Thursday, May 31, 2012


Who doesn't love quesadillas? Warm, cheesy, finger food... a lot of my favorite things. You can get creative with quesadillas too! I happened to have sweet peppers, onions, and chicken but you could also use bell peppers, jalapeños, or beef! Or other things! The chili powder and cumin seasonings give it a distinct Mexican flavor and the cream cheese makes the filling extra gooey and wonderful. Have fun with the fillings and serve with chips and salsa, guacamole, and sour cream and you've got an easy and delicious dinner!

Makes 2 quesadillas
Total time: 20 minutes

Ingredients (( Healthier Ingredient Substitutions ))
2 large tortillas (( 2 large whole wheat tortillas ))
1 chicken breast, cooked and chopped
3 sweet peppers
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese (( 1 cup low fat shredded cheddar cheese ))
1/4 cup onions
1/4 cup cream cheese, softened (( skip this ))
1 tsp olive oil
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp salt (( salt to taste ))

1. Dice peppers and onions.
2. Saute in 1 tsp olive oil until the onions are translucent, about 3-4 minutes.
3. Mix chicken, peppers, onions, and seasonings to coat the ingredients evenly.
4. Mix in softened cream cheese and shredded cheddar cheese. (( Skip cream cheese for healthier version ))
5. Spread chicken mixture on half a tortilla and fold the tortilla over the chicken mixture.
6. Warm over medium heat until the tortilla is golden brown and the cheese melts, about 2 minutes on each side.
7. Cut into thirds and serve with chips, salsa, guacamole, and sour cream. Enjoy!

Little sweet peppers! They are my new favorite vegetable. A nice alternative to bell peppers!

Chop the peppers and onions.

Saute the peppers and onions with some olive oil until the onions become translucent.

Mix everything but the cheeses together. All of the seasonings will distribute evenly!

Aaaaah the cream cheese. It makes the texture of the cheesy inside extra gooey!

Add the cheeses and mix.

Spread the mixture of half of the tortilla and hold the tortilla over.

Warm over medium heat for a minute or two on each side to brown the outside and melt the inside.

 Flip over! Almost ready!

You'll definitely want something to dip these in. Sour cream, guacamole, or salsa... Yum!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Sweet Pepper Salsa

We were given a bunch of organic fruits and vegetables by a family we are dog sitting for this week and I said to myself Aha! An excuse to experiment with salsa! I had never tried these little sweet peppers before but I love them! They're not hot at all and kind of like bell peppers, but very sweet. This mild salsa with sweet peppers is a little something different!

Sweet Pepper Salsa

Makes 2 cups of salsa
Total time: 20 minutes
Mild spiciness

4 tomatoes
4 sweet peppers
1 jalapeño
2 cloves garlic
1/2 cup onion
1/2 cup cilantro
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp black pepper
optional 1/2 tsp cayenne for medium salsa

Roasting the Jalapeño:
(Skip roasting the jalapeño and leave in the seeds if you like medium salsa)
1. Set oven to broil. With plastic gloves on your hands cut the top and bottom off the jalapeño. Slice it in half and scoop out and discard the seeds and inner membranes.
2. Place skin-side up on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil and broil in the oven for 3-4 minutes.
3. Remove from the oven after 4 minutes and place on a plate and cover with a bowl for 15 minutes to steam.
4. Peel off charred outside of the skin.

1. Chop tomatoes in quarters and scoop out and discard the inner seeds and liquid. Cut pieces in half again.
2.  Cut onion and peppers in large pieces.
3. Peel both cloves of garlic.
4. Add all ingredients to the food processor and blend until very smooth. Serve with tortilla chips. Enjoy!

Make sure you wear plastic gloves when you're dealing with the jalapeno. I didn't have any so I just put plastic wrap over my hands. And DON'T TOUCH YOUR FACE. Slice the top and bottom off the jalapeno and slice it in half.

Scoop out the seeds and inner membranes and discard. You can leave the seeds if you want this to be hotter than mild!

Place skin side up in a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Broil for 4 minutes. Keep an eye on it! 

After a few minutes the skin will be charred.

 Remove from the oven and put on a plate covered with a bowl for it to steam. The steam will make it easy to remove the skin.

Peel the skin away and discard.

Check these peppers out! Nice and bright and very sweet!

Mmm! Just so pretty.

