Oaxacan Steak Quesadillas

Oaxaca (wha-ha-ka) cheese is a delightful semi-soft, stringy, cows-milk white cheese that could be best compared to mozzarella!  The Oaxaca cheese is a stretched, curd cheese that is formed into a ball, often resembling a softball in size, that you can shred for the gooiest of dishes.

All of the quick info above being said, why not make a quesadilla inspired by the southern Mexico state!  To keep with the flavors of the real SOUTH of the border, I have decided to incorporate other commonly used ingredients from Oaxaca while infusing it with a couple of my own.  Plus, I just really NEED steak in my life, but by all means, make this a veggie’dilla if you wish!

*I LOVE these marindes and always have them on hand for many dishes!https://www.goya.com/en/products/cooking-bases-sauces-and-marinades/ready-to-use-marinades

 

The Starting Lineup

STEAK (& marinade)

  • 2-3 lbs flank steak (or pounded skirt steak)
  • 1/2 cup of GOYA Marinade Naranja Agria 
  • 1/2 cup of GOYA Marinade Mojo Criollo 
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, smashed and chopped
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped with stems
  • 1 tsp cumin

QUESADILLA

  • Tortillas (fresh corn to be authentic, but flour will work and taste fust fine too)
  • 1 Tbsp canola oil
  • 1 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup white onion, chopped
  • 1 serrano/or jalapeño, finely chopped (seeding optional)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 lb fresh mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 cup fresh spinach leaves (or a few chopped Epazote leaves if possible)
  • 2 tsp kosher
  • 1 cup Oaxaca cheese, shredded or thinly sliced
  • 1 cup cheddar-jack cheese, shredded

OPTIONAL (fillers and garnish)

  • Avocado slices
  • Squash blossoms (though hard to find)
  • Pico de Gallo
  • Cilantro
  • Mexican crema or sour cream
  • Chopped cabbage/carrot slaw
  • Queso Fresco or Cotija cheese crumbles
  • Salsa/hot sauce

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STEAK:  In a gallon zip lock bag or baking dish/bowl, combine the meat with the marinade ingredients; toss and massage to coat.  Zip up or cover and let sit for 30 minutes on the counter or 2-3 hours in the refrigerator.

When ready to eat, remove the steak from fridge about 20-30 minutes prior to cooking.

Cook the steak (medium-high heat on the grill or cast iron pan on stove) till desired doneness.  Let rest for at least 5 minutes or more.  Cut across the grain into thin slices.

QUESADILLA:  Heat the canola oil and butter in a large sauté pan, over medium-high heat. When melted and butter is slightly browned, add in the onion and sauté about 3 to 4 minutes.  Add the serrano (or jalapeno) and chopped garlic and cook until fragrant, for about a minute.

Next add in the sliced mushrooms and let cook down for 3-5 minutes, letting the juices come out, which will in turn allow them to dry out.  Follow that with the fresh spinach leaves and salt.  Continue to stir and sauté until mushrooms and spinach have wilted and the mixture is not too wet, but not too dry.

ASSEMBLY:  Again, whether grill or stove top pan, heat to medium and place a tortilla into a dry pan and warm/char (30 seconds).

Flip tortilla over and start to layer the 2 cheeses, the sliced steak and the mushroom-spinach mixture over half of the tortilla (I also added a bit of sliced avocado to this), fold in half and cook a couple minutes until golden brown.  Flip and cook the other side till browned and cheese is gooey!

SERVE:  Place on a platter and cut into wedges (pizza cutter!!); serve with your choice of accompaniments.  I chose pico de gallo, a crunchy cabbage slaw, cilantro, Mexican crema and salsa!  Enjoy!!

OaxacanSteakQuesadilla

 

Thai Basil Beef Salad

Branching out our taste-bud’s this week with a meal that actually just took under 20 minutes to prepare and left my family full AND healthy!  All sorts of “wins” there!

This meal really is low in calories (less than 300) and high in protein!  Plus, more importantly to me, is it is soooo full of flavor that I didn’t mind giving up my normal TexMex comfort food!  You can mix and match a few ingredients to meet your family’s palates as well.  This is definitely worth a try my friends….

The Starting Lineup

  • 1 lb flat iron steak (can also use sirloin, hanger or even ground beef!)
  • 1 cucumber, sliced
  • 1 tomato, quartered
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • 1/4 cup green onion, sliced
  • 2 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp canola oil
  • 1 Tbsp Sriracha sauce
  • 1 tsp low-sodium soy sauce or Tamari sauce
  • 1 tsp garlic, minced
  • Hefty pinch of black pepper

*Serve with cooked, long-grain jasmine rice and lime wedges!  I actually like to add fresh lime juice and chopped cilantro to my fluffed rice as well.

