Quick Recipe: Spicy Smoked Chicken Salad

P&P Spicy Smoked Chicken Salad

Hey, where’s this week’s meal plan? I know, I know.  I’d like to know the same thing.  Life is kicking my tail and we’re living on leftovers and freezer meals this week.

BUT!

Something wonderful happened over the weekend with some slightly overdone smoked chicken breasts! They magically turned into one of the best chicken salads I’ve ever had (and I love me a good chicken salad!).  Happily, I made mental notes as I went and have this recipe to share with you!

Spicy Smoked Chicken Salad – Serves 2 as a salad meal

Ingredients:

  • 2 smoked chicken breasts (or breasts you’ve roasted with a healthy coat of good seasoning rub);
  • 1/2c mayonnaise (my favorite homemade; my favorite premade);
  • 2-3Tbsp hot sauce (I use Frank’s);
  • 1/2 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, quartered;
  • 2 stalks celery, diced (optional)

Method:

  1. Chunky or smooth? If you like chunky chicken salad (think Whole Foods), dice your chicken breasts.  If you prefer a smoother consistency (think tuna salad), pulse in the food processor.  I tried it both ways, and both were winners.  It just comes down to a matter of preference.
  2. Mix all ingredients.  If at all humanly possible, let sit for at least an hour.  If you can’t wait, I understand, but it’ll get better as the flavors from your chicken meet and mingle with the mayo and hot sauce!
  3. Serve over lettuce, on raw zucchini or cucumber rounds, on crackers or bread (preferably Paleo, of course!).

Enjoy!

Advertisements

Meal Plan: Week of May 8th

P&P - Kale and Egg breakfast

We had a delightfully busy weekend cooking for and then visiting with my husband’s 92 year old grandmother! The downside: no Sunday Cook-Up for me this week (plus this meal plan is late rolling out).  The upside: this week’s plan is a good example of how I wing it with shortcuts and quicker-cooking meals!

BREAKFAST

Easy repeat from last week (see photo, above): more semi-soft boiled eggs from Stupid Easy Paleo and greens (either of the recipes mentioned in last week’s Meal Plan depending on how the mood strikes me).

The kids are on a Cheerio’s kick, which isn’t Paleo, but is GF and now that there’s no artificial colors, I’m going to let it slide as we enter the craziness of end-of-school.

LUNCH

When my husband smoked the pork shoulder last weekend, he threw on a few chicken breasts for me (isn’t he a prince?!).  I’m planning on whipping up some Super Green Soup from Simone Miller’s Paleo Soups and Stews to go along with the protein.  It’s chock full of veggies, and is ready in just over 30 minutes.  Win! (If you don’t have Simone’s book and still want a lighter, veggie-based soup, I highly recommend Mel Joulwan’s Silky Ginger Zucchini Soup!)

DINNER

Monday – Last night we killed the leftovers from last week’s Twice Baked “Mac” and “Cheese” along with some cut veggies.  If you didn’t have any leftovers and are looking for another spaghetti squash recipe, I’ve heard great things about Physical Kitchness’s Tuscan Chicken Spaghetti Squash.

Tuesday – We have the last flag football practice of the season tonight, so we’ll finish up last Friday’s Carnitas when we get home.

Wednesday – Hot Dogs! My kids love hot dogs and I don’t feel bad giving them the clean ones from Applegate Farms.  We’ll have stuffed hot dogs (I got the idea from Michelle Tam’s awesome lunchbox post), with these Parsnip Fries.

Thursday – I’m excited to try this new-to-me Turkey, Kale and Apple Meatballs recipe that was featured on the Whole 30 Recipes IG account last week (if you don’t follow, YOU SHOULD!).  My kids will tell you they hate zucchini, but they both LOVE making zoodles and seem to forget that it’s zucchini along the way.

