Tag Archives: quesadillas

Mango-Orange Chicken Thighs

28 Jan

Life in the kitchen has become a lot easier, now that Leandro has graduated to grown-up food.

Until recently, right about 5 p.m. I was getting flustered into throwing something fast and easy (and heavy on the carbs/cheese) in front of my imperious, hungry and persistent child. While he was already eating, I’d throw together a basic and boring salad or just cut a slice of cheese for myself or eat his leftovers and never actually sit. I’d perch on my chair in short spurts, just long enough to tell him to put his butt on the chair, use his fork, don’t wipe your hands on your shirt…blah, blah, blah, nag, nag, nag. Who would want to have dinner with that? Not me. And not him either, really.

So the boy’s new-found love for beef, chicken, and fish means I can spend a bit more time playing around with something we will both eat (and can make enough for next day leftovers.) do a quick veggie side and get to sit together in peace to eat and chat about the day.

Those succcessful family dinners are the moments — fleeting, but fulfilling — that I actually feel like I have a handle on life, the universe and everything, or at least I am not such a mom failure after all!

And this easy and cheap chicken thigh recipe is pretty representative of our new direction in dinner. It’s not much more involved than pan frying a couple of chicken pieces, but the mango-orange juice and sriracha makes it a tiny bit special.

You can leave out the corn starch if you don’t have any, but it does give the surface of the chicken a nice texture, sort of the avian equivalent of pasta al dente. You could also use chicken strips from breast, but thighs are the cheaper parts of the bird, and I find them to be more flavorful!

Mango-Orange Chicken Thighs

1 Tbs extra virgin olive oil

1 Tbs flour

1.2 tsp cornstarch

¼-1/2 tsp salt

Pepper to taste

1 egg

1.5 lbs boneless chicken thighs

1 medium onion, chopped fine

2 cloves garlic chopped fine

½ Cup mango-orange juice (or orange juice or mango juice)

1-2 Tbs cilantro, chopped

1 tsp sriracha or other hot pepper sauce

Heat olive oil in a pan big enough to hold all at medium until fragrant.

In a bowl, mix, flour, cornstarch, salt and pepper.  In another  bowl, lightly beat egg. Dip thighs in egg, then in flour mixture and coat.

Place chicken in pan and cook five to ten minutes on each side, until cooked through. Remove thighs and set aside.

To the same pan, add onion and stir to coat. Add garlic and stir to coat. Cook for a minute or two to soften, then add mango juice and cook until thickened slightly, about five minutes. Stir in cilantro and sriracha. Salt to taste.

Return chicken to pan, coat in sauce and cook for another five minutes (or until chicken is fully cooked). Cook longer and slower, adding water, for a shredded result.

Serve with rice, noodles, or on top of salad. Or shred for quesadillas.

Flex-Mex Shredded Chicken (one step, one pot) and easy red beans

29 Oct

I had about two pounds of boneless chicken breast defrosted and one of Leandro’s besties and his mom coming over for a congenial play date and dinner. I have the habit of fussing in the kitchen when they come over, as Amanda is an appreciative eater who likes to try new stuff. For the kids I usually make macaroni and cheese (from a box that — try not to roll your eyes — purports to be organic. Is this the foodie equivalent of ordering a bacon cheeseburger, fries and a diet Coke?)

This time, I wanted to be able to do more sitting and talking than mucking about with pots and pans. I don’t want my guests to be speaking to my back as I stir something on the stove and I just didn’t feel like making a second meal for the kids. I hate doing that, actually, but end up there more than I like to admit.

So this recipe — which I adapted from others I have done or read — was perfect. Just bung everything into a pot and a half hour later you have tasty, crowd-pleasing goodness that you can pile onto other Mexican-infused ingredients. On this occasion I made quick quesadillas with red beans (another one pot dish, see below) and Cheddar and Dominican white cheese which Leandro, Amanda and I ate, accompanied with avocado, cilantro and red onion. The revelation was Lucas, a bit more of a picky eater, who tasted the quesadilla (both the all-cheese just-in-case one and a chicken one) which by itself would’ve been cool, but who ended up loving the chicken on its own and eating several servings!

And yes, I sat – we all sat down to dinner together, in fact — and I didn’t fuss! Hurray!

Mexican-Style Shredded Chicken

2 lbs boneless chicken breasts

½ Cup onion, minced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 stock cube and four cups of water OR four cups of your favorite chicken stock

1 chipotle pepper in adobo, minced, seeds removed (1 pepper was not very spicy; play with this proportion according to your taste)

Place all ingredients in a large pot. Bring to a boil. Lower heat to medium-low and simmer for at least 20 minutes until chicken is thoroughly cooked. If you have time, you can cook it longer for more tenderness. Remove from heat and remove chicken from any remaining liquid. Allow to cool, shred, and serve – hot or cold — in your favorite Mexican-style recipes (quesadillas, tacos, with rice, on salads). Flavor affinities include avocado, lime, cilantro, kidney beans.

Easy Red Kidney Beans

1 Tbs extra virgin olive oil

1 Tbs minced onion

1 half stock cube

1 tsp oregano

1/4-1/2 cup low-sodium vegetable juice (less water for drier beans)

1 15 oz can kidney beans, drained and rinsed

1 tsp chopped cilantro

Saute onion in olive oil until tender. Add the rest of the ingredients and cook for 15 minutes until flavors are incorporated.

