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orange teriyaki chicken salad

Colorful salad with chicken, oranges, and salad greens.

When I was first married, I didn’t have an arsenal of recipes at hand, so I used to cut zillions of them out of magazines. (I still do, but I no longer cut out dessert recipes unless they look exceptional.) One of the recipes I cut out was for Orange Teriyaki Chicken Salad.

It was long a favorite for my husband and me, but we haven’t made it in a while. The kids aren’t big salad eaters, but by keeping the chicken and oranges separate and just putting  a little ranch dressing on the greens, they ate most of their meal without complaining.

The original recipe called for peeling fresh oranges, juicing one to get juice to mix with teriyaki sauce for dressing, and carefully segmenting the others. I found this a tedious process; I hate peeling oranges, as I despise pith and membranes. Solution: canned mandarins, just using straight teriyaki sauce for dressing.

Orange Teriyaki Chicken Salad

This recipe can be made for just one or two people, or multiplied for several. I also don’t measure much anymore when I make it, so this is a bit of a guess.

  • 1 (4-ounce) boneless, skinless chicken breast half per person
  • 3 Tbsp. teriyaki sauce per person for marinating, plus more for dressing.
  • 1/2 of one (8-ounce) can of mandarin oranges per person, drained
  • 1/2 – 3/4 cup salad greens (we like fresh spinach or torn romaine) per person.
  • 1 Tbsp. slivered almonds per person.

Make ahead: One day before you want to make this recipe, put the chicken and teriyaki sauce in a resealable plastic bag or a small container. Marinate for at least 8 hours. (I highly recommend Soy Vay’s Veri-Veri Teriyaki. So yummy! And no, I didn’t get paid to say that!)

Day of: Grill or broil the chicken over high heat until a thermometer reaches 160 Degrees F. or juices run clear. Allow chicken to rest 5 minutes. Meanwhile, arrange salad greens, mandarin oranges, and almond slivers on a plate. Slice the chicken into bite size pieces. Top salad with chicken. Drizzle with teriyaki sauce.

For kids (my kids, at least): Serve chicken, with mandarin oranges as a side dish, salad with dressing as a side dish.

Fun twist: I have also served this salad as kabobs, arranging chicken and oranges on skewers. I would probably use fresh oranges rather than canned.

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love my deep freeze. I freeze all sorts of things to have on hand to make cooking and prep work easy. Here are a few of my favorite tips and tricks for making your freezer work like a second pantry.

Chopped bell peppers

Chopped bell peppers ready to be frozen on a cookie sheet. Freezing in this method prevents clumping.

Chop veggies and freeze on cookie sheets. Peppers, onions, sweet potatoes, mushrooms and more can be chopped, frozen on cookie sheets, and then stored in freezer containers in this method. When a recipe calls for 1/2 cup chopped onion or bell pepper, (like Pineapple Chicken Fajitas) you’ve got them ready to go. (Note: these veggies are best used in recipes where they will be cooked, and not left raw. If your recipe calls for raw onion/pepper, buy what you need for the raw portion, and chop up and freeze the rest!)

Freeze sauces, juices, and broths in ice cube trays. Pesto (like for my turkey burgers) freezes great in ice cube trays. Pineapple juice, tomato paste, and chicken broth are also handy to have frozen in 1 or 2 tablespoon measurements. Freeze in ice cube trays, then pop into freezer containers. (Pineapple juice, prune juice, and a few other juices don’t freeze super solid, so a lidded ice cube tray can be nice for these.)

Freeze shredded cheese. I keep shredded cheddar and shredded mozzarella on hand at all times. Then we are ready to go for pasta, pizza, and taco nights.

Rectangular freezer containers

Rectangular freezer containers. You can see the top one labeled with a dry erase marker. It is full of shredded carrot.

Square plastic freezer containers are AMAZING. They use all the space you have, stack and nest well, and prevent crushing. And they are reusable!!! They come in 1-pint, 2-pint, quart, and 4-quart sizes. One pint size is just right for a pound of ground beef, so I buy it in 10 lb. tubes, slice it with a knife and put in a container. They stack neatly in the bottom of my deep freeze.

Label plastic freezer containers with dry erase marker. Yes! It works. No more searching for masking tape and a pen to label things. (I still do that sometimes too.) But for the reusable containers, the dry erase will stay put until you are ready to wash the container.

I never ate spinach as a kid. Never! When I got to college, I started eating it in fresh salads, as I didn’t mind it raw, and I’m sure I started getting it cooked in certain dishes once in a while.

