Monday, March 29, 2010

Mediterranean Eggplant Sandwich

Lunchtime ennui. It's an affliction that strikes millions of Americans every afternoon. It's especially hard to avoid it as a Slacker Gourmet.

Leftovers? Maybe sometimes, but most of the time, it's just not that appealing the next day. Turkey sandwich? How... original. More often than not, I find myself contemplating the mediocre offerings of the office cafeteria and wondering why I'm spending $7 on another unsatisfying lunch.

How can you fight lunchtime ennui? By making an easy, café-worthy sandwich that's filling, satisfying, and oh-so-tasty.

Mediterranean Eggplant Sandwich

  • 1 focaccia roll
  • 2 large and 2 small frozen breaded eggplant cutlets
  • 3-4 sliced rounds of fresh mozzarella
  • jarred roasted or pickled red peppers
  • 1-2 Tbsp hummus
Place eggplant cutlets in a toaster oven heated to 425°F for 15 minutes, or until golden brown and cooked through. Slice focaccia roll open and spread hummus on the top half of the roll. Assemble the sandwich by arranging the eggplant slices on the bottom half of roll, adding the mozzarella rounds and red peppers, and topping off with the top half of the roll.

Okay, so a sandwich with breaded eggplant cutlets doesn't seem very Slacker Gourmet, but when they come pre-breaded and frozen from Trader Joe's... that's a whole different ball game. Most of the prep time (the heating time for the eggplant) can be done while you're getting ready for work. Roasted red peppers can be found in the Italian section of the supermarket - I used Pastene garlic red peppers. Tangy and delicious!
Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Chicken Avocado Salad

When temperatures hit 70 degrees on Saturday, my body went into full-on spring food mode. Of course, by the time Wednesday hit, the weather had reverted to 50 and windy. The mind is a powerful thing, though, and cool temperatures weren't going to stop me from my favorite warm-weather Slacker Gourmet meal! It's quick, healthy, and seriously delicious.

Chicken Avocado Salad
Adapted from Healthy & Delicious: Avocado Chicken Salad

  • 3/4 lb. cooked chicken, diced into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1 large tomato, seeded and chopped
  • 1 Hass avocado, diced
  • 1/2 bunch scallions, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp (or to taste) fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 lime
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
Combine tomato, avocado, scallions, and cilantro in a medium-large bowl and stir gently (the avocado should barely coat the rest of the veggies, but not break down completely). Cut the lime in 2 and squeeze the larger half over the veggies. Squeeze the smaller half of the lime over the chicken, then mix the chicken into the veggie bowl. Taste and season with salt and pepper, if needed. Keep tasting... until you're full. :)

This may seem like a bit of chopping and prepping for a Slacker Gourmet meal, but here are some shortcuts:
  • Use pre-cooked chicken. I know I'm showing the Trader Joe's love again... but they sell frozen, pre-cooked chicken in 1lb bags. 3-4 minutes in the microwave on half power should be enough to fully defrost the chicken without heating it up too much. You can also find pre-cooked chicken in the fridge case in most supermarkets, near the bacon and kielbasas, or use chicken from a cooked rotisserie chicken.
  • Instead of slicing and dicing a large tomato, use cherry tomatoes. You can cut them in half, or even toss 'em in whole.
  • Got a mini food processor? Toss in the cilantro and scallions (make sure to cut off the bad ends first!) together, and give it a few quick pulses.
Monday, March 22, 2010

Southwestern Beer Bread

The Slacker Gourmet loves to bake. The Slacker Gourmet hates measuring out dry ingredients, though. A cup here, a tablespoon there... bah! When I came across Trader Joe's Beer Bread mix, I thought, "Hey, here's some baking I could get behind! Mix, beer, and butter are the only ingredients!" Ah, but I couldn't resist doctoring it up...

... Okay, so I didn't end up making it myself. But I told my hubby what to do with it over the phone... and it turned out quite well! We had it with soup, but I think it would go nicely with chili.

Southwestern Beer Bread

  • 1 box Trader Joe's beer bread mix
  • 12oz beer
  • 1-2 Tbsp butter, melted
  • 1 cup shredded cheese (something sharp, like cheddar or Monterey Jack)
  • 1-2 small cans diced green chiles, drained
Dump the mix into a bowl, and mix the beer in, stirring until the batter comes together. Add the cheese and chiles and stir until well combined. Pour the mixture into a greased and floured loaf pan, drizzle the melted butter on top, and bake according to the package instructions. Try to let it cool slightly before cutting (so it doesn't break apart) or tearing into with your hands (so you don't burn yourself).

Some notes from our experience:
  • A lighter, less malty beer would probably be better with this. We used Guinness the first time, and I thought it was a bit sweet once baked.
  • The instructions on the box call for a half stick of butter melted and drizzled, but I think that half or even a quarter of that would be fine - I found the bread a little greasy with the full amount.

The Slacker Gourmet - who and why

Once upon a time, my friend/coworker turned to me and said, "If you wrote a cookbook for lazy cooks, I would buy it." Being one of the aforementioned lazy cooks, I laughed a bit at the thought of actually taking the time to write a cookbook - but then the wheels started turning. A cookbook, no... but a blog... perhaps.

Who is The Slacker Gourmet?
A foodie, but a lazy one. Someone who loves creating and cooking, but has a fairly short attention span. Someone who hates washing nearly every utensil in the kitchen after making a single meal. Someone who embraces the crockpot and Trader Joe's** with open arms. Someone who works full time, and may also have a spouse/life partner/roommate who also works full time. Any one of these can qualify you as a Slacker Gourmet. I happen to possess all of these characteristics, and I bet many others are Slacker Gourmets at heart.

Loving tasty food can be expensive, if you eat in restaurants or get takeout all the time. The Slacker Gourmet adores food that other people make. However, in the interest of saving some money and having a little more control over what goes into his or her mouth, The Slacker Gourmet strives to have an arsenal of recipes with a high deliciousness payoff to low effort investment. Even if The Slacker Gourmet relies on some prepared items (shredded cheese from a bag, pre-cooked chicken, pre-made sauce), he or she is still saving money and creating yummy meals.

So there you have it. From one Slacker Gourmet to another... let's get cooking! (But let's not spend all day on it.)

**Disclaimer: I am in no way affiliated with Trader Joe's - I just shop there a ridiculous amount, as my recipes will show. If you're not lucky enough to live near one... I'm very sorry - but I will have recipes that don't involve TJ's. I promise!