SIMPLE STACKED SUSHI

I’ve tried the roll-your-own sushi and it works–sometimes. A couple years ago, I came across a recipe for stacked sushi in a cookbook titled “Bite Me” and had to try it. And modify it. It’s now a family favorite–easy to make and less expensive than restaurant- or store-bought sushi. Our family prefers sushi with pre-cooked shrimp or imitation crab, but if you’re more adventurous, you can substitute raw fish. As for the pics–yes I went a little overboard–the first shows the sushi when you first pop it out of the dish. The next pic is of cut sushi, and I cannot emphasize strongly enough the importance of using a very sharp knife to keep the nori sheets intact. The last two pics are of stacked sushi served up right. Give this a try and be inventive with your ingredients–shrimp, crab, cucumber, carrots, avocado, cream cheese…

1-1/2 cups instant white rice

1-1/2 cups water

2 tbsp rice vinegar

3/4 cup reduced fat mayonnaise

4 tbsp wasabi horseradish (often shelved near prepared horseradish)

4 sheets nori (roasted seaweed) Note: This go-around, I substituted softened spring roll wrappers for the 2 middle nori sheets which not only made the sushi easier to cut but lightened up the seaweed taste–thumbs up from all)

3 tsp sesame seeds

1 cup grated or matchstick carrots (or 1 large cucumber sliced thin)

1-1/2 cups imitation pre-cooked crab, semi-shredded (if budget allows, by all means use real cooked crab)

1 large avocado, pitted, peeled, and sliced thin

1) cook instant rice in water according to package directions; remove from heat, let sit 5-10 minutes; stir in rice vinegar; set aside and let cool

2) In small bowl, mix mayonnaise and wasabi horseradish; set aside

3) Line an 8″ square pan with plastic wrap, allowing 4-5″ overhang on opposite sides (will be folded over sushi for refrigeration)

4) Place 1 nori sheet in bottom of pan and spread with 1/3 of cooked rice; sprinkle on 1 tsp sesame seeds; spread 1/3 of wasabi mayonnaise over rice and top with carrots

5) Place 1 nori sheet (or softened spring roll wrapper) over carrots and spread with 1/3 of cooked rice; sprinkle on 1 tsp sesame seeds; spread 1/3 of wasabi mayonnaise over rice and top with crab

6) Place 1 nori sheet (or softened spring roll wrapper) over crab and spread with 1/3 of cooked rice; sprinkle on 1 tsp sesame seeds; spread 1/3 of wasabi mayonnaise over rice and top with avocado

7) Place remaining nori sheet over avocado; fold overhanging plastic wrap over sushi and gently press down on sushi with palms; weight sushi with a couple books and refrigerate 1-2 hours

8) Remove sushi from refrigerator; fold back plastic wrap; place large plate over top of pan and gently turn over, allowing sushi to drop onto plate; remove plastic wrap; with sharp knife, cut sushi into 1″ squares

9) Serve with soy sauce and wasabi horseradish for dipping; nice accompaniments are bowls of white rice or a light soup like miso

Servings: 4

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WONTON TURKEY MEATBALL CUPS

Yes, I’m at it again–making food cups out of wontons. This time those crispy critters hold meatballs. My guys liked the ones made with meatloaf, but it was the meatball version that had them urging me to pleeease make this again. Easy and very very tasty!

36 turkey meatballs, thawed (I used Armour brand, fully cooked)

spray olive oil

36 wonton wrappers

3/4 cup sharp cheddar cheese

3/4 cup white cheddar cheese

1-1/2 cups spaghetti sauce (I used Gia Russa brand cherry tomato)

1 green onion, sliced thin on the diagonal

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees

2) Spray olive oil in each cup of a 12-cup muffin pan; assemble 12 wonton cups as follows: layer 3 wonton wrappers in each muffin cup; lightly spray wrappers with olive oil

3) Layer each meatball cup as follows, evenly dividing ingredients: sharp cheddar cheese, meatballs (3 to a cup); bake 8-10 minutes until wontons begin to blister and turn golden; remove from oven

4) Evenly dividing spaghetti sauce, spoon over and around meatballs; sprinkle tops with white cheddar cheese and green onions; return to oven and bake 3 minutes until cheese melts; remove from oven and serve

Servings: 4 dinner-sized portions or 12 appetizers

NOTE: This is a “repeat” recipe, meaning it was previously featured on my original “Kitchen Novelist” blog–the one that disappeared into a black hole a while back (which is the reason WordPress and I met up).

