Curry Chicken Salad – Super Easy

Hungry kids.
Hungry mom.

Scanning brain for super easy (available from ingredients I already have at home) food that is healthy and tasty.


My father-in-law just happened to drop us off some cherries and grapes the other day. Last time I was at Costco I snagged some canned chicken, mostly on a whim. I’m SO glad I did. I’d rather say that my lunch was all planned, but one thing my mom taught me to do was to shop the kitchen (cabinets, fridge, pantry) and throw something together. I’ve made this before. I hope I haven’t posted it. But oh well.

This is how I made it today. There’s a million and one ways, but I love me some curry in my chicken salad.

Super Easy Curry Chicken Salad

This recipe makes 6 1/2-cup servings (about 200 calories, 5 carbs, 13 grams of fat, and 17 grams of protein)


2  12.5 oz. cans of Costco/Kirkland  Chicken, drained (or equal amount of cooked skinless chicken, rotisserie, leftover breasts, etc.)
4 T. mayonnaise (I used regular)
2 oz. roasted almonds (chop them up)
1 cup seedless grapes (cut each grape in half, or smaller if you like)
1 tsp. curry powder (or less, I love curry)
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
dash of salt and pepper


Drain chicken and put in large bowl, breaking the chunks up with a fork so it is shredded. If you are using breasts or regular chicken, take a couple forks or scissors and shred the chicken. Slice grapes and add to the chicken. In smaller bowl, add the mayonnaise and seasonings (curry, garlic, salt and pepper); mix to combine. Dump mayo mix over chicken and grapes; stir. Crush almonds (I put them in a baggie and beat it with the heavy end of a knife). Add nuts to chicken and stir. If you’d like a little more “wetness” in the mix, add a little milk (about 1/4 cup).

Put on toast or top a salad and enjoy!

Notes: You could use any kind of nut with this, they don’t have to be almonds. You could substitute the grapes for dried cranberries, cherries… the list goes on. Add onion, celery, sweet peppers or water chestnuts for some crunch. Maybe even carrots to fill it out more. For a low-carb meal, I make this and fill a half a pepper with it. Delicious.


Avocado On Toast

Another obsession. Avocado on toast.

I love toast. I love avocado. Those two together, harmony.

One avocado makes enough for a couple day’s worth of 1oz. servings. I take 1 avocado, blended with lime and salt and stored it in a container in the fridge. In the morning (or afternoon, or night):

Avocado on Toast
1 piece of whole wheat toast
1 ounce avacado spread
7 grams bacon crumbles (optional, but yummy)

The possibilities are endless. Slide a fried egg under there. Mmm.

Maple Greek Yogurt and Oats

I’ve been on an eat-what-I-want bender for a few weeks now (OK maybe longer) and it needs to stop. I love to cook, I love to bake, I love to try new things and share them with my family. But, some of us need to watch our eating a little more than others. Being supportive of Lootie, who is working on slimming down, reminds me to be supportive of myself (fancy that) and my own needs, and nowhere do I need to eat with unbridled abandon.

It has also been incredibly hot here. Topping off in the 100s, our air conditioning has been going non-stop almost all month. When the air is on, it makes little sense to start kicking on a hot stove for hours, or simmering soups and heating up the kitchen. Many of our meals have been crockpot , stovetop, or toaster oven.

I go in phases with a lot of foods, but a constant is eggs. They make their way into my breakfast 7 times out of 10. Another favorite is yogurt. I think I got a taste for it from my mother. She put it in her cereals and seemed to be eating that (and toast) constantly in the mornings. The verdict is still out whether buying yogurt straight up or making it myself is the best way to go, but considering I’ve purchased 2 non-homogenized, organic whole milk bottles and ended up letting the boys drink it (not being able to make my loving yogurt out of them), sometimes you just have to break down and buy it, I’m figuring.

So I did. This has been my go-to breakfast (and sometimes dinner) over the past week. I like the consistency– thick, chewy, oaty. It’s almost like an ice cream, but not, and just a touch of sweet. It is perfection to me.

Let’s break it down, shall we? Basically it is a serving of oats and a serving of yogurt with the addition of some maple syrup and cinnamon. Easy as pie, but way less calories. Har.

Maple Greek Yogurt & Oats

4 ounces plain whole milk Greek yogurt
40 grams (1 1/2 cup serving) old-fashioned oats
11 grams (about 1 tsp.) maple syrup
sprinkle of cinnamon (I use a grinder and go about 25 grinds)

Mash together and enjoy.

I’m on my 3rd tub of yogurt this week, addicted once again.

