Weekly Eats {Salad Club Lunch}

I swear that someday I’ll start reading blogs again and will revive my F&F Friday Favorites.

For today, let’s chat food.

Last week my group at work had our second salad club lunch.  This is something we started in my group after I transferred (can you believe a year ago now?!), when instead of ordering pizza or everyone bringing in fattening crock pot meals, everyone brings in an ingredient you would find on a salad bar!

Salad Club Lunch

Salad Club Lunch

My contribution was a quinoa dish I made with cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, roasted red peppers, and parsley.  I tossed in a bit of lemon juice and olive oil, and topped with s&p.

Quinoa

You can also see my new favorite foodie find in the back of this picture, The Good Bean.  Julia brought me a pack of these roasted chickpeas about a month ago, and I’ve been on a hunt for them ever since.  I seriously can’t find them anywhere, so I was psyched when she brought them in again for salad club.  Has anyone else tried these snacks before?  If so, I want to know where you bought them.

Anyways, here are some of us during salad club!

salad club lunch

Here are some other food highlights from last week!

A huge batch of chicken salad for the week:

Chicken Salad

I enjoyed the chicken salad ON salad for several lunches last week, topped with tomatoes, slivered almonds, dried cranberries, and sliced kohlrabi.

Chicken Salad

Dinners included summer squash taco boats on Sunday and Monday night (thanks Cate for the idea!):

Summer Squash Taco Boatss

Eggplant and zucchini casserole with Swiss chard on the side on Tuesday and Thursday:

Eggplant and Zucchini Casserole

If you are wondering what happened to Wednesday, we celebrated my dad’s birthday at The Aegean.  I ordered lamb kabobs and a Greek salad, Tim and I split spanakopita, and we all had a bite of birthday cake.

The Aegean

Then came the weekend, when Erica visited.  We started off with a breakfast date with Slesh.  I baked my whole wheat blueberry banana muffins and put together a big fruit salad, and Slesh brought over eggs and whipped up some scrambled eggs for us.

Breakfast with Erica

Lunch was leftover quinoa salad from salad club, but then the splurging began.

Fishbowl at the Landing

Dinner was at Jerry Remy’s by the seaport.  We ordered nachos for the table, and for my meal I ordered a huge stacked taco salad full of grilled chicken breast, tomatoes, red beans, chick peas, diced avocado, and romaine hearts tossed in a cilantro lime vinaigrette.

Stacked Taco Salad Jery Remy's

For our beach day on Saturday I made a batch of cucumber salad for everyone.

Cucumber and Black Eyed Pea Salad

But honestly my favorite highlight from our beach eats were the gorgonzola snack bites from Trader Joe’s.  CAN’T STOP, WON’T STOP.
(Context:  A few weeks ago I snap chatted a picture of myself chowing down on the bites to Tim.  With the caption “can’t stop, won’t stop.”  The box was empty when he got home.  Shoot). 

For dinner we ended up at Russell House Tavern (where I went a few weeks ago with Ashley and Monique), and we ordered some small plates and pizzas for the table.  No pictures because I was not in blogger mode!

Anyways, last weekend was definitely a splurge weekend with my friends (especially with some of our late night snacks), but I tried my best to balance it out by having healthier breakfast and lunch choices prepared ahead of time.

This week has been a “week of salads” — grilled shrimp “nicoise” salad, grilled eggplant and tomato salad, Whole Foods salad, etc.  Will recap those in next week’s Weekly Eats post!

What is one snack that you associate with the phrase “can’t stop, won’t stop?!”

Happy weekend, friends!

Butternut Squash with Goat Cheese, Sage, and Toasted Pecans

Morning!

Hope everyone is enjoying their weekend so far.

Before I head out for a family filled Saturday, I’d like to share yesterday’s meals with you guys.

Breakfast

I tried to get fancy with my pumpkin oatmeal.  Instead of using instant, I used real oats and cooked on the stove with skim milk, one sliced up banana, cinnamon, ground cloves, and nutmeg.  And pumpkin of course.  But I accidentally put way too much nutmeg in and it really ruined it for me.  It was just too much flavor.  Next time I’ll stick with the one I made last time.  Or just use the nutmeg sparingly.  Either way.

