Tag Archives: lunch

Balsamic Strawberry Chicken Quesadilla

I’m quite the advocate of a great balsamic reduction.  No, not the vinegar (though good where it is needed), but the rich, slightly sweet glaze.  Now, while I mainly consume it over pillow-like soft slices of mozzarella sprinkled with coarse salt, I felt I needed to broaden both the sauce’s and my horizon.  With that being said, I have concocted the easiest hand-held, Springtime delight!

Likely from my raising in Arizona, I am quite partial to the quesadilla, so I decided what better than to “stuff” a few of my favorite light and fresh ingredients into a tortilla and grill up!

Man oh man, when I tell ya that the popular Mexican favorite doesn’t have to contain south-of-the-border ingredients after all!  It was everything sweet, tangy, crunchy and fresh with the addition of fruit and herbs, vegetables, goat cheese and pecans…last but not least, the balsamic reduction to bring it all together!

*If you like it extra, ooey-gooey cheesy, please feel free to add mozzarella as well! 🙂

The Starting Lineup

  • 2 large chicken breasts, boneless and skinless
  • 6 flour tortillas (regular, spinach, low-carb, whole wheat, etc)
  • 1 pint strawberries, hulled and quartered
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 cup fresh spinach leaves
  • 1/3 cup pecans, chopped
  • 4oz goat cheese, crumbled
  • 1 (8oz) bottle Balsamic Reduction (not to be confused with vinegar)
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • Salt & pepper, to taste

In a Ziploc bag, combine the extra virgin olive oil, a hefty pinch of salt and pepper and 1/4 cup of the balsamic reduction with the chicken.  Zip up, massage to coat and set aside for 20-30 minutes to marinate.

Grill the chicken, until cooked through and the juices run clear; thinly slice.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat with the butter.  On each tortilla, layer an even amount of the cooked chicken, strawberries, spinach leaves, pecans and goat cheese crumbles.  Fold in half and cook each side of the quesadilla until golden brown in color.

To serve:  Slice into wedges with a pizza cutter, sprinkle with a bit more fresh basil and drizzle the remaining balsamic reduction overtop, enjoy!

quesadillaStrawBasilChx

 

Grilled Brie, Bacon, Arugula and Fig Sandwich (The Figgy Piggy)

This “gourmet” bistro style sandwich will wow your guests, yet is simple and quick for you to whip up!
The unique flavors of the peppery arugula, salty bacon and sweet figs go soooooo wonderfully together.  They stay held together by the mild, creamy melted brie and your last taste bud gets love from the crunchy, slightly sour note of the grilled bread.  So basically, this awakens all your senses, have I sold you yet? 😉
…and if sandwiches aren’t your thing, you can absolutely pile these same toppings onto pizza dough or flatbread!
The Starting Lineup
Loaf of quality sourdough or ciabatta bread (8, 1/2″ slices)
1 pckg bacon, cooked till crisp
1 round brie cheese (1/4″ slices)
2 cups arugula
1 jar Fig Jam/Preserves (i.e. Bonne Maman brand)
2 Tbsp butter
4 Tbsp mayonnaise 
Heat a cast-iron pan or griddle to medium-high heat.
On one side of your bread slices, spread a thin layer of mayonnaise (this will create a perfect golden brown crust).  Turn slices over and spread a layer of the fig preserves on each slice.  Next layer on the brie cheese slices, crisp bacon and the arugula.  Top with the remaining bread, fig side down.
Add the butter to your hot pan or griddle and grill each side for about 3-4 minutes, until golden brown and the brie has melted.
Cut each sandwich on the diagonal and serve with a small salad or soup.  Enjoy!

FiggyPiggy

 

 

Albuquerque Turkey Melt

Now I must admit that I purposely buy the best in-house roasted turkey from our local deli just so I can eat these all year long.  However, this sandwich is best when it’s used as a fun way to use up that glorious left-over turkey!

