Lunchtime Quesadillas

Lunchtime Quesadillas

This past spring, I was 38 weeks pregnant and my husband got the flu--102 fever-type flu NOT a "man-cold" type flu--for a week.  I was stuck trying to corral a crazy twenty-six pound toddler by myself at the same time as being continually kicked in the ribs by a fetus while managing a borderline gestational diabetes diagnosis. Not going to lie, it kind of sucked sometimes. But, this meal was my SAVING GRACE. I had made this meal for my husband and I to eat for a few days, but I ended up eating it pretty much lunch and dinner for about a week (which is almost certainly longer than the CDC recommends keeping things in the fridge and eating them...oops). I did not even get sick of it.

Because of my gestational diabetes, I would make this using a reasonable amount of cheese and the Mission Carb Balance tortillas, and my sugars were all fine. I loved finding a good recipe that I could make work for a special dietary requirement. (Please note: everyone's regime with gestational diabetes is different, and glucose management with GDM is highly variable, so please do not take it as a given that this is a good recipe for anyone else's gestational diabetes). 

I love that this is a very veggie-rich and protein-dense recipe that you can adjust based on health requirements. You can use part-skim cheese or minimize oil to lower the fat content. There are tons of options when it comes to type of tortilla you use. You can even try it with corn tortillas for a gluten free alternative. 

This also works great as a freezer meal. I freeze the meat in the marinade and the veggies separately in gallon sized freezer bags. 

This week, I'm using this meal for my lunches. It's a great meal to split with the kiddos, and is a veggie-rich variation on a traditional lunchtime grilled cheese. Yum!

Lunchtime Quesadillas

lunchtimequesadillas.jpg

Ingredients: 

4-6 breasts of chicken trimmed and sliced

tortillas 1-2 packages

olive oil

Mexican cheese (lots) -- I usually buy a bulk-buy 2 lb bag and it last me about 10ish quesadillas

2 green peppers, then 4-6 other mixed color bell peppers sliced

1 vidalia onion sliced

Marinade for Chicken:

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1/3 cup of water

1 teaspoon of white vinegar

1 tablespoon of lime juice

2 tablespoons chili powder

1 teaspoon of cumin

1 teaspoon of paprika

1/2 teaspoon of onion powder

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper

1/4 teaspoon white sugar

lots of coarsely ground sea salt

Directions: 

Trim and slice 4-6 breasts of chicken. Place chicken in zip-top bag with the top folded down to avoid contamination of the outside of the bag with raw chicken. Whisk together all marinade ingredients. Be generous with the sea salt. Pour marinade over chicken in bag and squish it around a bit to make sure all of the chicken is coated. Allow the chicken to marinate in the fridge at least one hour or overnight.

Slice peppers and vidalia onion and place in a bowl for later. 

Brighter Tip: I'm super sensitive to onions. My grandmother read in a magazine that I should put the onion in the freezer for a while before I cut it. This doesn't always prevent my eyes from tearing from the onions, but I do always think of my grandmother whenever I cut onions. 

I use a wok to cook my chicken and veggies, but you can use any type of skillet. I LOVE LOVE this wok, and I use it all the time. It holds up extremely well. 

I spray the wok with cooking spray. I cook the chicken on medium to high heat until all the pink is gone. Then I place the chicken in a bowl. I leave a little of the "juices" in the bottom of the wok.

Then I add in the veggies and cook until onion is translucent and peppers are to the desired level of softness (in my family we call this the desired level of "deadness." Some people like their vegetables super soft and "dead," but i like the peppers to keep a bit of their crispness and bright color. Either way works fine!)

Add the chicken back in and cook for at least 5 minutes on medium heat until every things is mixed thoroughly. I don't add back all of the chicken juices because it can made the mixture too watery. 

Now, sometimes I will do this part the night before. I will let it cool and store in a Tupperware and then just reheat a portion for my quesadilla the next day. It's a great little mostly make-ahead recipe. 

Assembling the Quesadilla:

Put olive oil in the bottom of a good quality skillet and heat it on low so that it swirls around freely when you move the pan.

(When I replaced my first set of nonstick pots and pans that were falling apart with stainless steel ones of a higher quality, I got this skillet for free with the set. I thought I would never use it because I had never had a good quality nonstick pan. OMG. This pan is amazing. I sometimes use it twice a day: for my eggs in the morning and then quesadillas or chicken or veggies. I love this pan. You are probably thinking it is weird for me to get so attached to a cooking pan, but say what you want, our love is real)

Place a tortilla in the center and use  your hand to swirl it around and make sure the bottom is coated with olive oil. On one half, place a layer of cheese then chicken/veggie mixture, then more cheese. Make sure there is enough cheese on bottom and top to help the sides of the tortilla to stick together. Use a spatula to fold it over.

Cook on medium heat until the bottom is an even golden brown. I press the quesadilla with the spatula and move the quesadilla around as I cook it to make sure it browns evenly and is not sticking. Flip it with the spatula. Continue to move it around a bit as it cooks.

 Flip again onto a cutting board. Let it sit for 5 minutes until cheese isn't super gooey. 

Enjoy! (The first picture is the one I flipped too early, had to flip back then got distracted by the baby who woke up from a nap. Even if they don't turn out pretty, they are still DELICIOUS!)

 

 

 

 

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