Wednesday, May 30, 2012


How are we today, my robot "readers"?  I'd greet you in Russian if I knew how!

Summer always makes me lazy.  I'm sure I've mentioned that I normally enjoy cleaning and love baking, but something just snaps inside me when the mercury rises above 75.  I'm not quite sure, but I'm thinking that being literally allergic to sunlight, plus having asthma and epilepsy that are exacerbated by the heat, might play some small part in my extreme dislike of summertime--but I digress.  The heat makes me stop wanting to cook, stop wanting to clean and even stop wanting to go outside for fear of bringing summer back in.

Obviously, I don't have the luxury of giving up on my job four months out of the year, so I have to find ways to suck it up and deal with the heat.  I don't have a slow cooker, I don't care for cold meals, I dislike leftovers, and we aren't allowed to have a grill on our balcony, so most peoples' tried and true solutions aren't even options in my book.  What's a girl to do?  The answer is so simple that I'm frustrated I went so many years without it: cook in the morning.  Duh.  How did I miss that one?!

Of course, some meals aren't conducive to morning preparation, but never fear!  I'll leave you with a recipe that allows you to prepare the various components ahead of time, throw them together 5 minutes before dinnertime and still have a proper meal--all without turning the kitchen into a sweat lodge.  You may wonder, "What is this miracle recipe?"  The answer is simple...

Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad

2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1 box (12-16 oz.) tri-color rotini, prepared according to package directions
1 cup store bought or homemade Caesar salad dressing, divided
3 romaine hearts, washed and chopped into bite-sized pieces
2 large tomatoes, seeded and roughly chopped
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

Place chicken breasts in a zip top bag with approximately 1/4 cup of the Caesar dressing.  While chicken marinates, preheat oven to 325 F. 

Coat a baking sheet with olive oil, then place chicken breasts on sheet and cover tightly with foil.  Bake approximately 30 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through. 

Remove chicken from oven and allow to rest, covered, approximately 15 minutes.  Cut the chicken into large cubes.

When it's time to eat, throw the chicken in the microwave for 30 seconds to a minute to heat it up.  Mix the pasta, lettuce and tomatoes with the remaining Caesar dressing.  Add the reheated chicken, then toss again.  Top with Parmesan and serve; if you're feeling feisty and/or carnivorous, feel free to add bacon.

The ingredients can be stored separately and the salad can be assembled "as needed", or you can store it all together and eat the leftovers as a cold salad.

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