Comfort food

As mentioned in my previous post, I let everyone pick a favorite meal for this week.  I wasn’t surprised that Keith picked these quesadillas.  Samantha doesn’t like shrimp so I use a smaller pan to saute her chipotle pepper and garlic and then add beans.  That also works as she can handle a lot more heat than I can so I added extra chipotle to hers.  She still said “Mom, it’s not that spicy.”  Showoff!

These could easily be adapted to your food preferences – chicken could be substituted for the shrimp, corn for all or some of the beans, more or less heat, etc.

Chipotle shrimp and black bean quesadilla

  • 3/4 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined and cut in half lengthwise
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp butter
  • 1  – 2 tsp pureed chipotle pepper in adobo sauce (if you are making for the first time, start with 1 tsp until you see how much heat you like)
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 1 can of black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 3/4 cup Monterey Jack cheese (I actually used a mix of pepperjack and Mexican cheese blend)
  • 3 6″ flour tortillas (or 2 larger ones and then cut the whole thing in half)
  • 1 additional TB of olive oil
  • sour cream (I use reduced fat)
  • salsa
  • 1 avocado, chopped

Heat a skillet over medium heat.  Add olive oil, butter, garlic and pureed chipotle.  Stir to combine for 1 minute.  Add shrimp and cook until just done.  Pour in beans and combine.  Remove from heat to a bowl and stir in cheese so it partially melts.

Divide filling between tortillas, spreading on half of tortilla and then folding over.  Brush with olive oil.  Bake at 425 for about 10 minutes until top is golden brown and crispy.  Top with a dollop each of sour cream, salsa and chopped avocado (or guacamole).  Enjoy!

quesadillas

Family favorites

Last night I went with this quick version of roasted chicken.  Because it is cut in half, it cooks in less time and since the vegetables are in the same pan, it is easy to clean up too.  The chicken juices give great flavor to the apples and vegetables.

Roasted chicken with veggies

  • 2 tsp poultry seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 chicken broiler/fryer between 3 and 4 pounds
  • 1 bunch leeks, trimmed, well rinsed, cut lengthwise and then sliced about 1/2 inch thick
  • 1 package baby kale
  • 2 – 3 Honeycrisp apples, cored and cut into inch chunks
  • 2 stalks celery, cut in 1/2 inch thick slices.
  • 5 whole shallots, peeled.
  • 2 TB olive oil
  • 1 TB butter

Mix poultry seasoning and salt.  Using kitchen scissors, cut out the backbone of the chicken (put chicken breast side down).  I will admit that I thought this was going to be very difficult and require butchering skills – it was perfectly straightforward and took about 1 minute.  Then split chicken through breastbone.  Rinse and dry thoroughly.  Rub it with about 1/2 of poultry seasoning mix and butter.  (Save backbone in a freezer bag for making chicken stock!)

Put vegetables in a roasting pan and toss with remaining poultry seasoning mix and olive oil.  Put a rack over vegetables with chicken.  Roast at 450 for about 1 hour.  (After 30 minutes, stir vegetables.)

I was going to fix the shrimp and sausage pizzas that Keith likes so much but they were out of Italian turkey sausage so I switched to another one of his favorites – these quesadillas.

Chipotle shrimp and black bean quesadilla

  • 3/4 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined and cut in half lengthwise
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp butter
  • 1  – 2 tsp pureed chipotle pepper in adobo sauce (if you are making for the first time, start with 1 tsp until you see how much heat you like)
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 1/2 can of black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 3/4 cup Monterey Jack cheese
  • 4 6″ flour tortillas (or 2 larger ones and then cut the whole thing in half)
  • 1 additional TB of olive oil
  • sour cream (I use reduced fat)
  • salsa
  • 1 avocado, chopped

Heat a skillet over medium heat.  Add olive oil, butter, garlic and pureed chipotle.  Stir to combine for 1 minute.  Add shrimp and cook until just done.  Pour in beans and combine.  Remove from heat to a bowl and stir in cheese so it partially melts.

Divide filling between tortillas.  Top each with another tortilla and brush with olive oil.  Bake at 425 for about 10 minutes until top is golden brown and crispy.  Top with a dollop each of sour cream, salsa and chopped avocado (or guacamole).  Enjoy!

A family favorite

Keith requested these for the menu plan this week.  This is easily adaptable to your favorites – substitute chicken for the shrimp or mushrooms for the beans, decrease the spice by removing the chipotles, etc.   Simple enough to make it your own so I decided to make them look like butterflies!

Chipotle shrimp and black bean quesadilla

  • 3/4 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined and cut in half lengthwise
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp butter
  • 1  – 2 tsp pureed chipotle pepper in adobo sauce (if you are making for the first time, start with 1 tsp until you see how much heat you like)
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 1/2 can of black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 3/4 cup Monterey Jack cheese
  • 4 6″ flour tortillas (or 2 larger ones and then cut the whole thing in half)
  • 1 additional TB of olive oil
  • sour cream (I use reduced fat)
  • salsa
  • 1 avocado, chopped

Heat a skillet over medium heat.  Add olive oil, butter, garlic and pureed chipotle.  Stir to combine for 1 minute.  Add shrimp and cook until just done.  Pour in beans and combine.  Remove from heat to a bowl and stir in cheese so it partially melts.

Divide filling between tortillas.  Top each with another tortilla and brush with olive oil.  Bake at 425 for about 10 minutes until top is golden brown and crispy.  Top with a dollop each of sour cream, salsa and chopped avocado (or guacamole).  Enjoy!

Quesadillas!

Quesadillas!

Continuous improvement

Sorry that I’ve fallen behind this week.  I would imagine most of you sympathize.  This is the time of the year when we are all trying to do more and it can feel like it is never going to get done.  Wednesday night we had the shrimp and black bean quesadillas.  This has become a favorite of ours but I always believe that things can be made better.

I was watching a Barefoot Contessa show where she made a seafood gratin.  She sliced the shrimp in half lengthwise.  Her point was that they are easier to eat that way – smaller bites but they still look like shrimp.  If you cut them in half crosswise, they don’t.  I decided to try that in the shrimp and black bean quesadillas and it worked really well.  It kept the quesadillas flatter and it spreads the shrimp out better so you get shrimp in every bite!

Chipotle shrimp and black bean quesadilla

  • 3/4 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined and cut in half lengthwise
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp butter
  • 1  – 2 tsp pureed chipotle pepper in adobo sauce (if you are making for the first time, start with 1 tsp until you see how much heat you like)
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 1/2 can of black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 3/4 cup Monterey Jack cheese
  • 4 6″ flour tortillas
  • 1 additional TB of olive oil
  • sour cream (I use reduced fat)
  • salsa
  • 1 avocado, chopped

Heat a skillet over medium heat.  Add olive oil, butter, garlic and pureed chipotle.  Stir to combine for 1 minute.  Add shrimp and cook until just done.  Pour in beans and combine.  Remove from heat to a bowl and stir in cheese so it partially melts.

Divide filling between tortillas.  Top each with another tortilla and brush with olive oil.  Bake at 425 for about 10 minutes until top is golden brown and crispy.  Top with a dollop each of sour cream, salsa and chopped avocado (or guacamole).  Enjoy!

NOTE: The extra chipotle pepper keeps well in a jar in the refrigerator.  This has become my new favorite ingredient!

Change in plans

The plan for tonight was the grilled pork chops with sage leaves (because pork chops are on sale this week and I have lots of sage in my garden.)  However we had a little change up.  My husband bought his generator and our friend Kevin came over to help him with the assembly.  Christie came along and we all had dinner together after they finished.  I made the shrimp and black bean quesadillas again and everyone loved them.  In the spirit of continuous improvement, I added a little garlic to the mix and a little more chipotle pepper.  Adapt to your liking.

