05 March 2010

7 Easy Recipes for Relaxed Weekend Food

From Denny: TGIF (Thank God It's Friday to friends around the globe) is when we wind down around our house and make super easy tasty meals. I rounded up several choices for you to experiment with this weekend while you wait out the last week or so of winter. Can you tell I'm getting restless and ready to get out and dig in the garden? :) Yes, I'm ready to throw open the windows and get some fresh warmer air!

Low maintenance recipes are easy with a slow cooker to do the job virtually unattended while you run out and do errands or take the kids to various events. Two recipes satisfy this requirement: Asian Spiced Chicken Wings and Slow Cooker Barbecue Baby Back Ribs.

How many times do you ask the kids what they want for a meal and the reply is usually something with cheese like a grilled cheese sandwich, a cheese pizza or cheese quesadilla? Over at the American Dairy Association @ ILoveCheese.com there are plenty of yummy recipes to help with the dilemma of expanding the kids' "melted cheese palate."

For a simple lunch or early dinner try our Cajun style Italian Sausage Poboy Sandwiches popular here in Louisiana or Mexican style Confetti Quesadillas With Colby and Monterey Jack Cheese. Kids love quesadillas and those who love Italian food love a good hearty sandwich.

If it's a good brunch you are looking for then try out this California Avocado Piquillo Pepper Frittata I found over at Avocado.org. It's the official site of the California Avocado growers. Don't worry if you can't find the specific pepper used in the recipe. Just substitute local red, yellow, orange or green bell peppers. We love the mild taste of the yellow and orange bell peppers for weekend omelets and frittatas.

If you love to make bread but never had the time to learn it from scratch this recipe is an easy one using pizza bread dough from the refrigerator: Mozzarella and Homemade Dried Tomatoes Flatbread.

For a low calorie snack using cheese try: Baked Spinach Artichoke Yogurt Dip. It's a real taste pleaser, fast for the cook and low in calories for the weight conscious.

OK, I am so hungry right now... :) Have a great weekend!

Recipes Featured:

Baked Spinach Artichoke Yogurt Dip
Asian Spiced Chicken Wings
Slow Cooker Barbecue Baby Back Ribs
Italian Sausage Poboy Sandwiches
Confetti Quesadillas With Colby and Monterey Jack Cheese
Mozzarella and Homemade Dried Tomatoes Flatbread
California Avocado Piquillo Pepper Frittata

Baked Spinach Artichoke Yogurt Dip

National Dairy Council

Makes: 8 Servings
Prep Time: 10 min
Cook Time: 20 min


1 (14-ounce) can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
1 (8-ounce) container low-fat plain yogurt
1 cup shredded part-skim, low-moisture Mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup chopped green onion
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons chopped red pepper


Combine all ingredients except red pepper and mix well. Pour mixture into 1-quart casserole dish or 9-inch pie plate. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 20-25 minutes or until heated through and sprinkle with red peppers. Serve with toasted bread or whole grain crackers.

Nutritional Facts:

Calories: 80
Total Fat: 3 g
Saturated Fat: 2 g
Cholesterol: 10 mg
Sodium: 220 mg
Calcium: 20% Daily Value
Protein: 8 g
Carbohydrates: 7 g
Dietary Fiber: 1 g

Asian Spiced Chicken Wings

From: CrockPot.com - recipe index

Serves: 6


3 lbs. chicken wings
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup ketchup
1 tbl. dry sherry
2 tsps. fresh ginger, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup hoisin sauce
1 tbl. fresh lime juice

Suggestion: use a 3 to 4 quart slow cooker for this recipe


1. Pat chicken wings with paper towels until dry. Broil the chicken wings for 10 minutes on each side, or until browned.

2. Transfer the chicken wings to the Crock-Pot slow cooker.

3. In a small bowl, combine the soy sauce, brown sugar, ketchup, sherry, ginger and garlic. Drizzle over the chicken wings and toss to coat. Cover; cook on Low 5 to 6 hours or on High for 2 to 3 hours.

4. Remove wings from the stoneware, place on serving platter and reserve 1/2 cup of the juices in the Crock-Pot slow cooker. Discard the remaining juices.

5. Combine the reserved juice with the hoisin sauce and lime juice. Stir to blend and drizzle the sauce over the chicken wings.

Slow Cooker Barbecue Baby Back Ribs


Serves: about 6 or more as appetizers, 2 ribs to a person

Cook Time:

7 - 9 hours on LOW
3 - 5 hours on HIGH

Slow Cooker:

5 - 5.5 Quarts
6 - 6.5 Quarts


3 to 4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 lemon, juiced
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon hot pepper sauce, to taste
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
2 racks baby back ribs, cut into 3-4 rib pieces


In a skillet placed on stovetop set to medium heat, heat oil. Add garlic and onions and sauté until softened and lightly browned. Stir in remaining ingredients and simmer gently for about 5 minutes. Remove half the sauce to use for serving.

Transfer stoneware to slow cooker heating base. Add ribs and sauce, cover, and cook on Low for 7-9 hours or on High for 3-5 hours.

To serve, cut ribs between bones and pass extra sauce.

Confetti Quesadillas With Colby and Monterey Jack Cheese

American Dairy Association @ ILoveCheese.com


12 soft corn tortillas
1 cup shredded part-skim Monterey Jack cheese
1 cup shredded part-skim Colby cheese
1/2 cup frozen corn kernels, defrosted, or canned black beans, that have been drained and rinsed or a combination of both corn and black beans
1/2 cup coarsely chopped cilantro
1 red bell pepper, finely minced
1 jalapeño pepper, finely minced or 1/2 tsp. chopped pickled sliced jalapeño peppers, drained, rinsed and patted dry
Cilantro Yogurt “Sour Cream” (recipe follows)


1. Preheat large skillet over low heat. Line up six tortillas. Divide cheese, corn/black beans, cilantro and jalapeños among the tortillas, then cover each with a second tortilla.

