This salad lunch has all. the. things. After the buffalo chicken nachos, we were due for something healthier and summery, right? Balance is the name of the game.
It has a grain to be really filling and some greens for freshness and fruit for a pop of summer. I’m not enthused about meal-salads with just a bunch of greens. An hour later I’d be hungry. I made a batch of farro to also use in a dinner and it could easily swap with brown rice, cracked wheat, lentils, quinoa, or whatever you like/have leftover! Swap the greens for your favorite too, the arugula just holds up so well.
This salad works great as a meal – mine was lunch, or it’d be a great side or even a snack for those times you’re starving and know you’d like to make a good choice.
Farro & Arugula Salad with Summer Fruits
Ingredients: (for 1 meal or 2 sides)
3/4 cup prepared farro (or grain of your choosing)
1/2 cup blueberries
2 cups arugula (or greens of your choosing)
~2-3 slices of watermelon
2-3 tablespoons vinaigrette dressing (I used my fav Italian Dressing)
Chop the watermelon into bite size pieces and the arugula just once through.
Mix the farro, arugula, blueberries, and dressing to coat, then lightly toss in the watermelon.
This has great balance. I used allllll the arugula I had or I would have loaded in more. This was so fresh and actually filling. With so few ingredients this one is a winner to me. I’d pack this for lunch at work, keeping the watermelon & dressing separate until actually eating. I really wanted radishes in here but I didn’t find any at the grocery store and my farmer’s market is just opening. That super crunch would be great! I purposely went meatless but I can’t help but think grilled chicken would go well too!
Remember that part of This is Us with the nachos? Beth and Randall are sleep-deprived new parents eating nachos and Randall inadvertently eats all the best chips? I felt deeply for Beth – for her wanting to have somebody who will save a best bite for her- literally and metaphorically. The bottom of the plate of nachos can be such a letdown so, I’m here to tell you to make it in layers. LAY-ERS. Nacho unevenness can be cured. This is precisely why I like to make them at home and rarely order them out!
Buffalo Chicken Nachos
Ingredients (for 1 meal-2 appetizer servings)
2 breaded chicken tenders or popcorn chicken
~4 cups of chips (seriously, how do you measure chips? eyeball it)
1/4 cup salsa con queso sauce
1/2 cup shredded cheddar
1/2 cup tomatoes, chopped
1/4 cup hot sauce
~2 green onions
1/4 cup blue cheese dressing
Bake the chicken tenders until cooked through & crisp (according to the package, unless making your own).
While chicken is cooking, lay ~1/2 the chips onto a baking pan and drizzle half the salsa con queso sauce, half the shredded cheese, and half the tomatoes. Bake for ~5 minutes to melt the cheese.
Chop the chicken and toss with hot sauce. Add about half onto the first layer that baked.
Then top with remaining chips, remaining queso, shredded cheese, tomatoes, and chicken.
Bake for another 5 minutes to melt the cheese.
Remove from the oven and sprinkle with green onions.
Drizzle with blue cheese dressing.
I love nachos fully loaded- lots of stuff on every bite. These were a fun twist with some favorite flavors and a great use for some leftover taco-night ingredients for something totally different!
The tomatoes are for juiciness and to get a little veg in there. I abhor celery but you could always add that. Add avocado, shredded lettuce, shredded carrots, or whatever you like on top at the end- just make sure every bite has a little something on it!
Somehow work got pretty nutty in May so it feels like a bit of a blur. I had a good month in the kitchen for blogged foods. Weeknight foods I’ve been really minimal to allow us to get outside after work, before dinner.
One of my favs was this really amazing breakfast sandwich with roasted tomatoes. I loved this as a stretch beyond the norm.
I made some broccoli & cheddar puff pastry pinwheels that couldn’t have been easier.
Quick! Make this meatloaf burger before Independence day arrives. Brown sugar ketchup and crispy fried onions are perfect.
June is the end of the fiscal year at work so it’ll be 100 mph. June is also Mr. J’s birthday which means: birthday burger!! Here was last year’s birthday burger and the rundown of previous ones. I’ve flagged 2 that I’ll decide between. Also flag day is coming up. Such a strange holiday but our town LOVES flag day. The parade is huge and goes right down the end of our street.
