Sometimes I miss waiting tables and serving drinks. In my busiest moments at the restaurant, my thoughts were consumed with the tasks at hand. I furiously filled drink orders, slinging ice into shiny glasses and pouring liquor by the count in my head, steady as a metronome. I crossed the patio with three drinks in one hand and a water pitcher in the other. I ran to the back to change a keg and dragged the old one out like I had a million times before. My arms were stronger then.
There is satisfaction in a hard day’s work. My shifts were filled with smiles and thank you’s and inside jokes with my fellow waitresses in the corner. Each exchange came with instant gratification because I earned a little something for each drink delivered. At the end of the day, I left work with a wad of money in my wallet and kicked my feet up on the coffee table. I went home and I was done.
Instant gratification is built into blogging, too. I think that’s a significant part of its appeal; clicking publish and receiving near-instant feedback from fellow bloggers and loyal readers is just the best. Your comments, facebook likes and tweets make my day, every day. I also adore the cooking and food photography sides of food blogging—they get me up and moving, chopping vegetables and hopping onto chairs to snap photos. Even though I’m never really “done” at the end of the day when it comes to blogging (there is always more to do), blogging (and all that it encompasses) is what I love to do.
Sometimes, especially on days when I’ve been working all day in front of the computer screen, I procrastinate by daydreaming of a more physically active occupation. I think to myself that I’d rather go home physically tired than mentally drained. I wonder if I should quit my day job to waitress again so I could devote more of my thinking time to this blog. Then I remember the necessity of health insurance and stability, and I shudder at the thought of getting splashed with someone else’s dirty dishwasher. Surely some of you can relate?
Since I’m not going to change my situation in the foreseeable future, I suppose I’ll tell you about these quesadillas. Oh, these quesadillas! Quesadillas are my go-to lazy lunch or dinner for one, but these quesadillas are something special. They’re stuffed with vegetables and greens (and cheese, of course), as well as creamy slices of ripe avocado.
All that said, the quesadilla’s true pièce de résistance is the irresistibly crispy side produced when cheese sizzles between the tortilla and the hot skillet. If your quesadillas or grilled cheese sandwiches have ever leaked cheese out the edge and that cheese has, in effect, fried against the tortilla or bread, you know just how heavenly that super crispy cheese can be. My dad mentioned the other day that my grandmother used to use this method for grilled cheese sandwiches, so I like to think that we both discovered the trick on our own, two generations apart. I’d say the taste preference for crispy cheese must be genetic, but let’s get real: who in her right mind doesn’t like crispy cheese?!
The bottom line here is that these cheesy-crispy-creamy quesadillas would be perfect as Super Bowl finger food, or for tomorrow’s lunch. If you want to change these up with different fillings down the road, I do suggest retaining the avocado in the middle and the crispy, cheesy side. They really take the quesadilla from ordinary to irresistible.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 red onion, chopped
- 8 to 10 ounces cremini mushrooms (AKA baby bellas), thinly sliced
- 6 ounces baby spinach, roughly chopped
- 1/2 small lime, juiced
- 2 1/2 cups shredded raw Jack or cheddar cheese, divided
- 2 Avocados from Mexico, cut into thin slices
- 4 medium whole wheat tortillas
- jarred red salsa
- In a large skillet over medium heat, heat oil until shimmering. Add chopped red onion and a dash of salt, stirring occasionally, until the onions are turning translucent. Add sliced mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender and turning golden, about 6 minutes. Add half of the spinach mixture, let it wilt a little, and then add the second. Cook until spinach is wilted and the mixture is dry, 2 to 3 minutes or longer. Season with salt and pepper and a splash of lime juice. Remove from heat.
- Divide 1 cup shredded cheese between the 4 quesadillas, covering only half of each tortilla with cheese. Divide the spinach and mushroom mixture evenly on top of the cheese on each quesadilla, then top with avocado slices. Top all of that with 1 cup shredded cheese, divided equally between the 4 quesadillas. Press the empty tortilla halve over the toppings.
- Heat a medium to large skillet (preferably cast iron) on the stove over medium heat. Place one quesadilla (or two, if they fit) into the pan. Cook for a few minutes, then flip carefully with a spatula. Immediately sprinkle some of the remaining cheese over the hot sides of the quesadillas, and let it melt as the other side cooks for a few minutes. Flip each quesadilla, and let the cheese sizzle into the quesadilla for a couple of minutes. Flip and cook the other side for a couple more minutes if necessary, until both sides are a nice, crisp golden brown. Let the quesadillas cool on a cutting board for a few minutes, then slice each quesadilla into three slices using a pizza cutter or a very sharp knife. Serve with salsa.
Update 2/5/13: Thank you to all who entered the giveaway! The lucky winner is Vicki. Best of luck in future giveaways.