Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Chicken Quesadillas

We had some chicken breasts leftover from a cookout we had Saturday night. I thought we had two but Bob had one for lunch yesterday and I didn't realize it so I only had one left. It was suggested that I make chicken quesadillas so I did a bit of looking online and found a good recipe that I tweaked and was told was a keeper. The only thing I might do differently if I wasn't using leftover chicken (that had been marinated) is to add some fajita seasoning to the skillet when cooking the veggies to give it more spice.

Chicken Quesadillas
serves 4

1 chicken breast, cooked and diced
1 medium onion, chopped
1 small - medium green pepper, chopped
3/4 c corn (frozen is fine, just throw it in as is)
shredded cheddar cheese
large tortillas

Cook the onion and green pepper in a skillet coated with oil to soften. Add the chicken (if desired, add fajita seasoning now) and corn, cook until both are warm.

On a tortilla, put about one quarter the chicken mixture on half the tortilla and sprinkle on some cheese (maybe a couple of tablespoons, I didn't measure) and fold the tortilla in half. Heat some oil in a large skillet and add the quesadilla. Cook on the first side until crispy, flip and cook on second side until the cheese is melted.

Slice and serve with sour cream and/or salsa.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Macaroni Salad

I can't believe that I haven't posted this recipe before since it's one of my staple summertime recipes. It goes great with anything cooked on the grill. I got this one from my mom (who always makes it as well).

Macaroni Salad

1-16 oz. box of macaroni or other shaped pasta
2 tomatoes, diced
2 stalks of celery, diced
salt and sugar
celery seed

Cook the macaroni according to the package directions. When done, drain and rise in cold water to cool off. Add a couple of large spoonfuls of mayonnaise, a good shake of salt, about 2 tsp. sugar, and a couple of good shakes of celery seed. Put in the refrigerator to cool. Just before serving, add the celery and tomatoes. Mix those in and add more mayonnaise, if needed.

Easy to double for a large crowd or cut in half if you need less.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Memorial Day weekend

Memorial Day weekend is here, the first weekend of summer. It's sure going to feel like it here, hot and humid! We're having two cookouts this weekend, no new recipes though. Today is marinated chicken, bbq'd chicken, BLT pasta salad, our friends are bring baked beans, then we'll have s'mores over the fire while we watch a movie outside.

Tomorrow we're celebrating Sarah's birthday, she was 13 on Thursday. We're having country style ribs, macaroni salad, baked beans, and lemonade cake. If the cake turns out well, I'll post that recipe since that's a new one and being made by special request of the birthday girl.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Grilled Romain Hearts with Caesar Vinaigrette

Yesterday was Mother's Day and the girls always fix me dinner. When Sweet Pea was asking what I wanted (she said fish was off the table, she and Dad didn't know how to cook it), I told her it didn't really matter, whatever she fixed was fine. Then I was looking at my stack of recipes and found this one that I've wanted to try. She was game for it, especially since she was grilling the steaks. She said it was very easy.

Grilled Caesar Salad
serves 4

2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 small clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
1/8 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp freshly grated Parmesan cheese
cooking or olive oil spray
2 hearts of Romaine lettuce

In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, lemon juice, garlic, mustard, Worcestershire and pepper. Stir in the Parmesan cheese.

Heat the grill to medium-high and oil the grill's surface. Remove any wilted outer leaves from the romaine hearts, then cut the hearts in half length-wise leaving the end intact so each half holds together. Spray them lightly all over with the cooking spray.

Grill until grill marks form and the lettuce wilts slightly, about 6 minutes, turning once or twice. Serve drizzled with the vinaigrette.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Almond Pound Cake

I love almond pound cake! I didn't know this until I went to a friend's Tastefully Simple party and bought some. Now, I love the ease of a cake in a box, just add butter and egg, mix and bake. But I don't have a box of almond pound cake around all the time, especially since I haven't been to a TS party recently. I've been on the lookout for a good recipe so I can make one whenever I want and found one last year in Family Circle. I had an opportunity to make it yesterday for an event I was going to and it was easy and delicious.

Almond Pound Cake
serves 12

2 1/2 c flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 c unsalted butter, softened
1 1/4 c granulated sugar
3 large eggs
3/4 c milk
1 tsp almond extract

Heat oven to 350* and coat a 9x5x3 inch loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray.  In a medium size bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. In a large bowl, beat butter with an electric mixer until smooth. Add sugar and beat until light-colored, about 2 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. On low speed, beat in half the flour mixture. Scrape down the side of bowl and beat in milk (carefully!). Add remaining flour mixture and the almond extract and beat until smooth. Spread into prepared pan.

