The Ultimate Chicken Sandwich

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There are plenty of nights now when we just wing it when it comes to dinner. I always have high hopes for a great meal every night but real life gets in the way. I mean I can pin some great ideas until the cows come home while I am on the bus heading into work wishing that I was actually heading home. At least I’ve been on a one-pot meal pinning streak so I’m looking forward to trying one of those soon.

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I wish I had the energy to cook but most days I’m drained. Hmm… maybe it’s the lack of sleep and constant moving I’m doing. We’re the on the go kind of family but lately I’ve been hauling butt walking all around town trying to enjoy the nice summer time weather and gets steps, which I’m tracking with my Fitbit. Love it.

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So when it comes to dinner I’ll admit that we’re there are equally as many meals of cereal or take out as there are of cooked ones. And by cooked I often mean assembled. Does cutting up tomatoes and dressing with olive oil count as cooking? Yes… cool!!

Anyway, this sandwich is the kind of meal I can manage- grab a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store, cut off one of the breasts which you then thinly sliced. Cook up some bacon, which I hardly qualify as cooking in this case as you just do it in the oven. Then assemble the mega sandwich, cut, enjoy.

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This would also work just as well with some turkey. would be a nice post Thanksgiving sandwich to change things up from the stuffing loaded ones. Don’t get me wrong, I love Pilgrim Sandwiches, but I get over stuffing pretty quickly. Anyway, I even thick sliced deli chicken or turkey would work well.

I suggest serving this with some chips, as opening a bag is the kind of cooking I like. Ha!

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The Ultimate Chicken Sandwich

Makes 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 6 slices of bacon, cut in half
  • loaf of Italian bread (I used a Vieira Saloio)
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup spicy brown mustard
  • a large bunch of arugula
  • 1 large breast of roasted chicken, such as a rotisserie chicken
  • 2-3 tomatoes, thinly sliced
  • 6 slices of bacon, sliced in half
  • 1 avocado, very thinly sliced
  • salt and pepper

Process

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil. Place the 12 pieces of the bacon on the foil so they are just touching on their long edges. Bake for 12-14 minutes (depending on thickness of bacon) until crisp. Remove the bacon from the baking sheet and place on a plate covered with paper towels.
  2. Halve a loaf of Italian bread to separate the top and bottom.
  3. Spread the mayo on one half of the bread and spread the mustard on the other half. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  4. Put a generous amount of arugula on the bottom half of the sandwich.
  5. Completely cover the arugula with the sliced chicken.
  6. Cover the chicken with the tomatoes, bacon, and then avocado. Cap off with the upper part of the bread.
  7. Cut into 4 sandwiches and enjoy!

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Mama Mia! That’s a good wine!!

“This is a very personal project for me. Hence the name ‘Mia’ which means ‘mine’ in Spanish.”

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Okay, okay. I just got weird with a bit of ABBA & some Italian in my head, when I’m talking about a Spanish wine. But I couldn’t resist. Mama Mia!!!

I was lucky enough to be invited to attend a wine tasting at Tapeo Restaurant and Tapas Bar with the creator of the featured wine we would be enjoying. Gloria Collell was visiting the US from her home of Spain to share her love for her wines, called Mia, which are rolling out nationwide in September!

I was excited to attend this lunch for a number of reasons… a little bit of me time (I think other new moms can totally relate!), getting to go to Tapeo, and getting to enjoy some wines while not sitting on the sofa having the dog jump on me trying to have some as well. Plus, when I visited Boston in the fall of ’02 with my mom to check out the college I was going to attend my mom and I ate at Tapeo, so it brought back great memories of that night as we enjoyed some great food as we excitedly talked about how the info session we had just attended went.

Fast forward to the present, and here I am sitting in front of the stunning Gloria Collell as she was sharing her story about how she was born to the wine business, as her childhood memories revolved around wine, and how for the past twenty years, she has worked on a number of different projects with the wineries of the Ferrer family of Freixenet fame, from technical departments to export. She recently suggested an idea to the Ferrers for a line of young, fresh, easy-drinking wines. They liked her vision so she was entrusted with the project and given the freedom to develop her wine, which is how Mia was born.

