Monday, October 18, 2010

Out of My Comfort Zone

It's really easy to get in a rut. Day after day I run the same boring 4 or 5 mile loop. I use the same key ingredients in different meals over and over. I pick up the same things from the grocery store week after week. It's natural to gravitate toward what's comfortable, and by extension, what is easy.

But it's the hard things, the uncomfortable and new things, that can be the most rewarding if you're willing to try. This weekend I'm running Army 10 Miler. I'm nervous. It's out of my comfort zone right now. It's uncomfortable to try and run fast for that long. There's a big difference between running my fastest for 3 miles and running my fastest for 10 miles. But at the end, it will feel that much more rewarding to know I pushed myself out of my comfort zone.

This Mandarin Salad I made last week was definitely out of my comfort zone. I'm just one of those people that prefers savory over sweet, and the idea of putting fruit in my salad makes me want to gag a little. But this Pampered Chef recipe was requested by someone else for a show, so I had to try it out before I presented it.

I'm SO glad I went out of my box and gave this a try. It was seriously yummy, easy, healthy, and I loved the flavors that would ordinarily NOT be my preference! It was a great combo of sweet and salty and definitely more filling than the average salad! It works well as a main course, but would be perfect to bring as a side dish to parties, with or without the shredded chicken!

Mandarin Pasta Salad

1 bag of baby spinach
1 package of farfalle (cooked and drained)
1 can (11 oz) of Mandarin Oranges
1 to 2 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
1/2 a cucumber
half a red onion
2 carrots
Sliced almonds

Dressing: About 1/3 cup rice vinegar or red wine vinegar, 2ish tbl soy sauce, juice from 1/2 orange (I used 2 clementines, its what I had), about a 1 inch piece of freshly grated ginger (no one will know if you use ground), 1 clove pressed or chopped garlic, 1/4 cup sesame oil, and 1/4 cup olive oil ... because I don't like vegetable oil.

This thing is kinda awesome, the measure, mix n'pour has the ingredients for different kinds of dressings right on the cup. You fill it up to the line, shake it, then seal and refrigerate for a later use! So I mixed all the dressing ingredients in here first.
Add cooked bowtie pasta with the bag of spinach and the chopped/shredded chicken breasts

Julienne some carrot sticks. I have a nifty julienne peeler but you can also use any vegetable peeler for a fast result. You just get thinner slices instead of the "matchstick" pieces you get from julienne-ing. (is that a word?)

Add the carrot on top of thinly sliced red onion, and chopped cucumber

Mix in the mandarin oranges (drained), dressing, and top with the sliced almonds! Simple, light, and delicious. *** vegetarian tip... instead of chicken you could totally toss some cooked and cooled quinoa in here. Bet that would be tasty.


The Samsons said...

as a fan of sweet, i'm all for mandarin oranges in my salads. i need to get out of my comfort zone in cooking BIG time :) thanks for helping me in that direction! looking forward to sunday!!!

Katy said...

Can't wait to try this! I am on a major salad kick lately!!!

Mary-Jane said...

I made this last night, it was delicious! Very easy and fun to make. Thanks for the recipe :) I will definitely make this again!