Green Chicken Ciabatta Sandwich

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I call this a GREEN chicken sandwich because all the other ingredients besides the chicken are green in color: avocado, green onion, cucumber, and spinach.

I made this sandwich for a light lunch with friends.  It was a little fancier than deli meat and cheese, but not too difficult for a quick lunch.  It’s also great as a make ahead.

 

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Start with two cans of chicken breast.

 

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Mix in mayo, mustard, juice from half a lemon and salt and pepper.

 

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Add in half an avocado, diced up in the skin.  You can then easily scoop this out with a spoon into the bowl.

 

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Dice two green onions for a little kick.

 

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Peel and dice up half a cucumber for crunch.

 

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If you want a carb-free option, this would be great in a leaf of romaine lettuce too!

 

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Toast and slice the ciabatta and lay down a bed of baby spinach.

 

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Spoon on some of the chicken salad and enjoy an easy but fancy chicken salad sandwich.

 

Green Chicken Ciabatta Sandwich

2 (13 oz) cans chicken breast

2 Tbsp mayonnaise

1 Tbsp Dijon mustard

½ tsp salt

¼ tsp cracked pepper

Juice of half a lemon

Half an avocado, diced

2 green onions, diced

Half a cucumber, diced

1 cup spinach

 

Drain the chicken and place into a medium sized bowl.  Mix in all the remaining ingredients except for the spinach.  Toast and slice the ciabatta bun and layer pieces of spinach on one side.  Top with chicken mixture and the other slice of bun.  Slice on the diagonal.  Make 4 sandwiches.

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2-in-1 Lasagna and Eggplant Parmigiana

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This meal was partly born out of the beautiful eggplant that I bought from a local vegetable farm. Knowing that my children would never go near the eggplant, I had the idea to make a portion of the dish into a traditional lasagna.  It was a perfect pairing because I used the exact same filling ingredients for both sides of this combo dish.

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I just love the color of eggplant, don’t you?  Did you know the color and vegetable is technically called aubergine?  I just love saying that word.  Try it with me…….”oh-ber-zheen.”

eggplantlasagna02Get it all sliced up into about 1/4 inch slices.

eggplantlasagna03I then put it through a 3-step breading process.  Flour first, then egg wash and lastly, Italian breadcrumbs.

eggplantlasagna04Here is my favorite kitchen helper.  My daughter has to stand on a stool to make it all work.  Love it!

eggplantlasagna07My favorite part of the eggplant parmigiana is that I bake it, not fry it with oil.  I feel like I taste the flavor of the eggplant more and without all the fat and calories of the oil.

eggplantlasagna08Make a slit down each Italian sausage and remove it from the casing.

eggplantlasagna09I then crumble it into a pan and brown it until cooked through.

eggplantlasagna10I used a whole bag of fresh spinach.  It looks like a lot, but it will wilt and shrink before your eyes.

eggplantlasagna11Here it is cooking in hot water……

eggplantlasagna12Here is the spinach after cooking.  It’s amazing how it cooks down like that.

eggplantlasagna13While you let your spinach cool enough to touch, boil up your lasagna noodles.

eggplantlasagna14This is really the amount of spinach that came out of that whole colander.  I don’t know why, but it surprises me every time!!  Still!

eggplantlasagna15Give it a good chop.

If you don’t want to go through the trouble of using fresh spinach, feel free to use a package of frozen spinach.  It works just as well.

eggplantlasagna16Add it to the ricotta, egg, and spices.

eggplantlasagna18Get it all mixed thoroughly.

eggplantlasagna17Here’s the lovely browned eggplant, out of the oven.

eggplantlasagna19Put down a layer of your favorite pasta sauce.

eggplantlasagna20Here’s my assembly line, all set up and ready to put together.

eggplantlasagna21I used the largest glass pan I own.  You can tell about 1/3 was eggplant and 2/3 was pasta.

eggplantlasagna22It’s easiest to spread the ricotta mixture first, then the sausage, then mozzarella and sauce on last.

eggplantlasagna23Continue with the layers until you’re all done.  The top layer has more sauce and cheese.

eggplantlasagna24Bake it until your kitchen smells like your Italian grandmother’s house.  If you don’t have an Italian grandmother, just pretend.  That’s what I did!

eggplantlasagna25Here’s a side shot of the eggplant……I mean aubergine parmigiana!! Delectable, I promise.

