Apr 15 2014

Cheeseburger Quesadilla Deluxe #client

Disclosure: As a Sabra Tastemaker, I was compensated for this post, as well as provided with free product. All opinions remain my own. Thank you for supporting the sponsors who help make this blog possible.

Cheeseburger Quesadilla Deluxe

I love my job, but the work week is tough. It’s hard to find inspiration in the kitchen after a full day in the office, followed by a 40-minute drive. By the time I arrive home, all I want to do is park my butt on the couch and relax. I’m spent. Unfortunately, I can’t do this; I have a family counting on me. (Which is probably fortunate, too, because, when left to my own devices, I can be shamefully lazy.) Forge on, I must!

Cheeseburger Quesadilla Deluxe

This quesadilla came from one such night when my husband was working his winter second job and I just didn’t have it in me to prepare the typical meat, potatoes, and veggie meal. I looked at what I had in the fridge–which, thank goodness, was filled with a recent shipment from Sabra Dipping Co.–grabbed the tortillas, and got to work. In no time we had a deluxe treat–something a little more than the usual, but still meeting the fast and easy requirements for Monday-through-Friday. The best part is that you make enough filling for three quesadillas, so you have leftovers to work off of the next time around. Weeknight dinners have been solved. You’re welcome.

Cheeseburger Quesadilla Deluxe

Which meals do you turn to when the week has been long and you’re just too tired to think?

Cheeseburger Quesadilla Deluxe
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
The filling makes enough for 3 quesadillas, but it’s easier to make it and keep it in the fridge than cut it back to ⅓.
Recipe type: Entree
Serves: 2
  • 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound grass fed ground beef
  • 1½ teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1-2 pinches sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 14.5-ounce can diced fire roasted tomatoes, drained
  • 2 10-inch soft flour tortillas
  • 1 cup (roughly 4 ounces) shredded Mexican cheese blend
  • ¼ cup Sabra Spicy Guacamole
  • 3 Tablespoons Sabra Medium Homestyle Salsa
  • 3 Tablespoons plain whole milk yogurt
  1. Set a 10-inch cast iron skillet over medium-high heat and heat the olive oil in it.
  2. Add the ground beef, garlic powder, sea salt and ground pepper and brown the meat.
  3. Drain the fat and return to the heat, adding the tomatoes. Simmer for 5 minutes, then remove from heat.
  1. Heat a 10-inch cast iron pan over medium heat.
  2. Lay out one tortilla and sprinkle ¼ cup of the cheese evenly over it. Spread the guacamole over that.
  3. Place the tortilla in the pan and sprinkle over the guacamole another ¼ cup of the cheese.
  4. Spread ⅓ of the filling over this, then sprinkle the remaining ½ cup of cheese over the filling.
  5. Place the other tortilla on top and heat until cheese is melted and bottom tortilla is lightly browned.
  6. Flip carefully and heat the other side until lightly browned.
  7. Remove to a cutting board or dinner plate.
  1. Cut in sixths and spread over the top the salsa and yogurt.
  2. Enjoy!
The remaining filling can be kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.


Apr 14 2014

Roasted Balsamic Brussels Sprouts

Side dishes don’t have to be elaborate. Sometimes, it’s the simplest things in life that are the sweetest. Today I have one of these simple things: Roasted Balsamic Brussels Sprouts. There are only three ingredients, including the sprouts, and most of the time spent making them is passive–you’re just waiting for the oven to work its magic. While I would happily devour a bowl of these little choux and call it a meal, more realistically, this side will provide 4 generous helpings in addition to your entree. The baking time listed will provide you with baby cabbages with a little bit of bite to them still–they are softened just the right amount, without being overcooked. My son gives them a thumbs up. My daughter was so busy stuffing her face that I couldn’t get a sentence out of her. But when she was done, the plate was licked clean. I think that’s an A+.

