Saturday, November 5, 2011

Grilled chicken caesar wraps

Between trying to get all the suitcases put away, folding the massive pile of laundry (seriously y'all, I can't see my bed underneath it all), and starting in on the long list of holiday to-do's I need some quick, easy and healthy (anyone else trying to detox from last week?!) meals right now.

This is my go to dinner on the fly. Our version of take out or fast food.

Between baseball and small group and other weekly commitments we are often eating on the go. Either with less than 15 minutes to scarf it down, or getting home late and shoveling the food in before putting kids to bed.

As an advocate of the Slow Food movement and family meals I don't love that we do this. However it's not every night, we are having at least 4 family meals a week, and to a certain extent I think it's the phase of life we are in with school age children. It's hard work trying to balance activities and involvement with family time. One I most certainly do not have figured out yet!

All of the items necessary to make this can be made ahead of time and warmed up. I almost always make leftovers as this also makes a great lunch!

2 grilled chicken breasts sliced on the bias
cooked brown rice*
5 cups shredded romaine
whole wheat tortillas (I get mine from Trader Joe's)
Brianna's asiago caesar dressing

*To make my brown rice I take 1 cup rice, 2 cups stock, a dash of olive oil and salt (about 1 teaspoon of each) and bring to a boil. Once it comes to a boil you put a lid on it and turn it to low and simmer for 40 minutes. Turn off and then let set 10 minutes before serving. If you're really in a rush Trader Joe's has microwavable bags of organic brown rice that cook in less than 10 minutes.

So really, once you cook the chicken and rice it's just assembly. I just grill my chicken on our gas grill until they hit 160 degrees with a digital thermometer. Take up and let them rest while covered for 5 minutes and then slice.

I put the rice down first, then a couple slices of chicken. I top mine more generously with lettuce than my husband chooses to and then top with the dressing.

You could do it with the chicken and rice being cold, but I prefer mine hot with cold lettuce. Just a nice contrast and holds my appeal whatever season it is.

Here's the thing about these...the dressing makes it. I typically make my own dressings, but this one is worth buying. First off, most good caesar dressing recipes call for an egg yolk and while I'm pretty liberal with the food standards while pregnant and nursing, that one won't fly. That and um, it's easy. This is the best caesar dressing I've tried, including at restaurants.

Fast, easy and healthy, what more could a mom ask for? Now you'll have a little more time to throw some tinsel on something or bake cupcakes for both your kids classes.

Bacon Apple Cheddar Stuffing

Being the food nerd that I am, I often update my facebook status about what we are eating for dinner, or what I am cooking.

Not usually a ton of comments hit those but a lot of likes. So when I posted that I made balsamic grilled pork tenderloin, roasted sweet potatoes, salad and bcaon, apple, and cheddar stuffing and I got a plethora comments asking for the recipe, I thought it would be nice to give it to you.

I'm not sure how this recipe came about, other than I know I started out putting it inside a pork roast. But pork roasts are tricky to cook, not very quick and make for squishy stuffing. It's fall encapsulated in a dish to me.

I realize stuffing is a very polarizing subject. Cornbread vs bread, sausage or not, lots of sage or's a very personal business often relating closely to what part of the country you are from. This being said, and while it may not be the case for all, I think this stuffing has mass appeal. First off, who doesn't like bacon? And not many people are currently putting bacon in their stuffing so it's different enough to be sort of like grandma's but just under par. It's part bread and part cornbread. And who doesn't like cheddar and apples? It's pretty much all-american. (on an unrelated side note, have you ever put cheddar or your apple pie? It's SO good! My husband disagrees and is repulsed by this act...but if salty/sweet is your thing, DO IT!)

This was such a big hit in our home my husband has requested it for Thanksgiving. I'd say it's a winner!

1/2 package of bacon (or about 8 slices) diced)
1 small onion diced
4 cups loosely packed bread cubes (I've used three leftover hot dog buns or 4 dinner rolls for this recently) dried (left out over night or stuck in a 250 degree oven for 1/2 hour)
6 cornbread muffins, or 1/2 of a normal sized batch*
2 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 large apple or 2 small diced
1 cup packed freshly shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 egg
1 teaspoon rubbed sage (a little more if you like it heavy on the sage)
salt and pepper to taste

First off, cooking is very loose. There aren't too many hard and fast recipes. The beauty of it is experimenting and customizing it to your tastes. If you think it's too much apple, cut back. Think celery would be a good addition (it would, but the hubs isn't crazy about it and I didn't have any), throw it in! I would encourage you to make it the directed way first unless you are quite comfortable in the kitchen and then notate your preferences for the future.

*I use White Lily cornbread mix. Not that healthy, but I love it and it turns out perfect each time. I follow the directions on the back. If I am making cornbread just for this I half the recipe. The recipe for half calls for 1 cup of the cornbread mix. You could use leftovers. If you're a little short no biggie you may just need to cut back on how much stock you add.

Preheat over to 350 degrees.

In a saucepan cook bacon on medium. It won't cook quite as fast, but that is good. We are rendering the fat which will get more fat out (for flavoring) and make the bacon crispier. Once the bacon begins to get crispy add the onion. Cook until the onion is just translucent. About 8 or so minutes.

While the bacon and onion are cooking crumble to cornbread into a large mixing bowl. Add bread cubes, apple, cheddar, sage and salt and pepper (I used about 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper) and toss together. Once the onion and bacon are done toss those in. Add about 2 1/2 cups of stock (more or less if needed) to get to an oatmeal or grits like consistency.

Beat the egg in a small bowl and then add. Mix thoroughly.

Pour into greased baking pan and bake for about 1 hour at 350 on the bottom rack moving to the top rack for the last 15 minutes to brown the top. The cooking time is really iffy depending on what kind of dish you use. The more shallow it is the quicker it will cook. Mine was about 1 1/2 inches deep and took about an hour. Just use the toothpick test if unsure.

A quick keeping it real shot for you. I'm photographing by my sink (most light) which is filled with dishes and I still have Halloween candy buckets on my counter.

As always, if you have any questions feel free to ask!