Last week my friend and I were in the lab extracting DNA and sharing our excitement to graduate this April, when she asked me what my “dream job” would be.

butternut squash and kale quesadillas // warm vanilla sugar

I was weird actually, without hesitation I said “either a running coach or doing my blog full time”.

She stared at me blankly.

butternut squash and kale quesadillas // warm vanilla sugar

I guess it’s a bit strange that I’ve been in science for 8 years (whoa!!) and don’t feel like it’s my dream. Don’t get me wrong, I like it! It’s important, and I appreciate all of the jobs I’ve had until now, but going to a job and performing experiements isn’t who I am. It’s what I do.

P- is a bit different, and I’ve always admired him being able to go to work every day and absolutely love it. In fact, he often says he couldn’t imagine not being in research. He comes home from work beaming about some cool study he read, stays up late analyzing data, and genuinely works seven days a week because working with insects is who he is. His works is part of him, and I always wonder why my work isn’t a part of me.

butternut squash and kale quesadillas // warm vanilla sugar

I’ve still got a solid five months to figure things out, but I figure as long as I keep doing the things I love (running + cooking + writing this blog) nothing bad can come out of it. Plus, science is cool, so I’m happy I get to learn new things every day.

butternut squash and kale quesadillas // warm vanilla sugar

I have a super fun recipe for you here today. It’s a butternut squash & kale quesadilla made with corn tortillas. It’s such a fun take on the regular cheese quesadilla, is super delicious, and I’m SO excited to share it with you!

Have a great week everyone πŸ™‚

Butternut Squash & Kale Quesadillas

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 35 minutes

Yield: 4 quesadillas


  • 1/2 whole butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and diced.
  • 2 tbsp salted butter
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 tsp chili powder (or more if you like a lot of heat - I do!)
  • 1 big handful of baby kale leaves
  • 8 whole small corn tortillas
  • 2 1/2 cups Monterey Jack cheese, grated
  • Sour cream and salsa for serving


  1. Heat 1 tablespoon of butter and olive oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add squash and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and chili powder. Cook for several minutes, turning gently with a spatula, until squash is deep golden brown and tender (but not falling apart.) Remove to a plate and set aside.
  2. In the same skillet, melt 1 tablespoon of butter over medium-high heat and add in the kale. Toss it around and cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Add in the cooked squash and gently toss together. Set aside.
  3. Over medium-high heat, build the quesadillas by adding one small tortilla to the bottom of a dry skillet. Add a layer of cheese topped with a layer of the squash/kale mixture, topped with a second tortilla. Flip the tortilla when the outside of the bottom tortilla begins to brown (just lift it up to check). When the second tortilla is brown and the cheese is melted, remove quesadilla from the skillet and cut it into four wedges. Repeat with other quesadillas.
  4. Serve with sour cream, salsa, avocado...or any other sides you'd like!


Recipe adapted from The Pioneer Woman

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41 Responses to Butternut Squash & Kale Quesadillas {12 Weeks of Winter Squash}

  1. I’m all about using squash in different ways and this is a great healthy quesadilla idea! Thanks for sharing.

  2. I know what you mean, I am in psychology and looking to pursue my Masters in the next year or two but if I ever had the chance to do blog related shenanigans full time, I would jump at it. But at the same time I would not want to throw my education out the window either.

    • katrina says:

      It’s a super strange place to be in, eh? I guess only time will tell, but in the meantime we can keep doing what we love!

  3. Dan from Platter Talk says:

    Looks wonderful, Katrina. Could go for one of these right now!!

  4. Kezia says:

    Cooking and blogging are my huge passions, and I would love to do them both full time. At the moment I’m still in high school, so I have time to figure things out – I hope you manage to find what is right for you too. Butternut squash is my favourite winter vegetable so I will definitely be trying this recipe!

    • katrina says:

      Wow! Yes, you have so much time! And maybe what you choose at first won’t be what you do forever, but that’s the beauty of life I guess. Good luck!

  5. Hi Katrina,

    I can totally relate to your story! Even now that I’m writing my Master’s thesis on English literature, I can’t seem to think of my education as anything else than that: an education. It thought me how to write, though… Which will be very useful if I ever get the chance to pursue a career as a food writer πŸ˜‰

    Don’t stop dreaming and just keep up with your blog! You might turn out to be one of the lucky food bloggers out there who at some point can make a living out of blogging πŸ˜‰


  6. Science can be hit or miss. While I love science and I love my sciency job, it isn’t always as rewarding as other paths I could’ve taken would’ve been.

