Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Cool Eating in July

I should be working on Poison Crown. Yes. I admit it. And I WAS working on Poison Crown, I promise! But . . . I hit a snag in the scene, and I need to step back from it for a little bit . . . give the characters time to think about their actions and see if they want to play nice later . . .

And in the meanwhile, I thought I'd post a random blog post for all of you. And my topic is: sandwich wraps.

I know. I told you it's random.

Here's the thing--Most of the praise for culinary mastery goes to Rohan here at Drakenheath, and deservedly so. But the truth is, since I'm the one who works from home, I do the majority of the cooking. And while it is a rare day that I come close to equaling my sweet husband's prowess in the kitchen, I do have my moments.

And I am going to write about TWO of those most recent moments now . . . and, in the process, possibly give you recipes you might like to try.

While living in North Carolina in the middle of July, my primary focus in the kitchen is finding something I want to eat in this hot weather. Something cool and refreshing. And something healthy. (Rohan rolls his eyes at this. He doesn't believe in healthy cooking, per se . . . which is one reason why his food always tastes so much better!)

This summer, I've been on a sandwich wrap kick, and the following are two recipes I have hodge-podged together that have become favorites in Drakenheath. Because I don't LIKE being in the kitchen for any longer than is absolutely necessary, both of these recipes are great because, after the initial prep work is done, you've got quite a lot of food to last you for several days. I like to do prep for these over the weekend or on Monday evening, and then enjoy easy throw-together meals for the rest of the week!

First off, I give you . . . my very own special favorite Mediterranean Sandwich Wrap! (I'm very proud of this one. Well, I'm very proud of both of them.)

Sadly, I have no pictures (this is a writing blog, not cooking blog, after all), so please just trust me when I say, this turns out looking rather beautiful.

First you need slow-cooker chicken. I like to get a package of organic chicken thighs (maybe eight pieces? Somewhere thereabouts . . . as you'll see through the rest of this recipe, I'm not exactly a precise cook). I put them in the slow cooker with a dollop of olive oil (approximately 2 tablespoons, maybe?) and enough chicken broth to mostly cover them. Then I season them with . . .

Garlic Powder
Dried Sage
Dried Rosemary
Dash of salt
Dash of pepper

 No precise measurements here either. My method with seasoning is, shake-shake-shake-shake-that-looks-good! I would like to claim this as part of my great culinary genius . . . but alas, it's actually due to my extreme laziness, which prevents me from going through the bother of fetching measuring spoons. (I will say that I emphasize the paprika and the garlic powder over the rest of the seasonings.)

Cover and cook on low for 7-8 hours or on high for 5-6. The chicken should be falling apart when it's done, very easy to shred with two forks. You can go ahead and use it in your wraps that same day, if you don't mind the meat being hot. I like to store it in a container and serve it cold the next day, however.

When you're ready to assemble your wrap, you will need:

Tomato -- chopped in large chunks
Cucumber -- either sliced thin or chopped in chunks. I've done both.
Spring Mix Lettuce OR Fresh Spinach -- Seriously, both are delicious
Red Onion -- either sliced or diced. I like red onion, so I'll eat it in slices, but Rohan prefers it to be diced small.
Kalamata Olives -- I used to buy a jar of whole olives and halve them. Then I discovered, wonder of all wonders, they also COME PRE-HALVED! I just need to pick up the jar that is clearly labeled "halved." So easy! (Is this not a beautiful world, my friends?)
 Pepperoncini Peppers -- These ALSO come pre-sliced in a jar. Such a glorious discovery.
 Sandwich Wraps -- Easy to find in your bread section of the grocery store. I like to get the green ones because they are pretty.
Feta Cheese -- You can use regular or try one of the fancy flavors, like tomato basil! You can also skip the cheese if you like. It adds decadence, but the wrap is quite wonderful without it.

So you put a handful of lettuce down the center of your wrap, top it with shredded chicken and your mixture of veggies and the feta cheese. If you want a dressing, I have tried it with Green Goddess dressing, which is both tasty and healthy. Rohan likes it with his favorite Girard's Champagne Dressing. Or if you prefer to skip the dressing, you can try it the NEW way I just discovered, which is . . .

Hummus -- Spread a spoonful of hummus on the wrap before piling up the veggies. Completely delicious with the rest of the flavor profile and even more healthy! Rohan's homemade hummus is the best, but for quick and easy, I've been buying Sabra Hummus, which comes in a variety of awesome flavors.

Anyway, I know it looks terribly complex, but it's really SO SIMPLE. And once you've chopped the veggies, you can just store them in plastic containers in the refrigerator for several days, just like the chicken. Then all you have to do is a super-quick assembly, and you've got an amazing assortment of raw veggies added to your diet in a completely simple and delicious manner.

Also, if you want to shake up the chicken recipe, I've done the exact same thing with pork, and it's equally amazing. If you're vegetarian, you could probably do it with garbanzo beans as well.


Now, on to my second Sandwich Wrap of this random post. This is my Best Chicken Salad In the World Ever Sandwich Wrap:

So this is another experiment of randomly assembled ingredients, but trust me . . . it's delicious! I just made it last week, and Rohan is already asking when I'll make it again. It's just that good!

Here's what I do . . . I again use chicken thighs (though only four pieces, this time), and I put them in the slow cooker with just enough chicken broth to cover them and a bit of salt and pepper. Cook on low 7-8 hours, shred with two forks, and store in a container overnight. Or, if you want them that day, put the shredded chicken on a plate and pop it into the refrigerator to cool while you prep the rest of your ingredients.

