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Game Day Taquitos

January 19, 2018 Appetizer, Entrees, Menu No Comments

Game time is here, and football fever is running rampant! Even if your beloved team didn’t make it to the playoffs, chances are that you will still be joining family and friends for fun food at a game day party.

As I’ve discussed in previous game day posts, the key to a successful party dish is to make it a quick hitter that is fun, tasty and easy to eat. The recipe that I’m sharing with you today tackles all of those requirements!

Taquitos are a Mexican dish that consists of rolled-up flour tortillas stuffed with a filling, and is crisp-fried. Think of it as a rolled-up taco. During one of our recent holiday gatherings, I decided to make my own version of taquitos, coming up with a few different filling options and choosing to bake the taquitos instead of frying them. Not only were they a big hit, they were also enjoyed by both adults and kids. Prep time (for the most part) was minimal, and the ingredients were tasty. Although the taquitos were served as a picky appetizer, they were filling enough and tasty enough to keep everyone satisfied and coming back for more. Hence, the perfect game day food!

The best part about taquitos is that you can get as creative as you wish with the fillings. While traditional fried taquitos use a flour tortilla, I found that the baked version works just as well with both flour and wheat tortilla shells. I’ve used both types of tortilla shells for my taquitos and and was happy with both versions. Listed below are a few of the fillings that I prepared, along with a few other filling suggestions that I think would work well. As always, I encourage you to get as creative as you wish.

 

STEP 1: THE FILLING

The key to a good taquito is the filling. So far, I have made two different types of taquito fillings: sautéed vegetables and chicken, cheddar and bacon. Both were able to be prepared ahead of time, and both worked well and were enjoyed by everyone.

For the sautéed vegetable filling, you will need the following:

2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1 zucchini, finely chopped
1 yellow squash, finely chopped
1 red pepper, finely chopped
1 tablespoon chopped Italian parsley
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon dill weed
salt and pepper to taste
shredded mozzarella or cheddar cheese

Heat oil in medium skillet or wok over medium-high heat until hot. Add bell pepper, onion and garlic; cook and stir 2-3 minutes or until crisp-tender.

Stir in zucchini and squash; cook and stir 5-7 minutes or until tender.

Stir in herbs, cook until thoroughly heated. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside to cool slightly. You will top the vegetables with the shredded cheese when you assemble the taquitos.

 

For the chicken, cheddar and bacon filling, you will need the following:

1/2 lb cooked and seasoned chicken breast, chopped (Perdue Short Cuts works well for this)

8-ounce package of shredded cheddar cheese

4-6 slices of cooked bacon, cut into small pieces

 

Other filling suggestions:

• steak, peppers and provolone

• meatballs and mozzarella

• seasoned chicken with blue cheese

• pulled pork, roasted red peppers and broccoli rabe

• marinated shrimp and scallops

….honestly, you can go any number of directions!

Regardless of what filling you prefer to try, one suggestion that I would make is to not make your fillings too wet. If you think that your fillings would go well with a sauce (say a marinara or a barbecue sauce), I would suggest that you serve those sauces as a side for dipping. Incorporating the sauces into the filling may make the tortilla shells soft and mushy, and they may not bake properly.

 

STEP 2: THE ASSEMBLY

Preheat your oven to 400˚.

As I mentioned earlier, I have used both flour and whole wheat tortilla shells and was very happy with the results of both.

To assemble your taquitos, lay a tortilla shell out flat, and place a 1″ strip of your filling down the middle. Tightly roll up the tortilla shell, as if you were rolling up a cigar.

Place the rolled tortilla shells seam side down into a lightly sprayed 9″ x 12″ baking dish. Medium-sized tortilla shells will work the best with a 9″ x 12″ baking dish. If you have larger sized tortilla shells, you can trim the rolled shells to fit into the pan. You will fit about 8 rolled shells into the pan.

Lightly spray the top of the shells. Place the dish, uncovered, into the oven. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the shells start to brown and crisp. Remove from oven, let cool for a few minutes. Remove from baking dish and cut the baked taquitos in half. Serve and enjoy!

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Mini Giambotta Biscuits

January 8, 2015 Appetizer, Entrees, Menu No Comments

This dish was inspired by a recipe that I recently saw for a store-bought can of biscuit dough, placed in muffin pans and filled with chicken, veggies and creamy soup to make mini chicken pot pies. The personal-sized version of popular dishes are a trendy item these days, especially for dinner parties and group get togethers. This recipe caught my attention because not only am I a fan of the personal-sized portions, but I also enjoy a warm and hearty dish this time of year. Being that we’re just coming off of the holidays, I thought a vegetable pot pie would be tasty and healthy choice. I decided to make giambotta for the filling, which is an Italian vegetable stew. Bread is always a must-have for dipping when you have giambotta, so to use it as a biscuit filling was a no-brainer.

I also chose to make my own flaky biscuits for this dish. I found a very simple and quick recipe online that calls for just a few basic ingredients and about 10 minutes or so of prep time…no electric mixer necessary! Of course, canned biscuits will work, but if you have a few extra minutes, give the home made biscuits a try. It will make the dish seem that much more impressive.

 

Mini Giambotta Biscuits

For the Giambotta
2 tbspn olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup onion, finely chopped
1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
1 zucchini, cut into 1″ pieces
1 8oz can tomato sauce
salt and pepper
1/2 tspn Italian seasoning

Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Add bell pepper, onion and garlic; cook and stir 2-3 minutes or until crisp-tender. Add the zucchini, stir together and cook for another 2-3 minutes.

