Italian Quesadilla

One of the things Jeremiah and I really enjoy doing is wine tasting. We like to go on little day trips as well as while we are on vacation. A few of our favorite places are Somerset Ridge (just past the Louisburg Cider Mill on the Miami County Wine Trail), Van Till Winery and Family Farm (great wood-fired pizzas on the weekends just outside of Excelsior Springs), and Windy Wine Company (east of St. Joseph off Hwy 36). Another little winery in downtown Weston actually got us to join their wine club.

IMG_0247The first winery Jeremiah and I visited together was Pirtle Winery – located in a historic church just off Main Street. Downtown Weston has lots of great shops. I love the community food pantry and charming kitty cat outside the photography shop. This little town really isn’t any bigger than where I grew up but really developed tourism around wine tasting, local food, unique shops, and B&B stays. Once a quarter, the Weston Wine Company host their monthly book club…aka an excuse to drink wine and pick-up your free bottle. In August, the book featured was “What to Eat with What You Drink.” You don’t need to buy or even read the book, they give you the Cliff IMG_0295Notes version during the event. Since the book was about pairings, they had matched each of their wines with a recipe. One of our favorites was the Italian Quesadilla served with a semi-sweet red (Radiant Cut Wine). At the winery, they sell a pepperoni cheese. I told Jeremiah that I thought we should buy a block and use it with fresh basil. Jeremiah says that kicked it up a bit. This is our take on this non-traditional quesadilla.

Italian Quesadilla by Weston Wine Company (modified by Amber Bourek Slater)
IMG_03191 lb. ground Italian sausage (we used Scimeca’s turkey sausage)
1 apple (red preferred)
Fresh basil
Grated Parmesan cheese
Shredded mozzarella cheese (or pepperoni cheese if you can find it)
Flour tortilla shells (we like high fiber Mission shells)

Dice the apple. Cook the ground sausage and apple. Cover half a tortilla shell with sausage mixture, basil, and cheeses. Fold over. Cook on medium for 3 minutes. Flip and cook an additional 1 ½ minutes (or until golden brown).

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Cheesy Garlic Crescent Rolls

The other night, we made Lobster Ravioli with these tasty rolls. Our entire dinner was done in less than 30 minutes. Leftover rolls were also tasty.

fullsizerender-11Cheesy Garlic Crescent Rolls from Pinterest
1 can refrigerated crescent rolls
4 pieces mozzarella string cheese
2 T. melted butter
1 tsp. garlic bread seasoning

Cut each cheese in half. Open can of crescent rolls and separate into 8 triangles. Place a piece of cheese on each triangle and roll up. Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with seasoning. Bake at 375 degrees for 15-18 minutes.

Note: Jeremiah created his own Italian seasoning topping instead. It was delicious.

Guacamole

Five weeks ago, I married the love of my life in a small but beautiful ceremony. Although our original plan was to go to St. Kitts. Then, the Zika virus happened. We decided we want to either stay in the states or head up north to Canada. We settled upon San Antonio, Texas. Why? We had never been and read lots of things that said it was a must visit destination.

Jeremiah and I are planners. Unfortunately, wedding planning and out of town travel for work left us heading to San Antonio without a plan. When we arrived, our first stop was a great little restaurant called Magnolia Pancake Haus. OMG – that side order of pancakes was the best pancakes I’ve ever had. It was so good, we went back one more time and even purchased a bottle of their homemade syrup to take home.

All the food we ate on our honeymoon was amazing. We loved the Hearthstone Bakery Café, Tycoon Flats, Franks, Gruene River Mill, and Guenther House. But Boudros Texas Bistro on the Riverwalk makes the most amazing table side guacamole I’ve ever had. And Jeremiah and I thought we love Chipotle’s guac until we tasted this dish. Lucky for us, we were able to find this recipe online. My husband made it two weeks ago for dinner and I’m roasting the ingredients right now so we can have it for dinner with Skinny Chipotle Cilantro Rice and Carne Asada (cooking in the crockpot as I type this post). Note – the secret ingredient here is fruit squeezed orange juice.

IMG_0971Boudro’s Famous Guacamole
1 orange
2 limes
4-6 avocados
1 roma tomato, roasted and diced
2 serrano pepper, roasted, seeded, and diced
4 T. red onion, diced
½ c. fresh cilantro, chopped
1 tsp. sea salt
1 garlic clove, chopped

Squeeze orange and lime juice into a bowl. Scoop out avocados and add to the bowl. Add tomato, peppers, onion, garlic, and cilantro. Fold into avocado. Add salt to taste.

Notes:

  • Results should be more or cut together than mashed. Our server just used the two knifes she cut everything open with.
  • This makes 6-8 serving. Since guacamole gets brown so quickly, we half this recipe.

