Garlic Ginger Green Beans

The holidays may have ended for 2014, but it won’t be long at all (seems like in the blink of an eye) that they will be here again. Trying to round out your meal plan? Well, with these Garlic Ginger Green Beans, you’ve got a bright, fresh side dish that is sure to be gobbled up. Don’t expect any leftovers. These will get devoured, I promise. Plus, these are a nice green bean option for anyone that’s trying to watch what they eat, or anyone who appreciates change, and don’t want to indulge in the more traditional, and heavier, green bean casserole. I know that for me, as the primary cook in our household, it’s so nice to have a few, less stressful recipes in the works during those busy times, and let me tell you it doesn’t get much easier than these green beans! Well, unless you give this recipe to someone else for them to make and just bring it to dinner (that would be really quick and easy for you). The beans get a quick blanching and, after they’ve stopped cooking, a stir in a hot pan with some sesame oil, ginger, garlic, and some rice vinegar for good measure. It’s like a green bean stir-fry guys!! Who wouldn’t like that as a side at your next big meal?

And for any sticklers who claim there’s a strict holiday recipe schedule? Like you have to have green bean casserole at the Thanksgiving and/or Christmas meal? Remember your history. America is a melting pot after all, and what better way to celebrate that diversity than at the symbolic table where we originally all first came together?!

Garlic Ginger Green Beans

Garlic Ginger Green Beans

1 lb green beans, washed and trimmed
4 cloves of fresh garlic, minced
1 tbsp soy sauce
½ tbsp fresh, minced ginger
2 tsp rice vinegar
½ tsp sesame oil
⅛ tsp salt
1-2 tsp toasted sesame seeds

Directions

1. Cook the beans in a pot of boiling water for about 5 minutes, or until beans are just tender.
2. Drain beans in a strainer and then run under cold water cold water to stop the cooking process
3. While beans are boiling, in a small bowl, mix together all of the other ingredients except for the sesame seeds.
4. Transfer the beans to a pot or bowl and pour the sauce over cooked beans and stir until everything is nicely coated.
5. Serve with sprinkled sesame seeds over top.

Cucumber Grape Salad with a Light Strawberry, Poppy Seed Dressing

Do you ever just need to eat something refreshing? Where each bite is a vibrant explosion of fresh flavor for your tastebuds? Every now and then I start to crave just that. Especially during the annual post-holiday over-eating guilt trip. But, I’m not always that great with the whole self-control thing in between meals, and I’ve never been able to sacrifice taste for fewer calories. Luckily, little beauties like this recipe exist so that I don’t have to.

Whether you’re looking for a yummy snack, or a healthy dessert, this is sure to do the trick.

Cucumber Grape Salad and a Light Strawberry Poppy Seed Dressing

 Cucumber Salad with grapes and a Light Strawberry Poppy Seed Dressing

recipe adapted from Oh, Sweet Basil

2 cups grapes, we prefer black but red or green should work also
2 cups baby cucumbers, sliced
2 cups grape tomatoes, halved

For the Dressing

1 tbsp vinegar
2 tbsp canola oil
2 tbsp lemon juice
1/8 tsp ground ginger
1/2 cup strawberry flavored Greek yogurt
1-2 tsp poppy seeds
salt to taste

Directions

1. In small bowl, combine all of the dressing ingredients and stir until fully incorporated. Season with salt to taste. We used a scant pinch.
2. In another, larger bowl, toss the cucumbers, grapes and tomatoes with a few drizzles of the dressing until every thing is well coated but not so much so that everything’s swimming in the dressing. Chill or serve immediately. If you’re making this for a crowd, it can be made up to a day ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator until needed.

Maple & Sriracha Glazed Roasted Brussels Sprouts

What can I say about these? The simplest, easiest way to sum these suckers up? They’re the perfect marriage of heat and sweet.

