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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KALAMATA AND SUN-DRIED TOMATO CHICKEN (EASY!)

This dish exceeded my expectations. In fact, had there been second helpings, I would have been first with a hand in the air–delightfully tasty and tender. Which brings me to chicken tenderloins. I’m partial to these lovely cuts of chicken and, more often than not, substitute them for chicken breasts since they’re less likely to dry out during cooking and are thin enough to require little to no pounding when called for. There. Now give this dish a try. As beautiful as it is, it really is easy!

Kalamata & Sun-Dried Tomato Chicken

MEDITERRANEAN TOPPING:

3/4 cup pitted Kalamata olives, sliced into 1/8″ rings

3/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, coarsely chopped

3 green onions, sliced thin

1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped

3 tbsp capers

2 tbsp fresh lemon juice

1/4 tsp ground black pepper

CHICKEN:

2 tbsp olive oil

1 cup flour

1/2 tsp dried oregano

1/2 tsp sea salt

1/4 tsp ground black pepper

1-1/2 lb chicken tenderloins (or chicken breasts pounded thin)

1) In medium bowl, combine topping ingredients, mixing well; set aside

2) Add olive oil to skillet and preheat to medium-high

3) Meanwhile, in medium bowl, mix flour, oregano, salt, and pepper; dredge chicken in flour mixture

4) Add chicken to skillet and cook 3-4 minutes each side until cooked through; remove from heat and arrange pieces on plates

5) Spoon Mediterranean topping over chicken and serve (side item pictured: sliced Campari tomatoes sprinkled with sea salt, ground black pepper, minced parsley, and shaved parmesan)

NOTE: This is a “repeat” recipe featured on my original “Kitchen Novelist” blog 05/03/12

“GREEK TO ME” SALAD

There are ingredients in this recipe that don’t typically grace the landscape of a Greek Salad, but when Junior Too said he preferred a salad for dinner over the heavier casseroles we’ve been dining on, I knew my guys needed something a bit sturdier to meet their daily calorie needs which is probably double–perhaps triple–what I require (no, it’s not fair at all). Thus, I added hard-boiled eggs and mozzarella cheese. As for the sun-dried tomatoes…as usual, those were for me. Was it good? Let’s just say no one would have known had I bypassed the dishwasher and returned the plates directly to the cupboard–which I most certainly did not 🙂

2/3 cup olive oil

1/3 cup balsamic vinegar

1/2 tsp sea salt

1/4 tsp ground black pepper

5 cups romaine lettuce, chopped into bite-sized pieces

1 cup baby spinach (love the dark green color, but you can substitute additional romaine if you prefer)

1 large cucumber, diced

2 cups diced tomatoes

1 yellow bell pepper, diced

1 red bell pepper, diced

1 orange bell pepper, diced

1 cup crumbled feta cheese

6 oz fresh mozzarella, diced

3 hard-boiled eggs, cooled and chopped

3/4 cup pitted green olives, quartered

1/2 cup sliced kalamata olives

1/2 red onion, chopped

1/3 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes

1) To small jar, add olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper; cover with lid, shake, and refrigerate

2) Toss together romaine and spinach, then divide between 4 plates; scatter each serving with cucumber, tomatoes, bell peppers, feta cheese, mozzarella cheese, eggs, green olives, kalamata olives, red onion, and sun-dried tomatoes; serve with balsamic dressing

Ta da!

Servings: 4

FAUX MANICOTTI STUFFED WITH CHICKEN AND SUN-DRIED TOMATOES

This dish is easy and makes much less of a mess than stuffing narrow manicotti tubes. And then there’s the spinach and, best of all (in my opinion), sun-dried tomatoes. Despite the generous number of servings, Senior and Junior Too (and little old me with my token serving) left only a single manicotti behind. Yum!