Chipotle shrimp and black bean quesadilla

  • 3/4 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp butter
  • 1  – 2 tsp pureed chipotle pepper in adobo sauce (see note above)
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 1/2 can of black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 3/4 cup Monterey Jack cheese
  • 4 6″ flour tortillas
  • 1 additional TB of olive oil
  • sour cream (I use reduced fat)
  • salsa
  • 1 avocado, chopped

Heat a skillet over medium heat.  Add olive oil, butter, garlic and pureed chipotle.  Stir to combine for 1 minute.  Add shrimp and cook until just done.  Pour in beans and combine.  Remove from heat to a bowl and stir in cheese so it partially melts.

Divide filling between tortillas.  Top each with another tortilla and brush with olive oil.  Bake at 425 for about 10 minutes until top is golden brown and crispy.  Top with a dollop each of sour cream, salsa and chopped avocado (or guacamole).  Enjoy!

Home again!

I was in Austin, Texas this week for my company’s annual User conference.  I hope you didn’t starve!  Although I didn’t have much free time to explore Austin, I was treated to some really delicious food.  I’m always paying attention to food and looking for inspiration.  Here are a few things that I noted while traveling that I’ll try to incorporate into future planning:

  • Quesadillas – the first night we feasted on a buffet of heavy hors d’oeuvres which included a quesadilla station.  The three options were spinach and mushroom, grilled chicken with veggies and shrimp with black beans.  I have made a shrimp and black bean quesadilla before but all three of these were excellent.  They were served with salsa, sour cream and guacamole and sliced into wedges.  This would be a good option for a casual party and the variety of flavors offered something for everybody.  I’m going to do some more research on quesadillas and look to include in future menu plans.
  • Poblano corn chowder – lunch included soup each day (one was a chunky chicken served with avocado that reminded me of the Mexican chicken soup I make).  The first day we had a smoked poblano corn chowder that was really delicious.  It was served with toasted pumpkin seeds.  I would love to try to replicate it.
  • Tapas – our farewell dinner was a buffet at a tapas restaurant in Austin (Malaga).  The restaurant was lovely and we were treated to a flamenco show.  I was interested to see how the dishes compared to some of these things we have made in our New Year’s Eve Tapas feasts.  (Search tapas if you want to reread the reports.)   All of the food was really good and some tasted very familiar (patatas bravas, chicken with garlic, grilled lamb chops all reminded me of dishes we have made.)  One of my favorites which I think we could replicate in the future was a grilled scallop wrapped in a basil leaf and serrano ham.  It was outstanding.  As we were getting our dessert I remembered that my husband had promised to make Magdelenas – little Spanish teacakes for our daughter’s pretend trip to Spain.  I texted him and he managed to borrow an egg from a friend and have them baked and ready despite the fact that it was 10:00 when he started.  Good job honey!
  • Small containers – the spreads that our hotel put out for breakfast and lunch were delicious and pretty.  One of the things I noticed is that they served a lot of things in small containers.  One day had a lettuce-less Greek salad in little glasses, they served an orzo salad in small, shallow “boats” and a trifle like dessert in a petite glass cylinder.  This method encourages people to try things.  I’ll keep my eyes open for inexpensive, single serving options to use for parties.  (I think Pier One would be  a good place to look.)
  • Labels – when in a buffet line, it is human nature to ask “What is that?” before taking a serving.  The hotel (and the tapas restaurant) had everything labeled.  One day the lunch buffet table was covered with brown paper and the names of each dish had been written on the paper.  I thought that would be a clever idea for a casual buffet.  I’m also going to look for reusable labels for buffets.  My parties aren’t so big that I can’t tell people but still, it’s a nice idea.

It was a good week but I’m very happy to be home.  I’m also happy to report that my daughter is fully recovered from the stomach bug she had the night before I left.  We went out to dinner together last night to celebrate my return (I had a delicious spinach salad topped with fried oysters – another inspiration for future replication) and tonight is the next installment in our International Eating project – Mexican.  I’ll be back tomorrow with a report on our Mexican feast and a menu plan for the week – assuming I remember how to cook after a whole week!