Friday – I may try to start a #FrittataFriday hashtag! Fed + Fit’s Sausage and Tomato Frittata is a family favorite (we skip the fennel seeds).  If I have time, I may try oven roasting some cherry tomatoes in place of the tomato slices and mixing them into the frittata so we don’t have slippery, sliding tomatoes at mealtime.

Saturday – It’s takeout night! Woot!

Sunday – But wait, Vik, you say, isn’t it Mother’s Day? True enough, but sadly we’re in a season where I don’t get to take the whole day off.  That said, I’ve requested Marinated Flank Steak (we’ve used this particular recipe for years, and it’s easy to swap some of the marinade ingredients for Paleo-friendly ones), and I’ll whip up some easy cauli mash. There’s also a bottle of bourbon-barrel aged Cabernet Sauvignon in the wine fridge that I expect will make an appearance.  Because Mother’s Day.

What are your go-to recipes when life gets crazy??

Meal Plan: Happy May!

Can y’all believe it’s May already?! Me neither.  We have a lot coming up: the Hubs’s birthday, our 15th wedding anniversary (!), closing on our new house, and end-of-school activities.  Staying on track is extra super important so I can keep up with all of the above so here we go with this week’s meal plan (remember that “SCU” are items I make ahead in my Sunday Cook Up).  (Note: We switched around some dinners last week so a couple of meals from last week’s plan got bumped to this week. )

P&P 5-1 Meal Plan

BREAKFAST

My breakfast: semi-soft boiled eggs (SCU) from Stupid Easy Paleo + greens (I’m making the Lemony Bacon Super Greens from the Fed + Fit Cookbook (SCU): the Bacon Stir Fried Kale on Nom Nom Paleo’s site would also make a great breakfast green!)

Kids’ breakfast: they ended up mooching from my frozen Paleo muffin stash last week (that came out sounding way naughtier than intended!), so we’re making Jay’s Baking Me Crazy’s Sausage Pancake Muffins (SCU).  For real this time.

LUNCH

My lunches: Sonoma Chicken Salad from the Fed + Fit Cookbook in hydroponic lettuce wraps + probably some sweet potato chips on the side.  I’m roasting a chicken as part of my SCU so I can also make some bone broth this week.  Because stress needs bone broth.

Kids’ lunches: only a few more weeks of school lunches and then we can clean up their act over the summer!

DINNER

Monday – Picnic dinner.  My 7yo has a flag football game on Monday night so we’ll have a quick picnic when we get home.  We’ll make some Cold Cut Roll-Ups from the Fed + Fit Cookbook, have some vegetable crudites (SCU) with ranch, and Terra chips.

Tuesday – Twice Baked “Mac” and “Cheese” (I’ll make the spaghetti squash ahead during my SCU to reduce weeknight prep time) from Real Everything.  I cut the bacon to 1/2 pound and add in four Applegate hot dogs to make this a one-bowl meal.

Wednesday – Frozen pizza.  Because I’m flying solo this week and I’m human.  We love the three cheese one from Against the Grain and we add our own toppings.  Lots of black olives on the side, too, since my kiddos were born with the innate sense that black olives belong on fingertips.

Thursday – Leftover Butternut Sausage Bake with Kale and Tomato Cream from Paleo Running Mama.

Friday – It’s Cinco de Mayo! We’re making the Chipotle Carnitas from the Fed + Fit Cookbook and accompany those with chips (real for them; plantain for me) and guac and Paleo Margaritas for the grown ups from Against All Grain.

Saturday – Take out night!

Sunday – We’re taking a meal to the Hubs’s 92yo grandmother as a pre-Mother’s Day treat: smoked pork (his own recipe), collard greens, and the “Corn”bread from Against All Grain’s Celebrations cookbook made as muffins.

What are you cooking up this week? Anything special for Cinco de Mayo?

Meal Plan: Week of April 24

Hi y’all!

