Baked Chik’n Salad

this weekend is memorial day weekend.  this three-day weekend holiday is set aside to remember and honor all those brave men and women who have fought, been injured, or died fighting for our country.  it is also a favorite weekend for backyard barbeques, drinking, and swimming.  it’s a weekend that we all bask in the beautiful weather of spring and await the lazy burn of summer (you can tell by my language that i’m in arizona!)

yesterday, our friends threw a grilled pizza barbeque.  i love when people mix tradition (bbq on this weekend) with something new and totally unique (pizza instead of burgers… sweet!)  and perhaps most inspirational of all, they made their own dough and sauce and used the fresh basil from their yard. *droool* best pesto ever!

i was so inspired by their industriousness that when they asked folks to bring snacks to munch on, i decided to make this Baked Chik’n Salad from Morningstar Farms.  everytime i’ve made it, it’s been a hit! but as you’ve probably no doubt devised, i’m a little short in the confidence department and this endeavor was no different.  i’ve made it for picky friends, a picky husband, and my critical (but loving) family who have requested it a couple of times now. but this weekend i was making it for people who MAKE THEIR OWN DOUGH AND SAUCE!  i mean come on!  they can cook! and the rest of our crew can have discerning tastes as well.  add to that still feeling like the newb of the bunch, i don’t want to make anyone start asking, “Oh no! What fresh hell has she cooked this time??”  well this time was no exception… everyone who tried it said they really enjoyed it.  WOOT!!  it feels good to have the approval of more than just my too-polite-to-say-otherwise parents and husband!

the best part is… it’s vegetarian! can be made vegan, but the vegan mayo AND shredded cheese were just too expensive for my budget this time around.  but i’m eager to try it in the future!

you’ll notice a lot of blue text below.  as always i was very careful to follow the recipe exactly… NEVERRRRRR!  zombies don’t follow RULES! we use our BRAAAAAAINS!

Baked Chik’n Salad

(MorningStar Farms) 

Ingredient List

Serves 6

1 package MorningStar Farms® Chik Patties® Original
2 cups diced celery (i doubled this recipe except for the celery.  it had PLENTY of crunch without it)
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
1/4 cup diced pimiento
1/4 cup diced green pepper
2 tablespoons finely chopped onion
1 cup shredded American cheese, divided (i use cheddar, mild this time… i’m a cheese snob and can’t stand to cook with american “cheese” aka orange plastic)
1 1/2 cups reduced calorie mayonnaise
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 cup crushed potato chips (i used lightly salted.  it still tasted great and reduced the amount of salt for those with high blood pressure)

Directions:

1. Place MorningStar Farms Chik Patties, celery, peas, pimiento, green pepper, and onion in large mixing bowl. if your patties have just come straight from the freezer, i suggest removing them from the packing and letting them sit on the counter while you dice the rest of the vegetables.  though the directions don’t call to do so, i chop up the patties first before mixing everything together.  if they aren’t thawed a little then they are way too rock solid to get a knife through easily!

2. Combine 1/2 cup of the cheese, mayonnaise, salt, and lemon juice. Add to MorningStar Farms Chik Patties mixture, tossing to combine. Place in shallow 2-quart casserole coated with cooking spray. i forgot the cooking spray but with all that mayo, it wasn’t an issue… it almost slid out of the casserole dish in the car!

3. Bake at 350° F about 30 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Sprinkle with chips and remaining cheese. Return to oven and bake 10 minutes longer or until cheese melts. Serve hot. i sprinkled chips, cheese, then more chips.  also, it’s not necessary to meassure the chips, just do to taste and add enough to give a crunchy top.

Some more images to feast your eyes upon:

i can’t wait to make this!! i was under the impression that i couldn’t eat soft cheese at all, being pregnant, unless they are pasteurized. but it makes sense that since this is do to the listeria that may be present, cooking it would kill that as it kills other bacteria! i’m going to run it by my ob nurse first but i’m sure she’ll say it’s all good in the hood! and i’m a mac ‘n’ cheese ADDICT so this really has me excited! if you try it first, let me know how it turns out!

The $35 a Week Project

I suppose I should preface this post by stating the obvious, given the meal: I’m pregnant. Four months pregnant, to be exact. (For those who’ve seen me in person and wondered how I managed to get quite a beer belly* from eating bread, fruit and mostly vegetarian meals, now you know.) Am I still making it on $35 a week? For the most part, yes. I’m still espousing the principles, baking all my own bread, growing my own food, and making all my own meals, I’m just eating a little more of them, and occasionally making things like this. It basically takes care of all the pregnancy cravings in one go: pie, macaroni and cheese, caramelized onions, and, to top it all off, goat cheese. (As anyone who’s been pregnant recently knows, listeria danger precludes you from having soft cheeses like goat, blue or brie unless they’re heated, leaving very…

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And it’s been awhile since I last saw you…

wowza!  i haven’t posted anything since march 5th!  what up wit dat??  well there’s been A LOT going on.  well really there’s been ONE major thing going on but that one major thing has had a ginormous impact on my life.

