Chorizo Quesadillas

cq 5This is a quick dinner (or lunch) that’s a nice change from your regular ole’ cheese quesadilla. And even though this recipe only has a few ingredients, I consider these quesadillas unique since I veered away from the standard cheddar cheese and instead used queso fresco. It’s crumbly, mild and goes great with the chorizo.

I recommend making your own chorizo but if you don’t have the time, store bought works in a pinch. But seriously, don’t let my chorizo recipe scare you off. It’s really easy! And for awhile there, I was scared of store bought chorizo since someone told me it was full of nodes and lips and all kinds of parts I wasn’t interested in eating. BBBUUUTTT, I’ve found that certain markets make some pretty clean and straight forward versions (minus the nasty parts) right there in the store, so ask your meat guy if you don’t have the time, or inclination, to make your own.

Chorizo Quesadillas (makes 3)

  • 1 pound chorizo, homemade or store bought (see my recipe below)
  • 6 flour tortillas
  • 1, 12 ounce package queso fresco, crumbled
  • 1 large green onion, sliced
  • 1/4 c. cilantro, chopped

Homemade Chorizo

  • 1 lb. ground pork or ground dark meat chicken
  • 3 New Mexico dried chilies (ancho or guajillo chilies can also be used)
  • 1/4 c. apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tbsp. water or chili water
  • 1/4 c. onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 1/2 tsp. each of chili powder, paprika, ground oregano
  • 1 tsp. each of cumin and salt

Preheat your oven to 300 degrees. Pull off the stems and remove the seeds from the chilies. Bake in the oven for approximately 5 minutes. Place chilies in a bowl and pour hot water over them. Let sit for 20-30 minutes.

Remove the chilies from the water, reserving the water, and place chilies into a blender, along with the vinegar, onion and garlic. Add 2 tbsp. of the leftover chili water as well. Blend until smooth. Pour the chili mixture over the meat, and add the seasonings. Mix well and refrigerate. This can be made ahead of time or right before it’s time to eat.

To make the quesadillas:

In a skillet over medium to medium high heat, cook the chorizo until crumbly and no longer pink. Drain off grease and set aside.

In a non stick pan or a griddle (I prefer using the griddle since I can fit way more food on it) lay a tortilla down. Add some queso fresco, then chorizo, green onions, cilantro and more queso fresco. Make sure to divide all the ingredients evenly among the three tortillas. Lay another tortilla on top and turn the heat on medium. Let cook for several minutes or until the underside of the tortilla is brown and crisped up. Flip over and cook for a few more minutes. Remove to a plate. Cut and eat! This is yummy with sour cream and salsa on the side.

cqcq 2cq 3cq 4*Quick tip: I do not butter my tortillas at all. I know some people do this when they make quesadillas but I don’t. If you’re using non stick cookware, the quesadillas won’t stick and the heat is enough to crisp and brown them without the added calories of butter. If you don’t have non stick cookware, then use some cooking spray so the quesadillas won’t stick.

Chilaquiles

chilaquiles 2What’s your Saturday morning breakfast like? Well in my house, my husband wants something hearty and that typically involves meat. Unfortunately for him, we’ve had a couple of recent weekends that didn’t include breakfast meat. But I promised him I would make a delicious breakfast that would wipe out all longings for bacon or sausage or whatever his carnivore loving heart desired. Enter…….. Chilaquiles! A Mexican breakfast that doesn’t include meat but that is filling, hearty and full of flavor. And I promise this will curb your Saturday morning bacon craving. Impossible you say?!?! Make this recipe and see for yourself!

Chilaquiles

  • 1 c. canola or vegetable oil
  • 8 corn tortillas, cut into strips*
  • 1/2 of a large onion, sliced or 1 small onion, sliced
  • 1, 10 ounce can of diced tomatoes with chilies, drained
  • 1 small can diced green chilies (optional, but I really encourage you to use them)
  • 6 eggs
  • 1/2 c. shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 c. water

*Tortilla chips can be substituted. If using chips, skip the first step of frying tortillas.

