Chicken Grape Salad

A track meet lasts for hours. HOURS. I suppose I understand. If FavoriteSon doesn’t rest between races, he tends to ralph. But what to feed a runner between races? Too much and again, ralph. Too little and they don’t perform as well. Then there’s getting him to eat something at all.

Here’s the scene: He runs a race (and wins, of course). I walk to the field with Gatorade or water. He waives me off and turns away. (Because it is NOT cool to talk to your mom at a middle school track meet.) His coach says, “Take the Gatorade, your mother knows what she’s doing.” (That’s RIGHT!)

After a few weeks of that nonsense, I explained to FavoriteSon: “When I walk out on that field and hand you a bottle of Gatorade, I’m invisible. Your friends don’t even see me. You know when they see me? When you waive me away and your coach calls you out in front of everyone.”

silence. thinking.

I continue, “Here’s what I’ll do – after a run, I’ll bring a small snack and drink to you on the field, hand it to you and walk away. No one will even notice me. Okay?


It worked out perfectly. After the first race, I walked out to the field, handed him half of a peeled navel orange and walked away. No eye contact necessary. Didn’t even interrupt his conversation. After his second race, I walked out with a banana and some Gatorade and he actually talked to me. I waited and took away the rest of the banana and the Gatorade bottle. I will not take that as a sign that it is now acceptable for me to interrupt him when he’s engaged in post-race conversation with his friends.

Last week, I packed us a dinner and brought an ice chest in an effort to stave off concession stand food. The big hit was the chicken salad. It takes about 5 minutes to make! The first version was canned chicken breast, drained, shredded and mixed with light mayo and white grapes, sliced in half. BIG hit! This week, I ran out of mayo and had to substitute spinach dip. LOVED it!

I don’t assemble the sandwiches before the meet because they tend to get soggy. I just bring the salad in a container (square, of course), some bread and a fork. I can assemble the sandwiches right there in the stands. Here’s my sandwich from today, using the leftover Chicken Grape Salad:


Find great recipes and helpful kitchen tips at Kitchen Tip Tuesdays hosted by Tammy’s Recipes!

And click on over to check out the recipes at Tempt My Tummy Tuesday hosted by Lisa at Blessed With Grace

Need more? Head over to Tasty Tuesday hosted by Kim at Forever . . . Wherever!

Find more ideas over at Works for Me Wednesday, hosted by Kristen at We Are THAT Family.

Works for Me Wednesday posts prior to February 2009 are archived at Rocks In My Dryer

neti pot 101

In one of my “What I Learned This Week” post, I mentioned that I learned to use a neti pot. It was weird, but very effective. I love that it is all natural. And it’s so FAST – less than 5 minutes! It just doesn’t seem like you should be able to breathe through your mouth while you’re using it, but the fact that you can just proves that the saline doesn’t go down your throat – or you would be choking instead of breathing.

If you’re nervous or skeptical, check out these two short clips. The first shows the exact neti pot we own. The second clip is a homemade variation. A kid demonstrates using a funnel. He makes it look so easy!

eHow also has a great article explaining how it works.

If you struggle with sinus problems, give this a shot. This could be a perfect solution for those who shouldn’t take cold medication due to high blood pressure, pregnancy or some other medical condition. Don’t be chicken.

But you may not want to make it a spectator sport, because sometimes the results aren’t pretty. But then again, neither is that disgusting, wet, snorting sound frequently made by people trying to delay blowing their nose. ewww.

(UPDATE: December 2011PLEASE follow manufacturer’s directions for neti pots and USE ONLY FILTERED, DISTILLED or BOILED WATER.
Deaths have been linked to bacteria in tap water.
CLICK HERE to read more.)

Find more ideas over at Works for Me Wednesday, hosted by Kristen at We Are THAT Family.

Works for Me Wednesday posts prior to February 2009 are archived at Rocks In My Dryer

it’s a little “chili”

White chicken chili, that is.

