There aren’t many healthy options for lunch near where I work. There is a Publix grocery and fast food. The only fast food I eat is Chick-fil-a and fortunately, we got one nearby a few years back. As fast food goes, it’s not terrible for you and they have decent salad options. One day I decided to get a cup of chicken noodle soup and the newer “Superfood” side. The soup was a little salty but the salad was fantastic. I decided to recreate it at home.
It just so happened that our CSA provided arugula, dyno kale and broccoli the last several weeks, so this was a no brainer. I would start with less vinaigrette and add more if need be. The salad is well balanced and will last as leftovers for a few days. The super crunchy broccoli and hearty kale give nice bite. The arugula adds a little bitter and peppery kick. The earthy walnuts and sweet and sour cherries along with the acid and sweet from the vinaigrette all work very well together.
I’ve now made this salad many times. For my wife and I, for guests and for large community functions. Quantities of all ingredients depend on how much you would like to make. The vinaigrette measurements is a complete guess, I just don’t measure these, sorry. You can adjust to your tastes.
Measurements are approximate.
- 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp dijon mustard
- 1 tbsp maple syrup
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 cup dried sour cherries
- Red onion, thinly sliced (just add what you like or leave it out)
- 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
- Dyno kale, destemmed and cut in strips
- Broccoli, sliced
- First make the vinaigrette. In a mixing bowl, add the mustard, salt, pepper, vinegar and maple syrup and whisk together. Continue whisking and drizzle in the olive oil. Add the cherries and onion and toss. This will allow the cherries to reconstitute and lessen the punch of the onion.
- Right before serving, add the sliced broccoli (and all the little bits), kale and arugula in a large bowl. Add in the vinaigrette with the cherries and onions. Toss to coat the greens. Add walnuts and toss again.
I was going through the dinner food line at my Grandparents house. All the cousins, aunts and uncles were there, so a pretty long line. Each stop in the line fills your plate more and more and it all looks great. I got to the mashed potatoes and gravy and took a pretty good size scoop. When I got to the kids table, I sat down and went straight for the “potatoes”. Unfortunately, they were not potatoes but mashed turnips. Yuck! From then on, I would tell people, there is nothing I won’t eat but turnips. Double Yuck!
All these years later, I still hadn’t ever eaten turnips. It’s funny, in retrospect, it wasn’t that I didn’t like turnips. It was the shock of getting them mashed, when I was expecting potatoes. Even when we got turnips in our CSA, we just gave them away (my wife doesn’t care for them either).
So, we got stuck with the turnips a week back and couldn’t give them away. After 30 years (give or take) I decided I’d give them a try again. I hit up Google and found a number of interesting recipes. The one I settled on was from a favorite Chef, Vivian Howard (a fellow North Carolinian). Here is a PDF of her recipe “Berkshire Pork, Turnip and Sweet Potato Stew“. I did my usually modifications to give it my own little spin, but WOW and Double Yum! With the weather getting cooler and it being turnips and sweet potato season, I highly recommend this one. We’ll be making it again. My wife even loved it.
The stew was surprisingly light. I left the herbs in whole and picked the stems (all the leaves just fall off during the braise) and bay out. The gremolata added a citrus punch and herbaceousness.
- 1 ½ pounds pork Boston butt
- 2-3 tbsp flour
- Salt and pepper
- 1 bunch turnips (diced) with greens
- 1 large sweet potato, cubed
- 2 carrots, cubed
- 2 celery stocks, diced
- ½ a large onion, chopped
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 2-4 cups low sodium beef stock
- 1 cup red wine
- 2 sugar cubes (1 tbsp brown sugar)
- 2-3 sprigs fresh rosemary
- 4-5 sprigs fresh thyme
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 tbsp olive oil
Ingredients for Gremolata
- Zest of one lemon
- 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
- 2-3 tbsp fresh parsley, minced
- Heat a Dutch oven to medium high and add oil. Season the pork liberally with salt and pepper, dust with the flour and brown on all sides. Remove the pork and set aside.
Add the onions, celery and carrots and season with salt and pepper. Cook the vegetables until softened and add the garlic. Cook another minute or two and add tomato paste. Add the wine and scrape the bottom of the pan.
- Reduce the heat to simmer and add the pork back to the pot. Add the stock until the pork is covered (use water if needed). Add sugar, bay, rosemary and thyme and cover with lid. Allow to simmer for 1 ½ hours.
- Add turnips and cook for 5 minutes. Add sweet potato and cook for another 5 minutes until the potatoes are barely tender. Add the turnip greens and allow to wilt a bit.
- For the gremolata, just add the lemon zest, minced garlic and parsley together and toss to combine.
- To plate, add a serving to a big bowl and garnish with the gremolata. Enjoy!
