Thai Chicken Satay Salad with Peanut Sauce Dressing

If you don't know what Thai chicken satay is - look it up*! Because it is DELICIOUS!! Last night we ate it on skewers hot off the grill with a side of homegrown grilled eggplant and YDFM sweet potato. Tonight we enjoyed it on a bed of lettuce with home grown red peppers and tomatoes. Oliver's peanut sauce accompanied both meals. YUM!

*Yes, this is me losing patience with writing copy for meals I didn't cook (read: don't know how cook) but LOVED eating.

What's for dinner? Roast chicken, roast vegetables

You know what they say about the best laid plans... I'd wanted our June posts to focus on "how to" with post after post about our favorite ways to cook and grow and party. But I guess just because it's summer doesn't mean I'm no longer a grown up. Life has been busy and I haven't been able to to carve out extra time to write. Fortunately for us, food is borderline religion; we always make time to eat well. So I'm back to posting a delicious and healthy meal! 

Last night Oliver roasted a chicken with vegetables. (The vegetables are now our Facebook header - speaking of Facebook, have you liked us yet?) Small potatoes, eggplant (from the garden), mushrooms, kale and a glass of red wine accompanied a very juicy free range chicken. We'll be happily enjoying this meal for another night or two. 

Caveman dinner (and baby shower prep)

Dinner: jerk chicken legs and a broccoli stalk grilled to perfection over charcoal. Quick and easy because we're both in "powermode" preparing for a baby shower we're hosting later this week. Can't wait to share photos from the actual party! Check back soon. And in case we miss you - make the most of your three day weekend. HELLO SUMMER!!!!
(Prep work for the baby shower!)

Jerk chicken, jerk chicken, jerk chicken, Mitt Romney

It's been an unusually busy week around here for the And Topher Too family. During a normal week we sit down for dinner together every night; dinner usually being a variation of one large, previously cooked protein (pork shoulder, london broil, etc). This week (as I mentioned earlier) my job called for 12 and 13 hour days at the office - and we also had a surplus of jerk chicken legs and thighs (an unrelated yet odd combination). Therefore, every night we've either had jerk chicken over greens or jerk chicken with a side of black beans - we just haven't eaten them sitting together. Tuesday Oliver even delivered my dinner to me at the office! And now, now the work deadline has passed, I've come home on time and  Oliver is at the Georgia Tech basketball game! Left on my own to create dinner with greens and jerk chicken I decided to try and change things up.

For starters I created a dressing using the ginger scallion sauce Oliver made for the Bo ssam. I just added the juice of one lemon and splash of olive oil. Then, I mixed spinach with mixed greens and chopped them both (Alon's style). I topped it all with goat cheese and roast red peppers. Finally, rather then cutting my chicken from the bone I ate it over the sink like a normal home alone person . Fortunately for our readers, that was the last piece of jerk chicken! So by this weekend we will be back to more interesting healthy meals

The unexpected surprise of the intense work week was a visit from Mitt Romney. He didn't actually come to our design studio but he did have a campaign rally in the warehouse directly next door. We began to suspect something was up when a police car parked itself outside of our office during lunch. That was followed by an entourage of news vans and a bevy of men dressed like MIB agents. After a quick Google search we figured out what was going on so we were prepared when Mitt drove by with a police escort and a wave (crappy photo below). Regardless of who I plan to vote for it's always fun to see a possible future American president in person! Thanks to Mitt for the drive-by. It certainly spiced up a hard day of work.

Weight Loss Check-In
Day 17: 140.8lbs (4.2lbs lost)
I was prepared to have made no progress this week. I indulged Friday and Saturday at lunch. Then again on Sunday at a Super Bowl party with more beers then are weight loss appropriate. But I did my best to make up for it all while I sitting motionless at my desk for 12 hours at a time - which is to say I didn't eat much. Then on Wednesday and Thurday I ran my heart out at the gym. To my good fortune everything seems to have balanced out.
Monday: breakfast - Kashi Crunch cereal
lunch - roast beef sandwich (no mayo, no cheese)
dinner - jerk chicken with broccoli 
no gym, no alcohol
Tuesday: breakfast - oatmeal
lunch - black beans with rice
dinner - jerk chicken over mixed greens
no gym, no alcohol
Wednesday: breakfast - oatmeal
lunch - black beans with greek yogurt
dinner: jerk chicken with black beans
500 calories burned on the elliptical (level 10/hills setting/ 30 minutes)/ one glass of pinot grigio
Thursday: breakfast - oatmeal
lunch - black beans (solo, we're out of everything else)
dinner: jerk chicken near mixed greens and spinach
500 calories burned on the elliptical (level 9/hills setting/ 25 minutes followed by weights)/ two glasses of pinot grigio

