Category Archives: Main Dishes

Sweet Potato Pork Quesadillas

Apparently February is National Sweet Potato Month! Who knew?! I know no better way to celebrate than with these awesome Sweet Potato Pork Quesadillas!

Sweet Potato Pork Quesadillas | thepajamachef.com

Please forgive my less than stellar photos. I am so over this winter weather, it’s really killing my photos! But anyway–these quesadillas are ridiculously good. Though they require a few extra steps than a usual quesadilla, since you have to cook the ground pork and saute some jalapenos, they are well worth it! These quesadillas are the perfect combination of sweet and spicy goodness. We’ve made them for dinner a couple times, but I can definitely see them as a wonderful party appetizer too. As you can see, I served them with quite a bit of sour cream and some sauteed jalapenos. I hope you enjoy them as much as we do!

Sweet Potato Pork Quesadillas | thepajamachef.com

one year ago: Chewy Peanut Butter Brownies
two years ago: Caramel S’more Cups
three years ago: Bacon-Wrapped Feta & Almond Stuffed Dates

Sweet Potato Pork Quesadillas [from Food Network Magazine]
click to print

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium sweet potato
  • 1/2 pound ground pork [chorizo would also be a great substitute]
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder [ancho chili powder or chipotle chili powder also works well--but scale back depending on your tolerance of spice]
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 green onions, chopped
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
  • butter or oil, for cooking
  • 4 burrito-size flour tortillas
  • 2 cups cheese [cheddar, jack, Mexican blend, etc.]
  • sour cream, for topping
  • sliced pickled jalapenos [or saute a few fresh jalapenos]

Directions:

Prick a medium sweet potato all over with a fork and microwave until soft, about 8-10 minutes. When sweet potato is cooked, let cool for a few minutes and then remove the skin. Gently mash sweet potato with a fork, then set aside.

Meanwhile, heat a skillet over medium heat and cook pork with chili powder, breaking up with a wooden spoon until browned. Add garlic, green onions, and cooked sweet potato to skillet and stir together. Cook for a minute or so, then remove to a bowl. Stir in cilantro.

Wipe out the skillet and add about 1 teaspoon of butter or oil to the skillet. After a minute or so, add tortilla to skillet. Evenly top tortilla with 1/2 cup cheese and 1/4 of the pork mixture. Reduce heat to low. After cheese is melted, fold the tortilla in half over the filling and cook until tortilla is golden brown. Remove from pan and cut into four wedges. Repeat to make an additional 3 quesadillas. Serve with a dollop of sour cream and a few slices of jalapenos, if desired.

Time: 30 minutes.

Yield: 4 meal-size servings, 8 appetizer servings.

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SRC: Chili Relleno Casserole

Finally! Time for another edition of the Secret Recipe Club! We took a break in January, but now we’re back and it feel sooo good. :) I just love being part of this club. It’s fun to get to try out new recipes and get to know new bloggers.

Secret Recipe Club

This month for SRC, I was assigned to Ilona’s Kitchen. Ilona shares tons of recipes on her blog every month that are family tested and approved. She loves to feed her family new recipes and old classics… a great combination, I think! She’s also loves to shop, bake, and go to the gym. A woman after my own heart!! Well, I run, but you get the idea. :) When perusing her blog, I found quite a few recipes I wanted to make: Blueberry Popovers, Chicken & Spinach Tortilla Bake, and Coconut Tea Cake. The last option sounds AWESOME! She just posted the recipe, otherwise that is definitely what I would have made. But alas, Chili Relleno Casserole it was. And it did not disappoint, even though it’s not the most photogenic recipe ever!

Chili Relleno Casserole | thepajamachef.com

Ilona has about three Chili Relleno recipes on her blog… some have been flops and others have been great. Ilona claimed this was the best of the three, and we found it to be pretty wonderful. It seriously tasted great! I’ve never had a real chili relleno, so I can’t testify to the authenticity [it is a casserole after all], but the flavors are phenomenal. It’s just a simple mix of ground beef and vegetables, topped with eggs, oregano, garlic, tomato sauce, and cheese. What’s not to like? Plus, it’s quick and easy to throw together–perfect for those busy weeknights. Ben actually made the whole dish and it was ready waiting for me one night after work. That must be why I like it so much. :) I have no doubt that we’ll be making this again soon! Thanks, Ilona, for introducing me to this great recipe! Can’t wait to try more of your recipes. :)

Chili Relleno Casserole | thepajamachef.com

one year ago: Baked Jalapeno Popper-Ranch Dip
two years ago: Fried Eggs on Pesto-Parmesan Toast
three years ago: Mini Meatloaf

Chili Relleno Casserole [from Ilona's Kitchen]
click to print

Ingredients:

  •  1 pound ground beef
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 cans [4 ounces each] chopped green chilies
  • 4 eggs
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 2 cups shredded mexican blend/taco cheese, divided
  • 8 ounces tomato sauce

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9×13 baking dish with cooking spray.