**Optional ingredients to add to dish are julienned carrots, Thai hot chili’s, cilantro, red bell pepper slices.

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Dressing: whisk together the rice wine vinegar, oil, Sriracha, soy sauce, and garlic and in a bowl.  Toss the basil, cucumbers and tomato with dressing. Cover and set aside.

Season beef with a hefty amount of pepper and a bit of the canola oil, then sear in a large, non-stick pan over medium-high heat 5 minutes per side; add green onions, cook briefly then remove from heat to rest for 5 minutes. *yields medium-rare.

Spoon rice into bowls and top with the dressed vegetables.  Slice beef against the grain, and place overtop.  Serve with extra soy sauce, Sriracha, hot chili’s and cilantro if desired.

ThaiBasilBeefSalad

 

Stuffed Tomatoes Puttanesca

A lot of influences helped bring this recipe idea to mind.  One, being my love for Pasta Puttanesca, a common order from me at many Italian restaurants.  Secondly, I love having people over and serving unique appetizers aka hors d’oeuvres if I’m being fancy, and thought this will make a great contender for my counter….and lastly, my hilarious, old soul of a little 6-year-old son who legitimately enjoys anchovies on his pizza.  Yes, if he’s not a chef, food critic or stylist when he grows up, I will be shocked.  Future foodie right there!

So because of that last reason, I had a couple containers of anchovies handy and the rest of the ingredients are pantry staples for me…so given all that, the Stuffed Tomato Puttanesca was born!  Thanks Brooks. 🙂

Also, you can make this with out stuffing the tomato/oven-step and serve in a dish drizzled with a bit more olive oil alongside crackers, bread and veggies for a great tapenade!  Heck, even spread it on your bread for an amped up turkey sandwich!  Endless options folks!  Ps.  These are great paired with a juicy steak and glass of red….

The Starting Lineup

  • 12 small cocktail style tomatoes, 2-3 inches and ripe
  • 1 Tbsp garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2 tsp fresh thyme, chopped
  • 25+ pitted Kalamata olives, rough chop
  • 1 Tbsp capers
  • 8-10 anchovy filets (canned or jarred in olive oil)
  • 1/4 cup bread crumbs or panko
  • 1/4 cup Romano cheese, grated
  • 2-3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2-3 Tbsp tomato juice
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, shaved

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment, foil or silpat sheet.

Using a serrated knife (I always use serrated when dealing with tomatoes, trust me), slice off the tops of each tomato (keep) and carefully scoop out the inside of each tomato with a spoon into a bowl.  Once finished, pour and press the tomato flesh through a fine mesh sieve to get the fresh tomato juice.

In a food processor, place in the tops of your tomatoes (stem cut off), Kalamata olives, anchovies and garlic.  Process until well chopped.

Combine the olive paste with the bread crumbs/panko, capers, parsley, thyme, olive oil, the tomato juice, pepper and Romano cheese.

Place the cut and hollowed tomatoes onto your lined baking sheet and use a spoon to stuff each tomato with your tapenade filling.  Once they’re all full, sprinkle the tops with the shaved parmesan cheese slices.  Place into your preheated oven for 15-20 minutes, until the cheese has browned and tomato is slightly wilted and heated through.

Sprinkle a bit of fresh thyme or parsley overtop and serve as an appetizer or side dish, enjoy!

PuttanescaTomatoes

Eggnog Pancakes with Maple-Nog Syrup

It’s that time of year again….Yep, you have a quarter-gallon left in your half-gallon of Eggnog and since the tree is down and gifts have dispersed, you have very little desire to drink it.  Oh what to do.

Well, we are BIG advocates of not wasting food in our home, even if it becomes a game of “Chopped” in my kitchen to see what I can come up with.  Funny, how usually it’s the best tasting of meals too??  Anyway, that was the exact case one cold and cloudy morning, as I stared blankly at the lack of ingredients in my refrigerator….then I spotted the eggnog!

Combining the magic ingredient with a basic pancake recipe made for our last bite of the holiday season!  Plus, with that eensy-teensy bit left in the bottom of your half gallon, it makes for a wonderful syrup addition!  Points for mom!!

Now the only problem, is that they were so yummy that I’m concerned to if I can buy the ‘nog in July??….. answer to be continued.

