UPDATE 6/12/2015 – I added bbq sauce to some of these last night – GREAT addition…
I guess it was back in February when I did my first original recipe post and it appears as though I haven’t done another one since. I guess that shows the state of my motivation/culinary innovation! I suppose it’s time to have another go – going to try it a little differently this time, too.
Back in March we attempted a new method of cooking that would allow me to make several days worth of lunches and dinners at once that would both save me evening time and save us both money. It was half on accident after we picked up a bunch of veggies and chicken from Costco and I made quesadillas one night and found we had enough leftovers to last for a long time after, it ends up being way cheap and they’re reasonably healthy (I seem to lose weight while eating these). I’ve since spent time modifying the recipe bit by bit until I found one that I like quite a bit and figured I’d share with everyone.
Please note that this is really only good if you like quesadillas – like, REALLY like them. You’re going to be eating them for several days if you choose. However, while this post is focusing primarily on the quesadillas, I intend to show a few other methods to prepare a pretty nice dinner utilizing the same stuff I’m about to show you.
Scroll down past all the fun photos if you want to just get down to the recipe. Keep reading if you want to actually learn!
The Night Before
This is a slow cooker recipe which means you have to have all of your goodies ready to rock in the morning so you’ll have time to cook. I’m up at 4:45 on MWF mornings to go to the gym, I return, make breakfast, get myself ready, pack lunches and am at work by 8:30. This leaves very little time to prep a dinner so I try to get as much ready the night before as possible.
I begin with my core veggies – for this recipe it’s two yellow onions, three red bell peppers and about 5-6 garlic cloves. This can change however you see fit – this is just what I chose this week. Peel and dice the onion, seed and dice the pepper, dice the garlic. All of this can be as rough or as pretty as you’d like – it really doesn’t matter at this point. I then put my onions in a tupperware container, the peppers in a separate one (no real reason – mostly just size of the containers) and split the garlic between the two. Again, no real reason for this.
I like to buy chicken breasts from Costco because they’re usually pretty meaty and they come in these handy dandy packages that separate the chicken two to a pouch. This makes prep and portioning WAY easier! I use six chicken breasts for this recipe and since I usually freeze my chicken, I take those out and thaw them over night.
The next morning all of your hard work is finished, all you have to do is basically stack food in your slow cooker! I begin by pouring in about half of my onions (with garlic), then half of my peppers (with garlic), then all six chicken breasts. Top this with a seasoning combo – you can use a basic taco seasoning packet but I prefer to take similar spices from my cupboard and throw them in. The amount varies each time but I’ve tried to guess at measurements below. I go with a bit of oregano, chili powder, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, red pepper flakes, allspice, coarse sea salt and fresh ground black pepper. Then add the rest of our onions (with garlic), the rest of the peppers (with garlic) and top it off with about a cup of salsa. You can make your own salsa or buy it but if you buy it I’d recommend checking the ingredients list and choosing a salsa that’s made from actual veggies and herbs. Chemical salsa is good but real salsa is better! Mix everything together. There ya go…
Set your slow cooker on low and go to work or something. When you come back in about 8 hours your house is going to smell super awesome.
When you get home you get to start on making everything quesadilla ready! Brace yourself by preheating your oven to about 400 degrees F.
Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and lay some bacon down on it. Some people put a rack on their tray before baking to keep the bacon from hanging out in the grease, but come on, it’s not that greasy and besides, grease is good for you! I like to lay out one slice of bacon per quesadilla I intend to make + one. That extra slice of bacon is for you to eat as a reward for making these banging quesadillas! Crack some black pepper over the bacon and once your oven is preheated, bake it for about 10-14 minutes until it looks like how you like your pig. Simply drain on a paper towel-lined plate and set aside. You’ll need these guys later.
While your bacon is baking you’ll want to get your quesadilla stuffing ready. I take a large mixing bowl and scoop the chicken out of the slow cooker into it followed by as many of the veggies as you can. Using a slotted spoon is probably the best way to go about doing this. I move it to a new bowl because you don’t want a chicken soup quesadilla…or maybe you do, some people are weird. Once you’re all in the bowl, use two forks to shred it all to hell, veggies and all. Again, it can be as rough as you’d like, but the fewer chunky pieces of chicken that remain the better. Finish this part off by draining a can of black beans and pouring it into the mix and then stir it around to evenly distribute them. This part isn’t necessary but black beans are tasty and they’re good for you!