In a large sauté pan, add oil and heat on medium high. When oil is nice and hot, add tortilla strips and fry for about 3 minutes or until crisp (like a chip). With a large slotted spoon, remove fried tortilla strips to a paper towel lined plate to drain.

Next, add the sliced onions into the still hot oil. Fry for approximately 30 seconds. Remove onions with a slotted spoon to drain on a paper towel lined plate. Remove sauté pan from heat.

Crack eggs into a bowl and with a fork or whisk, beat/scramble the eggs. Set aside.

Let oil cool down and then drain off all oil, except 2-3 tbsp. Turn the heat back on to medium. Add eggs and tortilla strips (or chips). Let cook for a minute, stirring. Then add in all of the rest of the ingredients, except for cheese. Cook for a few more minutes or until eggs are set. Turn off heat, stir in cheese and serve immediately.

chilaquiles 4chilaquiles 8chilaquiles 5chilaquiles 7chilaquiles 6chilaquiles 3chilaquilesOK, I have to tell you that my two favorite components to this dish are the fried onions and tortilla strips. The fried onions have a great flavor. I mean, they were fried in oil. And usually anything fried in oil is good. Second, the tortilla strips get a little soggy from all the liquid in the recipe but still retain this unique texture. And I love it!

So I think you can tell that I really liked this breakfast. But what did my husband think? Well of course he loved it or else I wouldn’t be putting it on my blog! So if you’ve got a Saturday morning, carnivore loving spouse like me, give them something new to try. I don’t think they’ll be disappointed.

Macaroni & Cheese

mac n cheeseThere are so many mac and cheese recipes out there! So why make this one? Simply put, it’s GOOD! Very creamy, easy to make, and it doesn’t require baking time in the oven. Plus, it doesn’t call for any special fancy ingredients. Look in your pantry and fridge and I’m sure you’ll have everything you need to make this side dish. Annnndddd…. no heavy cream. Yet, it’s delectably creamy. Yes, it’s possible to have that consistency WITHOUT all that fat. Your thighs just thanked me!

P.S. If you’re having a BBQ this holiday weekend, this is the side dish to make!

Macaroni & Cheese

  • 10 ounces elbow macaroni noodles
  • 2 1/2 tbsp. butter
  • 2 tbsp. flour
  • 2 cups of milk (I use 1 %)
  • 1 c. shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • 1 c. shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • Dash of cayenne powder
  • Dash of ground nutmeg
  • Salt & pepper to taste (I used an 1/8 tsp.- 1/4 tsp. each)

Heat a pot full of water to boiling. Cook noodles according to package directions and drain. In the same pot, add butter over medium heat. Melt the butter and then add in the garlic, as well as the rest of the seasonings. Saute for a few minutes and then add in the flour. Stir using a whisk and let cook for about 1 minute. Add in milk, whisking as you pour. As the sauce heats up, it will start to thicken and bubble. Make sure to stir occasionally during this. When the mixture just comes to a bubble, add in the cheeses, stirring until the cheese melts. Add the noodles back into the pot and stir together. Turn off heat and taste, adding more salt and pepper if necessary. Serve immediately.

mac n cheese 8mac n cheese 7mac n cheese 6mac n cheese 5mac n cheese 9mac n cheese 4mac n cheese 3mac n cheese 2This stuff also reheats pretty well, so if you have leftovers, don’t throw them away!

I Can’t Believe That’s Not Butter!

Quick tip of the day: To save time and drastically cut back on calories, I use cooking spray instead of butter on grilled sandwiches. *GASP* No butter? Yes I say! And I don’t even miss it. I’ve been using this trick for so long now that although my love of butter runs deep, I don’t miss it at all on grilled samiches.

I always use canola oil cooking spray but I think coconut oil spray is a great choice too. Here’s the kicker though. When you look at the nutritional info on the can of canola cooking spray, it’s zeros all the way down baby! When you look at the nutritional info on butter, you’ll see some zeros there too. Just at the end of a three digit number! Plus, with cooking spray, the bread still gets golden, brown and toasty.

