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 rĂ©sistance. 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

Skinny Buffalo Potato Salad

Skinny Buffalo Potato Salad is the new twist on the traditional Spring & Summer side dish you’re gonna want in on. It’s light yet creamy, and packin’ some flavor. It’s destined to be a star side dish at any picnics, barbecues, and even backyard patio dinners. 

Skinny Buffalo Potato Salad

Read more

Parmesan Vegetable Tian

So we have a lot of readers. And we post a lot of stuff. Mostly totally tasty dishes that don’t break the bank, but also tutorials, tips/tricks, and crafts. But like I said, were mostly all about the food. And good food too, although not necessarily always good for you. So I suppose the question was inevitable, even though it still caught me a bit off guard.

The Sons look pretty healthy, so where are all the leafy greens? Where are all the yummy veggie side dishes I’m holding back?

well there are several answers. First, with four boys and busy schedules I heart a good casserole. It’s the kitchen equivalent of one stop shopping. The Sons also usually have a salad before or with each meal, so even on nights we’re not doing a casserole, I don’t always stress a ‘veggie’ per say. And then those nights that we do have a side of broccoli, or cooked carrots, or peas etc, I tend to keep it either pretty plain or just tend to pay it no mind.

But we have heard your request! And this tian is always an instant hit at our table. It’s a great way to brighten up your table and your meal with a pop of color. It’s also a totally tasty way to get your veggies in.

Parmesan Vegetable Tian

 Vegetable Tian

recipe adapted from The Comfort of Cooking

cooking spray
1 tbsp olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 large yellow onion, diced
3 tsp minced garlic
1 medium zucchini, thinly sliced (1/8″)
1 medium yellow squash, thinly sliced (1/8″)
1 medium baking potato, thinly sliced (1/8″)
2 medium Roma tomatoes, thinly sliced (1/8″)
heaping 1/4 teaspoon Italian seasoning
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
3 tbsp grated Parmesan

Directions

1. Use your cooking spray to lightly coat a pie pan or a small casserole dish.
2. Heat the olive oil in a small skillet. Once hot, add the chopped onion and garlic, and cook until the onions are soft, about 5-7 minutes. Transfer the onion mixture to the prepared baking dish and spread it out over the bottom of pan. Evenly arrange the sliced vegetables on top, alternating as you go. Once you get all the way around, continue layering to fill the middle until no open space remains.
3. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of olive oil all over the layered veggies and sprinkle generously with Italian seasoning, before adding salt and pepper to taste. Cover with aluminum foil and bake covered at 400 degrees for 40 minutes.
4. Remove the aluminum foil and sprinkle the mozzarella and Parmesan over top of the vegetables. Return the dish to the oven and bake uncovered for an additional 15 minutes, or until the cheese is golden brown.

Fruit Salsa with Cinnamon Sugar Tortilla Chips

Today I’ve just got to tell you guys about one of our favorite Summertime treats. I’m sure just about everybody has heard of chips and salsa, right? In the past few years, I’ve seen more and more interesting variations and takes on them. Well The Sons have their own take on chips and salsa. Except our versions twists the ‘average’ version into an interesting dessert that anyone can love.

Fruit Salsa & Cinnamon Sugar Tortilla Chips

Whatever ideas you brought to the table about chips and salsa, let em go. One bite and your taste buds will be blown. It’s full of fruit, oh-so-sweet, and coated with a light and tasty glaze.

Fruit Salsa & Cinnamon Sugar Tortilla Chips 2

And we’re not just bringing our new favorite summer salsa to the table. Nope, we didn’t stop there. We’re also pairing it with some Cinnamon Sugar Tortilla Chips.

Seriously.

Dessert. perfection.

Fruit Salsa with Cinnamon Sugar Tortilla Chips

Fruit Salsa & Cinnamon Sugar Tortilla Chips 3

recipe adapted from Spend With Pennies

For the Chips

10 (10″) flour tortillas
cooking spray
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon

For the Fruit Salsa

2 granny smith apples
1 lemon
2 kiwis
1 lb strawberries
1/2 lb raspberries, optional
1 tbsp brown sugar
3 tbsp preserves, strawberry or raspberry

Directions

1. In a small bowl, stir the cinnamon & sugar together to combine and set it aside.
2. Working with three tortillas at a time, spray each side lightly with cooking spray and then sprinkle generously with cinnamon and sugar on each side. Stack the tortillas together and cut into 12 wedges using a pizza cutter. Repeat until all tortillas are done.
3. Place the prepared chips on an ungreased baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 11-12 minutes, or until crisp.
4. Peel and finely chop the apples. Squeeze two teaspoons lemon juice over the diced apples and toss to coat.
5. Finely dice the strawberries and the kiwis. Gently stir to combine all the ingredients, keeping in mind that (if using them) the raspberries will break up some but that’s ok.
6. You can either serve the salsa as is at room temperature or chilled. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Baked Gnocchi with Zucchini & Tomatoes

