Crab Stuffed Cucumber Cups

Crab Stuffed Cucumber Cut-Outs

I’ve been wanting to make these crab stuffed cucumbers for over a week. I am hosting a dinner party tonight, so I finally have good reason to whip up a batch for appetizers. Many thanks to my friend, Katie, for the garden fresh cherry tomatoes, chives and rosemary.

Appetizers don’t get any easier than this. One medium size cucumber makes six servings. Plan on two servings per guest. Home gardens are filled with ripe cucumbers this time of year. Fresh cucumbers shouldn’t be hard to find.

Peel the cucumber and cut into 1 1/2″ to 1 3/4″ slices. Using a melon baller, scoop out a portion of the cucumber “guts”. You want to create a cup for the crab filling, so leave a portion of the bottom intact. Discard the scooped portion unless you have a brilliant idea for its use (obviously, I did not).

Crab stuffed cucumber slicesSet the cucumber cups aside while preparing the filling. I covered mine and placed in the fridge (for added crispness) until I was ready to fill them.

Filling Ingredients

  • 6 ounces of canned crab meat will fill 12-18 cucumbers. Drain the juice before using.
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup finely minced green onion
  • 1/2 cup cream cheese, low fat
  • 1/2 cup sour cream, reduced fat
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce (or to desired taste)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Garnish (optional) with fresh chives, rosemary and cherry tomatoes

How To

 Mix all of the above ingredients. If you aren’t serving the cucumbers immediately, hold off filling them until ready to serve. Cover and refrigerate both the filling and cucumber cups until ready to serve. You can fill the cups within minutes. Dot each with a cherry tomato and garnish your serving dish as desired.

Calories are in the neighborhood of 35 per cucumber cup, so enjoy!

Marinated Tomato & Onion Salad

Marinated Tomato Slices & Onion Salad

A refreshing and easy, low-cal salad for steamy summer days. The summer heat can make appetites pale. This salad dish reminds me picking fresh veggies from my Grammy’s summer garden  in Missouri. The temps were well into the 90’s and a garden salad dish like this was a mainstay at the dinner table.

Summer Salad: Sliced Tomatoes & Onion on a bed of Spinach Leaves

Use baby spinach leaves for a green background to complement the bright red tomato slices and crisp onion rings. Add a few Kalamata olives (pitted), salt/pepper and a seasoned vinegar/olive oil dressing and you have a winning salad. Tasty AND low-cal.

Garden cucumber slices are optional. I love cucumbers from the garden. In my opinion, they add flavor and additional color to this salad dish.

Marinate the tomato and onion slices in a vinegar dressing for 1 hour (if using cucumbers, marinate those too). Marinade recipe is  below. Place veggies in a shallow dish in the refrigerator to marinate.

I am hosting a post “on the lake” dinner party this evening. We are serving homemade lasagna from the famous Giovanni’s Restorante in Detroit. Our good friends Randy & Mary own the restaurant and supply us with bulk servings. Excited to sit on the deck and enjoy dinner with long time friends.

Vinegar Oil Dressing:

  • 1/3 cup  balsamic vinegar or red wine garlic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

Place above ingredients into a jar, cover with a lid and shake. Pour over the tomato and onion slices and marinate in fridge for 1-3 hours. Add the spinach leaves just before serving.

 

Greek Salsa Chicken with Roasted Red Skins

Greek Chicken Salad SalsaMy honey-man, the wine guy, does all the grocery shopping. At least once a month he makes a trip to Costco to stock up on miscellaneous items. Big bags of boneless chicken breast from the freezer section is always on the list. Opening the freezer, I realized I had chicken coming out the wazoo. It was a “no-brainer” what was on the dinner menu. How to prepare it became the bigger question.  I do believe this recipe will be a keeper.

Chicken is cubed and cooked in a lemon marinade and topped with flavorful Greek salsa. I opted to serve roasted red skin potatoes on the side. One serving (pictured above) is in the neighborhood of 290 calories and I struggled to finish it.

Slow Roasted Red Skin PotatoesThis colorful, tasty dish rocks. I’m anxious for my daughter to taste it. She’ll be stopping by this morning for her usual cup of dark roasted java and a Blimpy Girl lunch.

Tomato, cucumber, bell pepper, scallions…. oh, did I mention low-fat feta and a few chopped Kalamata olives? These low-fat veggies are then bathed in a lite Caesar dressing.

