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~ Cheesy Roast-Beef Pepper 'n Onion Quesadillas ~

IMG_1979Real-deal oven-roasted beef, a chunk of habanero cheddar cheese, my homemade Baja-spice mix, colorful bell peppers, a sweet onion and a package of flour tortillas.  The ingredients are all at my fingertips and the clock is ticking.  The only question is, how fast can I slice the beef, grate the cheese, sauté the veggies and assemble them all together between some flour tortillas, grill-pan them all up, get 'em sliced, plated and placed on the TGIF cocktails-are-served table.

Topped w/Sriracha-infused crema & fresh salsa too?

IMG_1996Making the beef, vegetable & spicy-cheddar quesadilla filling:

IMG_2027 IMG_2000~ Step 1.  I roast an eye-of-round every other week. I alternate it with turkey breast.  I do it to have weekday sandwich meat. Place an 8 pound roast on a rack in a roasting pan in a 350º oven for 1 1/2 hours.  You can find the detailed recipe ~ Eye-of-Round Roast = Back-to-School Sandwiches ~ in Category 2, 10, 17 or 20.

IMG_1879For the beef you'll need:

3  cups 1/2"-diced lean, roasted beef, preferably rare

I like to make my own spice blends too and I love my "Baja Spice Blend".  I use it to season fish tacos and chicken quesadillas and today I'm using it to season the bell pepper and onion sauté.  I won't call the food police if you use store-bought fajita seasoning, just use it judiciously -- it's a lot saltier than homemade.  To get the details about ~ The Spice is Right:  Baja & Carnitas Blends/Rubs ~, click into Categories 8, 13 or 20.  

IMG_4581For my dry Baja spice rub/blend:

4  tablespoons chili powder

1  tablespoon sea salt

2  teaspoons ground cumin

1 1/2  teaspoons ground coriander

1  teaspoon garlic powder

1/2  teaspoon cayenne pepper

~ Step 2.  In a small bowl, stir together all of the spices, and, if you have one on hand, transfer to an empty shaker-type spice container.

IMG_1885For the bell pepper & onion sauté:

2  tablespoons vegetable oil

3  cups 1/2"-diced bell peppers, preferably a colorful combination of green, red, orange and yellow

1 1/2  cups 1/2"-diced onion

3  tablespoons Baja spice blend, total throughout recipe

3  cups diced roasted beef, from above recipe

IMG_1887 IMG_1888 IMG_1893 IMG_1894 IMG_1900~Step 3.  Place 2 tablespoons vegetable oil in a 12" skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the onion and 1 tablespoon of the spice blend.  Using a large spoon, stir constantly until onion just beings to soften, about 1-1 1/2 minutes.  Add the bell peppers and season with a second tablespoon of the spice blend. Stir constantly until the peppers are beginning to soften, about 2-2 1/2 minutes.  Add the diced beef and the third and last tablespoon of spice blend. Stir until the meat is just heated through, about 1-1 1/2 minutes.  Do not cook the meat, just warm it.  Remove skillet from heat, partially cover  skillet and set aside.

IMG_1908 IMG_1902~ Step 4. Using a hand-held box grater, grate:

12  ounces habanero cheddar cheese, about 3 cups grated cheddar cheese 

Feel free to use your favorite white or yellow cheddar, Monterey Jack or Monterey Jack jalapeño cheese. Grate it yourself or purchase store-bought grated cheese.  They'll all work great and taste great and  the choice is yours.

Grilling the quesadillas on the stovetop in a grill pan:

IMG_4574Quesadilla (keh-sah-DEE-yah):  A round, flat, cooked-until-soft corn or flour tortilla, folded in half to form a half-moon with a savory filling sandwiched in the center.  It is fried on a well-seasoned cast-iron comal (a flat, round griddle), using no or very little oil, although in many modern kitchens, mine included, a grill pan is a great substitution.  

IMG_1912Almost any cooked and chopped or shredded meats and/or vegetables can be used as a filling for a quesadilla (fish and seafood are not typically used) -- the meats and vegetables must always be cooked first because a quesadilla cooks in a few short minutes.  That said, since "queso (KAY-soh)" is the Spanish word for "cheese":  a quesadilla is a container for ooey, gooey melted cheese.  For today's quesadillas, you'll need:

8, 8" round flour tortillas

IMG_1914 IMG_1915 IMG_1918 IMG_1921 IMG_1923 IMG_1925~Step 5.  Spray a 12"-round grill pan with no-stick cooking spray and place it over medium heat (medium-heat on my gas stove is medium-high heat on an electric range).  Place a tortilla on the grids and place 1/3 cup of grated cheese over half of the surface of the tortilla to within 1/2" of the edge.  Place 1/3 cup of the meat filling over the cheese, then, sprinkle another 2 tablespoons of cheese over the top of the meat and the unfilled half of the tortilla.  Using a spatula, lift and fold the empty half of the tortilla over the meat filled half and allow to cook until the cheese is just melted, about 45-60 seconds.  Remove from heat and transfer quesadilla to a cutting board.  Repeat with the remaining seven tortillas.

IMG_1944Wait 1 minute prior to slicing each quesadilla into 3 triangles:  

IMG_1956Crispy on the outside, cheesy & beefy on the inside:

IMG_1976Read below to learn about my Sriracha-Infused Crema:

IMG_1989Cheesy Roast-Beef Pepper 'n Onion Quesadillas:  Recipe yields 8, 8"-round quesadillas and 24 appetizers.

Special Equipment List:  cutting board; chef's knife; 12" skillet w/lid; large skillet; hand-held box grater; 12"-round grill pan or nonstick skillet; paper towel; wide spatula

IMG_4369Cook's Note:  For the toppings, I use tomato-based salsa (homemade or store-bought) and  an easy to make Sriracha-infused crema:

1/2  cup Mexican crema, or American sour cream

1/4  cup Sriracha hot sauce, more or less to taste

In a small bowl combine crema and Sriracha.  If you have a squirt bottle, the kind used to dispense salad dressings, transfer the mixture to it. It will make topping the quesadillas easy & mess free.

IMG_2052Extra Cook's Note Bonus Recipe: Spray a 13" x 9" casserole with no-stick spray.  On each of 6, 6" flour tortillas, place 1/3 cup shredded cheddar and 1/3-1/2 cup prepared meat mixture.  Lift up the left and right side of each tortilla and fasten with two toothpicks.  Sprinkle 1 1/2 cups additional shredded cheddar over the top centers of all.  Cover with plastic wrap and microwave for 6-8 minutes, until cheese is melted.

IMG_2007 IMG_2011 IMG_2014 IMG_2026"We are all in this food world together."  ~Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2016)


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