These are really, really good. If you don’t already like Brussels sprouts, then chances are either you just plain didn’t like them as a kid and you’re still hanging on to childhood food prejudices. (If it’s because your parents tried to boil them in a bag and then force feed them to you at dinner time, I can kind of get it) Or, you actually just don’t like them, in which case I think you might be crazy and we probably can’t be friends. But if you do like Brussels sprouts or if you’re feeling adventurous and want to give them a try, which you totally should by the way, then you should definitely try this recipe. Roasting the Brussels sprouts gets rid of any bitterness or bite they may have had and brings out that great caramelized, slightly nutty flavor, and the glaze is that perfect union of spicy and sweet.

The sons like Brussel sprouts. The sons even ask to have them for dinner. What can I say? My boys are weird. Weirdly awesome!

Now, go eat your Brussels sprouts! After all they’re good for you. Which is a plus, since you’re not going to be able to stop at just one or two.

Bonus: this recipe easily doubles! I love getting the 2 lb bags of sprouts from Costco.

Maple & Sriracha Glazed Roasted Brussels Sprouts

 Maple & Sriracha Glazed Roasted Brussels Sprouts

recipe adapted from So Let’s Hang Out

1 pound of Brussels sprouts (about 20 sprouts)
3 tablespoons maple syrup
1/2 tablespoon Sriracha, or if you’re looking to really spice it up, more to taste

 Directions

1. Line a baking sheet with tinfoil and lightly coat it with cooking spray, and then set it aside.
2. Wash your sprouts, and then chop all of your sprouts in half and put them in a large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl combine the syrup and Sriracha and stirring until combined. Pour it over your sprouts and toss to coat. 3. Make sure no sprout is left behind un-coated.
4. Pour out your sprouts onto your lined baking sheet and spread them out evenly. Bake at 400 degrees for 30-40 minutes or until your sprouts are tender on the inside and crispy on the outside.
5. Serve and enjoy!

Are you weirdly awesome like the sons? Do you crave Brussels sprouts or a similar flavor combo of heat and sweet? Check out these other equally awesome dishes:

4 Sons 'R' Us: Sriracha Broccoli

Sriracha Broccoli

Crispy Asian Brussel Sprouts

Crispy Asian Brussels Sprouts 

4 Sons 'R' Us: Sauteed Lemon Garlic Brussel Sprouts

Sauteed Lemon Garlic Brussels Sprouts

Healthy Dole Pineapple Whips

Disney World is home to many magical things. I mean come on, it’s got The Magic Kingdom after all. In just a handful of select spots will you find one of it’s many treasures though. What is this treasure hidden in plain sight? The Dole Pineapple Whip.  Many a guest have gone on epic adventures, and endured untold hardships to track one down. Haven’t managed to get your hands on on yet? No worries, the hunt is over.

The Dole Whip is a pineapple-flavored soft-serve frozen dessert sold only at Disneyland. The creamy, soft-serve confection is so good, it even enjoys it’s own cult-like following. Like, for real. As I mentioned, it’s only served at a handful of locations in Disney World, creating large lines, and long waits for the dreamy dessert. There’s even an app that let’s park guests know how long you can expect to wait for one swirled, frosty pineapple-y bite. But, with four hungry sons and a strict budget, I can’t just hop on down to Florida or across the ocean to the Dole Plantation in Hawaii to get my fix. Luckily for me, and for all of you, recreating this dairy-free soft serve at home couldn’t be any easier. Seriously 3-5 ingredients depending on your preference. If you’re going for the healthier version, omit the cool-whip or use fat free. Want one of Disney’s to-die-for Dole Whip Floats instead? Pour some chilled Pineapple juice into a glass and pipe (or dollop depending on how patient you can be) your pineapple whip mixture on top. See, super simple! And amazingly delicious.

Healthy Dole Pineapple Whips

 Dole Pineapple Whips

recipe adapted from Heather Likes Food

2, 20 oz cans crushed pineapple
2 tbsp fresh lime juice
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 tbsp sugar
1, 8 oz container non-dairy whipped topping, thawed.

