Philly Cheese Quesadilla

photo 5

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.

photo 1

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

photo 2

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.

photo 3
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.

photo 4

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

Advertisements

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.

image
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.

photo 2

 

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.

photo 1

 

 

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.

photo 3

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.

photo(2)

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.

photo 5

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

photo 1

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

photo 2

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.

photo 3

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.

photo 4

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”.

photo 2

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.

photo 1

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.

photo 3

I hope that you all enjoy these.

Thanks for reading,

JMW

I’m back with something sweet

Yes I know I have been away for far to long, but hopefully I have left you all with enough recipes to keep you cooking in my absence. I’m sure you were able to find something in all of that to keep you busy. In upcoming recipes you may notice that I am starting to lean more toward a healthier approach to cooking, but don’t mistake that for bland tasteless diet food. I am still going to be making tasty dishes with great ingredients. I am just shifting toward healthier ingredients with less fat and all that bad stuff for you. With that being said, I am back, and to kick off my return I am bringing you something simple yet delicious.

Today I am bringing you something that I don’t to that often. I am bringing you dessert. While I do love sweet stuff, I don’t eat a lot of desserts, but every now and then I do crave that little extra something after dinner and this time around it was ice cream and fried bananas. Now before you turn your nose up at this one keep reading. I promise you will be wanting to make this by the end.

photo 1

Fried Bananas and Ice Cream. (recipe for two people)

What you need:

4 ripe bananas

ground cinnamon

ground nutmeg

honey

Vanilla Ice Cream (Breyers Carb Smart)

This is a pretty simple and straight forward recipe but the end result is amazing.

photo 2

Spray a large non stick skillet with cooking spray and put over medium heat. You want a the pan nice and hot when you put the bananas in.

Now remove the peels from your bananas and throw them away and cut the bananas into 1/2 inch slices. When the pan is nice and hot place the banana slices in the pan leaving a little space between them. You will hear them start to sizzle. When you get all of the pieces in the pan drizzle honey back and forth over all the slices.  Don’t worry about it getting in the bottom of the pan. That is good and helps create the sauce. There really is no wrong way to do it, so don’t worry if you are using too much or too little.  Now sprinkle the ground cinnamon and nutmeg over the banana slices making sure to get a little bit of each on each piece of banana. You want a little more cinnamon than nutmeg.  Let them cook like that for about a minute and then turn each piece over and let them cook for another minute on that side. You will notice they are starting to turn a darker shade of yellow and soften up a bit. Remove the pan from heat and let stand while you get the ice cream ready.

This is the hard part, are you ready? Place one scoop of Vanilla ice cream in a bowl and then scoop the bananas on top.

Wait… That wasn’t so hard.

Now you are ready to enjoy.

photo 3

When making this you of course do not have to use carb smart ice cream. I just chose that to be a little more health conscious. If you are feeling creative you may also want to try using Agave nectar instead of honey for a little different take on it.

See, I told you it was an easy one. I bet you will be tweaking this to add your own flare on it in no time.

I will try and not wait so long between posts from now and and hope to have something new to add very soon.

As always, Thanks for reading,

JMW