Southwest Quesadillas

Southwest Quesadillas

 

One of my favorite appetizers are Southwest Eggrolls, I order them all the time at Chili’s and The Cheesecake Factory.  I also make Southwest Eggrolls at home!

But Southwest Eggrolls are usually fried, that’s what makes them so good!  But anything fried pretty much means high in calories and everything else that aren’t the healthiest things to eat.  So I recently thought why not make Southwest Quesadillas?  After all Quesadillas aren’t deep fried, they’re grilled, so much healthier I think.

I usually make a batch of the Southwest Eggroll filling and using them in quesadillas works as well. Instead of rolling the filling burrito style I grill it on a tortilla, whole wheat of course!

You can make a batch of the filling and use it however you want.  You can freeze the filling and thaw it out when needed.  Or you can roll them into eggrolls and freeze until ready to use. However you choose to use it this Southwest filling is very versatile.  Did I mention it’s a pretty healthy choice too?

Yes the filling is pretty health.  It’s got fiber, protein, and other vitamins, and it’s fairly low in calories and fat.  So go a head make a batch today!

So here’s how to make Southwest Quesadillas!

Southwest Quesadillas

Southwest Eggroll filling click here

Whole Wheat Tortillas (you can use any type of tortilla)

Shredded Cheddar Cheese

Chopped Cilantro

Cooking Spray

Toppings of your choice:  Salsa, Sour Cream, Guacamole, etc.

Spray a skillet with cooking spray.

Heat skillet and place 1 tortilla in it.

Sprinkle shredded cheddar all over the tortilla.

Spoon about 1/2 Cup of Southwest Eggroll filling on HALF the tortilla.

Lift the other half of the tortilla with a spatula and fold it over the filled half.

Press the top half down and cook about 1 minute.

Carefully flip the quesadilla over and cook the other side about 1-2 minutes or until it starts to turn crunchy and cheese is melted.

Remove from heat and cut into 4 triangles.

Serve hot with your favorite toppings.

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Lemon Pepper Chicken

Lemon Pepper Chicken

“Hey Nana what’s for dinner?”  is the perpetual question at our house.  Thinking about what to make for dinner is a problem that people have complained about for years.  I remember my grandmother saying that she’d happily cook anything as long as someone told her what to cook.  I feel the same way!  But that seldom happens at our house so I’m always in search of something to make for dinner.

Since it’s summer time I try to make lighter fare.  Something simple and tasty to be exact.  I mean seriously who wants to slave over a hot stove in the heat of Summer??  Not I that’s for sure!

This Lemon Pepper Chicken fits the bill!  It’s tasty, light, healthier, and best of all super easy!  I serve it with sautéed veggies, whatever’s in season or what I find at Costco or Sam’s Club, and riced cauliflower.  This meal is pretty low in calories and is keto friendly for those watching carbs.

My family loves it!  So here’s the recipe!

Lemon Pepper Chicken

Ingredients:

4 Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts, sliced in half thru the middle to make 8 thin slices.

1/2 Cup Flour or Coconut Flour if you want carb friendly

1 Tbs. Lemon Pepper 

1 Tsp. Garlic Powder

2 Tbs. Avocado Oil

1 Cup Chicken Broth

1 Tbs. Butter

1 Lemon – Cut half to use the juice, and cut the other half into slices

Instructions:

Combine flour and spices in a small container and mix well.

Heat oil in heavy skillet, I prefer a cast iron skillet, but use what you have.

Dredge chicken slices in flour mixture, shake off excess.

Place in hot skillet and cook each side until done, about 3 minutes per side.

Set aside cooked chicken.

Add chicken broth to skillet and deglaze.

Squeeze lemon juice from the half of the lemon into broth and stir.

Melt butter in broth.

Lower heat and cook until sauce starts to thicken.

Add back cooked chicken slices and lemon slices.

Spoon sauce over all and cook another 5-10 minutes or until sauce is thicker.  Don’t cook too long and allow all the sauce to evaporate.

Serve warm with your favorite veggies and side dishes.

