easy strawberry cheesecake pockets.

with chocolate, if you please!

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wowwweeeeeeeee i have been in the depths of winter hibernation and have forgotten how to exercise this creative outlet of mine. in the midst of general busyness/business/darkness/laziness, i haven't been in the recipe making zooone. well, at least not to the point of photographing them properly - because it's dark & gloomy as shit out!

also that thing called christmastime happened, peter & i went on a long trip to europe,  and we both turned 30.  evidently we spent the entire month of january recovering from all of that, lol. woopsie.

to lift myself outta my winter creative funk and get back into the habit of challenging myself to make random recipes and take real photos (in daylight), i threw something together with a few ingredients i happened to have on hand. frozen strawberries from last summer, a bar of dark chocolate, frozen phyllo pastry dough, brown sugar, & cream cheese.

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and it worked! i quickly put something together, it tasted good, and i didn't completely forget how to use my camera. [lolz jk i've actually been using my camera a ton this winter, just not for a lot of food purposes - but it still it feels like working a different muscle when you switch from shooting portraits to landscapes to objects to food, etc etc. 

while i do not think these little treats (or the photos) turned out to be the most beautiful thing in the world, it still legitimately feels like i came out of a hibernation and took my first few wobbly-bambi-leg steps back into just making stuff for the hell of it. and it feels durn good!

p.s. calling these things "pockets" is kinda grossing me out..... but at the same time i don't feel like using some crazy long-winded 'chocolate strawberry cheesecake phyllo dough crispy thingydoodah' title either.  so - stick that in your back pocket.  BYE!

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Easy Strawberry Cheesecake Pockets

Makes 6 Triangles

Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 roll phyllo pastry dough - actually only about 6 sheets (you can re-roll the sheets you don't use and freeze with the other roll that comes in the box of 2)
  • 4-6 large strawberries, sliced
  • 1/2 a chocolate bar of your choice (I used 1/2 of a Lindt 70% Cocoa Excellence Bar), chopped
  • 4 oz. cream cheese (I used about 1/2 of a block of lite cream cheese for this)
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar, for sprinkling

Instructions-

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a baking sheet lightly with cooking spray. Layer one sheet of phyllo dough at a time, giving a light spray (or brush on melted butter or coconut oil if you're an overachiever) of cooking spray on each layer. I used about 6 sheets in this recipe.

Use a pizza cutter or sharp knife to cut the large rectangle into 6 equal squares. Carefully place a dollop of cream cheese in a corner (but about 1/4 inch away from the outer edge) and sprinkle with a bit of brown sugar. Add some sliced strawberries and another sprinkle of brown sugar (you want the sweetness to be a bit layered and evenly dispersed). Add the chopped chocolate and more brown sugar if you desire.

Fold the empty corner of each square over the toppings to form a triangle and press down gently to flatten. Lightly spray (or brush with butter or oil) over the tops. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the pastry dough has started to brown and crisp. Remove from oven and cool for a few minutes on a cooling rack, but serve them warm! They are okay to eat once cooled for 1 day. Warm & fresh is best!

Note: You can use white sugar or whatever sugar you prefer - I generally think granulated white sugar gives a "higher" sweetness whereas brown sugar or coconut sugar gives a "deeper" sweetness, if that makes any sense.  granulated white is more of a "sickly sweet" (sometimes) versus "rich sweetness" of brown or coconut sugar, in my mind...

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& happy february!

