I had a day off during the week.
Glorious. Delicious. Relaxing. Exciting….kind of like skipping class, but without the consequences.
No alarm clock mid – week…whatttt? Yeah, kind of awesome. Lazy mornings that leak into mid-afternoon…my sweatpants are quite versatile, they can take me from pre-dawn to late afternoon…it is all in the accessories. Trade off those slippers with socks and you are golden.
My mid-week day off was in exchange for weekend work. I get two of these days once a month…which means I have to work one weekend a month. In the world of pharmacy…this is a pretty good gig. People still get sick after 5pm on Fridays… Weekends happen. But days off during the week are a great exchange if you ask me…Now if you had this whole being an adult thing down, you would schedule eye/dental/doctor/hair/etc appointments or do whatever it is adults do on their days off…clean? Organize closets? Prep a whole week worths of dinner? Fold laundry? I don’t know…but I don’t do those things until I have to….
No, I do zero of those above mentioned things… I lounge in sweatpants, watch endless amounts of Netflix and Hulu, drink coffee until late afternoon, catch up on my Google Reader, and spend the entire morning thinking of what to make for lunch. I have time to make a kick ass lunch…a lunch not found in a brown paper sack or in my case, my purse…I just toss things in as I am walking out the door every morning…apple, yogurt, a box of soup from Trader Joe’s that will last me all week…all fits in my purse, no paper sack needed. Saving the earth, one lunch at at time.
I had cheese on the brain this go around. And bacon. And was craving a favorite pizza combo. I had hearty crusty bread. Ranch, check. Leftover roasted chicken, always. It was destiny.
Let’s make a day off grilled cheese. The best kind.
Buttered crusty bread. Ranch. Extra Sharp Cheddar Cheese. Chicken. Bacon.
Done. Done. Done. Done. And. Done.
Step 1: Slather the non-buttered side of bread with ranch.
Step 2: Cheese.
And A LOT of it.
Step 3: Leftover Roast Chicken
Step 4: BACON!!!
Step 5: Even more cheese.
Step 6: Ranch slathered bread.
People, this is a masterpiece.
Step 7: Grill it. Or panini press it.
Step 8: Admire the masterpiece.
A tad cocky, perhaps. But this sandwich was AAAHHHMAAZZZING.
Step 9: Sit back, put your slipper/sock clad feet up, flip on some Friday Night Lights, and enjoy your mid-week kick ass lunch.
You earned it.
That morning was rough.
- 2 Slices thick cut crusty bread.
- 3 Slices Bacon, cut in half so you have 6 pieces of bacon
- 2-3 Tablespoons Ranch Dressing
- 2 Tablespoons Butter
- 3-4oz. Leftover Roasted Chicken, thinly sliced
- 1-2oz. Extra Sharp Cheddar, thinly sliced
- Extra Ranch Dressing for dipping – if you are like me and LOVE ranch.
- Cook bacon in a skillet over medium heat until crispy. Transfer bacon to a papertowel lined plate (to drain excess grease) and drain off grease. If you do not have a panini press (join the club!), use this skillet to make the grilled cheese.
- Butter one side of each slice of bread.
- Take one slice of bread, butter side down and slather the other side of the bread with 1 tablespoon of ranch dressing (or a tad bit more if you like). Place half of the cheese on top of the ranch. Layer on chicken and bacon. Top with remaining cheddar cheese.
- Slather remaining slice of bread with remaining ranch dressing and place atop the cheese, ranch side down, butter side up.
- Place sandwich on panini press and cook until bread is golden brown and cheese is melty. If you do not have a panini press, do not fret. Place non-stick skillet over medium heat. Transfer sandwich to skillet and cook until bread becomes golden brown and the cheese begins to melt. Carefully flip sandwich and cook the other side of the sandwich until golden brown. You may need to place a heavy pan atop the sandwich when you are grilling it, to smash it down a bit – helps stick it all together. I used a square pyrex dish.
- Remove from skillet, slice in half, and enjoy immediately.
This is post #101. Not that you are counting. But I am. Well, WordPress counts for me…so I have watched the number steadily climb week by week. And still the number took me by surprise. Not surprised in that 101 comes after 100, which in turn comes after 99, but that the number came up so quickly. That I have written 100, almost 101 posts. Who knew I had so much to share or that I am still loving it as much today as that first week. Maybe more. No, most definitely more. I feel much more comfortable behind the camera, in the kitchen, and on paper. And by paper, I mean on the computer. From figuring out how to maneuver myself around the behind the scenes action of a blog to actually typing words on the screen…finding my voice, if you will – however silly that may sound, it is true. Actually making sense of my own thoughts and putting them down on paper. To have others relate to my entries. All of it, it has been great! And thus, I begin the journey to post #200….one at a time, lets not rush this. I am having too much fun!
What is on the docket for post 101?