We don’t eat at P.F. Chang’s much any more. Not because it isn’t awesome, but because where it is located. Crazy traffic, crazy people in crazy traffic. We avoid that area. The two things I miss the most are the Kung Pao Scallops and the Chicken Lettuce Wraps. Even the Veggie Lettuce Wraps are awesome. So, when we got A LOT of bib lettuce from our CSA (Greenbrier Farms, they are awesome!), the first thing I though of was P.F. Chang’s amazing Chicken Lettuce Wraps.
I hunted and pecked the Googlebot and found this recipe from Damn Delicious. The first time I made these, I pretty much followed her recipe. If you do, you’ll pretty much get what you came for, she nailed it. Her recipe is dang close P.F. Chang’s.
On my second time, as usual, I tweaked it a bit. I wanted a little more heat and little more savory. A little more garlic and ginger. A little more hoisen. Sesame oil for that… whatever it adds (you know). More sriracha and I added sambal oelek, because sambal oelek. I also used some Dale’s Seasoning Sauce, which I’ve talked about before. It is basically salty soy sauce but adds something, I think. Interestingly enought, I did NOT season it any further. It didn’t need it. The soy and Dale’s had plenty of salt and the ginger, sambal oelek and sriracha offered more than enough heat.
You can’t go wrong with Damn Delicious’s recipe, again, it is spot on to P.F. Chang’s. I just made this per my tastes. You can always add more or less of what you like or don’t like. That is the beauty of cooking (not baking).
- 1 pound ground chicken
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2-3 tsp sesame oil
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tbsp ginger, minced
- 1 small white onion, diced
- 1/2 cup hoisen
- 2 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
- 1 tbsp Dale’s Seasoning Sauce
- 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
- 1-2 tbsp sambal oelek
- 1 tbsp sriracha
- 1 (8 oz) can whole water chestnuts, diced
- 2-3 green onions, sliced thin
- 1 head bib lettuce
- Heat a large pan over medium. Add olive oil and sesame oil and coat the pan.
- Next add the ground chicken and cook, breaking it up as it browns.
- Once the chicken is just cooked through, add garlic, ginger, onions, hoisin, soy, Dale’s, rice wine vinegar, sambal oelek, sriracha, and toss to coat. Cook until onions are just starting to be translucent.
- Finally, add the water chestnut and the most of the green onions, toss to combine and cook for another minute.
- To serve, spoon the mixture into open bib lettuce leaves, top with more green onion. We also served them with some store bought egg rolls.
This one is so easy, it almost doesn’t qualify for it’s own post. As easy as it was, it turned out fantastic. I don’t use a slow cooker often, but this makes me wonder why.
I made the recipe even easier by using store bought slaw mix. It’s fine in a pinch. We served it with Alexia fries and onion rings, which made it even more easy.
We only used two large chicken breasts which we ate off twice. You could easily double that and just add a little more buffalo sauce and the whole seasoning packet.
Hat tip to LOTS of other bloggers and websites that posted similar recipes for the buffalo chicken.
Give this a try and let us know in the comments what you think.
Ingredients – Buffalo Chicken
Ingredients – Bleu Cheese Coleslaw
- Salt and pepper
- Shredded cabbage
- Coleslaw dressing (store bought)
- Bleu cheese
Ingredients – Other
- Place chicken in your slow cooker. Dust with the Ranch dressing packet, pour in 3/4 of the buffalo sauce and set to low. Cook six hours. (Note: you can also set the slow cooker for high and cut the cook time in half.)
- In a large bowl add the cabbage, bleu cheese (add some, taste and add more if needed to taste) and less of the dressing then you think you’ll need, toss to combine. Taste and adjust for seasoning. Add more dressing just before serving if need be. Place in the refrigerator.
- After six hours, using two forks, shred the chicken. Add a tablespoon or two of the olive oil (you could use butter if you like) and more buffalo sauce, if you like. Mix together and let it cook another 30 minutes to an hour.
- If you are making the fries/onion rings, follow the instruction on the package. If you want to make your own fries try these baked French fries (another slow cooker recipe as well).
- Just before serving, toast the buns.
- To serve, pile some chicken and coleslaw on the bun and enjoy. That’s it, super easy.
Super easy and impressive meal you can make on a week day, no problem. This was actually inspired by several meals I’ve eaten at restaurants. The bacon wrapped pork came from Soby’s and I’ve blogged before (Bacon Wrapped Pork Tenderloin). The pimento cheese grits I had at Distilled at Gratz Park Inn. The seared okra I had at High Cotton Greenville. I made these a little more approachable for me at home but the combination is amazing.
This is as southern a meal as it gets. Bacon, pork, grits and okra. I made this for the in-laws from Indiana, they loved it. Other than the okra, everything pretty much self seasoned. The bacon on the pork and the pimento cheese in the grits.
Before we get started on the recipe, I want to dip my toes in a controversial topic here in these parts. Pimento Cheese. If you aren’t from the south and have never tried it, you might turn your nose up at it. You shouldn’t. It is fantastic. Here’s a shocker, I don’t like (I loathe) mayonnaise (unless I make it myself), an essential ingredient in every pimento cheese. I still love this stuff, but I digress.
