This, admittedly, is a weird one. But bear with me – sometimes those weird-ass Chopped pantry situations work out well.
At the beginning of Quarantine Life, DH brought home a bunch of packets of tuna – one of those was buffalo flavored, and I thought that was just fascinating. Of course, it was the last one left in the pile, and it had me craving wings.
Which of course I had zero ingredients to make – so I had to get a little creative.
Note: Ingredients I wanted but did not have: celery, ranch dressing, cucumbers, pickle relish, capers
Buffalo Chicken with Smashed Potatoes
1 pouch (2.5 ounces) Starkist buffalo chicken
1/2 tsp. celery salt
2 Tbsp. mayonnaise
6 green olives
500g baby potatoes
3 Tbsp. zaatar
Juice of 1 lemon
Oil, salt & pepper
Set your largest pan over high heat. add the potatoes and enough water so they’re 1/2 – 3/4 covered. Boil 10 minutes or until fork tender.
Transfer the potatoes to a prepared baking sheet and smash flat. Spritz with oil and sprinkle with salt & pepper. Bake at 400F for 20 – 25 minutes or until crispy.
Pull and sprinkle with the zaatar and lemon juice.
In a small bowl, combine the buffalo chicken, green onion (diced), celery salt (celery would be great here), mayo, green olives (diced – capers or pickle relish would also be good) and a little black pepper.
To serve, divide the potatoes and chicken salad into two bowls and toss.
Having a fully stocked larder feels great – and 100% supports the breadth of recipe types I create and the foods my family eats. But: I’ve got more stuff than my space can handle well, and I’m having trouble locating ingredients when I need them.
So, it’s time for a good run of pantry-clearing dinners.
I set out to make a chimichurri-based salad, and ended up taking a trip to India instead when at the last minute I discovered my herbs had betrayed me. And it works.
Bombay chutney is a condiment used in a popular Indian street food sandwich and is kiiiiinda akin to the green mint chutney sauce served alongside a number of dishes alongside tamarind sauce. My version is a beautiful shade of emerald and has a nice spicy kick. It’s addictive, and I can’t wait to try making something akin to the actual sandwich, because I can only imagine how Bomb it would be with potato.
Like mashed potatoes. In a patty …. 🤤 But I digress.
This base recipe is great for lunch or dinner – I served it hash-style when fresh with some leftover Beyond Meat bratwurst & egg and again the next day for lunch with my favorite tuna and some bright crunch. Both ways were fantastic, but I think day 3’s lunch was actually my favorite.
gluten-free, vegetarian base, vegan base, paleo base
Lunch-To-Dinner Bombay Chimi
1 head cauliflower
1 small red onion
4 cloves garlic
1/4 cup Bombay Chutney
1/4 cup neutral oil
Preheat the oven to 200C/375F and prep a baking sheet.
Break the cauliflower up into bite-sized pieces and spread out over the prepped pan. Halve and thinly slice the onion; add. Thinly slice the garlic; add.
Sprinkle liberally with salt & pepper.
In a small bowl, combine the chutney and oil. Pour over the veggies on the pan and toss well to combine, making sure to hit each piece.
Roast 25 minutes or until deeply browned.
1 leftover and cooked Beyond Meat bratwurst per person, sliced into rounds
1 – 2 eggs per person (optional)
1 handful chopped green beans
2 tsp. neutral oil
1 tsp. butter (vegan or otherwise)
In a large skillet over medium high heat, stir-fry the green beans in the oil until browned. Season with salt & pepper and add the bratwurst. Stir-fry until warmed through. Push to the side, add the butter and an egg per person to the pan. Fry until your desired doneness is reached. Serve with about 1/4 of the cauliflower per person.
1 medium cucumber, chopped
250g cherry tomatoes, halved
1 can chili (red pepper) tuna, drained (optional)
To your leftover cauliflower, add the rest of the ingredients and toss. Warm to room temp if desired by zapping for :30/:45 or so and tossing.
Serves 2 if you’ve got half the cauliflower left; 3 if you only fed 1 the night before.
