Hawaiian Quesadillas with Caramelized Onion, Roasted Mushrooms, and Spinach

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Whenever I get invited to potlucks, I get stressed out. That probably sounds silly coming from the girl who runs a food blog, but it’s true!

I don’t want to bring anything that’s going to require a ton of preparation or assembly required, once arriving at the potluck. I don’t want to bring anything that’s already being made, so mac and cheese is perpetually off the list. I want my dish to be easy to carry around in case there is not enough table seating, and I want it to be friendly for those with dietary restrictions.

Whew! Now you see why I find potlucks slightly stressful?

Well put your stress aside, because I have some good news for you! My recent potluck friendly dish of choice has been to make homemade fancy quesadillas! I used this particular filling combination for my a dinner with my a cappella group recently, and despite having made enough to feed an army, every single one of these little quesadilla triangles was devoured! That’s a good sign you’re doing something right! Thus, I thought I would share, for those of you with similar potluck anxiety as myself.

Gluten free? Use corn tortillas! Vegan? Try substituting with vegan cheese!

These little guys really are a win-win-win.

Try them yourself! There’s so much to love.

XO, A Rented Kitchen

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Ingredients:

  • 2 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 package of button mushrooms (your preference on type), diced
  • 1 Tablespoon Balsamic Vinegar
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 8 Whole wheat Tortillas
  • 1 bag of shredded blended white cheese (mozzarella based)
  • 1 16 oz. can of pineapple tidbits, reserve the juice
  • 1 package of fresh spinach leaves, chopped and stems removed

Directions:

  1. Heat one Tablespoon of olive oil in a large frying pan. Add the diced onion and mushrooms. Cook for several minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft and the vegetables are lightly browning.
  2. Add the Balsamic vinegar and salt and pepper to the pan. Stir and allow to cook for a few more minutes, as the veggies absorb some of the balsamic vinegar. (At this stage, I also liked to add some of the pineapple juice from the can to the pan, however I love pineapple, and if that is not your favorite flavor, you can leave the juice out!)
  3. In a separate frying pan, heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. To arrange the quesadilla: Place one tortilla in the pan and top with a generous layer of cheese.  Then add some of the mushroom/onion mixture, pineapple tidbits, and chopped spinach on top. Finish with an additional layer of cheese and another tortilla.
  4. Allow for the quesadilla to cook on its original side for a few minutes, allowing for the bottom layer of cheese to melt and the tortilla to lightly brown. Flip sides and continue cooking for another few minutes.
  5. Place on a cutting board and cut into triangles using a pizza cutter. Serve warm and enjoy!

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Notes and Tips!:

  • Source: A Rented Kitchen
  • I made this dish for a party, thus I bought all the ingredients in mass and made dozens of quesadillas. Consequently, I cannot give you very accurate quantities in the ingredients list, but I trust you to favor whatever flavor combination you prefer and to highlight that.
  • Prefer fresh pineapple?! Check out this step-by-step photo tutorial on how to cut a fresh pineapple for a quick and easy process!
  • Like this recipe? Try these other scrumptious dishes by ‘A Rented Kitchen’! (Recipe links found below):

Black Bean Hawaiian Chili

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I woke up this morning to snow, four inches of beautiful, untouched, smooth, quiet snow. Living in Richmond, Virginia, we don’t see a lot of snow. Growing up in Florida, we did not see a lot of snow either. Thus, although I’m almost 22, I still get giddy about this beautiful blanket whenever I head north.

On cold snowy days like today, nothing really feels better than a nice cup of hot chocolate or cider, and some soup! Based on the weather channel, it looks like the entire country is under a cold front. I know that in Kansas today, we are reaching -9˚. That is significantly colder than I ever need to be.

Thus, if you’re at home reading this right now, I highly suggest you stay where you are, don’t even bother changing out of your pajamas, and whip up this soup. Your entire house will smell delicious, and you can curl up next to your favorite window with a bowl of this delicious soup to enjoy the snow from inside. I can just picture the comfort now!

