makeover

Both of my siblings worked part time at a local restaurant, in an effort to save money for college.  They would come home tired, completely worked out, and sometimes—now and then—they would come home with the most amazing, ooey gooey, cheese ‘n’ veggie filled quesadillas.

For some reason I was craving those same wonderful quesadillas today, and that is why I set out to make my very own.  Only healthier.  Fresher.  And hopefully even more delicious.

At first I toyed with the idea of sauteeing the green & red bell peppers with the onions and mushrooms, all in one big frying pan.  Because—well—it’s easier (and faster.)  But let’s be honest.  You can’t reinvent the flavor of a roasted veggie unless you actually roast the veggie.  Nothing compares.  There was no skirting the issue: the vegetables had to be roasted.

While the veggies crisped and caramelized in the oven, I threw the whole wheat tortilla wraps on the griddle.  I like cooking these over medium heat.  Just enough time to let the cheese melt and just enough heat to give the wraps that crispy exterior.  Perfect.

Once the veggies were nicely blackened, I pulled them out from the oven and threw ’em on top of of the wrap, which was now all melty and lovely from the cheese.

I like to serve these with a warm bowl of vegetarian soup on the side.

Plus a scoop of homemade guacamole.

Just as wonderful as I remember.  Only healthier.  Fresher.  And even more delicious. 😀

Roasted Veggie Quesadillas
Serves 3

  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced thinly
  • 1 green bell pepper, sliced thinly
  • 1/2 onion, sliced thinly
  • about 10 mushrooms, sliced thick
  • 3 whole wheat tortilla wraps
  • 3/4 c. mozzarella or sharp cheddar cheese, grated

Heat oven to 425.  Spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray and place veggies in a single layer.  Bake for 10 minutes, flip once, and cook for another 10-15 minutes to desired doneness.

Meanwhile, heat nonstick pan to medium.  Spray with cooking spray.  Place tortilla wraps on top and place about 1/4 c. of cheese on half of each wrap.  Fold wrap in half and press down lightly.  Cook until browned on underside, flip, and cook the other side until browned and crispy.

When veggies are done, open up quesadillas and fill with the roasted vegetables.  Cut in half and serve.  ENJOY! 😀

Question: Have you ever “healthified” a favorite restaurant meal?  What was the result?

Eating and Cooking

I woke up feeling not quite myself this morning.  But—at the same time—I didn’t really feel sick either.  It was as if my body couldn’t quite make up its mind, with my immune system trying to decide if it could fight this thing off or if it should just hold up a white flag and surrender.  The battle of the flu.  Boo.

Thankfully, my appetite is still in full swing.  And so is my desire to cook.  So I proceeded to eat and cook away the afternoon.  I’ll spare you from having to witness my breakfast, snacks and lunch though.  They weren’t anything to brag about (i.e., when I’m not feeling like my normal self, strange cravings come into play.)  However, dinner was simple but kind of special, so I’ll tell you all about it. 😀

Brazilian Black Bean Soup and Fresh Veggie with Mozzarella Quesadillas

You’ve seen the black bean soup before, and it was just as tasty tonight as it was the first time around.  Or maybe even better?  It freezes really nicely and seems to come out thicker and spicier than when I originally made it last week. 

The Fresh Vegetables with Mozzarella Quesadillas are completely new and original though.  As an aside, I considered calling these the “Last Veggie Standing Quesadillas” since they quite literally contain the last of my refrigerator’s veggies. 😉 But I didn’t want the thought of limp old veggies to deter you from trying this, because it’s super fresh, earthy and very satisfying.  I happened to make this with zucchini and carrots because it’s what I had on hand at the time.  But don’t be too uptight with this recipe.  Your imagination—and your veggie drawer—is the limit!  Mix it up and try something new—you may surprise yourself (and your lucky tastebuds!)

Fresh Vegetables with Mozzarella Quesadillas

  • 1 whole wheat wrap
  • fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced about 1/4 inch thick and then diced and scattered over the wrap
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 medium zucchini, sliced thinly
  • 1 carrot, grated
  • handful of boston lettuce (or other green: lettuce, kale, spinach, etc.)
  • red onion, sliced thinly
  1. Spread mozzarella over whole wheat wrap and set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, heat oil in pan over medium-heat and add zucchini and carrot.
  3. Once zucchini is cooked to preferred tenderness, add lettuce and onion and reduce heat to low.  Stir and take off heat.
  4. Add vegetable mixture to flat wrap and fold in half.  Place on hot, nonstick griddle over medium heat.  Once browned underneath, carefully flip over and cook other side until cheese is melted and wrap is crispy.

Slice and enjoy!

This afternoon, I also had an ample amount of time to make a fun dessert bread.  I have been waiting patiently day by day, watching the bananas become speckled with age spots, as they slowly became the perfect candidates for a banana bread.  This is a rare occasion in my house—bananas are almost always consumed before reaching this state of sweet perfection.  But when the situation occurs, I’m ready.  And today, with a new banana bread recipe in hand, I got right to work.

I am anything but a banana bread purist.  Add in those walnuts, the raisins, the coconut, the chocolate chips!  Smear a warm slice with peanut butter.  Add a bit of cinnamon, nutmeg or cloves to the batter.  While I like to keep my meals simple and fresh, my banana bread likes to explode with flavors and fillings.

That being said, this one was actually kind of simple (I know, I know…totally contradicting myself here.)  This time, I stuck to one simple addition–dark chocolate chips.  I cut back on the sugar a bit to compensate, but it’s still super sweet (I bet you could even cut back a little more on the sugar without even noticing a difference!)  This is truly a terrific recipe.

Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Banana Bread—courtesy of Cooking Light and lovingly tweaked along the way. 

  • 1 c. mashed ripe banana (about 2-1/2 medium)
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large egg white
  • 1 large egg
  • 1-3/4 c. whole wheat flour
  • 1-1/4 tsp cream of tartar
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 c. hershey’s dark chocolate chips (or semisweet chocolate chips if preferred!)
  • cooking spray
  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Combine first 5 ingredients in a large bowl with a whisk until smooth.
  3. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups and level with a knife.  Combine the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt in a bowl, stirring with a whisk.  Add flour mixture to banana mixture and stir just until moist (do not overmix).  Fold in chocolate chips.  Spoon batter into an 8×4 inch loaf pan coated with cooking spray.
  4. Bake at 350 for 40 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted comes out clean.  Cool 10 minutes in pan on a wire rack, remove from pan.  Cool completely on rack.

You’d never guess this was made with whole wheat flour, by the way.  It’s moist, sweet and full of flavor.  Delicious!

Spending the day cooking, baking, mowing the lawn, going for a 3-mile morning run and running a few errands has resulted in a very tired girl.  So on that note, I think it’s time for me to relax.  😉

G’night!

Question: Are you a banana bread purist or do you like it with all different toppings and mix-ins?