Texas Favorites

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

 

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 another can of cream of chicken to substitute – 2 cans total)
  • 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 happen to pair beautifully with green chiles and creamy alfredo sauce…they almost cancel each other out to flow 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 cup 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 5 minutes.

4.  Once the onions are just 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

Texas Bowl o’ Red

True chili, by Texas standards, contains NO beans, which you probably already knew.  It ALSO means no tomatoes and generally no chili powder either…  The famous bowl of red actually gets its vibrant hue and deep smoky, sweet and spicy flavor from a homemade chili paste you can easily prepare.  *Find the dried chiles in your grocers Hispanic section, the spice aisle or the produce sectionThe best dried chiles are not crunchy hard, but still a bit pliable if possible.

Now more often than not, I strictly use just a quite large beef chuck roast…keep with traditions, ya know?  However, I did include the possibility of also adding a thicker ground beef/brisket to the mix.  I say this because it stretches the chili a bit further for large crowds and your beef loving friends.  Plus, using a thicker-grind on your meat, keeps with and plays off of the texture you already have from the cubed chuck roast.

So…with the now cool to quite cold weather, football season still in full swing and wanting that pot of heartiness on your stovetop all afternoon, I suggest you give this a try.  Yes, feel free to tweak to your hearts content, aka tastes, but remember….NOOOO beans!!!..or tomatoes 😉

**Now I am one to add quite a bit more chiles than even my recipe calls for, but I’m a hot-head (not in personality, just tastes ;).  That being said, do your research on what dried chiles you’d prefer if you have a mild palate or just reach for the “smoky or sweeter” flavored peppers.  If you make quite a bit of chili paste, reserve, as you can always stir in more to the pot and/or drizzle over top your served bowl….or just make as instructed below!! 🙂

***Masa Harina: is basically finely ground corn flour used to make tortillas, tamales etc.  Now this ingredient is kind-of-optional, but not only does it help to thicken and tighten up your chili, it also provides an earthy flavor to the mix.  If you do not have any on hand or do not want to purchase a small bag, you can omit it.  You can also easily thicken with a flour or cornstarch paste as well.  It’s just a bit less Tejas that way, ok?

The Starting Lineup

  • 2-3 lbs beef chuck, boneless, cut in 1/2″-1″ chunks
  • 1 lb “chili-grind”, ground beef/brisket (it’s a much thicker texture grind), optional
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 bottle Shiner Bock beer 
  • 2 cups beef stock
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 1/2 tsp each ground pepper and kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 1 Tbsp dark brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp cumin
  • 1tsp dried Mexican oregano
  • 1 tsp El Caldo de Pollo (low sodium chicken bouillon) 
  • 5 Tbsp vegetable oil, (or lard if on hand)
  • 2 Tbsp masa harina
  • 8-10+ whole dried chiles  – a mix from either Ancho, de Arbol, New Mexico, Guajillo, Pasilla, etc.  

Garnish

  • Sour Cream
  • Jalapenos
  • Shredded cheese
  • Lime wedges
  • Warmed tortillas
  • Cheese enchiladas….yes, I said that, two cheesy ones right on top baby!

Place the chiles in a large skillet over medium-low heat and gently toast until fragrant, about 2 minutes per side. Do NOT let them burn or they’ll turn bitter. Place the chiles in a bowl and cover them with almost boiling water.  Cover tightly with plastic-wrap and soak until soft, 15 to 30 minutes.

Remove the softened chiles from the water (reserve that “chile-water“), halve them and remove stems and seeds. Place the seeded chiles in a blender and add the chicken bouillon, cumin, mexican oregano, black pepper, salt and 1/4-1/2 cup of the chile water.  Purée, adding more water as needed (and occasionally scraping down the sides of the blender), until a smooth, slightly fluid paste forms.

Pour this now liquid chile mixture through a fine mesh sieve into a bowl and set aside, removing any skin from the peppers.  Feel free to taste for seasoning (salt)…careful as it MAY be spicy/wash hands thoroughly.  *Tip:  The soaked chiles and chile water are likely still hot in temperature when you begin to blend.  So place a kitchen towel over the lid on your blender, hand holding down, as the warmth will make it expand and want to pop that lid off…no one wants hot, spicy chiles all over them and their kitchen.

