Black Bean Quesadillas with Salsa Rice: #recipesfromtheheart

Ev and Ray's 60th AnniversaryToday we are joining together to help raise awareness for Heart Disease. Kim of Cravings of a Lunatic lost her Mom to heart disease when her mother was 47, and Kim was 15. Each year on the day her Mom passed she shares stories and photos of her Mom. This year she joined forces with Jen of Juanita’s Cocina, whose life was also touched by heart disease when her Stepfather had a heart attack. Jen’s Stepfather is alive and well more than a decade later, and for that, Jen is thankful every day. The ladies got in touch with other bloggers to ask them to share their own stories about how heart disease has touched their lives. So today we share stories and recipes from our hearts to yours, in memory and honour of Momzie, Kim’s Mom. We hope you will share your stories with us today as well.In Memory of Momzie

Uncle Ray will be 97 in October.


We never thought he would see 96. Or 95. Or 86. Or 50.

You see, Uncle Ray has heart disease. Has had heart disease for decades.

As a matter of fact, he had his first open heart surgery back when the procedure was so new that you had to fly to Houston, TX to have it performed by Dr. Michael DeBakey himself. At the time of Uncle Ray’s surgery, Dr. DeBakey was recovering from an injury so his colleague, Dr. Denton Cooley, performed the operation instead.

Before the nurse wheeled his gurney into the operating room, Uncle Ray grabbed her arm, looked up imploringly at her, and asked, “After the surgery, will I be able to play the violin?”

The nurse, seeking to comfort him (and not knowing him), patted him reassuringly on the shoulder and sympathetically answered, “There is absolutely no reason why not, Mr. Leavee.”

“It’s a miracle,” he replied. “I’ve never been able to play before!”


Fast forward a few decades and a few Scares later. It’s 2002. The year that The Beloved and I are getting married. In January, we ask if he will do us the honor of reading a poem at our public wedding ceremony.

“When is it?” he asks.


“October, eh?” He sounded as if he was pretty sure he wouldn’t be there.

That March, Uncle Ray is 86 and is playing a round of golf with some buddies. As he tees up at the 18th hole, he collapses.

He pretty much dies right there. But like Farm Boy Westley, he was just mostly dead.

People rushed to his aid and were able to jolt his heart back into sinus rhythm with one of the portable defibrillators that the club owns.

He now carries not only a pacemaker in his chest, but his very own personal defibrillator.

In October, Uncle Ray steals the show at our wedding. Ham. He still can’t play the violin, though.

The following March, on the anniversary of his collapse, he went back to the club to finish off his round. Yes, Uncle Ray finally played that 18th hole.

We have had a series of scares with Uncle Ray, but we have been so fortunate that he is a Tough Old Bird and has hung in there.

And that’s my story.

I wish I could hug Kim and all the other people who have lost family members too soon due to heart disease.

Now that I’ve shared my story, let me share my Smackerel with you. I wanted to make something quick and easy for a weeknight that still would count as heart healthy. I wanted it to be full of flavor, because who’s gonna eat healthy stuff that doesn’t taste so good?

Of course, I turned to the Oracle at WebMD to check out what they say are heart healthy foods. Both beans and tomatoes make the list of the top 25 best foods for your heart, so I give you black bean quesadillas with salsa rice.
Black Bean Quesadillas with Salsa Rice
What’s so great about black beans (or any bean, for that matter?) Here, let the lovelies at HuffPo tell you all about the health benefits of beans.

And tomatoes? Well, the folks at HealthMad will tell you about the Awesomeness of Tomatoes.

Make your rice with brown rice, and the health benefits are even greater.

And the best thing about these guys? They just Taste So Very Good!

Here’s to you, Momzie. You must be so proud of your girl Kim.

And here’s to your health, everyone.

Black Bean Quesadillas with Salsa Rice
Recipe type: Dinner
Cuisine: Mexican
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2-4
Not only does this quick meal offer loads of flavor, it also offers loads of health benefits.
What You Need
For the Salsa
  • I recommend using a homemade salsa. I did not in this instance, but fresher is always better. My friend Brooks makes a mean salsa. Try his. You'll need about 1½ cups
For the Quesadillas
  • 1 cup canned black beans (or equivalent home-cooked)
  • 1 teaspoon-1 Tablespoon hot sauce, depending on your taste
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • kosher salt, to taste
  • juice of one lime
  • 3 oz pepper jack cheese, shredded
  • 4 8" tortillas (whole grain is better if you can find them)
For the Rice
  • 1½ cups cooked rice seasoned (brown is better)
  • 1 cup of the salsa
Optional Fixin's
  • Sour cream
  • Guacamole
  • Salsa
What To Do
For the Quesadillas
  1. Heat beans, hot sauce, cumin, salt and lime together in a sauce pan.
  2. Coarsely mash the bean with a potato masher or a fork.
  3. Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary.
  4. Over medium heat, heat a heavy skillet large enough to hold the tortillas.
  5. Evenly sprinkle ¼ of the cheese on one tortilla.
  6. Evenly spoon on ½ of the bean mixture.
  7. Top with another ¼ of the cheese and then top with a tortilla.
  8. Repeat with the other 2 tortillas and the rest of the cheese and beans.
  9. Place one quesadilla in the hot dry pan and press it down gently with a spatula.
  10. Cook until that side is golden brown, and then carefully flip the quesadilla to brown the other side.
  11. Keep warm in a 200F oven while you cook the other quesadilla.
  12. Slice into 6ths or 8ths using a pizza cutter and serve with rice, extra salsa, sour cream if you would like and guacamole.
For the Rice
  1. Combine the rice and the salsa with a splash of water.
  2. Heat over medium low heat until hot.
  3. Serve with quesadillas and the optional fixin's.

