Category Archives: snacks

Grilled Filipino adobo chicken wings

Filipino Adobo Chicken Wings 1My beloved Tennessee Volunteers will take the field once again a week from today. We are going to battle Utah State and I believe we will prevail. It’s been a tough few years to be a UT fan. I will not disparage the two worst ever in the world coaches who got us into this pickle, but I’m counting on Butch Jones to get us out of it.

King Daddy and I always watch the games in separate rooms. I cannot stand the yelling. When Noah was little he actively became afraid of football because of the screaming at the screen. Normally, King Daddy is a very composed individual, but not on UT game days. He watches in the den and I watch in our bedroom and when he hollers at the TV I can still hear him. Chardonnay helps. With both the yelling and, in the past few years, the games.

But I always do football food in the hoped-for spirit of victory. This has backfired on me more than once since the more the game deteriorates so does King Daddy’s appetite. One game last year, I couldn’t even get him to try the hot Rotel, Velveeta and Tennessee Pride Sausage dip. The man loves his hot cheese and sausage dip (he can take or leave the Rotel since tomatoes are a vegetable – actually a fruit, but that’s another discussion).

By the way, the first game of the year is on a Sunday. I take that as a sign of divine intervention because we’re going to need a lot of that this year. I will be making Char-Broil’s Filipino Adobo Chicken Wings. You will be alarmed when you see what they’re marinated in, but I guarantee they will cure even the most forlorn UT fan. The recipe is over on the Char-Broil LIVE site. Go on. Get on over there and you can thank me later.

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Tammy’s best dessert

Tammy, my daughter in law, won the award for “Best Dessert” at the Mayhew/Harbin/Mayhew family reunion this past week. This may come as a shock to her because Tammy does not cook, at least in the conventional sense. Let’s just say boxes are her friends, her happy and comfortable place. That is why she’s in charge of “snack day” at the cabin, a day that has become one of our favorites. It’s so good to be bad and we’re so bad on snack day. The line up this trip included pigs in a blanket, pretzel dogs, fried macaroni and cheese bites, Bagel Bites, taquitos with sour cream and salsa, stuffed potato skins, Southwestern wontons and cream cheese and bacon bites coated with tortilla chips.

But this dessert I’m about to tell you about is not out of a box. Well, it kind of is. It’s out of a plastic sleeve, a container and a bottle. But it’s a genius idea and I’m stealing it from here on out.

Cookie DessertYes, it’s a cookie, ice cream and hot fudge sauce sort of mini sundae. A warm cookie straight from the oven. Granted, it’s a packaged cookie dough cookie, but who cares? It’s warm out of the oven. In this case, a chocolate chip cookie, topped with vanilla ice cream and microwaved hot fudge sauce. And you cannot feel guilty eating it because it’s an individual dessert. That means you’re supposed to eat the whole thing without consequences. Served on a paper plate for easy disposal of the evidence.

So now, of course, I’m thinking of other combinations: peanut butter cookies with butter pecan ice cream and caramel sauce, chocolate chocolate chip cookies with mint chocolate ice cream and chocolate sauce and sugar cookies with strawberry ice cream and strawberry sauce.

Yes, I know. I am, as usual, over thinking this. Just shut up and eat the dessert. It’s a warm cookie.

 

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Ham dip and the Princess

 

Noah and Sydney ham dip

The Princess is in the house and the first order of the day is ham dip. We are at our beloved Oak Haven Resort for the latest family reunion and after the luggage is deposited and the wine is cooling, ham dip must be created. It is the glue that holds this family together. We will make multiple batches over the far too few days we are here and it is now tying generation to generation.

It is a simple concoction from my mother in law, Bunny – Underwood Deviled Ham (I know of no other kind) and sour cream. Served with Fritos Scoops. Bunny taught me. I taught my son, Noah. And now, Noah is teaching my granddaughter, Sydney. She is 5. We call her the Princess because that’s what she is. Truly. She wears a tiara. And she’s a generous girl – she shares it with whoever is within tiara range. Gender is not an issue.

