The Family Food Blog

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Category: Under 10 Min

A Healthier Tuna Salad Sandwich

by mukwritesbooks

Until very recently, my first reaction when I heard the phrase “tuna salad sandwich” was a mix of disgust and confusion. The idea of taking the texture of tuna and mixing it with mayonnaise and celery into a salad, and then smushing that concoction between two pieces of bread – there wasn’t anything appealing about it. How in the world did someone first come up with that recipe?

A few years ago, I switched mainly to Greek yogurt, and came across a bunch of recipes where you can swap it in for mayonnaise, cream cheese, etc. to get a healthier dish. And of course, amid the lists of recipes were dozens of variations on the classic tuna salad sandwich. But I steered clear. Until earlier this week.

Like the last couple years, this January is full of resolutions to cook different dishes, to cook healthier, to cook more. So today, after I read about the nutritional value of fish for the umpteenth time and came across yet another “10 Ways You Need to Start Using Greek Yogurt Now” article, I finally had a new resolution: I was going to make a tuna salad sandwich.

Today after work, I bought the few additional ingredients I would need – celery and mustard (already had both yogurt and tuna at home, albeit safely far away from one another, on different sides of the kitchen) – and whipped up a 2-meal batch of a Simple Tuna Fish Sandwich.

It was so good. I’m a convert.

Ingredients (makes two sandwiches):

  • 1/4 cup Greek yogurt (I used plain, but you could use non-fat if you like)
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 celery rib, minced
  • 1/4 tsp (couple squirts) lemon juice
  • 1 5 oz. can chunk tuna (I used albacore) in water
  • 4 slices whole grain bread
  • handful of kale or spinach

Instructions:

  1. Mix all ingredients except the tuna. Then add the tuna.
  2. Assemble the sandwiches.
  3. In my case, humbly accept that you have found your new go-to weeknight meal 🙂

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Champagne Poached Seckel Pears

by thefamilyfoodblog

Don’t you love when leftover ingredients just come together in a great new recipes? Lately, I’ve started trying to find such dishes by just Googling the items I have. Case in point: three days ago, I found Avocado Pesto‘s recipe for Tofu, Mushroom, and Bok Choy Stir-Fry – delicious, by the way – by searching “tofu bok choy mushroom ginger”. Not so elegant, but it worked!

Using the same strategy for leftover New Year’s Eve champagne that was quickly going flat and Seckel pears that were quickly growing soft, I came across Emeril’s recipe for Poached Pears in Vanilla and Champagne. Since these pears are already so sweet, I decided to halve the sugar-to-liquid ratio, and made a few other changes. Here’s the recipe:

Ingredients (2 servings):

  • 2 Seckel pears, or one regular-sized pear
  • 1/8 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup champagne or sparkling wine
Leftover brut and two peeled pears

Leftovers.

Instructions:

Peel the pears, keeping the stems intact if possible. Cut each pear in half and remove the seeds and core.

In a small pot, stir the sugar into the water and boil until the sugar dissolves. Use the smallest pot you have that can hold all pear pieces in a single layer – this way, it takes less champagne to cover the fruit, which leaves more to drink!

Once the sugar is dissolved (about 2 minutes), stir in the vanilla and champagne and bring to a boil. Add the pear halves, making sure they are fully covered by the poaching liquid. Let simmer on medium heat for 5-6 minutes, stirring gently every minute or two.

Pears in Poaching Liquid

You’ll see I didn’t core or de-seed the pears before poaching. This was much trickier to do afterwards.

Use a slotted spoon to remove the pears. Serve immediately.

Poached Pears with Gingerbread Cookie

Serve immediately, on their own or with other components.

These are delicious on their own, but can easily be fancied up if you’d like. I served the pears on top of gingerbread cookies, with a little of the poaching liquid drizzled on top, and the last of the champagne. Enjoy!

