South of the Border

Well, it’s finally here: warm weather!  I still don’t trust it and am constantly checking the forecast, expecting a turn for the cold.  But it’s mid-April, so I think, although I hesitate to even think it, that we may be in the clear.

I’ve always enjoyed making and eating the lighter fare that comes with warm weather.  Don’t get me wrong: you can’t beat a hearty stew in the winter.  But coming out of hibernation can be just as good.  Encouraged by the warm weather, I’ve been on a Mexican food kick lately.  Last week, I made a great red beans and rice dish from a “Five Ingredient/Fifteen Minute” cookbook Mom gave me a few months back.  It’s so handy for those nights when I get home from work late!  I definitely want to make that again soon, but tonight I decided to go with an old favorite: chicken quesadillas.

I’ve always loved these, but I don’t think I’ve ever made them before.  Sure, I’ve made cheese and tomato quesadillas – they were a favorite after-school snack for a while in high school – but before I really began cooking a couple of years ago, I was always leery of cooking meat.  I couldn’t tell when it was done, I didn’t want to make myself sick, and the whole endeavor just seemed like too much bother.  Well, through practice, a few good recipes, and advice from Mom, I feel like I’ve finally mastered at least a few basic ways of doing it.  Tonight’s chicken was perfect, and I made a simple guacamole to go along with it.

So here I present to you a recipe in pictures.  I was going to write the whole thing up, list out ingredients, measurements, and so on, but I think you’ll manage without them.  This is a meal you can tailor to your needs and tastes.  I’ll tell you what I used along the way, but make it your own!

First of all, I browned two organic boneless, skinless chicken breasts in an olive-oiled skillet over medium-high heat (about five minutes on each side).  Then they went into an oil-sprayed baking dish and into a 350-degree oven for 30 minutes.  I didn’t photograph this prep.  Do you really want to look at raw chicken?  Me neither.

While the chicken was in the oven, I made the guacamole.  Here are the ingredients (some of this went into the quesadillas too):

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Salt and pepper, avocados, tomatoes, lime juice, red onion, and cilantro.

 

I’ve read and been told a lot about how to cut an avocado over the years, but it is this writer-chef’s opinion that if an avocado is really ready to be guacamole, you don’t need a knife… except to cut it in half, that is.

I put these chopped pieces of red onion in my little food processor with about a teaspoon of cilantro leaves (again, if you want more flavor, punch it up!).  I chopped them for about ten seconds, until they looked like this:

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Next, I cut the avocados in half and squeezed them out of their peels.  I diced up one tomato and mixed that all together with the chopped onions and cilantro and a sprinkle of salt, pepper, and lime juice.

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Oh. My. Yum.

Next, I diced up two more tomatoes (I was making two quesadillas) and got some shredded Cheddar cheese and whole wheat tortillas ready to go.  When it was time for the chicken to come out of the oven, I shredded it with two forks until it looked like this:

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Then it was time to put it all together.  I heated a skillet to medium-low and sprayed it very lightly with olive oil just to keep the tortillas from sticking.  Then I loaded them up – chicken, tomatoes, leftover onions and cilantro, and cheese.

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Remember that you just want to put your fillings on half so that you can fold it. 🙂  I put each one on the heated skillet for about three minutes on each side.  The chicken was hot, so really I was just melting the cheese and warming the tomatoes.  When they’re finished, move them to a plate and slice them with the pizza wheel.

And then Steve and I had a simple yet scrumptious dinner on the balcony.

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This is a great, quick meal (even quicker if you cook your chicken ahead of time!) for a summer night.  It’s easy, it’s healthy (chips aside – I know), and the flavors are just fabulous.

Till next time – happy cooking!  Cheers!

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4 thoughts on “South of the Border

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