Beware too many substitutions

Pasta Nicoise

When you're out of the habit of blogging, you sometimes forget to take pictures of your food until they are leftovers...

When you’re out of the habit of blogging, you sometimes forget to take pictures of your food until they are leftovers…

D made this one, so I had to get his take on this dish as a recipe.  As an eater, I loved it.  He remembered that we’d made this one before with water-packed tuna and added our own olive oil.  He said that was better than reserving the oil from oil-packed tuna.  I would agree with him.  Oil-packed tuna is kind of weird.  It spread out all over the salad instead of staying in chunks.  The texture is a little mealier.  But here’s the really important point: there’s no tuna water to give the cats.  I’m surprised they let D live.  Seriously.  I cannot imagine what he went through opening two cans of tuna, draining them, releasing the tuna aroma into the air, and listening to the incessant meow of two housecats who are. not. having. it.  Sorry, D.  So we highly recommend water-packed tuna, especially for cat owners.  This also lets you use your own favorite olive oil instead of whatever the tuna people use.  We were also out of red wine vinegar.  Well, that’s not entirely fair.  We were out of it on purpose.  I’ve been trying to use up all of the random ingredients in the fridge, freezer, and pantry.  To that end, I used up the red wine vinegar about a month ago and haven’t bought more.  D used balsamic instead.  It was good, but it was better with red wine vinegar.  So it’s time to replace the red wine vinegar.  Fair enough.  One substitution was very successful.  D used up the last of the black Moroccan olives that we purchased for who knows what recipe.  I’m telling you, getting these random things out of the fridge feels very good.

Upshot: Even with the slight problems with substitutions, this is a good recipe.  It was a very nice, hearty meal.

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Poached chicken madness

Poached chicken breasts

a poach, poach, poach

a poach, poach, poach

This issue recommends poaching boneless, skinless chicken breasts.  They are preaching to the choir.  I’ve already said before that poaching chicken breasts is the only way to go.  It is so easy, so quick, and so fool-proof.  My sister-in-law told me at Christmas that she throws chicken breasts into a crockpot on low and lets them go for a while to poach.  This sounds genius and I will follow up on all of the details for you, dear readers.  The poached chicken recipe in the magazine is especially fun because it has to flavoring the poaching liquid.  That’s not something I normally bother with, but I think I’m convinced to change my ways. The recipe uses an onion, carrot, celery, garlic, lemon, some peppercorns, and some sprigs of thyme and parsley, but it says right at the top that you should just use whatever aromatics you have on hand.  I love a recipe that tells me to just do whatever.  I also love getting random celery out of the house some other way besides throwing it away.  Same thing with the end of a bunch of parsley.  Long story short, I made this recipe at least three times this past month.  I’ve lost count.  And I made it three different ways.  It’s going on the notecard!  Bookmark the recipe and never deal with weird sauteed chicken breasts ever again!

And what did I do with my chicken?

I made two of the four sandwiches.  We didn’t make the zucchini and pesto sandwich.  B and I have talked about this.  Telling people to make something with zucchini in the dead of winter is pretty ridiculous.

Hummus & Carrots

hummus, shredded carrots, sliced poached chicken breast, and baby spinach on wheat

hummus, shredded carrots, sliced poached chicken breast, and baby spinach on wheat

Yum!  Healthy!  Filling!  (Needs mayo)

Avocado & Parm

mashed avocado with lemon juice, shaved parmesan cheese, sliced poached chicken breast, on wheat

mashed avocado with lemon juice, shaved parmesan cheese, sliced poached chicken breast, on wheat

Yum!  Rich avocado with salty parmesan cheese!  (Needs mayo)  B tells me this would have been better on white bread.  She’s right.

B made the classic.  Your thoughts, B?

The Classic… plus pickled onions, because pickled onions are yummy.

The Classic… plus pickled onions, because pickled onions are yummy.

B says, its a chicken sandwich.  It had mayo so thats a plus.  But it wasn’t anything that special.  The pickled onions helped it a bit, but that was all on me.  Back to you , G.

G again.  I also made the chicken salad with scallions and yogurt.

shredded chicken, yogurt, scallions, and chopped basil served on spinach

shredded chicken, yogurt, scallions, and chopped basil served on spinach

This is me channeling my inner 1950’s housewife and serving the chicken salad in a proper little mound.  This is a very tasty chicken salad.  The basil adds a lot, which makes up for the fact that getting basil in January is roughly as difficult and unreasonable as getting zucchini.

Ok, one more thing and then we’ll let you go.  Here’s a picture of the egg salad from the magazine.

Not so very lightened-up if you wind up eating the egg yolks on their own later in the week.

Not so very lightened-up if you wind up eating the egg yolks on their own later in the week.

The recipe is hidden in the back under the big title “Everyday Food on TV.”  Do you guys remember that show?  D and I loved it.  We watched it on PBS in our old, old apartment, then DVR’ed in our old apartment.  This one is John Barricelli’s recipe.  I always liked him.  Maybe because he was the only guy, and I thought that must mean he was cool if he was willing to be on a show with a bunch of ladies AND be the baking guy.  Normally, you’d think the only guy on the show would be there to talk about grilling or meat or something else bro, but no, John normally made tarts.  You have to love that.  Also, he had a super pronounced (somewhere out East…) accent that he made no attempt to hide.  I got the feeling that John was a man who was very comfortable just being himself.

And his egg salad?  Um, it’s fine.  It uses avocado instead of egg yolks and very little of the creamy stuff, so it’s very, very good for a post holiday meal.  Here is my best attempt to write it up as a proper recipe.  The magazine has it like a quote from John.

Lightened up egg-salad sandwich (adapted from Everyday Food Issue #69 January/February 2010)

  • 4 hard-cooked egg whites, chopped
  • 1/2 avocado, pitted and diced medium
  • 1/4 small red onion, diced small
  • 1 t mayo
  • 1 t sour cream
  • 1 t Dijon mustard
  • salt and pepper

Combine all of the ingredients, season with salt and pepper.  Serve on whole wheat bread with arugula.

You might be asking how many people this is supposed to serve.  I really don’t know.  I usually only have two eggs at breakfast, so I took this as being a two person recipe.  If you have a bigger appetite, this probably serves one.