Posted in What's for Dinner Mom?

Chicken & Pesto Quesadilla


chicken and pesto quesadillaSomebody tweeted today that with the heat of the summer they had anticipated a decline in appetite but instead theirs was surging – and mine was too!  Some days you are just hungrier than others and instead of a light chicken salad with leaves I wanted the comfort and warmth of a hearty and wholesome vegetable soup and the satiety of carbs in the form of a quesadilla.  I think it may have been the long drive to and from West Cork over the weekend that had me tired and thus hungrier than usual or perhaps it was the Atlantic.  This summer I have begun the affair of a lifetime with the sea as I’ve finally got myself a proper wetsuit and am no longer holding back when it comes to diving in.  I’m loving it.

Serves 2.
Chicken & Pesto Quesadilla:
You will need:
a little rapeseed or olive oil
2 large multiseeded soft tortillas
basil pesto
some cooked chicken
quarter of a red onion
some salad leaves
small chunk of cheddar cheese
Butter one side of each tortilla with basil pesto
Shred the chicken with your hands and scatter over one tortilla
Scatter over some finely chopped red onion and salad leaves
Grate the cheddar on top (a little goes a long way)
Sandwich the tortillas together
Heat a large frying pan over a medium/high heat.
Add a little oil and heat for a minute before laying the tortilla sandwich on the pan
Press down with a spatula to encourage the heat through the tortilla
After a minute or two turn the quesadilla over – it should be lightly coloured
Again press down to penetrate the heat
Divide in quarters and serve.
‘Til next time, Sheila.

Posted in What's for Dinner Mom?

Pesto Quesadilla, The Weather, Out-Mothering & The Truth about Teens

Close-Up Quesadilla

With itching fingers I eventually make it to the keyboard to blog.  Recipes and ideas are plentiful but with 6 kids to be occupied in the school holidays along with ‘real’ work, time to write has taken a bit of a dive.  When I say 6 kids I tell a lie, what we currently have in our charges is 4 monsters teens and 2 kids.  As many of you will know, for us Irish the topic of weather is a bit of a preoccupation.  (As I type I really should go to investigate what the screaming and banging doors is all about but oh I don’t have to, I can hear one of the monsters teens wailing their approach……..I’ve investigated, it’s 10 minutes later and no her arm is not broken so where was I?)
Yes, the weather.  On our particular patch of the island we’ve been stewing in a misty, stickily wet yet warm fumid fug.  (Yes fug, not quite a fog and a little ugly. Fumid? Well that’s just humid with the f-word in front of it.)   Cloying weather and unoccupied kids/teens are far from a pretty pairing.  With them in such close proximity and there not being enough tvs and remote controls to go around I am an unwilling observer of human nature at its most selfish.  Tempers are short (mine included) and spats are frequent so I call on you to close your eyes and wish me some sunshine.  Just a little sunshine, please.
Out-Mothering & The Truth about Teens : (ignore this diversion if irrelevant)
Cheered I was to read Eilis O’Hanlon’s piece in The Sunday Independent Life magazine last weekend. Yes cheered.  Here was another parent telling the truth about children and it was the most, in-fact probably the only, honest piece that I have ever read on this topic.  I also chuckled yesterday when I read a twitter comment where a guy was questioning whether a mother and baby group  out to lunch was ‘really enjoyable’ as it looked like ‘so much hassle!’ and observed that ‘it seems like they are trying to out-mother each other.’  I love words and ‘out-mothering’ is an expression that I have never heard before and it says so, so much, doesn’t it?  With that in mind and the tone of Eilis’s piece I do think that more truth-telling and less out-parenting could be rallying to those who are struggling under the misguided aspiration to do it all according to the text books and child-psychologists (no apologies but I always change the channel when they come on with their sugar-coated dispensations) in replication of the imagined super-moms/dads out there.  They don’t exist and as a true friend observed, people who say their kids never fight are liars!
So from where I’m at right now I will give you my truth on my experience to date with teens.
Accept it.  You dear parent are an embarrassment.  I mean just look at the state of you, straining your eyes as you fumble, clumsily fat-fingered on your i-phone.  But you’ll be given the odd nod of approval or grunt of acknowledgement until you’ve turned out the insides of your pockets and there’s no more straggling cents stuck to the bottom of your handbag.  There will be stand-offs and silences peppered with profanities.  There will be cracked plates and unhinged doors.  Socks – they will greet you, odd and discarded at every turn; under cushions, couches, pillows, mattresses, they will be everywhere and always dirty.  Attitude, more attitude, unmade beds, unopened curtains, spiralling electricity bills (obsessed with turning on but not off every light in the house, probably because they have petrified themselves by watching an unsuitably rated horror movie).  There will be no orange juice left in the morning (just the tease of the empty carton) and the blender will never be washed after use.  But then there are the good bits…eh, hello there aren’t any.  No wait, if you have girls there will be sporadic baking, particularly brownies and cupcakes, and if you have boys they will want to mow the grass – once anyway.  Sexist? Maybe, but true.
Tempus Fugit one hopes and for now I’m clinging to that and surviving on the one sound piece of advice I’ve been given on parenting to date and that is (if there are two of you) ‘stick together’ – even if you totally disagree with what your partner happens to be preaching, back him/her up in front of the mob for if you divide they will conquer.
Actually there’s a second piece of advice that I was given too, passed on in wisdom from that particular mother’s granny and it was ‘Step over them – if they’re fighting, step over them.’
Another classic from one of my own grandmothers was ’twill all end in tears’ but that’s not advice, that’s a seasoned observation.  She also used to mutter  ‘another day over Thank God.’
If you’d care to share any sage words yourself please do leave a comment.
In the knowledge that hunger will eventually win over a sulk let’s move on to the recipe.
A quesadilla is a traditionally Mexican invention but lets give it an Italian twist and a taste of sunshine.  With the fragrance of Italian fields of fresh basil now a real memory (see last blog post) I chose to relive it with a generous smearing on one side of a tortilla with basil pesto and the other with sun-dried tomato pesto.  Inside was filled with sliced salami and grated cheese.  As visitors to my house will know these are my emergency crowd feeders and a favourite of mine for lunch too.  Completely versatile, stuff them with what you will.
Selecting a Quesadilla
Pesto Quesadilla
Serves 1 hungry person or stretch it to 2 served with a side salad.
You will need:
a little olive/rapeseed oil for frying
2 flour tortillas
basil pesto
sun-dried tomato pesto
slices of salami
handful grated cheese
Generously smear one side of a tortilla with basil pesto and one side of the second tortilla with sun-dried tomato pesto.
Top with sliced salami and then the grated cheese and sandwich the tortillas together.
Heat the oil in a large non-stick frying pan over a medium/high heat.
Cook the quesadilla in the frying pan for a minute or two on each side until golden brown, gently pressing it down with a spatula to encourage the heat to penetrate and melt the cheese.  Cooks quickly so be careful not to burn/blacken.
Til next time, Sheila
P.S. At time of eventual posting, the sun has emerged, there are blue skies and the house has emptied of teens 🙂