I’M PREGNANT!  yes, this zombiewife is going to be a zombiemommy!  i suspected in march but found out for certain on april 13th.  at that point i was 8 weeks 5 days!  hearing the heartbeat was the most beautiful sound i’d ever heard in my life.  however, i had a few pregnancy symptoms in, what i felt, was extreme abundance.  primarily exhaustion and sickness.  oh man i was tired ALL THE TIME the first couple of months, and even now i have a hard time staying up past 9:30pm regardless of how late Big Kitty lets me sleep before waking me up for 3rd or 4th morning feeding (my kitties in their mature ages are providing me with lots of late-night-wake-up-for-feeding practice).  i haven’t yet thrown up but that’s been more of a matter of will power than sensation.  i HATE HATE HATE vomiting.  and so even though i’ve had a lot of nausea, and felt like i could throw up many times, i haven’t done it.  that means a lot of laying on the couch or in bed moaning and groaning.  but, nearing the end of the first trimester, its subsiding a bit.  so combine the constant nausea with the debilitating exhaustion, and you have one zombie who hasn’t wanted to make the effort to post a thing!

add to that the fact that i’ve had no motivation TO DO anything.  i’ve hardly cooked in the last three months.  mostly, if we’ve eaten at home at all, its been boxed mac ‘n’ cheese or frozen food from trader joe’s, which, btw, they make some awesome polenta dishes!  and the gorgonzola gnocci… YUM!! so sad that i’m not allowed soft cheeses LIKE gorgonzola anymore 😦

remember the Vegetable Wellington i made in february to practice as a possible Easter dinner?  well i bought all of the ingredients again, and on Easter… i was too sick and tired to make it!  double 😦  we ended up having mac ‘n’ cheese i believe.  i later found out i’m not supposed to have goat cheese so it was a good thing i skipped.  okay let me just say, i know its UNpasturized cheeses i’m not supposed to have.  and as long as the goat cheese is pasteurized i can have it.  but this is my first… goat cheese isn’t worth the risk.  no matter how herby and creamilishious it may be… mmmm!

however, i did make Mexican Wedding Cookies for a Cinco de Mayo pot luck we attended the other day.  now let me just start by saying i am not a baker.  so this was definitely a learning experience, but it turned out to be a rewarding one.  if you aren’t familiar with these cookies, they are dry but kind of melt in your mouth, filled with chopped pecans, and covered in powdered sugar.  i found a recipe on kraftrecipes.com that looked fairly easy with few ingredients and steps.  i wanted to make the cookies vegan because i knew most of the attendees would be vegetarian, and one would be vegan.  as i’ve said before, i hate being the only vegetarian in a group of meat-eaters and feeling left out.  so, since she is the only vegan in the group, i didn’t want her to feel left out when it came to desserts.  so i discovered Earth Balance which makes a couple of butters and margarines without any animal products (fish oil, whey, etc).  however, Albertson’s didn’t carry Earth Balance but i did find Smart Balance Light which had no fish oil and no whey… yey!  i bought my ingredients and got to work.

first of all, if you decide to use margarine, don’t use tub margarine!  i didn’t know this and found out the hard way (though it still turned out okay).  i followed the recipe pretty much (except i forgot to divide the powdered sugar and i didn’t coat the cookies in powdered sugar).  when i had all of the ingredients mixed, my batter seemed too runny to “form into 1″ balls” so i added about 3/4 cup of flour and a splash of vanilla.  that did the trick!  so i formed my balls, stuck them in the oven, and pulled them out at 15 minutes.  still looked raw inside and not yet browning.  hmmmm… another 5 minutes?  10?  a total of 35 MINUTES cooking and they finally seemed done through.  the uncooked dough in the bowl had also developed droplets of oil like a cheese pizza.  i frantically texted my sister who bakes all the time and provides the desserts for all of our family gatherings.  per her suggestion, i popped the dough in the fridge and resolved to never use tub margarine in place of butter for baking again!  too much oil!!  after that the balls still took 25+ minutes to cook but what other choice did i have??

on the way to the potluck, we stopped at Food City to pick up some “authentic” mexican baked goods just in case my cookies didn’t go over.  well guess what??  our friends LOVED my cookies and didn’t even touch the store bought stuff!  i was so flattered and surprised!  now imagine how good they would’ve been if they’d been done right!!  sorry i don’t have any pictures of the finished product… i ate them all! 😛