The Baby Girl:
She’s 9 months old! She tried shrimp and loved it – pancakes, green beans, and blueberries are also favs. She is suddenly not as into bottles so hopefully that doesn’t continue to be a thing. I love seeing her eat all the things. She’s close to 17 pounds and ohh-so-happy. Baby girl is surfing around and will take about a step without holding on. Splashing in the tub is her fav so we think she’ll love the pool.
The Little Boy:
He looooves soccer. We missed the town soccer timing so he’s at a community one and it has been great. I only hoped he’d participate and he definitely does! It is mostly skills and that’s good for them since they each have a ball. I love how much he can talk about. He’s sweetly reflective and has an impressive memory. We have been reading a ton and finding some really fun library ones. He’s had a really fantastic time at daycare and doing so well behaved. I’m proud of him.
Year of ___ decluttering/minimizing/organizing: My sis is having a yard sale so I’m passing off baby stuff! No more baby tub, baby bouncer, tiny bottles etc.
Feeding Littles: I shared this farro bowl and the Meatloaf Burger.
Work on advanced food prepping: I’ve given myself the headstart so planning my ideas for the week with options that are quick has been my success.
What I’m reading: I read Grapes of Wrath for bookclub and slogged my way through it. Then I read The Great Alone and couldn’t put it down.
What I’m watching: We didn’t watch many movies and will be very sad when we finish Schitt’s Creek.
I liiiive for breakfast sandwiches because I love the perfect bite that has some of everything. This one is not-your-average breakfast sandwich. It was almost an open-faced but the brioche loaf cost twice as much as the rolls so ta-da! The loaded toast became a sandwich! The roasted tomatoes are amazing and a perfect juicy pop to give this a little something special for breakfast.
Roasted Tomato and Bacon Breakfast Sandwich on Brioche
Ingredients: (for 2)
2 cups grape or cherry tomatoes
1 small white onion
4 slices of bacon
2 brioche rolls (or 2 slices brioche bread or challah)
Roast the tomatoes and onions in a drizzle of olive oil for about 15 minutes at 400-degrees until they pop and get some color. Give them a little shake every few minutes for even cooking.
Chop the bacon and pan fry until crisp and then remove and let drain on a paper towel.
Slice the rolls and gently toast a little in the oven- just 5 minutes to keep them from getting soggy.
Pan fry the eggs sunny side up or over-easy, as you like.
Assemble the sandwiches with the rolls, tomatoes on each bottom roll, the eggs and top with bacon.
The brioche rolls are soft, puffy, and bordering on sweet- the French version of challah. The roasted tomato might be my new favorite breakfast element! I normally would head to a bacon, egg, and cheese, but this I loved as a stretch for myself.
Anything inside puff pastry is delicious (and easy) but broccoli and cheddar are such an ideal match. I roasted the broccoli for those delicious roasty bits with some gooey cheddar. Yum. These were some lunches for me and I think they’d be a good brunch addition or a heavy app.
Broccoli & Cheddar Pinwheels
1 sheet of puff pastry (sold in a tube by crescent rolls or folded frozen by pie crust)
1 large broccoli head
~1/4 cup cream cheese
1 cup shredded cheddar
1 teaspoon Mushroom Umami seasoning (optional)
Salt & pepper
(Defrost the puff pastry if frozen, or open to get to room temperature if using refrigerated dough)
Preheat the oven to 400-degrees.
Chop the broccoli into florets. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for ~10-15 minutes- until a little brown and toasted and cooked through.
While the broccoli roasts, roll out the dough. Spread cream cheese onto the dough, sprinkle cheddar on top, and add broccoli. Sprinkle with umami seasoning (if using).
Roll up keeping the roll really compact.
Cut into 2 inch slices using a sharp or serrated knife to not squish the roll too much.
Place onto a baking sheet sprayed with non-stick spray.
Bake for 12-15 minutes, or start with the timing and temperature on the package. Add more time if needed to cook to golden brown.
I loved these. The roasty broccoli is perfect and gives a nuttiness. They puff a bit while baking but aren’t enormous. I packed 2 to be lunch at work with some salad. Do not pack if microwaving these beauties. That would destroy all the crunch and microwaved broccoli is not good. Broccoli and cheddar puff pastry pinwheels neeeed to be baked or toasted to warm up. These could easily be dinner alongside something else or these would be great as an appetizer too!
