Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Asparagus And Shrimp Quesadilla


We first had shrimp and asparagus quesadillas on vacation this summer. We arrived at our destination city mid-afternoon and needed a little something; nothing that would spoil dinner, just a little snack. We decided to split an appetizer and were so impressed with these. In fact when we went back to the same restaurant for dinner a couple nights later Husband ordered these quesadillas again for his entree.

I have been on the look-out since for a recipe. I found one that sounded close and gave it a try a couple weeks ago. They were good, but the cheese wasn't quite right. I used a pepper cheese with some diced jalapeƱo pepper added. It was good spicy flavor but just not quite what we remembered from our previous experience. Husband suggested a smoked cheese as we remember a smoky flavor. This time I used smoked mozzarella along with some regular mozzarella as not to overpower the smoky flavor. A little smoked cheese goes a long way.

I was thrilled with these. The flavor was fantastic and a lot like what I remember from our initial introduction to these great quesadillas.

The cool thing about this sort of recipe is you can add, subtract and substitute ingredients pretty much to your heart's content.  Basically you put cheese and something for cheese to melt around between two tortilla shells and fry it up.

Very loosely adapted from Fusion Menus

Ingredients:

1 ounce Smoked Mozzarella Cheese - Grated
1 ounce Mozzarella Cheese- Grated
9 medium Shrimp Per Quesadilla
1 large Garlic Clove- Minced
½ tsp Cayenne Pepper
½ tsp Chili Powder
Fresh Ground Black Pepper
Coarse Salt
2 Tbsps Canola Oil
1 Tbsps Olive Oil
4 large Flour Tortillas
5-6 stalks Asparagus Trimmed And Cut Into 2 Inch Sized Lengths
2 Green Onions - Thinly Sliced
Guacamole
Sour Cream
Salsa

Directions:

Quesadilla Filling

In a bowl, combine olive oil, minced garlic, cayenne pepper, chili powder, salt, and black pepper.
Marinate the shrimp in the above oil and garlic mixture for 10 minutes.
Chop the asparagus into 1-2 inch pieces and place in a microwave-safe bowl covered with a lid. Microwave the asparagus on high power for 2 minutes or until the asparagus is tender.
Cool the asparagus on a plate.
Slice the green onions and set aside.
Heat a large heavy skillet over moderate heat. Add the shrimp  to the hot skillet along with the marinade and cook for a minute, or until the shrimp are cooked.
Transfer the shrimp to a  bowl and set aside.

Assemble the Quesadillas

Add 1 tablespoon of canola oil to a non-stick pan over medium heat.
Lay a flour tortilla flat on a pan. Place some grated cheese, shrimp, asparagus and green onion on top of it and cover it with another tortilla.
Cook the quesadilla for a few minutes ; turning over halfway through, until the cheese is melted and each side is golden brown.
Cut each quesadilla into 6 or 8 triangles.
Place quesadilla with a spatula on a serving platter and serve with tomatoes or salsa, guacamole and sour cream

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies


I don't usually blog about something I don't eat. Most often I have just enjoyed the food for dinner, lunch, breakfast or dessert and the photo was of the food I ate immediately thereafter.
An exception to the rule was the carrot cake I shared about last month. It's one of Husband's favorites; along with bread pudding. He likes, in fact pretty much insists, that they both contain raisins.
I am just not big on raisins.
There were several boxes of leftover raisins from the second pan of carrot cake and he requested Oatmeal Raisin cookies; which is another favorite. More raisins..are we seeing a pattern?


Hey, I love a chance to try a new recipe and aren't these some photogenic cookies?  So pretty! The dough was tasty too. I tried a bit after I added the oatmeal and before I added the raisins. The kitchen smelled great as they baked.
Husband was happy with them; they didn't last long.

Recipe adapted from Food.com

Ingredients:

1 stick Butter, softened
⅔ cup Light Brown Sugar, packed
1 Egg
½ tsp Vanilla Extract
¾ cup All-Purpose Flour
½ tsp Baking Soda
½ tsp Ground Cinnamon
½ tsp Salt
1 ½ cups Rolled Oats
¾ cup Raisins

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350°F
In a large bowl or a stand mixer cream together the butter, brown sugar, egg and vanilla until smooth. In a separate bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt together. Stir this into the butter/sugar mixture. Stir in the oats and raisins.

If desired refrigerate the dough for about a half hour. The instructions indicated the cookies cooked up thicker so I did refrigerate the dough. Otherwise the cookies can be baked immediately

The cookies should be two inches apart on a baking sheet. Bake them for 10 to 12 minutes (your baking time will vary, depending on your oven and how cold the cookies were going in, I actually needed about 13 minutes.), taking them out when golden at the edges but still a little undercooked-looking on top. Let them sit on the hot baking sheet for five minutes before transferring them to a rack to cool.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

French Toast


French toast is one of my all time favorite breakfast foods. We usually save it for weekends and really don't have it that often; but, oh, so good. :D
This picture was Husband's weekend breakfast. It was made with cinnamon swirl raisin bread. Which is awesome for French toast; or so I am told.  I am not a fan of raisins so I opted to use my multi-grain loaf of sandwich bread. It made some delicious French toast in it's own right.
We usually have bacon or sausage with French toast; bacon is my personal favorite. An added benefit is using a bit of resulting bacon grease to fry the toast. Yummy! 

