Not So Junky Junk Food Day

Today is National Junk Food Day. It’s that one day a year when we are free to celebrate all that is bad for us, guilt free. That is not to say consequence free, just no guilt attached. Everything in life has consequences.

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What Could Be Better?

Today is National Greasy Food Day. Hands down, it might just be one of the most unhealthiest National Days on the calendar. You could eat healthy on National Dessert Day if you really wanted to, although I subscribe to the notion that Healthy Desserts are a fine example of an oxymoron. My sister may argue otherwise, but in my book treats are a break from healthy choices.

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Spicy Fried Chicken Sandwich

Before we get to cooking, I wanted to take a moment and acknowledge that in the United States, today is National Random Acts of Kindness Day. The day actually originated in New Zealand, where it is celebrated on September 1st. No matter, Random Acts of Kindness need never be limited to a single day. Mark Twain put it best when he said “Kindness is a language the deaf can hear and the blind can see.”

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Philly Chicken Pitas with Spicy Sriracha Mayo

Lately I’ve been cooking up meals that are super easy and super quick. Too many other projects going to like making Christmas Decorations to be bothered with long hours in the kitchen. Still, my guys are spoiled and they expect flavor.

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Toasted Brioche Chicken Club Sandwich

Inspiration can be found all around us. A few Saturdays ago, Hubby, Kiddo and I did a little errand running. I needed to stop off at World Market for some pasta and Advent Calendars. Every year we give my sister’s children each an Advent Calendar that has a piece of chocolate to count down the days until Christmas. It’s something we do at Thanksgiving to ring in the Christmas Season.

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Chick-Fil-A Style Hot and Spicy Chicken Club Sandwiches

Do you have a Chick-Fil-A near you? If so, than you know what I am talking about when I say they have the absolute best Chicken Sandwiches on the planet. And the dining experience, be it inside the fast-food establishment or simply ordering at the drive-thru window, is pure delight. The crews at Chick-Fil-A are some of the happiest, friendliest people you will ever encounter.

While the fast food chain has been around since the 1940s, unlike other fast food chains, their growth has not been rapid. This has not diminished its popularity. For us, their overwhelming popularity was apparent during our vacation to Wyoming last year. We had a four-hour layover in Denver, more than enough time to have lunch at the Airport’s Food Court, with time remaining for a little airport shopping. Denver’s sprawling airport does not have a shortage of restaurants to choose from, yet the only one restaurant in the massive two-story food court needed cattle pens to handle the long lines. That restaurant was the Chick-Fil-A.

My favorite sandwich has to be their Spicy Chicken Club.  Living where we do, we can’t get a Chick-Fil-A sandwich when the craving strikes. What we can do is fix their wonderful sandwiches at home. If spicy isn’t your thing, skip the Sriracha sauce and replace the Pepper Jack Cheese with a slice of White Cheddar instead. It’s still an awesome sandwich.

tyson chickenHot and Spicy Chicken Club Sandwiches
6 Tyson Chicken Breast Filet
6 Slices Bacon, crisp
6 Slices Pepper Jack Cheese
6 Hamburger Buns, lightly grilled
1/3 Cup Mayonnaise
1/2-1 Tablespoon Sriracha
Sea Salt, to taste
1 Large Tomato, sliced
6 Lettuce Leaves

Cook chicken patties in the oven as directed. While the chicken is baking, fry bacon crisp and let drain on paper towels.

Mix mayonnaise, Sriracha Sauce and Sea Salt in a small bowl.

Wipe down griddle, butter buns and toast lightly.

Place sliced cheese on chicken patties, return to oven long enough for cheese to melt.

Spread mayonnaise on toasted buns. Place lettuce and tomato on bottom bun. Top with chicken patty. Top patty with bacon and top bun. Serve.

Shredded Buffalo Chicken Sandwiches

One of the things that I love about this recipe is that the chicken can go straight into the crock frozen – no need to “think ahead”. When you are as forgetful as I am, this helps. Whipping up the sauce takes no time at all, so it’s easy to start in the morning and come home to the wonderful smells of dinner waiting.

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Teriyaki Chicken Filet Sandwich

Hubby, Kiddo and I relocated to a town made famous in American Graffiti. Much has changed since the 1960s, but somehow even with growth, this Ag Town has managed to retain much of its small town feel. Most of the “scenery” from the movie was not filmed here. What was here back then was the famous cruise. Kids and cars driving in a big circle all night long. Modesto had the biggest cruse going, and it didn’t die out until the late 1970s. While Modesto has its share of fast-food restaurants and family diners, places like Red Robin and I-Max Theaters mean a drive up to Riverbank. While Riverbank is smaller than Modesto, it has more “modern” amenities.