Just spray your bread (same as you would spread butter on it) and cook away. That easy. That fast. And that simple.

grilled cheese 3grilled cheese 2grilled cheeseTry it once and after your first bite, you’ll be saying “I can’t believe that’s not butter!”

Dijon Grilled Pork Chops

pork chops 2Dijon mustard and pork chops make a happy couple. Add in some thyme and this trio makes a happy threesome that actually works!

For those of you who usually steer away from pork, don’t fear the pork! Embrace the pork! It’s very easy to cook and if you’re careful to not overcook it, a juicy pork chop is just as satisfying as a big steak.

This main dish works for a quick weeknight meal that is sure to please all those picky taste buds in your family. These chops alone have outstanding flavor. But my kids prefer to still use BBQ sauce as a dip. Your choice!

Dijon Grilled Pork Chops (makes 4-6 pork chops)

  • 4-6 pork chops, any cut (I used boneless thick cut ribeye chops)
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 3 tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp. each of salt and ground black pepper

Place pork chops in a large dish. Drizzle with the olive oil and then squirt the Dijon mustard on top. Using your hands, rub the olive oil and mustard all over the pork chops. Sprinkle with the seasonings, making sure to coat both sides of chops. Cover and refrigerate for a minimum of 2 hours. But the longer, the better.

Heat your outdoor grill on medium high (or an indoor grill pan). The temperature on my grill was almost 400 degrees. For thicker chops, cook 5-7 minutes on each side. For thin chops, 3-4 minutes on each side. Take off the grill and let chops rest on a plate, covered with foil, for about 10 minutes.

Serve with or without BBQ sauce.

pork chops 5pork chops 4pork chops 3pork chopsMy husband used to tell me that recipes that had 5 ingredients or less just weren’t flavorful enough. He now stands corrected.

Shrimp Stuffed Poblano Peppers

stuffed peppers 2I’m so fancy, you already know….. Or at least that’s how this recipe will make you feel! 🙂 This dish may look fancy and time consuming, but looks can be deceiving.

I made these peppers after spending most of the day at the beach, which is an hour away. After the drive, lugging around beach equipment and tending to my three beasts lovely children, I was feeling a wee bit tired when I got home. But the beauty of this recipe is that it’s easy! So even if you’ve had a busy day, this dish can be done!!!

So the hardest part about this recipe is roasting the peppers. It’s not really hard, but it’s just the longest step in the process. And the final outcome? Creamy with a nice pop of texture from the shrimp. It all blends so well together. Totally worth it! And you can easily make this recipe ahead of time if you’re having company. Just pop in the fridge until you’re ready to bake and serve. I know I’m all about doing things ahead of time.

Shrimp Stuffed Poblano Peppers (serves 5)

  • 5 large poblano peppers, also known as pasilla peppers
  • 1 pound shrimp, peeled, deveined and tails removed (31-40 count)
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 small onion, chopped
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped
  • 1 c. shredded Monterey jack cheese
  • 1 8 ounce block cream cheese or Neufchatel (softened)
  • 1/4 tsp. each of ground cumin and chili powder
  • Sliced green onions and chopped cilantro (for garnish)

First, roast the peppers. If you have a gas range, this makes things a lot easier! Just crank that heat up and place those peppers on the flame. As the pepper blackens, turn and continue to roast until the whole pepper is charred. Place into a gallon Ziploc bag and close. I let mine sit in there for over an hour but you can probably do it within a half hour. Just take the peppers out and with a knife, scrape off the skin. They’ll have sweated inside that bag, making it a lot easier for the skin to slide off. Once all the skin is off, slice lengthwise down the middle of the pepper and remove the seeds, leaving the stem intact. Rinse the peppers and pat dry. If you don’t have a gas range, an outdoor BBQ will work or you can put the peppers in the oven and turn the broiler on high, making sure to leave the oven door cracked while doing so.

