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

 

 

 

 

 

 

Breakfast Sandwiches

Everyone that knows me knows that breakfast is my favorite meal. So much so that I have been known to have breakfast for lunch and even dinner on more than one occasion. While I love all types of breakfast foods and combinations of them, one of my favorite things is breakfast sandwiches. Yes the kind you get from fast food restaurants (I am a sucker for a sausage McMuffin). I don’t now why but they are a guilty pleasure of mine that I tend to enjoy way to much. Oh and its not just one kind either, I enjoy the breakfast sandwiches from several different fast food restaurants. It just depends on my mood as to which one I go to.  This however does create a bit of a problem when it comes to trying to eat right and drop a few pounds, which is something I am working toward right now. So I set out to create my own breakfast sandwich that I can make at home that cuts out a lot of the fat that you get from fast food places but still tastes great.

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Here is what I did

What you need:

(this makes two sandwiches)

Butterball Smoked turkey sausage (one link)

2 slices Kraft fat free cheese

4 slices Natures Own White/Wheat bread

2 eggs

1 teaspoon smart balance heart right buttery spread

Non stick cooking spray

Here’s how to make it:

Coat a non stick skillet with the cooking spray and heat to medium high heat. Add a teaspoon of smart balance to the pan and let it melt while spreading it around with a spatula to coat the bottom of the pan. Take your bread and separate into two stacks so that it looks like you have two sandwiches with nothing in them. Put them in the pan and toast them on either side (leaving the middle part un-toasted. This step is just like making a grilled cheese with no cheese in between the two slices. Now put them on a plate and separate the pieces so you have 4 pieces of bread toasted side down on the plate in a big square. Two slices for the bottom of the sandwich and two for the top.

Cut the sausage link in half and then cut both halves in half long ways down the middle. Spray a little more non stick spray in the pan and place the sausage cut side down and cook to your desired amount of done-ness. I like mine cooked pretty well but some people like it just warmed up a little. Turn them once and cook on the other side. Now place them on the bread (two pieces for each sandwich). Then place a slice of cheese on each sandwich so it will start to melt.

Reduce the heat in the pan to medium and crack two eggs in it. Cook on one side a couple of minutes until the white starts to firm up. Now add a little salt and black pepper for flavor and flip both eggs over. Once flipped over gently pop the yolk so it runs out and starts to cook. As much as I love a runny yolk it doesn’t work to well on a sandwich.  Let the eggs cook for another minute or so and then place on top of the sausage and cheese and add the other piece of toasted bread on top to finish off the sandwich.

That my friends is how to make a tasty low fat breakfast sandwich. There are several reasons for doing it this way. Using the smart balance to toast the bread adds a little extra flavor that reduces the need for topping it off with Jelly, Mayo, ketchup or whatever you like to put on your sandwiches that tends to add extra fat or unwanted calories. The other ingredients are to me the best tasting brands out there for fat free and low fat food of its kind. When combined they taste great and make a great sandwich. While this is not 100% health food it is a lower fat alternative to the high fat and processed versions of what you will find in a fast food restaurant.

Enjoy

Thanks for Reading,

James

Take a Meatball and Stuff it

Inside a biscuit that is.

Coming up with new recipes can be challenging at times so taking an existing recipe or combining a couple of different ones can be the answer when you are running low on ideas.

This time around I wanted to make something quick and easy to snack on but was also in the mood for Italian which does not always go hand in hand. As many of you know a lot of traditional Italian dishes can be pretty involved and take a while to make if done from scratch. So I thought maybe stuffing meatballs inside of biscuits with a little cheese and marinara would be a good way to make a snack size Italian treat. Kind of like a mini home made hot pocket but without the burning lava part that comes out after microwaving.

This recipe can be done with frozen meatballs or you can make your own like I did but that will take a bit more time. I will include the instructions on how to make those in case you are feeling ambitious. Luckily I had some made and frozen from a previous meal.

Lets get started.

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Ingredients

1lb lean ground beef

1/2 lb Italian sausage (hot)

1/2 cup Italian bread crumbs

1 egg

1/2 cup finely chopped white onion

1/2 cup finely chopped bell pepper

2 tablespoons of finely chopped garlic

1 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes

1 tablespoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon course sea salt

1 tablespoon ground black pepper

1 package mozzarella string cheese

1 tube of refrigerated biscuits

1 jar of your favorite marinara or pasta sauce ( I prefer Raos Arabiata sauce)

Prep and cooking (if using frozen meatballs heat those up and skip to the next step)

Step 1: Mix everything all together in a large mixing bowl except the biscuits cheese and sauce. Using both hands roll out your meatballs in small 1″ balls. You want to make small ones that will get a little crispy on the outside and cook quickly. As you make them lay them out on a baking pan. Pre heat your oven to 350 degrees and cook the meatballs for about 20 minutes or until the are a nice golden brown on the outside.

