Monday, December 31, 2012

Day 97 - Shrimp, Veggies, and Fruit

Shrimp, broccoli, apple slices, grapes, and poppy seed dressing.

Last lunch of 2012!  Let's make it a healthy one!

Today I'm benefitting from leftover shrimp, sauteed with olive oil, worcestershire, lemon juice, and a little salt.  It's delicious this way hot or cold, so last night I had it hot with some broccoli and a baked potato, today I'm having it with cold veggies and fruit!  I threw in raw broccoli, apples, and grapes with a little poppyseed dressing on the side - one of the few dips that I think tastes good on everything. 

This year has been a busy one for me, and next year promises to be a whirlwind.  I am grateful that my life is moving in a steadily positive and upward direction, and I hope the same for you.

And be careful tonight - people are crazy!  Don't mess with the crazies, or worse, be one of them yourself!  :)  Just pack yourself a healthy lunch, think happy thoughts, and hold on tight! Pin It Now!

Friday, December 28, 2012

Day 96 - Chicken with Lemon Caper Sauce

Lemon Caper Chicken, Ditalini pasta, broccoli, clementine

Ok, friends, you're going to want to use this recipe.  Leftovers from last night are ridiculously good - we've got pan fried chicken with a lemon caper sauce, ditalini pasta, broccoli, and a clementine.

Yes, the only produce I have in my fridge right now are clementines and broccoli.  I'm ok with it.

Anyway, I'm giving you the recipe for the lemon caper sauce.  It's beyond good...I could just eat it over bread.  But I won't, because I hear that's bad for you.

Chicken Lemon Caper Sauce.

Cooked chicken drippings
2/3 cup chicken stock
1/3 cup white wine
3 T capers
2 T butter
2 teaspoons flour
juice of 1/2 lemon

Cook chicken in pan however you desire (I lightly breaded and pan fried it in olive oil).  Remove chicken and keep warm.  Pour in stock, wine, butter, lemon juice, and flour to pan.  Heat on high, scraping up brown bits form the pan as you cook.  Bring to a boil for 1 minute and reduce heat to low.  Stir in capers and blend until smooth and heated through.  Drizzle over chicken and pasta of choice.

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Thursday, December 27, 2012

Day 95 - Leftover Pasta

Leftover pasta, clementine, and broccoli

Too tired to cook last night, so we went out for pasta!  As always I received way more than I could actually eat, so I had the leftovers for lunch today.  Saffron fettuccine, crab meat, and tomatoes in a white wine broth.  I added a clementine and some broccoli to round out the lunch, and there you have it!

Can you tell that the closer we get to the end of the year, the less motivated I am to cook?  Hopefully I'll get a second wind, but for right now, tired blogger is tired.

Yep, that's me.
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Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Day 94 - Christmas Dinner with Asparagus Casserole

Just a picture of the family's Christmas Dinner, about to be served from my grandparents' stove!  Turkey, dressing, sweet potatoes, asparagus casserole, and rolls.  Gravy and dressing on the table.

Today I'm going to share with you my favorite family holiday recipe:  Asparagus Casserole.  Now, this casserole incorporates two horrible things:

1.) Canned asparagus
2.) Green vegetables on a holiday.

I know, I know, unforgiveable sins.  But I promise, you cover the asparagus with cheese and crackers and you can barely tell it's a vegetable!  We discovered this dish years ago, and we've made it ever since.  Super simple, and deceptively delicious.

This makes enough for about 6 people - I highly recommend making more if you have more people - this stuff goes fast!

 Asparagus Casserole

Asparagus Casserole

1 can asparagus
1  sleeve Ritz Crackers, crushed
2 hard boiled eggs, sliced
1 cup whole milk
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 T butter
1 T flour
S&P to taste

First, make a Mornay Sauce:  In a non-stick  pot or double boiler, melt 1 T butter.  Whisk in flour until just blended; do not let this mixture burn or brown.  Slowly pour in milk and heat over low heat until thickened.  Now, slowly stir in the cheddar cheese until cheese is melted and well incorporated into the sauce. Add salt and pepper as desired and keep over low heat.

In an 8x8 casserole dish (mine, pictured, is rectangular but contains the same amount),  sprinkle a handful of crackers; this will keep the casserole from sticking.  Next, layer on half of the asparagus.  Top the asparagus with one egg (sliced) and about 1/3 of the Mornay sauce.  Layer on half of the remaining crackers, the other half of the asparagus, the other egg, and the rest of the sauce.  Arrange remaining crackers on top of casserole.  Cover and cook at 350F for about 15 minutes, or until heated through.

Layer 1

Layer 2

Layer 3

Layer 4

Completed Casserole

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Monday, December 24, 2012

Day 93 - Christmas Eve Chili

Alright, friends.  Today and tomorrow are both going to be "cheating" days here in blogland.  I'm back at my parents' house for the holidays, so I'll be sharing some Christmas favorites!   Christmas Eve in my family tends to be Fiesta day in terms of cuisine...we don't have any set tradition for food today, but we very often have Mexican or South American food.  Just something to contrast with the turkey and dressing on Christmas day.

So, today I share with you my family's favorite chili recipe.  I made it this afternoon and let it simmer all afternoon.  Since there weren't any small children at home this Christmas, we just kicked back with some warm chili and maybe a cold beer.  Or two.  Maybe...

Anyway, this chili is a semi-traditional beef and three bean.  Not too spicy, so if you like some heat I'd add some hot peppers!  You can also add an additional pound of beef if you've got a big crowd or just serious meat eaters.

Beef and Three Bean Chili

2 T olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1  lb ground sirloin
3 T chili powder
1 T sugar
1 T fresh parsley
2 t cumin
1 t paprika
1 t minced garlic
1 t salt
dash cayenne pepper
3 cans tomato sauce
1 c. beer, any kind (or water or broth)
1 can kidney beans, undrained
1 can red beans, undrained
1 can black beans, undrained

Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat.  Add onion and bell pepper, stirring until softened, about 5 - 10 minutes.   Add in ground beef and brown thoroughly; drain grease.  Sprinkle beef mixture with all spices and continue to cook for a few minutes.  Slowly add in tomato sauce, beer, and beans; stir well.  Let simmer on the stove on low heat for about an hour, stirring occasionally.  Serve hot with tortilla chips, cheese, sour cream, or any other delicious toppings!
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Thursday, December 20, 2012

Day 92 - Leftover Subway

Leftover Subway sandwich, sunchips, and a pear.

Today's lunch is brought to you by...more coupons!  Had a coupon for buy one 6 inch sub at Subway, get another 6 inch sub for free!  So, I had Subway last night and today!  I added today some of my leftover sunchips and a pear.   A tiny pear, whose name I can't remember, but it was tiny and cute so I bought it.  Yummmm leftovers! Pin It Now!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Day 91 - Quesadillas!

Quesadilla with sour cream and lettuce.

We're continuing our clean out the pantry and eat cheap before Christmas lunches!  Last night was taco night at home, so today became quesadilla lunch!  In college, we always had chicken tender Tuesday and quesadilla Thursdays, so cheap and quick cheese quesadillas are always a nostalgic comfort food for me.

I always have tortillas on hand, and usually some kind of cheese, so quesadillas are often a go-to quick meal for me.  Today, I had some leftover refried beans and some mexican blend cheese.  I spread those out between two tortillas like a big sandwich and grilled them with a little smart balance in my cast iron skillet.  I added leftover sour cream and shredded lettuce on the side.  I microwaved the quesadilla just a little for lunch, but it would be pretty good cold, as well.

I ended up snacking on office Christmas cookies in the afternoon, so you might want to pack some healthy snacks if you're going to bring this one to work! Pin It Now!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Days 89 & 90 - Two Ingredients, Two Ways

Bagged Salad and Frozen Chicken Tenders, two ways.

'Twas the week before Christmas, and all through the kitchen
Not a lunch meal was left!  Not even a smidgeon!
The stockings were hung by the chimney with charm,
Which had cost our dear blogger a leg and an arm.
"One week 'til Christmas!" she cried and lamented.
"What's in my fridge that isn't fermented?
I must make a list for groceries and buy it
But be sure that I don't decimate my own diet!"
When what would her wondering eyes drop on
But some frozen chicken and a salad coupon!

Ok, enough of that.  In short, I've got to make myself some lunches this week, but my budget is busted and I want to clear out my fridge before leaving town anyway.  So, what do I do?  Go spelunking in the freezer and get creative!

I had some frozen chicken fingers in the back of the freezer, and a coupon for a bagged salad.  I picked up a "Fiesta" themed salad, with "zesty ranch" (read: re-branded thousand island), tortilla strips, cheese, and romaine. I divided the salad between the containers and cooked up four chicken tenders.  I let the chicken cool completely so the skins stayed crispy.  I put two whole chicken tenders next to one salad, and cut up the remaining two and topped the other salad. 

Now, are these two lunches all that different?  No, they're basically the same.  But they're different enough to make me think I'm getting variety, and the total cost out of pocket this week was $1 per lunch.  That's my kinda price.

For the record, we had oranges in the office and I grabbed a couple of slices of tomato from the salad bar at work to round out the healthy factor.  Pin It Now!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Day 88 - Slow Cooker Chicken with Tarragon and Leeks

Chicken Thighs with Tarragon and Leeks

I had a day off today, so for lunch I tried a new slow cooker recipe: Chicken Thighs with Tarragon and Leeks.  It was easy, hearty, and not terribly unhealthy.  It also involved just a little heavy cream, which I think makes everything taste better!  The only thing I changed was that I used peeled Yukon gold potatoes instead of whole potatoes. 

