Thanksgiving Quesadillas

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Still have leftovers taking up precious space in your fridge? I know my fridge is bursting to the seams since we made a full Thanksgiving dinner for just two of us. So lots of leftovers, and some complaints from the peanut gallery that they need something other than Thanksgiving food.

Enter quesadillas. Now, I am a #1 fan of the Thanksgiving sandwich, and you definitely need to make sure to eat one to several of those in the days after Thanksgiving. But this quesadilla is a nice way to mix up the traditional Thanksgiving flavors to make it feel like you are eating something different. You can also mix and match what you want to put inside the quesadillas for any picky eaters complaining about the leftovers…

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THANKSGIVING QUESADILLAS

INGREDIENTS

Leftover turkey (dark meat reigns supreme here)
Cranberry sauce*
Pepper jack cheese, shredded
Chopped onion
Salsa*
Gravy
Tortillas
Butter

DIRECTIONS

Place desired amounts of turkey, cranberry sauce, pepper jack cheese, onion, and salsa on on tortilla. Season with salt and pepper (especially the turkey).

Heat pan to medium heat. Melt butter and rotate pan to coat. Place tortilla with filling down and top with another tortilla on top. Press down. Cook until golden brown, for approximately 3 to 5 minutes. Flip and cook until cheese is melted and tortilla is golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes.

Slice quesadilla and top with gravy and additional salsa.

*Use the well gelled sections/whole cranberries from your cranberry sauce. If you use cranberry sauce that is too runny, your tortillas can get soggy. Same for salsa, chunkier salsa works better in this.

Mom’s Zucchini Casserole

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This dish is a staple at Christmas Eve dinner for our family, and for many years, I refused to sacrifice plate space for this casserole. Zucchini? Vegetables? No thank you says my adolescent self.

But as I began expanding my palate and grew older, zucchini became okay. I even began to spiralize it and eat it, so it was time to try this casserole. This zucchini casserole is cheesy, bacon-y goodness. I highly recommend you don’t wait 10+ years to make this like I did.

Mom’s Zucchini Casserole
From Cinnamon Freud’s mom

INGREDIENTS

6 cups thinly sliced zucchini (or other squash)
2 eggs, separated
1 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons flour
1 1/2-2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
8 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1/4 cup panko bread crumbs

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Bring large pot of water to a boil. Boil zucchini slices for 2-3 minutes, until cooked through. Drain and set aside to cool slightly.

In a bowl, combine egg yolks, sour cream, and flour. Stir together and season with salt and pepper. Whip egg whites until stiff peaks form. Fold egg whites into sour cream mixture.

In a 9 x 13 pan, place half of the zucchini in a single layer. Season zucchini with salt and pepper. Crumble bacon on top. Spread half of the sour cream mixture. Sprinkle with cheese. Layer the remaining zucchini and repeat, sprinting cheese on top.

Mix butter and breadcrumbs together. Sprinkle on top. Bake for 20-25 minutes.

Corn and Rice Stuffed Peppers

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Let this be known as the summer that I went corn crazy.

I have always loved fresh corn off the cob, but the corn here in the midwest tastes so much fresher and sweeter than my corn from Texas that I can’t help but make dinner after dinner with corn. Originally, these stuffed peppers came out of necessity when I was cleaning out the fridge and pantry before we moved here, and they turned out to be better than I even expected and have been repeated multiple times.

These area  great vegetarian main dish for dinner, and serve as great leftovers for lunch the next day. And they keep my cravings for corn temporarily at bay. So this dish is a winner all around.

CORN AND RICE STUFFED PEPPERS

INGREDIENTS

4-5 poblano peppers
Salt and pepper
1 cup dried brown rice
1 tablespoon butter
4 green onions, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
2-3 ears of corn
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
1/3 cup and 3 tablespoons grated parmesan

DIRECTIONS

Heat grill to medium-high heat. Place poblano peppers on grill and cook until blackened and charred, about 4-5 minutes per side. Place poblanos immediately into a ziploc bag and seal. Let sit for 20-30 minutes. Remove peppers and peel skin off. Make a cut into on side of the pepper length wise. Remove seeds and membranes. Set aside.

Preheat broiler.

Cook rice according to instructions. Heat butter in a large skillet. Sauté green onions and garlic over medium-high heat until fragrant, about 3-5 minutes. Stir in rice and corn. Stir in 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese and season with salt and pepper. Spoon filling into peppers. Place in baking pan.

Stir bread crumbs, salt, pepper, and 3 tablespoons grated Parmesan. Sprinkle bread crumbs on top and brush with olive oil. Put into oven for 5 minutes (watch carefully so it does not burn).

Recipe from Cinnamon Freud.