Noah crownedNoah and Sydney

Ham dip is the catalyst for a week of excess. It is a miracle we have not all been admitted to the cardiac care unit of the Sevierville City Hospital. This is literally the snack list for the week: deep fried macaroni, taquitos, steak bites, pigs in a blanket (both kinds – puff pastry and pretzel dough), Lipton’s onion dip with bacon-flavored Pringles, Doritos with that magic cheese dust, triple chocolate chip cookies, apple fritters, molten chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream and both chocolate and caramel sauce, a 4-pound jar of Jelly Bellies (49 flavors!) and an energy blend of edamame, cranberries, almonds and sunflower seeds strictly for health reasons.

If you cannot smile broadly and swallow a laugh as you dig into the onion dip and bacon potato chips while preparing for an excursion to the Ripley’s Believe It or Not Aquarium in Gatlinburg, you are not our kind of people.

So Tammy, mother to the Princess, inspired snack week by the virtue of the fact that when she married our beloved Josh she did not cook. Snacks she could do and she has taken this genre to a high level of art. But I believe Bunny and I have rubbed off on her over the years. A few weeks before the reunion, she asked me if I could teach her how to grill a steak. Wow, that’s a single source of food that requires heat not set to 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Hell, yes.

So, here’s the lesson and your tip for the day. Pick a steak. I like flat iron. Hot and fast on the grill. Salt and pepper or your favorite rub. Put it on the steak. Spray oil. Spray one side. Throw the spray side on the grill. Hear that immediate sizzle sound. That’s what you want. Grill it until you can peek and see nice grill marks. Don’t mess with it too much. Spray the top side and flip. USE AN INSTANT READ THERMOMETER. Sorry to yell, but if you’re an amateur griller you need to invest in one of these. 130 degrees internal temperature for medium rare. Pull it off the grill and let it rest for 10 minutes under a tent foil. That’s it.

Tamy grills

There’s my girl. Checking her steaks with an instant read thermometer. Notice King Daddy and the Princess in the background. They are waiting for this:

Sriracha-marinated flank steak

Done deal. From ham dip to perfectly cooked steak. We’ve got it covered. And it’s just Day 3. By the way, the super secret recipe for ham dip is two large cans of Underwood Deviled Ham to 8 ounces of sour cream. Serve with Fritos Scoops. It looks like dog food but you will eat every last scrap. You’re welcome.

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A sea of cellophane and cinnamon sugar puff pastry curls

 

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Well, I am fairly certain that there is not a single tube of cellophane left in the entire Middle Tennessee region. Nobody defied Judith Atkinson and brought their treats for the Women of St. Paul’s bake sale in plastic wrap. When Judith, the bake sale chair, says, “Make them pretty,” she means there had better be a trip to Michael’s involved.

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Of course, I immediately spied my arch baking rival’s Chocolate Bacon French Macarons. Charlotte Fraser is just insufferable. She is only in her early 20s and she just makes us all look like slackers.

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See what I mean? What a show off. And she had the audacity to charge a dollar for a cookie the size of a nickel. I wish I’d bought more. That, by the way, is how church fund raisers go, if you don’t know the protocol. We spend fifty or sixty dollars baking cookies, cakes or pies and then spend another forty bucks buying other people’s baked goods. We do the same thing at the annual bazaar in August. We bring our junk from home and then buy other people’s junk. Not very efficient, but it’s the Christian thing to do.

But I digress. I realized halfway through packaging my coveted peanut butter, dark chocolate chip and bacon cookies that I was going to run out of tags before I got to the cinnamon sugar puff pastry curls. And, by the way, I will digress again to say that I am fairly certain my prowess with bacon cookery is what inspired Charlotte to add bacon to her macarons. Unfortunately, I believe bacon is in the public domain so I will not be able to pursue a legal remedy to such thievery.

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I will say I wish I’d used italic lettering like Charlotte did. My font kind of looks like EAT THIS. Since I was not making another trip to Michael’s for more tags, I cleverly raided my Christmas room and disguised a gift box tag.

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I know. It looks clunky. Don’t tell anyone, especially Charlotte. She will just lord it over me for the next 11 months.

Cinnamon sugar puff pastry curls
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Ingredients
  • 1 sheet of frozen puff pastry
  • 1 cup of granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon sugar

Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Thaw the puff pastry in the refrigerator.
  3. Combine the sugar and cinnamon and spread half of it on a large cutting board.
  4. Top the sugar with the puff pastry and put the remaining sugar on the exposed pastry.
  5. Roll out into a thin rectangle and then tightly roll the pastry into a cylinder. Cut the pastry into ½-inch slices and lay them flat on a parchment-covered rimmed baking sheet.
  6. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until the pastry begins to brown. Cool on a wire rack.

 

 

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Bacon, peanut butter and chocolate chip cookies reprised

Peanut butter, dark chocolate chip and bacon cookies

Peanut butter, dark chocolate chip and bacon cookies

St. Paul’s Episcopal Church’s annual BBQ is Saturday. It is accompanied by a bake sale put on by the Women of St. Paul’s. In the olden days, before we all apparently developed into uber Type A women, the bake sale was comprised of some very decent but not particularly fancy desserts – chocolate chip cookies, brownies and the like. Perfectly acceptable.

But no more. Somewhere along the way the bake sale became IMPORTANT. The Women of St. Paul’s are over achievers in the world of hospitality. Our English Tea every December has no rival, either here in the states or across the Pond. Our celebratory wedding, christening and other joyful receptions are monuments of excess. And funeral receptions? Over the top. I hope the Women throw one for me before I expire because I’d sure hate to miss the food.

For the bake sale, we are now encouraged to think outside the box. Chocolate chip cookies wrapped in Saran Wrap will, of course, be graciously accepted. But there will be a knowing nod, a little wink indicating that’s not what is expected. Treats must be unusual. They must be wrapped in that expensive cellophane stuff you get at Michael’s and have clever tags extolling the virtues of the organic and artisan ingredients.

Charlotte Fraser has been toiling over her French macarons for days. I know this because I’m friends with her on Facebook and she’s posted her progress.

Bacon chocolate macarons

She is making, among other flavors, chocolate bacon macarons. Here’s her photo of the incredibly delicate shells she will fill with some decadent creamy concoction. I am much Charlotte’s elder, but she is shaming me. How impudent. I am a cook, not a baker. But I try my best with my award-winning (in my own mind) peanut butter, dark chocolate chip and bacon cookies. They now seem…pedestrian… next to chocolate bacon macarons.

Tomorrow is my baking day. I will make my sad, pedestrian peanut butter, chocolate chip and bacon cookies. I will also make blackberry tarts with a homemade pie crust. I will travel to Michael’s to procure the cellophane stuff and some fancy tags. I will shudder to think of the mass macaron production taking place at the Fraser household and the dozens of other women toiling over God knows what. I will update you on what will clearly by my shame Saturday morning when I arrive with my treats. I am fearful.

 

Bacon, Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chip Cookies Reprised
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Ingredients
  • 1 stick butter, room temperature
  • ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons crunchy peanut butter
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1 egg
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 4 strips bacon, cooked and sliced into fine strips
  • ½ cup sugar, for rolling

Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Cream together the butter and peanut butter with a hand mixer. Add the two sugars and blend well. Add the egg and vanilla.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and salt. Stir the flour mixture into the peanut butter mixture. Add the chocolate chips and bacon.
  4. Roll the cookie dough into walnut-sized pieces and roll in sugar. Place two inches apart on a greased or Silpat-covered cookie sheet and press horizontally and vertically with a fork.
  5. Bake 10-13 minutes or until cookies are firm.
  6. Yield: 3 dozen cookies.

