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Brie and Butternut Quesadillas with Sage and Shiitakes

Butternut and Brie Quesadillas

New Year’s Eve is always a gamble.

When I was little, the bet was always whether or not I could keep my droopy eyes open till midnight. Middle school brought the toss up of whose parents would give them the freedom to leave the family for the night. And high school was a roll of the dice over what kind beverages would be obtainable (crappy beer vs. sparkling cider, which these days, I’d likely choose the latter).

As I entered college, the gamble became whether or not you’d have a date for the night. Which I did last year. We conveniently got into a fight just before midnight. Even with a boyfriend and confetti all around, last year’s countdown was a strike out.

This time, however, I don’t care what the night brings; it’s going to be a winner. There will be no droopy eyes, no friends stuck at home, and while I can’t promise a lack of crappy beer on site, there definitely won’t be any fighting taking place. This, and letting any other expectations walk out the door, is all I need to know that this year won’t be a gamble.

Although…just in case something does go wrong… I’ll be whipping up these Brie and Butternut Quesadillas. Because seriously, you just can’t go wrong with these. If you’ve never tried brie melted on sliced butternut squash, just removed from the oven, I recommend you do so just before assembling these. With a sprinkle of cinnamon, too. It will be a nutty, creamy, pre-New Years celebration in your mouth. For the more finger-friendly option, stick with the quesadillas. These are a crowd-pleaser that will likely set you apart at the party.

Click here for recipe…

Vegan Southwest Quesadillas

Gah, I’ve been eating so much cheese lately. My mom would not approve. I grew up primarily vegan, as in my mom would attend my friends’ birthday parties and strip the mozzarella from my pizza. And my dad would eat ice cream labeled off limits, and somehow my inquisitive little self actually wouldn’t ask questions. (Though, rest assured there was usually a bowl of Wildberry Tofutti in front of me during these after-dinner occasions).

I don’t really recall when I started assimilating dairy into my diet. Probably once I hit middle school and wasn’t packing my neon purple lunchbox everyday. But I still try to shy away from eating cheese in excess. Even if it doesn’t give rise to more frequent occurrences of colds and sniffles like my mom would claim, and aside from ethical issues, I’ll never consider cheese to be a healthy item in my diet. Dairy items are generally high in fat and cholesterol, which vegan or not, you can’t argue are prime health promoters.

Who knows, maybe I’ll eventually go back to being vegan, but for now, I’m enjoying everything in moderation (meat excluded). Like the occasional mozzarella on my tomato-basil sandwich. Mmm.

Though, in trying to prevent moderation from becoming a daily occurrence, sometimes I’ll buy cheese substitutes. These are best in moderation too, but flavor-wise, there have definitely been some decent ones placed on the market in recent years. I’ve been a big fan of Daiya from its start, and not long ago they released their newest flavor, Pepperjack.

Pepperjack Daiya has been my quesadilla superstar these past few days. It’s the perfect mom-approved, dairy free, cholesterol free cheesy compliment to sautéed peppers from the garden. I’ve also added a few other veggies to make this whole wheat quesadilla A-list quality. Add some fresh cilantro and salsa, and you’ve got an easy meal for lunch, dinner, or even breakfast.

Click here for recipe…