Ingredients:

1 egg
3/4 cup milk
1/2 tsp cinnamon
splash of vanilla
4-6 slices of bread
Oil or bacon grease

Directions:

Heat oil or grease in a  non-stick skillet over medium heat. Whisk egg and milk in a shallow bowl large enough to dip the bread. Add cinnamon and vanilla and mix again.
Dip bread in egg/milk mixture. Turn the bread over and make sure the bread has been completely submerged in the mixture. Transfer to skillet and fry until golden on both sides; about 3-5 minutes per side depending on the thickness of the bread.  Repeat with remaining bread. If you are using regular sandwich bread you should get six slices, if using thick slices, such as the raisin bread or French bread this mixture will be enough for about four.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Pumpkin bars


My coworkers and I had a potluck to celebrate some birthdays. There is always lots of great food and I decided to bring pumpkin bars. I hadn't made them in ages and I couldn't even remember what happened to my old recipe. I decided to just find a recipe online and this one is adapted from Paula Deen on Food Network.
These bars are so incredibly moist. We ate the leftovers two days after I baked them and they were still very moist and fresh tasting. Of course the cream cheese frosting puts them over the top; it doesn't get any better than that.

Ingredients:


For The Pumpkin Bar:

4 Eggs
1 ⅔ cups Granulated Sugar
1 cup Oil ( I used Canola - Vegetable is also fine)
15-ounce Can Pumpkin
1 tsp Vanilla
2 cups Sifted All-Purpose Flour
2 tsp Baking Powder
2 tsp Ground Cinnamon
1 tsp Salt
1 tsp Baking Soda

For The Cream Cheese Frosting:

8-ounce Package Cream Cheese, softened
½ cup Butter Or Margarine, softened
3 cups Sifted Confectioners’ Sugar
1 tsp Vanilla Extract

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease or spray a 13 by 9-inch baking pan.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment combine the eggs, sugar, oil, canned pumpkin and vanilla on medium speed until light and fluffy.

Combine the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, salt and baking soda in a large bowl.

Hand mix the dry ingredients into the pumpkin mixture until just combined. Do not over mix. Spread the batter into the prepared 13 by 9-inch baking pan. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. (I needed 35 minutes for the center of the cake to get completely done.) Cool completely.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment combine the cream cheese and butter until smooth. Add the sugar and mix at low speed until combined. Stir in the vanilla and mix again. Spread on cooled pumpkin bars.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Homemade Pizza Sauce


 It is getting to be fall, it's officially football season, so we once again have homemade pizza at our house about every weekend. I am happy with my recipe for homemade crust and the baking method; but up to yesterday I was still using store bought sauce. Nothing against most of the sauce I have tried, but I knew it couldn't be that hard to make my own.
This recipe is very easy and quick and results in good flavor and color. The resulting sauce is very thick; which I liked. You could add more sauce if you prefer a thinner tomato sauce. The thickness also varies, of course, with how long the sauce simmers.


I decided to leave it a bit chunky and not puree in the blender. I am now curious to try the recipe with fresh tomatoes in place of the canned sauce, but regardless I was really pleased with the spice in flavor as is.

Adapted from Noble Pig

Ingredients:

1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
1 Tablespoon Butter
½ cup Onion, finely chopped
1 Garlic Clove, minced
1 (8 ounce) Can Tomato Sauce
1 (6 ounce) Can Tomato Paste
2 Tablespoons Grated Parmesan Cheese
1 tsp Dried Basil Leaves
1 tsp Dried Oregano Leaves
1 tsp Fennel Seeds
1 Bay Leaf
½ tsp Salt
½ tsp Sugar
¼ tsp Black Pepper

Directions:

Melt butter with the oil and add the onion and garlic; saute until soft, about 5 minutes.

Stir in tomato sauce and tomato paste and continue to stir until smooth. Add remaining ingredients and bring to a slow simmer. Simmer uncovered for 30 minutes.

Remove bay leaf. If a smooth texture is desired puree in a blender. Spread sauce on prepared pizza dough and add your favorite toppings.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Chipotle Chicken and Rice


The recipe contains Chipotle Peppers in Adobo. It's the second recipe I have ever made using these spicy canned peppers. The first time I tried it, which was months ago, resulted in a chicken recipe so spicy we could hardly eat it. We like spice; so this is saying something.
Some time has passed and I decided to give them another try. We do like spicy, after all, and I knew if I could get the right amount we would probably really like it.
I used one pepper and the adobo sauce that was clinging to it and resisted any urge to add more. Good thing; there was PLENTY of spice with one pepper.
It was easily the best chicken and rice recipe I have every made. Most of my past attempts, made with canned soup, resulted in some pretty blah flavor. There was nothing blah about this recipe.
It was also quick and easy, and I can definitely make it on a work day as it only take about 45 minutes from start to finish. 

