That's a lot for one post, right? I found that I have a back up in my photo files, hehe. There are a bunch of things waiting for me to post them. We actually had these three things one night last week. (Well, we have the iced tea every day.) It's about time I get them on here, don't you think?
I don't even have recipes for these, just more like guidelines. Cooking is hardly ever an exact science...baking, yes, but throwing dinner on the table? Sometimes you just want to take an idea and wing it, and those are very often some of the best dinners!
Chicken and Cheese Quesadillas with Brown rice and Black Beans
So let's start with the quesadillas. Quite a few months ago, my sister in law, Orietta (love her! Hi Ori!) brought over her quesadilla maker on a Friday night, along with some cheeses, salsa, sour cream, tortillas, and this amazing smelling marinated chicken. Simple stuff, right? Yeah! And guess what? The chicken is ridiculously easy to get ready. Take some boneless chicken, cut it into smallish strips, not too long. Toss it in a bowl, ziptop bag, or container. Drizzle it with olive oil and cider vinegar (or rice vinegar, white wine vinegar, whatever you've got). Now this is where you personalize it. She uses (and I usually do, too) adobo powder, a bit of salt and pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, and some Goya Sazon. Just sprinkle some of each over the chicken, not too much, but enough. It should just smell really good when you're done. Precise, right? hahaha.
Let it sit for at least 1/2 an hour, then just saute it in a little olive oil until done and set aside. It only takes a few minutes to cook. Next, plug in your quesadilla maker, if you're using one, and let that heat up. Do you need to use one? No. But let me tell you why I love the quesadilla maker. It heats from the top and bottom, so both sides get crispy, and the shape of the plates make six little "pockets" that are sealed, so your fillings aren't oozing out everywhere.
Just don't overfill the pockets. Put down one tortilla, then some cheese and your fillings, and a bit more cheese if you like, and for the love of God, don't forget to put the top tortilla down before closing the lid! I've learned this lesson the hard way, twice! hehe. It's truly one appliance that didn't end up in the appliance graveyard. My oldest likes to experiment with fillings, and my three other kids like plain old mozzarella inside, and they dip it in warm pizza or spaghetti sauce.
You can try anything for fillings. We've done breakfast quesadillas with scrambled egg, cheese and ham, we've done some with shrimp, and on the menu this coming week are taco quesadillas. I'll bet pizza fillings would be great, too! And don't forget that you can make dessert ones, with fruit fillings, or a bit of chocolate, etc.
The rice and beans? Couldn't be easier, and again, done on the spur of the moment. Hot cooked brown rice, stir in a can of rinsed and drained black beans, and this time, I added some adobo and Goya Sazon, just like I used on the chicken. Easy and delicious.
Iced Tea (yep, we drink ice cold iced tea, even in the winter time)
Again, this couldn't be simpler, and it's one of the few appliances I use enough to leave it out on the counter all year long. It's a Mr. Coffee Iced Tea Maker. Sure, you can brew tea other ways, but I love that this way only takes a few minutes--it takes about 5 minutes to brew a whole pot, and when it's done brewing, it's ice cold and ready to go. We don't bother with lemons and all that, and though they're really nice with tea, we're a busy family. So instead of futzing with sliced lemons and sweetener (which you could certainly do, if you like), we sweeten and add lemon flavor with sugar free lemonade, like Crystal light. Honestly, I love lemons, and usually have some on hand, but when I want iced tea, I want it 5 minutes ago, so lemme grab some lemonade for my tea and be on my way, hehehe. We like about 2/3 tea and 1/3 lemonade, on ice, of course. There's nothing more refreshing than ice cold tea, and we have it every day of the year. For one pot of tea, I use 12 small teabags, or 4 of the large teabags. I'm drinking some right now, in fact. Ahhhh, refreshing!