Directions

1. Strain the pineapple and reserve the juice. Freeze the pineapple chunks.
2. Puree the frozen crushed pineapple and the reserved juice with the lemon and lime juices and sugar until very smooth in a blender. A high-powered blender works best.
3. Add in the whipped topping and blend again, until everything’s smooth.
4. Spoon, or pipe, into glasses filled with pineapple juice for Dole Whip floats or enjoy it as-is.

Crispy Asian Glazed Brussels Sprouts

Didn’t think sprouts were for you? Crispy, caramelized Brussels sprouts are tossed in a sweet and slightly spicy Asian glaze for the ultimate side dish. After one taste of these Crispy Asian Glazed Brussels Sprouts, you’ll be shocked at how good those old fashioned veggies can actually taste.

crispy-asian-brussels-sprouts-3 Read more

Fiesta Tuna Salad Sliders

So one day I reeeeeaaaaallllllly wanted Mexican food. Of the oh-so good tasting, but so-oh not good for your waist-line variety. Like an endless basket of tortilla chips with some of that authentic creamy, white queso for dipping, and maybe even some sour cream and quac on the side. (We want guac. We want guac. Thank you, Elmo for that little ditty that’s now stuck in my head) But that wasn’t on the menu. Going out to eat wasn’t in the cards, and clearly my pantry and fridge were letting me down. (Again, I griped about having no known Mexican restaurants that deliver in my vicinity. Because, well because… how is this not a thing already?!)

Then I remembered this fancy, schmancy recipe (except it’s totally not, but if tasty-ness was currency, it’d be golden). Fiesta tuna salad sandwiches may not have been sinfully delicious chips dipped in warm, gooey queso, but as my Mama always said, “Beggars can’t be choosers.” And it was Mexican food. Good Mexican-style food. Good for you too, to top it all off. My how my day had changed. While I got down to chopping the veggies I’d need, my mood gradually changed from “deprived of tortilla chips” and being lulled to “problem craving coming to it’s conclusion”. Mean Mami Mexican food crisis averted. At least for today. Seriously, you don’t want to get in my way when I’m craving Mexican food. It could escalate quickly and then we’d be in a full-on nuclear melt-down and that just isn’t gonna work for me. Now that I had a new idea, and some direction to go in other than to Old El Paso, I snagged some supporting ingredients from the pantry and salsa-ed my way through the rest of the recipe.  Olé!

Now I’m going to enjoy another delicious sandwich with this spread for lunch tomorrow too, but this time as a tuna melt! Gotta keep those taste buds on their toes. Trying to go light? This makes a great dip with either tortilla chips or crackers. (Hello, my next tailgating party!)

Fiesta Tuna Salad Sliders

 Fiesta Tuna Salad Sliders

recipe adapted from Taste of Home

6 cans, 5 oz each, water-packed white tuna or albacore, drained and flaked
1 large red onion, chopped
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
2/3 cup reduced fat mayo
2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and finely diced (optional)
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp Old Bay seasoning
1 tsp black pepper
12 ciabatta sized slider buns, or more depending on how ‘stuffed’ your buns are
12 slices of pepper jack cheese
lettuce leaves

Directions

1. In a large bowl, combine the first nine ingredients. Set the tuna salad in the refrigerator to ‘chill’.

2. Once the tuna salad is cold, spread it over the bun bottoms. Top each with a slice of cheese and some lettuce.

3. Put the tops back on, and serve!

Watermelon Slush

I have a problem. It’s a serious problem. There are days & times when I feel like it’s taking over my life. What is this problem you ask? I’m addicted to taking pictures of my kids. Seriously. Obsessed. I have memory cards upon memory cards full of their fresh little faces. My living room is flooded with photo albums, cataloging their accomplishments, their firsts, and everything in between. My walls are littered with my favorite shots of them. I just can’t help myself. What can I say? They’re my life’s work. That being said, there is one simple shot I have to get ever single summer.

