Fire Life

Chicken Fajita Quesadilla Ring and No-Bake Snowball Cookies

By Frank E. Vaerewijck, The Firehouse Foodie

‘Twas the chaos before Christmas ….

Despite what the department stores tell you, the Christmas Mad Dash doesn’t start until weeks if not days before that magical day. Much like Facebook, memories of this day are steeped in grandiose snapshots that have cropped up out the chaos that ensued prior to and directly after these snippets in time.

The shopping centers, malls, and mega stores are filled with last-minute shoppers who for one reason or another have either chosen to or were forced to wait until the last possible second to do their best to fulfill the candy cane dreams and gumdrop wishes of their children, spouses, family and friends. In all the hustle and bustle of this time, as you are sick of turkey anything and can’t stomach one more fast food whatever, wouldn’t it be nice to have quick, easy goodness to fill that hunger that ravishes you, as you attempt to make the gift wrap on your wonderful gifts look as good as it does on TV and in the magazines?

At the firehouse it can be just as hectic–or not. As many of you know, it can go from zero to 60 in a heartbeat, or you can go for days without hearing a tone drop. Either way, having quick, easy goodness here is often a blessing, too. Creativity feeds hunger in both situations, and it’s amazing just how good something can be when it’s so simple. Who would have thought to fill crescent rolls with all that you need to make a meal and, on top of that, make it portable? Then, after you have had your fill of goodness, a tropical wintery sweet treat to cement the memory of this delicious occasion.

‘Tis the season for the chaos, so in the spirit of giving, we will finish out the year with not one but two scrumptious favorites that are just right for the most hectic home or busiest firehouse. I hope you enjoy the ease of making a wonderful Chicken Fajita Quesadilla Ring and some easy, no-bake snowball cookies. Now “That’s Bringing the Firehouse Home!”

“Merry Christmas to all, and to all a Foodie delight.”


Chicken Fajita Quesadilla Ring



2 cups coarsely chopped cooked chicken (about 12 ounces)

1 cup (4 ounces) shredded Mexican or taco cheese blend

1 can (4 ounces) chopped jalapenos

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1 tablespoon Fajita Seasoning Mix

1 can of your favorite Rotel style mix

2 packages (8 ounces each) refrigerated crescent rolls

1 can black beans (drained}

1 can whole kernel corn (drained}

1 cup sour cream



  1. Preheat oven to 375ºF. Place all ingredients, except the sour cream, in large mixing bowl. Mix well.
  2. Unroll crescent dough. Arrange triangles in a circle on large round baking sheet with handles with wide ends overlapping in the center and point toward outside. (There should be a five-inch- diameter opening in center.) Using medium scoop, scoop chicken mixture evenly onto widest end of each triangle. Bring points of triangles up over filling and tuck under wide ends of dough at center of ring. (Filling will not be completely covered.)
  3. Bake 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.
  4. For garnish, top with sour cream or thin slices of avocado for some extra goodness. Serve with your favorite salsa, and remember: EVERYTHING is better with bacon, so adding some crushed bacon bits might just take it over the top!



No-Bake Snowball Cookies





1 can (8oz) crushed pineapple (drained)

1 block (8oz) cream cheese

3 cups coconut flakes

1 cup chopped pecans



  1. Combine cream cheese, pineapple, and pecans in a mixing bowl and mix well.
  2. Refrigerate, covered, for 1 hour.
  3. Remove from fridge and roll into one-inch balls, then roll in coconut flakes until coated.
  4. Place on large plate or cookie sheet, and once all snowballs have been rolled and coated, place in refrigerator for at least 4 hours and enjoy!


Frank E. Vaerewijck has had a passion for the fire service that has spanned 20 years. He has been a volunteer and career firefighter and is currently a firefighter/EMT with Smithfield Volunteer Fire Department (yes, where the bacon comes from, THAT Smithfield). He has passed on his passion for the fire service through instruction and mentorship. That same passion he has for the fire service is shared with his love of food. In 2006, Vaerewyck won an Iron Chef-style competition sponsored by a radio station in Richmond, Virginia. That is where he also furthered his education by attending a Culinary Arts Program. As the Firehouse Foodie, he has been compiling recipes to be included in a cookbook that will give others the opportunity to see their hometown heroes not just as firefighters but as the firehouse chefs they truly are.