Chop up your peppers...

Chop up your tomatoes and onion and garlic to make it easier for the food processor to handle. 

Add EVERYTHING to the food processor! If you don't have a food processor you can just chop everything up as small as you can and you'll have a more chunky finished product.

Blend until smooth. I like a lot of things chunky and with texture, but not my salsa (traditional tomato salsa anyway). All the jarred salsas say "Chunky Restaurant Style" but most Mexican restaurants I've been to serve it smooth. It's all about personal preference, but I like it very well blended. If you like it chunky chop up everything a little smaller before you stick it in the food processor and then just pulse for a few seconds!

This salsa surprised me with how sweet  it was. It is definitely because of the peppers! I added some cayenne because I wanted some kick (and I only bought one jalapeno, rookie mistake). Next time I think I'll use 2 or 3 jalapenos! For now, this salsa is nice for something a little different!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Strawberry Shortcake Dip

I've been trying to dream up a sweet dip lately and this lovely concoction came to me. I was inspired by the strawberry shortcake my mom and grandparents used to make for my family when I was younger. It was simply smashed strawberries and sugar over the little shortcake cups or buttered toast and it always hit the spot. It felt like a treat, like we somehow were allowed to eat dessert for breakfast! This is a party friendly version of the childhood strawberry shortcake I remember. Serve the dip with vanilla wafers and graham crackers!

Check out my guest blog post for La Petite Fashionista!

Strawberry Shortcake Dip
Makes 2 cups of dip
Total time: 10 minutes

1 lb strawberries
1/2 cup vanilla yogurt
1/2 cup whipped cream cheese
2 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla
vanilla wafers, graham crackers, and whipped cream for serving

1. Chop strawberries into small pieces. Mash half of the strawberries in a bowl with a fork.
2. Mix all strawberries and the rest of the ingredients.
3. Serve chilled with whipped cream, vanilla wafers and graham crackers. Enjoy!

Start off with a whole 1 pound container of beautiful strawberries.

Chop all of the strawberries into small pieces.

Mash half of the strawberries with a fork.

Then a nice and creamy base of vanilla yogurt and whipped cream cheese (the whipped kind is easier to mix)...

Mix the strawberries, vanilla yogurt, whipped cream, vanilla and sugar.

Vanilla wafers and graham crackers are perfect for dipping. So sweet and so easy!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Tortilla Soup

I'm not so sure "tortilla soup" is the proper name for this recipe, but I think it comes close to what you expect for something like tortilla soup. This tasty concoction is just something I came up with when I rummaged through my kitchen! I have most of these things available to me all the time. The pantry items are really basic and I almost always end up buying onions and peppers at the grocery store whether I have a specific recipe in mind or not. And it's so simple! And makes you feel all warm inside.

Tortilla Soup
Makes 8 servings
Cook time: 35 minutes

Ingredients  (( Healthier Ingredient Substitutions ))                          
3 cups cooked rotini pasta (( 3 cups cooked wheat rotini pasta ))                                    
3 large tortillas (( 3 large wheat tortillas ))                                           
1 chicken breast, cooked and chopped                                 
1 green bell pepper                                                                       
1 small onion                                                                                     
32 oz. UNSALTED chicken broth (( 32 oz. low fat unsalted chicken broth ))                                           
1 cup water                                                                                       
1 can diced tomatoes with green chilis                                  
1 can black beans                                                                            
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (( 1/2 cup low fat shredded cheddar cheese ))                                  
1 cup sour cream (( 1/2 cup low fat sour cream ))                                 
1 1/2 Tbsp lime juice                                                                      
1/2 Tbsp dried cilantro                                                                  
1/2 tsp olive oil                                                                                 
1/2 tsp garlic powder                                                                     
1/2 tsp cumin                                                                                    
1/2 tsp chili powder                                                                       
1/2 tsp salt (( salt to taste ))                                               
1/4 tsp black pepper

1. Dice bell pepper and onion and saute in a large pot with olive oil over medium low heat for 5 minutes.

2. Add chicken broth, canned tomatoes and chilis, cup of water, lime juice, cilantro, garlic powder, cumin, chili powder, salt, and pepper and turn the heat to medium high. Bring to a boil.

