Sunday, November 22, 2020

Chicken Wraps

 Hello out there! It's been a few... years! A lot has changed with me. I've moved again - this time to Florida. We're all obviously dealing with the major life changes the Coronavirus pandemic has brought to our lives, no exception here. For me, that has meant that I have been out of the classroom for almost a year now. It still hardly feels real as I type that - almost a year. I have dreams of teaching almost every night. It had been an extremely stressful few years, however, with very inadequate work-life balance, and it just wasn't sustainable. I was taking no time for hobbies, for family, for myself... the only me time was my drive home, which I would drag out playing Pokemon Go and make my husband worry since I lost track of time and he was trying to have dinner ready for us. So for us, quarantine has actually had some nice benefits. It's forced me to take the time I needed to really face myself and make some hard decisions, instead of just racing into the next job. We are so blessed that we have savings, so privileged that our support network set us up with opportunities to be prepared for this, and that I've been able to take this time. I am so so grateful. 

My shopping habits have changed significantly. For one, I've been so stressed the last few years, I fell out of the habit of menu planning, which had kept us strong for so long. As a result, when we got to Florida and had a little more income, we started doing a liiittle bit more "pick this up for dinner" style eating. In February, with rumors of Covid-19, and knowledge of how bad the restaurant industry is at letting employees take time off for illness, we stopped all fast food, take out, eating out... everything. It wasn't until May 2nd, for Brian's birthday, that we decided to risk getting a pizza from our favorite place, but we put it in the oven when we got it home. We're still about this "paranoid". I think we've added some made at the grocery deli items back and that one pizza place that we trust, but that's it. Our neighborhood has been doing a ton of food trucks, but almost no one is wearing masks to attend, so we pretty much don't attend. Unfortunately. 

For most groceries, we do curbside pickup, but I've been shocked to learn that for a lot of things it's cheaper to get them from Whole Foods and have them delivered since I'm a Prime member. So I now shop both the Publix app and the Amazon/Whole Foods app. Mostly I've based it on if there are any name brand things I particularly need from Publix right now or specialty things I want from Whole Foods, or if anything, in particular, is crazily overpriced at one or the other or out of stock... but this week I've started my crawl back towards menu planning and I've actually got orders going for both at the same time to complete this weekend. *shrug* I'm saving $3 on eggs, $0.75 on fries, about $0.25 on each of several kinds of produce, $8 on shitake mushrooms, and on and on and on. It's always surprising which goes which ways. 

One of my main motivators to start menu planning again was that I'm often unmotivated to get something good put together for myself for lunch. Breakfast is generally ok... for one, Brian often offers to help, and makes good suggestions. For two, I love breakfast foods. But lunch I'm always kinda... meh. And if I don't eat something decent at a proper time, I tend to get weird blood sugar levels and develop a migraine. Unpleasant. I figure, if I already did the hard work of planning it, all I have to do is look at the plan and go "oh yeah, that sounded good" and make it. Easy peasy. 

Enter, this chicken wrap. It was inspired by this wrap I've had pinned forever, but with some modified ingredients to a) make it quicker and easier and b) require less Covid shopping/use what we have and c) match my tastes better. 

Chicken Wraps


  • multigrain flatbread
  • 3 oz chicken breast
  • 1 Tbsp sundried tomatoes
  • 2 Tbsp cherry cranberry pecan mix (or similar)
  • 1 Tbsp plain nonfat Greek yogurt or mayo
  • lettuce blend
  • kosher salt and black pepper to taste
  • flavored vinegar (original used tarragon, I have pear, a bunch of flavored balsamic, etc, pick what you like. It needs an acid. lemon juice works too.) 


  1. Sous Vide (or otherwise cook) your chicken breast ahead of time. You can cook several on the weekend to make lunches easy. For this wrap, cut 3oz into strips. 
  2. Dice up the sundried tomatoes and toss with the cherry, cranberry, pecan mix, and the mayo or yogurt and chicken.
  3. Sprinkle with a couple shakes vinegar, salt, and pepper to taste, and stir well to incorporate. 
  4. Roll up the wraps with a flatbread, lettuce, and chicken. 


Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Cowboy Caviar

I first tasted this delicious dip when a friend brought it over for a game day. It was just the right thing... perfectly scoopable, enough colorful veggies to be slightly virtuous, and tons of flavor and creaminess from the avocado to make it seem sinful. I begged her for the recipe. Turns out it's pretty easy! I'm posting it here to a) share it with all of you, and b) save it for posterity since I've recently had the heartbreak of losing some recipes I had on pinterest to websites that disappeared. :(

Cowboy Caviar

from Creme de la Crumb

1 can black beans, drained
1 can pinto beans, drained
1 can corn, drained
1 avocado, diced
2 roma tomatoes, diced
½ red onion, diced
optional: 1 jalapeño, finely diced
juice of 1 lime
¼ cup cilantro, roughly chopped
½ teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon chili powder

Add all ingredients to a large bowl. Stir to combine. Serve immediately with corn chips/tortilla chips, or cover and chill until ready to serve.

Note: This doesn't taste bad at room temperature, it's quite good in fact. This is a good bet for a party where you need things that can be made ahead a bit and that are tolerant of sitting out. If you're concerned about leaving it out at room temp, refill a smaller bowl from the large one in the fridge. (Just don't use too small of a bowl... this one is a crowd pleaser!)

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese with Caramelized Onions and Bacon

This mac and cheese recipe is So Much Better than anything you can find in a box. It takes about the same amount of time, if you rush the onions. Better than quick, you know what all of the stuff is in this macaroni, no preservatives or artificial junk. You can use just about any cheese you've got - I used extra sharp cheddar and gruyere, and any squash you've got - acorn, butternut, even something like pumpkin works. If you've got leftover fresh mashed squash from another recipe use that, otherwise canned is great and quick.

Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese with Caramelized Onions and Bacon
inspired by abby langer nutrition and pinch of yum


1 pound elbow macaroni or rotini
1/4 cup and 1 tbsp butter
2.5 tablespoons flour (I use King Arthur white whole wheat)
2 cups milk
4 cups grated cheese
1 cup mashed butternut squash
2 small onions, thinly sliced
3 slices of bacon, cooked crisp


1. Melt 1 tbsp butter in a cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add the onions, turn heat down, and cook for at least 30 minutes or until caramelized, tender, and brown.

2. Cook pasta according to package directions.

3. Melt remaining butter in a sauce pan. Add flour and whisk until well combined. Add milk, whisking as you go. Let simmer until slightly thickened. Remove from heat and add squash and cheese. (You can add it back to the heat briefly if it isn't melting, but it is more likely to get grainy if you keep it on the heat here.)

4. Drain pasta, return the the pot. Pour cheese sauce over the pasta, stir to combine. Add onions, stir to combine. Serve hot with bacon crumbled over top.

That's it! Easy peasy. Oh, this would be good with peas too... ;)

I know this one is more of a fall food... but man am I craving some right now. What is your favorite comfort food, fall or spring?

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Potato-Horseradish Gratin with Caramelized Onions

I first made this recipe on February 25, 2012. I know this because the menu for that dinner party is still the bookmark on page 862 of Southern Living's 1001 Ways to Cook Southern, a gift I received from my now mother in law when Brian and I moved to North Carolina from Massachusetts the summer of 2011. That February dinner party night I served a Rosemary-Thyme Rib Roast. Potato gratin has since made its way to my Easter table. Last year there wasn't time for this more involved version of the dish, and I went a more classic route. This year I am trying it as a make ahead dish - I'll let you know how that works out when I edit to add pictures in a couple days!

Potato-Horseradish Gratin with Caramelized Onions

from Southern Living's 1001 Ways to Cook Southern
makes 8 servings   ||   prep: 1 hr, 25 min. cook: 1 hr., 10 min. stand: 10 min.


2 1/2 lb medium-size baking potatoes
1 tsp salt, divided
2 cups half-and-half
1/2 cup cream-style horseradish
1/4 cup butter
2 large onions, thinly sliced
1 tsp sugar
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 cup (4 oz) shredded swiss cheese
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley, divided


1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Cook potatoes in boiling water to cover 20 minutes or until almost tender. Drain and cool slightly. Peel potatoes, and cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Arrange potato slices in a lightly greased 13-x 9-inch baking dish. Sprinkle with 1/2 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper. 
2. Stir together half-and-half and horseradish, and pour over potato.
3. Bake, covered, at 400°F for 40 minutes. 
4. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion, remaining 1/2 tsp salt, and remaining 1/2 tsp pepper; cook, stirring occasionally, 20 minutes. Add sugar and cook, stirring occasionally, 5-8 minutes or until onion is caramel colored. 
5. Stir in vinegar, and cook 2 minutes or until liquid evaporates. Remove from heat, and cool 5 minutes. Fold in cheese and 2 tbsp of parsley. 
6. Uncover potato; top with onion mixture. Reduce temperature to 350°F. 
7. Bake at 350°F for 30 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes; sprinkle with remaining 2 tbsp parsley. 

Make ahead option: 
This can be prepared through step 5 up to 24 hours before. Remove potatoes from oven, let cool. Keep covered and refrigerate. Cover onion mix and refrigerate. 
When ready to cook, remove from fridge and allow to come back towards room temperature 30-60 minutes. Top potato with onion mixture and cook uncovered at 350°F for 30-40 minutes or until heated through. Finish with parsley as normal. 

