Fun Recipes for Cinco de Mayo

I love preparing and eating Mexican foods. Although I don’t normally need an excuse to make a batch of salsa or a tray of enchiladas, the upcoming Cinco de Mayo holiday gives us all a good reason to have some fun with Mexican flavors in the kitchen! Here are some recipes that would be perfect for the occasion:

(Scroll down for links to each recipe.)

Matt and I are going to celebrate the holiday a few days late with a “Diez de Mayo” potluck party. We’re going to provide margaritas along with rotisserie chicken and pork carnitas tacos for our friends and then they’ll bring additional dishes with them. I can’t wait!!

Our Fiesta invitation postcards for Diez de Mayo

Do you have any special party or food plans for Cinco de Mayo? Please tell me about them in the comments section! 🙂

Recipe Links for the Cinco de Mayo Dishes shown above:
Pork Tinga TacosMargaritas on the RocksChorizo-Bean Tortas
Rotisserie Chicken BurritosPoblano Sausage TacosFrozen Strawberry Margaritas
Salsa Verde EnchiladasPozole VerdeJalapeño Garlic Chicken Quesadillas

Tasty Treats for the Big Game

Have you ever noticed that everyone always refers to this weekend’s championship sporting event as The Big Game rather than just saying the Superbowl?  I guess it’s a legal thing – am I even allowed to type “The Superbowl” here without the NFL’s permission?? – but I digress.

For this weekend’s ‘big game’ we’re going bowling at the awesome, tater-tot-filled North Bowl in Philadelphia right before the game and then we’ll head over to Matt’s sister’s house for pizza, beer and commercial football watching.  Even though I won’t be doing any cooking of my own, I still wanted to share a few recipes that I know would be delicious to snack on during the Superbowl.  Enjoy!

BBQ Chicken Quesadillas

BBQ Chicken Quesadillas – A delightful combination of shredded chicken, cilantro and barbecue sauce, all held together with plenty of melted Monterey Jack cheese!

Jalapeno Poppers

Jalapeño Poppers – A baked, spicy treat filled with low fat cream cheese and part skim mozzarella (they’re practically healthy!)

Tomatillo Salsa

Tomatillo Salsa This bright green dip is packed with roasted tomatillos, cilantro, garlic, onion and jalapeños.  Make the day before and serve cold!

Caprese Skewers

Bite-Sized Caprese Skewers – Tomato, basil and mozzarella on a stick!  Perfect for healthier eaters.

Buffalo Chicken Sausage Quesadillas

This is my first post in more than 10 days.  I think that’s the longest I’ve gone since starting my blog but hey, sometimes life gets in the way of blogging!  🙂  Luckily I had lots of good things going on at the beginning of the year which means that I’m just now getting around to posting about some of the foods and activities that we’ve enjoyed in 2013 thus far.  First up: Buffalo Chicken Sausage Quesadillas!

Buffalo Chicken Sausage Quesadillas

The quesadillas were super-easy to make and they were cheesy, crispy and had just the right amount of heat thanks to the Frank’s Red Hot Buffalo Wings Sauce that we found at the grocery store.  To temper the heat and acheive that classic “buffalo” experience, we dipped the quesadillas in low-fat blue cheese dressing and had a few celery sticks on hand when we wanted some crunch.  For the filling we used a pound of Maiale’s buffalo chicken sausage that we had been saving in the freezer from the Farmer’s Market last summer, but if you don’t have access to actual “buffalo” sausage you could easily substitute regular sausage or even shredded chicken in — just use some of the Frank’s Red Hot inside of the quesadilla to get that extra kick!

Buffalo Chicken Sausage Quesadillas (makes 4 large quesadillas)

You will need…
1 pound Buffalo Chicken Sausage, fully cooked and chopped into small pieces
Peanut Oil, for coating pan between quesadillas
4 large “burrito” sized Flour Tortillas (12-13″ diameter)
Approx. 2 cups shredded Monterey Jack Cheese (or Colby/Monterey mix)
1/2 cup Frank’s Red Hot Buffalo Wings Sauce, for dipping
1/2 cup Low-Fat Blue Cheese Dressing, for dipping
4-5 stalks Celery, cut into 4″ sticks

Assembling the Quesadillas on the stove

Directions:
Heat a large heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat.  Pour a small amount of peanut oil into the bottom of the pan (just enough to thinly coat it) and allow it to heat up.  Carefully place one tortilla in the bottom of the pan and evenly spread about a quarter of the shredded cheese over the entire tortilla.  When the cheese starts to melt arrange a quarter of the chopped sausage onto one half of the tortilla.

When the cheese has melted completely use a spatula to carefully flip the cheese-only half of the tortilla over top of the sausage.  Press down lightly on the top of the quesadilla to help hold everything together.  At this point the quesadilla is basically done but you may want to flip the finished quesadilla over in the pan until both sides are golden brown and crispy.  Remove the finished quesadilla from the pan and repeat the entire process (starting with the thin layer of oil) for your other 3 tortillas.

Cut the quesadillas into wedges and serve with buffalo sauce, blue cheese dip, celery, and a cold beer.  Enjoy!

Cheesy and delicious!

Jalapeño Garlic Chicken Quesadillas

Wait!  Before you read this, please comment on my Tomato Salad post to win a FREE digital kitchen scale!  Contest ends tomorrow (8/1) at 11:59PM.

We had originally planned to make standard chicken tacos for dinner tonight but decided to mix (or melt?) things up with these cheesy jalapeño garlic chicken quesadillas instead.  Matt found the marinade recipe on About.com and I think that it gave the chicken a great amount of flavor without overwhelming the other ingredients in the quesadilla.

