Crispy blackened shrimp completes this flour tortilla taco that has julienne sliced jicama and carrots with spinach, peach salsa, and sliced avocado! 

Blackened Shrimp Tacos #TacoWeek

Earlier in the summer I made these Blackened shrimp tacos on a sunny afternoon for lunch. Every Sunday we go over to my inlaws house to visit with them, swim in the pool, and have dinner. It’s became part of our weekly routine. I try to bring over lunch or help with dinner where I can.  I typically look around my house to figure out what I have on hand. Some weekends it’s homemade grilled flatbreads our pizza. On this particular Sunday I brought over shrimp to make tacos. I used my homemade blackening seasoning to give the shrimp a little kick.
OXO Julianne Handheld Mandoline Slicer
I wanted a crunch to the tacos without putting coleslaw on it. I decided to julienne cut some jicama and carrots to give it a fresh crunchy taste. I love using the OXO Hand-held julienne slicer. It’s portable, easy-to-store, and hard root style vegetables like carrots and jicama are perfect to use on this!

Blackened Shrimp Tacos #TacoWeek

I also paired the blackened shrimp tacos with my homemade peach salsa. The sweet fruit paired well with the spice from the blackening seasoning pairs perfectly. It’s refreshing taco and light weight but full of flavor. So as the weather starts to get cooler, you can dream about the hot summer days you had by eating a few of these blackened shrimp tacos!

Blackened Shrimp Tacos #TacoWeekKatie Original Recipe

Blackened Shrimp Tacos

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 5 minutes

Total Time: 20 minutes

Yield: 10 tacos

Blackened Shrimp Tacos

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. Shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 tbsp Blackening Seasoning
  • 1 tbsp Grape Seed Oil
  • 10 Soft Flour Tortillas
  • 1/2 cup Jicama, julienne
  • 1/2 cup Carrots, julienne
  • 1/2 cup Spinach, diced
  • 2 Avocados, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup Peach Salsa
  • Cilantro for garnish if desired

Directions

  1. In a bowl combine, shrimp and blackening season. Heat a sauté pan on medium-high heat. Place the grape seed oil in the pan let it heat for one minute then add in the shrimp. Saute the shrimp for 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Once the shrimp is pink in color, remove from the heat and set to the side.
  2. Prep all of your toppings for the taco's. Julienne slice the jicama and carrots, chop the spinach and thinly slice the avocado. Warm the flour tortillas just before serving (you can do this in the microwave in a damp paper towel for 15 seconds).
  3. Place a flour tortilla on a plate, layer with julienne jicama and carrots, chopped spinach, 3 cooked shrimp, sliced avocado, and a tablespoon of peach salsa. Sprinkle cilantro on top if desired. Repeat until you've made all the tacos.
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Shredded Chicken Taco Flatbread

Welcome to taco week! All week long if you search by the hashtag #tacoweek you’ll find a wide-variety of taco inspired recipes. Since I love tacos and Mexican food in general I knew I had to participate. I’m going to share some non-traditional style taco recipes this week and one that is semi-traditional. Today, I’m sharing a flatbread recipe. Wait, what? I’m sure your asking yourself  “how is that taco like…” well because I’ve turned all my favorite taco ingredients into a flatbread.

Shredded Chicken Taco Flatbread

I love turning leftovers into an entirely new meal. What’s not to love about having food already cooked, and simply waiting for you to eat it in your refrigerator. So when I have leftovers whether purposefully done (like I did for this recipe) or just laying around I like to get creative. I love making flatbreads. I feel like I can always have an easy go-to lunch when I have flatbreads on hand. So when I had leftover shredded chicken for taco’s in the refrigerator, I knew I wanted to make a Shredded Chicken Taco Flatbread.

Shredded Chicken Taco Flatbread

For this flatbread, I used Cabot Pepper Jack cheese. It gave the flatbread a nice zippy taste and worked perfectly with the other flavors of the flatbread. Whenever I make flatbreads I always make sure I reheat all the leftovers before I bake the flatbread. Sometimes I find that if I don’t do this that my flatbread looks hot and bubbly but it’s really still cold in one of the many layers. I also love using hot items and then topping with cold crisp items like freshly diced tomatoes, shredded lettuce and a drizzle of cold sour cream. If you don’t have sour cream on hand definitely try using Greek yogurt. You will never know the difference.