The next part was a recent addition I’m glad I made. Pineapple. You can use a fresh pineapple, a can of pineapples (in juice, not syrup) or frozen pineapple. I chose the frozen variety because I’ve never messed with it before. I’d suggest thawing it for a few hours before or simply nuking it for about a minute or so – I’d use about two or three handfuls of it. Then, using a meat tenderizer or even your fists, put some plastic wrap over the pineapple and crush the holy crap out of it. This helps you spread the pineapple out better a little later and also prevents you from getting a bite that’s nothing but pineapple, though I still love bites like that! Set this aside until it’s time to assemble, which is now, actually…
I buy these flour tortillas from Costco because they cost about $4 and I think you get a total of 36 tortillas. And yes, they’re just plain, full of gluten, full of carbs, flour tortillas. Variations and modifications just don’t cut it for me but you can do whatever you want. Line another baking sheet with foil and spray it with cooking spray before laying two tortillas flat on the surface. Spread some cheese – I used Mexican blend here but mozzarella or sharp cheddar work great, too – on one half of the tortilla. Using tongs, scoop out some of the chicken/bean/veggie mixture on top of the cheese – as much as you’d like but keep in mind we have to fold these babies over in a minute. Next, a slice of bacon (I cut my slices in half), an even layer of pineapple, and then another nice layer of cheese. Fold over the naked side of that tortilla to make a traditional quesadilla shape and scoot the two together to make room for a few more. I can get four quesadillas on one of my pans, which just happens to be the number I want to make anyway.
Slide these guys into the oven and bake them for about 7 or 8 minutes, more if you’d like, but be careful as the tortillas will start burning shortly after the 8 minute mark.
I’d like to state here that this while your quesadillas are baking you’ve got a great opportunity to pour yourself a glass of wine! You’ve earned it! Pair it with that extra piece of bacon!
Once you take the quesadillas out you’re ready to rock. I choose to place mine onto a cutting board and, using a pizza cutter, slice them in half before plating. I also usually steam some rice with either chicken or beef broth to go on the side, I just chose not to post that here just yet. You’re finished at this point but if you’d like you can add some sliced avocado, some sour cream, Greek yogurt, cilantro – whatever you want! You’re not going to break any rules and you’ll likely improve this recipe in doing so.
Anyway, those are the details – here’s the summarized version of the recipe for anyone that’s interested:
- Two medium yellow onions
- Three red bell peppers
- At least 5 garlic cloves (more if you’d like)
- Six skinless, boneless chicken breasts
- 1 Cup Salsa made with real ingredients
- 1 Tbsp chili powder
- 1 Tbsp garlic powder
- 2 Tbsp dried oregano
- 2 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1/2 Tbsp red pepper flakes
- 1 Tbsp allspice (paprika is nice, too)
- 1/2 Tbsp coarse sea salt
- About 10-15 cranks of fresh ground black pepper
- 1 12-15oz can of black beans
- Bacon – stripes = the number of quesadillas you hope to make + 1
- About a half cup of cheese per quesadilla you hope to make
- About a cup and a half of pineapple chunks, fresh, canned, or frozen
- Flour tortillas – one per quesadilla you hope to make
Nice, but not required
- Sour Cream
- Steamed Rice
The Night Before
- Peel and dice the onion – seed and dice the pepper – dice the garlic. Cover and refrigerate over night.
- Thaw out your chicken if required.
In the Morning
Stack your slow cooker thusly:
- Half of the onions (and garlic)
- Half of the peppers (and garlic)
- Half of the onions (and garlic)
- Half of the peppers (and garlic)
- Set the slow cooker on low and cook for 8-ish hours.
When you get home
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F
- Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and stretch out your bacon. Bake for 10-14 minutes and then drain on a paper towel-lined plate.
- While bacon bakes, remove the chicken and veggies from slow cooker and put into a large mixing bowl using tongs and a slotted spoon. Then, using two forks, shred everything together.
- Drain beans and add to chicken mix and stir together.
- Crush pineapple as best you can with a meat tenderizer or anything that can crush
- Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil sprayed with cooking spray and assemble your quesadillas thusly:
- Lay out a tortilla and put about 1/4 cup cheese on one half.
- Spread some of the chicken mix on top of cheese
- Stack a slice of bacon on top
- Spread some of the crushed pineapple on
- Add second 1/4 cup of cheese to top
- Fold over and repeat for as many quesadillas as you’d like
- Bake quesadillas for about 6-8 minutes, being sure to not burn your tortillas in the process.
- Remove from oven to a cutting board and slice them up the middle before plating. Serve with rice and any other topping you can imagine!
You’re going to be left with a ton of chicken mixture. This is designed to allow you to microwave it up the next night and assemble the quesadillas again just like you did the night before and repeat every night until you run out or you’re sick of quesadillas. I’ve actually devised a few other ways to use this chicken combo that I intend to add to the blog over the next few days so keep an eye out on that. Enjoy your days of quesadillas!