If you have kids, then you know that thinking about dinner on Halloween is not easy.
Getting the kids out the door with a little something in their stomachs besides candy is one of the few things you can do to wrangle a bit of order into this free-for-all holiday.
My kids are too old to really rein in their candy consumption, so I just make something simple, think of some faraway yoga pose and look forward to rooting around in their bags when they get back.
Quesadillas fit the bill nicely for Halloween: Kids can pick up the cheesy wedges by hand and eat while they look around for the missing pieces of their costumes. After they are on their way, the quesadillas pair nicely with a glass of wine for the grownups left manning the door at home (and the friends who are willing to hang out with them).
This recipe’s particular combination of cheese, chicken and vegetables makes my family happy, but quesadillas are a wonderful springboard for combining all kinds of ingredients, so feel free to use what you like and what’s in your fridge. If you have left-over, simply cooked chicken, use it here. If not, this is what rotisserie chickens were meant for. The olives are optional, but my kids love them.
These make fat quesadillas, which are so much more soul-satisfying that flat, under-filled ones. I’d much rather have two wedges of slightly overstuffed quesadillas than four wedges of skinny ones. If you prefer differently, use more tortillas and fill them with less stuff.
You can keep the quesadillas warm on a baking sheet in a 250-degree oven for 20 to 30 minutes. Cut them into wedges just before serving.
In addition to sour cream and salsa, guacamole or diced avocado makes fine toppings.
SPINACH, MUSHROOM, AND CHICKEN QUESADILLAS
Start to finish:
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
8 ounces sliced mushrooms, any kind, or a mix
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1 cup roughly chopped spinach
Kosher or coarse salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
8 8-inch flour tortillas
1 cup shredded cooked chicken
1/4 cup chopped pitted black olives (optional)
Sour cream and salsa to serve
Combine the two cheeses in a small bowl.
Heat 2 teaspoons of the butter in a skillet with a cover over medium heat. When the butter has melted, add the mushrooms and sauté for about 8 minutes. The mushrooms will soften and probably release some liquid as they cook. Continue cooking until all of the liquid has been released, and evaporated, and the mushrooms start to brown a bit. Add the minced garlic and stir for 30 seconds. Add the spinach, season with salt and pepper, and saute for two minutes until the spinach has wilted. Turn the vegetables onto a plate and set aside.
Wipe out the skillet, then return it to medium heat and add a half teaspoon of butter. Place a tortilla in the pan and cook for 30 seconds, then flip the tortilla. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of the cheese mixture over half of the quesadilla, and distribute about 1/8 (a couple of tablespoons) of both the sautéed vegetable mixture and the shredded chicken over the cheese, as well as some of the chopped olives, if desired. Top that with another 2 tablespoons of the shredded cheese. Flip the bare half of the tortilla over the filling, cover the pan, and sauté for about 2 minutes, until the bottom is golden and the cheese has started to melt, then use a spatula to flip the half-moon quesadilla, and continue to cook, uncovered, until all of the cheese is melted and the underside is browned, 2 to 3 minutes.
Remove the quesadilla to a cutting board and let it sit for a minute before you slice into two or three wedges. Repeat until all of the quesadillas are cooked. Serve with salsa and sour cream.
Nutrition information per serving: 569 calories; 259 calories from fat; 29 g fat (16 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 87 mg cholesterol; 628 mg sodium; 48 g carbohydrate; 3 g fiber; 3 g sugar; 31 g protein.
Katie Workman has written two cookbooks focused on easy, family-friendly cooking, “Dinner Solved!” and “The Mom 100 Cookbook.” She blogs at http://www.themom100.com/about-katie-workman/