PEAR-CRAISIN-PECAN TUNA SALAD

Junior Too was in the mood for tuna salad, so the two of us teamed up in the kitchen and added pear, Craisins, and pecans to cans of Albacore tuna. Since he isn’t keen on Dijon mustard, we left that out of his portion. However, with or without Dijon, the result is a hearty yet refreshing salad–and no leftovers for lunch tomorrow. Sad…

Pear-Craisin-Pecan Tuna Salad

1/2 cup light mayonnaise

2 tbsp Dijon mustard

1 tbsp fresh lemon juice

1/2 tsp sea salt

1/4 tsp ground black pepper

2 pears, peeled, cored, and diced small

1/2 cup celery, chopped

1/4 cup Craisins

1/4 cup chopped pecans

2 tbsp chopped parsley

4-7 oz cans Albacore Tuna, drained

4 cups baby spinach

Optional dressing (Raspberry Walnut Vinaigrette is a lovely addition)

1) To large bowl, add mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, lemon juice, salt, and pepper and mix well

2) Stir pear, celery, Craisins, pecans, and parsley into mayonnaise mixture

3) Gently stir tuna into mayonnaise-pear mixture

4) Divide spinach between four plates and top each serving with tuna mixture; serve with or without dressing and enjoy

Servings: 4 hearty dinner-sized portions

HAM ‘N EGG BURGER CROISSANT

This Ham ‘N Egg Croissant is a tasty cross between breakfast and dinner. Though you can add mayonnaise or a bit of Dijon mustard to moisten up your sandwich, runny egg yolk is a tasty way to go–if you like that sort of thing 🙂

Ham and Egg Burger Croissant

1 lb ground beef

2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

1/2 tsp sea salt

1/2 tsp ground black pepper

4 eggs

1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese

4 thin slices deli ham

4 sandwich-sized croissants

1) In medium-sized bowl, mix ground beef, Worcestershire sauce, salt, and pepper; shape into 4 patties

2) Heat large skillet over medium-high; add patties to skillet and cook 4-5 minutes each side until burgers are cooked to your preference; transfer patties to plate and keep warm

3) Using same skillet, reduce heat to medium and crack 4 eggs in skillet (shouldn’t need to add oil); cook 1-2 minutes until white sets; flip eggs with a spatula; immediately top eggs with cheese, followed by ham, and flip again; cook 1-2 minutes until cheese melts between egg  and ham and yolk is cooked to your preference; remove from heat

4) Assemble sandwiches as follows: bottom half of croissant, egg-cheese-ham, burger, top half of croissant; serve it up!

Servings: 4

CHICKEN-REFRIED BEAN ENCHILADAS

I love making a big pan of enchiladas since my guys never leave the table less than satisfied and, as an added bonus, I usually have leftovers for lunch the next day (maybe even the day after that). And these enchiladas, filled with chicken and refried beans and all manner of other good things, is definitely worth revisiting time and again. Thumbs up!

Chicken-Bean Enchiladas

1 tbsp olive oil

1 onion, diced

1-10.5 oz can cream of chicken soup

1 cup reduced-fat sour cream

4 cups chopped chicken (I used deli-roasted)

8 large flour tortillas

1-16 oz can reduced-fat refried beans

2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese

2 cups enchilada sauce

2 scallions, sliced thin

1/4 cup sliced black olives

1) Preheat oven to 375 degrees; lightly oil 13×9″ baking dish

2 To large skillet add olive oil and heat over medium-high; add onions and cook, stirring often, 5 minutes until onions soften

3) Reduce heat to medium and stir in cream of chicken soup, sour cream, and chicken; cook 5 minutes, remove from heat, and set aside

4) Lay out flour tortillas and divide refried beans between them (about 2 tbsp each), spreading close to edges; divide onion-sour cream-chicken mixture between tortillas, spooning down center; scatter 1 tbsp cheese over top (reserving balance of cheese for later); roll up tortillas and place seam-side down in baking dish

5) Pour enchilada sauce over enchiladas and bake in oven 30 minutes; scatter reserved cheese, scallions, and black olives over enchiladas and cook an additional 5 minutes; remove from oven and serve it up!

