Main Dishes, Recipes, Sandwiches and Wraps

Mushroom Egg Salad

So, it’s been a long time since I’ve posted any recipes for a no-heat lunch and/or a 10 Minute Lunch. Sad day. Lately when I’ve been on campus, I’ve been eating a lot of PB&Js and soup for lunch, usually leftovers that I’ve stashed in the freezer. On the couple days a week that I work from home, my lunches have as of late have consisted of things like a giant bowl of popcorn, smoothies, and cereal. Healthy and complete meals, I know. But such is life. And thesis writing. However, I did recently put a new spin on egg salad… just as a little experiment since I had some mushrooms to use up. I wasn’t sure how the final product would turn out, but it was just so good that I had to share!

Mushroom Egg Salad | The Pajama Chef

While I know that egg salad isn’t going to win any beauty contests, adding some extras to a traditional salad definitely ups the taste value!! My mushroom egg salad includes a savory blend of sautéed mushrooms and caramelized onions to add some unexpected heartiness  to lunch. Though this egg salad is a bit more involved than most, it is definitely worth it. You can sauté the mushrooms and caramelize the onions while fixing dinner at night, and then throw the rest of the salad together afterwards… leaving you a gourmet lunch ready for the next day! Win win! I seasoned this egg salad with a little fresh and tangy lemon and dill and let me tell you… it was so good. I couldn’t just stop at one sandwich and I bet you won’t either! Hope you enjoy!

Mushroom Egg Salad | The Pajama ChefMushroom Egg Salad [adapted from Let’s Eat!]
click to print


  • 1/2 cup yellow onion, diced
  • 4-5 small baby bella mushrooms, cleaned and thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 3 hardboiled eggs, chopped
  • ~1 tablespoon mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon whole grain dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • zest of 1/4 lemon
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon dried dill
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • bread, spinach/lettuce, tomato for serving


In a small skillet, heat 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions, season with pepper, and cook, stirring often until onions begin to soften, about 3 minutes. Then reduce heat to low and cook for 10-12 minutes or until lightly caramelized. Stir occasionally during the process, but for the most part they can be left alone. Remove from skillet when done and place in a medium bowl to cool.

Next, add remaining 1/2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil to skillet set over medium heat. Add mushrooms and sauté until golden, stirring often, about 7-9 minutes. Remove from skillet and place in bowl with onions.

Add eggs to mushrooms and onions, then prepare dressing. In a small bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, mustard, lemon juice, lemon zest, and 1/4 teaspoon dill.

Pour dressing over egg mixture and toss to coat, then taste and add more dill and/or ground pepper as desired. If more dressing is needed, thin with extra mayonnaise or lemon juice.

Serve on bread with spinach and tomato as garnishes.

Time: 30 minutes.

Yield: 2 sandwiches.

Note: Can easily be doubled, tripled, etc.

Chicken, Main Dishes, Recipes

Orange-Glazed Chicken Stir-Fry

So I enjoy Chinese takeout about as much as anyone else… but not as much as Ben. If he had it his way, he’d be chowing down on pseudo-Asian food every other night, with a healthy dose of meat and potatoes on the other night. Why doesn’t this happen in our house? Well, let’s see… salt, salt, MSG, salt, salt, lack of veggies, salt, salt… I think you get the picture. Oh, and I like to cook, not just get takeout. So what’s my compromise? Making takeout at home! [I bet you never saw that one coming. Ha!]

My latest attempt is a play off the ‘ole [un]authentic orange chicken. Instead of a gloopy, fake-colored sauce coating a few sad vegetables and the classic “little chicken/lots of breading,” sauted chicken, broccoli, mushrooms, and water chestnuts are tossed with a sweet-spicy orange glaze. The orange glaze is made with orange juice and [gasp!] a whole real orange. It’s amped up with fresh ginger and garlic, honey, sesame oil, soy sauce, and two kinds of pepper. Can it get any better than this?

I’m sorry, but this sweet-spicy citrus glaze has flavors that the corner Chinese place just cannot achieve! I know those places aren’t authentic, and in no way do I think my version is either. But I do know it’s good. So good in fact, that we both wanted the leftovers… a rareity in this house! Now, if only I could make brown rice as soft and pillowy as that Chinese place can…

Orange-Glazed Chicken Stir-Fry [adapted from Pretty Delicious by Candice Kumai]
click to print


  • 1 1/2 tablespoons sesame oil, divided
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger root
  • 1 3/4 cup orange juice, divided
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 3 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon red chile pepper flakes
  • zest of 1 orange + 1 orange, peel removed and fruit chopped into bite size pieces
  • 3/4 pound chicken breasts, thinly sliced into bite size pieces
  • 3 cups broccoli florets
  • 1 1/2 cups sliced mushrooms
  • 8 ounce can sliced water chestnuts, drained
  • hot cooked brown rice, for serving


In a small saucepan, heat 1/2 tablespoon sesame oil over medium-high heat. Add garlic and ginger and saute, stirring continually, for 60 seconds. Reduce heat to medium-low and stir in 1 1/2 cups orange juice, honey, soy sauce, cayenne, red chile pepper flakes, and orange zest. Zest Simmer gently until sauce is thick and syrupy, approximately 20 minutes.