This spinach casserole was my sister-in-law’s regular recipe that she brought to dinner. And surprisingly, I like it! Now that I have kids of my own, we eat it regularly. Why? Because my kids will eat it! They don’t care for it fresh from the oven, but cool it off a bit, and they will eat it as a dip on crackers. (It is admittedly very tasty on crackers.)

So feel free to dig in with your favorite party crackers, pretzels, celery/carrots, or just with your fork!

spinach casserole

Amy’s Spinach Casserole

  • 2 (10 ounce) packages frozen chopped spinach
  • 1 (8 ounce) container sour cream (or 1 cup sour cream)
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 package of onion soup mix

Thaw the spinach. (I often follow the cooking directions and cook it in the microwave with a little water for about 5-8 minutes). Squeeze it dry. Squeezing it dry is essential to getting a good final product that isn’t runny. How to do this: Especially if it is hot out of the microwave, the spinach is a bit hot to handle. I line my colander with paper towels, dump the spinach in, and then take a clean drinking glass and press down on the spinach all around in the colander until very little liquid comes out.

In an oven-save bowl or casserole dish, mix spinach, sour cream, soup, and soup mix together until well blended. Level the top of the mixture in the bowl. Bake in a 350-degree oven for 30 minutes.

Enjoy!

Now that you know how and why I make a meal plan from Part 1 and Part 2, it might be helpful to know how my meal plan actually works in action. Here is a real-life example of what happens in my house.

Week One

My shopping was on Tuesday, so my meal plan began Tuesday evening. Here is what we actually made. (Not entirely sure what the original was, but it is important to see what we made so you know how this week played out.)

Tuesday: Fish with cornbread

stuffing for pineapple chicken fajitas

Pineapple chicken fajitas

Wednesday: Crockpot Cheater’s Chili
Thursday: Pineapple Chicken Fajitas
Friday: Spaghetti
Saturday: Tacos
Sunday: Vanilla Pork Chops with Spinach Casserole
Monday: Crockpot Pulled Pork

After this, we had a fair amount of cornbread, chili, fajitas, pork chops, spinach casserole, and pulled pork left in our refrigerator, along with some meatballs and sausage from the previous week.

Week Two

Here was what my original meal plan said:

Tuesday: Chicken Breasts with Marinated Broccoli

Crunchy Chicken Salad

Crunchy Chicken Salad

Wednesday: At a friend’s house – Take Broccoli Tortellini Salad and Raspberry Fool
Thursday: Pork Burgers with Sweet Potato Fries
Friday: Leftover Pizza (in the freezer) or Margarita Steak
Saturday: Camper’s Breakfast Hash
Sunday: Turkey Apple Cheddar Salad
Monday: Crunchy Chicken Salad

This week was a pretty set schedule for a summer week, and I chose items based on what we had going on. The chicken breasts had to be cooked, as they’d been sitting in the frig. (I’d gotten them at a great price the week before and the intention was for hubby to smoke them in his smoker Sunday with the Pulled Pork, but it rained, so he did the pork in the crockpot.)  Wednesday’s dinner date with friends was set. Saturday and Sunday I had an event out of town for most of the afternoon and wouldn’t be able to cook.

What actually happened:

Tuesday: Had leftover pork chops & spinach casserole for lunch. Made the chicken breasts in the oven, but ended up having raw veggies, cottage cheese and corn from the freezer as side dishes.

Wednesday:  Ate leftover spaghetti for lunch, while the girls ate spinach casserole and meatballs that were also leftover. Made the Tortellini Broccoli Salad in the morning, and prepped the puree for the fool. Made the fool in the afternoon.

Thursday: Made macaroni and cheese for lunch and ate it with applesauce, sausage, and carrots. Made pork burgers for supper, but did not make sweet potato fries. Instead had cottage cheese, cheesy green beans, and fresh fruit.

Friday: Ate fish and spinach casserole (leftover) for lunch. Had so many leftovers in the frig that we had chili, pineapple chicken fajitas and meatballs for supper.

Saturday: Finished the chili for lunch. Decided it made more sense to make the Turkey Apple Cheddar Salad for supper instead of for Sunday. My family ate that while I ate a packed dinner that I didn’t have to keep cold. (My event was outdoors and it was terribly hot and humid. Peanut Butter and Jelly with carrots, chips and a treat.)

Sunday: I took leftover Turkey Apple Cheddar Salad to my event for lunch. (It was not as hot, and I knew I’d be eating it shortly after I arrived.) Knew we’d be getting home right at about supper time, so we pulled the leftover pizza out of the freezer and heated it up.

