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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Spinach Strawberry Salad with Candied Almonds and Poppyseed Dressing

Even though it is technically still spring right now, where I am, the weather has been in the 80’s this week and that makes me think of summer.  Summer makes me think of eating lighter and that’s what led to this summery salad of spinach and strawberries.

To start this salad, I need to make the candied almonds first.  I’ve been trying to find healthier snacks, since summer is approaching.  So, I bought this huge bag of raw almonds.  They are not the tastiest thing compared to roasted and salted almonds, but I’ve come to enjoy the fresher, cleaner flavor.

So, since I have this big bag of almonds, I thought it would be good to add to the salad for a crunchy texture.  But, I couldn’t just leave them plain and naked.  It just wouldn’t stand up to the strawberries or dressing in this salad.  So, I had to dress them up.

So, here’s what I did.  Start by bringing to boil, brown sugar, water and cinnamon.

**The original recipe called for 1 cup of sugar, but next time I will reduce that to a 1/2 cup.  It ended up being too much liquid, even after reducing.

Throw in the almonds and let it come back to a boil.

Once it’s rapidly boiling, turn the mixture to medium heat and stir constantly with a spoon.

It will eventually reduce down to a thick, rich syrup.

Spoon the almonds onto a baking sheet with wax paper and allow it to cool for at least 15 minutes.

Now for the poppy seed dressing.  Just throw in all the ingredients and stir until the sugar is melted and combined.

This dressing is perfect for spinach because it cuts through the mild bitterness of raw spinach.  It also just looks so pretty with the stratified layer of sesame and poppy seeds.  Yes, I said stratified!!

Here’s the whole thing all put together.  When you take your first bite, please make sure you get all the components onto your fork in one bite.  You’ll understand why when you combine the bitterness of the spinach, sweet juiciness of the strawberry and crunch of the almond, smothered with poppy seed dressing goodness.  That’s serious YUM!

Spinach Strawberry Salad with Poppy Seed Dressing and Candied Almonds

 

Salad:

1 bag baby spinach

1 pint strawberries, sliced

Layer spinach, strawberries and candied almonds in a large bowl.  Pour on the poppy seed dressing right before eating.

 

Dressing:

1/2 cup vegetable oil

2 tbsp sesame oil

1/4 cup rice wine vinegar

2 tbsp red wine vinegar

1/4 cup white sugar

1/4 teaspoon paprika

2 tablespoons sesame seeds

1 tablespoon poppy seeds

½ tsp salt

¼ tsp pepper

Combine all the ingredients in a measuring cup and stir until the sugar melts and the dressing becomes viscous.  This will make more than you need, so you can store for future use.

 

Candied Almonds:

1/2 cup water

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

2 cups whole almonds

Combine the water, sugar, and cinnamon in a saucepan over medium heat; bring to a boil; add the almonds. Cook and stir the mixture until the liquid evaporates and leaves a syrup-like coating on the almonds. Using a slotted spoon, spoon the almonds onto a baking sheet lined with waxed paper. Separate almonds using forks. Allow to cool about 15 minutes.

This will make more than you need, so you can store in an air-tight container for future use.

Farfalle Pasta Salad

I had a version of this pasta salad for the first time at my monthly scrapbooking club get-together.  My friend Tina is known in our group for her pasta salad.  That night I think all the ladies talked more about this pasta salad than we did scrapbooking, or anything else for that matter.

This is a very pretty dish with lots of color and texture.  It’s also great because you can serve it cold or at room temperature.  This would be great at your next church potluck too!!  Just saying……..

Tina’s original version does not include the use of meat, but since this pasta salad was the main dish I was serving to my family for dinner, I had to throw in some protein.  Here I have salami, turkey and ham.

Dice up the colby jack cheese.

Here is the farfalle pasta all cooled down and tossed in the creamy sauce.

My Italian friend told me that farfalle actually means butterfly, not bow-tie.  I had no idea for all those years.

So here’s the butterfly pasta!

Add in the cilantro and fresh tomatoes for freshness.  In this pasta are also black beans, sweet corn, shredded carrots and black olives but I forgot to snap some shots of that.  Please forgive me, thanks!