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Greek Salsa for the Chicken

Smoked Salmon & Cucumber Salad

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Smoked Salmon & Cucumber Salad with Hummus

At least three times a year my husband and I get together with long time friends for a joint dinner which includes a post-dinner soak in the hot tub. The host couple prepares the main course and the rest bring a side dish or dessert. Last night’s event was awesome and a reminder how connecting with lifelong friends enhances ones life. As couples, we laughed, shared stories, sipped wine, played Mexican train, soaked in the hot tub and appreciated friendship.

The main course was chicken and beef fajitas (with all the fixins’), a smoked salmon & cucumber salad, Kafta Kabobs (appetizer) finished off with a cheesecake and chocolate fondue dessert. Blimpy Girl’s dish was the salmon cucumber salad.

Thinly sliced smoked salmon.

I purchased smoked salmon from Costco. It’s imported from Norway and  the ‘long-smoked’ process gives a  nice delicate smokey flavor. 

Cream cheese is spread onto thinly sliced cucumber slices and rolled up with a chunk of salmon inside. Think lox!

Cubes of chunky tomato, thinly sliced red onion, capers and toasted pine nuts embellish the bed of salad greens.

Cucumber Roll-Up with Salmon & Cream Cheese A mandolin is handy when making the cucumber slices, but a vegetable peeler works well if you bear down on the cutting edge. Spread cream cheese onto each cucumber slice, insert a piece of salmon, and roll.

Each salad plate included 3-5 cucumber salmon rolls, 3 cucumber rolls with no filling, a bed of mixed greens, chopped tomatoes, thinly sliced onions, non-pareil capers, chunks of salmon throughout, sprinkling of toasted pine nuts and a dollop of low-fat sour cream. Drizzle a homemade olive oil & lemon juice vinaigrette over the salad  and complement with a side of hummus and crackers.

 Smoked Salmon & Cucumber Salad with Toasted Pinenuts

Feta Cucumber Roll-Ups

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Cucumber Feta Roll Ups

What a refreshing salad course or appetizer dish. If using as a salad, arrange two cucumber rolls-ups on one leaf of Romaine lettuce. For pizzazz and color add a couple Romano tomato slices or grape tomatoes and lightly drizzle with a fresh vinaigrette basil dressing. Seedless cucumbers are the first choice, but if not available use a traditional slicing cucumbers.

Filling for the Cucumber Roll Ups

The feta mixture is placed on each cucumber slice and then rolled. A toothpick keeps everything in place (gotta love those toothpicks). There are couple of tips when making the filling.

1 ) Do not use sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil. The oil will make the filling runny and soggy.

2) When adding Kalamata olives, drain and rinse thoroughly. Pat dry before chopping.

3) Use ONLY fresh spinach leaves.

Place feta filling on cucumber slice and roll.

The addition of a fresh basil leave in each roll-up adds pizazz to the presentation and enhances the flavor combinations. If you don’t have fresh basil, use a baby spinach leaf inside each roll-up. Grab the Recipe

Other appetizer ideas include spooning the mixture onto round cucumber slices (a melon baller works great) or toasting thinly sliced baguette bread in the oven. Spread feta topping on toasted bread slices. Garnish with a sliver of red bell pepper.

Tuna Pastry Puffs & Wedge Salad

Tuna Pastry Puffs

This has to be one of the easiest meals ever. Two cans of crescent rolls, tuna (in water and drained), low-fat cream of mushroom soup, low-fat cheddar cheese (I used 1 cup) and salt & pepper to taste. That’s it, folks.

Just mix up the ingredients in a medium-size bowl, unroll the crescent dough pieces and start filling. I was able to make 16 puffed pastries. I grilled two zucchini with onions and my dinner was complete.

If you want to make this a full blown dinner, add a lettuce wedge salad. Two tuna-filled puffed pastries, a veggie and salad is plentiful. You can actually afford to splurge on a blue cheese dressing for the salad wedge (and a few bacon bits!) with this meal.

Tuna Pastry Puffs

If you buy the Wishbone brand of low-fat blue cheese dressings, you’re only racking up 35 calories per 2 tablespoons. Not bad for the richness blue cheese adds to a wedge salad. I suggest using turkey bacon for the bacon bits, but you can also find low-fat bacon bits (look for the Hormel brand). Red onion, diced tomatoes and shredded carrots… yumm, yumm.

Iceburg Lettuce Wedge Salad

You can add crumbled blue cheese if you really want to splurge. Two tablespoons will cost you an additional 50 calories. Forego dessert and you will still have a full course dinner meal for under 400 calories.

Reinventing Leftovers: BBQ Chicken Sandwich

BBQ Chicken Sandwich with Oven Roasted Avocado Salad

OK. I’ll be the first to admit that I dislike eating leftovers. If I had it the night before, I don’t want it for dinner the next night. In this case, I made an exception. That delish BBQ chicken dish I made the night before turned into a BBQ chicken sandwich for lunch today.