Growing up we had the usual turkey day leftovers:  your basic plate, your basic turkey sandwich, turkey ala king, turkey soup…now they’re all quite delicious, I’ve just been there too many times for too many years and was ready for a flavorful change!  ..and here it is!

The Starting Lineup

  • Fresh carved turkey, homemade or deli
  • Texas toast bread
  • Swiss cheese, slices
  • Roma tomatoes, sliced
  • Avocados, sliced
  • Red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 can Hatch green chiles, hot
  • Mayonnaise
  • Parmesan cheese, fresh grated
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 4 Tbsp butter

Begin by preheating your oven to 350 degrees.  Grate the parmesan cheese and lay the cheese out on a baking sheet.  Beat the 4 eggs in a shallow dish. albqturk4.JPG

To assemble the sandwich, smear a good amount of mayonnaise on the 1 side of each piece of bread.  Next place on a slice of Swiss cheese, followed by the turkey, tomatoes, avocado slices, red onion and green chilies.  *You can also add another slice of cheese on the opposite side of the bread if you like it real ooey-gooey cheesy!

Next, heat the butter in a pan over medium heat.  Carefully dip the prepared sandwich into the egg mixture and place onto the grated parmesan cheese. Coat both sides of the dipped sandwich with the cheese.  Again, carefully, transfer the dipped and coated sandwich onto the heated pan and cook both sides till slightly browned.  Place each browned sandwich BACK onto the baking sheet and transfer these to the preheated oven.  *The oven will cook the dipped sandwich completely through and melt that cheese perfectly!

Bake the sandwiches for about 10 minutes.  Allow to rest for 2-3 minutes, cut on the bias and serve.  Enjoy!!!

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Grilled Lemon-Dill Chicken w/ Greek Chopped Salad

I’ve loved the bright fresh flavors of Greek food far before the recipes infiltrated Pinterest or The Pita Jungle restaurant took off.  Crunchy vegetables, saltiness from the kalamata olives and feta and the brightness of lemon juice are my guilty pleasure.  Well wait, maybe guilty isn’t the correct word, because you never feel too heavy after eating this cool and fresh meal!  Besides the health benefits  of this recipe, I love how fast it all comes together! So it’s great for a weekday dinner or a quick meal to enjoy grilling and eating by the pool on a hot day…

The Starting Lineup

Chicken

  • 4-6 thin cut chicken breasts
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 Tbsp dill, fresh (or 1 tsp dried)
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • Juice of 1-2 lemons, plus zest
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt & pepper, to taste  *I used lemon-pepper, because I had it on hand

Salad

  • 1 15oz can garbanzo beans, rinsed
  • 2 cucumbers, seeds removed and sliced
  • 4 to 6 Roma tomatoes, chopped (or cherry tomatoes halved)
  • 1/2 red onion, sliced
  • 1/2 cup kalamata olives
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled or cubed
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • Kosher salt & pepper, to taste   

Beginning with the chicken, we’ll get the marinade ready.  In a small bowl simply combine the garlic/garlic powder, dill, lemon juice and zest, evoo and salt & pepper, whisk together.  In a large ziplock bag add in the chicken breasts and pour in the marinade.  Seal, place on a dish (to avoid spillage) and let marinate in the refridgerator for 1 hour.  *Do not let marinate too long, as the acid from the lemon juice can change the texture of the chicken. 

   On to the salad!  Prep your veggies by rinsing, chopping and dicing *For the cucumber, slice in half length-wise and take a spoon to gently scoop out the seeds/center.  This will also help to eliminate the salad from getting too soggy.  Also, drain the can of garbanzo beans and rinse/pat dry. 

   In a large bowl, combine the garbanzo beans, cucumbers, tomatoes, red onion and kalamata olives.  In a smaller bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, evoo, oregano, salt and pepper.  Pour the dressing over the vegetables and sprinkle on the feta cheese.  Give a gentle toss, cover and refridgerate while you cook the chicken. 

