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Can of refried beans
Grated cheese (“Mexican mix” is great)
Optional: chicken, ground beef, greens like arugula, guacamole, even mashed sweet potatoes (really mmmmm)
Lay out a wrap. Spread whole thing with bean paste. Sprinkle cheese on half the wrap, top with generous dollops of salsa, top with more cheese. Fold in half. Prepare another wrap. Brush oil on a pan large enough for 2 quesadilla halves. Heat and add the quesadillas. Fry for 2-4 minutes, till warm and toasted, flip and repeat. I lay the ready quesadillas on a baking sheet and keep warm in the oven while I cook the rest. Generally, 1-2 whole quesadillas per person is more than enough. (And you can halve them for esthetic serving sizes.)
Serve with sour cream, salsa, and/or guacamole.
You can completely improvise with the ingredients for these, varying cheeses, etc. Put extra ingredients in the middle with the salsa.
Easiest (and relatively healthiest) Chicken Wings Ever
These are as crispy and delicious as any deep-fried wing. The sauce is yours to choose, just dip the wings in it after they’re cooked. We like to use mayo mixed with Frank’s Red Hot. Simple and mmmmm.
Enough chicken wings for your gang
Sea salt, fresh ground pepper
If the wings aren’t split already, then cut them to separate the wing from the drumstick. Brush oil on a baking sheet. I always do two baking sheets full, so I’ll describe this technique as well: lay one tray with wings skin side up and one with skin side down (facing pan). Sprinkle liberally with sea salt and fresh ground pepper.
Turn oven on to broil. If making just one tray: put the tray with the skin side DOWN in the MIDDLE rack of your oven. If doing two trays, put the tray with skin side UP in the middle rack and the other tray with skin side down on the BOTTOM rack. (If the wings are too close to the broiler, they will burn and it will be ugly. Please monitor until you know how your broiler and your wings get along.)
Set the timer for 15 minutes. Broil. Then turn the wings to broil other side. So if only one tray: turn skin side UP. If two trays: turn the wings and swap the tray that was on the middle for the bottom rack and the one on the bottom for the middle rack (now the middle rack wings are skin side up, and vice versa). Broil for another 15 minutes (give or take).
And voila. Golden, oh so crispy, delicious chicken wings.
Quick and Delicious Salad
This salad is substantial enough for a meal. And we eat it year round, not just at peak season (although peak season is obviously best!). Rigel has sent a similar wonderfully easy salad, but I’ve decided to wait to publish until we get closer to optimal tomato season (thank, Rigel!).
2 English (seedless) cucumbers
2 red peppers
½lb Feta cheese (preferably brined—as in, packed in liquid)
Black olives (preferably sun-cured)
Sprig of fresh mint
Extra virgin olive oil
Juice from one fresh lemon
Dried (or fresh) basil and oregano, sea salt, fresh ground pepper
Quick tip for chopping cukes for a salad: Wash them (skin on), trim the tips, cut in half. Then upend each half and split lengthwise twice (a crosshair cut). Now lie on its side and cut at ½inch intervals. Perfect quick little cubes!
Cube the tomatoes and peppers and add to a large salad bowl. Cube (or shred) the feta and add. Throw on olives. Pinch off tiny bits of mint and throw over salad. Mint can have a strong flavour (and not everyone loves it), but just a bit can boost the fresh flavour of the salad.
Put the lemon juice into a small jar or glass, then pour the same amount of oil over it (the oil will balance right on top of the juice, making it easy to measure). Add sea salt, pepper, and dried herbs. Shake or whisk.
Pour dressing over the salad and toss. Another really special, yummy addition to this salad is cubed seedless watermelon (mmmm). With some nice bread, this is truly filling enough to eat for dinner.
Easiest Salmon Ever
Salmon is delicious and good for you and usually pretty easy to prepare. But I have two recipes that are go-to’s for us when we don’t have time to cook but want a healthy meal.
