Philly Cheese Quesadilla

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Like a lot of people I love a really good Philly Cheese-steak sandwich and have a favorite place to get one. I also like to cook and come up with new recipes and share those with people.  So this weekend I was looking though the fridge to see what I had and my “mad scientist” brain kicked into effect. I wanted a cheese-steak but didn’t want all of the bread. I started pulling stuff out of the fridge and setting in on the counter to see what I could come up with and so the Philly cheese-steak quesadilla was born. Here is what I did.

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Ingredients

1 lb 93% fat free ground beef
4 oz Philadelphia cream cheese
1/2 cup chopped bell pepper
1/2 cup chopped white onion
1 chopped jalapeno
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
3 to 4oz of fat free shredded cheddar
1 pack of small flour tortillas

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Cooking

Start browning the ground beef over medium high heat and when it gets mostly brown (not quite all of the way) add in the onions and peppers and continue to cook until the beef gets brown and the onions and peppers soften up. Now reduce the heat to low add in the seasonings (salt, pepper and garlic powder) and stir together and simmer for a couple more minutes.
Once that is done remove the mixture from the pan and put it into a bowl. Now add both cheeses and stir together into a thick paste.

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Take one of the tortillas and spread the paste out on top covering it in a nice even layer to about a 1/4″ from the ends. Then place another tortilla on top.
You will want to have a pan heated to medium high heat ready to cook these. You can use the same one you cooked the meat in or a different one, its up to you. Place the quesadilla in the pan and let it brown (about 30 to 40 seconds. Press it with a spatula to get a nice even browning. Now carefully flip it over and do the other side. You will notice that the mixture inside will start to ooze slightly. This is a good and yummy thing. Once that other side has browned remove it from the pan and place on a plate and cut in half. You can repeat this process as many times as you need to feed everyone, or at least until you run out of tortillas.

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All that is left now is to sit back and enjoy. This is a relatively low fat enjoyable little meal. I hope you all like it.

Thanks for reading
JMW

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Creating a Healthier Casserole

Healthier Low Fat Chicken Enchilada Casserole

Hello everyone. It has been a while since I put up anything new. That crazy thing called real life does tend to get in the way. The good news is that I am back with a great tasty new recipe for you all to enjoy. When you hear the word casserole you do not immediately think of the word healthy and you usually don’t think of Mexican food either, which is why I set out to come up with a healthier alternative to a timeless classic. If you enjoy a good plate of chicken enchiladas but are looking for something healthier and a bit easier than rolling them all out yourself this will be a nice alternative for you.

What you need:

Large casserole dish

3 Boneless Skinless Chicken breasts

1 medium sweet onion (thinly sliced)

1 medium bell pepper (thinly sliced)

2 garlic cloves (chopped)

1 large tomato (cut into 1/4 inch slices)

1 jalapeno (chopped)

1/4 cup of green onion (chopped)

2 cans of green chili enchilada sauce ( I used Hatch brand)

12 small corn tortillas

1 can of black beans (drained)

8 oz fat free cream cheese

2 tablespoons of olive oil

8 oz of Kraft 2% Mexican blend shredded cheese

8 oz of fat free shredded cheddar

Spices: Salt, Black Pepper, Chili Powder, Cumin, Smoked Paprika

casserole

Cooking

In a non stick pan heat the olive oil and saute the onion, bell pepper, garlic and jalapeno until the onions start to turn clear. Now place them in a bowl and stir in the fat free cream cheese until it is all mixed together. Now place the chicken in the pan and season the top side with a little of all of the spices above. You want a nice coating of the spices on the top of the chicken. Cook on one side for about 5 minutes (Medium high heat) then turn over and season the other side and cook for another 5 minutes. Set chicken to the side to rest for a few minutes. After it has rested for about 5 minutes cut all of the chicken into small chunks and set aside.

Assembling the casserole.

