Burger Bun French Toast with Strawberry Syrup

Labor Day has come and gone, which means everyone is arguing about whether summer is over or not. Growing up in Massachusetts, I knew it was fall when it felt like fall. Unfortunately, there isn’t much change in the air in southern California, and I bet the next few years in Hawaii will be more of the same.

Don’t roll your eyes. I’m allowed to complain about too many sunny days in a row. I’m from the land of foliage, apple picking, pumpkin patches and all-out autumn insanity. I suddenly understand why Max was weirded out by everyone in Salem being obsessed with Halloween in Hocus Pocus… because he grew up in California, where seasons don’t exist. Side note: Hocus Pocus is (and always will be) the best Halloween movie ever.

WHOA. How did I end up all the way at the end of October? I’m starting to get a craving for hot cider. Let’s get back to today, the end of summer or beginning of fall, whichever you prefer it to be. I bet there’s a good chance most of you have leftover hamburger buns laying around.

Go get them.

We’re going to make French toast.

  • 2 hamburger buns, split (4 “slices” of toast)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 3 Tbsp strawberry simple syrup*
  • 1/4 cup chopped strawberries
  1. Combine eggs, milk, cinnamon, vanilla and sugar in a shallow bowl or dish. Soak each bun for at least a minute in the mixture.
  2. Heat a large skillet or griddle pan to medium heat and coat with vegetable oil. Cook the toast for a minute or two on each side, until golden brown.
  3. In a small saucepan, stir together the maple syrup and strawberry simple syrup over low heat. Once warm, add the chopped strawberries and toss them in the syrup. Remove from heat.
  4. Serve French toast warm, drizzled in strawberries & syrup, with a sprinkle of powdered sugar, if you wish.

*(I used this recipe for the strawberry simple syrup. Initially I made it for yummy frozen rosé drinks, so it’s worth making. You can add it to a lot of things.)


Fresh strawberries keep that summer feeling alive

If your buns are a bit stale, good. You want them to be as sturdy as possible. If they are still super soft, leave them out for a day. Hamburger buns can be flimsy and you don’t want it falling apart.

I’ll be honest with you guys, it’s always going to look like a hamburger bun, there’s no hiding that. If I was having people over for brunch and I wanted to make something fancy, I would probably go buy brioche or challah bread. But that’s not always practical.

I try to make my recipes as budget-friendly and accessible as possible. I feel like most people grew up with their mom or dad making them French toast with plain old white sandwich bread, and that’s exactly what this version tastes like. Bread is bread, so use what you have.


Close-up, it all looks the same: delicious

I didn’t reinvent the wheel with flavor profiles here either. Classic French toast has a very comforting and nostalgic taste that I didn’t want to compromise. Kids will love this dish. This is perfect for slumber parties, because you can make burgers for dinner and use the leftover buns for a cute breakfast everyone will love. You’ll have to double or quadruple the recipe amounts though!

Alright, sorry to recipe and run, but I’m literally in the middle of a huge house clean-up. We have friends coming to town for the weekend, and then immediately after we have a house/dog sitter coming to stay… while my husband and I house hunt in Hawaii! Make sure you follow my Instagram @thepickygourmet to see my stories and pics. I’ll talk to you all again when I’m back!

Leftover Turkey Soup

It’s been a crazy few weeks. Since my husband is deployed, I decided to hit the road and drive myself and my dog home for the holidays. I drove 5 days with a couple friends from California to Massachusetts. I’ve done this trip a few times already, it’s a lot of fun with company but still exhausting. I originally wanted to cook Thanksgiving dinner for my family once I got back, but now I’m glad I took their advice and sat it out. I’ve been home about a week and am just now feeling like I’ve caught up on sleep.

A couple weeks ago I cooked a “friendsgiving” meal in California. Afterwards, I came up with a leftovers soup recipe that was pretty great. I planned on posting it the day after Thanksgiving. Problem is, I left my handwritten recipe on the west coast. I know a lot of people have already used their leftovers or eaten them all, but once I got my hands on a turkey carcass here, I had to try and recreate my soup.

So after a small delay, here is my leftover turkey soup!


