Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Buffalo Chicken Salad

Who's excited for fall?  

*raises hand*  

Let me start by thanking the weather gods because this summer has been absolutely amazing in terms of nice weather in Western Washington.  We kinda got robbed last year.  That being said, I may be the minority here but I'm entirely too excited to see the temperature drop so I can bust out the sweaters and boots.  Even for being a Florida native my entire life, I just cannot get enough cool weather. Of course, I could do with less rain but I'll take a cool rainy (entire) day over triple digit heat and still-wet-after-toweling-post-shower humidity. Yuck.  Don't miss that.  

Not only are the clothes cuter, in Seattle it signals the end of no-way-in-hell-am-I-turning-this-oven-on season.  

When I first moved to the Pacific Northwest and I was scoping out apartments, I was appalled to learn the thermostats didn't equal air conditioner - it controlled the heater.  Only.  I looked at the lady renting the apartment funny.  Huh? 

That means if it's 95 degrees out and you have a west facing window that isn't shaded by a beautiful greenbelt, you are sleeping in your skivvies with the windows wide open.  I just didn't grow up with open windows in the house.  We lived and died by whether or not our A/C was kickin'.  But that's the nice thing, if you DO end up trying to escape stifling heat by way of windows, you won't wake up having to worry about giant flying vermin (such as mosquitoes, horse flies or palmetto bugs..aka flying freaking cockroaches) flying in to your room at night.  

Spiders are more the NW pests.  Spiders and slugs.  Oh god, the slugs.  I find them gross but I should try to capture a video of my mom reacting to these slugs out there.  You'd think they were some sort of deadly spastic creature that can jump on your and suck your blood or something.  She literally convulses in disgust and scurries away like a crazy person.  Gabe and I find it both hilarious and ridiculous.  

Nature shock.  

My current obsession is anything w/ buffalo sauce and while the weather is starting to turn cooler, I had the pleasure of dreaming this up one night it was still warm enough to warrant not cooking anything over a hot stove.

I always have a rotisserie chicken from the store in my fridge to make sandwiches, quesadillas, whip up a quick dinner, etc.  I just use some of the meat mixed w/ Frank's for the chicken.  Comes together super quick and you're not withering away over a hot stove trying to bring life-giving sustenance to your family, man!

Buffalo Chicken Salad
Serves 1 (but easily scaleable for more)

The measurements are intentionally loose so you can scale to your own taste.  Plus I didn't think it practical to direct you to put 1/2 a bottle of buffalo sauce on your chicken like I do.

1/2 - 1 c. cooked chicken
buffalo sauce to taste
2-3 c. butter lettuce
1 stalk organic celery (why organic?  read this about the dirty dozen)
4-6 grape tomatoes, sliced
1 scallion
chopped cilantro to taste
blue or gorganzola cheese (all I had was feta in the fridge)
blue cheese or ranch dressing

Slice or tear chicken into bite size pieces and toss with buffalo sauce.  Assemble salad layering lettuce, celery, tomatoes, chicken scallions, cilantro and dressing.

Bacon would obviously be awesome on here also.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Turkey Sausage Lasagna

Sorry it's been so long since my last post - we've been busy around here!  I've had this damn draft going for about a month.  All my free time has been spent remodeling our condo, vacations and taking advantage of what little bit of summer there was left (and if anyone caught the AH-MAZING Seahawks game last night where we kicked San Francisco's bootie, you know that summer is way the hell over for us).  Enjoy!


I vividly remember Kuen's first month of life.  So vividly.  Like, a total blur but with streaks of very clear memories.  My thoughts went something like:

"Don't you ever do this again to yourselves."

"Oh my god, we don't know what the hell we're doing."

"What is this sleep people speak of?"

 - "Sleep when the baby sleeps."
HA.  Good one, Mom. - 
Luckily, the first month is the hardest part and things gradually get easier.  For all the parents-to-be, don't let me scare you.  Not only does this very crazy month go by quickly, nature does this cruel and hilarious thing that makes you get amnesia and you gradually forget about all the terrifying parts (or if you're like me, you don't forget, you just let the instinct take over and forge ahead undeterred).  Let me be clear: we are NOT pregnant again.


That's a big deal for me - I didn't think we'd be having one after Kuen.  But now, I'm not too sure we won't.  In fact, I'm pretty sure we want to if the powers that be allow us the chance.

