Kids’ Kitchen: Triple-Decker Quesadillas

Each of these triple-decker quesadillas is comprised of three tortillas and two layers of filling. One layer contains blackened corn kernels and melted cheese, and the other refried beans, shredded chicken and even more melted cheese. The best thing about this recipe is that it’s super kid-friendly and 100 percent customizable except for the melted cheese that holds everything together. Kids can put whatever they want inside. Some of my personal favorite variations include spicy shrimp, shredded pork and ground taco meat.

Makes 4 triple-decker quesadillas

Quesadilla ingredients

12 gluten-free tortillas (3 tortillas per quesadilla)

2 cans refried beans (I used Amy’s with mild chiles)

4 ears of corn, shucked

1 roasted or rotisserie chicken

6 teaspoons olive oil, divided

1 8-ounce package shredded cheese (I used a Mexican blend)

Guacamole ingredients

4 ripe avocados

Juice of 2 limes

Zest of ½ lime

Salt, to taste

Pepper, to taste

1-2 tablespoons chopped cilantro, optional

Directions

First, prep all your ingredients. Let the tortillas sit out for about 10 minutes if you store them in the fridge so they can thaw a bit and won’t be as brittle. Open one can of refried beans at a time in case you don’t end up using them all. For the blackened corn, I used fresh corn on the cob, boiled it and cut off the kernels, but frozen or canned corn kernels also work perfectly. Just make sure to thaw frozen corn or drain canned corn. Shredded chicken is absolutely the way to go with this dish, so shred your rotisserie chicken ahead of time. It doesn’t take that long when using two forks—it’s an easy but helpful step that kids can totally do by themselves.

Now it’s time to blacken the corn. Heat a pan on medium-high heat with 2 teaspoons of olive oil. When that becomes hot, add the corn and let sit for 3 to 4 minutes. Flip the kernels over and let them sit for another 3 to 4 minutes, or until blackened. Feel free to blacken the corn more, less or not at all —it depends on your personal preference.

Now that your ingredients are prepped, heat 1 teaspoon of olive oil in a pan on medium to low heat. To assemble a quesadilla, put one tortilla on a cutting board, then spread it with the beans. Add a quarter of the shredded chicken on top of the beans, and then follow with 1⁄8 of the cheese. Add another tortilla on top. Put this simple quesadilla in the pan, and brown for about 3 minutes on one side, then flip, and immediately add a thin layer of shredded cheese to the top tortilla. Right after the cheese, add a layer of corn, then another layer of cheese, followed by another tortilla.

Wait about 1 to 2 minutes for the quesadilla to brown. Flip, so that the cheese-and-corn layer is now on the bottom, and the beancheese- and-chicken layer is on top. Wait 3 more minutes for the bottom layer to brown, then remove from pan. Use a pizza slicer to cut the quesadilla into sixths or quarters. Repeat three more times to make remaining quesadillas. Enjoy! And don’t forget to top with guacamole if you’re an avocado fan.

To make homemade guacamole, halve your avocados and remove the pit, then score and scoop into a large mixing bowl. Add the lime juice, lime zest, salt, pepper and cilantro, if using. Mix to desired texture. If your kids are more adventurous, feel free to add whatever they like. Some of my favorites are diced jalapeño, diced red onion and a drizzle of hot sauce. I also like diced sweet bell pepper, too.

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SPONSORED: Pacific Delight Debuts Gluten-Free Tour of India’s Gardens and Palaces

Curators of luxury travel experiences to Asia for more than 47 years, Pacific Delight Tours will debut a tour of India’s alluring gardens and palaces for travelers requiring a gluten-free diet, including people with celiac as well as those who maintain this diet as a healthy lifestyle choice. Departing Sept. 21, 2018, this tour features 12 days exploring Old and New Delhi, architecturally significant Chandigarh in India’s Punjab region, the “Pink City” of Jaipur in the heart of the Rajasthan desert, and culturally rich Agra, home to the world renowned Taj Mahal.

Guests will enjoy FiveStarPlus® accommodations at the luxurious hotels, resorts and spas of the Oberoi Group properties throughout India.