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Things kicked right off with the Plato Mixto- Jamón Serrano, Manchego Cheese, Pimientos & Olives ($18). The jamon and cheese where robust and full of salty flavors from the curing and aging, respectively. To accompany the appetizers we were, of course, served a glass of wine! We started the tasting with a glass of Mia’s White.

Mia White mosaic closeup_beautyMia White 2013 (SRP $10) is a blended wine that consists of Macabeo, Xarel-lo, Parellada and Moscatel. It has a nice tropical character with fresh aromas of apple and pear, as well as subtle hints of white flowers and orange blossom. I found that it is the kind of wine I’d love to enjoy a summer’s warm evening as the light flavors and the chill will help me cool off while relaxing.

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In addition to the Plato Mixto, we enjoyed Chorizo a la Plancha- Seared Spanish Sausage ($8.50). I love chorizo- it’s meaty, flavorful, and I just love the hue of it as well. The char on the chorizo was just perfect as well. The saltiness of the meat went so nicely with the Mia White. It nice broke up intense flavor and balanced out the tapas plate.

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I just love how colorful the text/font is on the wine bottles. Its brightly-colored mosaics are reminesient of Gloria’s Barcelona and its Park Güell, which was designed by, Antoni Gaudí. I like how cheerful it is, and I figure it will help me identifying the bottle pretty easily on the store shelf.

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Be still my heart!

This next course was killer. I only wish that I paid close attention to the server as she described this but I was took lost in thought over the sight and smells as it was placed in front of us. All I do remember was that it was cooked in the very Mia wine that we were about to enjoy to create a nice continuity with the flavors of the entree.

The meat was extremly tender as it was slow cooked in the Mia wine, along with some fresh vegetables. It had me thinking of fall on this hot summer day as I could easily invision myself making a roast like this at home and then enjoying it with a glass of Mia.

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The tender meat was served with Espinacas a la Catalana- Sautéed Spinach, Garlic, Pine Nuts & Golden Raisins ($7.50). This is something that I need to make at home. I don’t normally have golden raisins on hand (my rabbit eats them all up!), but I will grab them just for this very side dish to enjoy with dinner.

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 Mia Red 2012 (SRP $10) is a fruity and full-bodied red, unoaked to allow the vibrancy of the Tempranillo grape to shine. It is aged in stainless steel tanks, so the natural flavors and aromas from the wine are preserved without any added notes from wooden barrels. Be sure to take a moment to enjoy the lovely aromas of voilets and orange peel beore you enjoy the fruity palate that is rich with notes of plum, red berries, and just a hint of spice.

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Well, here comes the paella!

Tapeo treated us to BOTH styles of Spain’s Paella. We enjoyed the traditional kind with Saffron Rice (Paella) and the kind with cut pasta, which is actutally called Fideuá. Both styles were served ‘Valenciana’ Style- Pork Sausage, Chorizo, Chicken, Shrimp, Scallops, Squid, Clams & Mussels ($38 for 1-3 people/$66 for 4-6 people).

Both styles were really good but I liked the Fideuá style as it was the first time I had it with pasta, compared to rice. I always like to try something new. Plus I am a sucker for allioli sauce, which is drizzeled on top.

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Oh, I was stuffed at this point. Everything was fantastic. I was gobbling up food and sipping wine but of course I couldn’t pass up some dessert and the two Mia wines we would enjoy with dessert.

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The Mia Moscato Rose ($12) is a blend of 98% of Moscato and 2% of Tampranillo. It is a delicately sweet sparkling pink Moscato with lovely floral and tropical aromas. Plus it was just so pretty to look at. I loved the light pink color and the dancing bubbles!

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The Mia Moscato (SRP $12) is a fruity and sweet sparkling Moscato with a light freshness. It was really light with a nice blance of sweetness and acidity that creates a delicious finish.