3. Reduce heat to low and simmer uncovered for 15 minutes.

4. Add cooked chicken, black beans, and cooked pasta and continue simmering. Sprinkle 1/2 cup cheddar cheese on tortillas and bake in a 400 degree F oven for 7 minutes.

5. Turn stove off and let soup cool for 5 minutes.

6. Add 1/2 cup sour cream and  1/2 cup cheddar cheese and stir until everything is combined and melted. Skip the cheddar cheese for healthier version.

7. Serve with tortilla slice and sour cream. Enjoy!

Chop your bell pepper and onion. This soup is nice and hearty!

Notice the UNSALTED chicken broth. This is important. There is an enormous amount of salt in most broths. This way you can control the amount of salt in the recipe!

Saute the bell pepper and onion with some olive oil until the onions start to become translucent.

Add broth, canned tomatoes, water, lime juice, cilantro, garlic powder, cumin, chili powder, salt, and black pepper. Turn the heat to medium high and bring to a boil. Then bring right back down to simmer! If you're chicken and pasta aren't cooked yet, now is the time to do it. It will only taste better the longer it simmers! It should simmer for a minimum of 15 minutes.

Add the chicken and black beans and continue to simmer!

Lookin' good.

Put tortillas and cheese in the oven for about 7 minutes at 400 degrees. Keep and eye on them though! There a nice crispy addition to the soup when they're done.

Turn the stove heat off and let cool for 5 minutes. You don't want it to be too hot when you add the dairy! Now comes the rich part... Stir in the sour cream and cheddar cheese until everything is melted together.

Serve with the sliced tortillas and more sour cream! Yummy and warm and zesty!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Mango Banana Bread

This recipe calls for a whole package of cream cheese... need I say more? Well anyway, I've made this recipe as solely banana bread before and I LOVE IT (notice again... a WHOLE PACKAGE OF CREAM CHEESE). I looked at the recipe and said to myself... I'll bet any mashed up fruit (as long as it had a similar consistency to mashed up bananas) would taste wonderful in this recipe. I'll bet it's fantastic with peaches but my grocery store didn't have any fresh ones today, so I went with mangos! I think next time I'll even use two mangos. As long as you keep the rest of the recipe the same and use 1 1/2 cups TOTAL of mashed up fruit, I think it will come out beautifully!

Mango Banana Bread

Makes two 8 X 4 inch loaves
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour
Total time: 1 hour 15 minutes


1 cup mashed bananas (about 3 large bananas)
1/2 cup mashed mango (about 1 mango)
1 package cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups all purpose white flour
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and grease and flour two 8 X 4 inch loaf pans.

2. Cut up bananas and mash in a bowl with a fork.

3. Cut up mango (directions here) and mash in a bowl with a fork.

4. Mix cream cheese and butter in a large bowl until creamy.

5. Gradually add sugar and mix until light and fluffy.

6. Add eggs one at a time.

7. Combine wheat flour and white flour and mix. Add baking powder, baking soda, and salt, and combine.

8. Gradually add flour mixture to cream cheese mixture.

9. Stir in mashed bananas, mashed mango, and vanilla.

10. Pour mixture into two loaf pans and bake for one hour. Insert a wooden stick or butter knife and if it comes out clean they're done! Enjoy!

Based on what was fresh in my grocery store today, I went with bananas and mangos! I REALLY want to try this recipe with bananas and peaches though. Yum!

Cut up your bananas and mangos in small enough pieces that they are easy to mash with a fork. This video shows you how to cut up a mango. It has a pit inside that you have to avoid!

Mash up your fruit with a fork! Leave some chunks if you want some texture.

Sigh. I just can't get over the cream cheese. The final result is so dense and moist and tasty! Mix the softened butter and cream cheese together.

Gradually mix the sugar into the cream cheese and butter mixture.

Add one egg at a time.

I like using half wheat flour and half white flour lately. I don't think it compromises the texture at all and it adds a tiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiny bit of something that's not terrible for you.

Gradually add the flour mixture to the cream cheese and butter mixture.

It will be pretty thick.

Stir in the mashed up bananas, mashed up mango, and vanilla. I may or may not have eaten a spoonfull or two of the batter. I just can't help myself!

Pour into two greased and floured loaf pans and bake at 350 degrees F for 1 hour!


It is quite delicious! And I'm really looking forward to experimenting with the fruit combinations now that I know it will work! You will enjoy it, I promise.

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