Roasted Veggie Quesadillas with Pesto and Goat Cheese + a Twist to My Favorite Barley Risotto

As I have been prepping for my first day back to work tomorrow I have tried to get myself back in the mindset of thinking through all our meals on Sundays. I forget how this can be a lot of work up front but how much easier it is as the week goes on and you have things prepped and ready for the meal ahead of time. I wanted to share two meals I made this week that were delicious. If you are able to roast the vegetables ahead of time then the actual prep of these delicious meals is simple. First up was a variation of my favorite barley risotto. Instead of mushrooms and sausage this time I did butternut squash, kale and turkey sausage (this would be just as good without the meat as well). I love anything with roasted vegetables and have always loved roasted vegetable sandwiches so decided to try it in quesadilla format.  I added pesto and goat cheese to make it complete.

As I said I highly recommend roasting the vegetables for both of these recipes at the same time.  Then when it comes time to make the meals it’s fast. Plus, after the vegetables are roasted the risotto only uses one pot (MY FAVORITE) and all I had to do to make the quesadillas the next night was assemble and bake. After roasting store the squash separate from the other vegetables (the mushrooms, zucchini, onions and red peppers can go in the same container). Below is one of the two pans of veggies I did (the other had the onion, red pepper and second zucchini).


Roasted Vegetable Quesadillas with Pesto and Goat Cheese

Serves 4IMG_3264


  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3 zucchini sliced the long way
  • 2 red bell peppers, sliced into 1 inch long chunks
  • 3 portabella mushrooms, julienned
  • 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 ounces of goat cheese
  • 1 cup pesto
  • 8 flour tortillas


  1. This step can be done in advance. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray then lay vegetables on top and drizzle olive oil over them. Roast at 400 for 40 minutes or until tender. If making the quesadillas later in the week store the vegetables in a sealed container in the fridge overnight.
  2. When it’s time to eat. Set oven to 350
  3. Assemble quesadillas by laying four tortillas down and spreading the vegetables evenly over them. Next, break off small chunks of goat cheese and spread on top of the vegetables. On the other 4 tortillas spread 1/4 cup of pesto evenly to the edges. Flip this quesadilla on top of the other tortilla.
  4. Lay all four assembled quesadillas on a baking sheet and bake for 5-10 minutes (until tortilla is slightly browned), flip and bake 5-10 min on the other side.
  5. Serve warm

Butternut Squash, Kale, Turkey Sausage Barley Risotto


  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 1 pound of bulk turkey sausage (or two sausages with the casein removed)
  • 2 cups of chicken broth
  • 1 cup of hull-less or pearl barley, rinsed
  • 1 bunch of kale, stems removed and ripped to small pieces (I used a 5 ounce bag of kale)
  • 1 Butternut squash peeled and diced (I bought a 20 ounce container which is ~3 cups)
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. This step can be done a day ahead if desired. Spray a baking pan with cooking spray then place the diced squash on the pan and drizzle with 1 Tbsp olive oil. Roast the butternut squash at 400 for 40 minutes.
  2. Heat dutch oven (or a large pot) to medium high and add 1 Tbsp olive oil. Saute the onion and  sausage until sausage is cooked through.
  3. Add chicken broth and barley to the pot, bring to a boil then cover and reduce to a simmer for ~40 minutes until barley is tender and the liquid is absorbed
  4. When 10 minutes remain (after barley has been on for 30 minutes) add the kale and roasted butternut squash.
  5. Remove from heat. Add the Parmesan cheese.
  6. Add salt and pepper as desired and serve

Chicken Tortilla Soup and Turkey Lasagna

When you pass your 40 week gestation date and you feel comfortable with baby happily hanging out you realize it’s time to cook. We hit single digits for the first time all winter and we didn’t have plans (as we could have been at the hospital) so Ryan and I took our stab at getting ahead for dinners. Yesterday he made our favorite turkey lasagna recipe and today we made chicken tortilla soup to freeze and enjoy post baby T3. Unlike a lot of chicken tortilla soups this one has noodles in it which I thought the kids would love. Two recipes down, one Asian Noodle dish prepped and ready for dinner tonight.

