Monday, March 9, 2015

Thrown Together Chicken Salad

We cheated for dinner and bought a couple store roasted chickens. We like to roast our own but the dang grocery store did not have a single whole chicken. Can you believe that? My dinner plans were already made so we gave in and bought the store chicken. Admittedly, it's not all that bad.  But, we had quite a lot of chicken left so I took it all off the bone, saved the carcasses to boil down tomorrow, and used some of the meat to make chicken salad.

My cousin told me about this chicken salad she made a while back and how she fell in love with it. I tried to contact her on Facebook, but she didn't respond right away and I wanted chicken salad RIGHT NOW.  In her defense she lives in the Central Time Zone and I live in Mountain so it was an hour later in her neck of the woods and she has a real job. I'm sure she was already in bed. I'm still hoping she sends me her recipe so I can try it too.  In the meantime I took a moment to chat with another friend about chicken salad. She's quite the chef, so I took all her suggestions to heart, but didn't have most of the ingredients she suggested - tarragon, pecans or walnuts, raisins or dried cranberries... Sigh...  So I took some of what she said and some of my own imagination and created my own.  It turned out pretty dang good.

As usual, this is an use your imagination recipe.  I did not measure anything so I'll be giving you estimates.


Shredded, cooked chicken (I used about two cups)

Two heaping tablespoons of sour cream

Two heaping tablespoons of mayo

Shredded cheese (I used some leftover shredded cheese from my baked tomatoes experience)

Diced cucumber (I used half of a large cucumber)

Diced green bell pepper (I wish I would have used red or yellow to add color but I used about half a bell pepper)

Diced celery (I used one full stock of celery and would have used the leaves had they been in better condition)

Diced dill pickle (I used two baby kosher dills)

Dried minced onion (This one is hard since I sprinkled them in and didn't get to see a pile to gauge size - probably a tablespoon)


After preparation put it all in a bowl and stir - tah dah!  Done!  It's probably best to let it sit in the refrigerator to allow the flavors to mingle and the dried minced onions to soften some. But, it has quite a lot of crunch with all the other veggies in it.

It's super good all by itself. We (my husband, oldest daughter, and me) all had a couple spoonfuls before I put it in the refrigerator to rest.  I ate the crackers in the picture above and it's great on the crackers and the grapes really added to the experience. I'm really excited to try it on bread for lunch tomorrow.  I'm going to have to eat store bought bread, but I think this would be wonderful on a crusty type of bread or even a bagel. Too bad I'm not a bagel fan.

I'm going to have to start having Ms. Grey cook some of these recipes I'm sharing here. She hasn't been doing much cooking lately.  Though, she recently made some fried rice that didn't turn out all that great. After she made hers I had to try and make my own. Mine, surprisingly, turned out better than hers did.  My family ate every bit of it I made and I didn't get pictures.  I'll have to make it again so I can blog about it.

Additional Information
I've made variations of this recipe since I wrote up this post. My family really loves it and have been devouring each batch almost as soon as I make it.  In my latest batch I added those gorgeous dark purple grapes you see in the above picture.  I just cut them into smallish bits and stirred them in. It adds just a slight sweetness to the salad.  Also, I have yet to eat any of this on bread.  I've been eating it on crackers or just by the spoonful.  Our latest adventure with this salad was to cut some avocado slices and add that as a topper to my cracker and chicken salad.  It's so good and I can't get over how much I'm enjoying this recipe.  Now I'll know what to do with my left over chicken from now on.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Rose Apple Tarts

Here's another one I saw while browsing around on the internet. I thought they were absolutely gorgeous and I had to try them. I've tried many things I've found online and none of them have turned out this pretty. None of them.  Of course, these aren't as pretty as some of the pictures I saw online, but these are something I'd be proud to serve to someone who wouldn't "get" my humorous concoctions.

 Here they are before I baked them.  They were so very simple.


Apples - halved, cored and then thinly sliced

Sugar - about 3 tablespoons

Water - about 3 tablespoons

Cinnamon - about 1 teaspoon

Pie crust


Cut your apples in half (I used three medium sized apples. I don't remember what kind they were but they were similar to Gala apples.  They didn't have the dark, solid red color on the skin. The next batch I'll try will be with the redder apples.)  Cut the cores out of your apples. It's a little harder to get them out of half an apple than a quarter of an apple, but I managed.  Then slice each half into fairly thin slices.

