Asian Cucumber Salad

We’re interrupting our regularly scheduled program. Ice Cream/Frozen Treat Week ( # 2 ) will return bright and early Monday morning. Until then, we’re going to leave you with these snack-tactic cucumber recipe. You’re not gonna want to miss it.

This quick and easy recipe makes the perfect summer side salad. Seriously. Even better? It only uses a few simple ingredients, but it’s chock full of crispy, crunchy cucumbers and packs a ton of flavor with just the right amount of kick. It’s a great addition to any end of summer bash.

Asian Cucumber Salad

  Asian Cucumber Salad

2 English cucumbers, finely sliced

3/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
3 cloves minced garlic
1 teaspoon sesame oil

dash of red pepper flakes

1-2 tbsp sesame seeds

Directions

  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, water, sugar, soy sauce, garlic, oil, and red peppers flakes (if using) until evenly incorporated. Pour the dressing over the slo Ed cucumbers, tossing to coat. Let the cucumbers ‘marinate’, chilled, for about an hour.
  2. Before serving, sprinkle sesame seeds over top. Serve chilled, but the longer these sit they will eventually turn into Asian-flavored pickles 😉 We make sure to use them within 24 hours.

Grilled Peaches with Vanilla Ice Cream

I’m just gonna go ahead and call this the week when I decided to share all the ice cream. Summer’s coming to an end, and will fade into Fall before we know it. And I have so, so many yummy frozen treats to share with ya’ll that I don’t even want to waste another second dragging it out. So you’ve been warned! Stay tuned the rest of this week and next for some totally tasty refreshing snacks and desserts coming your way.

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And there’s no better way to kick this bonanza off than with Grilled Peaches and Vanilla Ice Cream. Peach picking season is in full swing around these parts at all of our local orchards. And if you’re skeptical at the idea of grilled fruit, or even grilled fruit as dessert, let me stop you right there.

Grilled Peaches

Grilling these babies is quick and easy, and caramelizes the sugars in a way that can’t be described, just tasted. Add a pinch of brown sugar to the mix, and they make the perfect ‘bowls’ to hold a hearty scoop of your favorite vanilla ice cream.

Grilled Peaches 3

It’s like the ice cream and pie of 2015, minus the crust, and well … pie. But I’m sure you get my meaning. Just like the granny smith apples and flaky crust in my Mama’s apple pie, these two were meant to go together.

Grilled Peaches with Vanilla Ice Cream

2 ripe peaches
canola oil
brown sugar
vanilla ice cream

Directions

  1. Heat grill to medium high heat. Brush the peach halves with a touch of oil, sprinkle each half with a pinch of brown sugar, and place them on the grill for a few moments and then rotate 90 degrees and continue to cook for about 3-4 minutes, grill marks will be present and the peaches will feel softer.
    2. Remove from the grill with a pair of tongs and serve with a generous scoop of your favorite brand of vanilla ice cream in the center of each peach.

Pineapple Mango Salsa

Is there anything quite as ‘refreshing’ as a good blend of some yummy fresh fruits or veggies into a good salsa? I’m not sure, but around here a good, fresh salsa always hits the spot. And this fruity, pineapple mango version is a family favorite.

Pineapple Mango Salsa 2

It’s perfect served up with our favorite or tortilla chips. Served over top grilled fish, or other seafood? Yes sir-ee! We even like it paired with grilled chicken. Serve the meat over a bed of rice with a hearty scoop of  salsa on top, and dinner time is a fresh, healthy hit.

Pineapple Mango Salsa 3

Put a little pep in your step and some groove into your meal with a heaping helping of this refreshing salsa.

Pineapple Mango Salsa

Pineapple Mango Salsa

1 (heaping) cup pineapple, diced
1 cup mango, diced
1 cup tomatoes, diced
1/3 cup red, yellow, or orange bell peppers, diced
1/2 whole red onion, diced
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
juice of one lemon
pinch of sugar, optional
pinch of salt, optional

Directions

1. In a large bowl, gently stir together the pineapple, mango, tomatoes, peppers, onion, and cilantro until evenly incorporated.
2. Squeeze the lemon juice overtop the salsa mixture. Again, gently stir to mix it in.
3. Add salt and/or sugar, if needed, and stir to incorporate.
4. Serve chilled with tortilla chips, or on top of grilled chicken or fish.

Grilled Caesar Asparagus

I always find myself trying to keep things simple in the summer time. Maybe it’s the way everything seems to slow down, and for the most part, take a more leisurely pace. Of course, that could just be the heat. Or the fact that all the kids are home, and for people who don’t drive they sure do make a lot of plans to go all over the county, and everything takes us twice as long to get our little butts around to doing. And that we essentially throw our traditional school year schedules out the window. So yeah, summer meals. I’m in no rush, but everybody’s still got to eat.

