Monday, August 12, 2013

OMG Chicken Salad

Today is my LAST day of summer break!  Can't even believe it.  It was an AWESOME summer break...but all good things must end. I suppose. Back to school tomorrow...

I made chicken salad today.  I really like taking delicious lunches to school.  I look forward to it in the morning and feel satisfied in the afternoon.  It's a more lovely break to the day.

Now, I've made chicken salad about a million times. I've ordered it from about a million restaurants. I consider myself something of a chicken salad connoisseur (kidding).  The batches I have made have always been pretty "eh"--nothing to write home about.  Today, however, was different.

After all of those attempts I finally got a GREAT mix of flavor! It was SO easy and didn't even take too many wild ingredients (my problem, at times, is OVER flavoring stuff).  Here we go:

3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
3 cups chicken broth
3 cups water
2 T salt
1 T pepper (I used lemon pepper from the fabulous Trader Joe's)
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 mayo
1/4 cup dill
1/2 a lemon
1/2 cup grapes
1/2 cup almonds

First, I poached the chicken in the water/chicken broth mixture.  Poaching the chicken in broth, opposed to just water, really enhances the flavor. The chicken comes out SO juicy.  I also added one T salt to that pot.

After the chicken is cooked through, I cut it into small bite sized pieces and dumped it into a big bowl for mixing.

Next, I added the sour cream, mayo (I used low fat for each...feel free to use full flavor!), dill, juice from half of a lemon, grapes (cut lengthwise...about the same size as the chicken pieces), remaining salt and pepper.
I roasted the almonds in a dry pan for a few minutes just to get the full effect of their flavor and mix it in with the salad.

That's it.  Sometimes, it's better to keep it simple!! I let the salad sit in the fridge for at least an hour before nomin' it.

TRY THIS! It is SO good and so fresh.  Can't wait to take it as my first back to school lunch!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

MammaMia! Meatless Meatballs!

I am posting this from my current food coma:
This one is NOT for the faint of heart!! My Chicken Meatball sandwich was absolutely to die for!

As I have mentioned, I don't eat red meat, pork, seafood, etc.  Something I will bend for, however, is chicken.  Recently, I tried Trader Joe's chicken meatballs (located in their frozen section).  I had NEVER had a meatball of any kind in my life and holy cow. SO GOOD!  The first time, I just threw them in spaghetti. I am 25% Italian and never had spaghetti and meatballs.  I felt it had to be done.  I fell in love and bought them again upon my very next trip to TJ's.

The hub requested meatball sam's so here's what went down...

2 T butter
10 Chicken Meatballs (here I used Trader Joe's brand)
1 clove garlic
1 medium sized yellow onion
5 big button mushrooms
1 cup jarred marinara
1 t red pepper flakes
1 t salt & pepper

For the rest of the sam you'll need
fresh mozzarella
any type of focaccia (I got a mild giardiniera focaccia)

In a medium skillet, melt 2 T of butter with 2 T of EVOO.  Add in one thinly sliced (NOT diced or minced!) onion.  Let it cook down while you slice up your mushrooms and mince your garlic.
After about 5 minutes of letting the onion cook, add in your mushrooms and garlic. Your kitchen smells amazing by now.

Next, add in your cup of marinara (I used Mushroom by Barilla) and drop in your meatballs.  Turn the heat down to medium/low and just let it do it's thing.  I let the sauce go for 15-20 minutes until it was really thick and cooked down.

I split open my focaccia and layered the fresh mozz on one side and all the meat balls on the other side.  Then, I stuck it under the broiler for a couplea minutes until the cheese was ooey/gooey.

Like I said, come hungry to this one!  So good I could almost become a meat-eater....almost. ;-)

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Veggie Quinoa

Happy Tuesday!

It was a super busy day!  Complete with dog walks and TJ Maxx outings.  That's my kind of busy day.