For the stock:

  •  1 roast turkey carcass
  • 4-6 qts water
  • 12 oz wheat beer
  • 2 Tbsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp pepper
  • 1/2 yellow onion
  • 1 large shallot, cut in half
  • 3 celery stalks, cut in thirds
  • 2 carrots, cut in thirds
  • 1 lemon, cut in half
  • 2 pieces of peeled ginger root, about 1″
  • 6-8 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 2 stems fresh rosemary
  • 1 stem fresh sage
  • 4 stems fresh thyme
  1. Put the turkey carcass in a large stock pot. Pour in 4-6 quarts water, until the turkey is submerged. Add the beer, salt, and pepper, and bring to boil.
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients and reduce hear to low. Simmer for 2-4 hours until meat is easily removed from the bones.
  3. Using a ladle, strain 4 quarts of stock through a mesh colander or cheese cloth into a separate bowl or vessel. Pick as much turkey meat off as you can and add it to the stock. Set aside.


For the soup:

  • 4 Tbsp butter
  • 1/4 cup leftover squash puree (you can substitute with flour if needed)
  • 2 tsp garam masala
  • 2 tsp curry powder
  • 2 zucchini, cut in half lengthwise and sliced
  • 1 1/2 yellow onions, cut into petals
  • 5 celery stalks, sliced
  • 4 carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 1 shallot, diced
  • 4 qts homemade turkey stock
  • 1 cup of carrot greens, coarsely chopped
  • 1 Tbsp fresh rosemary leaves
  • 1 Tbsp fresh sage leaves, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • salt & pepper to taste
  1. In a ceramic soup pot or dutch oven, melt butter over medium low heat. Stir in squash (or flour) until thick, making a roux. Add garam masala, curry powder and a pinch of salt and pepper.
  2. Add zucchini, onion, celery, carrot and shallot to the pot and stir until coated. Reduce heat to low, cover, and let simmer for 20 minutes.
  3. Carefully pour or ladle the turkey stock and meat over the vegetables. Add the carrot greens, rosemary, thyme, sage and lemon zest. Cover and cook on low heat for at least 2 hours, stirring occasionally. In the last 5 minutes, stir in the fresh lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with fresh herbs and bread (optional)

What’s kind of funny is that my brother in law loves making turkey soup after Thanksgiving. He does his with hot peppers, corn, beans… much more of a Tex-Mex take on it. He made his, and I actually “borrowed” the leftover turkey from a friends dinner the next night. So basically, it was soup wars this weekend at home. No one could pick a winner though, since they were two totally different takes.

I like traditional recipes with a twist. I kept my soup fairly classic, but was inspired by the cinnamon and nutmeg smell of the leftover squash puree, and decided to add in some Indian spices to enhance those flavors.

Soup is an easy way to use up Turkey Day leftovers. The cover photo is my first batch. I didn’t use the indian spices, squash, ginger and zucchini at first. It was definitely more traditional. In the end, I’m glad I got a second chance to revisit and add to this recipe.

You don’t need to follow this, or any, recipe word for word. Soups are a great tradition for after the holiday and every family probably had a way they like to do it. Whether it’s spicy and heading south of the border like my brother in law’s take, a classic with a twist like mine, or made with whatever herbs, vegetables and flavors you enjoy, it’s always a hit. And a great way to condense and clear space in the fridge, am I right?

Like I said, I’m with my family through the holidays. I’ll try and come up with some fun posts while I am here, especially now that the countdown to Christmas is on!

Prep Days

Every now and then when I have a free afternoon I like to get a head start on future meals. Cooking every night can be a challenge. Some days you just want something easy, that you don’t need to think about. Instead of turning to a flavorless microwave dinner or a frozen pizza that always turns out overcooked and undercooked at the same time, I like to make my own freezer shortcuts.

This past week I had one of these prep days, but for a slightly different reason. I’m going to be away for a while, and when I get home I want to have some easy options. I hate getting home from a trip, all worn out, and realizing there’s nothing in the kitchen.  Here’s some of my favorite ways to make sure there’s always something good to eat.

Frozen Fruit for Smoothies

I do this every month. I buy a bunch of fruit and divide it up into freezer bags, labeled with the date and contents. In the morning I grab a bag, put it in the blender with some apple juice or coconut water, maybe some fresh greens, and it’s an easy breakfast. You could put protein powder in these too. This is also great because you can save fruit you have left over that would otherwise go bad. I always start each bag with a banana and usually strawberries. Then I add any combination of kiwi, blueberry, raspberry, mango, blackberry… Whatever you like or have around.

