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!

Cinco de Mayo

Mexican isn’t my favorite cuisine but there are a few dishes that I make in this category that we both love.  We haven’t had chicken fajitas in a while and I love the fact that the marinade was made last night so the chicken could sit in it overnight and the leftover chicken will be delicious on Caesar Salad on Thursday.  It looked like rain was imminent so I cooked the vegetables inside.  Here is the recipe:

Chicken Fajitas

  • bone in chicken breasts (we feel that they stay juicier when grilled)
  • 6 TB olive oil
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • salt and pepper to taste
Combine all marinade ingredients in a jar and shake to combine.  Pour over chicken and marinate overnight.  Grill for 5 minutes with the skin side down over direct heat and then 15 minutes other side over indirect.  Bring inside and cover with aluminum foil for a few minutes and they will be perfect.
  • 2 red peppers, cut in strips
  • 1 yellow pepper, cut in strips
  • 1 yellow onion, thick slices
  • canola oil
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp dried chipotle pepper
Heat a nonstick pan over medium heat.  Add canola oil and when oil is hot add vegetables and spices.  Cook, stirring regularly while the chicken cooks.  Don’t they look pretty?
Fajita veggies

Fajita veggies

  • Tortilla shells (1 -2 per person depending upon appetite)
  • sour cream (I use lowfat)
  • salsa
  • guacamole (optional – either store bought or see recipe previously blogged)
  • refried beans (optional)
Heat tortilla shells.  Distribute chicken, peppers and onions in shells and roll up.  Top with sour cream, salsa and guacamole.  Serve with refried beans as a side if desired.  (Also good with rice.)
Here are a few other Mexican options that are good for Cinqo de Mayo or any other time:

Steak Fajitas

  • 1 flank steak or skirt steak
  • 1/3 cup tequila
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 2 TB olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 tsp salt
Combine all ingredients (except steak) and whisk together.  Pour over steak and marinate (at least 4 hours but up to overnight).

Guacamole

  • 4 ripe avocados
  • 1 TB lime juice
  • 1 TB sour cream
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • dash of pepper
  • 1 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 2 TB salsa
  • 1 small chopped onion
  • 1 chopped tomato
  • cilantro (optional)

Mash avocados, add remaining ingredients and mash until well combined.  (This is the part of cooking where toddlers excel!).  Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.  This is one of the few recipes I make where I don’t skimp on salt.  Salt and the chili powder are the two “magic” ingredients that you should consider adding.  Let sit in a bowl with the avocado pits in the guacamole until ready to serve.  (That keeps it from turning brown.)

Chicken Quesadillas

  • bone in chicken breasts, tossed with olive oil, salt and pepper and roasted at 375 for about 40 -45 minutes.  Cooled and meat chopped
  • 1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, chopped (I keep a jar of these in the fridge)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 – 2 TB red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 TB olive oil
  • spinach
  • tomato, chopped
  • 6 ” tortillas
  • cheese (I’ve found a four cheese Mexican blend that is awesome)

In a heavy sauce pan heat olive oil over medium heat.  Add pepper, garlic and onion and saute until soft, 2- 4 minutes.  Add spinach and tomatoes and cook another 2 minutes.  Add chicken meat and cook until chicken is warm, about 3 minutes.  Remove from heat and combine with cheese in a glass bowl.  Spread filling over tortillas and top with another tortilla.  Brush with olive oil and bake at 425 for about 10 minutes until browned and hot.  Top with sour cream, salsa and avocado and enjoy.

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).

Seviche

  • 1 1/2 lbs of shrimp, peeled and deveined and chopped into 5 pieces each
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 2 TB orange juice
  • 1 large garlic clove pressed
  • 2 TB olive oil
  • 1 yellow pepper, minced
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, minced
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 2 TB minced red onion
  • 1 mango, peeled and finely chopped
Put shrimp in a large bowl with juices and garlic.  Add olive oil, peppers, cilantro and onion and stir well.  Cover and refrigerate overnight.  Add mango and refrigerate.  Serve with tortilla chips and plenty of napkins!

Mexican Chicken Soup

  • 2 whole chicken breasts, bone in
  • olive oil
  • 2 chopped yellow onions
  • 2 stalks chopped celery
  • 3 chopped carrots
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 1/2 quarts of chicken stock (I have homemade in the freezer and will use 1 container of store bought to stretch mine)
  • 1 28 oz can of whole tomatoes
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seed and chopped fine
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander seed
  • 6 corn tortillas (6 inch size)
  • sliced avocado
  • sour cream
  • grated cheddar cheese

Optional:

  • chopped cilantro
  • tortilla chips

Preheat oven to 350.  Rub chicken breasts with olive oil, kosher salt and pepper.  Roast for 45 minutes or until done.  Let cool.  Remove skin and bones and chop meat.  Set aside.

