Don’t-Order-Pizza Weeknight Quesadillas

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Healthy Quesadilla Recipe

Hi friends.  Today is a holiday in Canada, Victoria Day – celebrated as the official kickoff to summer. I don’t know where time is going. But I do know a couple of things. 1. I’ve been really caught up in a whole slew of super fun projects that have taken away from regular spontaneous posting. And 2. I am going to SLOW DOWN for the summer so that it doesn’t go too fast. (Any advice on how to make that actually  happen will be gratefully accepted.)

Most of the fun projects are work related (photography and recipe projects) but another is our back yard. It is mostly just a bare concrete patio and a rickety borrowed green plastic table with two red fabric camping chairs around it, but we’ve ordered our patio furniture and I’m so excited to see our outdoor living space come to life.

The kids have been helping me with our container garden. We have planted lots of veggies in pots, because we are in a (probably) temporary home until we find the one we want to buy. I couldn’t bear to lose my plant babies, so I made them portable.

We are growing peas, radishes, carrots, kale, lettuce, beets, cucumbers, strawberries and all the herbs. And one watermelon plant (because Theo helped pick the seeds) but I have low expectations for it thriving in the Pacific Northwest.

Having a back yard after fourteen years of apartment dwelling is the best feeling in the world.  It’s something I coveted for so long, that I feel almost guilty about having it now. (It’s funny that we feel guilty about our wins isn’t it?) In any case, I’ve never felt so grateful, or more like a legitimate grown up(/imposter grown up).

Tonight I’m sharing a spontaneous dinner – one that we make about once every ten days when the cupboards are bare and the fridge is lacking and we have one finger on the call button for takeaway pizza. There’s always a moment before I let Adarsh make the call when I say “STOP” and bang through the kitchen one more time to see if there isn’t something I can whip up that will leave me feeling better than heavy pizza.

I can almost always make some incarnation of quesadillas with what I have. For protein, I happily use leftovers of any kind (chicken, fish, beef, pork, tofu) and if nothing is actually left over, I’ll open a can of black beans or refried beans from the pantry.

Next is the veg. I’ll sauté that nub of zucchini knocking around the crisper drawer. Add some frozen corn. Greens. Literally whatever is available. If nothing suited to a filling is present, I will just make a cheesy base then pile raw, crunchy veggies on top after it’s cooked (as I did here with radish, and after the picture, lots of lettuce). I treat my fridge as a MasterChef mystery box and try to use up every scrap. 

The final touch is whatever we can dip – usually store-bought salsa is within arm’s reach, and some thick greek yogurt (which I use as sour cream – it’s 11%, and has a texture/ingredients list I prefer). If I’m lucky, there’s an avocado rolling around somewhere for avocado crema.

It’s so satisfying to shop from the pantry and come up with something from nothing. This is probably the most non-recipe recipe I’ve ever shared, but it’s something we eat all the time, and might be useful to your takeout-avoidance repertoire, too.

I always keep a stash of fresh flour tortillas and/or pita breads in the freezer (either works), beans in the pantry, and cheese in the fridge, so there’s rarely a night I can’t make these. If you don’t have tortillas, make a pot of Instant Pot Mexican rice (or another grain) and just pile the toppings on top for a quesadilla bowl.

So to sum up: Busy-busy kinda dizzy. Back yard = best thing ever. Guilt is real. Grown-upping may or may not be real. More slow-down  is intended. And you don’t need to order pizza.

Right now, I’m sitting on the afore-mentioned camping chair at the afore-mentioned rickety plastic dining table, with one kid on my lap and another helping his daddy put together our grill (still apartment-sized – we are ready for an upgrade if you have suggestions on one you love!). Heart full and quesadillas for dinner.

Hope you’re having a lovely long weekend, fellow canucks. (And hope you’re having an excellent regular Monday, the rest of you.)

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Don't-Order-Takeout Weeknight Quesadillas

A template for building healthy, clear-out-the-fridge quesadillas from whatever you have on hand, when you think there's nothing for dinner. 
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 4


  • large flour tortillas
  • shredded cheddar cheese
  • chicken fish, beef, pork, tofu or beans
  • finely chopped red onion green onion, and/or jalapeno
  • a handful of finely chopped cooked veggies zucchini, bell peppers, corn, eggplant, greens, cabbage, sweet potato, squash
  • a handful of chopped raw vegetables tomatoes, radishes, lettuce, cilantro
  • dips as desired (avocado, salsa, sour cream/greek yogurt)
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  • Heat a large griddle or pan over medium heat. Add as many tortillas as there are mouths to feed and divide the toppings among them, only covering one half. Fold each tortilla over on itself to close, and cook until bottom is browned and cheese is melted, about 5 minutes (reducing heat if they are getting dark too quickly). Serve with desired raw toppings and dips.
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