Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Summer Chicken Salad and the End of the Running Challenge

Are you surviving the week? We've had some interrupted sleep over here (Marshall keeps us on our toes, for sure), but the days have been nice. There's a bit of a heat wave in LA right now (and the rest of California), but actually this apartment is the first we've had in a very long time that allows for a cross-breeze. We're enjoying the cool night/morning air as much as we can before it becomes unbearably hot a little later in the summer.

Today was the day to finish our 30 miles in 30 days running challenge! We completed our last miles just in time with a two mile jog this afternoon. We kept track on our refrigerator white board.

Yesterday's run was one of the toughest because we hit a LOT of uphill in the first two miles, so we did walk some. Other than that, though, we found our average speeds to be around 5.5 most of the time. Slower than we used to be, but better than nothing! Our longest run was four miles, but almost all the rest were two or three at a time. It was a great way to get back into the habit of working out every other day, so now we're ready to mix things up with some strength training, yoga, intervals, and a few HIIT workouts here and there.

Our evenings lately have included a lot of cooking, cleaning, prep for the next day, and plopping on the couch to watch a show or two before reading in bed. I'm about halfway through The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith (J.K. Rowling's pseudonym), and Terry just finished Ready Player One. He's looking for another book to check out at our local library (I've got a huge stack for the summer already); any suggestions? He loves almost any genre!

I've been trying to come up with fun, creative, seasonal meal ideas lately and struggling a bit. (Yes, even with my fun chalkboard and menu planning assistant!) My friend Amanda and I discussed cooking recently and she told me she has been trying out Blue Apron, which I know a lot of bloggers love. Of course Amanda sent me a trial order (because she's Amazing Amanda), so we have that to look forward to in a few weeks! My friends Katie and Corey also gave us a housewarming gift of the same idea to Hello Fresh, so that will be the following week. My friends are way too generous, but I am excited to compare the two services! Of course I'll be sure to share as soon as we try both.

Meanwhile, I've felt motivated to try some new recipes lately. I love it when Terry requests meals, too, but often his tastes vary from mine, so we stick to the same ol' safe stuff. This week he found Ina's gazpacho recipe, which made me hesitate, but I can't exactly complain about not knowing what to make and then ignore his suggestions, right? So gazpacho it was!

I halved the recipe, but, in true Chef Julie style, forgot to halve all of the ingredients. Guess I should follow my own advice: When halving or doubling a recipe, always WRITE DOWN THE NEW MEASUREMENTS. Fail. So I halved everything except the white wine vinegar and olive oil and realized it too late. We sat down to a very acidic--but still tasty--meal last night and ended up turning to Google for help. I knew something sweet would balance the vinegar, but brown sugar in gazpacho? There weren't any other suggestions, so brown sugar it was. It worked okay last night, but today the vinegar had really set in, so we tossed the leftovers. I look forward to trying the recipe again without the vinegar flub. Poor Marshall did not care for his sour soup.

In recipe success news:

I made Julie's Chopped Summer Salad last week for a family picnic, and we loved it. This week, I wanted the same idea but decided to create a chicken salad and stuff it into a pita pocket. DELICIOUS. Here's what I did:

**Note: I recommend doing the first two steps in advance, if possible. They aren't difficult, but they require different temperatures for the oven, which can lead to feeling like you've been in the kitchen all day. It's supposed to be a simple meal!

- Marinate 2-3 chicken breasts in 3/4 cup teriyaki sauce (we used Trader Joe's Soyaki) for at least an hour in the fridge. Then bake in a baking dish lined with foil at 350 degrees for 45 minutes (check that the breasts are fully cooked). Set aside to cool.

- If you want bacon (and who doesn't want bacon?), line a rimmed baking pan with foil and place a cooling rack on top. Lay the bacon strips on the cooling rack (allows the grease to drip down and helps crisp up the bacon, plus less of a mess when cooking!). Cook in a 400 degree oven for 20-25 minutes, flipping the bacon strips halfway. Set aside to crisp up.

- Combine the rest of the ingredients:
  • 1/3 cup hummus (we used Trader Joe's Organic Hummus Dip, which was delicious)
  • 1/2 cup green grapes, sliced in half
  • 1 chopped avocado
  • 4 ounces feta, crumbled
  • 1 head of Romaine lettuce, chopped 
  • Previously marinated and cooked chicken (see above), chopped
  • Cooked bacon, chopped
Toss to combine and serve in slightly warm pita pockets (we like the whole wheat pita bread from TJ's or Whole Foods). Enjoy!

An excellent summer meal. Thanks to PB Fingers for the inspiration! I have a feeling this meal will show up several times this summer, because Terry can't stop talking about it. :-)

By the way, I stopped at Costco today and sampled these Aussie Bites, which were delicious, so I bought a box. Yum! (And here's a great example of where "some healthy ingredients" or labels like "organic" and "zero trans fats" shouldn't be mistaken for "healthy food". Plenty of added oils and sugars in here, so while I like the food and will enjoy it, I wouldn't make it a regular purchase.)

Hope you are enjoying your week! I'm looking forward to sharing some photos of our new (semi-decorated) place as well as a fun baby-related food post. Happy Wednesday!


  1. Great job on your challenge...I love the white board tracking :)

  2. I did the same thing last night with soy sauce in this Vietnamese meal I was making for the first time. Thankfully I got lucky & it worked out okay. Phew!