I hope you enjoy the quesadillas.

Heart disease affects so many people and families. I hope you take care of yours.

To read other stories, memories and get more delicious and heart-healthy recipes, please visit the other wonderful people taking part in today’s memorial.

Thank you for reading, and take care of yourself.






  1. Brooks says

    This is a terrific idea, Jenni & Kim…to celebrate loved ones in the name of heart healthy foods! I love your Uncle Ray’s zest for life Jennifer, and I suspect this is the driving force behind him seeing more birthdays. Thank you for including the salsa as heart-friendly fare, but more importantly kudos to all the participants for sharing healthy food choices.

    • says

      Uncle Ray is quite the character, Brooks! He has even written a blog post for me–Uncle Ray meets the Muffin Method. LOL And you are right, he has always lived life to the fullest!

      I am honored to help Kim celebrate her mom’s life and to be a part of this larger group as well.

      Thank you for reading, Brooks, and thank you for the salsa too. :)

  2. Kim Beaulieu says

    Jenni my dear thank you so much for sharing this with us today. I think I’m in love with Uncle Ray and his zest for life. It’s amazing, and I’m so happy he’s beat heart disease into the ground. Make my own heart happy to see something like this.

    I love your smackeral (did I spell it right). It’s divine and delish. I’d eat it up in no time flat and ask for thirds.

    Thank you so much for joining us today. It’s such a pleasure knowing you and having such a kick ass friend in life. I adore you and am thankful to have you in my life. Hugs. xx

    • says

      I adore you right back, Miss Kim! You and Uncle Ray would get along famously, I’m sure.

      It is an honor to participate in your tribute today, friend in real life. :) <3

      The correct spelling of Smackerel. Sheesh. 😉

  3. says

    Oh, Uncle Ray sounds like a hoot! Thank goodness he reaped the benefits of modern medicine…and is still around! Your quesadillas and salsa rice both sound delish!!!

  4. says

    Wow! Uncle Ray sure is a strong guy. How he has survived and endured with heart disease is amazing. It must be the love of his family that keeps him going.
    It’s a nice change to see a black bean quesadilla. I’m so used to seeing the heavy ones with beef and laden with salt and fat. This is one I need to make for the “Mexican Night” we enjoy from time to time.

    • says

      Yes, we are all amazed by Uncle Ray. He is an amazing guy. Raised by a single mom in Hell’s Kitchen and rose to become the youngest VP of sales of Macy’s. We are very lucky to still have him, Renee!

      Thanks for stopping in and reading, and I do hope that you’ll give these a shot sometime. This is a frequent meal at our house because it’s quick and full of flavor. :)

  5. says

    This story makes me smile like a total dork, mostly because Uncle Ray sounds a hell of a lot like my Uncle Abe, who has battled his way back from two strokes with so much humour and grace. I hope you’ve got one heck of a party planned for Uncle Ray to celebrate his 97th (perhaps with some delicious healthy quesadillas and not-so-healthy birthday cake for dessert)… that’s a grand old age indeed! :)

    • says

      Uncle Ray is a tough old bird for sure, Izz! I bet he and Uncle Abe would get along famously! His birthday is in October; we try to celebrate every one of them as if it were his last. You know, just in case. :)

  6. JanetFCTC says

    Your uncle sounds like a great guy! Anyone with that sense of humor has MY admiration.

    As does this recipe. I love black bean anything!

    • says

      He is a great guy, and his sense of humor is still more-or-less intact, for which we are grateful!

      Black beans are one of my favorites, too:)

      Thanks for stopping by, Janet!

  7. Carla says

    Glad to hear Uncle Ray is alive and doing well, despite the obstacles! That violin joke was too funny. Love the idea of this black bean quesadilla because most of the time, my meats are still frozen when I get home from work and need a quick protein….

    • says

      Same here–I am a terrible planner, Carla! Sometimes I just cut up a frozen black bean burger or two and mash it up in a skillet and use that. I don’t think Uncle Ray would eat a quesadilla. Sigh. But he’s obviously doing something right! lol


Speak Your Mind

Rate this recipe: