Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Cherry Chicken Chipotle Quesadillas with Cherry Salsa


The picture above is Lake Chelan in Washington State. Our RV travels took us all the way west to this beautiful part of the country. Unfortunately, smoke from Canadian forest fires blew down to us and it gave a hazy quality to all the views.  It was still pretty though and we enjoyed seeing the Grand Coulee Dam, the German town of Leavenworth  and the bustle of Seattle. The Lake Chelan area is known for orchards that produce peaches, cherries, apples, and apricots. Roadside fruit stands sold all that luscious stuff and more; tomatoes and veggies were offered as well. Of course we stopped and had to buy our share! We loved munching on the dark sweet cherries right out of hand, but I also remembered a savory recipe, Cherry Chicken Chipotle Quesadillas, I had forgotten about. In fact it's buried deep in this blog's archives but is so delicious I'm giving it new life by posting it again. It's easy enough to cook on a motor home stove and Roy and I thoroughly enjoyed it as a hot lunch vs. our usually sandwiches. We loved the Cherry Salsa as a condiment to the quesadillas but it's great as a dip with taco chips.



Chicken Cherry Chipotle Quesadillas: Serves Four

 

2 cups cooked, chopped chicken breasts

2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese

1/2 cup cherries, red or yellow or both - pitted and roughly chopped OR 1/4 cup dried cherries

1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions

1 tablespoon chopped cilantro

1 teaspoon ground chipotle pepper

1/2 teaspoon salt

4 large or 8 medium flour tortillas

2 to 4 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil



Mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl.


Brush the bottom side of half of the tortillas with oil and place them down on foil covered work surface.


Divide the chicken mixture between the tortillas and spread out evenly.


Cover each quesadilla with a second tortilla and brush with oil.


Carefully transfer to either foiled covered baking sheet or large frying pan:


These can be baked at 350 degrees for about 10 to 15 minutes, until cheese melts out.


Or, cook in medium low heat in a frying pan for 7 minutes a side.


If  I am making a large quesadilla, I actually invert a plate over the top of the skillet. Then I flip the pan over so the tortilla lands on the plate. I carefully slide the uncooked side back in the pan.




Cherry Salsa


1 1/2 cups pitted and chopped fresh cherries - red, yellow or mixture of both

1/4 cup chopped dried cherries (optional)

1 tablespoon chopped jalapeno pepper

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1 tablespoon chopped cilantro

2 tablespoons chopped red onions

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons lemon juice - to taste according to sweetness of cherries using


Put all ingredients in a pan, bring them to a boil, turn down the heat to low, simmer for about 10 minutes. Allow to cool and serve as a condiment to quesadilla or as a dip with taco chips.












Friday, July 28, 2017

Orzo Salad






Our meandering summer RV travels took us to beautiful Montana this week. Besides the trill of seeing some of the most beautiful scenery in the world (honestly), we got to visit with our friends Jim and Carol. They are the type of people that never slow down; countless friends, activities, and family keep them extremely busy. When Carol invited us for dinner, I wanted to bring something that would make cooking the meal just a bit easier for her. But - I had another motive too. I had been craving the orzo salad I served at the brunch the day after Caroline's wedding. It was one of the things I had ordered from Market District, a grocery store chain that makes really yummy carry-out food. In my attempt to duplicate their Mediterranean Orzo Salad, I searched the internet and found one recipe that called for five pounds of uncooked orzo which would have resulted in 60 servings! Carol was only hosting six people, so I reduced the portions and substituted some ingredients. Roy really liked it - especially the next day - and gave me the nod to put it on the blog. Since it avoids a mayonnaise dressing, I think it would be great to take to a summertime pitch - in.




Mediterranean Orzo Salad - Serves Twelve 


Ingredients:



1 pound uncooked orzo
2 cups fresh spinach leaves
1 1/4 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
1 cup feta cheese, divided
1 cup cucumbers, chopped
1/2 cup kalamata olives, sliced and pitted
1/2 cup garbanzo beans
1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
1/2 cup canned quartered artichoke hearts, rinsed and drained
Heaping 1/4 cup diced red onion
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
3 garlic cloves, minced or put through a press
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes


Directions:





Cook the orzo according to package directions.

Set the spinach aside.

In a large bowl, combine the cooked orzo, olives, cherry tomatoes, 1/2 cup feta cheese, cucumber, garbanzo beans, red bell pepper, artichoke hearts, and red onion.

Whisk the olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, Parmesan cheese, garlic salt, oregano, black pepper, and red pepper flakes together. Pour over the orzo mixture and gently toss.


Just before serving:




Gently toss in the fresh spinach leaves.