Next, heat 1 tablespoon sesame oil in an electric wok at 350 degrees. Add chicken and toss to stir-fry, cooking until all sides are golden, approximately 3-4 minutes total. Then add broccoli, mushrooms, water chestnuts, and orange chunks. Pour remaining 1/2 cup orange juice over everything, then cover and cook for 2-3 minutes until hot. [Alternatively, you could cook everything in a large skillet on the stovetop over medium-high heat.

Pour in orange sauce and toss to coat. Serve over hot cooked brown rice.

Time: 30 minutes.

Yield: 4-5 servings.

Breakfast, Egg Dishes, Recipes

Baby Bella, Spinach, and Bacon Frittata

It’s Christmas week. And we all know what that means. Lots and lots and lots of cookies. And I’ve been cookie baking up a storm lately. So… yeah. I’ve been enjoying a few too many cookies as of late. For breakfast, lunch, and dinner. And snacks. And desserts. Basically, all the time. However–yes, there’s a however, even with cookies involved–real meals are still important. Real quick meals so there’s more time for making cookies. Yep, that’s how I’m thinking nowadays.

My favorite quick meal of the year 2011 has been the frittata. Therefore, I thought a frittata was a relevant and delicious meal for this busy time. This frittata is a little fancy and rich tasting, with gooey cheese, special mushrooms [not that kind of special], and bacon yet still healthy enough thanks to an abundance of spinach to count as a real meal during cookie season. Yes! Win-win. Everybody [and every meal, and cookie] is happy and a winner. Enjoy!

Baby Bella, Spinach, and Bacon Frittata [inspired by Life’s Ambrosia with technique from my Kale Frittata for Two]
printable version


  • 4 slices bacon
  • 1 cup Baby Bella mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 cup spinach, tightly packed, chopped
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 2-3 teaspoons fresh rosemary, chopped
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • scant 1/4 cup Swiss cheese, shredded or torn [I used one thick slice of deli Swiss cheese and tore it up]


Cook bacon to desired crispness on a skillet over medium heat. Set aside to degrease between paper towels on a plate. Reserve 1-2 teaspoons bacon grease.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Add bacon grease to a small (8 inch) oven proof skillet set over medium heat. Cook mushrooms for 2-3 minutes or until softened. Add spinach and cook for another 1-2 minutes or until spinach just begins to wilt.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together eggs, water, and rosemary. Season with black pepper as desired [I like a lot of black pepper, but do what you like best]. When spinach has wilted a bit, add bacon to pan and then pour egg mixture over top and gently stir to incorporate eggs with mushrooms, spinach, and bacon. Cook for 2-3 minutes until the bottom of the frittata begins to set, then use a thin spatula to lift the edge of the frittata. This allows the uncooked egg to transfer below to cook. When eggs are almost set, top with cheese and place in the oven to cook for 5 minutes, or until cheese is melted and the center is set. Cool briefly before cutting, then serve warm.

Main Dishes, Pasta, Recipes

Roasted Vegetable Lasagna

Poor, poor husband. My poor meat-lovin’ husband has been subjected to meatless recipe after meatless recipe. Last week, I think Ben only got meat for dinner once… and he had to make it himself. See, the more I run as I’m training for this marathon, the more I crave vegetables. [And funfetti frosting and brownies, but that’s another story.]

The good news though, is all these veggie cravings have resulted in some pretty good meals, like this one. I am not one to like mushy, cooked vegetables, which is why I chose to roast sweet bell peppers, savory mushrooms, and luscious, juicy tomatoes. Roasting these veggies adds another level of flavor and texture to this creamy, cheesy lasagna. It’s filling but not heavy, and bakes up bubbly and brown. A perfect dish for a cold Friday night–and a great way to carb-load on the night before an 18 mile run. Or, y’know, do whatever normal folks do on their Saturday mornings.

P.S. And if you’re worried about Ben and his lack of meat, I bought him a big hunk ‘o pork and cooked it in the crock pot yesterday. Recipe to come. For now, enjoy this veggie-friendly dish!

