Chicken Tostadas and Avocado Salsa

Chicken Tostadas and Avocado Salsa

Occasionally when I’m out for the day and I know I won’t have much time to prepare a full meal I’ll pick up a Rotisserie Chicken at my local market.   I’ll add a vegetable and a salad and dinner’s ready.  But what happens to the chicken that wasn’t eaten at that meal?  Usually I make chicken salad  with it for lunches.  But last week when I was confronted with this situation, I wanted to do something different; I was tired of chicken salad.  Luckily for me I came across this recipe for Chicken Tostadas and Avocado Salsa that calls for two cups of shredded rotisserie chicken.  With a few additional ingredients that you probably already have on hand, this goes together quickly, and is fun to eat.

My husband and I were comfortable eating this whole recipe.  Unless you are serving children, just one of these is not enough.  They are a little messy to eat, but the flavor is sooo  good.   I’m sure any substitutions you might make would not detract from the enjoyment of eating these.

INGREDIENTS

SERVES 4

  • 3 Tablespoons fresh lime juice ( juice of 1 lime)
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup chopped tomatoes (remove as many seeds as possible)
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion or scallions
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped cilantro
  • 1 avocado, peeled and diced
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil, divided
  • 4 ( 6-inch ) flour tortillas
  • 2 cups shredded green lettuce
  • 1 ( 15 ounce ) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 cups shredded rotisserie chicken
  • 1/4 cup crumbled queso fresco, or other favorite cheese

DIRECTIONS

1.  Combine the first 5 ingredients in a medium bowl, stirring with a whisk.  Add the tomato, onion, cilantro and avocado;  toss gently to coat.

2.  Heat a large cast-iron or nonstick skillet over medium heat.  Add 3/4 teaspoon oil to pan; swirl to coat.  Add 1 tortilla to pan; cook 1 minute on each side or until browned.  Repeat this 3 more times with remaining 2 1/4 teaspoons oil and tortillas.

3.  To serve:  place 1 tortilla on each of 4 plates.  Layer each tortilla with 1/2 cup lettuce, about 1/2 cup beans, 1/2 cup chicken, 1/4 cup avocado salsa, and 1 tablespoon cheese

SOURCE:    Cooking Light Magazine

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Toad-in-the-Hole

This is an unusual title for a cute idea for breakfast.  When my children were young, I used to make these for them and they liked them and thought they were fun to eat.  What it consists of is an egg cooked in a hole in a piece of toast.

Toad-in-the-Hole with Bacon

How it became named “Toad in the Hole” I don’t know but that’s what we always called this form of egg and toast.   I decided to make one for myself, so I could photograph it, and I must say I really enjoyed it.  Try this out on your children and see if they agree.  Maybe you’ll like it too.

WHAT TO GET READY:

  • spreadable butter
  • 4 slices multi-grain bread, lightly toasted
  • 4 eggs
  • salt and pepper
  • grated cheese, optional

WHAT TO DO:

1.  Cut a hole in the center of each slice of toast using a 3-inch cookie cutter, biscuit cutter, or even a glass will do.

2.  Butter both sides of the toast, including the circle you cut out.

3.  Arrange bread slices on a hot griddle, large skillet or other pan big enough.  Crack one egg into each hole.  Sprinkle each egg with salt and pepper.  Add the circle cutouts to the pan to brown and crisp each side.

4.  Keep heat at medium and cook until egg whites are firm.  At end of cooking sprinkle with grated cheese if using and plate up each toast slice with it’s “hat” perched over the egg.  Serve with bacon or other breakfast meat.

SERVINGS:  4

Where’s the Beef—-steak?

Tomato, Squash, and Red Pepper Gratin

In this case the beefsteaks come in the form of juicy ripe tomatoes.  Combined with other fresh garden vegetables, quinoa, and eggs this casserole is a meal in itself.  We are making an effort to go meatless at least one day a week, so when I found  this recipe I decided to try it out.  It turned out to be  so hearty and satisfying all you need add is a green salad.

Quinoa is the new darling of the grain world and if you have not tried it yet this dish “hides” it so well you will not know it’s there.  Quinoa has double the protein and fiber of rice so I felt that I owed it to myself to give it a try.  I must admit I was not overly taken with it when served plain, but when combined with other ingredients it is enjoyable with its nutty flavor.   If you know someone who is a little hesitant to try something new,  this recipe will be a good way to introduce them to quinoa.