Farfalle Pasta Salad

 

12 oz box farfalle (bowtie) pasta

1 can sweet corn, drained

1 can black beans, drained

1 can black olives , drained

1 cup ham, cubed

1 cup turkey, cubed

1 cup salami, cubed

1 cup cheese, cubed

1 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced in half

1 bunch cilantro, chopped

1 carrot, shredded

 

Dressing:

4 tbsp mayonnaise

1 tsp sugar

1/4 cup rice wine vinegar

1 envelope of Italian dressing

3 cloves pressed garlic

2 tbsp olive oil

salt & pepper to taste

 

Cook pasta in salted water until al dente, drain and cool.  Meanwhile, combine the dressing ingredients in a large bowl.  Add the noodles once they have cooled off some and then toss.  Add remaining ingredients.  Allow pasta salad to sit for one hour refrigerated for flavors to marry.

Pork Sandwich with Cilantro-Jalapeno Slaw

We had friends over for dinner and I wanted to make something that did not require the use of my oven.  Southern California summers are pretty brutal, so I didn’t want to add to the heat in my house.  I made this pork sandwich with a slow cooker and I was able to “set it and forget it!”  Anyone remember that from those infomercials in the 90’s?  Very catchy phrase…

With these kind of ingredients together, it’s gotta be good!

Here’s my pork butt in the slow cooker.  I love the sound of the fizzling soda  as I poured it over the meat.

I wonder what a soda and chipotle bath would feel like!  Is it weird that I think of these things when I cook?  Nah!!

For the cole slaw, start by coring your cabbage.  Very simply cut a triangle shape out of the core.  Easy peasy.

And Ree, coring is not boring.  It’s fun!

Slice very thinly.

Do the same thing with this beautiful purple cabbage.  Love that God gave us such beautifully colored foods!

I added half a bag of this broccoli slaw.  I love the crunch that it adds.

After adding the chopped jalapenos, slather on the dressing….the best part.

I heard somewhere that everyday you should eat foods from every color of the rainbow.

I’ve got green, orange and purple covered!!

Here’s another shot of the very tasty pork sandwich for you to drool over.  The amount of spice and sweet, then hot and cold are in perfect balance in just one bite.  You can’t ask for anything more!

Now go and try this one and let me know how you like it, or LOVE it!

 

Pork Sandwiches with Cilantro-Jalapeno Slaw

Adapted from pioneerwoman.com

 

1 whole Onion, Peeled And Quartered

1 whole Pork Butt (pork Shoulder Roast, about 5-7 lbs)

Salt And Pepper

1 can (7 Ounce) Chipotle Peppers In Adobo Sauce

3 cups or 2 cans Cola (Dr Pepper, Coke, etc.)

2 Tablespoons Brown Sugar

12 whole Good Quality Kaiser Or Deli Rolls

12 Tablespoons Butter

½ head Cabbage, Sliced Thin

½ head Purple Cabbage, Sliced Thin

½ bag Broccoli Slaw

1 whole Jalapeno, Halved Lengthwise And Thinly Sliced

½ cups Whole Milk

½ cups Mayonnaise

1 teaspoon White Vinegar

1 Tablespoon Sugar

¼ teaspoons Salt

¼ teaspoons Cayenne Pepper

2 cups Cilantro Leaves, Barely Chopped

 

 

MEAT

Generously salt and pepper the pork roast, then set it on top of the onions in a slow cooker.

Pour the can of chipotle peppers over the pork (include the sauce.) Pour in both cans of Dr Pepper. Add brown sugar to the juice and stir in.

Place lid tightly on pot, then set the slow cooker on high. Cook for at least six hours, turning roast two or three times during the cooking process. Check meat after six hours; it should be absolutely falling apart (use two forks to test.) If it’s not falling apart, cook for another hour.

Remove meat from pot and place on a cutting board or other work surface. Use two forks to shred meat, discarding large pieces of fat. Strain as much of the fat off the top of the cooking liquid as you can and discard it. Return the shredded meat to the cooking liquid, and keep warm until ready to serve. (You can also refrigerate the meat and liquid separately, then remove hardened fat once it’s cold. Then heat up the liquid on the stovetop and return the meat to the liquid to warm up.)

If you find the pork is too spicy, tone it down with some sweet bbq sauce.  This works well for kids.