You need enough salmon (either fillet or steaks) to feed your posse and:
Teriyaki sauce (I usually use a more liquid sauce like Kikkoman’s)
and Sesame seeds
|This is Teriyaki and Sesame Seed. On the bar-b-que, on parchment laid on foil. Serving size vs full slab.|
Just preheat the oven to 425. Line a baking pan with parchment (not necessary, but it does expedite serving and clean-up). Put salmon on pan and cover top with the pesto OR with the teriyaki sauce over which you sprinkle lots of sesame seeds.
Put in oven and roast for 15-20 minutes to desired doneness. In both cases, the sauces give you flavour and glamour … with no more effort than it takes to open a jar and slather some fish. Seriously, we’ve served both to guests with happy results.
PS If you want your salmon servings prettier, remember to slice the fish into serving sized portions BEFORE you cook.
These are veggies at their most decadent-tasting. Salty and crisp, they really do feel like guilty-pleasure food. But they’re good for you and easy to make.
1 bunch kale
Heat the oven to 325. Wash the kale leaves. Then rip the leaves off the stems (in chip-sized pieces) into a salad spinner. Fill and drain the spinner a few times to get the kale nice and clean. Here’s the biggest trick: spin the leaves dry a couple of times. Get as much moisture off as possible.
Spread the leaves onto a baking sheet and drizzle olive oil (like a tbsp or so) and sea salt over them. I toss with my hands to get the chips nice and covered.
Bake for 10 minutes, stir around and bake for another 5-10 minutes. They should all be nice and toasted. Apparently if you have leftovers, they stay completely crisp. We wouldn’t know ‘cause there are never any left!
Chipotle Turkey and Corn Soup
If you have leftover chicken or turkey, the whole meal takes 5 minutes! It’s nutritious too.
I use the adobe sauce from the canned chipotles instead of buying it separately. And they’re very spicy, so you have to use sparingly depending on your tolerance.
1 pound cooked turkey or chicken, cut into thin strips
2 teaspoons adobe sauce
1 to 2 teaspoons chopped canned chipotle in adobe sauce (It’s best to freeze the chipotles in a freezer-bag after you open the can as you only use a tiny bit. Then just scoop out what you need from frozen.)
8 cups organic chicken or vegetable broth
1 (14 3/4-ounce) can cream-style corn
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro, divided
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup crushed lime-flavoured tortilla chips
4 lime wedges
Put adobe sauce, chilies, broth and corn into pot; bring to a boil. Add meat. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer 5 minutes.
Stir in 3 tablespoons chopped cilantro and salt. Divide soup evenly among 4 bowls; sprinkle evenly with remaining cilantro and crushed chips. Serve with lime wedges.
Easiest (and Healthiest) Chicken Nuggets Ever
These are soooo yummy. Way better than any “chicken nugget” you’ve ever had, and way more virtuous. Also pretty enough that you can serve them to casual company.
1cup cornflakes (I use any kind of flake cereal, usually flaxseed flakes)
2tsp seasoning (ie: a casual mix of chili powder, ground cumin, brown sugar, thyme)
2 egg whites
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch strips (that’s what the recipe says, but I usually just cut each chicken breast lengthwise into 3-4 long pieces)
- Preheat oven to 400 F. Lightly coat a baking sheet with olive oil.
- Crush the cornflakes and pecans separately in a food processor. In a loaf pan or Ziploc bag, mix together the flakes, pecans, and seasonings.
- Lightly beat the egg whites and dip the chicken pieces into them. Then dredge in the cereal mix (keep adding cereal mix as needed to the pan instead of all at once in case you have too much and want leftover coating).
- Next, place the chicken pieces on the baking sheet and cook for 12-15 minutes. Turn and repeat for another 12-15 minutes. When the chicken is done the juices will run clear.
- For a dipping sauce, use what you like (ie, mix honey and mustard, etc), but we love mayo mixed with Frank’s Red Hot sauce, and maybe some lime juice and/or dried roasted garlic.
Served with a green (salad, spinach, bok choy), this is a perfect quick dinner.
