Kelly’s Vegan and Gluten Free Baked Quesadillas

by Maria Theresa Maggi on July 2, 2014

black bean mushroom and sweet potato baked quesadilla

My daughter-in-law Kelly is one of my favorite people on this earth. Although she moves fast to get things done, she is never pushy or aggressive about it. She just has a nice lighthearted way of moving things along when they seem stuck in the mud. And fast though she goes at moving things along, she is patient and funny when it’s most needed.

I can’t even count how many times her gentle and fun way of doing things saved the day during my move. When I was packing my clothes, I was convinced they would never fit in the closet space at the new place, and thought I had to take them all off the hangers and roll them up. As I began this task, I started to get overwhelmed. But Kelly showed me the trick of cutting a hole in a big garbage bag, and containing several things on hangers in it. That way the clothes don’t have to be packed and don’t get dirty in  transit. “I’ve moved a lot,” she said. “And you can just take them off the hangers there if you need to.”

Boy was I glad I took her suggestion. When I actually began to fill my new closets, I realized most everything on the hangers would fit. And with all the custom built in cubbies and drawers and the ingenious shoe rack, there is even room to spare. So I saved myself a lot of redoing by taking Kelly’s helpful hint.


Once we were over there and trying to set everything up, another small hitch nearly froze me like a bunny in headlights. If I am a bit of a clotheshorse, I am also a bit of an, er, well,  spice-horse. Even though I cleared out a whole compost pot full of old ones, I still have many spices that smell good and that feel like an essential part of my kitchen. I tried unsuccessfully about 4 times to come up with a scheme for fitting them in the cupboards located conveniently near the stove. The low point was when the spice turntable I’ve had longer than Mike has been alive finally broke. There were boxes of spices and no way to make them accessible. Why this, after the hoops of the rezone and many other more monumental obstacles I navigated with grace under fire, was the thing that nearly undid me is one of those mysteries of the exhausting maelstrom of a big move.

But Kelly had an idea. “Do you have a big basket?” she asked. “We just need to contain everything that doesn’t fit in the cupboard for now where you can see it.”  Suddenly, I knew just the one, a large shallow one with a sturdy handle that had been spirited out to the studio. For many years I’ve dried herbs in it.


I have long used baskets as a way of organizing myself. When I was just a teenager, I redid my own room, painting the walls and all the furniture myself. At that time, my art teacher’s sister, who was an interior decorator, suggested it, and I’ve been playing with baskets to contain my life ever since. So when Kelly reminded me of this strategy, it was like remembering the comfort of an old friend. Thanks to her kind ingenuity, I felt  like myself again: playful and even a little festive in the middle of the chaos.

Mike valiantly drove to the mall before they closed to find a replacement for the spice turn table. We all thought it was lovely until we realized it was just ever so slightly too wide to fit in the cupboard. But that didn’t deter him. He got on that smart phone of his and ordered me this stainless steel beauty, which arrived a couple of days ago:


So now, thanks to each of them, I have both high tech and more traditional ways to access the spices that I love in my new kitchen. I have plenty of room for both, and oodles of time to decide where everything will finally end up.

Kelly is not only an expert at creative moving strategies when the pressure is on, she is a very creative and talented vegan cook. So I want to share with you one of  her specialties in regular rotation at their own house back in Portland, which we ate here with gusto out on my new deck. Moving is hungry work!


I warn you. These quesadillas are simple enough to put together, but addictive. And they are healthy. Since Kelly made a big batch of filling, I ate them every night for a few nights running after they left. In fact I was so committed to eating them I have only one photo of a partially eaten one to share here. The combinations you could use are endless, but here I’d like to give you Kelly’s classic version, and her ingenious way of baking them. It’s almost a south of the border style panini.

