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Sam Says...

Covid-19 has me searching for new recipes in cookbooks I haven't looked through in quite some time. And in order to minimize trips to the store, I plan a menu on Sunday; put on gloves and a mask and hit the aisles of the Giant Eagle I go to most time to dilly dally looking for things in unfamiliar stores. The taco quesadillas made the cut for this week!  If you are on schedule for taco tuesday...give these a try! I made them even easier by using a packet of taco seasoning and store bought salsa to top them off!  And definitely use the yellow corn tortillas...makes them crunchy. They were delicious.The Pioneer Woman's original recipe follows with my adjustments in parenthesis.  Enjoy!


1 1/2 pounds ground beef

3 tablespoons tomato paste 

2 tablespoons chili powder 

1 teaspoon cumin 

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, or more to taste

1/2 teaspoon cayenne 

Butter, for frying 

8 corn tortillas 

12 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, grated 

Your favorite taco toppings for serving


  1. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, brown the ground beef, 5 to 8 minutes. Drain the excess fat. Add the tomato paste, chili powder, cumin, salt, cayenne and 1 cup water and stir to combine. Bring to a boil, lower to a simmer and simmer until thickened, 8 to 10 minutes. Keep warm. (This is where I used the taco seasoning packet and I skipped the tomato paste because I thought I had some but I didn't)
  2. Heat a separate skillet over medium heat. Smear butter on the bottom and place a tortilla in the skillet. (I used Mission Brand Yellow Corn Tortillas)Top the tortilla with some of the cheese and a second tortilla and cook until the bottom side is brown and the cheese begins to melt, about 2 minutes.(I put the ground beef on top of the cheese and then added a little more cheese on top and then the second tortilla) Flip and cook the other side another 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to a plate and keep warm. Repeat with the remaining tortillas and cheese, adding additional butter as needed. (I buttered both the top and bottom tortilla because at this point, why not?)
  3. Top each quesadilla with a generous helping of the beef mixture, then top with some lettuce and Pico de Gallo. (See No. 2...I put the meat in between the tortillas and I used Giant Eagle Brand salsa)

Pico de Gallo:

  1. Chop the tomatoes, jalapenos and onions into very small dice (leave the seeds in your jalapenos for a hotter pico, or remove for a milder pico). Next, chop up a nice-size bunch of cilantro. Just remove and discard the long leafless stems before chopping. No need to remove the leaves from the stems completely. Place all of these ingredients together in a bowl and give it a good stir. Squeeze the juice of the lime half into the bowl. Add salt to taste and stir again. (or buy Giant Eagle Brand Salsa :))


Last week, my mom was sent a Visiting Angel that fell straight from heaven--she is a lovely woman from Italy...yes, Italy.  Can you imagine?  Not only does Tizianna speak the same language, but the connection in terms of culture are simply indescribable. And the added bonus is that she loves to cook! Tizianna was kind enough to make this delicious dinner for my mom. She shared this quick recipe with me. It was a hit all around.   Dinner doesn't get much easier than this deliciously simple lemon chicken recipe. Thanks to for the recipe directions and ingredient list.

Lemon Chicken



  • 4 skinned and boned chicken breasts (about 1 1/2 lb.)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 8 lemon slices
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • How to Make It

    Step 1

    Cut each chicken breast in half lengthwise. Place chicken between 2 sheets of heavy-duty plastic wrap; flatten to 1/4-inch thickness, using a rolling pin or flat side of a meat mallet. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Lightly dredge chicken in flour, shaking off excess.

    Step 2

    Melt 1 Tbsp. butter with 1 Tbsp. olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Cook half of chicken in skillet 2 to 3 minutes on each side or until golden brown and done. Transfer chicken to a serving platter, and keep warm. Repeat procedure with 1 Tbsp. butter and remaining olive oil and chicken.

    Step 3

    Add broth and lemon juice to skillet, and cook 1 to 2 minutes or until sauce is slightly thickened, stirring to loosen particles from bottom of skillet. Add 8 lemon slices.

    Step 4

    Remove skillet from heat; add parsley and remaining 2 Tbsp. butter, and stir until butter melts. Pour sauce over chicken. Serve immediately. Garnish, if desired.

    I served this with a cold Italian potato salad and a few sliced tomatoes and black olives dressed in olive oil and balsamic vinegar.  Mike loved it--that's what I call  job security :)