We used to get two days off of school and work in February! And not snow days. Real bona fide holidays.
After working hard to stay warm in Chicago’s long, tedious January I always looked forward to the respite that is the miniature month of February. Lincoln’s birthday kicked off the fun in many states including the “Land of Lincoln.” By then winter had overstayed its welcome with grey skies blended into sooty snow that erased horizons and permeated everything including my mood.
Then bing, bing, bing, we’d have 3 great days—2 president’s birthdays off and Valentines in between. And boom! We’d be into March whose days are loaded with the possibility of spring.
This winter has brought some Chicago-like weather to normally warmer regions, including my area. So my family and friends outside of our nation’s more polaresque locales are experiencing “real winter” up close and personal, but in small enough bites to make them feel like a Disney simulation when compared to the longer version north of the Mason-Dixon line.
And speaking of bites I like to enjoy holidays, real or of the food variety, with vittles themed for the event. Lincoln’s birthday brings us lots of possibilities such as anything to do with log cabins. That makes me think of maple syrup so I created a really yummy Chicken and Waffle dish a few years back that uses chicken cutlets, pecans, waffles, chicken broth, and a touch of maple syrup. It’s a real taste winner and is pretty low in fat and free of inflammation-causing ingredients. You can find it in Easy Weekly Meals for Moms on the Go, which is a wonderful smart cookbook for all busy people, moms or otherwise. Or pick it up as a stand-alone Solo on our A-La-Carte Recipe Page.
Other options for Lincoln’s birthday are to shape food like Honest Abe’s famous split rails. You could serve a lovely crudité with melted queso cheese for dipping. Or make a warmer version by slicing veggies, such as carrots, zucchini, eggplant, and bell peppers, into rail shapes and sauté them with some fresh garlic, onion, or spices.
But last year I did a series on our 10 most popular presidents’ favorite foods. And I learned that despite his oversize presence, Lincoln ate very little. When forced to take time away from his thoughts he liked to nibble on nuts and cheese. So I thought I’d give aid in the way of a potential food celebration to any who are about to be besieged by the latest winter storm front and share my quick and easy quesadilla recipe with you. It uses both cheese and nuts, so I think Abe would approve. Although quesadillas are a Mexican dish, I’m giving them a little tweak, ala National Opposites Day, and using French and Italian ingredients.
Quick and Easy Quesadillas
· 3 large Tomatoes
· 2 Ripe Avocados, peeled, seeded, and chopped into 1/2” cubes
· 1/3 C sweet Onion, minced
· 3 T Pine Nuts, roasted
· 8 oz Brie, softened and rind removed
· 8 fresh burrito-sized Flour Tortillas
· 8 very thin slices of Prosciutto
· 4 sprigs Fresh Basil leaves for garnish
· Preheat oven to 250°.
· Seed and chop 1 tomato. Thinly slice other 2 tomatoes to yield 24 slices.
· Mix avocado, onion, chopped tomato, and pine nuts in small bowl.
· Divide cheese into 8 even pieces.
· Heat sauté pan over medium-low burner.
· Spread cheese over 1/2 of each tortilla.
· Lay one thin slice of prosciutto atop the cheese and 3 tomato slices on top of the meat. Fold tortillas in half to enclose ingredients.
· One at a time, place tortillas into pan. Heat until tortilla puffs, then flip and cook until it puffs again. When both sides are lightly brown and the cheese is melted, remove to cookie sheet, cover with foil, and place in oven to keep warm. Continue until all quesadillas are cooked.
· Serve two quesadillas per person with 1/4 of the avocado-tomato mixture. Garnish with 1 sprig of basil leaves.
Hats off to Abe for his birthday, silk or woolen.
Photos Courtesy of Easy Weekly Meals