 

 

Lemon Pepper Chicken
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Instructions
  1. Combine flour and spices in a small container and mix well.
  2. Heat oil in heavy skillet, I prefer a cast iron skillet, but use what you have.
  3. Dredge chicken slices in flour mixture, shake off excess.
  4. Place in hot skillet and cook each side until done, about 3 minutes per side.
  5. Set aside cooked chicken.
  6. Add chicken broth to skillet and deglaze. 
  7. Squeeze lemon juice from the half of the lemon into broth and stir. 
  8. Melt butter in broth.  
  9. Lower heat and cook until sauce starts to thicken.
  10. Add back cooked chicken slices and lemon slices. 
  11. Spoon sauce over all and cook another 5-10 minutes or until sauce is thicker.  Don't cook too long and allow all the sauce to evaporate.  
Recipe Notes

Serve warm with your favorite veggies and side dishes.

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Grilled Chicken with Chimichurri

Grilled Chicken with Chimichurri

The secret to this perfectly juicy grilled chicken recipe from chef Anthony Endy of The Alisal Guest Ranch and Resort is twofold: One, let the chicken sit in the aromatic citrus-and-herb flavored brine for 24 hours, and two, once your coals are hot, keep it moving on the grill. After the initial sear, turn the chicken often, and grill until a probe thermometer inserted in the thickest portion registers 155°F. Try serving it with Santa Maria–Style Pinquito Beans and a Mild Tomato Salsa on the side.

Ingredients

CHICKEN

8 cups water
2 (5-ounce) oranges, quartered
2 (2-ounce) lemons, quartered
2 (1/4-ounce) chiles de árbol, cracked open
1 bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley
10 thyme sprigs
8 bay leaves
4 rosemary sprigs
4 medium garlic cloves, smashed
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
2 (4-pound) whole chickens, split, backbones and wings removed and discarded or reserved for another use

CHIMICHURRI

1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 bunch fresh cilantro, stems removed and discarded
1/2 bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley, stems removed and discarded
3 tablespoons minced garlic
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (from 2 lemons)
3 tablespoons finely chopped shallot (from 1 medium shallot)
2 1/4 teaspoons fresh oregano leaves
1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon crushed chile de árbol or other dried red chile flakes

SPICE BLEND

5 teaspoons paprika
4 teaspoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon ancho chile powder
2 teaspoons dried Mexican oregano
1 teaspoon chipotle chile powder

Directions

Make the chicken

Step 1
Combine 8 cups water, oranges, lemons, chiles, parsley, thyme, bay leaves, rosemary, garlic, salt, and peppercorns in a large stockpot. Bring to a boil over high. Cook, whisking occasionally, until salt dissolves and herbs are aromatic, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat; let cool completely, about 1 hour. Place chicken halves in mixture in stockpot. (Chicken should be fully submerged in liquid.) Cover and refrigerate 24 hours.

Make the chimichurri

Step 2
Process all chimichurri ingredients in a blender or food processor until smooth, about 1 minute, stopping to scrape down sides as needed. Store in refrigerator in an airtight container until ready to use, up to 8 hours.

Make the chimichurri

Step 3
Process all chimichurri ingredients in a blender or food processor until smooth, about 1 minute, stopping to scrape down sides as needed. Store in refrigerator in an airtight container until ready to use, up to 8 hours.

Make the spice blend

Step 4
Stir together all spice blend ingredients in a small bowl until combined. Set aside.

Step 5
Open bottom vent of a charcoal grill completely. Light 2 charcoal chimney starters filled with hardwood lump charcoal. When coals are hot, pour them evenly onto the 2 outer sides of grill, leaving center of grill unlit. Top each side of coals with an oak wood chunk. Adjust vents as needed to maintain an internal temperature of 300°F to 350°F. Coat top grate with oil; place on grill. (If using a gas grill, preheat to medium-low [300°F to 350°F] on outer burners, leaving middle burner[s] unlit.) Remove chicken from brine; discard brine, and pat chicken dry.

Step 6
Place chicken, skin side up, on oiled grates over center portion of grill without coals (or unlit center portion of gas grill). Grill, uncovered, until a thermometer inserted in thickest portion of breasts registers 110°F, about 15 minutes, rotating chicken every 2 to 3 minutes to avoid burning. Flip chicken on grates; grill until skin is slightly caramelized and browned, about 3 minutes. Cover and grill until a thermometer inserted in thickest portion of breasts registers 150°F, about 25 minutes, flipping and rotating chicken every 5 minutes.