Frozen Sauce and Stock

This is a little more work, but it pays off in the future. I got my crockpot out to slowly simmer a rustic pasta sauce for a few hours while I worked on everything else. I made it from scratch, but I’ll let you know the recipe in an upcoming post. If you have leftover bones and veggies you can make stock. I happened to make chicken stock a couple weeks ago. I made so much I actually gave some away to neighbors, but I saved two containers. I can thaw out the sauce for a quick pasta dinner, or the stock for a soup. Freezing these basics in bulk saves a lot of time making a meal later on.

Frozen Pasta

Gnocchi has become a staple for my prep days. I love to make a bunch of it and save it. They cook in about 2 minutes in boiling water, whether they are fresh or frozen. I make a ton of it and portion it out into meal sizes. The next week when I am too tired to cook, I get dinner done in less than 5 minutes. Also frozen ravioli is a great quickie meal, but I’ll admit that the ones in the picture are store bought leftovers. Someday I’ll try making my own.

Ice Cube Tray Hacks

I love this one because it helps keep things from getting wasted. Since I was leaving, my herbs were not going to get tended too, so I clipped what I could off my plants to save. Using an ice cube tray I froze parsley inside of olive oil. You can throw a couple of these into a sauce or into a skillet dish. I also froze mint to make ice cubes that are amazing to use in iced tea or a cocktail. I had some buttermilk that would have gone bad, so I froze that too. Always make sure to properly label them.

I know people that will go all out and make a bunch of make ahead freezer meals, basically plan their whole month out. I am not that disciplined, I just like to have a few go to items. Just spend a couple hours one day to benefit for many days after. If you have any great make ahead meal or foods to freeze, feel free to comment. I’d love to hear!

This post is going to have to be short and sweet. I’m two days into my cross country trip, currently in a hotel in Colorado. I need to rest up for tomorrow’s drive. There will be more to come once I get to Massachusetts!

 

Making the Most of Leftover Roast Chicken

I’m sure a lot of you had a big Easter feast on Sunday and will be living off the leftovers for a few days. I really, really hope you had ham, because next weekend you should try out my roast chicken recipe from my last post. Then your week will be full of delicious leftover transformations again!

I hate wasting food. At the same time, I’m not always in the mood to eat the same thing three days in a row. Unlike pasta or a casserole, a whole chicken has endless possibilities. I’ll show you how I used my leftovers this week, so let’s start where my last post ended.

The bird is broken down into two breasts, two thighs, two drumsticks and two wings. Eat your share along with the veggies, get nice and full, lounge around and watch some TV, then when your energy returns, get back into the kitchen. Take whatever wasn’t eaten and start cutting the meat off the bones into strips. Get it in tupperware and into the fridge for tomorrow.

Do not throw away the bones and the rest of the carcass. We bought the whole thing, we cooked the whole thing, we are using the whole thing. Remove whatever was stuffed inside the chicken, put what’s left into your biggest pot and fill it with water until it’s submerged. I’m sure by now you’ve guessed, especially with the feature photo, it’s time to make homemade chicken stock.

This is fun because you can really put whatever your want in the pot to make broth. Essentially you want:

  1. Vegetables. I used celery and red onion. Usually you would go for a white or yellow onion, but I was all out. Carrot is usually a staple too. But yeah, I was out. I cooked everything for dinner and forgot to leave some for the stock! It didn’t hurt the finished product though.
  2. Herbs, seasonings, aromatics. I added fresh sprigs of thyme, about a Tbsp of black peppercorns and a half of a bulb of garlic. Don’t forget some salt as well. Rosemary, parsley, oregano, whatever herbs you need to get rid of could be used, just don’t over do it. Stick to one or two, preferably coinciding with what you seasoned your chicken with initially.
  3. Acid. This will help break down the chicken carcass, as well as brighten up the flavor. I used a whole lemon, sliced in half. You could also use vinegar, whatever you have around. White wine, apple cider, etc.

Place everything you want to add into the water. Bring it to a boil, then reduce the heat and let it simmer for at least two hours, stirring occasionally.

Now it’s time to strain it. I personally use this pasta pot with a strainer. I can easily lift out the solids to throw away. Then I take a piece of cheese cloth and attach it to the lid of a plastic quart container with a rubber band. Using a ladle, I carefully pour the stock through the cloth to catch the last of the food particles, leaving a clear, smooth broth in the container. You can store this in the fridge for about 3 days, or the freezer for  about 3 months.

