31 August, 2010

Roasted Mushroom and Pepper Quesadillas

So the following story is a perfect example of how most of my meals are created:
It was late Sunday night and I had already accepted defeat and decided I had no motivation to cook dinner. In walks my cute husband returning from a weekend rafting trip looking awfully hungry and it broke my heart to have to tell him it was cereal night (although he loves cereal). I examined the contents of my fridge and saw the following: corn tortillas, bits and pieces of a yellow, red, and orange bell pepper left over from a weekend veggie tray; bits and pieces of a poblano pepper leftover from stuffed poblanos; one lonely portobello mushroom; and a partial bag of Mexican shredded cheese. And the story ends with roasted mushroom and pepper quesadillas and my cute husband and I living happily ever after. The End.

Makes 3-4 quesadillas
One portobello mushroom
¼ of a red, yellow, and orange bellpepper
¼ poblano pepper
Fajita seasoning
Olive oil
Corn tortillas
Mexican cheese blend shredded

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Dice mushrooms and peppers, combine with 1 tablespoon olive oil and sprinkle with 1 tsp fajita seasoning. In a casserole dish, cook veggies for about 15-20 minutes until soft but not mushy. Brush olive oil on one side of corn tortillas. Using an indoor grill (sandwich press, quesadilla maker or skillet on the stove top), layer cheese and veggie mix on bottom corn tortilla and top with another corn tortilla. Grill until cheese is melted and tortilla is slightly crunchy. Cut into four and top with sour cream or greek yogurt and your favorite salsa.

 *Warning: If you overload your tortilla the cheese will seep out onto the grill and form a brown crunchy cheesy delicacy that hangs off the edges of the quesadilla that I like to call "heaven". See Exhibit A. Enjoy!
Exhibit A

23 August, 2010

California Fish Tacos

Before I moved to California I had never heard of fish tacos. After trying them on several different menus, I decided I had enough research to try them at home. They are now a favorite weeknight and weekend dinner. This meal is so light and refreshing and a crowd pleaser on a warm day accompanied by cold beer.

1 head of green cabbage, shredded
3/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
½ Lime, Olive oil, white wine vinegar
cumin, salt, pepper
fish of choice or shrimp
fajita or taco seasoning
corn (fresh or frozen)
avocado, diced
salsa or pico de gallo
corn or flour tortillas

Preheat oven or grill and season fish with a fajita or taco seasoning. Combine shredded cabbage into a bowl with  about 3/4 cup chopped cilantro. Add 1/2 tablespoon cumin, the juice of ½ a lime, 3/4 tablespoon white wine vinegar and 1 tablespoon olive oil and then set in the fridge. While the fish is cooking*, drizzle the corn with olive oil and put into a 350 degree oven for about 15 minutes. For the last 3-4 minutes,turn to broil and leave until the corn is charred a bit. You will need to shake the corn a bit every couple of minutes while cooking. When the corn and fish are done, you can plate one of two ways: as a taco salad adding the slaw to a bowl, topping with corn, pico de gallo/salsa, diced avocado and fish: or as a taco adding slaw, corn, pico and avocado on top of tortilla and serve.

*Cook the fish on a grill or in a saucepan until done, time and heat depends on kind of fish used. Battered frozen fish can also be used if in a pinch or trying to please kids.

18 August, 2010

Pita Pizza

I stumbled upon a quick week night favorite a couple weeks ago when I was hanging out with my kid friend Niko. He gave the pita pizza a thumbs up and requested to take his leftovers home with him.  This cute kid has a very discerning palate and a mom who frequently cooks delicious and healthy meals for him. It felt great to impress such an earnest critic. The kiddos might even enjoy lending a helping hand.

Pizza is a versatile meal that you can easily change toppings to fit your mood, your dinner guests, or your leftover veggies in the fridge. 
Pita bread, flatbread, wheat or white
Tomato sauce or marinara sauce
Olive oil
Pizza toppings of choice
Mozzarella cheese

A few of my favorite topping combinations:
cherry tomatoes sliced in half and fresh parsley
sundried tomatoes, roasted corn, and mushroom
pepperoni and cheese
jalapeno pepper and black olives

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brush olive oil on both sides of the pita bread. Use the easy tomato sauce recipe found here in one of my previous post: http://simpleplates.blogspot.com/2010/07/three-sisters-casserole.html.
Or buy a marinara sauce with mostly natural ingredients and no added sugar.
Spread the tomato sauce on top of the pita bread, top with a small amount of cheese, add toppings of choice, and top with a desired amount of cheese. Bake in the oven for about 10-12 minutes and crisp up under the broiler for the last 2 minutes.

13 August, 2010

Mushroom Stuffed Poblano Peppers

I am always giddy when a stuffed/wrapped pepper makes an appearance at a cookout. They are so impressive that it has never crossed my simple plate mind to try them myself. In the spirit of stepping out of my comfort zone, I recently tried to conquer the pepper. And it was, for lack of better words... pretty simple.