Step 7
Sprinkle chicken all over with 2 tablespoons spice blend. Place chicken, skin side up, on grates. Grill, uncovered, until a thermometer inserted in thickest portion of breasts registers 155°F, 40 to 45 minutes. Remove chicken from grill, and cover loosely with aluminum foil. Let rest 15 minutes. Carve chicken. Sprinkle with additional spice blend to taste. Serve with chimichurri.
 

Grilled Chicken with Chimichurri
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CHICKEN
CHIMICHURRI
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Roast Chicken Thighs with Peas and Mint

Roast Chicken Thighs with Peas and Mint

We’d go to our graves defending low-maintenance, quick-cooking, always-flavorful chicken thighs as the best part of the bird. This recipe harnesses their power by using the fat that renders when they’re seared on the stove to soften thick rounds of leeks and spring peas for a built-in side. Leave the chicken uncovered when it goes into the oven so the skin crisps up while cooking.

 

Ingredients:

4 SERVINGS

  • 6 skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs (about 2½ lb. total)
  • 1 Tbsp. ground coriander
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 large leeks, white and pale green parts only, sliced ½” thick
  • 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 5 2×1″ strips lemon zest
  • 2 bay leaves
  • ⅓ cup dry white wine
  • 1½ cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup fresh (or frozen, thawed) peas
  • 1 cup mint leaves, torn if large

 

Preparation:

Step 1

Preheat oven to 350°. Pat chicken thighs dry; sprinkle flesh side with coriander. Season generously all over with salt.

 

Step 2

Heat oil in a large high-sided or cast-iron skillet over medium. Cook chicken, skin side down, undisturbed, until thighs release easily from pan, about 4 minutes. Continue to cook, scooting chicken around occasionally for even browning, until golden brown, about 5 minutes more. Transfer chicken to a plate, skin side up.

 

Step 3

Pour out all but 2 Tbsp. fat from skillet and return to medium heat. Add leeks and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly softened, about 3 minutes. Add lemon zest and bay leaves and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 20 seconds. Pour in wine, scraping up any brown bits stuck to bottom of pan with a wooden spoon. Cook until wine is almost completely evaporated, about 3 minutes. Add broth and bring to a simmer. Return chicken to skillet, arranging skin side up. Transfer skillet to oven; roast chicken until cooked through and juices run clear when poked with a paring knife, 15–20 minutes. Transfer chicken to a plate.

 

Step 4

If using fresh peas, cook in same skillet over medium heat until tender and bright green, about 3 minutes. If using frozen, cook just until warmed through, about 1 minute. Toss in mint; season with more salt if needed. Arrange vegetables and chicken in a large shallow bowl or on a platter.

 

 

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Crispy Braised Chicken Thighs With Artichokes

Crispy Braised Chicken Thighs With Artichokes

Crispy Braised Chicken Thighs with Artichokes, Leeks and Tarragon cooked over baby potatoes. A simple spring dinner to highlight the season’s bounty. 
This braised chicken recipe sings of Spring with fresh artichoke hearts, tarragon and leeks.  The star of this dish is easily fresh artichokes- and it’s best to save this recipe until they are in season and in abundance.  Not only will they be less expensive, they will be at their peak of flavor.

 

 

Braised Crispy Chicken Thighs with Artichoke hearts, leeks, potatoes and tarragon- a delicious one-pan recipe perfect for spring! 

 

 

Pieces of chicken thighs are simply seasoned with kosher salt and pepper and seared in a skillet. In the same pan, fresh artichoke hearts are sauteed with leeks and baby potatoes, then de-glazed with vermouth (or white wine) and chicken stock. Fresh tarragon leaves and lemon zest are added along with a tiny little bit of cream. The chicken thighs are nestled down in this lovely spring goodness, and it all goes in the oven for a bit. When it comes out, the chicken is juicy and crispy, and the artichokes flavorful and tender.  A delicious one-pot meal.

 

 

 

 

We’ve had a unusually warm Spring here and our city is exploding with blossoms.
Mothers day came and went, and the dogwood we planted (for my mother) burst out in white, shouting, I’m still here. The Lilies of the Valley returned quietly, laden with tiny white bells, unbelievably fragrant.
I’ve been thinking about flowers lately.  How quickly they bloom… and then go – their sole purpose being opening,
becoming fully what they are, no matter how temporary.