In the evening’s, I’d much rather be sitting around outside with a good book, their play and laughter the perfect back ground music, than inside in the kitchen.

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That’s where asparagus enters into our meal-time picture. Grilled with a little oil, salt, and pepper, asparagus makes for a simple summer side dish. Top that beautiful grilled green bounty with your favorite caesar dressing, croutons, and some shredded Parmesan cheese, and you’ve got a perfect meatless meal that’s filling without weighing you down, and ready in a breeze. Serve stalks as is, or chop them into quarters for a more traditional, ‘tossed-salad’ type dish.

Grilled Caesar Asparagus

1 1/2 pounds asparagus, trimmed
1 tablespoon oil
salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons parmigiano reggiano (parmesan), grated
fresh cracked black pepper to taste

Homemade Caesar Salad Dressing
croutons
shredded parmesan cheese

Directions

1. Toss the asparagus spears in the oil, salt and pepper them, to taste, and grill them over medium-high heat (turning once or twice) until crisp-tender and slightly charred.
2. Serve topped with the caesar dressing of your choice, croutons, Parmesan cheese, and another round of fresh cracked black pepper to taste. Enjoy!

Papusas with Salsa Roja (El Salvadorian Grilled Cheese with Tomato Soup)

Grilled cheese is one of the quintessential comfort foods. Even better? It’s one of those things that’s just as good, no matter how old you get, that’s just as comforting in its original, unaltered form ( just like Mama made it) or growing with you into more ‘gourmet’ versions. And we’ve run the gauntlet, bringing you all different varieties

 papusas 4

But we’re not the only country who’s on top of their grilled cheese game. Far from it.

Today we bring you papusas, straight from the streets of El Salvador. These traditional Salvadorian ‘grilled cheese’ consist of a thick, handmade corn tortilla that’s typically filled with a blend of meat and/or cheeses. But, of course, we’re focusing on the cheeses. And it may sound hard to replicate, but it’s surprisingly easy, and affordable. They do take a teensy bit of work, but they’re well worth the time. They’re a perfect snack, or main meal. Even better? Dip it in a fresh bowl of salsa roja, a seasoned tomato sauce that resembles a runnier version of tomato soup, but with kick butt flavors.

So, let’s recap, Pupusas are cheap and cheerful, exceptionally hearty, stuffed and griddled disks of corn tortilla oozing, gooey cheese induced euphoria that originated in El Salvador. Use our recipe to bring a batch to your house, and enjoy watching the face-splitting smiles that spread across their faces.

Papusas

papusas 8

2 cups masa harina
1 ½ – 1 ¾ cups warm water
½ tsp. salt

Filling

1 cup shredded pepper jack cheese
½ cup cotija cheese, crumbled or shredded

Directions

1. In a large bowl, mix the masa, salt and 1 ½ cups water together with your hands to make a dough.
2. Dump the dough onto the counter. If you press it and it cracks, you need to knead in more water.
3. You’ll know you have enough water when you press it and it looks smooth.
4. Break off a handful of dough and roll it into a ball. Slightly flatten the ball and make an indention in the dough. Add about a tablespoon of the cheeses that have been mixed together.
5. Fold the dough like a taco and press together. Fold in the opposite ends and press together.
6. Set the dough on the counter and press the dough together to cover the filling. Carefully flatten it out into a ¼-inch thick disc. Don’t press too hard or the filling will poke through the dough.
7. Continue with the remaining dough.
8. Heat a skillet or griddle over medium to medium-high heat. Place pupusas on the skillet in a single layer. Cook for 5 minutes, until brown.
9. Flip. Continue cooking 5 more minutes. Remove from skillet and cook remaining pupusas. Serve with Salsa Roja for dipping.

Salsa Roja

papusas 6

3 tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup chopped white onion
1-2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 jalapeño pepper, chopped
2 cups tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped
2 tsp oregano
salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped

Directions

1. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, and pepper and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the onion is translucent.
2. Stir in the tomatoes and the oregano and simmer for about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let the mixture cool a bit.
3. Once the mixture has cooled, puree the tomato ‘sauce’ in a blender until smooth, adding a little water if needed. Add in salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the chopped cilantro and serve.

papusa recipe adapted from Zestuous

Carrot Zucchini Feta Fritters

Fritters are such a wonderfully fun finger food. They make a great, not to mention satisfying, vegetarian main meal. They’re a great party food. Heck, they’re even great when taken on a picnic. Yes, my picnic baskets often include foods that are ‘out of the back’. Fried chicken and ham and cheese sandwiches are for sissys, my picnic needs some action. Flavor action to be specific, and these are packin it.

