Fig & Cheddar Turkey Melt

I'm not a huge sandwich girl.  I don't typically pack one for lunch at work or come home on a Saturday and throw one together.  However, I know that sandwiches can be part of a quick and simple, fueling and nutritious meal when on the go and pressed for time, if thrown together correctly.

With that said, this weekend I decided to give the sandwich a try.  I decided to embrace it but embrace it with a twist.  I wanted to escape the every-day turkey on wheat with lettuce, tomato and mustard so I took a minute and thought about some of my favorite ingredients and determined what I already had in my pantry.  It had also just watched a show on the Food Network where the chefs discussed how the key to a great dish is simplicity and so I aimed to follow their guidance and keep the ingredients minimal but still memorable.  And what I came up with, I think, is a win.  It's SUPER simple but the flavors contrast and complement well, supporting those Food Network chef's theory on food simplicity.    The peppery arugula combined with the sharpness from the cheddar cheese are balanced with the touch of sweetness from the fig preserves, and all of this is held together by my favorite bread, the Flax & Chia Seed bread from Central Market, for a sandwich that is, to me, delicious & exciting with every bite. 

So here you go - my Fig & Cheddar Turkey Melt...

Happy Fueling!

Taylor

 

Fig & Cheddar Turkey  Melt

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 slices whole grain bread (I used by favorite bread from Central Market - flax & chia)
  • 2 teaspoons fig preserves
  • 2 ounces deli turkey
  • 1 1/2 slices sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup fresh arugula

 

 

 

 

DIRECTIONS:

1.  Toast both slices of bread in a toaster (or in a 350 degree oven, 5 minutes per side). 2.  Add the fig preserves to one side of one slice of the toasted bread. 3.  Add the sliced turkey to the other slice of toasted bread.

1.  Toast both slices of bread in a toaster (or in a 350 degree oven, 5 minutes per side).

2.  Add the fig preserves to one side of one slice of the toasted bread.

3.  Add the sliced turkey to the other slice of toasted bread.

4.  Place the slice of toasted bread with turkey onto a baking sheet. 5.  Top turkey with the cheese slices, making sure to cover the turkey with the cheese in an even layer.       (I lined the baking sheet with foil for easier clean-up)

4.  Place the slice of toasted bread with turkey onto a baking sheet.

5.  Top turkey with the cheese slices, making sure to cover the turkey with the cheese in an even layer.

      (I lined the baking sheet with foil for easier clean-up)

6.  Turn the oven from Bake to Broil (broil on High). 7.  Place the baking sheet in oven & broil for about 3 minutes until cheese is hot & melting over the turkey.

6.  Turn the oven from Bake to Broil (broil on High).

7.  Place the baking sheet in oven & broil for about 3 minutes until cheese is hot & melting over the turkey.

8.  Remove sandwich half from the oven. 9.  Place heated sandwich half on your serving plate & top with the fresh arugula. 10.  Top arugula with the second slice of bread spread with the fig preserves.

8.  Remove sandwich half from the oven.

9.  Place heated sandwich half on your serving plate & top with the fresh arugula.

10.  Top arugula with the second slice of bread spread with the fig preserves.

10.  Slice your sandwich, serve and enjoy!!

10.  Slice your sandwich, serve and enjoy!!

BONUS - WHAT'S IN THIS?!?!

Arugula - vitamin K, vitamin A

Turkey -  protein, nicain, vitamin B6, iron, phosphorus, sodium, zinc, selenium

Cheese -  protein, calcium, phosphorus, sodium, riboflavin, vitamin A, zinc, selenium

Dried Figs - potassium, fiber, vitamin K, magnesium, manganese

Bread  - flaxseed = fiber, thiamin, magnesium, phosphorus, copper, manganese, omega 3's                       ;             chia seeds = fiber, omega 3's, protein, calcium, phosphorus, zinc, manganese

DIY Roasted Red Bell Peppers

Credit to Cook's Illustrated

As a Christmas gift last year my brother and sister-in-law, who, I think, are some of the best and most creative gift - givers I know, got me a subscription to Cook's Illustrated.  I LOVE this particular gift.  If you are not familiar with this magazine it is excellent for those curious about food and cooking.  The magazine contains articles that focus on everything from different cooking utensils to methods of cooking various foods and it walks you through various cooking trials explaining what went poorly and what worked the best.  I think it's excellent for the curious chef and non - chef alike :).