A few months back, we decided to take a drive up to Riverbank. Hubby and Kiddo were having a Red Robin Burger craving and needed a fix. I wasn’t in the mood for a burger, so I went with a Chicken Filet Sandwich instead. It was good. Super messy to eat, but darn tasty.

Teriyaki Chicken Filet Sandwich
4 Tyson Chicken Breast Filet, thawed
1 Jar Kikkoman Teriyaki Baste and Glaze
8 pineapple slices, from can
8 slices Swiss cheese
4 Large sesame seed hamburger
4 Tablespoons Mayonnaise
8 tomato slices
1 cup shredded iceberg lettuce

In the Morning: Place the chicken breasts zip-lock bag. Place the pineapple slices in another zip-lock bag. Divide the teriyaki glaze between the two making sure both contents are well covered in glaze.  Refrigerate for 4-6 hours.

In the Evening: Heat oven to 400 degrees. Place chicken breast on a rack over a rimmed baking sheet. Cook chicken in the hot oven for 6 to 8 minutes. Remove from oven, turn over. Place pineapple rings on rack along side chicken filet. Return to oven for another 6 minutes.

Meanwhile, spread the mayonnaise on both top and bottom buns. Place one chicken breast on each the bottom bun. Place 2 tomato slices, followed by 2 pineapple slices on each chicken breast, followed by the shredded lettuce and the bun top.

Serve and enjoy!

Mesquite Chicken Salad Sandwich

One of the drawbacks of being a diabetic is food – and not in the way you would think. For me, the biggest struggle has been taking the time to eat, followed by the need to eat healthy foods. In other words, a cup of coffee for breakfast and a bag of chips for lunch isn’t going to cut it anymore. My body fought back in a big way – and I ended up spending Memorial weekend in Intensive Care.

Most of the time, I prepare a somewhat healthy supper for my family. I like to include salads and plenty of vegetables with whatever we’re having. Most of the time things are grilled, roasted or baked rather than fried. While we do enjoy our red meats, we balance out our diet with plenty of chicken, Bison (the best source for red meat) and fish. I am a firm believer that a hamburger isn’t going to kill you unless hamburgers are the only thing you eat. Just as a slice of cake isn’t going to make you fat unless it’s cake for breakfast, lunch, dinner and that midnight snack. You get the idea.

Taking the time to eat properly during the day was a problem for me. Often, I’m busy – be it writing, caring for our house or puttering in the garden. Years of skipping meals became a habit, a way of life. Breakfast should be the easiest meal of the day not to skip if for no other reason than it’s an early meal, before we get too sidetracked. Lunch – well that’s the real problem. It means we need to stop what we are doing and actually fix something – be it a sandwich or a salad or whatever. I found that the best way to overcome this problem is to make lunch (for later) at the same time I’m making breakfast. Sandwich spreads can be made early and kept in the refrigerator until lunch. Salads can also be made early, then all I need do is add the dressing and enjoy.

For those of you who have been eating healthy all your life, good for you. For the rest of us, it might take time for healthy to become the norm but we will get there. And we don’t have to sacrifice flavor in the process.

Chicken Salad Sandwich on Sandwich Thins
1 Can White Chicken Meat
1 Rib Celery, diced
1/4 Cup Red Onion, diced
2 Tablespoons Miracle Whip
2 Tablespoons Mayonnaise
1 Tablespoon Mesquite Seasoning
Green Lettuce Leaves as needed
2 Small Tomatoes, sliced
4 Multi Grain Sandwich Thins

Open canned chicken, drain well. Crumble chunks of chicken meat into a medium size bowl. Set aside.

Dice celery into small pieces. Add to bowl with chicken meat.

Dice red onion into small pieces. Add to bowl with chicken meat.

Add Miracle Whip and Mayonnaise to the chicken meat. With a spoon, blend mixture until smooth and creamy. If necessary, add a little more Miracle Whip if the mixture appears too dry.

Season with Mesquite Seasoning. This will give the chicken salad a smokey, rotisserie flavor. Set mixture aside. (The chicken salad can be made up to this point in advance. Simply cover and keep in the refrigerator until you are ready to assemble the sandwich).