Servings: 6-8

FIESTY VEGGIE BURGER CHILI

Why “fiesty”? The red pepper flakes, chili powder, and hot chili beans give this veggie burger chili a nice little kick. As for that chopped veggie burger that replaced the usual ground beef… Not a peep of dissent from my guys who were none the wiser for their meat-less meal 🙂

Fiesty Veggie Burger Chili

1 tbsp olive oil

1 cup diced red onion

1 cup chopped carrots

10 oz pkg veggie burgers, chopped (I used Morning Star brand “Grillers Prime”)

1-12 oz bottle beer (I used O’Doul’s non-alcoholic)

1 tbsp soy sauce

2 tsp chili powder

1 tsp dried oregano

1/2 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp paprika

1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

1-15 oz can fire-roasted diced tomatoes

1-15 oz can pinto beans, rinsed and drained

1-15 oz can hot chili beans

Optional toppings: grated cheddar cheese, sour cream, and sliced scallions

1) To large soup pot, add olive oil and heat over medium high; add onions and carrots and cook 5 minutes; stir in chopped veggie burger and cook 3 minutes, stirring occasionally

2) Stir in beer, soy sauce, chili powder, oregano, cumin, paprika, red pepper flakes, fire-roasted tomatoes, pinto beans, and hot chili beans; reduce heat to low and cook 30 minutes, stirring occasionally; remove from heat and serve with optional toppings if you like; enjoy!

Servings: 4 hearty dinner-sized portions

BACON-WRAPPED ASPARAGUS SALAD

This recipe was inspired by Bacon Nation’s “Bacon-Wrapped Asparagus With Mixed Greens.” Though I’m sure it’s meant to be more of a side salad than a meal, I adapted it and served it as an entree. Granted, my guys still left the table a bit hungry, but they were otherwise satisfied. Hey, room for dessert! P/S: Mine got the blue cheese treatment–even better 🙂

Bacon Wrapped Asparagus Salad

8 slices bacon

32-40 thin asparagus spears

1 tbsp olive oil

6 cups fresh baby spinach

4 eggs, boiled (to your preference), peeled, halved, and chilled

1 cup croutons (I used Asiago Texas Toast)

1/2 cup feta cheese (or blue–definitely blue!)

1) Divide asparagus spears into 8 bundles; wrap each bundle with one slice of bacon

2) Heat olive oil in large skillet over medium; add bundled asparagus spears (bacon leading edge side down) and cook 7-8 minutes, gently turning every minute or so until asparagus is lightly cooked through and bacon is crisped on all sides; remove from heat, transfer to paper towel-lined plate, and let cool 5 minutes

3) Assemble each of 4 salads as follows: spinach, topped with 2 bacon-wrapped asparagus bundles and 2 egg halves, croutons, and feta (or blue) cheese; serve!

Servings: 4

APPLE-BACON GRILLED CHEESE

I love to fancy up a grilled cheese sandwich, and that I most certainly did by adding thinly sliced Granny Smith apple, turkey bacon, and Dijon mustard to this lunch treat. Wonderfully yum (though, in Junior Too’s case I was asked to “hold the Dijon”).

Apple Bacon Grilled Cheese

4 slices bread (I used our favorite sourdough from Panera Bread’s bakery)

1 tbsp Dijon Mustard

4 oz shredded sharp cheddar cheese

1 small Granny Smith apple, sliced thin

6 strips turkey bacon, fried

1 tbsp butter

1) Assemble each of 2 sandwiches as follows: spread mustard on both sides of bread, top bottom slice with one-fourth the cheese, one-half the apple slices, one-half the bacon, one-fourth the cheese, the top slice of bread

2) Melt butter in skillet over medium heat; add sandwich to skillet and cook 4-5 minutes each side until golden brown and lightly crunchy; remove from skillet and serve immediately

Servings: 2

THE BEST CHICKEN SOUP WITH SUGAR SNAP PEAS

I’ve heard it before (perhaps my guys’ memories isn’t up to snuff where food is concerned), but last night this soup was declared the best chicken soup ever. And my memory is probably impaired too, but I have to agree. Was it the sugar snap peas? The carrots? The spinach? The beaten egg? Doesn’t matter. It’s just plain (hardly!) good.

Fabulous Chicken Soup with Sugar Snap Peas

1-1/2 cups small shell pasta

3 large eggs

sea salt

ground black pepper

8 cups chicken broth

1 cup diced carrots

2 cups chopped deli-roasted chicken

2 cups chopped sugar snap peas

2 cups coarsely chopped fresh baby spinach

1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1) Prepare pasta al dente according to package directions; drain, rinse, and set aside

2) Beat eggs, season with salt and pepper, and set aside

3) To large soup pot, add chicken broth and bring to a boil over medium-high heat; reduce heat to medium, add carrots, and cook 8 minutes

4) Stir in chicken, sugar snap peas, and shell pasta; cook 3 minutes; add spinach and cook 1 minute; remove soup from heat and slowly stir in beaten eggs

5) Ladle soup into bowls and scatter Parmesan cheese over top; serve it up!

