OHI Chicken Quesadillas with Avocado Ranch Spread

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One day we were out of or low on bread and didn’t have enough to make sandwiches for everyone. I was trying to think of something creative for lunch instead. Tortillas had been BOGO so we had plenty of those. I always have shredded cheese (most commonly, sharp cheddar blends, Italian blends, and Mexican blend) and we were just discussing how we don’t use our quesadilla maker enough – so out it came! I had a ripe avocado begging to be used and I wanted to experiment with seasoning an avocado spread.

Here is what I do when I make an “OHI” meal. I open up my fridge, stare at my fruit/produce basket, and ask myself, what do I have that can go together and be delicious?!? I did have some leftover chicken, some leftover chimichurri, some tomatoes, red pepper, lime, jalapeno, sour cream, mayo, and of course, seasonings.

Here is the hodge podge of OHI I was trying to use up.

Here is the hodge podge of OHI I was trying to use up.

Fresh produce always helps inspire great ideas. So I decided to put all those ingredients into the quesadillas. (If you don’t have exactly these, what DO you have? Toss it in there. I’ll bet ya it’s good!)

So first I chopped the chicken, reheated it in a small frying pan, and tossed it with the chimichurri.

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Then I made this avocado ranch spread. All I did was mash up the avocado, squeeze a little lime juice, add some salt, garlic powder, and onion powder, a very little bit (maybe a tablespoon?) of low fat mayo, and VOILA! Freshly made, very flavorful, delicious avocado spread.

Avocado spread

I spread the avocado ranch on one whole wheat tortilla:
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Then I topped it with Mexican blend cheese, the diced red pepper, chopped tomato, and jalapeno:
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Next I added the chimichurri chicken:
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And sprinkled a little more cheese over top 😉
Then I placed another tortilla over this one. Pinching it closed on both sides, I lifted it carefully and placed it in our quesadilla maker and lowered the lid.

The nice thing about quesadilla makers is there is heat and pressure from both sides, so everything gets nice and melty, and the tortilla gets lightly browned.

However, a quesadilla maker takes up a lot of space, and I haven’t been very creative in finding other uses for it. (I’ve wondered if I put waffle or pancake batter in it, would I have a really large, pre-cut breakfast that’s finger-friendly?? Maybe I’ll try this someday.) So if you don’t have a quesadilla maker, don’t go out of your way. You can easily make a quesadilla by putting the tortilla in a large frying pan and cooking it the same way. I’d suggest using a lid a BIT smaller than the pan to put a little pressure on top. You will probably have to flip this over. It can get messy if you’re not careful. Sometimes I would place a large plate over top of the pan, flip the pan upside down (dropping the quesadilla onto the plate), and then sliding the quesadilla from the plate back into the pan (so the uncooked side is now DOWN). This can be tricky. PROCEED AT YOUR OWN RISK! I recommend use of an oven mitt! 🙂

So now, once the quesadilla is finished, use a large spatula to remove it and place it on a plate or a cutting board. Use a large chef’s knife to cut through the sections, or use a pizza cutter.
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Serve with the Avocado Ranch Spread, and some sour cream too if you & your family like it.
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These are SO good and flavorful. I made some with plain chicken shortly after, and they were just not the same. I suppose you could say this is a Second Meal for the Chimichurri!!! I originally made it for this Steak recipe. It’s so good, and healthy! I’ll be making it again for sure, especially now that I have a second use for it. (You can also toss sliced chicken with it and put it over a salad with some sliced avocado and this homemade dressing. OHHHH SO GOOD!)

Check out this meal plan using chicken breast for more Second Meal ideas!

Steak Wraps & Salads (Second Meal)

I am loving wraps lately to use up leftovers.  You can add whatever you like to them, and they’re usually fairly healthy – especially if you get whole wheat tortillas.

So after I made grilled Chuck steak the other night, I made wraps for lunch with the leftovers.

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I sliced the steak, reheated it gently by sauteeing in a pan, then layered it on a tortilla with cheddar, chimichurri, avocado, and tomato. If you have enough steak left, this would work as dinner the next night too.