An inspiring view of the Taj Mahal from a palatial suite at the Oberoi Amarvilas in Agra

Tour participants will immerse themselves in the destination’s authentic culture, beginning with an express train to Chandigarh to explore the fabulous gardens and architectural landmarks designed by the famed architect Le Corbusier. A gluten-free cooking class at Oberoi Sukhvilas Hotel affords an opportunity for guests to refine their culinary skills. The picturesque setting is ideal for enjoying the hotel’s glamorous spa, including India’s famed Aryuvedic treatments (optional) and other idyllic pastimes.

In Jaipur, touring the Palace of Winds, walking through an ancient astronomic observatory designed by a child prince and meeting with a Rajasthani royal for high tea are among the highlights. Soft trek through an exotic bird sanctuary in Bharatpur and visit the deserted palaces of the “Ghost City” of Fatehpur Sikri before arriving in Agra, where participants will explore the Taj Mahal and Agra Fort.

Throughout the journey, visitors will be enthralled by the succulent flavors of Indian cuisine, which utilizes cream, yogurt or chickpea-based gram flour to thicken sauces in lieu of wheat flour, in addition to delectable Indian breads prepared from lentils—all strictly gluten-free under the guidance and supervision of India’s leading celiac support group.

The tour is priced at $5,880 per person, based on double occupancy, and includes: roundtrip economy group airfare from New York’s JFK via Emirates; local intra-India flights; deluxe accommodations; sightseeing by air-conditioned coach with knowledgeable English-speaking guides; all meals gluten-free; the services of a gluten-free dietician throughout India; taxes and service charges. Passport and visa fees are not included.

A business class upgrade is available from $4,700 per person, while travelers who wish to arrange their own flights may join the tour in India; the land-only price is $4,900 per person, double occupancy.

“We are actively working to accommodate the growing demand in the gluten-free market and to apply our 15 years’ expertise in gluten-free travel to our portfolio of experiences,” said Charmaine Lau, manager of Pacific Delight Tours.

Consult your travel agent or contact Pacific Delight Tours at 800-221-7179 for more information. Visit Pacific Delight Tours at www.PacificDelightTours.com.

Pacific Delight Tours

For 47 years, Pacific Delight Tours has been America’s leading tour operator to China and Asia. Among numerous industry awards, the luxury tour operator is a proud recipient of the TravelAge West WAVE Award from 2008–2016, the 2009 Travel Weekly Readers’ Choice Award and the 2016 Travvy Award from travAlliancemedia for Best Vacation Packager – Pacific Asia. The company is also a proud member of the United States Tour Operators Association (USTOA).

Pacific Delight remains dedicated to providing unparalleled vacation experiences for discerning travelers. Its longstanding reputation within the travel agent community is a testament to its unrivaled quality assurance, extensive expertise and top-notch customer service.

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5 Tips: Rolling With Sugar Cookies

Valentine’s Day is synonymous with chocolate—but it isn’t all about chocolate, right? Sugar cookies shaped like hearts dusted with colored sugar, dipped in chocolate or covered with frosting are a big draw at my house. Making them with my daughter has become a treasured family tradition. We have learned from our failures and adjusted to perfect our roll-out and cut cookie game over the years. If we can do it, so can you. To help get you in the roll-and-bake spirit, here are my top five tips for rolling out gluten-free sugar cookies.

  1. Pick a mix. Yes, making sugar cookies from scratch is preferable, but time is fleeting these days, so don’t feel guilty about buying a mix. Some of our favorite mixes are King Arthur Flour, Lindsay’s Lipsmackin’ Roll-Out & Cut Sugar Cookies from 1-2-3 Gluten Free and Pamela’s Products. These mixes produce doughs that are easy to work with and won’t fall apart while you’re rolling and cutting. And the finished cookies won’t crumble, either.
  2. Refrigerate. Once the dough is prepared, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate according to the instructions or until the dough is cold. Refrigeration is key to achieving a texture that allows for easy rolling and cutting. Also, be sure to put the dough back in the refrigerator between batches. If the dough gets too warm, it will become soft and sticky, making it impossible to work with.
  3. Prepare the rolling surface. Do yourself a favor and go buy a large Silpat mat that covers the entirety of your rolling area. This mat creates the perfect surface for cutting and transferring cookies to the baking sheet with minimal sticking. And cleanup is a snap.
  4. Get out the cornstarch. I know this may sound strange, but we have found that cornstarch is preferable to use when rolling out dough. Adding rice flour or a flour blend to the dough tends to toughen it and dry out the cookies. Cornstarch has the right texture to prevent sticking and keeps the dough moist without affecting the flavor. Apply cornstarch to your rolling pin and cookie cutters, too.
  5. Roll with it. Roll out the cookies to be ¼- to ½-inch thick—not too thick nor too thin. We use a stainless steel flexible turner to transfer them to the baking sheet. It does a miraculous job of keeping the shape intact without cracking, OXO’s flexible turners come in regular and large sizes. They are inexpensive and a welcome addition to any baker’s kitchen tool set.