In a skillet, brown ground beef. Drain fat and then add green pepper. Cook until tender, then stir in oregano, garlic, and chopped green chiles. Remove from heat and set aside.

In a bowl, whisk together eggs and milk.

Layer half of the meat and 1/2 cup cheese in prepared baking dish. Top with the rest of the meat and another 1/2 cup cheese. Pour egg mixture on top of everything,

Bake for 30 minutes, then remove and spread tomato sauce on top. Sprinkle remaining 1 cup of cheese on top and return to oven for 7 minutes.

Let sit for 10 minutes before cutting, then slice into squares to serve and enjoy.

Time: 40 minutes [10 minutes active].
Yield: 8 servings.

Be sure to check out other recipes from this week’s Secret Recipe Club reveal here:

Quick & Healthy Pineapple Fried Rice

Lately I’ve been really into quick but still healthy meals. Working full time is great… but when I get home from a long day and an even longer commute, half the time I want to just curl up on the couch with my soft blanket and my Kindle, and the other half of the time I want to bake doughnuts, cookies, and muffins and skip dinner entirely. No idea why this disparity, but dinner is usually not my highest priority. But ya gotta eat, right? So I’ve been turning to quick meals that are still healthy and that make loads of leftovers to eat all week long, like this fabulous Pineapple Fried Rice. This crave-worthy dinner can be made in about 20 minutes so it’s awesome for busy or lazy nights when you just want something yummy but not heavy.

Pineapple Fried Rice | thepajamachef.com- a 20 minute quick and healthy #dinner #STARFineFoods #vegetarian

I started off this dish with the Asian Cuisine Cooking Oil from STAR Fine Foods which they graciously sent me to try out. If you can’t find this at your local grocery store, just add a little ginger [fresh or ground] and some extra soy sauce as the veggies are sauteing. Normally I wouldn’t think of using special infused oils on an ordinary weeknight, but I’m beginning to change my mind. They really make an ordinary dish shine–and cut down on my prep time so I can get back to my book sooner. :) #librarianalert

Pineapple Fried Rice | thepajamachef.com- a 20 minute quick and healthy #dinner #STARFineFoods #vegetarian

For this batch of fried rice, I used garlic, carrots, edamame, peas, and green beans, but feel free to use whatever veggies you want. I’m thinking some sugar snap peas and broccoli would be good to try next time. What we especially loved about this vegetarian fried rice was the subtle sweetness of the pineapple with the salty soy sauce and sesame oil. Oh man, what a combo! This dish was hearty enough without meat [I totally think fried rice is one of those dishes where meat isn't missed] but if you gotta have some, pork or shrimp would be good. Chicken is too predictable, methinks. Oh, and don’t forget the chopped honey roasted peanuts on top. Crunch crunch! :) Cilantro would be a good addition too! TTYL :) [I can't believe I just wrote that. LOL! Hahaha.] Enjoy!

one year ago: Lemon Cranberry Muffins
two years ago: Camp Tecumseh Baked Oatmeal
three years ago: Pork Chops with Red Wine Sauce

Quick & Healthy Pineapple Fried Rice
click to print

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons STAR Asian Cuisine Cooking Oil [extra virgin olive oil infused with soy and ginger]
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2/3 cup frozen edamame
  • 2/3 cup frozen peas
  • 2/3 cup frozen cut green beans
  • 20 ounce can pineapple tidbits in pineapple juice, drained [reserve 1/4 cup pineapple juice and save the rest to drink or for something else]
  • 4 1/2 cups cooked, cold rice [day old if possible]
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • sesame seeds, for serving
  • chopped honey roasted peanuts, for serving

Directions:

Add cooking oil to a large skillet or wok set over medium-high heat. When hot, add carrots and saute for 5 minutes or until crisp-tender. Add garlic and saute for about 30 seconds, until fragrant. Stir in edamame, peas, green beans, and pineapple. Cook for a minute or so until they just begin to soften.

