Homemade Fast Food is Healthier!

When my sons were little, I wasn’t much of a cook. Not that when I did cook it was terrible but between being a Realtor to support my political habit added to family activities like Boy Scout meetings, piano lessons and soccer, we didn’t have much time to cook at home, even on weekends.  I hate to admit it but we downed more than our fair share of not so healthy fast food. 


Then I discovered quesadillas in a Tex-Mex cook booklet at the grocery store check-out magazine rack... they sounded easy and lots healthier than B-K or Mickey D’s.  That was 25 years ago, before Chili’s and Chi-chis, On the Border and even Friendly’s came along and made Mexican favorites that rivaled Chinese take-out in popularity. We’ve tried them all but we actually prefer homemade. Easy, fast and always tastes fresher!
  
CHICKEN QUESADILLAS
1/2 pound thin slices uncooked chicken breast cutlets
1 tablespoon lime juice
dash fresh ground salt and pepper 
1/8 teaspoon crushed dried thyme
1/4 cup fresh chopped cilantro leaves
4 large flour tortillas
1 cup Jack cheese, finely grated
2 tablespoons olive oil or grapeseed oil
Optional add-ins:
sauteed peppers and onions
sliced mushrooms
sliced black olives
diced fresh tomatoes
thin sliced fresh avocado
Accompaniments:
chopped lettuce
salsa
guacamole
sour cream
Flatten chicken breast cutlets with a meat pounder to about 1/2 inch thickness. Sprinkle lime juice evenly over tops and bottom. Add one or two turns worth of fresh ground salt and pepper on both sides and sprinkle with thyme. Heat a large cast iron or heavy all-clad stainless frying pan to medium heat. Add a small amount of oil (about 1/2 teaspoon) and spread it around the bottom of the pan with a spatula (you could use butter as well but it adds cholesterol). Cook cutlets 2-3 minutes on each side. Slice warm cooked chicken into small pieces and set aside on a plate. Remove pan from heat and wipe clean with paper towel.
Add a little more oil to the pan and spread it around on medium heat. Place one flour tortilla in the pan. Flip the tortilla over a few times, 5-10 seconds between flips. Air pockets should begin to form within the tortilla.
When pockets of air begin to form, take a handful of grated cheese, sprinkle over the top of the tortilla, making sure that the cheese does not land on the pan itself. Add an even layer of diced cooked chicken and and whatever additional ingredients you choose - sauteed veggies, sliced fresh mushrooms, olives, tomatoes, etc. Take care not to layer on the ingredients to thickly - a thick quesadilla is hard to handle.
Reduce the heat to low and cover the pan. The pan should be hot enough by now to have plenty of residual heat to melt the cheese and brown the tortilla. If the quesadilla begins to smoke too much, remove from the heat. After a minute, check to see if the cheese is melted. If not, return the cover and check every 10-20 seconds until the cheese is melted. As soon as the cheese in melted, lightly sprinkle fresh cilantro leaves then use a spatula to lift up one side of the quesadilla and flip over the other side, as if you were making an omelette. The tortilla should be browned and slightly crusty. Remove from pan and cut into wedges. 
Serve with your choice of accompaniments. Makes four generous servings.

Comments

  1. i agree. homemade food is better. i am finally listening to the "experts" and eating a good breakfast. i find the flashing signs of fast food are less noticeable when i am full. instead of going about my day trying to live on a celery stock, half hungry all day. no wonder we fall prey to the marketing.

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