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My Recipes-of-the-Week are featured here on my Home page. You can find 2000 of my kitchen-tested recipes using the Recipes tab, watch over 125 Kitchen Encounters/WHVL-TV segments using the TV Videos tab, join the discussion about all of my creations using the Facebook tab, or Email your questions and comments directly to me--none go unanswered. "We are all in this food world together." ~Melanie

05/11/2021

~ Three Ways to Cook Smoked Bone-In Pork Chops ~

IMG_1178Smoked porcine (bacon, ham, sausage pork chops, etc.), when properly smoked, is enhanced with a sublime slightly-smoky flavor and an enticing pinkish color, meaning the aroma is pleasant (not at all overpowering), and the visual is pretty. There's more.  The smoking process renders the meat cooked, meaning, it only needs to be heated to a safe internal temperature prior to eating and the information is indicated on the label:  125° if fully-cooked, and, 145° if not fully-cooked.  

In the case of smoked pork chops, in my kitchen there are three quick-and-easy options for cooking:  a broiler pan in the oven (for dry-heat broiling), a skillet on the stovetop (for sauté frying), or, the grill-grids of an outdoor grill or grill pan (for searing).  Whatever one chooses, the trick is not to overthink or overcook them -- which will just dry them out.  They require only a relatively short period of time to reheat, approximately fifteen minutes from start-to-finish.

Paint 1 1/4"-thick chops, both sides, w/olive oil, &, season w/S & P:

IMG_1185Broil, 5 1/2"-6" under 350° broiler, 6-8 minutes per side:

IMG_1194In a skillet, sauté over medium-high heat, 6-8 minutes per side:

IMG_1206Grill or grillpan over medium-high heat, 6-8 minutes per side:

IMG_1203"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2021)

05/08/2021

~Making Great Cheese Quesadillas with Corn Tortillas~

IMG_1164We all have a few favorite food combinations, meaning, two foods that go hand-in-hand together. A duo you can't emotionally separate because you can't enjoy one without the other.  A few of my cheesy favorites:  a cup of tomato soup with a grilled cheese sandwich, my mom's meatloaf with some macaroni and cheese, my favorite cheeseburger with a side of fries.  Another personal favorite:  a bowl of Wendy's-style chili with a few quick-to-make cheesy quesadilla wedges.

IMG_1160"Queso (KAY-soh)" is the Spanish word meaning "cheese", and, a quesadilla is a tortilla containing ooey-gooey melted cheese.

Quesadilla (keh-sah-DEE-yah):  A round, flat, cooked-until-soft corn or flour tortilla (even though most folks associate them with flour tortillas exclusively), folded in half to form a half-moon with a savory filling sandwiched in the center.  It is fried on a well-seasoned cast-iron comal (a flat, round griddle), using no or very little oil (although in American kitchens, mine included, a nonstick skillet or a grill pan commonly substituted.  FYI:  "Queso (KAY-soh)" is the Spanish word for "cheese", which, in turn, makes a quesadilla a container for ooey, gooey melted cheese.    

Start-to-finish:  Five minutes from stovetop-to-table:

IMG_1136For each corn-tortilla cheese quesadilla:

2  6"-round soft, fresh corn tortillas

6  generous tablespoons shredded yellow cheddar cheese

1-2  teaspoons vegetable oil, for preparing skillet

IMG_1044 IMG_1044 IMG_1051 IMG_1051 IMG_1139 IMG_1139~Step 1. Place 1-2 teaspoons vegetable oil in an 8" nonstick skillet.  Use a paper towel to distribute it evenly in bottom of the skillet and absorb excess.  Do not turn the stove on.  Place one tortilla in skillet and scatter the cheese across its surface, mounding it slightly towards the center. Place second corn tortilla on top of cheese.

