What I Ate: Chicken and Pear Sandwich

Sandwiches are such a great dinner. This chicken and pear one is inspired by one that used to be on the menu a Brighton Beer Garden. This sandwich reminds me of my early days in Boston.
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I found some fun focaccia rolls but any bread would be good, and would make this into a good panini.

Ingredients:

Thin chicken breasts, marinated
2 focaccia rolls
2 cups arugula
2 slices cheese
1 pear, sliced

Directions:

Grill chicken until cooked through
Assemble sandwiches on rolls with arugula, chicken, cheese and sliced pears.
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I think the focaccia and the cheese were definitely big parts that made it special.
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I love arugula and it doesn’t get icky when the hot chicken is on it. I dressed the arugula with a little bit of Italian dressing. Delicious. Arugula is peppery and so good.

I’m jetting off to a wedding for less than 24-hours. Sound familiar? Wouldn’t be the last weekend in April if it weren’t craaaaazy.

Any dinner panini or sandwich ideas for me during this busy time?

What I Ate: Avocado BLT

Happy Friday! Since we’ve successfully made it though the week together, I figure this Avocado BLT a perfect ‘What I Ate’ addition since obviously you do not need a recipe for a BLT. Bacon + Lettuce + Tomato = delicious. I’m going to add a few special touches to an already awesome sandwich. (Check out How Sweet It Is’ Avo BLT from this week too!)

The BLT is a perfect I-ate-some-pretty-bad-for-you-food-this-week option for the weekend,

or a breakfast-versus-lunch tie breaker,

or I-don’t-like-traditional-breakfast-food.  It has the perfect grease requirement for hangovers and the ideal fresh factor to make up for unhealthy indiscretions.
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I think BLTs are perfect for a quick dinner or even brunch. They’re great on whatever bread you have, rolls, wraps, biscuits, flatbread, bagels, pita pockets, anything!

I added some pesto aioli and some avocado. Perfection! Mix up some mayo and some pre-made pesto. Also, if you refer to it as aioli, even people who think they don’t like mayo will be alllll about it.
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I grilled the bacon in a criss-cross lattice pattern. Bacon in every bite! I like it suuuuper crispy but bacon in any form is perfect.
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Layer it up! I like it in the order of B then L then T. I added avocado to make it more special, filling, and creamy. avo_BLT_plate_590_390
I think there are tons of fun ways to keep a BLT interesting. I think a salad-y wrap would be good too. Maybe the lettuce and tomato in chunks mixed with ranch, avocado, and bacon! Ooo. Yum! A BLT grilled cheese would be delicious right about now. Or maybe a BLT with fried egg on ciabatta! I’ve made BLT pizza (which was to die for). Just goes to show you, BLTs are great inspiration.

What do you do to keep sandwiches interesting? Any BLT variations I should try next?

Southern Chicken & Biscuits

I’m not into the Superbowl, but I like the snacks and the commercials. This would be a fun and easy game time food.

I was feeling especially southern when I planned this meal. I made a top-your-own crispy chicken sandwiches on biscuits. I went all-American on mine with ranch, lettuce, tomato, and cheese.
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They were good, but tough to keep together to eat. I’d recommend making smaller biscuits than I did!

Ingredients:

Crispy chicken breasts or tenders
biscuits
veggies: lettuce, tomato, onion
sauces: ranch, honey mustard, bbq, mayo
cheeses: cheddar, Swiss, American

Directions

Bake biscuits according to package.
Bake chicken until heated through or until cooked through.
Prep toppings and let eaters top-their-own.
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Build-your-own or top-your-own makes for a low-prep meal or for very easy entertaining.

What I Ate: Turkey Cranberry Brie Panini

What I Ate is a series of posts that don’t exactly warrant a recipe, but hopefully are inspiring if you’re stumped for dinner ideas, or if you’re new to cooking…these guys are easy. Has this week felt like a doozy to anyone else? Easy dinners keep us all sane. Nobody is at his or her best when hungry.

Paninis are the best. I like that they totally simplify dinner, only use a few ingredients, are pretty cheap to make, and provide leftover staples. What more could you want out of dinner? I served a salad bar and paninis to a group and it was a hit. I think both are customizable and crowd-pleasing.

