Category Archives: Delectable Dinners

Comfort quesadillas

So here I have the easiest of recipes for you. So easy the ingredient list consists of you opening your fridge and taking a gander at just what is hiding (and perhaps languishing) in there. These are my go-to comfort food, especially when it’s a solo dinner, and they are so crammed full of all those favorite veg that I always, always over buy. In my mind everything can go into a quesadilla fresh mushrooms, zucchini, tomatoes – heck yeah. Maybe you found that jar of banana peppers you’ve been meaning to use up, or those green chilies looking for a vehicle to your tum, or maybe its those last two delish olives taking up all that space. Yup, they all belong in there too. And I suppose, you could even throw some meat in there. You know, if you had to.

As a comfort food, they can’t be beat. Easy, delish, and the avocado on top will melt away the worst of days. And I’m putting that to the test. Someone made a rather large mistake, certainly not the end of the world, but I am a pretty harsh critic when it comes to this gal. But you know, I did find out I’ve got an audience. A big one. So there’s that, right?

That said, at least I have tons of fun to distract myself from all of that (and before you start gnashing your teeth wondering, “what the heck did you do, Jess?!” It was a typo. A small typo. But on a big stage). But yeah, fun! Next week marks the start of my summer hours. Yeah, you read that right, summer hours! So that’s pretty rad. But even more immediate is getting to watch my brother cross the finish line at Grandma’s Marathon on Saturday and then another trip to the bear bar! Yeah, bears. In real life.

In the meantime, let’s go comfort ourselves with quesadillas. Quesadillas oozing with cheese and dripping with salsa. Yeah. That.

Enjoy!

Comfort quesadillas from thePenandthePan

Comfort quesadillas

per quesadilla
1 tortilla (the size is up to you, how much comfort are you feeling?)
¼ cup or less shredded cheese
assorted vegetables, raw or cooked
butter for tortilla

Heat a large nonstick pan over medium-low heat. Butter one side of your tortilla and place in pan. Add vegetables to one side of tortilla. Sprinkle cheese over entire tortilla.

Just as cheese starts to melt, fold tortilla in half. Continue to cook, flipping frequently, until both sides are lightly browned.

Gyro inspired stuffed chicken

Well invisible internet friends, it’s good to be home. It may have just been a whirlwind overnight trip, but it made me love this place all the more. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love all the city has to offer, but it was great to roll down for a rocking show, lunch with some fabulous ladies, and a little retail therapy, and then hop back into the car, watching the houses get farther and farther apart. And to watch the traffic lighten imperceptibly with each passing mile, until there was nothing around but trees and fields and the smell of the pines floating in through the open car windows. It was also pretty rad that at the end of that three plus hour car ride, there were some loving arms, happy cats, chirpy chickens, and exciting wildlife awaiting me.

WednesdayWildlife from thePenandthePan-1

That, my friends, is what a hummingbird looks like when they finally sit still (much like I’m going to this afternoon).

Course, there are a few things that I wouldn’t find amiss if they just happened to find themselves transplanted to the woods from the cities. I mean, who can live very long without the deliciousness that is Mediterranean food? I’m telling you, gyros, dolmades, spanakopita, and falafel, these are my kryptonite. Just typing those very foods may have caused my mouth to water just a teensy bit. Who am I kidding? Typing those may have resulted in a full out tummy growl in anticipation. Sorry tum-tum, no dolmades for us today.

It’s cravings for foods like these that inspired this stuffed chicken I have for you. Adapted from my feta, olive, and artichoke chicken breasts (more Med flavors, anyone?), these taste just like a chicken gyro sans the pita. Don’t skimp on the tzatziki and tomatoes, they’re going to elevate this to the next level. Serve this bad boy on a bed of couscous with my Greek green beans and you’ll never have to leave the woods!

Enjoy!

