August 22, 2012

Cheesy Black Bean and Chicken Quesadillas

I have no idea what made me think of this recipe, but I do remember seeing something similar somewhere on the web. I follow a lot of websites and blogs, and try to "pin" interesting recipe I find on my Pinterest boards, but sometimes I forget. When I tried to track down the exact recipe source for this dish, I couldn't find it and I couldn't remember where I originally found it. Yeesh. So, I did what I normally do and just improvised my own version.

Thankfully, these quesadillas were delicious and paired well with my leftover Roasted Pineapple Habenero Salsa. Best of all, they were quick to get on the table. Over the weekend, I had prepped some chicken breasts by marinating/baking/slicing them up to have over salads during the week. I cooked 5 whole breasts and had quite a bit of chicken stored in our fridge. (I probably used 3 sliced breasts for this recipe.) I wanted to simplify this dinner, so I used my pre-cooked chicken to make it easier to put together. I had my first PTO meeting for my son's school last night, and I needed to get dinner on the table fast. Cutting out the chicken-baking step really helped speed this meal up. I was able to relax and have a nice dinner with the family despite the time crunch to make it to the PTO meeting. Some microwaved steamed green beans completed our dinner and made our meal filling and satisfying.

Oh, and did I mention that each quesadilla was only 285 calories??? No??? Well, they were! Amazing, I know. Especially since they did not taste low-cal, and all the ingredients fit my 'clean eating' requirements. Score! Fast, quick, healthy, and tasty...this was a dinner-winner all around.

Cheesy Black Bean and Chicken Quesadillas

3 cooked & marinated chicken breasts, sliced (SEE NOTE BELOW)
6 wedges of Laughing Cow garlic and herb cheese
1 can of low sodium black beans, rinsed and drained
3-4 slices of reduced fat provolone cheese, halved (or sliced cheese of your choice)
7-8 100% whole wheat tortillas
your favorite salsa for topping
cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper, foil, or a silicone baking mat. Set aside.

In a medium sized bowl, add Laughing Cow cheese and mash with a fork. Add black beans and stir to combine until cheese and beans are well incorporated.

To assemble the quesadillas, place a heaping tablespoon of bean mixture onto the left side of a tortilla and spread it around. (You are going to fold the tortilla in half, so only spread the mixture on half of the tortilla leaving the other half plain.) Place 3-4 slices of chicken on top of the bean/cheese mixture. Top with a half a slice of provolone (or sliced cheese of choice) and fold the plain side over the top. Repeat with additional ingredients.

Place folded quesadillas onto lined baking sheet and spray the folded tops lightly with cooking spray. bake for 15-20 minutes on the bottom oven rack, or until cheese is melted. Flip on the broiler for an additional 1-3 minutes to crisp to tops of the quesadillas. (Watch them closely under the broiler so they do not burn.)

Remove cooked quesadillas from the oven to a cutting board and slice with a pizza wheel. Serve with salsa and enjoy!

NOTE: My marinated chicken was just separating and freezing my fresh chicken in a zip top bag with some low cal Italian salad dressing. When I get home from the store, I take some of my chicken and separate it out into bags with whatever marinade I choose. In this case, it was bottled, organic salad dressing. I also put a little salt and pepper in the bag to season the chicken. Then, I just thaw the chicken when I'm ready to use it and throw it on the grill. Cook, slice, and store in the fridge and I'm DONE! It's fast and so easy to do in a pinch.

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