Here’s to the little joys in life- like freshly fallen snow and delicious homemade soup.

Happy Sunday friends!

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Ingredients

  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 large red bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 1 to 2 jalapeno chiles, stemmed, seeded and finely diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
  • 1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes, preferably fire-roasted
  • 2 16-ounce cans black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 cups vegetable broth (or water plus bouillon cubes)
  • 1 teaspoon Ancho chili powder (or other pure, mild chili powder)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon chipotle chile powder (or to taste)
  • 2 teaspoons Mexican oregano (optional)
  • Generous grating of black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon salt (or to taste)
  • 1 pound yellow squash or zucchini*
  • 2 cups crushed pineapple and juice

Directions:

  1. Heat 1 Tablespoon of olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring regularly, until light brown.
  2. Once the onion is light brown, add the bell pepper and jalapeno, cooking for about two minutes (or until soft).
  3. Stir in the garlic and allow to cook for 30 seconds, or until fragrant.
  4. Add the tomatoes, beans, broth, and seasonings- omitting the squash and pineapple. Stir well and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, rinse, trim, and cut the squash into small cubes.
  6. Add the squash, pineapple, and pineapple juice to the pot. Increase the heat slightly, and cover. Simmer until the squash is fork tender.
  7. Adjust seasonings as desired, and enjoy!

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Notes and Tips!:

  • Yield: 6 Servings, easily doubled
  • To make this recipe more like a soup and less like chili, add more broth.
  • Decrease the amount of broth to make a thick taco filling or chip dip!
  • To speed up the cooking process of the onions in step 1, add a pinch of baking soda!
  • I used all yellow squash in this recipe, but you can easily substitute some of the squash for zucchini, or replace it all with zucchini, depending on your preference.
  • Source: Fat Free Vegan 
  • If you like this recipe, try these other delicious dishes from ‘A Rented Kitchen’! (recipe links found below):

Waikiki Beach Tempeh

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I have a confession. I have never been to Waikiki Beach.  Another confession- I actually had to google “Waikiki Beach” to learn where it is.  Turns out Waikiki beach is one of the treasured white-sand beaches of Honolulu, Hawaii.

Despite my never having been to the Hawaii, my grandparents visited Hawaii, and this recipe is from my grandmother’s collection (Similar to my recent post- Grandma’s (Strawberry) Lemon Bars!).  The combination of soy sauce, pineapple, ginger, and green pepper provide a south pacific pallet that must have been similar to that found near Waikiki.

What is unique about this recipe from my grandmother’s original, is that I have adapted this recipe to use tempeh instead of chicken.  This decision eliminates additional flour, shortening, salt, and a whole lot of extra work from the original recipe – creating a meal that is light and completely satisfying.

Give it a try! With summer quickly approaching, there is no better time to enjoy your tempeh with fresh pineapple. You can pretend you’re in Waikiki beach.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 large can sliced pineapple (20 ounces)
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • ¾ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon soy sauce
  • ¼ teaspoon grated ginger
  • 1 block of tempeh, cut into small cubes
  • 1 large green pepper, chopped
  • ½ cup vegetable broth
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons cornstarch

Directions:

  1. Drain the pineapple juice into a 2 cup measuring cup.  Add water to make 1 ¼ cups liquid.
  2.  In a large Tupperware, combine the brown sugar, vinegar, soy sauce, ginger, and vegetable broth.  Mix well, and then add the cubed tempeh, pineapple chunks, and green pepper. Set aside for an hour minimum, and up to an entire day (refrigerated).
  3. Preheat the oven to 350˚F.
  4. Using a slotted spoon, remove the tempeh, pineapple chunks, and green pepper chunks from the marinade and set aside.
  5. In a small measuring cup, combine 2 Tablespoons of cold water with the cornstarch, and allow to dissolve.
  6. Heat the marinade liquid in a large saucepan, and bring to a boil. When the cornstarch has dissolved in the water, slowly add it to the marinade mix, stirring constantly.
  7. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a medium frying pan and quickly fry the tempeh (you can fry the pineapple and green pepper as well if you like!)
  8. Once the sauce has thickened up, spread the tempeh, pineapple, and green pepper out in a 13 x 9” casserole dish, pouring the sauce over top.  Bake for 30 minutes, uncovered.
  9. Suggested: serve with rice, cous cous, or quinoa. Enjoy!

