They’ll Hold You To It

I’ve learned the hard way that when it comes to kids, don’t make a promise you won’t be able to keep. Don’t promise a trip to Barnes and Noble this weekend if you know it’s going to take some logistical heroics to squeeze it between all the games and practices and trips to the mall to buy new boots. (Again! Why am I always buying boots?) Don’t promise you will kick the soccer ball around after work if you know it’s going to be dark outside when you get home. (They will blame you no matter how convincingly you try to explain Daylight Savings, the meeting that ran late, the train that chugged along at a snail’s pace.) Don’t promise you’ll make a cereal box village on Sunday afternoon, if you know there’s a good chance you’ll have to wrap up some last-minute work on a project due Monday and will likely respond “in a minute…in five minutes…in ten minutes…in about an hour” to the little voice that keeps asking you “Now Mom? Now Mom? Now?” and then eventually with resigned, puppy-dog disappointment, “Oh forget it.” Does anything make me feel lousier? I don’t think so.

Whatever you do, don’t promise them you’ll take part in Meatless Monday! Don’t get me wrong — it’s not that I don’t love the idea of a weekly vegetarian meal and the hugely popular initiative to get families to cut back on meat once a week  — I more than love it. I embrace it! We like to do our part for the planet with plant-based dinners at least two times a week. It’s just that those dinners somehow don’t ever seem to fall on a Monday. And for my two little literalists, this is not acceptable. They don’t ever seem to give me props when we have salad pizza on Thursday or Minestrone on Sunday or Bean Cakes on Wednesday. It’s the Pomegranate-braised Pork Loin I dared to make on Monday that they remember. “Mooooom,” said one of my eco-policewomen last week, setting her fork down, leaning back, and crossing her arms. “It’s Monday! Why are we eating pork?”

So next Monday we’re having veggie Quesadillas. Because they are fast, because they are good, and because I promised.

Black Bean and Goat Cheese Quesadillas
The girls aren’t goat cheese lovers, so for their quesadillas, I usually replace it with shredded cheddar or Jack.

vegetable oil
1 to 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 teaspoon ground cumin
salt and pepper to taste
2 15-ounce cans black beans, rinsed and drained
1/3 cup water
3 scallions (white and green parts only) chopped
6 8-inch whole wheat tortillas
4 ounces goat cheese

Heat about 2 tablespoons oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add garlic, cumin, salt, and pepper and cook, stirring, until garlic is golden, about 1 minute. Stir in beans and mash them with a large fork. Add water and scallions and cook, stirring until most of water is absorbed, about 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat.

Set a separate skillet over medium-high heat and add a little more vegetable oil. Place one tortilla in skillet, spreading about a sixth of bean filling on one side. Sprinkle a little goat cheese on top of beans and fold other half over to seal. Flip around a few times until tortillas are golden and cheese is melted, about 2 to 3 minutes. Remove to a dinner plate and tent with foil to keep warm. Repeat with remaining tortillas.

I served these with crispy kale, which is another way of saying I sauteed the kale in olive oil over medium-high heat, added salt, and then completely forgot about it as I was summoned to explain a bar model math problem. But you know what? The leaves turned crispy and with a little more salt, they became delicious, easy-to-eat (and easy-to-sell) kale chips.

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Love this post! It was very relatable to my week. We tried to implement meatless Monday this week, not an easy task with one kid who is a meat lover. He just started eating black beans so I’m putting this recipe on the menu for next week-can’t wait it looks delicious!


It’s so true; they never forget! And while it sometimes happens, there are few things that make me feel as terrible as breaking a deal with my little girl.

Thanks for this recipe! My daughter loves quesadillas for her lunch, and I’m always looking for ways to add some variety!


I was just lamenting the loss of infantile amnesia. My son went from forgetting about his Halloween candy haul last year to counting pieces and tracking the number of Reese’s Peanut Butter cups with military precision this year. There goes my candy stash.

I love meatless meals too and always appreciate a new idea on an old favorite like the quesadilla. And big props to your black bean and egg burrito recipe, both kids ask for those more often than I ‘d like to admit! That is a regular meatless meal we have in our rotation too.