Our garden-fresh peppers were featured three ways in this meal.  We used two jalapeño peppers in the marinade, sliced up two small red peppers to saute with the onions and applied a few drops of our super-hot roasted fresh chile salsa (recipe coming soon!) over top of the cheese in the final quesadilla.  Delicious!

Jalapeño Garlic Chicken Quesadillas

You will need…
2 Jalapeño Peppers, stems removed
2-3 cloves Garlic, peeled
3/4 cup Water
1/2 cup Red Wine Vinegar
1 teaspoon Salt
1/2 teaspoon Oregano
1/2 teaspoon Cumin
1/2 teaspoon Ancho Chile Powder
1/4 teaspoon Ground Black Pepper
1 Chicken Breast (2 halves)
Peanut Oil
1/2 Red Onion, thinly sliced
1 Red Bell Pepper, sliced into thin strips
6-8 Corn Tortillas
1 cup Shredded Cheese (we used Sargento Authentic Mexican Blend – a mix of Queso Quesadilla, Asadero, Queso Gallego, Manchego and Anejo Enchilado Cheese… whew!)
Hot Sauce or Roasted Fresh Chile Salsa to taste

Directions:
Place the jalapeño peppers and garlic in a blender and blend until finely chopped.  Add the next seven ingredients (water thru black pepper) and blend thoroughly.  Pour the mixture into a large zipper-top bag and add the chicken.  Allow to marinade for at least 30 minutes.

Add a tablespoon of Peanut Oil to a large skillet and saute the onion over medium heat.  When the onion is tender and starting to brown, add the red bell pepper and continuing sauteing until the peppers have softened slightly, approximately 5 minutes.  Remove the onions and peppers from the skillet and set aside.

Grill the marinaded chicken over direct medium-high heat until cooked through, approximately 7-8 minutes per side.  Remove the chicken from the grill and allow it to rest for 3-5 minutes before cutting it into thin slices.

Add a small amount of peanut oil to a large skillet and heat over medium heat.  Place one corn tortilla in the skillet and top with a small handful of shredded cheese.  Layer a few slices of chicken onto the cheese and spoon some of the onion-pepper mixture over the chicken.  Top with another scant handful of cheese and a few drops of your favorite hot sauce or spicy salsa.  Layer a second corn tortilla onto your creation.  Allow the bottom of the quesadilla to turn golden brown then carefully flip the quesadilla over and cook the other side until golden.  Remove the quesadilla from the skillet, and repeat the layering process with the remaining 2-3 quesadillas.  Slice the quesadillas into quarters and serve with salsa, guacamole, or sour cream… or just eat them as is!  🙂

BBQ Chicken Quesadillas

Over the holidays I discovered a blog called Natural Noshing while searching for a gluten-free meatball recipe to serve to our extended family.  Although I didn’t end up making the specific turkey meatball recipe that I found on Nora’s blog, I was enthralled by her beautiful photographs and delicious, clearly-laid out recipes.  I began to daydream about creating my own blog and, although I don’t have very much cooking experience and my photography has primarily been limited to dogs flying through the air, I eventually got up the nerve to start this blog!

I had originally planned to make Kung Pao Chicken in our wok tonight since this is one of our favorite meals and it hasn’t yet appeared on TheLittleGSP.  I had, in addition to the many sauces and oils needed for Kung Pao, some chicken breast and red bell pepper, and, as of 8:32am that’s what was for dinner.  That all changed at 8:33 when I got my automated WordPress notification that a new recipe was up on Natural Noshing.  The recipe?  BBQ Chicken Quesadillas with (you guessed it!) chicken and red pepper.  Perfect!

Before you read any further, you should definitely check out the original recipe and beautiful photos on Natural Noshing.  I am pretty stubborn about never quite following recipes exactly (I always tend to add extra onions, extra garlic and a shake or two of crushed red pepper for good measure…) so when in doubt follow Nora’s recipe, not mine!  🙂

BBQ Chicken Quesadillas  serves 2-3

You will need…
2 Chicken Breasts
1/2 Red Bell Pepper, diced
1/2 Red Onion, diced
Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper
1/3 cup Chopped Cilantro (apparently I like to be heavy-handed with Cilantro as well!)
Approx. 1/2 Cup Monterey Jack Cheese, shredded (I didn’t have the sharp cheddar that the original recipe called for)
6 Corn Tortillas (ours were Green Chile Corn Tortillas)
Approx. 3 Tablespoons of BBQ Sauce (we are using Homestyle Black Cherry Smokehouse BBQ Sauce from Whole Foods)
Sour Cream and Guacamole (optional but highly recommended!)

Directions:

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add the uncooked chicken breasts.  Boil the chicken breasts for 10-15 minutes or until they are fully cooked through.  (I actually lost track of time as my chicken was boiling.  This is usually Matt’s job but he was at lacrosse practice so I did it myself.  He tells me that you cook them “until they are done” so just do that and you’ll be fine…).  Alternatively, you can avoid this chicken-boiling step by just using pre-cooked rotisserie chicken.

Remove the chicken from the water and shred it with two forks until it looks something like this:

Sauté the pepper and onion in a tablespoon or two of olive oil over medium heat until tender.  Salt and pepper to taste and then transfer the pepper and onion mixture to a bowl.

To assemble your quesadillas, place a corn tortilla in the pan that you just sautéed the peppers and onions in.  You’ll want the tortilla to sizzle in the oil without burning (this is a very fine line on our not-so-sensitive electric range).  Top the tortilla with cheese and pour a few drops of BBQ sauce evenly around the tortilla.  When the cheese starts to melt place a few pieces of shredded chicken and a thin layer of the pepper/onion mix on one half of the tortilla.  Sprinkle with cilantro and fold the “empty” side of the tortilla over onto the full side.

Allow the quesadilla to continue sizzling until the tortilla reaches your desired level of crispiness.

Serve with guacamole and sour cream!