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Candied Caramel Apple Cream Cheese Spread

The holidays can be such a chaotic time with all the activities, shoot sometimes I get sensory overload from all the bright lights alone. And planning, hosting, and delivering on family parties and potluck a is often no exception, so when I came across a recipe that simply doused a block of plain old cream cheese in caramel sauce, I knew it was perfect. (And not just because I can never get enough cream cheese; you know my feelings about cheesecake and dips.). ​When in doubt keep it simple. This is going to be my new go-to party spread.

 Candied Caramel Apple Cream Cheese Spread

According to Buddy, the elf, ‘the best way to spread Christmas cheer, is singing loud for all to hear.’ And while we whole-heartedly agree, tasty treats are always a close second for spreading warmth and comfort to family and friends anytime of the year.

Serve this cream cheese spread and watch everyone cheer. We’ve topped it with Heath candy bits, but you could opt for plain toffee bits, or even nuts like pecans or walnuts for a less sweet, more rustic feel. Either way, it invites guests to dig right in.

Candied Caramel Apple Cream Cheese Spread

Candied Caramel Apple Cream Cheese Spread 2
8 oz cream cheese
caramel sauce (homemade or store-bought)
crushed Heath bar candy, toffee bits, or nuts such as pecans or walnuts for topping
sliced apples, pears, pretzels, or graham crackers for serving

Directions

  1. Place the cream cheese on a serving dish. Pour as much caramel sauce as you want evenly over top of the cream cheese. Sprinkle with a generous helping of your topping of choice.
    2. Serve with sliced apples, pears, pretzels and/or graham crackers.

recipe adapted from She Wears Many Hats

Healthy Peanut Butter Apple Dip

It’s that time of year again. No, not the one where the world’s dressed in white and everything you hear sounds like Christmas. The one before that. The one that starts right after Labor Day. The one that is harkened by different shades of purple, orange, and black. The one with candy, fruit, and gourds a plenty. Don’t be surprised to see a lot of posts featuring apples and oranges orange.

Healthy peanut butter apple dip

Even when it’s not Apple-picking season at our local orchard, we go through *at least* 10 lbs in a regular month. It’s one of the sons’ go to after school snacks. Pair it with a scoop of peanut butter, and they’re in heaven. BUT serve them with this dip? And you’re both going to be feeling great, because A. It’s delicious, and B. You know that it’s as nutritious as it is yummy.

The Best Ever, Healthy Peanut Butter Dip

Healthy peanut butter apple dip 2

Peanut Butter (we prefer using homemade, organic, or an all natural style since they’re of a thinner consistency)
Greek yogurt
Honey

Directions

  1. Mix together 1 part peanut butter, 1 part Greek yogurt, and 1/2 part honey, stirring until smooth and the dip’s a uniform consistency. Serve with sliced apples for dipping. The sons like apples, pretzels, and grapes with this dip. It can be stored in the fridge in an airtight container for up to two weeks, just give it a good stir before serving as some separation is bound to happen.

Southwestern Egg Roll Dip with Wonton Chips

Have you ever had a Southwestern-style egg roll? They’re so good, and for the most part they’re not too bad for you calorie-wise. Originally we had to go to our local Chilis to enjoy them, but then we began making them at home, using tiny tortillas.

Southwestern Egg Roll Dip with Wonton Chips 2

But have you ever worked with egg roll or wonton wrappers? Once you’ve opened the package, you’ve got days at most to use the rest before they go bad. And y’all know how much food waste pains me, so as usual necessity was the mother of ingenuity. And it led to our own deconstructed version of southwestern egg rolls, this time turned into a dip. With an egg roll ‘chip’ replacing our typical flour tortilla.

it good. When we ran out of chips the sons were scarfing it down by the spoonful!

East meets (south)West in this funky Tex-Mex, inside out, version of an egg roll. Its simple, fun and a great way to use up leftovers, especially if you’re like us and you’ve got a half a can of black beans here,a quarter cup of diced peppers there, etc.

Southwestern Egg Roll Dip with Wonton Chips

Southwestern Egg Roll Dip with Wonton Chips

1 chicken breast, cooked, then either diced or shredded
3/4 – 1 cup frozen corn, thawed
1/2 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 red bell pepper, finely chopped
1/2 cup shredded Mexican blend cheese
2 green onions, thinly sliced and then diced
1/2 cup fresh baby spinach, diced
1 jalapeno, seeded and diced
package of wonton wrappers
3/4 cup ranch dressing
the juice of 1 lemon or lime, your choice
pinch of cayenne
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 avocado, mashed
salt and pepper, to taste
oil for frying

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, mix together the chicken, corn, beans, peppers, green onion, spinach, and cheese until roughly combined.
    2. In a separate bowl combine the ranch dressing, the lemon or lime juice, cumin, chili powder, cayenne, salt and pepper stirring until an evenly incorporated dressing forms.
    3. Mix the mashed avocado in with the dressing, whisking until evenly incorporated, and then pour the finished dressing over the veggie mixture.
    Heat vegetable oil in a pan over med/hi heat.
    4. Cut a stack (your desired amount) of wonton squares in half diagonally, forming triangular shaped ‘chips’. Fry the chips a few minutes on each side until golden brown.
    5. Serve the veggie/dressing mix as a dip in a bowl, with the egg roll chips on the side, or scoop out a bit of the dip onto each chip for easy grab and go bite sized snacks.