Looking for an easy, tasty meal for these cold days? Try one of these recipes. The lasagna is my favorite as it’s easy but still has homemade sauce and great flavor. As for the soup, one spoon in to taste test and it’s yummy!

Turkey Lasagna-  (Ina Garten) Barefoot Contessa

Chicken Tortilla Soup (with noodles) from

A Tribute to the Food of the Month – Aaron’s Favorite Turkey Burgers

My brother-in-law shares the same love for cooking as I do and this year for my birthday he sent me his favorite turkey burger recipe for June’s Food of the Month. It was such a thoughtful gift and I was very excited to make this recipe since olives and feta cheese are right up my alley.
I made the burgers this Thursday when our friends Jena and Ryan came over for dinner. Although it’s a big statement I can say they are the best homemade turkey burger I have ever made; and believe me I’ve made a lot. He also sent me a great recipe for homemade french fries which was ironic since at work I just talked about satisfying cravings, specifically french fries, in a healthy way. If you’ve been craving a burger and fries try making them at home with healthier ingredients. Not only will you save money but you’ll save fat and your arteries as well!

Turkey Burgers with Tomato Jam, Olives and Feta

Source: Bon Appetit August 2008

 Oven Fries



  • Two pounds unpeeled russet potatoes cut into 1/2 inch sticks
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1.5 tsp cracked coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • Course salt
  • I also added some fresh rosemary, chopped


Toss ingredients in a large bowl and bake at 450 degrees for 40-50 minutes (or until crispy).
Ratings: Sina: 5, Ryan: 3.5 (per Ryan “a 4 if I would have made them crispier”)

Food of the Month

I know what you’re thinking it’s June 4th and I’m a little behind on my food of the month. I apologize for my neglect to the blog.  I’ve been outside pulling out bushes, weeding my garden and our summer season of weddings and bachelorette parties officially began last night. So needless to say I’ve been very limited on finding free time to blog but I haven’t forgotten about this months food. After many dinners on the grill due to a broken oven I thought I would dedicate this month (…ahem…the best month of the year…) to turkey burgers. Turkey burgers are so easy to make and can be a healthier alternative to beef burgers. I’m not talking about buying turkey patties and throwing them on the grill. I’m talking about homemade turkey patties. Starting with ground turkey, adding in chopped veggies, cheese and spices, forming them into patties and then tossing them on the grill to cook.  The combinations and varieties you can make are endless which makes them a fun food to cook throughout the summer months.

The first thing to know is what to look for when you buy ground turkey since the varieties at the store aren’t all the same. Frozen ground turkey is usually dark meat and can actually contain skin in it. This type of turkey is just as high in fat as ground beef. I recommend not using this type of turkey. Regular ground turkey, which is labeled as 93% lean is usually part white and part dark meat and can still be fairly high in calories and fat although still less fat than ground beef. Ground turkey breast, is the lowest in fat. This can also be used in recipes but it dries out easily so you may need to add an egg to the burgers. I tend to buy the lean ground turkey for burgers since it doesn’t get as dry but find that the ground turkey breast works well in soups, stews and chili’s.

This past week I decided to make crop share turkey burgers. I chopped up some of the ramps I had left, which by the way I’m obsessed with. If you are ever at a farmers market and see them BUY them. You can add them to almost anything for a garlic/onion flavor. I then added in my leftover chives, some spinach and crumbled feta cheese. We grilled them and topped them with a thin slice of Swiss cheese and served them on a whole wheat bun with a side of corn and asparagus. It was a delicious dinner. The burgers were very juicy and flavorful.

If you prefer to follow a recipe for your burgers try the one I listed below for a start before you get creative with your own combination. The cucumber-feta topping would be perfect on a hot day. My aunt also has an AMAZING hoisin turkey burger recipe that I posted below

Turkey Hummus Sliders

Food Network (recipe suggested by Greta)

Asian Turkey Burgers

Cooking Light 2001 (provided by my Aunt Nancy)
  • Combine 1/2 cup hoisin sauce, 1/4tsp garlic powder, 1/4 tsp ground Ginger and 2 pounds of ground turkey
  • Shape into 8 patties and grill or broil.