The idea of kale perplexes me. In my family, it was a running gag, trying to get the gullible to eat their kale garnish at restaurants. Is kale actually edible? Desired? I’ve seen it come up on your blog before, and I just can’t quite wrap my head around this concept…


Love the combination of goat cheese and black beans. And while I’m an empty nester now, I so remember the days when my words would come back to haunt me time and time again. We always follow Meatless Mondays–my daughter, former president of her high school Green Club, wouldn’t have it any other way! Thanks for a wonderful post.


Haha this is so true. My kids remember EVERYTHING. We have been trying to do vegetarian once a week. It doesn’t always work out but, hey…baby steps, right?

Robin Greenwood

Quesadillas are our quick, “no brainer” meals. Here’s a new spin – KALE quesadillas! Caramelize about 4 onions (sliced), add one bunch of chopped kale and cook until it’s softened. Some sweet red pepper slices are good too. Salt/pepper to taste. Spread mixture on half a whole wheat flour tortilla, sprinkle generously with whatever cheese you have, fold over, and cook in a skillet until the cheese has melted and both sides are browned nicely. Serve with salsa and sour cream.

A great recipe for those new to the wonderful world of greens. And it’s vegetarian! To un-vegify, add some cooked,crumbled sausage.


And don’t promise your five-year-old a dog when she turns 10. Off I go…to walk Ramona the labradoodle.


Black bean and avocado quesadillas are a regular vegetarian staple meal in our home, so I’m thrilled to be able to change it up. Why have I never thought of goat cheese? Excellent idea. Our recipe is similar to yours in the remaining ingredients, although I will admit I haven’t found a whole wheat tortilla that comes close to the flavor of the classic white. Where do you find yours?


Oh my goodness I love veggie quesadillas… especially with black beans. but I never thought of goat cheese! goat cheese makes everything better!

I am loving your blog and so glad I stumbled upon it. I don’t have kids yet but I absolutely relate to the busy-ness of life and struggle to get great-tasting, delicious food on the table each day. Thanks for your recipes and your beautiful, authentic words. 🙂


we’ve been doing (aka attempting) meatless monday the past few months. honestly, we only succeed about once every few weeks. I’ve compiled a few go to meatless recipes/meals which are easy to modify.

-Penne w/ pesto (recipe below) with garlic rolls
-veggie and potato roast (recipe below)
-paninis, either caprese or peanut butter on buttered brioche
-focaccia w/ assorted toppings—veggies, cheese, etc

Easy vegan pesto:
1 cup basil
handful of pignoli nuts
2 cloves of garlic
olive oil

combine basil, nuts, garlic, salt and pepper in the food processor. add olive oil until desired consistency is reached. serve over hot or cold pasta.
alternitively, and not vegan, add pesto to 1/2 a cup simmering heavy cream and melted butter for pesto-cream sauce.

veggie and potato roast:
baby yukon gold potatoes
hen of the woods mushrooms
shitake mushrooms
olive oil
chili flakes

this is the veggie combo we like but anything goes. mix with oil, garlic, and seasonings until thoroughly coated (about 1/2 a cup oil is needed to cover a 4 person serving of veggie mix). let marinate and roast at 45o for 40 mins in a thin layer on buttered cookie sheet. finish w/ a few mins under the broiler for a nice char


Thanks for this one! Never thought about fixing up black beans this way. You’ve shown me the path to a more substantial quesadilla and even better..the kids (6 & 4) like it. Your blog keeps getting better and better. You’ve converted me into a daily visitor. Thanks for all the good ideas and also your parental humor.. You guys make me laugh.

Sara Wetmore

I made this for my 15 month old tonight and I’ve never seen him devour dinner so fast! Thank you for making tonight battle-free at the high chair! I also just want to say that I think you have the most fantastic blog (and book) and since I’ve started reading you’ve become a staple in my kitchen!


I came across this quesadilla a few years ago and now, at 19 weeks pregnant, it’s something I eat almost 5-6 times per week (subbing out the amazing goat cheese) and slathering on avocado, sour cream and tons of hot sauce. Such a great food memory in the making!