Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Grilled chicken meets Quesadilla

Grilled Chicken Quesadilla stack


2 6” reduced carb tortillas
½ grilled chicken breast
2 roma tomatoes
Any good white melting cheese grated, I used Muenster 
Cotija cheese, crumbled
Fresh cilantro
Sweet onion diced
Olive oil
Mesquite Habanero seasoning

Let me first say, if I owned a Food Truck, Diner, or Bar & Grill, this would be on the menu everyday.  The flavor of the luscious juicy slow grilled chicken, with the heat and little bit of citrus flavor of the Mesquite Habanero seasoning, and the sweetness from roasting the tomatoes, made this one of the most stand out quesadilla I've made to date.  And believe me when I say, I LOVE quesadillas and have made them out of most everything.

OK to get my head out of the after glow of eating this soul satisfying dish, this is how it went down.

For the chicken

NOTE:  You can of course buy rotisserie chicken or deli chicken, but if you enjoy grilling it's worth it to cook your own.

I "spatchcocked" a couple of chickens, which simply means I removed the backbone which allows you to open the chicken up and lay it out flat, making for more even cooking, and it reduces the amount of cooking time as well.  Then I brined them in a bath of water and Owens BBQ Buffalo Wing Brat Seasoning seasoning.  I brined them for a few hours, which is all the available time I had before grilling.  You could brine them overnight it time allows. Then I removed them from the brine and patted them dry with paper towels.

If I had not recently found a new spice to try out, I would have used the Buffalo Wing Brat seasoning in my rub as well, but for this cook I  I wanted to try my newest spice addition so I mixed together some olive oil, Mrs. Dash original blend and the Mesquite Habanero seasoning.  

I used the wet rub under the skin, on both top and bottom of chicken and on top of the skin. Then I placed them on our grill using indirect heat from both charcoal and mesquite wood. I cooked them for about 3-3 1/2 hrs at about 250°.  Because I knew I would be reheating the chicken at a future time, I took them off at 160° internally, if you plan to eat chicken right away, you should cook it to a safe 170° internal temp.

For the quesadilla


1. Slice tomatoes and roast in a skillet with a little olive oil, season with Mesquite seasoning.  Once tomatoes are tender, remove to a plate. 

2. Place one tortilla in your hot skillet and toast one side, flip, then add a generous amount of grated Muenster, place roasted tomatoes on top, heat till bottom of tortilla is toasty.  Remove to plate.  Now place diced onions, cilantro and more grated cheese on top of roasted tomatoes.  
3. Place sliced grilled chicken breast in skillet and heat on both sides until nice and warm, seasoning with Mesquite spice.  Remove and place on top of loaded tortilla and top with more grated cheese. 
4. Place your other tortilla in hot skillet, toast on one side then place on top of quesadilla, hot side down.  Now carefully (using spatula) place quesadilla upside down in skillet to brown top side, place lid on skillet to help melt cheese.  Once bottom of tortilla is toasty, remove to plate. 
5. Cut quesadilla in half, and then cut in half again.  Stack all four sections on top of each other and hold in place with a small skewer.  Garnish with more cilantro and Cotija cheese.

For information on purchasing Owens Buffalo Wing Brat Seasoning or any of their awesome products check out this link:

Sunday, January 18, 2015

It's all about the soup.....

Tomatillo Bacon & Ham Soup


4 c rich turkey or chicken broth
2 c Salsa Verde, home made or store bought
1 lb. fresh frozen corn
1/2 lb. bacon
1/2 lb. lean ham
2 c Asadero or Monterrey jack cheese
1/2 tsp thyme
1 tsp granulated garlic
1 tsp black pepper
Garnish with cilantro, opt
1/4 c bacon grease
1/4 c flour
1 can(s) 12 oz evaporated milk

A few short years ago my only experience in making any type of liquid based dish was making Chicken and Dumplings or Stews.  Just the thought of making a soup from scratch seemed daunting to me.  I found myself reading through some friends Tomato Soup recipes, and even though they varied a bit in technique and ingredients, I was intrigued enough to give it a whirl.  I did a little more research and began my first trial run at making home made soup from scratch.
Well let me tell you, that busted open the flood gates and it lead to numerous more soups with a varied range of ingredients, and this soup was one of them.  I really didn't think I would wow anyone with it, although I loved the flavor and texture, it just didn't seem like the type of "dish" my guys would be bowed over by, WRONG!
The following day I sent a batch to work with them to share with their male co-workers and I received a request for my recipe, one fellow wanted to make it for his kids.  Surprised and honored I obliged.
Fast forward a year to 2015, I make another batch (a double batch this time) with only a minimal change to the recipe, I made a cream sauce instead of the cream cheese I had previously used.  Again I shared, only this time it went out in three different directions to feed a total of ten different mouths.  Once again the feedback was mind blowing.  All three camps came back with oooh's and aaah's!  Compliments from the men in my world aren't given out readily, so I knew this was indeed a winner.

I start all my soups/stews/chowders etc. with home made stock, I think that's where the deep rich flavors begin and the reason such few seasonings need to be added later on in the cooking process.  

For this soup I also made my own Salsa Verde, or Tomatillo Salsa.  There are numerous ways to make this salsa, buying fresh tomatillos is a rewarding way, but buying canned ones is a more convenient and time saving way.  I buy the 28 oz cans and puree them in my blender.  To that I add one jalapeno that I've simmered in water for about 10-15 min.  I also add about 1/2-1 tsp of granulated garlic and a small handful of cilantro, all put into the blender and pureed.  It's just that simple.  I place the salsa in a container in the refrigerator and store it up to a week.

I always try to keep some bacon in my freezer so I have it on hand for impromptu dishes.  I cook mine by thawing it, then placing on a baking sheet and cooking it in the oven at 375° for 18-25 min.  It depends on the thickness of the bacon as to how long you bake it, but it comes out perfect every time.  We also tend to smoke a few hams when the holidays grow near, so I usually have leftover ham in my freezer through the soup making months.  You can of course buy ham from your deli and it does not have to be smoked, that's just an added flavor booster.

So with all ingredients prepared or reconstituted, it's time to make soup....


1.  Crumble or chop cooked bacon and ham, set aside. 
2.  Grate cheese, set aside. 
3.  Place thawed or fresh corn kernels in food processor and pulse a few times to break them down a little.
4.  Place broth and salsa verde together in large soup pot, add crumbled bacon, chopped ham and corn over medium low heat. 
5.  In a small skillet or sauce pan heat bacon grease, add flour to make a thick paste. Now stir in can milk and continue stirring with a whisk to remove all lumps, (if it gets too thick to quick, add some of the chicken stock from your soup to thin out a little). Once it is lump free and creamy, add to soup pot and stir in well.  Add granulated garlic, thyme, black pepper and salt to taste. Simmer for about 30 min. stirring occasionally.
6.  Remove from heat and allow cooling slightly. Add grated cheese and stir until melted, if cheese becomes a little stringy; add a couple squeezes of lemon juice.