 

The Starting Lineup

Eggnog Pancakes

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 cups of your favorite eggnog
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 Tbsp butter, melted
  • 1/2 tsp rum extract
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Maple-Nog Syrup

  • 1/2 cup real maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup of your favorite eggnog
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • pinch of salt

 

Syrup:

In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the maple syrup and the eggnog and bring to a simmer.  Cook until it’s reduced by a quarter, about 5 minutes.  Remove from heat and swirl in the butter and salt until melted.  You can keep warm, on low, stirring ever so often.

Pancakes:

Preheat either a large skillet or an electric griddle to medium/medium-high heat (about 350 degrees for your griddle).

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the dry mix (flour, baking powder, nutmeg and salt).  In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients (eggnog, eggs, butter and the rum and vanilla extracts).  Pour the wet mixture into the dry and whisk together until just combined, small lumps are ok.

Using a ladle or measuring cup (spray with nonstick for ease of batter removal), pour about 1/3 cup rounds onto your preheated, buttered or lightly oiled cooking surface.  Cook until bottom side is a golden brown, flip and repeat on the other side.

Serve with your favorite pancake accompaniments:  fresh fruit, powdered sugar, toasted pecans or walnuts AND that fabulous warm syrup!!  Enjoy!

EggnogPancakes

 

Crustless Loaded Quiche

This brunch time classic was inspired by one of my husbands favorite memories…His childhood babysitter, from infancy until he was about 9 years old, was a sweet lady named Sharon who often made him what she referred to as “Bacon Pie”.  When it was described to me, I envisioned a sort of quiche/frittata combo, but every time I made the classic versions of both (with bacon of course), he said it just “wasn’t Sharon’s”.  Stumped.

More years passed with more stories about the lady I never met and her famous bacon pie, till one day it was brought up around another family member who also recalled this family favorite.  BISQUICK!  Yep, she said nonchalantly “ohhhh, yeah, Sharon used the back-of-the-box Bisquick quiche recipe”…I was shocked.  All these years of quiches and frittatas and no’s and maybe’s and it was a simple as that?!

That being said, as I read the famed recipe to my dear husband, we both agreed that the original sounded quite bland and we also both agreed that this was likely why his toddler age palate loved it.  So he gave me the go-ahead to add a bit more flavor and texture to the recipe and see how it goes.

Well, I have to say, I FINALLY heard “mmmm…it’s just like Sharon’s.”

Mission Accomplished.

*What’s great about this recipe is you can basically add any, or none at all, breakfast meats, leftover vegetables, etc. to the mix and create your own favorite “quiche”!

*Serve for brunch with mimosas or even as a light lunch or dinner alongside a salad.  Also, holds up well for great leftovers.

The Starting Lineup

  • 1 package bacon, cooked crisp and chopped
  • 4oz cooked ham or Canadian bacon (about 4 slices), chopped
  • 1/3 cup red onion, diced
  • 1/3 cup red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/3 cup green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 cup of cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 cup fresh spinach
  • 1 cup swiss cheese, shredded
  • 1 (4oz) container feta cheese
  • 5 eggs
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 cup Bisquick
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Chives or scallions for garnish (optional)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and lightly coat a 10″ pie dish with nonstick spray.

In a large bowl, add and toss to combine the cooked bacon, ham, fresh vegetables and cup of Swiss cheese.  Season with a hefty pinch of salt and pepper.   Add to the prepared pie dish.

In that same large bowl you had the veggies in, now beat the eggs with a pinch of salt and pepper.

Next, whisk in the milk and Bisquick until smooth.  Pour over the bacon and veggie mix in your pie dish.  Sprinkle the feta cheese evenly over the top and place your quiche into the preheated oven, uncovered, for 40-50 minutes or a toothpick comes out clean from the center of your quiche.  *For easy transfer, I place my pie dish on a baking sheet before I even pour in the egg mix to get in/out of the oven, as it will be full.

Allow to cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes to set up, slice and serve.  Enjoy!

Quiche

Ranch Hand Potatoes

Ok, this is quite possibly my favorite side dish to bring to any potluck, tailgate party, picnic or just a side for a dinner at home when my husband smokes a brisket…yummmm.  This WILL feed a crowd and your crowd will leave nothing behind!

There are a few variations of similar recipes, but personally, they tend to be quite bland and have zero texture.  This doctored up version has many depths of flavors, yet is still mild enough for any palate with the bacon, chiles and that good, ol’ fashioned ranch flavor!  Plus it’s sooooo easy!  Basically, it’s a “dump & stir” side, bake and walk away!