Tip: I like to cover my pan in aluminum foil and spray with non stick spray. This makes clean up so much easier.

Step 2: After they meatballs are done set them aside to cool. Now take the string cheese and cut it into small 1/2 inch pieces. Take the biscuits and lay them out and cut each one in half. Flatten the biscuit halves and place a meatball and a piece of cheese in the center, then add a small dollop of sauce. Now fold the biscuit over and press the ends together, making a nice little doughy ball of goodness. Place the now stuffed biscuits on a baking sheet with the folder sides down.

Now put the full baking sheet in the oven and bake according to the biscuits baking directions. This should give you a nice golden biscuit on the outside and a stuffed melted bit of heaven on the inside.

Once they are done let them cool for a few minutes and get ready to enjoy a truly delicious treat.

As always I hope you enjoy.

Thanks for reading

JMW

Meaty Marinara

Today marks the one year anniversary of my blog. I want to thank everyone who has stopped by to read about my adventures and to get some recipe tips too. I hope that you all keep coming back and enjoying what you read. Thanks for Reading Everyone!!!

I thought a good recipe to put up for the one year anniversary would be my Meaty Marinara sauce.

Growing up I was never a huge fan of Italian food unless it came on a Pizza (yes I know that isn’t real Italian) or in a meatball sub, this was mostly because what I was used to eating usually came from some local pizza joint that used canned everything that always tasted the same. While my mother always made a sauce that I still love to this day and occasionally make myself it still wasn’t truly authentic Italian sauce. Don’t be mad Mom, I will always love your sauce.

As I grew older and even more so after I got married I started going to more authentic Italian restaurants and discovered more traditional Italian dishes. With this I started seeing how different ingredients that you never really thought of being in a sauce are what really makes it.  You don’t just toss a hand full of dried oregano in a pot with tomatoes and magically get sauce. There are many different ingredients and combinations to take into consideration for the flavor you want.

Over the weekend I decided to put together a more traditional marinara but of course I needed to add my own twist to it. So Here is what I came up with.

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Ingredients:

1 lb Sweet Italian Sausage

1 medium white onion diced

1 large carrot finely diced

2 Celery stalks finely diced

2 28 oz cans crushed tomatoes

3 tablespoons of minced garlic

3 tablespoons of finely chopped fresh oregano

1 tablespoon of finely chopped fresh basil

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Salt

Black pepper

1 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes

Extra Virgin Olive oil (about 1/4 cup)

Cooking

In a large sauce pan heat the olive oil on medium high heat and add the garlic. Stir the garlic around a few times and then add the onions, carrots and celery and cook until the onions and celery start to turn clear. Now add the sweet Italian sausage and cook it nice and brown making sure to break it up into small pieces as it cooks.

Once the sausage has browned reduce the heat to medium and add both cans of crushed tomatoes and stir it all together. Let that start to simmer and then add the oregano, basil, and red pepper flakes. Now stir that all together and let it simmer a few more minutes. It is now time to add in the 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese, 2 teaspoons of salt and a tablespoon of black pepper. Stir that all together and reduce heat to low and let simmer for about 45 minutes stirring occasionally.

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That is really all there is to it. Its a pretty simple recipe but all of the different ingredients really meld together well to create a very tasty sauce. For all of my vegetarian friends out there (yes I do have some) It is just as good if you leave the meat out.

All that is left now is to boil your favorite pasta and cover it with a nice helping of sauce and enjoy. Maybe even heat up a slice or two of Garlic bread to top it off.  This one came out really good and has that more authentic Italian flavor that you just don’t get from a jar.

As always

Thanks for Reading

JMW

Enchiladas Two Ways

I know that you may be thinking that since I live in San Antonio why would I possibly need to make enchiladas when I can go to any of the hundreds of restaurants in town and pick them up. The answer is simple. I like to come up with new ways to do things and see if I can make something just as good or better than I can get in a restaurant.

So this go round I decided that I was going to make enchiladas but I didn’t want to do just one kind, no… I had to go and make two different kinds. I decided on chicken and chorizo for one batch and bean and cheese for the other. They both came out wonderful but I think my favorites where the bean and cheese. This surprised me since I am an avid meat eater.

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So enough about that, here is how I did them.

Ingredients

boneless skinless thin sliced chicken breast (about 1 lb)

Mexican chorizo (4 oz)

1 large white onion (sliced thin)

1 large poblano pepper (sliced thin)

1 can Rosarita fat free refried beans (or your favorite brand).

24 pack of corn tortillas

1 cake of queso fresco cheese

1 bag of shredded colby jack cheese (3 cup bag should do)

2 to 3 cans of enchilada sauce (I used Hatch brand green enchilada sauce)

Chili powder

chopped or minced garlic (2 tablespoons)

Salt

Black pepper

1 jar of your favorite salsa

Cooking

Since I made two different kinds I will lay it out one at a time.

