648

We sampled 4 different subs while we enjoyed the founder, Robin Sorenson, sharing anecdotes and stories about the start up of his company, their mission, and the charities that they support.  What I learned is that you can start a huge company that begins with a small dream, and that the company gives a ton of money to various charities, but locally, nationally and even internationally.  Also, we learned about the quality of their ingredients, which is second to none in the sandwich business.  Another thing that separates Firehouse from other sub shops is the service provided.  I’ve never been in one when I wasn’t greeted upon arrival and then provided with exceptional service while there.  Also, their dining room is large enough for people who wish to dine in.  There were 50 seats at the restaurant we visited.

Robin Sorenson
Robin Sorenson

The first sub we got to sample was called the Hook and Ladder.  It consists of smoked turkey breast, Virginia honey ham, melted Monterey Jack cheese, and topped with Lettuce, tomato, mayonnaise and mustard.  All of this served with a crunchy kosher dill pickle on the side.

All of this sounds pretty basic when I write it down, but these sandwiches are anything but.  First, the meat they use is top quality.  None of the pre-sliced coldcuts like at Subway, and no cutting corners with cheap cuts of meat.  Their meat is always USDA choice, not a claim most sub places can make.  The bread they used is baked especially for them, and always steamed so your sandwich is soft and chewy.  The mayonnaise they use is a double yolk mayo which tastes far more rich and creamy.  All of their cheese is Sargento.  My point in telling you this, is that if you use quality ingredients, it stands to reason that you will serve a quality product.  And that is exactly what Firehouse serves.

Hook and Ladder
Hook and Ladder

New York Steamer Sub
New York Steamer Sub

Smokehouse Beef and Cheddar Brisket
Smokehouse Beef and Cheddar Brisket

After all of this delicious food, we were handed a bucket full of a few goodies, and were left with this pearl of wisdom: “Don’t let your lifestyle drive your business.”  Simply put, live within your means.
For my visit, I was rewarded with 5 $10 gift cards for Firehouse Subs.  I am going to do a random drawing for these cards on November 15.  To enter, comment on this blog (and leave me some contact info to find you again if you win!).  If your comment doesn’t show up right away, don’t worry.  I have to approve all comments.  Good Luck!
UPDATE!!!  Thank you for all of the comments, here are the winners!  Please email me your addresses to Barenakedchef AT gmail  Dot com and I’ll get your card in the mail!
  • Sara Wood
  • Tiffany O
  • Sherry Franklin
  • Amy Hart
  • Elizabeth Milam
Congratulations, ladies!

Firehouse Subs on Urbanspoon

Charlotte · Restaurants

Crisp in Charlotte

Everyone talks about how great Crisp is.  I, unfortunately, did not find it so.  Sorry.

First, I’m not a fan of the minimalist furnishings.  I felt like I was in a FroYo shop.  The chairs were tiny and uncomfortable (read cheap) and the interior was so tight that even at the off time we ate (late lunch) we were still in people’s way with my knee walker.

My husband and I both ordered a cup of soup and a sandwich.  The soup of the day on this day was a tomato basil.  That is my favorite soup, so I was excited!  This soup, however, was absolutely flavorless.  How can that be?  I’m telling you, I would have preferred a bowl of Campbell’s.

Tomato Basil Soup
Tomato Basil Soup

I got the Turkey Gobbler which billed itself as a “house roasted” turkey sandwich.  It looked (and tasted) like any sliced turkey you could get in a dairy case.  The bread looks so good with its Panini press marks, but it was all a disappointment.  The sandwich was no better than a turkey sandwich I made at my house.

Turkey Gobbler
Turkey Gobbler

Dustin got the Roma sandwich.  It comes with prosciutto, salami, Mozzarella, tomatoes, roasted red peppers, basil,and a Balsamic Reduction on grilled bread.  Sounds amazing and flavorful, right?  Well, it was better than mine, but just barely.  Everything we tried simply lacked flavor of any kind.  

The Roma
The Roma

We were so disappointed, we did something we haven’t ever done before (to my memory).  We brought the food back up to the counter, asked for a refund and went to another restaurant.  In Crisp’s defense, they didn’t fight us. They offered to make us something else, but after sampling 3 different menu items, we just didn’t feel confident that we would be happy.  

Crisp on Urbanspoon


Recipe: Turkey Monte Cristo Sandwich

OK, I know Turkey Sandwiches are the obvious choice for Thanksgiving Leftovers, but *this* turkey sandwich is elevated!  Plus, you’ll already have the cranberry sauce on hand.  Just try it.  My family loved these better than the turkey dinner.

I got this recipe out of my Food Network cookbook.

Turkey Monte Cristo Sandwich


  • 8 slices challah (1/2 inch thick) or 8 slices brioche bread (1/2 inch thick)
  • 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 6 ounces sliced Muenster cheese
  • 12 ounces thinly sliced cooked turkey breast
  • kosher salt
  • fresh ground black pepper
  • 2/3 cup whole berry cranberry sauce
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter


  • 1. Mix the Mayo and Mustard. To make the sandwiches: Lay the bread out on the work surface. Spread one side of each slice with the mustard mixture. Spread half of the cheese on 4 slices of the bread. Cover with half of the turkey and season with salt and pepper to taste. Evenly spread the cranberry on the turkey on the sandwich. Top with the remaining turkey; season with salt and pepper to taste, and cover with the remaining cheese and bread. Press down slightly on each sandwich.

  • 2. In a lipped plate or dish, whisk together the eggs and milk, and season with salt and pepper to taste.

  • 3. Heat 2 large skillets over medium-low heat, add a 2 tablespoon of butter to each pan. Dip and coat each of the sandwiches in the egg mixture and lay in the pans. Cook until golden brown, about 4 minutes per side.


Garden Party


Spring makes me want to get out and have a party!  Here is a party idea that’s sure to please!

You’ll need:  Evite

Menu   Shrimp Salad


  • Garden Party by Ricky Nelson
  • Build Me Up Buttercup by The Foundations
  • The Rose by Better Midler
  • Brown Eyed Girl by Van Morrison
  • Chantilly Lace by The Big Bopper
  • Safe in My World by the Mamas and the Papas
  • Top of the World by The Carpenters


• Plant Swap—Celebrate your garden by asking guests to bring a flower arrangement or potted plant to swap with another guest. Guests can either fight over the foliage or pick names out of a hat to see who gets what.

• Flower Arranging—Ask guests to bring blooms and vases, and invite a floral expert or a friend with very green thumbs to show you different ways of putting them together.

Checklist for the party