Category Archives: Food

Chicken Salad Sandwiches

Here is another easy recipe to make in bulk for a large group or for leftovers.  Chicken salad is especially yummy in the summer, but we eat it all year round.  There is a lot of chopping involved, but otherwise this is a pretty simple recipe.

Once again, the recipe is more of a guideline and you can adjust any of the ingredients to your taste.

This will make about 6 to 8 sandwiches depending on how much filling you put in each croissant.

  • Cooked shredded chicken – 3 to 4 breasts
  • Chopped celery – about 1 cup
  • Sliced grapes (I like my quartered, but halves work well too) – about 1 cup
  • Chopped red onion – about 1/4 cup
  • Roasted chopped pecans – handful (roast pecan halves in dry skillet, stirring frequently to prevent burning, about 5 minutes, then chop)
  • Chopped provolone cheese – I buy the sandwich slices and cut them into 1/2 inch or so cubes
  • Mayo – anywhere from 1 to 2 cups, depending on how saucy you like your chicken salad
  • Fresh baked butter croissants – 6 to 8
Combine the chicken, celery, grapes, onion, pecan and provolone and mix well.  Add in mayo until the desired consistency is reached.  Slice open croissants, fill, eat.  Yummy.
The chicken salad will usually last 5 to 6 days in the fridge, which makes it easy to store in individual containers and take for lunch.  It’s also great on mini party croissants for brunches and showers and such.
Enjoy!

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The Herb Chronicles

Fresh herbs are like manna from heaven. Fragrant, yummy manna.

The smell of a fresh basil plant does special things to me.  Things that cannot be discussed here.  But good, good things. I’ve instructed my husband to figure out how to keep basil inside all winter.  Winters are extra long and extra cold with no fresh herbs for cooking.

I put a few herbs in the garden this evening.  Here are some pictures.  I wish I had a scratch and sniff blog.  The only real way to experience herbs is through scent, but this will have to do for now.

Parsley

 

Oregano

 

Thyme

And my love…

Basil

 

I planted 6 basil plants.  I’m not sure that is enough.  The hubs seems to think it is.  We’ll see.

I also planted dill and purple basil (not included in the 6) but forgot to take pictures.  I will get more tomorrow.  There is so much to talk about with herbs.  Scents and textures and colors, oh my!  I hope to be able to talk more about my herbs and what I do with them.  I’d love you hear your herb stories too!

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Mexican Chicken Wraps

This is a super easy take along lunch that can be made in just about any quantity (and I struggle with good food in large quantities.) I’m not good with creating recipes, because I mostly just throw a bunch of stuff together. I don’t measure. But the great thing about this one is you can put more or less of any of the ingredients, or add other things you like. It’s really more about the process.

Ingredients (For about 5-6 wraps)

  • Cooked shredded chicken – two large breasts
  • Frozen corn – about 3/4 of a cup or so
  • Black beans – 1 can
  • Fresh pico or salsa – about 3/4 cup or so
  • Cilantro – large handful, chopped
  • Large flour tortillas
  • Sour cream & cheese for serving

Drain and rinse beans, thaw corn, drain pico.

Throw everything into big bowl and mix well.

For immediate eating: Fill up tortillas with mixture, add sour cream and cheese, eat.

For packed lunches: Separate mixture into single serving containers, put sour cream and cheese in small individual containers. Next day, heat up mixture, fill up tortilla, add sour cream and cheese, eat.

Simple as that!  I’ll try to get some pics to add.

Notes:

  • We buy the frozen boneless skinless breasts to cook and shred, but this would work equally well with a rotisserie chicken to save the cooking time.
  • I don’t like mine juicy at all, because it drips out the end of the wrap so I drain and rinse everything really well.
  • I prefer veggies and sides over meat, so my recipe might be a little lite on the chicken for some people.
  • Play around with your quantities and other ingredients until you find something just right for you and your family.

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I Cooked a Bad Meal

That sounds a little cocky, I know. But really, I’ve never cooked anything that was so bad we could not eat it. There have been plenty of recipes we didn’t really like or needed some tweaking or adjustments. I have over or under cooked things, making them mostly inedible. Last night however, I tried a new recipe that my husband seriously considered not eating. I should note that he will try anything I cook. If he doesn’t really like it, I just don’t cook it again, but he eats it anyway. He almost did not eat last night’s meal, which is a first. Surprisingly, I was not upset by this (I have a complex about cooking dinner for my husband), probably because he had good reason to not eat it. It really was bad.

The recipe was for Chicken and Barley Salad from Everyday Foods. It sounded good. We liked all of the ingredients. But somewhere in the process, things went wrong. The first mistake was over cooking the corn and onions. The second was way too much parsley. It was this really odd, awkward, just plain bad combination of flavors.

In the end, we both ate all of our meals and vowed to never speak of it again. It was a good lesson for me in the wild ride that is wifedom. He won’t leave (or even complain) over really, really bad food.

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Budgeting, Cooking and School

Three things that, in combination, make my life stressful and complicated.  Admittedly, school and budgeting would probably be stressful on their own but it is incredibly difficult for me to manage all three at the same time.

I am in school from 6pm to 10pm two nights a week.  Because we are budgeting and working towards getting out of debt I try to make large meals that have multiple servings so the hubs and I can take our lunch and not eat out. On the nights I have school I take two servings, one to eat for lunch and one to eat for dinner before class.  This requires making two meals on Sunday night so there are plenty of leftovers since I am not home to cook two nights.  The hubs eats leftovers or makes pasta or omelets when I am in school.

