Tag Archives: Cheese

Pesto Chicken Quesadilla

This recipe was a bit of a spur of the moment idea and turned out to be ridiculously delicious. It’s a little bit naughty with the wrap and melted cheese….but everything in moderation….

The pesto is a bit of a departure from the traditional Mexican dish, but hopefully you’ll forgive me once you’ve had a bite. Hot, crispy, melty, cheesey, pesto….yeah just try it…

 pesto chicken quesadilla recipe 
To make one, you will need:

1 tortilla wrap (I used a seeded one for extra flavour and texture)

Grated cheese, I used a couple of handfuls of cheddar

1/2 red pepper

1/2 red onion

1 chicken breast

2 tbsp pesto (I used homemade pesto)

Dash olive oil

A griddle pan 

Serve with salad or vegetables 

how to cook onions and peppers 
  1. Add a little olive oil to a small frying pan. Slice the onion and pepper as you would for fajitas and gently fry this off until the onion is caramelised and the peppers are starting to soften. how to butterfly chicken 
  2. Preheat the oven to 180c. Prepare your chicken – I butterflied mine so that it would cook more quickly and evenly by slicing along the side of the breast (lengthways) as if I were cutting open a roll, then folded the top back so that it was half the depth and double the width, as above. how to make pesto chicken 
  3. Spoon the pesto onto the chicken and spread it out to coat it. Put on a tray in the oven for 10-15 minutes until cooked through.ideas for using up wraps 
  4. Now you can prepare your tortilla. Grate the cheese onto one half of the wrap…quesadilla recipe 
  5. Add the cooked onions and peppers (as if you were making a sandwich)…pesto chicken recipe 
  6. Once the chicken has cooked, slice it up, keeping the pesto on top, and later it onto the peppers, onions and cheese. chicken quesadilla recipe 7. Look how good it looks already!  what is a quesadilla  8. Now fold over the bare side of the wrap  into this sort of giant, flat taco shape, and place your griddle on medium to high heat (not too high as it could burn whilst you’re trying to melt the cheese). If you don’t have a griddle pan, a large frying pan will do the job but you won’t get the “I’m a big show-off” grill lines- no oil necessary; just a dry pan will suffice.how to make quesadillas at home  

9.  When the bottom is starting to brown abs crisp and the cheese is starting to melt, flip it over and repeat on the other side.best ever quesadilla   10. Check the cheese has melted and serve. If you don’t to share or get neat about things, cut it into triangles (like a pizza)…but this was my supper and I wanted  it to look giant!

chicken, pepper and cheese  quesadilla
You know you need this….
 

 

Tuna Pasta Bake (With Extra Veggies)

This is a fantastic recipe for when you have a hankering for pasta but want to keep the carbs relatively low in favour of protein, bulked up with vegetables. Comforting, warming, versatile and full of goodness. If you want to be especially good, use wholewheat pasta. 

  
For this version, you will need:

1 onion

1 pepper

1 clove garlic

Handful of green beans

1 tin sweetcorn 

2 tins tuna. If you don’t like fish, this would be great with leftover chicken or cooked sausages cut up into chunks.

2 tomatoes (or however many you have)

1 tin chopped tomatoes

Chilli, oregano, basil, salt and pepper

A handful of grated hard cheese

A couple of crackers to crumble on top, or breadcrumbs, but I used a few baked tortilla chips since I often have a relatively fresh batch lying around 

A short cut pasta of your choosing, enough to feed 2-3 people should do the trick, or around 150g. I used Conchigliette because I like the way the sauce gets trapped inside the little shells.

An oven-proof casserole dish 

  
1. Slice the onions and pepper and cook off in a medium to large saucepan in a little olive oil on a low to medium heat. These will give you great flavour if cooked low and long.

2. Chip or grate the garlic and add to the saucepan once the onions and peppers are on their way to softening. 

3. Chuck the pasta into a large saucepan with a good punch of salt and pour over some freshly boiled water – give it plenty to swish about in and cook until there is still a bit of bite to the pasta, stirring occasionally. Remember this will be going in the oven with the sauce so will be cooked a little more later on.

  
4. Meanwhile, top and tail the beans and cut in half so they are bite sized. This should be a nice easy eat!  Add these to the vegetable saucepan and stir.

5. Chop the tomatoes into smallish chunks and add to the other vegetables. Once everything has had a good chance to heat through, add the tinned tomatoes, then swirl a little water in the empty can to release the residue. Add the herbs and seasonings and leave to simmer.

  
6. When your pasta is ready, add s couple of tablespoons of the cooking water to the sauce (thanks Nigella and Mr Brooker), drain the pasta and set aside. Preheat the oven to 180C fan. 

7. Drain the tin of sweetcorn (bring careful not to cut yourself on the lid!) and add the contents to the sauce.

8. Repeat with the tuna chunks, making sure to use the lids to really squeeze out the extra oil, brine or water, depending on which type you have. I pretty much always mix my tuna with mayo or add it to a sauce like this so I’m not very fussy about which I buy, although I’m not too keen on the brined version (just a family habit!). I find it easiest to use a fork to release the tuna flakes. Add this to the sauce when you’re happy it’s almost ready, as you really just want this to heat up before putting it all together. 

  
9. When you’re happy with everything, mix the pasta into the sauce (I only do it this way to save getting two saucepans dirty but feel free to explain if you think the other way is better) and pour into the casserole dish.

  
10. Sprinkle the grated cheese and crumbled up crackers over the top, and bake for 15 minutes or so, or until the sauce is bubbling and the cheese has melted to your satisfaction.  

 

I made this last for 2 suppers and 3 small lunches (reheated in the microwave) served with salad, and it was great every time. I kept the last bit in the fridge in a sealed container for about 5 days and it was still great. If you’re using cooked chicken or sausage, you might want to use it up within 3 days and be really sure you’ve reheated it properly. 

  

Cheese and Chorizo Pizza

I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t bought a supermarket pizza since learning how to make this little baby (because everyone needs to be lazy every now and again) but I’m certainly more inclined to make them from scratch.  For me, it’s all about the base (’bout the bass, no treble…).  That’s what makes or breaks a pizza for me.  Most supermarket pizza bases are pretty soggy and fibrous, and taste as bland as the syrofoam they’re packaged with, (though if you really want to buy one, the Pizza Express supermarket range and the Co-op’s versions are pretty good).  After that, they’re hugely versatile.  You can stick anything you want on there – mix it up, find out what you like best.  These recipes usually call for a very hot oven and a baking stone for best results, but to be honest, the concept of an oven hotter than 200C combined with a slab of dry stone terrifies me a little, so I don’t always use it.  This might be a good time to tell you that I’m still working out a lot of things myself – bread being a key theme – but I think I’m getting better.  As such, due to being all fingers and thumbs, I sometimes find it easier to bake the pizza off for 5 minutes or so until it’s rigid enough to shoogle onto the hot baking stone, but have made a mental note to remember to invest in a pizza peel.  Those in the know would have you turn a tray upside down and cover it with lashings of polenta/semolina flour, but this doesn’t help with the shaping process in the slightest.  Anyway…to the baking stone!

IMG_3003

To make 1 amply sized pizza base, you will need:

125 g strong white flour

2g yeast

2g sugar (caster or granulated are ok)

2 tsp olive oil

163 ml luke warm water

1. Put the flour in a bowl or on a spankingly clean worktop.  Add the salt and sugar on one side and the yeast on the other and mix into the flour.  This is important.  If you immediately dump salt all over the yeast you will kill it and you’ll end up with a doughy, Styrofoam base (then you might as well have bought it).

