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 ūüėČ
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! ūüôā

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!

Second Meal Sausage Pasta

This is a very simple way to revive leftovers and use up some OHI. I always save plain noodles if I make too many, because I know my kids will eat them plain, for lunch, or I can reuse them by warming them on the stove¬†with sauce. Pasta is one of those dishes¬†in which¬†you can just kind of toss your OHI together and finish¬†with¬†a delicious meal. You don’t have to use anything specific – just whatever veggies you and your family like, and whatever you have on hand. This is a great meal to make when you need something quick, forgot to plan a meal, or your plans ran late and you’re out of time to make something more elaborate. Here’s what I used: image Here are some other veggies I’ve¬†used: broccoli, zucchini, yellow squash, tomatoes, eggplant, garlic. You can also substitute chicken or ground beef for the sausage. Or you can just make a pasta primavera and leave the meat out altogether. You’ll also need butter or olive oil, a jar of red pasta sauce, and some Parmesan cheese. I also like to add a very little bit of alfredo sauce or half & half to make a mock-vodka sauce. First, add the sausage to¬†a large saucepan with a lid, over medium heat. Break it up into smaller pieces with a flat wooden spatula, a spoon, or whatever else you have on hand. You will probably need to break it up little by little as it cooks. While that’s finishing, you can prep your veggies (see below). Cook the sausage until brown – probably 5-10 minutes – and drain into a colander in the sink. Let sit while you prepare veggies.

Get rid of all the pink! That's how you know it's finished 'browning'.

Get rid of all the pink! That’s how you know it’s finished ‘browning’.

Add about a tablespoon of butter (or olive oil, if you prefer) to the pan. If you’re using garlic, mince and add that first. Then roughly chop half the onion and add it to the pan. wpid-20131102_170009.jpg (*TIP: Roughly chop the WHOLE onion, and save the other half in the fridge for an omelette or another meal. Save on prep time next time!) Stir a little and cook for a couple minutes until the onion is translucent. Dice the pepper and add it in with the onion. Add tomatoes or other veggies last.
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Now you can add half the sausage back into the pan. Save the other half for another meal. (Our favorites are biscuits and gravy, Southwest sausage & potato skillet, and savory sausage crepes.) Add a quarter of the jarred pasta sauce to the pan and stir. Let simmer for a minute or two so all the flavors can meld together.wpid-20131102_171818.jpg
Then, if you’re using it, add a little bit of alfredo sauce (no more than a 1/4 cup) or a splash of half & half. wpid-20131102_172203.jpg
You can add cheese directly into the sauce or you can save it to garnish at the end. Add the pasta last, and stir to break up any pieces that may have stuck together in the fridge. Serve with cheese over top.
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If it seems rich on its own, you can serve a salad with it as well. This should come together in 30 minutes or less. I love meals like this, that are quick and easy to prepare, healthy, satisfying, and thrifty. You can modify the ingredients to whatever healthy level you like. Use whole wheat pasta to minimize¬†empty carbs. Leave out the alfredo to reduce the fat content. Add extra veggies to up the nutrition. Make your own pasta sauce if you want to eliminate¬†preservatives. Keep those OHI staples in your kitchen, and you’ll never have to order out because you forgot or ran out of time again!