Gyro inspired stuffed chicken from thePenandthePan

Gyro inspired stuffed chicken

Tzatziki sauce to top
½ cup plain yogurt
Shredded cucumber, pressed to remove liquid
1 ½ tsp white wine or rice wine vinegar
Salt and pepper
Pinch of dried oregano

Stuffed chicken
¼ cup shredded mozzarella
2 ounces goat cheese
3 tablespoons red or sweet onion sliced thinly and roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ teaspoon oregano
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (1 ¼ lbs total)
1 large egg white
½ cup bread crumbs, seasoned with salt and pepper.

Fresh ripe tomato to top

Preheat oven to 350°. Lightly coat a shallow baking pan with cooking spray and set aside.

In a small bowl, mix together cheeses, onion, garlic and oregano and set aside. In a shallow dish, large enough to accommodate the chicken breasts, lightly beat the egg white. In another shallow dish, mix together breadcrumbs and salt and pepper.

Cut a large pocket along the long edge of the chicken breast, being careful not to go through the chicken breast completely. Holding the chicken breast flat with the palm of one hand, carefully run the paring knife in a slight circle, following the curve of the chicken breast.

Stuff ¼ of the cheese mixture into each chicken breast. Holding the edges of the chicken breast together, dip the top of the breast in the egg white and then in the breadcrumbs. Place in baking dish.

Bake chicken at 350° for 35 minutes, or until a thermometer inserted in the thickest, non-stuffed portion of the breast reads 170°.

Layered leftover nachos

Uhhhh, what do you mean it’s only Thursday. You can’t be for reals. Nope, I refuse to believe that. Surely it’s been well over a week since we visited last. I mean, just look at everything that’s happened. Well, ok, I mean just look at everything I accomplished. Uhh, I mean, I’m sleepy, go ‘way.

It’s not so much that I’ve actually gotten that much dones, as it is feeling stretched in too many directions. You know the feeling. But this is no space for whining, right, I mean you definitely prefer me when I’m wine-ing (yeah that’s a thing that will definitely happen this weekend). Bonus points, my weekend started about thirty minutes ago. Winning! Comp time is the best time.

I feel like I’m nattering on saying much the same I’ve said in weeks past. So instead, let’s look at pretty pictures. Yayyyy! Pictures! Of nature!

Eagle take off

Pretty rad, huh? As much as I’d like to take credit for that shot, it was all Himself. Don’t mind me as I’m over here drumming my fingers, trying to contain my jealousy. He’s the better photographer. Though I did get this one in the yard.

Deer in yard

Sigh, I know it doesn’t compare. But really now, I can’t have *all* the talent. I mean just looky here at what I’ve done with your leftovers. It’s like magic up in here. So, the name may not be the most glamorous, but the taste will knock your socks off. I made this with my leftover crockpot pork tacos with beer. And it was glorious! This is more of a technique, since your nachos are going to depend on how much meat and veggies you have left over. Get creative here, it doesn’t have to be taco meat on these nachos. Have some leftover chicken breast? Shred it up and toss with some salsa. Have some black beans and sweet potatoes in the fridge? Oh yes, my friend, super tasty! Think way outside the box here. What’ve you got to lose?

The recipe makes a huge plate of nachos. Think of those over the top restaurant nachos. We’re talking more than enough to share in a group. But not to worry, everyone will inhale them.

Enjoy!

Layered leftover nachos

Layered leftover nachos

2 cups leftover meat, shredded or chopped into bite sized pieces
2 cups cheese
Tortilla chips
Assorted veggies – green pepper, green top onions, tomatoes, etc
Cilantro cream sauce and guacamole to serve

Preheat oven to 350º. In a small baking dish, place a layer of tortilla chips. Top with ½ meat, 1 cup of cheese, and half the veggies (except tomatoes if using). Place another layer of chips on top. Repeat meat, cheese, and vegetable layers. Top with tomatoes.

Bake in preheated oven for 18-20 minutes. Serve with cilantro cream sauce and guacamole.

Crockpot pork tacos with beer

I am having another amazing week. Getting tired of hearing that yet? I really can’t believe how much happier I am in the woods. It’s like the decision to pack in city life and just move on is reaffirmed every day. In fact, I can hardly believe that we’ve only been here eight months!