Line the casserole dish with aluminum foil and coat it with non stick spray or just coat it really good with non stick spray if you don’t have aluminum foil.  Now put a thin layer of the enchilada sauce in the bottom of the dish (about 1/4 of the can). Just enough to cover the bottom. Now place 6 corn tortillas on the bottom covering it completely (yes they can overlap if needed). Use another 1/4 of the enchilada sauce to cover those.  Now spoon on all of the onion, bell pepper and cream cheese mixture into a nice even layer over the tortillas. Once that is done make another layer using half of the shredded cheddar and half of Mexican blend.  Add the next layer using the tomato slices. You will want to make a nice even layer across the entire dish. Now add another 1/4 of the can of enchilada sauce on top.  Make the next layer using all of the chicken in a nice even layer and then add the rest of the black beans. Cover that with the last quarter of the can of enchilada sauce. Now use the last 6 tortillas to cover the top and then pour entire second can of sauce on top of them. Now make a layer using the rest of the cheeses and add the chopped green onion to the top of it and then add a few shakes of chili powder to the top.  It is now time to bake the casserole. Put this in a preheated to 350 degrees oven for 35 to 45 minutes. When the cheese is all melted and starting to brown up it is ready. Take it out and let it cool for about 15 minutes before serving.

You have now just made a healthier version of enchilada casserole. All that is left to do is sit back and enjoy it.

Thanks for reading,

JMW

 

 

 

 

 

 

Crawfish Corn Cakes

It’s crawfish season again and with that comes all sorts of yummy goodness. This time I am bringing you my crawfish corn cakes. This crisp little delicacy is sure to please any crawfish fan and I am here to tell you how to make them.

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Ingredients:
1lb crawfish meat
1/2 cup corn kernels (frozen or fresh)
1/2 medium white onion (finely chopped)
1 medium jalapeño (finely chopped)
1/2 cup fat free shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup low fat milk
2 large eggs
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/2 cup yellow corn meal
3 tablespoons Cajun or blackened seasoning
Olive oil
2 tablespoons Smart balance (or butter)

Cooking:
First you want to sauté the onions corn and peppers in a small non stick pan over medium high heat in the smart balance. Cook them until the onions start to turn clear then add the crawfish meat and Cajun seasoning. Continue to sauté for about 4 more minutes and then set aside to cool.

Now take the cooled mixture from above and add it to a large mixing bowl. Add in the corn meal, bread crumbs, cheese and eggs. Now start stirring in the milk until you get a nice semi thick paste. You want it to be able to pour out of a large spoon relatively easy.

In a large frying pan pour in about a 1/4 inch of olive oil and heat to medium high heat. Once the oil is heated start scooping in the mixture with a large spoon. You want to make cakes around 4 inches across. About the size of hamburger patties. Cook about 3 minutes on each side making sure to get them nice and golden brown. As they get done place a on plate lined with paper towels to drain any excess oil.

Now you are ready to enjoy a tasty Louisiana treat. Serve them as is or with a little creole mustard. They taste great either way.

Thanks for reading
JMW

Grilling It Up 3 Ways

In an effort to keep on the healthier side of things I decided to do some grilling over this past weekend. When I grill I tend to go a little overboard and make enough food to last the week and still have enough to spread the love at work. Needless to say I am popular around grilling season. Well since I am cooking healthier now that means smaller portions and not as many leftovers. This time around I decided to do three different smaller items to give a little variety throughout the week and not a bunch of one thing left over.

I did Raspberry beef skirt steak, Lemon Cilantro Catfish and Greek grilled chicken.

These are all pretty simple but I will walk you through each one to make sure you can recreate them all easily.

 

Lets start with the Raspberry Skirt Steak.

Ingredients

1 small skirt steak (about 2 lbs)

1 bottle of raspberry vinaigrette salad dressing

salt

black pepper

Put the steak in a large Ziploc bag or bowl with a lid and cover it in raspberry vinaigrette dressing and let marinate for 3 to 4 hrs.