Roasted Vegetable Lasagna [based off of these recipes from Cooking Light and For the Love of Cooking and my mom’s]


  • 3 bell peppers, diced [I used red, yellow, and orange]
  • 4 roma tomatoes, quartered
  • 12 ounces mushrooms, sliced
  • 5 cloves garlic [keep the skins on for roasting]
  • black pepper
  • salt
  • dried basil
  • nutmeg
  • 16 ounces fat free cottage cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano + additional for roasting
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 1/2 cups fat free half and half, at room temperature
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 9 lasagna noodles
  • 8 ounces Italian cheese blend [I used Sargento’s]
  • 3 ounces shredded Parmesan cheese
  • olive oil
  • cooking spray


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray a large baking sheet with cooking spray, then spread peppers, tomatoes, and mushrooms in a single layer. Place the garlic cloves in one corner, for easy access after they are roasted. Drizzle olive oil over vegetables and season as desired with black pepper, a little bit of salt, basil, and oregano. Toss gently to coat. Bake for 20 degrees, flip, and return to oven for another 10 minutes. Let cool.

In a small saucepan over medium heat, whisk together flour and half and half. Cook until thickened, about 7-9 minutes, then remove from heat. Stir in a pinch of nutmeg and a generous amount of black pepper. Set aside.

Meanwhile, cook lasagna noodles according to package directions.

When vegetables are cool enough to handle, crush tomatoes and cut into bite size pieces. Then, peel skin off garlic cloves and dice. Return vegetables to pan and stir together.

Finally, in a medium bowl, stir together cottage cheese, eggs, garlic powder, 1/2 teaspoon oregano, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper.

Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees.

In a 9×13 casserole dish, layer a 1/3 of the white sauce, 1/3 of the vegetables, 3 noodles, 2 ounces Italian cheese, and 1 ounce Parmesan cheese. Repeat twice, then top with remaining cheese. Sprinkle basil on top. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake for 5 more minutes, then turn on broiler and bake for another 2-3 minutes until cheese is golden brown and bubbly. Let stand at least 10 minutes before serving.

Click here for the printable version: Roasted Vegetable Lasagna

Main Dishes, Recipes, Soups

Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

chicken and wild rice soup
soup's up!

So, Panera’s Cream of Chicken and Wild Rice has always been one of my favorite soups. In fact, I would plan my Panera trips based around the soup schedule as much as possible. Considering that I’ve traditionally been iffy about soups, that’s saying a lot. And my senior year of college, I spent a lot of time at Panera working on my thesis so I ate this soup all. the. time. I don’t even want to think about how much moolah I invested in the growth of Panera and Coffee Expressions that year… I blame my thesis. 100%.

Now that I’m a married grad student who has a little more self-restraint and a little more care as to her budget, I have had to make some changes. Instead of $4 lattes during a busy school session, I make my own coffee at home. Instead of Panera’s smooth, rich, and creamy soup, I make my own Chicken and Wild Rice Soup. And let me say… I think it is just as good, if not better than Panera’s version since it is lighter and less salty without compromising on the flavor at all. Next time I make this I think I’ll plan ahead and get some extra veggies–maybe carrots?–to add to the mix, and perhaps some fresh herbs for texture too. But even without, this soup is phenomenal… this was one recipe that I didn’t pawn all the leftovers off on Ben!

Chicken and Wild Rice Soup [adapted from Whole Foods and Taste of Home]


  • 1 cup brown rice
  • 1/2 cup wild rice
  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized cubes
  • 8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 cup onions, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • olive oil
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon sage
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 12 ounces fat free evaporated milk
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch


In a saucepan, cook brown and wild rice according to package directions. I didn’t want to use two separate pots even though the cooking directions varied slightly so I just added 3 cups of water to the rices, brought everything to a boil, and then simmered for about 45 minutes until all the water absorbed.

Meanwhile, in a skillet, heat up a little olive oil and then saute the chicken, mushrooms, onions and garlic until the chicken is cooked through and everything else is soft. Remove mixture from heat.

In a large stockpot, combine the chicken broth, parsley, thyme, sage, and pepper. Whisk to combine. Gently stir in chicken mixture, then bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. In a small bowl, stir together evaporated milk and cornstarch until smooth.

By this point, the rice should be about done. When it is, add the rice and milk to the stockpot and stir until fully incorporated. Return to a boil and cook for about 10-15 minutes or until soup is thickened to desired consistency. Enjoy!

Click here for the printable version: Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

Question of the Day: What are some restaurant foods you like to recreate at home?