Food Nut Job

We are living in a world today where lemonade is made from artificial flavors and furniture polish is made from real lemons. ~Alfred E. Newman>

Recently, I was made aware of a term used to describe a person such as myself:  A Food Nut Job. Ha! I actually laughed out loud when bestowed with this title, and I will wear it proudly!

Of course the people I am surrounded with should not find this quite as amusing, as I am sure they have muttered under their breath at any given event "that Laurie, she's a real food nut job"..... But then they'll sample my scrumptious butternut squash gratin, or my velvety tuscan white bean and garlic soup, or a batch of Grandma's recipe scotch shortbread cookies, and no longer am I a Food Nut Job, I am a Kitchen Goddess. And they are inevitably asking for the recipe, WHICH, I have no problem sharing.

I am not a fan of the "altered" recipe (we've all been there-- you ask for the recipe, they leave out one or two key ingredients on purpose, resulting in an inferior creation). OR the recipe that they just can't give you because it's a family secret, say Grandma's spaghetti sauce. Like no one else has ever figured out that you should put Oregano in homemade spaghetti sauce. That's a different kind of Nut Job.

Being a Kitchen Goddess, and a Food Nut Job, can be daunting at times. As Chef Ramsay (of Hell's Kitchen fame) would say: "You're only as good as your last meal". Lucky for me, Chef Ramsay is not in my kitchen throwing things and swearing at me in his cute british accent, instead he's just doing that in my head, so I don't overcook the rissoto.

That is why I test and retest recipes before I would consider serving them to company, or taking them to a get together. Therefore you need not worry, any recipe I post for you, has passed my test kitchen, my inner Chef Ramsay, and has been successfully enjoyed by people other than yours truly.

That being said, one of my go-to favorites, is this rice and lentil salad. This is a perfect weeknight meal because it's quick, very nutritious, and makes enough for leftover lunch! My shortcut here is that I buy pre-cooked lentils in the refridgerated section (I get mine at Trader Joe's), and pre-cooked brown rice (it's available where you would find uncooked rice at the store).
You could use store bought rotisserie chicken, and it would take under 15 minutes to prepare the whole dinner. If you would like to serve this as a side dish, omit the chicken and romaine.
I prepare garlic bread to go with it, by splitting french rolls, brushing them with extra virgin olive oil, sprinkling garlic salt and paprika, then topping with pre-shredded mozzarella cheese. Pop under the broiler for just a couple of minutes and dinner is served!

Lentil and Rice Salad with Chicken


Serves 4

  • 1 cup lentils, picked over and rinsed
  • 1/2 package (approx. 5 oz.) precooked brown rice
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved (2 cups)
  • 3/4 cup thinly sliced scallions, (4 to 6 scallions)
  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breast halves, poached then chopped
  • 1 Romaine Heart, chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese


1.  In a medium saucepan, cover lentils with water by 1 inch. Bring to a boil; reduce to a simmer. Cover, and cook until lentils are tender but still holding their shape, 15 to 20 minutes. Drain well. (skip this step if using precooked lentils)

2.  Place chicken in a pot and cover with water by 1 inch. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a soft boil and continue to poach until chicken is cooked through, approx. 20 minutes. Once cool, cut chicken into bite size pieces, and season with salt and pepper.

3.  Place chopped romaine heart in a large bowl. Gently stir in lentils, rice, chicken, tomatoes, scallions, lemon juice, and oil. Serve sprinkled with feta.


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