Carrot, Zucchini, Feta Fritters 2

Shredded carrot and zucchini, a handful of diced sweet peppers, and a little bit of batter, and you’ve got these lightly (pan)fried golden veggie patties that are too good to put down. Seriously, I need a reminder or something. A ribbon tied around my finger, a remembral, something. Sharing is caring and one serving, or two ‘patties’ IS enough. Serve these things with a little sauce of your choosing, but we’ve found they pair best for our palettes with plain, creamy yogurt for dipping. Want to really treat yourself? Serve em up hot with a mint yogurt sauce and prepare to be floored. As in your jaw is gonna drop, and you might need help picking it up off of the floor.

Carrot Zucchini Feta Fritters

Carrot, Zucchini, Feta Fritters

2 cups coarsely grated zucchini
1 cup grated carrot
1 red bell pepper, diced
3 eggs
5 tbsp all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 to 1/2 tsp salt, depending on how salty your feta is
5 tbsp crumbled feta
1/2 cup olive oil, for frying

Directions

1. Salt the zucchini and carrot with about roughly 1 teaspoon of salt and let it sit for about 5 minutes.
2. Take a handful of the veggies and remove the excess juice from them by ringing them out with your hands.
3. Whisk the eggs together in a large bowl.
4. To the eggs, add the flour, grated veggies, diced pepper, salt and feta in this order and stir together just until evenly combined.
5. Finally add in the baking powder and stir to combine.
6. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
7. Drop 1-2 tablespoons of the batter into the skillet. Drop as many mounds as your skillet can take.
8. Flatten slightly and fry 3 minutes on each side or until golden-brown and crispy.
9. Transfer them onto a paper towel to soak up any excess oil, and repeat with remaining batter.
10. Serve warm or cold, with yogurt.

recipe adapted from Give Recipe

Tomato Pie

Speaking of summer fun, and summer veggies as we have been around this neck of the woods recently I’ve got too bring up one of my favorite Summer show stoppers. The tomato.

 Tomato Pie 2

i grew up on the tomato. Some of my fondest memories involve the tomato. Specifically, my grandmas plain, but still out of this world tomato sandwiches on toast, and the first bite into one of her vine-ripened beauties every summer. Now that I think about it, almost every lunch and dinner included it some way, some how. And … IT. WAS. AWESOME.

then you’ve got the hubs. The Italian from a family of second generation Italian immigrants from up North. His idea of the tomato growing up was something to be included in pasta sauces and dishes, and something to be picked out of his salad. And not a darn thing changed for him even when he moved down South. Seriously. 30 years later, and I’m still trying to change this. Imagine his horror when we married and he found out I’d serve a whole meal based on nothing but, you guessed it, THE tomato!

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Tomato Pie is pretty much everything the name implies. What the name alone doesn’t tell ya? Just how dang delicious it is. There’s no way to prepare for it. I may have to baby the hubs a bit with paper thin slices in his servings, but the rest of us bite into our bits of tomato ‘steaks’ with relish (not actual relish, promise). Either way, this is the one dish where even the hubs leaves no tomatoes behind.

We have several versions of this dish that we enjoy, but this one is our favorite. Your vegetarian family and friends will thank you. Your carnivorous spouse and offspring will never even miss the meat.

It’s addictively delicious.

It ain’t just a Southern thing, y’all! At least not anymore 😉

Tomato Pie

Tomato Pie

5 Roma tomatoes, peeled and sliced
10 fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped
1/2 cup red onion, chopped or thinly sliced
1 (9-inch) prebaked deep dish pie shell
1 cup shredded mozzarella
1 cup shredded cheddar
3/4 cup mayonnaise (or half mayo and half Greek yogurt)
2 tbsp shredded Parmesan Cheese
salt and pepper, to taste

Directions

1. Place the tomatoes in a clean colander/strainer in the sink in 1 layer. Sprinkle with salt and allow to drain for 10 minutes. Use a paper towel to pat-dry the tomatoes and make sure most of the excess juice is out. (You don’t want wet (juicy) tomatoes or your pie will turn out soggy).
2. Layer the tomato slices, basil, and onion in the prepared pie shell. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. In a separate bowl, combine the cheddar and mozzarella cheeses and mayonnaise. Spread the mixture out evenly on top of the tomatoes and sprinkle the parmesan cheese on top. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until the cheese mixture is lightly browned.
3. Let the pie rest for a minute or two, then cut into slices and serve warm.

Stuffed Cheesy Pull-Apart Bread with Spinach & Feta

You know those times when you’re sitting there editing your photos and you just know that they didn’t do your food justice? Well, maybe not, depending on how many of you blog, post an obscene amount of food photos of everything you eat on Instagram, or (long shot) use them to make professional-ish family recipe albums. Just me??

Try as I may, I can never seem to get that money shot of this pull-apart bread that just screams to my readers, ‘oh my gawd, run to your kitchen and make this NOW.’ Which is a real shame. It’s that good. But I (in the effort of full disclosure) won’t let that hold me back a single second longer from sharing this mouth-watering recipe with you.

Spinach & Feta Stuffed Cheesy Bread 2

Inspired by Domino’s stuffed cheesy bread, except with noticeably less cheese. It was on purpose, I promise! It’s not nearly as rich as the original, and it may have less cheese stringing for miles and miles, but it delivers the same flavors, flawlessly. And with less calories.

Hey, sometimes that’s important.

Spinach & Feta Stuffed Cheesy Bread

Fresh spinach leaves, feta cheese, and freshly minced garlic are sandwiched between buttery, flaky layers of bread with a crispy mozzarella crust on top. Get ready to have your taste buds rocked.

Spinach & Feta Stuffed Cheesy Bread 3

Stuffed Cheesy Bread with Spinach & Feta

Bread Dough:

1/2 cups water
2/3 cups buttermilk
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 tbs salt
2 1/4 tsp instant yeast, or regular yeast, proofed
3-4 cups all purpose flour

For the filling:

3-4 tbs butter, softened
2-3 large hand fulls of fresh baby spinach
1/2-3/4 cup feta cheese crumbles
one bulb of garlic diced
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Directions

1. In a small sauce pan add water, buttermilk, butter, sugar and salt and heat until the butter has just melted. Remove from heat and allow the mixture to cool to room temperature.
2. Once the liquids have cooled add them to the mixing bowl of your electric mixer. Using the dough hook on medium speed mix in yeast and flour one cup at a time. Stop adding flour once the dough has come together and is only lightly sticky.
3. Turn the mixing up to high speed and mix for about 2-3 minutes or until the dough is elastic.
4. Turn the dough out into a buttered bowl. Cover with a dish towel and set it someplace warm to rise for about one hour, or until the dough has doubled in size.
5. Once dough has risen, on a lightly floured surface roll dough out until it is 1/4-1/2 an inch thick. Using a sharp knife cut dough into 3×3 squares.
6. Using your hands stretch each square out so it’s about 1/4 inch thick. Spread each square with butter, spread with some minced garlic, feta cheese and then place 2-4 spinach leaves on the top.
7. In a buttered bread pan, place each square in sandwiching the filling with each layer. It gets a little messy but that is ok. Squeeze each square in the pan.
8. Cover and allow to rise for an additional 30-40 minutes or until the dough has risen about 1 inch above the top of your bread pan.
9. Bake at 350 on the middle rack of your oven for 15-20 minutes, sprinkle top with mozzarella cheese. Return to oven and bake for another 15 minutes or until the bread has browned on top and when you flick the top it sounds hollow.

recipe adapted from Bakeaholic Mama

Southwestern Pepper Jack Salad with Creamy Avocado Salsa Dressing

Do you ever find yourself perusing Pinterest, or Facebook, or even sitting in a lobby flipping through a copy of Taste of Home only to see yet another salad ‘meal’ recipe and just keep flipping (or scrolling) because you just know either you’ll be the only one who likes it or it’s got a 50/50 shot at best? I can’t tell you how many times this has been me. If it’s been you too, then this is the salad recipe for you. This salad and dressing are packing the protein and the dressing is so yummy they’re not even gonna guess it’s got a good for em base.

 Southwestern Pepper Jack Salad With A Cool Avocado Dressing

Let the little bit of spice give ’em a kick in the pants. After all hasn’t Mom always told you to eat your greens? They’re good for you. Geez! Sorry. Seriously, sorry. Sometimes the mom in me just comes waltzing right on out and into my conversations. There’s really no stopping it. But back to topic. Healthy AND tasty.

Southwestern Pepper Jack Salad with Cool Creamy Avocado Dressing

This is a salad for the people. The people who love salad. The people who suffer through salad. And especially the people who take one look at a salad and stick there nose up in the air because a salad can’t possibly be a satisfying meal.