Greek Chicken Kabobs with Tzatziki Sauce

We’ve run the gambit on the recipe list, especially when it comes to kabobs. They’re a favorite of ours, especially in the grilling months, since they’re so, so easy to throw together. Cooking? Well, that’s a breeze. What’s not to love??

Grilled Greek Chicken Kebobs 2

These kabobs are healthy, they’re absolutely loaded with flavor, and they’re pretty easy from start to finish. Short on time? Most of the work can be done ahead of time with the marinade. And then all you’ve got left is to string them along. Me? I get an assembly line going in the kitchen, and we’re all set in less than five minutes.

these kabobs are good all by themselves, BUT if you’re looking to take the meal from just mmm, mmm, good, to flavor bending good? That’s where the homemade tzatziki sauce comes in.

Grilled Greek Chicken Kabobs 4

It’s a must. Rich, creamy, AND healthy ( and this from the cucumber hater of our family ). Get in on this action. There isn’t much more you can ask for in a healthy dinner for the whole family to enjoy.

Greek Chicken Kabobs with Tzatziki Sauce

Grilled Greek Chicken Kebobs 3

2 lbs bonless skinless chicken breasts, diced into 1 1/4-inch cubes
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp olive oil, divided, plus more for brushing the grill
3 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp ground coriander
salt and black pepper, to taste
2 large red, yellow, and/or orange bell peppers, diced into 1 inch pieces
3 small zucchini (nearly 1 lb), sliced into rounds slightly under 1/2-inch thick
1 large red onion, diced into 1 inch wedges

Tzatziki

1 medium cucumber (about 8 oz), peeled, seeded and finely diced
1 tsp salt, plus more to taste
1 heaping cup plain Greek yogurt
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley, plus more for garnishing kebabs
1 tbspchopped fresh dill (or 1 tsp dried)
Freshly ground black pepper

Directions

For the kebabs:

  1. In a bowl whisk together the 1/4 cup of olive oil, lemon juice, vinegar, garlic, oregano, basil, thyme, and coriander until evenly combined. Season the mixture with salt and pepper, to taste.  2. Place the cubed chicken in a Large zip locking bag and pour olive the prepared marinade over the chicken amd gently squish the chicken around to evenly coat. Seal the bag, lay it flat, and refrigerate the chicken for 45 minutes, or up to 2 hours (no longer than 2 hours or the chicken will start to get mealy because of the acidic ingredients). If using wooden skewers soak them in water for 30 minutes.
    3. Drizzle the prepped veggies with the remaining 2 tsp of olive oil and gently stir/toss to coat. I just lightly season them with salt.
    4. Preheat a grill over medium-high heat. Thread a red bell pepper, red onion, zucchini, 2 chicken pieces on to skewer and repeat until the skewer is full (leave an inch or two free on both ends to allow for safe handling). Brush the heated grill lightly with olive oil, place the skewers on grill and grill until chicken registers 165 degrees in center, about 7 – 9 minutes, rotating once halfway through cooking. Garnish the cooked skewers with parsley (optional), and serve the. warm with Tzatziki sauce.

For the Tzatziki:

  1. Place the diced cucumber in a mesh strainer or colander and sprinkle with salt, toss to evenly coat then allow to rest 30 minutes at room temperature.
    2. Rinse the cucumbers and place them onto several layers of paper towels. Squeeze some of the liquid from cucumbers (almost as if wringing moisture from a cloth). Place the cucumbers in food processor and pulse to chop fine (if there’s excess liquid drain it off).
    3. Pour the cucumbers into a mixing bowl and add in the Greek yogurt, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, parsley, and dill and season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir everything to evenly combine. 4. Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container until ready to serve.

Pineapple Mango Salsa

Is there anything quite as ‘refreshing’ as a good blend of some yummy fresh fruits or veggies into a good salsa? I’m not sure, but around here a good, fresh salsa always hits the spot. And this fruity, pineapple mango version is a family favorite.

Pineapple Mango Salsa 2

It’s perfect served up with our favorite or tortilla chips. Served over top grilled fish, or other seafood? Yes sir-ee! We even like it paired with grilled chicken. Serve the meat over a bed of rice with a hearty scoop of  salsa on top, and dinner time is a fresh, healthy hit.

