Thursday, July 24, 2014

Summer Tortellini

I really wish I had a green thumb. I dream of having a large vegetable garden in our yard where I could grown all of our produce and be totally self sufficient in the summer... I just can't see it happening. I don't really enjoy working in the garden (heck, I barely remember to water my potted flowers on the front step) but I want the benefits of having a garden at home. Like I have said for the past 10 years, maybe next year...

Even though I don't have a big vegetable garden, I always grow tomatoes. This year I just have one pot of tomatoes and a pot of basil growing on my patio. The tomato plant doesn't look all that great but the tomatoes I have gotten from it have been so sweet and juicy. Two of those tomatoes inspired this summer tortellini dish.

When I posted the picture of this dinner on Instagram I used the hashtag #tasteslikesummer. Sweet and juicy tomatoes paired with basil are a classic summer combination - don't you agree? It's one of my favorite things about summer so I hope my little potted tomato plant keeps on giving me perfect tomatoes!

Summer Tortellini

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 large ripe tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 c vegetable broth
  • 6 leaves of basil, roughly chopped
  • 8 oz cooked cheese tortellini
  • A few handfuls of fresh baby spinach
  • Salt and pepper
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • Optional: crumbled ricotta salata
  • Heat olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium high heat
  • Add the garlic and tomatoes; sauté for about 4 minutes
  • Season lightly with salt and pepper, add a little more than half of the basil and add the broth. Let simmer for a few minutes (this is the perfect time to cook your tortellini)
  • Once the tortellini has cooked, remove it from the water with a slotted spoon and transfer it to the sauté pan.
  • Add the spinach and toss everything to wilt the spinach.
  • Add the Parmesan cheese and adjust salt and pepper, if needed.
  • Serve garnished with some basil and ricotta salata, if desired.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Chicken Tostadas

Today is my baby girl's 4th birthday!!!

I feel like I was just writing the post about the peach cobbler I HAD to bake just before she was born, and here we are 4 years later. Time is going way too fast! It is so hard to remember my life before she was in it. She has brought so much joy, love, and craziness to our life and home - I just wish time would slow down.

Since today is going to be a fun day (actually, a fun day to kick off several days of fun birthday things!), I'm sharing a fun dinner - Chicken Tostadas.

I've had these a few times in Mexican restaurants and when trying to think of what to do with shredded chicken, tostadas came to mind. We all loved them and I'm sure I will turn to these often when looking for something fun and easy. So much prep can be done beforehand and everyone can assemble their own tostadas and choose their own toppings.
I read a recipe on the Food Network site and followed the basic instructions on how to fry the tortillas and spread on the beans. As far as toppings, I chose to make some of my Pico de Gallo - I knew my husband would like that a lot better than chopped tomatoes. What I liked best about making this dinner was that I cooked and shredded the chicken the night before so when it came time to make dinner, all I had to do was fry the tortillas and assemble them. Definitely an easy weeknight meal! 

Chicken Tostadas
Source: loosely adapted from The Food Network
Ingredients (per tostada)
  • 1 flour tortilla
  • Vegetable oil
  • 2 Tbsp refried beans (want to make your own? Try these)
  • 1 Tbsp shredded cheddar cheese
  • Shredded chicken (you will need chili powder, cumin, cayenne, garlic powder, and onion powder for cooking the chicken)
  • 2 Tbsp fresh pico de gallo
  • 1 tsp chopped jalapeno (optional if you like heat!)
  • Shredded lettuce
  • 1 Tbsp sour cream
  • 1 Tbsp crumbled queso fresco
  • Other ideas for toppings: tomatoes, Monterrey Jack cheese, avocado slices, green onions, tomatillo salsa, chunky salsa
  • Cook the chicken: place chicken breasts in a pot and cover with water. Season the water generously with chili powder, cumin, cayenne, garlic powder and onion powder. Cook over medium heat until chicken is done. Transfer to a KitchenAid mixer and shred or shred using 2 forks. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use; I warmed the chicken in a pan with just a small amount of broth.
  • Preheat broiler in your oven
  • Pour a layer of vegetable oil - about 1/3 inch deep) into a frying pan and heat over high heat. Add the tortilla and cook about 45 seconds per side, or until golden brown and crispy. Transfer to a dish lined with paper towels and let excess oil drip off.
  • Transfer the tortilla to a baking sheet and spoon refried beans on, spreading them in an even layer. Top with the shredded cheddar cheese and place under the broiler until the cheese is melted, about 30 seconds.
  • Add your toppings - chicken, pico, jalapenos, lettuce, sour cream, queso fresco, and anything else you like.