The Great Cheese Adventure + RECIPE: Cauliflower Quesadillas

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One of the top things in my life I’m grateful for, aside from my kind, patient, incredible husband and the farm we created together (and clean water and good food and a roof over my head…) are the two beautiful energetic pups we adopted one year, three weeks and one day ago. They are best companions an outdoor enthusiast such as myself could ever ask for.

These girls are babies still.  Two years a handful of days old. They need exercise and a lot of it. They need sunlight. They need adventure. They need all the things that I need that I sometimes forget I need because I let life get in the way. They remind me that sometimes it’s better to play in the snow then to clean the house. They remind me that you can have adventures within a quarter mile from your own home. They are great cuddlers and literally lick away my tears when I’m sad. I couldn’t ask for two better creatures to share my life with.  Again, besides my Mr. Carrot, but that’s probably obvious.

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Well today, the girls and I, we had ourselves a little adventure. We’ll call it the great cheese adventure because it began as a quest for cheese so I could make these perfect quesadillas.  But it ended up being so much more than that.

There’s a little cheese factory a couple miles from our house. I know. Wisconsin. Get your cheese jokes in now. But anyhow, there is.  And I had been dying to spend some time with the dogs and get out in the sunshine and play in the snow, so I decided to walk the two miles to the Silver Lewis Cheese Factory. And then, because I was adequately layered, and because it was so beautiful outside, we (me and my beautiful little ladies) took several detours. There are almost 1000 acres of public land surrounding the property where we live (I know, I NEVER deserve to complain with 1000 beautiful acres and a cheese shop in my backyard). We climbed trees and trudged through snow and basked in the silence of winter. I took a bazillion pictures of the bare trees and cattails and blue skies.

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I arrived home with my 2 pounds of cheese: Habenero Farmer’s cheese and a beautiful speckled Co-Jack. The perfect melty quesadilla cheeses. And just like that, I whipped up a cauliflower quesadilla for dinner inspired by the legendary Deb of Smitten Kitchen.  And it was absolute perfection.

Happy weekend everybody!!!  Eat some yummy things!!

-Leek

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CAULIFLOWER QUESADILLA
Inspired by a Smitten Kitchen recipe

Smitten used a poblano in her version of a cauliflower quesadilla and I had thought about subbing in some jalapeno but honestly I kind of love it with nothing other than the spicy cheese blend. It’s got a nice, very subtle heat that no one will mind. And then people are free to add hot sauce or hot salsa as they please.

Takes 40 minutes
Makes 2 beautiful quesadillas that will serve 2-4 people, depending on hunger levels

Around 5 cups roughly chopped cauliflower, you want small pieces, nothing bigger than an inch
2 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 scallions, sliced
½ teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon chili powder
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 cup shredded Colby jack cheese
1 cup shredded spicy jack cheese (we used habanero)
4 10-inch tortillas

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees while you chop your cauliflower and shred the cheese.

Toss chopped cauliflower with olive oil and a generous amount of Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper in a medium bowl until well coated.  Add to a baking sheet and place in preheated oven.  Roast for 15 minutes, without touching it.  You want it to brown and char in spots.  Shake pan after 15 minutes and roast 10 minutes longer so new spots can take on color.

Remove cauliflower from oven and put back in medium bowl.  Toss with cumin, chili powder and lime juice.

Warm a large skillet or griddle over medium low heat.  Place one quesadilla down on the skillet surface.  Add half the cauliflower mixture as uniformly as possible, followed by half of the cheese. Top with another tortilla and press down slightly. Cook for 3 minutes and flip using a large spatula. Cook for another 3 minutes.

Serve warm with sour cream, salsa, hot sauce, etc. Yummmm!

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