Sorry, no recipe post this week, because I’m on vacation exploring a new cuisine – and the week before that, I ate pretty much nothing but Thanksgiving leftovers.
Some of my favorites:
Leftover “burrito” that basically consisted of throwing a bunch of ham/brussels sprouts/cranberry sauce and stuffing in a tortilla and calling that lunch.
A really frickin good breakfast-for-dinner fried rice dish featuring little mushrooms, egg, leftover ham and rice that was too simple to post a recipe for but was eaten multiple days (pictured here also in burrito form).
And just straight up rummaged leftovers: a bowl of brussels & pomegranate + little ham sandwiches.
I will be traveling most of this week, so I’ll mostly just try and eat on plan.
I will try to limit these where possible
Actual Meal Plan
Hotel buffet breakfasts – lots of fruit, a little meat, a little potato
Lots of Asian, some bbq, too many potatoes, and too much bread
Was semi successful in avoiding while traveling
What did I learn this week?
Challenge foods for this week were accidental dairy (super out), overeating (also super unpleasant), a small amount of onion (less pleasant once – ok a second time), and a Chinese food amount of cooking garlic (fine I think; I was bloated but I think from the salt content of PF Chang’s).
Wheat is still in, but based on the pics of my food this week I look like I need to reign in my consumption of unnecessary breads and fried foods. I’m also tired of potatoes again, and have picked back up a wicked Diet Coke craving, so I may be doing a Whole30 to reset my tastebuds soon.
This was my second reintroduction week on the FODMAP diet. Week 1 went fairly well, and it seems as if everything I’ve introduced so far is fine. I may switch to monthly updates or a big go/no-go list of foods in a few months, because this phase is going to take awhile. Like, could take 9 months awhile, and I don’t want to bore you all with the details.
The procedure for reintroduction is to eat a little of a food from the high FODMAP list, pay attention to what my mind and body is telling me for 2 days, record any and all reactions, and either re-test the same thing on day 3 or go for something different. I’m starting with foods that I’m fairly certain are on the ‘go’ list, and working my way up to foods I suspect I have a reaction to or have had reactions to in the past – and crossing my fingers that whatever form of inflammation or whatever it was that was going on in my gut when I started this journey stays as calmed down as it is now when I go for the biggies (to me) like garlic, onions and brassicas.
This was my first reintroduction week on the FODMAP diet. For this phase, the doctor has taken me off the odious vitamin regimen, has swapped those for a smoothie-based morning booster, and wants me to keep super-detailed records of everything from my gut to mood as I try something from the no-go list every 3 days.
I don’t think I remembered to list my supplements for Phase 1 for y’all, either. I was taking (tried to always take with lunch):
1 Digestzymes (Betaine HCI and a proprietary blend of Ox Bile extract, Peptidase, Amylases, Pepsin, Proteases, Glucoamylase, Lactase, Invertase, Lipase)
I didn’t feel any different with this regimen of supplements (other than hella annoyed because I am not great at swallowing pills), but I guess they may have done something, since the doctor noticed a marked difference in my skin the second I walked in the door (and tbh I haven’t felt like I look quite so crappy in the face skin lately), and my gut has been feeling a bunch better.
At the end of Phase 1, I don’t feel like my GI system is in crisis any more (I was having pain after 95% of my meals and was almost ready to give up and go on a chicken & rice diet), my dry skin is still there but isn’t as flaky, my nails aren’t peeling and chipping as much, and I only have a little stomach stabbiness for a few minutes every few days or so. I’m also a touch more regular with less need to head for the hills any time my digestive system is on the move, and I’m less bloated overall.
Whether that is a function of cutting out most of the foods causing an issue (frustratingly, the intermittent nature of my issues hasn’t stopped, a week with on-again/off-again cucumber sensitivity being the most recent) or the supplements – I don’t know. We shall see.
I’m still not tired of canned tuna for some inexplicable reason. I think I’ll have a repeat of bowl life, just with different flavors. I’m thinking Thai and/or poke sauce.
I didn’t really snack last week, so I still have oat crackers leftover.