I shredded the chicken with fork prongs. The chicken was so tender from cooking in the crock pot that it shred easily. The leftover BBQ sauce mixture was tossed into the shredded chicken and stacked onto a “sandwish” bun. These buns are only 100 calories and an awesome addition to the pantry for those counting calories.

My daughter will be picking up this lunch so I wrapped the chicken sandwich in plastic wrap to keep it fresh. The plastic wrap can be removed and the sandwich heated in the microwave. Here is a reheating tip: Bread can become soggy when reheated in the microwave. Remove the meat and microwave separately on a small plate. Then, place the two bun halves in the microwave for about 25 seconds. You just want them to be slightly warm. Reapply the heated BBQ chicken mixture to the bottom bun, slap on the bun top and you’re good to go!

Roasted Avocado Mixed Green Salad

Let’s move on to the Roasted Avocado Salad. This was unexplored territory for me. Who has ever heard of roasting an avocado? Not me! The avocado was peeled and sliced into six sections. I sprayed a baking pan with non-stick oil (basil flavored) and roasted the slices in the oven for 15 minutes at a temperature of 400 degrees. Add plenty of salt and pepper to taste. I even sprayed extra basil flavored oil on the tops of the avocado slices.

The final results received a thumbs up. The added bulgar wheat (or you can use couscous, which I didn’t have on hand) and diced red onion gave some bulk to the mix green salad. A simple lemon juice and olive oil dressing made the salad complete.
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Grab the BBQ Chicken Recipe

What is a Jicama?

What is a Jicama?

This was a question I posed to my husband last week? I needed a Jicama for a salad recipe I wanted to make for an upcoming dinner party. My husband is in a line of work that affords him opportunity to experience all food types; so, was able to answer. I placed Jicama on my grocery list and decided to learn more about this bulbous looking food. Here is what I discovered:

  • It is actually just that… a bulb and is part of the legume (bean) family.
  • It is primarily grown in Mexico and South America, though different varieties are grown throughout the world.
  • It has a crunchiness somewhat like a water chestnut.
  • Peeling it can be a pain. I learned that first hand as you will see in above picture. I tried to use a vegetable peeler. Not a good idea. The skin in tough and you will need a very sharp knife to peel away the outer skin.
  • It taste something like a cross between an apple and potato.
  • It is most commonly eaten raw though it can be cooked and eaten and prepared like you would potatoes.
  • It pairs well with salads and can be used as an appetizer for dipping. Just cut into strips and dip in a mango salsa. I noted that some suggest cutting and sprinkling with lime juice and chili powder. I even saw a picture where cookie cutters were used to cut out dipping shapes. Now that’s a fun idea.

So how did I end up using this peculiar looking bulb? Below is the tropical black bean salad that I served this weekend for a dinner party. It was a hit and I loved the crunchy texture that the jicama added to the salad. By the way, the “J” is pronounced as “H”… hicama. Grab the Recipe

Tropical Black Bean Salad with Jicama

Bean & Broccoli Salad

Bean & Broccoli SaladEarlier this week I posted a recipe for a Mixed Bean Salad Ala Carte. This is a slightly different take on that same recipe that excludes the kidney beans and red peppers.

My daughter is not a big fan of either and since she is back on the Blimpy Girl eating plan, I am trying to make dishes she will enjoy.

I swapped our yellow waxed beans for the kidney beans and cucumbers for the red bell pepper. The dressing is minus the juice of the oranges and 2 teaspoons of Girard’s Raspberry dressing was used instead.

Fresh parsley is a key ingredient.

My verdict: Don’t omit the fresh parsley. I had to wait for my honey man to bring some home after work. It made all the difference in how this salad tastes. You’ve “gotta” use fresh parsley. The dried stuff just doesn’t add flavor. Besides, parsley is cheap, easy to find year round and about zero in calories. Grab the REVISED Recipe

Mixed Bean Salad Ala Carte

Three Bean SaladI whipped up this bean salad for lunches this week. One cup=125 calories. Can’t beat that! If you’re on a slippery slope to weight loss. My “lifestyle” eating plan includes 5 small meals a day. Almost no sugar, very lean meats and plenty of veggies. Skipping meals is a no-no for me. You can’t burn fat if you aren’t feeding the body.

If you are battling the bulge, don’t give up! I never thought I could lose the weight. It’s all about portion control and eliminating the snacking. Make it a lifestyle instead of a diet plan. I need to stay healthy for my grand kids, for myself, and for my honey-man. I still have plenty of years left in me. I want to enjoy them in “skinny” clothes. Grab the Recipe