I'm back! I hope you enjoyed Kristin's cookies last week - I'm still enjoying them a week later.
Quesadillas are yummy. There's no denying it. How could it be possible not to enjoy fried tortillas and that gooey, spicy, cheesy filling? If there's an answer, I don't want to know.
One of my favorite dishes at our local Mexican place is a Fajita Quesadilla, which combines two of my favorite Mexican dishes (bet you can't guess which two those are). It's easily the size of a dinner plate, constructed on the largest tortilla I've ever seen, and filled with really fantastic Mexican cheese and plenty of onions, peppers, and seasoned meat. I sought to recreate a home-cooked approximation this week, and did pretty well. Too add a bit of pep, I put together some additional filling, in the form of a corn and black-bean "salsa."
These are a quick, easy, and utterly satisfying week-night dinner. I won't dare claim that they're neat, though - I stuff them full enough that it's hopeless to try to get away without losing some filling. The fork clean-up is so worth it, though.
It's a fairly standard set of Mexican ingredients on the board. I used chicken as my meat, but beef or even pork would work just as well. I'd love to say that I make my own fajita spice mixture, but all that I try cannot compare with how taste Old El Paso's mixture ends up. The salsa is made up of jalapeno, corn, black beans, garlic, and lime juice. And, of course, you'll need cheese, onions, bell pepper, and tortillas to finish the job.
First, combine all of the salsa ingredients: diced jalapeno, whole-kernel corn, black beans, lime juice, and minced garlic. Nothing fancy here, just get it all in a bowl and mix with a spoon. We do this first so that the lime juice can work its way in and all of the flavors can marry.
Chop the chicken down into bite-sized chunks and get it into a hot skillet with a bit of oil. Keep it there until you can no longer see any pink on the exterior.
While the chicken is cooking, chop down the bell pepper and onion.
Once you can't see any more pink, add the vegetables to the pan with a bit of water and the fajita spice mixture. Turn the heat down a bit and cook until the veggies are tender, five minutes or so.
It wouldn't hurt to start the assembly process while the chicken and veggies are cooking in the skillet. On a tortilla, spread a thin layer of cheese evenly across the whole surface, and top with a generous quantity of the salsa mixture.
Once the rest is done, add it overtop of the cheese and salsa. Then, a final sprinkle of cheese, just enough that it will melt and keep the top tortilla stuck securely in place.
Now it's time for the finishing process. Either thoroughly clean out the skillet you used for the earlier cooking, or heat another medium to large skillet to medium-high heat. Either put just the tiniest bit of oil down in the skillet, or - better yet - spray with some 100%-oil cooking spray. We just want enough to really brown the tortilla and keep it from sticking and tearing apart.
Now drop that quesadilla-to-be down into the pan, and cook 1-2 minutes per side until golden brown and crisp.
That's it! Slice up as you see fit, and it's time to eat! We like to dip our quesadillas into some more salsa - this time we used some really delicious raspberry-chipotle stuff - but it's far from a requirement. Either way, I'd recommend having a fork on hand, as you may well make a mess in the eating. Don't worry, it's worth it.
Recipe: Fajita Quesadillas
Prep Time: 10 minutes | Cook time: 20 minutes | Difficulty: Easy | Servings: 6-8
In a small bowl, combine sweet corn, black beans, diced Jalapeno, lime juice, and minced garlic. Mix with a spoon. Set aside.
Chop onions and bell peppers into medium pieces.
Cut chicken down into bite-sized pieces. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, brown chicken with a small amount of oil.
When chicken has no visible pink, add fajita seasoning, onion, bell pepper, and 1/2 cup water. Cook 4-6 minutes over medium heat until vegetables are tender.
To assemble, spread a thin layer of cheese on top of a tortilla, and cover with a generous portion of corn and black bean mixture. Top with chicken and vegetables, then another small amount of cheese. Cover with a second tortilla.
Spray hot skillet with 100%-oil cooking spray, and cook quesadillas 1-2 minutes per side until golden brown and crisp.
Slice and serve warm, with salsa if desired.