Turkey-Dill Havarti Quesadilla

When you’ve returned home from a holiday shopping trip cooking isn’t high on the priority list. If you’re like me, my first concern is eating because shopping is a work out and you have earned a treat for time well spent, devoted to hunting gifts for family and friends. 

Well, I have a plan for you. It is the turkey-dill havarti quesadilla that won over the household and took 10 minutes to make. Feel free to use (leftover) chicken, (leftover) ham, or beans if a vegetarian version is your thing. To me, the quesadilla is like the sandwich- so many options but just a few ingredients can really make it awesome. Instead of plain havarti I experimented with lite dill-havarti – a cheese speckled with fresh and subtle dill that melts beautifully. Dill has been known to have a soothing quality (think: Christmas music at the mall – soothing herb is necessary). Add in a couple sweet banana pepper rings and you have a fantastic combination of flavors. Paired with tomato soup,  this meal is like slippers for your tummy, making you feel all warm and happy.

Even if you prefer to do your holiday shopping on the internet (escaping the cold harsh mall climate), I still think you deserve a quesadilla or two.

Turkey-Dill Havarti Quesadilla


  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter, plus more for each quesadilla
  • 3 shallots, sliced (can also use 1 small onion)
  • 4 flour tortillas
  • 1/2 pound thinly sliced turkey breast
  • 8 ounces dill havarti (can be found at Whole Foods)
  • 4 banana peppers, seeds removed, sliced into rings, additional for serving
  • Sour cream for serving

How To:

Heat oil and melt butter in a small fry pan. Add shallots and saute until soft and slightly carmelized. Add water if pan gets too hot or pan gets too dry. Set shallots aside.

Heat skillet over low-medium heat. Lightly butter one side of a tortilla and place butter side down onto skillet. Top half with 1 small palmful of cheese (this is really a personal preference so add as much as you like). Top cheese with some carmelized shallots, turkey slices, and banana pepper rings. Fold bare half of tortilla over and hold down with a spatula until it stays on its own.  Cook for about 3 minutes or unti lightly golden. Flip and heat through and other side is golden as well. Serve with additinal pepper rings and sour cream.

I highly recommend serving with soup, such as creamy tomato.


Sweet Potato Stew

I had a real collection of sweet potatoes after Thanksgiving and knew I had to find something to do with them – because I love ’em and can’t waste food voluntarily. My mother sent me home with a half-crate full. Thankfully (I’m still in Thanksgiving mode) I had a recipe-in-waiting from one of my new cookbooks, but of course I couldn’t make it as written. I made some changes to make it spicier and less sweet.  I suspect a lot of people prefer the sweet potato with less cinnamony sweetness and more sassiness if given the option. Like I said in a previous post, the sweet potato just seems so nice. I wanted to give it a little edge.

It’s really somewhere between a soup and a stew. The broth gives it that slurpy appeal every soup should have and the potatoes give it a smooth, lavish texture . The best thing about it? It’s so incredibly yummy and comforting on a cold winter night…which we are starting to have. The second best thing about it? It’s actually Healthy with a capital H. Between the sweet potatoes, the lentils, and the beans you not only have a heartily rich and filling soup, but you have a fiber and iron packed powerful bowl of goodness. Not that I have to say more, but another key ingredient in this stew is turmeric- one of nature’s healers. The medicinal properties are still being revealed, but mainly it is has anti-inflammatory properties. I need to  mention ginger! Ginger is in it too and in addition to providing spice, it aids in digestion. I may be rambling, but really you can have your sumptuous soup and eat it too.

Sweet Potato Stew  Adapted from Sweet Potato Lentil Stew in “The Kind Diet”


  • 1/4 cup olive or safflower oil
  • 2 medium onions, diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 2 small diced tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne (add more if you like it spicy)
  • kosher salt
  • ground black pepper
  • 4 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1″ inch cubes
  • 6 cups vegetable or chicken broth
  • 1 cup lentils (try to get the no-need-to-soak kind)
  • 1 can black soy beans, drained and rinsed

How To:

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.

Place 1 cup of the diced sweet potatoes (approximately 1 sweet potato) on a baking sheet lined with parchment, sprinkle with salt, and bake for about 30 minutes or until tender. Once tender, place into a medium bowl and mash. Set aside.

Heat large stockpot with the oil. Add onions and garlic and saute for about 4 minutes.  Add tomatoes and stir gently. Add ginger, turmeric, cumin, coriander, cinnamon and cayenne. Stir to combine and let cook for about 2 minutes. Add mashed sweet potatoes and stir. Add diced sweet potatoes, allowing to steam lightly in the mixture. Add broth, lentils and beans. Season with salt and pepper. Bring soup to a boil, cover and reduce to a simmer for about 40 minutes or until potatoes and lentils are tender. Check seasonings again, adding more salt and pepper if necessary.

I recommending serving with pita bread, cornbread, or even quesadillas.

Blondies with White Chocolate Chunks

Blondies are basically brownies without the chocolate, causing them to be golden and light but still lovingly rich and buttery. These blondies are not stupid (please note I am kidding because I used to be blonde and I know for a fact the perception isn’t true) – if anything they are a smart cookie taking minimal prep and having lots of flavor. They are bursting with potential. I added white chocolate chunks, but you can really add any candy you love.  Add crushed candy canes for a holiday blondie!

While many people have a thing for chocolate, I am indifferent towards it (I can hear you all gasping). Really, seriously, I prefer vanilla and fruit flavors to anything chocolatey decadent. Crazy, I know. I think its genetic because my father is the same way. I will say that lately I’ve had a thing for white chocolate which I guess isn’t actually chocolate at all (according to the FDA). It doesn’t contain chocolate liqueur which is the requirement of true chocolate. It contains cocoa butter, which gives it the flavor and allows it to have the name chocolate. I highly recommend white chocolate in this recipe because it makes a great vanilla pairing.

Blondies with White Chocolate Chunks


  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) melted unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 3/4 teaspoon good vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup white chocolate chunks

*recipe can be doubled and should be if you are looking to share

How To:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray an 8 by 8 inch baking pan or glass pan with non-stick spray. Line pan with parchment paper, and spray paper as well. You will thank yourself later for taking the time to spray both.

In a large bowl, whisk together butter and sugars until smooth. Whisk in eggs and vanilla. Add flour and salt and stir until just moistened. Add 1/2 off white chocolate chips and stir just to evenly distribute. Transfer batter to prepared pan and smooth top (or gently tap pan against counter). Top with the rest of the white chocolate chunks.

Bake until top of cake is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, about 35-45 minutes. Set pan on a wire rack and let cool completely. Use the parchement overhang to life the blondies out and cut into even squares. Makes about 8, depending on how you like to size your blondies.

Can be stored in a sealed container at room temperature for up to 3 days.