Katie Original Recipe

Shredded Chicken Taco Flatbread

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 9 minutes

Total Time: 19 minutes

Yield: 1

Shredded Chicken Taco Flatbread

Ingredients

  • 1 Flatout Flatbread
  • 3 tbsp whipped cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup refried beans
  • 1/4 cup (leftover) shredded chicken
  • 1/4 cup pepper jack cheese, shredded
  • 3 tbsp diced tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp cilantro
  • 1/4 cup lettuce, shredded
  • 2 tbsp sliced olives
  • 1 tbsp sour cream

Directions

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Once the oven is preheated then pre-bake the flatbread for 2 minutes.
  2. Once the flatbread is pre baked then layer on the cream cheese, followed by refried beans, shredded chicken, and pepper jack cheese. Bake the flatbread for 7 minutes. Then top with diced tomatoes, cilantro, shredded lettuce, sliced olives, and sour cream. Serve immediately.

Notes

To ensure the flatbread is piping hot I always pre-cook my leftovers before applying to the flatbread. Make sure you prep the tomatoes, lettuce, etc while the flatbread is baking in the oven.

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Homemade Breakfast Syrup

Don’t have breakfast syrup on hand? Don’t fear–make your own Homemade Breakfast Syrup in minutes!

Homemade Breakfast Syrup made in minutes!

What happens when you have a french toast casserole baking in the oven at 7:30 am on a Sunday morning, a fussy baby, a sleeping husband, and you all of a sudden realize that you don’t have any syrup to serve with the casserole? You search the internet — because clearly you can make your own homemade breakfast syrup. I read through a few recipes while my french toast casserole baked in the oven, and found one that I knew I could make with basic pantry/refrigerator items I had on hand.

Homemade Breakfast Syrup

The week prior, while grocery shopping I picked up a container of buttermilk. I love to have buttermilk on hand. It’s pretty versatile and I love to make buttermilk pancakes and waffles. I decided to use it in my french toast casserole which worked out beautifully! And then when I was reading through the recipe for this homemade breakfast syrup recipe and saw that it required one cup of buttermilk syrup I knew I was destine to make this recipe. I will say that this recipe calls for one tablespoon of corn syrup. I used it but if you don’t feel comfortable using it–don’t. You don’t have to have it and if its something you stay away from that’s ok too. Since it was only one tablespoon I felt ok using it. It’s not like we eat many products with corn syrup in it and the fact that it was one tablespoon I felt ok adding it to the recipe.

Adapted from All Recipes

Homemade Breakfast Syrup

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 5 minutes

Yield: 2-1/2 cups

Homemade Breakfast Syrup

Ingredients

  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 cup white granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp corn syrup
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

Directions

  1. Melt butter in saucepan on high heat, then add in the white granulated sugar, brown sugar, buttermilk, vanilla extract corn syrup and ground cinnamon. Whisk until well incorporated. Reduce heat to medium and continue to whisk on occasion. Cook for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and carefully pour into a glass container. Use warm and serve with your favorite breakfast items.
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This is a sponsored post on behalf of Cost Plus World Market. As always all opinions are my own. 

3-Ingredient Blood Orange Sangria

Y’all Fall is officially here. So why not kick off fall with a spooky sweet sangria recipe. A three ingredient sangria recipe to boot; blood orange soda, white wine, and grapes. Grapes? Why grapes, you might ask. Because I’ve made this Blood Orange Sangria in ode to Halloween and I used grapes to resemble eyeballs! I know, sounds gross, but that is kind of what Halloween is all about.

3-Ingredient Blood Orange Sangria

Halloween is one of my favorite holidays of the year. In the past I’ve decorated my home from top to bottom and I’ve thrown parties. Those days are on hold for at least this year, but what’s not on hold is making creepy crawly Halloween food and Halloween baking.

