appetizer

Campfire Nachos

Back in the day, pre-kiddos, my husband and I actually went out on dates.  Like I real-deal left the house and even wore heels! …memories… That being said, one of our favorite places to go was the Yard House for extra-large beers and appetizers, my fave being their chicken nachos.  Given my current, complete “mom life” and flip flops, I still crave those crunchy, cheesy chips, but it’s not as easy to get.

Sooooo, I made my own version!  All I have to say, is that Yard House has best watch-out, because mine are just as legit.  Ok, the multi-million dollar restaurant is probably safe, they’ll just be losing my $13.95. 😉

*Absolutely buy your favorite tortilla chip, BUT for the best experience, I buy mine from our bakery.  They’re 100% fresh, crunchy, salty and thick.  Yes, normally I’d like thin chips for my salsa, but with heavy piled nachos you do NOT want your chip to break, right??  Eating nachos with utensils defeats the entire purpose, so please listen to me folks! 🙂

 

The Starting Lineup

  • 1 bag of corn tortilla chips 
  • 2 cups shredded chicken (i.e. rotisserie); you can also use ground beef or brisket
  • 1 can Borracho beans, drained
  • 1 cup enchilada sauce red, green or both (1/2+1/2 cup…which I love to do!)
  • 2+ cups cheese, shredded (fresh melts best, i.e. cheddar or jack)
  • Guacamole, Pico de Gallo, sour cream

Using a cast-iron skillet, Dutch oven or disposable foil pan, layer in 1/2 of the tortilla chips, followed by 1/2 each of the shredded chicken (or beef), beans, enchilada sauce and cheese.  Repeat the same process with another layer.

Warm the prepared nachos, until the cheese is melted and bubbly, either over your campfire, on your grill or in the oven (350 degrees).  Once the nachos are heated through, remove and top with a scoop each of the guacamole, Pico de Gallo and sour cream.  Serve warm.

**If preparing on the campfire or grill, you can loosely cover with foil to speed up the cooking time.

CampfireNachos2.jpeg

CampfireNachos3

Monte Christo Brunch Pinwheels

A ‘Monte Christo’ brings back a lot of yummy memories.  Memories that often stem from the Blue Bayou restaurant inside the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at the famed, Disneyland!!

A Monte Cristo is a fried ham and cheese sandwich, a variation of the French croque-monsieur. In the 1930s–1960s, American cookbooks had recipes for this sandwich under such names as “French Sandwich”, “Toasted Ham Sandwich”, and “French Toasted Cheese Sandwich”. Swiss cheese is typically used.

Now, since we live in Texas and easily cannot get to one of my favorite haunts, I decided to make them at home for brunch.  Given I said the key word, “brunch”, I thought to make them into a finger food, if you will.  Fun for adults, yet easy for kiddos!  Here you get the same flavors, yet the ease of no frying involved and EVERYONE loves a dunking sauce!!

With the simpleness of preparation and lack of cleanup, I promise these will NOT disappoint!

The Starting Lineup

  • 1 (12oz) can refrigerated crescent rolls dough
  • 4 thin slices of deli ham
  • 4 thin slices of deli turkey
  • 8 slices of Swiss cheese
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
  • Raspberry preserves, warmed
  • Powdered sugar

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper and spray with nonstick.  Unroll the dough into 4 rectangles (2 triangular halves/slightly spreading out and making dough larger), and pressing together the perforations.

To each rectangle, spread a thin layer of the Dijon, followed by 2 slices of cheese (tear to fit), and 1 slice each of the turkey and ham.  Roll up, length-wise, into log form and using a serrated knife, cut into 4-5 slices.

Place each slice flat, onto the prepared baking sheet and brush the beaten egg over all the pinwheels.

Bake, for 10-12 minutes, until golden brown.  Transfer to a serving dish and drizzle with the warmed raspberry preserves, sprinkle the powdered sugar overtop and serve with the remaining preserves for dipping!  Enjoy!