Do you have your own recipe for pimento cheese? Which mayo do you use? Heaven forbid, do you add jalapenos? Do you only eat your Grandmothers? Do you buy it from a store or deli? What brand do you buy? You’d be surprised how many different answers to those questions you might get around here and the conversations they turn up. It’s almost (ALMOST) as bad as asking a southern about BBQ.
My answers are: Yes, I have made it myself. Duke’s is the only mayo if you must. Yes, I love jalapenos in mine. Nope, I eat just about anyone’s recipe. Yes, I buy in the store most times. Palmetto with Jalapenos (from Pawley’s Island) is favorite.
Ruth’s is another brand made in South Carolina that you can find in most stores but Palmetto isn’t as sweet or mushy.
- Set oven to 425 ° and set a large pan over medium high heat.
- Slice the okra in half length wise, toss in a bowl with lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
- Wrap the pork with the bacon so that the seems are on the bottom of the tenderloin.
- Place the bacon wrapped pork in the hot pan seem side down and then sear on all sides. Place in the oven for 20-25 minutes until desired doneness (it is supposed to be 165 but I pull it before that). Place on a cutting board and allow to rest.
- Heat a large grill pan over medium high heat.
- Depending on the type of grits, cook per the instructions. I generally use half water and half milk. Also, if it calls for butter, I substituted olive oil. Just before serving mix in pimento cheese and allow to melt. For four servings I used 3-4 tablespoons.
- Place the okra in the grill pan and sear on both sides until just slightly tender.You should have nice grill marks.
- To serve, spoon some grits down, slice the pork and stack, then top with the okra.
Here in Greenville, SC, where I live, we are blessed with amazing restaurants. Not just highfalutin, fancy ones, but an amazing array of all kinds. It really is crazy how many and with such variety. One such place has become a lunch time favorite, Tropical Chicken Grill. The food there is Cuban and comes at you fast and furious. This is the kind of place that has a line but they get you through quick. My favorite is the Cuban Chop, which has yellow rice, black beans and their amazing grilled chicken, “chopped”. It all comes in a bowl with 6-8 different house made sauces to choose from. Everything I’ve had there has been amazing but this Cuban Chop haunts me. I crave it.
I love eating something like that and then trying to reproduce it at home. I didn’t make the rice or beans from scratch. I didn’t even really grill the chicken. With that said, I nailed this one. For a make-at-home-in-30-minutes version though, it was amazing. I highly recommend this recipe. It is easy and delicious.
I did nothing special with the rice, I just used the low sodium stuff. For the beans, adding the bay and garlic added a punch of flavor (I also used low sodium here as well). The chicken, with the dry rub was off the charts. The chimichhurri added that bright, garlicky, herbaceousness that completely finished off the dish. YUM!
If you give this recipe a try, please let me know what you think in the comments or on social.
Ingredients for Chimichhurri
Measurements are approximate.
- 1 bunch Cilantro
- 1 bunch Italian Parsley
- 1-2 pinches, crushed red pepper flake
- 2-3 cloves, garlic
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1/2 cup walnut oil (canola oil is fine too)
- 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
- Zest of 2 lemons
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 2 tbsp water
- Salt to taste
Ingredients for Cuban Dry Rub
Measurements are approximate.
- 1 tbsp cumin powder
- 1 tbsp paprika
- 1 tbsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tablespoon, crushed red pepper flake
- 1 tbsp Cajun seasoning
- Salt to taste
- 2 large skinless, boneless chicken breast
- 4 boneless,skinless chicken thighs
- 2 15 oz. cans, low sodium black beans (Amy’s or Bush’s works good)
- 1 package, low sodium yellow rice (Vigo is good)
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 tbsp olive oil
Directions for Chimichhurri
This can be done ahead of time.
- In a blender, add all ingredients for the Chimichhurri except the olive oil and salt. I start with the water so the blender has something to start with. Puree. Once smooth, drizzle in the olive oil.
- Taste and season with salt if needed. Set aside.
- In a meduim sauce pan, add the black beans and the liquid from the cans. Add bay leaves and garlic. Heat over medium low slowly until the rest of the meal is ready.
- Follow instructions for the yellow rice packet. Mine took 20-25 minutes. Keep warm.
- Preheat a large skillet or grill pan over medium heat.
- In small bowl combine all the ingredients listed under dry rub.
- Cut the chicken breast in to stips of approximately the same size.
- Apply the rub liberally over the chicken thighs and breasts.
- Cook the chicken until desired doneness. Allow to rest and then chop in to bit size chuncks.
- To plate, add the rice on the bottom, spoon the black beans on top of that with a little bit of the liquid and top with chopped chicken. Finally, drizzle with Chimichhurri.