Bacon, Avovado, & Mozzarella Quesadillas

I have a naughty inner fat kid that just loves breaking the rules 2 times a week. I know each person has the same problem I do so I’m not embarrassed to admit it. I have a fairly good diet where I eat at least 2 fruits and 1 vegetable per day. Even when I break the rules by eating something that has been processed with 50 different life threatening things and is not considered healthy to eat, I add a side salad or a fruit cup to try and cancel out the negative, good enough for me.

Forgive me father for I have sinned. I’m not the person who counts the calories I take in with every meal, I could care less about every little harmful ingredient on the back of the box that will probably give me cancer soon, and don’t even get me started on cholesterol, sodium, and sugars. Life is too short to worry about what I’m eating and why I should or shouldn’t eat a certain food. In all honesty everything in life can and will kill us so why should I stop eating what I love because it has too many processed ingredients? If you think about it, all food has been processed in one way or another. I love the real food movement that many people are pushing on our population currently. It’s definitely a topic to read up on and a great idea to get involved with if you haven’t yet done so. As for me, I keep a good watch on how much processed foods I take in along with how often I’m doing it. I’m in good health as far as I know, I have no problem with eating well, and I’m at the appropriate weight for my age, therefore I have no shame in eating bad once in a while.

Eating real food has its price. I bust my butt at work everyday to try and make a living though mountains of student loans, credit card payments, and affording to live in an expensive area of south Florida. Quality has a price and lately I haven’t been able to pay it. I always have on hand in my kitchen at least 4 fruits and 2 vegetables until I run out. I didn’t get a chance to take lunch at work today so I came home hungry ready to make something quick to fill my hunger. I opened up the refrigerator and peeked around to see what I had available to prepare that wouldn’t take much time or effort. The first thing that caught my eye to the middle left of the cooler was a stack of extra large flour tortillas.I had some avocados I needed to use up and thought about making a wrap with some bell peppers, romaine and cheese. As I was browsing the top shelf of my refrigerator where I keep my produce, I came across a bright red tomato. At that moment all I could think of was salsa! I quickly changed my decision from a wrap into a quesadilla with fresh made pico. This is what happens when my mind goes places. Oh how I love sweet summer time!

Prep Time: 20 Minutes

Total Time: 30 Minutes

Serves: 2

Ingredients:

-1 5×6 Tomato, diced

-1 Each garlic clove, minced

-1/2 Yellow onion, diced

-1 Bunch Cilantro, rough chop

-1 Each Lime

-3 Tablespoons Cumin

-1 Tablespoon Salt

-1 Teaspoon ground Black pepper

-1 Teaspoon cayenne

-1 large tortilla shell, cut in half (or two 6″ shells)

-1 Avocado, sliced

-4 Strips bacon, cooked, reserve bacon fat

-2 Slices Mozzarella Cheese

-1 Teaspoon Butter

Method of prep:

-Start by making the pico. Dice up the tomato and place in a medium bowl.

-Add in garlic, onions, all seasonings, and cilantro.

-zest the lime on top. Cut the lime and squeeze as much juice out as possible. Toss lime scraps.

-Mix together. Adjust the seasoning if necessary and set aside.

-If you haven’t cooked off your bacon, now would be a good time to do so. Reserve the bacon fat!

-With bacon fat still in pan and stove on medium heat, melt 1 teaspoon of butter.

-Lay down 1 tortilla shell.

-Add mozzarella, shingle the avocado on top, and lastly add your  bacon.

-Place the other half of the shell on top on press down gently.

-Let cook for 4 minutes until golden brown and crisp on the bottom, then flip over to the other side.

-Cook until cheese is melted, and both sides are crispy and golden brown delicious. If your having trouble with the crisp bottoms add in more butter!

-Remove from pan, cut into fourths and top with pico.

Enjoy!