MonteChristo1.jpeg

Michelada Pops

After a fun-filled weekend, we love to wake up with a “hair of the dog” sort of beverage.  Often, those are either a Mimosa or Bloody Mary, the Midwest inspired Red Beer or a south of the border, Michelada.  Now, like many first-world-problems, we sure do not  want our drink getting warm, so how do we keep it cool???…..

A Michelada (Spanish pronunciation: [mitʃeˈlaða]) is a Mexican cerveza preparada made with beer, lime juice, and assorted sauces, spices, and peppers.[1] It is served in a chilled, salt-rimmed glass.[2] There are numerous variations of this beverage throughout Mexico and Latin America.

We simply turn the flavors into a popsicle!  Yep!  Depending on your cocktail of choice, mix all of your non-alcoholic ingredients into your mold and freeze overnight.  Once you awake and need that oh so special beverage, you simply add your frozen delight to your seasoned beer and it keeps it ice cold and never dilutes the flavor, only enhances!

*If popsicle molds are not readily available, feel free to use an ice cube tray and add a few frozen cubes to each glass of lager.

**Another easy variation, is making popsicles/icecubes with freshly squeezed orange juice and adding to a wheat beer (i.e. Hefeweizen)

https://www.wayfair.com/kitchen-tabletop/pdp/fox-run-brands-frozen-ice-pop-maker-fru1290.html

The Starting Lineup

  • 2 1/2 cups Clamato juice
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce
  • A few dashes of hot sauce (i.e. Tabasco)
  • 2 tsp Tajin seasoning spice (a chile-lime-salt blend)
  • 2 tsp horseradish
  • “popsicle molds or ice cube trays)

Serve:

  • 6-8 bottles of light Mexican beer
  • Limes wedges
  • Tajin seasoning
  • Frosted pint glasses

In a large, glass measuring bowl with a spout, whisk all 7 ingredients together until combined (NOT the “serve” ingredients).

Carefully pour into popsicle molds and place in the freezer for 8 hours, or overnight.

To serve, squeeze a lime wedge around the rim of each frosted pint glasses and dip into Tajin seasoning.  Pour the beer 3/4th of the way into each pint and drop the popsicle, stick side up, into each glass.  Serve immediately.

*Again, if popsicle molds aren’t available, feel free to use an ice cube tray and add a few to each glass of lager.  Another variation, is fresh frozen orange juice with a wheat beer (i.e. Hefeweizen)

Michelada2

Honey Garlic Baked Cauliflower

When I get a hankering for some Asian flavors, this is one of my favorite go-to’s!  What I also love about this dish, is the different ways one can prepare it.  There are times that I just like it clean and simple with “naked” roasted cauliflower and a drizzle of sauce.  Other times, I will coat it with a super crunchy panko crust and toss it completely covered in sauce, then top it off with orange zest and sesame seeds.  Lot and lots of options here friends!

So when you may be in a time crunch, midweek, but still want something fun to put on the table for dinner, THIS is great!  It is healthy, sweet, savory, spicy and can be tweaked oh so easily to fit your family’s palate.  I’m sure after trying this recipe, it’ll be a back pocket staple!

The Starting Lineup

  • 1 head of cauliflower, cut into bite size florets
  • 2 cups Panko bread crumbs, plain
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced

Sauce (can be doubled for larger cauliflower heads or to fully coat vs drizzled)

  • 6 Tbsp honey
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 6 Tbsp water + 2 tsp cornstarch (whisked into a slurry)
  • 1 Tbsp low-sodium soy sauce or Tamari
  • 1/2 Tbsp sriracha or chili-garlic sauce (<–if you like more heat, like myself)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper.  Pour the Panko breadcrumbs onto the sheet in a flat layer and spray with a bit of cooking spray.  Bake for about 5 minutes until a golden brown.

Dip the cauliflower into the beaten egg and shake off any excess.  Place, one by one, onto the slightly browned Panko and gently roll and press all of the breadcrumbs onto the cauliflower.

Place back in the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes until the cauliflower is cooked and exterior is a dark, golden brown.

