September 20, 2010

Jen's Chicken, Bean, and Veggie Quesadillas

Every Friday night, I try and make a "fun" family-friendly dinner. Most Friday night's we have a living room picnic, the meal choice needs to be relatively easy to eat and semi mess-free. The whole idea is to make dinner less of a chore (i.e. less fighting to get a 4 year old to eat, and more time relaxing and enjoying each others company). In the past, Friday night usually meant pizza night; but as much as I love pizza, I am getting a little burnt out on it. Therefore, I have been trying to come up with fun family dinners that do not revolve around homemade pizza, but still fit the picnic/family-friendly criteria. I decided to concoct these quesadillas, and they worked out great. My family loved them, and they set the tone perfectly for fun Friday night dinner!

Jen's Chicken, Bean, and Veggie Quesadillas

2 Tablespoon of canola oil, divided
2 uncooked chicken breasts, cubed
1/2 onion, sliced thin
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 red bell pepper, sliced into strips
1 can of kidney beans, rinsed and drained (black or pinto beans would also work)
3 cups of baby spinach
a few splashes of lime juice
Lawry's Seasoned Salt to taste
1 can of El Pato sauce
salt and pepper to taste
4 Tablespoons of butter, divided
8 whole wheat tortillas
1 cup of manchego cheese (Jack or cheddar would also work well)
guacamole, to top as a garnish

In a medium sized bowl, place cubed chicken and sprinkle with Lawry's Seasoned Salt to taste. Cover chicken with one can of El Pato sauce and mix to combine. Set aside and let chicken marinate while other ingredients cook.

Coat a large cast iron skillet with 1 Tablespoon of canola oil, heat pan over medium-high heat, and saute peppers and onions until browned. Add garlic and cook for an additional 30 seconds. Add beans, salt and pepper to taste, and a few splashes of lime juice and cook for another minute or two. Wilt in baby spinach and remove veggie mixture from heat. Spoon veggies into a large bowl and set aside.

Wipe out the cast iron skillet and add the other Tablespoon of canola oil. Add chicken to pan, reserving the El Pato sauce in the marinating bowl. Cook chicken thoroughly and until slightly browned. When chicken is almost finished cooking, add the El Pato sauce to the pan and reduce it by half. Add the veggie mixture back to the pan, mix to combine, and heat through. When finished, add the chicken mixture back to the veggie bowl and set aside.

Wipe out the cast iron skillet again, and return to the stove top. Heat the cast iron skillet over medium heat and melt one Tablespoon of butter into the pan. Once butter is melted, place one wheat tortilla into the pan. Quickly spoon 1/4 of the chicken/veggie mixture onto the tortilla and sprinkle with 1/4 cup of the cheese. Top quesadilla with the other wheat tortilla, so filling is sandwiched between the tortillas. After 1-2 minutes, or until bottom tortilla is nicely browned, flip quesadilla over with a spatula and cook on the other side for 1-2 minutes. Remove from pan and cut into 4 wedges. Repeat with other tortillas & filling, making 4 quesadillas. Serve quesadilla wedges with a spoonful of guacamole.

The Result:
These were so yummy! The manchego cheese was really good on our quesadillas, so try and get it if you can find it. It is nice because a little goes a long way. Instead of making guacamole, I served our quesadillas with sliced, marinated avocado (avocado slices with a splash of lemon juice, lime juice, salt and pepper). These were easy and delicious...perfect Friday night fare!

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