Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Pot Luck Lunch

     Tomorrow our work is having a pot luck lunch. People were supposed to sign up and bring various dishes in to share. Problem #1: no one at my job cooks. Problem #2: There are no ovens or stoves  available. I thought about throwing meatballs or sausage in a crock pot because it's easy but then that leads to problem #3: I have a reputation!!!! My coworkers don't know me very well since I have only been at my job since September but they do know one thing: what Rumgirl brings for lunch. I am often seen hovering over the microwave at lunch heating up the previous evening's gourmet masterpiece. "Do you like to cook?" they ask. Yes. "Do you have kids?" No. "That smells fantastic." Bing, bam, boom. There's no way out now. My PB and J toting lunch mates have me pegged, so as soon as the sign-up sheet was passed around the lunch room for our pot luck, all eyes focused in on me. The buzz of the day was wondering what I was going to make. Damn. Now I have to impress. But how?

     Crock pot meals are great for a busy day but for impressing? No way. Time to get creative. I figured that everyone was pretty full to the brim of holiday cookies and candy so I decided to lighten things up with a salad. It's not just any salad, mind you. I pulled out the heavy artillery and went for my Pampered Chef cookbook. Pampered chef's recipes are made for impressing and entertaining. That's how I sold  products when I was a consultant. Oh yes, didn't I mention that Rummy is Pampered Chef drop out? Well, I'll get into that story some other time.

    Back to the pot-luck dilemma. I decided to go for the Crunchy Asian Chicken Salad. Easy. Light. Slightly impressive without pissing people off because you have too much time on your hands. I used the recipe as a base, as always. I can't follow recipes to a tee. I hate measuring. I don't "eyeball it" either like the oh so annoying Rachel Ray does. I mix up a bunch of stuff together til it tastes good. That's it. I also use  a lot of short cuts. Chop cabbage? Yeah, right. Shred carrots? Um, I do have a little bit of a life. I bought the Asian salad mix form Wegmans. Its got the celery, cabbage, and carrots in one bag for less than 3 bucks. As Rob's says "dig it"!!! Screw segmenting oranges on a school night. I grabbed a can of Mandarin oranges and drained the excess liquid into the dressing. Instead of making my own crunchy wontons, I went for a bag of crunchy Asian noodles that I always keep on hand and dip in duck sauce as a late night snacky. Hey, I'm no crappy corn chip and salsa girl.

     I didn't buy the pre-cooked chicken. That is one short cut I don't do. You can always tell when your meat is not "home made". It's got that wonderful preservative aftertaste to it. I cooked the chicken and tossed it in half the dressing. Now for the dressing, I followed the recipe ingredients but not the measurements. Go with the flow and follow YOUR taste buds, not an unknown author whose tastes may be completely different than yours. I am not a vinegar fan so when I see a recipe, I always use half the vinegar. I doubled the peanut butter and ginger to give it more pizzazz. I placed the chicken, oranges, and cabbage mix in a bowl and tossed it in the fridge. I poured the dressing in a container and threw some chopped scallions in a bag with the crunchy noodles. Ok, the scallions might piss them off a little. At 12:00 tomorrow I'll throw it all together and get a lot of oooohs, ahhhhhhs, and envious stares which will lead to problem #4: My co-workers will be begging me to cook for them more often.

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