Zucchini and Corn Quesadillas

Adapted from SmellsLikeHome.

  • Olive Oil
  • One onion, sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 medium zucchini or yellow squash, halved and sliced into thin half-moons
  • 1 ear of corn, grilled and removed from the cob, or 1 cup frozen corn
  • 1/2 can of black beans, rinsed
  • Flour tortillas
  • 2 cups shredded cheese

Preheat the oven to 400F. In a large skillet, add about a tablespoon of oil, and cook the onion, corn, and zucchini for 4-5 minutes over medium-high heat.  Add the garlic and black beans and cook for another minute or two.

Brush one side of a tortilla with olive oil and lay it oiled-side down on a baking sheet.  Repeat with another tortilla (you want one quesadilla per person).  Top each with a handful of cheese, some of the vegetable mixture (don’t skimp!), a little extra cheese, and another tortilla.  Brush the top with oil.

Bake until the cheese melts and the top of the tortillas is browned.

Slice into wedges (use a pizza cutter, it’s WAY easier than a knife) and eat with spicy salsa of your choosing.

Grilled Cheese

Ok, I know, this isn’t really groundbreaking.  But I’ve discovered that there are a multitude of ways to really screw up grilled cheese sandwiches.

Fortunately, making a really fantastic grilled cheese sandwich requires only three ingredients.*

  • 2 slices of Really Good Bread (I like sourdough.  If all you have is Wonderbread… I’m sorry. Wheat breads are equally delicious, and stand up well to stronger cheeses.)
  • Cheese – something melty.  process American works, but Swiss or provolone or any of a number of other cheeses you can get in the deli will give you more flavor.
  • Butter – the real thing people.  This ain’t a sammich for your diet.

You also need three tools – a knife, a heavy bottomed flat skillet, and a spatula.  Oh and a plate.  And probably your fingers.

Take your heavy bottomed flat skillet and put it on the stove.  Do not turn the stove on.

Take some butter, and smear it all over one side of a slice of bread.  Do not be skimpy.  You want delicious crispy brown goodness, you need fat.  And that’s what butter is.  So lay it on there.

Now lay that butter-side down on your skillet, and turn it on to MEDIUM HEAT.  My stove goes from 1-10 + “HIGH”.  I set it on 5.

On top of that slice of bread lay one layer of cheese.**  If you’re using anything else, lay a thin layer of that on top.  You don’t want your sandwich to get too thick, or it’ll not get hot and gooey in the middle before you burn the outside.

And burned grilled cheese is just a sadness that I’m not prepared for.  And, as the saying goes, your patience will be rewarded.

Now, butter up another slice of bread, and lay it on top of the cheese butter side UP.  While you’ve been adding to your sandwich, your heavy skillet is slowly heating up the sandwich.  Slow heat is important at this stage, because you want to melt the cheese and not burn the bread.  After about 5 minutes or so, start checking the bread for done-ness.  I like a good deep golden brown.  You might like more or less than that.  Totally up to you.

When the appropriate level of grilled-cheese doneness has been reached, use the spatula to flip the sandwich.  Do this quickly, so as not to spill sandwich goo everywhere. (Another reason not to put too much in your grilled cheese).

This second heat phase won’t take long at all – maybe 2 minutes.  Watch it carefully.  At this point the cheese is melted, and you’re just browning the other side of the bread.

Once you’ve reached Ideal Brown-ness on your other side, transfer the sandwich to a plate.

Cut it however you like, and savor the delicious goodness.***  The crispy, brown, buttery bread.  The gooey cheese.  The blistering roof of your mouth because you didn’t let the sandwich cool long enough.

Ok maybe not so much on that last one.

*You can add many things to this sandwich.  Thinly sliced turkey or ham.  Very thinly sliced tomato. Whole green chilis, sliced thinly.  Sweet pickles.  I’m fond of a little smoked turkey and a thin smear of country style mustard. But the original is the original, and you can’t go wrong there.

**Two layers of cheese is daring, but I tempt fate and do it sometimes.  But just make sure it’s not TOO MUCH cheese.

***While I’m sure TJ will enlighten us with a poll on what is the proper way to cut a grilled cheese sandwich (across?  corner to corner? into squares?), for now, I accept the zen of sandwich cutting, and believe that all sandwich cuts are created equal.  The choice is yours.

Fresh Corn and Black Bean Salsa

This stuff is AMAZING.  It’s quick and easy to throw together, and I made it for a BBQ I’m going to today, so I thought I’d share. The recipe is my mom’s.

  • 1 lb frozen sweet white corn – don’t bother thawing, just dump it in.
  • 1 can black beans (the plain ones with just salt, not seasoned), drained and rinsed well
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 jalapeno, very finely diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, very very finely minced
  • zest of 1 lime

Dressing: 1/2c lime juice, 1/2c olive oil, salt and pepper to taste (I like lots of pepper)

If you just HAVE to have cilantro, you can add some, but I can’t stand the stuff.  If I’m going to double the recipe, I usually double everything but the corn (’cause 2 lbs of corn is a TON) and make the dressing with 3/4c juice and oil.  It works out well. 

Serve cold (it’s best if it sits a few hours before you eat it) with tortilla chips or on its own as a side dish with grilled chicken.

Creativity

I’ve always been fascinated with art – for as long as I can remember really, even back as a tiny little thing, I’ve had a great deal of envy for people with visual creativity.  The closest I’ve ever come is tactile type things – and not creative as much as re-creative (following someone else’s pattern/design). I suppose you could argue that words are a form of creativity, but word-skill is not the same as word-art.

I think that’s why I’m currently both fascinated and petrified by Art Journaling (that and I know I’d start and then quit doing it after a couple of days when it dawns on me that 1) I suck and 2) I have a blog to journal in already).

Doesn’t keep me from looking up stuff about it on the internet though, and pondering whether any of the multitudes of old spiral notebooks and journals that people have given me would work, or if I have any colored pencils (I don’t, though I do have a pack of crayola markers and a couple of prismacolor markers I picked up secondhand).  And then convincing myself that I really do have enough projects (I do), and I don’t need another one right now (I don’t), and that I’m not really starved for creative outlets (I’m not).

I suppose it’s good that I can see my own patterns:

  1. hey that’s cool
  2. I should try it
  3. this is fun
  4. then I get distracted like a magpie in a mirror factory and find something else that looks cool… repeat ad nauseum

At the same time, forcing myself to work on one thing while I am interested in doing another isn’t all that great either.  It’s hard to explain the random impulses – and I wonder if I shouldn’t just purge all the craft stuff entirely and force myself to pick and stick with one (which would probably be sewing/needlework) – and then I look at the yarn and my spinning fleeces and think how lovely they are, or the various books teaching various things, or my giant and ever expanding recipe bookmarks folder… and it just doesn’t happen.

And then I wonder if I should just stick with writing – since I seem to do that every day, both for fun, for semi-work, and for work – and try to cultivate an appreciation for various forms of creativity that I don’t have, rather than immediately wanting to TRY all of them.