_________________________________

While the cauliflower is cooking, you can prepare the sauce.  In a small bowl, combine the water and cornstarch, set aside.  In a small saucepan, combine all of the remaining ingredients and bring to a gentle simmer for a few seconds.  Next, whisk in the cornstarch slurry to the saucepan and keep on a simmer/whisk for a couple minutes, until it starts to thicken.  Remove from the heat and the sauce will thicken even more.

Drizzle (or coat) over your baked cauliflower bites and top with the thinly cut scallions.  Serve over rice and don’t forget those chopsticks!!

*Can be made without the panko for low-carb or gluten free/ GF Panko can be substituted as well.

**A fun addition of orange zest and sesame seeds are always tasty too.  If you really like the orange flavor, add a bit of the zest and squeeze of juice to the sauce.  

BakedHoneyCauli

Southwest Succotash

Ah, good ol’ succotash!  An American classic that has been served on supper tables for decades and, for some reason, is one of my favorite words to say.  Today though, we’re giving the southern staple quite a southwestern twist!  The added ingredients of avocado, black beans and jalapeno are balanced out with a tangy and sweet vinaigrette.  Now, by all means, please add in the original versions most popular ingredient, lima beans (I really do like them).  Though, I suppose they can be optional and given there are still beans in the mix, no one will be the wiser…

 

The Starting Lineup

  • 2 cups cooked/grilled corn, fresh or frozen *grilled fresh is ideal
  • 2 avocados, cut into 1/2″ cubs
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 cup finely diced red onion
  • 1 cup black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped 
  • 1/2 cup frozen, thawed lima beans (optional)

Vinaigrette

  • 3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Juice of 1 fresh lime, plus zest
  • 2 Tablespoons honey
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper, each or to taste

 

In a large bowl, combine the prepared vegetables and beans.  In a small separate bowl, whisk together the vinaigrette ingredients.  Make sure to taste for seasoning (i.e. more salt? pepper?  Maybe an added tablespoon of honey?)

Pour the dressing over the corn salad, toss to coat and chill in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours.  Serving suggestion:  Plate under grilled chicken, steak or fish or serve with tortilla chips.

SouthwestSuccotash

Roasted Green Chile Artichoke Dip

Well, if artichoke dip wasn’t addictive enough, wait till you try it with the smoky kick of green chiles added to it!  At all of my get-together’s, I always like to have an assortment of goodies out, including an ooey, gooey cheese dip.  Now most can be heavy and bland, but this version will definitely spice up your party!

Another great and yummy idea for this dip, is you can use it to stuff chicken breast prior to baking or use it as a spread for a juicy hamburger!  Oh man…drooling!

*I realize that I used both canned AND fresh chiles in this dish.  Reason being, is I like the textural difference and flavor of both.  The canned gives off a good tang and the fresh add a smokiness to the dish.  However, feel free to use all fresh (so 2-3 peppers) or 1-2 cans of your favorite chiles…and I also like a bit of heat, so I added the jalapeno.  If you are more of the mild eating type, then simply omit!

The Starting Lineup

  • 1 (14oz) can/jar artichoke hearts in water, drained, rough chop
  • 1 (4oz) can green chile
  • 1 Anaheim or Hatch chile, roasted, peeled and chopped
  • 1 jalapeno, roasted, peeled and chopped 
  • 4oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 cup parmesan cheese, grated/shredded (NO “green can” please!)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Drain the artichokes and pour onto a paper towel and gently pat dry.  After the fresh peppers have roasted, steam in a paper sack or plastic bag for 15 minutes to soften skin.  Peel off the blackened skin, scrape out the seeds and chop up.

Combine all of the above, prepared ingredients into a large bowl.  Stir to fully incorporate and then transfer to either an oven safe 8×8 casserole dish or pie plate (coated in nonstick) or an 8″ cast iron pan.

Place in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, until warmed though, hot and bubbly and golden brown on top!  I like to serve with tortilla or pita chips, baguette bread chunks, crostini or fresh cut veggies.

greenChileArtichokeDip

 

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

______________________________________________________________________________

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

 

%d bloggers like this: