California Wraps & Southwestern Salad

Let’s just say, I am a mess when I cook! And I wonder why no one tells me before I go on camera that my black top has cooking stains on it from cooking for 30 people before the camera starts rolling! Yes, that’s me for the world to see (well, maybe 2 people who actually watch)! Maybe, just maybe, I need to start wearing an apron. I have about 20 aprons from my 21+ years and counting with Pampered Chef. Well, I can’t do anything about it now…it’s on ORCTV, Vimeo and Youtube. Still an embarrassment to my daughters…you’re welcome, girls!

This month, I made something super easy at my cooking class for the Council on Aging because I had just come back from a week long family cruise to the Western Caribbean. We had a wonderful time but I got home and to bed around 2 am the morning of my class. So super easy and super fast menu this month was a must. Plus, I set the menu 2 weeks before. I normally have an idea of what I am making basing it on the sales and time of year. But, I had to set this menu somewhat blind because I needed to know what I was cooking further in advance.

I love sandwiches and hearty salads. No just lettuce and dressing for me. I want some goodies in my salad…like beans, avocado, corn, peas, croutons, cheese, carrots, eggs, olives… When I was on Weight Watchers with my friends, their lunch salads were always 0 or 2 points…mine were always 8+. This Southwestern Salad appeals to me because of the extra stuff (corn, olives, avocado and a very creamy doctored up ranch dressing.

I adapted the recipes a little because there were no ripe avocados in the stores where I shop. So, I just used prepared guacamole. It made it simpler and faster to make but I like the flavor of my own guac better.

If you want to see the video, here it is on Youtube Southwestern Salad & California Wraps.  You can also see it on Vimeo.

Links to the recipes are: Southwestern Salad and California Wraps. I hope you enjoy these recipes. Our guests at the Council on Aging loved them and went back for seconds. There was nothing left!

What’s Linda Cooking???-Chicken Cranberry Salad and Broccoli Pasta Salad

Chicken Cranberry Salad and Broccoli Pasta Salad

As many of you know, each month I teach a cooking class at the Rochester Council on Aging.  I have been doing this for the past 10 years.  Of course, my mother has yet to attend, but that’s another story!!!  When I am a senior, I think I will hang out at the Council on Aging because these seniors never seem to get old…I think it has something to do with their activity level and that they are around people all the time…ahem, MOM!!!!  Anyway, she will be angry when she reads this…this month because it’s July and I did not want to grill out in the scorching heat, I made Chicken Salad with Cranberries and a Broccoli Pasta Salad.  Fabulous recipes!  I do not like getting chicken salad from the deli because it has too much mayo (and I love mayo) and other stuff that I don’t like.  So try this recipe and I think you’ll love it!!!




Chicken Salad Recipe
2 lbs cooked chicken ideally pouched with parsley, onion, seasoned salt and bouillon cubes
1/2 cup bottled Italian salad dressing or homemade (olive oil, wine vinegar, shallot, garlic)
A good dollop of mayonnaise, approximately 1/2 cup
1/8 tsp. salt
dash paprika
1 Tbsp. honey
1/4 cup-1/2 cup Dried Cranberries
1 small onion chopped
Poach chicken in water to cover, parsley, onion, seasoned salt and bouillon cubes.  Take chicken out, cool and shred.  If doing the night before, store in refrigerator.
In separate bowl, combine olive oil, wine vinegar, chopped shallot and minced garlic.  Whisk to combine.  Add mayo, salt, paprika, honey and mix.
Add mayo mix, chicken, cranberries, chopped onion and any other mix ins.  Mix.  Serve on rolls, croissants or on top of salad greens.

2 cups (8 ounces) uncooked medium shell pasta
1 cup mayonnaise
3 tablespoons white or cider vinegar
3 tablespoons sugar
3 cups broccoli florets, coarsely chopped
3/4 cup chopped red onion
3/4 cup golden raisins
8 slices bacon, crisply cooked, drained and crumbled
1/3 cup sunflower seed kernels

  1. Cook pasta according to package directions; drain and rinse under cold running water.
  2. Meanwhile, combine mayonnaise, vinegar and sugar in large bowl; mix well. Add pasta, broccoli, onion, raisins, bacon and sunflower seeds; mix gently. Cover; refrigerate at least 2 hours to allow flavors to blend.