Corn and Jalapeno Pizza

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Pizza, both in regular form and quesadilla form, have become a staple around here for dinner. N (the bf) is pizza-obsessed, and would be content eating cheese or pepperoni pizza two to three times a week.

Now I thought I was an avowed pizza-lover, but I am not coming close to him. Although he has insulted my pizza sauce (the sauce my mother makes mind you!), I try to work in pizza every-so-often for dinner to keep his pizza cravings met. Where we get in to trouble is his traditionalist vs. my funky toppings view. This pizza recipe is where N and I meet in the middle. It is not your typical pizza with tomato sauce and cheese, but it’s nothing crazy like blue cheese or pineapple.

This pizza is perfect to make during the summer with fresh sweet corn, but frozen corn can work as well. It’s a good mix of cool and sweet from the corn and cheese and spicy from the jalapeños and pepper flakes. Grill it up or bake it in the oven, just make sure you make it!

CORN AND JALAPENO PIZZA
From Cinnamon Freud (dough recipe from my mom)

INGREDIENTS

For the dough:
2 1/4 teaspoons yeast (1 package)
1 cup warm water
Pinch of sugar
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon olive oil
Pinch of salt

For the pizza:
Cornmeal
2 cobs of corn, corn sliced off the cob
4 green onions, sliced
1 jalapeño, minced
4 to 6 ounces mozzarella, sliced or shredded
Red pepper flakes
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

DIRECTIONS

For the Dough:

In a bowl combine warm water, yeast, and sugar. Let sit for 10 minutes, until yeast begins to foam. Combine yeast mixture, flour, olive oil, and salt. Stir with a wooden spoon. Transfer dough to a floured surface. Knead for 5-10 minutes until dough is elastic.

Coat bowl with oil. Place dough in bowl. Covers and keep in a warm place until dough doubles in size, about 30 to 45 minutes.

For the Pizza:

Preheat one as high as it will go (around 450-500 degrees). Warm pizza stone, if using. Roll out dough to size of pan. Sprinkle pan with cornmeal and transfer dough to pan.

Spread olive oil on crust with brush. Top pizza with corn, green onions, jalapeño, and mozzarella. Season with salt and pepper. Bake until pizza crust is browned and cheese is melted, about 10 minutes (Depending on temperature of oven). Sprinkle red pepper flakes on top. Slice and serve.

 

Feta Dip

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Dips are just the best. A dinner of dip(s) a great, easy (and usually oven-less) summer dinner, and that is exactly what I did with this feta dip. I had eaten some feta dip at a get together a few weeks ago, and ever since I have been hell-bent on re-creating it at home.

This dip was particularly great outside on a hot day with a margarita. A highly recommended combination. Or any dip with a margarita.

If you will now excuse me, I have a whole bowl of it in the fridge just calling my name for dinner. And it’s all for me since I am the only feta-lover in this household.

FETA DIP

INGREDIENTS

4-6 cloves of garlic, minced
4 tablespoons olive oil
8 ounces feta cheese, room temperature
4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/2-3/4 cup sour cream
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup chopped chives
1/2 lemon, juiced
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Cayenne pepper, to taste

DIRECTIONS

Heat olive oil in small saucepan over medium-high heat. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 3-4 minutes. Set aside and let cool.

In a bowl, break up feta cheese into small pieces (you can also use a food processor as well). Mix in cream cheese, sour cream, and mayonnaise until combined. Stir in garlic olive oil, chives, lemon juice, black pepper, and cayenne pepper. Adjust seasoning to taste. Let sit in fridge at least 1 hour, preferably overnight to let the flavors develop. Serve chilled or at room temperature with Pita chips or vegetables.

Recipe from Cinnamon Freud.

Fig and Walnut Empanadas

2-17 Fig and Walnut Empanadas

Food cravings- I get them all the time. Sometimes I crave a salad, or some veggies, and that is great- my body thirsts for nutrition when I deprive it too long. And sometimes I just need some chocolate, red meat, or salty potato chips. Fine too, a little snacking and indulgence never hurt anyone. But the worst cravings are when I crave food I ate in another city. I’m looking at you, beaver tails

Well, practically every time I head home to Houston, I stop at this amazing empanada place. In fact, last trip, it was the first stop in town. I was grouchy and “witchy” after a long drive home, but all that grumpiness melted away as we stopped and I took my first bite into my empanada.

But what’s a girl to do when she is grumpy at home with no empanadas to listen the mood? Well, make her own! The emapanda dough I use is quick to whip up, only takes a little chill time the refrigerator, and is very easy to work with. Cheese and fig may seem weird, but think of it as a warm cheese plate wrapped in pastry dough. It just works. Then dollop some of your favorite fillings, bake, and devour.

