Friday, January 18, 2013

Salsa Soup and Cheese Quesadillas

I have to start this post by giving credit to Rachel Ray for coming up with the base for this recipe.  I only alter it a little, so I definitely can't take credit for it.  I do, however love how flavorful, healthy, easy, and quick it is to make!  

I started by chopping a large green bell pepper, and get a large pot heated over medium heat with a few trips around the bottom with olive oil.  Throw in your pepper, and then I used my mini food processor to chop two shallots, three cloves of garlic, two jalapeno peppers, and a small onion.  If you don't have a little food processor, by all means, chop away, but I hate crying through onions, and smelling like garlic, and I inevitably touch my eyes after peppers, so I am loving my newest kitchen toy!  Also, I usually leave my veggies pretty chunky in this, but I don't love biting into a big chunk of any of those, so I dice them pretty small, more for flavor than texture.  Throw those all in the pot and season them with salt and pepper.  

Let those cook for a few minutes and then add two cans of tomatoes, one crushed, and one stewed.  Top this off with some chicken stock to thin it out.  I use about a cup and a half, but thin it to the consistency you like, I prefer thicker soups.  Let this bubble away while you make your quesadillas. Before you serve the soup, stir in a handful of freshly chopped parsley. 

I use flour tortillas, but you could use whole wheat.  They were just what I had on hand.  I also had shredded sharp cheddar, and a block of pepper jack, or something spicy, I forget what exactly it was, but use your favorite melting cheese!  You can make them in oven, like 10 minutes on 300 degrees, but I like to make mine in a pan on the stove.  (You will find, if you follow my blog, that I rarely use the oven.  I think it goes back to some control issues, but who really knows!)  So, I spray a pan with non-stick spray, put a tortilla down, cover it with cheese, top it with the other one, and cook it over medium heat until it is golden brown and the cheese is melty, then flip and repeat.  

Ok, the last thing I added was a mix of half an avocado, two spoonfuls of sour cream, a little lemon juice, some fresh parsley, and a pinch of salt.  I spoon a dollop on my soup, and it adds a refreshing coolness to a more acidic, spicy soup.  Yum.  

Ingredients list:

olive oil
1 bell pepper
2 jalapenos
3 cloves garlic
2 shallots
1 small onion
1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
1 28 oz can stewed tomatoes
1.5 cups chicken stock (ps. Use veggie stock to make it vegetarian)
chopped parsley
flour tortillas, 2 per person
2 cups shredded cheese
sour cream
.5 avocado
lemon juice
salt and pepper

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Sweet potato and white bean burger

Ok, I'm starting by saying, you will love this "burger."  You may be thinking, "I don't like sweet potato!" or "Beans, yuck!" but seriously, this is so. good.  I got the base for my recipe from another blog I stumbled upon on Pinterest, but it made way too many and I made a few changes so below was my first go at these and there are only a few changes I would make, so I'll note them as I go :)

Before I even start, this got messy.  I have very few pictures of the process because I was a mess.  There was sweet potato everywhere, I used half the tools in my kitchen, and definitely got to a point where I was asking, "What have I gotten myself into?!"  But I learned a lot tonight, and I will pass along my new found wisdom, which should keep your kitchen, hands, and life a little neater, at least for this meal.

So, first you need to cook a sweet potato.  I did this by piercing the skin and roasting it at 375 for like 25 minutes.  Next time I will poke it and microwave it for sure.  Next, you need to drain and rinse a can of white beans.  Now, my first mistake was thinking, I should totally use my mini food processor!  (Mostly because I thought it would be faster, but also because it's my newest kitchen toy and I wanted to use it) but I will tell you that it wasn't going to give me the texture I wanted, so halfway through the processing, I took it out, transferred it to a bowl, and mashed it with my potato masher. (Mess #1)  So, take my advice, and just use a bowl and a masher.  

Once the sweet potato is cooked, you can put your beans and the potato (not the skin) into a bowl, add an egg, about 4 tbsp of wheat flour, salt, pepper, and I used cajun seasoning.  I wish I had used more salt and more seasoning.  I think you could use whatever seasoning you like, I thought about lemon pepper, but thought the little spice and heat would balance the sweetness of the sweet potato.  (It did!) Ok, so mash all of that together and set it aside for a minute.  Now you need to heat a large skillet over medium heat and cover the bottom in olive oil.  In a shallow dish, put about 3/4 cup of panko bread crumbs.  

Are you ready for tip for avoiding mess number two?  Ok good, it's coming up!  Once the pan/oil are hot, get your hands wet, and make a ball and then flatten it into a patty in your wet hands.  Press the patty into the bread crumbs, and CAREFULLY flip it over and get the other side.  Once they are both coated, place it into the hot pan, and if it got all screwy, you can reform it a bit with a spatula.  Repeat three more times and then let them cook a few minutes on each side.  

I served my "burger" on a toasted wheat bun with a little romaine lettuce, sliced avocado, and a little mix of brown mustard and mayo.  I also baked off some onion rings and made a little creamed spinach with red pepper flakes. 

This burger is crunchy on the outside, creamy on the inside, and the only burger I have ever had that didn't need cheese.  Although, I did buy some goat cheese that I may try on one of the leftovers.  Please do yourself a favor and make these.  They are perfectly delicious.