Posts Tagged ‘jalapeno’

Fun is what makes a weekend different from the humdrum weekday routine.  Sightseeing in your hometown can take surprising turns.  We were out shopping for a baby gift, visiting all the haunts for deals so we could put together a great “baby basket” for the expectant couple.  This meant a sightseeing tour of neighborhoods we don’t frequent.

After a few hours, our tummies were growling.  Where should we eat?  We passed a handful of fast food shops.  Nope, none of us would spend money there.  We quested for a bonafide restaurant.  After many blocks of nothingness, we made a pact that we would stop and take a chance at the next place we passed where we could sit down to eat.

Along came Woody’s Burgers!  We couldn’t have stumbled upon a better lunch that day.  We went to the counter to order and it took several minutes for each of us to decide on a dish.  Once we did, the fun began.

Our order taker was polite, humorous, and informative.  Best of all he got all our orders correct and delivered them hot and ready to eat.

The only problem was deciding which burger, of the ones we ordered, was the best.  We couldn’t.  They were all good.  We also had a shared plate of sweet potato fries that was plenty for three people.  A very generous portion that satisfied all of us.

So, if you are in the San Diego area and have a craving for a burger (or even a Portobello burger) with an icy cold locally brewed beer, Woody’s Burgers is the place!  Oh and they have a shop in Palm Springs too if you are dirt biking in the desert.

The Blue Cheese Burger:  A 100% Angus Beef  with tomato and Blue Cheese Crumbles and special Blue Cheese Sauce

Blue Cheese Burger

The Hawaiian Burger: 100% Angus Beef, Grilled Pineapple, Toasted Bun, Lettuce, Tomato and Teriyaki Glaze

Hawaiian Burger

The Jalapeno Burger: 100% Angus Beef, Jalapeno Pepper Jack Cheese, Toasted Bun, Lettuce, Tomato, Jalapeno and Spicy Sauce.

jalapeno burger

Aren’t you  hungry now?  I am.  I could do it all over again right now.  Fresh ingredients, great service, and food served as it should be.

(This is my unsolicited opinion and I have no relationship to the restaurant or anyone involved in it.  I just loved their food enough to write about it.)


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Recently, a client brought me a recipe from Cooking Light magazine that looked good as far as flavors go.  After following Cooking Light’s recipe exactly, I changed some ingredients to be more to my client’s liking and ended up with a delicious, flavorful and pleasing casserole that was even a wee bit healthier than the Cooking Light version.  Mine also had stronger flavor to make it tastier.

My version began with Cooking Light’s Tortilla Chip Casserole’s basic recipe.  I avoided all the packaged ingredients and spent a little time in the kitchen making my own ingredients from scratch.  After our experience with the original recipe, I adjusted the ingredient amounts and flavors to please their tastes.

The result was a good casserole with low caloric value, lower fat, low sodium and high flavor.  Totally a successful dish that we augmented with a simple spinach salad with some tomatoes, low fat balsamic vinaigrette and chopped vegetables.  For those who aren’t concerned about calories, you could even add ½ cup of corn kernels to this recipe.

Note: If you are taking the “from scratch” route, I recommend that you make your chicken stock, baked chips, roasted pepper and enchilada sauce first or even a day ahead to make this recipe easier.

chicken casserole

Here is my version of Tortilla Chip Casserole

(Serves 6-8 depending on serving sizes):


3 teaspoons vegetable oil

1 large onion, chopped

1 full tablespoon minced fresh garlic

2 Tablespoons all-purpose King Arthur flour

1 cup 1% milk

¾ cup homemade, unsalted chicken stock (if using canned, use salt free stock)

1 ½ teaspoons cumin

1 teaspoon oregano

1 teaspoon coriander

¼ teaspoon Kosher salt

¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper

4 ounces, reduced fat cream cheese

1 cup reduced sodium black beans, rinsed and drained

4 cups chopped cooked chicken breasts (trimmed of all fat and skin)

4 ounces, homemade baked tortilla chips, crushed  (If you are using store-bought use the baked Tostitos brand chips)

1 freshly roasted bell pepper, chopped (you can used jarred peppers if necessary)

1 ¼ cup sodium free, homemade green chile sauce  (Or substitute low sodium enchilada sauce if necessary)

2 ounces shredded reduced fat cheddar mixed with 2 ounces shredded reduced fat

Monterrey Jack cheese (you can use packaged low fat cheese if necessary)

2 tablespoons chopped jalapeño or more to suit your taste


¼ cup chopped green onions

¼ cup chopped cilantro

Fresh homemade red salsa (or use jarred if you must)


Make your chicken stock, baked chips, roasted pepper, enchilada sauce and salsa and set them aside.  If you are cooking these the day before, cover in air tight, separate containers and refrigerate them all except the baked chips.

Preheat your oven to 350°.

Heat the 3 teaspoons vegetable oil in a saucepan over medium heat.  Add the onion; cook 4-6 minutes depending upon your stove-top.  Add the garlic and flour.  Cook two minutes.

Gradually add the milk and chicken stock, stirring constantly to prevent lumps.  Bring the mixture to a boil.

Remove from the heat and stir in the spices: cumin, oregano, coriander, salt and pepper.  Next, add the jalapeño and stir.  Lastly, add the cream cheese stirring until it melts.


In an 11×7 pan, spread ½ cup milk mixture over the bottom of the pan.

Spread the black beans as the next layer.  Add 2 cups chicken.  Add half of the crushed chips.

Top the chips with ½ cup milk mixture.  For the next layer, add 2 cups chicken, the roasted bell pepper and the rest of the chips.  Cover it all with the remaining milk mixture and the green chile sauce.  Sprinkle the top with the cheese mixture.

Bake at 350° for 30 minutes or until the cheese melts.  Top with chopped onions, chopped cilantro, and a dollop of salsa.

Serve hot with a side salad and ice cold beer.

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I have a love of foods that are stuffed.  I adore the original one dish meal that comprises several ingredients, or even just a few, stuffed into either a vegetable, pasta or a protein.  Even a twice-baked potato brimming with healthy additions is a joy.

With spring giving way to summer soon, I’m excited about all the heirloom tomatoes in our garden.  It was time to begin testing some recipes for those precious heirlooms.  I came up with a wonderful dish that is sure to please.  However, it’s an old-fashioned recipe in that it isn’t a recipe at all.  It’s more directional and you need to use your own instincts where amounts are concerned.

So, this is what I did:  I cored and seeded my tomatoes.  I sliced my homegrown leeks in half and then sliced them thinly crosswise and added to them to a sauté pan over medium heat.  After a few minutes, as the leeks were beginning to caramelize, I added my homegrown spinach.

While that pair cooked, I chopped several mushrooms and some fresh jalapeno.  Then I chopped a couple of garlic cloves.

As the spinach wilted down, I put the mushrooms and jalapeno in the sauté pan with a pinch of salt and pepper.  When they softened, I added the garlic until it was aromatic.

When everything was cooked, I removed it from the heat.  At this point, I mixed in about 1-2 tablespoons of goat cheese.  I mixed the vegetables with the goat cheese until the cheese melted into a light and tangy sauce.

I stuffed each tomato with the vegetable and goat cheese mixture.  Then I set them under the broiler just until the tomato softened.

I sprinkled the tomatoes with homegrown chopped chives and served them hot.

You can serve these with a protein or a pasta dish or even just some more vegetables.

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