 

 

 

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The perfect hot dog

Hot-Dog-1-500x375What makes the perfect hot dog? It involves these things and they are non-negotiable:

  • Hot dogs with casings. There is no snap to a hot dog without a casing and without a snap there is no point.
  • Chili out of a can. Yes. Hot dog chili out of a can. No beans. Vietti Hot Dog Sauce comes to mind. It’s made by a Nashville company. I think it costs $1.29 a can.
  • Plain yellow mustard. No Dijon. No deli mustard. No honey mustard. Plain and yellow.
  • Diced yellow onions. Enough said.
  • A buttered bun. Yes, add butter to the hot dog and chili. Why not? You’re not eating these every day. Please say you’re not eating these  every day.
  • Grilling. No boiling of the hot dogs. Can’t you hear them screaming?

Want the complete story? Head on over to Char-Broil LIVE to get my recipe for The Perfect Hot Dog.

 

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Anatomy of a recipe: Why am I up at 4 a.m. thinking about bacon?

Modestly,  I am somewhat famous in various circles around town for my adoration and frequent use of bacon. I have actually researched the health benefits of bacon and found that is is marginally better for you than sausage. I’ll take it. I pretty much make up 85 percent of what I cook and so, last night, I struggled with a new recipe for BLT Bites.

Hang on to your sanity. It is dark out. King Daddy is fast asleep. You’re about to enter my OCD mind. I apologize in advance.

How should I construct these things? I have the phyllo cups and I’ve already made the bacon. How about I roast some tomatoes I got at the farmers market and use them instead of raw tomatoes? That won’t work. There are textural issues. Don’t do it.

How about I put a wee bit of mayo in the bottom and top it with lettuce, a cherry tomato slice and bacon. Alrighty then, done. But that’s just going to be all loose and kind of dry. Not very creative… It’s just for church coffee hour. Nobody is going to judge me.

Maybe I should just rethink this and fill the phyllo cups with pimento cheese and top them with bacon. That will be easy. No, that won’t work. You’re already serving cheese and crackers, plus there’s cheese in the sausage balls. Too much cheese. Can there be too much cheese? Would people judge me for that?

No one will judge you. If you served Ho-Ho’s and Slim Jim’s they wouldn’t judge you. Well, maybe they would. Wouldn’t that be funny – Ho-Ho’s and Slim Jim’s? NO.

Okay, okay. Let’s try again. What if I cut the lettuce into thin ribbons, dice the tomatoes and mix everything with mayonnaise?  I think you might be on to something here. But doctor up the mayo with some lemon zest and minced fresh oregano.

Am I over-thinking this? Do you think? Of course, you’re over-thinking this. That’s the obsessive part of your undiagnosed OCD. Get ready to act on the compulsive part.

I’d better get up right away. I’ll have to dice the tomatoes and then drain them on paper towels so the mixture’s not soggy. Then chiffonade the lettuce, but don’t add it to the bacon, tomatoes and mayonnaise until the last minute or it will wilt. Seriously, get up if you want but just STOP!

BLT Bites

They lapped them up at coffee hour. Not a single one left.

“Can I have the recipe?” asked Ellen Kirk. Sigh. It’s in my head.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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What happens on the mountain, stays on the mountain

Cheers from the Women of St. Paul's

Cheers from the Women of St. Paul’s

Yes, the Women of St. Paul’s are dressed in pajamas. Why wouldn’t you combine a pajama party and a wine tasting? What’s wrong with you?

IMG_3611Every year, the Women of St. Paul’s adjourn to Monteagle (otherwise known as “the mountain”) for a weekend of renewal, fellowship, eating and drinking. The first year there were about 50 of us, but the word got around and this year’s retreat numbered almost 100. We learned to arrange flowers, we made felt flowers, we practiced yoga, we belly danced, we learned a newfangled form of doodling, and we made appetizers. We ate every three hours whether we needed to or not. And we had a wee bit of wine, a few appletinis and maybe one or two shots of vodka. Maybe. I know, I know. Those of you ladies who don’t attend St. Paul’s are wondering, “Where do I sign up?”

The appetizers class made all the finger food for the wine tasting. While we swapped tales, told lies and gossiped. In the nicest possible, most Christian-like way.

Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato CanapesWe made Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato Canapes.

Marinated CheeseAnd marinated cheese trays.

IMG_3624And adorable little mini shrimp cocktails in plastic shooter cups.

Leslie and garnishesOh, and Leslie taught our class how to make garnishes for the platters. Yes, we are Episcopalian. There must be garnishes.

Well, I will modestly say that everyone had a great time and our efforts were very well received.

Buffet 1Salami-rolled mozzarella sticks, shrimp shooters and marinated cheese…

Buffet 2Bacon, lettuce and tomato canapes…

IMG_3651Meatballs in a sweet and sour sauce…

Buffet 4Saltine toffee…

Nacho BarAnd the very popular nacho bar…

The Women of St. Paul’s had dinner not 20 minutes after the wine tasting ended. We are nothing if not troopers.

Becky and BeckyAlrighty. By now I assume you think all we do is carry on and tipple and eat. And belly dance. But you’d be wrong. I did a bad thing today. I took a picture in church during a service. That is so not correct. But I couldn’t help myself. Even with all our frivolous fun, the Sunday morning Eucharist is maybe the best thing that happens all weekend. Instead of a sermon, women tell their personal stories. Kleenex is abundant. The music this year was from an all-woman band. Amazing Grace. Who doesn’t cry while singing Amazing Grace? Not us. Instead of receiving communion from a priest, we give it to each other. Even if you didn’t know to say, “Body of Christ…Bread of Heaven” and “Blood of Christ…Cup of Salvation,” it was just fine to offer the wafers and wine with a “Here you go.”

Sunday Church“I’m gonna let my feet go dancing to my very favorite songs,

‘Cause I know my time for leaving is bound to come before too long.

And there ain’t no way of me knowing how tomorrow’s gonna be,

So I’ll just dance the shores of Jordan ’till the angels carry me.”

Shores of Jordan as sung by the Women of St. Paul’s on February 9, 2014.

 

 

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Saltine Toffee and the Women of St. Paul’s annual cocktail party

Saltine Toffee 2It is time once again for the Women of St. Paul’s annual retreat, spiritual revival and continuous cocktail party. There will be the opening night appletinis, kind of like the Opening Ceremonies at the Winter Olympics but safer and more enjoyable. There will be Saturday night’s wine tasting, “tasting” being a relative term. There will be flower arranging, candle making, yoga, a make-up tips class and general frivolity.

And my friends, Leslie and Marida, and I are doing an appetizers class. First, you must understand that Episcopal women are, without  a doubt, the world’s leading producers of appetizers. We have receptions for one thing or another almost every week – births, deaths, anniversary celebrations, the Bishop’s visit – they all require nibbles.

So I am a little intimidated. But I am more fearful of something the retreat committee had not anticipated. Last year’s group numbered around 60. This year’s crowd is creeping up on 100. And our humble appetizers class is providing all the food for the “wine tasting.” Do you know how many sausage balls it takes to soak up the alcohol intake of 100 Episcopal women? I cannot even count that high.

I told Marida the other day, we’ll just make what we make and when it’s gone it’s gone. How existential. But I do worry that we’ll turn the class participants into hors d’oeuvre slave laborers. Get that cheese sliced for the marinated cheese tray stat. Faster, faster! 

I’ll be demonstrating mini BLTs, for which I cooked three pounds of bacon tonight and only stole one slice (thank you very  much), and saltine toffee. Marida’s making her world-famous baked onion dip and her coveted marinated cheese tray. Leslie…what an over achiever. She started with individual shrimp cocktails in shooter glasses, followed with marinated meatballs and then started thinking of two or three other things to add. Faster, faster!

So we’ll let you know how it goes. It will either be a triumph or a disaster. But about 30 minutes into the “wine tasting,” no one will remember. Thanks be to God.

