Roasted Corn, Tomato, Zucchini Quesadillas + a Shawlsmith London Giveaway!

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Guys, I think it’s officially late summer…some kids are even back in school, already! Does it seem early or am I just getting older (do not answer that)? Either way, we have a few precious weeks of long days and sunshine before the leaves begin to turn and we embrace the best season ever–autumn! I know not everyone is as excited as I am for the season to turn, but let’s celebrate these last summer weeks with lots of sunshine, maybe a few beach days, and some delicious summer bounty.

I made these quesadillas with some of my favorite summer produce — corn, zucchini, and tomatoes! Everyone gets a roast in the oven to bring out their sweetness, then it all gets piled on a tortilla with one of my favorite melting cheeses, Queso Chihuahua. I think of this cheese, named after the state in Mexico, like a buttery monterey jack. It’s totally delish and melts like a dream.

Oh, and see that blue table runner up there in those photos? That’s actually a scarf from Shawlsmith London! It’s soft and light…just the sort of scarf that’s perfect for breezier summer days, transitional seasons, and even as a table runner or impromptu picnic blanket. Shalwsmith kindly sent me two scarves, one to try out and one for YOU! Yay! So, to win the same scarf in Poppy Red, simply leave a comment using the form below and tell me how you plan to savor the fleeting days of summer. I will choose a random winner Monday, August 19th. Shawlsmith are also, graciously, offering a coupon code just for us just type HUNGRYGIRL20 at check-out. Hurray!
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* Full disclosure, Shawlsmith kindly provided both scarves, free of charge. However, as usual, all opinions are my own. I was not compensated for this post.

Roasted Corn, Tomato, Zucchini Quesadillas

For medium-large, seedy zucchini, I like to slice around the core — I find it to be spongy and mushy when cooked. If you don’t have fresh corn, go ahead and use frozen kernels. You can find Queso Chihuahua in the specialty cheese section of well stocked supermarkets. Leftover vegetables are great in quick tacos or folded into an omelette. 

1 1/2 cups cubed zucchini

1 cup grape tomatoes, halved

1 cup fresh corn kernels, sliced from about 2 cobbs

big pinch of salt

1/2 teaspoon cumin

1/4 teaspoon cayenne

1 tablespoon canola oil

1/2 lime

4 ounces shredded Queso Chihuahua

Tortillas

Preheat oven to 425˚F. Line a baking sheet with parchment.

Toss the vegetables with 1 tablespoon canola oil, salt and spices,  spread onto the baking sheet. Roast in the center of the oven for about 30 minutes or until the vegetables begin to caramelize. Remove from oven, squeeze lime juice over the vegetables and cool slightly before building quesadillas.

In a nonstick pan place a tortilla topped with some cheese and a few spoonfuls of roasted vegetables, followed by a little more cheese, fold. Cook quesadillas on each side a few minutes until browned, crisp, and cheese has melted. Serve immediately with hot sauce.

 

Cilantro-Chicken Meatball Soup

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Albondigas!

That’s what I think/say when I make anything with meatballs. It’s just a reflex and since it means “meatballs” in spanish, it works. Don’t test me on my knowledge of foreign languages, though…okay? Cause, I will surely fail. Food SO is much easier to understand.

Anyway, this soup begins with searing little, spoonable chicken meatballs flavored with lots of fresh cilantro, some sauteed onion and garlic, and a bit of minced jalapeno for heat and excitement. Once the meatballs are brown and crispy-golden we sauté some more onion and garlic, another jalapeno, plus some carrots. There’s some corn (frozen is totally acceptable) and zucchini in there for health and science. Dried New Mexico chiles ground into a powder and cumin flavor and color the broth. More cilantro is added to brighten the party and bring the soup together. This soup is hearty, but not heavy. The clear broth is light but packed with subtly spiced chile flavor and the meatballs are tender and so flavorful with the cilantro and aromatics. This soup is so warming and with a super cheesy quesadilla on the side, it’s perfection on a cold day.

Cilantro-Chicken Meatball Soup

I find whole, dried New Mexico chiles in the international aisle of my regular supermarket. They are always affordable and pack a lot of flavor. The chiles vary in spiciness, but aren’t ever really super-hot-blow-your-top way. The spice is mild to medium, but you could certainly sub in your favorite chile powder. 

Meatballs:

1-2 teaspoons olive oil

1/2 cup minced onion

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 jalapeno (seeds and ribs removed if desired), minced

1 lb. ground chicken

1 egg, lightly beaten

1 cup panko breadcrumbs

1/2 cup cilantro leaves, chopped

salt/pepper

In a sauté pan heat olive oil and sauté onions, garlic, and jalapeno. Sprinkle lightly with salt and cook over medium until onions are tender and translucent  Scrape into a bowl and set aside to cool.

In a mixing bowl mix together the cooled onion/jalapeno mixture with the ground chicken, cilantro, egg, and breadcrumbs. Add salt (I used about 3/4 teaspoon) and pepper. Mix gently to combine well. Refrigerate the mixture until ready to shape and sear meatballs.