**This recipe also goes great with my Guacamole and Corn and Black bean salsa

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Cauliflower Crust Pizza

When I first heard of cauliflower crust pizza I was inquisitive to acquire information on this recipe. I stumbled upon this through a friend of mines blog the Celiac Chronicles that another mutual friend of ours had found through the internet and given her. If I’m not mistaking I believe the first cauliflower pizza originated from a blog titled Eat Drink Smile. I ignored the recipe thinking it was just another type of pizza and moved on. Soon after, I started to see this recipe pop up all over the place through other blogs, pinterest, and even in my hunt to finding new recipes just by typing in key words such as cauliflower, and pizza. I finally gave in and decided to give this recipe a whirl.

I had some trouble with perfecting the crust in the beginning. This recipe is by no means challenging, I’m just the girl that loves a crispy pizza all around. I love seeing the golden brown crust and hearing the crunch when taking the first bite. I’ve never been a sucker for doughy pizza. To me it tastes under cooked and I don’t care for it. Cauliflower crust is moist and very loose. After a few times of making this pizza with omitting certain ingredients and substituting in others to try and get a tighter crust, I realized this recipe is supposed to be a mushier pizza due to the fact that cauliflower and cheese have a decent amount of moisture.

This is a great pizza, I recommend you give this a try at least once. Also  a healthy alternative because it’s not made of flour and is a great gluten free option. If I had kids I wold be making this for them every weekend instead of going out for pizza. The great thing about this recipe is as long as you make the crust as mentioned below you can use whatever toppings of your choice. I mention 2 examples below that I made for myself. I wouldn’t recommend saving this for leftovers, I don’t think it will reheat easily. Also, this recipe is for 1 serving. If you want to increase the yield for more than 1 person I would make separate doughs rather than doubling the recipe, once again I’m not certain how well the crust will turn out.

Prep Time: 30 Minutes

Total Time: 45 Minutes

Ingredients:

-1 Cup Cooked, riced cauliflower

-1 Cup Shredded Mozzarella

-1 Egg, beaten

-1 Tsp Dried oregano

-1 Clove Garlic, minced

-Olive Oil

-Toppings and sauce of your choice

Preparation:

-Remove stems and leaves from cauliflower. Using either a ricer or food processor, pulse until cauliflower begins to look like rice. Another alternative is to grate it.

-Place the cauliflower in a microwave safe bowl and microwave for 6 minutes, stirring halfway through until cooked.

-Preheat oven to 425.

-In a medium bowl, combine cauliflower, cheese and egg, stir.

-Add oregano and garlic. Transfer to  a sheet tray or pizza stone and shape into a circle. Brush with a little bit of olive oil to help with browning.

-Bake for 15 minutes until crust begins to brown. Make sure to rotate after 7 minutes.

-Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes. Add sauce then toppings. Return to oven until cheese is melted. Approximately 4 minutes.

-Allow to cool slightly, cut and serve.

Enjoy!!

**Note: This is a loose crust. Be careful when picking up the slices for they may fall apart.

<—Pepperoni, mushroom, and fresh mozzarella pizza.

<—Broccoli, caramelized onions, and chorizo pizza (No cheese added on top)

Smoked Gouda Mac-n-Cheese

As a kid Kraft macaroni and cheese was one of my favorite foods to eat. There was something about that blue box with the creamy texture not to mention cheesy flavor it had that always had me begging my father to make more. As I grew older I faded away from  macaroni and cheese. I started eating more food and beginning to learn how to cook and opened my taste buds up to other cuisines. Ive always loved cheese and thought that people who didn’t care for cheese were weird, unless they were lactose intolerant.

I was at a friends house one evening having what you could call a girls night. Sex and the city, lots of wine, and good home cooked food with just me and my two lady friends. Sitting on the breakfast bar attached to the kitchen was a cheese board one of the girls had assembled to go with our wine to snack on while  calmly waiting for our dinner to finish. I bit into a cheese Id never had before. This hard cheese with an edible brown rind and yellow interior blew me a way, I was instantly hooked. I began buying Gouda even though it was expensive and started coming up with recipes to use this cheese in. I decided one day to test it out in the form of a cheese sauce to make home made macaroni and cheese. That was the best idea I’ve ever had.

