Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Greek Veggie Wraps

I'm a big fan of Greek salads with feta cheese and that fantastic Greek dressing. So how about taking the basic Greek salad ingredients and putting them into a wrap? I have to admit I was a bit skeptical about this recipe, but I figured it wouldn't hurt to try since I liked the salad so much! These turned out great and made a healthy and filling lunch for Neal and I. I loved the tang of the dressing and banana peppers mixed with the feta cheese and crunchy veggies. Add in some cooked, diced chicken and these can become a great dinner too! (Recipe and picture courtesy of Annie's Eats)










Ingredients:

  • 4 wraps or tortillas
  • Cooked whole wheat couscous or rice
  • Baby spinach leaves
  • Diced fresh tomatoes
  • Julienned or shredded carrots
  • Chopped banana peppers
  • Chopped cucumbers
  • Crumbled feta cheese
For the Dressing:

  • 3 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 5 Tbsp. olive oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
To make the dressing, combine all of the ingredients in a small jar or tupperware and shake well to combine. To assemble wraps: Put all ingredients into a wrap or tortilla and drizzle with as much dressing as you'd like. Roll up the wraps tightly, tucking in the ends. 

Egg Salad BLT Sandwiches

Lately I've been trying to come up with different lunch ideas to play things up a bit. Neal has been coming home for lunch more often lately and I think we both get tired of the same boring options every day. So one morning I cooked up a dozen hard boiled eggs and decided to make some of them into egg salad! Then I added bacon, lettuce and tomato and piled them all onto whole wheat toast. Yum! It was definitely a great change from our usual lunches and would also make a great quick and easy dinner. Over the next couple of days I'll be posting some more lunch recipes and ideas for any of you who are also in a "lunch rut." Enjoy! (Recipe adapted from Our Best Bites)

Ingredients:
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 3 Tbsp. thinly sliced green onions
  • 3 Tbsp. sour cream
  • 2 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • Dash of pepper and salt
  • 8 hard boiled eggs
  • 4 rolls
  • 8 bacon slices, cooked
  • 4 slices tomato
  • 4 large lettuce leaves
Combine mayo, onions, sour cream, mustard, salt and pepper. Stir to combine well. Coarsely chop eggs and add to mayo mixture. Stir gently to combine. Top each bread slice with about 1/2 cup egg mixture, 2 slices bacon, slice tomato and one large lettuce leaf and top half of roll. Serve sandwich immediately.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Buffalo Chicken Salad Sandwiches

So obviously I've been terrible at adding any new recipes since my little one was born! I've been focusing a lot more on my personal family blog over the past couple of months to update all of my family and friends who live away from me. It's a private blog, so just holler if you want me to invite you!

I've got about a dozen recipes I've been meaning to add and I'm going to do my best to add them over the next few days. This is a twist on the classic chicken salad sandwich with a bit of a kick. If you like buffalo sauce or wings, you'll love this one! Neal told me he doesn't want the original chicken salad sandwich anymore.. It's just not good enough. Ha. I really liked this version for a change and will definitely be making it over and over again. (Picture courtesy of Elephant Eats)

Ingredients:
  • 2 cups chicken, cooked and shredded
  • 1/2 cup ranch dressing
  • 1/4 cup buffalo sauce
  • 4 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 2 celery stalks, diced finely
  • 1/4 cup onion, diced finely
  • 1/4 tsp. onion powder
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • sandwich buns
In a large bowl, mix together all of the ingredients. Serve on buns and top with your favorite sandwich fixings (tomatoes, lettuce, pickles, etc.) Store leftovers in a covered container in the fridge. Serves 4-6.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Southwest Frito Pie

In case you haven't been able to tell from the many, many Mexican recipes on here, we're a big fan. Neal always says he could eat Mexican food every night and be totally content. Me, not so much, but I do love having some type of Mexican-style dinner once or twice a week. I found this recipe in a recent Taste of Home magazine and knew it would be a big hit! Quick, easy, fresh ingredients and a perfect weeknight meal to throw together when you don't have much time or energy. With this little guy due to arrive any day now, quick and easy meals are definitely taking over my meal plans since I know my time to prepare and cook will quickly disappear! I loved the extra crunch and flavor the Fritos added to this recipe. And it's SO simple! Just layer Fritos, meat and beans and your choice of toppings and you've got yourself a meal. It's great for picky eaters too because they can put whatever toppings they want on and still love it. I think this would also taste great substituting chili instead of the ground meat and bean mixture - a great way to use up the inevitable leftover chili since that stuff can feed an army. (Recipe and picture courtesy of Taste of Home)

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. lean ground beef OR ground turkey
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. chili powder
  • 1 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 can (15 oz.) pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 cups corn chips
  • 1 cup shredded lettuce
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup chopped tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion or green onions
  • Sour cream and fresh cilantro
In a large skillet, cook beef or turkey over medium-high heat until cooked through and no longer pink; drain. Stir in the chili powder, flour, salt and garlic powder until well blended. Slowly add in the water. Add in the beans and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered for 12-15 minutes or until thickened, stirring occasionally.