I found that while it’s easy to freeze the nuggets that are left over, they tend to cook up dry. Rather save any extra coating in the freezer and make the chicken fresh (and by this I mean, any coating NEVER allowed near the raw chicken).
EASY CHRISTMAS DELIGHTS
Preheat oven to 350 (or 325 if your oven is very hot). Cut candy-bars into 8 equal pieces and spread far apart on parchment paper on cookie sheet.
Put in oven for 8 minutes – or enough time for candy to melt – but not burn – into flat, round discs. Let cool (about 10 minutes) and they are ready to eat!
Sweet Marie Bars
These are my (and everyone else’s!) favourite squares. The recipe is for microwave, which I will give you as point of interest, but it all just means “melt”.
½ cup semisweet chocolate chips (if I’m making for vegans, I use the President Choice decadent chips – there’s no milk in them)
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup peanut butter
½ cup corn syrup
1 tbsp butter or oil
¾ cup chopped peanuts
2 cups Rice Krispies
2 tbsp peanut butter
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
In large bowl, combine all “bar” ingredients – except nuts and cereal. Microwave on high for 1-2 minutes. Stir, then micro for another 1-2 minutes, till it is all melted and smooth. Stir in nuts and cereal until mixed. Spread into buttered (or greased) 8” square dish (I always double the recipe and spread into 9by13 dish).
Combine “topping” ingredients and micro on 50% power for 2 minutes, stir, then micro for another 1-2 minutes, till smooth and melted. Spread over base.
Refrigerate for 2 hours (or more, doesn’t matter here) until firm, then cut into small (very rich) squares. They are very hard to cut – but worth the effort! They should not crumble, but yield like a thick toffee bar (if they crumble, the chocolate might have burned in the melting – or the sugars didn’t melt enough).
I freeze these to great success – make a ton, freeze them and pull out as necessary. They make great hostess gifts too, as they can be piled into a jar or tin and won’t fall apart.
Melt in your mouth Shortbread Cookies
These are like puff-balls, not elegant flat biscuits. Delicious!
1 cup softened butter
½ cup icing sugar
2 ¼ cups flour
Cream butter and sugar thoroughly (in Kitchen Aid mixer). Add flour ¼ cup at a time. Then put on setting 6 and allow to blend for 10 minutes.
Drop onto greased sheets (or parchment) and put in 325 oven for 15-20 minutes or until mildly golden.
Sweet and Spicy Pecans
2 cups pecans (or any nut)
1 tbsp water
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp cayenne
1/2 tsp coarse sea salt
Put the almonds in a glass pie plate and douse with water, mixing well. Combine the rest and mix it with the nuts.
Microwave (uncovered) on high for 2 min, then stir, then follow with another 1 min and, if necessary, another 1 min, until glazed and syrupy (I've made it where it doesn't end up "glazed" and they're just as good). But be careful not to burn (very easy...)
Spread out on parchment paper to cool, breaking apart occasionally. And voila!
My daughter made this for the holidays last year and we all swooned. Because it’s made with crackers and is so highly addictive, she calls it “Crack”. When I used this name at the last advent to one of my other daughter’s friend, she very delicately re-named it “Crackle”, which I like because it is a bit like a brittle.
4 ounces saltine crackers (that’s one row from a regular box)
4 ounces saltine crackers (that’s one row from a regular box)
1 cup butter
1 cup dark brown sugar
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup chopped pecans (optional)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (205 degrees C). Line cookie sheet with saltine crackers in single layer. (I also lined the pan first with parchment, but I’m going to guess this isn’t imperative—the buttered crackers just lift right up.)
In a saucepan combine sugar and butter. Bring to a boil and boil for 3 minutes. Immediately pour over saltines and spread to cover crackers completely.
Bake at 400 degrees F (205 degrees C) for 5 to 6 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle chocolate chips over the top. Let sit for 5 minutes. Spread melted chocolate and top with chopped nuts. Cool completely and break into pieces like brittle.
How to ruin these: if they haven’t cooled completely the chocolate layer will lift off the crackers. I put the whole pan in the fridge for a few hours. The pieces freeze and thaw very well.