A pork shoulder in the crockpot is like the gift that keeps on giving. I’d say definitively that pulled pork is the best of any leftovers, hands down. I make it once in the crockpot and have about 6 servings. We had some as tacos and then I wanted to give it another spin with a bottle of fig and balsamic dressing from a Trader Joe’s haul. A little fig jam + a little balsamic vinegar would reach the same flavors without that exact dressing too!
I like the sweet but vinegary yet smoky pork on crusty ciabatta but any roll will do! My preschooler got a slider bun since that’s sometimes a better size for him and he’d be more likely to eat all the bread skipping the pork unless sized well. I made some sweet potato tots and called it dinner. Here’s the Balsamic & Fig dressing I used but I’m including a quick fix for just a single use without buying it!
Balsamic + Fig Pork Sandwiches
Ingredients (for ~4)
1 1/2 – 2 cups pulled pork (~8oz, cooked)
1/2 cup Balsamic & Fig Dressing (or 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar, 1/4 cup olive oil, 2 tablespoons fig jam whisked together)
2 cups arugula
1-2 teaspoons olive oil
Preheat the oven to 300-degrees.
Mix the pork and some of the balsamic & fig dressing together gently. Taste and add more if needed.
Warm the pork either in the microwave, or in a skillet.
Toast the rolls in the oven for about 5 minutes, until warmed through and just lightly toasted.
Toss the arugula in the olive oil until dressed and lay onto the bottom buns.
Top with pork and a drizzle of dressing more.
I liked this for a different twist on pork! If you buy fig jam, it is fantastic with a salty cheese (thus why it is sometimes sold near the cheeses) but it is also great for a Fig & Prosciutto Panini, or on pizza!
Mr. J loves meatloaf so this was inspired for him! It was a perfect early-spring burger! There’s a bit of a decadence to this one- it isn’t light or subtle. It is juicy and flavored with caramelized onions and topped with a brown sugar ketchup, arugula, and crispy fried onions.
Ingredients: (for 2)
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
1/2 pound ground pork
1/4 cup breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon Italian Seasoning
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons ketchup
1 teaspoon brown sugar
~3/4 cup fried onions
Sautee the onions in a little olive oil over low heat until golden and caramelized.
Mix together the ground pork, onion, breadcrumbs, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, salt, pepper, Worcestershire sauce and egg.
Preheat the grill or warm a cast iron skillet.
Form into patties.
Cook until the middle reaches 150-degrees. Use a meat thermometer to ensure it doesn’t over cook!
While the burger cooks, mix up the ketchup and brown sugar.
In a dry skillet, fry the fried onions for about 2 minutes until toasted.
Serve the burgers with arugula, brown-sugar ketchup, and crispy onions.
We all liked this one! The preschooler eats a slider-sized burger and liked it. He started with his crunchy onions on the side but added them after eating a few – I think he wasn’t quite sure what they were. We all liked was how juicy this was! We had this with our fav broccoli salad.
Mix everything and form the patties in advance for a faster weeknight dinner. Momma was raving about burgers? tacos? something she used “meatloaf” mix for. That’d be great for this burger too!
Spriiiiing! It makes me so happy. Winter was mild this year but I LOVE the daylight, everything growing, getting outside more, and transitioning from wintery foods. April was fun with a more social opportunities than I sometimes have with friends and a few fun family festivities. I think our energy is up! I feel like I’m being more realistic about what’s possible in the kitchen and I’m being OK with setting the priority that we eat together and eat different things, but I’m not forsaking all else to stick to my dinner plan. Seeing the little babe smile on the swing when her big brother pushes it when we get home is worth wayyy more than the meal prep I otherwise could make happen that night!
I love a grain bowl and these Thai Coconut Rice Bowls with Pork were such winners. The pork was leftover from a crockpot pork, the rice was ready in 10 minutes from the pressure cooker, and the sauce I zipped together in the blender the day before.
I need to perfect my salmon cooking. I overcooked it but the leftovers were perfect in a Salmon BLT with lemon aoli.
