It’s Saturday And I Am Making Chicken Quesadillas

Sometimes I wish my wife had never had a chicken quesadilla. If there are chicken breasts in the freezer and it’s Saturday ” your making chicken quesadilla for supper ” is what I hear in the morning. Only saving grace is that she isn’t asking me to make them on the bbq.

I will admit they are actually really good, especially with Frank’s hot sauce. I have seen lots of kind of complicated recipes but the way I do it is really simple. I make them so often they are one of my earliest posts. A friend made them with my recipe and said it didn’t turn out as good as what I made for them. Since I do it the simplest way possible, one step was missing and that was time. You need about 2 hours for the flavour in the salsa to marinate the cooked chicken breasts.

This filling for the quesadilla is so simple that it is kind of a shame to call it a recipe. My greatest critic, my wife, says that it is a way better than any she has had in restaurants. The reason is restaurants can’t wait 2 hours when they make quesadilla so they have to build flavours a different way. The salsa is store bought medium salsa, good quality, not the no-name store brand. The small dice of the chicken breasts in the salsa for 2 hours lets the flavour get in the breasts.

1 chicken breast pounded thin

salt and pepper

1/3 cup salsa

3 green onions chopped thin

Salt and pepper both sides of the chicken breast and fry in a frying pan, set aside to cool. When cool enough to handle cut in a small dice about a quarter inch. It doesn’t have to be exact just small pieces. Mix salsa, green onions, chicken together in a bowl and sit on the counter for at least 2 hours.

This is enough for 2 full sized quesadillas or 4 of the folded in half kind. The using a plate method makes it easy to flip the full sized quesadillas. Exactly how the plate method works is an early post.

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Frying Pan Rice Pilaf

Sun is shining today so I am back to bbqing. Supper tonight was bbqed pork sirloin steak and rice pilaf. I would of normally made it in the oven, but I read a method of cooking rice kind of like risotto. Since I will try just about anything when it comes to cooking I figured it was worth a try. Surprisingly it actually worked extremely well.

One of the most important tools you can have in your kitchen is a very very good non stick frying pan. Non stick frying pan can be very good or just crappy things that peel and warp. If you can, you should invest in a good one that has a thick base and a durable coating, they can run over a hundred dollars but are worth it. If you’re lucky like our son Ian and have a cast iron frying pan that is over a hundred years old, that’s your non stick pan. I know Ian’s pan is over a hundred years old because it was mine and I gave it to him. Think it is the one that is stamped 1909, the other one was 1921 so I guess it’s over a hundred years too.

This turned out to be a very simple thing to make and like any pilaf very nice to eat. As I was cooking it I was reminded that it is more like rice-a-roni than risotto. Rice-a-roni was something we use to buy years ago and this pilaf was very much the same minus the pasta. This was for 2 people and can easily be increased for more.

3/4 cup rice

1/2 cup chopped celery

1/2 cup diced onion

6 mushrooms sliced

3 cloves garlic minced

3 green onions chopped

2 teaspoons butter

1 and 1/2 cups chicken broth

salt and pepper to taste

Preheat a non stick frying pan on medium heat. Add butter, when butter is melted add celery, onions, garlic, mushrooms, salt, and pepper. Cook for about 3 minutes stirring often, add the rice and mix in, cook for 1 minute stirring often. Add 1 cup of chicken broth and reduce heat to medium low. Cook until most of the chicken broth is absorbed, about 10 minutes stirring occasionally, add the remaining chicken broth and cook until fully absorbed stirring occasionally. Mix in the green onions and served

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Potato Pancake, Not Boxty

I have been making boxty for a few years now with leftover mashed potatoes. Since our son-in-law is from Ireland I made it as a treat for him the first time I made them. Funny thing was he didn’t know what a boxty was. He said they were just potato pancakes where he grew up. After some checking I found out boxty was a regional name for them. They are very delicious potato pancakes but not the potato pancakes I grew up having.

Potato pancakes were simple things, just taking leftover mashed potatoes and making patties and frying them. Sometimes chopped green onions were added, but not often. I decided to kind of take part of a boxty and part of what I grew up with and make my own version. One great part of a boxty is the addition of raw grated potato to the mashed potatoes, think that what makes a boxty so great.