I make smoked Gouda mac and cheese at least 3 times a year. Its easy to make and has exceptional flavor. If you are usually an out of the box or frozen macaroni and cheese individual you should step out of your convenience bubble and give this recipe a shot.

You will need:

-4 Oz Smoked Gouda, grated fine on a micro plane (not box grater)

-2 Ea Slices American cheese

-4 Ea Slices bacon, cooked, rough chop

-1 Ea large yellow onion, brunoise

-1/2 Box of pasta noodles of your choice, for this recipe I used Penne, cooked al dente

-3 Ea garlic cloves, minced

-3/4 C Heavy cream

-1 C whole milk

-TT Salt and pepper

-4 Ea sweet peppers cut in rings

-1/2 C breadcrumbs, lightly toasted

-1/2 T Paprika

–  TT Hot sauce (optional)

Preparation:

-Cook bacon until crisp and set on a paper towel to catch grease. In the same pan on medium heat sauté garlic in leftover bacon fat for 1 minute then add in vegetables and sauté until translucent about 2 minutes. Set aside when done.

-In a sauce pot over medium high heat, bring cream and milk to a simmer.

-Begin slowly adding the Gouda one small handful at a time to keep it from clumping while stirring constantly.

-Add in American cheese one slice at a time still stirring until melted.

-Season with salt and pepper.

-Add in vegetables and stir until combined.

-Add in pasta.

-Garnish with bacon, breadcrumbs, and hot sauce.

-Enjoy!

Mahi Tacos

      The first time I was introduced to fish tacos was my freshman year in culinary school. I was uncertain in my thoughts of whether to like this kind of taco or not. The fish we used wasn’t the best and who ever cooked it didn’t do an acceptable job. From that moment on every time I heard of fish tacos or read about it in a menu I was provoked to get something else. When I moved to Florida earlier this year I got stuck with seeing fish tacos everywhere. Without a doubt there is fresh seafood all over due to the fact that Florida is surrounded by water on all sides. I chose to give fish tacos one more shot. I figured if anything the fish here would be of better quality plus the menu descriptions had a way of making the dish sound captivating it was hard to turn down.

Most restaurants here in south Florida use Mahi-Mahi for the fish selection. The fish is almost always blackened meaning the it is coated in Cajun seasoning and can be marinated in oil and then grilled. There is usually sauce of some kind, lime wedges, and a fresh slaw to go along with the tacos. I’ve decided to come up with an enjoyable version of fish tacos. As far as cooking the fish Brandon recommended I baste the fish instead of straight up pan searing it. The flavor produced from caramelizing the fish topped with the seasoning and butter through the basting process keeps all the flavors intact. The final result is incredible with flavor.  For this recipe I’ve included a sauce, slaw, and fish preparation. You don’t have to include the sauce or slaw however I do advise you to go along with using both.

Ingredients:

Slaw:

-1 Small head cabbage (red or white doesn’t matter, for this recipe I used red)

-1 Each red and yellow sweet pepper, julienne

-1 Bunch cilantro, rough chop

-1 Each mango, peeled, and julienne

-1 Each small red onion, julienne

Chipotle lime sauce:

-1 8 0z container sour cream

-2 Each lime’s

-Zest from one of the above limes

-1/4 Teaspoon Cumin

-1/4 Teaspoon Old bay

-1/4 Teaspoon Chili powder

-1 oz Hot sauce

-1 small can chipotle peppers chopped up.