Roasted Balsamic Brussels Sprouts

I have tried preparing these with more Balsamic vinegar, but prefer using less. This allows for the sprouts to still shine, while being fully enhanced for your pleasure. Feel free to tweak the ratios, though, if you’d like more Balsamic flavor.

Roasted Balsamic Brussels Sprouts

Roasted Balsamic Brussels Sprouts
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Side Dish
Serves: 4
  • 1 pound Brussels sprouts
  • 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. Clean and dry the Brussels sprouts, then cut the bottoms off of them and cut in half lengthwise.
  3. Toss in the olive oil and balsamic vinegar, then spread in an even layer on the prepared baking sheet.
  4. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the outer leaves are browned and crispy, stirring a few times during the cooking time.
  5. Serve immediately.

Roasted Balsamic Brussels Sprouts

 What’s one of your favorite simple pleasures?

Apr 13 2014

Depression, Again

I know there’s been a bit of an echo here during the last week and I apologize. It just happened to be one of those weeks when the joy in life was sucked right out of me and I was barely treading water to keep my head from submerging. I had no energy left for anything else.

I should have been happy. The seven months of dealing with my now-properly-deemed lemon of a new car are coming to a close. We received the repurchase agreement, signed and submitted it, and are simply waiting for the third party company to find time in their schedule for me to surrender possession of the car to them. But the thought of having to start all over with purchasing another new car is exhausting. I didn’t plan on doing this for at least 6 years. And every time I read reviews online, I’m disheartened by all the complaints across the board. There is no guarantee the next car won’t have problems, too, and that may just break me.


Friday night was the culmination of the suckage. I had loose plans to go out with a friend that ended up being canceled before I left work. I had built up the evening so much in my mind that the cancellation was a huge blow. It wasn’t the case, but it felt like utter rejection, and I couldn’t stand being rejected yet again. I went for a long drive (in my lemon) in the rain, eventually happening upon People’s State Forest. I parked the car and watched the rain fall as I chewed on a hunk of Asiago bread from Panera. What can I say? I find comfort in carbs. Then I dragged myself out into the drizzle. I wasn’t attired for this at all, in my holey-crocheted cropped sweater, no rain coat, and flats that make my unstable ankle wobblier than usual. Still, I strutted across the field. I was drawn to the river. I had to see it.

By the river, not much was different. The water level was high and it rushed by with great force. The pines surrounded me, not quite blocking the rain that was falling more heavily now. The weather suited my mood quite nicely. I took a selfie and posted it to Instagram, if for no other reason than to show where I was. I have this morbid obsession with establishing where I am when I’m out alone so my path can be recreated should something happen. I watch too many crime shows.

moody selfie

My mood was not improved, but the quiet felt comforting. I could disappear in the immenseness here, evaporate from existence. In the forest, the little things don’t matter.

In spite of being ill-prepared for a hike, I made my shaky way down the path to the river’s edge and found a beach. The mist in the distance was swirling in as the sky darkened. It was as if I was controlling the scene subconsciously. And it was absolutely beautiful.

perfect river scene

The rain started coming down harder and I was growing colder. I returned to the car just as humans proved to still exist. My peace was shattered.

Friday night, I returned home and slept for 12 hours.

Saturday I watched my nephew. I took the kids to an Easter egg hunt that was over before it even started. A false start couldn’t be stopped and the kids took over the field as the Parks crew looked on in defeat. My nephew didn’t mind–he didn’t seem to know what was going on anyway. My kids made the best of it. Nobody was really disappointed, but it seemed like a perfect metaphor for my life–left behind as everyone surges forward.


Saturday afternoon I felt exhausted again. I should have been outside enjoying the sunshine and warm temps. Instead, I curled up on the couch, hiding under a blanket, shutting out the world. I napped for at least 2 hours.

Sleep doesn’t make the world go away, though.