Now, what caught my eye in this most recent issue was a small section on roasting bell peppers yourself (vs buying the jarred roasted red peppers), something I have tried a handful of times in the past and failed somewhat miserably the majority of the time.  I was super excited to give Cook's Illustrated's recommendation a try, especially because I was planning on making a recipe that called for these that coming week.  I followed their detailed and simple directions to a "T" and it worked beautifully!  The peppers came out hot with the skin bubbled and able to be peeled off easily.  They added a pop of color to my dish and their soft texture and sweet taste was the perfect complement to the more savory components of the meal.

Of course, you can use the jarred roasted red peppers (and I probably still will from time to time), but I love the idea of using fresh peppers that I've just selected from the  grocery store or Farmers Market.  And I love it even more when I know they will be so easy to roast on my own.  I have used roasted bell peppers in two recent recipes already this past week, both of which I have shared on my Instagram page (one recipe I incorporated big dices of the peppers & the other I blended with sautéed garlic and onions for a rich roasted red pepper pasta sauce).  This method really has proven to be simple and successful and I'm so jazzed about it that I want to share it with you today. I hope you will find these directions helpful and that they encourage you to start incorporating these colorful, sweet & fueling summer veggies in more of your upcoming summer meals.

So, here is Cook's Illustrated's instructions for roasting your own bell peppers.  Thanks you Cook's Illustrated for the cooking tips!

Happy Fueling!

Taylor

1.  Wash & dry your bell peppers.  I used 3 peppers (about 1.5 pounds). 2.  Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray or lightly coat foil with vegetable oil.  3.  Slice off tops & bottoms of peppers, cutting 1/2 inch from tops and bottoms. 4.  Gently remove stems from tops and twist & pull out each core, using a knife to loosen at edges if necessary. 5.  Cut a slit down 1 side of each bell pepper. 6.  Turn each bell pepper skin side down and gently press so it opens to create long strips.  7.  Slide a knife along insides of bell peppers to remove remaining ribs and seeds.

1.  Wash & dry your bell peppers.  I used 3 peppers (about 1.5 pounds).

2.  Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray or lightly coat foil with vegetable oil. 

3.  Slice off tops & bottoms of peppers, cutting 1/2 inch from tops and bottoms.

4.  Gently remove stems from tops and twist & pull out each core, using a knife to loosen at edges if necessary.

5.  Cut a slit down 1 side of each bell pepper.

6.  Turn each bell pepper skin side down and gently press so it opens to create long strips. 

7.  Slide a knife along insides of bell peppers to remove remaining ribs and seeds.

8.  Arrange pepper strips, tops, and bottoms skin side up on the prepared sheet and flatten all pieces with your hand. 9.  Adjust oven rack 3 to 4 inches from broiler element and heat broiler. 10.  Broil until skin is puffed and most of surface is well charred, 10 - 13 minutes, rotating sheet halfway through broiling.

8.  Arrange pepper strips, tops, and bottoms skin side up on the prepared sheet and flatten all pieces with your hand.

9.  Adjust oven rack 3 to 4 inches from broiler element and heat broiler.

10.  Broil until skin is puffed and most of surface is well charred, 10 - 13 minutes, rotating sheet halfway through broiling.

11.  Using tongs, pile bell peppers in center of foil. 12.  Gather foil over bell peppers and crimp to form pouch.  Let steam for about 10 minutes. 13.  Open foil packet and spread out bell peppers.  

11.  Using tongs, pile bell peppers in center of foil.

12.  Gather foil over bell peppers and crimp to form pouch.  Let steam for about 10 minutes.

13.  Open foil packet and spread out bell peppers.  

14.  When cool enough to handle, peel bell peppers and discard skins.

14.  When cool enough to handle, peel bell peppers and discard skins.

15.  Add to your favorite entree, side or salad or puree for a delicious sauce! 16.  These peppers can also be refrigerated for up to 3 days. 17.  Enjoy!

