What I Ate: Baked Falafel

Falafel is one of those sneaky take out items that seems so healthy but…

they’re fried. Womp. Womp.

I make it at home somewhat regularly and bake them. It is so much easier, less messy, and healthier.
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I’ve made them from scratch and honestly don’t really think it is worth it. I use a mix, bake them on a cookie sheet for 10 minutes at 375 degree and flip once. Leave the frying to your fav Falafel King/Palace/House-Of…you won’t even miss the fried crunchy outside.

The mixes taste good and are simple. Simple as in just-add-water. In the time it takes to get these buggers toasty and cooked through your salad can be ready and waiting. Toss feta, cukes, tomatoes, and greens with some Italian/Caesar/Oil & Vinegar.
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I love this as a perfect meatless dinner or I’ve served it as an app with little pita pockets. It is an easy meal to bring somewhere since you’ll just need refrigeration and maybe the falafel can get nuked or popped in the toaster oven. This time I served it on wheat naan but tortilla wraps, pita pockets are great too.
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Try it and I won’t even have to say told-ya-so.

Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad Wrap

My event is over. Phew. I’m still just so tired. My head is spinning. There is a lot of stress, pressure, and info swirling but I’m happy. I’m happy how it went. I’m happy how our team did, annnnd I’m happy I don’t have to do it again this weekend already.

Now I’m detoxing. We work so hard and so long that eating and sleeping aren’t top priorities. Now I need to eat real food. I love organizing our meals but feeding that many people, with enough options, is exhausting. Every meal we were at I was thinking of if the next needed confirmations, to be picked up, or paid for. Now I’ll slowly get back to real life.

Ingredients:

1 large chicken breast (or 2 small, or 3 tenders)
1/2 cup creamy caesar dressing
2 tbs Italian dressing
1 head romaine lettuce
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1 cup croutons
1 tomato
1/4 cucumber
2 tortilla wraps

Directions:

Marinade chicken in 1/2 of the caesar dressing and Italian dressings overnight or for at least 4 hours.
Grill chicken until cooked through completely.
Chop/slice lettuce, tomatoes, and cucumber while chicken cooks.
Toss lettuce, Parmesan, and remaining dressing.
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Cut cooked chicken into bite size pieces.
Assemble wraps drizzling with extra caesar dressing.
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It was really good. I used tomato basil wraps and they have a nice sweetness to contrast the dressing. The chicken was really good off the grill.
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Sandwiches are such a quick dinner. The quantity of chicken for this is so small, but is the perfect amount for a wrap. It is definitely an economical way to include some protein.

Totally unrelated. Here’s the pup Windsor. He was feeling ashamed after being told to get his head out of the dishwasher. He’d love to be a pre-wash if not told to stop…but isn’t that face so cute??

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What I Ate: Hot Ham & Cheese with Poppyseed Sauce

Here’s a copy-cat recipe from Pioneer Woman making a pretty tasty spread for sandwiches

I made these kind of envisioning that they would bridge the gap between winter and spring. They’re also easy. And they’re cheap. Yup, spring-ish/easy/cheap fit the bill perfectly. Work is a bit crazy right now. I can’t believe it is May. I’m not sure if I should feel like crying or puking right now.

Ingredients:

2 rolls
1/4 pound sliced honey ham
2-4 slices of American cheese
2 tbs stone ground mustard
2 tbs mayo
1 tsp poppyseeds
1/2 tsp red wine vinegar
1/2 tsp chopped garlic
1/2 tsp honey

Directions:

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees
Mix ingredients for the sandwich spread: mustard, mayo, poppyseeds, vinegar, garlic, and honey.
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Assemble sandwiches
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Cover and bake for 10 minutes.
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I liked the spread, but I don’t know that I’d purposely make it again. It might be a fun option at a sandwich bar or making the every-day-lunch more exciting. I don’t use horseraddish often but maybe that was really the missing link. I think this spread was just OK but when Ree Drumand makes it, there’s prob a reason why she adds horseradish.

This is a mild spread. I love condiments so this one was only “ehhh” to me. The sandwiches were melty and warmed through while not having any butter or grease. I think they were a pretty good option to keep things different but I might not make them all that regularly.

Cost breakdown:
rolls: 2 @ $0.45 each
ham: 1/4 pound @ $4.99 per pound 1.24
cheese: 1/2 pound @ $5.99 per pound 2.99
mayo: <$1.00
stone ground mustard:  <$1.00
poppy seeds: <$2.00
total: about $7.13 for 2 sandwiches or $3.56 each (prob wayyy less if you already have mayo/mustard/etc)

If you have leftover poppy seeds whip up some everything bagel dip!

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