A Bit of Salad

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I often keep a can of tuna and chicken on hand for easy dinner or lunches for when I don’t have the energy, or my meal from the night before did not stretch as far. This was a quick and fresh salad that can be changed to include any vegetables you have on hand. I kept it simple with my lone cucumber, though tomatoes, shredded carrots, shredded cabbage or squash would be a great addition for color and flavor. I find that variety keeps salads interesting. Instead of traditional lettuce, I went for the spicer green, arugula which is often mixed into salad greens. You can also use any kind of dressing for the greens, but I simply dressed mine with lime juice, salt and pepper. Chicken salad is another thing that can be made a million ways. This is one way I like to dress it up when I’m in the mood. Below are the ingredients and directions. Enjoy!

Chicken and Arugula Salad

Chicken and pecan salad ingredients:
1 can of chicken (12-14 oz)
1/4 cup softened cream cheese
1/8 cup chopped celery
1 tbsp. diced shallot
1 tbsp. green onion
1 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tsp. coarse black pepper
1 tbsp. creole mustard
1 tbsp. mayo
1 tbsp. chopped pecans for garnish

Salad ingredients:
2 cups of washed arugula
1/2 cup chopped cucumber
1/2 cup of chicken salad above
Juice from 1/2 lime (approx. 1 tbsp.)
Pinch of sea salt and pepper

Directions:
1. Take cream cheese out of the fridge and lets it to become room temperature. If using a block, cut off a fourth.
2. Wash one stalk of celery until cool water. Slice into three strips and dice in small 1/4 inch pieces.
3. Cut ends off of a small shallot. Cut it in half and then peel one half. Cut into thin strips and mince into small pieces.
4. Chop a stem of green onion into small pieces.
5. Open a can of chicken and strain before putting into a medium bowl. Add celery, shallots and onion, seasoning, cream cheese, mayo and mustard. Mid until well combined.
6. Wash arugula and dry between two paper towels before adding to a bowl. Squeeze on lime juice and the pinch of salt and pepper and toss lightly before adding to a plate.
7. Peel and chop one third of a cucumber. Cut in half, then cut each half into three strips before dicing.
8. Add cucumber and 1/2 cup of chicken salad to the arugula and top with pecans.
9. Enjoy.

A Bit Of The Freezer Section

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Though I am a huge supporter of eating local, there are nights where my dinner comes straight from the store. There’s nothing wrong with a helping hand from all of the geniuses who figured out how to portion, package and freeze meals to make a day or more in our week easier. The great thing is you can always make it healthier. While browsing in Trader Joe’s they had samples of their Mandarin Orange Chicken and I decided it would be the star of a meal this week.

Don’t be alarmed by the 550 mg of sodium per serving. While it sounds like a lot, there’s more than twice a much sodium in a teaspoon of salt. But given the chicken is intended to be crispy, I decided an alternative for rice was in order as well as a salad.

I’ve been hearing and reading a lot about riced cauliflower as a substitute for rice. I will make no claims that my palate was fooled when I took the first bite, but seasoned well and with the crunch from the chicken, it made a complete meal. Keeping with the theme, I added a fresh cucumber salad with sesame seeds that took all of 5 minutes to make.

This was something new for me and I hope you will give it a try too. If you have other thoughts on how to prepare the riced cauliflower, I am all ears! I’m planning to try roasting it next. Enjoy!

Mandarin Orange Chicken with Riced Cauliflower

Ingredients:
One bag of Mandarin orange chicken (Trader Joes)
1/2 bag of riced cauliflower (8oz)
1 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. coarse black pepper
1/2 tbsp. olive oil
1/8 cup of water
2 tbsp. chopped green onion
Cucumber salad with sesame seeds Ingredients:
1/3 of a large cucumber
1 tsp. sugar
2 tbsp. rice wine vinegar
1/2 tsp. sesame seeds
Pinch salt and coarse black pepper

Directions:
1. Preheat oven and follow cooking instructions on the package. Set the timer.
2. Cut off a third of the cucumber. Peel it and cut it in half.
3. Seeded side down, slice one half in half horizontally, meaning you should have two pieces stacked on top of each other. Then slice longwise thinly. Repeat with second half.
4. Mix vinegar and sugar in a small bowl and mix with a fork or whisk until sugar is dissolved. Add cucumber and seasoning, mix with a fork, cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
5. With 5 minutes remaining on the chicken, place a small pot over medium heat.
6. After heated for 1 minute, add riced cauliflower and olive oil and toast for one minute.
7. Add seasonings, green onion and water. Stir and top for 3-5 minutes.
8. Toss chicken in sauce and turn off riced cauliflower.
9. Plate “rice” in the center of the plate, chicken around it and cucumber on top. Sprinkle on sesame seeds.
10. Enjoy.