3-Ingredient Blood Orange Sangria

If your hosting a party this Halloween I welcome you to try my recipe for 3-ingredient Blood Orange Sangria.

Hosting a party? Check out my blog post over on Sew Woodsy: 5 Tips to Host a Successful Halloween Party

Katie Original Recipe

Blood Orange Sangria

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Total Time: 5 minutes

Yield: 8 glasses

Blood Orange Sangria

Ingredients

  • 1- 25.4 fl oz bottle of Blood Orange Soda
  • 1 bottle of white wine
  • 2 dozen green or red grapes

Directions

  1. In a large drink pitcher combine the blood orange soda with the white wine. Place a few grapes in the pitcher and a few in each glass your serving. Enjoy immediately over ice.

Notes

Leave a bowl of grapes next to the pitcher of sangria for guest to help themselves to some "eyeballs".

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Book of Life Sweepstakes

My friends at World Market and Fox Studios has a fun sweepstakes for the brand new movies, The Book of Life. So, what is the Book of Life about?

An animated movie of a Romeo and Juliet-inspired love story set during a Day of the Dead celebration: Manolo (Channing) is a young matador who wants to shed the expectations of his family to follow his dreams of being a musician and his best friend, Joaquin (Diego), is the successful pride of the town. They compete for the heart of Maria (Zoe). In order to win Maria’s heart and save her life, Manolo must face his greatest fears and follow his heart to rewrite his destiny.

In Theaters October 17, 2014. 

You could win a trip to the Riviera Maya & FREE Movies for a Year!

Grand Prize Package:

  • 5 Days/6Nights at Grand Velas Riviera Maya
  • Free Movies for a year
  • $1,000 World Market gift card
  • Book of Life Merchandise
  • Plus, three (3) first prizes: $500 World Market gift card
  • Sweepstakes ends October 24th, 2014

Enter to win here. 

Get social with World Market on FacebookTwitterPinterestInstagram & Tumblr.

Disclaimer: I received gift cards to create this recipe and share about the Book of Life Sweepstakes. As always all opinions are my own.


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Do you have a loaf of stale French bread? Try my easy recipe for Baked French Toast Casserole. It is sure to be a hit at your next breakfast or brunch!  Baked French Toast CasseroleBy now, if you read Katie’s Cucina regularly you know that I do not like to waste food in my kitchen. I’m always trying to think up ways to use up leftovers whether its a leftover meal or leftover bread. In this case, it was 3/4 of a loaf of leftover French bread. It was stale… like hard as a rock. If an intruder came into my house I could use it to beat them over the head with it. I love bread pudding but didn’t want to make bread pudding. I had pondered the idea of a baked french toast casserole for a few days. Sunday rolled around and my sweet baby boy of 5.5 months woke me up at 5:49 a.m. normally I’m grumbling at the early wake-up call. Except on this morning, I wasn’t. I was jumping for joy (and holding my fully engorged boobs as I jumped). You see, he slept the ENTIRE night for the first time in his life. A whopping 7.5 hours. STRAIGHT. No waking up for feedings, no crying in the middle of the night. All sleep.

Baked French Toast Casserole

Of course, me being the concerned new mom, my body woke me up at the 4 hour mark (which is what he normally wakes most nights), and then I woke up at the 6 hour mark. I saw him moving around so I took it upon myself to go to the bathroom before the crying began. But to my surprise when I arrived back to my bed, I looked into the video monitor, and he was still sleeping. I had to zoom in on his face to make sure that those sweet blue eyes were actually shut. And shut they were. So I laid back down and tried not to think about my engorged boobs. I contemplated for about 5 minutes if I should get up to pump or if I should just try to go back to bed. I counted to 10 took a few deep breaths and decided I would try to go back to sleep. An hour and a half later… I awoke to a bright-eyed bushy tailed little boy in his crib. Not crying… just cooing and babbling at the monitor. I imagine he is saying “mom get up–come get me out of here”.