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Next, heat a pan on medium high and then add olive oil once hot. Add the shrimp, onions and jalapenos and sauté for a few minutes until the shrimp are ALMOST done, (done is when the shrimp is completely pink). Try not to cook all the way through though. While the shrimp is cooking, put the cream cheese into a bowl, along with the cumin and chili powder. Add the cooked shrimp mixture to the bowl, along with the Monterey jack. The warm mixture will help to further soften the cream cheese, making it easy to stir and combine. Then divide the shrimp/cheese mixture evenly among the peppers, stuffing them. Place all peppers into a dish and bake in the oven for 20 minutes.

When peppers are done, garnish with sliced green onions and chopped cilantro.

stuffed peppers 9stuffed peppers 8stuffed peppers 7stuffed peppers 6stuffed peppers 5stuffed peppers 4stuffed peppers 3stuffed peppersMy hubs said these peppers were “fabulous”. He’s not the type of man that usually uses that word. So I took it as a huge compliment.

Hope this recipes knocks the socks right off of you!

Sun Dried Tomato Ranch Dressing

sd tomato ranch saladI am a condiment girl. I love dips, sauces, and dressings. I am also a resourceful girl. Put these two together and you get sun dried tomato ranch dressing.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I like to use what I have on hand! If I have leftovers or I bought an item for just one recipe, I absolutely need to find a way to incorporate it into another dish. I don’t like to waste or throw things away. So one night for dinner, I decided I wanted to make a “gyro-ish” type meal, but not Greek tasting. So I had the naan (Indian yes, Greek no), some citrus marinated chicken breast, diced cucumbers and tomatoes and I positively needed a sauce to drizzle over the top. I had a jar of sun dried tomatoes with herbs in oil in my fridge that were just begging me to use them. Tah-dah! I came up with this dressing. My hubs and I loved it! He said, “This dressing is blog worthy.” Yeah, he’s a keeper 🙂

This dressing is delicious on salad. Yummy on “gyro-ish” type foods 🙂 And would even be great with some carrot sticks for dipping.

sun dried tomato ranchSun Dried Tomato Ranch Dressing

  • 1/3 c. sour cream
  • 3/4 c. mayo
  • Juice from 1/2 lemon
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 green onion
  • 4 sun dried tomato halves
  • 2 glugs worcestshire sauce
  • 4 tbsp. milk
  • dash of cracked black pepper

Put all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Keep in an airtight container in the fridge.

sd tomato ranch dressingsd tomato ranch

 

Frosted Cauliflower

frosted cauliflowerI have been eating this cauliflower for as far back as I can possibly remember. Pretty sure that my mom has been making this side dish my entire life. And according to her, she got this recipe from our old neighbor and dear friend Linda D. And I’ve made this recipe for my family countless times. I would say it’s definitely up there as being a favorite recipe in my house. It’s one thing that everybody will eat. And if your family is like mine, there seems to always be that one person who’s less than enthusiastic about a dish. Even when everyone else thinks it’s great. But this recipe is not that one. Even my pickiest, and she’s really picky, like hunger strike picky, LOVES this. Maybe it has something to do with all the cheese?

So my mom makes this dish much prettier, presentation wise. She steams a whole head of cauliflower, and then “frosts” it with the sauce and cheese. It looks very pretty this way, and reminds me of the 70’s. But I don’t have a steamer that fits a whole head of cauliflower so I’ve adapted this recipe to make it work for me.