Saltine Toffee
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Serves: 15
 

Ingredients
  • 4 ounces saltine crackers
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
  • ¾ cup chopped pecans

Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (205 degrees C).
  2. Line cookie sheet with saltine crackers in single layer.
  3. In a saucepan combine the sugar and the butter. Bring to a boil and boil for 3 minutes. Immediately pour over saltines and spread to cover crackers completely.
  4. Bake at 400 degrees for 5 to 6 minutes.
  5. Remove from oven and sprinkle chocolate chips over the top. Let sit for 5 minutes.
  6. Spread melted chocolate and top with chopped nuts. Cool completely and break into pieces.

 

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Game day recipes

So here are some fun Super Bowl food factoids (thank you, Reuters):

  •  Super Bowl Sunday is the second-largest day for consumption of food and drink for Americans, behind Thanksgiving Day.
  •  Dips and spreads are the top choice of food to eat during the Super Bowl, followed by chicken wings and pizza.
  •  Americans will consume an estimated 50 million cases of beer on the day.

I don’t want to be a party pooper, but King Daddy and I are not Super Bowl Party kind of people. We are solitary football watchers. We don’t even watch games together as King Daddy’s incessant yelling upsets my delicate nature. However, if I were having a Super Bowl Party, I’d be serving mini BLTs, roasted red pepper dip with crudites and skirt steak quesadillas.

Now here’s a few of the dumbest questions of all time that reporters asked Super Bowl players on media day. I am sad to say I used to belong to this profession.

Question to Broncos Defensive End Shaun Phillips: “Is this a ‘must-win’ game?”

Question to Cardinals Wide Receiver Larry Fitzgerald: “Who has the better hair, you or Steelers Safety Tony Polamalu?”

Question to Cardinals Quarterback Matt Leinart: “Can I measure your bicep?”

Sports Illustrated has got a million of them (well, 25 actually) right here.

 

Mini BLTs

Mini BLTs
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Serves: 10-12
 

Ingredients
  • 1 loaf of white bread, crusts removed, cut into 2-inch circles with a biscuit cutter
  • Mayonnaise (Duke’s)
  • 2 cups shredded lettuce
  • 2 containers cherry tomatoes, sliced thin
  • 1 pound bacon, cooked until crispy and crumbled

Instructions
  1. To assemble the mini BLTs, spread mayonnaise on the bread rounds.
  2. Top each bread round with shredded lettuce, a couple slices of cherry tomato and crumbled bacon.

Red pepper dip

Roasted red pepper dip
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Serves: 10-12
 

Ingredients
  • 1 15-ounce can navy beans
  • ½ cup roasted red peppers
  • 3 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • Juice from ½ lemon
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions
  1. Combine all ingredients in a food processor or blender and mix until creamy.
  2. Chill for 30 minutes.

 

flat iron flip

Skirt steak quesadillas
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Ingredients
  • ⅓ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and sliced
  • A few dashes of hot sauce
  • 1 1-pound skirt steak
  • 2 green peppers, seeded and cut into large chunks
  • 1 large onion, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 4 6-inch flour tortillas
  • 1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese

Instructions
  1. Combine the vegetable oil, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, garlic and hot sauce in a small bowl. Put the skirt steak in a large plastic bag, add the marinade and refrigerate for 2-3 hours.
  2. Preheat the grill to medium high.
  3. Sprinkle the green pepper and onion with a little olive oil, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper. Grill the vegetables until they are nicely charred and crisp/tender. Reserve.
  4. Remove the steak from the marinade and pat dry. Salt and pepper the steak and grill it for 5-6 minutes with the grill lid up. Flip and continue grilling until the internal temperature of the steak is 140 degrees (if you press on the steak it will feel like a half-deflated tennis ball).
  5. Remove the steak and let rest, tented with foil, for 10 minutes. Cut the steak into thin strips against the grain.
  6. Cut the reserved green pepper and onion into thin strips.
  7. Heat a large frying pan on medium high on the stove. Assemble the quesadillas with the vegetables, steak and cheese on one half of each tortilla. Fold and brush one side with oil. Fry the oiled side until the tortilla begins to brown. Brush the other side with oil and flip to brown the other side.

 

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