TOMATO, SQUASH, AND RED PEPPER GRATIN

SERVES    6

INGREDIENTS

  • 5 teaspoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 large red pepper, chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1 pound yellow squash, cut into 1/4-inch slices (about 3 1/2 cups)
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 cup cooked quinoa
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced basil, divided**
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme**
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 cup reduced fat milk ( 2%)
  • 3/4 cup shredded cheese; Gruyere, Swiss or other good melting cheese.
  • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • cooking spray
  • 1 cup seasoned croutons
  • 1 large beefsteak tomato, cut into 8 slices

** If fresh basil and thyme are not available you may use the following dried herbs:  1 teaspoon basil and 1/2 teaspoon thyme.

DIRECTIONS

1.   Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Prepare an 11 x 7 inch glass or ceramic baking dish by coating with cooking spray.

2.  Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium heat.  Add 4  teaspoons oil; swirl to coat.  Add onion; cook for 3 minutes.  Add bell pepper; cook 2 minutes.

3.  Add squash and garlic; cook 4 minutes.  Place vegetable mixture in a large bowl.

Stir in quinoa, 1/4 cup basil, thyme, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and black pepper.

Egg mixture with dried herbs, added.

4.  Combine remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, milk, eggs, and cheese in a medium bowl, stirring with a whisk.  Add milk mixture to vegetable mixture, stirring until just combined.  Spoon into prepared baking dish.

5.  Place seasoned croutons in a food processor; pulse until coarse crumbs form.  Instead of that, I like to put them in a zip-lock bag and pound lightly with a meat mallet to form coarse crumbs.     (no extra dishes to wash!)

Ready for the oven.

6.  Arrange tomatoes evenly over vegetable mixture.  Top evenly with crumbs.  Bake at 375 degrees for 40 minutes or until topping is browned.  Sprinkle with remaining basil before serving.

  

SOURCE:   Cooking Light,  August, 2012

Slow Cooked Braised Beef Short Ribs

It doesn’t matter what season it is, I make frequent use of my crockpot, especially if I will be away most of the day.  I love to come home to the smell of something wonderful cooking.  Today I cooked beef  short ribs.

Braised Beef Short Ribs

Short-ribs are usually quite pricy at the market so we don’t have them very often, but this past week there was a special “truckload of beef” sale going on so I purchased some.  I have in my files several recipes for braised beef short-ribs, but for every one I was missing some key ingredient.  So I fused together two different recipes and come up with this one.  They came out very well;  finger-lickin good and falling off the bone, with a nice gravy that I thickened with some of the seasoned flour I used to brown the ribs initially.  I served this together with a mushroom risotto, and a medley of fresh garden vegetables.    This is how I made the ribs.

BRAISED BEEF SHORT RIBS IN THE CROCK POT

SERVES:    4

INGREDIENTS

  • about 4 pounds beef short ribs,  4-6 pieces
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • non-stick cooking spray
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 1 jar prepared Beef Gravy with Mushrooms (such as Heinz)
  • 1 package dry onion soup mix (such as Lipton)

PREPARATION

1.  Spray crock pot liner with non-stick cooking spray

2.  In a shallow bowl, mix together the flour, smoked paprika, and allspice.  Dredge the ribs in the flour mixture to coat.  Shake off excess flour.

3.  In a large skillet, heat the vegetable oil to hot, brown the ribs on all sides, in batches if needed.

4.  Place a few ribs in the bottom of the crock pot .  Pour some of the gravy over them and sprinkle with some of the soup mix.  Repeat with the remaining ribs, gravy, and soup mix.

5.  Cook on LOW for 6-7 hours, or on HIGH for 3 1/2 – 4 hours.

6.  To serve:  Remove the ribs to a serving dish and keep warm.  Make a roux out of 2 Tablespoons butter and 2 Tablespoon flour (use any seasoned flour left from dredging the ribs).   Turn the crock pot up to HIGH so that the gravy simmers,  add the roux and stir to combine so the gravy thickens slightly.  Pour over the ribs and serve with noodles, mashed potatoes, or rice.