Cranberry Orange Sauce

I know all of you are frantically planning your Thanksgiving dinners. A few weeks ago, my boyfriend and I took a class at the Culinary Center of Kansas City. It was the second class we had taken there. The theme for the class was “Everything But the Bird.” At the end of the class, Jeremiah and I were ready to cook fresh dishes for our families. I made this one up today. My teacher served it over cheese and crackers. I bet it would also be good on a post Thanksgiving turkey sandwich. Super easy so I hope you will give it a try.

Cranberry sauceCranberry Orange Sauce with Apricots by Rachel Ciordas
12 oz. fresh cranberries
½ c. dried apricots, chopped
½ c. unsweetened applesauce
½ c. orange juice
¼ c. fruit preserves

Combine all ingredients and cook over a medium-high heat until cranberries pop (about 10 minutes). Cool and serve at room temperature.

Notes:

  • I used apricot preserves.
  • You can use frozen cranberries. I got these on sale last week for $.98 at Sprouts. I threw a bag in the freezer to cook up this recipe again. 

Hummus

Olympic Men’s Figure Skating Medalist Brian Boitano was on Rachael Ray promoting his cookbook. Who know he loved to cook. A woman in the audience asked what his favorite snack was and he said it he would whip it up for her. Of course, Rachael wasn’t sure if they would have all the ingredients. Sure enough, she did. Here is a quick hummus recipe packed with all the fiber benefits of beans.

HummusGarlicky Whole Bean Artichoke Dip by Brian Boitano
1/3 c. olive oil
1 (15 oz.) can of cannellini beans, drained
1 (15 oz.) can of artichoke hearts, drained
Juice of a lemon
2-3 garlic cloves
salt and pepper

Blend and serve. This recipe is good with wheat crackers, pretzel chips, and zucchini.

Notes:

  • I used a smaller jar of artichokes and it turned out fine.
  • I used bottle lemon juice and jarred garlic.

Heart Healthy Chicken Quesadilla

Recently, I spoke at Heritage United Methodist Church about hunger. For lent, they are doing a huge food drive for where I work. At the end of the presentation, they gave me a thank you gift that included a church cookbook. As you know, I love these cookbooks because people always share their best recipes. Here is the first one I tried.

Heart Healthy Chicken Quesadilla Heart Healthy Chicken Quesadilla by Gina Gile
1 can reduced fat cream of chicken soup
2 c. chopped cooked chicken breast
¾ c. reduced fat Mexican style shredded cheese
¾ c. no fat sour cream
8-10 fat free tortillas or whole wheat tortillas

Mix first four ingredients in a bowl. Spread ¼ c. in a tortilla and fold over. Cook in a frying pan or George Foreman Grill. Top with salsa or guacamole.

Notes:

  • I halved the recipe.
  • I’m not a huge fan of Mexican cheese so I used 2% cheddar cheese.
  • I add some cilantro to the mix. Another option might be some veggie bacon.

Doritos Crusted Chicken Fingers

I like to buy Doritos occasionally when they are on sale to bake new recipes. This one is a great alternative to fried chicken. Quick, delicious, and healthier.

Doritos chicken stripsDoritos Crusted Chicken Fingers from Pinterest
4 chicken breast, cut into slices
1 bag of Doritos
2 c. buttermilk
2 c. flour
1 tsp. cayenne pepper (optional)
4 eggs

Place chicken in a gallon sized baggie and add buttermilk. Refrigerate for two hours. Food process Doritos. Place crushed Doritos in a shallow dish. In another dish, whisk eggs. In a third dish, pour flour and cayenne pepper. Line up dishes in this order: chicken, flour, eggs, and Doritos. Take chicken through each dish coating both sides. Place on a foil lined baking sheet. Cook at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes, turning halfway through.

Note:

  • I halved the recipe. I used probably about 1/4 to 1/3 of the bag of Doritos. It was just perfect for five chicken tenderloins.
  • I didn’t have time to coat the chicken after work so I put it in the bag of buttermilk to soak while I was at work. Great time saver.
  • I cooked for 20 minutes.
  • Cut calories by using egg substitute. Not sure how it would cook with Baked Doritos but I bet it would work too.

Festivus

What gets you in the holiday spirit? Is it watching that classic Seinfeld episode where we learn that Frank Costanza invented his own holiday entitled Festivus? Is it watching your favorite holiday movie? Is it shopping and wrapping presents?

I have always enjoyed listening to Christmas music while baking. In my college days, it meant staying up into the middle of the night baking Chocolate Crinkles, red and green colored Snickerdoodles, and Chex Mix.

Since I recently asked all my friends what their favorite Christmas songs are, I thought I would share a few of my favorites.

