Tuesday, June 24, 2014

To-Die-For Grilled Chicken Salad + Paleo Double Dark Chocolate Brownies

I used to be an emotional eater. Not in the sense that I would use food to anesthetize emotions or anything, but rather that my meal planning was dependent on the craving of the moment, which meant multiple trips a week to the grocery store to get whatever it was I wanted that day. When asked, "What do you want to eat for dinner?" my standard response was, "Depends on how I feel."

Phenomenal misappropriation of resources. 

Now that I'm doing all of my cooking one day a week, I have to be more deliberate about meal planning and shopping. Sadly, my cravings no longer have a say in the proceedings. Not so sadly, I'm becoming a more efficient grocery shopper and paying more attention to what we really like. If it's a meal that both of us particularly enjoyed, we put it in the regular rotation, meaning it's on the menu on a weekly or biweekly basis, until we get tired of it. The Buddy's verbal communication isn't quite up to speed yet, but his vote still counts. Whatever he will actually eat shows up every week, regardless of if we like it or not. Thank God we all love spaghetti.

From time to time, I'll share some of my faves here on the ol' blog so that you can partake if you're so inclined, and so I'll remember to put it on a note card for later. (We'll see if that actually happens).

To-Die-For Grilled Chicken Salad
I whipped up this salad to use some leftover chicken that we'd grilled. We loved it so much, it's a on our list as a summer time fave!

Yield: 4 Servings
2 lbs chicken breasts (4 large, 6 or 7 small), grilled and diced
1/2 c Newman's Own Italian Dressing
2 stalks of celery, washed and diced
4 green onions, washed and diced
10 red grapes, seeded and sliced in half or quarters
2 Tbsp mayonnaise
1/2 tsp dried dill
1/2 tsp rosemary
1/4 c crushed cashews

I typically work with leftovers that have been in the fridge overnight, but if you're doing this from scratch, it'll still work fine. Marinate thawed chicken breasts in italian dressing marinade for a minimum of a half hour (the length of time it takes for me to light a fire in the grill and for the fire to calm down to glowing embers). You don't have to use Newman's Own, but we love it. It's delicious, there's no high-fructose corn syrup and they donate the proceeds from their products to charity. Win-Win-Win. But really, it's up to you. I also think a jerk or tabasco marinade would be yummy, too. Spice it up a bit.

For the uninitiated chicken-cooker, grill breasts 3 to 5 minutes on each , then give them a good poke. If it's done, the flesh should give easily. Also, take a look at the fluid that oozes out. If it's clear, they're done and still juicy. That's what you want. If they still ooze a bit pink, flip them again and cook another 2 minutes on each side. Cool them, dice them and set them aside.

Combine chicken with celery, grapes, green onions, mayonnaise, herbs and cashews. Mix, chill if you prefer, and serve. I serve it on a bed of mixed greens, but it's also great on toast, or with tortilla chips.

Paleo Dark Chocolate Brownies (or as I call them, So Good, Your Head Will Explode). To insure that you completely blow your caloric intake for the day, this little ditty I bit off the blog, Civilized Caveman. There's been a lot of talk about paleo cooking/eating lately and while I personally don't have any medical or moral concerns that keep grains and dairy out of my diet, some of the recipes I've seen make it look like a damned tasty option! We love chocolate, so when I saw this recipe I had to try it. Hope you like it, too, but be careful: grain-free or not, these things are NOT good for you, especially if you do what I did and have them with vanilla ice cream (eek!). Not paleo, but oh, so good!

Yield: 18 (or 1, if you're very motivated)

2 cups of almond butter (can use sun-butter, cashew, macadamia nut butter or a mixture to total 2 cups)
3 eggs
1 c raw, organic honey, melted
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
1/2 c dark cocoa powder
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 c Enjoy Life chocolate chips, melted (can substitute dark chocolate bar)
1 very ripe banana
Preheat oven to 325 Degrees F. In a standing mixer or large mixing bowl, blend your almond butter and eggs to make a smooth batter. Add the honey and the vanilla and mix well. Add the salt, baking soda, then SLOWLY add in the cocoa powder to avoid getting it all over. Fold in the melted chocolate and banana and mix well. I freeze over-ripe bananas to use in my baking. If you do this, put a frozen banana in a ziplock bag in a bowl of warm water to thaw while you make your mixture. Works well.  
Grease a 13x9 inch baking dish with oil (I use coconut) and bake for 35-40 minutes or until it passes the toothpick test.

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