I think it may be cold every where in the U.S. right now, and I don’t pretend to be whining. I actually like it. But of course, I have heat and snow doesn’t blanket Florida. I grouse about hurricanes and humidity, not cold weather.

The freeze warning last night? You know, take in your plants, blah, blah, blah. No need.


Basketballs don’t die.

We had a fire in the fireplace last night and the first chili of the season. I wanted to have white chicken chili, but as I was doing my impression of a short person trying to see on the top shelf at the grocery store, the manager stepped up behind me and asked if he could help me find something.

“White chicken chili mix?”

He copied my impression of a short person, made a “sorry” face and apologized.

“I guess I wasn’t the only one who thought of chili tonight.”

Another (taller) manager was with him and, after sliding her hand across and back the top shelf (show-off) she said:

“Well we should have thought of it too – it’s only freezing outside. Of course people would want to make chili.”

So I made the standard “Chilio” chili instead. (They were out of those packets too, I just had some at home.)

I’m hoping to score some white chicken chili packets today at another grocery store. This is how easy it is:


It needs to simmer a little, but the prep is only 5 minutes if you use the canned chicken (from Sam’s Club) and the canned beans. I’m hoping to make a double batch. A little corn bread, some s’mores and smears over the fire for dessert . . . that, combined with no athletic practices and some family night American Idol watching.

Shoot. We might even take the Christmas tree down. Yes. Yes, I said it. No judging. Our family rule is “if you’re not willing to help, you’re not allowed to complain.”

Find great recipes and helpful kitchen tips at Kitchen Tip Tuesdays hosted by Tammy’s Recipes!

And click on over to check out the recipes at Tempt My Tummy Tuesday hosted by Lisa at Blessed With Grace

And I found one more! Head over to Tasty Tuesday hosted by Kim at Forever . . . Wherever!

Want to learn cool tips and tricks from lots of different people? Click on over to Works for Me Wednesday hosted by Shannon at Rocks in My Dryer!

5 minute MorningStar burrito lunch

This is one of my favorite quick lunches.

1 or 2 MorningStar Veggie Patties (depending on how hungry you are)
2 flour tortillas
1 t0 2 tbsp Hummus (my favorite is Sabra Supremely Spicy)
1 oz shredded cheese (my favorite is Cracker Barrel 2% Sharp White Cheddar)
a handful of shredded lettuce (or fresh spinach)

On a small microwavable plate, nuke the MorningStar Patties for 1 minute.
Lay two tortillas side by side on a large microwavable plate.
Spread Hummus on each tortilla.
Add the shredded cheese.
Remove the cooked patties from microwave, cut into pieces and place on top of shredded cheese.
If desired, nuke for about 15 seconds to melt the cheese.
Add the lettuce and roll the tortillas.

The last time I made these, I took some photos. Take a look!

5 minute MorningStar Burritos5 minute MorningStar Burritos Before

5 minute MorningStar Burritos Done!

These photos show the Tomato and Basil Pizza Burger, but I my favorite is the MorningStar Black Bean patties. Use different flavors of hummus and cheese too. There are so many more combinations!

Click HERE for a print friendly version in PDF!

Check out more recipes and ideas at Kitchen Tip Tuesdays hosted by Tammy’s Recipes!

5 minute Panera Wannabe Salad

I LOVE Panera Bread Salads! I was quite distraught when the Orchard Harvest Salad (photo) disappeared from the menu. I’m hoping it will be back next winter.

These days I’m ordering the Fuji Apple Salad or the Fandango with chicken, neither one being my favorite. My FAVORITE summer salad is the Strawberry Poppyseed & Chicken Salad. (Ingredients and Nutritional Info)

Problem. These salads are too expensive to buy every day. And I kinda want one EVERY day. So . . .