You need one very important piece of equipment to make potato pancakes or boxty. What works best is a really good non-stick frying pan. I just made one pancake and cut it in half before I flipped it, because I was lazy I guess. If you’re making more you can form them into patties and fry them. Individual ones are a lot easier to flip. You can make them in batches and keep them warm in a 200 oven. The mashed potatoes need to be very creamy and if they are to dry add a little half and half cream

1 cup leftover very creamy mashed potatoes

half and half cream if needed

1 and 1/2 teaspoons of flour

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

2 finely chopped green onions

1/2 cup grated raw potato

1/2 teaspoon butter

Mix mashed potatoes, garlic powder, salt, pepper, and flour together very well. Mix in the green onions, and grated potato. Preheat a frying pan on medium heat with the butter. Add the potato mixture and press down to form a pancake. Cover and cook for 4-5 minutes, cover and cook for 4-5 minutes. Uncover and cook for 30 seconds, flip over and cook for and additional 30 seconds and serve

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Making Chicken Ramen Soup

My original plan for supper tonight was a different kind of asian soup, but I didn’t have any rice noodles. Change of plans is never the end of the world, just make something with what you have. Since I always have ramen noodles in the pantry it was a very easy switch. Ramen is something both my wife and I really like so supper became ramen soup.

Ramen soup is actually something that is easy to make and tastes great. Your can buy ramen broth in most grocery stores but with any broth you can make your own. It may not be a traditional ramen broth but by playing a little with what you have it can be close. I have had great ramen in restaurants and one of the things that give it a great taste is the fat. The fat gives you that great mouth feel that makes you want more and more of the broth. So that is the thing you have to try and duplicate.

Since I am using packaged chicken and beef broth my little trick starts with cooking the chicken tenders in bacon fat. The mushrooms get cooked in butter and sesame oil. You get the mouth feel and come close to restaurant ramen. I didn’t end up with the original soup I was planning on making but we still had a great supper.

6 chicken tenders

4 thinly sliced mushrooms

1 carrot shaved into ribbons

3/4 cup thinly chopped celery

1/4 cup small broccoli florets

2 green onions sliced diagonally

2 radishes thinly sliced

2 tablespoons celery leaves

1 cup beef broth

1 cup chicken broth

1 cup water

1 teaspoon bacon fat

1 teaspoon butter

1/4 teaspoon sesame oil

2 teaspoons soy sauce

1/2 teaspoons garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

2 hard-boiled eggs cut in wedges

2 packages instant ramen noodles

Cook chicken tenders, mushrooms and set aside to cool. Add chicken broth, beef broth, water, soy sauce, garlic powder, ginger, seasoning packets from instant ramen noodles, and sesame oil to a pot. Bring to a boil, cook carrot, celery, broccoli for 20 seconds, remove and set aside. Add ramen noodles to the pot and cook for 3 minutes. Place ramen noodles equally in 2 bowls. While ramen noodles are cook heat mushrooms, chicken, broccoli, celery, green onions for 30 seconds. Equally add the chicken and vegetables on-top of the ramen noodles and pour boiling broth into the bowls. Top each bowl with hard-boiled egg, celery leaves, and radish. Serve immediately and if you’re handy with chopsticks it’s the perfect dish to use them.

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Roast Chicken, Which I Don’t Like

Roasting a chicken isn’t anything I like to do with a whole chicken, but my wife loves it. I would rather have anything other than roast chicken, chicken stew, fried chicken anything but roasting it. I can’t remember the last time I roasted a chicken, it has been years. It was on sale at a great price when I was in the store, thinking of fried chicken I bought one. As I was getting other things I realized I hadn’t roasted a chicken in years. I thought I could treat my wife, and surprise her, when she asked what I was going to do with it. It was kind of funny, she said your doing what. When I repeated what, she informed me it had been years since I roasted a chicken.

I don’t like roast chicken not because I can’t cook it properly, it’s the lack of taste when it is just roasted. Since I am a little weird I have learned to play with things when I do rarely roast a chicken. It is a delicate balancing act when adding flavours because I still want a good gravy from it. Stuffing is something I enjoy especially with a roast turkey but with chicken I have only done it once. Surprisingly I found my bread stuffing just tasted strange and greasy. So no stuffing but I do stick things inside.

