Saturday evening Ben and I got to babysit my niece and nephew, and what started out as a drawing with sidewalk chalk and making funny faces in the mirror kind of night, ended with Ben talking Evie off the proverbial ledge after a too-tired-to-sleep, too-hungry-to-eat, full-fledged baby meltdown.
We split up and while I fixed Finn spaghetti then played with him at bath time, Ben the baby whisperer jiggled, swayed, and shushed poor Evie til there were no more tears and sleep finally came, then stood planted in the dark playroom not moving an inch, lest she wake up and start crying again, until my brother and sister-in-law came home.
Uncle Ben was ready for a stiff drink after that!
Truly not feeling like going home after babysitting duty, we decided to go grab a drink and dinner at a new bar in town – The OP!
The OP is my JAM, y’all!* Short for “The Other Place”, the OP is a bar/pizza place that started in Cedar Falls, home of my alma mater the University of Northern Iowa, that recently opened a new location here in town. I could NOT be more pumped about this!
Afterall, The OP is where my friends and I spent a healthy chunk of time in between classes and studying (you know, all the pesky business involved in getting a higher education,) making some of my favorite college memories.
FAC? The OP. Ace a test? The OP. Break up with a boyfriend? The OP!
It was 1 in 1 out nearly every night of the week, (gosh, remember 1 in 1 out?) but the ones in the know knew not to leave before the closing song played, when the whole bar sang, chanted, and cheered along before piling out and then on home.
While the new OP in town is a tad more family friendly shall we say, they’ve still got an awesome menu, and hey, a cold beer’s a cold beer!
Normally I order a Taco Pizza and The OP’s famous breadsticks whenever I’m back in Cedar Falls visiting, but Ben and I were in the mood for something light when we arrived on Saturday night, and the California Quesadilla with Honey-Balsamic Dipping Sauce on the new menu sounded perfect.
Melty mozzarella cheese, seasoned chopped chicken breast, chewy sundried tomatoes, tangy artichoke hearts, and creamy avocado slices are sandwiched between tortillas, cooked until golden brown, then sliced into wedges and served with a quick honey-balsamic dipping sauce.
With food this good, I can see myself making many more “grown up” memories here at the new OP!
California Quesadilla with Honey-Balsamic Dipping Sauce
Makes 2 quesadillas
4 burrito-sized flour tortillas
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1 large chicken breast
Extra virgin olive oil, Italian seasoning, salt, pepper
1/2 cup chopped artichoke hearts
1/4 cup julienned sun dried tomatoes packed in olive oil, drained
1/2 avocado, sliced
For the honey-balsamic dipping sauce:
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 Tablespoon honey
1 clove garlic, microplaned or finely minced
salt & pepper
- Prepare the honey-balsamic dipping sauce by combining balsamic vinegar, oil, honey, garlic, salt, and pepper in a jar with a tight fitting lid, or bowl. Shake or whisk until combined. Set aside.
- Brush chicken breast on both sides with extra virgin olive oil then season with salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning. Cook for 4-5 minutes a side in a small skillet over medium-high heat until no longer pink in the center. Let rest for 5 minutes, then chop into bite-sized pieces.
- Place two tortillas on a flat surface and spread 1/4 cup shredded cheese on each one. Split cooked chicken, artichoke hearts, sun dried tomatoes, avocado, and remaining cheese between both tortillas, then top with remaining tortillas. Heat a large skillet over medium heat then spray with non-stick spray. Slide one quesadilla into the skillet then cook until golden brown, about 2-3 minutes. Flip then cook until the other side is golden brown. Slide onto a plate and repeat with remaining quesadilla. Cut into slices and serve with dipping sauce.
The combo of these ingredients is really light, yet super tasty. Grown up bar food, if you will!
I sort of want to smother myself in this dipping sauce too. It is SO good.
Kind of tangy, kind of sweet, it’s the perfect accompaniment to these quesadillas.
*Honorable mentions also go out to Suds and Tony’s Lounge, (RIP).