Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Work less, eat better...Chicken Quesadillas with Fresh Spinach (Bonus, Salsa and Guacamole!)

The new year is upon us and as always, we have all made a few new year's resolutions to improve life.  Do you find that in resolving to improve your life, your quality of life is worse because there is NO POSSIBLE WAY to fit all of the things that you want to do into the waking hours of the day?

Welcome to the real world.

Here's a suggestion - instead of the truckload of normal resolutions for this year, resolve just this one thing...


Think about it - it encompasses (almost) everything that you might have resolved to change, in a way that is much kinder to YOU.  Grant yourself the same compassion that you give to others and you might just find that the rest falls into place. Take everyday one moment at a time, and with each choice you make ask yourself, is this good for me, for my health, for my goals?  By being kinder to yourself, you can allow the small stuff to slide right by and focus on the importance of having a meaningful life, without working yourself to death trying to achieve it.

That being said, if you've read my blog at all, you know how much I love the entire experience of a roasted chicken - the freshness, the fragrance, and the experience of being involved with the meal from start to finish. I can't say that I am giving that up forever, but today I am making a new decision based upon a new set of circumstances. I bought a fresh roasted chicken at a "big box" retailer for $5. Ok,  I bought 2.  They were gorgeous, juicy, and amazingly aromatic. I bought them partly because the smell intoxicated me and watching them pull them out of the roasters and place them into the containers was a little bit mesmerizing.  That, coupled with having just looked at some very tiny EXPENSIVE little organic chickens that were 3 times the price helped to make my decision. Right now, meat is expensive. I am going to look for ways to make the best recipe options using the least expensive cuts of meat - I really like a challenge.  I will add another level to my challenge and that is this;  I will continue to focus my recipes on using what is at hand.  Usually at the end of my posts, I give some hints as to what to do with leftover ingredients.  If you are ever at a loss for what to do with what is in your fridge, post a comment on the Spoon of Hearts Facebook page and I'd love to play "What's for dinner with what's in your fridge!"

So, let's get on with the business of these two beautiful and inexpensive roasted chickens...

My sweet hubs finds great peace in the chopping of vegetables and deboning of chickens, which makes us a great team. Leftover from the delicious chili that we had was a good bit of chopped onion, half of a fresh jalapeño, shredded cheese and sour cream - great makings for some Quesadillas. It was time for the quarterly "stock up" at the big box store, and I found some great things (in addition to the pretty chickens) a big box of fresh spinach, some fresh flour tortillas (they are pressed but not cooked) and some great Roma tomatoes!

One of our favorite Mexican restaurants has a vegetarian "Spinach and Red Onion Quesadilla" that is delicious and light, and often I will order it with chicken or steak to add a little protein.  So, as my husband deboned the chicken, I put together a quick version of a very healthy quesadilla.  (Pssst! This is also a great way to work some fresh green vegetables into your meal!)  There are so many ways to vary this, and you could make it with almost anything you have on hand!


Flour Tortillas
Shredded Cheese (Cheddar, Monterey Jack, or whatever makes you happy)
Rotisserie Chicken, cut up and deboned
Fresh spinach

Heat a non stick skillet to medium heat
Place the flour tortilla in the skillet
Top 1/2 of it with fresh spinach, chicken, and cheese

Fold over and let it cook for about 2 minutes
Flip it over with a spatula and let it cook for another minute until the cheese has melted and spinach has wilted. 
Remove to a platter and continue making as many quesadillas as you need (they are also delicious leftover, see note below)
KITHEN SCISSORS work like a charm to cut the quesadillas into triangles for serving, or use a pizza cutter.  
Serve with salsa, sour cream, and guacamole for topping. Want a more complete meal? Warm a can of seasoned black beans and some spanish rice for a healthy mexican dinner at a very low cost!

Do you have one of those cute little drink blenders? How about a mini chopper?  Or one of the vegetable box choppers? Get it out, blow the dust off of it - and get ready to be amazed.  If not, just a knife and a cutting board will do.  

For the salsa - add tomato (seeded and chopped), onion (chopped), 1/2 jalapeño (seeded and chopped), 1 clove of garlic, salt, and a splash of lime juice or vinegar to your little drink blender or mini chopper and pulse it until it makes a chunky salsa. I also like to add a little cilantro if I have it on hand.  If you don't have one of the little blenders or choppers, just cut everything up very small and in a bowl use a fork to crush and combine everything.  

Now for the guacamole - you are going to be shocked at how easy this is!
Take one avocado, cut it in half and remove the pit. Use your knife to score the flesh of the avocado by cutting into it in a # pattern but not all of the way through the peel. Scoop the flesh out of the avocado with a spoon into a bowl.  Add 2 Tablespoons of the salsa and mash with a fork until well combined. You may want to add a little salt to taste.  

(Pssst...this salsa is really Pico De Gallo. Real salsa is cooked and doesn't have the fresh taste that this one does.  Go ahead and make way more than you need, because you will find great uses for the leftover - it is great on eggs or with chips!)

But wait...there's more!  You probably have left over flour tortillas, chicken, salsa, and spinach. There's always the option to make them again, but why not change it up and have some great fun meals. Here are a few options;
Breakfast Burritos - Fill the flour tortillas with scrambled eggs, cheese, bacon or sausage. Roll them up and serve with salsa. Add a little spinach for a healthy kick!
Chicken Nachos - Arrange crispy corn chips on a baking dish. Top with chopped chicken, and other things like pickled jalapeños, sliced olives, chopped tomato, chopped onion, black beans - whatever you like or have on hand. Sprinkle liberally with shredded cheese and place in oven preheated to 400.  Bake until cheese is melted and bubbly, serve with salsa, sour cream, and guacamole. (Do you have corn chips that are a little bit stale? Put them in the oven for a few minutes and they will crisp right up!)
Wrap Sandwiches - Spread your favorite sandwich condiments on the flour tortilla (mayo, mustard, honey mustard, cream cheese, hot sauce, etc.) top with fresh spinach, chicken (or sandwich meat slices like ham, turkey, or even roast beef), and cheese.  Roll up and you have the perfect lunch on the go. Sandwiches for dinner? "Grill" them a bit in a heated non stick skillet and serve with soup!
Spinach Salad - Use the leftover spinach to make a traditional spinach salad with boiled egg, bacon, cheese and even some of the rotisserie chicken.  
We used the leftovers to have Strawberry Spinach Salads for lunch today - Top the spinach with sliced strawberries, toasted nuts, goat cheese, and chicken. Add your favorite vinaigrette and celebrate a new year of living well, and being kind to yourself!

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