This is just what I did and I know for chicken lovers it isn’t necessary. My wife likes the dark meat so I can get away with doing things that only effect the chicken breast. Just simple things that keep it moist and give it some flavour. Somethings may seem a little strange but there is a reason for it. The lemon I cut 4 slices out of the middle leaving the ends in large pieces. Putting the lemon in the cavity you want the cut side up, this allows the lemon steam to flavour the breast. It also keeps the lemon juice from ending up in the gravy. The seasoning for the butter is exactly the same as I use for stuffing because it helps the gravy. As the picture shows it isn’t the prettiest looking roast chicken but it tastes good.

1 chicken 3 to 4 pounds

1 tablespoon butter

1/8 teaspoon of each of these, parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme, garlic powder, onion powder

1/2 teaspoon of salt and pepper

1 lemon with 4 slices 1/4 inch thick cut out of the middle

Mix the butter, parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper together. Loosen the skin on the chicken breast and smear most of the butter over the breast. Rub remaining butter all over the whole chicken. Place 2 slices of lemon on each side of the breast under the skin, place the end pieces of the lemon in the cavity cut side up. Roast uncovered in a preheated 350 oven for 1 and 1/2 hours. Check the temperature to insure it is 185 or higher. Rest for 15 minutes before carving.

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Don’t Throw A Great Part Of Broccoli Out

Since it’s to be raining tomorrow and for five days I decided to bbq steak tonight. Originally I was planning to have a steak Sunday but rain always can change plans. Yes the steak was just for myself, it was chicken for my wife. My wife had broccoli and a baked potato, my choice was broccoli and garlic toast. This post isn’t about how good the steak was, it’s about the broccoli, especially the part that usually ends up in the trash.

If I am totally honest I like the part people put in the trash more than the florets. The main stem from broccoli is a great part of the plant. I haven’t thrown them out for years, but why started in a strange way. My wife hates water chestnuts and I was looking for something to put in a chinese recipe that called for them. I figured I might as well try broccoli stems. The week before I had made broccoli and naturally put the stem in the trash, but I had noticed the center of the stock looked totally different than the out side. After I peeled the outside and was cutting the stem into disks for the chinese recipe I tasted it. I was totally surprised how good it was even raw. In the chinese recipe it was the perfect substitute for water chestnuts. The next time we had broccoli I cut the stem into disks and cooked them with them with the florets. They turned out perfect and had the taste of broccoli and still remained crisp. There have been times my wife had the florets and I have just had the stems. Even raw they are a great part of broccoli that should never be put in the trash.

I cook broccoli the simplest way it can be done, in the microwave. You don’t need any water other than what is on it when you rinse it. Just cut the stem off, peel it and cut into disks. Rinse the crown and cut into florets. Put the stem disks in a microwave safe dish and place the forets on top. Put some butter slices on top and lightly salt and pepper the dish. Our butter comes in one pound bricks and I use two very thin slices off the end, so thin it curls. Microwave for 1 and 1/2 minutes and stir, continue microwaving in 15 second increments until the desired doneness.

I like grated old cheddar cheese on mine, my wife just likes it the way it comes out of the microwave.

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Praying For Rain So I Can Cook

This has been kind of a sad week if you’re like me. Since the weather has been good my wife has wanted me bbqing. It isn’t kind of sad because I hate bbqing it’s because I don’t find it much fun. It’s been smokies, hamburgers, chicken, and tonight pork tenderloin. Throw in omelettes one night and thats been my week. Only saving grace of the week has been the pictures Ian has sent of what he’s been eating in Portugal.

Thankfully the forecast is for four days of rain starting Saturday. Most people hate rainy days in the summer but I love them. There are somethings that I actually do like bbqing, well one thing. Steaks I enjoy bbqing and getting them cooked perfectly I find fun. Anything else I just find work because I can cook it just as well if not better in a frying pan or oven. Pork chops are a good example of why I would rather use a frying pan or an oven. I like bbqed pork chops but your very limited on exactly how you have them when bbqing. With the frying pan or oven I can bread them with many different things . I can top them with different things and bake them in the oven. Guess it comes down to my wanting to be creative when cooking, that for me is the fun and joy of cooking. When you take the fun and joy of creativity out of something it just becomes work.

Yes, I know people do use their bbqs like stoves, using griddles and frying pans on them. Personally I think that is just going to far when you have a perfectly good stove in the house. I know lots of people who cook everything they possibly can, even breakfast, on their bbqs in the summer. Guess I am just a very weird person who would rather use a bbq occasionally.