Or, you can make a salad.  Prepare the steak the same way, then toss it lightly in the chimichurri. Place over your green of choice, adding whatever toppings you like. I put romaine lettuce first, then cheddar and tomato, the steak, and avocado. It’s great with this homemade dressing.
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My lovely sister had the idea of making burrito bowls too – rice and beans topped with these same ingredients.

If you used lean beef, you can feel good about making a healthy choice for lunch. It doesn’t take much time at all, and as a mom, it sure feels more grown-up to eat one of these options than it does to eat a PBJ or grilled cheese (not that I have anything against those classics).

Now enjoy a very simple but elegant feeling second meal!

Chuck steak with Chimichurri

We usually eat a lot of chicken and pork, but I try to also alternate between either fish or red meat once every other week. Chuck steak is usually the most affordable, so I searched recipes once I realized it was on sale.

I found a great recipe here for the chimichurri. (Chimichurri is like a Mexican pesto.) The only thing I did differently was substituted dry oregano instead of fresh. Whenever you use dry herbs, it is more concentrated. So I only used about 1/2-3/4 teaspoon. I also used black pepper instead of white. A tip: It might look runny at first. If you want it thicker, let it sit in the fridge for awhile.

I took out my raw meats cutting board and seasoned the steaks on both sides with kosher salt, fresh ground black pepper, and paprika.

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I always get nervous if I have to do any sort of butchering, because I am completely lost when it comes to the correct methodology. The only thing I really know about portioning steak is that you’re supposed to cut “against the grain”, but honestly? I never really know whether I’m doing it right or not.
Whatever the case, these steaks were delicious and tender, so the way I did it must’ve been fine.  🙂

Since it’s been a seemingly perpetual polar vortex around here lately, I couldn’t grill these outdoors, so out came the grill pan again. Remember if you’re using this to keep your hood/oven fan on, a window cracked if possible, and a ceiling fan on standby in case things get smoky.

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Grill for maybe 6-8 minutes on each side, depending on the thickness of the steaks. We like them cooked medium rare over here, and this was just about perfect.

If you’re new to cooking steak, here are a few tips:
1. Let the meat come to room temperature before you begin cooking. This way it will cook more evenly.
2. Be sure to start with a sizzling hot pan. You can test it by flicking a bit of water on the pan with your fingers.  If it sizzles loudly, it’s ready.
3. Set it and leave it alone. If you keep moving it, poking it, or squishing it down (don’t do that!) it will either take too long to cook or you’ll squeeze all the yummy juices out. Flip only once, unless you’re trying to get grill marks – then you can flip four times total to get the desirable criss-cross pattern. Usually, if it’s sticking to the pan, it means you are trying to flip it too soon (unless of course it’s smoking and steaming… then it’s possible you just didn’t grease your pan properly).
4. You can time your cooking to have an idea of when it’s finished; but I’ve found the best way to tell if it’s finished cooking is by how it FEELS. This takes some practice. Raw, room temperature meat is very squishy and limp. Well done steak (overcooked) will curl out at the edges and be extremely firm to the touch (with tongs or a finger). It will almost look like it’s ballooned out or swollen. For medium rare, it should begin to firm up on the outside edges, top, and bottom. The middle should not be soft, but it should still be springy. (Don’t you love all my official terminology?!)

Once the steak is finished, let it sit for a few minutes before cutting. If you skip this step, the juices will run out of the meat and it will be dry. I plated mine, sliced it, and spooned the chimichurri over top.

imageI’ve been wanting to try quinoa for awhile, and this seemed like the right time. I was able to use OHI to make it more interesting. (Read more about the marathon cooking session I had here.) My eldest, A, had requested creamed spinach, so I made that too. Lastly, I love avocado, especially with beef. I included some on my plate because it cut through the saltiness of the chimichurri when I ate them together.

Delish!!

Use the leftovers for some great Second Meals: steak wraps, steak salad, or a burrito bowl.