Peppers of all variety, beware! I have discovered that stuffing and wrapping your pretty little self is prime simple plate material. Readers, stay tuned for more pepper action. I am hooked. 
P.S. I tried these in both the oven and on the grill and they are great.
Serve on top of red qunioa to make a meal.
2 poblano peppers
1 cup sliced whole button or crimini mushrooms
1/2 cup bread crumbs
Handful of fresh parsley or 2 tbsp dried italian seasoning
2 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup Queso fresca or feta cheese, crumbled
4-6 strips of prosciutto or bacon
Cut poblanos in half and discard seeds. In a food processor, chop the mushrooms, parsley, and garlic. In a bowl combine mushrooms, breadcrumbs, cheese and 1 tablespoon olive oil. Stuff the peppers and carefully wrap with prosciutto. Cook for about 25 minutes on indirect heat on the grill. If using the oven, cook for 20-25 minutes on 400 degrees then switch to broil for the last 2 minutes.

09 August, 2010

Honey Banana Nut Bites

Congratulations to my husband for completing a 106 mile bike ride this weekend. The Marin Century ride has been on his “to do” list for four years now. In honor of his exciting accomplishment, I am posting one of his favorite après biking snacks that he introduced to me about a month ago. This delicious treat goes perfect with a cup of coffee and an easy Sunday morning. It’s nutritious and filling for post workouts or maybe a great after school snack for the kiddos.

Congrats Robbie, this post is for you!
1 cup Peanuts or almonds
Graham crackers, vanilla wafers, etc
Banana, sliced
1 cup plain greek yogurt
1 tablespoon honey

In a food processor, grind nuts until they form a thick paste. You are  making natural peanut butter or almond butter. This will take about 10-15 minutes of grinding. The nuts will turn into a ground meal after a couple minutes. Keep grinding and eventually the oils in the nuts will release and form a paste/butter.

Mix the butter with 1 cup yogurt and 1 tablespoon honey.
Layer the butter on top of the cookie and top with a banana slice.

05 August, 2010

Potato Nachos

Mmmmmm nachos, how I love thee?
Let me count the ways, and the calories.
For the last movie night in my house we decided to make nachos for dinner. But I had to figure out a way to make them more of a meal and less of a mess. I needed them to be more nutritionally sound than processed cheese sauce on top of stale chips. I replaced the chips with crispy potatoes and added corn and beans. And let’s just say, they didn’t last the whole movie.

*Just a little note about the yellow potatoes called yukon gold that I used in this dish. Yellow potatoes have less starch and will crisp up better than a russet or white potato. The yellow potato gets its color from a chemical called anthoxanthins which is a pigment loaded with antioxidants. So the yellow potato has less carbohydrate and more antioxidants. So stop hating on the potato!

Serves 3-4 as a meal
4-6 Yukon gold potatoes*
Fresh or frozen corn
8oz canned black beans
½ tablespoon cumin
Juice of ½ lime
Shredded cheese of your choice
Pico de gallo

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.Cut your potatoes into 3/4 inch thick slices and toss them with olive oil. Layer onto a baking sheet and cook for 15-20 minutes, flip the potatoes and cook for another 20 minutes. You will want them pretty crispy and cooking time will vary according to your oven and your preference.

While the potatoes are cooking, drain and rinse the black beans. Mix the beans with ½ tablespoon cumin, the juice of ½ of lime and set aside. Toss the corn with olive oil and put in a saute pan on medium heat for about 5 minutes. When the potatoes are out of the oven you can toss the corn under the broiler for about 3 minutes to add some browning. Layer the potatoes in a casserole dish, top with cheese, beans and corn and put the dish back into the oven until the cheese is melted. Serve topped with pico de gallo and press play on the movie.

03 August, 2010

The Turkey Sandwich

Why is it that when someone else makes you a sandwich or a salad it always tastes better? I have a memory of my sisters and me fighting for bites out of my mom’s salad bowl while she unsuccessfully tried to swat us away.
This simple plate is an inspiration from a sandwich my husband made for me three years ago when I sprained my ankle. I loved the crunch of the crisp romaine lettuce and so I decided to increase the crunch by taking the veggies that he served on the side and adding them to the sandwich. Whenever I am in need of a day off from the kitchen, I prop up my feet and make a request for this sandwich.

Two pieces wheat sourdough bread or any wheat bread
Roasted turkey from your local deli
Swiss cheese
Baby carrots, sliced in half lengthwise
Romaine lettuce
Radishes, sliced
Cucumber, sliced

Mix your mayo and mustard together in a bowl and spread onto both sides of your toasted bread. (Why is it always better when you mix them?) Add a layer of romaine lettuce topped with carrots, radishes and cucumbers. Next, layer generous amounts of turkey, top with cheese and then the second bread. Cut in half and serve with the extra veggies and hummus.