Monday, August 22, 2011

Squash Quesadillas, Meatless Monday

It’s not too difficult to go meatless Monday in the summer. I mean, have you been to the farmers’ market lately? The stands are overflowing with tomatoes in every variety and color, squash, zucchini, onions, beans, peppers, nectarines; from a produce standpoint, it’s the best time of the year. My struggle with the market is restraining myself from wiping out the full stock of heirlooms or those tiny, yellow tomatoes that taste like candy. And if you’re lucky enough to have a garden, you’re bringing in quite the bounty from your yard, too. So like I said, eating vegetables on a summer Monday shouldn’t be a challenge. It might be tougher to stop scarfing down vegetables than it is to start.
So while you’re at the farmers market or in your garden, grab a bunch of zucchini or summer squash and some tomatoes. You’ll need them for this irresistible squash quesadilla. It’s comforting in the way that Tex-Mex food is, with little pockets of melted cheese topped with spicy salsa, but this version of the standard quesadilla is full of smoky, grilled squash. It’s so good, you might want to make two batches.

This recipe is flexible; you can use your outdoor grill or a grill pan inside. Make homemade roasted tomato salsa if you’ve got fresh tomatoes, or take a shortcut and serve the quesadillas with your favorite store-bought salsa.

Grilled Squash Quesadillas with a Charred Tomato Salsa

Makes 8 quesadillas

2 zucchini or summer squash, sliced lengthwise 1/4-inch thick
About 3 tablespoons olive oil or melted butter or a combination
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
8 GF white corn tortillas
1/4 to 1/2 cup Ancho Chile Paste, recipe follows, or store-bought
8 ounces thinly sliced or shredded Manchego cheese, Monterey Jack is a good substitute
2 green onions (scallions), white and green parts, very thinly sliced

Charred Tomato Salsa, recipe follows, or your favorite green or red salsa

Heat a grill or grill pan over medium-high heat. Brush the zucchini with the oil or butter and season with salt and pepper. Grill, turning once until just soft, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Halve the grilled zucchini so they will fit into the tortillas.
Heat a skillet over medium heat and add about 1 tablespoon of the oil or butter. Lay a tortilla in the skillet and paint a light covering (more or less depending on your taste) of the Ancho Chile Paste over the tortilla. Scatter or lay a slice of cheese just big enough to cover half the tortilla (about 1/2 ounce). Then add a strip or 2 of zucchini and some scallion slices and cover with another layer of cheese. Cook until the tortilla softens, about 1 minute. Fold the tortilla over into a half moon. Flip and cook on each side until golden brown and crisp and the cheese melts, adding more oil or butter if the pan gets dry, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Repeat with the remaining ingredients.
Cut the quesadillas into wedges and serve with the Charred Tomato Salsa, or your favorite homemade or store bought salsa..

Ancho Chile Paste:
6 dried ancho or pasilla chiles or a mixture
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil or grapeseed oil

Stem, seed and pull the chiles in half. Toast the pieces in a dry skillet over medium heat, turning until fragrant and blistered but not charred, about 1 minute. Transfer to a bowl of boiling water and set aside to soften, 30 to 40 minutes.
Put the chiles in a blender with the salt (not a food processor, it won’t be fine enough) and puree until very smooth. Add some of the soaking water, about 1/2 cup, if needed to engage the blender. Strain if desired.
Heat the olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the paste and fry, stirring with a wooden spoon, until the mixture is thick, 3 to 5 minutes. Cool and store in the refrigerator for up to 1 month. Makes 1 1/2 cups.

Charred Tomato Salsa:
Position rack in the upper part of the oven and preheat the broiler. Line a small broiler pan with foil.
Place the tomatoes and jalapeno in the pan and broil, turning them as needed, until the skins blacken and split, 15 to 20 minutes. Wrap completely in aluminum foil and cool.
Core the tomatoes and stem the jalapeno (remove the seeds if you want to temper the heat). Puree the tomatoes, skins and all, with the jalapeno, oil, garlic and scallions and in a blender to make a smooth sauce. Pulse in the cilantro. Transfer the sauce to a bowl and stir in 1/2 teaspoon salt. (The salsa thickens a bit if prepared ahead and chilled; stir to loosen it up before serving.) Makes about 1 1/2 to 2 cups.
4 ripe medium tomatoes (about 1 pound)
1 jalapeno
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 scallion, white and green parts chopped
1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves
Kosher salt

Saturday, August 6, 2011

One of my favortie frozen treats is frozen chocolate dipped bananas. Oh it brings back momories of being a child. It is my guiltless pleasure, much better for you than ice cream. I have never tried to make them myself, but thought why not. Can't be that hard. So here went nothing and turned into everything. I usually get my frozen bananas dipped in chocokate and nuts but I had no almonds and those are my favorite, so I decided to try coconut instead. Voila!!



