Three Layer Chicken & Bean Quesadilla ~ protein rich, oven-baked goodness

Last Wednesday was national Take Your Child to Work Day, a learning program designed to encourage Grade 9 students from across Canada to spend the day in the workplace of a parent (relative or friend).

Since my husband was out of town on business, our Grade 9’er had a much easier time deciding which parent to spend the day with!  But what I hadn’t anticipated was how committed he was to his choice of activities for the day… I laid out a number of different possibilities on the nutrition front but there appeared to be no contest. My son quite firmly wanted to create a recipe for Inspired Edibles which I was thrilled to oblige (until, that is, he told me he wanted to use my camera to photograph the entire sequence – really? are you sure you wouldn’t rather capture all the special moments on your cell phone camera honey?).

So off my boy went with a head full of yummy thoughts and a stack of glossy cookbooks, jotting down notes; asking questions; making my belly hurt with laughter; and dreaming up a host of different ideas and delicious combinations.

He not only came up with a recipe, he made a full shopping list, went to the grocery store by himself to purchase the ingredients and prepared the entire recipe start to finish on his own (clicks inclus).  There were questions (and some help here and there with the camera) but this was really his baby and I have to say, I was utterly impressed with his initiative, attitude and the incredible success of his project!  SO yummy.

Three Layer Chicken & Bean Quesadilla ~ protein rich, oven-baked goodness
(Adapted from Reader’s Digest, Cooking Smart for a Healthy Heart)

  • 4 large tortillas (about 9″), preferably whole grain
  • 1.5 cups refried beans
  • 1 pound or 450 grams chopped cooked boneless, skinless chicken (we used pre-cooked frozen chicken sautéed in a little olive oil)
  • 1 cup Jack cheese, (or low-fat cheese of choice, as preferred)
  • 1/4 cup pickled sliced jalapeno chiles, chopped,  plus more for decorating
  • 1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives
  • Handful fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup of your favourite salsa



Serves 4-6

Preheat oven to 425 F.

Spray a baking sheet lightly with olive or canola oil.  Place one tortilla on baking sheet and spread a half cup refried beans on top.  Dividing chicken into roughly three even portions, top beans with one portion of chicken followed by a quarter cup of cheese.  Add a sprinkling of chopped jalapenos, olives and cilantro.

My son styled this one entirely himself!

I love the set-up with the tortillas, chicken/cheese in the background.

Repeat layering two times.  Top with the final tortilla, pressing down slightly to help hold layers together.
Cover the top of the quesadilla with foil (tucking foil under edges of bottom tortilla if possible) and bake the quesadilla for about 20 minutes or until heated through.  Gently remove foil, and place final quarter cup of cheese on top of quesadilla returning it to the oven for another 5 minutes until the cheese melts (or broil for one minute or so – watching carefully!).

For the presentation (I love this effect), cut quesadilla into four (or more) pieces without fully separating them.  Spread Greek yogurt around cut lines and spoon salsa in the centre.  Top with pieces of fresh cilantro and jalapeno peppers.
I love the unique presentation of this quesadilla
Allow quesadilla to cool slightly before serving.

Protein rich chicken, beans and Greek yogurt


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  1. Lbergeron says

    What a nice recipe and so inspiring that your son was such an integral part of it all… including the groceries and pics!! He will make his girlfriend very happy one day! Nice work K!!

  2. says

    What an incredibly flavourful and easy dish! I love how the layers look, reminds me of one of those crêpe cakes only savoury. I was going to make navy bean risotto for dinner tonight, I’ll have to check my pantry for the ingredients in this recipe because you and your son have me craving the robust flavours of this treat. And it’s healthy too, which is a must for me, but a bonus too. Whole grain fajita shells is all we have ;-)
    Looks like this day with your son was an enormous success!

  3. SallyBR says

    The apple never falls too far from the tree! HOW COOL! I was smiling and smiling and smiling as I read through, no doubt your boy is a natural blogger! Someone must start doing some serious genome sequencing and draw important conclusions on the biochemistry involved.

    great job!

  4. Barb Bamber says

    OH.. yummmy! A tortilla pie! I think there needs to be an International Take Your Parent to Work Day;) He clearly gets his talent and inspiration from his mom! How awesome is this?! Did he share the project with his class?

  5. nutmegs_seven says

    These look amazing! I love quesadillas, and I love the combination of chicken and beans even more. Healthy Mexican goodness!

  6. Koko says

    Awesome job!!! These looks super delicious, what great pictures! Kelly, your son is so lucky to have such a cool mom :-) I bet his day was pretty great compared to some kids who had to go to the office!

