I love ordering the Asian chicken salad when I go to Cheesecake Factory. My husband makes fun of me for ordering a salad when we go out to eat, but this one isn’t just a sad, cold pile of iceberg. It has such great texture and flavor, and it feels special.
I wanted to recreate an Asian chicken salad to prep for workweek lunches, and this one fit the bill beautifully. The chicken adds protein, the peanuts give great crunch, and the Mandarin oranges round out the mostly umami dish with welcome sweetness.
But…it took me a few tries to get the vinaigrette right. The Cheesecake Factory’s Asian chicken salad dressing is plum sauce-based, but I didn’t want that much sugar in mine. I prefer a dressing that’s a bit more on the savory side—especially if I’m eating it for lunch all week.
The dressing I made has just a bit of light brown sugar for sweetness, but relies largely on soy sauce, sesame seed oil, and apple cider vinegar to up the flavor ante. Feel free to adjust the dressing to your liking (I personally like a more acidic dressing, so add more olive or sesame oil if that’s your jam.)
To make this salad even speedier, use leftover rotisserie chicken. Make it vegetarian by opting for pan-fried tofu or shelled edamame.
Have y’all ever heard of Chicken Kitchen? It’s a fast-casual restaurant known for its chicken “chop chop salads”—bowls made with chicken, rice, black beans, and veggies. Chicken Kitchen has plenty of sauces to choose from, but my favorite was always their curry-mustard sauce. Pollo Tropical has a really similar version that’s also super delicious. Since I live in Alabama, there are no Chicken Kitchens or Pollo Tropicals near me.
I know, I know, it’s really sad. And I’ve had a massive curry-mustard sauce void in my life since I moved here from South Florida. But, alas, I’ve found the next best thing: making it myself at home.
The curry-mustard sauce combo sounds a little weird, but if you think about it, curry and mustard pair beautifully together. Mustard and curry powder are often used together in Indian cooking, and they’re absolutely delicious over meat, in stews, or in curry.
This curry-mustard sauce is no exception. I like to spoon it over DIY chicken chop chop salads or roasted veggies (carrots and sweet potatoes are divine). If you’re on the fence about trying this sauce, it only requires three ingredients and about 30 seconds of your time (so, um, not much investment). But I promise, it’s so easy and delicious, you’ll want to make it again and again.
Much like politics and religion at the dinner table, cranberry sauce can be divisive among families on Thanksgiving. I find that you’re either team “love it” or “hate it”, and there’s really no in-between. Unfortunately, I kind of fall in the latter camp. But I still make it every year for my dad from scratch. I say “from scratch”, but this easy cranberry sauce takes all of 10 minutes—and like four ingredients—to make. And since this sauce is more zesty than tart, if you’re on the fence like I am, you may be able to switch to the cran-loving dark side.
Even though I’m not a *huge* fan of cranberry sauce, I absolutely love making it. It’s so fun to watch the little berries pop and release their gorgeous juices. If you have kids, this is something they can definitely help you make on Thanksgiving. And, oh my God, it makes your kitchen smell divine. You’ll never want to buy a can of that jellied mush again after making this easy cranberry sauce.
I stumbled on a recipe for crab-corn chowder in the November issue of Weight Watchers Magazine (it’s similar to this one). Needless to say, I was intrigued. Chowder is one of my favorite dishes, but it can be super heavy. All of that butter and heavy cream is really delicious, but not exactly diet-friendly!
Cold fall nights require something hearty and filling, so I was excited to try the Weight Watchers version. But, honestly, I thought it fell a little flat. It needed some extra pizzaz, so I adjusted the recipe slightly.
I’m sharing my version of crab-corn chowder here. I think you’ll really dig it. The addition of Old Bay seasoning and crab claw meat, plus the smattering of fresh chives really punches up the flavor and takes it to the next level.
3celery stalks, leaves and fibrous ends removed, chopped into small pieces
2 garlic cloves, minced
3.5cups2% reduced-fat milk
1/2cuphalf and half, plus more for drizzling
2(10-oz.) bagsfrozen corn kernels
8oz. crab claw meat
2tsp.Old Bay seasoning
1tbsp.fresh thyme leaves
1tbsp.fresh chives, snipped
Heat olive oil in large pot over medium-high heat until it begins to shimmer (about 1-2 minutes). Add diced onion and celery, and cook for 3-4 minutes. Add garlic and thyme, and cook for an additional 1-2 minutes. Do not let garlic brown.
Add flour, and slowly add milk and half and half, scraping the little brown bits from the bottom of the pot.
Add corn and simmer for 8-10 minutes until soft.
Add soup mixture to blender and pulse a few times until chunky (be careful with hot soup, and open blender vent and cover with towel, if possible).
Add soup mixture back to pot. Let simmer for additional 5-6 minutes. Add crab meat, and stir until combined. Serve immediately. Garnish with chives and drizzle with half and half.
We got a Le Cruset 5.5-quart Dutch oven for our wedding. It was one of my most-coveted items on our registry, so I really wanted to make something special the first time we used it. (Real food people will understand my weirdness about this). I took a chance developing a recipe for the first time in my Dutch oven. I’d never made this type of dish before, but these Spanish-style braised chicken drumsticks turned out great.
This dish is super savory and perfect for crisp nights—the fall-off-the-bone meat and stewed vegetables really warm you from the inside out. Bonus points if you sop up the extra sauce with rice or a side of patatas bravas.
Since there are just a few ingredients in this recipe, you want to make sure they shine. At the risk of sounding like Ina Garten, make sure you’re using high-quality chicken, real garlic cloves, and good olive oil. Trust me, good ingredients make a big difference.