Have you heard of quinoa?  It is said KEEN-wah. It's been pretty trendy for a little while now.  It's supposed to be good for you and packed with protein (which is good for a veggie-booty like me...I am always trying to take in as much protein as I can.  This protein usually comes from peanut butter in my case).  Anyway, this stuff has always been intriguing to me.  Whether I hear about it on some trashy E! channel show or read about it on Pinterest (hello?  Tiffany Beveridge?  Have you SEEN her "My Imaginary Well-Dressed Toddler Daughter" board?  I am seriously considering naming my daughter Chevron...)  Tonight I gave it a try.

I walked into this one TOTALLY blind.  I had no idea what kind of flavor this stuff was going to give me. I read a recipe in a recent Rachael Ray mag that gave me some guidance and this is what I came up with:

Preparing the Quinoa:
1 cup quinoa
1 cup reduced sodium chicken broth
1 cup water

First, put the quinoa in a dry fry pan.  Toast it up the way you would pine nuts, just warming them through.  I have read that this is a crucial step in making the stuff taste any good at all.

Once it is toasted, put it in a stock pot with the water and stock and get it boiling, stirring occasionally.  When it hits the boiling point, reduce it to a simmer and cover...letting the lid just a bit ajar to let some steam out.  Leave it alone for about 15 minutes and then uncover.  It does what couscous does and fluffs up nicely with a fork.

At this point the stuff was pretty plain Jane.  The broth did allow it to have some flavor...nutty-esque and wheaty.  The texture is fabulous.  Here's what was happening meanwhile:


1/2 zucchini
1/2 yellow summer squash
2 cups arugula
1 glove garlic, minced
1 T oregano
1 tomato
salt & pepper to season

Chop up the zucchini and squash into bite-sized pieces.  They'll go in to a fry pan that has about 1 tablespoon EVOO nice n' hot.  Sprinkle some salt (I used about 1/2 teaspoon) and pepper (same as the salt) over the veggies. 
Next add in the arugula.  I put in about a half cup at a time.  This stuff wilts beautifully and quickly.  I could have even added more than the 2 cups I used. 
I kept this on a medium/high heat for about 15 minutes.  The leaves had wilted and the vegetables were softened.  That's when I added the garlic and oregano--let that go for another 5-10 minutes.

I chopped up a big tomato and put it in my serving dish, then added the cooked quinoa, and lastly the veggies.

I quickly whipped up a vinaigrette that could not be any easier:  4 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar and 3 tablespoons of EVOO and drizzled it over the dish.

Here's what turned out:
Dan took a look. I took a look.  He asked why we were having rabbit food for dinner.  I have to admit, I was nervous. I had NO CLUE how this was all going to fit together...

It..was..AWESOME!  We both loved it!  It was so flavorful with the apple cider vinaigrette and the crazy different textures of the quinoa versus the vegetables.

So. All in all, quinoa is delish.  I think this recipe could be swapped around a kajillion different ways.  It was $4.99 for a box and I only used about 1/2 box. Can't wait to try it out a different way!

Stay tuned :-)

Monday, June 17, 2013

Buffalo Chicken Sandwich with Home Fries


So after a hot summer day of gardening, I sat down to watch my favorite Cooking Channel/Food Network shows and I got the itch to make dinner!  Now, I was pretty low on my "go-to" items so I had to get a little creative.
Here we go:

2 slices of bread ( your choice)
1 slice of sharp cheddar cheese (I've been loving the Sargento thin slices lately!)
2 pieces of turkey bacon
1 green onion, chopped
1 egg
1 t light mayo
1 t crumbled Gorgonzola
4 slices Dietz and Watson Buffalo Chicken Breast

I cooked up my turkey bacon ahead of time in a dry pan.  I also fried the egg before I started assembling.  Once those make ahead items were finished, I assembled the 'sam.  I drizzled some EVOO on to my grill pan and spent about 5ish minutes grilling it on a medium high heat.  Once it was golden and crunchy, it was ready.

Like I said, I was low on my basic items.  I had some potatoes from the weekend and I knew my thyme and rosemary were due for a trim.  So I took about 8 little golden potatoes and sliced them up to look something between fries/potato wedges.  I drizzled them with some EVOO, a sprinkle of salt and pepper.  I also added a sprinkle of Trader Joe's 21 Season Solute (one of my favorite spices!).
I chopped up about 2 sprigs of thyme and one 3 inch piece of rosemary and tossed that in with the potatoes too.  I let them cook in a 400 degree oven for about 25 minutes.