Leftover chicken? Make a Panini!

imageI try to anticipate how much my family will eat for dinner but sometimes, I am just plan wrong.  Someone can’t come home for dinner, doesn’t like dinner, ate lunch late so they are not hungry, etc. Sometimes we have leftovers.  Not planned overs, where I know I will use the leftovers to make an entire meal…but real leftovers.

I volunteer for a free breakfast program once a week for people who just won’t get a breakfast any other way except by going to this free breakfast.  I think this is why I hate wasting food.  Or it might come from my mother’s “There are starving people, you should not waste your food.”  Whatever it is, I try not to waste food.  Even, though, I do throw out my fair share of food.

Normally, my husband and I keep leftovers in check by eating them for lunch.  My husband has no problem taking any leftovers for lunch except fish.  We all know it smells too much when it’s heated in the microwave.  There could be a mutiny at work.  So, fish stays home.

Sometimes I have just a lonely piece of chicken or steak or pork and I try to make it into something else for lunch.  Today was one of those days.  I had this lonely piece of roasted chicken in my refridgerator and decided it would be lunch.

imageThere is an old Pampered Chef recipe for a Chicken Broccoli Braid.  I, like so many others love this recipe.  But the main filling can be used in making a sandwich or panini.  I opted for the panini and it came out fabulous!  (the fabulous is for my niece Erin…she says its my word).

imageHere is how I adapted the recipe.  It’s really a rough recipe because I don’t really measure when I cook:

Chicken Broccoli Panini

  • 1 piece of cooked boneless skinless chicken
  • a few broccoli florets
  • 1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 clove of garlic, pressed
  • 1/4 small onion
  • 2 tbs or more of mayonaise
  • 1/4 tsp of dried dill
  • 4 slices of bread of your choice (sturdy bread is best)
  • a little butter for the bread

Put chicken, broccoli, cheese, garlic, and onion in your food processor.  Pulse until it is incorporated into smallish pieces.  Only about 4 – 5 pulses.

Add mayo and dill and  pulse a few times until all mixed.

Heat your panini or grill pan with press.

Assemble sandwiches and butter both sides of the sandwiches.  Put sandwich on heated pan and top with press.  After 2 minutes or less, flip and press again for another minute or two.  You are done!  Enjoy!

If you do not want a hot sandwich, you can always use the mixture as a chicken salad and serve it cold.

Let me know what you think of this recipe and what you do with small leftovers.



Muffaletta Wraps

I have never had a Muffaletta Sandwich.  I have seen them being made on various cooking shows but I have never had one.

I have made a really great olive and red pepper salad.  This salad is great for bruschetta and to serve with crackers.  I also had it for breakfast with cream cheese and a bagel.  YUM!!!

I was thinking about making a sandwich for the Council on Aging Cooking class and immediately Muffaletta Wraps jumped into my head.  Why not?  Instead of using a large round loaf of bread for the sandwich, how about a wrap.  It could work…and it does work!  In fact, it is delicious.  Here’s the recipe and here is the What’s Linda Cooking Segment where I made the wraps.  Enjoy!

Muffaletta Wraps

  • 10 tortilla wraps
  • 10 slices of smoked ham
  • 10 slices of salami
  • 10 slice of provolone cheese
  • 1 cup green olives with pimentos
  • 1 cup pitted black olives
  • 1 small jar of roasted peppers
  • 1 small bunch of parsley or 1tbs. dried
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • Olive oil

Make an olive salad:  Chop the olives and peppers.  Mix in with the parsley, garlic and olive oil.  Set aside.

Assemble the wraps.  Place one wrap on cutting board.  Top with a slice each of ham, salami and provolone cheese.  Top with a small scoop of olive salad.  Tuck in sides and roll up to wrap.  Repeat with the remaining 9 tortillas.  Put onto a platter and for best flavor refrigerate for at least 2 hours.  To serve, cut wraps in half and serve with a green salad.

Makes 10 wraps