Noodles & Company Wisconsin Mac & Cheese (copycat recipe)

This has become one of my favorite recipes: Noodles & Company Wisconsin Mac & Cheese (copycat recipe)

I have to admit, when I’d take my kids to Noodles and the order this dish, my throat tightens just a little. Isn’t there anything else you want? I mean, I make home made mac & cheese on a regular rotation and they love it. Can’t they try something I don’t make? And then I tried it. I liked it. Especially with a dousing of Sriracha Hot Sauce. I can see why it is a winner, and I’m from Wisconsin.

Pool of cheesy roux + noodles + a topping of shredded cheese?  You get to stir it up and watch the cheese melt right in front of you. What kid (or adult) wouldn’t want that?

Basically you are taking the cheese roux and instead of mixing that with the pasta and baking it, you plate it up all separate. Why wouldn’t it be good? I’ve been known to sneak some roux and noodle before baking and chomp it down. The stuff is good.

Here we go. Source:

Noodles & Co. Wisconsin Mac and Cheese
8 servings

2 lbs macaroni noodles (cooked al dente)
4 T butter
4 T flour
4 cups whole milk
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. fresh ground pepper
4 cups monterey jack cheese, shredded
2 cups colby-monterey jack cheese, finely shredded

Cook the macaroni according to the directions to al dente; do not overcook!
Heat butter in sauce pan over medium heat; melt.
Add the flour; whisk to make a roux.
Continue to whisk until the mixture boils, bubbles and turns slightly brown.
Whisk in salt, pepper, and paprika.
Slowly whisk in the milk and continue to whisk and cook until it starts to thicken up. It will not get pudding thick, and will still be a thin sauce. This is how you want it.
Remove from heat and add the 4c. of monterey jack.

To serve: Pour about 1/2 – 3/4 cup of the cheese sauce into the bottom of a bowl. Add about 1 cup of cooked noodles over the sauce. Top with a small handful of colby-monterey (about 1/4 cup). Stir and enjoy!

NOTE: 1c shredded cheese is approx. 4oz.

I can feed my entire family a very healthy portion of this (and have leftovers) for less than it would cost to feed two people the same meal at Noodles & Co. — score!  You can make the noodles ahead and whip up the roux in less than 15 minutes. Just warm your noodles before plating. It heats up well, too.

Summertime Wine aka Fruity Wine

Yesterday I mentioned blueberry wine as one of my favorite drinks. It is a wonderfully, refreshing twist on your ordinary red wine. I say red because I can not drink white wines (or pinks or blushes). When I do, I get headaches. I’ve been ridiculed, laughed at, given funny looks… questioned, but it remains consistent. If I could change it I would. I love wine. However, anything but a red will burst my head.

Poet. Didn’t know it.

Merlot, Shiraz, Pinot Noir, Syrah, Malbec… but more often a box of Shiraz. It is good, but can use a bit of jazzing up, summerfying.

Many times I’ll simply add fruit. If we’re at bookclub and the hostess is serving cut up fruit (watermelon, grapes, cantaloupe, strawberries), I’ll add those to my glass, pour my red wine over, and ooh-la-la. The best part is munching the wine-soaked fruit at the end. Peaches. Yum. Like a sangria without the wait.

At home for a quick fruity wine fix, I poured some frozen blueberries in a glass and topped it off with wine. Bliss. Chills the wine and brings it to a new level. A true connoisseur might say it ruins it. That’s OK.

It’s become habit, especially in the summer months when I crave fruit.

Tonight, pizza and blueberry wine.


She Gave Me A Flower

It has been record-breaking HOT here in Wisconsin. I’m sure some of you are feeling the heat wave, too. We are blessed to have air-conditioning in the house, and I have it at work, too (Frank does not). But I have to admit, after a week of sucking in conditioned air, I’m ready to throw the windows open to drink in some freshness. I have been going out on the deck, suffering the heat to read a book, have a glass of wine with blueberries in it (1 cup frozen blueberries + 1 cup wine = heaven on a hot day). It’s almost like going into a sauna for a spell, then retreating back to the shock of a climate change.

I’m not a hot weather person. The fact that I’ve been outside at all beyond work and running errands is a testimony to how cooped up I’ve been feeling.

Day 5 (or so) today of the heat wave and I’m literally almost jumping out of my skin, craving movement, outdoors, change of scenery. I dropped the kids off at baseball practice this evening and it was a sweltering 99 degrees out. At 7pm. I was kind of envying them. They got to go play, get sweaty, dirty, have fun. What kept running in my head, though, was the timing of my shower and how I wasn’t going to take one tonight. I’m tired of falling asleep on a wet head.

I came home. Waited. Did laundry. Went back to pick them up. Saw dirt, sweat, enjoyment in exhaustion written all over them. Gunned it home. Cleaned up dog urine (someone hasn’t enjoyed fireworks over the last few days), grabbed a baggie and the leash and stomped out the door.

Just one round, half a walk, just around the block once. Maybe I won’t sweat so much.