Add the can of tomato sauce, season with salt, pepper and Italian seasoning  to taste.

Stir together, lower the heat to medium-low, and simmer for 10-15 minutes until sauce thickens up. Set aside.

For the Biscuits
courtesy of Taste of Home
2 cups all-purpose flour
4 tspn baking powder
3 tspn sugar
1/2 tspn salt
1/2 cup shortening
1 egg
2/3 cup 2% milk

In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt. Cut in shortening until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Whisk egg and milk; stir into dry ingredients just until moistened. Turn onto a well-floured surface; knead 20 times. Roll to 1/2-in. thickness; cut with a floured 2-1/2-in. biscuit cutter. Lightly spray a muffin tray (12 muffins). Gently place each biscuit piece into the individual muffin cups (no paper liners needed!), and gently press the dough to fill out the bottom and sides of the cups. Fill up each cup with the giambotta, making sure none spills over the side.

Bake at 450° for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm.

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Root Vegetable Ratatouille

November 14, 2014 Appetizer, Entrees, Menu No Comments

I always enjoy cooking with vegetables, and ratatouille is one of my favorite dishes. With Thanksgiving just around the corner, I came up with a dish that replaces most of the traditional ratatouille veggies (eggplant, tomatoes, summer squash and seasonings) with some of my favorite root vegetables (rutabaga, turnips, acorn squash, along with traditional yellow squash and bell pepper), autumn spices and a Golden Delicious apple for a bit of sweetness. I guess you can even call this dish “rootatouille!” All kidding aside, this is a great recipe to prepare along with your Thanksgiving dinner.

You will need to put in a little bit of effort ahead of time to peel and chop the vegetables. A few minutes in the microwave will help soften the acorn squash for easy cutting, and you’ll want to peel and slice the apple last minute to avoid it from browning. Once the prep work is done, all you’re looking at is 10-15 minutes of sautéing the veggies, and then the dish is ready to serve!

 

Root Vegetable Ratatouille

1 rutabaga, peeled and diced
1 turnip, peeled and diced
1 yellow squash, diced (you can use green zucchini squash if you prefer)
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 acorn squash (prep directions below)
1 Golden Delicious apple, peeled and diced (prep the apple just before you are ready to add to remaining ingredients to avoid browning)
2 tbspn olive oil
2 tbspn brown sugar
1/2 tspn cinnamon
1/4 tsp ginger
2 tbspn maple syrup (regular pancake syrup will also work)
salt and pepper to taste

Start by cooking the acorn squash whole in the microwave on high for 5 minutes. Carefully remove (it will be hot), let sit until cooled. Once cooled, cut in half, remove pulp and seeds. Remove skin, cut the squash into small chunks, set aside.

In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add the rutabaga, stir until evenly coated, cook for about 5 minutes, until it starts to soften and the pale color starts to turn into a golden brown. Next, add the turnip, pepper and yellow (or zucchini) squash. Stir together and cook for another 5 minutes, until all veggies start to soften. At this point, you’ll want to peel and dice the apple.

Next, add the apple and acorn squash to the mix, stir together. Add the brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger and syrup, mix together. Lower the heat, let simmer, stirring occasionally until all veggies are softened to your liking. If the mixture looks like it’s starting to dry up, you can add a bit of water or broth to loosen it up. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serve and enjoy!

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Summer Seafood Giambotta

May 24, 2013 Entrees, Menu, Soup No Comments

When I started planning to make this dish earlier this week, my original intentions were to simply sauté some vegetables and serve them over sliced polenta. Apparently my creative juices were in high gear that day. I found myself inspired and started reaching for additional complimentary ingredients. Before I knew it, I had a beautiful pan of giambotta (the classic stewed vegetable dish) simmering away on our new stovetop.Within a half an hour, my wife and I were enjoying a fresh, hearty and flavorful meal!

A traditional giambotta would normally include ingredients such as potatoes, eggplant, tomatoes, peppers and zucchini. For this version, I used zucchini, yellow squash, garlic, onion, diced tomatoes and spinach. These are all quick-cooking ingredients, which made for the ideal weekday meal. I like to keep a bag of frozen raw shrimp and frozen scallops on hand for impromptu dishes, and this was the perfect opportunity to put them to use. Letting the shrimp and scallops simmer in the sauce during the last few minutes of cooking guaranteed the perfect, tender texture and taste. We did serve this over sliced polenta, which worked perfectly. But next time I make this, I’m going all out and will be serving it up with a nice crusty loaf of Italian bread to scoop up every last drop of sauce!

SUMMER SEAFOOD GIAMBOTTA

2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup onion, chopped
2 tbspn olive oil
1 medium zucchini, sliced into circles, then circles sliced in half
1 medium yellow squash, sliced into circles, then circles sliced in half
1 14-oz can diced tomatoes
1/2 bag baby spinach
1 dozen raw shrimp, shelled and deveined
1/2 cup raw small sea scallops

In a large sauce pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic, sauté for 1 minute or until fragrant. Add chopped onions, stir, sauté for 30-45 seconds or until translucent.

Add diced zucchini and squash, stir and sauté until zucchini and squash start to soften up. Add diced tomatoes and their juices, lower heat to simmer. Add spinach, stir. Add shrimp and scallops. Stir together, cover with lid and let simmer until shrimp and scallops are done, about 5-7 minutes.

Season with salt and pepper (you can add some crushed red pepper for additional heat). Serve it over sliced polenta or along with crusty Italian bread.

Makes approximately 2-4 servings

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