2015-06-26 / Columns

Cooking on Purpose

Time is right to look South of the Border
By Connie Wendell Special to the Post

We are finally having some nice balmy summer weather. Reminds me of South of the Border. Well, not quite, but it sure has been nice.

I have been enjoying several dishes that are from south of the border, perhaps you’d like to join me. They just go with warm weather.

Vegetarian taquitos (ta-KEE-toes)

1 teaspoon canola oil; ½ cup finely chopped onion; 1 teaspoon minced garlic; 1 ½ cups veggie ground round or crumbles; ¼ teaspoon salt; ¼ teaspoon cumin; ¼ teaspoon ground red pepper; 1 (4.5 ounce) can chopped green chiles, undrained; 2 cups vegetable broth; 16 (6-inch) corn tortillas; 2/3 cup (about 2 ½ ounces) shredded reduced-fat sharp cheddar cheese, divided; and cooking spray.

To prepare filling: heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and garlic; sauté 3 minutes or until onion is tender. Add veggie ground round, salt, cumin, red pepper and chiles and cook for 5 minutes.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Bring broth to a boil in a large saucepan. Reduce heat and simmer.

Working with one tortilla at a time, carefully dip tortilla into broth for 2 seconds using tongs; place softened tortilla on a paper towel. Spoon about 1 tablespoon filling across lower third of tortilla and top with 2 tablespoons cheese. Roll up and place tortilla on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Lightly spray roll with cooking spray. Repeat procedure with remaining tortillas, filling and cheese.

Bake at 425 degrees for 13 minutes or until rolls are crisp.

Note: You can refrigerate the filling the night before. Bring it to room temperature for 30 minutes before assembling the taquitos. Serves eight.

Chicken breasts with avocado, tomato and cucumber salsa

Cooking spray; ¾ teaspoon salt, divided; ¼ teaspoon chipotle chili powder; 4 (6 ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves; 1 ¼ cups coarsely chopped seeded, peeled cucumber (about 1 large); 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved; ½ cup chopped red onion; ½ cup chopped, peeled avocado; 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro; 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice; and 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded finely chopped

Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat.

Coat pan with cooking spray. Sprinkle ½ teaspoon chipotle chile powder evenly over chicken and add chicken to pan. Cook for six minutes on each side or until done. Remove from heat.

Combine remaining ¼ teaspoon salt, cucumber, tomatoes, onion, avocado, cilantro, lime juice and pepper in a medium bowl, tossing well. Serve with chicken Serves four.

Peach and brie quesadillas with lime-honey dipping sauce

Sauce: 2 tablespoons honey; 2 teaspoons fresh lime juice; and ½ teaspoon grated lime rind.

Quesadillas: 1 cup thinly sliced, peeled, firm, ripe peaches (about 2 large); 1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives; 1 teaspoon brown sugar; 3 ounces Brie cheese, thinly sliced; 4 (8-inch)fat-free flour tortillas; and cooking spray.

To prepare sauce, combine honey, lime juice and grated lime rind. Stir with a whisk. Set aside.

To prepare quesadillas, combine peaches, chives and brown sugar, tossing gently to coat. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Arrange one-fourth of cheese and one-fourth of peach mixture over half of each tortilla; fold tortilla in half.

Coat pan with cooking spray. Place two quesadillas in pan and cook for two minutes on each side or until tortillas are lightly browned and crisp. Remove from pan and keep warm. Repeat procedure with remaining quesadillas. Cut each quesadilla into three wedges; serve with sauce. Serves six.

With these recipes and our warm sunny weather, you really will feel like you are South of the Border.

Until next time, keep Cooking on Purpose.

Connie Wendell can be reached at conniewendell27@gmail.com.

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