Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Chicken and Green Chile Quesadillas with Avocado Lime Crema

In honor of National Margarita Day, I created this quesadilla version that would be wonderful to nosh on with a frosty cold Margie. Combining the fresh flavors of green chiles, cilantro, lime and avocado, takes the basic chicken quesadilla to a whole new level.

Normally I brown my quesadillas in a skillet; however, broiling them in the oven allows you to make more than one at a time – your choice. They turn out fabulous with either method.

Chicken and Green Chile Quesadillas
Makes 4 quesadillas
2 cups cooked chicken, shredded
4 ounces green chiles
1 ½ cups shredded Monterey Jack or Mexican blend cheese
Kosher salt and black pepper
Chopped cilantro
Eight 10-in flour tortillas

On four tortillas, arrange chicken, chiles, cheese and sprinkle with salt, pepper and chopped cilantro. Broil for about 3 minutes, watching closely (and make sure you have a baking sheet that can withstand the heat). Flip quesadillas and broil until cheese is melted and tortillas are golden and crisp. Slice into wedges, sprinkle with more cilantro, and serve with a dollop of cool Avocado Lime Crema.

Avocado Lime Crema
Makes about 2 ½ cups
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 ripe avocado, pitted and skin removed
2 cups sour cream
½ teaspoon kosher salt

In a blender, pulse together all ingredients until smooth. Serve with quesadillas.

Have a great week!

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Exploring Detroit's Eastern Market

It's time to stop hibernating, although it's easy to do this time of year, and hit the road for some big city farmers market shopping. Eastern Market in Detroit provides that vibe along with an endless array of locally grown produce and handmade products. 

The largest historic market in the country, Eastern Market consists of five sheds or large buildings that are heated during the winter months - good thing because it is cold in Michigan this time of year.

A vendor offers fresh pastries at Eastern Market.

In addition to the fresh produce vendors, the market offers art, jewelry and Michigan-made products. 

During peak months, especially during the Michigan harvest, more than 150 vendors fill the corridors. The market is open every Saturday year round from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Handmade items are in abundance at the market.

Free parking exists all around the area making it convenient to visit the market as well as its 100 surrounding shops, restaurants, cafes and meat and seafood markets. 

The wall of wine at Cost Plus Wine Warehouse.

Check out the floor to ceiling display of wine at Cost Plus Wine Warehouse, and lose yourself while perusing the thousands of specialty foods at DeVries & Co. 1887.


Grab a slice for lunch at Supino Pizzeria.

For a late lunch or early supper, stop in for a slice or two at Supino Pizzeria. No utensils are needed as patrons simply fold their slices in half.

A slice of four-cheese pizza.

The line is usually out the door by noon, and seating is sparse, but don’t let that discourage you because the four-cheese pizza is worth the shoulder to shoulder crowd.

Seating is sparse at Supino's, but it's worth the stand.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Asian Inspiration

Happy New Year! Chinese New Year, that is… After attending my first-ever Chinese New Year party this past weekend at a friend’s home, I was inspired to create something culinary of Asian nature. I also remembered that I love Asian Lettuce Wraps, and it has been way too long since I have made them.

By the way, I did learn that I was born during the Year of the Rooster, meaning I am kind-hearted, flexible, hardworking, independent, honest, flamboyant, persuasive, and a big dreamer… sounds pretty good. 

Oh, and I should have good fortune on love, education, traveling and self-growth this year. Sounds really good! 

So, in celebration of 2016 and the Year of the Monkey, here is my recipe for Asian Lettuce Wraps. Enjoy!

Asian Lettuce Wraps
2-3 boneless chicken breast halves, diced
1 can water chestnuts, drained and chopped
8 ounces cremini or shiitake mushrooms, chopped
Vegetable oil
Iceberg lettuce leaves
Thinly sliced green onions or scallions for garnish
2 tablespoons corn starch
¼ cup water

¼ cup soy sauce
1 cup water
½ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
5 tablespoons packed brown sugar
1-2 tablespoons honey

In a large bowl, combine chicken, water chestnuts and mushrooms. In a small bowl, whisk together marinade ingredients. Pour 1/3 of the marinade over chicken mixture and combine. Allow to marinate 30 minutes. The remaining marinade will be used for a dipping sauce.

In a small saucepan, add remaining marinade and warm over medium-low heat. Combine corn starch and ¼ cup water until dissolved and stir into marinade.

In a wok or large frying pan, heat 1 tablespoon of oil over medium high heat. Add chicken and stir fry for approximately 5 minutes, until browned and no longer pink (I cook my chicken in 2- 3 batches to avoid overcrowding in the pan and steaming).

Spoon chicken mixture over lettuce leaves, garnish with green onions or scallions, drizzle with extra sauce and enjoy!

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Very Cherry Recipes for National Cherry Month

It may or may not be true that George Washington actually chopped down his father’s favorite cherry tree; however, it is true that February is National Cherry Month - no fooling! I’m as surprised as you are to learn this, especially since cherries aren’t in season until summer. 

We won’t let that discourage us though as cherries are available in many forms – dried; in chutneys, salsas and preserves; canned; and in wines, which makes them versatile and enjoyable year round. 

With their sweet and tart qualities, cherries can be enjoyed in desserts and in savory dishes. Here’s a couple of recipes to help you enjoy cherries this month.

Baked Brie with Balsamic Cherries

Baked Brie with Balsamic Cherries
The beauty of this recipe is that it only takes four ingredients to create this easy cheesy appetizer.
1 wheel of Brie cheese
½ cup cherry preserves
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Baguette slices or crackers for serving
Heat the oven to 400 F. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray. Slice off the top of the Brie. Place bottom of Brie on baking sheet.
In a small bowl, combine preserves and balsamic vinegar. Spoon mixture over the center of the Brie. Place top of Brie loosely over mixture.
Bake for approximately 10 minutes or until cheese has melted. Transfer to a serving plate. Serve immediately with crackers, baguette slices, etc.

Cherry Crumble Bars 

Cherry Crumble Bars
Buttery oats plus yellow cake mix create the crust and crumbles on top. These bars would also be great with apple or peach pie filling – and again, you only need four ingredients!

1 package yellow cake mix
2 ½ cups quick-cooking oats
¾ cup butter, melted
1 can cherry pie filling

Heat oven to 375 F. Line a 9”x 13” baking dish with parchment paper or spray with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, combine cake mix and oats. Add melted butter, and stir until crumbly.
Press down 2/3 of the crumbs onto the bottom of the pan. Carefully spread cherry pie filling over the crumb crust. 

Sprinkle remaining crumbs over pie filling, and press down gently.
Bake for 18-23 minutes or until light golden brown.

Have a cherry delicious week!