Thursday, May 29, 2008

Chicken quesadillas from leftovers

Remember the margarita chicken? We had half a chicken left over after and I can't let it go to waste.
I pulled the skin off and shredded what meat was left. The dark meat was put in a food saver bag and tucked in the freezer. It will probably be added to soup later. The white meat was frozen to make chicken quesadillas.

These quesadillas are regulars at our house. I always have cheese and tortillas in the house. We usually add whatever leftover meat is in the refrigerator or freezer. Sometimes we just have them like grilled cheese.

If you can make grilled cheese, you can make quesadillas.

Place one tortilla on your work surface. Sprinkle with cheese. Add chicken, bacon bits and more cheese. Top with another tortilla. Butter the top lightly. Toss into pan and butter the other tortilla. I cover my pan with a lid so the cheese melts quicker. Flip and cook other side until lightly browned.

Cut the quesadilla in half and each half into thirds. Serve with your favorite sauces (we had taco sauce and salsa verde with this), sour cream, cilantro and jalapenos.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Grilled Red Snapper

Grilled red snapper is divine. I think it is even more so when you know you're the one who caught it and you know it is absolutely fresh. Ever since our fishing trip, I've been searching for different ways to cook red snapper. I knew we wanted to try it on the grill. A lot of the recipes I found online with pictures had the heads still on the fish. I didn't think I could cook something that could look back at me, so when my husband cleaned them he removed the heads.

Most of the grilling recipes I found had the fish's cavity stuffed with a citrus, onion or garlic and an herb. For our first try, I went with what was on hand. I sliced up a lime, onion and garlic, and picked some oregano from my herb garden. I rubbed a bit of olive oil on the skin of the fish so it wouldn't stick to the grill then gave a liberal sprinkle of sea salt and fresh ground pepper.

It was delicious. I can not wait to cook the others waiting for us in the freezer.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Fish Report

I saw where the fish in the market comes from: the beautiful ocean.

My husband and I spent a day on a boat out in the Gulf Stream fishing. We had a fantastic time. It was a very long day but since the fish were biting, it was also a lot of fun. We brought home 9 red snappers, 3 red mouth grunts, and 1 porgy. We caught many more than that, but there were some that didn't meet the length requirements.

Which one of these do you want to see on your plate?

I think we'll be having red snapper for dinner soon.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Bloomin' Onion

or Part two of how to use up 20 pounds of vidalia onions. When my cousin Jennifer saw I had 20 pounds of vidalias, the first thing she said was "I want to see a bloomin' onion on that blawg of yours". Of course she really knows it's blog, but we are from the south and sometimes we try to out southern ourselves. I think either is correct, because after all we say dawg instead of dog.

She was right, with all those onions I had to fry a couple. Once up on a time when the blooming onions were all the rage, I bought a cutter for the onions. I think I used it once or twice and then it got tossed on one of our many moves. We saw the kits in one of the stores, but I figured my knife skills have improves and I didn't need no stinking special cutter. Besides, I've reached max capacity for kitchen gadgets for a while (or until something new and shiny catches my eye)

I have Todd Wilbur's Top Secret Restaurant Recipes: Creating Kitchen Clones from America's Favorite Restaurant Chains book which has the recipe for the Outback Bloomin' Onion. I've tried many of Todd Wilbur's other recipes and they never disappoint, so I knew this would be just the thing to try.

Serves 2 to 4 as an appetizer or snack

* Dipping Sauce
* 1/2 cup mayonnaise
* 2 teaspoons ketchup
* 2 tablespoons cream-style horseradish
* 1/4 teaspoon paprika
* 1/4 teaspoon salt
* 1/8 teaspoon dried oregano
* Dash ground black pepper
* Dash cayenne pepper

* The Onion
* 1 egg
* 1 cup milk
* 1 cup all-purpose flour
* 11/2 teaspoons salt
* 1 1/2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
* 1/2 teaspoon ground black
* 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
* 1/8 teaspoon dried thyme
* 1/8 teaspoon cumin
* 1 giant Spanish onion (3/4 pound or more)
* Vegetable oil for frying pepper

1. Prepare the dipping sauce by combining all of the ingredients in a small bowl. Keep the sauce covered in your refrigerator until needed.

2. Beat the egg and combine it with the milk in a medium bowl big enough to hold the onion.

3. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, salt, peppers, oregano, thyme, and cumin.

4. Now it's time to slice the onion-this is the trickiest step. First slice 3/4 inch to 1 inch off the top and bottom of the onion. Remove the papery skin. Use a thin knife to cut a 1-inch diameter core out of the middle of the onion. Now use a very sharp, large knife to slice the onion several times down the center to create the "petals" of the completed onion. First slice through the center of the onion to about three-fourths of the way down. Turn the onion 90 degrees and slice it again in an "x" across the first slice. Keep slicing the sections in half, very carefully, until you've cut the onion 16 times. Do not cut down to the bottom. The last 8 slices are a little hairy, just use a steady hand and don't worry if your onion doesn't look like a perfect flower. It'll still taste good. (I only made 8 slices because I can't count to sixteen. No really I can, I just made the 8 and got too excited to get the onion in the oil. )

5. Spread the "petals" of the onion apart. The onion sections tend to stick together, so you'll want to separate them to make coating easier.

6. Dip the onion in the milk mixture, and then coat it liberally with the dry ingredients. Again separate the "petals" and sprinkle the dry coating between them. Once you're sure the onion is well-coated, dip it back into the wet mixture and into the dry coating again. This double dipping makes sure you have a well- coated onion because some of the coating tends to wash off when you fry. Let the onion rest in the refrigerator for at least 15 minutes while you get the oil ready.

7. Heat oil in a deep fryer or deep pot to 350 degrees. Make sure you use enough oil to completely cover the onion when it fries.

8. Fry the onion right side up in the oil for 10 minutes or until it turns brown.

9. When the onion has browned, remove it from the oil and let it drain on a rack or paper towels.

10. Open the onion wider from the center so that you can put a small dish of the dipping sauce in the center. You may also use plain ketchup.

Eat and enjoy. Now someone explain to me how we ate this onion and we decided it was enough for dinner but when we go to Outback Steakhouse we end up eating the onion, salad, steak, potato and lots of bread.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Jalapeño Jack Grits

This recipe is one of the reasons I keep my subscription to Bon Appetit active. It was in the December 2001 magazine in the RSVP section. From the first time I saw the recipe, I knew it was a winner and made plans to make it. I am so glad I did.

It is a family favorite. My brother asks for the leftovers every time he is here when we have it for dinner. I have made it for family dinners and church dinners as a side dish and even as a main dish when I wanted something with lots of flavor but didn't want a full meal or spend a lot of time in the kitchen. It's easy. It's flavorful. It's creamy. And it's delicious.

Here it is as a side with the Margarita Butt Chicken, Vidalia Onion tart, and steamed broccoli. Luckily my brother wasn't here tonight, so I actually get the leftovers.

Jalapeño-Monterey Jack Grits

1 tablespoon butter
1 red bell pepper, cut into 1-inch strips (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 yellow bell pepper, cut into 1-inch strips (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 tablespoon minced seeded jalapeño chili
1 garlic clove, minced
3 cups chicken stock or canned low-salt chicken broth
1 cup whipping cream
1 cup quick-cooking grits
1 1/2 cups grated hot pepper Monterey Jack cheese (about 6 ounces)


Melt butter in heavy medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add both peppers, jalapeño, and garlic; sauté until peppers are tender, about 5 minutes. Bring stock and cream to boil in heavy large saucepan. Add grits in thin stream, whisking constantly. Whisk until grits are cooked and mixture thickens, about 6 minutes. Add sautéed pepper mixture and cheese; stir until cheese melts. Season with salt and pepper.


This doubles or triples very well if you have a crowd. You can cook the peppers and garlic in advance. I do them in the same pot I am going to boil the grits in not to lose the extra flavor in the pot. I have also made them and put them in a crock pot for a church dinner. It kept wonderfully. I came home with an empty pot and this was in New Jersey where they weren't really sure what grits were!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Beer Butt chicken: hold the beer but pass the margaritas

We are not beer drinkers in this house, but I love the idea of doing beer butt chicken. Since I would not want my chicken to have even a mild flavor of beer, we found something better. On a trip to Bass Pro Shop with my husband, I found a ceramic chicken holder that holds what ever liquids you want to add for flavor plus it can't tip over and spill. We have done several different liquids in the holder. (Of course now my husband thinks I love to go shopping in sporting goods stores since most of them carry cooking items. I of course make him think I only go because he wants me to, so I get points for going with him and I still get to look at cooking stuff)

Tonight we added margarita mix (it has a great citrus flavor) with limes and garlic. The chicken was brushed with olive oil and rubbed with salt, pepper, and poultry seasoning. In the neck, I stuff some lime slices for more flavor and to hold the steam in the chicken as it cooked.

It browns up so nicely on the grill plus it stays moist from the liquid in the holder.

See the Bass Pro label on the cooker?

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Vidalia Onion Tarts

Or part one of how to use twenty pounds of vidalia onions. My cousin's high school FFA was selling vidalia onions as a fund raiser. I am going to use at least one ten pound bag and I am planning on slicing and freezer the remaining ten pounds. Get the tissues ready because any onions, even sweet ones, make me cry.

Part of tonight's dinner includes these vidalia onion tarts. They were super simple and delicious. This would also be a great recipe made in a pie crust like a quiche. Served with a simple salad, and it would be a great summer meal. Or you could make them in mini muffin pans for a great party appetizer.


ready made pie crust (or your favorite pie dough)
1 large vidalia onion, sliced thin
2 Tbls butter
2 eggs
1 cup of cream
fresh thyme
grated Monterey jack cheese

Step 1: roll out pie crust. Cut out 3 inch circles and put each round in a muffin pan. Bake for 7-8 minutes at 350. Let cool.

Step 2: Melt butter in pan. Add onions and allow to caramelize. At the end of cooking, add salt and fresh thyme. Allow to cool.

Step 3: Mix eggs and cream together.

Step 4: Add 1 tablespoon onions in each muffin cup. Pour egg and cream mixture over the onions. Top with just a little cheese. Bake for 15-20 minutes at 350.

Step 5: Allow to cool briefly and enjoy.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Pasta with grilled chicken and vegetables in a goat cheese sauce

Pasta. Chicken. Grilled vegetables. Sounds pretty ordinary. I had to come up with a way to have an ordinary dinner become a little different so we weren't eating the same things all the time. A quick look in the refrigerator and I found three small rounds of goat cheese (herb and garlic, four pepper, and plain) They were originally bought for crackers but since we hadn't used them, I decided maybe it could be part of dinner.

After checking various recipe sites looking for a way to use the goat cheese in this dinner, I found a sauce that sounded pretty good and it was easy too. I love it when a plan comes together. I now had my dinner planned.


Chicken breasts, split lengthwise
vegetables (yellow squash, zucchini, red and yellow bell peppers, mushrooms if you don't forget them like I did)

Marinate the chicken and vegetables separately in olive oil, lemon juice and garlic.
Grill and slice them into small pieces.

Boil pasta. We used bowties because they are bite sized just like the vegetables and chicken. Cook until al dente and drain.

For the sauce:
1 cup chicken broth brought up to a boil. Crumble in 2-3 oz of goat cheese. I used a four pepper goat cheese for extra flavor. Stir until melted and smooth.