Remove steak from marinade and pat dry with paper towels. It is important to get your meat dry before adding it to the grill. This helps with cooking and not sticking.

You want to have the grill heated on medium high heat. Just before adding the meat to the grill give it a couple of good shakes of salt and pepper on each side. Place the steak on the grill and leave it alone for 4 minutes. After that turn it over and let it cook for another 3 to 4 minutes depending on how well you like it to be done. And that is all there is to making a nice raspberry skirt steak. This is great served in a nice garden salad or even as fajitas. It’s really up to you.

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Next we have the Lemon Cilantro Catfish

Ingredients

Two catfish filets

Lemon juice (2 cups)

Fresh garlic (chopped 2 tablespoons)

Cilantro (chopped 1 tablespoon)

Chili Powder (half a cup)

Salt

Black Pepper

 

Mix all of the ingredients except the catfish in a large Ziploc bag or medium sized bowl with a lid and then place the catfish in making sure it is covered. Let that marinate for 2 to 3 hours.

Remove catfish from the marinade and pat dry with paper towels. Again, It is important to get your meat dry before adding it to the grill. This helps with cooking and not sticking.

You want to have the grill heated on medium high heat. Just before adding the meat to the grill give it a couple of good shakes of salt and pepper on each side. Place the catfish on the grill and leave it alone for about 4 to 5 minutes. Now with fish it is best to not try and turn it over. Just let it cook on one side. If you try and flip it you will most likely end up with pieces breaking off and falling through the grates. Also with fish I like to close the lid and let it heat up in the grill to make sure it gets done. A good way to tell if it is done is to work your spatula a little ways between the separation in the filets and check and make sure it has turned white all the way through.

That is all there is to that one. This too is a very versatile meat that can be added to lots of different meals. You can ever have it for breakfast with a scrambled egg and a little Tabasco. Yes you read that right. Its wonderful.

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Last but not least we have the Greek Grilled Chicken

Ingredients

2 or three boneless skinless chicken breasts

1 bottle of Greek vinaigrette salad dressing

Fresh oregano (1 tablespoon finely chopped)

Salt

Black pepper

Greek seasoning

You will also need aluminum foil.

I saved this one for last because it is a little more involved to make.

Put the chicken in a large Ziploc bag or medium sized bowl and cover with the Greek dressing and add in the oregano making sure to shake it up a little and get it all covered. Let that marinate for 3 to 4 hrs.

After it is done marinading you will want to place the chicken on aluminum foil and wrap completely. You DO NOT pat this one dry. Once you have wrapped in a cocoon of foil you are ready to put it on the grill. You will want to place it on the grill and close the lid. Let it cook for about 15 minutes and then turn the packet over. I like to do this so that it does not burn on one side. Let it cook for another 10 to 15 minutes. At this point it is basically boiling in its own juices and becoming very tender. Now you will want to use your tongs and open the top of the foil and take each piece of chicken and place directly on the grill for a minute or two on each side just to get some good color and grill marks on it. While it is getting that nice color to it give it a few shakes of the Greek seasoning, salt and pepper.

Side note: Put a handful of cherry tomatoes in another cocoon of aluminum foil with a little garlic, feta cheese and some extra dressing and stick them on the back of the grill and just let them cook while the chicken is cooking. This will make a nice roasted tomato sauce to pour over the chicken when you serve it.

Once that is done you can cut it into strips and serve on a plate with the tomatoes I mentioned above or put it in a salad. This is probably one of the best chicken recipes I have come up with and one I know I will be revisiting in the future.

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There you have it folks. 3 Relatively easy and versatile recipes to cook on the grill. They all came out wonderful and I am sure you will enjoy them.

Thanks for reading.