SOURCE:   A CAROLYN ORIGINAL

OOOOOH, Baby!

Dutch Baby Pancake with Plum Compote

Ooooooh,Baby, oh,baby!  Dutch Baby, that is.  A puffy, soufflé -like pancake for breakfast, brunch, or anytime at all.  The one I made for a treat recently had my fave fruit in the batter, (peaches) and a stone fruit (plums) compote to spoon on top when served.  This is so fun to make.  I love the way it puffs up in the oven, and then immediately starts to deflate when you take it out.  That’s what its supposed to do–forming a depression in the center that you can fill with all kinds of good things.  Like fruits, jam, syrup, or even sautéed vegetables if serving it as a lunch or dinner entree.

The title given to the recipe I used is Peach Dutch Baby Pancake with Cherry Compote.  I didn’t have, nor could I find, any cherries, so I substituted plums.  A little tart and a little sweet, beautiful pink color,  they worked for me and tasted wonderful.  It occurred to me after tasting it that this compote would make a good topping for ice-cream also.

COMPOTE

  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2  3-inch strips lemon peel
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen (thawed) cherries (about 1 lb.), stemmed, pitted, halved
  • or substitute an equal amount of another stone fruit, such as plums, nectarines, peaches, apricots

1.  Bring honey, lemon peel and lemon juice plus 1/2 cup water to a boil in a small heavy saucepan.

2.  Add fruit and simmer briskly, stirring occasionally, until sauce is syrupy, about 15 minutes.

3.  Transfer compote to a medium bowl and chill.

4.  To make ahead:  Compote can be made 1 day ahead.  Cover and chill,  Remove lemon peel just before serving.

PANCAKE

  • 4 Tablespoons, ( 1/2 stick ) butter, divided
  • 4 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 3 Tablespoons sugar, divided
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2  peaches, halved, pitted, cut in to 1/4″-thick wedges
  • powdered sugar for dusting

1.  Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Melt 2 Tablespoons butter in a small saucepan or in the microwave;  pour into a blender container.  Add eggs, flour, milk, 1 Tablespoon sugar, vanilla, and salt. Blend batter till smooth;  leave in the blender and set aside.

2.  Heat a 12-inch cast-iron ( or other oven-proof) skillet over medium heat.  Add remaining 2 Tablespoons butter and remaining 2 Tablespoons sugar and cook, stirring constantly, until sugar starts to caramelize, about 2 minutes.

Add peaches to skillet; increase heat to medium-high and cook until softened, about 2 minutes.

3.  Briefly reblend pancake batter.  Pour evenly over peaches and transfer to oven.

4.  Bake pancake until puffed and golden brown all over, 17-20 minutes.

It will deflate as soon as it’s removed from the oven. Dust pancake with powdered sugar and serve immediately.  Serve with compote alongside.

Dutch Baby Pancake with Plum Compote

SOURCE:    Bon Appetit,  August, 2012

Blueberry Crumb Breakfast Cake

The original name for this recipe was Blueberry Crumb Bread.   In my mind breads are baked in a bread/loaf pan.  If you  bake it in a square or round baking pan, it is no longer bread, but some form of cake.  I know, I know, a minor technicality, but to please me I’m calling it cake, because it gets baked in a baking pan.

There are many descriptive phrases I would apply to this recipe such as:   tastes very good, great for breakfast or brunch, quick to make, good use of blueberries, and good for you.  One cup of blueberries supplies 27% of your daily requirement of vitamin E, and contain antioxidants as well.  So there is every reason to make and eat this enjoyable “cake”.  The day I made it, I baked it late in the afternoon so it was still warm for dinner and we had it for dessert with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream.  But hot out of the oven it would be a wonderful addition to your Sunday morning breakfast.

BLUEBERRY CRUMB CAKE

SERVINGS:    10 PIECES

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 &  1/3 cups flour
  • 3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2/3 cup non-fat buttermilk ( No buttermilk?   In a measuring cup combine 2/3 cup low-fat milk and 1 teaspoons vinegar or lemon juice.  Stir and let stand a few minutes before using ).
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
  • 1/4 cup chopped nuts (optional)

PREPARATION

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Spray a 9-inch square or round baking pan with non-stick spray.

Flour, salt and brown sugar in the bowl.