I wanted a little more flavor than this recipe provided, so you might want to experiment with some garlic or spices.  It's from Real Simple, so you know it's at worst a good basic.  I'd recommend it, but I'd also recommend amping up the flavor a little. Pin It Now!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Day 87 - Green Salad with Pimento Cheese

Green salad with dressing, pimento cheese spread, pretzel crisps.

More pimento cheese today!  I had it as a dip or spread today with pretzel crisps and a nice green salad.  Salad had romaine, celery, radishes, tomatoes, ramen noodles, and  an apple cider vinaigrette.  

Nothing particularly interesting to report.  Just a salad and leftovers.  But nothing wrong with that. :)

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Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Day 86 - Pimento Cheese Sandwiches

Pimento Cheese sandwiches, pretzel crisps, grapes, celery.
Ok, so I got a little more cooking motivation last night...but not much.  So I made some delicious pimento cheese, just like God and grandmamma intended...except, I'm pretty sure my grandmother would balk at my pimento cheese ingredients.

Pimento cheese is a staple in traditional southern cooking, but I like to kick mine up a notch with some cream cheese and chilies.  It's good, trust me.  So for lunch today I had some pimento cheese spread on thin white toast, pretzel crisps, grapes, and celery sticks. And then tonight, I'll probably have some on crackers...because this stuff does NOT last long at my house!

Pimento Cheese Spread

8oz. sharp cheddar, freshly grated
2oz. goat cheese
7oz. jar pimento, drained
4oz. canned green chili, drained
heaping tablespoon cream cheese
heaping tablespoon mayo
pinch black pepper
pinch garlic salt

Be sure to use freshly grated cheese for this recipe; pre-shredded just won't have the right flavor or texture.  Cream all ingredients together in a small bowl with a fork.  If too "chunky," add more cream cheese or mayo.  Chill for at least 1 hour before serving. Pin It Now!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Day 85 - Borrowing from Whole Foods

Whole Foods roasted chicken, sesame noodles, edamame, and clementine wedges.

Who didn't have energy to cook last night?  This girl!  So, I just went and got this from Whole Foods.  I don't  usually shop there, but their hot bar and salad bar are to die for...and if you go before 5:30, it's a dollar off!

I got some roasted chicken, sesame noodles, edamame, and clementine wedges. All for about $6, and super quick.  And that, ladies and gentlemen, is all I even asked out of lunch for today! Pin It Now!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Day 84 - Slow Cooker Beef Tips

Beef tips over egg noodles, green peas, clementine.

 Remember how healthy I was yesterday?  Well, I made up for it today.

These slow cooker beef tips will melt in your mouth, and they couldn't be easier.  Serve them over pasta or rice, with something green and light on the side.  Today's leftovers for lunch were over wheat egg noodles with green peas and a clementine.

Yes, I love canned peas with an unholy passion.  Just go with it.

Slow Cooker Beef Tips

2 lb chopped beef (stew meat quality)
1 can Campbell's Golden Mushroom Soup

Place beef in a 2 quart crock pot.  Top with soup and stir gently.  Cook on low for 10-12 hours.  Serve hot, and enjoy! Pin It Now!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Day 83 - Lunchtime Crudite

Snow Peas, Red Bell Pepper, Laughing Cow Cheese, Triscuits, Peach Halves

Crudites are a French appetizer that mostly consists of chopped raw vegetables - like carrots, bell pepper, etc. - with some sort of vinaigrette or cream dipping sauce.  Calling this lunch a crudite plate is a stretch, but we're going to go with it.  I just needed some good veggies in my system, so I had some raw snow peas and red bell pepper with some light Laughing Cow cheese, some triscuits, and some canned peach halves.  I was very hungry by dinner, but had lots of good energy during the day. Pin It Now!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Day 82 - Pretzel Crisps

Frozen Pizza, Clementine, Pretzel Crisps

Alright, regular leftover lunch today.  Leftover California Pizza Kitchen frozen pizza, a clementine, and pretzel crisps.  I'd totally send this to school with a third grader...and I enjoyed the heck out of it myself.

If you've never tried Pretzel Crisps, you need to go get a bag.  Now.  Unless of course you have a Publix close to you, in which case you should wait until the crisps go half off as they do so regularly.  Anyway, pretzel crisps will totally change your hummus and pimento cheese experiences.  Just trust me.  You're mouth will thank me later. Pin It Now!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Day 81 - Peanut Stir Fry

Peanut Stir Fry with Jasmine Rice.

Had dinner with the boyfriend last night, and he made peanut stir fry.  Even better, he made enough so that I had leftovers for lunch!  Doesn't make a pretty picture, but it's so good.  It included chicken, red bell pepper, snow peas, and broccoli with a spicy peanut sauce over jasmine rice.  He used Bangkok Panang Peanut Sauce, which is one of my favorites.

In short, I recommend the sauce.  Almost as much as I recommend having someone  else cook for you! Pin It Now!