  • A Christmas Festival by The Boston Pops – I’m a sucker for classical music at the holidays. This song also reminds me of playing it when I was in the Wayne High School concert band.
  • Sleigh Ride – This song makes me think of The Northland Symphony Orchestra. I served on the board of directors for several years. Although I wasn’t able to make it to this year’s concert, I’m sure Jim Murray included this piece featuring the percussion auxiliary instruments of sleigh bells and the clapper.
  • Put a Little Love in Your Heart by Al Green and Annie Lennox – Ok, maybe it isn’t a traditional Christmas song but it is in the movie Scrooged. Although I was totally scared by it when I saw it in the movie theatre as a child, it was just one of the many holiday movies I’ve seen with my family. We usually go Thanksgiving weekend or Christmas Day to see a movie together.
  • Carol of the Bells by Mannheim Steamroller – Chip Davis, a fellow University of Nebraska-Lincoln alum, did a great job arranging this piece. It always makes me think of my Grandpa Fletcher. He is a huge fan of this group and a great lover of music.
  • Christmas/Sarahevo 12/24 by Trans-Siberian Orchestra – A few years ago, we went to one of their concerts for my mother’s birthday. Not only do they play cool Christmas music but they put on another show entirely of their non-Christmas stuff. I bet they played for three hours. You can catch them in Kansas City on December 22nd. But don’t forget to bring canned goods for Harvesters.
  • All I Want for Christmas is You by Mariah Carey – Sure, lots of artists put out Christmas albums remaking classics but Mariah invented a Christmas modern day classic.
  • Rocking Around the Christmas Tree by Brenda Lee – Doesn’t it make you want to reenact the puppet/record player scene from Home Alone?
  • You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch – It’s Dr. Seuss – enough said!
  • Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays by N’sync – It makes me wish all the boys would be joining JT when I see his tour next July.
  • O Holy Night from Home Alone – E.T., Indian Jones, The Boston Pops – I love John Williams. My sister and I were talking about although he will never be compared to the likings of Bach or Beethoven, his classic movie scores will probably go down in history as our generation’s contribution to musical history.

Like holiday music, no Christmas gathering would be complete without a cheese ball. I made this one for my Volunteer Services Team holiday party. It was a big hit served with Grinch drinks (Sprite and lime sherbet).

Peppermint Oreo Cheese BallPeppermint Cookie Cheese Ball from Pinterest
1 – 8 oz. cream cheese brick
1/2 c. softened butter
3 T. brown sugar
2/3 c. powder sugar
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 a bag mini-chocolate chips
Peppermint chips/peppermint bark/broken candy cane
5 holiday Oreos

Blend together cream cheese, butter, and vanilla. Then, add dry ingredients (except Oreos and peppermint). Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Then, roll in crushed Oreos and peppermint bark.

Serve with apples, graham crackers, Oreos, and pretzels.

Baked Garlic Cilantro Fries

I’ve figured out, I really can’t eat plain fries anymore. I recently took my nephew to BRGR and said “we should order the truffle fries”. As a 16 year old, I think he was a little scared because he asked if we could order regular fries. Although we intended to share, we both gravitated toward our personal picks. This is for my friends with adult palates.

Cilantro FriesBaked Garlic Cilantro Fries on Pinterest
2-3 potatoes
1 T. olive oil
1/8 to 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 to 1/2 tsp. sea salt
pepper
1/8 c. cilantro

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line cookie sheet with foil and place a wire cookie rack onto it. Cut potatoes and soak in cold water for a few minutes. Dry. Toss in olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Once fries are done, toss in cilantro.

Notes:

  • If you don’t use a wire rack, flip fries half way through baking.
  • Shortcut recipe, use coating on pre-made frozen fries. I baked 20 minutes and it was probably a little too long.

Bacon-Cheddar Pinwheels

One of my favorite recipes is for Canyon Chicken. This appetizer recipe reminded me of it. Super easy and very tasty.

Bacon-Cheese PinwheelsBacon-Cheddar Pinwheels by Pillsbury
1 can of Pillsbury refrigerated seamless crescent rolls
2 T. ranch dressing
1/4 c. crisp bacon
1/2 c. shredded Cheddar cheese
1/4 c. green onions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread out crescent rolls and brush with ranch dressing. Mix onions, cheese, and bacon together. Spread over crescent. Cut into four rectangles and roll length wise. Slice each into four pieces. Place on cookie sheet standing up. Bake for 12-17 minutes.

Nutrition Info: (16 servings, facts per serving) 80 calories (50 calories from fat), 6 g. fat (2 g. saturated fat,  1 g. trans. fat), 5 mg cholesterol, 180 mg. sodium, 6 g. carbs, 0 g. fiber, 1 g. sugar, and 2 g. protein.

Notes:

  • I used fat free ranch and reduced fat cheese.
  • I think you could easily substitute parsley for green onions.
  • You could also use pre-cooked bacon or veggie bacon to save some fat/calories.
  • Reduced fat crescent rolls are another great way to reduce fat and calories.