Saturday, July 17, 2010

Spicy Veggie & Bean Quesadillas~Another healthful, easy, and inexpensive meal!

This sure doesn't taste like health food: a plate full of delicious quesadillas!
What do we do with all the tomatillos our two little garden plants are producing? I got in the kitchen yesterday to start figuring that out and ended up with a plate full of really delicious quesadillas. The recipe is at the end of this post, but I wanted you first to see how lovely fresh tomatillos are.

A close up of chopped tomatillos.

This is my "mise en place" for the quesadillas.
All these vegetables are so good for you!

Et Voila!!! (or maybe I should exclaim ¡Y AquĆ­!)

Spicy Veggie Quesadillas

Serves 6 as a main dish or 12 as a snack
1 can pinto beans, rinsed and drained (about 10 ounces of cooked beans)
1 cup chopped bell peppers, any color
1 cup chopped onion (yellow, white, purple, or Vidalia)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 medium jalapeno pepper, seeded, ribs removed, and minced (add more or less to suit your taste)
1/2 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
Canola oil spray
1 c. chopped tomatoes (cut them in half first across the equator and gently squeeze out seeds before chopping)
1 c. chopped tomatillos
1/4 c. fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped
Juice of one lime
3 c. shredded cheese of choice (reduced fat Cabot's cheddar is delicious in this)
12 whole grain flour tortillas, about 8 inches (I used Harris Teeter brand, each is 100 cal. & 5 g. protein)

Spray nonstick skillet with canola spray and heat over medium-high heat. Add pinto beans, bell pepper, onion, jalapeno pepper, and garlic to pan. Saute until vegetables begin to soften. Stir in chile powder, cumin, and salt, and saute for 2 more minutes. The vegetables should be crisp/tender.Spoon vegetables into a bowl. Stir in tomatoes, tomatillos, cilantro, and lime juice.

Heat a dry skillet or griddle over medium heat and place tortillas on surface. Distribute 1/4 c. of the shredded cheddar cheese over the surface of each tortilla. Spoon 1/4 c. of the vegetable mixture on one half of each tortilla.
When the cheese begins to melt on the tortilla, gently fold that side over the vegetable side and lightly press down.
Continue to cook the tortilla till it is golden brown on the pan side, then turn it over to lightly brown the other side.
When golden brown on both sides, remove tortillas to a cutting board.
Cut each tortilla into 3 wedges and serve with a garnish of 1 teaspoon sour cream mixed with 3 tablespoons of tomatillo salsa (salsa verde). Salsa verde is very low calorie, and by combining the salsa with a tiny bit of sour cream, you get the satisfaction of both without the giant dollop of sour cream.

Nutrition (per two, as prepared here; your choices of cheese and tortillas will affect the nutrition content):
406 cal., 10g fat (23% cal from fat), 28g protein

Monday, July 12, 2010

Foxy Tomatillo Sauce

Add abundant flavor to grilled chicken breasts, lean pork tenderloin, and seafood, or use as a very healthy dip for tortilla chips.

Lovely fresh tomatillos in their husks. When peeled, they look like green tomatoes,
but they are not in the tomato family. They are easy to find in grocery stores.
They also are very easy to grow in the garden and are prolific producers.

Peel the husks back to reveal the fruit, then wash it in cool water to remove the
sticky residue
on its surface. There is no need to core these little beauties.

Tomatillo Sauce

1 pound tomatillos, husks removed, quartered
1 medium onion, quartered
2 cloves garlic
1/2 medium jalapeno pepper, seeds removed if desired (omit this entirely if you don't like the heat)
1 handful cilantro (I use the stems only since they are full of flavor and will be pureed anyway)
1/2 cup of filtered water (preferred over tap water)
1 rounded teaspoon of powdered chicken bouillon

Combine all of the above (except the lime juice) in a saucepan; cover and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 20 minutes or until the onions are soft. Allow to cool a bit and then puree in a blender. Cool and refrigerate or freeze till ready to use.

Use this as a dip, as a flavoring ingredient in soups and stews, or as a sauce for chicken, pork, seafood, and eggs. This entire quantity contains only about 200 calories, so enjoy all this guilt-free flavor!


Monday, July 5, 2010

Foxy Pimiento Cheese: The Perfect Condiment for Perfectly Ripe Tomatoes

Foxy Pimiento Cheese is a delicious blend of sharp cheddar and mild bleu....and a "secret" ingredient that nobody will ever guess!

Top perfectly ripe tomatoes or stuff cherry tomatoes with this delicious pimiento cheese
that is a quick, make-ahead dish for entertaining or every day sandwiches and snacks.

Foxy Pimiento Cheese
(Makes about 4 cups)

12 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, finely grated (may use a good brand of pre-shredded cheese)
4 ounces mild bleu cheese, grated (mild bleu cheese will not have many bleu veins, I use the Harris Teeter Fresh Foods Market Brie)
4 ounce jar of chopped pimientos, undrained (see tip below)
3/4-1 cup good quality mayonnaise (such as Hellman's)
1/4-1/2 tsp. coarsely ground black pepper (restaurant grind, to taste)
1/2 teaspoon Texas Pete hot pepper sauce, or to taste
1 teaspon A-1 Steak Sauce (this is the secret ingredient!!)

-In a large bowl, combine cheeses and pimientos and stir till combined.
-In a small bowl, combine 3/4 cup mayo and remaining ingredients and mix thoroughly.
-Fold mayo mixture into the cheese until completely incorporated.
-Mixture should be very creamy and not dry. Add the remaining 1/4 cup mayo if necessary.
-Refrigerate overnight for best flavor. The cheese spread will tighten up with refrigeration. If you find that it is too
  thick because you didn't add the extra 1/4 cup of the mayo, just go ahead and stir it in.
Pimiento cheese and pickled okra are a tradition in the South.

Our favorite brand of pickled okra (next to our homemade) is Talk 'o Texas.

Find jarred pimiento cheese on the vegetable ailse in your grocery store, instead of the pickle aisle. You can substitute roasted red peppers if you can't find pimientos, but the flavor will be different.