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Throughout the meal Gloria shared with us how she developed the Mia wines. They conducted tastings in four countries- UK, Switzerland, Germany, and the US- which took 8 months. Ultimately, they concluded that while people insist that they like dry wines all the data showed that they really prefered a swwet, light wine. It seems that people don’t want to admit to enjoying a sweet wine, as if that indicates that you don’t have good taste, you don’t have a sopisicated pallete.

They created the wines for everyone to enjoy with everything from cheese, seafood, and sushi. The sweetness in the wine paris well with the soy sauce. It has been enjoyed so much that it has now been enjoyed in 46 countries, including Uganda and Korea!

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And every dessert course needs chocolate! This chocolate cake was really rich and fudgy. It’s always hard to resist molten chocolate cake. At least for me!

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The Tarta de Santiago- Almond- flour Cake with Coffee Cream ($7.50) and the Flan del Dia- Fruit Flavored Flan of the Day ($7.00) were both so enjoyable. In fact, the Tarta de Santiago was my hands down favorite.

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I really enjoyed this lunch for a number of reasons, but I was so glad I got to meet Gloria. Gloria is just the kind of amazing, sincere woman who you want at your next party. Sure, this was a press event for her wines but there was nothing put on by her. She was funny, honest, and super friendly without it being forced at all. It was her last stop, in fact she was heading directly to the airport after our lunch, but she didn’t even seem distracted about the long flight ahead of her, or the fact that she just broke her cell phone. oh boy!

Gloria just seems like that person that I could email in a few years, if I ever happen to magically get to Spain, and ask for restaurant recommendations, but instead of just sending an email she would insist upon meeting me and showing me her favorite places. And of course, we would drink Mia wine!!

I am looking forward to getting some Mia to have on hand for the nights when Autumn gets to sleep early and Price and I have a moment just to enjoy a few minutes relaxing, you know, before we fold 5 loads on laundry while watching America’s Got Talent. ha!

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While I received this complimentary lunch and wine tasting provided by Freixenet, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Posted in Dining Out, Drinking, Food and Drink | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Vietnamese Grilled Chicken Vermicelli Bowl -SRC

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I’m so thankful that I work so close to Chinatown in Boston. Well, not that close but close enough to run down there to get some food to take back to the office to eat while getting back to work. I love when a group of coworkers take a longer lunch and get to sit down together to enjoy a meal. I have my favorite places too. I have a place for containers of prepared fried rice that is quick and cheap. There is a great place for bubble tea and pastries. And my favorite place has big bowls of Bun.

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Bun, more specifically Bún chả or Bún thịt nướng, is a Vietnamese dish that contains vermicelli, lettuce, carrots, cucumbers, bean sprouts, mint,  and your choice of protein. It’s dressed with a fish sauce based sauce called nước chấm. I love when that big bowl of Bun arrives at my table. I immediately drop my eggs rolls on top and then pour the nước chấm over it all. I love nước chấm so much that I usually ask for extra. I love the sweet tartness of it.

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Well, I haven’t been able to go to Chinatown in a very long time because I spend half of my lunch pumping so I don’t have enough time to get there and back in time. I’ve been craving some Bun!

So when I came across this recipe for Vietnamese Pork And Vermicelli Bowl from Becky of A Calculated Whisk I knew I had to pick it for my Secret Recipe Club recipe this month.

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I always thought that making one of these bowls would be really tricky, time consuming, and I’d have to go out and get a bunch of ‘exotic’ stuff. You know, like when you buy something like mace and use a pinch of it for only some random recipe you’ll only ever make once. Well, this recipe proved me wrong! It was easy, quick, and I had most of the stuff at home already. And the additional stuff I had to get will just get out to use the next time I make this because yum! Serious yum.

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Fellow Bostonian, Becky made a smashing bowl of vermicelli. It hit all the right flavors, smells, and textures that I’ve come to love in my big bowls of Bun. I love the crunch from the lettuce, crisp pickled veggies, and bean sprouts. The marinade on the meat is super flavorful giving each bite an extra kick. But my favorite element was the nước chấm. I can’t get enough of it whenever I order Bun out so I usually order extra because I love the sweet & salty flavor combo it has from the fish sauce and sugar in it. Well, now I can tweak it to make it my own and make oodles and oodles of it for my oodles of noodles.