Last evening, while walking through the lilac grove, smelling each one, I thought to myself (a little morbidly) that I probably only have forty more springs to experience all this loveliness, if I’m lucky. And suddenly all the blossoms and all the flower smells in the night air…seemed so much more important.

This morning, as I study at the sleepy blossoms outside my window, I wonder, will I ever fully open? Some things just can’t be forced. We are, what we are when we are. But today at least, I feel somewhat willing.

Through the years, I’ve been a witness to this in others- the gradual opening of those close to me. Watching them become more and more of who they are. It is a beautiful thing to behold. It moves me.

 

 

 

 

Prepare a bowl of cold water with lemon juice. This will keep the artichoke hearts from browning. Working quickly, one artichoke at a time, snap off the tough outer petals.  I like to save mine for the next day, in a zip lock bag. These can be blanched, marinated and then grilled for a tasty side or  appetizer. Here is a marinade for grilled artichokes that I use repeatedly with good success.

 

 

 

 

Once the tough green petals are snapped off, you will see silky yellow petals which must come off too. Just pull them off with your fingers. Remember to work quickly to prevent browning.

 

 

 

 

Finally,  you will get to the fine thread-like filaments. These are inedible, even when cooked, so using a spoon, firmly and gently pry them off.

If you get the edge of your spoon, in just the right spot, they will come off easily.

 

 

 

 

Once these are off, using a sharp paring knife, quickly trim the artichoke edges and stem- removing the tough skin of the stem and the bottom 1/2 inch or so. Immediately immerse in a bowl of cold lemon water, to help prevent browning.

 

 

 

 

You can cut a whole chicken into pieces, or use chicken thighs. Pat dry, sprinkle with kosher salt and pepper and sear in a hot skillet. I usually cook the bottom side longer than the tops, because the tops will brown in the oven, and you don’t want them overly brown. Once seared, set them aside.

 

 

 

 

After draining off some of the chicken fat, in the same pan, you will saute the leeks, artichokes and potatoes with a little butter.

For this dish, I use tiny baby potatoes, just cut in half.  Whatever potatoes you use, make sure they are cut to about a 1/2 inch thick,  so they cook to the proper done-ness.

When ready to saute the artichokes, pull them out of the lemon water and slice them to 1/4 inch thick.
Sometimes I’ll throw in some pearl onions. Mushrooms would taste good too. Or fresh English peas. Or caramelized fennel bulb. Make it your own.

 

 

 

 

This recipe calls for a 1/4 cup of fresh tarragon, which to me, pairs really well with artichoke hearts. But,  if you are not a fan of tarragon, fresh sage is a really good alternative.

Once the artichokes, leeks and potatoes are just tender, after about 10 minutes, de-glaze with Vermouth (or white wine). Bring to a boil and reduce by half, about 5 minutes.

Add stock, lemon zest and fresh tarragon and a little half and half. Once simmering, give a quick stir and taste for salt. You may need to add a pinch of salt and pepper. Nestle chicken into it so the undersides are immersed in the liquid and skin sides are up. Place in a hot  425F oven for 20-30 minutes or until thighs register 180F or breasts reach 160F.  If not crisp enough, place under the broiler for a few minutes.

 

 

 

 

When it comes out, it will be fragrant and delicious. Serve with crusty bread, a salad and white wine.

 

 

Braised Crispy Chicken Thighs with Artichoke hearts, leeks, potatoes and tarragon- a delicious one-pan recipe perfect for spring! 

 

 

Braised Crispy Chicken Thighs with Artichoke hearts, leeks, potatoes and tarragon- a delicious one-pan recipe perfect for spring!

 

 

Braised Crispy Chicken Thighs with Artichoke hearts, leeks, potatoes and tarragon- a delicious one-pan recipe perfect for spring! 

Hope you enjoy this recipe and leave your notes  in the comments below!