My husband insisted I go out Saturday night. I would be alone–as I often am when I go out–which is a mixed blessing. I can do what I want, when I want–I am in control of my destiny. But it gets lonely, and I grow tired of fiddling with my phone before events start so that I look like I belong. Or like I’m waiting for someone to show, instead of being that loser girl all by herself again. I wasn’t sure I had it in me to take on another event alone, even though I had been looking forward to it.

In the end, he won. I showered, dressed, and headed out.

The night began much the way I described. I awkwardly selected a chair in the corner, alone and yet accidentally in a patch of light where I couldn’t hide. I felt exposed. And I was terrified. I knew an old friend would be at this event, but we hadn’t spoken in almost four years. The last time we did speak, I was on a path of self-destruction and tried to drag him along with me. There wasn’t enough vodka in my smoothie to muster the courage I was pretending to have.

And then, what I feared most happened: he talked to me. And it wasn’t to kick me out. Somehow, the tension of these past few years was broken, in an instant, and it was over. It no longer was there to hang over my head, and I was free to enjoy myself. Or, at least try.

Bella's Bartok

Free. As free as one can be when she lives in the same town where she grew up. At least I was mostly anonymous in that crowd.

Slowly, the music I had been looking forward to hearing lured me out of my shell. I bopped a little in time to it, despite my complete lack of rhythm. By the time the second band came on, I was much looser and even accepted the outstretched arm of one of the more passionate patrons, overcoming the fear of tripping over my gimp left foot as I pranced across the floor with him. It didn’t matter that I didn’t know this guy. In fact, that probably helped. I was having fun.

At the end of the night, I was sweaty and tired, but in a good way. I didn’t feel quite so drained anymore. My cup was starting to fill up again. I’m still working on getting it to half full. At least I’m heading in the right direction now.

Apr 07 2014

#FromLeft2Write: The Opposite of Maybe

The Opposite of Maybe by Maddie DawsonThis post was inspired by the novel  The Opposite of Maybe by Maddie Dawson. At the age of 44, Rosie finds herself suddenly single and pregnant. She tries to run away, hiding in her grandmother’s home, but instead is transformed by two men who change her life forever. Join From Left to Write on April 8 as we discuss The Opposite of Maybe. As a member, I received a copy of the book for review purposes.

It wasn’t until Rosie’s hometown was revealed to be North Haven that I realized the author, Maddie Dawson, lives in my home state. Or, at least, lived there at some point. I was sitting in Starbucks, escaping from my workday for a brief moment, and I literally put the book down to absorb this information. Who writes about Connecticut, anyway? I pulled out my phone and performed a quick search, confirming–yup, only people who live here. And somehow, that made me feel a little more connected.

North Haven–the location of the home where Soapie brought Rosie to raise her–is near West Haven, where my husband’s grandparents lived. His grandfather built the house himself and lived there for more than fifty years. I can still picture the road leading to the shore, less than a mile from his house on the hill. Both his grandparents passed away before we were married–his grandmother, sadly, suffered from Alzheimer’s the entire time I knew her. His grandfather was by her side as much as he could be, even when she eventually had to be admitted to a nursing home. He cared for her til her end. And then he didn’t last much longer before he went off to join her in the afterlife.

When Rosie and Tony take Milo to Kid City in Middletown, I could imagine every step they took because I’ve brought my kids there many times before. When they were little and I was a stay-at-home mom, rainy days would be spent at Kid City (and places like it) in order to preserve some semblance of sanity. The kids could run around, burning off their abundance of energy, all while remaining dry. And I could escape the home, which could feel a bit like a cell if we were trapped there too long. The fish factory? That’s my kids’ favorite feature of this children’s hands-on museum. They would spend all day there, if I let them. The diner with the plastic food? I have “eaten” many meals there. The book nook? I can’t say I’ve never considered the room for the same purposes they used it. Or, at least had a passing thought that it would be a nice little place to get away for a smooch. With the door closed, of course.

Little things like this made me feel more a part of Rosie’s life, even if we have nothing in common. And that was kind of cool.

Have you read a book set in your home state? Did it change your experience with the book?

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