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Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
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Thursday, July 25

Gapers Block

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Moving sucks! I have yet to meet a person who says they love to move and delight in having their home in disarray for weeks before and after the actual move. I, for one, despise this transitional period. I don't mind the unpacking so much because at least I feel like I'm making things better.

When I'm packing, the last thing I want to do is spend hours cooking. But I also hate having to eat out all the time. So I thought I'd share a couple recipes for things that I've come up with that let me use up some odds and ends (so I don't have to move them).

Chicken salad wraps with cranberries, nuts and arugula and "whatever is in the refrigerator" pasta salad allow plenty of room for substitution and are quick and easy to make. They also are easy to prepare ahead of time in either large or small portions, so if you want to make one batch of something and then eat it for the next several days, you can.

Chicken salad wraps
2 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken breast
juice from 1/2 lemon
salt and pepper
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 cup of cranberries
1/4-1/2 cup of chopped nuts
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon curry seasoning
1 cup of arugula leaves

Trim the extra fat off the chicken breasts, cut them into half-inch cubes and put them in a coverable bowl or zipper bag. Squeeze lemon juice over chicken and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Marinate covered in the refrigerator for at least an hour.

Heat your skillet to medium, add olive oil and the chicken and cook for 5-8 minutes, stirring regularly, until the chicken is white all the way through. (You want the chicken to be one layer thick to make sure it all cooks evenly, so do this in two batches if necessary.) Transfer the chicken to a bowl, being careful to not add any liquid to the bowl. Add the cranberries, nuts, mayonnaise and curry seasoning to bowl and stir until covered. Refrigerate for up to three days. When you're ready to serve, layer several arugula leaves down the center of a tortilla, scoop half a cup of chicken salad on top of the tortilla and roll it up. This should be enough to make 10 wraps -- cut back the ingredients as necessary. The salad can be frozen for up to a month, so you may want to make a large batch and freeze in individual portions for quick dinners or lunches.

Refrigerator pasta salad
This is something my mother would make quite a lot when we were growing up, and it was never the same twice. It's a great way to use up leftovers; look in your fridge and let your imagination work.

1/2 package of bite-sized pasta (macaroni, shells, etc.)
1/2 bottle of Italian dressing*
1 carrot cut into thin rounds
1 stalk of celery cut into bite-sized pieces
1/2 bell pepper cut into bite-sized pieces
1 can of artichoke hearts
1/2 cup of olives
1/2 cup of cheese cubes
1/2 cup of pepperoni chunks
1/8 cup of capers
1 scallion, chopped

Boil a large pot of water and add the pasta. Cook according to the package directions, or until the pasta is cooked al dente. Drain the pasta and pour it to a large bowl. Sprinkle the dressing over the noodles, stir to coat and put the bowl in the refrigerator. Let the noodles cool in the refrigerator while you chop all the other ingredients into bite-sized pieces. Once everything is chopped, add it to the bowl with the pasta and stir to coat everything. This makes six to eight dinner-sized portions. It lasts for several days but cut back the ingredients if you're eating it by yourself.

*If you don't have a leftover bottle of salad dressing, here's how you make your own. Mince or crush two cloves of garlic into a bowl. Add 1 teaspoon of salt and some pepper to the bowl. Mash together with the back of a spoon to make a paste. Add 1/4 cup of vinegar of choice, slightly less than 1/4 cup of olive oil, a teaspoon of dried thyme, a teaspoon of dried basil, and 1/4 teaspoon of chili pepper flakes. Stir very quickly to blend everything, then pour over the noodles and stir to coat the noodles evenly.

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dan / August 24, 2004 10:03 AM

Great article, Cinnamon! Thanks! This is relevant as all get out right now.

Cinnamon / August 24, 2004 11:07 AM

I meant to add a list of hardware necessary for a person packing to be able to make these.

For the first recipe: a knife, a plastic bag or bowl, a skillet, a large bowl, a spoon, a cutting board.

For the second recipe: a large pot, a strainer, a knife, a spoon, a large bowl
For the dressing: a medium-sized bowl, a spoon, a knife


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