Monday: Can’t for the life of me remember what we ate for lunch, but it was likely leftovers. That night I made the Crunchy Chicken Salad to use up some of the leftover chicken.

So as you can see, we still had the Camper’s Breakfast Hash left on the menu, so when meal planning came around, I had one less meal to worry about.

campers breakfast hash

Potatoes and eggs are super yummy in this skillet meal.

Who doesn’t love breakfast for dinner? I wasn’t sure how this one would go over, as my kids don’t particularly like potatoes, but they loved it!

Full of hashbrowns, sausage, eggs, and peppers, it is a nice all-in-one meal. The original recipe calls for a HUGE amount. I wasn’t sure my skillet would hold it all (nor if my family would like it) so I halved the recipe.

I felt the amount of sausage was skimpy, so I left it at about what the original called for, without halving it, and after making it, I feel it was skimpy on the veggies, too. I will continue to play around with this one. Try it and see what you think! What would you change?

Camper’s Breakfast Hash (Original amounts)

  • 1/4 cup butter, cubed
  • 2 pkgs. (20 ounces each) refrigerated shredded hash brown potatoes
  • 1 pkg. (7 ounces) brown-and-serve sausage links, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1/4 cup chopped green pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 12 eggs, lightly beaten
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese

In a large skillet, melt butter. Add the potatoes, sausage, onion and green pepper. Cook, uncovered, over medium heat for 10-15 minutes or until potatoes are lightly browned, turning once.

Push potato mixture to the sides of pan. Pour eggs into center of pan. Cook and stir over medium heat until eggs are completely set. Season with salt and pepper. Reduce heat; stir eggs into potato mixture. Top with cheese; cover and cook for 1-2 minutes or until cheese is melted.

Crunchy Chicken Salad

Crunchy Chicken Salad

Crunchy chicken salad, baked in a casserole dish, is a tasty main course for lunch.

A friend of mine gave me this recipe after she used it for a lunch gathering. My husband and I enjoy it very much. The kids…well, the oldest pretty much just eats the chicken out of it, while the youngest turns up her nose. They can eat peanut butter sandwiches while hubby and I get a real meal.

(Mom confession time: I LOVE peanut butter. I love peanut butter sandwiches. I would eat peanut butter sandwiches every day if I could. That being said, I recognize the value of a diet rich in foods beyond peanut butter and bread. So I limit myself and my kids. But when I have to take a bag lunch? More often than not, it’s a peanut butter sandwich.)

This baked chicken salad is great on its own, or served in tortillas. I love the crunch of water chestnuts, and the contrast they provide with the chicken. I have reduced the mayonnaise from the original recipe, as I found that it was very runny. It also reheats and freezes well. I often double the recipe and freeze a pan without the topping. If you do that, thaw before baking.

Crunchy Chicken Salad

  • 2 cups cooked chicken breast, chopped
  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds
  • 1 cup sliced water chestnuts
  • 1 cup sliced pimentos
  • 1/2 tsp. celery salt
  • 1/8 tsp Accent Spice mix
  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1 small can French fried onions
  • 1/4 cup grated cheddar cheese

Mix together chicken, almonds, water chestnuts, pimentos, celery salt and Accent. Whip mayo and lemon juice; stir into chicken mixture.

Pour into a greased casserole dish (8×8). Top with onions and cheddar. Bake uncovered, at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

IMG_3462

Raspberry Fool – Simple Summer Sweetness

If you’ve never heard of a fool – as in, a dessert, not a person who does foolish things – you are not alone. I’m guessing – and this is strictly speculation – sometime in the 1950s, the classic fool was replaced with Jell-o fluff, a concoction of whipped topping and flavored gelatin.

I found a cranberry fool in a cookbook, but never made it. However, a couple of years ago, I was looking for something to make on April Fool’s Day that would be fun and not prankish, and voila, I found a strawberry fool.

A real fool has REAL food in it. Three ingredients. THREE! And surprisingly little sugar – and I think you could easily reduce the sugar if you choose. I’ve made this recipe with strawberries. This time, I made it with raspberries, and it was a perfect summer dessert on a very hot day.

Raspberry (or Strawberry) Fool

  • 1 heaping cupped fresh or frozen berries, thawed (if large berries, like strawberries, chop them before measuring)
  • 3 Tbsps. sugar, or to taste.
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream

Puree berries and sugar in a food processor. Refrigerate at least 2 hours.

Beat whipping cream until stiff peaks form. Gently fold in berry puree until mostly blended, leaving some swirls. Serve chilled.

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