2.  Add the olive oil and water and stir together to form a dough.  If, like me, you don’t mind this being messy, I think it’s better to do this part with your hands.  If someone comes to the door or phones you,  they’ll just have to wait.

3.  Once the dough has come together, put some oil on the board and on your hands and knead for a good 20 minutes.  There are too many schools of thought as to how you should knead.  In my experience, the important part is just getting the dough moving, tearing and stretching it as much as you can before putting it back together and starting again.  It’s about friction and getting warmth into it to wake the yeast up, and you’ll start to feel it turn into something more lively.  The perfect smooth, elastic finish is not critical for a pizza base as it’ll be too thin to form a noticeably bready crumb.

4. Place back in the bowl and cover with cling film (that’s plastic/Saran Wrap, America!) and leave to rise while you get all the other things together.  Again, as this isn’t a loaf of bread, the hour rise isn’t necessary.  20 minutes to half an hour should do the trick.  Any longer and the process starts to lose its nifty beauty.

To make the sauce, you will need:

1 tub/jar of pasata

1 clove garlic, grated

salt and pepper

a squeeze of lemon

a pinch of sugar

a variety of herbs and spices – I like parsley, oregano, basil, chilli and paprika

5. Put your pizza stone – rubbed down with oil and sprinkled with polenta – in your oven at 200C (or as hot as you dare).  If you’re not using a stone, just crank your oven up as hot as it’ll go to pre-heat.

6.  Fry the garlic in a little oil for a minute or so – do not burn it! Add in the passata, salt, sugar, herbs and lemon and cook down for as long as you like, but a few minutes is enough – It will get cooked again once it’s on the pizza.  Leave to cool for awhile.  You won’t need anywhere near all of this but it freezes really well for the next time.

7. Once you’ve made your sauce, retrieve your pizza dough and knock it back with your fist.  If you want to be professional, look at someone else’s blog!  My technique for turning this lump of dough into a delightful disk is pretty fly by the seat of your pants, but it works for me, and you don’t need any skill to make it work; just patience. Squash it out flat onto a round tin, board or peel and try to keep it vaguely circular.  You might realise that I haven’t advocated a second prove yet – in my experience leaving it for a few minutes here and there then having another bash at shaping the dough is enough for it to pillow up as much as you’d want it to – unless you want a fat, deep pan base, of course.  I usually stop when it gets to the size I want then start putting the topping on.  If you want, you can attempt to have a sporting try at spinning it and pulling it out in your hands, but I only do this when I have lots of time on my hands as you have to start again if you put your nail through it by mistake!  Anyone else’s tips would be welcome – but I’m trying to keep this speedy enough to be suitable for a weeknight supper…..

Toppings!  For this pizza, you may want:

1/2 onion, red or white, sautéed in a pan for a while to start the softening process

1/2 pepper, colour of your choice or mixed (the jarred, roasted peppers you can buy in supermarkets or delis are great for this)

8-10 slices of cooked chorizo

1 handful of grated or chopped cheese of your choice.  Even cream cheese works really well.  I used some grated, strong cheddar.

8.  Spread on a few tablespoons of the sauce and spread out with the back of the spoon.  I like to take mine right to the edge, but feel free to define yourself a nice crust.  If you really like a crust, you can mark one out with your thumbs whilst you’re shaping your base – that way the outside will be deeper than the middle, but I like mine fairly uniform.

9. Add your onions, peppers and chorizo all over the top, add a crack of black pepper and sprinkle the cheese over everything.

10.  Shuffle this onto the stone or chuck it into the oven on a tray and cook for 10-15 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and the fat is bubbling in the chorizo.

Random tip: when removing it from the oven, try to shuffle it back off the pizza stone then turn off the oven – rapid changes in temperature will risk your stone cracking.  Also, you’re likely to get a bit of steam when you open the oven door, so if, like me, your smoke alarm is just outside the kitchen door, shut the door or you’ll risk annoying your neighbours immensely!