What is your favorite make-ahead holiday meal? Favorite holiday potato? 

Friday, March 25, 2016

Easter 2016 - Prep Schedule

I always find big dinner parties and holiday meals so much easier to manage with a schedule. It's one of the reasons I often start my menu planning at - they have a great menu builder in their inspiration section that fills a shopping list and populates a schedule for you. The only drawback is that it doesn't take into account that most home cooks don't have two ovens, so you have to check it really carefully and cross your fingers that your two heart set on recipes don't conflict.

Here's my menu for Easter 2016 - if you like the looks of it, you'll love this schedule and shopping list. ;)

Prep Schedule


If curing your own ham (which you need to if you get a natural ham), start brining it 72 hours before you want to cook it. Since we are sous viding, Brian started this on Tuesday. This is the step you need curing salt for below. If you get a ham a more conventional route (like, a grocery store) you will jump ahead a little and skip the curing salt and liquid smoke on the shopping list. ;)

Set up the ham to sous vide for 48 hours. (Start by noon or 1pm if serving around 2-3pm).
Make the shopping list
Go shopping
Drink a glass of wine and toast to the culinary adventure to come 
Maybe dust something


Bake and frost the carrot cake. 
Steam and peel the eggs for the deviled eggs.
Make the potato gratin, up to the step where you add the onions. Cover and refrigerate. Caramelize the onions, cover and refrigerate. 
Make the cheese sablés, but when it says to make a flat disk and refrigerate, instead roll it into logs, wrap in plastic wrap or parchment, and refrigerate overnight. 
Make sweet tea, if room in the fridge. ;) 

Sunday Morning

Take the gratin out of the fridge to come up towards room temp so you don't shock the dish when you put it in the oven. 
Make sweet tea if no room yesterday - put it where the gratin was. ;)

Sunday - 2 1/2 hours before (11:30am here)

Make the deviled eggs - refrigerate until ready to serve (2pm for appetizers here). 
Prep veggie tray.
Heat the oven to 400°F. 
Cut cheese sablés into 1/4 inch slices, brush with glaze, and bake.

1 and 1/2 hours before

Reduce oven temperature to 350°F. 
Top the potato gratin with caramelized onions and bake for 30-40 minutes, until heated throughout. 
Remove ham from sous vide. Make a glaze from the drippings. 
Make the dressing for the peas and carrots.

1 hour before

Put out the appetizers. ;) 
Make popovers. When gratin removed from oven, increase heat to 425°F. Bake popovers for 15 minutes, reduce heat to 350°F, bake for 15 minutes more. 
Once removed from the oven, increase oven temp back up to 450°F.
Steam the baby carrots and sugar snap peas, toss with dressing. 
Make the carrot salad, let sit at room temperature. 

20 minutes before

Put glaze on ham and cook in 450°F oven for 10-20 minutes. 

Just before dinner

Top the carrot salad with the chives.
Slice the ham.

Shopping List

carrots (4 pounds total)
sugar snap peas (8 oz)
1-2 lemons
1 orange
2 1/2 pounds medium size baking potatoes
2 large onions

eggs (need 18 if doubling popovers and making 8 deviled eggs/16 halves)
1 pound cream cheese
2 cups half and half
3 1/2 oz sharp cheddar
1/2 cup finely grated parmigiano reggiano cheese
4 oz swiss cheese
butter (you'll need about 3 cups, all totaled)

country ham
smoked salmon

Dry goods:
chopped walnuts (2 1/2 cups)
vanilla extract
all purpose flour (6 cups)
light brown sugar (2 cups)
1 pound confectioners sugar
raisins (1/2 cup)
dried currants (1/2 cup - sub dried cranberries if you can't find currants)
cream style horseradish (1/2 cup)
untoasted walnut oil (though toasted is fine too)
pink curing salt (we ordered from amazon)
liquid smoke flavor (again, amazon for us)

Probably have at home:
dijon mustard
kosher or sea salt
onion powder
oil (canola, corn, etc - 1 cup)
baking soda
baking powder
ground nutmeg
ground ginger
apple cider vinegar
extra virgin olive oil
balsamic vinegar

It looks like a lot of steps, but it includes all of the temperature changes. Having it all written out takes a lot of guessing and panic out of the day. I do this step blog post or no for big meals. :) Maybe someday I'll be so pro I don't need it, but today is not that day! 

What about you? What is your must do holiday prep step? 

