Friday, July 21, 2017

Chicken and Spinach Quesadillas

It's been over the top hot here. Like crazy hot and humid, not wanting to cook anything hot. But eating still has to happen. I was mulling over what to make, what I had in the fridge, what was easy that didn't require the oven or grill and these quesadillas were born. They were really good!

Chicken and Spinach Quesadillas

sliced mushrooms
minced garlic
olive oil
baby spinach
sliced or chopped cooked chicken
shredded mozzarella cheese

Heat the olive oil in a skillet and add the mushrooms. Sauté for a couple of minutes then add the garlic and a sprinkle of salt, sauté for another minute or two and add a couple of handfuls of spinach. Cook until the spinach wilts.

Layer a tortilla, some cheese, cover with some of the spinach mixture, add some chicken, then more cheese and a top tortilla. Cook on a griddle until the cheese is melted and the tortillas are nicely browned.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Black Bean Shrimp and Rice

I had a night last week when I was the only one home for dinner and this recipe had just come across my path. Figured it was good for a night alone although Sarah would have liked it as well. It does make four servings, which was perfect last week - dinner one night, lunch a couple of other days.

Cilantro-Lime Black Bean Shrimp and Rice
serves 4

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 lb raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

2 c chicken broth
1 c uncooked Jasmine rice
1/4 tsp salt
2 Tbsp lime juice
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 c fresh cilantro, chopped
garnish - extra lime juice and cilantro

Heat a large skillet until hot on medium heat; add olive oil. When it's hot add the shrimp and garlic to the skillet, making sure it isn't crowded; sprinkle salt and red pepper over shrimp. Cook shrimp, stirring once or twice, on medium heat about 3-4 minutes total until pink in color. Remove shrimp from the skillet to a plate.

To the same skillet add chicken broth, rice, and 1/4 tsp salt. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low. Cover the skillet with a lid and simmer for 15-20 minutes until the rice is cooked through. You might need to add 1/2 c water if the rice is not completely cooked when all the broth is absorbed. Mix in the lime juice, black beans, and cilantro into the cooked rice.

Add extra lime juice, about 1 tablespoon, and extra chopped cilantro to the plate with the shrimp; mix to coat the shrimp. Add the shrimp to the skillet with rice and gently reheat.

from Julia's Album

Saturday, July 8, 2017

A Day in the Kitchen

It feels like I spent the day in the kitchen (and no photos to show for it!). I didn't but it sure feels that way. I made banana muffins this morning to use up some going brown bananas. They were really good this morning, not sure what I did different.

Tonight was making food for tomorrow. I will be away tomorrow but the girls and some friends from camp are here and will need lunch after church, before they head back to camp. I made one of Whitney's favorite dishes, Sesame Ginger Chicken Pasta. One thing we decided about this is that the ginger isn't a strong enough flavor so this time instead of using ground ginger I used fresh ginger (although I'm thinking maybe I should have used a bit more than I did). So that's made and in the fridge. I left them simple directions - give it a toss, add the sesame seeds, and if they want cook up some broccoli and toss it in. This is a dish that is good hot or cold so it works well making it ahead.

The other thing I made tonight was pumpkin scones. Yes, it's that time of year. The girls are working at camp and Whitney doesn't generally eat breakfast, although she's getting better about it especially at camp. But she doesn't really like camp's breakfasts and she usually has to eat on the go. I've been making her chocolate chip scones but she's still got a couple from last week and I have some in the freezer so she's good this week. Sarah wanted pumpkin so those are in the oven right now. Yep, late night baking.

Now that I'm working part time and it's usually just Bob and I here for dinner I need to look over my pinterest boards and find quick, easy things to make for dinner. Leftovers will be good for lunches so that won't be an issue cooking for two.

And now my house smells deliciously like fall!

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Instant Pot, Again

My love-hate relationship with my instant pot continues. I decided to make chicken quesadillas for dinner last night and my cousin's wife posted a while back about cooking chicken in the instant pot then using her Kitchen Aid to shred it. I figured it would be easy-peasy. Not so much. The instructions she linked to said they cooked 6 pounds of chicken for 12 minutes on high pressure. I had five chicken breasts, probably about 4.5 pounds, and cooked them for 12 minutes. Two were cooked perfectly, the other three weren't cooked all the way through. I shredded (with a knife) the two I needed for dinner and put the others in the microwave to finish cooking. Not really saving myself much time there. When the others were done I shredded them and packed them to freeze for another couple of meals later.

