Sucker Sandwich: Chicken California

A couple of months ago I was recently inspired by a sandwich. I’m the first person to admit… that I used to think sandwiches were for suckers. Boring, blah, overdone, and it’s what you get when you’re eating cheap-o on the menu. Oh thank you 2012 for proving me wrong after 26 years of disappointment!

California-ok. Chicken-check. Apparently when you put these two together on a menu, it really just means…Chicken Sandwich with Avocado. Your welcome for breaking that difficult code. I’ve ordered this a few times burger style, and maybe a small selection of times with chicken, all of which are forgettable…until now.

Confession: Cheddar’s. Chain, big menu, dressed up fancy…like Applebee’s but for more nicely dressed people…hahahahha. We went there. Lincoln just got their first one a few months ago and we wanted to give it a gander. Well, turns out their food for the most part is actually quite incredible. They also cut all their meats in-house which I was pretty surprised to know. We were kicking it at the bar watching basketball and wanted a light dinner and a couple of cocktails (here comes the sandwich entrance).  What do I get when I’m not starving, a sandwich. This one kicked me in the face for badmouthing ‘wiches, and then gave me a kiss of delicious empowering mouth delight. It was flipping amazing. I never thought I’d say this about anything in chain…anything, BUT–hands down, that was the best sandwich (anything between two pieces of bread) I’ve ever ordered at an establishment…ever.

So that was the inspiration for this post. My version of Cheddar’s California Chicken Sandwich. I went out to my parents for Father’s Day on Sunday evening, and between what I had and what my parents had all I had to get was tomatoes and an avocado, so it presented a perfect opportunity.

Can you believe I’ve never roasted my own Tomatoes??? What an idiot .I mean seriously. After doing it this one time, it’s definitely going to become a part of my normal routine. So easy to just fill a tray of these and have them for the week. I bought Roma’s and sliced them in half and squeezed the juice into a bowl before putting them on a cookie sheet. Skin side down, salt/pepper them, then drizzle oil and balsamic (balsamic is optional, but I like it) then either bake at 450 for 30-60 min or 325 for 3+ hours. Amazing!! (especially then chilled!)

Chicken: I had found a random simple marinade concoction earlier that day so that’s what I used for flavor on the hen. Bag, olive oil, 1/2 cup of chopped cilantro, crushed red pepper, and 2 tbsp of fish sauce. I let this marinate for about 2 hours before throwing on the George Foreman.

Avocado: One should be plenty for 4 people. Mashed it up just like I would for guac, added lemon, salt/pepper, then about a tbsp or so of plain greek yogurt and used it as a spread on the sandwich instead of just adding avocado slices.

Bread: My mom had picked up Asiago Bread. I think almost all stores anymore make specialty loaves like crazy so spring for one those. This one was from HyVee and it was perfect. Long slab of loaf probably intended for garlic bread maybe and I just sliced it lengthwise in half, then into four pieces. Drizzle EEOV over it, s/p and stick it right on the grates of the oven for a couple of minutes until you get some light sear marks. Watch it though, you don’t want it to get too tough or crisp .

Let’s put this “I’m a sucker sandwich” together shall we?

1. Do your tomatoes first since they take the longest, or even a day ahead of time works! I think these are best on this particular sandwich after they’re chilled.
2. Marinade/Assess your chicken. Make sure you use your meat mallet to make these thinner if you need to. You don’t want a giant un-proportioned chicken slab on your sandwich.
3. Grill your chicken
4.Toast your bread. Get nice bread. Seriously. It makes half the sandwich. Ciabattafocaccia, or just something special from the fresh-baked deli like we used. 
Your bread should get done right before the chicken so when you are assembling your ‘wich use your avocado spread on the bread, then top with the chilled tomatoes. Add your chicken on directly from the grill and top with your shredded cheese of choice so that it melts. Not too much…you don’t want it to overpower your other star ingredients here by hiding them with the cheese. Then top the other sandwich half and go to town!!
We paired some thin sliced red potatoes drizzled with EEOC and Lawreys and baked them for a half hour as “baked fries” for a side.
There you go, amazing sandwich at your fingertips. If you prep the tomatoes and marinate the chicken the day before, this can be an amazing quick dinner in 20 minutes. 
Why is this so good…I have no idea. But it is. I think it’s the simplicity of each ingredient, but each places together is a perfect pairing of ingredients that actually compliment each other. This is definitely going into my roll frequents every month.

 ONE MORE THING: What did I do with the tomato guts? I sliced mushrooms and soaked them in the juice. I added them to the tomato roast pan for the last 20 minutes of them baking and threw them on the sandwich too. why not!

KinScones: Pumpkin invades Scotland (Pumpkin Scones)

Final Second Glaze

So if anyone follows this with any regularity you know that I just adore scones. ADORE. Having leftover pumpkin from making  BAKED donut holes for National Donut day, I’ve been looking for another way to put the other half of the can of pumpkin puree to good use. What’s great about pumpkin? You mean besides everything????? It’s SO easy to cook with, and to use. Any pumpkin recipe is so easy and quick to put together. Simple. Love it. Monkey in the barrel!

Post Cut, PreBaked!

Confession: Great news. The diet is OVER!! After losing a few pounds than instantly gaining them back I’ve reverted back to old ways…and for whatever reason it’s working again. Can’t complain there!! I’ve started eating a big breakfast combined with 3 additional small meals a day along with a kick-butt workout and things are back on track! So glad to been able to hit the trails again, the ol’ leg limb is currently holding up (knock on wood!) Back to baking! YESSSSS!

Fresh out off the oven

Just a heads up: expect Spira to explode over the next few weeks…I will be taking endless requests up until the end of June from my work posse. I have officially been offered and accepted a new job, and am super excited to start in July! I’m really going to miss all my work family. I spend so much time there, allowing me to really develop some amazing life-long friends in the short time I’ve been apart of the environment. Because of this and my sad departure, I’ve promised them whatever they all want till I leave!

First Glaze

OK, back on track. Pumpkin, yum, time to cook tonight. Super simple scone recipe, and incredibly quick bake time. Everything pumpkin is delicious and moist, and everything Scottish-Bread based, is to die for. What a perfect combination! This probably took 10 minutes to whip up, 13 minutes to bake, and 2 minutes to glaze. I’m going to do less yapping and post the recipe. These really just speak for themselves, and just one more thing to add to my ‘overkill on pumpkin’ list for the Thanksgiving season. Can’t wait!

I got this recipe from the ShoeBox Kitchen, I didn’t change much of the main recipe but I did alter the glazes quite a bit. Have at it!

Pumpkin Scones

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 6 tablespoons cold butter, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1/2-3/4 cup canned pumpkin
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 1 large egg

Mix the pumpkin, egg, and milk together until blended in a bowl. In a seperate bowl mix the rest of the dry ingredients. Line pan with parchment paper and make into a rectangle about 12” x 1” x 3” then cut into triangles or desired shapes. Bake at 400 degrees for 13 minutes. Take out then do the sugar glaze, wait till dried then the spiced glaze. All done!

Powdered Sugar Glaze

  • 2/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons milk

Spiced Glaze

  • 2/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoons milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Pinch of ground ginger
  • Pinch of ground cloves