For the rest you will need:

Golden Raisins -- Several handfuls. I just poured them in until I thought there were enough. Maybe 1 cup worth? Or a little more
Craisins --  Same as the raisins above
Diced Celery -- Two sticks. I don't like the texture of celery, but I diced these quite small, and they add a great crunch and brightness.
Diced Red Onion -- Maybe half an onion. Just little pieces.
Honey Roasted Almond Slices -- I found these among the salad toppings at my local grocery store, thought they looked good, and gave them a try. They were AWESOME in this salad!
Mayonnaise and  Greek Yogurt -- These two I used in equal parts. Maybe start with half a cup of each, and if it doesn't seem wet enough, add more by the spoonful, still keeping in equal parts. The mayonnaise brings flavor but can quickly start to taste . . . cheap, I guess. The Greek Yogurt adds freshness.
A dash of Salt
A dash of Pepper

Mix all of the above with your cooled shredded chicken. It makes quite a lot, so you'll have leftovers for several days!

I put this with a handful of spring mix lettuce on a sandwich wrap . . . and ended up with one of the most delicious, cool, refreshing sandwiches ever! I don't think I have ever before had a chicken salad I liked this much. Definitely a Rohan-pleaser as well.

All right, so there you have it. My two favorite recipes for Cool Eating in July. If you're willing to do the prep-work in advance, these are such great, easy meals, both of them very tasty!

Now I will turn the kitchen back over to my husband . . . and get back to work on cooking up a little fantasy adventuring . . .

What are some of YOUR favorite summertime recipes? I need to menu plan!


Jenelle Leanne said...

Mmm, those sound good. I may have to try them... because I have issues with food in the summer as well. Mostly I just get meat and Derek grills it OUTSIDE where it's hot anyway!

Also lots of cold-cuts sandwiches, and tuna salad sandwiches (tuna fish, hard boiled eggs, a couple spoonfuls of sweet pickle relish and miracle whip (or mayo if you like that better).

For a side: Orange creme jello salad goes with anything in the summer (6oz packet orange jello, 1.5 cups hot water, mix until jello is dissolved. Add 1pint orange sherbet, stir until it melts, then add the juice from a can of mandarin oranges (+enough water to equal 1 cup)). Put entire mixture in the fridge for approximately 40 minutes. Then fold in 1cup whipping cream whipped until it forms soft peaks (cool whip works if you're feeling lazy) and that can of mandarin oranges you used the juice from earlier. Refrigerate several hours (the longer the better).

One of my all-time favorites!

Sarah Pennington said...

MEDITERRANEAN CHICKEN WRAPS OH MY PUMPERNICKEL I NEED TO TRY THESE. I could probably actually make them myself with minimal effort, which is FABULOUS. (I can cook, more or less, but I don't like to, and I shall probably live out of my crock pot once I move out on my own and also don't have a college cafeteria to partake from.) Also, I lovelovelove Mediterranean food- hummus especially, which I discovered in fourth grade and have been obsessed with ever since- but also other foods as well. If it involves chicken, hummus, and feta cheese, I'm so totally there- even more so if it also includes olives. (Unfortunately, if/when I make these, I'll probably have to leave those out . . . my family, other than me, doesn't like them and therefore never buys them. Or I could buy my own jar special for the occasion, I suppose . . .)

BTW, have you ever tried boiled peanut hummus? I like it even more than normal chickpea hummus. The recipe to make it is essentially the same as normal hummus, except you substitute boiled peanuts (which you can make in a crockpot or even a normal pot super easily) for the chickpeas. It's amazing and delicious and I love it.

Anastasis Faith said...

Wow! These sound great!! :)

One of my favorite sweet recipes is usually made by my sister. She recently did a post about it on my blog. They're golden graham s'mores and they are soooooooooooooooo good!! :)


Thanks for sharing!! :)

Therru Ghibli said...

Oh, these sound AMAZING! I actually really like to cook but tasty, easy meals are always appreciated!!


Meredith said...

Oh, my! These wraps sound absolutely fabulous. I love wraps better than bread to make sandwiches because they're lighter and you can taste the interior ingredients more strongly. In the summer, I love cold food. Cucumber sandwiches are quick and refreshing. You can use slices of peeled cucumber or dice them, (which I prefer). You put the cucumber pieces on a slice of bread. Then you spread cream cheese, a little ranch dressing or mayonnaise on the other slice and there you go. I like to mix the cream cheese and ranch dressing together. It might be best to set the spread out for a few minutes before assembling the sandwich so the cheese can soften just a bit, but you don't want it to be runny.
Another good recipe to use the cream cheese and ranch dressing spread is little veggie pizzas. I take tortilla chips, chop up some raw green peppers, onion, tomato, (really any vegetables you want). You spoon some of the spread into the chips, place mozzarella or any type of chees you prefer on top of that. Then you refrigerate the chips until you're ready to add the veggies. They're excellent!
I enjoy iced tea a lot in summer, preferably peppermint iced tea. For a dessert, my mom makes a peppermint surprise occasionally. It's a chilled dessert with peppermint candy pieces, marshmallows and whipped cream. Healthy, right? No, but it's very good.

E.F.B. said...

Yummy! I love sandwich wraps. The Best Chicken Salad in the World Ever wrap sounds especially good to me. I think I'm going to have to try it!

Thanks for sharing!

Candice said...

I love sandwich wraps, they're the best in hot weather! These sound delicious, especially The Best Chicken Salad In the World Ever wrap!

Natasha Ann said...

I love this kind of food. (: I like cooking and baking, but I can't say I'm so great at it. I do have refreshing slushie sort of recipe on my blog-


It's pretty easy, and really good.(: