Chipotle Chicken Quesadillas

Summer is coming to Ohio. We think. Today we’re wearing jackets, but we’ve had a few warm days as teasers and the forecast looks promising.

These quesadillas are great for summer for 2 reasons: 1. They’re quick (summers seem busier, less time cooking) 2. They don’t use the oven.

These quesadillas are great year-round for 2 reasons too: 1. They’re easy. 2. They’re so good.

Sometimes when we have Grilled Chicken Breast Salad, I purposely have Shannon grill a couple more pieces of chicken than we’ll need. When I’m cleaning up after the meal, I chunk up the leftover chicken and put it in the freezer for such a time as this: Chipotle Chicken Quesadilla night.

chicken quesadillas

This is not a recipe from anywhere, it’s just a thrown together dish.

This is a good walk-into-the-kitchen-30-minutes-before-mealtime-thinking-”what-can-I-make-QUICKLY” option.

So, get out your frying pan and start heating it up, I set mine to 300 degrees, which would probably be medium-low on a stovetop. Get out the sour cream, frozen chicken chunks, tortillas, can of black beans, and shredded cheese. Put the chicken in the microwave for 1 min to thaw. Put a bit of olive oil in the frying pan, add the chicken, and sprinkle with chipotle seasoning. Fry and stir a couple times.
chicken quesadillas browning meat

While that’s frying, get the other stuff ready… Butter 1 side of each tortilla, drain the beans, open the sour cream and cheese.

Take the chicken out of the pan. Put 2 tortillas in the pan, butter side down. Smear with sour cream. Add chicken, beans, and cheese.
chicken quesadillas sour cream beans

chicken quesadillas sour cream beans cheese

Put the other tortilla, butter side up, on top.
chicken quesadillas frying

I didn’t time how long to fry it before flipping, I just waited til the bottom tortilla was nicely browned and the cheese started melting a bit. Flip quickly, but gently, if that makes sense. If you flip quickly and wildly, you may have beans and chicken chunks hitting the ceiling. :)
chicken quesadillas fried

After the second side is fried, put on a plate and cut into fourths with a pizza cutter. Top with sour cream and salsa.

For sides, I serve extra tortilla chips & salsa and applesauce.

I make four quesadillas total (only 2 fit in the pan at a time) and I tried something different for the second batch… Instead of layering, mix the sour cream, chicken, beans, and cheese together. Put 2 tortillas in the pan, divide the mixture between them, spread it out, and put the other tortilla on top. Either way works great and tastes the same.
chicken quesadilla

Now, for a bit of a concise recipe that doesn’t have pictures mixed in, in case you want to copy and paste it somewhere. These measurements will be very estimated because I never measure them and the chicken amount varies with how much leftover there is at the moment.

Chipotle Chicken Quesadillas …add or subtract to your liking

2 cups of chicken, chunked
1 Tbsp. olive oil
2 tsp. chipotle seasoning
3/4 cup sour cream, plus extra for garnish
1 can black beans, drained
2 cups shredded cheese
8 tortillas, each buttered on one side

If chicken chunks are frozen, thaw in microwave for 1 min. Heat electric frying pan to 300 degrees or medium-low for stovetop. Sprinkle seasoning over chicken and fry in olive oil for several minutes, stirring now and then. Take chicken out and put 2 tortillas in, buttered side down. Put 1/4 of the sour cream, chicken, beans, and cheese on each tortilla OR mix those 4 ingredients together and spread 1/4 of the mixture on each tortilla. Fry for several minutes, flip gently, and fry the other side. Put on a plate, cut into fourths with pizza cutter, and garnish with sour cream and salsa. Round out the meal with tortilla chips, extra salsa, and applesauce. And dinner is served!

Summer, we love you and welcome you! Please come and stay for awhile!

Chipotle in a Bowl

chipotle in a bowl serving

This is one of my favorite foods at the moment. I’m not even sure why I like it so good. I mean, it’s basically just rice, beans, and chicken, which doesn’t sound all that exciting. But man, it is so GOOD!!! It must be the cumin. Or cilantro. I don’t know, but I just had it yesterday and I’m craving it again. I wonder how many days in a row I could eat it before I’d get tired of it.

So, please make it.

Don’t let the list of spices, herbs and steps make it look daunting.