That all sounds easy enough, there are only two of us, but I have a hard time making it work.  When it comes to planning meals to make bulk portions, there are only a few that we really like and I get burnt out quickly on repeat meals.  Pasta is the best option for bulk, and even though there are a lot of pasta options, it gets old.  Planning what to cook when to ensure we have enough to last is not easy either.  Not planning the meals right means not enough to get through the week for lunch or dinner and eating out.

A few weeks back, I discovered a blog post by Molly Cookie on weekly meal plans and shopping lists.  This little trick has really helped our budget and my stress level.  On Saturday or Sunday I sit down and plan out the meals for the whole week.  This part is stressful because of our limited options for large meals, but spending one hour doing it saves me stress every week night when I don’t know what to do for dinner or I worry about spending money on fast food on my way to class.  I try to plan meals that use similar ingredients so we have less waste. And it gives me the opportunity to look through the pantry and fridge to determine what items we already have that can be used.  It is really amazing how much food just sits around and never gets eaten.  We throw out expired food all the time.  It makes me feel bad that we are wasting our money and food that someone else desperately needs just gets tossed out.

The meal plan also comes with a shopping list categorized by section of the store.  Using this grocery list alone has saved us tons of time and money.  Before, even when we had a list, we would circle the store at least twice because we missed something in a certain section and had to go back.  And the more you circle the grocery store, the more food ends up in your cart.  I’m not sure how this happens, but inevitably the third time you pass by something that looks slightly good, you’ve decided you will die if you do not have it at your house (because what if you start craving it a week from Thursday) and you buy it.  Now, we know exactly what we need in each area and we have a routine for how we shop.  We can get in and out with a week’s worth of groceries in 30 minutes, often for less than $70 dollars.  Our average over the past 5 weeks has been about $65 a week. Only once or twice have I had to go back to the store later in the week for more food. And it was more about not wanting what we had, not about not having enough.

I used to go to the grocery store every two to three days, with no plan and spend $30 to $40 every trip.  Two to three times a month we would make a ‘big’ trip to the store to ‘stock up’ and spend around $100.  It is a little ridiculous when you add up everything you spend and everything you throw out.  We were super wasters for sure.

Trying to budget, cook and go to school is still incredibly hard and difficult to manage, but having a meal plan makes a big difference.  I cannot wait for the day when I am out of school and we can eat like normal people again.  There are so many recipes I want to try, but they are hard to fit in our schedule.  In the meantime, I continue to search for yummy bulk recipes and do my best at planning and coordinating.

 

Note:  www.e-mealz.com is a site endorsed by Dave Ramsey that provides weekly meal plans with the recipes and shopping lists filled out for you.  It costs $15 a quarter and there are a number of different plans to choose from (low carb, low fat, etc).  I know a couple of people who have tried it and really like it a lot.  We have not done it because I am afraid with our need for bulk recipes it would not work well for us.  If you do try it, please let me know what you think.

 

 

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The Wondrous Joy of a Vegetable Garden – A Saga, Part 4

Soon fall arrived and the cooler temperatures began to take their toll on the joyous garden.  After a long fought battle, we gave the vegetable plants back to the Earth in hopes of even better soil for the next year. The herbs we kept around a little longer.  Because they were on the patio in boxes, we could pull them away from the weather.  Eventually, their time also came.  We harvested what was left to freeze and use throughout the winter.  I knew it was going to be a long cold winter without my fresh herbs.

A few weeks prior to the burial of the vegetable plants we harvested all of the basil leaves (we had 25 to 30 plants) to make pesto.  Mmmm… pesto. 

Fresh pesto is soooo good.  In fact, it is joyous. 

I have mentioned in the past my love of basil, so I am sure this comes as no surprise.  We purchased pine nuts in bulk online, as they tend to be pretty pricey, but other than that pesto is relatively easy and inexpensive to make. Our harvest resulted in about 10 serving size containers of green pasty goodness.  (I did read that it is better to add the grated parmesan after thawing the pesto, so we did not add it in to what we made.)

Throughout the winter we have used the frozen pesto for a number of dishes, my favorite being pesto shrimp pasta.  Shrimp sautéed in butter and pesto is ah-ma-zing. Seriously.  I will have to post that recipe soon. 

There has definitely been less joy in the backyard and in the cooking since the veggies and herbs went away.  Plenty of joy in other places.  We are newlyweds, after all. 

But never fear!  Spring is on its way back and we have already started our seedlings for this season.  More to come on that, it has been a tomato massacre around here for some reason.

A new saga awaits!  A fresh tale of gardening joy and sorrow has already started in 2010.  This year will be bigger and better than before.  I will try my best to bring you the saga as it unfolds, instead of after the final chapter.  (Although – I am already a bit behind.  But I have started playing catch up.)

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Roastalicious

Oh yeah, baby.  Slow cooker roasty deliciousness.  Or roastaliciousness.  Whichever you choose.

It is hard to tell the exact amount of delicious that exists from this picture, but trust me, it’s a lot.

Carrots, potatoes, onions, garlic cloves, Lowreys Seasoned Salt, sage, basil, garilc salt and a big peice of beef.  And a healthy splash of a good red wine.  Okay, a few splashes.  Cover, set on low, and walk away.  Eight hours later, return to a tender, juicy, succulent, mouth watering, roastalicious roast.  Mmmm…..

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