Frosted Cauliflower

  • 1 large head of cauliflower, washed and cut into bite size florets
  • 1/2 c. mayo (like a generous half a cup!)
  • 1/3 c. yellow mustard
  • 1/2- 3/4 c. shredded cheddar cheese

Add cauliflower florets to a microwave safe dish and add a little bit of water to cover the bottom. Cover the dish and place in the microwave. Cook for about 6 minutes (depending on how large the head of cauliflower is) or until JUST tender. (Stick a fork in it to see if it it’s tender) You don’t want it too tender because you still have to microwave again. While that’s cooking, whisk together the mayo and mustard. Drain the water from the cauliflower and add the sauce and stir to coat. Sprinkle the cheddar cheese over the top and cook again in the microwave for 2 minutes, or until the cheese has melted.

frosted cauliflower 3frosted cauliflower 4frosted cauliflower 2Don’t be afraid of this mayo covered vegetable. I’m a HUGE mayo fan, so of course I like it. But if my picky child approves, I’m sure this will go over well in your household.

Grilled Flank Steak

flank and brussel sproutsMy last couple of posts have been about grilling and I’m keeping it going! It’s supposed to be beautiful out this weekend. So you know what that means. Fire up the grill! But this post is going to be more about a method rather than a recipe. And that’s how I cook a lot of times. I usually throw things together and most times, they end up tasting pretty good. I typically don’t follow recipes but just do my own thing in the kitchen. So this blog thing has been quite an adventure because I now have a little notebook where I write down my “recipes” and ratios and all that good stuff. Something I’ve never done before!

If you’re a stickler for following recipes, that’s okay too. But if you have a busy lifestyle like myself, sometimes it’s easiest to fly by the seat of your pants in the kitchen. Now, onto the main course.

Flank steak is a tasty cut of meat! We eat it pretty often in my house. And this is how I do it. I like to use a rub. We have a favorite here. But you can use whatever brand you like. Or, you can create your own spice rub. Need ideas?

  • Chili powder
  • Cumin
  • Garlic powder
  • Onion powder
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Paprika

flank steakTake a little bit of each of those spices and pour them into a little bowl. Mix them around and then liberally sprinkle onto your meat and rub it in. Want the flavor to penetrate? Wrap that piece of meat in plastic wrap. And wrap it up tight! Then put in your fridge until ready.

Another great suggestion for flank steak is teriyaki sauce. An awesome tip passed on to me from one of my neighbor’s was to place the meat in a large Ziploc bag, pour teriyaki sauce over, zip up and put in the freezer. That way when you’re letting it thaw out, it has all that time to penetrate and really flavor the meat. It’s a great tip and I do it all the time.

flank steak grilledNow to cook the flank steak. Make sure your grill is heated and please remember to take your meat out and let sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes. A cold piece of meat on the grill isn’t a good thing. Cook on each side until your desired doneness. I don’t ever time how long I have the meat on each side for, but I press on the meat with my finger. If it’s firm with a little tiny bit of give, it’s about medium. We like it medium rare in this house so I take it off before it reaches that point. Place on a plate and cover loosely with foil. Let the meat rest for about 20 minutes. And then slice across the grain. If not, there’s no point in eating flank because it will be super tough and icky. ALWAYS make sure to cut across the grain. Don’t know what that means? Well, there’s these lines running through the meat. You don’t want to cut on those lines but across them. Pretty easy!

flank steak cutNow you know my method. So get out there and fire up that grill!

 

Rice, Rice, Baby

rice pilaf 4Good side dishes can be hard to find. So if you’re stuck in a rut and wanting to try something new, here it is. This came from my mom and she’s made it my entire life. And I’ve always loved it. It’s quick, easy, and not just your regular plain white rice. I make it on a regular basis and it’s a family favorite.

Mom’s Rice Pilaf

  • 1 cup of long grain white rice
  • 3/4 c. vermicelli broken up (spaghetti & angel hair are what I usually use)
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • Salt & pepper to taste

rice pilaf 3Add butter to a smaller pot. Let melt on medium heat and add in the broken up pasta. Cook and stir for a few minutes until it starts to toast up. Don’t let it burn!

rice pilaf 2Add in the white rice and stir together. Pour in the chicken broth and add salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to simmer (low), covering with a lid. Let cook for 20-25 minutes. 23 minutes on my stovetop is the magic number! Stir together and serve immediately. rice pilaf