July 4th 2009 (56)

Every summer, I have to snap a pic of each boy relishing in a slice of watermelon as it’s glorious juices run down their little cheeks and chins. There’s nothing better on a hot summer day to quench their thirst, and the look of pure joy on their faces just melts my heart. It’s their warm weather ambrosia. Knowing their infatuation with the stuff, it was inevitable that I’d try to branch out and see what I could come up with to do something a little ‘different’ with their favorite summer staple.  Aaaaaand, watermelon slushies it was!

This frosty treat makes a refreshing ending to any summer meal. Simply scoop the slushy mixture into bowls or tall glasses and enjoy a refreshing dessert, all while still getting that melon flavor fix, albeit without all the dripping. Add a splash of vodka for an even sweeter summer adult beverage.

Watermelon Slush

Watermelon Slush

4 cups frozen watermelon cubes
2 tbsp lime juice
1/2-1 cup water
1 tbsp sugar, optional

Directions

1. Cube watermelon and freeze on a metal cookie sheet. Remove the frozen cubes from the cookie sheet and put them into a ziploc-ing freezer bag to store in the freezer.
2. Remove 4 cups of watermelon cubes and place in a blender. Add in the lime juice, 1/2 cup water, and sugar, if using. Blend until desired consistency. Add more water if needed.
3. Pour into two glasses and, if you’re feelin’ fancy, garnish each glass with a slice of lime!

(  And don’t worry, I’ve already made sure to get in my fresh melon pictures for the summer! 😉  )

Healthy Applesauce & Oat Muffins

Despite what my blog full of decadent desserts and copious comfort food recipes might suggest, we’re actually pretty healthy eaters. I mean, sure, I love a good breakfast pastry, a dreamy creamy (I meant creamy) bowl of macaroni & cheese, or even a thick slice of loaded beer bread on occasion, but most of the time… we keep it pretty healthy. In order to keep breakfast a relatively healthy affair, and let’s be honest with our oldest out the door around 5:15 for JV football practice, we don’t have a whole lot of time to be cooking in the AM hours, I try to keep healthy, grab-and-go options on hand. That’s where these little beauties come into play.

A great wholesome applesauce oatmeal muffin that’s delicious, nutritious and low in fat. They’re perfect for breakfast on the go or as a lunch-time treat. The hubs & son # 1 take one of these (or another protein inclusive muffin) and 2 hard boiled eggs for breakfast on their ways to work/football practice. Even with son 1’s grueling practice regime it keeps him fueled. Seriously, these hearty muffins will fill you up with fiber and flavor instead of fat. Who wouldn’t want that?

We love these as is, but I have to be honest, warm out of the oven with a big ol’ pat of butter on em, these are pretty dang amazing. Everything in moderation, right? 😉

Healthy Applesauce & Oat Muffins

 Healthy Applesauce & Oat Muffins

1 3/4 cups all purpose, or whole wheat, flour
1 cup quick cooking oats*
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup sugar
1 cup coconut oil, melted
2 eggs
1/4 cup nonfat, plain Greek yogurt
1 cup chunky or home-style unsweetened applesauce
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

*To make your own quick cooking oats from rolled outs, place rolled oats into the food processor and pulse 4-5 times until they are coarsely chopped but not powdery. Cutting them makes them faster to cook, but do only those few pulses or the oats will turn to mush when cooked.

Directions

1. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, oats, salt, cinnamon, and baking powder. Set aside.
2. In another bowl, cream together sugar and oil by hand.
3. Add in eggs one at a time and mix well. Stir in yogurt, applesauce and vanilla until well incorporated.
4. Gradually add dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir to combine. Do not over mix.
5. Drop muffin liners into muffin pan, and then fill 3/4 full with the batter. Bake at 425 for 3 minutes, and then turn the oven to 350 and bake for an additional 17-18 minutes. The muffins are done when a toothpick comes out with crumbs on it. Remove the muffins from the pan and cool.

Looking for more healthy recipes? 