Warning: If you eat this right away, make sure you blow on it for a bit or you’re likely to burn the roof of your mouth.  I speak from personal experience.  But, it was kinda worth it!

2-in-1 Lasagna and Eggplant Parmigiana

1 medium size eggplant, ¼ inch slices

12 lasagna noodles, cooked al dente

3 cups Italian bread crumbs

4 eggs

2 tablespoons water

2 cups flour

5 links sweet Italian sausage, crumbled and cooked

1 bunch spinach, blanched chopped

16 oz ricotta cheese

½ cup parmesan cheese

Pinch nutmeg

2 cups mozzarella cheese

1 jar pasta sauce

½ tsp salt

¼ tsp pepper

After your eggplant is sliced, cover each piece first in flour, then 2 eggs that have been scrambled with water and lastly the bread crumbs.  Lay each slice of eggplant on a baking sheet and bake at 350 for 20 minutes or until golden brown.  Set aside.

For your lasagna filling, combine the ricotta cheese, the other 2 eggs, spinach, parmesan, nutmeg, salt and pepper.  Set aside.

To assemble this dish, use an 11×14 inch pan or your largest baking dish.  Start by pouring enough pasta sauce to cover the bottom of the dish.  Lay noodles down on one side and the baked eggplant on the other.  Spread on a layer of ricotta mixture, then sausage and mozzarella cheese.  Lightly spoon on and spread enough pasta sauce to cover each layer.  Continue each layer until you run out of ingredients.  For me this was 4 layers of pasta/eggplant and 3 layers of cheese/sausage.

The top layer is pasta and mozzarella cheese only.  Bake this at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, until cheese is bubbly and golden brown.

Turkey Lettuce Cups

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These lettuce cups are an explosion of flavor and texture.  You get an amazing crunch from the lettuce and water chestnuts and then the sweet and spicy from the sauces.  It’s also a beautiful looking dish, with splashes of color from the green onions and red peppers.

 

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Start by browning the ground turkey with some garlic.

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Have all your other filling ingredients chopped and ready to go.  Here I have cremini mushrooms, red bell pepper, green onion and water chestnuts.  Chop them all finely and set aside.

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Add everything in except the green onions and saute until softened.

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Shaohsing cooking wine is a staple in a Chinese pantry.  But if you’re not Chinese, or just don’t have any, you can substitute with sherry wine.

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Hoisin sauce is another common flavoring item in Chinese cooking.  It is sort of like a sweet bbq sauce, but deeper in flavor.  This is very common in grocery stores now, so I’m sure you can find it in the Asian aisle at the store.

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If you don’t know what Sriracha sauce is, it’s a very tasty and spicy chili sauce.  This can also be found easily at your local grocery store, probably close to the hoisin.

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After adding in all the sauces, throw in the green onions.  I put the onions in last because I don’t want them to wilt down and lose its color or texture.  Add in the Chinese five spice, salt and white pepper to taste.

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Here is the beautifully cooked turkey filling, ready to plopped on top of a leaf of iceberg lettuce.

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Iceberg lettuce is really the best type to use for this dish.  It is firm and holds its shape well.  It also has the best crunch and is conveniently shaped like a bowl.  This is an ideal dish for  a low carb diet, but tasty enough that you won’t miss the carb at all!!

 

Turkey Lettuce Cups

Yield:  10 servings

1 ½ pounds ground turkey

2 cups fresh cremini mushrooms, diced

2 tablespoons canola oil

3 cloves garlic, diced

1 red bell pepper, diced

1 small tin (6 to 8 oz) sliced water chestnuts, diced

3 green onions, diced

3 tablespoons Shaosing Chinese cooking wine

3 tablespoons hoisin sauce

1 tablespoon Sriracha chile sauce

Kosher salt and white pepper

½ teaspoon Chinese five spice

1/2 large head iceberg lettuce, core removed, head quartered

 

Remove tough stems from mushrooms and brush with damp towel to clean, dice mushrooms.

Preheat a large skillet or wok to high.

Add oil to hot pan.  Add ground turkey to the pan and saute the meat by stir frying a minute or 2. Add garlic and cook another minute or two. Add in the Chinese five spice and salt and pepper to taste. Cook a minute more. Add bell pepper and chopped water chestnuts. Cook another minute, continuing to stir fry mixture. Add cooking wine, hoisin, sriracha and toss to coat the mixture evenly.  Add the green onions at the end to retain color and freshness.