15.  Add to your favorite entree, side or salad or puree for a delicious sauce!

16.  These peppers can also be refrigerated for up to 3 days.

17.  Enjoy!

BONUS - WHAT'S IN THIS?!?!?

Bell Peppers pack a punch by providing a good source of: vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin K, folate, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6, potassium and manganese

Warm Skillet Cinnamon Apples

                   Warm Skillet Cinnamon Apples

                   Warm Skillet Cinnamon Apples

Hello!  I'm quickly typing up this recipe before jetting off to work so my write-up will be short & sweet.  For a while now I have wanted to come up with a warm cinnamon apple recipe and thought how great it would be to have cooked cinnamon apples waiting for me in the fridge to accompany after dinner desserts, my morning oatmeal, or maybe even a warm slice of peanut butter toast before I head out the door in the morning..

As yesterday was National Ice Cream Day, I thought "what a better time to give this recipe a try!?"  (Yes, Dietitians get excited about National Ice Cream Day too!).  So, last night I grabbed 3 apples, and diced, tossed, and simmered until I had, what I think, were the perfect, warm, gooey, soft, just - sweet - enough cinnamon apples.  The great thing is, it probably only took me 20 to 30 minutes from set up to clean up and, while the apples cooked over the stove, I was able to take care of other chores around the house.  Then I got to sit down with my husband, slow down after a busy day, and wrap up the day with a bowl of cold Bluebell homemade vanilla ice cream layered with warm cinnamon apples and topped with crumbled graham crackers.  We both loved the combination of cold, warm, smooth and crunchy.  And the apples were just sweet enough to add to the dish but not overpower it.   Can't wait to try it in warm oatmeal later this week!

So, here you go.  My quick and simple Skillet Cinnamon Apples...

1.  Slice up your apples

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 medium apples (I used 2 Golden Delicious & 1 Granny Smith)
  • 1 tablespoon of water
  • 1 tablespoon of brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tablespoon of butter
  • 1 graham cracker square (any flavor you prefer, but I used the honey variety)

Directions:

2.  After tossing apples with water, cinnamon & brown sugar, add to buttered skillet
  1. Cut your apples into even slices (I cut mine into thin slices, about 1/4 inch thick, and then cut those in half to create smaller bite-size pieces).
  2. In a large mixing bowl, add the apples, water, brown sugar and cinnamon and mix until the cinnamon and brown sugar have evenly coated the apples.
  3. Add about 1/2 tablespoon of butter to a large skillet set on medium heat.
  4. Once the butter has melted and coated the bottom of the skillet add your apple mixture.  
  5. Allow the apples to cook in a covered skillet for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally until the apples have softened and there is some juice in the bottom of the pan.
  6. Remove skillet from the heat and either serve apples immediately or allow to cool and then store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

 

For a little bit sweeter recipe keep reading for                                          

CINNAMON APPLE ICE CREAM PARFAITS...

  1. Add cinnamon apples to a small bowl (I added about 1/4 cup).
  2. Top apples with 1 scoop of ice cream or frozen yogurt (about 1/2 cup).
  3. Add a few more apples on top of the ice cream scoop along with a drizzle of the cinnamon apple syrup from the bottom of the pan.
  4. Crush up 1 graham cracker square (not the whole rectangle) and sprinkle over top of ice cream and apples for a little crunch with each bite.
  5. Enjoy!

(Note:  These were served in small soufflé ramekins.  I find they are the perfect portion size for after dinner treats and deserts)

                           Ice Cream with Warm Cinnamon Apples & Graham Cracker Crumble                                                        Happy (Belated) National Ice Cream Day!

                           Ice Cream with Warm Cinnamon Apples & Graham Cracker Crumble 

                                                      Happy (Belated) National Ice Cream Day!