What you'll need . . .

  • 2 large bananas
  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup milk chocolate chips
  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup natural peanut butter
  • Unsweetened coconut flakes

  1. Set out a large plate or bowl with a piece of parchment or wax paper on it.
  2. Cut up the bananas into good-sized chunks. Each banana should give you around 5 to 6 pieces.
  3. Heat the peanut butter and chocolate chips in the microwave on high for about a minute. Then stir until smooth.
  4. Dip the banana pieces in the chocolate-peanut butter mixture. Lay them out leaving some space between them on the parchment/wax paper. Then when you've "covered" them all, use the remaining mixture to spoon over the tops.
  5. Then sprinkle the unsweetened coconut flakes on top. Transfer to the freezer for about an hour until hardened.
  6. You can enjoy them like this (but they really aren't frozen yet -- and when they're frozen, the banana tastes like vanilla ice cream) . . . I suggest then covering with some plastic wrap (or really you can do all of this in some kind of Rubbermaid container) and let freeze overnight.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Au Gratin Potatoes


I was recently looking through my Betty Crocker's cookbook, I like to find everyday recipes that are either naturally Gluten Free or can be adapted to be Gluten Free. I saw a recipe for Au gratin potatoes and it looked and sounded so rich, creamy and delicious. Definitely not healthy but sometimes you have to splurge - you know? I was roasting a chicken for dinner and decided the Au gratin potatoes would be the perfect side dish. This was really easy to make (as long as you have a mandolin slicer or cuisinart food processor with the slicing attachment, to cut the potatoes. I used sharp cheddar because it's what I had on hand. I also used non-fat milk because, well, it has plenty of fat with the cheese and butter. It was a huge hit with my entire family. It paired very nicely with my roasted chicken and a fresh green salad.
  • 4-5 large Idaho russet potatoes, peeled and sliced 1/8 th inch thick
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/2 sweet yellow onion, finely diced
  • 1 tbsp rice flour
  • Sea salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste
  • 2 cups non fat milk
  • 2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (divided)
  • 1/4 dry GF Panko bread crumbs (I use kinnikinnick brand)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a baking dish with cooking spray. Scrub potatoes and peel. Cut into 1/8-inch slices to measure about 4 cups. If you have a mandolin slicer, use it.
Melt butter in saucepan over medium heat. Cook onion in butter about 2 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tender. Whisk in rice flour, salt and pepper. Cook, stirring constantly, until bubbly; remove from heat.

Slowly stir in milk and 1 1/2 cups of the cheese. Heat to boiling, stirring constantly. Boil and stir 1 minute until the cheese is completely melted.

Spread potatoes in casserole dish. Pour cheese sauce over potatoes. Bake uncovered for 70 minutes. Mix remaining cheese and the GF bread crumbs; sprinkle over potatoes; add a bit more salt and pepper. Bake uncovered 20 minutes longer or until top is brown and bubbly.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Battered Onion Rings

Battered Onion Rings


2 eggs
1 cup milk (dairy or rice)
1 cup all-purpose GFflour (I used Bob's Red Mill)
2 teaspoons non aluminium baking powder
2 teaspoons garlic salt or onion salt
1 teaspoon cayenne (optional -does not make hot/spicy)
1 quart oil for frying, I used Canola Oil
4 large onions, peeled and sliced into rings, I used Wala Wala Sweet Onions


Whisk together eggs, milk, flour, baking powder, cayenne, and garlic salt in a bowl to make a smooth batter.
Then divide the batter into two bowls (reasoning is that the batter gets clumpy and you will want to switch to the other bowl about 2 onions in)

Heat the oil in a large saucepan or deep fryer. The oil needs to be fairly hot.

Dip the onion rings evenly into the batter, then fry in the oil for 2 to 3 minutes, until the onion rings are golden brown. With a slotted spoon, remove the onion rings to paper towels to drain. Serve hot for best taste!

*** If you choose not to use cayenne, use something else, like Italian seasoning, or maybe even a "mix" of seasoning that you have made. They taste better seasoned, but if your kiddo likes plain, then omit the cayenne.