Posted in School Lunches, What's for Dinner Mom?

Bacon, Cheese & Chutney Quesadilla

Ranking up there with omelettes, quesadillas are, in my opinion the perfect standby.  Breakfast, lunch, dinner or as a snack, quesadillas can be anything you want them to be.  This particular version is one that I’ve been having for brunch lately.  Having made a batch of Blackberry & Apple Chutney I’ve been using it on everything and decided to pair it up with some Gubbeen cheese and bacon in a quesadilla with great success.  When I say I’ve been having these for brunch lately, today would be the third day in a row.  Yum, yum & yum.
Bacon, Cheese & Chutney Quesadilla
As I said quesadillas are a great standby and as long as you have some cheese to meld the tortillas together anything else you choose to insert is personal.  Spread them with your favourite pestos, pastes, purees or tapenades or any chutney that is lingering in the fridge.  Fill them with chopped red onion, apple slices, chicken pieces, raisins, jalepenos…anything goes.  What made this version super tasty (besides the chutney) was the fact that I fried up the bacon and then cooked the tortilla in the same pan with all that lovely bacon fat.  Delicious.  When the kids head back to school next week they will be getting the occasional quesadilla in their lunch boxes where the filling might be some tomato puree, slice of ham and grated cheddar.  They’re filling and faster to make than sandwiches. In the meantime I’ll be enjoying mine with blackberry and apple chutney.

Bacon Slices

Grated Cheese
Bacon, Cheese & Chutney Quesadilla 01

Serves 1 hungry person or stretch it to 2 served with a side salad.
You will need:
3 rashers
a little olive/rapeseed oil for frying
2 flour tortillas
blackberry & apple chutney (or any chutney/spread of your choice)
handful grated cheese
Heat the oil in a large frying pan and fry up the rashers.
Generously smear one side of a tortilla with chutney.
Top the chutney with the cooked rashers and then the grated cheese.
Place the second tortilla on top and press down to sandwich it together.
Cook the tortilla in the frying pan on each side until golden brown.
Til next time, Sheila