Tuna Cheese Melts and Tomato-Cucumber Mozzarella Salad

Furlough is right around the corner where we will be crossing hemispheres and entering into summer in the states.  I am so ready to see a hot summer day.  It has been four years!  The other night I was going through some old recipe books and I decided to dog-ear some pages.  Today's new recipes come from my Best of Taste of Home Volume 2 cookbook.

These two were featured separately, but I thought they went well together.  To me, this dish has “summer” all over it.

Growing up, tunafish sandwiches were one of my mom's favorite meals to feed five hungry kids on a hot summer day.  She could make a huge batch, we all loved it, and it was budget-friendly.  She prepared her tuna with mayo, sweet relish, and chopped boiled egg.  I still prepare my tuna salad like this, but I was happy to try a new recipe when I saw this idea for Tuna Cheese Melts.

Tuna Cheese Melts

Prep/Total Time: 25 minutes

  • 1/2 c sour cream
  • 1/2 tsp garlic salt
  • 8 slices rye or white bread
  • 1 can (6 ounces) tuna, drained and flaked
  • 2 Tbs mayo
  • 4 slices process American cheese
  • butter, for grilling

In a small bowl, combine sour cream and garlic salt; spread on one side of each slice of bread.  In another bowl, combine tuna and mayo; spread on four slices of bread.  Top with cheese and remaining bread; gently press together.

Melt 2 Tbs butter in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add two sandwiches; toast sandwiches until bread is lightly browned on both sides and cheese is melted.  Repeat with remaining butter and sandwiches.  Yield: 4 servings

Tomato-Cucumber Mozzarella Salad

Prep/Total Time: 20 minutes plus chilling

  • 1/3 c olive oil
  • 2 Tbs red wine vinegar
  • 2 Tbs balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 3 medium tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 English cucumber, quartered and cut into 1/4-inch slices
  • 1 small green pepper, chopped
  • 1/4 c thinly sliced onions
  • 12 pitted Greek olives, sliced
  • 2 Tbs minced fresh parsley
  • 1 Tbs minced fresh basil
  • 4 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, cubed

In a jar with a tight-fitting lid, combine the first seven ingredients; shake well.

In a large bowl, combine the tomatoes, cucumber, green pepper, onions, olives, parsley and basil.  Drizzle with dressing; toss to coat.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes.  Just before serving, stir in cheese.  Serve with a slotted spoon.  Yield: 8 servings

Tuna Cheese Melts and Tomato-Cucumber Mozzarella Salad

Butternut Squash Soup and Grilled Paninis

So this meal felt totally gourmet, totally healthy, and so delicious!  I love Skinnytaste.com.  She has so many great ideas, and when the recipe for this panini was featured, she had me sold with the title and the picture alone.  Here is the link: Asparagus Prosciutto Panini

Here is the picture:

copied and pasted from Skinnytaste.com (Her pictures are always so perfect.)

I am a sucker for new soup recipes and a sucker for great sandwiches.  I LOVE asparagus, and I LOVE ciabatta (we can buy fresh ciabatta every day here, and it is my favorite).  Recently, my awesome vegetable vender (you know, the one that can get jalapeños in a place where no one has even heard of them) got in a huge batch of butternut squash (also unheard of in this city).  This is the second time I have made this soup, and my family loves it.

I searched for recipes.  I realize you can really fancy this one up, but this is simple and I cannot get over how good a vegetable tastes by not adding a whole lot to it.  Here is the recipe I came up with after looking through several:

Simple Butternut Squash Soup

  • 2 medium butternut squash
  • 2 liters of chicken broth
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 diced onion

1.  Cut the squash in halves, place on a cookie sheet, and bake at 350 for 1 hour (this is for high altitude).  After allowing them to cool, scoop the seeds out and separate the squash meat from the peel.  Set aside.

2.  While squash is baking, dice the onion and saute in oil until translucent.

3.  In a blender, blend squash, onion, and chicken broth in batches until you have a creamy consistency.  (if you want your squash a little thicker, add less broth obviously)

4.  Add the mixture to the original pot that you used for the onion and heat all the way through, stirring often.

(I have also made it a little thicker and added evaporated milk at the end to make it creamier–also delish.  And I am sure heavy cream with some butter to cook the onions would make this superbly good.)

Now for the delicious sandwich part, which my husband said, “These are really good!”  When I have Greg’s “really good” approval, I feel like a cooking champ.  🙂

Megan’s Grilled Chicken with Asparagus Paninis

  • 2 large boneless chicken breasts (which are huge here.  After cutting them into pieces I can make 10 of these sandwiches)
  • olive oil and your favorite meat seasoning (We LOVE Tex-Joy)
  • one bunch of asparagus (I layered three spears on each sandwich and still had some left to munch on)
  • mayo
  • 10 mozzarella slices
  • 10 ciabatta sandwich rolls or any other fresh bread that “smooshes” well)

1.  Cut chicken breasts into pieces, roll in olive oil and season.  Cook on grill for about 5 minutes on both sides (the thinner the pieces the better).

2.  Remove chicken to a warming platter, and grill asparagus (that has been rolled in olive oil and seasonings) for about 4-5 minutes (until crisp tender).  Hold off on eating those babies before assembling the sandwiches because they are soooo good!

3.  Make your garlic mayo (see Skinnytaste.com recipe) OR if you discover you are out of fresh garlic and garlic powder, just go with plain mayo.

4.  Assemble the sandwiches: bread bottom, chicken, mayo, asparagus, cheese, bread top.

5.  Press in your awesome panini maker (which I do not have) OR (if you are like me) grill them and place a heavy pot on top or use a large cookie sheet with heavy cans pressing down as hard as you can.  When cheese has melted, flip them and press down again.  Serve immediately.

Yummy. I could have stopped right here and just had grilled chicken and asparagus for lunch.
assembling the sandwiches

Sadly, I didn’t get a picture of the final product.  To be honest, I was so hungry and they looked so good, I could not wait to dig in.  These were inspired by Skinnytaste.com but became my own.  Absolutely heavenly.  Maybe I should invest in a panini press.  😉

I wanted to add this last picture of Maggie to document that she LOVES this bowl my Granny sent her.  It has a straw as part of the plastic bowl.  Here she is slurping up that delicious squash…

So, does anyone have a butternut squash soup recipe that will rock our socks off?  I am up to buying it every other week, we like it so much.  Share in the comments, please!

Butternut Squash Soup and Grilled Paninis

Barbecue Chicken Sandwiches

this will definitely be made again in our home

I love barbecue.  I come from the South where pork barbecue rules, and I come from an area where it is normal to put a big helping of slaw on your sandwich.  So when I saw this recipe from the Pioneer Woman, BARBECUE CHICKEN SANDWICHES, I had to try it.  I can’t find good pulled pork here in Arequipa, and I just so happened to buy fresh jalapeños from my awesome vegetable vendor (they are rare to find here).

simmering the whole chicken pieces with whole garlic cloves, onion, and sauce
it was impossible to not cheat and eat a little before serving them on the rolls
cilantro and jalapeño greatly compliment the flavor of the barbecue
good, tasty wheat roll, generous heap of chicken, and slaw

If you like barbecue, and you can take a little heat, try this one out.  It seems like a fun summer meal (even though we are in our winter season).

Barbecue Chicken Sandwiches