 

qp

the easiest chicken tacos.

this is the first dinner "recipe" i ever learned.

my dad used to make this when i was growing up, and i thought because the tacos were so so delicious that they must be super time consuming and complicated to make. 

nope. they're the easiest!

i remember the first time i tried to cook the chicken for this dinner in my first apartment with my friend marisa. (hey, marisssss.)  it took me fOrEvEr to finish making the damn tacos because i'd pretty much never cooked chicken in my life and didn't understand the heat factor, timing, what cooked chicken looked like, etc etc etc.  i worriedly called my dad and was like, "how long are these chicken tacos supposed to take?!?!" he was like, "probably 20 minutes." meanwhile, i'd had the weirdly cooked chicken sitting in a pan of salsa for like 45 minutes already. i didn't know what the hell i was looking for!

as soon as i really *figured out* how to cook chicken properly and, for example, what 'boiling' and 'simmering' really *mean*, all other aspects of cooking seemed to click in my brain.

i always chuckle thinking about when i was first learning how to cook and like how to even boil water (yeah back in the day i used to put a pot of water on medium-low and wait a LOOOONG time for bubbles to appear - i just didn't GET it, man.) and i think everyone who learns to cook when they're a teenager probably go through the same weird trials & tribulations in the kitchen. all the fumbling around and seemingly frustrating cooking mishaps are totally necessary in the learning process.

here's another dad trick my father always uses when opening blocks of cheese:

cut an X in the top of the wrapper and fold the edges down neatly so your cheese blocks don't look like a grizzly bear came and mangled up the plastic. i have not cut a block of cheese in a different way since my dad showed me this little tactic.

it's also just easier to close up and reopen until all the cheese is gone. voila! clean cheese opening for life.

so anyway, these tacos are super easy if you're comfortable enough in the kitchen to cut and cook chicken. all ya do is cook the sliced chicken pieces in a little olive oil in a pan until its almost cooked through, then add a container of salsa and let it simmer for about 15 minutes. and that's it!

these are the exact ingredients i remember my dad using in his tacos, so as much as i wanted to add more stuff to this particular batch, something about the pure & simple dad version tastes just right to me!

also, this simple version is probably quite palatable for kids or picky eaters alike.

i use reser's baja cafe medium salsa for this. i have made these tacos with a lot of different salsas in my day, but i find that something super fresh like the baja cafe is best. and then just str8 up iceberg lettuce, sour cream, and cheddar cheese. cilantro is optional if you like that stuff.

you're the real mvp if you not only brown your tortillas on a pan (which you most deeefinitely should), but melt some cheese on the tortilla, too. 

^^^ i think i could eat that there tortilla with melted cheddar for every meal. 

Easy Weeknight Chicken Tacos

Makes about 6 medium sized tacos

Time: 25 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 2 large chicken breasts, thawed and sliced into 1/4 inch thick slices
  • 16 oz. Reser's Baja Cafe medium salsa, or your favorite fresh salsa
  • 1/4 head of iceberg lettuce, washed and thinly chopped
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • sour cream for topping
  • cilantro (optional)
  • medium sized flour tortillas

Instructions-

Heat a large pan with 2 TB olive oil on medium heat. Slice 2 chicken breasts into about 1/4 inch thick slices, and also slice again crosswise (into bite sizes). Add the chicken to the pan and season with salt and black pepper.  Cook about 3-4 minutes on one side, flip with a spatula or fork and cook the other side about 3-4 more minutes.

When the chicken is still just very slightly pink, pour the entire 16 ounce container of salsa directly into the pan. Reduce heat to medium-low and toss the chicken and salsa together so the chicken is covered. Allow the salsa to simmer (you may need to raise or lower the heat a little bit depending on your stove). Once the salsa is gently bubbling, let it all simmer together and stir frequently for about 10-15 minutes, or until the liquid in the salsa has thickened to almost the consistency of tomato paste. 

While the chicken and salsa are simmering, shred the cheese, wash and chop the lettuce, and begin warming the tortillas in another pan. 

When the chicken is cooked through and the salsa is thickened, assemble your tacos on the warmed tortillas. Add cheese, chicken & salsa combo, a little more cheese, lettuce, and sour cream. Add cilantro if desired.

This meal is truly easy to bring together. Once you've made it a couple of times, you can get it all done in about 20 minutes.  Enjoy!!

 

 

qp