It wound up being a super delish, flavorful dinner!

Til next time :-)

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Double Post!

Yikes! I haven't posted since November?! Holy cow. Well, it has been a big year: getting a new job as a first year teacher, planning a wedding, getting married, buying a new name a few.  But I am ready to commit to my blog!  Hurrah!

As I mentioned, I am a new wife and homeowner.  This means that I am constantly making meals and projects for the house! We moved into a cute 3 bedroom ranch with a full, unfinished basement. We have been here a month and a half and it has been transformed!  Before I move onto home projects...let me share with you what was for dinner:

iPhone picture....blurry. Bleh.  Anywho...
I made a copy cat version of Panera's Chopped Chicken Cobb Salad with Avocado, right along with P's herbed vinaigrette.  Here the ingredients for the salad:

1 bag lettuce (choose what you like! I kept it simple with Romaine)
2 tomatoes off the vine
3 hard boiled eggs
5 grilled chicken tenders (salt and peppered before hittin' the grill)
2 strips of turkey bacon *
1/2 avocado
a generous heap of Gogonzola

All of this gets mixed and happily tossed in a bowl.
About the asterisk... I use turkey bacon because I don't eat "real" bacon. Feel free to sub!

Now for the vinaigrette.
Seriously, I have made this salad a dozen times.  I've used poppyseed dressing, creamy asiago ceasar, Italian.... NOTHING compares to the amazingness that is this vinaigrette.  AND this was my first ever vinaigrette AAAAND it was super easy! Here we go:

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 small glove of garlic
1 1/2 teaspoons of tarragon
1 1/2 teaspoons of oregano
1 teaspoon of dried basil (or 1 1/2 of fresh)
1 pinch salt
1 pinch pepper
3/4-1 cup extra virgin olive oil.

The herbs need to be chopped real fine, as they will be eaten raw in the salad.  Big chunks of herbs will be a bit too shocking for your eaters! Then as you whisk (time to multitask!) slowly pour in your olive oil.  Keep up a rapid whisk to get things blended.

I made the dressing in advance and kept in the fridge for a few hours. The dressing should keep for a week.  And don't limit it to your salads!  I can't wait to pour some of it on a Panini this week!

I don't expect my posts to always get this lengthy...but I guess since this is a double post it gets a free pass...

I've been working on our master bathroom (yes, "master"'s a tiny bath but it is connected to our bedroom and therefore dubbed "master bathroom"). I should have taken before pictures.  Someday, I will learn.  But it was this hideous light purple-almost-gray color with light cedar-y looking trim.  It was clash-city.  I couldn't stand even being in there!  But I revamped it over the past 48 hours and here is the result:


Striping the wall really was not the hard part.  I just used my trusty measuring tape and marked off each section at 12 inches.  The wall was already gray, so I just made sure that the tape was falling into the gray section, rather than the section that was to be yellow.  Meaning, I drew my leveled line and made sure that EACH section was 12 inches.  The tape accounts for some of those inches in the gray sections.  Got it? Good!

However, if you were to ask me if I will ever stripe a wall again...I would probably say no.  It looks great, don't get me wrong...but it was a hassle.  The hassle part was all on me, too.  If there was one piece of beginner DIY advice I could give it would be this: STIR THE PAINT! Holy cow.  You can't see it here...but I neglected to stir my gallon on paint before rolling on the yellow.  I thought, "Meh, I just got this paint this afternoon.  The guy put it in that shakey's still fine!"  It was not fine. What I got was this super thick, cakey paint on the first roll.  Panicked, I gave up for the night.

The next day, I managed to sand down most of the--what I am calling--"texture."  I STIRRED THE PAINT and rolled on a second coat.  It's not perfect...but I'm learning!

So there we are!  I am about to go weed and water my new garden.  This is also a new venture for me.  Pictures to come!