JMW

 

 

Blue Cheese Garlic Bread

If there is one thing I know for certain it is that almost everyone loves garlic bread. I mean, how could you not? Its crunchy, garlicky (yes that’s a word), yummy goodness. Whether it is traditional garlic bread, garlic bread sticks or even Texas toast it all tastes delicious. There aren’t many things I enjoy cooking with more than garlic. I use it in almost everything I make and find it adds something to almost every dish. On that same track I also love cooking with and eating blue cheese. I’m not just talking about regular blue cheese either. I want it to be as strong as you can get with deep dark veins of bluish green running all through it. The white part also needs to be starting to turn a little on the yellow side as well. That is how you know it’s going to be good.

The other day when trying to come up with something to put together for you fine folks to try out I thought to myself, let’s see what would happen if I combine two of my favorite ingredients together and bake it on top of bread. Well that is exactly what I did and here is how  you can do it too.

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Ingredients (for one batch that should make about 10 pieces)

1 whole loaf of fresh french bread. (You should be able to find this in your grocers bakery dept).

1 stick of salted butter

2 tbsp of minced garlic

1 tsp of black pepper

1 4 oz container of blue cheese crumbles

1/2 cup of chopped flat leaf parsley

Prep and cooking

Go ahead and start your oven pre-heating to 450 degrees so it will be ready to go when you get everything assembled.

Slice the loaf of bread long ways down the middle like you are going to make a large sandwich and then cut those two pieces into 2″ to 3″ pieces and lay them out on a baking sheet.

Now melt the butter in the microwave (or stove top) and mix in the garlic, pepper, blue cheese and parsley. Place it back in the microwave for about 15 seconds and then stir it all together to make a nice thick mixture.

Now with a pastry or BBQ brush start spreading the mixture over each piece of bread. You want to make sure and cover as much of the top of each piece as you can until the mixture is all gone. Don’t worry if it looks to thick, it will be fine. Trust me on this one.

Now place it in the oven and let it bake until the top starts to brown around the edges (about 15 minutes).

That is all there is to it. You are ready to eat. This bread is great by itself or used as a base for sandwiches or even with your favorite pasta dish. It really is heavenly.

As always, thanks for reading

JMW

 

 

Meatball Sub Casserole

Like most people, I love a good meatball sub. Little balls of yummy goodness covered in marinara and melted cheese on a warm sub roll. MMMM… It doesn’t get much better than that. Sometimes you toast them, sometimes you steam them. It really depends on which part of the county you are from. Whichever you prefer nothing beats this sandwich when you have a craving for zesty goodness. This time around we are going to back them. Yes, I said bake them, and in a casserole no less. This is a great recipe for a family that doesn’t want to go to the trouble of making a bunch of individual subs for everyone. Now you can make one big one and cut it up for everyone to enjoy.

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Here’s how you do it.

What you need

1lb lean ground beef

1lb hot Italian sausage

1 cup Italian bread crumbs

1 small white onion (half finely chopped, half sliced)

1 small bell pepper (thinly sliced)

2 cloves garlic (finely chopped)

2 eggs

1 tsp salt

1 tsp black pepper

1 tbsp granulated garlic

1 cup grated Parmesan

2 tbsp crushed red pepper

2 tbsp olive oil

2 Pillsbury french bread tubes

8 oz fresh mozzarella  (the little balls packed in water work great)

1 24 oz jar of marinara sauce ( I used Rao’s Marinara)

Prep and cooking.

This recipe is a little involved but the results are pretty amazing.

Note. You can make the meatballs ahead of time and freeze them to use later.

Making the meatballs

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Thoroughly mix the ground beef, Italian sausage, bread crumbs, eggs, chopped onions, salt, pepper and garlic together in a large mixing bowl. Cover a baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray it with non stick cooking spray. This will help the meatballs not stick to the baking sheet. Now roll out the meatballs into small little balls about an inch and half around. You don’t want them too big because it is harder to get them cooked through properly, but you don’t want them too small either or they dry out easily. Once you have all of the mixture rolled out into little meatballs place them in a preheated (to 35o degrees) oven and bake for 20 minutes. You want them to start getting nice and brown on top.

