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Dinner in 20 mins: Quesadillas

Categories: Food & Cooking

4 comments

by Katie Workman
Katie Workman is the Editor in Chief and Chief Marketing Officer of Cookstr.com , a website devoted to great, tested recipes from chefs and cookbook authors, so she knows her way around the kitchen.

Even really finicky kids seem to love quesadillas. You can describe them simply as round grilled cheese sandwiches, or Mexican grilled cheese sandwiches, if you like.  It’s just hard to NOT like melted cheese between two carbs (see Note).  A salad or some steamed broccoli or some cut up veggies is all you need to make a favorite Mexican restaurant appetizer into a weeknight dinner at home.  Cooking the first batch of tortillas on their own saves you the skilled chore of flipping them, which can result in a quesadilla pinata, meaning the filling flies out all over the place.  Not fun.

If you give each kid the first tortilla on a plate, with the fillings laid out for them to choose from, they can create their own quesadilla masterpiece, the you finish it off under the broiler or on the grill.

The Basic Quesadilla
(and its infinite variations)



Ingredients:

8 8-inch flour tortillas (see Note again)
2 cups shredded  cheese, such as cheddar, a Mexican blend, Monterey Jack, or a mixture
Optional fillings:
Shredded cooked chicken or beef
Chopped olives
Chopped cooked broccoli or asparagus
Drained and rinsed beans, such as black beans or kidney
Chopped tomatoes
Chopped cooked ham
Chopped artichoke hearts
Cooked onions (either thinly sliced or chopped)

To serve:

Salsa
Sour Cream

If you’re using the broiler:
Preheat the broiler.  Place 4 tortillas under the broiler, right on the rack, and  watch them carefully until they turn golden brown, about 2-3 minutes.  A dark brown bubble here or there is fine.  Remove the tortillas, and place them uncooked side up.  Evenly sprinkle the cheese over the four tortillas.  Divide whatever optional ingredients your gang likes on top of the cheese, either alone or in combination.  Don’t overfill them!  Place the four uncooked tortillas on top of the filling, carefully transfer the tortillas back under the broiler (you can use a baking sheet if you’re concerned about everything dripping all over your oven) and broil until the cheese is melted inside and the top is golden brown, about 3 minutes.
Remove and let sit for a minute before you slice each tortillas into 6 wedges, and serve with the salsa and sour cream.

If you’re using a grill:

Preheat the grill to medium. Place 4 tortillas on the grill, right on the rack, and watch them carefully until they turn golden brown, about 2-3 minutes.  A dark brown bubble here or there is fine.  Remove the tortillas and set aside.  Place the four uncooked tortilla on a flat surface (or right onto the grill, but be careful).  Evenly sprinkle the cheese over the four tortillas.  Divide whatever optional ingredients you like on top of the cheese, either alone or in combination.  Don’t overfill them.  Place the four cooked tortillas on top of the filling, uncooked side down, carefully transfer the tortillas back to the grill if needed, and grill until the cheese is melted and the top is golden brown, about 3 minutes.
Remove and let sit for a minute before you slice each tortillas into 6 wedges, and serve with the salsa and sour cream.

Note:
A few words about carbs. If you’re into the whole wheat thing, by all means, go for whole wheat quesadillas. I’m a big proponent of whole wheat bread v. white, but somehow when it comes to quesadillas I just love the starchy, white-flour yumminess of plain old flour quesadillas, and I just figure my kids will get their whole grains at another point of the day.  I just read an article about a woman who’s essentially suing her ex-husband for full custody of the kids because he packed their child a non-organic lunch that featured Cheetos.  The line between “healthy food mom” and “crazily insane food nut” seems to be becoming finer all the time, and I am determined to remain on the sane of the equation, which means being zen about such harmless food indulgences as the occasional white tortilla.



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4 comments so far...

  • Like the Quesadilla recipe you shared. .. My toddler is a picky eater.. who isnt right. But, we love to make mexican food at home. We invested in a Quesdilla maker (Its like a small toaster/ press), the best thing ever, since now no pre-heating ovens et al.
    Plus 20 minutes, all her veggies stuffed in with the cheese and the tortilla..

    Yumm!

    GNSD  |  June 29th, 2009 at 7:21 pm

  • Thanks for the comment!

    Even people who brag that their kids aren’t picky aren’t admitting to something. I’m a recipe and cooking person, and wouldn’t you know it, the minute I have someone over to dinner who’s all “wow, you’re such a good cook, I bet your kids eat everything, right?” THAT’S the night my kids choose to say “yuck, gross” and nibble a rust of bread.

    I have found quesadillas to be pretty solid in the kid-pleaser dept. And if I make them for an appetizer, and the down a few of them, at least when dinner rolls around we can all shrug and say, “well, they filled up on quesadillas.”

    Katie  |  June 30th, 2009 at 12:55 am

  • Yum to quesadillas and kids- Katie is dead-on right about that! And I also could not agree more about nothing comparing to classic white flour tortillas. Thanks to Work It Mom for bringing Katie to the dinner table!

    elizabeth  |  July 3rd, 2009 at 9:44 pm

  • My daughter loves these. They are her favorite food to eat anytime :)

    Stickers  |  February 25th, 2010 at 5:00 pm

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