Jerk Chicken for dinner

It's a very busy week at the office for me as the design studio I work in prepares our twice a year stationery and invitation presentation for Target. We all worked 8am to 8pm today and will most likely do it again tomorrow. Days like these make eating healthy hard and getting to the gym impossible (impossible for me at least). Fortunately I came home to a very healthy, super tasty homecooked meal - jerk chicken, broccoli and black beans. I even went back for a second serving of broccoli! Thank you Oliver. He's already packed my lunch for tomorrow too (black beans with greek yogurt). So even if I work another 12 straight hours at least I won't have to eat poorly. Now it's time for some relaxation! Good night!

What's for dinner? Chicken salad

The roast chicken from Tuesday and Wednesday's dinner was shredded for a chicken salad tonight. Oliver's chicken salad has ruined me for all other's; it is by far my favorite. The chicken salad is lightly dressed with olive oil, no mayo, and tossed with walnuts, celery, yellow raisins, parsley and cilantro. It was served over the left over arugula from the warm salad and the very last of our garden greens. 

Dessert was Greek yogurt mixed with cinnamon, nutmeg, honey, walnuts, raisins and coconut. I've also been eating the Greek yogurt as a side with my lunchtime black beans all week. 

Tomorrow I'll post the black bean recipe. Just in time for you to try it over the weekend!

Shredded Chicken Mole

Here it is, my end of year admission of truth: I don't cook. Ever. Every photo of food you've seen on this blog is food made by Oliver. Some of you already know this. Others have been told but don't seem to fully believe it. 

I've mentioned in past blog posts that until I met Oliver I was surviving on frozen Lean Cuisines and Honey Bunches of Oats cereal. (Fortunately every boyfriend I've had as an adult has liked to cook so thanks to them there were plenty of real food meals sprinkled in throughout my 20s.) As a kid my family sat down to enjoy dinner together five nights a week but somehow the cooking bug just never bit me. I don't even like to bake. I share this information to emphasize what a big a deal my new year's resolution is (to me). So here it goes: In 2012 I will learn to cook! I will no longer fear the kitchen, it's fire or it's knives!

Tonight Oliver tricked me into starting my resolution two nights early. While at YDFM today we picked up four large, bone in, chicken breasts to use in a chicken mole. Once home he left to help a friend with some home improvement work. On his way out I was handed handwritten instruction sheet of how to cook the chicken. YIKES! I was truly truly nervous. What if I ruined our new stainless steel pans? What if the chicken was undercooked or overcooked and rubbery? What if I caught a dish towel on fire? Thankfully, Oliver made his instructions super easy (bordering on idiot proof) and I succeeded in cooking dinner for myself! Hello dawn of a new era. What follows is a transcription of his chicken scratch recipe:
1. Heat saucier over med/high heat for 5 minutes - until drops of water from your hand roll and bead on the pan. 
2. Add enough olive oil to cover the bottom of the pan.
3. Add 2 chicken breasts and leave untouched until browned and released from he pan. Then flip, repeat and remove to plate. Do the same for the next 2 breasts.
4. In the pan, with the remaining brown bits, add a small amount of chicken broth. Scrape with wooden spoon. 
5. Add mole sauce from jar and a bit more broth.
6. Whisk until mostly combined.
7. Add more broth and whisk.
8. Add back chicken, cover and cook for 5 to 10 minutes.
9. Remove chicken and shred with fork.
10. If shredded meat is pink then add back to saucier and cook a little longer (mine was). 

I wrapped my chicken mole in a flour tortilla and drizzled it with a small amount of sour cream. If Oliver was here we'd have a side dish or green or bean or something. But that felt too ambitious for my first meal. Perhaps tomorrow I'll make a cabbage and jalapeno slaw...

Oliver, Topher and myself hope you will continue to check in with us as we bring our heart healthy lifestyle into the new year. We have big plans for 2012 and we look forward to sharing them all with you. I'm curious, what heart healthy plans do you guys have for the new year?

CHEERS! And happy new year too! - Cullen

Roast chicken

Roast chicken is a fantastic choice for making multiple affordable meals that don't taste redundant. The same roast chicken can be Mexican style tacos one night and Italian inspired pasta the next.

This chicken came from YDFM. For dinner it was paired with curried cauliflower and half of a baked sweet potato. For lunch it was pulled apart and mixed with raisins, dried cherries, nuts and parsley (aka: chicken salad).

Overall it made four individual dinners and two individual lunches.  Not bad for something that only required one night of cooking. (Oliver kept the bones and carcus to use in a stock for gumbo later this fall.)