Put the apple slices into a pot and add the sugar, water and cinnamon.  Cook for a couple minutes so the apples become slightly soft.  I added honey to my cooking apples.  You could probably substitute the sugar for honey.

When the apples have softened remove them from the juice and allow them to cool a bit.  This is a good time to roll out your pie dough.  I used pre-made dough I got on sale at the local grocery store but I rolled it out a little thinner than what they wanted me to use.  Then I cut it into strips. I used a pizza cutter and it was easy to get a semi straight line through the dough.

Then all you do is lay out your apple slices along the strip of pie dough. Be sure to overlap half of your apple slice with the next slice.  Do this for the length of the pie dough strip and then roll up.  You'll have a pretty rose like flower. (Yep - that simple.)  I left a little dough on the end that wasn't covered with apple so I could pinch it together with the rest of the dough to make a seal.

What you do next is completely up to you.  I spooned the left over apple water onto my tarts and baked them in a 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes.  I do believe you'd be better off setting your temperature at 400 degrees and checking them in 15 minutes.  The syrup I added to them made them stick to the paper baking cups. Keep that in mind when you do this. I still haven't worked out how to prevent that.  You could probably add an apple crisp topping, nothing at all, or sprinkle them with sugar and cinnamon or honey.  Use your imagination. They were tasty the way I made them, just a bit of a challenge to get out of the paper.

This is what they looked like after they were done baking.

Then I tried something different.  I'm into pie for the crust, so I took some food coloring and colored one side of the pie dough. (I didn't do both sides because I didn't want to stain my cutting board.)  Then I cut out pieces that were similar in shape to the apple slices and layered them onto a strip of dough I'd sprinkled cinnamon and sugar on.  These aren't nearly as pretty as the apple ones and I probably shouldn't have shown these off at all.  But, if this is something you were considering doing, you'll have my experience to help you decide how to go about it (differently).  They were actually a little doughy in the middle.  These I did bake on 400 for about 20 minutes. The one on the bottom right got squished and the top two my oldest daughter sprinkled with cinnamon right before baking.

All in all this was a fun project I did with my five-year-old. She loved making them so much she even proclaimed, "This is the BEST DAY EVER!" when I pulled them out of the oven. That made the day one of the best days ever for me.

I've made these again, but this time I used redder apples, put them on a bottom crust and in a pan and THEN I added a crumble made of brown sugar, oats, butter, and flour on top.  The picture I took before I put the crumble on top is really pretty, but the crumble obscures the pretty roses.  They are currently in the oven as I update this. I will post a finished photo when they come out of the oven if I remember.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Baked Zucchini

Please forgive the bad lighting in the picture.  Not only did I not have the best lighting, the main items in the picture are green - the zucchini and the olive oil.  This is a before baking picture and I forgot to take an after picture because we were all excited to try them and they were plated before I even thought about the after picture.  They were very similar in appearance after baking.

This is another recipe I just threw together. I'm sure there is one out there that might even be exactly what I did, because these turned out pretty good.  Everyone liked them.

I grow zucchini every year because it's almost a guaranteed harvest and they get so big. It's so fun to go pull a gigantic zucchini out of the garden.  Still, I've never been a huge fan of zucchini in anything but grated into small tasteless pieces mixed into a cake bread.

That's until I've come across some in meals eaten out over the past year or so.  I finally decided to give zucchini another try in my own kitchen. The baked tomatoes (if you're interested in the baked tomatoes you can click here to be taken to that blog post) I made recently were a great hit so I decided to try a similar approach to the zucchini. I wasn't disappointed with the results and neither was my family. I'm certain I'll try this again and I will probably try several different variations on this recipe.  But, for now, I will tell you what I did with the zucchini you see in the picture above.

Smallish zucchini peeled and cubed

Olive oil

Balsamic vinegar

Minced Garlic

Salt & Pepper to taste

I peeled and cubed two smallish zucchini and placed them into a baggie with some balsamic vinegar. I let them marinate for about half an hour before I put them on a foiled cookie sheet.  Then I drizzled them with olive oil, sprinkled on some minced garlic and salt and pepper.  Then I baked them in a 400 degree oven for 20 minutes.

They were flavorful and tender after they were cooked.  I will be doing this one again. Except, I might omit the balsamic vinegar with my next try just to see what it tastes like without the extra tang.