Easter 2016

Easter is such a great holiday. I've seen a lot of naysayers recently complain that it's the new Christmas and ask "when did Easter get so big?" Um, it's kind of a big deal. Christmas has so much pressure to find the perfect gift and has been so commercialized recently, and I hate the arguing about saying "Happy Holidays" or "Merry Christmas" (don't get me started on the red cup hate this year, good grief). Thanksgiving is wonderful but we are always trying to get somewhere in time. We don't really travel for Easter these days. I act like Wendy and collect lost boys around me, many of them from my husband's department, and cook like I'm trying to feed 30 instead of the 3-6 that we usually host. The air is full of promise of warm evenings and bright flowers. All of the trees have bloomed around here and we had the most magnificent sunset tonight, and as I type this at 7:30pm it's still dimly dusk outside.

I love the menu planning process for holidays and dinner parties. I love skimming fine cooking, my cookbook shelves, pinterest, and old menu pages from previous years, remembering joyful moments shared with friends and family, laughing to myself about recipes that flopped, getting hungry remembering the delightful surprises and wild successes.

This is my menu this year. I've dropped a side, added a side, rotated back to a harder version of another one, retreated to the comfortable familiarity of popovers (unlike the awful dinner rolls I tried last year), and of course, I kept the carrot cake.

Easter Menu 2016


Deviled Eggs with Smoked Salmon
Vegetable Crudités

Salads and Sides

Popovers (from How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman)

Main Course

Sous Vide Country Ham



Sparkling Apple Cider
Watermelon Mint Lemonade
Sweet Tea

So, what's cooking at your house this weekend? Do you travel for Easter, host, or order Chinese? Any favorite spring traditions? 

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Blueberry Muffins with Streusel topping

The last few weeks we've been making tons of fruit smoothies for breakfast. Let me tell you, I'm hooked. They are such a great way to get in some dairy (make them with natural plain yogurt), and they're perfect for the fruit that is lets say... not quite fruit tray pretty any more, yes?

Joyful foodie blueberry muffins with streusel topping

So we've gone through a TON of fruit! Its been awesome. We've finally cleaned out the section of the freezer that has had frozen fruit in it for AGES. I mean we're talking strawberries from last summer's "how much fruit could a flat of berries really be??" experiment and frozen mix bags from my last smoothie attempts ... they were misguided, and always tasted like frost bitten fruit. It doesn't have to be like that!!

Joyful foodie blueberry muffins with streusel topping

Last week I made the Peach Crisp using (mostly) farmer's market peaches. Delicious. And while I joked about eating leftovers for breakfast, I have restrained myself. That has however left this nagging want for something sweet... fruity... and baked to go with those smoothies in the morning. (Or bacon. You can never go wrong with bacon.)
Enter: THIS MUFFIN. I totally misjudged how much streusel topping I needed last week with the peaches, and I hate throwing perfectly good food/ingredients away... so I went on a muffin hunt. Found Barbara Bakes. Anyone already know her? If not, oh man, go click around her site. It's beautiful and everything looks so yummy and I can practically smell her pictures. (Oh wait, that's the muffins.)

Just don't forget to come back over here, ok??

You ready?

The BEST Blueberry Streusel Muffins

adapted from Barbara Bakes


1/4 cup flour
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/16 teaspoon salt ...basically a pinch ;)
1/4 stick butter (2 tablespoons)
2 tablespoons rolled oats
2 tablespoons nuts of your choice (I like a mix of pecans and cashews)

2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup whole milk
2 cups blueberries, fresh*

*Barbara says you can use frozen. I really really wouldn't. Save your frozen berries for smoothies or oatmeal or tea. These stay suspended in light fluffy batter so perfectly, if they are fresh they pure explode on your tongue with tart sweet juicy perfection. Don't deny yourself that kind of pleasure. 


Preheat the oven to 350ºF and line your muffin tin with paper cupcake liners.

Prepare your streusel topping and set aside.

In a small bowl, mix first three ingredients (flour, baking powder, and salt.)

In a large bowl of stand mixer, beat sugar and softened butter until light and fluffy. Add eggs, vanilla, and milk. Beat briefly. Add dry ingredients and mix just until combined.

Gently stir in blueberries.

Spoon batter into lined muffin tins. You should get somewhere between 12 and 15. They puff up really nice if you are closer to 12, but I was timid about filling my muffin tins. Don't  worry about being timid. It'll all work out either way. ;)

Generously heap streusel topping onto the muffins. Bake for 20-25 minutes.

Allow muffins to rest for 5 minutes in the pan, then remove to wire rack to finish cooling.

For the streusel:
Pulse first six ingredients (flour through salt) in food processor. Add butter and pulse again. Add oats and nuts and pulse a final time.

Modifications: The second time I made this I tried half white whole wheat flour and half regular all purpose flour. It still turned out good, so if you're already making that switch it works here. It was definitely a little denser this way, but still tasty. Maybe add a tablespoon or two of oil to keep it moist and up it to two teaspoons of baking powder to help fluff the muffins.


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