It's that point in your life, when you're in pure survival mode; you fantasize about sleeping through the night, sleeping in, relaxing bubble baths and that day when your kids will finally puke in the toilet and even make their own sandwiches.
It was at this time and purely out of necessity, that I created van picnics, along with quick meals like these Easy Chicken Quesadillas using leftover rotisserie chicken (4 WW points). Necessity was my navigator in those early days. It is the mother of invention, after all. And as a mother, you're so immersed in it, you have no idea how much you'll miss it until it's gone.
Van picnics were simply a way of making something that wasn't necessarily desirable - eating grocery store food, off paper plates, in the back of a van, while driving to evening activities, just a little more "fun". Everyone loves picnics, right?
Van picnics consisted of food I quickly grabbed at the grocery store, between work and racing across town to pick up the kids at daycare:
- rotisserie chicken
- potato wedges
- veggies and dip
- fruit for dessert
And since I'd be half-starved myself by this time, I'd dip into a little on the way to pick up the kids at daycare cause I'd be far too busy feeding them and driving to get myself fed once they were back in my loving care. After I buckled them snugly in their seats, filled their plates, and handed them back a paper plate of food, we were off - to dance or whatever activity was on deck that night!
And of course, at the time, they were little and they didn't eat very much... so.... what to do with all that leftover rotisserie chicken?
Make chicken quesadillas, of course~!
All you need is:
- leftover chicken
- black olives
This was always one of my absolute favorite things about van picnics - the leftovers. These are not only the best chicken quesadillas recipe, it's an easy, kid-friendly, 20 minute meal that uses up chicken leftovers. You can make it when you get home from work or make ahead and freeze. You only need a few ingredients and a few minutes. And no matter what age your kids are or how busy you are, a delicious and quick easy meal is always a blessing.
📖Variations & Substitutions
- Gluten-free - use gluten-free tortillas
- Cheese - use spicy habanero or jack jalapeno cheese or use cheddar cheese
👪 Serving Size
This leftover rotisserie chicken quesadilla recipe makes 12 servings. You can half, double, or triple the recipe by clicking on the blue serving number and selecting the number of servings you'd like. The ingredient quantities will automatically adjust.You can also make more pancakes if you make them smaller (with only a ¼ cup of batter).
This quesadilla recipe is WW friendly @ 4 WW points.
💭 What goes well with chicken quesadillas?
For this chicken quesadilla recipe, you'll need a large skillet (affiliate links).
Store these quesadillas for up to 4 days in an airtight container in the fridge.
They can be frozen for up to 3 months in a sealed container or Ziploc freezer bag.
Now that my kids are older, many of their activities start later in the evening. And since I'm not racing from work at one end of the city to the other and picking them up at daycare, like I was in those early days of child-rearing, I have a wee bit more time to play with.
These days they even come home from school on their own, puke in the toilet, and can even make their own sandwiches. I also get to sleep through the night, sleep in on weekends and have bubble baths; all the things I fantasized about in the midst of our van picnic days. I guess you'd think that I was living the dream now ? Well, the dream I had when they were small anyway.
But with bigger kids come bigger problems....
And although those days were tough and van picnics were a major juggling act on their own between balancing paper plates, someone crying, someone spilling something, someone having to go to the bathroom and a dance shoe missing, all while I was utterly exhausted from lack of sleep and stressed from work, I often ache for the simplicity of our van picnic days...
My mom always said:
"The days are long but the years are short."
I now truly understand the meaning of that. My son recently reminded me that in 4 months, I'll officially have a teenager on my hands. Yikes. These days I'm no less busy, but it's different.
There are very few leftovers these days, but I still buy those rotisserie chickens from the grocery store on my way home, not only for the chicken quesadillas but for the van picnic memories.
And as a I dip into a little of that rotisserie chicken as I'm driving, just as I did picking them up from daycare all those years ago, I can taste the simplicity of those early days, and almost see my 6-year-old son and 4-year-old daughter innocently peering back at me from their car seats, while I savor the chicken and the memories and forget about bigger kid problems... for just a little while.
Although, I do have to admit, I wouldn't trade sleeping through the night and sleeping in on weekends for all the van picnics in the world. I guess sleep just trumps simplicity and pretty much everything and anything else when you're a parent!
📋 Easy Chicken Quesadillas recipe
- 2 cups leftover rotisserie chicken, chopped * you can also use cooked chicken breasts
- 200 ml can sliced black olives
- ⅔ cup salsa
- 1 cup spicy habanero or jack jalapeno pepper cheese ** or use low-fat medium cheddar cheese
- 3 tablespoon fresh cilantro, chopped * I use 3 but if you like a little less cilantro, use 2
- 6 10 inch tortillas * I like to use colourful ones - these are spinach, pesto and garlic. If you use the brand in the ingredient link, they are gluten-free
- sour cream
- cilantro sprigs
- Mix all ingredients together in a medium mixing bowl, reserving ¼ cup of the cheese.
- Heat 2 - 12 inch frying pan to medium on stove and spray with non-stick cooking spray.
- Lightly brown one side of tortilla then flip. Add filling to one tortilla and take the other one from the pan (browned side down) and put it on top. Reduce to medium- low, cover and cook with lid for a few minutes (3 minutes approximately) then gently flip.
- * if a little filling falls out, don't worry, just put it back in. Sprinkle ⅓ of the remaining cheese on top and put the lid back on and cook for another 2 minutes.
- Repeat for other quesadillas. You can use another frying pan if you have it to make it faster/more efficient. Cut into 4 pieces, garnish (optional) and serve.
Love using leftover rotisserie chicken to make quesadillas like these! I love that you included cilantro in them too, I’m a big fan!
I am also a big cilantro fan, Vanessa! I don't get the 'anti cilantro' camp that says it tastes like soap. It's the best and the more the better!
Haha! I love how you legitimize my eating in the car and call it a "van picnic". Except what is it called if I frequently have my breakfast and lunch while driving too as I go between schools or on the way to a school. Anyways, I love how simple this is and an thinking it will work great for lunches . Hopefully at a table 🙂
LOL! Yes, Lilian - the 'van picnic' was for the benefit of the kids! I meet with physicians over lunch, so my lunch is on my lap in my van either before or after meetings, as is my breakfast on the way to work. 🙂
Chef Markus Mueller
Terri, These look absolutely awesome!! I never make quesadillas at home. Why? Not sure really, I usually make wraps for lunch with my 'wraps'...seems like an easy weeknight supper though!
Thanks, Markus! I know what you mean.. for years I only ordered them at restaurants and don't know why when they are so easy to make at home! I hope you enjoy them for an easy weeknight dinner!
I actually often make quesadillas at home but the yare a vegetarian variety. I had never thought about using rotisserie chicken. Brilliant idea!
I Sent this recipe to a few friends, they were grateful for this delicious & easy recipe, quesadillas. Cilantro is a dislike for Len, but like you, it is also my favourite. So will use it on a side dish.. (This one is definitely a keeper!)
I believe a few of my friends had subscribed to your site as she was interested in all your recipes I sent her to share. She quoted that you were an excellent cook with very tasty recipe ideas.
Thanks for all your hard work & great postings of recipes!
Thanks, Auntie Tania! I'm glad you and your friends are enjoying the recipes!
Quesadillas are a family fave for quick nights! I love your van picnics - what we mommas won't do to spice things up for our kids, right? 🙂