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I’ve been lagging a bit on posting this recipe mainly because I always seem to end up eating all the cheese. Clearly my obsession with cheese has become a bit of an addiction worthy of a 12-step program, but I have hope that I can control myself someday. For now, I will share with you one of my favorite cheese-filled indulgences that, regardless of the simplicity of the recipe, seems to be a hit no matter who ends up eating it with me. Not only is it super tasty and exploding with cheese, but it’s also incredibly simple & inexpensive to make. This should also make a great half-time snack for tomorrow’s Super Bowl festivities.
Quesadilla recipes are all over the place in cookbooks and recipe sites because of the simple & inexpensive factor. The Mexican version of grilled cheese, this gives you some bare-bones nutrition with very little effort. But plain ol’ cheese & tortillas can get a little dull, so I like to jazz mine up a bit. A lot, actually. I like to add plump, tender, well-seasoned, and spicy hot shrimp. Though I don’t have a super high tolerance for spicy foods, these can get pretty high on the Kimber-heat scale. However, the creamy gooeyness of the cheese absorbs a lot of this and gives your tongue a bit of a reprieve.
I use frozen cooked shrimp but can guarantee you that making this with fresh raw shrimp is even more delicious. Back when I could afford to make these with the fresh shrimp that was all I would use, the reason being that after a while, the flavors of the spices & chilies infuse the shrimp. So instead of a coating of spices, you end up with flavorful shrimp the entire way through. It’s also easier to avoid tough, hardened shrimp due to cooking already cooked shrimp. Alas, one makes do with what one can afford. Anyway, I usually get my shrimp at TJ’s, the medium cooked 50-60 count, for $5.99. I have seen similar bagged shrimp at stores like Safeway for about $8.00, but even if you do get them at the increased price, this is a low-priced dish. Shredding my own cheese saves me about $1-2 per 8 oz. of the finished product, and buying my vegetables at the farmer’s market cut those costs in more than half.
If you’re unable to eat spicy foods, just cut out the cayenne and chilies from the recipe. I suggest keeping the other spices in because this saves you from the humdrum cheese & tortilla problem. Keep in mind that these can also be made with chicken, steak, or just veggies, as most quesadillas; I just happen to think that shrimp is more fun. I mention serving this with Pico de Gallo and promise to have the recipe up shortly. And now, on with the show!