Chicken Salad

I have been experimenting with my chicken salad.  I have never been one for a salad with a TON of mayo, and in an effort to be healthy, I have been looking for ways to cut back on fat.

With that in mind, I have been trying to find a substitute for the mayo in my chicken salad.

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I started by replacing all of the mayo with fat free plain greek yogurt.  It wasn’t bad….but it wasn’t good either.  I ate it, but I can’t say I was looking forward to ever eating that again.  Sigh….I figured I would play with the ratio of mayo to yogurt and FINALLY came across the perfect combination – 2/3 yogurt to 1/3 mayo.   Low fat, delicious, and as an added bonus – extra protein from the yogurt.  Now I just need to eat it on greens and not in a roll….baby steps people, baby steps!

SNOW!

Sorry folks, the cold weather and snow is all my fault.   I took the hubby to church yesterday for a christening and BAM, three hours later, temperature plummet and snow falls from the sky, I guess you can officially say hell has frozen over!

Since the weather was down right frosty, I decided to make a batch of soup.  I have been craving a bowl of cream of whatever soup and I finally gave in today….Cream of Cauliflower to the rescue.

cream-of-cauliflower

Super duper simple.  I diced and sauteed three leeks in butter.  I seasoned it with salt and pepper before adding two heads of cauliflower and eight cups of broth.  I tossed in some fresh thyme and two bay leaves.  I brought it to a boil, turned it to a simmer and let it cook, covered for 30 minutes.  While the soup was cooking, I cut two other heads of cauliflower into small florets and steamed them.   After 30 minutes, I pureed the soup, added in the florets, two cups of shredded cheddar cheese, and two cups of heavy cream.  YUM!

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We had the soup for lunch along with sandwiches.  Not a bad way to spend a frigidly cold November day!

Butternut squash soup

I only used half the butternut squash in the risotto, the other half was peeled, cut, and sitting in my fridge.  I also had half a red onion, and one celery stalk hanging out in the crisper drawer.  I decided to make a small, quick batch of soup, since the nights have been a bit chilly this week.

I didn’t follow a recipe, I diced the onion and celery, peeled and diced a carrot.  I tossed them in a pot with a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper.  I let them sweat while I peeled and diced three small white potatoes.  I added the potatoes and butternut squash to the pot along with a splash of apple cider.

I added 4 cups of vegetable stock, a dash of curry power, a dash of paprika, and a dash of smoked paprika.  I brought the entire pot to a boil, turned it down to a simmer and let it cook until the vegetables were tender.   I pureed the contents of the pot, added a little more salt and pepper and served it with a simple grilled cheese sandwich.  I don’t think the hubby realized he ate, and actually LIKED, a vegetarian dinner, until he was done!

Last days of summer

I am doing my best to savor the last few days of summer.  To that end, I have been hitting up the farmers market almost daily for produce.

tomato-sandwich

There is nothing better, in this world, than a tomato sandwich made with fresh, vine ripened tomatoes.  All you need is some good bread, lightly toasted, with a smear of mayo and a bit of salt and pepper.   Best summer lunch…..EVER!

peppers

I also grabbed some peppers.  I diced them, tossed them with some onions, olive oil, salt and pepper and roasted them on the grill alongside a package of brats.

brats

Summer dinners are so easy and quick, plus if you have a grill, you can cook the entire meal outside and not heat up the kitchen. The sun is setting earlier and earlier each night, which doesn’t thrill me, summer is coming to a close, but I intend to enjoy every last second!

Brats and Peppers

I was kind of in the mood for sausage and pepper sandwiches, but I knew I didn’t have any in the freezer.  Thankfully, I had some brats, so I was able to thaw those and cook them instead.

brats

I had the hubby pick up some peppers and a bag of rolls from the store.   I took the easy way out and served him potato chips with his sandwich, which made him a very happy boy.  I was even able to use up the rest of the pizza sauce on his sandwich.  Nothing like cleaning out the fridge and freezer with one meal!

