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!

 

Santa Fe Style Chicken & Lentil Casserole

Lentils are such an understated legume. They’re cheap, tasty, and (don’t tell the kids) healthy! Previously, my favorite way to use them had been in a delicious, good-for-you soup. Buuut, a cheesy, skinny casserole?! Move on over soup, Mama’s got a new favorite in town.

Busy day, busy afternoon/evening? This casserole will come to your rescue! Casseroles are great like that, and this one’s no exception.

This recipe delivers a true Santa Fe-style experience straight to your taste buds with lots of cumin, a nice cayenne ‘kick’, and plenty of cilantro. That, combined with the lentils (which we can’t forget were cooked in, not water, but chicken broth!), tender pieces of chicken, and the perfect amount of melted cheese, you’ve got yourself an award winning combination. I promise!

Santa Fe Style Chicken & Lentil Casserole

4 Sons 'R' Us: Santa Fe Style Chicken & Lentil Casserole

recipe adapted from ifoodreal

Lentils
1 + 1/2 cup green lentils, rinsed & drained
3 cups chicken broth, low sodium
1/8 tsp salt

Chicken
2 lbs boneless & skinless chicken breasts, diced
1 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
Cooking spray

Vegetables
1 large onion, diced
5 large garlic cloves, crushed or 5 tsp minced garlic
2 large bell peppers, diced
1 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper

Mix-Ins
14 oz can diced tomatoes with green chiles
2 cups corn, frozen & unthawed
2 cups  Tex Mex or Colby Jacks cheese, shredded & divided
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tsp cumin
1 cup cilantro, chopped & divided, or 2 tbsp dried

4 Sons 'R' Us: Santa Fe Style Chicken & Lentil Casserole 2

Look at all those pretty little lentils. Can’t you just hear them calling to you. Eat meeeeeee….

Directions

1. In a medium pot, combine lentils, chicken broth and salt. Bring to a boil on high, reduce heat to low, cover and cook for 35 minutes. Do not drain excess liquid. Set aside.
2. Meanwhile, preheat large skillet on high and spray with cooking spray. Add chicken and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally and draining any liquid if necessary. Add cumin, salt, black pepper and cayenne pepper and cook for another 5 minutes or until golden brown, stirring occasionally. Transfer to a large bowl and set aside.
3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Return skillet to medium-high heat and spray with cooking spray. Add onion, garlic, bell peppers, cumin, salt and cayenne pepper and cook for 7 minutes or until golden brown, stirring occasionally.
4. Transfer to the bowl with chicken along with cooked lentils, diced tomatoes, corn, 1 cup cheese, garlic powder, cumin and 1/2 cup cilantro (or 1 tbsp dried cilantro). Mix gently with spatula enough to combine. You may want to taste and adjust the spiciness/salt of the dish with extra cayenne/cumin or salt.
5. Transfer the mixture to a 9 x 13 baking dish and press gently with spatula to evenly distribute. Sprinkle with remaining cheese and bake uncovered for 50 mins. Remove casserole from the oven, cover with foil and let stand for half an hour before serving. Garnish with remaining cilantro, cut into 8 slices and serve hot.

Asian Style Chicken Spinach Pasta Salad

This Asian Style Chicken Spinach Pasta Salad, tossed in a sesame oil and soy sauce-based dressing, is a refreshing, Asian-inspired side dish perfect for picnics.  This is great for lunch, a light main meal, or even a supper-time side dish. Serve it for the family, or make it ahead for your next barbecue.

Asian Style Chicken Spinach Pasta Salad

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*Healthy* Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge

Chocolate is a central part of my husband’s diet, a cornerstone to his livelihood. If there is chocolate nearby, he must have it. And it is one of the few things he finds really difficult to share (along with french fries and deodorant). But really. I always worry because he has no fuel gauge when it comes to the sugary sweet stuff. He would happily (and unknowingly) chocolate his way into a diabetic coma. This little recipe has become a staple. All the same great flavors he’s craving without all the calories and guilt?! Ok, well, it’s healthyish! It’s not an apple or a head of broccoli or anything, but the ingredients in this fudge are healthy. You shouldn’t eat a whole batch of it if you’re counting calories, but you’re better off eating a serving size of this fudge than a serving size of traditional fudge. Then again, what’s a serving size when it comes to chocolate? Your guess is as good as mine.

*Healthy* Chocolate Peanut ButterFudge

4 Sons 'R' Us: Healthy Chocolate Fudge

recipe originally from Creating Naturally

1/2 cup coconut oil (slightly melted, but not hot)
1/2 cup good quality cocoa powder
1/2 cup natural peanut butter
1/4 cup mild raw honey
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

Directions

1. Prepare a muffin pan with 10 muffin liners.
2. Put all ingredients in the bowl of your food processor.  Pulse a few times until everything is smooth and nicely combined.  (It will be very liquid-y.)  Don’t over-mix.
3. Pour the liquid fudge into the prepared muffin liners dividing evenly between the ten of them.  There will be about a half inch of fudge in each muffin liner.
4. Place the muffin pan in the refrigerator for 30 minutes or until the fudge has hardened. (Sometimes I use the freezer and it only takes about 10 minutes)
Remove the muffin liners from the pan and enjoy your delicious, healthy fudge!  Store in the refrigerator.

Maple-Thyme Roasted Carrots

Maple. Syrup. Ahh, luscious maple syrup. It has a rich, earthy caramel smell with woodsy hints of vanilla. One sniff, one taste, and I am sitting in a cozy log cabin in the snow-covered woods. Inside, the fire crackles and I take lazy sips of hot tea, snugly in soft slippers while fluffy pancakes sizzle on a hot grill in the kitchen, and a tall pitcher of maple syrup waits on the table.

I learned a long time ago that my love affair with maple syrup isn’t just limited to fresh pancakes, it’s so much bigger than that. Maple syrup can seriously make so many things that much better. For instance… carrots. These carrots, with the help of a little time thyme, some syrup, and a little love become the perfect side to complement any Winter meal.

Maple-Thyme Roasted Carrots

4 Sons 'R' Us: Maple & Thyme Roasted Carrots

recipe originally from Life Currents

 6-8 large carrots, scrubbed and peeled
2 tbsp oil
1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves, or 1 tsp dried thyme leaves
a generous pinch of salt
2 tbsp maple syrup

Directions

1. Depending on the size of your carrots, cut them in half lengthwise, and possibly in half or thirds width-wise. You want your carrot pieces to be roughly uniform in size so they all cook at about the same rate.
2. Heat oil in a heavy, oven proof skillet. Either cast-iron or a dutch oven should work well.
3. Once the oil is nice and hot add carrots, sauteing for 4-6 minutes until they begin to brown.
4. Don’t over-stir. The longer they’re touching the bottom of the skillet, the quicker they will brown.
5. Sprinkle with thyme and salt.
6. Pour maple syrup over the top and give the carrots a quick stir.
7. Place the pan in a 400 degree oven and roast for 8-9 minutes.
8. Serve.

Healthy Ham & Lentil Soup

A hearty soup that incorporates those holiday ham leftovers you just might have lying around, this Healthy Ham & Lentil Soup is simple, savory, slurp-able Winter weather comfort food. Ladle it into bowls for a filling dinner, pack it into a thermos for a delicious guilt free lunch, or even take a batch to a friend.

Healthy Ham & Lentil Soup

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