Then sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup of feta cheese over the top of the salad.



Monday, July 10, 2017

A Taste of Honey Fruit Salad

Mint, ginger and lime combine with honey to add a bit of refreshing but tangy sweetness.


Mist rose up from the lake in the cool early morning; later this Ozark camp setting turned wicked hot.


Last week Roy and I had the privilege of working at a church camp in Lebanon, Missouri to help pay the tuition for one of our Sunday School kids back home. As we have always found, when we volunteer, we are the ones who seem to reap benefits. We loved the beautiful setting, the wonderful people we worked with, and the experience that an angel would whisper a solution in our ears when we didn't quite know how to fix something! 


One of the families we worked with was from Florida. Besides working and raising a busy family of three daughters, they also raise bees, harvest and package the honey, and then sell it. Thaddeus, the dad, held a little tasting and explained some things to us about honey.


Not all honeys were created equal! Notice the difference in color?


I was surprised to learn that most of the honey we buy in stores comes from China but it can also contain honey from the Ukraine, Argentina, and Brazil. But what really shocked me was that the Chinese honey is so filtered that every bit of pollen is gone from it and up to 12% of it is allowed to be corn syrup. That means that all the health benefits that it is supposed to have are gone from the honey bought from a regular store like Walmart.


Thaddeus said that honey really does vary in taste according to what kind of flowers the bees are located around. He had some amazing tasting honey he called "Fire Tower Palmetto". He moved some of his hives to an area that had a recent wild fire and the only plants that had blooms were palmettos.


Now I understand why buying local honey from small batch producers is so important. However, Thaddeus told us that labeling honey as organic is really a falsehood. No one can tell where exactly a bee will fly off to before returning to a hive and bees often travel several miles more than bee keepers realize. 


After tasting five different kinds of honey we bought a couple of jars and I had to post this yummy fruit salad which uses honey in its zesty dressing.


For more information on  Penfield Honey Company and how to order their honey  Click Here. 



A Taste of Honey Fruit Salad

Ingredients:

6-8 cups fresh fruit, cubed (mango, cantaloupe, red or green grapes, blueberries, watermelon, pineapple) 
2 tablespoons fresh ginger root, minced 
2 tablespoons lime juice 
1 teaspoon lime zest, finely grated 
¼ cup honey 
¼ cup fresh mint leaves, chopped
A sprig or two of mint leaves 

Directions:

     Whisk ginger, lime zest, lime juice, and honey in a small bowl.  Set aside.  Mix assorted fruits and chopped mint in a large bowl.  Add dressing and toss to coat. Garnish with mint sprigs.



Thursday, May 25, 2017

Curried Broccoli Salad with Dried Cranberries, Walnuts, Pepitas, & Sunflower Seeds


There are plenty of raw broccoli salad recipes out there, but I like this one best. It's got curry powder and a sweet/tangy thing going on that I can't resist. A lighter version can be made by substituting olive oil for the mayonnaise and increasing the apple cider vinegar. It's even further variable because it can be loaded up with other options such as dried fruit, nuts, and raisins. Once I even threw a 1/2 cup of trail mix in and everyone loved it! This winter when we were RVing it down in Florida, it was my standard pitch-in offering. And, embarrassing but true, once I had such a bad craving for it, I actually made it in the motor home while Roy was driving 70 plus mph! 


Ingredients:



1 large head of broccoli
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup walnut pieces
1/4 cup pepitas 
1/4 cup unsalted sunflower seeds
Optional add-ins: 1/4 cup each of dried apple pieces, regular and/or golden raisins, almonds 


Combine together in large bowl.


For the Dressing:


1 cup mayonnaise
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons curry powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

*Lighter dressing: sub 1/2 cup olive oil & 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar for top 2 ingredients


Mix together until smooth.


Pour just enough dressing over broccoli mixture to coat.


Place in a serving bowl and enjoy.




Saturday, May 13, 2017

Say Hello to the Queen!



The other day I was scrolling through WordPress Reader, looking at posts of blogs I follow, when a "suggested" one popped up. It was actually a political rant from England, but it mentioned a dessert I'd never heard of before: Hello to the Queen. The narrative suggested that it was well known so I Googled it. It turns out it's a dish that served in the touristy places where backpackers in India hang out. I searched a bit and found it mentioned in a handful of blogs such as Salad Days. The consensus seemed to be that once a guy from Israel asked for all the ingredients in this sundae  - only in huge amounts. He put it all together and gave it a grand name. Other travelers thought it looked pretty good and so it became a common request along the hiking circuit in India. As far as I could tell it always has a base of a broken up Digestive brand biscuit or a graham cracker square, followed by warm chocolate sauce, caramelized bananas, vanilla ice cream, and finished with whipped cream. I read that some include chocolate chips, nuts, and even marshmallows - so I think anything goes.  It's so easy kids can make it if an adult helped them with the caramelized bananas.  Below is a no frills recipe for caramelizing the bananas as well as the steps in assembling this super easy glorified banana split.