Impressions this time? The chicken that cooked was nice and juicy but the fact that I had to finish them in the microwave was a disappointment. The adventures will continue and hopefully I'll find something besides hard boiled eggs that comes out perfect.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Instantpot, Take 2

I am still super on the fence about the instant pot. I'll admit it makes super great hard boiled eggs, but it's an expensive way to do that. As for regular food I've definitely had mixed results. The one chicken dish I made came out fine (it was the recipe that needed tweaking for more flavor, not the instant pot). I cooked dried beans, total mixed bag, literally. Some of the beans were still hard, some were perfect, some were overcooked. I took my favorite black bean soup, read a similar recipe on Food Network so I could adjust mine to the instant pot and it came out great, even starting with dried beans.

I've seen people say that they throw frozen food in, adjust the cooking time a bit longer, and it comes out fine. Didn't work so fine here. Last night I was going to make sesame chicken and my chicken thighs were frozen. Looked at some recipes, estimated the cooking time, threw in the ingredients, and hoped for the best. Big fail! I'm just glad dinner was edible. After I released the pressure and took the lid off, the chicken was only partly cooked and the sauce was seriously starting to burn on the bottom of the pot. Big bummer. I took the thighs out and finished them cooking on the stove and rescued what sauce I could. At least with the finish of the pot it cleaned up easy. I think the main problem last night was that the thighs were frozen in a block, not individual, and I couldn't get them apart. Although really, I'm not sure it would have gone any better if they were individual frozen blocks; I think the sauce still would have burned anyway.

At this point I think I'll keep it and keep searching out recipes, trying them but I'm not wowed by the instant pot.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Key Lime Bars

Happy Easter! For dinner today we had grilled pork tenderloin (just salt & pepper on the grill, so good!), bacon wrapped asparagus, and rice with leeks. I totally forgot to put out the fruit salad that my mom made. For dessert my mom brought pineapple upside down cake and I made key lime bars. I had made them a while back for something at church and they were so good. They're a quick and easy take on key lime pie, which I love, and they also are just the right portion size. Actually I should probably call them "key" lime bars since I used regular limes, not key limes. The recipe is sort of a combo of two different ones from Martha Stewart.

Key Lime Bars
makes 9-16 bars depending on how small you cut them

4 Tbsp butter, melted
1/4 c sugar
1 sleeve graham crackers, broken
zest of 1 lime
juice of 1/2 lime

2 egg yolks
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 c fresh lime juice (about 5 limes)
whipped cream (optional topping)

Preheat oven to 350*. Blend graham crackers in a food processor to get crumbs. Mix all crust ingredients together. Butter the bottom of an 8x8 pan and line with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on two sides. Press crust into the bottom of the pan. Bake for 8-12 minutes, until lightly browned. Let cool, about 30 minutes.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and condensed milk. Add the lime juice and whisk until smooth. Pour filling into cooled crust; carefully spread to edges. Bake until set, about 15 minutes. Cool in pan, then chill at least an hour before serving. Lift the bars out of the pan using the parchment paper. Cut into 9 medium or 16 small squares. Top with a spoonful of whipped cream before serving.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Irish Week

Last week was Irish week around here; most nights I made something Irish for dinner. One was a hit but the rest were so-so and of course the corned beef on Friday for St. Patrick's day was delish. I'm not sure what exactly it was we didn't like about the first few recipes, maybe the Guinness (which is always better on draft), maybe some other ingredient or mix of ingredients. Nothing was horrible and maybe a few tweaks would make them better.

We tried bangers and mash with Guinness gravy. I think the problem with this recipe is that the Worcestershire sauce was a bit strong and just overpowered the Guinness a bit. It was still good, I'd probably make this one again, cutting back on the Worcestershire.

Another day was beef and stout pie. I think the problem here was operator error. I should have cut the puff pastry larger so it sat more on the dish and didn't sink into the stew. This one will probably be made again.

The Irish potato pie was probably the big hit, although this one did have it's issues as well. It ended up on the greasy side, partly because the directions weren't totally clear. It has bacon in it as well as a lot of butter to cook the potatoes in initially. I think the grease needs to be drained/left out when you pour the potatoes into the puff pastry. Really good flavor in this though. Definitely will try this one again.

We finished the week with corned beef and cabbage with roasted potatoes and carrots. As always it was really good. I love my crockpot for cooking corned beef; put it in in the morning on low and it's ready at dinner time. I used the leftover corned beef and potatoes to make hash Saturday morning and the leftover cabbage was chopped up and cooked with bacon for a quick easy dinner Saturday night.

All in all a good week of eating.