I’ll be honest, it is kind of time-consuming to make. But all casseroles and soups are. ……..When I say that sentence in a conversation, it’s like I want to ask myself “Did I yell that? Or why did everyone perk up and half the people are wildly talking over each other disagreeing with me?” Every time I say that, people come up for air defending it because “casseroles are so quick” and “just throw together a soup”. It will forever be a mystery to me why I seem to always be standing alone on the casseroles-and-soups-are-more-time-consuming island. I just realized that I’m off on a bunny trail here, but I’ll follow it a bit more and tell you why I feel the way I do… in case you’re coming up for air too. ;)
There are so many steps to all-in-one dishes… you fry the meat, you cook the noodles, you chop the veggies, you sauté them, you make and thicken sauce. You mix it together, add more things, and then you still have to bake it, stir it, or cook it.
When it’s all separate, you bake/fry/cook it, and then it’s done and ready to put on the table.
Maybe I’m a bit biased because I prefer to cook the “separate” way, partly because that’s how I grew up, partly because Shannon often grills the meat if it’s separate, partly because I’m always stumped about what to put on for side dishes because all the food groups are in the main dish, and partly because you can taste each food better. Ok, let’s bring this bunny trail back over to the main trail again.

I’m just sitting here wondering why I’m putting a plug in for “meat & potatoes” meals when what I’m posting is an all-in-one meal! Ha.

Yesterday when I made Chipotle in a Bowl, it seemed to go extra fast because… 4 of my friends were sitting on bar stools around my island (the one in my kitchen, not the opinion one up there that I stand alone on :) ) and we were all chatting the morning away with cups of coffee. I wish they’d come sit around my island every time I’m cooking. It takes something already enjoyable… cooking … and makes it even more enjoyable… cooking with friends and coffee! ;)

Chipotle in a Bowl …from the cookbook Simple & Satisfying

CHICKEN:
1 1/2 lbs chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 1/2 tsp. seasoned salt
1 1/2 tsp. oregano
1 1/2 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. garlic salt
1/2 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. paprika
Marinade chicken in seasonings for at least 4 hours. Fry in oil until done.
chipotle chicken

RICE:
2 Tbsp. oil
2 cups rice
1 c. chopped onion ( I go a little easy on this.)
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp. chicken soup base
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 – 2 Tbsp. cilantro, fresh is best
4 cups water
Fry rice and onion in oil, then add remaining ingredients. Simmer until rice is soft. I’ve never timed this, I’d say it’s about 1/2 hour. I just go by when the water is gone.
chipotle rice

BEANS:
2 cups cooked black beans (I use canned. A couple of my friends say dry ones that you soak yourself are better. I want to try that next time.)
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/2 Tbsp. chili powder
3/4 tsp. lemon pepper
1/2 tsp. salt
1 – 2 Tbsp. cilantro
Simmer bean ingredients together for 10 minutes.
chipotle beans

TOPPINGS:
2 cups sour cream
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese (I use Mexican blend.)
Lettuce
Tomatoes or salsa
Ranch dressing

Put rice in a greased casserole dish, then top with black beans and chicken. Spread sour cream over chicken and top with cheese. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Serve with remaining toppings.
chipotle ready to layer

chipotle layering

chipotle layer cheese

chipotle in a bowl dish

This recipe is great as is. The only thing I’m going to try changing sometime is using only half the rice. I think it’s a bit of an overkill for how little chicken is in the recipe, even though I really like rice.

We all love this. It’s just bursting with flavor and it’s not too spicy for the kids.

Southern Fried Chicken

You know how certain words make your mind immediately go somewhere? Well, Southern Fried Chicken does that to me. I picture a diner in the south with a comfy waitress who reminds me of Grandma and calls all her customers “Honey” and has a smile that warms the entire place and makes you want to come back again. Right after that, I think of my friends in Macon, MS. Yep, I think of you guys instead of FL or anywhere else in the south.

Here was our menu for supper.

menu board chicken biscuits pie

This chicken recipe is kind of a concoction of different recipes and things I’ve heard/learned. So, I’ll just write it all in one concise recipe and you can change it up even more if you want. :)

Southern Fried Chicken
2 lbs chicken breast cut into strips (they fry faster if you cut em up, I cut each piece into about 3 pieces)
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. paprika
Light olive oil …Yeah, I’m serious, olive oil. It’s healthier and it keeps the chicken from being too greasy. Just make sure it says light-tasting on it.