So the bones of the chicken have been put to good use and now you have a bunch of shredded chicken in the fridge. Here’s my three favorite ways to use it.

My first dish to recycle the chicken is a salad.

This is a great on-the-go option to take to work. I threw together some chopped romaine, red onion, pickled banana peppers and blue cheese crumbles. Topped with a handful of chicken strips and drizzled with some olive oil or your favorite dressing, this is a quick and beautiful weekday lunch. Of course you don’t have to make it exactly I did, use whatever you like or have on hand.

For a heartier option, maybe for dinner, make some chicken sandwiches. Quickly sauté some chicken in buffalo or barbecue sauce, just to heat it though. Then grab some buns, lettuce, tomato, pickles, ranch, mayo, whatever you like and you’ll have a great meal in a matter of minutes. I wish I had a photo for this, but sometimes you are so ready to eat you forget to take one!

My last idea is great for a lunch at home, and again, it’s quick and easy. Make some quesadillas!

I used a Mexican blend of shredded cheese, fresh chopped jalapeños, red onion, a little fresh chopped cilantro and of course, the chicken. You can chop the chicken more finely if the pieces you have are too big. I like to use two small tortillas rather than fold it over. I put all my ingredients evenly on one, place it in the hot skillet, then top it with the second tortilla. Once the cheese begins to melt, it holds the quesadilla together and makes it easy to flip. I always serve mine with a little sour cream on the side.

All these options have options, how cool is that? Once the chicken is gone, I am always so sad. I want to make another one, because it makes lunch and dinner so easy for the next few days! Like I said in my previous post, a little work on the weekend makes for a few days of 5-10 minute meals.  It’s a great way to clear out your fridge and make something delicious at the same time. What are some other fun ways you like to use leftovers?

Shrimp Fried Rice

First things first everyone, who is psyched for Leo finally winning an Oscar? I love award shows and yesterday I went all out making fried chicken and waffles. My kitchen is a wreck! So today I thought I’d share an easy recipe that is a great make ahead dish for the upcoming week. No, not chicken and waffles, even though they were great. (I promise I’ll share that one eventually.) Today it’s all about shrimp fried rice!

This is a fast recipe that can yield a lot of food out of one pan. Clean up is easy, you can have leftovers for days and everyone loves it. You know when you go to those hibachi steak houses and they are spinning the egg and tossing shrimp into your mouth? Who isn’t a fan of that? This is all that great flavor without the tricks and having to share your dinner table with strangers.

Yields 4-6 servings

  • 2 cups brown rice
  • 1/2 lb large or jumbo shrimp, cleaned & deveined
  • 1/2 Tbsp chili powder
  • 1/2 Tbsp garlic powder
  • 2 Tbsp mirin or rice vinegar
  • 12 oz bag frozen veggies (I used carrots, corn, green beans & peas)
  • 1 egg
  • 2 Tbsp low sodium soy sauce
  • 1/2 Tbsp sesame oil
  • 2 Tbsp lime juice
  • parsley for garnish
  1. Cook two cups of brown rice according to package directions and set aside.
  2. Heat mirin or rice vinegar over medium heat in a wok or large sauté pan. Add shrimp to the pan and sprinkle with chili and garlic powder. Cook for about 4 minute, stirring occasionally, until the shrimp start to become pink and opaque. Remove from heat with a slotted spoon or tongs and set aside, reserving the liquid in the pan.
  3. Add frozen veggies to the pan. Stir constantly until they are thawed. Make a well in the center of the veggies and add the egg, directly onto the surface of the pan. After a minute when the egg has begun to cook through, scramble and toss it with the veggies until combined.
  4. Add the rice to the pan and mix into the veggies. Evenly pour the soy sauce and sesame oil over the contents of the pan, and cook for another minute until rice is warmed through, stirring occasionally.
  5. Reduce heat to medium-low, add the shrimp back into the rice and toss until incorporated into the rice. Add the lime juice, stir it in and cook for about a minute until the shrimp are warm. Serve with a garnish of fresh parsley.

Like a lot of my other recipes, this is great because you can use whatever you have in your kitchen and make your own variation. You can do chicken or tofu as the protein, you can use whatever frozen veggies you and your family like, and it’s an recipe that’s  easy to taste as you go and adjust flavors.

