Homemade Chicken Salad.

If I ate less chicken salad, I’d probably be wealthier.  If I walk anywhere near a deli counter, or a sandwich shop, or a brunch menu with chicken salad on the menu, it’s game time.  Part of the reason I love going home so much (other than of course seeing my parents, hi M+D) is because my dad always has a container of chicken salad chilling in the fridge.  I. Love. Chicken. Salad.

It’s a bit surprising, then, that I’ve never actually made it myself.  I was in New York a few weeks ago, eating a chicken salad sandwich on a fresh, delicious sesame seed bagel with my sister-in-law, and she mentioned that sometimes she made chicken salad for herself.

This was an earth-shattering revelation.

For some reason, I have always assumed that magical chicken salad makers just lived at the deli/grocery store/farmer’s market, just waiting for their opportunity to hop me up on too much mayo.

But no.  I could make this delicious, addicting, amazingness myself.  So I did.

IMG_3979

Homemade Chicken Salad

  • 2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
  • for the poaching liquid:
    • fresh herbs (I used some thyme)
    • 1/2 onion
    • 3 garlic cloves, smashed
    • salt
    • water
  • 2-3 stalks celery, washed and chopped
  • 2-3 green onions, chopped
  • handful parsley, chopped
  • about 1/2 cup mayo
  • about 1/2 plain Greek yogurt
  • about 2 cups red grapes, sliced
  • juice from 1/2 lemon
  • salt + pepper to taste
  • optional: handful toasted nuts
  1. Add chicken and all poaching liquid ingredients to a pan and bring to a full boil.  Turn down the heat and poach gently for about 10-12 minutes (the chicken should be white all the way through).
  2. While the chicken cooks, prep your veggies and grapes and place in a large-ish bowl.
  3. Remove chicken from the poaching liquid when done; discard liquid + contents.  Let chicken cool a bit, and then cut into little cubes.  Add to the veggies.
  4. Add mayo, yogurt, lemon, salt and pepper.  Mix thoroughly and taste – add whatever’s missing.
  5. Put your delicious, amazing salad between two pieces of toasted bread, a slice of red onion, and a large Romaine leaf.  Fall in love.

The Verdict:

HOW WAS THIS THE FIRST TIME I MADE THIS!?!?!?!

Advertisements

Open-faced Grilled Eggplant and Burrata Toast

Because we spent exactly one week bopping about French cafes and chowing down in patisseries, I very badly wanted to call the following recipe “Eggplant Tartine” and get all fancy and French on you.  However, since tartines usually involve some sort of buttery, rich, spreadable topping, and more importantly, since Husband actually executed this recipe and would definitely not prefer to be known as the tartine-man, I will settle for calling these “open-faced.”  (Note, though, in the picture below that I did bring back a cheesy Paris metro map placemat, much to the Husband’s chagrin.)

You could substitute burrata for some sort of smoky gouda or mozzarella and really amp up the flavor here.

IMG_3830

Open-faced Grilled Eggplant and Burrata Toast

  • 1 eggplant, sliced about 1/2 inch thick
  • olive oil
  • salt, pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 ball burrata
  • 2-3 tomatoes, sliced
  • 1 big handful fresh basil
  • handful arugula
  • thick sliced toast or bread
  1. Heat a grill pan over medium heat and spray with a little cooking spray.
  2. Melt butter and garlic together in a microwave; brush the mixture over the eggplant slices.  Season with salt and pepper and grill the egglplant about 3-4 minutes per side.  (You can grill your tomatoes, too, for extra points.)
  3. Meanwhile, toast your bread and brush with any remaining butter/garlic.  Place the burrata over the warm bread so that it melts, top with eggplant, tomatoes, basil and a little bit of arugula.  Drizzle with olive oil and season as appropriate.  Serve with a side salad.

IMG_3825

The Verdict:

A few reasons you should make these.  1: They’re ridiculously easy (see: Husband made these). 2. They take about 20 minutes, total.  3. They’re delicious.  Like, really, really good.

Gorgonzola Sausage Burger

I was a “vegetarian” for about ten years (i.e., I focused only on consuming pasta and cheese, and found that adopting the mantle of “vegetarian” was helpful in my quest to avoid all foods that were not pasta and cheese).

Burgers put an end to that.

The year was 2002, the setting, a 4th of July BBQ at a high school friend’s house.  Two (vegetarian) friends and I, bowled over by the smell of the grill, steathily helped ourselves to a burger.  We made our way to the garage so no one could see us, and carefully passed the stolen burger between the three of us, sharing bites, until it was gone.  Incidentally, so was my vegetarianism.

Thirteen years later, I actually love vegetables and eat far more than pasta and cheese.  (Side note: YAY!) And at least once a summer, I get that BBQ smell wafting under my nose and I just know: tonight is burger night.  Thanks to Husband for always indulging me.

IMG_3441[1]

Gorgonzola Sausage Burger

  • 1 pound high quality ground beef
  • optional but delicious: one hot Italian sausage link
  • big dash Worcestershire sauce
  • big handful crushed red pepper
  • salt, pepper
  • 1/4 red onion, finely chopped
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • crumbled Gorgonzola cheese
  • cooking spray
  • to serve:
    • good buns, toasted
    • Sriracha mayo (i.e., one part Sriracha sauce to two parts mayonnaise, whipped together)
    • pickled onions and/or cucumbers – we used the basic method outlined here
    • sliced tomato
    • red onion
    • lettuce/arugula
    • avocado
    • potato chips!
  1. In a large bowl, mix your meat, Worcestershire, spices, onion and garlic together.  Form four large patties (don’t overwork the meat).  Note – the fattiness from the sausage and the ground beef will help to bind the patty together.  If not, add an egg and some breadcrumbs to help your cause!
  2. Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat and spray with cooking spray.  Add your patties – cooking two at a time, or so – and cook about four minutes per side.  I like to tent the pan with aluminum foil in order to help the middle cook through a bit.
  3. Prep your buns! Add Gorgonzola to the bottom of each bun – this will help it melt.  (You can also add to the top of the burger as it cooks, either way.)  Add the meat patty and your favorite toppings.  Obviously, don’t forget the chips.