A Bit Of Zucchini

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Though I don’t typically do this, I felt the need to continue what I started. Just as I hinted in Sunday’s post, I took the recommendation from a woman at my food demo who mentioned cooking zucchini like I crab cake. Instead I cooked it like I would a potato cake. I also seared white fish and topped it with more of the cucumber melon relish, or salsa as some have called it. It was delicious and easy to make.

I enjoyed the zucchini and onion cake so much, I made a second batch on Tuesday and included boiled shrimp. If you add four to five peeled boiled shrimp after you’ve followed step four in the recipe below, that’s another way to try this meal or have it different ways during the week. I certainly hope you find it as enjoyable as I did.
Crispy zucchini and onion cake
Makes 2 cakes

1 1/2 cup shredded zucchini
1/4 cup chopped green onion
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp coarse black pepper
1 small egg
1/2 tbsp butter
Directions:
1. Wash and cut the ends off of one medium-sized zucchini.
2. Using a box grater, grate zucchini into a measuring cup until you have one cup.
3. Add seasonings and egg and mix either by hand or with a spoon until well incorporated.
4. Melt butter over medium heat in a non-stick skillet and once hot add the mixture into two pancake like circles evenly.
5. Let cook for 3 minutes and check to see if brown before flipping and cooking the same amount of time on the other side.
6. Turn off heat, plate and enjoy.

A Bit Of Melons

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It’s been a while since my last post. With the aftermath of the flooding in Baton Rouge, I was glad to put efforts to other use to help neighbors, friends and strangers through recovery.

While it will take a while to form a new normal, it felt great to support BREADA through the Saturday Red Stick Farmers Market food demos and do something I love.
Though I originally intended to make a crispy onion potato cake with a cucumber melon relish, some of the ingredients were not available. So as usual, I improvised and created something even better. I love eating what’s in season and the flexibility and creativity that goes along with it. Someone from the audience also gave me a great idea that I’ll try out this week with some of the remaining zucchini. I may do a second post with a crispy zucchini and onion cake with some seared fish that I’ll top with some the relish receive below. Both the slaw and relish are quick to make and can go easily with grilled or fried fish or chicken, make an easy addition to a salad or be added to a lunch wrap. Share your thoughts and feedback!

Cucumber Melon Relish
Serving Size: 4

1/2 cup of diced Asian melon
1/2 cup of diced cantaloupe
1/2 cup diced cucumber
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp. minced shallots
1 tbsp. seeded and diced jalapeño
1 tbsp. minced mint
1 tbsp. coarse black pepper
Summer Squash Slaw
Serving Size: 4

1 cup shredded zucchini
1 cup shredded squash
1/4 cup thinly sliced bell pepper
1 tbsp. minced green onion
1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar
1.5 tbsp. honey
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. coarse black pepper
Directions for Relish:
1. Wash melon skin thoroughly under cool running water.
2. Pick a melon and cut off the ends of each to stabilize the melon, then peel off thin strips in smooth vertical pieces. Repeat with the second melon.
3. Wash and cut cucumber in half before peeling using the process in step two.
4. Cut melons and cucumber in four pieces curving around the seeded centers. Cut one fourth of each melon in thin strips and then dice it in small pieces. Repeat with the cucumber and place all in a medium bowl.
5. Rinse and mince the mint and add it to the bowl.
6. Cut a shallot in half and peel it. Dice it and mince it by running the knife over the pieces. Add to bowl.
7. Cut a small jalapeño in half and remove the seeds and ribs. Cut into thin strips before dicing it into small pieces and adding it to the bowl.
8. Add vinegar and pepper, stir well, cover and refrigerate.
9. Let chill and serve with the protein of your choice.

Directions for Slaw:
1. Add vinegar and honey to a bowl and whisk until well blended.
2. Rinse green onion and cut dice white ends into fine pieces. Add to bowl.
3. Rinse squash and zucchini and cut off both ends before grating it into the bowl.
4. Rinse a small bell pepper and cut in half to remove seeds and ribs. Slice into thin strips and add to bowl.
5. Mix well with a spoon and refrigerate until ready to use.