IMG_1148 IMG_1148 IMG_1155 IMG_1155~Step 2.  Turn heat on to medium- medium-high.  Once skillet heats up, 30-45 seconds, sauté quesadilla until sizzling and light golden on bottom, about 2 1/2-3 minutes.  Using a wide spatula, carefully flip quesadilla over and continue to sauté until the second side is light golden, 2-2 1/2 minutes.  Turn heat off.  The moment the taco-quesadilla is cooked, slide it from the skillet onto a cutting board.  Exercise some patience and let the cheese "set up" for about a minute -- this will prevent it from oozing out when you slice into it.  Using a large chef's knife, cut into four wedges.

After slicing into ooey gooey quarters, serve immediately:

IMG_1176Try my Cheesy Ground-Beef Corn-Tortilla Taco-Quesadillas too:

IMG_1108Making Great Cheese Quesadillas with Corn Tortillas:  Recipe yields instructions to make as many corn-tortilla cheese quesadillas as you want to.

Special Equipment List:  8" nonstick skillet; paper towels spatula; cutting board; chef's knife

6a0120a8551282970b0282e101a064200bCook's Note: Undercover nacho tester.  I suppose it could get boring, but, because every eatery I've ever been to makes this Tex-Mex pub-grub staple a bit different, I'd be willing to risk running into some occasional repetition and hard-earned heartburn.  From nibbling on basic nachos consisting of deep-fried corn tortillas topped with melty cheese sauce, to digging-into nachos-grande, nachos-supreme, fully-loaded nachos or ultimate-nachos piled high with a plethora of enough savory stuff to qualify for full-meal status, yes, I think undercover nacho tester is a job for me.  Try my ~ Na-Cho Mama's Fully-Loaded Sheet-Pan Nachos ~.  A perfect ratio of cheese to toppings on every chip.

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2021)

05/05/2021

~Cheesy Ground-Beef Corn-Tortilla Taco-Quesadillas~

IMG_1102Everyone I know loves a taco or three.  No one I know loves a taco that's been made using a taco-shell that came out of a box -- they taste like the cardboard they came packed in, and, unless the fillings sit in the shells for several minutes, the shells shatter like glass -- bring out the knives-and-forks because everyone's dinner just landed on their plate.  It's a less than ideal situation.  In a perfect world, everyone would make fresh corn tortillas from scratch, but, in today's busy real world, that time-consuming process is, frankly, unrealistic.  That's where store-bought, soft, fresh corn tortillas come into play.  That said, many home cooks have a fear of, or aversion to, deep-frying, which, causes them to resort to buying a box of cardboard-esque taco shells.  It's a viscious, frustrating circle, but, there is an easy end-around that solves the problem:

Taco quesadillas -- Quesadillas made w/corn tortillas.

In most American home kitchens, mine included, tacos are considered a relatively easy-to-make meal typically associated with dinner.  On the other hand, quesadillas, like nachos, are considered a super-fast way to quell the craving for an any-time-of-the-day cheesy snack.  There's more.  In my kitchen, like most American home kitchens, tacos are typically associated with corn tortillas and quesadillas are associated with flour tortillas -- don't ask me why because, FYI, there's no culinary rule on that point.  That said, on frequent occasions, I combine the two, by turning quesadillas into a knife-and-fork way to serve American-style ground beef tacos (using corn tortillas) into a main-dish -- because they taste the same and they're quicker to make than tacos.

6a0120a8551282970b0240a46e604b200dQuesadilla (keh-sah-DEE-yah):  A round, flat, cooked-until-soft corn or flour tortilla, folded in half to form a half-moon with a savory filling sandwiched in the center.  It is fried on a well-seasoned cast-iron comal (a flat, round griddle), using no or very little oil, although in many modern kitchens, mine included, a grill pan is a common substitution.