Not to be all sunshine and giggles, this week was a little tough. After all having two jobs is time consuming, and though I remember May being crazy busy when I was a student, turns out I had no idea just what that meant for grown-ups. Not that I’m laying claim to that title, mind you. But for every tough thing that happened, something amazing happened.

Culminating in yesterday’s wildlife “adventure.” I love having birds around. Always have. In fact one of the first things I did when we moved up here was request a bird book (Himself’s mother to the rescue again!). Now, you’ll find that and my inherited binoculars paired together on the porch on the reg. So naturally, I have a ton of bird feeders. We’ve got one outside the bedroom window. And since we put it up, I’ve been fascinated by how fearless those agile, little chickadees are. But I had no idea just how fearless until I went to change out the feeders yesterday. I just sauntered up, new feeder in hand, and I realized these birds weren’t going anywhere. I slowly grabbed my phone and started taking a few shots. And those birds just went on pigging out, swooping in short flights all around me. It was amazing. I dropped off the new feeder, and grabbed the big camera. Still showing no fear, these birds tried to figure out just what I was doing. And that’s when this happened.

Chickadees

You can bet I’m going to try to repeat that scene again today. Especially since Mr. Blue Jay found the new feeder sturdy enough to hold both him and his raucous cries. All signs that spring has finally arrived, I mean it is May already.

In fact, it’s almost Cinco de Mayo! You might be inundated with fiesta flavored recipes, but I bet you won’t find one as easy (and delish, I dare say) as this one. As if pork tacos aren’t tasty enough, I went and put beer in there. Yeah, I said beer. In your tacos. Soon to be in your FACE. Cause you’ll be busy stuffing it. Amirite?!

Ok, all hyperbole aside, these tacos are super, amazingly, unbelievably tasty! The assembly couldn’t be easier either. Mix it all up, walk away, come back and stuff your face. Keep in mind though, 3 lbs of pork is a lot. This is the recipe that you serve to a crowd and then sit back and relish the accolades.

Enjoy!

Crockpot pork tacos with beer

Crockpot pork tacos with beer

Adapted from Crock Pot Cheddar Beer Chicken Tacos at How Sweet It Is

1 medium sweet onion
2.5 – 3 pound pork roast
10 ounce can of tomatoes (I used Rotel’s tomatoes with green chilies)
1 green pepper
1-12 ounce bottle of beer
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon adobo seasoning
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
¼ teaspoon cayenne
2 teaspoons dried cilantro (optional if you’re not the cilantro freak I am)
Taco shells or tortillas
Favorite toppings: lettuce, tomatoes, more green pepper, and of course cilantro cream sauce

Roughly chop onions and place in the bottom of a crock pot. If necessary, remove butcher twine from pork roast, and place on top of onions. Drain tomatoes, reserving juice, and place on top of pork. Roughly chop green pepper and add on top of tomatoes.

In a medium bowl, mix together beer, reserved tomato juice, and taco seasonings. Carefully pour over and around pork roast. Cover and cook on low 7 to 8 hours or on high for 4 hours.

Just before serving, shred pork with two forks. Assemble tacos. Stuff your face.

Sweet potato, olive, and spinach pizza

Soooooo, lovely invisible interweb friends, here it is another Thursday. With the best of intentions I set goals, oh way back when, that had me posting on Wednesdays and Saturdays. But these days, by the time I get settled in for the week at both jobs, I look around and here it is Wednesday, and all the creative energy? Well, it’s left the building. So Thursdays, you want to get a little creative together? Yeah, me too. You and me Thursday, let’s make a pact to come visit all our invisible interweb friends together. K?

Whew, now that’s out of the way, I can feel a little less like I’m playing catch-up. Which is good, cause I feel like we’ve been catching up from being in this cities this weekend too. We had a wonderful, amazing, super fun whirlwind trip getting to see family and friends. And came away laden with the raddest of gifts. All in some way related to food. There were fantastic wine coasters from my BFF; homemade beer and Penzey’s spices from my brother; cookbooks from my mother-in-law; muffaletta from my father-in-law, and sourdough starter (!!!), green tomato relish, salsa, and pear sauce from Himself’s woodworking buddy just to name a few. Unrelated to food, but also AMAZING, is a poster that my brother got me – all of the words in all of Emily Dickinson’s poems used to create a gorgeous image and a beautiful necklace from my sister-in-law. All that, plus foodie dinners and sushi, and a trip to the co-op to visit friends and stock up on vanilla pods and smoked salt, and all in just two days.

I’m feeling awfully rich in friends and family after all that. But once we got back, someone asked Himself, “So when did it feel like you were headed home? Saturday afternoon on the way to Minneapolis, or Monday afternoon headed back up north?” The answer for both of us was unmistakably when headed north. In fact, right now I am relishing the quiet (and that homemade beer!), taking a moment to breathe before another fun-filled weekend.

Fun-filled weekends are the inspiration for this pizza. Ok, actually a recovery from a fun-filled weekend. Looking in my fridge, I realized that those items I had bought with the best of intentions last week were getting a little close to the use it or lose it stag. And from necessity, amazing deliciousness is born! Ok, I can just imagine my father-in-law’s face as he reads the recipe, but I promise you Peter, and you too, invisible internet friends, something magical happens between the sweetness of the sweet potatoes, the salty goodness of the olives, the tang of the blue cheese, and the warmth of the spinach. In fact, I love the combination so much, it’s going in tonight’s dinner of falafel and sweet potatoes on a bed of spinach, drizzled with olive dressing. Are you drooling, cause I am! Just five more minutes until that falafel is done a-baking.

K, enough with the chitter-chatter, let’s eat already. You go make this pizza, whilst I make a salad out of my leftover sweet potatoes.

Enjoy!

Sweet potato, olive, and spinach pizza

Sweet potato and olive pizza

Per individual pizza:
Pizza dough
Scant 1/2 cup roasted sweet potatoes (see directions)
1/2 cup pizza cheese
2 tablespoons chopped olives
Small handful torn spinach
Sprinkle of blue cheese

To roast the potatoes:
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and set aside. Peel potatoes and cut in half lengthwise. Slice into 1/4 inch slices. Place into a bowl and drizzle with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Toss potatoes to coat. Roast 30 minutes.

For the pizza:
Stretch favorite dough recipe (of course, by that I mean mine) into oblong shape on greased cookie sheet. Sprinkle with pizza cheese. Top with sweet potatoes, olives, spinach, and blue cheese. Bake at 425 for 15 minutes.

Senegalese peanut-y chicken

Oooof, it snowed. A. Lot. On the second day of spring even. It’s gorgeous and white and clean and perfect for snowball fights, but it’s snow. It’s not so much that I mind the snow, but the day before this storm, I was wandering around outside with chickens sans coat. Basking in the sun, listening to the birds, watching the chickens fight over bread crusts, a lovely spring afternoon. And now we’re surrounded by snow. Well, ok, just excuse me a moment while I dream of warmer climes and the spring to come.

Since I’ve got spring on the brain, I decided it was time for a little blog spring cleaning. I’m cleaning and trying some new things out here. And it’s looking pretty snazzy if I do say so myself (aren’t I the modest one today?).

But let’s get back to that dream of warmer climes. This Senegalese peanut-y chicken transports me right back to my study abroad days. Similar to mafe poulet, it leaves out the sweet potatoes and cabbage. Mafe poulet was my absolute favorite dish while in Senegal, I could not get enough. But now, I (and you!) can make it right in my own kitchen. Peanuts, chicken, a little heat, and a pop of cilantro. It’s a winning combination in my book.

Enjoy!

Senegalese peanuty chicken

Senegalese peanut-y chicken

Adapted from The Best Casserole Cookbook Ever by Beatrice Ojakangas

2 teaspoons coconut oil
1 small onion, roughly chopped
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup crunchy peanut butter
pepper
¼ -½ tsp of cayenne pepper, depending on spice preference
1 ½ – 2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 4 chicken breasts)
1 tomato, chopped
Chopped cilantro for garnish

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium low heat. Add the onion and saute for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and mix in chicken broth, peanut butter, salt, pepper, and cayenne. Set aside.

Trim and rinse the chicken pieces. Pat dry with paper towel. Place chicken in baking dish.

