Welcome to my world!

I've developed a passion for cooking since childhood, but in the past six years, that passion has grown into a geeky obsession. I love cooking, baking, and most importantly, sharing the love of food with family and friends. I invite you along on my journey of food discovery and passion.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Quick Quesadillas for Back-to-School Dinner

Dallas-area students started back to school this week and I've seen many of my friends struggling with fitting all of evening activities into already full days.  So, what do you do if family dinner is a priority?  No, do NOT hit the drive thru 4 times in a week (if you can help it).  Instead, whip up a meal in about 10 - 15 minutes.  Yes, I said 10 minutes! :)

A great go-to meal is a quesadilla.  You can make it vegetarian with refried beans or canned black beans (drained and rinsed first!), use leftover meats (bbq brisket, cooked chicken, or even ham), whatever type of cheese you like, and veggies to your liking.  Served with a side of carrot and celery sticks or apple slices, you have a great meal.

But what about other types of quesadilla-inspired options?  I personally love Italian food, and I frequently make a dinner panini.  I thought, why not take the idea of a quesadilla, but make it Italian-style (you can go Asian, Mexican, Greek, whatever)?  Instead of tortillas, I used flat bread, usually found near the deli or bakery in a grocery store.  Prosciutto (Italian ham), provolone, and mozzarella combine into melty perfection and pair perfectly with crispy veggies on the side.  While the sandwiches were baking, I peeled and sliced a cucumber and served it sprinkled with just salt and pepper. 

No real recipe to this, just improvise with what you have. Here's what I did:

Flat Bread Quesadilla Sandwiches

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
You can warm up and slightly toast the bread (flat bread, pitas, or tortillas) by placing it in a pan over medium-high heat just until heated through and lightly browned in spots
Spread mustard, mayo, pesto or whatever you like onto one side of a flat bread. 
Layer on the cheese and meat toppings (ham, salami, turkey or what you like or have around)
Fold over bread (to a half moon shape).
Place on a baking sheet, then bake until the cheese is melted and sandwich is heated through, about 5 - 8 minutes.
Cut into wedges and serve.

Happy eating!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Summertime Recipe Inspirations

I have to confess, I cook a lot this summer - A LOT.  But, I've posted the pictures of what's cooking on Facebook and sorely neglected my blog.  Apologies!  So, what has inspired my cooking this summer?  LOTS of trips to the Dallas Farmers Market and deliveries by Greenling.com.  In the mix since we last chatted was a trip to San Francisco (aka Foodie Heaven!).

Summer is so much about the fresh produce and grilling that almost all of the pictures below were based around one of these two concepts (dessert is the exception).  Okay, I also put in two killer dessert recipes that were neither grilled or considered summer produce, but they were darn tasty! Rather than do a bunch of different blog posts to cover everything, here are pictures of some items that really hit the spot in the warm weather.  Since Texas won't actually cool down for another month, these recipes are still great to try.  If you want the recipe for any of these, comment and I will send it to you via personal email!

Produce Recipe Pics

Tomato Soup 
Grillin and Chillin: Grilled & Chilled Tomato and Onion Soup with Basil Chiffonade,
Olive Oil Drizzle, and Crumbled Feta

Even insipid winter Roma tomatoes are brought to life by grilling them.  In winter, I would just use a grill pan indoors to the same effect and add a pinch of sugar to the soup to bring out the sweetness that winter produce lacks.  For a vegan version, omit the Feta crumbles.

Quinoa Salad
Plenty of Protein: Red Quinoa Mediterranean Salad

If you haven't yet tried quinoa, you are missing out.  It's one of the "ancient grains" that have existed for centuries and is actually a complete protein.  This salad takes the flavors of the Mediterranean and combines them with quinoa for a nutritious, tasty, and CHEAP lunch or dinner option.  I was playing with the camera to make the picture look like it was in motion, so sorry for those that may feel dizzy!

Grilled Recipe Pics

Meaty Good!
Better meat = Tastier Burger: Grilled Waygu Mini-Burger with Bacon, Guacamole, and Blue Cheese

We have a wonderful organic and local produce and more delivery service called Greenling in our area.  They ran a special on local Waygu ground beef, so I took a chance....  If you don't know Waygu, it's American Kobe beef.  These are happy beef cows pastured and kept from getting stressed.  Rumor has it, in Japan these prized cows are even fed beer!  Happy cows = tasty meat.  Two tricks: manipulate the meat as little as possible - don't knead it to death and cook no more than medium for a really juicy burger.

You Grilled That?!: Grilled Angel Food Cake with Sliced Strawberries

The Dallas Farmers Market hosts a wonderful cooking class series each summer and I had the opportunity to attend.  Once of the chefs grilled angel food cake and served with fresh berries and whipped cream.  I thought - how easy and simple would that be and so I tried it.  What a revelation!  The angel food cake takes on a marshmallow-like taste from the grill markings and the berries and fresh whipped cream really offer a taste of summer with a side of naughty richness from the cream.  Since my sweetie prefers strawberries, I just sliced some up and put some sugar on them to punch up the sweetness.


A meal isn't complete without a killer dessert.  Here are two that I tried.  One is a take on a French apple cake and the other is a crazy take on a calzone, courtesy of a killer pizza restaurant in town, Il Cane Rosso.

A Taste of Fall in Summer
Oui! French Apple Cake

Consider this a preview of fall - a cake made with sliced, cooked apples baked into a custardy cake with a toasty sugar topping.

Trust me - this is awesome
OMG Good: S'mores Calzone

When I tasted this at the summer cooking class, I couldn't wait to try this at home.  If you are lucky enough to have a pizza oven that goes to 900 degrees like Il Cane Rosso, lucky you!  Us mere mortals can only get our ovens to 500 degrees, but we can still make it tasty good.  How can you not love a pocket of pure, gooey, chocolatey goodness?  The marshmallow is both fluffy and carmely, while the chocolate is melting and rich.  If you're making pizzas, take some of the extra dough and try this. 

Happy eating!