A few hours before supper, put the chicken breast and buttermilk in a big Ziploc bag. Mix it around a bit to make sure all sides of all the pieces have been coated in the buttermilk. Put the bag in the fridge.
Dump oil in an electric skillet and turn to 350 to get it to heating. Mix the flour and seasonings in a bowl. Take the pieces out of the buttermilk bag and coat them in the flour mixture.

southern fried chicken flour

When the light goes off on the skillet, put in a few pieces. Don’t put too many in at a time or the temperature of the oil will go down too low and oil will soak into the chicken. Fry 4 minutes on each side or until the internal temp is 170.

southern fried chicken frying1

southern fried chicken frying2

Transfer them to a paper-towel-covered plate to drain. To keep the first batch(es) hot while you’re finishing frying, you can put them in a warm oven. I only had 2 batches, so I just stacked them together after they had drained and then covered them. They stayed nice and hot.

We ate them with BBQ sauce and Ranch dressing… not at the same time. But just now that I’m thinking about it, I think I’ve heard that those 2 mixed makes a really good sauce. I’ll have to remember that next time. Honey mustard is another good option.

This meal was on the table in about 1/2 hour from walking into the kitchen. Well, the pie was made ahead of time. Lexi (she’s 10 now) started on the chicken flouring while I mixed up the biscuits. Then I started frying while the girls (yes, all 3) cut the biscuits… can you say “flour on the ceiling”? Just kidding, but there was definitely some on the floor. And the green beans were easy, just cooked and seasoned.

southern fried chicken served

Finger lickin’ good!! I know, I know, that’s so cliché. Here’s something not cliché: Go make ‘em! ;)

Grilled Chicken Breast Salad

Being a mom and having guilt go together like pancakes and syrup. It just goes with the turf. You wake up in the morning and right away you can think of things to feel guilty about. I should spend more time… I should not have gotten upset when…  I shouldn’t have let them… Maybe we should give them… I should be getting up, what with the baby yelling for me from her crib and all…

If you get that first paragraph, then you know what I mean when I say how it makes you feel when your children make good choices… despite all your mistakes, something is getting through.

Well, here’s my little triumph in the food dept… my girls count Grilled Chicken Breast Salad as one of their favorite meals. We have it at least every other week. It’s hard to get a healthier meal than this, really… fresh veggies, hard-boiled egg, lowfat mozzarella cheese, some croutons, and grilled (not breaded or deep-fried) chicken breast. In the tortured mental games that I sometimes put myself through, them liking salad seems like it, in some way, compensates for the times I say yes to ANOTHER piece of candy or that lazy Saturday when we had ice cream cones for breakfast (hypothetically speaking, of course, not like any responsible parent would ever actually allow that, or do it herself), or those times when I let the girls fend for themselves for lunch and it’s anything but a square meal, a triangle meal at best.

Chicken Breast Salad

chicken-breast-salad-closeup.jpg

I’ll show you how a meal that involves grilling is a joint effort for us… I’ll color code it just to humor myself.

Shannon’s 1st job: Starting the grill, either charcoal or gas. This particular time, he used gas because it gets ready faster.

My 1st job: Thawing the chicken breast. Here’s how I do it. It goes from freezer to thawed in 5 minutes… which is good news to any of you who don’t always plan ahead and don’t get the meat out the night before to begin thawing!  

Take this out of the freezer:
chicken-breast1.jpg

Put the frozen chicken pieces out on a dinner plate.
chicken-breast-frozen.jpg

Put the plate in the microwave on High for 1 minute. Flip the pieces, reposition them so what was on the outside is now on the inside, and if one was on top, don’t put it on top the next round… in general just move them around at random.

Repeat that step 4 more times. If we’re having rolls or breadsticks to go with it, during those minute intervals is when I’d be getting them in the oven. Trim off some fat and drain off the juice. Your plate of chicken breasts should look like this, thawed and ready to hand over to the master of the grill.
chicken-breast-thawed.jpg

He seasons them with Chef Paul Prudhomme’s Blackened Steak Magic seasoning. You can season more boldly when it’s going on a salad than if you’d be eating the meat by itself. If you notice the 2 small ones with little seasoning, those are the ones the girls will eat. Their tastebuds seem to not be mature enough yet to handle the extra kick, so theirs get only Lawry’s Seasoned Salt and I think Shannon might sprinkle some Lawry’s on ours too. And then he puts them on the grill.
chicken-breast-seasoned.jpg

Meanwhile, I’m making salads…
Lettuce
Tomatoes
Mushrooms
Hard-boiled eggs
Shredded cheese
Croutons
Whatever else you want or have on hand like Carrots, Bacon, Italian seasoning, whatever. And they don’t all need to be the same… personalize them to each person’s taste.
chicken-breast-salads-b4-chicken.jpg

Looks kinda refreshing on a hot day, huh?

chicken-breast-salad-b4-chicken-2.jpg

Meanwhile, the chicken is on the grill. I left my salad-making and followed Shannon out to the grill when he went out to flip them…
chicken-breast-for-salad.jpg

Those of you who want to make this salad, I hope you sorta know how to grill chicken breast because when I asked Shannon what he did and how and time on the grill and stuff, I got very sketchy details, but I also got some great tips.