 Now here you can either start up your outdoor grill or use a grill pan indoors.  *Heck, I dont care if you decide to bake the chicken.  Do what makes you happy.  Remove the chicken from the refridgerator and place on your heated grill/medium-high heat grill pan.  Grill the chicken for about 3-4 minutes on each side and let rest for 5 minutes. 

   On a large family-style serving dish, pour on your Greek salad and layer the grilled, sliced chicken over top.  Enjoy!! 

 

Coconut ‘Fried’ Chicken

This is the perfect weeknight dinner!!  It’s flavorful, fun, and on the table in under 30 minutes…did I mention it’s healthy too??!!  A definite win-win friends!

Now I like to marinate the chicken (2 simple ingredients!) for 6-8 hours..before you head in to work.  However, if you’re worried you’ll forget to quickly prepare this in the busy AM, then you can do this the night before!  So now you just wake up & go!!…After work you can pop in the oven and have dinner in minutes!

This lean chicken has a great savory crunch to it with the added hint of sweetness.  Kids LOVE it!!  …and parents don’t have to feel guilty 😉

*Can be prepared Gluten-Free as well 

*Dipping Sauce:  I make by eye considering the persons taste buds.  Sweeter (more honey), Hotter (more sriracha), etc..  But a basic recipe is below.

The Starting Lineup

  • 2 lbs chicken tenders (or Breasts cut into strips)
  • 1 cup honey mustard
  • 1 cup mayonaisse 
  • 2 cups panko bread crumbs (or Gluten Free bread crumbs)
  • 2 cups shredded sweetened coconut
  • Pinch of kosher salt & pepper

Dipping Sauce (optional)

  • Honey mustard (1/4 cup)
  • Honey (1 tbsp)
  • Sriracha (1-2 tsp)
  • Rice wine vinegar (SMALL splash)

Garnish (optional)

  • Shredded sweetened coconut
  • Cilantro, chopped  

Easy!!!  The night before OR before you head out for work, marinate the chicken in the cup of honey mustard and cup of mayonnaise mixture.  Cover and place in the fridge.

Now let us imagine that you’re already home and ready for dinner!!  So here you’ll simply preheat your oven to 425 degrees and take the chicken out of the refridgerator.  Prepare a baking sheet with either foil or a silpat sheet and if you’d like, you can add a grate atop.  *Remember to spray the grate and/or foil with non-stick spray, however, the silpat liner will be fine with out spray. 

 Have a shallow dish prepared with the panko (or gluten free breadcrumbs), coconut and salt & pepper.  Next, one-by-one, coat the honey mustard/mayo’d chicken into the coconut-bread crumbs and lay onto the baking sheet.  Repeat until finished. 

   Pop the tray into the preheated oven for 25 minutes and then remove to rest and cool for a couple of minutes.  It’s hot!!!…

I like to serve this healthy and easy meal topped with a bit of extra shredded coconut & cilantro along with a side of rice and dipping sauce!  Enjoy!! 

 

Pizza Rolls

Do you remember growing up and eating those famous Totino’s Pizza Rolls after school??  You know, the little crunchy squares filled with gooey cheese, sauce & meat that would always burn the roof of your mouth because you couldn’t wait for them to cool off?.. 

Well these are them recreated on steroids!  Soooo good!  What’s also great about these is that you can fill them with any pizza topping of your choice!  Make these upscale with roasted vegetables, salami, pesto, feta cheese or keep it the original way of mozzarella, marinara and pepperoni!!  Kids and adults alike will enjoy these to no end!

The Starting Lineup

  • Spring roll wrappers
  • 1 lb Italian sausage
  • 1 cup pepperoni, chopped
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese
  • 1 jar marinara sauce
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp Italian seasoning
  • Kosher salt & pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup rice flour
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Vegetable oil (for frying)  

Begin by heating up the extra virgin olive oil in a sauté pan over medium heat while chopping & dicing the vegetables and pepperoni.  Also turn on your deep fryer to 350 degrees (or bring vegetable oil up to temp in a large heavy bottomed pan).

Next add the diced onion to the hot pan and sauté for 2-3 minutes, followed by the minced garlic for another minute. 