To serve, divide chips between 4 bowls. Top with beef/turkey mixture and desired toppings. Serve immediately. (Makes about 4 bowls)

Friday, July 19, 2013

Guilt-Free Alfredo Sauce


Maybe I just haven't found the right brand or type of canned bought-from-the-store alfredo sauce, but every kind I've tried just doesn't taste all that good. It's either too strong, too thin, not enough flavor or too "fake" of a flavor. So when I ran across this recipe that was quick, easy, fairly healthy and absolutely delicious, I was thrilled! This sauce is garlicky and flavorful yet has a very light and creamy taste that is perfect over pasta, vegetables or even as a dipping sauce for breadsticks or pizza. It takes about 20 minutes from start to finish so it's ready to go by the time you finish preparing the rest of your meal! Even better, you can make it ahead of time and refrigerate it. When ready to use, just reheat the sauce and add a little milk until the right consistency is reached. It also makes a great freezer meal poured over some pasta with a little diced chicken and vegetables. I've got a big pan in the freezer just waiting to be used after little Grant arrives in the next few days (hopefully!) :) (Recipe and picture from Our Best Bites)

Ingredients:
  • 2 cups low-fat milk
  • 1/3 cup (3 oz.) low-fat cream cheese
  • 2 Tbsp. flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 Tbsp. butter
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (pregrated Parmesan cheese still tastes fine, but the sauce will be lumpy)
In a blender (or using an immersion blender), blend the milk, cream cheese, flour and salt until smooth and set aside. In a large, nonstick saucepan, melt the butter on medium-high heat and add the garlic. Saute the garlic for about 30 seconds, stirring constantly to prevent the garlic from sticking and burning. Add the milk mixture to the pan. Stir constantly for 3-4 minutes or until it just comes to a simmer. Keep stirring and let it cook for a few minutes more or until the sauce thickens, about 6-7 minutes.

Once the sauce has started to thicken, remove from heat. Whisk in the cheese and immediately cover the pan. Allow the sauce to stand for at least 10 minutes before using. It will continue to thicken upon standing. Serve immediately.

My favorite way to use this is over some whole wheat pasta with diced chicken, mushrooms and sun-dried tomatoes for a little twist on the flavor!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Tuna Lemon Pepper Sliders

Since they first became popular, I have always loved the idea of having a slider instead of a huge hamburger or sandwich. They are the perfect size for an appetizer, party food, or for dinner with a few small sides. These turned out so delicious and were surprisingly easy to throw together for a quick meal. Neal loved them too and told me to put them on the "permanent-and-never-forgotten" menu - not a problem for this girl! I topped off the mini-size patties with a homemade tartar sauce, tomato and lettuce, all piled in between a King's Hawaiian roll which added just a hint of sweetness to the savory tuna and pickle flavors. This will definitely become a go-to on my summer menu and I can't wait to make them again! (Picture and recipe adapted from Lauren's Latest)





Ingredients:
  • 2 5 oz. cans chunk light tuna, drained well
  • 2 chopped green onions
  • 1 egg
  • 3 Tbsp. bread crumbs
  • 1 tsp. lemon pepper seasoning
  • 2 Tbsp. butter
Tartar Sauce:
  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 Tbsp. relish OR 3 Tbsp. chopped dill pickle
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • dash of paprika
  • 1/2 tsp. dried dill
Sliders:
  • 6 King's Hawaiian Rolls
  • 6 slices of Roma tomato
  • 6 lettuce leaves
In a medium bowl, combine the tuna, onions, egg, bread crumbs and lemon pepper seasoning together. Mixture should be thick and hold together when formed into patties. If they don't, add more bread crumbs until they hold together. Form into 6 even patties, about 3/4 inch thick.

In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Place patties into the hot pan and cook about 4 minutes on each side or until brown. Remove from pan and set aside.

While the patties are cooking, mix together the ingredients for the tartar sauce in a small bowl.