Baked French Toast Casserole

After I nursed and then pumped, we played on the floor for a half hour before Ryder started getting cranky again. Then I nursed him again and off he slept for another 45 minutes. Once he woke the second time I placed him in the exersaucer, and preheated the oven. Turned on the coffee maker and started slicing the stale bread. I opened up my fridge and that’s when I discovered I only had 2 eggs left. I would have been forced to make french toast for breakfast any ways with just 2 eggs, but now this put my casserole plans at a hault. I decided to use tangy buttermilk that is thick and rich and it helped build the custard base. This is a much smaller portion of Baked French Toast Casserole. Most recipes you see on the web are for a giant pan full of Baked French Toast Casserole. With just a few ingredients, we had breakfast in 40 minutes. I had time to bake some bacon and make home fried breakfast potatoes. I had just 8 fresh strawberries in the fridge that desperately needed to be eaten, so I added a few to each plate. I also made homemade breakfast syrup. I’ll be sharing that recipe soon (because I was out of maple syrup–go figure).

Baked French Toast Casserole

So whether your hosting a brunch for four, or celebrating your baby sleeping through the night, I think you’ll love this recipe for Baked French Toast Casserole!

Katie Original Recipe

Baked French Toast Casserole

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 35 minutes

Total Time: 40 minutes

Yield: 4

Baked French Toast Casserole

Ingredients

  • Cooking Spray
  • 3/4 Loaf French Bread (stale), sliced 1-inch thick
  • 2 Large Eggs
  • 1-1/2 cups Buttermilk
  • 2 tbsp Brown Sugar
  • 1 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1 dash Nutmeg
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Farenheit. While oven is preheating in a large bowl mix eggs, buttermilk, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla extract. Whisk until well incorporated then set to the side.
  2. Grease 9x9 glass pan with cooking spray, then layer the stale french bread slices in three layers, overlapping bread. Pour the egg/buttermilk mixture on top and then cover with aluminum foil. Bake for 25 minutes then remove the aluminum foil and bake an additional 10 minutes until bread is golden brown.
  3. Divide the casserole into four large squares; serve with warm syrup and fresh berries if desired.
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Looking for a flavorful new grilled vegetable side dish? Try my recipe for Grilled Asian Green Beans and Red Bell Peppers!

Grilled Asian Green Beans and Red Bell Peppers

If you are a regular reader of Katie’s Cucina you know I love to grill. I’m not intimidated of grilling I’ve learned to embrace it. Living in Florida we grill a lot. Especially when its still 90 degrees out as the rest of the country is finally starting to cool off. I’ve been making these Grilled Asian Green Beans and Red Bell Peppers all summer long. I’ve refined the recipe over the summer and finally took the time to photograph this delectable grilled side dish. I prepped all the veggies, placed them in a gallon-size ziplock baggie and poured in all my seasonings. Sealed it up, mixed the veggies using my hands on the outside of the bag and let it sit until I was ready to grill dinner. You can even prep this in the morning, place it in the refrigerator and when you get home from work your side dish is already ready for you.

Grilled Asian Green Beans and Red Bell Peppers

I love my STOK® grill. I love that my grill has interchangeable grill inserts. I typically grill chicken on the traditional grill grate and then throw in some veggies into the vegetable basket at least once a week.  This is what the green beans, red bell peppers and red onion looked like as I poured my zip lock baggie full of veggies into my vegetable basket.

Grilled Asian Green Beans and Red Bell PeppersJust 10-15 minutes later this is how my veggies looked. Nicely cooked with little grill bits. The green beans were still al dente and crisp. The bell peppers and red onions were sweet in taste. I now love grilling green beans! Who would have thought to grill green beans?

Grilled Asian Green Beans and Red Bell Peppers

Katie Original Recipe

Grilled Asian Green Beans and Red Bell Peppers

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 20 minutes

Yield: 4

Grilled Asian Green Beans and Red Bell Peppers

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. Green Beans, trimmed
  • 1 Red Bell Pepper, chopped
  • 1 Red Onion, sliced
  • 1 tbsp Sesame Oil
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1/4 tsp Black Pepper
  • 1 tbsp Soy Sauce
  • 1 tbsp Minced Garlic in Water

Directions

  1. In a large gallon bag, place green beans, red bell pepper, and red onion in the bag. Then add in the sesame oil, salt, black pepper, soy sauce, and minced garlic. Seal bag and mix with hands in the outside of the bag.
  2. Heat the grill to medium-low heat (should be at 350 degrees Fahrenheit). Pour the vegetables into a vegetable grill basket and cook for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and serve immediately.
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Juicy and flavorful chicken and green olive filling make these homemade chicken empanadas irresistible!

