August 2, 2012

"Cooking" for One

"Cooking" for one.... wondering why the 'cooking' is in quotes? Well, I'll tell ya. Technically, I don't think this recipe counts as official cooking. Sure, it's completely delicious. But something this simple, this easy... it couldn't possibly fall into the 'cooking' category.

Could it?

Well, I'll let you decide for yourself.

When the Hubs is away, mealtime warps into something sad. Cooking for yourself isn't that much fun; I much prefer having company. Most recipes are a 4-serving size... not so bad when there are two of you.  That means a great dinner on Monday, plus a Tuesday of no-cooking while you enjoy the leftovers.

BUT, if you're only cooking for yourself? I get pretty tired of lasagna (or whatever) after the first two days. On Wednesday, that still leaves several days of uneaten lasagna in my fridge. Not cool.

Unfortunately, the military life basically guarantees that, as a spouse, you will spend many nights alone. Those are the breaks, and we all knew what we were getting into. I used to fall back on old standbys for dinner... like Wendy's. Or take-out Chinese. Lean Cuisine. If you're a spouse, you know what I'm talking about! The quick and easy, anything that won't create too many unsightly leftovers in the fridge.

Lucky for you, I've seen the light! There is another way, I promise you. And because I love all y'all invisible internet people, I'm going to let you in on the secret (Woo, my southern is really coming out today!).

The secret is this: Simple, flavorful meals. Ones with small serving sizes, or ones that freeze easily. Today I'm going to share another quickie recipe with you. It's great for lunch or dinner. Plus, you can customize the portion. Just you tonight? No problem, this easily makes one. Having a friend over? No worries! Just as easy to make another.

Drum roll please......

Strawberry Balsamic Chicken Salad Sandwich!

Man, that title is way long. What about Chicken Salad Sandwich? What about Strawberry Chicken Sandwich? How about just Sandwich? Or 'Wich?

I'm obviously having an identity crisis.

Whatever its name, this sandwich is super simple to make. You can be eating in less than 10 minutes if you so choose.

I so choose.

Here are your basic ingredients:

As you can tell, I was quite lazy with the 'chicken salad' part. If you want to make your own chicken salad, go for it! I do that sometimes too. But it's so easy to keep a container on hand, especially if the Hubs is gone. Simple is better for me in those times.

If you like the simple too, you can find this great chicken salad at a Target Superstore. I heart Target Superstores, seriously.

Mmmmmmmm..... it's magically delicious.

Ahem. Ok. Now that I've wiped away a little bit of drool, we can get serious. Start with your rolls, or ciabatta, or whatever bread-type substance you desire. I use club rolls (also from Target, bakery section).

I toast my bread first. You can pop it in your toaster, throw it under the broiler, or toast it in a skillet. I go for the broiler method so my bread only toasts on one side. Super simple... just spray your bread with a little non-stick cooking spray and toss it under the broiler for a few minutes. Keep an eye on it to prevent burning (been there, done that!), and pull it out at your desired level of brownness.

I can't believe I just spent a paragraph explaining how to toast bread. It's been a long day.

From there, build your sandwich! I have a little secret to tell you... before adding your preferred greens (I go for the spring mix or arugula usually), use a teeny, tiny shmear of the chicken salad on one half of the bread. This acts a little like glue, so when your greens are placed on top they don't squish around and out of the bread. Drives me crazy when that happens!

So, shmear of chicken salad. Then your greens. Next, a healthy pile of sliced strawberries...

Say what?! 

You heard me! I don't care how crazy it sounds, I don't care if it's the last thing you would ever put on chicken salad. Trust me. You won't regret it. And if you do happen to regret it (which won't happen!), it's a sandwich, people. Pull off the strawberries, moosh your bread back together, and keep on eating.

Now that we're past the difficult part... add a nice dollop of chicken salad on top of the strawberries. Prepare yourself, because we're about to add another mystery ingredient. The strawberries need a little somethin' somethin' to compliment their deliciousness...

If you've kept up with your reading, you'll know I've used this before. Quite recently, in fact. I also found this at Target, but if there isn't one near you, Amazon also carries this particular balsamic glaze. Or, you can make your own by reducing a bit of balsamic vinegar. For another quickie meal (easily customizable for one), think back to my Watermelon and Arugula Salad. This glaze is so useful!

ANYWHO... onward. Drizzle your sandwich with a bit of glaze (ok, I like a lot!). Top with the other bread half. And... viola!

A fun and creative dinner/lunch for one. Serve with a side of raw vegetables, fruit, or mac-n-cheese if that's your style! I went for some baby black corinth grapes, just because they were so cute and tiny.

What kind of meals do you make when your Hubs is away? More coming soon from my kitchen to yours...

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