To assemble the sliders, slice each roll in half and spread on a generous scoop of tartar sauce. Layer with a tuna patty, tomato slice and lettuce leave. Serve immediately.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup


My life has taken a huge change this week and I'm absolutely loving it. When Neal and I found out I was pregnant, we made the decision that I would quit working once the baby came so I could be a full-time stay at home mom and be with our little one. It's a dream I've always had and we both fully agreed it would be the most beneficial for our children and for us. Although I'm not due for another few weeks, my last day of work was Friday and now my sole focus is getting everything ready for our baby boy and for the move to our new house in a couple of weeks. Being at home is definitely a big adjustment since I've always either been in school or worked full-time. This is a whole new experience that I'm quickly learning to love and look forward to.

I like to talk to our baby boy when I'm by myself. Even though I'm sure I look pretty silly talking to my belly, I know he can hear me! :) When I left my work for the last time on Friday, I talked to him almost the whole way home about how excited I was to turn all of my focus and attention to him and his daddy - my two boys! Although I'm only in Day 2 of this new homemaker business, I'm determined to make it the best I can and live each day to the fullest. I'll keep you all posted on how everything's going since I know you're all dying to hear about my mundane life.. ;)

Anyway, back to the recipe here. I realize it's the middle of June and eating soup on a hot, humid 90-degree day sounds about as wonderful as getting a root canal, but we had a refreshing rain storm come through last night that cooled it off enough to make soup actually sound pretty nice! I knew it would be the last time I could get away with eating soup until around October, so I took advantage of it! There's nothing like a homemade chicken noodle soup, but I think I may have made it even better by making it creamy! I can easily say this is one of my favorite soups. Neal came home today to eat lunch with me and quickly decided this was much better than a sandwich or lean pocket any day! It's chocked full of hearty vegetables, chicken and thick noodles which absorb most of the liquid - just the way I like it. Plus there's an added bonus: it's a one-pot meal so less dishes are used and there's only one pot to clean - can't beat that, I tell you. It makes enough to comfortably feed around 4-5 people, or 2 people for several meals in our case!

Ingredients:
  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • 2-3 chicken breasts, cut into small pieces
  • 1/2 cup chopped carrot
  • 2 stalks celery diced
  • 1/2 cup yellow onion, diced
  • 5 cups chicken broth
  • 8 oz. egg noodles
  • 1 cup milk
  • 4 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 4 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 1 tsp. garlic salt
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. ground sage
  • 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
In a large pot, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add in the chicken, carrot, celery and onion and saute for 3-4 minutes or until chicken is cooked through and onions are translucent. Add in the chicken broth and egg noodles and bring to a boil. Cook for 7-8 minutes or until egg noodles are al dente. In a liquid measuring cup, whisk together the milk and flour until the flour has dissolved. Stir into the soup and simmer over medium heat for 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently until the soup has thickened. Remove from heat and stir in the cream cheese and spices. Allow the heat from the soup to melt the cream cheese, stirring occasionally until dissolved. Serve warm.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Healthy Spiced Carrot Muffins

This is one of those "Oh no... I have a bunch of carrots in the fridge that need to be used now!" recipes that actually turned out really good! Neal and I are a big fan of healthy muffins for breakfast that are easy to grab-and-go when you're running late in the mornings and these definitely fit the bill! They're packed full of rolled oats, whole wheat flour, carrots, applesauce and a wonderful mix of spices that make them out of this world. I loved them and Neal may have liked them even more, which is really saying something! The only down-side to this recipe is they only last for 2-3 days outside of the freezer. So if by the 3rd day you still have muffins left, freeze them and get them out when you want them! I think the combination of the carrots and applesauce makes them only last for a couple days on the counter before turning bad.. Which we quickly learned after we had to throw away 4 or 5! Whoops.. But other than that, this is pretty much the ideal muffin that's got it all! (Recipe adapted from Kitchen Treaty)

Ingredients:
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 1 cup rolled oats + a couple extra tablespoons for topping
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 cup milk
  • ¾ cup applesauce
  • ¾ cup packed brown sugar
  • ⅓ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups carrot, grated*
 
Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease or place cupcake wrappers in a standard-size, 12-cup muffin pan.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, 1 cup oats, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and ginger. In a medium bowl, whisk together the milk, applesauce, brown sugar, vegetable oil, egg, and vanilla extract. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry and whisk just until all ingredients are incorporated. Stir in the carrots.
 