In a large heavy bottomed pot/dutch oven over medium-high heat, melt 2 tablespoons of the oil or lard. When it begins to slightly smoke, add in half of the cubed beef.  Brown, about 4 minutes per side, reducing the heat if the meat begins to burn. Transfer to a bowl and repeat with 2 more tablespoons of oil/lard and the remaining beef.  *Same with the large grind ground beef (cooked through), if using.

Now over medium-low heat add in the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil/lard in the skillet if necessary; add the onion and garlic and saute for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Pour the Shiner Bock beer in, scraping up all of the brown bits at the bottom of your bot..flavor!!!

Next, add the beef stock plus 1 cup water and gradually whisk in the masa harina to avoid lumps. Stir in the reserved chile paste (again, taste for it’s spicy level prior) and then add the reserved, seared beef (and any and all juices in the bowl) and bring to a simmer over high heat. Reduce heat to the barest possible simmer (just a few bubbles breaking the surface) and cover, stirring occasionally, until the meat is tender but still somewhat firm and sauce has thickened a bit…can easily simmer for 2-3 hours.

Finally, you will thoroughly stir in the brown sugar and add more salt to taste; gently simmer, uncovered, for 10-15 minutes.  Now, it may still look like there is excess sauce, so turn off the heat and let the chili stand for at least 30 minutes, during which time the meat will absorb about half of the remaining sauce in the skillet, leaving the meat bathed in a thick, somewhat fluid sauce. Stir in additional broth or water if the mixture seems too dry. If the mixture seems a bit loose and wet, allow it to simmer a bit more.  As always, it’s a must to taste as you go for salt and seasoning.

Serve by large ladle full into a bowl and top with your standard sour cream, cheese, onions, lime wedges, tortillas…or as I mentioned, make tray of super cheesy enchiladas and lay a couple bad boys right on top!  Enjoy with your remaining Shiner Bocks!!

TexasChili

 

 

 

BBQ Bacon Ranch Meatball Subs

Frozen meatballs are always a staple in my freezer for easy & quick last-minute dinner or appetizer ideas.  However, most of my friends and family get stuck in the rut of only using them for Italian flavored meals, which is great, but let’s change it up just a bit!

Awhile back when trying to think creatively, something struck me when my 6-year-old son asked for BBQ (we do live in Texas and a giant smoker owns our back porch) for dinner.  Well, I hadn’t made my weekly grocery run yet but I did have meatballs in the freezer, a slow-cooker and a few jars of barbecue sauce in the pantry…change my thinking and the standard marinara sopped hoagie was about to receive a southern twist!  After a few ingredients were added and the smells were filtering through my house (did you see there’s bacon too??), I just KNEW I had a winner on my hands!  Boy did I ever!

*You can leave the bacon in strips or chopped.  Ill often do simple crispy strips for my husband and I, but the chopped is easy for lil mouths.

*I also go back and forth with sliced cheese or shredded…sliced is gooey’er but shredded works in a pinch!  I still say cheddar is best here!

*If you’d like this as more of an appetizer you can make them into sliders or just pour onto a serving dish, sprinkle with bacon, cheese and green onions.  Keep toothpicks & cocktail napkins handy!

 

The Starting Lineup

  • 1 package frozen fully cooked home-style meatballs 
  • 2 jars of your favorite barbecue sauce
  • 1 packet Hidden Valley Ranch seasoning packet
  • 1 onion, rough chop
  • 1 package bacon, rough chopped and cooked
  • Sliced or shredded cheese (i.e. Cheddar, Jack, Colby)
  • Sub/hoagie rolls, lightly toasted

BBQRanchMeatball1.jpeg

Simple, simple, simple!  First, lightly spray your slow cooker with a non-stick spray and then add in the chopped onions.  Next, add in the frozen meatballs, sprinkle on the ranch dressing dry mix and pour the bbq sauce over top.  Toss to coat.  Cover and set on low for 4-6 hours.  Yep, you’re done until it’s time to assemble the subs!

Fast forward to dinner time…….this is how I serve ours:

I preheat my broiler and line a baking sheet with foil.  I first halve the hoagie buns lengthwise and give a light toast under the broiler (watch veryyyyy carefully as it goes quick!).  Then, buns still on baking sheet, I scoop on about 4-5 of the meatballs along with extra bbq sauce onto the toasted rolls from the slow cooker.  Finally, top with the crunchy cooked bacon and then copious amounts of cheese.  Place back under the broiler until the cheese is melted and bubbly…enjoy!!

BBQMeatballSub4

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