Friday, June 30, 2017

GRILLED CHICKEN & CHEESE QUESADILLAS

This is one of my go-to meals in the summer. I like to grill the chicken and corn (for the salsa) on the barbecue grill. I like to cook the quesadillas in my large cast iron skillet, where I have much more control of the cheese and golden browning of the tortillas.


2 boneless chicken breast halves
2 T Southwest or Mexican Seasoning
1 T avocado oil
2 T Tequila or white wine

Place chicken in a shallow dish and season with above ingredients.  
Cover and refrigerate for at 2 to 4 hours.

4 flour tortillas
Avocado oil, for cooking
4 oz Monterey Jack or Pepper Jack cheese, thinly sliced or grated 
4 oz sharp Cheddar cheese, thinly sliced or grated
2 T chopped fresh cilantro

Place cheeses and cilantro in a medium bowl and toss to combine.

Grill chicken directly over coals for 3 minutes.  
Flip the chicken over and grill another 3 minutes
Push to cooler side of grill and grill another 3 to 4 minutes on each side.  
Remove from grill and place on a cutting board and let rest for 10 minutes before slicing.

Brush one side of 2 tortillas with extra-light olive oil or grape seed oil and place on a cookie sheet, oil side down.

Divide half of the cheese mixture evenly between the 2 tortillas.
Evenly distribute the chicken on top of the cheese.
Add the rest of the cheese mixture and top with the rest of the tortillas.
Brush tops of tortillas with the oil. 

Heat a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat and using a large spatula, add one quesadilla to the pan and brown.  
Gently press down on tortilla to stick everything together, and then carefully flip over and cook on the other side, until you can see that the cheese is melting.

Keep quesadilla warm in a 225 degree F oven while cooking the other quesadilla.
Transfer each to a cutting board and cut into 4 wedges.
Place on a plate and serve with Black Bean & Roasted Corn Salsa and a wedge of lime.

Serves 2

BLACK BEAN, GRILLED CORN, & PEPPER SALSA

This salsa goes well with so many foods, especially quesadillas, grilled chicken, steak, or even salmon. It also makes a healthy lunch served over a bed of lettuce. 



2 ears of yellow corn
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 orange bell pepper, diced
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and diced
½ poblano pepper, seeded and diced
Juice of 1 lime
1 (15 oz) can black beans, rinsed and drained
½ small red onion, diced
3 scallions, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ t fresh or freeze-dried oregano
1 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
3 T extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper 

Place corn on a grill and lightly brown on all sides. 

You can also place the corn on a baking sheet and broil until lightly brown on all sides.

In a medium size bowl, mix the rest of the ingredients together and set aside.

When the corn is cool, cut off the kernels and add to the salsa in the bowl.
Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Set aside for 30 minutes before serving for the flavors to develop.

Serves 6



Wednesday, June 28, 2017

BRUSSELS SPROUTS WITH BACON & APPLES

This may be a recipe to get you to love Brussels sprouts. How could you not like something with bacon, apples, lemon juice, and Parmigiano cheese?



4 slices bacon, cut into small pieces
2 lbs Brussels sprouts, ends trimmed and cut in half
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 apple, cored and cut into 1-inch cubes
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
¼ cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Place bacon in a large cast-iron skillet and bake in oven for 10 minutes.

Remove from oven and transfer bacon to a plate and set aside.
Add Brussels sprouts to skillet and toss to coat with bacon drippings.
Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Place skillet back in oven and bake 15 minutes.

Remove from oven and add diced apple and bacon.
Toss to combine and bake another 15 minutes until sprouts are tender and browned.

Remove from oven and add lemon zest, juice, and cheese.
Toss to combine and spoon into a warm serving bowl or platter.


Serves 6

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

SWEET POTATO TOASTS

I had 3 of these for lunch today. It is a healthy alternative to a sandwich and especially good for people who are gluten intolerant. You get 6 slices out of one large sweet potato. I had 3 for lunch and my husband opted to have something completely different. That's okay, I put the other 3 wrapped up in the refrigerator for me tomorrow.


1 large sweet potato
2 T almond butter or peanut butter
14 blueberries
2 T pomegranate seeds
4 oz goat cheese, room temperature
2 T pesto
2 cherry tomatoes, thinly sliced
6 slices cucumber
1 t snipped chives
Sprinkling of dill

Scrub potato thoroughly and with a very sharp and heavy knife, slice off each side and then slice the potato into 6 slices.
Place in a toaster and toast until softened and lightly browned.

Place all 6 slices on a work surface.
Spread two slices with almond butter or peanut butter.
Top with blueberries and sprinkle with pomegranate seeds.

Spread the next 4 slices with the softened goat cheese.
Drizzle a little pesto on 2 slices and top with top with tomato slices.

Top the last 2 slices with cucumber slices, sprinkle with the snipped chives and a little sprinkling of dill.

Serves 2

Sunday, June 25, 2017

APPLE, PECAN, & BLUE CHEESE SALAD

There's something wonderful about the sweetness of apples, dried cranberries, and candied pecans and the robust flavor of blue cheese with a maple flavored vinaigrette dressing. There is enough salad dressing in the recipe to use again.


Vinaigrette
2 t Dijon mustard
¼ cup pure maple syrup
2 T apple cider vinegar
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Various salad greens, enough for 4 people

1 apple, cored and thinly sliced
¼ cup dried cranberries
½ cup candied pecans
6 oz blue cheese, broken into bite-size chunks

In a small bowl, whisk together the Dijon, maple syrup and vinegar.
While slowing pouring, whisk in the olive oil and keep whisking until it becomes emulsified (slightly thickened).
Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Place the salad greens in a bowl, drizzle on some of the vinaigrette, toss to combine, and divide between 4 plates.
Divide the apple slices, cranberries, pecans, and blue cheese on top of each salad. 

Drizzle on a little more dressing and serve.

Serves 4

SMOKED SALMON SPREAD

Serve this spread with crackers or crostini for a delicious appetizer.


8 oz cream cheese, softened
¼ cup half-and-half
3 scallions, thinly sliced
2 t lemon juice
A few dashes of hot sauce
¼ t Worcestershire sauce
4 oz alder or other smoked salmon, gently shredded

Mix the cream cheese and half-and-half in a bowl. 
Stir in the scallions, lemon juice, hot sauce and Worcestershire. 
Mix in the smoked salmon and transfer to a serving bowl.

Makes about 1 ½ cups


Saturday, June 24, 2017

NEW ORLEANS-STYLE SHRIMP CREOLE

Shrimp Creole is a traditional recipe from New Orleans. The origin of Creole is a combination of French, Spanish, and Italian heritage. Creole cooking does not use a dark roux as Cajun cooking does, but they both start with the Holy Trinity (onion, bell pepper, and celery). Serve this with crusty French bread, hot sauce, and a green salad.


2 lbs medium shrimp, peeled
2 T avocado oil
2 T unsalted butter
1 large onion, diced
1 large green bell pepper, diced
4 stalks celery, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 T Creole Seasoning (recipe given with New Orleans Barbecue Shrimp)
½ t cayenne pepper
1 8-oz bottle clam nectar or broth
1 28-oz can whole peeled tomatoes, hand crushed or chopped
1 T Worcestershire sauce
1 T fresh thyme leaves or 2 t dried thyme
2 bay leaves
1 t sugar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cups uncooked white rice
Diced scallions, for garnish
Chopped parsley, for garnish (optional)
Hot sauce, for serving (optional)

Peel and clean your shrimp and place in a bowl in the refrigerator.

In a large deep skillet or Dutch oven, heat oil and butter. 
Add the diced onion, bell pepper, and celery. 
Sauté for 15 minutes.
Add the garlic and sauté another minute.
Add the Creole Seasoning, cayenne pepper, clam nectar or broth, tomatoes, Worcestershire, thyme, bay leaves, and sugar. 
Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Cover and simmer 30 minutes.

While this is simmering, bring 4 cups of water to a boil and add the rice. 
Bring back to a boil and let simmer gently for 10 minutes. 
Turn off heat and cover and let sit undisturbed for another 10 to 15 minutes.

Stir the shrimp into the sauce and cook for another 5 minutes.
Turn off heat, remove the bay leaves, cover and let sit a few minutes.

To serve, use a coffee cup and place a mound of cooked rice in center of each plate.
Spoon sauce with shrimp around the rice and sprinkle with diced scallions. 


Serves 4



Wednesday, June 14, 2017

KENTUCKY BREAD PUDDING WITH PECAN CRUNCH TOPPING & BOURBON SAUCE

My grandmother, Annie Louise Middleton, was born and raised in Kentucky. This is the most delicious recipe for bread pudding. You can leave out the Bourbon, if you prefer.


1 loaf of challah or brioche bread, cut into cubes (or a good quality country white bread)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Spread bread cubes on two rimmed baking sheets.
Bake in oven for 20 minutes.
At the same time, spread pecans on a small baking sheet and bake along with bread cubes, for 10 minutes only.

Remove bread cubes and pecans. Let cool completely.

(1) Pudding
2 cups whole milk                               
½ cup heavy cream     
½ cup granulated sugar
2 t pure vanilla extract            
¼ t sea salt                  
3 large egg yolks                                         

(2) Pecan Crunch Topping
½ cup brown sugar 
½ cup toasted and chopped pecans                                    
2 t cinnamon   
1 t ground cardamom
3 T softened butter                                            

(3) Bourbon Crème Anglaise
1 cup whole milk                                           
1 cup heavy cream                                         
4 large egg yolks      
½ cup granulated sugar
1 t pure vanilla extract            
¼ cup Kentucky bourbon (optional, of course)                                

(1) In a large glass measuring pitcher or bowl, whisk together the milk, cream, sugar, vanilla, salt, and egg yolks until mixture is smooth.
Spread bread cubes out into a baking dish or individual custard cups, as shown.
Pour custard over bread, leaving tops of bread exposed. 
Let sit on counter for 20 minutes while you make the Crunch Topping.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F with rack in the center of the oven.

(2) In a small bowl, combine the Pecan Crunch Topping mixture.
Sprinkle mixture evenly over the bread pudding.

Place the baking dish into a large roasting pan and add enough hot water to come halfway up the sides of the baking dish.
Bake pudding for about 45 to 50 minutes until top is lightly browned.

(3) In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, add the milk and cream. 
Heat until just below boiling. 
In a small bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the sugar. 
Add ½ cup of the hot cream mixture to the egg mixture and whisk to temper the eggs. 
Pour the tempered egg mixture into the pan with the rest of the cream mixture. 
Over low heat, stir with a wooden spoon and let mixture thicken to coat the back of the spoon. Do not boil. 
Stir in the vanilla and bourbon and keep warm.

When ready to serve the bread pudding, pour the Crème Anglaise through a fine mesh strainer into a gravy boat and pour over the servings of puddings.

Serves 4 to 6