A lot’s been going on in the land of Peonies and Paleo (although, clearly, blogging is not one of them . . . )! The one thing that has been a stable constant is meal planning! Y’all know I’m a BIG believer in meal planning (check out my Ultimate Meal Planning Guide), and if you follow me over on Instagram, you’ve probably figured out that I love to prep cook, too.

Medium Egg

But I’ve had some IRL friends ask me lately for meal planning help and I figured, who doesn’t love a pre-made meal plan, so I figured I’d start sharing my weekly menu.  Items followed by a (SCU) means they were premade in my Sunday Cook Up.  Let me know if this is helpful!

BREAKFAST

My breakfast: Over medium steamed egg a la Stupid Easy Paleo (SCU) + a blueberry muffin from Paleo Cupboard (This would normally be part of my Sunday Cook Up, however, these are some leftovers I had in the freezer I’m trying to use up.)

Kids’ breakfast: sausage pancake muffins from Jay’s Baking me Crazy (SCU) + fruit

LUNCH

My lunch: leftovers from the previous night’s dinner

Kids’ lunch: they eat lunch at school (they’re not 100% Paleo; obvs)

DINNERS

Monday: Hawaiian Chicken Burgers + Pina Colada Coleslaw (SCU) from Physical Kitchness

Tuesday: Orange Chicken from the Paleo Takeout cookbook + steamed broccoli + caulirice (I use Trader Joe’s frozen)

Wednesday: Waffles from Lexi’s Clean Kitchen + bacon + fruit (kids) or stir-fried kale a la Nom Nom Paleo (me)

Thursday: Turkey meatballs + cauliflower mash from Juli Bauer’s Paleo Cookbook

Friday: Butternut Sausage Bake with Kale and Tomato Cream from Paleo Running Mama

Saturday: Take Out Night!

Sunday: Twice Baked “Macaroni” + hot dogs from Paleo Gone Sassy via Real Everything

What’s on your menu this week?

Back-to-School Meal Plan {Posh Paleo Bonus}

I am beyond thrilled to be featured in this month’s edition of Posh Paleo Magazine with some of my favorite meal planning tips for the crazy back-to-school season.  As you already know, I {heart} meal planning! But if you’re not as wild for it as I am, relax!  To go along with my article in Posh Paleo, I’m giving you a one-week back-to-school meal plan based on the tips from my article.  (What? You don’t subscribe to Posh Paleo yet? Well, get on it! I’ll wait . . .)

Breakfast – Even if you don’t do a Sunday cook-up, I want you to make breakfast this week.  Why? As I explained in the ‘zine, a big change in morning schedule is a prime opportunity to get off your morning nutritional game and that is a recipe for more nutritional slippage throughout the day.  Head it off at the pass by prepping PaleOMG’s Easy Breakfast Casserole on Sunday.

(Psst . . . while your breakfast is baking, don’t forget to chop your veggies for the week.  You can sweat those zoodles ahead of time, too.)

P&P - Dinner Sign

Below you’ll find your dinner menu.  I’m practicing what I preached and loving my slow cooker this season! I put the Slow Cooker Cheater Pork Stew on Monday because that’s the night my son has soccer, so move it around if that’s appropriate for you.  Nom Nom Paleo’s Pork Stew is a gift that keeps on giving – it makes SO much leftovers that you can do a leftovers night AND still have enough for a lunch or two.

I also let you off the hook on Friday.  Remember when I said good enough is perfect? By Friday, I rarely want to cook.  It’s the perfect day to stop off at the grocery store for some gorgeous veggies and a chicken and have dinner on the table five minutes after you walk in the door.

I also gave you a favorite recipe that takes too long for a weeknight on Sunday.  Sunday is a great time to make a more involved meal – especially one that will give you enough leftovers for another dinner.  You’ll thank me next Wednesday.

But wait, Vik, what about lunch? Leftovers, my friend.  Most recipes feed my family of 3.5 (my four-year-old doesn’t eat full servings yet) with enough leftovers for one dinner serving and one or two lunch servings, so I’m assuming you’ll feed your crew of 4ish and have lunch the next day for you.