 

 

Ingredients:

  • 4 large artichokes, trimmed and sliced
  • one lemon, zest and juice.
  • 6 chicken thighs (bone in skin on)
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoon butter, divided.
  • 1 large leek, sliced and rinsed, drained.
  • 2 cups tiny potatoes sliced ( 1/4 thick in pieces)
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds (optional)
  • 1/2 cup vermouth or white wine.
  • 1 Cup chicken stock
  • 1 tsp whole grain mustard
  • 1/2 Cup half and half
  • 1/4 cup fresh tarragon, divided
  • Optional Addtions: Mushrooms, ramps, pearl onions, fresh English peas, fennel bulb

 

Instructions

Zest the lemon, set zest aside.

Prep the artichokes. Fill a med bowl with 4 cups cold water and squeeze with the juice from the lemon. Because artichokes will easily brown, work on one at a time as quickly as possible. Snap off all the hard out leaves using your fingers ( Save for later) With a sharp paring knife, trim off all the outer green skin around the base and stem, keeping the stem in tact. Remove the yellowish soft leaves and using a spoon, gently scrape away the white or purple silk like threads. Immediately place in the lemon water, to prevent browning. Slice just before placing in the skillet.

Preheat oven to 425F. Pat chicken dry and season with kosher salt and pepper. Heat 1 T butter and 1 T olive oil in a heavy bottom oven proof skillet over med high heat. Place chicken skin side down and sear for until golden, about 5 minutes. Turn and brown undersides until golden, about 7-8 minutes. Remove chicken and set aside. Drain some of the chicken fat, leaving about 1 tablespoon oil in the pan. Add 1 tablespoon more butter. Add leeks, sliced artichokes, sliced potatoes and fennel seeds. Saute on med heat for 8-10 minutes, stirring frequently, until they just begin to soften. Season with a generous pinch of kosher salt and pepper.

Deglaze the pan with vermouth (or white wine). Reduce by half, about 4 minutes. Add stock, mustard and fennel seeds, half and half, half of the fresh tarragon and 1/2 of the zest. Give a stir, bring to a simmer, and taste broth adjusting salt and pepper. Nestle the chicken pieces into the stew with skin sides up, and roast in a hot 425 F oven for 20-30 minutes, until golden, and thigh internal temp is 170F, or breast internal temp is 160F. If needed, broil for a couple minutes to get skin extra crispy.

Garnish with remaining lemon zest and fresh tarragon before serving.

 

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Almond dukkah chicken bake with amaranth and herbs

Almond dukkah chicken bake with amaranth and herbs

Bursting with flavours, this is anything but your average roast chook.

 

SERVES: 4 PREP     TIME: 15MINS      COOK TIME: 1HR 20MINS      INGREDIENTS: 14     DIFFICULTY: EASY

 

INGREDIENTS:

200g amaranth (from health food shops)
15 unpeeled garlic cloves, bruised
2 baby fennel, cut into eighths
8 Asian (red) eschalots, halved
2 tbs currants
2 tbs finely chopped preserved lemon rind
1/4 cup (60ml) extra virgin olive oil
1.2kg whole chicken, butterflied (ask your butcher to do this)
2/3 cup (165ml) chicken stock
1/2 bunch each mint, parsley and basil leaves
Lemon wedges, to serve
ALMOND DUKKAH
1 tbs each cumin, coriander and fennel seeds, toasted
1/4 tsp dried chilli flakes
1 tbs chopped roasted almonds

 

METHOD:

1.For the almond dukkah, using a mortar and pestle, pound seeds until coarsely ground. Stir through chilli flakes, almonds and 1/2 tsp salt flakes, and set aside.

2.Place amaranth and 2 cups (500ml) water in a saucepan over high heat and bring to the boil. Cover, reduce heat to low, and cook for 20 minutes or until amaranth has absorbed water and is tender.

3.Preheat oven to 220°C and grease a shallow roasting pan.

4.Cover base of prepared pan evenly with cooked amaranth. Combine garlic, fennel, eschalot, currants, lemon and 1 tbs oil in a bowl, then arrange over amaranth. Top with chicken, breast-side up. Spoon remaining 2 tbs oil over chicken and roast, on top shelf of oven, for 15 minutes or until chicken is slightly golden.

How to: Butterfly chicken
5.Reduce oven to 200°C, carefully add stock and roast for 45-50 minutes or until juices of chicken run clear when the thickest part of a thigh is pierced with a skewer. Remove from oven, scatter with herbs and almond dukkah, and serve with lemon wedges.

 

 

Almond dukkah chicken bake with amaranth and herbs
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