I know I talk about her like she's some sort of nut (and she totally is), but if we didn't have my mom there to help us, I'm pretty sure we'd be one and done.  When I was all tapped out, she took care of the baby, Gabe took care of me.  I don't know why I thought it was that scary, maybe because it was our first time at the rodeo and everything we did seemed so unfamiliar.  

Now, I'll be the first to tell you it's her own damn fault she got roped in to helping us w/ Kuen for the first year.  She only started asking us about having kids a few WEEKS after we got married.  That being said..not sure we could've done it without her.  Well, ok, yes we would've found a way but having her there made things SO much less daunting.  She was there to make sure I gained back all the weight nursing helped me drop (and then some).  Love you, mom!

Anywho - those meals she cooked - total lifesaver.  Literally.  Being on the receiving end of such extraordinary help only makes bringing a meal to someone even less of a big deal.  We had it gooooooood.  I don't know how many times someone is in need of a home cooked meal.  Someone needs to start a meal train business.

This recipe is one of those super versatile ones that is a proverbial 'slam dunk'.  It's a crowd pleaser, comes together pretty quickly, stores well, reheats well, relatively inexpensive and very adaptable.   I love using ground turkey instead of beef to lighten it up and the no-bake pasta is like, the best invention ever.  Because who has time for boiling pasta?

 - Saute veggies & meat, combine - 

 - Layer sauce, noodles, cheese - 
 - Lather, rinse, repeat - 

 - I'm too much of an airhead to take a photo of the actual finished product that came out of the oven.
So there. -

Turkey Sausage Lasagna

Makes 9 x 13" pan (plus more for a few individual ones as well)

3 zucchini, diced
1 large onion, diced
1 carrots, finely diced
3 cloves garlic, finely diced
1 lb ground turkey
1 box no-bake lasagna sheets (I use/love Trader Joe's)
1 tsp fennel seed
2-32 oz cans store bought spaghetti sauce
32 oz cottage cheese or ricotta cheese
1/4 c. grated Parmigiano Reggiano 
2 c. shredded cheese (I use TJ's Swiss & Gruyere)
salt, pepper, oil

Preheat oven at 375 degrees.  Heat a large stock pot on medium high heat.  Drizzle 2 tbsp light oil after the pan starts to smoke.  Add diced onions and sprinkle with 1/2 tsp salt to sweat onions.  After onions become translucent, add zucchini, carrots and garlic to saute - sprinkle with additional pinch of salt and add fresh ground black pepper to season.  Saute vegetables for 5-10 minutes, until a deep golden crust forms on the bottom of the pan and the veggies are soft.  Remove the veggies and return the pan on the burner.  Drizzle another tbsp of oil in the pan and brown the ground turkey.  Make sure the pan is hot enough and the turkey has enough room to brown otherwise steaming of the meat will occur (yuck).  If you must, brown the meat in batches.  While browning, sprinkle with 1/2 tsp salt, pepper and fennel seed.  When fully cooked, add back the sauted veggies and cook for another 3-5 min.  Add spaghetti sauce and stir to combine.  Remove from heat.  

Note: Amounts of sauce and cheese are to your liking but I find the more sauce the better for the lasagna sheets.  Since you're not preboiling them, they need to hydrate from the sauce going in to the lasagna so I go super saucy on this one.  

Ladle about a cup of sauce on the bottom of the 9x13 pan. Layer on pasta sheet being careful not to overlap. Spoon over cottage or ricotta cheese and sprinkle the reggiano. Ladle on more sauce, repeat. You should end up with 3-4 layers.  Last layer sprinkle on shredded cheese and the rest of the parmigiano reggiano if you have any left. 

Let the pan sit for 10-15 min if you can to let those past sheets absorb some of the moisture.

Bake for 45 min until golden and bubbly.  Let stand for 15 minutes before serving.  


I use a heavy non-reactive stainless steel pot to make the sauce.  Great article about it at another blog I frequent here.

You can easily substitute the veggies for anything you like or have on hand.  Eggplant, peppers, mushrooms, yellow squash - the world is your oyster!

Sauce can be done ahead - several days in fact, the longer it sits the better it tastes.  I've even done in stages.  Saute veggies first, brown meat and stick in the fridge.  Or do both then add sauce and stick in the fridge, assemble with all cold ingredients.  So versatile!

I found disposable foil pans are very much appreciated by recipients.  There's no cleanup or guilt for keeping your pans for too long.  

This recipe is actually best if you can let it sit for a while after it gets out of the oven.  If you try to serve immediately, you'll have a hot mess on your plates (literally).  Best to let it come to room temp or serve reheated. 

 - Our sweet little munchkin at 5 weeks -