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Tomatillo Chicken and Black Bean Quesadillas

Less than a week until Halloween.  My kids are practically busting at the seams with excitement.  Nick, my oldest, plans to be Luke Skywalker, Drew is going to be a pumpkin, and  my five year old?  Well, he’s made the decision to be a marble.  But not just any marble mind you – a rainbow marble.  I’m sure you’re wondering how I’m going to achieve this feat.  That’s good because I’m wondering a bit myself.  I’ve come up with an idea to paper mache a rather large balloon, cut out a few holes for appendages and hope for the best.

Alex paper macheing the balloon

So what do you think?  Will that ball fit on that boy?  Only time will tell.  You better believe that I’ll be reporting back with the results.

With costumes adorned and bags in hand, it’s hard to get the kids to slow down long enough to eat something besides candy.  Halloween night demands a quick and hearty dinner that everyone loves and that tastes great.  For our family it’s quesadillas.  My kids jump for joy at the sheer mention of the word.  This version uses a quick tomatillo salsa to flavor the chicken.  You can easily make the sauce ahead of time to speed up the dinnertime process so you spend less time feeding the masses and more time out wandering the streets in search of sugar filled loot.

This is exactly the kind of favorite family recipe that you’ll see on “Kitchen Cookoff,” a new and exciting project I’m about to embark on with MSN and Delish! The online cooking competition is coming to the Web in November, and it’s going to be a hopping good time.  On tap will be everything from cooking tips to recipes to little ol’ me blogging up a storm. The whole kit and caboodle is sponsored by Hillshire Farm (a Wisconsin girl’s best friend for the brats alone!) and hosted by Hillshire Farm chef Jill Houk, so be sure to join us next month when the campaign officially takes flight.

Ok here we go, quesadilla time.

The first thing you’ll want to do is swirl up a batch of the tomatillo salsa.  Start out by boiling up a few choice tomatillos.

Let them roll for about 5 minutes and then turn off the heat, remove from the pot and give them a chance to cool down.  Toss into a food processor along with a little lime juice, vinegar, jalapeno, cilantro and salt.  Give it a whirl.

Easy peasy right?  At this point you can fridge the salsa if you’re cooking up dinner at a later time or, if the appetite is calling immediately, move on with a little cubed chicken action.

See all those beautiful spices I sprinkled over the top?  That’s what makes the flavor kick.  I’m talkin’ about seasonings such as oregano, cumin, and coriander. Que fabuloso!

Drizzle a little olive oil into a large frying pan and heat it up.  Drop in the chicken and let ‘er cook.  About halfway in, add a little onion and garlic.

When the chicken has finished cooking, add in a few heaping tablespoons of the salsa.

It’s officially time for the assembly.  Grab up a tortilla, sprinkle a little shredded cheese, followed by some chicken and topped off with a handful of black beans.  Oh, and I dropped a few more leaves of cilantro over the top just because.

Place the top on your quesadilla and cook it up the best way you know how.  I used my waffle maker/panini press with a light spray of cooking oil on both sides.  You can also use a frying pan with a similar spray or a small pad of butter.

Serve it up with a side of the salsa and any other condiments of your choosing.  I added in a little sour cream and avocado and of course another pinch of cilantro (you can never have too much cilantro, am I right?)

I hope everyone has a safe and fun Halloween night!  What are your kiddos planning to dress up as?

Tomatillo Chicken and Black Bean Quesadilla

Yield: 4 Quesadillas

Total Time: 30 min

Ingredients:

4 Tomatillos, Husks Removed
1 Lime, Juiced
1/2 tsp Salt
1/4 Jalapeno, Diced
2 Tbsp Cilantro, Diced
1 tsp Vinegar
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 Large (About 1/4pd) Chicken Breast, Chopped Small
1/2 tsp Oregano
1/2 tsp Cumin
1/4 tsp Garlic Powder
1/4 tsp Coriander
1/4 tsp Salt
1/8 tsp Pepper
1/2 Onion, Diced
2 Cloves Garlic, Minced
6 Oz. Shredded Cheese
1 15 Oz. Can Black Beans, Rinsed and Drained
8 Flour Tortillas

Directions:

Boil up the tomatillos for about 5 minutes. Remove and let cool.

Add them to a food processor along with the lime juice, the 1/2 tsp of salt, the jalapeno, cilantro, and vinegar.

Swirl it up and set the salsa to the side.

Heat up the olive oil on medium high heat in a large saucepan.

Toss the cubed chicken with the oregano, cumin, garlic powder, coriander, 1/4 tsp salt, and pepper.

Cook up the seasoned chicken in the oil.

When the chicken is about half cooked, add in the onion and garlic. Finish cooking the chicken through.

Add in 3 tablespoons of the salsa and mix it into the chicken. Remove from heat.

Grab up a tortilla and layer it with cheese, chicken, and black beans. Top with a second tortilla.

If you have a panini press, cook it up in there, if not, grab up a large frying pan, add a squirt of cooking spray or a small pad of butter and cook it up for a minute or two on both sides until golden brown.

Serve it up with the remaining salsa and other condiments of choice.