2. Put a tortilla on the dry skillet and warm until cheese is melted and tortilla is slightly golden, about 3 minutes. Flip and cook other side until golden, about 1 minute. Cut into wedges. Repeat with remaining quesadillas. If desired, serve with Cilantro Yogurt “Sour Cream.”

Cilantro Yogurt “Sour Cream”


Cilantro Yogurt “Sour Cream”

2 cups plain yogurt
1/4 cup finely minced cilantro
1/2 tsp. salt


1. Line a strainer with a coffee filter or paper towel and place over a mixing bowl. Pour in yogurt and refrigerate until some of the liquid has drained off.This takes about 1 hour.

2. Transfer to small mixing bowl; stir in cilantro and salt. Refrigerate.

Mozzarella and Homemade Dried Tomatoes Flatbread

Jean Paul Desmaison for the North American Olive Oil Association

Serves: 6 to 8

Caramelized Onions


1/2 yellow onion, julienned
1/2 tbl. sugar
1/2 tbl. salt
1 tbl. butter
1 tbl. olive oil


In a pan over medium-low heat, sauté the onions with all the ingredients for approximately 10 minutes. Reserve.

Homemade Dried Tomatoes


6 plum tomatoes
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and sugar


Preheat oven to 125 degrees. Cut each tomato length-wise in 6 wedges, remove seeds; place in mixing bowl. Sprinkle lightly with salt and sugar and drizzle with oil. Bake for 1 hour.



1 flatbread or refrigerated thin-crust pizza dough, prepared as directed on package
3-1/2 ozs. fresh mozzarella, grated
2 button mushrooms, sliced
8 slices of the Homemade Dried Tomatoes
Caramelized Onions
2 tbls. Parmesan cheese, grated
2 tbls. extra virgin olive oil


1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. On top of the flatbread, evenly spread the mozzarella cheese; add the sliced mushrooms, tomato slices and Caramelized Onions. Top with Parmesan cheese, extra virgin olive oil and salt.

2. Bake for 4 to 5 minutes.

Italian Sausage Poboy Sandwiches

From: Sam Losavio

Serves: 4


1 lb. of your favorite Italian sausage. (He likes d’Maggio Italian Sausage, made in Tickfaw, Louisiana and available at local farmers markets.)
4 tbls. water
1 medium red bell pepper, cored and sliced into long strips
1 medium green bell pepper, cored and sliced into long strips
1 large onion, sliced into long strips
Buns or po-boy bread for sandwiches, optional


1. Heat large skillet and add sausage.

2. Add water and simmer on medium heat, uncovered, for about 15 minutes. This is browning the sausage.

Add additional water if needed to keep from burning. Turn sausage to brown on all sides.

3. Add peppers and onions and continue to simmer, uncovered, for another 15 minutes. Then cover and cook an additional 15 minutes for a total of 45 minutes.

4. Make sandwiches, if desired. Serve on toasted buttered buns and offer mustard and mayonnaise.

What's cool about this site, Avocado.org, is that along side the recipes is a calculator where you can change the amount of servings you want and the recipe automatically adjusts for you.

California Avocado Piquillo Pepper Frittata

Chef Mary Sue Milliken and Chef Susan Feniger @ Avocado.org

Preparation: 40 min
Cook Time: 15 min
Total Time: 55 min
Serves: 4


1 ripe Fresh California Avocado, seeded, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
½ cup jarred roasted piquillo peppers, cut into 1/4-inch strips
1 clove garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp. sherry vinegar
Salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
8 eggs
½ cup grated Spanish manchego cheese
2 Tbsp. chopped Italian parsley
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, for cooking


In a small mixing bowl, toss together avocado, peppers, garlic, oil, vinegar, salt and pepper. Let marinate 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 400˚F.

In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, cheese and parsley until frothy. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Stir in the avocado mixture.

Heat oil in a 10-inch, nonstick, ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Add the egg mixture, reduce heat to medium and cook for 7 to 8 minutes, until the bottom is set and the top is still runny. Occasionally lift the outer edges so the uncooked egg can run underneath.

Place the skillet in the oven and cook until the eggs are set and golden brown, 6 to 7 minutes.

Remove the skillet from the oven and loosen the bottom of the frittata with a spatula. Place a serving plate over the skillet and invert the frittata onto it. Cut into wedges and serve hot or at room temperature.

Tip: Crumbled goat cheese may be substituted for Spanish manchego cheese.

* Large avocados are recommended for this recipe. A large avocado averages about 8 ounces. If using smaller or larger size avocados adjust the quantity accordingly.

Nutrition information per serving:

Calories 300; Total Fat 23 g (Sat 6 g, Trans
0 g, Poly 1.1 g, Mono 6.9 g); Cholesterol 440 mg; Sodium 370 mg; Potassium
234 mg; Total Carbohydrates 8 g; Dietary Fiber 3 g; Total Sugars 1 g; Protein 16 g; Vitamin A 889 IU; Vitamin C 7 mg; Calcium 118 mg; Iron 2 mg; Vitamin D
0 IU; Folate 41 mcg; Omega 3 Fatty Acid 0.1 g

% Daily Value*: Vitamin A 20%; Vitamin C 10%; Calcium 10%; Iron 10%
*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 Calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

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