IMG_1122Almost any cooked and chopped or shredded meats and/or vegetables can be used as a filling for a quesadilla (fish and seafood are not typically used) -- the meats and vegetables must always be cooked first because a quesadilla cooks in a few short minutes.  That said, since "queso (KAY-soh)" is the Spanish word for "cheese":  a quesadilla is a container for ooey, gooey melted cheese.  Be sure to purchase:

your favorite brand of 6"-round yellow or white corn tortillas

After assembling the ingredients, start to finish, each taco quesadilla takes 5 minutes to layer & cook:

IMG_1131For each taco quesadilla:

2  6"-round soft, fresh corn tortillas

4  generous tablespoons shredded yellow cheddar cheese, divided

4  generous tablespoons (a generous 1/4 cup) American-style ground-beef taco filling, (Note:  All taco filling is not created equal. My chunky beef recipe is full of onion, garlic, bell pepper and tomatoes, and, seasoned with my homemade Tex-Mex taco seasoning blend.) 

1-2  teaspoons vegetable oil

6a0120a8551282970b0240a493347c200bFor my favorite store-bought and fresh toppings and garnishes:

pico de gallo or store-bought salsa fresca

fine-shredded iceberg lettuce and lime wedges

Mexican crema or sour cream

spicy avocado crema or store-bought guacamole

Choose to useall of them, none of them or some of them.  Your choice.

IMG_1044 IMG_1044 IMG_1051 IMG_1051 IMG_1057 IMG_1057 IMG_1064 IMG_1064 IMG_1070~Step 1.  Place 1-2 teaspoons oil in an 8" nonstick skillet.  Use a paper towel to distribute it evenly in the bottom of the skillet and absorb any excess.  Do not turn the stove on yet.  Place one corn tortilla in the skillet and scatter 2 generous tablespoons shredded cheese across its surface. Using a spoon dollop and distribute a generous 1/4 cup ground-beef taco filling atop the cheese.  Scatter a second 2 generous tablespoons shredded cheese atop the taco filling, then, finish the assembly by placing the second corn tortilla on top of the fillings.

IMG_1075 IMG_1075~ Step 2.  Turn the heat on to medium- medium-high.  Once the skillet heats up, 30-45 seconds, sauté the quesadilla until it is sizzling and light golden on bottom, about 2 1/2-3 minutes.  Using a wide spatula, carefully flip the quesadilla over and continue to sauté until the second side is light golden, about 2-2 1/2 minutes.  Turn heat off.

IMG_1081 IMG_1082 IMG_1084 IMG_1096~Step 3.  The moment the taco-quesadilla is cooked, slide it from the skillet onto a plate.  Without delay, spread a generous dollop (about 2 tablespoons) pico de gallo or fresh salsa over the top. Scatter some shredded lettuce (about 1/4 cup) atop the salsa, followed by a dollop of crema or sour cream, a dollop of avocado crema or guacamole, and, a lime wedge.  Serve ASAP.

As pretty as a picture, &, hearty & satisfying too:

IMG_1108Pick up your knife, pick up your fork & dig in ASAP:

IMG_1118Cheesy Ground-Beef Corn-Tortilla Taco-Quesadillas:  Recipe yields instructions to make as many 6"-round taco quesadillas as you want to.

Special Equipment List:  cutting board; chef's knife; 8" nonstick skillet; paper towel; wide nonstick spatula

6a0120a8551282970b0240a442e6e9200cCook's Note: Undercover nacho tester.  I suppose it could get boring, but, because every eatery I've ever been to makes this Tex-Mex pub-grub staple a bit different, I'd be willing to risk running into some occasional repetition and hard-earned heartburn.  From nibbling on basic nachos consisting of deep-fried corn tortillas topped with melty cheese sauce, to digging-into nachos-grande, nachos-supreme, fully-loaded nachos or ultimate-nachos piled high with a plethora of enough savory stuff to qualify for full-meal status, yes, I think undercover nacho tester is a job for me.  Try my ~ Na-Cho Mama's Fully-Loaded Sheet-Pan Nachos ~.  A perfect ratio of cheese to toppings on every chip.

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2021)