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I did make some changes to Becky’s original recipe, but only minor ones. Instead of pork I used chicken and that is my protein of choice. And I didn’t use lemongrass as I couldn’t find it. I went to 2 grocery stores and neither had it. It’s not a hard item to come buy but the big grocery store that always has it was actually in the middle of a protest so the employees stopped stocking the shelves. Of course, I didn’t know this the morning I walked 1 1/2 miles there (each way) or I would have gone else where. And after 2 grocery store trips I was ‘over it’ do I just omitted it and it was still great. So don’t sweat if you can find it either, it will still be great.

I’m so glad that I had Becky’s blog this month for Secret Recipe Club. She shares awesome recipes that you’ll be dying to make, just like this vermicelli bowl. Noms!!!

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Vietnamese Grilled Chicken Vermicelli Bowl

Makes 4 servings

Ingredients

For the chicken:

  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 2 scallions, sliced
  • 4 inch piece of lemongrass, finely minced
  • 3 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 pound chicken breast, sliced thinly

For the quick-pickled carrots and cucumbers:

  • 1-2 carrots, peeled and cut into matchsticks
  • 1 small cucumber, cut into matchsticks
  • 4 tablespoons rice vinegar (no sugar or salt added)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • Pinch of salt

For the nuoc cham sauce:

  • Juice of 2 limes
  • 1/4 cup fish sauce
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons warm water
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili paste

For the scallion oil:

  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup sliced scallions (3-4 scallions)

For serving:

  • 12 ounces vermicelli, cooked according to package directions
  • 1 head of green leaf lettuce, so finely chopped it resembles thin ribbons
  • Bunch of cilantro
  • Fresh bean sprouts
  • Crushed roasted peanuts

Process

  1. To prepare the marinade for the chicken, in a large bowl mix together all the ingredients from the garlic to the soy sauce. Marinate the chicken by placing in the bowl, cover, and refrigerate for at least an hour before cooking.
  2. To make the quick-pickled vegetables, pour the vinegar, sugar, and salt over the vegetables and toss to coat.  Let sit at room temperature for at least an hour before serving.  If you make this more than a couple of hours in advance, store them in the fridge.
  3. For the nuoc cham sauce, mix all ingredients together.  Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary. Set aside.
  4. For the scallion oil, heat the oil in a large skillet over low heat.  When it’s hot, add the scallions and cook until wilted but still bright green, about three minutes.
  5. Take the chicken out of the fridge about ten minutes before you want to cook it.  Prepare the grill/grill pan by preheating it over medium high heat.  Cook the chicken with a little marinade spooned on top, on both sides until browned and cooked through.  Brush the cooked chicken with the scallion oil just before you remove it grill the grill. Let the chicken rest and then slice on a diagonal.
  6. To serve, place a small pile of lettuce and another mound of vermicelli in a bowl. Top with pickled vegetables, bean sprouts, grilled chicken, and roasted peanuts.  Serve with nuoc cham sauce on the side.

Adapted from A Calculated Whisk

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PayDay Pie

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Hey today is my payday!

Woohoo! Time to pay some bills! Ugh.

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Well, it’s your payday as well. I created a PayDay Pie just for you.

Price really likes PayDay bars. I do not. There is no chocolate. So I insist they are a waste of a candy bar. He can eat all the PayDay bars he wants out of Autumn’s Halloween bag when she is still of the age that we get first pass at the goodies. I’ll take the Snickers Thank.You.Very.Much.

So here is a simple pie that you can whip up while trying to pack for a long weekend. Take cans out of the slow cooker – pack bathing suits & sunblock & a hat Autumn will refuse to wear – process the cookies to make the crust – did I pack socks already? – pulse the melted butter into the crumbs – ah, yes, I did pack socks -create the crust and put it into the fridge- wipe down the counters and load the dishwasher – whip together the caramel and cream cheese – pack up the dogs stuff – fill the pie.

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While the caramel is super easy to make just be aware you can still burn it. Well, at least over cook it. Just be aware of how your slow cooker runs and you should be set. If your slow cooker is on the low side then cook the caramel for 8-10 hrs. Or if it runs hotter, like mine, then stick closer to the 6-8 hrs.