It is winter and I am getting my fill of soup. Because, even though I sort of dread the cold and haven’t truly stopped shivering since Halloween, spring will be here before I know it. Winter will be gone and with it will go the comforting steamy hot bowls of soup. I can not eat soup beyond April…maybe May since I do live in Cleveland and it might still snow….Let’s not think about that. OK? OK.
Spicy Mexican Chicken Soup.
I have made this soup a million times over. Well, maybe just like ten times or so but, never have I made it the same twice. Mainly because I have never taken the time to write down the recipe, but also because there are so many different variations. You are lucky though, I have gotten into the habit of keeping pen and paper in the kitchen along side the cutting board and measuring spoons. Kinda like a kitchen diary….or is it journal since I am no longer 12?
I prefer my soup to be hearty and chunky. To have some body. To be a meal in a bowl. I don’t like thin brothy soups…maybe when I am sick, but not when I am healthy and happy. Stoup would be more accurate a term…Thank you Rachel Ray. I will however never say EVOO. Ever. But stoup, that I can get behind.
My stoup has tons of chicken – which you can decrease if you like, but I love lots of chicken in my chicken soup. There are beans and tomatoes and peppers and spices – all of which you can increase or decrease depending on your likes and dislikes. See why I have never made this soup the same twice? The variations are endless. So, tonight this is my version. Next time around the version may be tweaked a bit depending, well depending on my mood and what is in my pantry.
Mexican Chicken Soup
4 Split Chicken Breasts, bone-in with skin (about 4 cups total shredded meat; decrease if you prefer less chicken)
4 Tablespoons Olive Oil, divided
1 Jalapeno, seeds removed and finely diced
1 medium Onion, diced
3 Cloves Garlic, peeled and minced
1 Red Bell Pepper, seeded and diced
2+1/2 teaspoon Chili Powder
1/2 teaspoon Garlic Powder
1+1/2 teaspoon Cumin
1/2 teaspoon Oregeno
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 Can Diced Tomatoes - 28 ounces
1 Can Green Chilies – 4 ounces
1 Can Black Beans – 15 ounces, drained and rinsed
6 Cups Chicken Broth
4 Tablespoons Corn Meal
1/3 Cup Warm Water
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Line a cookie sheet with tinfoil and place chicken breasts, skin side up, on the sheet. Drizzle 2 Tablespoons olive oil over chicken and then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place in oven and bake/roast for 45 to 55 minutes or until the juices run clear or the internal temperature reaches 165°F. Remove from oven and let sit until cool enough to handle. Shred into bite size pieces. Set aside.
Warm remaining 2 Tablespoons of olive oil in large pan or dutch oven, and place over medium heat. Add diced onion, jalapeno, red bell pepper, garlic and begin to saute. Stirring occasionally. Once the vegetables begin to soften (about 5 minutes) add the chili powder, garlic powder, oregeno, cumin, and the salt and pepper (to taste – you can always add more at the end!) Cook for an additional 5 minutes. Stir in shredded chicken.
Add canned tomatoes (with juices), green chilies, black beans, and chicken broth. Stir to combine. Bring soup to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 45 minutes.
30 minutes into the simmering, mix together the corn meal and warm water. Let sit for the remaining 15 minutes. Once the 45 minutes is up, stir in the corn meal/water mixture and continue to simmer for 30 minutes. Give it a taste test here and adjust seasonings to your tastebuds.
Serve immediately with your favorite toppings.
I prefer sour cream (or plain Greek yogurt), sharp cheddar cheese, and fresh jalapenos. With a side of tortilla chips!
P.S. This holds up very well in the freezer!
p.s.s. If you do not have time to roast chicken breasts or just don’t want to, go ahead and use leftover chicken or a ready made rotisserie chicken from the grocery – those things are mighty handy!Read More
I made this, I ate this, and then I swooned.
Like, for real, swooned. I don’t know exactly what swooning entails, but if it includes sighing and muttering to oneself at how good something is…then, yes I definitely swooned. I don’t think there was any back of hand to forehead action, but that is a little too ‘Gone with the Wind, Scarlett O’Hara’ for me. ( Did you know in that movie, she doesn’t get the dude? I watched it for the first time just last week, and I am still unsettled by the fact that she lets Clark Gable go…seriously? Who let’s Clark Gable go? Oh Scarlett…)
I licked one bowl clean and went back for seconds. I would have had thirds but my inner-self started oinking, so I put the spoon down and walked away. Man is it good.
And just between you and me…I may or may not have stood at the refrigerator the next morning, while waiting for my coffee to brew, eating this by the spoonful…cold. Sigh. Yeah. That was me. I am sure it was a frightful sight. Sweatpants, shirt on backwards and inside out (it is right every other night), hair askew, slippers on…eating chili straight out of the fridge. You know it’s good when it can be enjoyed steaming hot or ice cold. It passed the test.
I beg of you to make this chili for your weekend shenanigans.
It will not disappoint. Promise.
Even the dudes in your life will love it. And if they don’t…more for you. But seriously, if they don’t go crazy for the creamy, thick, deliciousness that this chili is …then I think you need a new dude. Just sayin’.
