To tell you my husband Ted and I loved these quesadillas would be an understatement. So, I'll just tell you that we devoured them three days in a row, which, if you have lots and lots of turkey leftovers, is a good thing to know. Pull out any shredded cheese you have in your freezer, any salsa (or chutney, or even leftover cranberry sauce) from the fridge, and any type of tortillas you have on hand; I love these habanero-lime tortillas from Trader Joe's, which are both orange and spicy. Cook the kale with salsa or sofrito to give it a bit of a kick, and you have a quesadilla so good you'll forget you're eating Thanksgiving leftovers.
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In Boston's South End neighborhood, where my husband Ted and I moved more than thirty years ago, almost every corner used to boast a spa (Boston-speak for an all-purpose market), or a Middle Eastern grocery, or a bar. The bars have long since closed -- many replaced by the fine restaurants that now define the South End -- and, sadly, most of the Middle Eastern businesses have gone, too. The spas endure, and almost every one that offers prepared food sells a basic, uninspired, too-much-mayo chicken salad. My new chicken salad recipe with walnuts and celery features a pomegranate-harissa yogurt sauce that reminds me of the wonderful ingredients I used to buy at the local Middle Eastern markets. It's sweet and tangy, and as spicy as you want to make it, perfect in a sandwich or lettuce wrap. If I owned a spa in the neighborhood, I'd make this my signature chicken salad.
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When my husband Ted and I acquired a panini press last year, we spent the first few months smooshing anything we could find into beautiful, Italian-style flat sandwiches. (Easier and more sanitary than running over them with the car, but you get the idea.) Later, influenced by the wonderful Panini Happy blog, we began to consider the panini press as a more versatile kitchen tool. With the addition of waffle plates, we celebrated our first Wafflepalooza last summer, but overall it's the grill plates that get the most workout. For dishes like this portobello mushroom and goat cheese sandwich, the panini press is perfect. It holds four burger-size mushroom caps, and cooks and flattens them in minutes. No heating of the grill or broiler, though either would give the mushrooms the "meaty" flavor that tricks carnivores into thinking they're really eating hamburgers. Use the freshest goat cheese you can find (my friend Christine's creamy homemade chevre paired so well with the mushrooms), and don't skip the smoked pepper spread that sets this sandwich apart.
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My father had a way with ground meat. For holiday meals, he rolled five-pound batches of sweet-and-sour meatballs, each one exactly the same size and shape, as only an engineer could do. For family dinners, he threw burgers on the grill, or a meatloaf into the oven. We were a straight-up beef family for most of my life, but years after I moved into my own apartment, my dad began to make turkey meatloaf. His earliest experiments came from Weight Watchers recipes and, quite frankly, lacked in flavor what they also lacked in fat. Today, on Fathers Day, in honor of my dad, I made turkey, spinach and feta meatloaf sliders, with an easy lemon sauce. I think he would have approved.
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