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Eating Should Be An Adventure When Traveling

Our son Ian is in Portugal for a few days on a business trip. This is the first trip he has taken in over two years, and he is making the best of it. He is doing what I consider the absolute best thing you can do when traveling in another country. Some might think he is a little weird with what he does when traveling, I think he is damn smart about it. So exactly what am I talking about, food of course.

Eating in a foreign country should be a total adventure, and maybe a little of me rubbed off on him, because no food is off limits. Honestly he does what I do, look for the most different thing on the menu. Over the years I have had what some would call weird foods, I just call it fun things to eat. I have watched Ian doing the same thing as he has traveled and being honest it makes me very proud of him.

Trying the different foods is the best way to understand the people of the country your in. You get to taste the flavours of the foods they consider comfort food. It also opens your eyes to what great food other cultures have, besides being one of the great adventures of your life.

Yes, he knows how goofy his father is about food so he sends me pictures. Being goofy about food I also send him suggestions, most of which he ignores. His supper last night was a suggestion I sent him which I am very glad he took. Polvo a Lagareiro ( Octopus ) is a great dish cooked the way the Portuguese cook it. He told me what he was having for lunch today, a Francesinha sandwich. It is a meat lovers dream, but I doubt he finished it. Will be interesting to see what adventure he has with supper tonight.

If you’re lucky enough to travel to other countries make the absolute best out of the trip. A big part of doing that is to embrace the food and try everything you can. I did it and I am extremely proud of our son for doing it also.

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They’re Called Side Dishes For A Reason

I am on my soap box preaching again. Guess since I am retired I have to much free time. I watched a cooking show earlier and they criticized one of the chefs because he hadn’t piled everything on top of everything else. I find it unbelievable that for a chef to win on some of these shows piling everything on top of everything else is how you win. Seems how good the food tastes isn’t as important as food towers.

I have a lot of old cookbooks and some have pictures of the finished meal on a plate. Since I like being a bit of a pain sometimes I pulled 3 recipes from old cookbooks and found very similar recipes from todays chefs recipes. There are still lots of chefs that don’t follow the lets make food towers on plates silliness. The shame in it all is the current crop of tv chefs are the ones promoting food towers. Maybe the 7.7 billion people on the planet who don’t want to eat their food all mashed together can have a voice someday.

SALISBURY STEAK

First picture is from a 40 year old cookbook and second is a current one.

BRAISED LAMB SHANKS

First picture is from a 50 year old cookbook and second is current.

CREAMY DILL SALMON STEAK

First picture is from the same 40 old cookbook and second is current. This is probably the best example of how things have changed. The rice was served in a separate dish on the same plate.

Hopefully all the current food tower tv chefs watched the CNN special on Julia Child. Part of it showed clearly how plating use to look. Another part explained how foods should compliment each other. Never once did it try and tell you you should mash everything together on your fork and that’s how you eat your meal. It also showed how important making each thing on the plate taste great was. Ok preaching is over, hopefully for a few months at least.

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It’s Tuesday And We’re Having Friday Surprise

Sunday supper was roast pork and since it was just my wife and I there is lots of leftovers. I wanted something different to make with the leftovers so took sometime looking for a recipe. Found a couple but that would of meant running to the store for the missing ingredients. Covid still has its ugly head peeking around the corners so we don’t make unnecessary trips to the store. My wife suggested I make Friday surprise.

Friday surprise has been my go to recipe for leftover roast for years and is a family favourite. It popped up on the Cara restaurant at the Winnipeg airport years ago when my office was there. New chef from Scotland had taken over and he put it on the Friday menu. I was blown away the first time I tried it, but it did take me awhile to try it with gravy. The chef and I were the same age and started having lunch together so he convinced me to try it with gravy, turned out he was right, it was better. It was so good I started making it at home. So for well over forty years I have been making it. His recipe was his mother’s, a combination of any leftover meat from the week, vegetables and rice baked in the oven. He said his mother made it every Friday and since it could have chicken, pork, beef, even lamb and duck all mixed together she called it Friday surprise. So for the two years he was at Cara you never knew exactly what combination of meats was in it till you ate it. While he was there the food at Cara was great and he ended up being one of the best chefs in Canada after he moved to Toronto.

Friday surprise is just leftover meat and vegetables cooked in a frying pan with butter until vegetables are half cooked. Add the rice and mix together and transfer to a casserole dish add boiling water equal to double the amount of rice. Baked for 35 minutes until rice is tender is cooked. Serve with soy sauce or gravy, I prefer gravy. The recipe for mine is already a post on my site.

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