The Verdict:

Dear Husband, who prepared these last night: these are even better than the garage burger. Now, if only we had a backyard grill…

Slow Cooked Roast Beef

Today is my husband’s birthday.

I sometimes give him a hard time on here for being a picky eater (who doesnt’ like fish?!), or for boiling an entire box of pasta and calling it dinner, but the truth is, I am an obscenely lucky woman to be married to him.  Not only is he deeply kind, hard working, funny, and handsome (in fact, he is dark, tall AND handsome!), he is also quite handy in the kitchen. And not just for getting down the pots from the hard-to-reach cabinets: the man can cook, especially when it comes to the crockpot.

In honor of his birthday, a recipe developed entirely by my main squeeze.

IMG_3416[1]

Slow Cooked Roast Beef

  • about two pounds rump roast (or other meat you can cook for a long time to make tender)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 6-8 sprigs of fresh rosemary or thyme
  • about 4 cups of beef broth
  • for the spice rub:
    • 1-2 tablespoons Italian seasoning
    • 1 tablespoon crushed red pepper
    • 1-2 tablespoons chili powder
    • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
    • 1 tablespoon onion powder
    • salt, pepper
  • for serving sandwiches:
    • good rolls
    • a little bit of sour cream, mixed with freshly prepared horseradish
    • spicy arugula
    • mustard
    • cheese of your choice (Husband notes: “A purest would use provolone.”)
  1. Mix all of the spices together in a small bowl and then rub them into the roast, making sure all sides are covered.  Season generously with salt and pepper.
  2. Pour enough beef broth into a crock pot for about a 3/4 inch bath; add onions, garlic, about half of your rosemary/thyme, and a dash of crushed red pepper.  Add the roast in the middle, top with additional rosemary/thyme.
  3. Cook on the low setting for about 8 hours.  Remove and let rest a few minutes before shredding to assemble into sandwiches.  Serve with your choice of delicious toppings.

The Verdict:

An easy-to-make, hearty, and tasty meal that makes tons of leftovers.  My husband advises you “chow yours with a side of potato chips, preferably Utz or Cape Cod.”  In other words, a Bostonian meets a Philadelphian, and they live happily ever after.

Go-to Dinner for One: Panini with Avocado, Cherry Tomatoes, and Cheddar

I have a confession to make: I eat lunch every day at 10:30 am. And I love it. For years I would be hungry at 10:30, but I would spend a famished hour and a half watching the clock until noon, the socially-approved lunchtime. Or, I would eat an unfulfilling snack at 10:30, and I would still spend an hour and a half hungry. It just felt gluttonous to eat a full meal at 10:30 – hadn’t I just had breakfast?

Finally, a couple of months ago I decided to give in to the 10:30 lunch. The babies were hungry at 10:30, so I decided to eat a meal along with them. It felt so right diving into a turkey sandwich or a big bowl of stew at this time. Why hadn’t I just let myself eat lunch at 10:30 before? A 10:30 lunch, followed by a snack at 3:00 or so, seems to fit with when I am naturally hungry.

I am sure I am not the only person who has battled a 10:30 case of the hangries (that’s hungry + angry, for you superhumans who have never encountered this emotion). In fact, I have a feeling that I am on to a revolutionary idea. Who decided on this three meals a day thing anyway? I am now firm believer that there should be four meals a day: Breakfast at 7:00, Lunch at 10:30, Hearty Snack at 3:00, Dinner at 7:00. I think four meals a day would make the world a nicer, more satisfied place. Who’s with me??

Clearly our 11:00 lunch was too late for JJ. And for me.
Clearly our 11:00 lunch was too late for JJ. And for me.

Tonight’s dinner doesn’t really even need a recipe, but I’ll give you one anyway:

Panini with Avocado, Cherry Tomatoes, and Cheddar

-Sourdough bread (I manage to eat this in at least two of my three four daily meals)

-Tomatoes

-Cheddar cheese

-Avocado (I highly recommend Costco avocados- stick them in the fridge and take them out one by one to ripen overnight)

-Schmear of choice: I went with a honey Dijon dressing, but you could use mustard, balsamic dressing, apricot jam, or really any sort of tasty spread you have on hand.

  1. Warm a skillet or griddle pan on medium heat, slather some butter on there.
  2. Slather bread with schmear and place dry side-down on skillet.
  3. Add whatever fillings you have available. Tonight it is avocado, cherry tomatoes, and cheddar cheese.
  4. Place second piece of bread on top. Put something heavy, like a pot, on top of the sandwich to smoosh it all together.
  5. Flip when bread is golden brown and warm the other side.
Melted cheese, avocado, tomato. Yum.
Melted cheese, avocado, tomato. Yum.

The Verdict:

Paninis are a my go-to dinner for one. They feel a little more official than a cold sandwich, and who doesn’t love melted cheese? Because they are so versatile, they make a great clean-out-the-fridge meal. The key to the panini is the schmear – that’s what gives it flavor.

I promise, I will have a more official recipe tomorrow. In fact, here is a teaser of the prep I did tonight…

Yes, those are two whole garlic cloves. Get excited.
Yes, those are two whole heads of garlic. Get excited.