Slice tomatoes for sandwiches, set aside. Break crisp leaves from a head of green leaf lettuce, set aside.

Open Sandwich thins. On one bun, lay a lettuce leaf and top with tomato slices. On the other bun, spread about 2 or 3 tablespoons of chicken salad mixture. Place chicken bun over the lettuce/tomato bun. Slice and serve.

A small salad of lettuce greens and fresh tomatoes is an excellent side for this sandwich.

 

Chicken Club Sandwich with Chipotle Mayonnaise

Have you ever done the same thing over and over again, without knowing why? Once upon a time, in a prior life, Hubby, Kiddo and I traveled. We traveled state side. We traveled abroad. We were roaming the country side. When traveling state side, it really didn’t seem to matter the destination or hotel chain, I was a creature of habit.

Touch down, retrieve the luggage and head for the hotel to settle in. Be it the Hilton, Hyatt, Four Seasons or the Ritz Carlton, it really didn’t seem to matter. Most hotels with room service usually include a Chicken Club on the menu. Some offered sprouts, others avocados, depending upon local demands and tastes. Some came with fries, others something a bit more healthy (yeah, like serving a healthy side of cottage cheese off-set the bacon on the sandwich). First things first – order room service, then unpack. By the time room service arrived, we were ready to relax, eat and let the vacation begin. While Hubby varied his selection and Kiddo picked something from the child’s menu, I always had the chicken club. Don’t ask me why – it’s just one of those creature of habit deals. (So was rearranging the furniture in the hotel room, but that’s a whole other issue).

Now that we are home-bodies, I still like a good Chicken Club every now and again. Sometimes I’ll stick one of those frilly toothpick into the sandwich, just to give it that “room service” touch. The addition of a spicy mayo and warm chicken meat seasoned with smokey Mesquite seasoning elevates my home version to a whole new dimension.

Chicken Club Sandwich with Chipotle Mayonnaise
Ingredients – Chipotle Mayo
1 Cup Mayonnaise
1 Tablespoon Chipotle Seasoning
¼ Teaspoon Lime Juice
Salt and Fresh Ground Pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a bowl, whisk to blend well. Chill until ready to use. The longer the mixture is allowed to chill, the more the flavors will blend for a delicious spread.  Save any remaining spread for later use – it’s great on burgers or just about any sandwich for a bit of flair.

Ingredients – Chicken Club Sandwich
1 Rotisserie Chicken from the deli
Mesquite Seasoning to taste
1 Tablespoon Butter
1/4 Cup Chicken Stock
1 Cup Mayonnaise or Chipotle Mayo (recipe above)
12 Thick Slices of Bacon, cooked crisp
12 Slices of Italian bread or Soft Sour Dough Bread

Pick up your chicken a few days in advance. It’s easier to work with a cold chicken. Place the Rotisserie Chicken on a cutting board. Remove all the skin from the breast. Remove and discard the wings. With a knife, cut chicken breast meat from the bone and set aside. Cut the thighs and legs from the body, then break them apart. Remove the skin from the dark meat. Chop all the chicken meat into chunks. Spread out on the cutting board and sprinkle with Mesquite Seasoning. Using your hands, rub the seasoning into the meat.

Place a nonstick skillet over medium-low heat. Melt a little butter into the skillet. Add the chicken meat. Moisten with Chicken Stock and heat until just warm. Keep warm until ready to assemble sandwiches.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, cook bacon until crisp. Transfer to paper towels to drain. Cut strips in half. Divide for 4 sandwiches and set aside.

Toast 4 slices of bread, place on individual plates. Place 4 more slices of bread into toaster.

Spread mayonnaise or Chipotle Mayo on first slices of toasted bread. Top with chicken.

Spread mayonnaise or Chipotle Mayo on second slices of toast and place spread side down on top of chicken.

Place remaining 4 slices of bread into toaster. Spread additional mayonnaise or Chipotle Mayo on second slice of bread (both sides are coated). Place bacon on top of second slice.

Top bacon with sliced tomato and lettuce leaf. Spread mayonnaise or Chipotle Mayo on final slice of toast, place on top of sandwich. Press down LIGHTLY and cut sandwich in half diagonally. If desired, secure each half with a toothpick.

Serve with a dill pickle spear, a side of fries or a scoop of deli potato salad.

Note: For less bread, simply eliminate the center slice. Pile on the chicken, the bacon, lettuce and tomato – it’s still a filling sandwich!