Season the shrimp with whatever spices you love, I just happen to like a bit of heat. Some people may like a little more soy sauce but I prefer a less salty taste than what you would expect from take out fried rice. Sesame oil isn’t necessary but I think it’s the secret ingredient that really brings together that hibachi flavor. Try the rice before and after adding it, you’ll see what I mean. Lime juice also isn’t necessary. That’s my signature at the end, because I like the bright, fresh flavor it adds.

My husband loves when I make this. Whatever we don’t eat is always enough for two or three lunches for the rest of the week. I portion it out into Tupperware and he grabs it on his way out the door. He also likes to drizzle a little sriracha on top. Highly recommended if you are a spicy food fan.

Try this one out a few times until you find your perfect combination. Once you get it down, I guarantee it will be a weeknight winner. And it’s a lot easier than having to fight a bear! See what I did there? Huh!? Sorry, I’m still fan-girling over Leo. I’ll try and control my corny jokes in the future. Maybe.

Blue Cheese Arancini with Honey Hot Sauce

I’m back in the comfort of my own kitchen again! I had a great week traveling home to Massachusetts, and to Florida for a couple days too. Talk about a strangely packed suitcase- I had winter boots and sweaters next to flip flops and swimsuits. It was fun, but I’m really glad to be home.

The downside of my week away was the fact that my husband is not the best at grocery shopping. There was not a lot to work with in my fridge and pantry when I got back, and I wasn’t in the mood to run right out to the store. So I threw together this hearty little snack from what I could find- blue cheese stuffed arancini with a honey hot dipping sauce!

Arancini are Italian rice balls. You can use day old rice, like I did, or risotto, but the latter is a lot more work with the constant stirring. Traditionally arancini have ingredients like mozzarella, peas or ham stuffed inside. Mine definitely have a more American twist.

Yields 8-10 rice balls

  • 8.8 oz instant rice (I am going to be honest, I used a bag of good ol’ Uncle Ben’s 90 second rice), cooked and refrigerated overnight
  • 3 cups vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup grated parmesan
  • 2 eggs
  • 3-4 Tbsp blue cheese crumbles
  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp oregano
  • 1/8 cup sriracha sauce
  • 1/8 cup honey
  1. Heat oil on the stove top in a small pot over medium-high heat. Don’t use a skillet, because you want the rice balls to be completely submerged when you fry them.
  2. In a bowl, throughly mix the rice, the parmesan and the eggs together. In a second bowl, combine the panko bread crumbs, onion powder, garlic powder and oregano.
  3. With damp hands, pick up about an ounce of the rice mixture and place a couple large blue cheese crumbles in the center. Gently mold the rice around the crumbles and into a ball, sealing them inside. (It should be about the size of a golf ball.)
  4. Roll the rice ball in the bread crumb mixture until completely coated and place it on a piece of wax paper. Repeat until you run out of rice.
  5. Fry the balls in small batches, about three or four at a time, for 4-5 minutes, until golden brown. Don’t crowd them in the pot. You can gently turn them once halfway through, but they should be submerged in the oil, so it shouldn’t be necessary. Remove from the oil and let them cool on a paper towel or fresh wax paper.
  6. For the dipping sauce: stir together equal parts sriracha sauce and honey. I made about a quarter of a cup, but you can make as much as you like.

If you don’t have sriracha and honey, you can substitute the dipping sauce for buffalo. I’m a little burnt out on buffalo after football season and I’m really into the spicy sweet sauces at the moment like honey hot, pineapple habanero, Thai sweet chili etc.

This is a great appetizer or party snack. They aren’t too big, but a couple of these are all you need. It’s also a great way to use up last nights leftover rice and turn it into something completely different. They don’t have to be made my way either. You can do them plain or with traditional stuffing, like mozzarella, and some marinara sauce to dip. I love, love, love dishes that use up leftovers.

Another thing I love is seeing people try recipes! I got a couple pictures from people last week, which was so nice to see while I was away from my kitchen. So if you make any of these, please send it to me on Twitter or Instagram!

You can also check out some of the food I ate (but didn’t cook) while I was traveling. I admit it was pretty nice to eat out a lot and not worry about making dinner, but it’s good to be back. I’m sure I’ll have a couple more posts this week because I’ve been inspired and excited to get back to work!

