28 April 2009

Easy Gluten-Free Ameri-Mexican

Grilled Chicken Quesadillas
Black Bean, Corn, and Tomato Salad

Last night I served up grilled chicken quesadillas with Tillamook vintage sharp white cheddar on corn tortillas, with a side of black bean, corn, and tomato salad. This was a quick, easy, delicious, and light dinner. The Black Bean Salad made more than enough for 2, and we'll be eating it for days, but it's good enough that I won't mind a bit!

Perhaps you've noticed my love affair with the Tillamook vintage sharp white cheddar in previous posts. I seem to use it exclusively. Well, it's aged for 2 years which means that the lactose levels are very low in comparison to other cheese (Yes, Kraft shredded "cheeses" often say they contain 0g lactose per serving, but that's not cheese to me), and the flavor is sharp just how I like it. I did consider picking up another package of the Tillamook mild cheddar cheese at Costco, but the budget didn't permit it, and I think the vintage white is able to be used on just about anything that requires cheese. I'd even put it on apple pie if I had an apple pie. That gives me an idea for another post sometime soon. Looks like a bag of apples goes on this week's shopping list.

Going without dairy for nearly 10 years, and now being able to have it again is a wonderful thing to me. I've worked so hard this past year to keep myself healing. I've stayed away from so many delicious gluten containing foods in hopes of healing up and feeling well; and then I learned that some people with a gluten intolerance, or Celiac disease, who have lactose intolerance can eat dairy again after a long enough healing period. Well, I'm one of those people.

So, why on earth after all of that hard work would I eat cheap dairy products? I only eat the good stuff now. Why buy cheap champagne to celebrate something wonderful when you know it's a special treat you won't be having all of the time? It's the same thing for me. Getting to have dairy again is so special to me, that I'm going to buy the best. And, I do treat it like a special occasion when I pull out the Tillamook.

If you have a love affair with Tillamook cheese like I do, check out the Tillamook Fan Club.

Grilled Chicken Quesadillas
with Tillamook Vintage Sharp White Cheddar

8 corn tortillas
2 cups of shredded Tillamook Vintage Sharp White Cheddar
1/2 pound of boneless skinless chicken breasts
Crisco for the pan, or other high heat cooking fat

Grill the chicken breasts either on an indoor grill or on an outdoor grill. Slice into pinky finger sized pieces.

Heat the Crisco, or other fat, in a large skillet (I used cast iron) over medium heat until the fat has melted and coated the bottom of the pan.

Place one tortilla into the pan and put about a golf ball sized amount of cheese in the center.

Put as much chicken as you'd like in the quesadilla on top of the cheese, fanning it out toward the edges of the tortilla. Top with about half the amount of cheese put onto the bottom tortilla to make the chicken and top tortilla stick together.

Cook until the bottom tortilla gets crispy, but not burnt, and flip the quesadilla over carefully.

Cook until the other side is crispy. Remove from the pan and repeat the process with the rest of the tortillas, chicken, and cheese until you run out of one of the ingredients (in Chemistry this would be your limiting reagent; I told you all I'd been studying too much...).

If you like your tortillas not crispy, then just cook until the cheese has melted, then flip and repeat. I like mine more like tostadas than soft quesadillas.

Serve with salsa and non-fat plain yogurt, or sour cream.

Note: I used Crisco because a friend of mine said that when she cooks Mexican food she always uses Crisco because it can stand the heat and makes the tortillas nice and crispy. She's been cooking a while longer, than me, and I respect her cooking knowledge. She was definitely right on this one. Normally I wouldn't recommend Crisco as it is a hydrogenated fat (it stays solid at room temperature) which isn't healthy for your body, but if used sparingly it can be included in your cooking.

Black Bean, Corn, and Tomato Salad
adapted from vegweb.com

2 cans of black beans (organic preferably) drained and rinsed
2 large ears of corn (organic preferably, I used local), shucked
1 can of diced tomatoes, drained
2 cloves of garlic, minced
3 green onions, green parts only, sliced
2 tablespoons dried parsley (or 4 tablespoons fresh, chopped)
1 tsp cumin powder
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
Fresh cracked pepper

Break the ears of corn in half and boil for 8-10 minutes until the corn is bright yellow and the kernels are tender. Remove any bad kernels carefully using a paring knife.

Cut the kernels off of the corn cobs using a sharp knife. Place the cob on one end, holding it in place with your fingers at the top of the cob, and the ball of your hand on the side opposite from your cutting point. Slice down the cob, starting at the top, or near the top, and cut all the way down. Turn the cob and continue this procedure. Repeat with the 3 other corn cobs.

In a large bowl combine the minced garlic, green onions, parsley, cumin, vinegar, oil, and pepper. Whisk together well.

Dump the beans, corn, and tomatoes into the bowl, and toss with 2 spoons until the beans, corn, and tomatoes are coated with the spices.

Chill in the fridge while you're making the rest of your meal.

Note: For an extra refreshing kick, add some fresh cilantro and use lime juice instead of the vinegar.

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