Balsamic Tomato, Chicken & Avocado Salad

This week I wanted to share with you a quick and simple recipe that I created and enjoyed last weekend.  It is a recipe that was inspired by a favorite restaurant dish of mine and a result of me craving this restaurant dish and, at the same time, craving cooking in my own kitchen (as I have done very little of this recently and saw very little of this happening later in the week).  After giving it a good amount of thought, I decided, "Why not compromise and bring a spin on the dish to my very own kitchen?!"  Done and done.

This is a very simple recipe, but with its warm baked chicken, thick sliced tomatoes, chunks of fresh avocado and crumbles of feta, it is one that is satisfying and delicious.  I don't know about you but when the days get longer and the weather is warm and sunny I want to stay out and about as long as possible and I start to crave those fresh and fueling spring and summer dishes.  Just thinking about it is getting me excited for all of the summer fruits and vegetables to come, eek!  This dish was the perfect fresh and filling dinner for a warm and sunny Sunday afternoon.  I texted a picture to my fiancé later (b/c of course I took a picture) and he said to add it to our go-to list of dinners :)  Fiance approved!

Here is the recipe for my Balsamic Tomato, Chicken & Avocado Salad.  It is a perfect dinner for one, for two, for three, or even more!  It can be thrown together after a big day of running around or playing outside with the family when you want something filling and fueling but not hot and heavy on a warm sunny day.  It pairs well with warm crusty bread, warm oven-baked pita and hummus, or oven-baked tortilla chips and your favorite salsa.  If I were serving this outside for friends and family, I would also serve it with a fun sparkling water with hints of lime and mint and / or cucumber.  Or for the adults, I would serve it with a cool and crisp margarita or refreshing basil - lime cocktail.  I have made this a go-to recipe and I hope this recipe also gives you another quick and simple dish to add to your everyday dinners and your moments-notice dinner party ideas.  Enjoy!

Balsamic Tomato, Chicken & Avocado Salad

Serves 2

INGREDIENTS:

  • Two 6- 8 oz. boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 4 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper (or more, to taste)
  • 2 vine tomatoes, sliced into 1/4 inch thick slices
  • 4 tablespoons crumbed feta
  • 1 avocado, diced into medium dices
  • 4 tablespoons good Balsamic vinegar (plus more to taste if desired)
  • 4 hearts of palm, each chopped into about 6 dices
  • 1 1/2 cups mixed greens

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil or parchment paper.
  3. Drizzle about 2 teaspoons olive oil over each chicken breast, turning the chicken to ensure each one is evenly coated in olive oil.
  4. Season each chicken breast with about 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.
  5. Place chicken in preheated oven and bake for about 40 minutes, until internal temperature reads 165 degrees Fahrenheit (using a meat thermometer) and the juices run clear.  Cook time may vary depending on your oven and the thickness of the chicken breasts.
  6. Once the chicken is cooked, remove from the oven and allow to rest about 5 to 10 minutes.  Then slice each chicken breast into about 1/2 - inch thick slices..
  7. To plate the dish:
    1. Place about 4 or 5 tomato slices on each dinner plate as the base of the dish (overlapping the tomatoes a little).
    2. Drizzle about 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar over each plate of tomatoes.
    3. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of crumbled feta over each plate of balsamic & tomatoes.
    4. Top each plate of tomatoes with the sliced chicken (creating sort of a second layer).  I would do about 3 - 4 ounces of chicken per plate, which means you will probably have leftover chicken for lunches later in the week!
    5. Divide the chopped avocado evenly between the two plates, toping the chicken and tomato (1/2 avocado for each dish).
    6. Sprinkle the top of each dish with 1 more tablespoon of crumbled feta (using your remaining 2 tablespoons of feta).
    7. Divide the diced hearts of palm evenly between both plates, topping the dish and placing around the sides of the tomatoes.
    8. Drizzle each dish with 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar (using remaining 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar).
    9. Divide the mixed greens evenly between both plates, serve and enjoy!

Serve It Again!   The great thing about this dish is that any leftover ingredients can be incorporated into a variety of dishes later in the week.  One of my favorites is to turn a salad into a bowl, adding quinoa as the base, or creating a stuffed pita or wrap.  To create the stuffed pita or wrap, simply take all of these ingredients, chopping the tomatoes, and roll them into a whole wheat wrap or tortilla and pair with fruit, crackers, a small cup of soup, and / or veggies and hummus for a quick and simple weekday lunch. 