Next month I have some good stuff coming! I have a burger, a breakfast, and a few other things.
The Baby Girl:
She’s so fast and so strong. She was pulling up to stand before quite hitting 8 months old. All she wants to do is stand! She’s a quick and quiet crawler who can disappear to explore before you know it! I’m so proud of her sleeping skills, though I’m sure daycare wouldn’t mind her sleeping more there! She has 2 little chiclet teeth on the bottom and wants to eat everything. She’s loving the swings and chewing on T’s raptor dino that is unofficially regulated to being hers now. Her teachers at a daycare-wide dance party swooped her away and brought her around to see everyone. They really love her. She’s so happy and chill even when hungry or tired. We got bows to keep her hair out of her face and they’re just too cute.
The Little Boy:
He’s sooo into favorites right now. What’s your favorite dino? What’s your favorite fork? What’s your favorite color on this picture? I forgot that that’s a thing for kids. He loves the baby and is a fantastic big brother. It melted my heart when he said he “just wants to be 6″ why I asked, “because then C will be 3 and we can play more.” I’ve loved doing puzzles with him. I think he over-does it on some favorite foods and thinks he wants them but then isn’t really into it- like certain cereals. It seems he will always want pasta, bananas, and avocado. He likes all candy- even junky stuff from a town egg hunt. I loved watching him at a daycare-wide dance party. He wanted to participate, was a bit reserved, then got into it. He thrives on having close friends. I missed the deadline for town soccer so he’s doing a little community one. We’ll see where his comfort-level is. He’s been happy on bike rides with Daddy but also is doing fantastic on his balance bike. His love for library books rivals mine.
Year of ___ decluttering/minimizing/organizing: ehhh. All I did was pull together items for a clothes swap at work. We have a bunch of baby equipment earmarked for a yard sale.
Feeding Littles: I shared dinner of shrimp with Trader Joe’s Island Soyaki sauce, brown rice, edamame. He wasn’t into the shrimp that night but liked it when he had rice in the same bite.
Work on advanced food prepping: A day-off mid-month was huge for this! I cooked and blogged 3 things!
What I’m reading: I read An American Marriage for bookclub and really liked it. I read China Rich Girlfriend and loved it as much as the first in the series.
What I’m watching: We watched All the Money in the World and The Imitation Game. Both are so intense and fascinating. I want to know more about each in real life! TV-wise, Mr. J and I got into Schitt’s Creek and are ob-sess-ed. Amazing Race is back
I took a different route on this smoothie and made it into a snack-like smoothie versus a breakfast kind of smoothie. It was really good and hit the spot on a coffee-sat-too-long kind of day. It isn’t super sweet so the coffee flavor is for real. Don’t get me wrong, I love a fun coffee drink, but the serving of fruit can’t hurt. Right?
1 cup coffee, chilled
1 1/2 cups frozen pear or banana
1/2 cup milk
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons ground flaxseed meal
Blend everything together. If it is too thick add in a bit more milk or some water.
This was the perfect afternoon pick-me-up. A squirt of whipped cream made me fall more in love. I can see this one repeating when it is too hot to think!
The lemon aoli takes this home lunch to the next level. It is tart and perfect with the salmon. It perked up my leftover salmon and brought brightness with the salty bacon, peppery arugula, and juicy tomato. I wanted to make a fun lunch to revive some leftover salmon that I overcooked a bit. It was actually better in this salmon BLT than it was the night before!
Salmon BLT with Lemon Aoli
2 tablespoons mayo
juice from half a lemon
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
pinch salt & pepper
2 strips of bacon
3-4 oz salmon, cooked and cooled
Pan fry the bacon and remove from the grease.
Turn off the pan from the bacon and gently warm the salmon in the bacon drippings.
Mix together the mayo, lemon juice, lemon zest, salt and pepper.
Toast the bread and slice the tomato.
Assemble the sandwich with lemon aoli on each slice of toast, then salmon forked apart into chunks, then arugula, then bacon, and the remaining bread.
This was seriously better than the salmon was the night before. Condiments can make such a difference. An extra special BLT is a great dinner too. Warming the salmon a bit in bacon drippings is definitely a good choice.