Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Apple Tarragon Chicken Salad

I know this is no new combination of flavors (or at least I've gathered as much from a quick Google search), but I can't help but share my new find. This is my favorite lunch and dinner right now, to a great extent because it's easy and covers meals for several days, but mostly because it tastes so addictingly good.

Tarragon is a new herb to me. It has a long, slender leaf and subtle flavor that is so lovely alongside chicken; It makes this salad what it is, for sure, so definitely don't leave it out. ;) The slices of almonds contribute a dainty crunch, and the apple dices add a needed sweet bite (We tried craisins once, but didn't like it quite as much; You could also substitute grapes, if you'd rather.).

I'm excited to have a chicken salad to add to our (slowly) growing rotation! This one definitely makes the cut. I've gobbled it up the past few days on crackers, apple slices, a sandwich with cheddar and whole grain dijon (yum), and atop a green salad. I think it would even be marvelous on rice while still warm from the oven. Let me know what you try and how you like it best!

yields enough for 6-8 sandwiches (see photo below)

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 T olive oil
several large dollops of mayonnaise
4 ribs celery, halved lengthwise and finely diced
1 apple, finely diced
2 T fresh tarragon leaves, minced
1 cup sliced almonds
salt and pepper, to taste

1. Preheat oven to 400F and pour olive oil into large glass baking dish. 
2. Rinse chicken and lay side-by-side in the dish. Turn them over a few times to cover with oil, then sprinkle a couple pinches of salt across both sides. Let bake for 35 minutes while you prep the other ingredients. 
3. When chicken is done, cover dish (carefully) with foil and let sit for 5 minutes. Remove and add breasts to standing mixer with paddle attachment. Let run on lowest speed for a couple minutes until chicken is shredded (If you don't have a mixer, let chicken cool until tolerable to touch and shred in a large bowl--just use a couple of forks.). 
4. With mixer running slowly, add mayo until the salad reaches your desired consistency, then toss in remaining ingredients and give a few good stirs. Add salt and pepper, to taste. Note: If the salad seems on the dry side after day one, feel free to add in another spoonful of mayo to moisten it up. 

 This is how much it makes. :)

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Spring Lemon-Basil Quinoa Bowl

I loved today. I needed today. I've found there is little better for my proud heart and busy mind than to kneel down and put my hands in the dirt. It reminds me of my little girl days when I would spend long hours outside with the roly-polies and worms, making tulip houses for the snails and catching caterpillars in jars to show mom. Those were the days when I had no clue life was hard. That was a gift. But, even still, I find so much peace and solace when I'm as close to the earth as possible. Thank God for this day that allowed for it. I planted lots of green things and took lots of deep breaths. Some day I'll learn to do this more.

M and I had a sweet evening---he worked all day and I cooked dinner earlier so we could enjoy a relaxed meal when he got home. I wanted something light and healthy and found this recipe. We loved it. You spoon some quinoa in a bowl then top it with a soupy mixture of chicken, lemon, basil, peas, onion, and zucchini. Perfect for a spring evening, and so quick and easy. We don't have a porch so I insist on making good use of our front steps. I sat, sweaty and covered in dirt, and we snarfed these bowls clean. I want to eat up every morsel of every day that way. I'm gonna try to do it again tomorrow.

Spring Lemon-Basil Quinoa Bowl
serves 4 / modified from thecozyapron.com

2 T butter
1 T olive oil
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon herbs de Provence
4 cups chicken stock
2 cups frozen peas
1 cup zucchini, small diced
2 cups cooked chicken breasts or half a rotisserie chicken, shredded
(I did the latter this time and used 1/2 dark and 1/2 light meat, using the other half on salads for another meal)
2 teaspoons lemon zest (2-3 lemons)
3 T fresh lemon juice (~1 lemon)
2 cups cooked quinoa
1/4 to 1/2 cup chopped, fresh basil leaves
4 lemon wedges, garnish
Parmesan cheese, optional
2 avocados, optional


1. Heat butter and olive oil over medium heat in medium soup pot. Add onion once melted and cook for 3-5 minutes, until translucent. 
2. Add garlic and stir in herbs de Provence and a couple pinches of salt and pepper once garlic becomes aromatic--about 1 minute in.
3. Add chicken stock, peas, zucchini, chicken, and lemon zest and juice. Stir together, cover, and bring to simmer for 3-4 minutes, adding additional salt and pepper, as needed. Stir in basil.
4. To serve, scoop a couple large spoonfuls of quinoa into bowls and ladle some of the chicken-veggie mixture over top. Top with shredded parmesan, a squeeze of lemon, and diced avocado. 

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Patient Waiting

These dear daffodils are faithfully pushing up through the frozen ground of our front yard as they do every year about this time. I'm so thankful, for they give nod to the warmer, brighter season forthcoming, the one I think we're all longing for at this point. I love remembering that while everything has seemed still and cold and dead since November, these little bulbs have been actively, secretly growing up and out. It reminds me of one of my most favorite passages by Henri Nouwen. I'll share here:

"Active waiting means to be present fully to the moment, in the conviction that something is happening where you are and that you want to be present to it. A waiting person is someone who is present to the moment, who believes that this moment is the moment.

A waiting person is a patient person. The word patience means the willingness to stay where we are and live the situation out to the full in the belief that something hidden there will manifest itself to us. Impatient people are always expecting the real thing to happen somewhere else and therefore want to go elsewhere. The moment is empty. But patient people dare to stay where they are. Patient living means to live actively in the present and wait there. Waiting, then, is not passive. It involves nurturing the moment, as a mother nurtures the child that is growing in her." / excerpt from Henri Nouwen in Watch for the Light

I pray, friends, that we will learn to be a patient, willing-to-wait people. That we would believe that this moment is the moment (for are we promised another?). That we would be a people who dare to believe---in times when our lives don't appear to be very alive nor our hopes realized---that something hidden and good is taking root beneath the surface. Lord, help us wait well. Make us patient and willing and alert to the moments you have given us. And help us to believe that what is hidden will manifest itself to us right on time.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Christmas in Jacksonville | Afternoon at the Beach

Warm enough for shorts and t-shirts (by my standards), windy, noisy with people, freezing water, splashing, Lila hyper and terrified, M. pulled down the beach, lots of laughing: a quick ocean visit but such sweet memories for a December 28 in Florida.