I’m experimenting and making my own Panera Wannabe Salads! Here’s the latest version:

Wannabe Salad IngredientsWannabe Salad Assembled

(Realize the “5 minute” part only works because I clean and prep veggies before I put them away. If I put shrink wrapped and unprepared veggies in the fridge right when I get home from the grocery store, I sacrifice them all to the mold gods a week later and give them an honorable burial in a big, black bag. I’ll write about it in more detail some other day (UPDATE: CLICK HERE for that post complete with photos), but what you see in the photo is a good representation of how I store veggies in the fridge. Notice all the containers filled with food are NOT round. I have an aversion to round containers for storage. They waste space! The round container is what I use as a salad shaker to completely coat my salad with a minimal amount of dressing.)

I just layer the salad ingredients in the round bowl. For this salad, I used:

Romain Lettuce
Fresh Spinach Leaves
Sliced Mushrooms
Pecans (small hand full)
Dried Cranberries (small hand full)
Cooked Chicken, torn from the bone (this was a Publix Deli Chicken – Apple Blossom Flavor)
Newman’s Own Light Raspberry and Walnut Vinaigrette

I put the lid on the round container and give it some serious shaking, take off the lid, put a pretty plate on top of the container and FLIP! (That’s why I use a round shaker.) Here’s what I got this time:

Panera Wannabe Salad

If you’re a guy, feel free to eat it directly out of the plastic bowl while leaning over the sink. 🙂

This week, the “Spring Mix” lettuce in a bag was on sale, buy one get one free, so I’ll definitely be inventing even more Wannabe Salads! And saving more money!

Check out more ideas and recipes at Kitchen Tip Tuesdays hosted by Tammy’s Recipes!

frozen chicken? cream cheese chicken.

I stumbled upon a recipe that turned out to be a REAL hit! So far, EVERYBODY I’ve shared this with has reported it a hit with even the pickiest eaters in their family. The fact that it took 5 minutes to prepare made it even better! Seriously. 5 minutes. (Click HERE for a modification we tried and LOVED)

cream cheese chickenIngredients:
4-5 boneless (fresh, frozen or thawed) chicken breasts (we often buy frozen by the bag)
1 (15 1/2 ounce) can black beans (drained)
1 (15 ounce) can corn (drained)
1 (15 ounce) jar salsa, any kind
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese

Put the FROZEN (yes, FROZEN!) chicken breasts into the crockpot.
Pour in the (drained) black beans, the corn and the salsa.
Turn the Crockpot on high and walk away.
Come back in about 4-5 hours.
When it’s done, toss in the cream cheese and put the lid back on for 1/2 hour.

(The chicken is usually falling apart at this point, but I take two forks to it and shred it anyway. CLICK HERE if you don’t know how to shred meat.)

Done. Eaten. Gone.

UPDATE: A GREAT variation: I doubled the recipe except for the chicken and the cream cheese (I have a large crockpot). But this time, we rolled everything up in flour tortillas and made burritos! Next time I either need to use less salsa or maybe just take the lid off and let the mixture stand a little to thicken up, the burritos were a little too runny. But they were GOOD. It does take an extra few minutes to roll burritos after everything is cooked, but it’s still only 5 minutes to prepare on the front end!

FirstHusband and FavoriteSon both gave it two thumbs up. Over at it has a total of 480 reviews with a total rating of 4 1/2 stars. Take a look at the reviews to see variations suggested by those who have tried it!

My other variations? I had to leave the house after two hours, so I cooked it 2 hours on high, 6 hours on low. I’ve never made it with fresh or thawed chicken breasts, so I don’t know how long it would take, but I’m thinking the LOW setting for sure.

Also, my serving didn’t have the cream cheese in it and I still liked it! The chicken was SO moist!

Click Here for a print friendly version in PDF!

5 minute onions in a flash (freeze)

Life’s a little busy this week, so I’m going to combine my posts for Kitchen Tip Tuesdays and Works for Me Wednesdays .

I mentioned before – I LOVE my Vidalia Chop Wizard! Last time I showcased this wonderful little gadget, someone commented that they were surprised that it could handle tougher veggies, like onions and carrots, so I thought I’d show how the chop wizard handles onions. Notice that I’m using the smaller chopping grate this time and check out the time on the little red clock.