Cinnamon Apple Nut Butter Toast

I can't quite remember how I came up with this recipe.  I'm pretty sure I was sitting at the office, working on a meal plan for someone, trying to incorporate foods that they enjoy into their plan when apples came into the picture.  Knowing me, that train of thought probably went something like....  (1) I love apples, especially in the fall (2)  I wonder how they would taste sautéed or roasted? (3) Oooo, what is something different that I could do with roasted apples?  (4) I need more breakfast ideas for my clients (5) Hmm, how could I add them to breakfast?? (6) Oh!  I'll top them on my peanut butter toast!  (7)  And THEN, I can save the leftovers and warm them up in my oatmeal the NEXT morning! (8)  Yes.  Done.

Yep - that was probably my thought process, seemingly scattered yet conclusive all at the same time.  And the good thing is that all of these ingredients are staples in my pantry and, therefore, no grocery store trip needed!  Win!  So, the next morning, after the above mentioned brainstorming session, I gave this recipe a try.  Everything was pretty quick except for cooking the apples.  It took a bit of time to get those soft and warmed through and sweetened, but I just used that time to clean up the kitchen!  And when I sat down and took my first bite, it certainly seemed worth the wait.  As I took my last bite I stated wishing that I made 2 slices instead of just one.

With this dish you get the classic apple and peanut butter combo, but with a hint of cinnamon and honey.  It's like putting apple jam on your toast, except So. Much. Better.  You get the opposing textures of the crunchy toast with the soft apples along with the pop of the sweet from the cinnamon that enhances the drizzle of honey.  All senses combine here for a great spin on your standard apple and peanut butter snack and your morning peanut butter toast.  A very compelling reason to get out of bed in the morning and a great way to start the day if you ask me.  And the good thing is that it's really pretty simple!  Plus, if you go ahead and cook a bunch of apples (more than what is needed for the recipe), you can store them in the fridge and heat up the following morning or later that week to top more toast, heat up in you morning oatmeal, or to top waffles or pancakes!

Here you go - a recipe for Cinnamon Apple Nut Butter Toast...

Happy Fueling!

Taylor

 

CINNAMON APPLE NUT BUTTER TOAST

Serves 1; Makes 1 slice

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/2 teaspoon butter (or canola oil for a healthier fat option)
  • 1 slice hearty whole grain bread
  • 1 apple, diced into small dices (about 2 cups diced) -  I recommend a sweeter variety vs. tart (also - you are only going to use about 1/4 cup of the cooked cinnamon apples for 1 slice of toast, but go ahead and cook all in case you want another slice or want to use later in the week!)
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice (1 lemon)
  • 1 tablespoon your favorite nut or seed butter (peanut, almond, sunflower, etc.)
  • 1 teaspoon local honey

 

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Toast your bread in a toaster, OR .... 
  2. .... Melt about 1/4 teaspoon of butter in a skillet on medium heat and then toast your bread in the skillet, toasting it about 4 minutes per side.  Watch carefully so that it does not burn!  Once bread is browned and toasted on both sides, remove from skillet and set on your serving plate.
  3. In a small mixing bowl combine the diced apples, cinnamon, lemon juice & 1/2 teaspoon honey and mix together with a wooden spoon or spatula until the apple dices are coated.             
  4. Using the same skillet, melt the remaining 1/4 teaspoon butter (or canola oil) on medium heat. 
  5. Add the apple mixture to the skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, until the apples are soft and warm, about 15 - 20 minutes and then cover and cook about 4 - 5 minutes more (the smaller dices you make your apples, the faster they will cook).
  6.  Top toasted bread with 1 tablespoon nut or seed butter.
  7. Drizzle 1/2 teaspoon honey over nut/seed butter (spread with knife if desired).
  8. Top toast with about 1/4 cup cooked cinnamon apples.
  9. Serve & enjoy!
cinn apple toast step 3.JPG