Cafe Fare: Baguette with Brie and Apples

by thefamilyfoodblog

Yesterday was a gorgeous day out – probably one of the last few really warm days of this summer. I’m proud to say I took full advantage, by heading down to the Mall for the National Book Festival, walking back up to the National Museum of Women in the Arts for their Women who Rock exhibit (highly recommend it for anyone who ever aspired to be a rock star), and enjoying lunch out on the balcony when I finally got back home at 4 p.m.

(Does that still count as lunch?)

Anyway, needless to say, I was pretty hungry by the time I returned. Inspired by one of the first cafe lunches I had while studying abroad in Europe, I decided to make myself a toasted baguette with brie and fruit.

Ingredients (per serving)

  • one mini baguette
  • half an apple, cut into 1/8-inch slices
  • 1 oz brie, sliced
  • 1/2 tsp butter

Instructions

Slice the baguette in half lengthwise and toast lightly.

While bread is toasting, melt the butter in a pan over medium heat. Place apple slices in a single layer and cook until they begin to soften, about 3-4 minutes. Turn slices over and cook for another 3-4 minutes.

Arrange brie and cooked apple slices on toasted baguette. Serve immediately.

Keeping with the fresh theme of this meal, I had a glass of sparkling water with a splash of orange juice and a handful of mandarin orange slices. Delicious!

So Smooth(ie)

by mukwritesbooks

In the past year or so, smoothies have become one of my favorite go-to snacks. They take just minutes to make, they are refreshing, and it’s so easy to try new variations based on my mood or what I have on hand. And especially when bananas are involved, you know that the smoothie will be filling and nutritious.

So here you go, one of my favorite smoothie recipes:

Peanut Butter Chocolate Banana Smoothie (3 guesses what the main ingredients are…)

Ingredients (makes one 1-cup serving):

1 banana, broken into small chunks

3/4 cup soy milk (my personal favorite is Silk Vanilla, although any type of soy milk will work)

1 teaspoon cocoa

1 tablespoon peanut butter

1 teaspoon flaxseed

Combine banana and milk, and then cocoa, peanut butter, and flaxseed. I have found that the last three ingredients blend better with the milk when they are added afterwards. If possible, let the mixture sit for about 5 minutes to let the banana start to soften (unless the banana is already quite ripe and soft). Blend, and enjoy!

You can try regular milk, but I have found that soy milk creates a nicer texture

Keep in mind that the peanut butter will considerably thicken the smoothie, so you may want to keep a bit more milk on hand to thin out the smoothie – and avoid a milkshake consistency.  Feel free to throw in a handful of blueberries, raspberries, or even chopped strawberries.

Fun with Olive Garden Breadsticks

by thefamilyfoodblog

Awhile back, we went to Olive Garden for lunch. The meal was so-so, but their famous (or possibly infamous, if nutrition levels are a factor) breadsticks are well-known for a reason. And to my surprise, our waiter was willing to pack us a few to take home along with our leftovers. So we did.

Apparently, giving breadsticks away is a standard thing, since they have a special reheatable bag for them. It was news to me.

We enjoyed a few of these breadsticks in the standard way, along with pasta or soup or whatever, but when we were down to the last three, I felt like getting creative. Lo and behold: mini sub sandwiches. How you fill the sandwiches is of course up to you, but here’s what I did.

Cut each breadstick lengthwise, leaving one edge connected so that the sandwich can be “opened” and “closed”.

Ingredients, per serving

  • 2-3 breadsticks, cut in half lengthwise
  • 1/4 – 1/3 avocado, thinly sliced
  • 1-2 tbsp marinated roasted red peppers, sliced
  • 1 oz Toscana pepper cheese, sliced

Instructions

Preheat oven or toaster oven to 350 degrees. Once preheated, bake breadsticks for about 3-5 minutes.

Arrange filling ingredients in the inside of each sandwich. Serve immediately.

Filling ingredients that you enjoy in a panini would also be tasty here.

Breaking out of a (Rye) Rut: Salad for Dinner

by mukwritesbooks

Happy Father’s Day!

N told me a couple months ago that she was going to try to make a non-bread/pasta/rice-based dish once a week. It would be a good challenge, she said, keep her creative in what she cooked. Being a normal younger sibling, naturally I wanted to do exactly what she did.

I’ve tried to keep the once-a-week rule in mind, sometimes making soup, other times roasted potatoes & vegetables. But recently I became lazy, and especially after buying a large loaf of rye bread early last week, a lot of my recent meals have featured, well, rye bread. Finally, I decided that my lazy Sunday trip to the grocery store would be a good time to pick up some new ingredients: cannellini beans and arugula. I’m really not a big salad person, but I enjoy the spicy flavor of arugula.

So I ended up making a bean & arugula salad. That with a boiled egg ended up being quite a filling dinner – plus a small bowl of Greek vanilla yogurt for dessert.

Even if you aren’t able to drain all of the can liquid from the beans, don’t worry. Any leftover liquid actually adds some thickness to the vinaigrette and keeps the arugula moist.

Cannellini Bean & Arugula Salad

Ingredients (for 2 servings)

1 15.5-oz. can cannellini beans

3 large handfuls of arugula, roughly chopped

1/4 onion, chopped (red would be ideal, but I ended up using white)

1/2 tomato, chopped

1-2 tablespoons balsamic vinaigrette

Instructions

Drain the cannellini beans and empty them into a large mixing bowl. Add the onion, tomato, and arugula. Drizzle the vinaigrette over the salad and toss. Enjoy!

Introducing: Nalini-Style Omelets

by thefamilyfoodblog

My approach to omelets is different from most people’s: I think of eggs not as the central ingredient, but as more of a binding agent to link together all the toppings. In my view, the toppings are what make it interesting. This results in a totally different (read: much lower) eggs-to-toppings ratio than your typical omelet. Be warned.

And so this morning, with a fridge full of vegetables from yesterday’s grocery shopping, I went to town with my omelet.

Ingredients, per omelet

  • 1/2 plum tomato, coarsely chopped
  • 1 large Shittake mushroom, coarsely chopped
  • 1 spring onion, sliced
  • 1 1/2 tbsp onion, chopped
  • 2 tsp goat cheese (optional)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • sea salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

Cut vegetables and put in a bowl. Crack egg and add to bowl. Pierce the yolk and mix using a fork.

Nalini omelet bowl

In retrospect, I should have used a bigger bowl. This one made mixing tricky!

Add olive oil to a frying pan on medium-high heat. Once pan is fully heated, pour in the the egg mixture. Spread out on pan using a spatula. When the underside begins to brown, flip the omelet and allow to cook for a minute or two more.

Nalini omelet pan

Omelet cooking in a pan. It’s okay if it’s not flat and fully spread out – that’s the point!

Top with goat cheese and serve immediately. I had mine with a cup of Twinings English breakfast tea.

Slide the omelet onto a plate and sprinkle with goat cheese as desired.

On a completely unrelated but important note, Happy Father’s Day, everyone!

Arugula with Artichokes, Avocado, Walnuts and Vinaigrette

by thefamilyfoodblog

We ran out of bread for sandwiches this morning, so invention came from necessity and P and I got a rare treat: a non-sandwich lunch! I made each of us a quick arugula salad using what was in the fridge.

Arugula salad with artichokes, avocado, walnuts and vinaigrette

Staying classy with Tupperware and a plastic fork: Arugula salad with artichokes, avocado, walnuts and vinaigrette.

Ingredients (for each salad)

A few handfuls of arugula

1/4 avocado, peeled, pitted, and sliced

3-4 pieces of quartered artichokes from a jar, sliced

1 small handful of walnuts

Olive oil

Balsamic vinegar

Instructions

Combine arugula, avocado, artichokes, and walnuts in a bowl (or in my case, a Tupperware container). Before serving, drizzle with olive oil and vinegar and toss to mix.