Why I Cook Cupcakes Wednesdays

– Because they are weight friendly. You can eat just one cupcake and you know exactly what the portion is that you are eating. (And if you eat two, you know you are getting the same portion as the first)

-Because  they encourage peace. You don’t ever hear anyone at a birthday party complaining about one person’s cupcake being bigger than another person’s (well maybe, but you shouldn’t eavesdrop on conversations at parties anyway. It leads to all sorts of misunderstandings.)

– Because I have a hereditary trait of not being able to cook even cakes (Which means that all my cakes slide. It’s passed down from one generation to the next). But a cupcake doesn’t slide.

– Because there is an equal proportion of icing to cake. That’s just simple physics.

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Jack Bauer Quesadillas

These are in honor of our semi-yearly (January through May) commitment to spend at least one hour a week clenching our fists in tension as we wait to see what will unfold on the next season of 24. I made these one Monday night and they earned their moniker because they contain a jack with an intense kick!

Ingredients:

1 lb of chicken tenders

1 package of monterey jack cheese

1/4- 1/2 cup of store bought mesquite marinade

2-4 tablespoons of hot sauce

Jarred pickled jalapeno’s

1 package of tortillas

Sour Cream (optional)

Salsa (optional)

Instructions:

Dice chicken into bite size pieces. Place into a medium hot skillet with about 1/4 cup of the marinade. Add about 2 (or more) tablespoons of hot sauce to the chicken. Once the chicken is cooked through heat tortillas on a griddle or in a skillet. Place some chicken on one half of the tortilla, add some monetery jack cheese, and as many jalapeno’s as you like. Fold the empty half of the tortilla over the covered half. Slice and dip in sour cream or salsa.

Chicken Quesadillas Cooking in the Skillet
Chicken Quesadillas Cooking in the Skillet

Chicken Quesadilla Filling
Chicken Quesadilla Filling
Folded Chicken Quesadilla
Folded Chicken Quesadilla
Tada!
Tada!
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Avocado Apathy

I love avocado. I could eat them on any and everything. I love guacamole and my family even has a secret guacamole recipe that has never gotten anything but a rave review from fellow avocado fans. However, my husband doesn’t like avocados. Determined to make sure our little sweet pea doesn’t follow the same path I decided to add avocados into his palate of baby food. Plus, knowing that he isn’t a picky eater I figured it wouldn’t be a hard sale. However, my first obstacle was that there is no jarred avocado baby food. I decided to be extra adventurous and just make avocado baby food myself. Plus, how hard could it be? Just blend avocado and some water, that’s all that’s in baby food right? That should have been my first alarm telling me to not go down this path. However, after considerable effort I managed to blend and heat some avocado. I brought it to my child with a feeling of satisfaction. He was happily banging on his highchair with his spoon. However that smile turned into a frown as soon as I gave him the first spoonful. He rolled it in his mouth with a heighten amount of suspicion that this was not his regular squash, sweet potato, or carrot mix. He then promptly spit it out with a look of “ew. gross”. I decided that it wasn’t mashed enough, so I went back to the food processor. This didn’t work either. So I decided to mix it with carrots his favorite. Not even this fooled him! Every bite he spit back out trying to eat only the carrot and not the avocado if that was possible. We finished the meal with plain carrots. Perhaps avocado apathy is genetic. Hopefully it’s a recessive gene!

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Chicken Enchiladas

In honor of a belated Mother’s Day, I bring you my Mom’s chicken enchiladas.

Ingredients:

1 lb boneless skinless chicken breast

2 cans cream of chicken soup

About 1 cup of sour cream (you can add 1/2 cup more if you like sour cream!)

1 package of montery jack cheese (you can buy pre-shredded, or get a block and grate it!)

1 package of sharp cheddar cheese (you can buy pre-shredded, or get a block and grate it!)

1 can of green chilies (optional)

1 can of chopped olives (optional)

1/4 cup of chopped green onions

1 to 2 packages of flour tortillas

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Poach chicken on a low boil until cooked completely (around 25 minutes for defrosted chicken, about 40 minutes for frozen chicken).  After chicken is poached and cooled shred chicken into bite size pieces. Set aside about a third each of the cheddar and monterey jack cheese. In a seperate bowl mix together the sour cream, cream of chicken soup, remaining cheddar and monterey jack cheese, and green onions. Remove 1 and 1/2 cups of the sour cream mixture and set aside. Add shredded chicken to remaining sour cream mixture (*Tip: mix the chicken a bit at a time until it looks consistent with the sour cream mixture but not dried out, I don’t always add all the chicken). Cook tortillas on a griddle, roll about four-five tablespoons of mixture per tortilla. Place filled tortillas in a 9X13 pan. Spread the set aside sour cream mixture on top of the tortillas and top with the set aside cheese. Cook for 30 minutes until bubbly and cheese is starting to brown. Top with optional green chilies, olives, and extra green onions.

Extra Tips: This is a great make ahead dish. It can be frozen for about a month and can be made a day ahead if refrigerated. The entire recipe makes quite a bit, so I occasionally make half and then freeze half. If you are cooking it frozen cook for at least 40 minutes covered in foil, and then another 20-30 uncovered. If refrigerated cook for 30 minutes covered and 15-20 minutes uncovered.

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30 Minute Meals = 45 Minute Catastrophes

The first cookbook I received was a Rachael Ray 30 Minute Meals. I thought how clever! As a college student I could certainly handle making a meal in 30 minutes. Until I almost burned down my apartment kitchen trying to fry up some “easy” chicken tenders. In case you want to know I extinguished the fire by using a fail proof method. I blew on it like candles on a cake. Isn’t that smart? There should be a 30 minute meal book called, “how to make a meal in thirty minutes and not burn down your kitchen”. Which there is a “Cooking for Dummies”, but who walks into Barnes and Noble and buys that?  So my first cooking lesson? Don’t start with frying. Oh and don’t EVER think a meal is going to take you 30 minutes unless you have washed all the vegetables and can chop like a maniac. Which I can’t. Or I could, but I’d like to keep my fingers.

Now I’m not saying I don’t appreciate the convenience of a 30 minute meal idea. However, in many of these meals there is a BUT. A big but in some. Like takes 30 minutes BUT, you need to defrost the puff pastry COMPLETELY in advance. Which by the way takes overnight in the fridge and at least two hours on the counter. Room temperature eggs and butter take around 4 to 8 hours. Ina Garten leaves her eggs and butter sitting out all night. Does that mean that the eggs get messed up (AKA, salmonella city)? Apparently not. However, the whole raw eggs phenomenon is an interesting one. I grew up eating raw cookie dough, cake dough, chicken (haha just kidding Mom).  I turned out fine. So do I feed it to my kids and see what happens? I’m still wrestling with that one. I’ll let you know.

Moral of the story: If you are just learning to cook, don’t fry, expect delays, and read the recipe well in advance. Oh and eat the cookie dough. Sometimes it’s just easier.

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