Easy Caramelized Bananas  



Place 1/4 cup butter, 1/4 cup brown sugar and a couple bananas that have been cut in half and then lengthwise into a stick proof skillet. Gently give just a stir or two while the butter and sugar melt over medium high heat.  



Let the banana pieces sit undisturbed in the melted mixture for about 5 minutes a side or until they are lightly browned. Be careful when turning the banana piece over so it will stay together. 


Directions for Assembling Hello to the Queen:









Break up a Digestive biscuit or graham cracker square in the bottom of each serving bowl.





Drizzle one tablespoon of  warm chocolate sauce over the biscuit.




Add two caramelized banana slices to each bowl.





Set a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top.




                 

 

 Heap on the whipped cream.





Drizzle another tablespoon of chocolate sauce over the top and dig in!

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

David's Key Lime Pie with a Chocolate Crust





One of the best things about spending time in Southwest Florida is key lime pie. During my time there this winter, it was definitely my dessert of choice and I sampled lots of different varieties. Some were like cheese cake, others were frozen, and one was even blended with mango. However, this version won out because of the sheer boldness of pairing something tangy with an Oreo cookie crust. I got this recipe from Roy's childhood Sunday school/high school pal, Judy. She is a petite ball of energy with a huge heart. Her husband David developed this amazing dessert by using key limes right from a tree in their yard. Besides being a whole lot smaller and and a little bit harder to juice than regular limes, key limes seem to be tarter as well. I bet regular lime juice could be substituted, but the result might be less tangy. What ever juice is used, the first bite of the resulting pie will conjure up images of palm trees, sandy beaches, and endless summer! Enjoy! 


Ingredients:


3 egg yolks
1 egg
1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
Juice from about 18 key limes (1/2 cup), or Nellies brand key lime juice
Oreo cookie pie shell
Whipped cream or Cool Whip
Extra lime slices for garnish

Directions:



Using electric mixture, combine all ingredients together for 3 to 4 minutes. 



Pour into Oreo cookie pie shell, Bake at 325 degrees for 25 minutes.



Let cool, then place in refrigerator to chill. Garnish with lime slices. Serve with whipped cream.



Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Lamb Lollipops with Lemon Yogurt Sauce



Last December we had the wonderful experience of exploring the South Island of New Zealand with two of our daughters. It is an understatement to say it is breathtakingly beautiful! In the Down-under, our winter is their summer and they were just coming out of spring when we were there at Christmas time. We found ourselves traveling from Dunedin to the old mining town of Cardrona on Christmas Eve. Since all the stores would be closed the next day, we stopped at a grocery along the way and I found a package of lamb lollipops that had been price reduced for a quick sale. This was a real find because, as it was explained to me, lamb in New Zealand is priced even higher than in the states due to the fact that most of it is exported. I fixed the recipe posted here on Christmas day and it was so, so delicious! Now that we are home and it is spring time, I found myself craving some lamb lollipops! Once again I lucked out and found it at Sam's Club for five dollars a pound (again reduced for quick sale). However, I had to do the lollipop prep myself. I just sliced the rack into chops and scraped the flesh on the bone downward to fashion out a rounded shape at the bottom. "They" say that marinated meat in citrus is a no-no, but in this case the combination of lemon, rosemary, and garlic with the flavor of the lamb is fantastic!


Ingredients and Procedure for Lamb Lollipops and Lemon Yogurt Sauce - Servers 4 to 6


2 pounds Frenched lamb rack
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 garlic cloves put through press or 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon fresh chopped rosemary or 1 teaspoon dried
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
3/4 cup Greek yogurt

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Remove lamb rack from package, slice into chops by cutting between bones, and push down flesh so remaining bone looks like a lollipop stick. Place in an oven safe baking dish.


Whisk together oil, lemon juice, garlic, rosemary, salt, and pepper. Set aside 2 tablespoons of the mixture. Pour remaining marinade over the lamb in the baking dish.



Bake 20 minutes if chops are less than an inch thick. If the chops are larger, bake 10 to 20 minutes longer. Internal Fahrenheit  temperature will be 145 for rare, 160 for medium, 170 for well done. 



Stir the 2 tablespoons of set aside marinade into the yogurt until well combined.


Serve the lamb lollipops with the lemon yogurt sauce on the side.