So remember that roasted cauliflower? You know, the healthy side dish that once actually grew in the ground? The eat-straight-from-the-pan lunch that wasn’t candy-coated or Funyuns?
This is what I did with the leftovers.
I took one of our favorite versions of carbonara, which replaces half of the pasta with plant things (this time leftover roasted cauliflower) and had an instant winner on my hands.
Honestly, there’s a little bit of bacon and there’s some Parmesan along with those glorious carbs… so anyone who declared that dish a “you don’t need to make this again” would probably be forwarding their mail at this point.
Roasted Cauliflower Carbonara
Roasted cauliflower replaces half of the pasta in this traditional carbonara.
For the last three weeks, the majority of our meals have come from either the hospital vending machine, a Chick-fil-A drive-thru, or Disney World.
Talk about extremes. (And my favorites were obviously from Disney World!)
After getting back from our trip this week, I spent most of yesterday limping around the kitchen for some make-ahead meal prep. I whipped up a big batch of quinoa to be used in stew and for a winterized version of our favorite salad, shredded a massive amount of chicken portioned in half-pound baggies for the freezer, and popped open the jar of Cookwell & Company Two-Step Green Chile Stew that came with this month’s HEB Primo Picks.
Because a girl can only feed her family Funyuns and waffle fries so many times before feeling a little like a terrible person. And a girl only needs to hear her 3.87 year-old say, “Momma, I can have broccoli for a treat today?” once before really feeling like a terrible person.
But I actually had a plan for the post-vacation and post-vending machine detox. A quick-fix green chile stew beefed up into a healthful, hearty one-bowl meal with shredded chicken, navy beans, quinoa, pico de gallo, and a dollop of fat-free Greek yogurt on top.
It’s healthy, delicious, and just a hint of some low-grade heat from the green chiles. Minimal prep time – admittedly not as fast as swiping a card and punching D12 – but maximum nutrition. And that’s just something you can’t get out of a vending machine or from a drive-thru window.
Green Chile Chicken & Quinoa Stew
32 oz jar Cookwell & Company Two-Step Green Chile Stew
8 oz "leftover" chicken, shredded*
1 cup cooked quinoa
1 can navy beans, rinsed and drained
3 plum tomatoes, diced
1 small jalapeno, seeded (or not) and diced
1/3 cup chopped red onion
Juice from 1/2 lime
Handful of cilantro
Sour cream or plain yogurt
* I make "leftover" chicken in the oven in a foil pouch - 2 breasts per pouch at 425 for 20 minutes.
In a medium/large pot, heat the green chile stew over medium heat.
Add the shredded chicken, cooked quinoa, and navy beans, simmering until heated through.
Stir together the tomatoes, jalapeno, red onion, cilantro, lime juice, and salt and set aside.
Ladle the soup into bowls, top with a generous scoop of pico de gallo and a dollop of plain yogurt or light sour cream.
This recipe was developed in conjunction with H-E-B and I was provided ingredients as well as compensated for my time. Messy fingers, stretchy-waisted pants, and baby-Elmo-clogged-toilets are all mine. You can find H-E-B on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. And if you’re as lucky as we are, 4 locations within a 5 mile radius.
There are some days that only the ringing of the door bell can fix. Assuming the person on the other side of that door is holding a large brown bag full of an oil-drenched sodium bomb.
Or a margarita. (And one day, I’ll bring that dream of a margarita delivery service to life. Or at least be their very best customer.)
No amount of justifying “but homemade is soooo much better – and better for you!” fixes those days. Carbs must be over-paid for. Then delivered outside of the promised window without the extra spicy mustard you specifically requested. And then consumed in excess, and far too fast.
But on days when you don’t need the psychological effect of throwing your credit card at a stranger standing on your front step, homemade is so better. And better for you. Because there’s room in everyone’s kitchen for a take-out recipe that doesn’t come drenched in a 1/2 cup of oil.
For the last 5 years, that bowl of DIY take-out Chicken Lo Mein has been the second-most popular noodle dish in this house. 5 years.
The recipe comes courtesy of my friend Elly over at Elly Says Opa. Her blog is usually the place I visit when I’m short on ideas for our weekly menu. Also, it’s where I go when I want to look at dreamy photos of delicious Greek food that no one else in this house would eat with me.
Well, at least not before I introduced them to the magicalness of gyro and baklava at Greek Fest… but that’s a different story and a different recipe.
Today, it’s Chinese Food from my favorite Greek blogger.
We make a few minor changes to the recipe. We don’t incite the natives to rebel by including mushrooms. And the open-bag-of-frozen-snap-peas-dump-in-pan keeps the littlest native from picking through her bowl of noodles looking for an offending chunk of celery or an icky chunk of carrot. (Because in typical 3 year old logic, carrots are awesome raw and carrots are awesome cooked to a mush in a can of soup. But she will cut you – and by “you” I mean “me” – over anything in between).
And sometimes we add orange juice and strips of orange zest. And sometimes that orange becomes grapefruit.
And when we can’t keep up with the red bell peppers from the garden, I throw in as many of those as I can squeeze into the pan.
And as long as there’s no celery or mushrooms or carrots, everyone is happy. And stays happy.
