Larrupin

Uncommonly Good

Roast Chicken Salad with Feta

I roasted a chicken in the “cool” of the morning today and put this together for lunch.

Look yummy?

It was!

Chicken, avocado, tomato, feta, spinach, bacon and a few other odd and ends made up this healthy, tasty, warm summer salad. It was only warm because the chicken was less than an hour out of the oven, but it would be just as good if I’d pulled the chicken out of the fridge to build this.

Starting at the bottom of the bowl, here’s what’s in it.

  • 1 roast chicken thigh
  • 1/2 tomato, diced
  • 1/2 avocado, sliced
  • 1 sliced green onion
  • 1 handful torn spinach
  • 1–2 T Athenos Feta
  • 1 slice crispy bacon, crumbled
  • fresh cracked black pepper
Here’s the meat from one cooked chicken thigh.
Add about a half a tomato, diced, and half an avocado, sliced and fanned out.
Next add slices of a green onion and a handful of torn spinach.
Feta and crispy bacon make up the next layer.
Sweet and spicy vinaigrette.

I made the dressing in a recycled pimiento jar. It’s the small jar, the two ounce size I think.

Pour fruit vinegar into small jar with tight fitting lid. I used homemade Cranapple Cider Vinegar. (The red layer in the middle.)
Add an equal amount of olive oil. (Top layer.)
Next add about a teaspoon (or so) of honey mustard, and about a tablespoon of honey. (The botttom layer.)
1/2 teaspoon your favorite herb/s, finely ground.

Tightly cap the jar and shake well. I used about 1/2 of it on this salad. The other half will go on another salad in a couple of days.

July 22, 2010 Posted by | Brown Bag, Salad | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Roast Chicken Salad

Roast Chicken Salad

Roast Chicken Salad with Mandarin Oranges, Pecans, and Honey Mustard Dressng

This salad started out the same as the one I made yesterday, but it had a totally different taste. I added diced roast chicken, mandarin oranges, pecans and sliced almonds. I dressed it with store-bought honey mustard dressing.

I roast a chicken every few weeks, usually when I see them on sale at the grocery store. I get at least one fresh meal out of it and then I have leftovers of the main meal, chicken for salads or sandwiches, chicken broth, and I set aside all the unappetizing “chicken parts” for the dogs. They love it when I add those “parts” to their bowls.

Roasting a chicken is easy. Just wash it inside and out and put it in a roasting pan. I season mine with a variety of herbs. Tarragon has a distinctive flavor, at least to me, so I don’t usually mix it with other flavors. I have a personal herb blend I use on almost everything especially on chicken. I’ll pour about a half-inch of white wine in the bottom of the pan. Sometimes I’ll add  mushrooms, celery tops, onions and garlic. It goes, uncovered, in an oven preheated to 400° for about 10–15 minutes. When the skin is crispy and golden I’ll put a lid on the pan, or cover it with foil and leave it for another 45 minutes or so.

Roast Chicken Before

Fresh chicken seasoned with rosemary, tumeric, stuffed with mushrooms, celery, and lemons.

As soon as I get it in the oven, I’ll put rice in my rice steamer and turn it on. When the rice is done, the chicken usually is as well.

When the chicken is done, I take it out of the oven and let it sit for a few minutes while I get everything together for serving. Then I’ll take the chicken out of the pan and put it on a plate for carving. My favorite fresh hot piece of chicken is the leg quarter so I’ll pull that of and add it to the rice.  I may make a gravy out of the pan juices, but if not, I’ll simply spoon the pan juices over the rice and chicken. Garnish with some slivered almonds and chow down.

Roast Chicken After

Rosemary Lemon Roast Chicken

After I eat, and the chicken is cool I’ll debone it and put the whole breasts and any other meat in a container for future use. I may toss the bones, but if I have time I’ll put the bones back in the roasting pan, add some more water and put them on the stove top and cook them down to make broth.

After the bones cook an hour or so, remove from the heat and let it cool enough to handle. Remove the larger bones with tongs or a slotted spoon . (Don’t feed them to your dogs or cats. They can splinter and cause internal injuries when your pets eat them.) After you think you have all the bones out, pour the broth through a strainer and remove the smaller bones. You can also strain it though cheese cloth if you want to get the rest of the chunks that are floating around.

When the broth is strained, pour it into a tall container. I frequently use a tall plastic to-go cup I’ve saved. Put it in the fridge and the chicken fat will form a layer and harden on the top making it very easy to remove before you use the broth.

I’m in the mood for a BLT tomorrow for lunch. I think I also have an avocado I can add to it. We’ll see if I can’t get around early enough to pull it off.  I’m also looking for my little sandwich maker so I can make grilled sandwiches at the office. At home, my trusty iron skillets are so much easier, but I just realized that little sandwich maker is just the ticket. If I can just remember where I put it. 🙂

April 20, 2010 Posted by | Brown Bag, Salad | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Eighteen Ingredient Salad

I took a few days off work last week, so I was out of practice when it came to getting my lunch together this morning, but it was worth it when it came time to eat. I’ll do better tomorrow. I listed all the ingredients below since it’s so deep you can’t see everything that’s there.

Salad, Monday, April 19

Eighteen ingredients plus a deviled egg made this tasty Monday salad.

For me, salads taste better when there is a lot of color, a lot of texture, and a variety of flavors. I like something unexpected in amongst the greens, something that pops when I bite into it. There were two pops in this salad. Craisins, and grape tomatoes.

I also prefer salads that aren’t a lot of trouble to eat.  I want to be able to stab my fork into the pile and pull up a little of everything, which is why I make paper thin slices of carrot, radishes, zucchini, yellow squash and cucumbers.

I don’t want to have to use a knife to cut my lettuce so I tear all the leafy greens into bite sized pieces. Broccoli or cauliflower gets cut or broken into small bites.

I use grape tomatoes for several reasons. They don’t make the salad soggy like cut tomatoes do, and they are bite sized. Sometimes even cherry tomatoes can be a mouthful.

The plastic bowl I used came from Target. They make a pretty good Salmon Mango salad with poppy seed dressing that I’ve enjoyed a few times. I put the lettuces, and sliced veggies in the bowl, usually piled separately instead of tossed to keep from crushing the lettuce. A small block of feta cheese goes in too. I break it up as I eat the salad. Craisins and nuts go in separate small lidded containers and are tossed on when I’m ready to eat.

To make sure this lasts me all afternoon I make sure to add some protein. Today I piled on no-fat cottage cheese, and a deviled egg. Other, more filling options are well-drained tuna, salmon, baked or roast chicken, turkey, steak… and I’ll get into all that in another post.

Here’s my list of ingredients:

  • Romaine
  • Spinach
  • Butter Lettuce
  • Red Cabbage, thin sliced like for slaw
  • Broccoli, small florets (better blanched than raw)
  • Zucchini, paper thin slices
  • Yellow squash, paper thin slices
  • Green onion
  • Carrot, paper thin slices
  • Radish, paper thin slices
  • Grape Tomatoes
  • Feta Cheese
  • Craisins, in a separate container
  • Cottage Cheese, in a separate container
  • Sunflower Seeds, roasted, but not salted
  • Almond Slivers
  • Croutons, rustic, homemade
  • Deviled Egg: picked peppers with jalapenos also added a kick to the salad
  • Dressing: homemade, of course.

Tomorrow will be similar. I already have the lettuce in the bowl ready to go. I’ll try to remember mandarin oranges for tomorrow. I also have some baked chicken I want to add. If I go with the chicken and oranges I’ll probably use walnuts and almonds for garnish.

April 19, 2010 Posted by | Brown Bag, Salad | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Welcome to Brown Bagging

BLT Soup

Right after New Year’s Day, many morning news shows fill spare air time with variations on the theme, New Year’s Resolutions. In January Dr. Oz filled one of those slots on Good Morning America and listed the top ten things you can eat, or change about your eating habits, to be healthier this year. Number one on his list was  “avoid saturated fats.”

My weakness is salty, savory foods rather than sweets, and in particular I love French fries and potato chips. Going out to lunch, usually to a fast food joint, meant I was eating a lot of burgers and fries. My weight was also creeping up and add all that to the unexpected she-should-have-died heart attack my mom had two years ago and I decided it was time for me to make some changes.

Spinach Strawberry Salad

Spinach Strawberry Salad

I decided to start with Dr. Oz’s “avoid saturated fats,” primarily my favorites: French fries, greasy burgers and potato chips. But in order to do that, I needed to change my lunch routine without breaking the bank. The logical thing to do was to make my own lunch. So that’s what I’ve been doing for more than a month.

Every single day.

In one month I’ve saved about $160, and lost one pant size. W00t!

Since I started brown bagging, I’ve had lots of salads, some soups, and a few sandwiches. I’ve had some leftovers: spaghetti, roast chicken and rice, things like that. I’ve also stocked my desk with filling, good-for-me snacks.

Hungarian Mushroom Soup

Hungarian Mushroom Soup

While I’m doing this to eat healthier, I’m also broke. It’s much cheaper to buy at the grocery store than at a convenience store so I’m on a zero tolerance policy when it comes to “extra” spending.  I take coffee from home. I buy milk by the gallon and liters or half-gallons of juice and take it to work in recycled bottles. I make my own “iced” herb tea to have with lunch.

I have some to-go salad containers with good lids I saved from my fast-food days that work great for salads. I do the final salad assembly at my desk to keep them crisp and fresh. The same with sandwiches. I heat the soups in the microwave and take the garnishes in separate containers.

Mushroom Potato Soup

Mushroom Potato Soup

I have another blog, Larrupin, with details and recipes—some good for brown bags, some not so much—but this one will be more how-to. I’ll share the plans and lists and how I go about doing this every day. I’ll also show you the bowls, containers, bottles and bags I use to get it there every day. That part is still a work in progress.

So far I’ve been eating at my desk, which is not much of a break. But now that I’ve established the habit of taking my lunch and the weather is improving, I’ll take it to the park, just three blocks from my office, or eat at my desk and then take a walk.

What do you usually do for lunch? Where do you go to eat and how much do you spend? Do you eat healthy, or scarf down a fast lunch of burgers and fries? And if you’re a fan of brown bags let me know how you do it and what your favorites are. And while you’re at it, click the box to get email updates when I create a new post. I’m looking forward to hearing from you.

Jan

April 18, 2010 Posted by | Brown Bag, Soup | , , , | 2 Comments

BLT—and then some—Soup

This isn’t your old-fashioned Campbell’s lunchtime  soup.

Although as a kid I loved my Campbell’s Tomato Soup filled with an equal part of crumbled saltines.

Craving a BLT, I pulled a Ziploc bag of homemade tomato soup from the freezer.
The frozen slab of soup went into the microwave on defrost and while I spread a few slices of bacon in a hot skillet.
When the soup defrosted enough to break into pieces, I put it in a 4 quart glass measuring cup to finish. The bacon cooked until crispy and I pulled the other ingredients together:

  • 8–10 small leaves of baby spinach
  • 6–8 leaves of cilantro
  • Sliced almonds
  • Parmesan and Romano cheeses
  • Janz seasoned croutons
  • Pepper mill filled with black pepper

 

Bacon, Spinach, Tomato Soup

Tomato Soup garnished with baby spinach, cilantro and crispy crumbled bacon.

When the soup was hot I poured it into a shallow soup bowl and garnished it as follows:

  1. Make a rosette of baby spinach leaves in the center of the bowl
  2. Add a few cilantro leaves
  3. Crumbled crispy bacon on top of the spinach

 

BLT Soup And Then Some

Tomato Soup layered with spinach, cilantro, bacon, almonds, cheeses, and a great big crusty crouton.

Continue garnishing with sliced almonds, grated cheeses and crunchy croutons. Don’t forget to add a generous grind of black pepper.

Larrupin!

March 8, 2010 Posted by | Soup | , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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