Chicken Empanadas

I love a good empanada! I just started eating empanadas over the past decade. Whenever I go to Whole Foods or even the grocery store (yes, they sell them in our warm food case at the bakery) I typically grab a chicken and spinach empanada! I’ve never made them at home; however, my mother in-law has made beef empanada’s a few times. When we were planning my brother in-laws birthday last month we decided we would server chicken and ground beef empanadas for a light lunch as well as my homemade salsa and a seven layer dip. The empanadas made for  a perfect lunch and we happened to have quite a few leftover. We made 3 dozen. Two dozen beef and one dozen of the chicken empanadas. I was tasked with making the filling. I grabbed cooked rotisserie chicken meat (there I go again with the rotisserie. If your not embracing the rotisserie chicken you need too!), some of my favorite spanish spices, and a few large green olives. I just so happened to make enough filling for one dozen empanadas. It was fate. And boy were they flavorful!

In case you’ve never made chicken empanadas I have a few pictures on how to make them. They are so easy to make and best of all you can prep them ahead of time and fry them right before your about to eat.

Chicken Empanadas

I use pre-made empanada dough found in the freezer section. You will want to defrost them in the fridge the day before. Place 1-2 tablespoons of chicken filling in the middle of the empanada dough disc.

Chicken Empanadas Then fold the empanada in half like the photo above. (My mother in-law, Linda, is my hand model for these photos!)

Chicken Empanadas

Then, use a fork and seal the dough shut by pressing the tines of the fork into the dough. Set them in a covered container until your ready to fry them. Then once your ready to fry, in a deep skillet, heat 1-inch of canola oil to 375°. Of course, if you have a deep fryer then you can use that. Fry a few empanadas at a time (try not to over crowd the skillet), turning once, until browned and crisp, about 3-5 minutes. Place the fried empanadas on a paper towel. While your waiting for the rest to cook you can transfer the cooked empanadas to a baking sheet, and place in the oven on low to keep warm! 

Chicken Empanadas

The cilantro cream sauce is awesome and compliments the chicken empanada perfectly. It’s a sauce that my mother in-law has been making with her empanadas over the past few years and I love it. It’s fresh and full of flavor and of course just a few ingredients. If you don’t have sour cream or don’t want to use sour cream you could always sub greek yogurt instead. You will still achieve the same great taste. Whether you are hosting a party or just want a fun new lunch I would highly recommend you try your hand at making homemade chicken empanadas!

Chicken Empanadas

Katie Original Recipe for Empanadas and Cilantro Cream Sauce adapted from Tyler Florence

Chicken Empanadas

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 20 minutes

Yield: 10

Chicken Empanadas

Ingredients

  • 1 cup Vegetable Oil
  • 10 Empanada Discos (pastry dough found in freezer section)
  • 2 cups Shredded Cooked Rotisserie Chicken
  • 1/4 cup Tomato Sauce
  • 2 tbsp Jarred Sofrito
  • 1 package Sazon Coriander & Arnatto)
  • 4 Super Colossal Spanish Queen Olives Pimento Stuffed, diced (about 1/3 cup)
  • 1/2 cup Shredded Mexican Cheese
  • Cilantro Cream Sauce:
  • 1 cup Sour cream
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, minced
  • 1/2 lime, juiced
  • salt and black pepper to taste