CHICKEN AND BLACK BEAN ENCHILADA NACHOS

This is my version of a tasty recipe found at: She Cooks, He Eats blog. The enchilada sauce is what caught my eye–a unique addition to nachos. After a bit of recipe tweaking, we had a fabulous appetizer for a meal. Would I change anything the next go around? Possibly more enchilada sauce–good!

8 cups tortilla chips

2-13 oz cans chicken breast, drained

1/4 tsp sea salt

1/8 tsp ground black pepper

1/4 tsp dried oregano

1-15 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed

8 oz Colby-Monterey Jack cheese, grated

3 green onions, sliced thin

1-10 oz can enchilada sauce

1 medium tomato, chopped

1 avocado, chopped

1/8 cup cilantro, chopped

1) Preheat oven to 450 degrees

2) Put chicken breast in medium-sized bowl; add salt, pepper, and oregano; toss to combine; set aside

3) In large casserole dish, arrange two layers, using half the following ingredients for each layer: tortilla chips, chicken, black beans, cheese, green onions

4) Pour enchilada sauce over top and bake 10 minutes until cheese melts; remove from oven

5) Top nachos with tomatoes, avocado, and cilantro; serve it up!

Serves: 4-6

CREAM CHEESE BLACK BEAN DIP

This dip has been a favorite in our home for years, so the recipe card bears the marks of having been consulted often. The dip can be made with or without black beans, but the added texture of those little guys is worth one more time around with the can opener. Enjoy!

1-8 oz pkg reduced fat cream cheese, softened

8 oz sour cream

8 oz salsa (I use medium heat)

1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, divided

1 tbsp diced jalapenos

3 tbsp taco seasoning

1 can reduced fat refried beans

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed

Tortilla chips (Tostitos “Hint of Lime” is our chip of choice)

Optional toppings: sour cream, cheddar cheese, tomatoes, avocado, parsley or cilantro, sliced jalapenos

1) To large, microwave-safe bowl, add: cream cheese, sour cream, salsa, cheese, jalapenos, and taco seasoning; stir well to combine; add refried beans and black beans; stir well

2) Microwave dip on high 5-7 minutes until heated through (pause and stir every couple of minutes); remove from microwave, add your favorite toppings, and serve with tortilla chips

Serves: 4-6 as dinner

Serves: 12-16 as appetizer

BUFFALO CHICKEN BLACK BEAN DIP

This Buffalo Chicken Black Bean Dip is not only addictive, it’s microwave easy. Served with tortilla chips, crackers, bread, or celery sticks, it’s sure to be a hit.

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8 oz reduced fat cream cheese

1-15 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed

1-15 oz can Hormel No-Bean Chili

12 oz shredded deli chicken

1/3 cup Frank’s Red Hot Wings sauce

1/2 cup cheddar cheese

2 tbsp diced jalapeños (I used Mezzetta’s “Tamed Jalapeño Peppers)

Chips, Crackers, Bread, Celery–anything dippable 🙂

1) In large microwave-safe bowl, microwave cream cheese 1 minute; remove from microwave and stir in black beans, no-bean chili, deli chicken, and hot wings sauce; microwave 3 minutes, stir, microwave another 2 minutes; remove from microwave

2) Spread dip in large casserole dish, top with cheddar cheese and jalapeños and microwave an additional 1 minute until cheese melts; remove from microwave and serve with “dippable” of your choice; yum!

