I love it when a recipe takes just minutes to cook on the stove top—makes it easier to quiet my inner lazy cook and forgo the microwave. This kid-friendly cheese quesadilla is one of those recipes. I’ve been learning a bunch of Latin cooking techniques from our amazing babysitter/adopted “abuela” Rafaela, who is Dominican. When I spotted her toasting the flour tortilla in a bit of vegetable oil, I knew I could never go back to a soggy quesadilla land again. I like to do a blend of cheeses: queso for its mild flavor and melty goodness, and a sharp cheddar for some kick. Plus, you can sneak in some veggies for the kids if you chop them up really small, like we did in this pasta salad recipe. You can also add shredded chicken to this for extra protein, like my Jamaican Jerk style shown here.
This broccoli and cheese quesadilla is quick, easy, and kid-friendly.
- 1 cup Queso style and/or sharp cheddar cheese, grated
- 1/2 cup frozen broccoli, cooked & finely chopped
- Large flour tortilla
- Vegetable oil
Heat a teaspoon of oil over medium heat in a large skillet. Place tortilla in pan and heat, turning every 10 seconds or so until bubbles form and tortilla begins to lightly brown. Add cheese and broccoli; cover pan with lid until cheese is melted (about 30 seconds). Fold tortilla in half and cut into wedges. Serve with salsa and sour cream.
When you’ve got a mean craving for Mac and Cheese, sometimes it’s too much trouble to whip up a batch from scratch (and the powdered mix versions can leave a lot to be desired, too). That’s how I came up with this super quickie, no bake mac ‘n cheese recipe when I was pregnant with baby #3. I think I ate Mac and Cheese almost every day for the entire first trimester! With butter as the magic ingredient, it’s surprisingly satisfying and also happens to be a great non-processed version of mac and cheese for the kids. You can mix it up with a blend of cheeses—white cheddar, orange cheddar, Queso, etc.
Noodles, butter, and Cheddar is all you need for this quickie Mac and Cheese.
Lazy Woman’s Mac and Cheese
2 cups cooked elbow noodles
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
1 generous pat of butter
While the noodles are still hot, mix all the ingredients in a medium sized bowl. If needed, microwave for 30 seconds to melt cheese.
Loaded baked potatoes are an easy weeknight dish, all the better when dressed up with a fancy caramelized onion. In this episode I’m cooking my staple red onion topping, which is both sweet and savory and takes just 15 minutes to make. So in my house, we pop the potatoes in the oven, finish up the bedtime/bath time routine with the kids, then whip up the onions and other toppings to have dinner ready in a snap. I know it takes longer to actually bake the potatoes in the oven but I do think it’s much more rewarding and delicious. Just “precook” them for 3 minutes in the microwave to cut the baking time from over an hour to, say, 35 minutes.
Fancy Loaded Baked Potatoes
Savory caramelized onions really dress up a baked potato.
2 Russet potatoes, baked
Shredded cheddar cheese and Emmenthal cheese
For the Caramelized Onions
- 1 1/2 teaspoons butter
- 2 cups vertically sliced red onion
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 2 tablespoons dry sherry
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
Melt butter in a medium nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and sugar; sauté or until browned (about 8 minutes). Stir in sherry, Worcestershire, thyme, and; cook 1 minute or until liquid evaporates, scraping pan to loosen those tasty browned bits. (This step is called “deglazing,” similar to what we did in the Balsamic Steak recipe.) Top each potato half with about three tablespoons onion mixture, as well as cheese, broccoli, and sour cream if desired. Yum!
My top: Michael Stars Supima Raw Edge Short Sleeve V Neck Tee
Photo: Kofi Oliver
Pesto is one of my weekly staples. Basically all you need is a food processor or “mini-prep;” you toss the ingredients in and blend and you’ve got a fresh sauce. Sometimes I’ll pair this with store-bought tortellini or ravioli, instead of spaghetti– and if your kids don’t go for the pesto flavor, you can always serve them the noodles with a smidge of butter/olive oil and fresh mozzarella. You can also change up the basil for arugula (or do a mix of both) for more variety.
Pesto & Whole Wheat Spaghetti
Adding fresh tomatoes to pesto spaghetti makes a one-bowl meal.
2 cups Basil
¼ cup Olive Oil
2 Tablespoons Pine nuts
1 clove Garlic
½ teaspoon Kosher Salt
½ c Parmesan cheese
8 oz Whole wheat spaghetti
1 cup Grape Tomatoes, cut into quarters
- Place the first four ingredients (basil through garlic) into the mini-processor. Chop or grind until a paste forms, stopping down to push basil and other ingredients back down.
- Add salt and Parmesan cheese. Blend until smooth. Allow pesto to rest 10 minutes before serving, for flavors to meld.
- Divide whole wheat spaghetti into bowls. Place 2 heaping Tablespoons of pesto on each serving.
- Garnish with cut tomatoes, and dollops of fresh mozzarella. Enjoy!
Photo: Lauren Hunter