Add rice and soy sauce to vegetables, then stir continuously for about 4 minutes, until rice is hot and begins to crisp up.

Push all the rice mixture to one side of the pan and pour the eggs in the empty spot. Quickly stir the eggs on the hot surface until they just begin to cook, then whisk them into the rice mixture. Pour in toasted sesame oil, then stir to combine.

Remove from heat, and serve fried rice with sesame seeds and chopped honey roasted peanuts.

Time: 20 minutes.

Yield: 5-6 servings.

Disclosure: STAR Fine Foods sent me a complementary package of their new cooking oils and some other goodies to try out. I had no obligations to blog about them or provide positive feedback. I’m glad I had the opportunity to try them though! Thanks to Ruby and all the other great people at STAR Fine Foods for their generosity.

Linked up with: What’s Cookin’ Wednesday.

Sweet Potato Chorizo Chile Mac

I’ve been making this Sweet Potato Chorizo Chile Mac for well over a year now since Joanne posted it, and have no idea why I haven’t blogged about it yet. It is AMAZING! It’s no secret that I like baked pasta, cheese, and Southwestern/Mexican food, and this dish fits the bill for all three of those categories. Saaaweeeet!

Sweet Potato Chorizo Chile Mac | thepajamachef.com

Or more accurately, sweet ‘n spicy. This version of chile mac features a hearty sweet potato sauce, some spicy chorizo sausage, and just enough cheese to be yummy but not too indulgent/unhealthy. I mean, I love a super cheesy dish as much as the next girl, but there are other flavors I like too… and this dish brings it! If you have all the ingredients at your disposal and are currently snowed/iced/frozen in, then I highly suggest you make this today! If not, then by the end of the week, stat!

Sweet Potato Chorizo Chile Mac | thepajamachef.com

I’ve been trying to figure out what my favorite part of the dish is, and the sad answer is… I don’t know! The spicy meat pairs so well with the smooth sweet potato sauce that neither is overwhelming. Ben isn’t a huge sweet potato guy but this is one dish he really can get into. For the most part, I followed Joanne’s original recipe, but of course I had to add my own little twist, my own little departure from regular ‘ole chili mac… and that is to toss everything in the oven for just a bit, to create some crunchy noodles and a nice layer of melted cheese. By jove, I’ve got it! The crunchy noodles are my favorite part. Crunchy, cheesy, spicy, sweet potato covered noodles, that is! Enjoy! :)

Sweet Potato Chorizo Chile Mac | thepajamachef.com

one year ago: Chicken Tinga Tacos
two years ago: Crock Pot Cran-Apple Sauce
three years ago: Chicken & Wild Rice Soup

Sweet Potato Chorizo Chile Mac [from Joanne via Marcus Samuelsson]
click to print

Ingredients:

  • 2 large sweet potatoes [approximately 2 pounds]
  • 1 cup skim milk
  • 1-2 tablespoons chopped chipotle chiles in adobo sauce
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 4-6 ounces shredded cheese [sharp Cheddar cheese or Monterey Jack], divided
  • 8 ounces small whole wheat pasta [shells or macaroni]
  • 8 ounces chorizo
  • 1/4 cup chopped green onions, divided
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro, divided
  • sour cream, for serving

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9×13 casserole dish with nonstick spray.

Scrub sweet potatoes and pierce all over with a fork. Place in a microwave safe bowl and microwave for 10-12 minutes, or until cooked through.

While sweet potatoes cook, prepare pasta according to package directions.

When cooked sweet potatoes are cool enough to handle, peel and place in a large bowl. Add milk, chipotle chiles, and a generous amount of pepper. Mash and stir in half of the cheese, then add pasta to sweet potato mixture.

Heat a small skillet over medium heat, then add chorizo and cook 4-5 minutes until brown, stirring to crumble. Add to bowl with sweet potatoes and pasta. Stir together along with half of the green onions and cilantro, then transfer to prepared baking dish. Top with remaining cheese.

Bake for 10-12 minutes or until cheese is golden brown and bubbly. Top with green onions and cilantro and serve with sour cream [if desired].

Time: 40 minutes.

Yield: 10 servings.