Actual Meal Plan
Hard boiled eggs
Made a batch-prepped Thai-style tuna bowl
Bought sushi for lunch while grocery shopping, which led to my first challenge food: avocado
Made the tuna poke bowls
Had a soba lunch out
Had chicken & rice lunch out
A non-compliant meal out introducing a friend to local cuisine
Zoodles with tuna and/or eggs
What did I learn this week?
Introducing challenge foods is hard, and the impetus to run before I can walk is strong. Avocados, mangoes, spelt, banana & almond butter all seem fine – and all are things I was pretty sure I could tolerate.
The morning shakes the doc gave me are kinda making me bloated – but I’m not sure yet if it’s bloated bloated, or if my body may get used to them. I’ll give them another few days.
Overnight Oats with blueberries, tahini or peanut butter, and pumpkin seeds or granola
Chicken breast/poached egg/hashed browns out
The salmon fried rice was even better than anticipated (recipe coming soon!)
Rotisserie chicken is such an easy staple to keep on hand – whip up a batch of rice early in the week, and you’ve got 3/4 of dinner ready in minutes
Roasted sweet potato/butternut squash/carrot mix with orange miso dressing to toss in with chicken
Chirashi and steak out for lunch
Mussels frites out for dinner – chose Thai style because the broth was made from compliant ingredients; didn’t end up eating much of the broth anyways
Scrounge dinner of leftover rice with a little butter, some furikake seasoning and a touch of sweet soy sauce to hit macros one night
Bought some more mostly joyless carbs – this time in the form of oat crackers. Must do more snack research. I’m sucking at snacks lately, and my favorite go-tos are off limits (almonds, corn nuts, wasabi peas, dried fruit)
What did I learn this week?
Salmon fried rice is delicious. And I’m sad I ate all of it – will have to make again soon.
Also, because I was digging that dish so much, I kinda re-discovered being excited to come home to a batch-cooked meal. It’s not like what I usually make isn’t good – or isn’t exciting – but something about this dish had me wanting to choose to go home for lunch rather than deal with finding something to eat while out.
Overnight Oats with blueberry milk, collagen peptides, peanut butter thinned to a sauce, and superfood granola.
This week I want to keep it simple – all I have planned is to make up big batches of veggies, a base to go with them (rice/quinoa mix), and make a spicy lime vinaigrette to go with everything. And rotisserie chicken. I’ve got that on hand.
I had no plan going to the grocery here, just knew I was tired of the marmite rice cakes, the buckwheat crackers I bought last time were yuck, and I didn’t want to rely too heavily on fruit this first week back from vacation.
Actual Meal Plan
Overnight blueberry milk oats with superfood granola & peanut butter.
Breakfast out at Eggspectations: Chicken, egg & fruit.
Batch cooked a big bunch of zucchini & carrots and had a bunch of ways with a spicy lime vinaigrette and rotisserie chicken.
Batch cooked some brown rice pasta – had with my favorite chili tuna.
Lunch out at Wagamama: A rice noodle and greens salad with carrot and lemongrass vinaigrette + chicken.
Lunch out at Chang’s: Spicy tuna sushi that was a frustrating semi-fail.
Cucumber/cherry tomato/cilantro/lime vinaigrette salad – also eaten as a snack.
Fairly joyless buckwheat & chia rice cake crisps – joyless because I couldn’t for the life of me think of what to put on them that wasn’t either a ton of calories, contained dairy, or was too sweet. I’ll keep working on this issue and get back to y’all with some options.
A semi-fail green smoothie that looked compliant from the menu, but tasted like it may not be.
What did I learn this week?
This week was all about getting back into the swing – again – because for some reason I completely lost last week and thought I had just gotten back from vacation. 😆
I was a bit cocky in my restaurant choices, not wanting to believe that the vegan place really *doesn’t* have anything for me (again. It didn’t when I was doing Keto, and it’s semi-difficult to eat Paleo there too).
I also need to leave non-Japanese Asian places alone. Garlic is building block #1 of Chinese food. And yes, it’s in everything. Usually with onions.