Happy Cooking and be sure to let me know how it goes!

Monday Slow Cooker Cheater Pork Stew (Nom Nom Paleo)
Tuesday Teriyaki Chicken Thighs and Bok Choi (Fed + Fit) & basic caulirice
Wednesday Grass Fed Meatballs (Grass Fed Girl) & basic zoodles
Thursday Leftover Slow Cooker Cheater Pork Stew
Friday Big Salad topped with rotisserie chicken
Saturday Buffalo Wings(Against All Grain) & veggie crudités
Sunday Rogan Josh (Mel Joulwan)

6 Self-Care Hacks For Busy Seasons

It’s that time of year – back to school if you are a student or have kids, back to awful traffic even if you don’t – when days seem to get crazier, obligations pile on, and, so many times, self-care seems to fall by the wayside.  I am a strong “obliger” in the parlance of Gretchen Rubin’s expectation-based personality types, so it’s no surprise that I fall into this trap every year.

Part of the holistic wellness of being Paleo is managing stress and, mindful of that, I’ve been looking for ways to keep from torpedoing my own health as I manage the tightrope that is parenting/practicing law/wifeing/running a business.  In the sprit of one of my favorite bloggers who began a monthly things-saving-my-life-right-now series this year, and because I find others’ ideas for shortcuts and outlets helpful, I’m sharing six self-care hacks that are saving my life right now.

P&P - Podcasts

  1. Extra! Extra! I used to think it was wasteful to purchase multiples of household items, preferring to buy the next bottle of something when the current one was about used up.  Then, a few years ago, I read a cleaning tip that suggested keeping a second cleaning caddy upstairs.  I am no Fly Lady, but this small step went a long way to helping me stay on track with household tasks, and I’ve found the same to be true with personal items as well – convenience is key.  I recently bought a duplicate bottle of face wash to keep next to the kids’ bath so I can go ahead and take my makeup off while my daughter is playing in her bubbles early in the evening and forego the 10pm desire to fall into bed with my makeup on (yes, I know better, and yes, I still do that).
  2. Find a Podcast  One of the most difficult things for me about this whole work-life balance dance that happens every day is the lack of time to myself (and this coming from a very confirmed, very strong extrovert) and lack of time for my non-essential interests.  I started listening to podcasts in carline and on the short (15 min.) drive to the courthouse last year, and it made a monumental difference in my mood.  Because I am doing this for moi none of the podcasts in my feed are about law or parenting.  There are so many great podcasts available depending on your interests! My current favorites? Happier with Gretchen Rubin, What Should I Read Next? with Anne Bogel and Pantsuit Politics.
  3. Cold Brew Coffee The greatest injustice of my morning is the part of my day when I come downstairs from the shower and start the coffee, knowing it won’t be ready until after I am back upstairs doing my makeup.  #firstworldproblems #suburbiaproblems  Enter cold brew coffee.  4 oz. Chameleon Cold Brew + 4 oz. Califa Farms Almond Milk immediately from the fridge while I’m still measuring grounds into the coffee filter, and I am transformed into a superhero! All before anyone else in my house is awake! (P.S. You can also make your own cold brew.  I, however, am not that ambitious.)
  4. Make-Ahead Breakfast I can tell you it’s the most important meal of the day. And I can boast that since becoming Paleo I’ve incorporated veggies into my daily A.M. routine.  And then I will sheepishly admit that this year’s school schedule kicked me in the teeth and left me eating a bar in the car every day the first week.  For me, the solution is a make-ahead breakfast.  I’ve made sure to include a multi-serving breakfast in my weekly meal prep so I can either reheat and eat at the kitchen counter or grab and warm up at the office.  (P.S. I’ll have a make-ahead breakfast hash recipe for you next Tuesday if you’re looking for a satisfying, nutrient-dense and quick breakfast that won’t hijack your Sunday afternoon.)
  5. Sandwich Meditation Confession: I’m type-A and a professional worrier.  That means it’s pretty easy for me to work myself into a mental frenzy of to-do lists and “what ifs” before I even finish my Cold Brew.  I’d been meaning to try a morning meditation but I couldn’t find a way to be consistent until I realized that, while maybe not ideal, I could do it while I did something else.  Like packing the kids’ lunch.  (I know, DUH!)  My current favorite is a no-frills, 4 minute meditation entitled “Good Morning, Sunshine” from My Meditation Station.  It is uplifting and, importantly for me, addresses all those worries I seem to wake up with. (With thanks to Mel Joulwan for turning me on to My Meditation Station!)
  6. Ten-Minute Workouts Movement Pre-kids, I worked out 60+ minutes a day.  Most times these days, 30 minutes is now my realistic goal.  But sometimes even that doesn’t happen.  Not only does my metabolism suffer, so does my mindset.  I’m trying to remember to give myself a break and take a few minutes where- and whenever I can find them, be it a walk around the block with the kids, or some light sculpting while dinner is in the oven.  I’m a huge fan of barre3 and 10-minute gems like their Kitchen Cardio Strength and Park Bench Yoga Sculpt perk me up and make me feel like the day is not a total fitness loss. (It’s as if barre3 knew I planned to post about this today – check out the Four barre3 Workouts You Can Do at a Park Bench that they just published!)

