SUN-DRIED TOMATO AND HAM GRILLED BAGEL

This sandwich was a result of another of my “What’s in the fridge?” episodes. The jumping off point was a jar of sun-dried tomatoes and a bunch of baby spinach. And it only got better from there. This recipe serves one, but is easily doubled, quadrupled or whatever-ed is required to feed your bunch.

1 plain bagel, separated

2 tbsp reduced-fat cream cheese

1/2 cup baby spinach

2 tbsp chopped sun-dried tomatoes (drained)

2 slices deli ham

1 slice medium cheddar cheese

1-1/2 tsp butter

1) Heat grill pan over medium heat

2) Assemble sandwich as follows: 1/2 bagel spread with cream cheese and topped with spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, ham, cheddar cheese, 1/2 bagel

3) Melt half the butter in grill pan; add sandwich to pan and cook 3-4 minutes; spread remaining butter on top of uncooked bagel and flip sandwich; cook 3-4 minutes until cheese melts nicely; that’s it–eatin’ time!

Serves: Only 1

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JALAPENO POPPER AND TOMATO GRILLED SANDWICH

My first jalapeno popper sandwich came to me via Kevin at Closet Cooking (www.closetcooking.com), and it was a winner at our house. While preparing to recreate the taste sensation of months past, the pretty Roma tomatoes in my produce drawer caught my eye–just begging for a good salting and savoring. So I messed with Kevin’s recipe a bit more and put some red into our sandwich. The verdict: Make it again, Mom!

8 jalapeno peppers, cut in quarters lengthwise and seeded

8 slices sourdough bread (good quality–Panera Bread is our favorite)

2 tbsp butter

8 tbsp “light” cream cheese, softened

2 cups grated “reduced fat” sharp cheddar cheese

1/2 cup crumbled tortilla chips

2 Roma tomatoes, sliced thin

sea salt

pepper

1) Preheat oven to broil

2) Place pepper quarters on baking sheet, skin side up; broil 8-10 minutes until skin blisters and is lightly browned; remove from oven, let cool, peel away and discard blistered skin

3) Lay out 4 slices of bread; top each with a spread of 2 tbsp cream cheese, 1/4 cup cheddar cheese, 1/4 of the jalapeno strips, 1/8 cup crumbled tortilla chips, 1/4 of the tomatoes, a light sprinkling of salt and pepper, another 1/4 cup cheddar cheese, and slice of bread

4) In non-stick pan* (I used a grill pan) over medium heat, melt 1 tbsp butter (reserving 1 tbsp); add sandwiches to pan and grill until cheese begins to melt and bread is golden brown (4-5 minutes); before grilling second side, spread remaining butter over top slices of bread; flip, grill until golden brown; now you get to eat 🙂

*Note: Depending on the size of your pan, you may have to make sandwiches in batches, so divide butter accordingly

Serves: 4

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

CHICKEN ARTICHOKE SPINACH GRILLED SANDWICHES

Sometimes you just don’t feel like cranking up the grill. The solution: a grill pan. The end result: these colorful mouth-pleasing sandwiches. Senior and Junior Too give them the nod.

1-14 oz can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped

1/2 red bell pepper, chopped

sea salt

ground black pepper

1-1/2 cups roasted deli chicken, chopped

2 cups baby spinach, chopped

8 slices sourdough bread

4 oz reduced fat cream cheese, softened

1-1/4 cup mozzarella cheese

2 tbsp butter, softened

1) In large skillet over medium heat, saute artichoke hearts and red bell pepper 3-4 minutes; salt and pepper to taste; stir in chicken and cook 2-3 minutes; remove from heat and immediately stir in spinach

2) Assemble 4 sandwiches as follows: sourdough bread slice spread with cream cheese, then topped with chicken-artichoke mixture, mozzarella cheese, and sourdough bread slice

3) In large skillet (I used a grill pan) over medium heat, melt 1 tbsp butter; grill sandwiches 3-4 minutes on one side; spread top slices with remaining butter and flip; grill 3-4 minutes until cheese melts and bread turns golden

Makes 4 sandwiches

SLOW-COOKER CREAM-CHEESE CHICKEN CHILI

My guys went bowling and all I got was…slow-cooker chili that should have fed four. They got bowling alley food. Yeah, I fared well–would have even if the chili hadn’t turned out so good. And now I have leftovers that I may just keep to myself. So, only one thumbs up on this recipe, but it belongs to a professional…um, eater 🙂