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The cream cheese helps cut some of the sweetness from the caramel, and makes it extra dreamy & creamy. If you want add some vanilla extract. I just believe it can never hurt.

Just like it can never hurt to have a big glass of wine while sitting under a tree. I’ll totally be doing that this weekend while we visit Price’s mom in Maine. And of course trying to keep a hat on Autumn’s head since she hates them. HATES.

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But you won’t hate this pie. Nope, not one bit.

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PayDay Pie

Makes a 9″ pie

Ingredients

  • 2 14.5 ounce cans of condensed milk
  • 8 oz Nutterbutter cookies ( 1/2 a package)
  • 4 Tablespoons of butter
  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • salted peanuts

Process

  1. Place 2 cans of condensed milk into a slow cooker. Fill the slow-cooker with water to completely cover the cans and have plenty of water above the cans. Turn on high, cover, and cook for 6-8 hours.
  2. Remove the cans from the water and let cool until you can handle the cans.
  3. While the cans are cooling, place the cookies in the bowl of a food processor. Process the cookies until they are crumbs. Add the melted butter and quickly pulse until the butter is evenly incorporated.
  4. Pour the cookie crumbs into the bottom of a pie plate. Gently press into the bottom and up the sides to form the crust. Chill for at least 30 minutes.
  5. Open the cans and pour the caramel into a bowl, add the cream cheese. Beat until completely blended.
  6. Pour the filling into the prepared pie crust. Sprinkle the peanuts on top of the filling. Chill for at least 2 hours to set up.

Process for creating the pie filling was adapted from Beantown Baker

Posted in Baking, Food and Drink | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Dear Autumn @ 8 Months

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July 2014

Dear Autumn-

Man, you are so cool. As cool as can be for a 8 month old. Definitely.

We are just in love with everything that you can do now. You are just growing in leaps and bounds now. It’s so much fun seeing all the new things you are learning in such a short period of time. You’re sitting up like a pro. Every now and then you’re pitch over and wack your head on the floor so we generally try to keep the Boppy around you or sit right behind or next to you just in case.You can keep yourself occupied for a few minutes on your own so that I can run Kemper out in the front yard or start dinner.

Your favorite thing to do now is wave at everyone and everything. You started about a week and a half ago and now it’s just the coolest thing ever. You’re such a crab when I change your diaper but once we leave your room and you see your reflection in the hallway mirror you just light up and star waving.

You even wave at Kemper now. He doesn’t get it, he just looks at you for food, which you are amazing at giving to him. You look right at us and listen to us say “No, not for puppy!” but you still drop it for him. And then when you continue to do that we put our hand under your’s so that if you drop it we will catch it before he gets it. You take your hand back and then put the food in your mouth, take a bite or 2. Once we move our hand as it seems you are going to eat your food, you quickly extend your hand and drop it for Kemper. Ugh. So, while we are ticked that you keep feeding the dog, we still crack up because you are try your best to be sneaky about it.

The dog is fun but walking is the best. You love to hold on to our hands so that we can guide you around. I’m afraid you’ll never crawl but I’m not that worried about it since we haven’t done any baby-proofing yet. You completely freak out when you are on your stomach since you can’t figure out crawling and that completely pisses you off! Oh the tears and tears. It’s so sad but funny how instantly you will freak! ha!

But truthfully, we do more freaking out than you. We can’t believe how fast you are growing (minus the crawling!). There have been some great moments this past month but I have 2 favorite moments. You started to wave one day to your reflection when we would walk by the mirror which was so cool but that night you started to wave to Dad and you had the biggest smile on your face. You were so excited to wave to him and he was so excited it was the best moment (so, of course, I teared up!) And then one day when I was picking you up from daycare you guys were outside and you noticed me and you started to kick you legs and wave your arms while Gloria was holding you. As I got closer you started showing ‘mamamamama’ and put your arms out to grab me. OMG. The. Best.

You’re just the best thing ever.

 

Love,

Mom

 

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