Monday, May 10, 2010

Life Happens

Ok, so I know I promised you an oven baked fish recipe and a lower calorie mac and cheese recipe. Here’s what happened, it didn’t happen. Friday, the day I had planned to make these delicacies, was A. much to hot for extended oven baking and B. Tyler was supposed to be home at 6pm and he was, but then there was catastrophic failure at work and he had to go back in. So, we had pigs in a blanket because they were fast and didn’t require extended oven usage. Then this weekend was super busy, and it really didn’t happen. What can I say, life happens.

Oh by the way, a shout out to all mothers… Happy Mother’s Day! I would especially like to thank my mother. If you want to know where my love for cooking and creativity in the kitchen comes from, it is most definitely from my mother.

Speaking of life happens, I’m still out of work. Bah humbug. My parents are redoing their kitchen and wanted to repaint… basically the whole house. The problem, dad decided he really didn’t want to paint it himself. So, he asked me if I wanted to paint for a little extra cash. Ok… I’m not sure if I ever mentioned that I do not paint for a living and have never painted for a living. As a matter of fact, I’ve only ever had a few major home décor painting projects and I’ve never painted crown molding (eek, a ladder!). Perhaps I should also mention that my dad is a paint perfectionist. (Perhaps being a second generation in the paint industry has something to do with it). So to say that I was a little nervous getting started today is an understatement. While I don’t mind painting, I think I’d like a real job. Preferably not one an hour an a half away (the commute to my parent’s). Not that I'm not grateful to my excellent parents for enabling me to pay the rent... I'm just fairly sure that I want a real job at a desk not on top of a tall ladder painting crown molding.

The good news is I did come up with a new recipe this weekend. I made some Chicken Fajita Quesadillas. They turned out fabulous. I made them in the oven, which I think is an ingenious way to make quesadillas especially when you want to make several. They crisp up nicely and you only have to turn them once so there’s no worry about everything falling out. There’s also no need to get a silly quesadilla machine. Serve these with a little sour cream, guacamole and a margarita.

Chicken Fajita Quesadillas
Serves 4

1 lb Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast, cut into thin strips
3 cups Shredded Mexican Blend Cheese, divided
8-10 6-inch Tortillas
1 cup Bell Pepper (any color or a mix of colors) cut into strips
1 cup Onion, cut into thin strips
1 medium Tomato, cut into thin wedges
Fajita Mix (use store bought or you can make your own with the recipe below)
Vegetable Oil
Cooking Spray

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large skillet, heat 1 tbs of oil over medium-high heat. Add the peppers and onions and sauté until onion is tender. Remove the vegetables from skillet and add a little extra oil. Brown chicken until cooked through. Add vegetables back into the pan along with the fajita mix and 3 tbs of water. Add in tomato wedges and simmer, uncovered for 3-5 minutes or until water is mostly evaporated. Spray the one side of each of the tortillas with cooking spray and arrange half of them, sprayed side down, on a greased cookie sheet. Using half of the cheese, spread equal amounts of cheese on each of the tortillas. Arrange a layer of chicken and vegetables on each tortilla (try to keep the layers as flat as possible to make for easier handling). Sprinkle the remaining cheese on the top of the chicken and vegetables and top with the remaining tortillas, sprayed side up. Bake at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes, turning once halfway through.

Fajita Seasoning Mix
Note: I never seem to have a packet of taco or fajita seasoning on hand when I want it. But with the help of a little internet research, I found that I usually have all the ingredients I need for a good seasoning mix already in my cupboard, plus then I can control how spicy or salty the mix is.
This mix is the equivalent of one spice packet… seasons one pound of meat

1 ½ tsp Chili Powder (I used Chipotle Chili Powder for a smoky kick)
1 tsp Salt
½ tsp Ground Cumin
¼ tsp Onion Powder
½ tsp Garlic Powder
¼ tsp Black Pepper
A pinch of Ground Cayenne Pepper (Optional)
1 tbs Cornstarch

Mix ingredients together and use as you would a packet of fajita seasoning

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