For this particular one, I wanted something that felt seasonal or winter appropriate. Paninis are great in the summer to avoid heating up the oven, but anywho…I digress.
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Ingredients:

wheat nut bread
4 oz sliced turkey, per sandwich
3 oz brie
¼ can whole berry cranberry sauce
2 tbs strawberry jelly

Directions:

Heat a grill pan, panini press, or frying pan over medium heat sprayed with non-stick spray.
Assemble sandwiches with cranberry spread on one side, turkey slices, and brie slices.
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Grill sandwiches a few minutes on each side until crisp and until cheese is melted.
Serve and enjoy!

I love brie with berries. I added some jam to the cranberry sauce so it wasn’t quite as tart. I splurged for carving board sliced turkey so it was more like real off the bird turkey breast. It was worth it. It wasn’t a very veggie-centric menu but it was fast, cheap, and flavorful.

I love my press. I use it regularly and love that it has removable plates (grill, griddle, and waffle inserts) that are dishwasher safe. It is super handy for quesadillas and opens flat to be a larger 1-sided surface. It is really helpful to multi-task or do a few at a time but a frying pan will work well too. It even lets me unhinge the top so it closes evenly and doesn’t squish the back of the panini more than the front. Genius.
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I served these bad boys with some sweet potato tots for a super easy dinner to keep the nightly options varied!

Cost:
Carving board turkey breast: $6.47 (served 2.5, for $5.16 for 2 people)
Brie: $4.99 (served 4, for $2.5 for 2 people)
Cranberry sauce: $1.99 (served 8, for $0.49 for 2 people)
wheat bread: $3.49 (served 8, for $0.87 for 2 people)
total: $9.02 for 2 people, or $4.51 per person. Your fav lunch spot charges LOTS more than that.

Planning your weekly menu? Sliced chicken or ham would be good too. Don’t go buying ingredients you won’t use again! I love whole berry cranberry sauce. In fact, it’ll prob sweeten up my smoothie or be the star of my oatmeal since it isn’t just for dinner to me!

Caesar Chicken Salad Sandwiches

This is a super quick one. I also recommend whipping part of it up in advance. I JUST got back from vacay (don’t worry, I’ll tell you ALL about it!) so this is an even more timely meal. Everything came from the freezer!
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Ingredients:

3 chicken breasts, marinated in Italian salad dressing
2 tbs mayo or Greek yogurt
1 tbs Greek dressing (or Italian dressing)
2 tbs creamy Caesar dressing

Directions:

Boil or saute chicken until fully cooked through.
When cooled, shred into chunks using 2 forks
Mix in mayo, and both salad dressings.
Season with salt, pepper, garlic powder, or whatever you like.
Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving. Better yet, make it the night before!

I served it on some wheat rolls I had in the freezer. This was a major freezer clean out meal. Mr. J shot a deer and it was butchered leaving us with a whole slew of venison in the freezer. The chicken, rolls, and fries were all freezer items! (The rolls may or may not be discount bakery items I sliced and froze for an occasion such as this!)

I liked it for a change of pace. It would be good on a salad or as a wrap too. Got pitas? Fill ‘em up! It was definitely a quick meal which is great with lots of other things going on. I don’t mean unpacking. That has not begun yet.
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I was messing around with the lighting. What do you think?

What I Ate: Turkey Panini

In my effort to simplify dinner (but still keep it delicious) I figured I should throw in more sandwiches to the rotations since lately I’ve been into dinner salads. Mr. J is (rightfully) worried about getting salad-ed out.

The Three Bite Rule - Turkey Panini

I like that paninis are perfect any-time-of-the-year dinners. They’re super easy and quick (and cheap). In the summer I appreciate that they don’t heat up the whole house to make! In the winter I appreciate that it is a warm meal with a fresh factor. I also love that there aren’t any weird leftovers. I made some once when I hosted the book club and served them with a salad bar. It was a hit for a group with different tastes!

Here are some tips to take this from a “sandwich” to a “dinner-starring-panini” Continue reading

Best Fries of My Life

Want to hear all about my vacay? Ok, great!

I feel like I’ve been traveling non-stop for work. Luckily, I get to go to pretty great places (love Chicago, and San Fran x2) but it definitely makes me focused on maintaining my everyday life when I am home (seeing my people, going to the gym, cooking real food, blogging, etc).

As much as I was tiring of living out of my suitcase every other week, I stayed after one of my trips and Mr. J came to meet me. I was really tempted to opt for a more relaxed getaway but I do truly love San Fran and I was psyched to share it with Mr. J for the first time.