The Starting Lineup

  • 6-7 russet potatoes
  • 1 package bacon, cooked crisp and chopped
  • 1 poblano pepper, chopped
  • 1-2 (4-oz) can of green chiles
  • 1 (10.5-oz) cream of chicken
  • 1 (10.5-oz) cream of poblano soup (*You can use two cans a cream of chicken to substitute)
  • 1 (16-oz) container of sour cream
  • 1 (1-oz) packet of Hidden Valley Original Ranch Seasoning
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese (*I use Kraft Sharp Cheddar)
  • Green onions (scallions), sliced for garnish after baking

Let’s start with the simple “prep work”:

  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Cook up your bacon, drain/pat dry the grease, chop up.
  3. Clean the russet potatoes, cut in half and boil in salted water till just fork tender.  You do not want to over boil, as you’re not making mashed potatoes and want a bit of texture.  *I prefer to leave the skins on for visual appearance and, again, texture.  Drain into a colander and once cool enough to touch, cut into rough bite size pieces, similar to a potato salad.

For potlucks, I prefer to use a deep dish (disposable if possible) 11×9 foil pan.  By all means, you can use your handy 9×13 too.  Layer your par-cooked potatoes into your serving dish in an even layer.

In a large bowl, thoroughly stir together the cooked bacon, poblano peppers, green chiles, cream of chicken/poblano soups, sour cream, ranch seasoning and shredded cheese.

Pour over the potatoes and toss to coat.

Transfer, uncovered, to your preheated oven and bake for 50-60 minutes.  Top with the scallions and enjoy!!

RanchhandPotatoes

 

 

Green Chile Albondigas Alfredo

MMmmm….meatballs!  Yes, for those of y’all that are not “in the know”, meatballs translated in Spanish is: albondigas.  The more you know.

These said albondigas just so happens to pair beautifully with green chiles and creamy alfredo sauce…they almost cancel each other out to flow just beautifully together.  Not too spicy, not too bland.

I like to serve ours with a bit more cheese and chopped roasted peppers, but however you do it, you’ve made yourself a more elegant, Mexican-inspired meal.  Move over Taco Tuesday!

*You can make your own albondigas (your typical meatball recipe but combined with more Mexican spices: cumin, salsa, carrots, cilantro, Mexican oregano, etc) or you can use a bag of frozen Italian meatballs, both delicious.

*If gets too thick/not to the creaminess you prefer, you can add a splash of milk or heavy cream.

The Starting Lineup

  • 14oz meatballs (homemade or frozen)
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 1 10.5oz can Cream of Jalapeno soup (can sub chicken broth or cream of chicken + seeded/diced jalapenos)
  • 8oz block cream cheese (1/3 fat-Neufchatel is fine), cubed
  • 1 cup water (or chicken broth)
  • 8oz penne pasta noodles
  • 4oz can of green chilies, hot
  • 1/2 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 freshly shredded parmesan cheese
  • Kosher salt & pepper, to taste.

Garnish

  • Flat leaf parsley, rough chop
  • Roasted peppers (i.e.. jalapeno, poblano-seeded), finely chopped
  • Parmesan cheese

GreenChileAlfredo.jpeg

1.  Begin by heating a 10″-12″ pan to medium high heat.  (I actually love my cast iron for this, a bit of scraping is needed, but it creates almost a ‘crust’ on the noodles.  Though a non-stick would leave you an equally delightful super creamy version).

2.  To that hot pan, pour in the oil and followed by the meatballs to sear all over, 5-10 minutes.  (I used straight from frozen/fully cooked and work just fine!).

3.  To the seared meatballs, add the onions and sauté for about 5 minutes.

4.  Once the onions are about translucent in color, whisk in the cubed cream cheese and can of soup.  Whisk, whisk, whisk!

5.  Next pour in the water/or broth, your 8oz of noodles and can of hot green chiles with juices.  Bring to a quick boil, stir.  Cover and allow to simmer over medium heat for 15-20 minutes.

6.  Finally, uncover, and toss in the halved cherry tomatoes and parmesan cheese.  Taste for salt and pepper.  Simmer on low, uncovered, for 5 more minutes.

Serve:  either individually or family style, top with a bit more parmesan, roasted peppers and chopped flat-leaf parsley.  Enjoy!

GreenChileAlfredo4.jpeg

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