To save on dishes, mix everything in the pasta pot. Add sauce to the noodles, then stir in the vegetables and chicken. Once you dish it out, add fresh basil. This was the first use of the basil from my herb garden this spring.

This is a great one dish meal. You could make garlic bread to go with it like I did. Only remember it if you do. I had checked it early and it was almost done but it was going to take a bit for the rest of the dinner to go together. I cut the oven off and just left the bread in to finish cooking. We were clearing our plates when I remembered the bread.

Now I have garlic croutons for salads.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Teach a man to fish, and you will have a great dinner

and a full freezer. My husband spent the last couple of days with an old friend from high school. They did a bit of river fishing. And catching. Catching quite a lot of fish, white perch to be exact. They caught 60 the first day and 16 the second. I'm glad they weren't able to find the same schools of fish they did the first day, I would have run out of freezer space. They are little guys so it will take a few to make a "mess of fish" for dinner. I pulled out my food saver and made three bags of 12 and three bags of 10. The remaining ones were tonight's dinner.

Another good thing about my husband catching the fish, he also has to clean and cook them. Ok, I help getting them ready but he likes them fried and likes to fry outside. Hot oil and a flame, and he's right there. He cleaned the fish and I rolled them flour and old bay seasoning. Then they were off to the fryer.

Frying away

When they start floating, they're done. Have your plate and homemade tartar sauce ready. Really isn't the only reason to eat fish is to have homemade tartar sauce? Yes that is what I think too.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Cinco de Mayo: Stuffed Chicken Mexican Style

Happy Cinco De Mayo! We love Mexican food so for us it is just another excuse to have a wonderful Mexican dinner. And maybe a margarita or three.

I had forgotten it was Cindo de Mayo and had taken chicken breasts out for tonight's dinner. I had to decide what I was going to do with them. We didn't really want fajitas so I checked out what was in the refrigerator and pantry. One of our favorite easy dinners are chicken and bacon quesadillas. I wanted something a bit more festive.

What if we stuff the chicken instead of the tortillas? It sounded like a good idea and it turned out to be a great idea.

Chicken breasts, butterflied and slightly pounded
sprinkle with adobo and taco seasoning

2 Tablespoons cream cheese
1 cup grated cheese (I used mexican blend)
1/4 cup bacon bits
4 oz can of green chilis, drained

Mix the filling ingredients and stuff the breasts.

In an oven proof skillet, add 2 tablespoons olive oil. Lightly brown both sides of the chicken breasts. Place the pan in a preheated 400 degree oven and bake 10-15 minutes or until done.

Spoon a couple of tablespoons of salsa verde on the plate and place a breast in the sauce. Serve with tortillas, avocados, and rice. And margaritas. Never forget the margaritas.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Strawberry Ice Cream

I think I mentioned in a previous post how much I love strawberry season. The next couple of weeks you will see lots of evidence proving it. Today's installment is homemade strawberry ice cream.

I love my Kitchen Aid Ice Cream attachment. I always keep the bowl in the freezer so anytime I want to make homemade ice cream, I just have to decide what flavor and get my ingredients together. No need to worry about ice or getting the big ice cream freezer out for just my husband and me.

3 cups half and half
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup strawberry puree
1/2 cup chopped strawberries
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup sugar

Follow the directions on your ice cream freezer and enjoy.

I think next time I make chocolate covered strawberries, I'll chop up a couple and drop them in the strawberry ice cream.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Chocolate Covered Strawberries

Is there anything better? No I didn't think so. Plus since it's fruit, it has health benefits. Right? I think we should eat them daily. I'm going to try to do just that until strawberry season ends. It is always good to have goals.

They are so simple to make, yet everyone is always so impressed with them. Maybe we shouldn't mention how simple they are to everyone else.

melted chocolate

I'm not going to give you directions. If you can't figure it out you really should not be in the kitchen anyway.

Don't they look delicious?