  7. I left my job because even though I liked it, a lot, it wasn’t my dream job. And now I do my blog (and related freelance work) full time and I’ve never been happier. You should totally chase your dream job.

  8. Joanne says:

    We are like twins in this respect which is probably why we get along so well. I love science but I just can’t live and breathe it the way that you need to to really be good at it. yay for quesadillas!!! With squash. totally want these this week.

  9. I have to start making quesadillas more often because yours look spectacular! And I say keep chasing that dream job, I don’t think it ever truly stops as you want to keep growing and learning!

  10. This looks great! I love hearty greens this time of year, especially kale.

  11. Ashley says:

    This looks wonderful! I love kale with squash. Yum πŸ™‚

  12. Ashley says:

    First, these quesadillas sound amazing – I love the combo of butternut squash and kale! And two, I totally agree – go after and work towards something that you truly love doing!

  13. Medha says:

    First time on your blog and I am loving it!
    I am all for squash and kale- such a good combination. I am totally making this for tonight’s dinner.

  14. Squash and kale in quesadillas is a total winner!! I echo what so many other commenters said….go after your dream job!

  15. I know what you mean, I’m a science student as well. I get such good grades and when people ask me what am I going to do with my life and I answer that all I want to do is blog and run, they laugh at me… I like sience, that’s true, but nothing makes me happier than running, cooking and writing on my blog.
    (Although I suspect that these quesadillas would) <3

  16. Catherine @ Chocolate & Vegetables says:

    These look delicious! I love pairing greens and squash/sweet potatoes.

    Don’t worry too much about science not being your “passion”–I did a science PhD and I never seemed to live/breath/dream it the way my advisor or some of my fellow students did. Eventually, I realized that while I did like science, the academic life was not really a good fit for me. I found a non-academic science job and while I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s my 100% dream job, it is definitely my “dream job that also pays the bills”, which is a pretty good place to be!

  17. I so relate to this. Sometimes I’m jealous of people who live and breath their career but then I think of how lucky I am to have a broad range of interests and lots of things that make me who I am. I’m happy I can work my health-care job and also share my love of food! Also – bnut is my fave and I can’t wait to put it in a quesadilla!

  18. Jenny @ BAKE says:

    This post made me feel so much better, so many of my friends love (and live) their career choices and it’s really comforting to know that I’m not the only one out there who enjoys their job, but wouldn’t necessarily call it their dream career. These quesadillas look incredible! and healthy too!

  19. Totally relate-able story! I hear that a staggering % of folks who go to school to get their degree don’t even use their degree to what they went to school for. You’re not alone πŸ™‚ You’ve got me craving some quesadillas now!

  20. Me neither… my job pays the bills and allows me to do things I love. Love these!

  21. These quesadillas look so colorful and delicious! Perfect for this season.
    Pinning! πŸ™‚

  22. They say whatever you do in your free time is what you should do in your work time, i.e. make free time fun into work. And frankly, I definitely think you’d be an amazing “full-time” blogger, since you make amazing recipes. And this is definitely one of them. I love squash so shoving it into a quesadilla is fantastic!

  23. Elizabeth says:

    These look so tasty! My kids are on an inexplicable no-melted-cheese kick, but I can totally make them for myself. I also loved what you said about figuring it out. I think it’s great to have diverse interests and skills. Always, the more you know, the better.

  24. Oh wow, this looks SO amazing. I’m loving butternut squash and kale this time of year + LOVE the idea of combining them in a quesadilla!

  25. Monet says:

    My dear, you are incredibly talented, and I know that good things will come your way. Just keep on doing what you love! And thank you for sharing yet another delicious recipe with us! I hope you have a good end to your week!

  26. My dream job is to be a stay-at-home mom! Unfortunately, I’m not sure how we would make that happen once we have kids, but i’ll keep dreaming about it πŸ™‚ I think you should do whatever you can to be able to do what you love! This recipe looks great πŸ™‚

  27. I think kale and butternut squash are two of my favorite vegetables! This quesadilla looks amazing!!! What a great combo of flavors

  28. Cat says:

    Love quesadillas! This sounds great.

  29. I think most people feel that way. I’ve been working as a teacher for seven years and still think about what I’m going to do when I “grow up!” You are who you are, not what you do.

  30. Nutmeg Nanny says:

    Wow these quesadillas look so tasty! I love this idea πŸ™‚

  31. This is just the kind of food I eat. SImple yet with such depth. Squash is so versatile and you made sure to show it off.

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