Transfer the hot turkey mixture to serving platter and pile the quartered wedges of crisp iceberg lettuce along side. To eat, pile spoonfuls into a lettuce cup, wrapping lettuce around the filling and enjoy!

Baked Chicken Chimichanga

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The chimichanga by definition is a deep-fried burrito.  Since I’ve been trying to feed my family healthier foods, I’ve never dared tried making a chimichange myself.  But, when I came across this recipe for a baked chimi, I had to try it!  I completely did not miss the deep frying part.

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Start with mixing together cream cheese and taco seasoning.

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Stir in the Mexican four cheese blend.

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Here is my secret weapon for the quick weeknight meal………..store-bought rotissiere chicken!  Finally, the secret’s out!

Thank you to the genius who knows that moms can use some help every now and again and invented the precooked rotissiere chicken.

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Shred up the two breasts.

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Spread a generous layer of the cheese blend onto a flour tortilla.

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Layer on some chicken.

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Tuck and fold tightly so nothing leaks out.

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What a cute little bundle of joy…………I mean, deliciousness!

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Lay the eight chimis seam side down on a baking dish.

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Then spray them with some vegetable oil spray.  I love my Misto, I can put any kind of oil in there and just pump and spray away!  It’s a very handy kitchen gadget and one of my favorites.

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I love that the chimichanga does get a nice brown crunchy texture on the outside.  Then when you bite into it, you get the creamy chicken with all that savory taco seasoning, delectable I tell ya’!!

I topped my chimi with sour cream, homemade salsa, shredded cheese and some green onions.  Here’s the recipe for the amazing restaurant style homemade salsa.

I know it’s good when my hubby keeps saying how good it is after each bite.  He did that about 4 times tonight.  This recipe is a keeper!

Baked Chicken Chimichanga

From Menu Managed

8 oz. package cream cheese
1 cup Mexican Blend cheese, shredded
1 taco seasoning packet
1 lb. store-bought  rotissiere chicken, shredded
8 flour tortillas
cooking spray
shredded cheese
green onions, for garnish
sour cream
salsa

Stir together cream cheese, Mexican blend cheese and taco seasoning.  Spread cheese mixture on a flour tortilla, then lay some shredded chicken on top.

Tuck in sides, and roll up each tortilla.  Lay seam side down on a baking pan lined with foil.
Spray tops of tortillas with cooking spray.
Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.  Turn chimichangas over, and bake an additional 15 minutes.

Serve with cheddar cheese, green onions, sour cream, and salsa.

Meatball Marinara Sub

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My family likes to go to a popular sub sandwich shop for lunch on the weekends.  For as long as we have been going to this home of the $5 foot long, my daughter only orders the meatball sub.  With all the different options of sandwich fillings, I cannot get her to try anything else but that.  So, that’s what gave me the idea to make them myself.  My daughter did say that mine tastes better……….smart girl!


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Start with the combo of beef and pork.

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This is the best way I’ve found to make uniform meatballs.  My secret weapon is the ice cream scoop.  I use it for ice cream, cookie batter and of course meatballs.


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Roll each meatball  into little balls.

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Baking makes for a little healthier meatballs and it’s a lot faster than cooking on the stove top.  Really, it’s because I’m just too lazy to stand at the stove and turn each of these little meatballs.

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When they come out of the oven, place them into a pan with marinara sauce.  Of course you can use these with spaghetti, but my daughter insisted on meatball subs this night.

Meatball Marinara Sub

Meatballs

1 ½ pounds ground beef (80/20)

1 ½ pounds ground pork

2 eggs, beaten

¼ cup milk

½ cup breadcrumbs

1 tsp garlic salt

½ tsp pepper

½ tsp garlic powder

½ tsp onion powder

½ tsp dried basil

¼ tsp paprika

Sandwich

1 jar marinara sauce

Bread rolls

2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

Combine all ingredients into a large bowl and mix until well incorporated.  Scoop with ice cream scoop onto baking pan.  Roll between your hands to make them into a ball.  Drizzle some olive oil over each meatball.

Bake at 375 degrees for about 35 minutes.

Place the meatballs into a pan and pour in your favorite jar pasta sauce until sauce is warmed through and the meatballs soak in the sauce.  Slice and toast the rolls in the oven until a little crisp.  Fill each roll with meatballs and sauce on top, then sprinkle on some mozzarella cheese.

Makes 35 large meatballs.

Eggs in a Mug

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I am so excited to share this new breakfast idea I recently discovered.  It has revolutionized my morning routine of feeding my kids a good hot breakfast before school.  Did you know you can make scrambled eggs in a mug?  In a microwave?  In  two and a half minutes?  I LOVE IT!