If you have any favorite ways to sneak in self-care when there doesn’t seem to be another second to squeeze out of your day, I’d love to hear them!

The Ultimate Meal Planning Guide

Hi, my name is Victoria, and I’m a cookbook addict!  Though, to be fair, I think I’m in good company (I’m looking at you Prime Minister Theresa May!).

P&P Cookbooks

This is only part of my cookbook collection.  The “most used” section.  Mostly Paleo, some well-loved non-Paleo cookbooks that I’ve found to be readily adaptable, and some great resource books.  I definitely do not lack for choices or inspiration when it comes to deciding what I – and my family – will eat in a given week.  The problem is really that of a child faced with too many ice cream choices, who is crippled by indecision.

Whether you own one cookbook or, (ahem) twelve, or keep a binder, or Pin the heck out of recipes, meal planning can be daunting.  Before you sign up for a meal planning service (don’t get me wrong – some of them look fantastic!), give my meal planning template a try!

P&P Meal Planning 3

  1. Find a planner that works for you

This looks different for everyone.  My favorite planner is from Refined Side and allows me to plan all three meals each day.  You may only need to plan dinners.  There are a plethora of blank calendars and planners to be found online and, if you want to sketch it out yourself, the back of the flyer about your kid’s school bake sale works, too.

  1. Make a list of what you need to use up

When I start meal planning (usually Friday evening), the first thing I look at is what needs to be used first.  Maybe it’s leftovers from Thursday that we can have on Sunday (or that I’d rather freeze for a rainy day).  Maybe it’s that random half-head of cabbage from the side dish you made last week.  If you keep a deep freeze list, also keep in mind what is nearing the end of its shelf life.

  1. Source recipes for #2 first

Let’s take my cabbage as an example.  I recently made the Bacon and Cabbage side dish from Paleo Kitchen.  The recipe called for ½ head each of green and red cabbage.  Which left me with the remaining half of each (or the equivalent of a whole cabbage) patiently waiting in my veggie drawer.  Sometimes, I have something in mind based on a recipe I’m craving or that came across my Feedly or Facebook or Pinterest feed recently (that was the case here – I made Nom Nom Paleo’s Cheater Pork Stew).  If not, I grab a few cookbooks off the shelf and turn to the index, or run a search on Pinterest (first of things I’ve already pinned, then widen the search if I need to).

