Monday, July 19

quesadillas. a tutorial.

this is for hallie and macey.
serves 1
2 good tortillas 
a big handful of grated cheese {monterey jack is usually what you find in mexican food quesadillas but any cheese is good. feta, cheddar, parmesan... use whatever you have}
shredded chicken from a rotisserie chicken
or rinsed and drained black beans from a can of black beans
or some chopped baby spinach
1 tablespoon of butter
tools needed:
a skillet {non-stick is easier to deal with, but i think regular skillets make better quesadillas}
a spatula {any kind will work. i use a wide, rubber spatula}
a pizza cutter is recommended
heat the skillet on medium high on the stove top, about a 7. on a plate or cutting board assemble your quesadilla, layering half the cheese on one tortilla, adding beans, meat or whatever else, then sprinkle the rest of the cheese. it's ok if it seems full, when the cheese melts, it won't be. leave a little border around the edge of the tortilla so the cheese doesn't ooze out while it's cooking. and top with the other tortilla. 
place the butter in the skillet and swirl the pan or stir it around until it melts. when the butter starts bubbling a bit, place your quesadilla in the pan. as that one side cooks, press down on the top tortilla with your fingers, especially around the edges, this will make it easier to flip. cook about 2-3 min, or until the bottom starts looking crisp and brown in spots.
then flip. slide a spatula under it, hold it with the top with your hand and flip in one quick motion. if it splatters or the tortilla folds it's ok, fix it. it may be messy but it will still taste good. press down a bit with your fingers and cook 2-3 min on this side, till tortilla is brown in spots. remove, allow to cool and cut. i think it's easiest to cut quesadillas with a pizza cutter.

{to make it extra good, and to be sure the second side doesn't stick, you could take the quesadilla out, place another tablespoon of butter to melt in the pan, then flip it.}

good luck!

Sunday, July 11

cilantro pesto & the grown up gringo's green chicken tenders

pat on the back for creativity.

the grown up gringo's green chicken tenders with cilantro ranch dip
serves 2
for this recipe you’ll need a skillet with a lid and i used a non-stick one.
2 T. butter
2 T. olive oil
2 chicken breasts cut in half lengthwise into strips and pounded into even thickness
3 tomatillos, roughly chopped
1/3 - 1/2 c. corona beer
1 c. flour + seasoning salt + onion powder + cumin + paprika
1/4 c. cilantro pesto, see recipe below
1/4 c. ranch dressing
marinate chicken breasts in 3 T. cilantro pesto, coated evenly, for at least 1 hour. 
combine remaining pesto with ranch dressing to make cilantro ranch dip. to taste.
heat butter and oil in skillet to medium high until bubbly. dredge pesto covered chicken cutlets in seasoned flour and brown in skillet about 4 minutes each side. remove from pan. add tomatillos to pan and cook, stirring occasionally till browned and softened, about 3 minutes. add beer to skillet, reduce heat a bit, and stir till reduced to about half the original amount. return chicken to pan and cover, cooking about 3 minutes on each side or until internal temperature reaches 170.
serve with cooked tomatillos, saucy bits from the pan and chopped avocado. spoon cilantro ranch dip over tenders or serve on the side. would also be good with this.
{cilantro pesto}
yields approx. 1/4 c.
4 c. cilantro leaves (the leaves from 2 bundles of cilantro)
1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped
1-2 T. olive oil
1 T. cumin
3/4 T. garlic powder
1 T. white sugar
combine all ingredients in food processor. freezes well.

this pan cooked chicken, albeit confusing with its mexican flavors, turned out really good and helped me use up some cilantro pesto i'd made last week, with no clear intention regarding its usage. this was also my first time cooking with tomatillos, and i thought the way the beer cooked and caramelized them was SO yummy. they were sweet and a little spicy at the same time. awesome. 

cooking smaller pieces of chicken in the skillet helps everything stay crispy and flavorful. i think a non stick skillet with a lid is the best way to cook chicken here in our grill-less apartment life.

Sunday, July 4

spinach pesto provolone pizza

I promise I make more than pizza. Taylor really liked this variation, so even though I've posted lots of pizza recipes, I figured this would be worth sharing. I bought pesto in bulk the other day from Costco and divided it up into about 1/2 c. portions to freeze. Now I take one out whenever I want to make anything with pesto! So glorious.

spinach pesto provolone pizza 
dough adapted from Smitten Kitchen
1 1/4 cup all purpose flour + 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon instant yeast
1/2 cup warm water (may need up to 1 or 2 tablespoons more)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon honey
1/3 c. grated colby jack cheese
3 T grated provolone cheese {I ripped up a large, thick slice intended for sandwich making}
1/4 c. pesto
1/4 c. finely chopped spinach
garlic powder
cracked black pepper
Measure flour in a large bowl, make an indentation and measure the yeast and salt. Pour warm water water over the mix and stir lightly until yeast and salt are dissolved. Add honey and olive oil, stirring entire mixture. Mix in mixer with dough hook for about 5 minutes, adding more flour if too sticky, until dough forms a ball and pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Or knead by hand, 8 minutes or so until a piece of it stretches in your hand without breaking. 

Dough should be stretchy and not easily break when pulled but should not be sticky or get stuck easily on your hands. If it doesn't stretch and is too firm, thick feeling after kneading for a while, add a tiny bit of water. If it's too sticky after kneading for a while, add more flour. Kneading introduces air to the dough and builds up gluten, it's really hard to over knead so once it's the right feeling, knead two min or so more.

Lightly oil a bowl with cooking spray (you can use the same rinsed one you made the dough in) Dump in the dough, turn it over so all sides are coated, cover it in a cotton dishtowel leave it undisturbed for about two hours (ideally in a warm, undrafty place) until it has doubled in size. To speed up this process you can also place in an oven on 150 and it should double in size in an hour. It's ready when two fingers pressed firmly leave an indentation and the dough does not bounce back into shape.*

Oven to 500. Stretch dough out thinly into desired shape on pizza pan or cookie sheet. Should make a circle at least 14 inches in diameter (depending on how long it's had to rise) Spread pesto, sprinkle spinach, top with cheeses. Sprinkle garlic powder over all, generously on the crust. Bake 8-10 minutes until crust is lightly browned. Sprinkle freshly ground cracked black pepper over warm cheese.

*I usually double this dough and after the rise, divide it in half and freeze half in a well sealed freezer ziploc. Once I'm ready to use I let it thaw either in the fridge or on the counter until I'm ready to use it. Once it's thawed in the fridge or even at room temperature, it's still sort of rising so keep that in mind. Roll it out a bit more thinly if it's had lots of time to thaw then rise and it may make a thicker crust. ...but it can't ever really be messed up!