For example, I asked how long they were on before he flipped them and he didn’t know. He said you need to be on the edge of your comfort zone with it, though, and not overdo it. He said alot of people freak out about making sure chicken is done and then end up with dry rubbery chicken. You want it so it’s just so done, not pink anymore, and juicy. So, of course, I asked how to know when that is and he said, “You just go by instinct.”

So, yeah, good luck with that.

You could use a meat fork thermometer. Shannon used to have one, but hasn’t for quite awhile because, uhhhh, one time yours truly immersed it in water because the handle was messy and, you know, of course one time of immersion wouldn’t matter… famous last words. Yet, grilled chicken breast around here always ends up being perfect… done, but still juicy.

My only job left is to get out the cutting board and the knife… HIS knife, I should say. Yeah, we each have our own knife this size and we each think our own is THE best. Sometime, I should put them both on here and take a poll. I’ll best mine would win because, if for no other reason… it has a case! ;)
chicken-breast-cutting-board.jpg

Soon, he brings the chicken in, slices it,
chicken-breast-cutting.jpg

and places it on top of the salads.
chicken-breast-salads.jpg

Zig-zag some Ranch dressing over it…
chicken-breast-salad-with-ranch.jpg

And dig in!

You don’t think this salad is so healthy that it could actually take away those cavities caused by the extra pieces of candy, do you?

Turkey Schnitzel

Don’t you just love the sound of that? Schnitzel. Makes me feel like I’m cooking authentic German food. It’s really good. I’ll give you a brief description and see if you think you’d agree… pieces of turkey breast dipped in milk, then flour, then eggs, then seasoned bread crumbs, then fried in oil and butter. Mmmmmm!

turkey8.jpg

My mom gave me this recipe, including the ingredients. She does that for birthdays. I love it! She shares my love for trying new recipes, but she’s also got a bunch of tried and true ones.

Turkey Schnitzel

Printable recipe coming soon

1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup flour
2 eggs, beaten
3/4 cup seasoned bread crumbs
1 lb. turkey slices (1/4″ thick) or strips
2 Tbsp. butter
2 Tbsp. canola oil

Mom gave me this with the recipe. 
turkey1.jpg
It’s some GOOD stuff, but I wonder if she knows that things like this are way out of my comfort zone! ;)
turkey2.jpg
I think the only chunk of meat I’ve ever bought with a bone in it is ham. Oh wait, sometimes I get a rotisserrie chicken at the deli, but that’s easy, all I have to do is reheat it. I’ve never even done a turkey at Thanksgiving! This turkey breast is supposed to be cut into slices or strips. Well, I got various sizes and shapes of pieces! :)  

Place first 4 ingredients in 4 separate bowls.
 turkey3.jpg

Dip turkey slices or strips into milk, then flour, then eggs, then bread crumbs. Place on waxed paper and let stand for 5-10 min. I was out of waxed paper, so I just used plastic wrap.
turkey4.jpg

Heat butter and oil in large skillet. Brown turkey for 2 minutes on each side or until juices run clear.  
turkey6.jpg 

Serves 4. In Germany and Austria, schnitzels are served with French fries and lemon wedges (to squeeze on meat).

turkey7.jpg

turkey9.jpg

The meat stayed really moist. And it had a great flavor! Because you can quick fry it up, it’s one of those quick things to make for when you’re staring in the fridge/freezer/cupboards at 4:30 p.m., totally blank for a supper idea. Mom said she even tried it with just the bread crumbs (without dipping it in milk, flour, and eggs) when she was in a hurry and that was good too. It would be good with chicken breast too, I’m sure, although I’ve never tried it, having only made it this once… so far anyway. ;) So, with these variation ideas, the question would be: Would it still be schnitzel then? We sure don’t want to lose that word! :)

Coming before Christmas yet: Cranberry Salad and Fudge. That is 2 separate recipes, by the way. ;)

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