4 Sons 'R' Us: Healthy Chocolate Fudge

Healthy Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge

4 Sons 'R' Us: chocolate peanut butter protein shake

Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Shake 

4 Sons 'R' Us: Healthy Peach 'Milkshakes'

Healthy Peach ‘Milkshakes’ 

Sweet & Salty Banana Chips

We don’t usually have any problem going through a Costco sized bundle of bananas before they start turning all spotty, but occasionally there’s that rouge that hides or a son is gone and not eating his rations, and I find myself stuck with a couple spotted bananas that no one will even contemplate eating. Usually I will peel them and freeze them for baking, but this one time I went to put them in the freezer and realized I’d been doing that for oh, you know, a little bit and there were pleeeeeeeeeenty of the frozen fruits all ready in stock. What to do, what to do. I was in a pickle (or maybe stuck in a banana?). The hubs suggested banana chips. A sweet snack that’s easy on the hips, AND that all the sons love? We were in business.

These do bake  for a while, but the long baking time is necessary, because at this temperature the oven will act more as a dehydrator than an oven. Plus, you will love the sweet banana and cinnamon aroma that will fill your house! Baking times will vary some depending on how thick you slice your bananas and how crispy you prefer your banana chips to be. Some people don’t like the additions of salt. I don’t like cinnamon. And all that’s ok. Even plain, with no toppings whatsoever they’re still great. Also they’re diet and diabetic friendly 🙂

Sweet & Salty Banana Chips

 4 Sons 'R' Us: Banana Chips

bananas
lemon juice
water
cinnamon
kosher salt

Directions

1. Slice bananas thinly (1/8″), and then brush with the lemon juice mixed with just a little water. Sprinkle with cinnamon and kosher salt.
2. Bake at 250 degrees for about 90 minutes, then turn the slices, and continuing to bake another 30 minutes.
3. Let cool (the longer they cool the crispier they become) before eating.

Greek Spinach Feta Chicken Pockets

These little greek pastries are seriously to die for. No, really. They’re that good! I hadn’t even finished eating yet, but I still had half a pastry left, and the sons were already squabbling over who had called dibs first. Any meal that has the sons arguing over who deserves another helping of any leafy green is a win in my book.

These bring back a classic combinations, chock full of spinach and yes, two kinds of cheese- feta and mozzarella.  The feta adds a bit of saltiness, which means you don’t have to add any additional salt in making the recipe, and the melted mozzarella helps bind everything together nicely. The puff pastry, especially after the egg wash, bakes in  perfect toasty, crusty complement to it’s filling.  Of course, these are two of the best characteristics of baking with cheeses and with pastry – the salty addition and the toasty exterior.

Get your Greek on tonight with one of these bad boys.

Greek Spinach Feta Chicken Pockets

 Greek Spinach Feta Chicken Pockets

recipe adapted from Chef In Training

1 sheet Puff Pastry, thawed
2 oz. cream cheese softened
3/4 cup frozen spinach thawed and well drained
1 cup cooked and shredded chicken
2 green onions chopped
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1 egg + 2 tsp water, well beaten

Greek Spinach Feta Chicken Pockets 2

Look at all that melty, cheesy goodness!

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
2. Carefully unfold (you don’t want it to tear) the sheet of puff pastry out onto a lightly floured surface.
3. Spread the softened cream cheese evenly over the pastry sheet, leaving about 1/2 inch of space along the pastry sheet’s edges.
4. Spread the thawed & drained spinach evenly over 1/2 of the puff pastry sheet (width wise), again leaving about a 1/2 inch of space along all the edges.
5. Next, spread the chicken and green onions evenly over the spinach, still saving a 1/2 inch space around the edges.
6. Finally, sprinkle the feta and mozzarella cheeses evenly over top of the chicken, still leaving a 1/2 inch space around edges.
7. Carefully fold over the half of the puff pastry that doesn’t have anything on it. Rub the edges with a little bit of water on your finger and press them together to seal them up nice and tight . Brush the outside with the egg wash.
8. Place the puff pastry ‘pocket’ on a greased cookie sheet, or one with a silicon baking mat, and bake for 15-20 minute or until the outside is a nice and crisp golden brown.
9. Cut into slices and enjoy!