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Chicken and Chorizo

In a large frying pan cook the chorizo. You will notice that it is pretty greasy but that is fine as you will be cooking the other ingredients in it. Once the chorizo is done stir in half of the onion and peppers and simmer until the onion starts to turn clear. (the other half of the onion and peppers is for the bean and cheese). Now remove that from the pan and cook the chicken breast slices in the pan with the chorizo grease. Make sure to cook it through about 3 minutes on each side. Now remove that to cool a little and then chop it up into small pieces. Add the chicken and the onion, pepper, chorizo mixture back to the pan and add about a 1/4 cup of water and 2 tablespoons of chili powder and stir in the garlic. Let that simmer for about 15 minutes on low heat and then set it aside.

Beans

In a medium pan saute the onions and peppers until the onions start to turn clear and add in the beans. Mix together and cook until the beans are nice and soft then remove from heat.

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Tortillas

Split the bad of tortillas into two stacks of 12, one stack for each kind. Warm up a stack by wrapping a damp paper towel around them and heat them in the microwave for about 45 seconds. This will heat them up and make them easier to work with. If you don’t heat up corn tortillas first they will start to crumble when you try and roll them up. Now that they are heated you will want to set out a baking dish and spoon out about a quarter inch of enchilada sauce into the bottom. You will also need to put a couple of big spoonfuls onto a small plate for prepping the tortillas. You need to coat both sides of the tortilla in sauce. This helps them stick together when you roll them up and keeps them easy to work with. It is messy but necessary, so don’t skip this step.

Now take the cake of queso and put it in a bowl and chop it up with a fork. You will get a consistency similar to feta cheese when it is good and chopped.

The rest is now a matter of working as an assembly line.

For the Chicken: you will want to coat a tortilla and then spoon in some of the chicken mixture and then add a few sprinkles of the colby jack cheese and roll it up and place it in the pan. Do this 12 times.

For the bean and cheese: you will want to coat a tortilla, add a spoonful of beans across the bottom and sprinkle on a decent spoon of queso and roll it up and place it in the pan. Do this 12 times.

For both: It is a good idea to place each enchilada in the pan with the rolled seem down so they do not unroll on you. After you have your pan filled you will want to cover the top with your enchilada sauce and then cover that in a nice layer of colby jack cheese.

Now place them in a preheated oven (to 350 degrees) for about 20 minutes. You will know they are done when the cheese on top has completely melted and starts to brown slightly.

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When they are done put a couple on a plate and add your favorite salsa to the top and enjoy. I know this sounds like a lot of work but it is really worth it in the end. They turned out great and you don’t actually have to make both kinds. One is more than enough, I just like to share.

Thanks for reading

JMW

Youz Guyz South Philly Cheese steaks

Great ***

Pretty Good

OK

No Thanks

It has been a while since I’ve done a review, so what better place to review than Youz Guyz in Universal City on Pat Booker Road.

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Looking back over my reviews I was surprised to see that I had not done a review for Youz Guyz yet, especially seeing as how I have been a pretty frequent customer over the last few years. When it comes to subs or sandwiches I have always loved a good Philly Cheese steak. There is just something about the combination of the grilled steak, onions, and cheese on that long hoagie roll that screams perfection when you bite into it. I have had many different varieties over the years, some good and some bad. If I can give one piece of advice that you take to heart it is that you need to go to a local shop for the best food. Those guys are the ones that put love into every bite and specialize in making a couple of things really good instead of a bunch of stuff just ok. You aren’t going to find a truly great cheese steak at one of those sub chains. Go somewhere that makes it their specialty and if you are in the San Antonio area and over on the north east side near Universal City, Youz Guyz is the place that does just that.

Youz Guyz is the real deal folks. Owners Kathy and Jimmy are from South Philly and know how these sandwiches are supposed to taste and do them right with just the right combination of cheese and onions to compliment the steak. When you bite into one of their cheese steaks it melts in your mouth. You can add mushrooms or peppers and either have provolone cheese (the right way) or add cheese whiz if you want.

Now if you aren’t in the mood for a cheese steak you can get hoagies, Italian hot sausage, hot dogs or chicken fingers too but if you try the cheese steak first you probably wont ever look at the rest of the menu. You also have your choice of a variety of sides to choose from including Onion rings, fries, pizza fries, mozzarella sticks and home made potato chips. I tend to switch between the onion rings and the fries depending on my mood.

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You can’t go wrong with any of it but I urge you to try the cheese steak first. You wont be disappointed. When you walk in look for the sign that tells you how to order your sandwich the right way and make sure you let them know if you want it “wit”. You will know what I am talking about once you get there.

Also if you are in a hurry you can do what I did this trip and get it to go. Since I live about 5 minutes away it was just a fresh and tasty as it would be if I were sitting there at the restaurant.

I can’t speak highly enough about this place. They have great food and are some of the nicest people you will ever meet. So go and give it a try. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Thanks for reading

JMW