You might think that spending time in a city I’ve been to about 5x might be relaxing, but he and I are like sightseers on speed. We literally race around a city to see all the sites, learn the history, do as the locals do, all while capturing the best photography light (for him) and eating fun local finds (for me- as seen here) . This is precisely why our honeymoon cruise through Europe was so appealing to mix up the relaxing I-don’t-have-to-think (as in I’ll just show up for dinner after lounging by the pool) with how-to-see-Rome-in-a-day.

I have a few meals to share with you from this trip. They are actually both restaurants I’ve been to before. I know that might not seem exciting, but I’m telling you. After running up & down hills for about 7 hours a day without stopping for lunch meant that by dinner time we were starved and trying to regroup after a busy day. Even I don’t want to browse reviews and price ranges at that point. Our hotel did have homemade cookies all the time and that’s quite the treat when choosing a dinner location ;)

With that long winded recap, I give you Jasper’s Corner Tap & Kitchen!
Jasper's
I ate here after working a 24-hour event. We work for a million hours through the night, sleep for a few hours then everyone is up and ready for food. A group of us ended up here and I thought it was just so charming. They have this crazy-good side of brussels sprouts pedals with bacon and filberts…sooo good and definitely I want to attempt to recreate. This time I brought Mr. J back and he loved it too.

I was sad that they don’t have a veggie, turkey, or chicken burger since I can’t eat red meat, but I do get that chefs are sometimes quite against fake-burgers. It’s not really a burger-joint per se, but that’s what I had in mind. I did 100% get on board with a grilled cheese with pork belly.
Jaspers Pork Belly Grilled Cheese
Seriously best grilled cheese I’ve ever had. It was perfectly grilled on some quality bread. This was a substantial sandwich served piping hot. There’s not much worse than a limp, tepid grilled cheese. I liked the tomato and onion relish on a few bites too.

Mr. J got the “J Burger” how appropriate?! It had blue cheese, bacon onion marmalade…after that topping, need I say more? I’m sure it tasted better than my fuzzy-low-light photo makes it look!
Jasper's burger
Now, one of the best parts: the fries. This restaurant has a French. Fry. menu. The fries are seriously good enough to deserve their own menu. We splurged and got a side of fries to share in addition to the fries that came with his burger.
Jasper's fries
We had the regular thin fries and thick cut truffle parmesan. I was so impressed that Jasper’s really knows what they are doing with the fries and does it really well. These suckers are seriously addicting. I couldn’t stop reaching for more.

Needless to say we were wayyy too stuffed for any dessert. I learned a lot about their desserts from an obnoxiously loud table nearby who our sweet server humored and unfortunately the owner seemed to dote on. Chocolate cake with toffee ice cream dipped in chocolate does sound delicious now though.

Our server was from MA too and was so full of personality. She was great and I was FLOORED that she remembered the work group when I mentioned I’d been there a month ago. She remembered where we had been sitting. This gal was so great, attentive, and made us feel at home. Speaking of feeling at home, the fries didn’t hurt either.

What I Ate: BBQ Ranch

Yup, I’m still trying to rock this what I ate series. Today I’m sharing a quick and easy sandwich with my bounty of the farmer’s market. Tis the season!

I couldn’t NOT buy these English muffins (as in they even brought out a double-negative from me). They were better than any I’d ever had and made good olde Thomas pale in comparison. These were fluffy and doughy and crisped nicely when toasted but still held their shape.
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Add some grilled chicken, tomatoes, ahhhrugula, and bbq ranch sauce and you’ve got this sandwich!
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The BBQ ranch sauce = 2 parts bbq sauce to 1 parts ranch dressing & shake. I put this on both English muffin pieces and even may have spread a bit on the chicken too.
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These were really good on a hot night!

What I ate: BBQ Leftovers

Have you wondered what I eat when I’m not blogging? Sometimes it is very run of the meal mill. Sometimes it’s not blog-worthy. Sometimes it is just leftovers. I’m starting this ‘What I Ate’ series so you can amuse yourself while you’re just waiting for the weekend. Hopefully it’ll inspire something quick and easy for you with something I wouldn’t do a whole post about normally.

Leftovers from a bbq? I put them together for a post-bbq lunch.

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pita pocket with:
grilled chicken
cucumbers
feta
spinach and artichoke dip

All leftover goodies. Score!