Ingredients:

1 Tbsp Vegetable Oil
1 large Boneless, skinless chicken breast - cut into large chunks
Coarse Salt And Ground Pepper
1 small Red Onion, thinly sliced lengthwise
1-2 Garlic Cloves, coarsely chopped
½ tsp Ground Cumin
1 Canned Chipotle Chiles In Adobo, minced
1 large Tomatoes, diced large
½ cup Long-Grain White Rice

Directions:

1.In a large heavy pot, heat oil over medium. Season chicken on both sides with ½ teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper. Brown chicken on both sides and transfer to clean plate. The chicken will still be quite raw, but no worries; it spends a lot more time cooking later.

2 Add onion and saute until soft, about 5 minutes, scraping bottom of the pan to incorporate all the flavor bits.

3.Add garlic, cumin, and chiles; cook until garlic is soft and fragrant, 2 minutes. Add tomatoes and ½ teaspoon salt and cook until tomatoes begin to break down and release their juices. Stir in ½ cup water and return chicken and any accumulated juices to pot. Cover, reduce to a simmer, and cook 10 minutes.

4.Stir in rice, making sure it is completely submerged in liquid. Cover, and cook until rice is tender and liquid has been absorbed, 25 to 30 minutes more. Check rice when between 5-10 minutes left in cooking. If still firm you may need to add a bit more water.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Peach Cobbler


I always like to bake with fresh peaches each late summer/early fall and I usually make a peach pie. It is one of my personal favorites and a great excuse to use delicious fresh peaches. Over the weekend I was hungry for a dessert and decided to try something different.

I went to Food Network in search of a recipe and this one got great reviews. One comment I read several times is too much cinnamon. I decided to make the recipe as originally stated and I am so glad I did. I loved the cinnamon and I thought the brown sugar really made this recipe special; both in the filling and cobbler crust. The crust browned beautifully and that last sprinkle of brown sugar gave a nice sugary coating to the top.

Cobbler Filling:

5 Fresh Peaches - Pitted, Peeled And Thinly Sliced
¾ cup Brown Sugar
1 tsp Cinnamon
1 tsp Vanilla
1 Tbsp Flour

Cobbler Crust:


1 cup Flour
1 tsp Baking Powder
½ tsp Baking Soda
3 Tbsp Brown Sugar
4 Tbsp Unsalted Butter, cut into small pieces
⅔ cup Buttermilk
1 Tbsp Brown Sugar, for topping
Whipped Cream or ice cream


Directions:

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Generously spray or butter a 1 ½-quart shallow baking dish. Sprinkle peaches with brown sugar, cinnamon, vanilla, and flour. Mix gently until a thick syrup forms. Pour into prepared pan and bake for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile combine all dry ingredients for cobbler crust in a bowl. Cut in the butter with a pastry cutter or your fingers, to make the texture like coarse crumbs. I prefer my fingers; i just think it gets more evenly mixed. Add buttermilk and stir to form a soft dough.

Remove fruit from oven and drop rounded spoonfuls of dough on top. Sprinkle with last tablespoon of brown sugar and return to oven. Bake until fruit is bubbly and crust topping is golden brown, about 20 minutes. Serve warm with ice cream or whipped cream

Monday, September 5, 2011

Key West Chicken


 I am always on the look out for recipes. This I found in the local newspaper's weekly recipe section.  Marinated chicken on the grill is so delicious and this is definitely a different flavor than we have had before. I am a big fan of citrus flavors with chicken so I knew this would be good.
I took a large chicken breast and sliced it in half. Usually I end up with a pretty piece and another that looks pieced together. As you can tell by the photo this time was no exception. But the less pretty piece does show the marinated flavoring on the meat.


The sides for the meal were basically by chance, but they complimented the meat beautifully. We had leftover potato salad from last night that I had served with wild rice brats. There was also half an avocado from the shrimp tacos we enjoyed for lunch earlier in the day.  The flavors all tasted great together and I definitely will remember to include an avocado the next time we have this chicken.

 Ingredients: 

6 Tbs. Soy Sauce
2 Tbs. Honey
2 Tbs. Of Chopped Garlic
Juice Of 1 To 1 ½ Limes
2 Tbs. Of Oil - I used Olive Oil
Freshly Ground Black Pepper
Chicken Breasts Split

Directions:

Combine first four ingredients and then slowly whisk in the oil. Add freshly ground pepper to taste. Pour over the chicken and allow to sit in the refrigerator for an hour or so.  I used an 8x8 pan, but a Ziploc bag also works very well to marinate meat.

Place the chicken on a hot grill and pour marinade over the meat. Grill until chicken is cooked through.