 Add the Italian sausage, Italian seasoning and S&P to the onion & garlic and brown till cooked through.  Drain on a paper towel lined bowl. 

 In a large bowl, combine the pepperoni, mozzarella cheese, marinara sauce.  Next, fold in the sausage mixture and set aside. 

   Assembly time!!  Now it’s not as tricky as you may think, but please follow along :).  Needed: a bowl of water, a beaten egg and pastry brush, the spring roll wrappers and a shallow dish with the rice flour in it.

Lightly sprinkle your work surface with a bit of rice flour.  Next dip 3 spring roll sheets (individually) into the water for about 15 seconds each and stack on top of eachother on the floured work surface.  Now add a scoop or two of the meat filling in the middle of the wrapper and then brush the beaten egg around the edges of the wrapper. 

 
 Fold up like a burrito and carefully dredge the entire roll with the rice flour and set aside as you finish assembling the rest. 

    Once done, take to the deep fryer and again, carefully drop into th hot oil and allow to fry for a few minutes until a light brown.  (These won’t brown heavily like you might think). 

 To serve, cut on the diagonal and serve with a side of warm marinara sauce for dipping.  Be careful as these rolls are hot…and addictive!! 

 

Supreme Pizza Fries

How have I never made this before??  I mean it’s great for a fun & easy Friday night dinner, fabulous on a big tray while hosting a football watching party, or even an awesome way to get your kids in the kitchen cooking with you!  Really, what kid or even adult dislikes pizza or French fries?  Combine the two and it’s a sure fire winner!

Plus, the toppings are endless!  Now here I went the traditional ‘supreme pizza’ route, but what if your favorite pizza is Hawaiian?  Sausage?  Salami and hot peppers?  Pick your poison and I’m sure you won’t be disappointed!

*If your making your own French fries, make SURE to soak the cut potatoes in a large bowl of cold water in your refridgerator for at least 1-2 hours, if not longer, prior to frying them.  This removes a lot of the starch from the potatoes, resulting in crispier restaurant style fries!

The Starting Lineup

  • 1 pckg frozen (or homemade) french fries
  • Jarred pizza sauce
  • Pepperoni, quartered
  • Mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • Green bell pepper, sliced
  • White onion, thinly sliced
  • Mushrooms, sliced
  • Black olives, sliced
  • Garlic powder 
  • Crushed red pepper/Parmesan cheese (optional garnish)    

Start this simple recipe by slicing up the veggies, shredding the mozzarella and preheating the deep fryer oil to 350 degrees (or later setting the oven to package temperature if baking the French fries). 

   Set the oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with foil.  Spread the sliced bell pepper, onion and mushrooms out evenly on the baking sheet and drizzle with a bit of extra virgin olive oil and a pinch of salt & pepper.  Place the vegetables into the oven for about 10-12 minutes, mixing occasionally.  Remove from oven and set aside…keep the oven on. 

 While the vegetables are roasting, pour about a cup of the pizza sauce into a small pan and bring to a low simmer to warm through. 

 Once the oil (or oven) is ready, begin cooking the French fries.  You want the fries to be on the crunchy side, so I like to double or even triple fry here.  Not burn them of course, but just get them nice and crisp.  Remember, you’ll be pouring on pizza sauce, cheese, etc..soggy fries are no bueno! 

 After the fries have finished cooking, toss with a bit of garlic powder (this really helps with that pizza crust flavor!). 

 Assembly time!!  On a foil lined baking sheet, add that mound of fries.  Next, pour on the warm pizza sauce, the shredded mozzarella, roasted veggies, pepperoni and black olives.  It’s quite the heaping helping here! 

 Pop into the oven on the top rack (now set to broil) and watch closely as the cheese melts to that ooey-gooey pizza cheese consistency!  After just a couple minutes remove and serve up!  Heck, I won’t tell if you even eat straight from the baking sheet! 😉 Serve with a bit of crushed red pepper flakes and parmesan cheese if desired. 

 

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