Lunch

…was for two!  Tim and I were both able to work from home on the same day, which hasn’t happened in quite some time.  I whipped up another batch of the chicken salad I posted about yesterday.  This time I added in the apple slices since I forgot about them last night.  We had it with the Trader Joe’s Organic Tomato & Roasted Red Pepper Soup (served with Kashi TLC 7 grain crackers) that I bought on Monday during my grocery run.  This was a very filling lunch.

Dinner

Remember a couple weekends ago when Tim & I went to the Boston Local Food Festival?  Well, while we were there we watched a butchering demonstration (presented by Michael Ehlenfeldt of Stone Hearth Pizza Co) and learned how to cut up a whole chicken.  Tim has been talking about this nonstop ever since, so we decided last night would be the night he attempted to cut one up himself.

Success!

After he cut it up, he put the chicken in a bowl with lemon juice, pepper, sage, and cilantro.  We let this sit for about 20 minutes and then tossed it on the grill.

What’s nice about buying a whole chicken is that for $15, we got:

  • 2 chicken thighs — grilled + eaten last night
  • 2 chicken breasts — grilled last night + saved for leftovers
  • 2 chicken wings — frozen last night for a future meal
  • Chicken soup from the rest of the meat — made with broth last night while the thighs were grilling, will refrigerate and add veggies for a meal next week

Pretty good, huh?  I think 4 meals + 2 wings + multiple soup servings = pretty damn good for $15.

For a side, we wanted to try another butternut squash recipe since we loved the one we made a couple weeks ago so much.  This particular recipe was for butternut squash with goat cheese, sage, and toasted pecans.  I found it in Self Magazine as part of their Eat Like Me blog.

Ingredients

  • 1 large butternut squash
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp. fresh sage, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup crumbled goats cheese
  • 1/4 cup pecan halves, toasted
  • 1 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped –> We left this out too, since it was just going to be for garnish
  • 2 tsp. orange zest –> We didn’t have this, so we left it out

Directions

For the toasted pecans:

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees
  2. Spread pecan halves into a single layer on a baking sheet and toast for 5 minutes or until fragrant
  3. Remove from heat/oven.  Let cool.  Roughly chop.  Set aside.

For the squash:

  1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.
  2. Meanwhile peel the skin off the squash and cut in half long ways.  Scoop out the seeds and discard.  Cut ends off squash and then chop into equal size pieces (about 1 in. cubes).
  3. Transfer squash cubes into a large bowl and toss with the 2 tablespoons olive oil.
  4. Spray a baking sheet with olive oil spray, spread squash into a single layer onto the tray.  Season to taste with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the chopped sage evenly over the squash.
  5. Roast squash in the oven for 20 minutes.  After 20 minutes is up, take the squash out of the oven and flip over.  Turn oven up to 350 degrees.  Return squash to oven and continue roasting for another 20-30 minutes or until tender, but not mushy.
  6. Meanwhile, pour balsamic vinegar into a small saucepan.  Bring to a boil.  Then turn down heat and let simmer until it thickens and reduces by half.  Then add 1 tbsp brown sugar and stir until it dissolves.  Continue to simmer until it becomes like syrup.
  7. After removing squash from the oven, put onto serving dish and sprinkle with the goat cheese, chopped toasted pecans, and orange zest.  Drizzle with the balsamic vinegar reduction (you will not use all of it).  Garnish with basil.

A couple lessons learned:

  • I hate peeling the butternut squash.  It takes forever, I find it really difficult for some reason, and I get cranky while doing it.  Next time I’ll buy it pre-peeled I think.
  • Start the balsamic reduction earlier than you think you need to!  We ended up waiting forever for it to be ready, and it still wasn’t fully ready when we served it.  I think if I were to do this again, I’d save the time and just drizzle some balsamic vinaigrette dressing over the squash instead.
  • The pecans definitely add a nice crunch to the side dish, but next time I will chop them up for even smaller pieces as part of the mix.  I thought the pecan halves were just a little too big.  If you aren’t a big nut fan, these could definitely be omitted altogether.
  • Goat cheese + perfectly timed butternut squash = to die for!

If you are looking for a fall plate full of flavor, this is your answer.  We will definitely be making this one again.

Question of the Day:  What’s your favorite way to cook butternut squash?

I’m off to my little cousin’s baseball game, my aunt’s birthday get together, and then Tim’s sister’s graduation dinner.  Told you I had a family packed day!