Chicken Lo Mein
A lighter, better-for-you-than-takeout chicken lo mein.
8 oz lo mein noodles
2 Tbsp oyster sauce
1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
1/2 cup chicken broth or stock
1 tsp cornstarch
Red pepper flakes
1 Tbsp olive (or other cooking) oil
8 oz chicken breast, sliced thinly
1 tsp grated ginger
1 small white or yellow onion, quartered and sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 green onions, sliced (dark green parts reserved)
8 oz frozen snow peas
Cook the lo mein noodles according to package directions.
Drain, toss with a few dashes of sesame oil, and set aside.
In a small bowl, whisk the oyster sauce, soy, chicken stock, cornstarch, and red pepper until smooth; set aside.
Heat the oil in a large skillet (I use a nonstick pan) over high heat.
Stir fry the chicken for 3-4 minutes, until almost cooked through and add the ginger, onions, garlic, white and light green onion parts, and snow peas.
Cook for another 2-3 minutes until the onions are cooked to your preference, stirring frequently.
Whisk the sauce and add it to the pan, letting it boil for 1 minute before adding the noodles.
Toss to coat, top with dark green onion slices, and serve.
I spent almost my entire October doing nothing that was on my To Do List.
We didn’t have time to move this blog over to its new location at The Brewer and The Baker (but that’s still coming), we let the blog’s 7th birthday go by (that, too, is still coming), we almost let our 7th anniversary go by but Jason swooped in and saved the day with emergency margaritas, and here I am on the day before Halloween, marathon training on pause thanks to plantar fasciitis, and looking at a 90% chance of a Trick-or-Treat rain-out.
Seriously – waaaaaaah, right?
My family has sustained on Chick-fil-A and Jason’s Deli, I haven’t cleaned anything in 3 weeks (well, not the house we live in), and I bought new underwear to avoid “wasting” time by doing laundry. I also set a new personal-best for the number of F-Bombs dropped in a 12 second period. (Related: No. I do not want to talk about the paint incident.) (And yes, my power-tripping 3 year old put me in time out.)
If I could turn back time , I’d go back to 2008, look Past Shawnda in the eye, which would totally freak her out long enough to distract her, kick her in the girl parts, and scream “THIS IS WHAT BUYING RENTAL HOUSES DOES TO FUTURE SHAWNDA. PUT THAT MONEY IN APPLE AND VALERO STOCK AND GO GET A REAL JOB!”
For nearly 4 full weeks, I have not been a real joy to be around. But that all changed the second I dropped those house keys into my Realtor’s hands. We were free. FREE!
Free to come home to a house that smelled funky because no one remembers the last time we were here long enough to put garbage in the kitchen can, much less take it out to the street. Free to eat food that wasn’t handed to us through a drive-thru window. Free to realize that you’re better off just burning wet bath towels and the washer in which they were forgotten than trying to fix them.
Free to throw together a dinner using only things I could find in the pantry and freezer because we’re nearly through November’s grocery budget.
There are a few times that others can appreciate my hoarding tendencies. Finding crab in the freezer to throw in to some macaroni in cheese is one of those. Otherwise, we’d have found ourselves at Jason’s Deli for the 15th time this month.
A slight variation on our standard stove top mac & cheese recipe, I went for cream cheese instead of yogurt and added worcestershire, green onions, and a little mustard to make it more of a “crab dip meets pasta” dish. Warm, creamy, indulgent and still not that terrible for you – I was almost as happy polishing off a second helping as I was throwing the keys at my Realtor’s face and running away while laughing maniacally.
But now? Now it’s time for fun
Stovetop Crab Macaroni & Cheese
Stovetop macaroni and cheese meets crab dip - creamy, indulgent, and takes only 30 minutes.
8 oz pasta
4 oz reduced-fat cream cheese
3 green onions, chopped (dark green parts set aside)
1 clove garlic, minced
5 oz white cheddar, shredded*
3 oz fontina, shredded*
2 tsp dijon or brown mustard
1 cup crab meat, picked over for shells (this was from 1 1/2 snow crab clusters)
*Do not use pre-shredded cheese.
Cook pasta in salted water, according to package directions (you will be reserving some pasta water so don't forget - put the measuring cup in the strainer in the sink if you need a reminder).
While the water is boiling/pasta is cooking, cut cream cheese into 6-8 blocks and microwave on half power until completely softened.
In a small pan, heat a little oil and cook the white and light green onions parts and garlic for 2-3 minutes (you want to soften and knock the raw edge off).
When the pasta is finished, reserve 1 cup pasta water, drain the pasta and immediately return it to the pot.
Working quickly (it has to be hot to melt the cheese), add ~1/3 cup pasta water, the cream cheese, and 1/3 of the grated cheese and stir until the cheese has melted - pressing on the cream cheese before stirring will help it incorporate faster.Stir in remaining cheese, one handful at a time to prevent clumping.
Add the onions and garlic, few dashes Worcestershire, mustard, crab, and several grinds black pepper.
Add additional pasta water as necessary to thin the sauce and melt the cheese.
Garnish with dark green onion parts and serve hot/warm.