  1. Decide what else you want to make – starting with dinner

This step will depend on your mood.  Is there a sale you want to take advantage of (salmon on sale at Whole Foods for $9.99/lb, for example!)? Something in season you want to cook with or that you have an abundance of from your CSA or farmer’s market? A favorite recipe you’ve been craving?  I alternate between these motivations when making my weekly picks.  Or (confession!) sometimes I just sit down and drool over my cookbooks like they’re the Tiffany & Co. catalogue until something jumps out at me.  Whatever works, right?

  1. Go ahead and plan what you’ll do with leftovers from #4

The reason I plan dinners first is that, invariably, the leftovers from planned dinners will usually fill in some of the other meal slots.  If I make a frittata on Monday, I can count on having at least two servings available for a breakfast or lunch, which is two less breakfasts and lunches I have to plan.  This step also shows me when I’m being too ambitious and have too much food planned for the week.  Better to adjust accordingly now than when I have a fridge full of food!

  1. Fill in the gaps

If Monday’s frittata will only give me breakfast on Tuesday and Wednesday, I need to have a plan for my A.M. meal the rest of the week.  By now, I’ve filled in dinners, plugged in a few breakfasts and lunches, and I look for something easy to fill in the last open meals.  Or maybe I want to build in a lunch out with my officemates.

  1. Finalize your plan and notate where the recipes are coming from.

I promise, we are almost there! This step is critical! Nothing is worse than coming home on a Thursday and facing a meal plan that says “Orange Chicken” and having no idea (because it’s Thursday and your brain done 50 million things since you made this meal plan) which Orange Chicken recipe you’d planned for or where it is.  I make a key in the corner of my meal plan to remind me where to find the recipes when the time comes.

  1. Make your grocery list.

Et Voila!

P&P Meal Planning 2

I know what you’re thinking – Do I really need eight steps, Vik?

Well, I do.  I’ve learned the hard way that if I want to use my grocery dollars effectively, minimize waste, while keeping my menu varied, this level of planning works for me.

How do you meal plan? What are your best tips and tricks?

Still Here!

Well hi there!

“Whoa, you’re still here?!”

I know, right?! It’s been awhile.  Somehow January 2016 has already become August 2016.  So, what’s new with you?  As ever, I’ve been . . .

. . . Cooking great Paleo dishes . . .

P&P - Paleo Seafood

. . . Enjoying time in the garden . . .

P&P - Tree Peony

. . . Sharing my thoughts on what it means to live royally over at What Would Kate Do? . . .

P&P - WWKD

. . . Reading (A LOT!). . .

P&P - Porch Reading

But mostly, 2016 has been about pulling up my Big Girl Panties and getting my house in order (literally as well as figuratively) and putting my family first.

“That’s great, Vik, but what does it mean for me?” 

I am SO glad you asked! It means I’m awash with some exciting Paleo recipes I’ve been working on, some tips and tricks on making healthy living manageable in real life,  LOTS of books I want to tell you about, and more! Stay tuned for Tuesday’s Meal Planning Bonanza (or how I manage my cookbook “problem”)!

In the meantime, tell me the most exciting thing that’s happened to you so far this year!

Everything’s Coming Up Buttercups!

Embed from Getty Images

I’m still giddy with delight over the arrival (and debut!) of the new Princess of Cambridge today! Doesn’t Kate look amazing (despite 12 hours that included labour!)?!

As an unabashed Kate fan, I’m already on the hunt for a RepliKate of her bespoke Jenny Packham worn earlier today for the big reveal.  I fully expect that we’ll see one (or more) hit the market within the week, in the meantime, if you MUST have yellow and floral, here are a few options of which Kate would certainly approve!

Jones New York Sketch Floral Print Belted Sheath Dress

($129 at Dillards)

Diane von Furstenberg Wrap Dress – New Jeanne Two Silk in Eden Garden Simple Yellow

($428 at Bloomingdale’s)

L.K. Bennett Hannah Printed Shift Dress

($345 at L.K. Bennett)

Which do you like best?