5 minutes onions before

5 minute onions after

Again, I PROMISE you – I did NOT touch that little red clock! I just LOVE this thing! Chopped onions really are a breeze!

But you probably noticed I didn’t finish all three onions. I actually filled up the chop wizard and had to stop to complete my “onion chopping ritual,” so I thought I’d go ahead and include it in this post as well. I usually chop onions in bulk to freeze, but I only had three today. Here’s what I do:

I chop all the onions I’ve got, either using the chop wizard OR, when I’m really in a hurry, I use my Oster food processor attachment. (I have a 1990 Oster Kitchen Center, but for smaller jobs, I keep my 2003 Oster blender on the counter because it takes most of the same attachments. Isn’t it cool that the attachments are interchangeable?) Anyway, I had an extra 5 minutes today and I really prefer the onions chopped in nice little squares – they’re just prettier than the shredded onion that the food processor produces.

Oster Food Processor Attachment

Then, I lay out the chopped onions on a large metal cookie sheet for flash freezing. Flash freezing refers to the freezing technique where you lay out something individually, best on a metal cookie sheet (it gets colder much faster than a cutting board), and freeze it quickly. It keeps the food from sticking together in a big frozen ball of goo. REALLY great for freezing any kind of berry!

flash freeze prep

flash freezing onions

Then, I sit here for about a half an hour and write this post. (besides, I need my coffee.) I usually leave the onions in longer because I forget about them. If you can leave them for an hour or two, that’s actually better. I once left them in overnight with no problems. At a minimum, you want ice crystals to form.

Reading Spot

When the onions are frozen, I move them from the cookie sheet into something better for freezer storage, such as a Ziploc bag. I stack the bags in the freezer and because they are flat, they take up very little space. (I was going to include a photo of the frozen onions on the cookie sheet, but you can’t see the ice crystals, so it just looks the same as the pre-frozen cookie sheet photo.)

onion stack

Later, when a recipe calls for onion, I’m ready! They defrost really fast! I leave the bag on the counter for a few minutes and when I take the slab of onion out of the the Ziploc, it just crumbles.

It Works for Me!

Check out more great ideas at Kitchen Tip Tuesdays hosted by Tammy’s Recipes!
Find even MORE ideas at Works for Me Wednedays hosted by Rocks in My Dryer!

Don’t forget to enter this week’s clean sweep(stakes)!

5 minute sink

I used to be all cranky about doing housework, until I started doing two things:

1. Timing myself. (I was pleasantly surprised to discover so many tasks took less than five minutes.)


2. Practicing a concept I’ve used with my kids for yearsbreaking big jobs into smaller jobs.

For instance, instead of “cleaning the kitchen,” just clean the countertops, or the stovetop or . . . just load the dishwasher. (click on a photo to see a larger image and check out the little red clock)

5 minute sink before5 minute sink after5 minute sink after2

Since I’m not only freakishly organized, but freakishly competitive with myself, I can get so much more done – so much faster! microactions, gotta love ’em

Check out more great ideas at Kitchen Tip Tuesdays hosted by Tammy’s Recipes!

5 minute veggie chop

I LOVE my Vidalia Chop Wizard!

I love any gadget that makes my life easier and speeds up a job! I got a beautiful ceramic knife for Christmas two years ago and I used to dice red, yellow and orange peppers by hand. Not anymore! Check out the time on the little red clock.

I PROMISE you – I did NOT touch that little red clock! I just LOVE this thing! Chopped onions are a breeze!

Mine has two blade sizes, so you can dice even smaller than what you see in these pictures. And it’s DISHWASHER SAFE! The best $20 I spent last year! (and, no. I didn’t get paid to write this – I just really like it.)

Find more ideas over at Works for Me Wednesday, hosted by Mary at Giving Up on Perfect.

Works for Me Wednesday posts prior to January 2015 are archived at We Are THAT Family

Works for Me Wednesday posts prior to February 2009 are archived at Rocks In My Dryer