Give it a try, and tell me if it doesn’t leave em asking for more 🙂 Top it with tortilla strips or a few crushed tortilla chips for that crunchy piese de résistance. And then try to hide the smirk while you politely refrain from telling them ‘I told you so’. Nope, scratch that. You can totally smirk.

Southwestern Pepper Jack Salad with Creamy Avocado Salsa Dressing

Southwestern Pepper Jack Salad with Cool Avocado Dressing

For the Southwest Salad

1 head romaine lettuce, roughly chopped
1 cup of drained can corn or thawed frozen corn
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 cup diced roma tomatoes
1 (15 oz.) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1/3 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup grated pepper jack cheese, or more to taste
crispy tortilla strips or tortilla chips

For the Creamy Avocado Salsa Dressing

1 small avocado, peeled and sliced
1 small jalapeno, seeded, de-veined and roughly chopped, optional
1 tbsp minced garlic
1/4 cup loosely packed cilantro
1/4 cup Greek yogurt
1/4 cup mild or medium salsa
1/4 cup milk
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp sugar
juice from 1 lime
1/4 tsp salt
1/4- 1/2 tsp cumin
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1/8 teaspoon smoked paprika
tiniest of dashes of cayenne pepper, optional

Directions

1. Add all of the Creamy Avocado Salad Dressing ingredients to a blender or food processor and blend until smooth, scraping the sides down as needed. If using it, add in the cayenne pepper before adding additional salt and pepper to taste. If your dressing is too thick, then add in a little extra milk and stir until you’re reached the desired consistency. Chill in the refrigerator until ready to use.
2. Add salad ingredients to a large bowl, except for the tortilla strips/chips,  and toss to combine.
3. Toss the salad with the desired amount of dressing or drizzle dressing over individual servings, especially if you’re not planning to polish off the entire salad in one meal.
4. Garnish the salad, or servings, with tortilla strips, or tortilla chips and freshly cracked salt and pepper.

Are your hungry, hungry omnivores still looking for more protein and/or a denser dish? Serve it topped with grilled chicken strips and they’ll love it.

recipe adapted from Carlsbad Cravings

Healthy Frozen Yogurt Bark

I’m always on the look out for a good snack recipe that both the kids and I can enjoy. I also always love it if I can mess with their little brains and change their preconceived ideas about things. Wondering what I mean? A couple months ago if I’d told them that there’d be a healthy frozen yogurt snack they’d love. They’d have laughed at me. Laughed, I tell ya!! Did it help that I sweetened the yogurt pot a bit? Probably, but what bowl of yogurt doesn’t beg to have some fresh strawberries, coconut, and or a few chocolate chips stirred in? It seemed like a no brainer here.

Healthy Frozen Yogurt Bark 2

When you need that little pick me up, but don’t want to over-indulge this is the perfect go-to treat. It’s super simple, and guilt free. That and you can claim you’re giving your kids ice cream, with them none the wiser, without all the additional sugar. Do your eaters prefer different add ins? Not a problem. Get creative. Get fancy. Get it in their little bellies. And yours 🙂 Nuts are a great option, or other fruits. We’ve even added a couple handfuls of their favorite cereals for a fun, fast, and refreshing breakfast. Don’t you just love a recipe with so many possibilities?

Healthy Frozen Yogurt Bark

Healthy Frozen Yogurt Bark

Yogurt Bark:
1 3/4 – 2 cups Greek yogurt, plain or flavor of your choosing
2-3 tbsp honey
1 tbsp blueberries
1 tbsp raisins

Toppings:
5-6 fresh strawberries, washed & chopped
1 tbsp semi sweet chocolate chips
1-2 tsp shredded coconut

Directions

1. Mix the yogurt and honey together until well combined. Add the cranberries or blueberries and raisins, stir again to evenly incorporate everything.
2. Line a baking sheet with foil and pour the yogurt mixture on top. Spread the mixture out evenly, to your desired thickness or thinness of the bark.
3. Sprinkle the strawberries, chocolate chips and the coconut on top of the yogurt and place the whole pan levelly in the freezer for about an hour or until the bark is completely frozen.
4. Remove the sheet pan from the freezer and use a sharp knife to break the bark into pieces. The bark can be stored in the freezer in zip-locking bags.

*Just a heads up, that when you first take the bark out of the freezer, you’ll notice a few ice chips on it. That’s why I recommend you wait a bit before enjoying, whether it’s as soon as it’s frozen or when removing a piece or peices from your stock. If you don’t wait a bit, you might find at first bite that the bark’s too cold and might think it a failed recipe. Let it melt just a bit, no more than 20 minutes or so, until the chill has subsided, but before it’s turned into a mess, and it’s delicious.

recipe adapted from My Fussy Eater