Directions

  1. In a large bowl combine, shredded cooked rotisserie chicken, tomato sauce, jarred sofrito, sazon seasoning, diced Super Colossal Spanish Queen Olives Pimento Stuffed, and shredded Mexican cheese. Mix until well combined and set to the side.
  2. Place empanada disc on a flat surface. Place 1-2 tablespoons of filling in the center of the disc (make sure to not over-fill). Fold empanada in half (moon shape), Seal the edges with a little water and crimp with a fork. Keep filled empanadas covered with parchment paper until ready to fry. (You can refrigerate up to a few hours before frying).
  3. Preheat a large skillet with vegetable oil on medium-high heat. Oil needs to be at 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Place a few empanadas at a time in the pan (make sure to not over crowd the pan) Fry, turning halfway through, until evenly golden brown, about 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from the pan and place empanadas on a paper towel to drain off excess oil. To keep empanadas warm while others are frying, place in the oven on low.
  4. Cilantro Cream Sauce:
  5. In a bowl, combine, sour cream, minced cilantro, lime juice, and salt and pepper. Mix until well incorporated. Refrigerate until ready to serve empanadas.
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Looking for a hearty soup that both children and adults will love? Try this easy recipe for chicken and stars soup.
Chicken and Stars Soup
 
I’m at it again… Making another pot of soup. This time it’s a kid-friendly soup. I grew up eating canned chicken and stars soup. During a recent stroll through the pasta aisle I saw a box of pastina (also known as stars) and I knew I had to make a childhood favorite of mine.
 Chicken and Stars Soup
Did you know that growing up I would eat soup for breakfast? Like every day. My mom always struggled with my pickiness and I think one day decided to let me eat soup for breakfast and the rest was history… Just about everyday I would have a bowl of soup. Most days/weeks/months it was the canned variety and occasionally my mom would have a homemade pot of soup available and I would devour it before anyone could get to it!
Chicken and Stars Soup
This chicken and stars soup is easy to make and best of all most of the contents come directly from the chicken stock I made from a $5 rotisserie chicken. If you like to make (and of course eat) soup I highly recommend you checkout my post on making your own stock from a rotisserie chicken. As the weather starts to get cooler, pack your kids or yourself a thermos full of chicken and stars soup to enjoy during lunch! Or making it for dinner and serve with a salad and crusty bread!
Katie Original Recipe
Chicken and Stars Soup

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 40 minutes

Yield: 6-8

Chicken and Stars Soup

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp chicken fat (or unsalted butter)
  • 2 cups, diced carrots
  • 4 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 8 cups chicken stock
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 chicken bouillon cubes
  • 2 cups cooked dark chicken, shredded
  • 1 zucchini, halved and sliced
  • 1 yellow squash, halved and sliced
  • 1 cup pastina
  • 1 tsp fresh dill

Directions

  1. In a large stock pot, place the chicken fat in the pot (or butter) on medium heat until hot (about 1-2 minutes). Then add the diced carrots, celery, onions, salt, and black pepper. Cook with lid on for 10 minutes on medium-high heat. Stirring occasionally.
  2. Then add in the chicken stock, water, chicken bouillon cubes, and shredded chicken. Cook for an additional 10 minutes until soup begins to boil. Then add in the zucchini, yellow squash, pastina, and fresh dill and cook for 6 minutes. Serve soup immediately or let rest to room temperature and store in a sealed container for up to one week.
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Use leftover chicken fajitas to make these easy quesadillas. Perfect for lunch or even dinner and a great way to use up leftovers!

Easy Chicken Fajita Quesadillas

We love chicken fajitas in my home. The other week I shared with you my grilled chicken fajitas recipe. Today, I’m going to share how to transform the leftover chicken fajitas and re-invent them into a whole new meal! Whenever I have leftover meat and vegetables I tend to throw them into a quesadilla. You can cook them one of three ways; bake them, grill them, or fry them in a sauté pan. That’s how I choose to cook these leftover chicken fajita quesadillas. I will preface that I like to bake them the best… less messy and time spent stressing and worrying about flipping the quesadilla over and the contents of the quesadilla falls out. Maybe you don’t stress about stuff like that, but I do!

Easy Chicken Fajita Quesadillas

The next time you make chicken fajitas… make a little extra to ensure you have leftovers. Then forget about said leftovers for a day or two and then whip up a batch of my easy chicken fajita quesadillas for lunch or dinner.