Pineapple Mango Salsa 3

Put a little pep in your step and some groove into your meal with a heaping helping of this refreshing salsa.

Pineapple Mango Salsa

Pineapple Mango Salsa

1 (heaping) cup pineapple, diced
1 cup mango, diced
1 cup tomatoes, diced
1/3 cup red, yellow, or orange bell peppers, diced
1/2 whole red onion, diced
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
juice of one lemon
pinch of sugar, optional
pinch of salt, optional

Directions

1. In a large bowl, gently stir together the pineapple, mango, tomatoes, peppers, onion, and cilantro until evenly incorporated.
2. Squeeze the lemon juice overtop the salsa mixture. Again, gently stir to mix it in.
3. Add salt and/or sugar, if needed, and stir to incorporate.
4. Serve chilled with tortilla chips, or on top of grilled chicken or fish.

Fiesta Tuna Salad Sliders

So one day I reeeeeaaaaallllllly wanted Mexican food. Of the oh-so good tasting, but so-oh not good for your waist-line variety. Like an endless basket of tortilla chips with some of that authentic creamy, white queso for dipping, and maybe even some sour cream and quac on the side. (We want guac. We want guac. Thank you, Elmo for that little ditty that’s now stuck in my head) But that wasn’t on the menu. Going out to eat wasn’t in the cards, and clearly my pantry and fridge were letting me down. (Again, I griped about having no known Mexican restaurants that deliver in my vicinity. Because, well because… how is this not a thing already?!)

Then I remembered this fancy, schmancy recipe (except it’s totally not, but if tasty-ness was currency, it’d be golden). Fiesta tuna salad sandwiches may not have been sinfully delicious chips dipped in warm, gooey queso, but as my Mama always said, “Beggars can’t be choosers.” And it was Mexican food. Good Mexican-style food. Good for you too, to top it all off. My how my day had changed. While I got down to chopping the veggies I’d need, my mood gradually changed from “deprived of tortilla chips” and being lulled to “problem craving coming to it’s conclusion”. Mean Mami Mexican food crisis averted. At least for today. Seriously, you don’t want to get in my way when I’m craving Mexican food. It could escalate quickly and then we’d be in a full-on nuclear melt-down and that just isn’t gonna work for me. Now that I had a new idea, and some direction to go in other than to Old El Paso, I snagged some supporting ingredients from the pantry and salsa-ed my way through the rest of the recipe.  Olé!

Now I’m going to enjoy another delicious sandwich with this spread for lunch tomorrow too, but this time as a tuna melt! Gotta keep those taste buds on their toes. Trying to go light? This makes a great dip with either tortilla chips or crackers. (Hello, my next tailgating party!)

Fiesta Tuna Salad Sliders

 Fiesta Tuna Salad Sliders

recipe adapted from Taste of Home

6 cans, 5 oz each, water-packed white tuna or albacore, drained and flaked
1 large red onion, chopped
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
2/3 cup reduced fat mayo
2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and finely diced (optional)
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp Old Bay seasoning
1 tsp black pepper
12 ciabatta sized slider buns, or more depending on how ‘stuffed’ your buns are
12 slices of pepper jack cheese
lettuce leaves

Directions

1. In a large bowl, combine the first nine ingredients. Set the tuna salad in the refrigerator to ‘chill’.

2. Once the tuna salad is cold, spread it over the bun bottoms. Top each with a slice of cheese and some lettuce.

3. Put the tops back on, and serve!

Creamy Bacon Horseradish Dip

I had planned to write this post about the delicious zucchini chips we’ve been making all week, but I really need to mention the delicious bacon horseradish dip we made yesterday to accompany them. At first I was concerned that I had made too much of it, but today, as I was eating fresh *healthy* chips dipped into this amazing, tangy sauce, I realized that there is no such thing as too much creamy bacon or horseradish anything.

This crowd-pleasing dip gets its smoky, creamy deliciousness from crumbled bacon and smooth sour cream. And its attitude? That’s the horseradish talking. If you’re having a party anytime soon, or anytime at all really, you’re definitely going to want it there. And you won’t have to worry a single moment wondering if you’ve made to much. You’ll have a had time getting guests away from it. But, don’t worry about that either, it’s one heck of a great conversation starter!

Creamy Bacon Horseradish Dip

 Creamy Bacon Horseradish Dip

8 oz. bacon strips, cooked crisp and crumbled
1 1/2 cups sour cream
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tbsp horseradish
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp pepper
sliced green onions, optional, for garnish

Directions

1. Combine the sour cream, mayonnaise, horseradish, Worcestershire sauce, salt, garlic powder and salt in a medium bowl. Stir in the cooled bacon. Refrigerate until chilled. Top with green onions before serving.

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