2.  In a large bowl, combine flour, brown sugar, and salt.  Mix well.  Using a pastry blender or 2 knives, cut in butter until coarse crumbs form.

3.  Remove 1/3 cup of this mixture to a small bowl; set aside to be used for topping.  Add baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and nutmeg to remaining flour mixture.

4.  In another small bowl, combine buttermilk and egg.  Mix well.  Add to flour mixture, stirring until just moistened.  Spoon batter into prepared pan; smooth top.

5.  Sprinkle the berries over the top of the batter.  If necessary, use the palm of your hand to gently smooth the berries into an even layer.

6.  Combine the reserved topping and nuts (if using).  Sprinkle over the berries.  Bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 35-40 minutes.  Place pan on a wire rack and cool slightly.

SOURCE:   Healthy Meals in Minutes

Eat Your Veggies

There are members of my family who are not particularly fond of vegetables, and they were going to be present at a family end-of-summer cookout.  I was asked to bring a salad.  Whenever this happens I try to bring one that includes vegetables in an appetizing, attractive form, hoping to entice them to eat their veggies.  This salad was a winner with everyone.  Once I placed it on the serving table it began to disappear very quickly so I didn’t get a good picture of the whole salad.  What you see here is the small amount that was left.     This is one salad  I know I will be making again and again.

Most people seem to like raw vegetables with a dip and my salad is a riff on that idea.  All the vegetables are raw plus there are cranberries for a little sweetness, peanuts for some extra crunch, and bacon for that smoky, salty taste.  For a vegetarian version, just omit the bacon.  The slightly sweet dressing pulls everything together and enhances it beautifully.

RAW VEGETABLE SALAD WITH CREAMY DRESSING

SERVES   10 – 12

INGREDIENTS–SALAD

  • 3 cups chopped raw broccoli
  • 3 cups chopped raw cauliflower
  • 3 cups chopped celery
  • 1 10 ounce package frozen peas, thawed
  • 1 cup dried cranberries, such as Craisins
  • 1 cup dry-roasted peanuts, or raw peanuts
  • 6 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled

INGREDIENTS–DRESSING

  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 Tablespoon white vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons grated onion
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1 & 1/2 cup mayonnaise

TO ASSEMBLE

1.  Combine all the vegetables and cranberries in a large salad bowl.

2.  Whisk together all the ingredients for the dressing.

3.  Pour the dressing over the salad.  Add the bacon and peanuts.  Toss to coat with dressing.  Serve chilled.

SOURCE:  All-Recipes.com

Chocolate Fudge Zucchini Cake

This past holiday weekend we had two pot-luck cookouts to go to.  Since I haven’t been baking for Mr. D. and me, I took this as the perfect opportunity to make a baked dessert, and have just one piece.   When I chose this recipe I didn’t foresee  how difficult it would be to have just one piece.   Holy Moly!  Every word in the name of this cake is so true;  it’s definitely chocolate, very fudgey, and there is zucchini (and chocolate chips) in it.  I thought,  I’ll just whip up this easy cake in no time, bake it in a bundt pan, and it will travel well, which it did.

Putting all the ingredients together and making the batter was no problem.  Where I got into difficulty was when I licked some of the batter off my finger.  Ok, Ok, I went a little further and licked the beaters, what can I say, I do that sometimes!  This batter was so thick and creamy,  like chocolate pudding, that I wanted to eat it with a spoon.   I forced myself to scrape it all into the pan, and put it the oven, and was rewarded with a high, beautiful cake.  The recipe suggests an oven temperature of 325 degrees for 40-50 minutes.  My cake took the full 50 minutes before it tested done.   I just know that if you make this cake you will love it.  Besides, it uses up some of that zucchini.

CHOCOLATE FUDGE ZUCCHINI CAKE 

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 Chocolate Fudge Cake Mix with Pudding in the mix.
  • 1 medium zucchini, shredded  ( about 1 & 1/2 cups)
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 1 cup chopped nuts, optional

PREPARATION

1.  Grease and flour a 12 cup bundt pan or 10-inch tube pan.  Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  ( 350 degrees for light colored pan ).

2  In large mixer bowl, beat butter till light and fluffy, beat in eggs one at a time, then flavorings.  Beat in sour cream and cinnamon, then slowly beat in cake mix.  Remove from mixer.

3.  Stir in zucchini, chocolate chips, and nuts if using.

Ready for the oven.

4.  Spoon into prepared pan.  Bake for 40 – 50 minutes, until tester comes out clean.  Cool on cooling rack for about 15 minutes.  Invert onto serving plate to cool completely.***  Frost or dust with confectionery sugar.

Just out of the oven.

***This cake is likely to break if you try to remove it from the pan while it is still warm.  Ask me how I know!    I made a simple frosting of cream cheese, confectionery  sugar and milk, in a thin consistency to drizzle over the top.  I first used some to glue the cake together where it broke, and then poured the rest over the top and let it run down the sides.

SOURCE:   Duncan Hines website:  Cakes

Glazed Chicken and Szechuan Noodle Salad

Would you believe I have spent all summer (until now) without a gas grill?  How is that possible you might ask?  Ours simply refused to light when we took it out of storage in the Spring.  My husband took it all apart, cleaned all the parts, refurbished the burner with new parts, put it back together and it still wouldn’t work.  Dang!   So while everyone else was having their cookouts, or talking about the great foods they cooked on their grills I was feeling totally left out, not having anything to contribute to that conversation.

Last weekend we finally got a new grill, all in pieces, in a HUGE box.  The nice guys at the big orange store brought it out and put it in my car for me, but I was dreading the task of helping to put it together.  But surprise! it was so simple.  The directions were clear, made perfect sense. and all the screws were even pre-installed so we didn’t end up with any extra parts.  This grill is just like having a gas stove on my back deck instead of in my kitchen.   We celebrated the new grill and how smart we were to put it together by grilling a steak for dinner that evening.  It was a very good steak but not especially blog-worthy.  (I like that word.)

My post today is about my first real effort to cook something a little jazzier on the grill; Glazed Chicken Thighs.  Since the recipe for the chicken contained some ingredients found in Asian cuisines, I paired it with another recipe I had for Szechuan Noodle Salad, and also included Sesame Broccoli.  This, then, is my complete menu.  It can be prepared in about 30 minutes.  While the grill is heating coat the chicken in the glaze mixture.  Grill the chicken.  Keep the chicken warm in a low oven, and cook the noodles and steam the broccoli. Season the noodles and broccoli and serve.

GLAZED CHICKEN and SZECHUAN NOODLE SALAD with SESAME BROCCOLI

SERVINGS:    4

INGREDIENTS–CHICKEN

  • 1 Tablespoon grated peeled fresh ginger
  • 3 Tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon lower-sodium soy sauce
  • 8 skinless, boneless chicken thighs (about 1 1/2 pounds)
  • cooking spray

INGREDIENTS–NOODLES

  • 6 ounces uncooked udon noodles (thick, fresh Japanese wheat noodles), or whole-wheat linguine
  • 1/4 cup bottled Szechuan sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon creamy peanut butter
  • 2 teaspoons lower-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 cup matchstick-cut carrots
  • 1/2 cup matchstick-cut green onions

INGREDIENTS–BROCCOLI

  • About 1 pound broccoli, trimmed and cut into florets
  • 1 Tablespoon sesame seeds
  • 1 Tablespoon dark sesame oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

PREPARATION

1.  Preheat grill to medium-high heat.

2.  Combine fresh ginger, hoisin sauce, lime juice and olive oil in a large bowl.  Add chicken, toss to coat.

3.   Place chicken on grill rack coated with cooking spray.  Grill, about  4 minutes/side or until done.  Remove from grill, cover and keep warm.

The chicken could also be cooked indoors on an electric grill, or on the stove-top in a grill-pan.

4.  Cook noodles according to package directions.  Drain well.  Combine Szechuan sauce, peanut butter, soy sauce, and lime juice in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk.  Add noodles, carrots, and green onions; toss and serve with chicken.

5.  For the broccoli:  Add water to a saucepan to a depth to 1-inch.  Add broccoli florets, bring to a boil and simmer for 4-5 minutes until crisp-tender.  Place broccoli in a medium bowl.  Add the sesame oil and sesame seeds,  kosher salt and  black pepper. Toss well.

SOURCE:   Cooking Light   for both Glazed chicken thighs and Szechuan noodles.