Soup:

meatballs

2 Tablespoons oil (I used grape seed, light olive or vegetable oil work too)

1/2 large onion, diced fine

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 jalapeno (seeds and ribs removed if desired), sliced

4 dried New Mexico chiles

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

1 carrot, sliced

1 zucchini, sliced

1 cup frozen corn kernels

6 cups low-sodium chicken stock

cilantro to garnish

salt and pepper to taste

Shape meatballs, I shoot for something that fits nicely in the spoon and can be eaten in one bite–think larger than a marble, but smaller than a cherry tomato. Heat 2 Tablespoons oil over medium high heat in the bottom of a dutch oven or soup pot. Sear the meatballs in batches until deep golden brown all around. Place seared meatballs in a dish and set aside.

Over a gas burner (you could also do this in a hot oven, it may take a few more minutes), lightly char the chiles–the idea is to make them extra dry for easier grinding and to add a touch of smokey flavor. Cool chiles and grind in a spice grinder to a medium-coarse powder. Mix chile powder with cumin and oregano in a small bowl. Set aside.

Add the onion to the remaining oil and whatever brown bits are left in the pan. Sprinkle lightly with salt and sauté, being sure to scrape up any bits from the bottom of the pan, add the carrots. Cook until onions are just translucent and carrots begin to soften, add the garlic and jalapeno, cook an additional minute. Stir in the ground chile and other spices. Add the corn, zucchini, meatballs, and chicken stock. Bring the soup to a boil, taste for salt and season as needed. Reduce the soup to a simmer and cook an additional 15 minutes, until the zucchini is tender and meatballs are heated through. Serve hot with additional cilantro for garnish.

 

 

Tortilla Soup with Chiles + Charred Corn

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So, I know it’s still summer and we’re hot & sweaty everywhere, but…I wanted soup, so I made soup. I was perusing through Saveur’s Mexico issue and it just had me craving soup and Mexican flavors. Sometimes, I just have to do what feels right and sometimes what feels right is piping hot and spicy soup in August.

I think it’s fair to say many of us have had some variety of tortilla soup at one point or another…and, I bet some have been “meh” and some have been great. I happen to love tortilla soup because of all the garnishes–avocado, green onion, queso, tomatoes, crispy tortilla strips…mmm, yes. The soup itself blends the flavors of 4 chiles with chicken and charred corn–it’s broth-y and flavorful with bits of chicken, corn, and chiles speckled throughout. I’m sure if you’re not in the mood for soup now, in a few months you may be and I urge you to try this recipe. The chiles in the soup don’t immediately assault your taste buds, but leave that slow burn in the back of your throat. It’s the type that builds with each spoonful, delicious and lasting.

Tortilla Soup with Chiles and Charred Corn

Serves 4

When I make soups I just kind of go all in and wing it. I wrote down my ratios (for once), but just know that you can swap and change ingredients as desired–for both the soup and garnishes. Make it vegetarian, add other vegetables, use a different chile, go nuts…it’s your dinner! Note: I used the rendered chicken fat to cook the vegetables, you can use olive oil or other desired cooking oil if you’re not feeling the chicken. 

4 chicken thighs, bone-in and skin-on

2 ears of corn, husked and silks removed

1/2 large white onion, diced small

2 ribs of celery, diced small

1-2 poblano peppers, seeded, ribbed, and diced small

2 jalapenos, seeded, ribbed, and diced small

1 chipotle pepper in adobo, diced plus 1 Tablespoon of the adobo sauce

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

2 dried New Mexico chiles, ground in a spice grinder

4 cups low-sodium chicken stock

1 cup water

4 whole, canned tomatoes coarsely chopped plus 1/2 cup juices

5 sprigs cilantro

1 lime

salt to taste

3 corn tortillas cut into thin strips

oil for frying tortillas

Garnishes: Avocado, tomato, green onions, queso fresco, lime wedges–pretty much anything you like.

In a large pot (I used an enameled dutch oven) over medium-high heat, sear chicken thighs skin side down until crisp and golden and most of the fat has rendered into the pot. Remove chicken to a plate, and pour off all but 2 teaspoons of the chicken grease. Discard or save remaining grease.

Over a gas burner, on the grill, or under a broiler, char the ears of corn. Remove from heat source and set aside to cool.

Line a plate with paper towels. In a small skillet, heat about 1/4 inch of oil and fry tortilla strips in batches, draining on paper towels. Sprinkle lightly with salt while still warm. Set aside.

Cook the onions, celery, poblanos, and jalapenos in the pan with the chicken fat over medium-high until the edges of the vegetables take on some deep golden color and begin to soften. Add the ground, dried chiles, cumin, and the chipotle plus adobo. Add 4 cups of chicken stock, water, and tomatoes plus juice to the pot. Return the chicken thighs to the pot. Tie the cilantro sprig into a knot and add to the pot. Bring the soup to a boil, lower to a simmer and cook 20-25 minutes, until the chicken is done. Remove the chicken to a clean plate and cool enough to handle. Taste the broth and add salt if desired.

While the chicken cools, cut the corn off the ears–there will be corn shrapnel, beware. Shred the cooled chicken, discard skin, and add both the chicken and corn to the pot. Remove the cilantro knot, squeeze a whole lime into the soup and return the soup to a simmer–cook for 10 additional minutes. Serve with crispy tortilla strips and desired garnishes.