1 lb chicken tenderloins, chopped

1 can Rotel tomatoes (mild diced tomatoes and green chiles)

1-1/2 cups corn (I used frozen)

1 cup chopped red bell pepper

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed

1 can pinto beans, drained and rinsed

1-1/4 cup onion, diced

1/2 cup reduced-fat Ranch dressing

1 tsp cumin

1-1/2 tsp chili powder

1 tsp sea salt

1-8 oz pkg reduced-fat cream cheese

Optional: shredded Monterey Jack cheese and parsley for topping

1) Set slow cooker to low heat; add  ingredients in order listed (except cream cheese); stir to combine; top with cream cheese

2) Cook 6-8 hours, stirring a few times to incorporate cream cheese; serve with optional cheese and parsley if you like

Serves: 4-6

CHICKEN-ROASTED RED PEPPER ENCHILADAS

Obviously enchiladas are a family favorite since I make them a couple times a month. They’re all good–really can’t go wrong with enchiladas–but the roasted red pepper makes these stand out beautifully. Easy to make and too good not to eat down to the last serving.

Chicken-Roasted Red Pepper Enchiladas

3 cups chopped deli-roasted chicken

1-1/2 cups chopped roasted red pepper (I used jarred)

1 cup frozen corn, thawed

1/2 cup (4 oz) reduced fat cream cheese, softened

1/2 tsp ground cumin

1/4 tsp sea salt

1/4 tsp ground black pepper

9 small corn tortillas

1 tbsp olive oil

1-1/2 cups chopped onion, divided

1 cup chicken broth

3/4 cup salsa verde

3 tbsp chopped jalapeno pepper, divided (yes, the picture shows minced but that’s because I let Junior Too have at it)

3/4 cup grated triple cheese (white, sharp, and mild cheddar mix)

1) Preheat oven to 425 degrees; lightly oil a 13×9″ baking dish

2) To medium-sized mixing bowl, add: chicken, roasted red pepper, corn, cream cheese, cumin, salt, and pepper; mix well and set aside

3) Heat large skillet over medium-high heat; cook tortillas 30 seconds each side (2 at a time if your skillet is large enough); cut into quarters and set aside

4) To same skillet over medium-high heat, add 1 tbsp olive oil and onions; cook 7 minutes, stirring often, until softened and transfer half the onions to the chicken mixture and mix well

5) Return skillet with remaining onions to stove top and heat over medium; add chicken broth, salsa verde, and half the jalapenos; cook 10 minutes, stirring salsa mixture occasionally; remove from heat

6) Spread 1/2 cup salsa mixture over bottom of baking dish; layer half the tortilla quarters over salsa, followed by half the chicken mixture, the remaining tortilla quarters, and the remaining chicken mixture; bake in oven 15 minutes; scatter cheese and remaining jalapeños over top and cook additional 3 minutes until cheese melts; serve it up!

Servings: 6

BERRY-CREAM CHEESE PUFF PANCAKE

Years ago, I gave Pampered Chef’s recipe for Berry Puff Pancake a whirl and my berry-lovin’ guys munched out. Since then, I’ve come up with several variations, but I believe this one featuring a lightly sweetened cream cheese spread is our favorite. And, yes, it’s rather like breakfast (or dessert) for dinner. What’s not to love?

Berry-Cream Cheese Puff Pancake

2 tbsp butter (plus a bit more for coating pie pan), melted

1 cup milk

6 eggs

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 tsp salt

3 cups frozen mixed berries, thawed

1/3 cup berry jam

4 oz cream cheese

1/2 cup reduced-fat sour cream

1/4 cup powdered sugar

1) Preheat oven to 450 degrees; coat bottom and sides of deep dish pie pan with butter

2) In medium bowl, whisk milk, eggs, and melted butter; slowly whisk in flour and salt until smooth; pour batter into deep dish pie pan and bake in oven 10 minutes; reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees and bake additional 10-12 minutes until center is lightly firm and pancake is beautifully golden and puffed

3) Meanwhile, in medium-sized bowl, mix berries and jam and set aside; in separate medium-sized bowl, mix cream cheese, sour cream, and powdered sugar until smooth and set aside

4) Remove puff pancake from oven and spread cream cheese mixture over bottom; immediately top with berries and serve (we are talking “yum”!)

Servings: 4