Follow these steps and get ready for beautiful sugar cookies that are crunchy on the edges and and soft in the middle. Make a double batch, because they will quickly become a family favorite and disappear in a flash.

News Editor Jennifer Harris is a gluten-free consultant and blogs at gfgotoguide.com.

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DIY: Homemade Chocolate Treats

With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, it’s time to start thinking about sweet gifts for your sweetie. Instead of buying a box of chocolates, show how much you care by creating your own homemade chocolate treats. Putting in extra effort to show your affection—and the beaming smile sure to light up your loved one’s face—will make all your work more than worth it in the end.

I have the honor of interacting with a select few who are experts in their field of teaching. One such authority is Chef Peter P. Greweling, a professor in the baking and pastry department here at The Culinary Institute of America (CIA). He is the author of two books on chocolate and confections, and his knowledge of everything chocolate is second to none. Plus, I can always sate my chocolate craving by visiting his classroom whenever needed.

What is tempering?

Tempering is the key step in preparing the chocolate to coat your homemade chocolate treats. In his book, Chocolates and Confections, part of the CIA’s At Home series, Greweling explains, “Tempering is the process of heating and cooling chocolate to ensure that it will set with a proper gloss and snap…  Chocolate that is not tempered will develop streaks that turn gray and a soft, grainy texture.”

Tempering tips

So, let’s get into the simple tempering process. Start by melting 3 cups of chopped chocolate or coin-sized chocolate pistoles in a thoroughly clean bowl while setting aside 1 additional cup. Using either a water bath or microwave, heat the chocolate until it’s fully melted—120° F for dark and 110° F for milk or white chocolate.

Add the reserved, non-melted chocolate, known as the seed, into the melted chocolate. This will cool the melted chocolate. Stir gently until the chocolate temperature falls to 85° F for dark or 83° F for milk or white chocolate. Now it’s time for the temper test. For melted dark chocolate, keep the temperature below 90° F. For milk or white chocolate, keep it below 87° F. Dip a clean spoon in the chocolate. Remove and allow the spoon to remain undisturbed for seven to eight minutes in a room at 68° F. Do not place in the refrigerator. Once time has elapsed, examine the spoon sample. If the chocolate does not look wet and has a uniform surface with no streaks, it is tempered. Congratulations! Now, keep the tempered chocolate warm—not above 89° F for dark or above 86° F for milk or white chocolate.

Troubleshooting

If the chocolate did not become tempered and all of the seed chocolate has melted, you will need to add more seed. Start with 2 to 3 tablespoons and stir for three to four minutes. Test again for temper. If it is ready, remove any non-melted seeds and proceed to use the tempered chocolate.

To keep the tempered chocolate warm, use one of these techniques:

  • Wrap a heating pad around the bowl of chocolate.
  • Place the bowl of chocolate over a pot of water at the desired temperature.
  • Using a microwave-safe dish, warm the temper with short bursts in a microwave.
  • Warm briefly over direct heat.

Now, the properly tempered and maintained chocolate can be used to dip your favorite candies or nuts into, drizzle on cookies, or coat ganache-based truffles or macaroons. In the end, the labor is one of love, making it perfect for Valentine’s Day.

Richard Coppedge Jr. is an award-winning chef and professor of baking and pastry arts at The Culinary Institute of America. He is the author of Gluten-Free Baking with The Culinary Institute of America: 150 Flavorful Recipes from the World’s Premier Culinary College and Baking for Special Diets.

Illustration by Danel Vasconcellos

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