Spread the sauce evenly over chicken. Bake chicken for 45 minutes covered. Remove from oven and sprinkle with chopped tomato. Return, uncovered, to oven for an additional 5 minutes.

Remove from oven and garnish with chopped cilantro. Serve with rice or couscous.

Fresh corn and zucchini quiche

Well, he did it. Himself is jumped into a frozen lake! We have the greatest friends and supporters. With matching funds, he raised over $1,100! Color me super impressed.

As for me, this girl is going to take a much needed breath. I’m still not quite recovered from that terrible sick, but I’ve managed to be quite the go-getter regardless. Himself and I had a rad dinner with some of his friends on Wednesday, followed by a little exploring where we found that a neighborhood bar has a BEAR PIT, you can enjoy an adult beverage and watch BEARS eat (not that I’m excited or anything). Thursday was all Hibbing and hanging with the grandparents, and last night was date night happy hour with fancy pants gin drinks and pie, it being Pi Day! Whew.

Speaking of pie, I still haven’t managed to master a pie crust. Ok, if I tell the truth, I haven’t even made space to try. So, for now, this delicious quiche I have for you was made with a store-bought, frozen pie crust. I know, shame, shame. But after taste testing a few, I found one that is pretty dang good, so let’s just focus on the quiche filling, mmmmkay?

I’ve spent a little time lately pouring through all of my pins on Pinterest (how in the world did I think I was ever going to make all of that?). Anyway, one of the pins I had marked ever so long ago was a quiche with corn in it. Now I pinned that so long ago that the original link has disappeared, so here’s my version. Corn, turkey sausage, zucchini, YUM! Here’s the thing, though, you need to shred that zucchini AND give it time to drain. Trust me on this, you don’t want a big sloppy mess of a quiche. I just use my big ‘ol box grater and then transfer the shredded zuch to a cheesecloth lined colander. If you don’t have a cheesecloth, a coffee filter’ll do in a pinch. I set a bowl on top of the zuch to help squeeze even more water out. The recipe calls for 3/4 cup shredded zucchini, but an average zucchini will give you about 2x that. Simply put the rest of the drained zucchini into a freezer baggie, and pop it into your freezer. Add it to your next omelette, quiche, or soup.

Now, you guys are going to think I’m a terrible cheater, but I used a pre-cooked sausage (Jimmy Dean’s pre-cooked turkey sausage), and it was surprisingly delish. Not to mention sped up the on-hand time enormously, allowing me to bask in a feeling of well-being and early evening sunshine. Not a bad trade off, I say. If you do cook your sausage fresh, just make sure to let it cool slightly and drain on a paper towel before adding to your pie crust.

Enjoy!

Corn and zucchini quiche

Corn and zucchini quiche

Deep dish pie crust, unbaked
¾ cup shredded zucchini
¾ cup fresh corn
¾ cup cooked sausage
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
4 eggs
1 cup milk
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Spread zucchini, corn, sausage, and cheese evenly in layers on the bottom of the pie crust.

In a separate bowl, beat eggs. Add milk and a pinch of salt and pepper, mixing well. Pour evenly into pie crust.

Bake at 400 degrees 40 – 50 minutes or until the middle is set. Remove from oven and let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Fromage Homage

A British Isles Cheese Odyssey

My Foray Into Food Storage

A regular gal learning about Food Storage, Home Cooking, Canning, Gardening, and more!

Simply Made Kitchen and Crafts

Wholesome family living, simple recipes and crafts

Urban Nettle

Rooted in Nature…A Commitment to Ourselves

Swirls and Spice

Kissing Dairy Goodbye Never Tasted So Good!

Shivaay Delights

Sharing my passion for cooking and baking ♡

Simple Life Mom

Natural Beauty and Homemade Everything

grapefriend

grapefriend. wine. fun.

Andie Duncan : Motherload VO

Where smart, silly and serious play extremely well together.

KITCHEN CICI

Food Innovator, Clean Eater, Recipe Sharer. My kitchen is small but mighty.

My Favourite Pastime

Food, Travel and Eating Out