Divide the mixture between the muffin cups. Cups should be filled just about to the top. Bake for 20 minutes or until muffin tops spring back when poked and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow to cool for 5 – 10 minutes before removing from the muffin tin. Serve plain with butter and honey, if desired.
 
Store in an airtight container at room temperature for 2 - 3 days, or freeze.
 
Makes approximately 12 large muffins.
 
*Note: This is best done in a food processor if you have one. I chopped the carrots into medium-size pieces and chopped them in my food processor for about 30 seconds. I have a really small 1-2 cup processor and it worked great!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Strawberry Coconut Ice Cream


Last weekend, I went to a strawberry farm with Neal's mom and sister to pick our own strawberries. I kept driving by the farm and wanted to stop in and see what it was like and finally got the opportunity to go. It was so much fun! Rows upon rows of fresh, huge ripe strawberries that were calling to us to be picked and eaten! I started filling up my basket and before I knew it, I had collected almost 5 pounds of strawberries! Ha. Whoops.. I knew they wouldn't last more than a few days, so after eating them fresh by the handful with almost every meal, I dug up a few recipes to use up the rest of them. I've made strawberry ice cream once before and it turned out amazing and so creamy, but this time I tweaked the recipe a bit and added in coconut milk and shredded coconut for more of a Hawaiian type flavor... and it was awesome! There was a very subtle hint of coconut in every bite and it mixed perfectly with the chunks of strawberries and creamy texture of the homemade ice cream. If you're looking into buying a new appliance for the summer, I cannot say enough good things about the Cuisinart electric ice cream machine! It is so easy and only takes about 15-20 minutes to make just about anything frozen you want. I've made slushies, frozen yogurt and ice cream - next on the list is a fresh fruit sorbet. Mmm... Enjoy!
 
Ingredients:
  • 3/4 cup coconut milk
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh strawberries, chopped into small pieces
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups cold heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup shredded sweetened coconut
In a mixer, or using a wire whisk, mix the coconut milk, sugar and salt together in a medium bowl until sugar is dissolved. Pulse strawberries in a food processor or blender until mostly pureed. This is based on personal preference - if you like chunky pieces of strawberries, don't pulse for as long. Stir in the pureed strawberries and vanilla. Add in the whipping cream and coconut, stirring to combine. Refrigerate for 1-2 hours or overnight. Freeze according to the directions on your ice cream machine. Ice cream will be very soft, so if you prefer it to be harder, transfer it to a freezer-safe container and freeze for another 2-3 hours or until hardened.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Baked Creamy Chicken Taquitos


You know when you hear people talk about healthier versions of foods that "taste just as good as the original" and you know they're lying? Like low-fat mayonnaise or ranch, or homemade baked taquitos instead of the original fried crispy version. Except for these lightened-up taquitos really do taste just as good (if not better!) than the originals fully fattened fried versions! In fact, they turned out so nice and crispy that Neal was shocked that they weren't fried. Spraying the tops of the tortillas with cooking spray and baking them in a hot oven makes everything nice and crispy and without that oily taste that fried foods always have. I made the chicken version of these taquitos because that's what I had in the fridge, but these would also be awesome with ground or shredded beef, or even vegetarian-style for a change. Perfect for a football party or for a quick and easy weeknight meal with your family. We dipped ours in Creamy Cilantro Dressing which was uh-mazing! But they'd also be great in sour cream, salsa or guacamole. Recipe and picture adapted from Our Best Bites.
 
Ingredients:
  • 1/3 cup (3 oz.) cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup green salsa or diced green chilies
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp. onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
  • 3 Tbsp. chopped cilantro
  • 2 Tbsp. diced green onions or yellow onions
  • 2 cups shredded cooked chicken
  • 1 cup grated pepperjack cheese
  • White corn tortillas
  • Cooking spray
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray.  Heat cream cheese in the microwave for 20-30 seconds or until softened. Add green salsa/green chilies, lime juice, cumin, chili powder, onion powder, garlic powder and the chopped cilantro and stir to combine. Add the onions, chicken and cheese and combine well.

Place 3 or 4 tortillas in between damp paper towels and microwave for 30-40 seconds, or until they are soft enough to roll without cracking. If yours start to crack, heat them longer and dampen your paper towels.

Place 2-3 Tbsp. of the chicken filling on the lower third of a tortilla and roll up tightly. Place seam down on the baking sheet and continue until all of the chicken mixture is gone. Spray the tops lightly with cooking spray and bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes or until crisp and the ends start to turn light golden brown. Remove from the oven and let sit on the pan for 5 minutes to cool slightly. Serve warm with your preference of sauce.