FIG AND WALNUT EMPANADAS
Inspired by Marini’s Empanada House

INGREDIENTS

For the Crust:

1/2 cup water
5 ounces butter
1 1/3 cup all purpose flour
Pinch of salt

For the Empanadas:
3/4 cup fig preserves
1/2 cup chopped walnits
3-5 ounces fresh mozzarella, shredded

DIRECTIONS

For the Crust:

In a small saucepan combine water and butter. Heat over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until butter is melted.

In a bowl combine flour and salt. Slowly pour in butter mixture, stirring with a wooden spoon until a wet, oily paste forms. Pour dough onto a sheet of cling wrap. Wrap cling wrap around dough, forming into a disk. Chill for at least 1 1/2 hours, preferably 2 hours.

For the Empanadas:

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Divide the dough into 20-25 small equal pieces. On a lightly floured surface, roll each piece into a 4-5 inch circle. Place about 2 teaspoons of fig preserves in the center of each piece of dough. Sprinkle walnuts and mozzarella cheese on top. Fold over the dough tightly, forming a half moon shape. Crimp closed with a fork.

Place on lined baking sheet. Freeze for 15 minutes. Bake for 18-25 minutes, until golden brown. Let cool slightly before eating.

**To reheat, I have found the empanadas still get a crispy shell when you bake as directed above, let cool and store at room temperature, and reheat for 5-7 minutes at 400°F.

Makes 20-25 empanadas.

Huevos Motuleños

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I can get tired of eating the same food over and over. Not other people though it seems. My sister typically rotates between cooking 1-3 meals for herself, and my boyfriend literally asks to eat pizza for dinner every other day.

But I need variety in life. Except when it comes to Tex-Mex. I could eat chips and queso, enchiladas, nachos, and tacos all week long. Pair it with a frozen margarita and that’s even better. There is so much variety even within Tex Mex that I can be satisfied, but the familiar base of cheese, spicy sauces, and salsa is the best.

When I saw this recipe on The Chew, I knew I had to make it. Now, this is not a quick 30 minute dinner. It has several steps and involves frying, which means you got to clean up oil (Ugh. The worst). But the flavor is great- crunchy, spicy, creamy, and rich. It is a great homemade meal when you want to cook something special for your Tex-Mex.

HUEVOS MOTULEÑOS
Adapted from Mario Batali at The Chew

INGREDIENTS

Olive oil
1/2 onion, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
Salt and pepper
1/4 pound Chorizo (not in casings)
2 tomatoes, chopped
1 1/2 – 2 cups refried beans
1 plaintain & 1/2 cup light brown sugar, optional
6-8 small flour tortillas
Canola oil, for deep frying
3-4 eggs
Avocado, sliced
Cojita cheese, crumbled

DIRECTIONS

Coat a large skillet in olive oil. Heat over medium high heat. Add onion and garlic and cook for 3-5 minutes. Season slightly with salt and pepper. Stir in Chorizo and cook until browned, about 3-5 more minutes. Stir in tomatoes. Remove and drain excess oil from mixture.

For optional plaintains: Slice plaintains. Coat plantain slices in brown sugar. Heat a large skillet over medium high heat coated well with olive oil. Fry plantain slices until golden brown. Remove from pan and set aside.

Pour 1/2-1 inch of oil into a skillet. Heat over medium heat until oil is approximately 300°F. Place tortillas in oil one at a time and fry each side until golden brown, about 1 minute per side. Drain on paper towels. Set aside and keep warm (can be kept warm in a 200°F oven but keep your eye on them to make sure they don’t burn).

Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Coat pan with olive oil. Crack eggs individually into pan (be careful not to over crowd eggs- work in batches if needed) and fry eggs for 1-2 minutes. Flip eggs (carefully to avoid breaking yolks) and cook an additional 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat.

To assemble Huevos Motuleños:

Place a fried flour tortilla on a plate. Spread refried beans on top. Spoon chorizo filling on top. Sprinkle cojita cheese and avocado slices on top. Top with additional fried tortilla, if desired. Top with fried egg. Serve with fried plantains, if using.

Baked Fontina

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Oh, cheese. Glorious, glorious cheese.

Some days you really just need some bread with some warm melty cheese on top. This is a simple appetizer and/pr meal for one that will be warm and filling. Perfect for a romantic Valentine’s Day in.  Warm cheese, bread for dipping- that is true love.

BAKED FONTINA
Barely Adapted from Ina Garten

INGREDIENTS

1/2 pound fontina cheese, cut in 1 inch cubes
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil

DIRECTIONS

Preheat the broiler.

Grease a 9 inch square cast iron pan. Toss cheese in pan in a somewhat equal layer. Season with salt, pepper,thyme, and garlic. Drizzle olive oil on top. Broil for 6-8 minutes, until bubbly. Let cool slightly. Serve with crusty bread family style.

Serves 4 as an appetizer.