Have you started planting your garden yet? Are you already picturing the multitude of fresh veggies you’re going to enjoy in just a few months? Now that we’ve seen the last of Winter and the warmer weather is here to stay, I can’t wait to get my hands on some fresh vine ripened tomatoes and a ton of summer squash. And those are two things I just love.

I could lived off of tomato sandwiches on toast. I remember every summer growing up and going to Grandma’s house and her serving us up tomato sandwiches with ones fresh picked from the garden and so juicy they’d drip right down your chin if you weren’t careful. There wasn’t any delicacy better. It’s still my favorite summer time treat. Although tomato pie has become a close runner-up. And squash? I never thought I’d get my guys to willingly, and eagerly consume something like squash. I was not a very enthusiastic squash eater growing up, but that was because back then I didn’t know you could do anything with it beyond a microwave and a little bit of salt and pepper. My, my, my how things have changed.

 Baked Gnocchi with Zucchini & Tomatoes

Let’s talk recipes that take your summer squashes to the next level for a minute. Here’s the short dish list of some of the sons’ favorites:

Pimento Cheese Stuffed Squash

Zucchini & Squash Au Gratin

Cheesy Zucchini Rice

Zucchini Fritters with Chili Lime Mayo

We love taking such an old staple as squash and upgrading it from the country cottage table level and giving it that fancy city-fied attitude.

Baked Gnocchi with Zucchini & Tomatoes 3

And while those recipes were all well and good, something was still missing for me. I felt I hadn’t quite achieved the zenith of squash and tomato perfection. Close, but no cigar. And then I had a thought. Zucchini and tomatoes paired together in one perfect side dish. Add in a little gnocchi, fluffy little potato pillows of perfection, and we were more than in business. We were booming.

The flavors in this dish meld into one perfect ‘ah-ha’ moment in your mouth. We love the texture and just the over all cheesiness that the mozzarella adds, but feel free to leave it off if you’re trying to go for lighter fare.

Baked Gnocchi with Zucchini & Tomatoes

Baked Gnocchi with Zucchini & Tomatoes 2

recipe adapted from Chew Nibble Nosh

3 cups zucchini, sliced and halved or quartered
1 cup onion, roughly diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp olive oil
1 (14.5 oz.) can diced tomatoes with Italian spices (basil, garlic, oregano)
1 (17 oz.) package gnocchi (potato dumplings)
2 cups sliced mozzarella cheese, divided

Directions

1. In a large skillet, sautee the onion and garlic in the olive oil over medium high heat. Saute about 5 minutes or until the onions are soft, and then add in the zucchini. Cook, stirring occasionally, for another 5 minutes. Add the can of tomatoes, stirring to combine. Cover the pan, reduce the heat to medium low, and then let the mixture simmer while the gnocchi cooks according to it’s package directions.
2. Drain the gnocchi when it’s done cooking.
3. Add salt and pepper, to taste, to the zucchini mixture and stir. Gently stir the gnocchi into the zucchini mixture and let everything simmer together for about a minute. Remove the skillet from the heat.
4. Spoon half of the gnocchi mixture into a 8 or 9 inch square baking dish that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Take half of the mozzarella cheese and sprinkle it on top of the gnocchi mixture. Layer the remaining gnocchi on top of the cheese and then arrange the remaining cheese over that layer of gnocchi.
5. Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. Turn the broiler of your oven on and broil, watching carefully, for 2-3 minutes until the top begins to brown.
6. ENJOY!

Chicken Florentine and Farfalle

A creamy Chicken Florentine and Farfalle pasta dish is the ultimate Italian American comfort food. Lunch, dinner, no matter what this dish- featuring chopped rotisserie chicken, fresh baby spinach, and tangy Parmesan- is made to be something quick & easy that’s sure to satisfy anyone.

Chicken Florentine and Farfalle

Read more

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

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

Tired of eating the same old thing for lunch every day? Look forward to lunch again with these quick & easy, relatively healthy Fiesta Tuna Salad Sliders. Chock full of fresh veggies, with a little kick from some fresh jalapeno peppers, they’re the perfect way to add a little ‘ole’ to your day!

Fiesta Tuna Salad Sliders

Read more