Bruschetta Chicken Pasta

I wasn’t planning on posting this recipe, because honestly I just threw it together. But it turned out so delicious, and it uses the leftovers from my last post. I HATE throwing out food so last night I made this dish from what I had in my fridge and pantry and it ended up being lovely.

Yields 4 servings

  • leftover bruschetta (see previous post)
  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • approx. 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • approx. 2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp basil
  • 2 tsp oregano
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 2 Tbsps olive oil
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • box of your favorite pasta
  • fresh parsley, grated Parmesan (optional)
  1. Strain the bruschetta and put the reserved liquid in a measuring cup. Set the tomatoes aside. Add equal parts (about 2 Tbsp each, but you have to eye it) of balsamic and red wine vinegar to the same measuring cup until you have a 1/2 cup of liquid combined. Set aside.
  2. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Combine basil, oregano, garlic powder, salt and pepper and rub evenly on both sides of the chicken breasts.
  3. Get your water boiling to start cooking your pasta at this point. Whenever the pasta is done, set it aside but make sure to reserve a 1/4 cup of the pasta water.
  4. Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Cook the chicken for about 1-2 minutes on each side, flipping once to get a light sear. Transfer chicken to a baking dish and in the oven for about 10 minutes, until cooked through.
  5. While the chicken is baking, use the same skillet with the reserved pan juices. Heat over medium-low heat and stir in the minced garlic for about 1 minute. Add the vinegar mixture and increase the heat until it comes to a boil. Reduce to a simmer for 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally. In the last minute of cooking, add the lemon juice and 1/4 cup pasta water.
  6. Serve chicken over the pasta. If you want to slice the chicken like I did, make sure it has a few minutes to rest so you don’t lose all the juices. Top the chicken with the leftover chopped tomatoes from the bruschetta and drizzle the sauce over everything. Add some parsley and Parmesan if you’d like.

If you don’t have leftover bruschetta, you could always grab a premade one from the store or, if you have the time, make a small batch. I like that the tomatoes marinated for a day before I prepped this dish, you if you can plan for it, try and give them some time to soak up that flavor. If you have leftover bruschetta but think it’s not enough, just chop up an extra tomato or two and stir it in before straining.

Since the sauce has oil and vinegar in it, there will be some separation if it sits untouched, so make sure to keep stirring, especially right before pouring it over the finished plate.

I used white fiber penne as my pasta, simply because it’s what I had on hand. Any pasta would be fine though. Linquine or fettuccine might have made it a little easier to twirl up and get all those tomato chunks, but both of our plates here were clean by the time we finished! My husband isn’t the biggest balsamic fan either, but he loved this dish. The flavors all combine really well, so it’s not being overwhelmed by one ingredient. Such a fun way to reuse my leftover party food!

{follow me on twitter & instagram: @thepickygourmet}

 

Quick Quesadillas & Pico De Gallo

I’ve been on a huge quesadilla kick for lunches lately. It’s easy, convenient and cost effective. Store bought tortillas can last way longer than bread in the pantry, although I would like to try making my own soon. (I’ve been dabbling in bread baking, only done it a handful of times).

The quesadilla I made today simply has cheese and fresh chopped jalapeños, but the nice thing is you can use whatever is laying around. Leftover chicken? Shred it up. Extra veggies? Load it up. A couple bags of cheese with a little left in each? Go for it, who says you can’t use shredded mozzarella and cheddar together? You can throw in whatever wasn’t used for dinner the night before as long as the flavors make sense.

And speaking of last nights leftover ingredients, I can usually put together some fresh pico de gallo from my pantry. Traditionally pico de gallo is tomato, red onion, serrano or jalapeño, cilantro, lime juice and salt. Since it was just for me today, one medium tomato and a quarter of a red onion was plenty. Since I had jalapeño in the quesadilla, I skipped the pepper. I didn’t have cilantro, but I had fresh parsley (always). I did a quick chop and tossed it together with a few squirts of lime juice and some sea salt.

The warm, crispy on the outside, gooey on the inside quesadilla topped with the cool, fresh pico de gallo is a wonderful bite. Simple, quick, pretty. Who wouldn’t like that? Omit the jalapeños and it’s a great lunch or snack for kids too. Guaranteed to please.

{follow me on twitter & instagram: @thepickygourmet}