Originally created 06/19/02

New take on chicken



Summer is a great time to get the children involved in meal preparation. So, this week and next, I'm featuring child-friendly recipes that your children can help prepare.

Chicken quesadillas is the current favorite meal of my children, ages 9 and 10. The recipe is so simple, it's hardly a recipe. But, since it's a dish they request almost weekly at my house, and it's a cinch to prepare, I've decided to pass it along.

When chicken tenderloin filets go on sale at the supermarket, I buy several packages and freeze them in small zip-top plastic bags for future quesadilla meals. You need three filets to make two quesadillas, so package them accordingly.

Cooking with children is easy if you choose their tasks according to their age and abilities. In this recipe, I do the cooking, while I let the children help prepare the quesadillas for grilling. They can sprinkle the tortillas with the cheese and chicken, while I do the more dangerous "hot job."

The quesadillas can be skillet-grilled in a nonstick pan that's been sprayed with nonstick cooking spray, or you can melt a dab of butter in the pan before adding the quesadillas for added flavor.

These simple chicken quesadillas are a hit with children, but you can add ingredients to suit adult tastes as well. Chopped green onions and sliced black olives are welcome additions, as are sauteed onions and green bell pepper strips.

Try Italian quesadillas by spreading your tortillas with a bit of pizza sauce, then topping with pepperoni slices and grated mozzarella. Or, create a fusion favorite by spreading the tortilla with some peach preserves, then layering with sliced deli ham and Brie for a Georgia-meets-France version.

Serve your chicken quesadillas with sour cream or salsa for dipping, and add a side of my children's other favorite, Mexican rice. (Uncle Ben's Mexican Fiesta rice mix is a pantry staple at my house.) Some fresh fruit salad or your children's favorite vegetable can complete your quesadilla meal.

CHICKEN QUESADILLAS

4 fajita-sized flour tortillas

3 chicken breast tenderloin filets (about 1/3 pound of chicken)

1 teaspoon taco seasoning

1/2 cup shredded reduced-fat sharp Cheddar cheese

Nonstick cooking spray

Remove the tortillas from the plastic wrapper and set aside. Spray a small nonstick skillet with cooking spray and heat over medium-high heat. Add the chicken breast tenders and sprinkle with the taco seasoning. Cook, turning several times, until chicken is done, about 6 minutes. Remove to a cutting board and chop coarsely.

Lay a tortilla on a flat surface or plate and sprinkle with 1/8 cup of the cheese. Top with half of the chicken and another 1/8 cup of cheese. Place another tortilla on top and set aside. Repeat with remaining tortillas, cheese and chicken.

Heat a skillet (large enough to hold a tortilla) that has been sprayed with the nonstick cooking spray over medium-high heat. Add one of the prepared quesadillas and cook until browned, 2 to 3 minutes.

Spray top tortilla with nonstick cooking spray and use a large spatula to flip the quesadilla to the other side. Cook 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from skillet and slice into quarters. Repeat with remaining quesadilla.

Makes 2 servings.

Write to Karin Calloway in care of The Augusta Chronicle Newsroom, P.O. Box 1928, Augusta, GA 30903. Or send e-mail to karin.calloway@comcast.net.

Nutrition information per serving

294 calories, 33.2 grams protein, 20.3 grams carbohydrates, 1.3 grams fiber, 7.8 grams fat (2.8 grams saturated fat) 70 milligrams cholesterol and 468 milligrams sodium.

Nutrient analysis provided by Fran Frye, a licensed and registered dietitian of the Augusta District Dietetic Association. Send questions via e-mail to augustadietitian@yahoo.com.