Mystery Dish: Baked Fish Tacos with Cranberry Salsa

Welcome to December Mystery Dish! Should be a good post for my last recipe of the year. I didn’t intend to take a two week break, but it’s been nice to unplug. :) Sherri at The Well Floured Kitchen was this month’s host for Mystery Dish, and the ingredients she chose for us included: Dark Chocolate, Greek Yogurt, Berries, Coconut Oil, Walnuts, Fish, Baby Spinach, and Pecorino Romano Cheese. We had to use at least two, and I chose to use fish and berries… cranberries to be specific. I know cranberries aren’t always thought of as traditional ‘berries’ but they are in season and I love them so I wanted to use them! For more info on berries, check out Wikipedia. :)

Baked Fish Tacos with Cranberry Salsa | thepajamachef.com

Ben helped extensively with this recipe–he came up with the idea to make fish tacos, and I wanted to try my hand at a cranberry salsa. Fruit salsas are so complimentary to fish tacos, and this one, though a little more tart than most, was absolutely amazing. I used two types of fresh herbs [rosemary and parsley] and tangerine to flavor it up, then added a little sweetness and tartness with honey and red raspberry vinegar. My goal was to make the salsa be different from my usual cranberry relish [fresh cranberries, sugar, and an orange], and I think I succeeded!

Baked Fish Tacos with Cranberry Salsa | thepajamachef.com

While I was cranberry salsa-ing it up, Ben was busy preparing the fish tacos. He’s the fish taco expert in the family, and decided to season the tilapia with some olive oil and vinegar–but not just your average olive oil and vinegar. He used some special blood orange-infused olive oil and coconut-infused white balsamic vinegar from the Bumble Olive Oil Company in his hometown [Toledo, Ohio]. If you can get your hands on these infused oils, DO IT! So good. But if not, use extracts or juices to create the same effect. The result? A sweet, tender, flaky fish that pairs so well with some tart salsa and crunchy cabbage. I also whipped up some Mexican rice with dinner… aka my favorite side ever. Yum yum and yum! Hope you enjoy!

one year ago: White Chocolate Peppermint M&M Cookies
two years ago: Classic Sugar Cookies
three years ago: Cranberry Scones

Baked Fish Tacos with Cranberry Salsa
click to print

Ingredients:

  • 3-4 tilapia filets [frozen or fresh]
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil [mine was blood-orange infused]*
  • 1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar [mine was coconut infused]*
  • 1/4 of a sweet yellow onion
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 tangerine, sliced and seeded [leave on peel]
  • 1/2 cup parsley
  • 4 sprigs rosemary
  • 2 tablespoons red raspberry vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 cups fresh cranberries
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • salt
  • tortillas, for serving
  • chopped red cabbage, for serving
  • lime wedges, for serving
  • sour cream, for serving

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Spray a baking dish with cooking spray, then place tilapia filets in baking dish. Combine olive oil and vinegar in a small bowl, then brush mixture over tilapia, turning to coat. Cook for 13-15 minutes or until fish is cooked through and flakes easily with a fork. If you use fresh fish, the cook time will be reduced.

Meanwhile, combine onion, garlic, and tangerine in a food processor. Pulse until nearly smooth, then add parsley, rosemary, vinegar, honey, and cranberries. Pulse a few times to break up cranberries, then season with pepper and salt to taste.

Gently slice fish into strips, then serve in tortillas with cabbage and sour cream, squeezing lime wedges overtop before enjoying.

Time: 25 minutes.

Yield: 3-4 servings.

Note: I used infused evoo and balsamic vinegar. You can add a few drops of coconut or orange extract for a similar flavor profile, or a little orange juice or zest.

Please check out the rest of the Mystery Dish posts when you have a chance too. They all look SO delicious!

Mystery Dish Collage

1. Cinnamon Coffee Cake from Buttercream Fanatic
2. Dark Chocolate Chip Coconut Oil Cookies from Chez Catey Lou
3. Dark Chocolate Raspberry Tart from The Dessert Chronicles
4. Berry Chocolate Streusel Bars from Baking a Moment
5. Green Berry Smoothie from I Want Crazy
6. Baked Fish Tacos with Cranberry Salsa from The Pajama Chef
7. Dark Chocolate Raspberry Swirl Brownies from Joyful Healthy Eats
8. Healthy Homemade Granola Parfait from Yummy Healthy Easy
9. Pear Cranberry Crockpot Oatmeal from See Hubby Cook
10. Dark Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies from Culinary Couture
11. Raspberry Chocolate Crumb Bars from I Dig Pinterest
12. Dark Chocolate Walnut Coconut Macaroon Fingers from The Well Floured Kitchen