Loaded Veggie Quesadilla

Hello Friends,The holidays are coming and I’ve been overtaken with holiday spirit! Last weekend I put up the Christmas tree…yes, already! In between hanging ornaments from the skin-breaking branches (my poor hands are torn to bits), I baked up a batch of chocolate chip cookies from scratch and washed them down with a glass of egg nog. With the chilly air and snow already in the forecast for this week, I simply cannot resist the feeling of Christmas cheer weaving its way into my heart!

With the teensy sampling of winter we’re having comes the sick-bugs. Hunter came down with some sort of odd virus just in time for Veteran’s Day, which means my solo day home from work became a day for taking care of the sick. Sore throat and fever for him, and scrubbing and sanitizing everything in sight for me. It also reminded me to eat my veggies to load up on vitamin protection.

My original plan for today’s post was to share the broccoli soup I made this weekend with you, but the call for veggies took center stage. I have a regular hankering for rich sweets and decadent chocolate, but I thank my good Lord and maker every day that He also put some pizzazz in my taste buds for those savory vegetables!

I have a produce drawer in my fridge that is always brimming with beautiful colors, and today they were calling to me. I had a handful of cherry tomatoes and two Baby Bella mushrooms that were both starting to pass their peak, so I centered my lunch around them. For me, tomatoes and mushrooms almost always mean spinach too. And I can’t sauté spinach without some bell pepper, onion and garlic. I also had about an ounce of white cheddar cheese left in a baggie, so I found a way to bring it all together.

Loaded Veggie Quesadilla



  • 2 TBS chopped white or yellow onion
  • 1 chopped mini bell pepper
  • 1/2 TBS minced garlic (I cheat and use the stuff in the jar!)
  • 2 Baby Bella mushrooms
  • 5-6 cherry tomatoes
  • Generous handful of fresh spinach leaves
  • 1-2 TBS olive oil
  • 1 whole wheat tortilla
  • 1 TBS cashew-based cheese


  1. Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add bell pepper and onion, and cook until onion begins to turn transparent.
  2. Add garlic to onion and peppers. While this is cooking, slice the mushrooms and add to skillet.
  3. While the mushrooms are beginning to cook down, go ahead and slice the tomatoes in half and add to the skillet. Stir the mixture together and let cook for a few minutes, until the tomatoes soften and start to break down.
  4. Turn off heat, then toss in the spinach. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste, and stir constantly until the spinach leaves begin to wilt. Remove from heat immediately and set aside on a plate – the spinach will continue to wilt as it sits.
  5. Spray the skillet with a bit of olive oil spray and place the tortilla in the bottom. Spread the cashew cheese over half the tortilla, then layer on the vegetables. Fold the tortilla in half, cover the skillet with a lid, and let tortilla brown over low-medium heat for about 3 minutes.
  6. Gently turn the tortilla over using a sturdy pancake turner, and allow the other side to brown for an additional 3 minutes, covered with a lid to help the cheese melt.
  7. Slide quesadilla from skillet onto a plate and allow to rest for a couple of minutes. Then, using a pizza cutter, slice the quesadilla into three equal-size squares.



Mediterranean Monday: Greek Pasta with Farmer’s Market Veggies

Hello Friends,

It’s Mediterranean Monday, one week off schedule! Last week I was out of town, and that means no cooking and no blogging until I returned home. After I got back, I stopped by a local produce stand and stocked up on fresh veggies. I was itching for a dish that allowed me to use several of those veggies, and my fresh herbs, together. I love experimenting with mixing ingredients and combining flavors!

I took my boys on a short three mile hike yesterday to Little Grand Canyon in Pomona, Illinois. The descent into the canyon, and the ascent back up, both took place in a steep and rocky creek bed. The hike was short, but it was a lot of work and we all worked up a serious appetite. We packed a picnic lunch to eat when we got off the trail, but by the time we made it back home we were all hungry again and had to have a snack. Then I took them back to their dad’s, a four hour drive, and I was absolutely ravenous by the time I made it home. So I decided I needed something with some carbs to stave off my relentless hiking-induced appetite.

I had some tofu left that needed used up, so this recipe is vegetarian friendly…but it could easily be made using chicken or shrimp, or any other protein you prefer. It can also be made vegan simply by skipping the parmesan cheese at the end.

Greek Pasta with Farmer’s Market Veggies

447 calories per serving, 1-dish meal
Serves 2


  1. 1 whole, fresh zucchini
  2. 4-5 asparagus spears
  3. 1/2 of a white onion
  4. 1/2 of a green pepper
  5. 6 oz. extra firm tofu (or protein of your choice)
  6. 10 kalamata olives
  7. 2 oz. whole wheat spaghetti
  8. 1 Tbsp olive oil
  9. Fresh-cut basil, oregano, thyme and rosemary, as much or little as you prefer
  10. 2 tsp ground cumin
  11. 2 tsp chili powder
  12. 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  13. salt and pepper to taste
  14. crushed red pepper flakes if you like a little spice, as much as you like
  15. 1 oz. fresh grated parmesan cheese


  1. Set spaghetti to boil in a pot over high heat, turning down to medium once water starts to boil
  2. Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet
  3. Add onion and green pepper to skillet and let brown
  4. Meanwhile, dice the zucchini and asparagus, then add to the skillet
  5. Chop the herbs up fine, add to skillet, and stir to combine
  6. Pour in 1-2 Tbsp of water to help soften vegetables, then cover
  7. While this is simmering, dice tomato and tofu, and slice the olives in half
  8. once zucchini and asparagus begin to feel soft, add the tomatoes, olives and tofu and stir
  9. Add salt, pepper, garlic, cumin, chili powder and red pepper flakes
  10. Turn heat down low and simmer for 5-10 minutes, or until tomatoes soften and start to break down
  11. While this is simmering, drain spaghetti
  12. Turn off heat, add spaghetti to skillet, and combine well
  13. Divide into two plates (or one plate and one storage container, which is what I did so I could take the other half to work for lunch the next day)
  14. Top with 1/2 oz. of the parmesan cheese per serving
  15. Pour yourself a glass of wine and enjoy!

This makes perfect leftovers, because the whole wheat pasta doesn’t swell and get soggy like refined white pasta. And, the flavors of the vegetables and herbs marinate overnight and make this dish even better the next day! I placed the second serving in a glass bowl in the refrigerator, so all I had to do the next morning was take the bowl from fridge, to lunch bag, to work.

If you try this dish with grilled chicken or shrimp, let me know how it turns out! I think both would be delicious!