Garlic Onions and Peppers

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While the meatballs are baking you can prep the onions, peppers and garlic. You want to saute them using the olive oil in a medium size pan over medium high heat. Saute them until the onions start to turn translucent. Set aside.

Assembling the casserole.

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Coat a large casserole dish with non stick cooking spray. Unroll one of the tubes of french bread and line the bottom of the dish. you want to cover the entire bottom. Now start placing the meatballs in a single layer on top of the bread. You can put them as close together as you like. Its really up to you how many you want in it. Next start placing the mozzarella in between the meatballs. You want to make sure you get them nice and evenly spaced throughout the meatballs so when they melt every bite will have some. Next you want to take the onions, peppers and garlic and spread it out evenly on top of the meatballs and mozzarella. Once that is done pour out the entire jar of marinara sauce and cover everything. Now take half of the Parmesan cheese and sprinkle evenly on top. Once that is all put together it is time to add the top layer of bread, roll out the second french bread and cover the top completely. For the final touch sprinkle the remaining Parmesan cheese and the red pepper flakes on top and cover with aluminum foil and place it in the center of a preheated (350 degrees) oven. Bake it for 30 minutes covered then another 15 uncovered to get a nice brown on the top.

And there you have it. Make several cuts all the way through to get individual servings and enjoy.

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Thanks for reading,

JMW

Poppers that Pop

If you are just in the mood for a bite sized treat or making something for the big game jalapeno poppers are sure to please. These little spicy bites of heaven have been passed around parties for as long as I can remember and since there never seem to be any leftover the next day I will go out on a limb and say that people must really like them. I know I do. I have tried many different varieties over the years and everyone seems to have their own special way of doing them. Some swear by the type of bacon you need or the size of the jalapeno and even the brand of cream cheese for the perfect flavor. For some its a science and for others its just something you throw together to please the party goers. Either way they always seem to turn out great. For this recipe I have taken a couple of elements from several different poppers that I have tried and come up with what I will now call my “go to popper”.

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What you need. (This is for a small batch to serve 3 to 4 people)

12 large raw jalapenos (whole)

1 8oz container of Philadelphia fat free cream cheese

1 lb hickory smoked bacon

1 lb maple breakfast sausage

at least 24 toothpicks

Prep and cooking.

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First get the sausage started cooking in a pan on the stove over medium heat. You want to get it nice and brown and crunchy for texture.

Now while the sausage is cooking, cut the stem end off of the peppers and then cut them in half long ways so it looks like you have a fleet of little green boats. Be sure to remove all of the seeds and white membrane inside.

The sausage should now be done and ready to drain any fat off of. Just line a bowl with paper towels and poor the sausage in. The paper towels will absorb most of the fat. Now gently pull the paper towels out from under the sausage and out of the bowl. You will leave a little fat in there but it will be fine because you have gotten most of it out. Now mix in the cream cheese with the sausage until you get a nicely mixed paste.

Now for the fun part.

With a spoon go ahead and start filling each jalapeno half to the top. You don’t want it to overflow that much but make sure it is full.

Once you have all of the halves full open the bacon and cut the entire slab in half. Half a slice of bacon is perfect to wrap around the center of the jalapeno. You will hold the bacon in place by sliding a toothpick through from one side to the other.

Now it is time to cook them. You can do this a couple of different ways. My preferred method is on the grill. Turn it on medium high heat and let the grill heat up. If you have a top rack I like to sit them up there for a few minutes with the grill closed but it is not needed. Place the poppers on the grill and cook until the bacon looks done. You don’t want to get it too crisp but you do want it to be thoroughly cooked. You will most likely get a few black ends but don’t worry, they taste better that way.

You may want to keep a spray bottle of water on hand while cooking these. The bacon is going to drip and it will cause flare ups when the grease catches on fire.

That is how you make poppers that pop. They turned out great and that is why these will now be my “go to poppers”. If you are feeling a little adventurous try sprinkling just a little garlic powder on top before sticking them on the grill.

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I hope that you all enjoy these.

Thanks for reading,

JMW