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Tips and Suggestions!:

Pineapple Brown Sugar Crisp

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I love dishes that are half fruit and half granola/streusel topping. I love them, because depending on your mood and how you dress them up, they can make for a decadent dessert, a scrumptious side dish, or the perfect mid-morning/brunch option.  This delicious Pineapple Brown Sugar Crisp is one of those versatile dishes!

What is unique about this dish, is that with the presence of the lime juice and fresh ginger, there is a very distinct sense of sweet blended in with a kick of spice and zest.  People may see this dish and expect the sweetness of pineapple paired with the sweet crunchy topping, however their taste buds are in for a greater treat than just that!

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Ingredients:

  • ½ cup packed dark brown sugar
  • ½ cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup old-fashioned rolled oats (not quick-cooking or instant)
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter, cut into 1/4 inch pieces
  • Pinch freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large fresh pineapple (about 4-1/4 lb.), peeled, cored, cut lengthwise into eighths, then crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces (see this page for a demonstration!)
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 1 Tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger
  • 1 Tablespoon cornstarch

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 375°F.
  2. In a medium-sized bowl, combine the first six ingredients.  Use your fingers to spread the butter into the other ingredients until it is pea-sized or smaller and the mixture resembles crumbly breadcrumbs (it should hold together when squeezed!)
  3. Place the crumble topping in the refrigerator, uncovered, and move on to make the filling.
  4. In a small bowl, mix the lime juice, ginger, and a pinch of salt together. Whisk until blended.
  5. In a separate large bowl, toss the pineapple chunks with the cornstarch. Add the lime juice mixture and stir until evenly coated.
  6. Transfer the pineapple to a 9-inch square-baking dish. Sprinkle the crumb mixture evenly over the top, cover with aluminum foil, and bake for 20 minutes.
  7. Remove the foil, but continue to bake the dish for about an additional 15 minutes, or until the fruit is bubbling up around the edges and the top is golden-brown.
  8. Serve with a cool glass of milk, a big scoop of vanilla ice cream, or just as is! You can’t go wrong! Enjoy!

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Notes and Tips!:

How to: Cut a Pineapple

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All right, so this post is a little different than what I normally post, but considering how much I love pineapple, I thought it worthwhile. Cutting a pineapple can seem more difficult than it really is. For many people, the effort doesn’t seem worth it, so they buy canned pineapple instead. I am here to tell you though, the effort is deeefinitely worth it.  Fresh pineapple tastes dramatically different than canned pineapple, and if you know how to accurately cut it, this delicious reward will come with very little effort. (huzzah!)

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Step 1: Cut the top and bottom off of the pineapple, leveling both ends.

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Step 2: Shave the skin off of the pineapple. If you cut very close to the skin, you will need to go back with a paring knife and remove some of the deeper grooves. If you cut a little deeper into the flesh of the pineapple while removing the skin, you will probably avoid this step. The picture shown was after a shallow shaving of the skin, and then the removal of some of those deeper grooves.

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Step 3: Slicing from top to bottom (long ways), cut the pineapple into 4 triangles.

Step 4: The center most point of the triangle is a thick core that is too hard to chew. Slicing from top to bottom, remove this hard core from each triangle.

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Step 5: Cut the remaining 4 pillars into chunks or bite sized pieces as desired. Enjoy!

Love pineapple? Check out these recipes that utilize this delicious fruit!

 

Have some leftover fresh pineapple? You can store it in an airtight refrigerated container for several days.  Pineapple makes an excellent snack!