Servings: 6

BACON-SAGE STUFFED PORK CHOPS WITH MUSHROOMS

In savoring my Bacon Nation cookbook, I came across a recipe for “Saltimbacon” and took the cue to stuff pork chops with bacon and sage. Of course, I had to add cheese. And though I didn’t have fresh shallots, I had dried shallots. And, really, in cooking I can’t tell the difference between Marsala and Marsala cooking wine… This beautiful, tasty, and easy-to-prepare dish is a result of my tweaking. Only one thing: I used 1-1/2″ thick pork chops–a “no-no” that required a major cooking time adjustment, so do NOT go thicker than 1″. Delish!

Bacon-Sage Stuffed Pork Chops with Mushrooms

4 slices bacon

4-1″ thick boneless pork chops, butterflied (NOT over 1″ thick!)

4 slices provolone cheese

4 fresh sage leaves

1/3 cup bread crumbs

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

2 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp dried minced shallots (or fresh–probably 1/4 cup)

8 oz mushrooms, sliced thick

1/2 cup Marsala cooking wine

1 cup chicken broth

1) To large skillet over medium-high heat, add bacon and cook 5-6 minutes until just crisp; transfer bacon to paper towel-lined plate; cut each slice in half

2) On one side of each butterflied pork chop, place 1 slice provolone cheese, 2 bacon halves, and 1 sage leaf; fold opposite side of pork chop over, enclosing ingredients and pressing down to seal

3) In shallow bowl, mix bread crumbs and flour

4) In large skillet over medium-high, heat olive oil; dredge both sides of pork chops in bread crumb-flour mixture, place in skillet, and cook 4-5 minutes each side until pork is golden brown and just cooked through; transfer pork chops to a plate and cover with foil to keep warm

5) To same skillet over medium heat, add shallots (you may have to add a bit more olive oil); cook shallots 3 minutes, stirring often, until softened and fragrant; add mushrooms, Marsala cooking wine, and chicken broth and cook 3-4 minutes

6) Return pork chops to skillet and spoon sauce over top; cover skillet with lid and cook 3 minutes; remove from heat; place pork chops on plate, spoon sauce over top, and serve

Servings: 4

THE KINDLING: Book IV (Age of Faith) Final Back Cover Copy

At last ~ THE KINDLING’s final back cover copy. Many thanks to all who offered fabulous feedback, including Becky Doughty, Rel Mollet, Serena Chase, Skyler Schmanski, Lisa Wing, and Valerie Anne Faulkner. Here it is:

‘TIS SAID FAMILY CREATES A MULTITUDE OF SINS.

Helene of Tippet is not her father or her brother’s keeper. Yet when she is enlisted to use her healing skills to aid a fallen knight, the secret she holds close threatens to visit her family’s sins upon her. Now she is in danger of loving where she should not—a man of the nobility, and one who has cause to despise her if ever he learns of the blood that courses through her veins. Dare she reveal herself? Dare she trust a warrior so bitter and intent on revenge? Dare she love?

Sir Abel Wulfrith, a man bred to battle, has the scar to prove one should never trust a woman. But when he is wounded by his family’s enemy, he finds himself at the mercy of one who could prove his undoing. Now he faces a battle against which no strategy can prevail, no blade can defend, no heart can escape unscathed. Can he forgive Helene the sins of the father—more, the sins of the brother? Can he reclaim his faith? Can he love?

CoverKindlingFinal060513BN

To Read an Excerpt of this Fall 2013 release: www.tamaraleigh.com

SHRIMP-BLACK BEAN-AVOCADO SALAD

Though our summer here in middle Tennessee has been unusually rainy, it’s still been hot (and humid) enough to justify an overabundance of salads as entrees. This time, however, I nixed the lettuce (of course, this recipe can certainly be served on a bed of iceberg or romaine). Regardless, it’s a delicious summer meal that will have forks chasing around every last bean and avocado bit. Enjoy!

Shrimp-Black Bean-Avocado Salad

2-15 oz cans black beans, drained and rinsed

1 lb cooked medium-sized shrimp, peeled, deveined, and tailless

1 small red onion, diced small

1 ripe avocado, pitted, peeled, and diced

1-1/2 cups diced tomatoes

2 tbsp minced jalapeno

2 tbsp olive oil

juice of 1 lime

1 tsp dried oregano

1/2 tsp ground cumin

1/2 tsp sea salt

1/4 cup chopped cilantro

lettuce (optional)

Tortilla chips (optional)

1) To large bowl add black beans, shrimp, red onion, avocado, tomatoes, and jalapeno; gently mix

2) Add olive oil, lime juice, oregano, cumin, and sea salt; gently mix

3) If you go the lettuce route, first divide lettuce between 4 plates; divide shrimp salad between servings, sprinkle with cilantro, and add a few tortilla chips on the side (optional); serve!

Servings: 4-6