1-1/2 cups low-fat cottage cheese

6 oz reduced-fat cream cheese, softened (microwave 1 minute)

1/3 cup reduced-fat sour cream

1/4 tsp sea salt

1/8 tsp ground black pepper

1-1/2 cups cooked and chopped chicken breast

2 cups chopped fresh spinach (I used baby spinach)

1/4 cup finely chopped sun-dried tomatoes

8 lasagna noodles, cooked al dente, drained, and cut in half horizontally (16 pieces total)

1-1/2 cups spaghetti sauce

3/4 cup Italian 6-blend cheese (or mozzarella)

chopped parsley (optional)

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees; lightly oil large casserole dish (I used a 9×9)

2) To large bowl, add cottage cheese, cream cheese, sour cream, salt, and pepper; mix well; stir in chicken, spinach, and sun-dried tomatoes

3) Place about 2 tbsp cheese-chicken mixture in center of each half noodle, roll up, and place seam side down in casserole dish; cover dish with aluminum foil and bake 25 minutes

4) Remove foil, pour spaghetti sauce over faux manicotti, and sprinkle with 6-blend cheese; cook additional 7-8 minutes until sauce heats through and cheese melts; if you like parsley (my favorite last minute topping), sprinkle over manicotti; serve with a pretty green spinach salad

Servings: 4-5

SHRIMP MAC AND CHEESE*

Junior Too picked mac and cheese for dinner and, since he and Senior like their seafood, shrimp found their way into the dish. That was for them. The sun-dried tomatoes were for me, which I could probably make a meal of given the chance. Were we all happy with what landed on our plates? We certainly were (though I did push aside some shrimp and snag more than my share of sun-dried tomatoes). Quite tasty!

8 oz elbow macaroni

2 tbsp butter

1/2 medium onion, diced

1 cup matchstick carrots, chopped

1 cup heavy cream, divided

1 cup half-and-half

sea salt

ground black pepper

1 cup grated Swiss cheese

8 oz small shrimp, peeled, deveined, tails removed

4 tbsp chopped fresh parsley, divided

3 eggs, beaten

2 tbsp finely chopped oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained

1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees; butter a medium-sized baking dish (I used a 6″x9″)

2) Bring a medium-sized pot of salted water to a boil over high heat; add macaroni and cook until al dente, 8-10 minutes; drain, rinse, and set aside

3) In large skillet over medium-high heat, melt butter; add onions and carrots and cook 8 minutes; reduce heat to low and stir in 1/2 cup cream (reserving 1/2 cup), half-and-half, and salt and pepper to taste; stirring often, cook 10 minutes; stir in cheese and shrimp and immediately remove from heat; add pasta and 2 tbsp parsley (reserving 2 tbsp) and mix well to combine; spread mixture in baking dish and set aside

4) In small bowl, beat reserved 1/2 cup cream until soft peaks form; gently fold in beaten eggs and reserved 2 tbsp parsley; pour over macaroni mixture and bake in oven 30-35 minutes until golden; remove from oven and scatter sun-dried tomatoes over top; serve

Servings: 4-5

*Inspired by Hubert Keller’s Mac and Cheese

CHICKEN-SPINACH-SUN DRIED TOMATO QUESADILLAS

These chicken quesadillas are fantastic. Is it the spinach? The sun-dried tomatoes? The Cannellini beans? The pepperoncini? All are great ingredients, but marry them and melt them between layers of cheese and flour tortillas and you have a winner. I declare, had there been leftovers I would have ignored my calorie count and kept right on eating.

8 flour tortillas

2 cups Cheddar-Monterey Jack cheese blend

1 tbsp olive oil

3/4 cup diced onion

1/2 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes

1/4 cup chopped pepperoncinis

pinch of red pepper flakes

1/4 tsp sea salt

1/8 tsp ground pepper

1 tbsp + 1 tsp all-purpose flour

3/4 cup chicken broth

3 cups deli-roasted chicken

1-15 oz can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

4 cups fresh baby spinach, chopped

olive oil cooking spray

salsa

Optional: lettuce leaves

1) Lay out 8 flour tortillas and divide cheese evenly between them; let sit (you’ll come back to them shortly)

2) Heat olive oil in large skillet over medium-high heat; add onion and cook 5 minutes; lower heat to medium and stir in sun-dried tomatoes, pepperoncinis, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper; cook 3 minutes

3) Sprinkle flour over onion mixture and stir continuously for 2-3 minutes; add chicken broth and stir until smooth; stir in chicken and cannellini beans and cook 2 minutes; add spinach, stir to combine, and immediately remove from heat

4) Divide onion-chicken mixture evenly between all tortillas, spreading mixture out to edges; fold each tortilla over to form half circles and gently press down

5) Spray a large skillet with cooking spray and heat to medium; place two halves in skillet and cook 2-3 minutes each side until cheese melts and tortilla turns golden brown (Note: plan on cooking in batches; if you use two skillets, it obviously goes faster); remove quesadillas from skillet and serve with salsa on a bed of lettuce (optional)

Servings: 4-6