Servings: 8-10

MAMMOTH CHICKEN QUESADILLAS

There’s no ladylike way to eat these quesadillas. They’re just too thick and chock full of good stuff. But they’re worth the mess. All gone! All thumbs up–duh 🙂

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2 tbsp olive oil, divided

1 small onion, thinly sliced

1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced

1-14.5 oz black beans, rinsed and drained

1 tbsp chopped cilantro

Sea salt

Ground black pepper

1 lb ground chicken

1/4 cup mild jalapeños (I used Mezzetta brand “Tamed”)

1/2 tsp paprika

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

12 small (6″) flour tortillas

spray olive oil

2 cups shredded Colby-Monterey Jack cheese

1/4 cup sour cream

1) Preheat broiler

2) To a large skillet, add 1 tbsp olive oil (reserving 1 tbsp) and heat over medium-high; add onion and bell pepper and cook, stirring often, 5 minutes; add black beans and cilantro and season to taste with salt and pepper; cook 3 minutes longer; transfer to a plate

3) To same skillet, add 1 tbsp reserved olive oil and heat over medium-high; add ground chicken, jalapeños, paprika, and cayenne and cook, stirring often, 5-7 minutes until cooked through; remove from heat

4) Place tortillas in a single layer on 2 baking sheets and spray with spray olive oil; broil 1-2 minutes until golden and just crispy and remove from oven; reduce oven temperature to 400 degrees

5) Assemble each of 4 quesadillas as follows, dividing ingredients equally between them : flour tortilla, chicken mixture, flour tortilla, vegetable-black bean mixture, cheese, flour tortilla; place quesadillas on baking sheet, return to oven, and cook 5-8 minutes until warmed through and cheese melts; remove from oven and cut each quesadilla into 4 wedges; serve with dollops of sour cream

Servings: 4 dinner-sized portions; 8 appetizer-sized portions

PORK AND CHIPOTLE BEAN NACHOS

It’s been too long since I made this recipe and, let me tell you, it’s been missed. What makes it stand out is the chipotle chiles and the tomato-avocado-lime topping. Super yum!

Pork and Chipotle Bean Nachos

4 slices turkey bacon

1 lb ground pork (or beef or chicken)

1 tsp sea salt, divided

1/4 tsp ground black pepper

1-16 oz can fat-free refried beans (great alternative: 1-15 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed)

3 tbsp water

3 tbsp fresh lime juice, divided

2 chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, minced

1 tsp chili powder

1 cup grape tomatoes, quartered

1 avocado, peeled, pitted, and diced

2 green onions, sliced thin

1 tbsp olive oil

5 cups tortilla chips

1 cup sharp cheddar cheese

Optional toppings: chopped cilantro, salsa, sour cream

1) Preheat oven to 500 degrees

2) In large skillet over medium-high heat, cook bacon until crisp; remove from heat and chop fine

3) To same skillet over medium-high heat, add pork, 1/2 tsp salt (reserving 1/2 tsp), and pepper; cook 5-6 minutes until just cooked through; remove from heat, drain, and transfer to bowl; set aside

4) To same skillet over medium heat, add refried beans, water, 1 tbsp lime juice (reserving 2 tbsp), chipotle chiles, bacon, 1/2 tsp reserved salt, and chili powder; stirring often, cook 4-5 minutes until warmed through; remove from heat and set aside

5) To medium-sized bowl, add tomatoes, avocado, green onions, 2 tbsp reserved lime juice, and olive oil; gently mix to combine; set aside

6) Spread tortilla chips in large roasting pan and drop refried bean mix evenly over chips (you may need to add a bit more water to beans); scatter pork over beans, followed by cheese; bake in oven 5 minutes until cheese is nicely melted; remove from oven and evenly scatter tomato-avocado mixture over top; if you like, serve with optional toppings

Servings: 6-8 as an appetizer