Katie Original Recipe

Easy Chicken Fajita Quesadillas

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 25 minutes

Yield: 4

Easy Chicken Fajita Quesadillas

Ingredients

  • 8 Flour Tortillas
  • 2 cups leftover chicken and vegetables fajitas
  • 2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • Cooking spray
  • Sour cream and salsa for serving

Directions

  1. Reheat the leftover chicken and vegetable fajita filling until luke warm. Once the fajita filling is semi-cooked place 4 flour tortillas on the countertop. Divide the leftover chicken fajita filling among the four flour tortillas, then divide the cheese (1/2 cup on each tortilla), spreading both filling and cheese evenly.
  2. Heat up a large sauté pan on medium-high heat and spray with cooking spray. Place one of the filled tortillas in the pan. Then add another flour tortilla on top. Cook for 3 minutes until the bottom is golden brown but not burnt. Using two spatulas, carefully flip over (trying not to spill out the contents of the quesadilla). Cook for an additional 2-3 minutes until golden brown. Remove from sauté pan, cut and serve. Repeat until all the quesadillas have been cooked. Serve with sour cream and salsa.
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Highball & Harvest (“H&H”) restaurant located at  The Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes.

(photo credit: The Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes)

Last weekend, I had the opportunity to dine at the new Highball & Harvest (“H&H”) restaurant located at  The Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes. When I’m not cooking, I really enjoy dining at some of the finest restaurants here in Orlando, Florida. Central Florida has a very hot restaurant scene. Gone are the days of visiting the theme parks and staying on property because that’s all that is around to eat. Yes, we do have our share of chain-restaurants (which I love many of them), but we also have a wide-variety of unique and one-of-a-kind farm-to-fork restaurants here. As soon as I found out that the new Highball & Harvest restaurant was serving Southern-inspired food I knew I had to try it! I might not have been born in the south, but I sure do love southern cuisine.

Chef Mark Jeffers

(photo credit: The Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes)

Comprised of The Ritz-Carlton and JW Marriott Orlando, Grande Lakes continues its dedication to farm-to-fork dining and authentic, local experiences with the opening of H&H, helmed by the resort’s rising young Chef de Cuisine Mark Jeffers who joined The Ritz-Carlton, Orlando in 2007. Having grown up on the water, the Daytona, Florida native pulls his culinary inspiration from his hometown state as well as his extensive travels around the South, from Low Country-infused Charleston to Cajun-spiced New Orleans. Chef Jeffers’ dishes are hyper local, infused with Floridian citrus and ingredients from nearby purveyors and the resort’s own 7,000-square-foot Whisper Creek Farm, which opened in October 2012 and continues to expand. The thirst-quenching heart of the restaurant will be its hands-on cocktail bar experience.

The dishes we create at Highball & Harvest are designed to give restaurant-goers a sense of nostalgia while enjoying southern classics infused with regional flavors,” says Chef Mark Jeffers. “We start with locally sourced products and allow the quality of the ingredients speak for itself.

Highball & Harvest’s most unexpected offerings:

  • Parker House Rolls, made from Khorasan wheat (Egyptian old-world grains) and served warm and moist with less gluten than typical bread, a complimentary bread presentation made from scratch by the resort’s 30-person pastry team.
  • Signature dishes: Pig-n-Potatoes, an all-day breakfast dish of poached egg, potato hash, and tender pork cheeks with sweet peppers, caramelized onions, H&H Hot Sauce, and hollandaise sauce. The Southern Spreads, pimento cheese dip and smoked fish dip served with pickled veggies, benne seed lavash, and grilled sourdough presented in a metal tackle box. Smoked Lamb Brisket with boiled peanut “baked beans” and collards.
  • Raw Oyster Bar with signature house-made H&H Hot Sauce. Chefs shuck oysters by hand and teach diners all-things-oysters.
  • Interactive cocktail table with handcrafted, herb-infused cocktails. Knowledgeable bar chefs muddle ingredients while curating a personalized cocktail experience. Cocktails are served on the rocks with hand-carved ice, sculpted bar side with a high-end Japanese ice saw and infused with Whisper Creek Farm herbs and fruits. Signature cocktails: “The Last Wish” served over an ice sphere with orange peel, the “Doc Holliday” with house ginger beer and blueberry jam, and the “Back 40 Punch”, a refreshing take on a bourbon cocktail mixed with sweet tea and lemon.
  • Cask wine. Central Florida’s largest selection of wines from the cask. This method ensures perfect temperature control and freshness, and is eco-friendly by reducing the amount of wine bottles used.