-Salt, TT

Tacos:

-2 Each Mahi-Mahi filets, cut in strips

-6 Each flour tortillas (Substitute corn tortillas for GF)

-1 Pack shredded cheddar

-1/2 Stick unsalted butter

-1/2 Cup Olive Oil

-1/4 Cup Cajun seasoning

-Do ahead: Place fish in large Ziploc freezer bag, add in Cajun seasoning and oil. Let marinate in refrigerator until ready to be cooked.

Method of prep:

Slaw:

-Cut cabbage, peppers, mango, cilantro, and onion as directed above.

-Place in small bowl and evenly mix by hand.

-Season with salt and juice from 1 lime (or orange juice if you have on hand)

-Cover with plastic wrap and set in refrigerator until ready to serve.

Sauce:

-Add sour cream and all seasonings into a small bowl.

-Squeeze juice from both limes into sour cream mixture. Add in zest from one of the limes and mix together with a spatula. Adjust seasonings if needed.

Tacos:

-Turn stove on Medium heat. In a medium skillet add in fish up to 3 at a time in the pan. Sear for about 3 minutes (possibly longer depending on size).

– Turn fish over using a metal spatula. Push fish up to the top of the pan with spatula, begin to add in 1 tablespoon of butter and allow it to melt.

-Tilt pan toward you, using a big metal spoon and start basting the fish with butter until a nice carmelization appears over the top of fish. Add more butter if needed.

-Baste for about 1 minute and cook for an additional minute after basting. Remove fish from pan and begin process over for next batch of fish.

-Once fish is ready, heat up tortillas in microwave for 20 seconds.

-Spread sauce on shells, add cheese, then fish and top with slaw.

-Enjoy!

If you are inexperienced with basting fish you can also bake in the oven or just pan sear on the stove.

Panang Curry

      I love curry, that’s all there is to it. I can’t tell you exactly when I fell in love with this Southeast Asian dish, however I can tell you that if you love cuisine with a great balance of flavor, that is highly fragrant with fresh vegetables  in addition to being spicy, than Thai food is for you. I have a high tolerance for spicy food and it never fails for Thai dishes to meet my needs.

      Extraordinary is what happens when coconut milk meets green curry.  I hunger for this type of curry often whenever I’m in a Thai food state of mind.  This time I decided I wanted to step out of the green comfort zone and make a tradition Thai dish at home using red also known as Panang curry. Red curries have a tendency to be stronger in heat and reduced in  sweetness than yellow and green curries. You can include any protein you want, traditionally chicken is the way to go when getting Panang personally I prefer pork. This dish has a great balance of sweet to spicy ratio and its one of my favorite foods to eat. It’s simple to make and quick. The aroma that evaporates throughout my house while I’m cooking keeps me salivating and anxious to eat. I recommend you try this recipe.

Ingredients:

-1 Cup coconut milk

-1 Cup chicken stock

-1 Small yellow onion, julienne

-1 Each yellow, red, orange sweet pepper, julienne

-3 Each button mushrooms, sliced thin

-1 Cup jasmine rice

-2 Each garlic cloves, chopped

-1 Tablespoon olive oil

-1 Bunch of basil, torn

-1 Each dried chili pepper

-Chicken or pork, quantity is up to you, cut up small

-Salt, TT

-1 Tablespoon red (panang) curry

Method of Prep:

-In a large sauce pot heat olive oil and add in garlic. Sauté until light brown then add in vegetables and sauté until translucent.

-While vegetables are cooking, in a separate pot add in water and rice, cover and cook on medium heat. Bring to a boil, lower heat and continue to cook uncovered another 5 minutes stirring often making sure not to overcook rice or burn the bottom on pot.

-Once Vegetables are ready, add in red curry and stir.

-Add in Chicken stock to deglaze.

-Add in coconut milk and chili pepper. Bring to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes.

-Once rice is ready, set aside and keep covered.

-Cut up Protein in small chunks and cook.

-Add in pork or chicken to curry liquid prior to serving.

-After 30 minutes pour desired amount of curry over a small bowl of rice. Garnish with basil leaves at the end.

-Enjoy!