White Chicken Chili
1 Rotisserie Chicken, deboned and shredded (the one where the grocery store does all the work and you take it home and devour it…yeah that kind of chicken)
1 Medium Onion, finely diced
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 Jalapeno, seeded and finely diced
3 Garlic Cloves, peeled and finely diced
2 (15 ounce can) Cannellini Beans, drained
1 (14.5 ounce can) Chicken Broth
2 (4 ounce can) Green Chillies
1 tsp Salt
1+1/2 tsp Ground Cumin
1 tsp Italian Seasoning
1/2 tsp Cayenne Pepper
1/2 Cup Half and Half
1 ( 7 ounce container) PLAIN Greek Yogurt ( I used Fage 2%)
Heat olive oil over medium-high heat and add diced onion and jalapeno. Cook until onion is translucent, stirring frequently ( about 7 to 10 minutes). Add garlic and continue to cook for 3 to 5 minutes. Adjust heat so garlic doesn’t burn.
Add chicken broth, cannellini beans, shredded chicken, green chilies, salt, cumin, Italian seasoning, and cayenne pepper. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Simmer for about 30 minutes.
Remove from heat and stir in half and half and Greek yogurt.
Top with sour cream/additional Greek yogurt and or grated cheddar cheese.
You know what’s scary? Hummingbirds.
Yeah, those little birds whose wings never stop beating and they beat at like a million miles a second.
That little thing scared the bejesus outta me. Alfred Hitchcock like.
I was sitting on my patio, minding my own business, and this hummingbird does a Topgun fly by, Maverick style. I literally felt the breeze from his wings as he darted by - it was a dude bird. Dude birds are reckless like that.
Did he not see me? An inch to the left and I would have had a bird implanted on my forehead! Ouch. I am not a fan of birds to begin with and this did not earn them any points in my book.
So I left my post on the patio, once the sight was clear, and made this here chicken salad. It was lunch time and I was procrastinating at getting to work in the kitchen, but I normally don’t need a bird attack to get me moving….
Birds…Never met a nice one.
OK, so this chicken salad is chunky, chock-full of moist and tender chicken, sweet fruit, and crunchy veggies. Oh and walnuts too! It might be easier to eat with a fork than between two slices of bread. Personally, I don’t care how you eat it, just that you do, ya know…eat it.
Side note…I roasted chicken breasts for this here recipe, but if you are short on time, go ahead and grab one of those handy-dandy rotisserie chickens from the market and shred that bad boy up…because guess what? When you buy chicken salad from the deli, guess what chicken they are using? Yep.
Lets whip up some salad.
Chicken, diced into nice bite sized pieces.
Broccoli…you will blanch this. I don’t like raw broccoli. Gross.
A bit of celery.
An apple, diced. My apple obsession of late is with Pink Lady apples. If Frenchie, from Grease, ate apples, I would think she would eat Pink Ladies. Its what I think of when I purchase them. John Travolta.
Walnuts … Pecans would be good here too, but did you know that they cost a gazillion dollars a pound? Thanksgiving is going to be pricey.
Don’t foget the dried cranberries. They add a nice sweet bite to the dish. However, the thought of Cape Cod makes me hungry for a lobster roll, not chicken salad. Sigh…
This wouldn’t be a salad without a creamy dressing. This bowl contains, mayo, Dijon mustard, apple juice, salt, pepper. Its good.
Buttery, flaky, savory croissants are a popular delivery system of chicken salad, but if you are like me, and love your skinny jeans, then a whole wheat pita is a great substitute.
Apple Walnut Chicken Salad
Serves: 4 to 6
2 Split Chicken Breasts, skin ON
2 Cups Broccoli Florets, bite sized
1 Apple, diced
1/2 Cup Celery (about 1 stalk), diced
1 Cup Walnuts, Chopped
1/2 Cup Dried Cranberries
Juice of 1 Lemon
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
2 tsp Salt, plus extra for blanching and dressing
Pepper to taste
1 Cup Mayo ( I used light)
1 Tbsp Dijon Mustard
2 Tbsp Apple Juice
Preheat oven to 350°F. Place chicken breasts on tinfoil lined baking sheet. Coat with olive oil and sprinkle with pepper and 1 tsp salt per split breast. Roast in oven for 35 to 40 minutes, or until done ( juices will run clear and internal temperature 165°F). Remove from oven and let rest until cool enough to handle. Remove skin and dice into bite sized chunks when ready.
While chicken is resting, blanch the broccoli. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and prepare an ice bath in a large bowl. Place broccoli in boiling water for one minute. Remove from water and place directly in ice bath. – this stops the cooking. Leave in water until cool. Drain.
In a small bowl, whisk together mayo, Dijon mustard, apple juice, and a pinch of salt and pepper.
In a large bowl, toss together chicken, celery, apple, lemon juice, cranberry, walnuts, and broccoli. Pour dressing over and toss. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, letting the flavors meld.
Disclaimer: I did not take the hummingbird picture…I was too busy taking cover.Read More