potato-kale quesadillas for a wintery weekend

My dad says all this snow in D.C. is because of me. Perhaps the weather gods are trying to appease this transplanted Canadian, but I hereby give them permission to cease operations.

After three feet fell between Friday and Saturday, the city shut down. There was no public transit available in our neighborhood from late Friday night through Monday. This morning, Tuesday, I managed to trudge to work on brown-sugared streets and stalled trains, my commute finally clocking in at two hours. By the time I got home tonight more flakes were falling, and an email saying we’re closed again tomorrow was waiting in my inbox.

Thanks to my housemates, I’m managing to stay sane (and thanks to the sun, still cheerful). Austin brought on a craving I didn’t even know I had with homemade chicken pot pie, and Becki made me nostalgic for childhood Sunday mornings with her croissants—delicious when warmed to a crisp in the oven.

Unfortunately I didn’t get a lot of cooking or baking done myself. (I’ve re-discovered that this is what happens when you’re cooking for one, and can’t keep up with your domestically-inclined housemates.) While they measured and sauteéd away, I was busy trying to make a dent in a batch of beet borscht and vat of homemade hummus—supplemented of course with regular doses of popcorn.

Eating hand-to-mouth like this, all snuggled up in the living room watching the dogs play in the snow, brought its own hermitic serenity.

I did manage to try a new recipe a colleague printed out for me before we left early on Friday. Kale, potatoes, and goat cheese are creative quesadilla fillings, and even though I probably modified the recipe too much for it to properly reflect the original, it yielded tangy and meaty Saturday-night satisfaction.

The best themes to emerge from our white weekend, however, were yoga and Mr. Yogato.  Their linguistic semblance is completely unrelated, but not their ability to turn my unexpected long weekend into a health and wellness retreat. Becki’s four-wheel drive made it possible for Scott and me to get to Studio Serenity in the funky Adams Morgan district.

After four classes, I could see why the place was their second home. Each session starts with dabs of essential oil and friendly introductions. So far, the instructors have all delivered the ideal mix of rigor and relaxation, and each class finishes with aromatherapy spray, spiced tea, and animal crackers. (Perhaps to remind us of all our wonderful downward dogs, cat stretches and fish poses!)

The cookies and tea weren’t enough to replenish our sweaty, stretched-out bodies though, and so with lavender still on our noses, Scott carted me off to Mr. Yogato. Unlike most frozen yogurt places, their yogurt is pure and unsweetened. I was happy to discover that per ounce, their yogurt has one whole gram of protein, 0 grams of fat, and only 30 calories. (That meant that even my generously sized “middle” brought me 8 grams of protein, no fat, and only 240 post-yoga calories.) Topped with blueberries and raspberries, there was plenty of room for anti-oxidants, too.

At the time of this posting, I am stuffed with my second quesadilla of this extended weekend, pouring a glass of wine, and setting up for another day at home. The federal government has declared another snow day, and I will be happy: as long as I have my yoga, my yogurt, and new things to try in the kitchen.

And I’m proud to welcome the quesadilla back into my repertoire, with startling new flavors peeking out from beneath its folds.

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I’m sure it had already been invented, but my mom and I like to think we coined the special hybrid term pizzadillas — a cross between a pizza and a quesadilla, or simply an open-faced quesadilla. So I figure if we can coin a term like that, I can coin another one: the mango-dilla.

The other night when we became suddenly hungry at 8, we decided to see what we could “throw together” together in the kitchen. The result? What I often call “accidental gourmet,” something you’re really not expecting to taste that great but somehow just does.

It went kinda like this: Hmm, homemade whole wheat tortillas in the freezer. Hmm, leftover tropical fruit salsa. A chunk of blah cheese that just might go the distance. Cilantro, check. Green onion, check. Now for the protein. Cans of tuna? Can we do this? But wasn’t that salsa created to go with tuna (steaks) in the first place? So why not? I dug into the can, keeping the fish in chunks rather than breaking it up like you would for a tuna-salad sandwich.

Thanks to the Mexicans for inventing a cuisine that’s so flexible, colorful, fresh and easy. Barely any chopping, 5 minutes in the toaster oven (for me) and the frying pan (for the hubby) and off we were to Oaxaca. Or even Syracuse, where it’s at least as warm. Ole!

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