 

SLAW

Combine shredded cabbage and sliced jalapenos in a bowl. In a separate bowl mix milk, mayonnaise, vinegar, sugar, salt, and cayenne. Pour over cabbage. Toss to combine. Cover and refrigerate two hours.

Before serving, toss in cilantro leaves.

 

SANDWICHES

Butter both halves of Kaiser rolls, then brown them on a griddle or skillet until golden and crisp on the surface. Load up each sandwich with shredded pork, then REALLY load them up with the slaw.

The magic is in the combination of the hot liquid from the meat and the cool, creamy liquid from the slaw.

Caprese Salad Skewers

I know, technically this isn’t cooking.  It’s more like arranging of food.

This dish came to be, due to the abundance of basil in my herb garden.  The caterpillars were having a feast on my basil plant this spring, so I figured I’d fight back and use up some of it.

The beautiful cherry tomatoes are from a friend’s garden.  She had tomatoes overgrowing and was more than happy to share with me.  And being the good friend, I took them.

 

I love how even in their food, Italians are so patriotic.  Can’t you see the Italian flag colors in this dish?

This is a great appetizer or salad.  It’s refreshing and just tastes like a spring garden.  All it needs is a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar to bring out the richness and tang of the fresh ingredients.

The presentation is the most fun for me.  I like how the bocconcini (mini mozzarella balls) and tomatoes are the same size and just lends itself to be skewered.  Either that or you end up chasing these round little things around the plate with your fork.  I figure I’d be kind to my guests and make it easy on them.  I try to be a good host, you know!

 

Open Face Egg Salad Sandwich

 

I saw this recipe on Foodnetwork’s, The Best Thing I Ever Ate show.  This recipe had me at “soft boiled egg.” Call me crazy, but I love runny egg yolks.  It’s also one of the reasons I love eggs benedict.  I’d never seen an egg salad sandwich look so gourmet, so I had to give it a try.

It delivered on so many levels. The crunchy whole wheat toast and greens and of course my runny yolks.  This is packed with flavor and texture beyond any egg salad sandwich you’ve had as a kid. This is what egg salad sandwiches want to be when they grow up!

 

Open Face Egg Salad Sandwich

2 slices whole wheat bread, toasted

2 Tbsp sundried tomato pesto

1 cup mesclun salad mix

3 eggs, soft boiled

1 Tbsp chives, chopped

salt

pepper

 

Put your eggs in a pot and add enough water to cover them.  Bring water to a boil and then turn the heat down to medium and allow to cook for 6 minutes, they will be soft and runny. Toast your bread and spread with sundried tomato pesto on each slice. Top with mesclun salad greens and add the eggs on top.  Add salt and pepper to taste and finish with chopped chives.

Watermelon Salad

 

The first time I read this recipe, I thought it was a joke.  Seriously…….watermelon with olives, onion and feta?  You too will be amazed when you muster up the courage to try this one yourself.  If you’re a little scared, you can do like me and make it for the first time for friends at a dinner party.  At least there’s be safety in numbers, right?

Well, it’s a good thing I did.  My friend, who doesn’t even like watermelon loved it and asked for the recipe when she left. She told me she’s made it several time for friends since.  I’m so glad to be able to pass on the torch of odd, but wonderful recipes to others.

There’s still a couple of watermelons out there in the grocery store, although the pumpkins are taking their place rather quickly.  Here’s your chance to buy the last watermelon of the season and try this one out.  You won’t regret it.

And, if you really don’t like it, maybe you can carve the watermelon for Halloween instead of a pumpkin……….haha!  If you do this, please send me a picture.

 

Watermelon Salad with Feta

from Melissa Clark

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon harissa or other hot sauce (I used Tabasco)

Salt and freshly ground pepper

1 1/2 pounds seedless watermelon, rind removed, fruit sliced 1/4 inch thick

1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced

1/4 cup coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley

1/4 cup pitted Moroccan or other oil-cured black olives, coarsely chopped

2 ounces feta cheese, crumbled (about 1/2 cup)

In a small bowl, whisk the olive oil with the lemon juice and harissa and season with salt and pepper. Arrange the watermelon slices on a platter and sprinkle with the onion, parsley, olives and feta. Drizzle the dressing on top and serve.