Loaded Black Bean Quesadillas

IMG_9739 Greetings!

Sorry I have been MIA for a week!  I have been cooking and baking up a storm but it has been mostly new recipes and experiments.  We were out of the state for several days and I literally didn’t even have time to sleep, let alone get any blogging done.  Our two boys share a birthday and we had the opportunity to celebrate it with our families in Minnesota! Aren’t they cute?
IMG_9561 While it is nice to unplug sometimes, I uh…well…I missed you.  I blog because I love it, and when life keeps me from my computer, I spend most of my time away writing recipes and posts to all of you in my head. Not like, love notes or anything.  Food notes.  Sheesh!   This is one of those recipes!

To be fair, I feel like I should mention that this is SO not what I had planned on sharing today.  I actually have another stellar scone recipe to pass along and my new go-to chocolate cupcake recipe.  But until I get them finalized and dress them up fancy and take their picture, you get quesadillas!  Healthy and flavorful, you can think of them as the ‘good’ food before the chocolatey ‘bad’!

This recipe has been years in the making.  I keep messing with it, changing it, forgetting what I did last time and starting over.  But eventually, I paid attention and became consistent.  Aren’t you proud of me? 🙂 Sometimes some of the ingredients don’t make it in due to lack of proper grocery shopping (ahem), but in general, this is how I throw them together.  They are so chock full of good things-heavy on the veggies and beans-that they are more than enough to satisfy for dinner!
IMG_9681 One Year Ago: Lime Sherbet Punch & Cream Cheese Banana Bread
Two Years Ago: Honey Carrots, Non-Traditional Shepherd’s Pie & One Bowl Chocolate Cake

Loaded Black Bean Quesadillas
Feel free to omit the chicken and make an entirely vegetarian dish!  Check out the note below for a freezer tip!

2 T olive oil
1 onion, diced small
3 cloves garlic, minced
6-8 oz portabella or shitake mushrooms, diced small
2 huge handfuls fresh baby spinach
salt and pepper
1 1/2 tsp cumin
2 cans black beans, rinsed and drained
2 c cooked, shredded chicken
1/4 c salsa, plus additional for serving
2 c shredded cheese
8 whole wheat tortillas

salsa, sour cream, and diced avocado for serving

In a small bowl, mix together the chicken and the 1/4 c salsa.  Set aside.

Drizzle the oil into a medium skillet over medium heat.  Add the onion, garlic, mushrooms, and a bit of salt and pepper, and sauté until mushrooms are brown and the onions are translucent and caramelized, about 6 minutes or so.  Add the cumin and heat together for an additional minute or two.  Taste for seasoning.  Add the spinach and stir and heat for another minute or two, until the spinach is wilted, but not mushy.  Remove from heat and set aside.

In a large bowl, mash the rinsed and drained black beans with a potato masher (my personal weapon of choice) or a fork, until most of them are broken, but it is still chunky.  We don’t want it smooth like baby food here people!  Stir in the mushroom and spinach mixture.  Taste for seasoning.  Go ahead and add a little cayenne here if you like it spicy!

Smear 1/4 of the black bean mixture onto a tortilla, making sure to spread it evenly out to the edges.  Top with some of the chicken and then sprinkle with cheese.  Top with a second tortilla, and toast until crispy on the outside and melty on the inside.  We like to use our panini maker, but a toaster oven, or dry, nonstick skillet is great too!  Repeat with remaining ingredients and tortillas.  Serve with more salsa, sour cream. and avocado!

NOTE: We usually can only eat two, full quesadillas in our family, but the there is the perfect amount of black bean mixture to make four.  So usually, I use up all the chicken on only two of them, and I make the  other two quesadillas vegetarian with just beans and cheese.  Smoosh them together a bit, but don’t toast them!  Put them on a sheet pan in the freezer and when they are solid, carefully place them in a gallon freezer bag and freeze for later.  Then you can defrost a bit and toast as normal!