Sometimes easy wins out, but when it is easy and tasty, no one really cares…

Broccoli and Brats

We didn’t cook all of the brats that I had picked up from the butcher over July 4th weekend.  I had tossed them in the freezer, figuring they would make an easy weeknight dinner and boy was I right!

brats and broccoli

Brats, some sauteed onions and peppers and a side of steamed broccoli.  What more can you ask for?  The hubby put his on a roll, I prefer to keep things simple and just eat the meat with the veggies.  Since dinner wasn’t going to take but a minute to cook, I made my Mom’s chocolate cake recipe to have for dessert.  It is one of the hubby’s favorites.  A nice, moist, deep, dark chocolate cake covered in rich, decadent chocolate ganache.  It makes my mouth water just to type those words!

I swear the hubby must have eaten half the cake that night.   He is that big of a fan.  I had a small slice and promptly brushed my teeth to keep me from eating a bigger slice.   Don’t you just love a meal that is easy to put on the table and ends with chocolate?

Baby Shower

A dear friend of mine is due to have a lovely baby girl in August.   I was thrilled to be able to throw her a baby shower at my house on Saturday afternoon.   It wouldn’t be a party at my house if we didn’t have enough food to feed an army.  Since the event didn’t start until 2pm, I decided to make mini sandwiches, for those that hadn’t had lunch, snacks, for those that DID have lunch, and desserts, because seriously, everyone needs sugar to get through the opening of that many gifts!

buffet

I ordered three dozen dinner rolls from the local Italian bakery.  I used them to make mini sandwiches.  I  made a curried chicken salad with pistachio’s

A recipe I used to make at the restaurant where I worked as a line cook.  I started by poaching several boneless, skinless chicken breasts, and after they cooled, I diced the meat.  I added finely diced red onion, celery, and carrots before adding in a generous handful of pistachio nuts.  I toasted Penzey’s Hot Curry Powder in a dry saute pan to intensify the flavor then mixed that into some store bought mayo.  I would have made my own, but since my friend is pregnant, I didn’t want to risk it. I added the mayo to the meat and vegetables for a delicious chicken salad.

curry chx salad sammie

Next up, I made Caprese Sandwiches for the vegetarians in the group.  I sliced tomatoes and fresh mozzarella cheese.  I made a small batch of homemade pesto, which I spread on the roll, then topped it with the cheese and tomato. Easy peasy and so YUMMY!

The third sandwich was a simple smoked ham with swiss cheese and a spicy grainy mustard.  I was surprised, there wasn’t a clear favorite among the sandwiches!

For dessert, I made a pound cake with fresh sliced strawberries, a big batch of rice pudding, and chocolate crinkle cookies.  I know, a bit of a mish mosh, but I had very good reasons for each.  The rice pudding is one of Catherine’s favorites, the cookies are one of her mother’s favorites, and pound cake is one of my favorites….

rice pudding

Snacks were simple – a cheese display with marcona almonds, veggies with hummus, and chips with dip.

I swear I should have been a housewife from the 1950’s – I LOVE making (and drinking) punch.  I made two for the party.  A pink baby shower punch (cranberry juice, gingerale, and pink lemonade) and a whiskey lemonade punch.   The recipe for the whiskey lemonade punch called for a herb infused honey simple syrup.   I used thyme because I thought the earthy flavor would pair well with the whiskey and honey.   It was delicious and deceptively easy to drink.  All I had to do was infuse some water with lemon and we were all set.   I used my grandmother Irene’s punch bowl for the pink punch, I know she would have been thrilled!

punch

We all had a wonderful time.  Cat received some amazing gifts, and everyone walked away full.  I would say it was a total success!  The hubby was thrilled that we had some rice pudding left over for him to eat when he got home from entertaining the father to be.  A win/win situation if you ask me.  Now all we have to do is wait for their bundle of joy to grace us with her presence.