No more having to crack eggs in a separate bowl, then scramble them in a pan with oil and a spatula, then serve them on a separate plate!  The mug is the bowl, pan and plate all in one!!  Have I used enough exclamation points to let you know that I’m super excited about his one?!!!!!!  I think so.

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Start by scrambling two eggs in a coffee mug, with some milk, salt and pepper.

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Add in some shredded cheese.  Any kind you like.

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Tear up some bread into small pieces.  I used 1/4 of a bagel here.

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Then tear up some deli meat.  Yes, I used my bare hands.  I don’t have time for a cutting board and knife!  Stir everything up and pop it in the microwave.

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Look at that lovely goodness peeking out to say, “Hello, I’m ready to be your healthy and hot breakfast!”

Remember, you can change out the kinds of cheese, meat or bread you want.  Heck, you can even add in some veggies like spinach and tomatoes if you like.  Just think of what you like in your omelette and you can use it.

This is so easy, my kids can do it themselves.  That would really free up your morning routine!

 

Eggs in a Mug

2 eggs

4 tablespoons milk

2 tablespoons shredded cheese

Salt

Pepper

1 slice ham

½ slice of bread

 

Break the eggs into a mug and scramble with a fork.  Add in the milk, cheese, salt and pepper and beat it to incorporate.  Rip pieces of the ham and bread into the mug and combine with the fork.  Microwave on high for about 2 ½ to 3 minutes.

Panko Crusted Tilapia

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If you are running low on time to make dinner, make fish!  My easy way of crusting tilapia is super fast and simple.  The fish cooks in about 15 minutes and is fancy enough to serve company too.  I served it here with sauteed green beans and orzo with parmesan cheese and olive oil.

The tilapia is flaky and light and it’s paired perfectly with  crunchy Japanese bread crumbs, called panko.

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Tilapia is one of my favorite fish to serve my family.  Mostly because it is so easy to cook and is mild-tasting.  Tilapia will pretty much taste like whatever you flavor it with.  Where I live, it’s difficult to get fish fresh, so I buy my fish frozen.  I buy it individually vacuum-sealed and they defrost easily and are ready to cook.

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Instead of doing to classic 3-step dredge of flour, beaten egg and breadcrumbs, I go straight to the breadcrumbs.   First, I pour about 2 cups of panko into a bowl and shake some lemon pepper seasoning and garlic salt into it.  I then melt some butter and brush it on each of the fillets.

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Then, I sprinkle the panko onto the fish and press down gently with the palm of my hand to make sure the breadcrumbs stick to the fish.   The butter gives the fish richness and the panko does not overwhelm the delicate flesh of the fish.  Perfect for a weeknight meal or a weekend dinner with company.

Panko Crusted Tilapia

4 tilapia fillets

2 cups panko breadcrumbs

1 tsp lemon pepper

1 tsp garlic salt

2 Tb butter, melted

Lay fish on shallow baking sheet pan and pat dry with a paper towel.  Brush the melted butter evenly on the fillets.  Add the panko, lemon pepper and garlic salt in a bowl and toss to combine.  Spread the panko evenly on all four pieces of tilapia and press down gently with the palm of your hand, making sure the breadcrumbs stick on well.

Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes or until done.

Crock Pot Turkey Chili

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Looking at this bowl of chili automatically gives me a warm, fuzzy feeling on the inside.  And, that’s exactly what I need when the weather gets cold.

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Now that the weather here in Southern California is resembling a bit of autumn, it makes me think of cold-weather foods.  One of my favorites is chili.  Since our family is also trying to eat healthier, ground turkey is our favorite substitute for ground beef.

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Brown the ground turkey with some canola oil.

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Here are the aromatics that give the chili its robust flavor.  Dice up the garlic, onion and green bell pepper.

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Then, saute the vegetables until they are soft.  Throw the turkey and vegetables into the crock pot with all the remaining ingredients and allow it to cook for 8 hours on low.

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This rich turkey chili takes very little time to make and packs a great punch of flavor from healthy ingredients.   Cooking this in your crock pot for 8 hours will fill your house with amazing smells, you may not be able to wait the whole 8 hours.  If that’s the case, you can also cook the chili on high for 4 hours.   However long you decide to cook this chili, you will be happy with what you get.