  7. Sonia! The Healthy Foodie says

    Oh my goodness, I haven’t had that in so long! Now you just got me craving it big time. I find it’s so hard to make a quesadilla look good and appealing in pictures, but you sure succeeded. And your son didn’t do too bad a job either (in fact, he really is quite talented! You should hire him!)

    Thanks a bunch for the inspiration!

  8. inspirededibles says

    Thanks Sonia – I will have to share your kind words with my son when he gets home from school. I agree, his presentation is quite unique from the more common quesadilla surface. In the end, it made for a more interesting photo… you’re right, I should hire him! ;0) Thanks for dropping by.

  9. inspirededibles says

    You know, he should absolutely share it with his class… I wonder if he would be mortified to do so… you know how it is, 14 years old – gotta be cool at all times ;-).

  10. inspirededibles says

    Thanks so much Eva… the day was an enormous success and it was just so neat to see how eager and excited he was about it too… who knew?! ;-).

  11. says

    Your son rocks like YOU. I loooove this. I order this many times when I go out, but this looks MUCH better than anything I’ve ever had. Mmmmm.
    How are you, Kelly? Xxx I appreciate YOU.

  12. justonecookbook says

    Love this idea of layered quesadilla. It looks like savory cake (that I can make without fear!). Your son did a great job!

  13. SpicieFoodie says

    Aw such a sweet post:) Your son certainly has a good eye for photography and for creating delicious recipes. The quesadilla looks mouthwatering!

  14. says

    I think you have a little genius on your hands. I would never have thought he had taken that photo – or created that recipe. I love stacked tortillas because you can use up lots of leftovers but mine have never looked as good as his.

  15. Kristy says

    Look out food blogging world we have a new foodie sensation on the scene! This is downright awesome! Does your son want to come work with me for the day too? :) This is just awesome. There isn’t a thing about this recipe I wouldn’t enjoy. I love how these are stacked too. What a fun day you two must have had! I love it.

  16. says

    Impressive! Your boy has some good taste and genes from his mum.

    Kelly I need more protein rich recipes, my husband lost weight again and he wants to start the gym again. The problem with him is that he isn’t gaining weight and he doesn’t like to eat (you heard me right). He eats every 2-3 hours but small quantities and he is always looking for sweet stuff or protein rich food. In the evening I tend to make some carb based dish, so to balance his diet. Any idea what else I could cook to make him gain weight? It has been a heavy challenge for me to figure out new things, he is so picky.

  17. says

    I’m impressed with the photography and the recipe! Nice to read about your sons interest in your line of work! :) You don’t hear to many boys that want to be in the kitchen! I think he should do a guest post in the future! :)

  18. says

    Looks like you’ve got some competition Kelly! :) Actually, it’s obvious you are very proud of not only the recipe which is totally awesome, but the process and the pictures. I certainly am impressed! Is culinary school in his future? Love the finishing touch of spreading the yogurt on the cut edges. Not only was he thinking nutrition, but presentation as well.

  19. says

    Kelly, I would exchange any pizza in the world for being able to taste this quesadilla! It’s a piece of art. I cannot believe (of course I do!) that your son has invented it, made it and styled the photos! He is so talented. I suppose soon you will print new business cards: “Kelly Mulcair & son, nutritionists”.

  20. inspirededibles says

    Thanks Suzanne – I have to say his presentation – with the yogurt, salsa and other toppings – really dazzled me. I would have never thought of that! ;-0)

  21. inspirededibles says

    Hello Helene, in addition to pursuing a balance diet one strategy is to focus on nutrient rich, calorie dense options like olive oil, coconut milk and coconut oil, nuts and seeds as well as avocado. Also, if you head over to, France has some gorgeous, nutrient dense treats that are sourced from whole foods. That might help your picky eater ;0).

  22. inspirededibles says

    Aww, thanks so much MJ!! The presentation floored me with the smear of yogurt, salsa and touches here and there – all his! I honestly would have never thought of presenting a quesadilla exterior like that… I love learning from my kids!!

  23. inspirededibles says

    “Kelly Mulcair & son, nutritionists” – heehee, love it!! :)

    My gosh Sissi, this tasted out of this world good. Thankfully, he does not make this sort of bliss too often – LOL.

  24. says

    Wow, you’re going to have a real chef on your hands as he gets older (well, it seems like you already do, actually!). What a great job he’s done – it looks absolutely delicious, and he’s done a fabulous job at constructing and styling it. Hmm… makes me want to have one myself now. Can I hire him to cook dinners for us on days when we’re tired? :D

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