We started our meal off with hand-crafted beverages. I had the non-alcoholic Cranberry Cobbler as I showed on Instagram during our luncheon. Then the servers brought out the lightly and fluffy Parker House Rolls that were paired with two house made butters; an herb butter and an apple cinnamon butter.

Next up, the chef choose two appetizers for us to sample. We shared, family-style, The Southern Spreads which consisted of warm pimento cheese dip and a flavorful smoked fish dip served along side picked veggies like okra and carrots to name a few as well as benne seed lavash crackers and grilled sourdough that was fresh and fluffy. We also got to sample the crab cakes with fried green tomatoes. The crab cakes were all crab and no-filler. My favorite way to consume a crab cake! And then on top of that paired with a fried green tomato. My absolute favorite. Heirloom tomatoes with a grilled corn chow-chow lined the plate as well as a flavorful cajun remoulade and a house made hot sauce–that was more smokey than spicy.

And then it was time for our entree. I choose the shrimp and grits. Locally fished Canaveral Red Shrimp with Anson Mills Grits that were creamy with both white cheddar cheese and a hint of goat cheese. The chef lined the bowl with a delicious Charred Tomato barbecue sauce. The grits were topped with arugula, fennel shavings, and crispy fried onions. Such a sinfully delicious dish! My new friend, Lauren, from Spork Orlando, shared with me and I got to sample her blackened grouper. It was delicious and I loved the hominy ragout and the andouille sausage. The sausage paired surprisingly well with the blackened grouper. I wouldn’t normally think to pair two proteins together–must remember this for future recipes.

Last but not least… dessert. Oh my gosh, you guys the desserts are amazing. We had not one, or two, or three, but four different desserts. Don’t worry we all shared and had a few bites of each. Dessert is the pure reason why I workout. Life is sweet and I want to be able to eat those sweets! We had the chance to try the signature baby donuts. Lightly fried and sugared served with a cappuccino ice cream and a tube of chocolate hazelnut spread! Next up, the H&H Key Lime Tart–so refreshing and perfect for hot Florida days! The Strawberry Shortcake was served in a mason jar with poached rhubarb, strawberry sorbet, and a house made bubble gum marshmallow! Last but not least the warm chocolate cake, served in a cute little cast iron pot and the Madagascar vanilla sauce in a lightbulb. Yes, you unscrew the top and pour the sauce on the cake from a light bulb.

I absolutely loved all the food presentation–all so unique and added to the experience.

I can’t wait to take my husband to Highball & Harvest during one of our next date nights. I can see us sipping the hand crafted cocktails, him enjoying the oyster bar, sharing a few appetizers and digging into dessert! Highball & Harvest is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner seven days a week.

The official opening of Highball & Harvest at The Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes was Monday, September 8. This marks a series of improvements and renovations to the resort in the coming months. JW Marriott Orlando will open Whisper Creek Farm: The Kitchen in Spring 2015 spotlighting charcuterie, Whisper Creek Farm ingredients, and beer from Whisper Creek Farm: The Brewery opening in September 2014.

Valet parking is available at the hotel and is complimentary for Highball & Harvest guests.

Highball & Harvest at The Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes
4012 Central Florida Parkway
Orlando, Florida 32837
(407) 393-4422

Open Daily: 6:30 a.m. – 10 p.m.
Bar Hours: 11 a.m. – Midnight

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary lunch. I was not required to write about the event–I simply wanted to share with my readers a great new restaurant that is now open in Orlando, Florida. As always all opinions are my own. 


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