Crock Pot Turkey Chili

2 pounds ground turkey

1 medium onion, diced

1 green bell pepper, diced

3 cloves garlic, diced

1 tsp cumin

1 teaspoon dried oregano

½ teaspoon paprika

½ teaspoon chili powder

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 (14.5 ounce) can beef broth

1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes

1 (7 ounce) can chopped green chile peppers

1 (15 ounce) can kidney beans

Optional toppings:

1 cup sour cream

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Diced green onions

Brown the ground turkey in a pan, then place the meat into a crock pot.  In the same pan, saute onion, bell pepper and garlic, add to the crock pot.  Add all the remaining ingredients (except the kidney beans) to the crock pot.  Set on low and allow to cook for up to 8 hours.  Add kidney beans about one hour before eating.

FRESH Egg Salad Sandwich

There is no sandwich more pure than a simple egg salad.   The only thing that could make this sandwich better is fresh home grown eggs.

And that’s exactly what I used!

My daughter and son love to check for eggs every morning.  It’s become a morning routine and finding the eggs in the chicken coop’s nesting boxes never gets old.

Here is Ribbon, our Rhode Island Red chicken and she belongs to my daughter.  My son’s is the Ameraucana and her name is Chocolate.  Ribbon lays the brown eggs and Chocolate lays green eggs.

Here’s what they looked like when we first brought them home.  Aren’t they the cutest things you’ve ever seen?

 

We’re able to get about a dozen eggs a week from our chickens.  They’re such hard workers aren’t they?  I love pets that earn their keep!

 

I learned about the difficulty of peeling fresh boiled eggs the hard way.  With eggs that are just a day or two old, the membrane beneath the shell sticks tightly to the shell making peeling the egg almost impossible.  But, I must say it was totally worth the trouble.  I’m glad I boiled extra eggs because I did lose a lot of egg during the peeling process.

 

 

 

This had the be the most heavenly egg salad sandwich I’ve ever eaten.  I made it really simple so I could taste the purity of the fresh eggs.  I only used mayo, mustard, and dill, and salt and pepper of course.

 

Fresh Egg Salad Sandwich

2 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and chopped

1-2 Tbsp mayonnaise (to taste)

1 tsp dijon mustard

½ tsp dried dill

Salt and pepper (to taste)

2 slices wheat bread

 

To make hard boiled eggs, place a few eggs in a saucepan and add enough water to cover the eggs.  Cover the pan and bring the water to a boil. As soon as the water begins to boil, remove the pan from heat and let it sit, covered, for 12 minutes. Drain the water from the pan, add cold water to cool the eggs, let sit a couple minutes longer.

Mash up the chopped egg a bit with a fork. Mix together the chopped hard-boiled egg, mayonnaise, and dill. Sprinkle with salt and pepper  to taste. Mix with a spoon.

Spread the egg mixture on top of one slice of bread, put another slice of bread on top.

Baked Turkey Meatballs

In our house, we are trying to eat healthier, so we’ve replaced ground beef with ground turkey altogether.   Switching to turkey did not leave us missing beef at all.  These meatballs were tender and moist with tons of flavor.  I definitely felt like I could eat more just because it was turkey.

And, they passed the kids test with flying colors.

Here is my flavor-filled turkey meatball mixture.  Using this scooper really saves me time and makes sure they are all the same size and cook evenly.

After scooping them, I still have to roll them between my hands to get them round.

My kids comes in handy for this task too.  They may as well put all those years of playing with play-doh to work, right?!

Because these meatballs are baked, that adds an extra health benefit from shallow frying with oil.

Look at that juicy white meat!  Just delectable.

The night I made these, I used them with spaghetti.  They would also be great in a meatball sandwich.  If you made them smaller, they could be a tasty appetizer with teriyaki  or sweet and sour sauce.  Be creative!  I know you can.

Baked Turkey Meatballs

2 20 oz pkgs Italian Seasoned Ground Turkey

2 eggs, beaten

¼ cup milk

½ cup breadcrumbs

1 tsp garlic salt

½ tsp pepper

½ tsp garlic powder

½ tsp onion powder

½ tsp dried basil

¼ tsp paprika

Combine all ingredients into a large bowl and mix until well incorporated.  Scoop with ice cream scoop onto baking pan.  Roll between your hands to make them into a ball.  Drizzle some olive oil over each meatball.

Bake at 375 degrees for about 35 minutes.  Enjoy in your favorite spaghetti sauce or as a meatball sandwich.

Makes 35 large meatballs.