Bowzer was thrilled, practically choking himself over his own incontrollable enthusiasm. We made it down the first block, which was relatively quiet. Not many are fool enough to swim through the thick, humid air. Half way down the first block there was a woman with two children, tending to the lawn. I complimented her on her work. I pressed on, remembering the state of my hair, tank top, tight pants, house shoes. I… hadn’t expected it to be light enough out for people to witness me in my state of horror. Darn.

Ahead I spotted a family walking, slowly. I was sure we wouldn’t meet. Relief. As I passed around the next block, just as I’m passing a familiar house, in pulls a car loaded with one of Frank’s acquaintances. One of those people who has a nice clean car, cute clean kids, and didn’t look like they’d been lifted up, tossed by a tornado, and ran through the dryer (like I did). I gave a cheery “hello” and said something about staying cool then picked up my pace. By the end of that block both Bowzer and I remembered it was hot and slowed down. He still wanted to walk, as did I. I was already sweaty and knew a shower awaited me, so I might as well do my full walk.

Down the next block I headed, straight towards the family of slow walkers. Great. My shadow showed my hair outline as freakishly non-human. Why didn’t I check myself in the mirror before I left? Why? I’d use the excuse of my dog to cross out into the street and avoid eye-contact. They grew closer, a small gang of children, one haphazardly pushing a (much larger) sibling in a… stroller? No, it was a wheelchair. The mother sauntered along as the little one in command of the chair skidded, bumped onto lawns, and nearly upended the kid in the chair (who was smiling and raising his arms in glee at the peril, naturally). Just as I was about to make my escape, two small girls and a boy ran up to Bowzer (aka Bowzer The Kid Magnet) and asked to pet him.

Is she nice? She’s cute! She’s a he? What’s his name? Bowzer? Cute! Oh he likes petting.

The mother smiled, tiredly, and urged them along. I was about to pick Bowzer up so the kid in the chair could see him, but they moved away too fast. The little girl hung back and held a flower to my dog.

For Bowzer. She paused to look up at me, extended a small stem and head of a flower, stolen from a yard along the way. No… for you! You have the flower.

Oh, but it would look so pretty in your hair.

No, in YOUR hair.

I took it. I smiled. Not just on my face, but inside, I just smiled. The crazy-haired, sweaty lady receives flower.

Buffalo Chicken Tacos

I have to share this recipe because it was super delicious and wonderfully easy. This recipe is a definite keeper!

I’d like to interject that I really hate how Google now handles picture uploading and sharing. They’ve turned it all over to Google+ instead of Picasaweb; I am disappointed, inconvenienced. How dare they change up their free services on me?

Back to the recipe: Buffalo Chicken Tacos.

I’ve admitted before that me and measurements just don’t go well together. So I’ll tell you how my ratios rounded out. This recipe was so painfully easy, yet rendered mighty tasty results. Shred, dump, heat, enjoy. Voila. I’m sure you could get more detailed using avocados, lettuce, onions, cilantro – whatever your heart desires. But the bare-bones of this type of recipe are good just by themselves. It is appetizer-like in quality and taste, but can easily work as a stand alone dinner.

This ended up serving 7 of us (about 2-3 tacos each).

1 rotisserie chicken (meat removed and shredded)
1 12-oz. bottle Frank’s Red Hot sauce (dump over chicken)
1 bunch of celery (about 8 stalks – chopped)
1 20-count package of flour tortillas (warmed)
about 1 cup of shredded cheese (I used some leftover colby/jack and shredded it by hand on top)
blue cheese dressing (or ranch, as some of my boys preferred)

I pulled the chicken off the bone (saving bone and skin to make broth), put it in my small crockpot. Dumped the jar of sauce in; set the crockpot on “warm” until the kids got home from the pool. In the meantime I washed and chopped up the celery. (When I was ready) I warmed tortillas for about 15 seconds each in on each side and remove; add toppings (chicken, celery, cheese, dressing). It was so easy. Did I say that already? I didn’t bother with the sea salt or oiling the griddle like the original recipe called for. I was down for simplicity and the Red Hot and blue cheese are pretty salty on their own. I don’t usually oil my griddle when I heat tacos. I started to and then stopped. I used my iron skillet on med-high for a few seconds on each side, stack on a plate, cover and keep warm until I use them. It’s habit.

While waiting for the boys to get home, I threw a couple tortillas on to warm, cracked a beer and had my dinner in a quiet house while I watched the end of the Brewer’s game.

They are rich, hearty, little buggers. You don’t need a lot of any of the toppings for it to make a statement. Dante’s girlfriend said it was too spicy. The rest of the boys ate their two quickly (some adding additional heat to their taco) and then swarmed like vultures, hoping to get another one. I was able to sock two away for Frank when he gets home from is overtime.