In a soup pot, heat 3 TBs of olive oil.  Add chopped onions, celery and carrots and cook for 10 – 12 minutes.  Add garlic and stir in with veggies.  Add chicken stock, tomatoes, jalapeno, cumin, coriander and cilantro (if desired).  Cut tortillas into strips and add.  Bring to a boil and then lower heat to a simmer.  Simmer for 30 minutes.  Add chicken and check seasonings – add salt and pepper if needed.  Serve with sliced avocado, shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream and tortilla chips (if desired).

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!

Shrimp and black bean quesadillas

This recipe is one of my husband’s favorites and pretty quick to fix on a weeknight.  You can customize based on what you like but you might want to try this combination first.   It is pretty addictive.

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!

The picture below shows what it looks like before it gets a top and goes in the oven.

Topless shrimp and black bean quesadilla

Topless shrimp and black bean quesadilla

Catching up

Things have been a bit hectic the past few days but I assure you that we have not gone hungry.  On Wednesday I was inspired by Becky’s Green Goddess idea.  I made mine a little bit differently.  I used the Green Goddess recipe I had but added the lemon zest that Becky had in hers.  Here is the recipe:

Green Goddess Dressing

  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup parsley
  • 1/4 cup chives
  • 2 TB scallion greens
  • 1 1/2 tsp anchovy paste (use this even if you think you don’t like anchovies)  🙂
  • 1 tsp white wine vinegar
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp lemon zest

Combine in a blender or food processor.  This is so wonderful on sliced tomatoes.  I doubled it so we can take some with us on vacation also.  (One year we had a house sitter who ate almost a whole jar of this out of the refrigerator while we were gone.  He told us he loved the “green stuff”.  How brave to eat an entire jar of something green without knowing what it was!)

I roasted my shrimp and sliced some tomatoes and made a nice salad plate with the green goddess.   Doesn’t that look pretty?

Summer salad plate

Summer salad plate

On Thursday I went to my company crab feast so Keith and Samantha went to Italian Gardens.  Last night he requested the shrimp and black bean 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
  • 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!

Shrimp and black bean quesadilla

When I’m doing the menu plan on Sundays, I always ask my husband if he has any requests.  Last weekend I was pressed for time so I had the plan done through Wednesday.  I told him what I had in mind for Sunday through Wednesday (he liked all of the ideas) and then I asked him what he wanted on Thursday.  He said either the shrimp and sausage pizzas of the shrimp and black bean quesadilla.  He wanted to go watch his tennis team play tonight and I liked the fact that I could make the filling ahead of time and heat the quesadillas quickly when he called to say he was on his way home.

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!

Adaptable cooking

Jack (who turns 12 next week) will be cutting our grass this summer.  His father wanted to supervise his first effort which spanned dinnertime.  I decided it would be just as easy for Christie and Kevin to have dinner with us while Jack cut the grass.  That allowed us to visit, Keith and Kevin could supervise and comment.  Samantha had leftover pizza during grass cutting and Jack had his when he finished working.  The great thing about this recipe is that it is easy to increase the quantity (and it is quick to fix and delicious).  The tortillas we had were bigger so I made 2 and we each had 1/2.

And Samantha got a ride on the tractor!

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!

 

Shrimp and Black bean quesadillas

Shrimp and Black bean 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!

How I use my own blog

I really enjoyed the pasta class and can’t wait to try out what I learned.  We were going to have pasta on Thursday night but I decided to move that to Saturday so I have time to make the pasta from scratch.  When I asked my husband what he wanted for dinner, he said he wanted shrimp.  When I asked him how he wanted the shrimp fixed, he was not so definitive.  I logged onto the blog, searched on shrimp and sent him an email with choices.  They included:

  •  grilled rosemary shrimp
  • pesto and shrimp pizza
  • roasted shrimp with feta
  • grilled shrimp with cous cous
  • shrimp with orzo
  • shrimp scampi
  • shrimp Cobb salad
  • grilled tomato shrimp
  • shrimp and black bean quesadillas
  • grilled chopped salad

He opted for the shrimp and black bean quesadillas.  They were delicious as always and I had the tortilla shells left from last time.  It was also a good choice because they are pretty quick to fix and I had almost everything I needed on hand.

I hope you’ll use the blog the same way – if you are craving a particular ingredient such as shrimp, crab or pork or a particular type of dish such as pizza, salad or pasta, use the search and see if you find something to your liking.

I’ll send an update on the pasta on Saturday.  Tonight we’re having sushi!