Bake cake at 350* for 1 hour or until crowned and set. Cool in pan on wire rack for 10 minutes, then invert to remove and cool upright on rack.

1 c confectioners' sugar
1/2 tsp almond extract
2 Tbsp sliced almonds, lightly toasted

To make the topping, in a medium size bowl, combine confectioners' sugar, 4 teaspoons water, and the almond extract. Whisk until smooth. Spread over cooled cake and top with toasted nuts. Let icing dry at least 15 minutes before slicing.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Chinese Barbecued Pork Ribs

As usual, I had no plan for dinner tonight. That is until I was getting my hair cut. I remembered that I had seen some boneless pork ribs that I had frozen and thought that making Chinese ribs sounded good. I could serve it with fried rice, an easy, quick dinner. So I got home and perused through my Chinese cookbooks (yes, I've got a couple of those) and found an easy recipe. This is modified from A Wok For All Seasons by Martin Yan.

Chinese Barbecued Pork Ribs
serves 4

2 lbs pork spareribs or boneless country ribs
1/4 c soy sauce
3 Tbsp dry sherry
2 1/2 Tbsp ketchup
2 1/2 Tbsp hoisin sauce
2 tsp minced garlic
2 tsp minced fresh ginger
1/2 tsp Chinese five-spice
1/4 tsp salt

Trim and discard excess fat from ribs. Combine remaining ingredients in a large bowl. Add ribs, turning to coat sides. Let stand for 30 minutes or cover and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat oven to 350*. Remove ribs from marinade; reserve marinade. Place ribs on a rack in a foil-lined pan (or do as I did and put them on a stoneware bar pan). Bake in oven for 30 minutes; turn meat over, baste with reserved marinade, and continue to bake for 25 minutes or until meat is tender.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Breakfast Quesadillas

Saw this yesterday and it sounded really good! They're super easy, made with stuff I almost always have on hand, and best of all, Sweet Pea really liked it. She's a hard one when it comes to breakfast so I'm always happy to find something she likes.

Breakfast Quesadillas
serves as many as you need it to

eggs (I used 4 for the three of us)
a splash of milk
salt and pepper, to taste
bacon or sausage (about 1 slice/person of bacon or about 1 serving size/person of sausage)
shredded cheddar cheese
tortillas (I had flour ones but corn is fine, you want the small size ones)
salsa and sour cream (optional), for serving

Cook the bacon until crispy and crumble or cook the sausage through and crumble. Set aside. Make scrambled eggs - whisk the eggs with the splash of milk and salt and pepper to taste. In a skillet, melt some butter and add the eggs. When the edges are starting to cook, stir the eggs and keep cooking and stirring until cooked. Set these aside as well.

Assemble the quesadillas - put one tortilla on a plate, top with a portion of the eggs, bacon, then cheese, top with a second tortilla. In a non-stick skillet, or one with a bit of oil, add the quesadilla. Cook on the first side for about two minutes, carefully turn over and cook the second for about two more. The fillings should be warm and the cheese melted. Cut into quarters and serve with salsa and sour cream.

This is one of those easy recipes to make for as many or few people as you want. You can make the eggs and bacon/sausage ahead of time, just cook the quesadillas for a extra minute or two to make sure the filling is warmed through.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Egg Roll Stir-fry

This is basically the insides of an egg roll as a stir fry. I found this recipe browsing pinterest one day and it looked good. Turns out, it is and it was easy enough for Sweet Pea to make it for dinner last Wednesday. Did I mention that I have the girls taking turns on Wednesday nights fixing dinner? They have to plan the menu, let me know what they need, and cook. I need to start having them help with the cleanup as well. Still a work in progress! Anyway, this is from the blog Once a Mom, Always a Cook. I modified it a bit and clarified the directions some for my beginning cook.

Egg Roll Stir-fry
serves 6

1 lb ground beef
1/2 head cabbage
3 medium carrots
1 small onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 heaping tsp fresh grated ginger
1/2 tsp garlic powder
3 Tbsp sesame or vegetable oil
4-5 Tbsp low sodium soy sauce
2 Tbsp rice vinegar
1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper

Shred the cabbage (large shred is fine) into a large mixing bowl. Shred the carrots using a peeler; toss with the cabbage. Brown the ground beef in a large wok with the onion and minced garlic. Add the cabbage and carrots mixture, ginger, garlic powder, oil, soy sauce, rice vinegar, and pepper. Toss to mix with tongs; cover and cook over medium heat until the cabbage wilts, tossing occasionally with tongs.