Black Bean Variation (Frijoles Negros con pimientos morrones y chorizo)

19 Jun

As much as I like my basic five-minute black bean recipe, (https://hotcheapeasy.wordpress.com/2010/11/24/five-minute-black-beans/)I do get bored with it occasionally and I also actually sometimes have more than five minutes (this prep takes maybe ten minutes).

On this occasion of boredom and time to spare, I had some chorizo and roasted red pepper doing nothing but getting old in my fridge, so I broke out of my box. The result was much, much better than I anticipated; the addition of chorizo added a silky umami sort of mouthfeel that was actually a bit like gravy. So give it a try; my son and I enjoyed the added spiciness and actually had it with rice one day and on tortilla chips topped with Monterey Jack cheese and lightly broiled the next day.

Black bean variation (with chorizo, roasted red pepper and oregano)

1.5 Tbs olive oil

1 medium onion, peeled and chopped

3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped

3oz Spanish-style dry chorizo sausage, peeled and diced

1 Tbs roasted red pepper from a jar, drained and diced

1 29oz can black beans, drained and rinsed

2 tsp dry oregano

Heat olive oil in a heavy-bottomed saucepan until fragrant. Add onion, stir to coat and lower heat to medium. Cook for five minutes. Add garlic, cook one minute. Add chorizo and cook until it starts to release color. Add red pepper, stir to coat. Cook an additional minute. Add beans, oregano and ½ cup water (more if you want more liquid for rice; about that or less for future quesadilla filling or nacho topping). Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook 15-20 minutes.

¿Que qué? ¡Quesadillas! (Camp stove friendly)

9 Jun

Finger food supreme

One day I will be an eater of sandwiches.

But for now aside from the odd grilled cheese, I am not a sandwich girl. Just don’t like all the bread, the sliced deli meats, cold salads inside…I just don’t get it. Unless of course it is a pressed Cuban sandwich, con todos los poderes, de Elegguá pa’bajo…you know, like real bread, toasted, mad quantities of stuff, greased up…I can do that. In Miami. Or San Juan de Puerto Rico (ah, Kasalta). Occasionally.

But not being a sandwich person in this American life is to miss out on a lot of convenience and portability. So, I have discovered the quesadilla. Take whatever you’ve got in the fridge, spread it over half of a tortilla toasting in a skillet, sprinkle melty cheese, fold it, flip it, and allí está…a sandwich worth eating. Slice it like a pizza and you can dip it into hot sauce too.

It worked very well on our camping trip. Leftover black beans, some Monterrey Jack and sriracha and go, baby, go. Other things I have stuffed into quesadillas include pollo guisado; cheddar cheese and tomato slices; leftover sliced steak; roasted vegetables; sundried tomato and smoked mozzarella…all awesome and all done in no time, sealed with a kiss of cheese. You can slip avocado in the middle where it won’t get hot to give a lovely creaminess (plus health benefits, I am sure, but who cares?)

Quesadillas (with your choice of stuffing)

1 package of large soft tortillas (flour or corn)

a spritz of cooking oil on a good iron skillet or nonstick

1-2 cups filling (LEFTOVERS! cooked beans, cooked veg, stewed meat, sliced cooked meat)

couple of fistfuls shredded meltable cheese

1-2 Tbs herbs/hot red pepper flakes/salsa – it’s up to you to make the matches

Heat the skillet and the oil to medium. Lay a tortilla on it. Cover half with filling (Not too thick! Maybe 1/4 inch – you don’t want a mess). Sprinkle cheese (especially around the edge to make a seal). Fold the empty tortilla half over. Allow to cook a minute, then flip with fingers if you are daring, or a spatula. Turn a few times until a bit crispy and transfer to a plate. Start again with another tortilla. You can slice into wedges and serve with whatever condiments go with your filling.

5-minute Meatless Chorizo Quesadilla? Try this!

7 Apr

 My book club has reunited after a winter hiatus. Our first get-back-together was at mine after work and while I wanted to put on a nice spread for these women I adore, I also didn’t want to work too hard. I remembered a puff pastry snack I learned from a Spanish friend, Rosa Cassano. The combination of smoked mozzarella and sundried tomatoes in a melty package tasted astonishingly like Spanish chorizo with pimentón. I didn’t have time for puff pastry, but I figured I could melt them together in a flash on the stovetop in flour tortillas. It worked deliciously as a finger food, as the smoked mozzarella firms up very well after melting. And there truly is no meat in them, though no one will believe you…

 ¡Sabroso! ¡Olé! 

Sundried Tomato and Smoked Mozzarella Quesadillas

Four 8-inch flour tortillas

8 oz smoked mozzarella cheese sliced thin

4 oz sundried tomatoes in oil, drained and chopped

Spritz of olive oil or cooking oil spray.

Heat a small amount of oil in an 8-inch nonstick skillet. Place a tortilla in the skillet. Cover half the tortilla with a layer of cheese and a generous sprinkling of tomatoes, leaving a bit of a margin at the edge. Fold the empty half over, press down and heat through, turning several times during cooking. When the tortilla is just turning golden and stiffening, it’s done. Repeat with remaining tortillas and allow to cool just enough for the melted cheese to firm up for cutting into triangles. Serve with guacamole/salsa/sour cream.

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