Mike likes to laugh at how I jump at the chance to introduce Kelly as my daughter-in-law. It’s true; I’m shamelessly over the moon to claim her as a relative. I didn’t have any girls of my own. But now there’s someone in my life who is perfect for my son, who is beautiful, smart, talented, creative, resourceful, funny, loving, patient, and kind. Who makes me fabulous healthy tasty low fat vegan food whenever I’m with them. Who shares Mike’s and my love of the absurd and quirky. And who’s happy to have my old Barbies, including my grandmother’s rather bizarre handmade Roman Catholic nun outfit for “nun” other than Barbie herself, which Mike nicknamed, appropriately, “Nunie.”


Back in Portland, all dressed up and ready to pray.

Who wouldn’t want to proclaim that great loving good fortune and shared silliness from the rooftops?

Maria (moonwatcher)


Leave a Comment

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Veronica July 2, 2014 at 10:00 am

That’s great you had such wonderful support during your move, and that you love your d-i-l. 🙂 Her way of making quesadillas is exactly how I make them!! The pressing down helps make the top crispy, too, so you don’t have to bother with flipping them. I haven’t used sweet potato in mine, though – and seeing it now, I have no idea why I haven’t! Sounds absolutely divine. I know what I’m making for lunch….
And “Nunie” made me giggle. Love the weird creativity of that one. 🙂 Good to see that you’re still staying crazy….!


2 moonwatcher July 2, 2014 at 12:16 pm

Hi Veronica! I should have known you’d use this nifty way to make your quesadillas too! 🙂 That’s exactly what Kelly said about the pressing down–it helps make the tops crispy– which is oh so good, and not bother with trying to flip. Hope you like them with sweet potato, too. I’m glad “Nunie” made you giggle. Once crazy, always crazy. 🙂 xo


3 Cathy July 3, 2014 at 3:03 pm

Great post, Maria! Love how you cover many topics with such enthusiasm! 😉 I made Enchilada Casserole last night and ate the leftovers today for lunch in corn tortillas; nothing better than Mexican food! This recipe sounds great, I will have to try it! 🙂 Love Nunie! Hug to you! xo Cathy


4 moonwatcher July 3, 2014 at 4:53 pm

Thanks, Cathy! Yes, Mexican food is true comfort food, and your casserole at StraightUpFood is right at the top of that list. I am glad you like the idea of these quesadillas–I am really amazed at how wonderfully they bake up with just the right crispness. And yes, isn’t Nunie hard to resist?! LOL hugs back, xo


5 Molly (Based on a Sprue Story) July 5, 2014 at 9:06 am

I just moved into a new apartment myself, so I feel the pain of trying to find places for everything and get everything into its place in a new home! It’s great that you have supportive people helping you get settled. I could use a taskmaster around here to get me off the Internet and back to unpacking boxes…and to make me delicious sweet potato quesadillas! Those sound delicious.


6 moonwatcher July 5, 2014 at 9:16 am

Hi Molly! All best to you, too, in your new apartment, and in the huge task of unpacking all those boxes. I would still be doing that if my dynamic dui from Portland had not come to help. I think maybe you need to make some of these quesadillas to comfort you in your unpacking work! 🙂 Hang in there, and many blessings to you in your new home.


7 Donna McFarland July 7, 2014 at 3:20 am

Wow! This is amaaazing-i’d never have thought of that! And…both the top and the bottom tortilla get crispy being together like that? Awesome discovery 🙂 Ahhh, it sounds like things are moving along very WELL for you there! Sooo happy for you! And…you even found time to share this with us-Thank you so much! I’ll definitely be trying this soon! Your “nunie” barbie…You’re so crazy girl!! 🙂 loved it!


8 moonwatcher July 7, 2014 at 6:59 pm

Hi Donna! Isn’t it ingenious? And yes, they both get crisy this way. Kelly says the cookie sheet keeps the top one from curling up while it’s drying out. Makes sense, right? Thanks for your happiness and good wishes about the move, and your laugh about “Nunie”!! Good to be crazy!! :)xo


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