Tag Archives: pecans

Creamy grape salad and unexpected joy

Wow!!  I came across this recipe for grape salad on Pinterest a few weeks ago.  I was really hungry at the time I think, or it might not have appealed to me at the time.  I am so glad I was open to something unexpected and new, because this salad is a flavorful explosion of textures and sweetness in your mouth.  A virtual party.  One you weren’t sure you really wanted to go to, but felt obligated to attend and then enjoyed staying far too long and having a blast.  Yes, just like that.  It is creamy, slightly nutty, sweet with a little tang from the green grapes and it is just so fabulous.

There is just something about being surprised.  Trying something new, breaking out of your typical role and testing your limits.  For example, this morning was Muffins with Mom at my kids’ school.  I will be really honest and say, I really thought I could do without waking up an hour earlier and corralling the kiddos into getting dressed super early, especially when it is freezing cold outside.  2 of kiddos were on the fence, one flat out did not want to go, and one was insistent that we go.  My oldest.  I really tried to talk him out of it.  I offered McDonald’s for breakfast on the way to school. No dice.  He was definite.  “We’re going mama, it is your special day!!”.  He melted my heart.  10 years old and he still truly, genuinely likes me.  Well…most days.  I could not be happier.  But still, I was reluctant.  This morning, hoping he would sleep in, he woke up and said “mama don’t forget we have to get up early today!”  Deep down I knew that would not work and he would stay the course.  Indeed he did and we ended up going.  I had muffins with my babies.  I am so happy that we went and I rose to the challenge.  To break out of my routine and shake things up.  Same thing could be said for having 4 kids.  I never expected to have 4 kids, much less 4 kids back to back.  To relish the chaos that comes with raising 4 kiddos.  I never expected to start a blog or write a food column.  Yet, wow, here I am.  So many things in life take me by surprise.  I just  have to accept that the unexpected can be fun, delightful, sweet, nutty, enjoyable, and wonderful.  Joy can be in the unexpected places.  You just have to be willing to be open to it.  Just like this grape salad.  ~AMB

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Me and my sweeties…so much of life is unexpected joy.  

Creamy grape salad (adapted from http://www.allrecipes.com)

Stuff you need~

4 pounds green seedless grapes

1-8 ounce block of cream cheese

1-8 ounce container sour cream

1/2 cup white sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

4 ounces chopped pecans (plus more for sprinkling on top)

2 Tablespoons brown sugar (plus more for sprinkling on top)

What to do with the stuff~

Wash and dry the grapes, In a large bowl, combine the cream cheese, sour cream, white sugar and vanilla.  Add grapes and mix until the grapes are well mixed with the other ingredients.  Mix in brown sugar and pecans gently.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.  I sprinkled a little more brown sugar and chopped pecans on top before serving.  Holy moly…get ready for the explosion. mmmmmmmmmmm….

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Unexpected joy indeed.  Oh my the sweet creaminess of it all!!

Sonoma chicken salad and bad days happen…but they don’t last

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Circa December 2008…ages were 5, 3 1/2, barely 2, and 5 months 

Ya’ll see those sweet faces right there?  Oh, that is a picture full of precious isn’t it?  I never thought I would refer to those as the good ole days because in reality they were the days of feeling like I was running through the woods with my pants on fire, being beaten with reids only to slow down long enough to breastfeed a baby, but time has a way helping you forget the crazy and remember the sweetness.  Funny maybe, but so true.  They are really the crazy ole days if I am being honest.  Having 4 kids in under 5 years leaves a mama feeling blessed and a little dazed and confused.  So now we cut to a few years down the road and for the most part we rock along at a nice little pace that works for us.  The kids are all in school, the same school, all day and things usually seem a little less crazy most days.  I feel more in control as a mom most days.  Emphasis on the most here.  And yesterday did not fall under that most umbrella.  Frankly, none of the days this week fall under the most umbrella.  Yeah, it has been a rough week parenting wise.  Maybe it has been the cold weather and the kids not getting a recess at school, but ya’ll they get in the car fighting at 3 and it continues in some form or fashion until they go to bed.  I know.  It happens.  But I finally reached my breaking point yesterday.  I said some things I was not proud of.  I pitched a big ole donkey fit and needed a time out.  It was a doozie.  The sad thing is that yesterday was a great day.  The sun was shining and here is the part you will be interested in, I got the stuff to make the MOST delicious chicken salad.  The same Sonoma chicken salad recipe from Whole Foods.  I ran across it on Pinterest and since I am a sucker for any chicken salad…I had to make it.  So I came home and made some and did a happy dance and fell in love.  It was a lovely beautiful day.  Until we got home.  All heck broke loose.  And no chicken salad in the world could fix that business.  Now, as a blogger, as a friend, as a mom in general I am all about keeping it real.  I love to share the happy successes as a mom.  That is the easy stuff.  But I am more than willing to share my epic failures or my less than shining moments.  I am a big believer in sharing the not so lovely side of motherhood just as I am willing to share the not so lovely side to my shenanigans in the kitchen.  That cake (ok every cake) that comes out not like the picture.  And after I calmed down and I shared and allowed my friends on facebook to normalize my awful mommy moment for me…I remembered…bad moments don’t make bad mommies.  They don’t.  Bad cakes don’t make bad cooks.  So yeah…I have had epic failures as a mom.  And as a cook.  This Sonoma chicken salad was a solid win though.  It is one of the most delicious concoctions that I have ever put in my mouth.  So, today is a new day and that chicken salad is even tastier than it was yesterday.  Sweet, creamy, crunchy, delicious…all you could ever want.  So I am leaving the mistakes of yesterday where they belong and moving forward with this most fabulous chicken salad recipe and I am sharing it with you.  I am more than willing to share my mistakes (if one parent can read this and know they are not alone in her days of frustration as a parent then it is worth the share) , but I am oh so happy to report my successes.  This Sonoma chicken salad falls directly under my WIN umbrella.

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Win!!!

Sonoma Chicken Salad (adapted from http://www.SweetLittleBluebird.com and http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com)

Serves 6

Stuff you need:

For the dressing:

1 cup mayonnaise (I use Duke’s…always)

4 teaspoons apple cider vinegar

5 teaspoons honey

2 teaspoons poppy seeds

kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

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sweet, luscious, creamy dressing 

For the salad:

2 pounds chicken breasts, cooked (I used a rotisserie chicken deboned)

3/4 cup pecan pieces, toasted (I made honey roasted pecans…I will tell you how below)

2 cups red seedless grapes

3 stalks celery, thinly sliced

What to do with the stuff:

In a small bowl, whisk together ingredients for the dressing.  Refrigerate until ready to dress the salad. This can be done up to 2 days ahead of time.

Debone  rotisserie chicken (or cook the chicken breasts until done and then shred)

Combine chicken, grapes, celery, pecan pieces in a medium size bowl.  Pour dressing over this and then stir to combine.  Serve over a bed of spring mix salad greens or between two pieces of bread (12 grain is my fave!!)

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look at those colors…oh mouth watering deliciousness 

To make the honey roasted pecans (Cajun Mama style, i.e. I didn’t google how to do this…I just did it.  lol!)~

Preheat oven to 250 degrees and spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray or line with foil.  Spread pieces or whole pecans all over the cookie sheet.  Drizzle honey over the pecan pieces.  Pop them in the oven until they are fragrant and slightly toasted or about 10 minutes.  Definitely worth the extra effort.

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Honey roasted yum

Southern Chicken salad

So apparently today is National Sandwich Day so the fact that I was already planning to post a recipe for the MOST DIVINE chicken salad under the sun is simply a coincidence.  A wonderful coincidence, but anyway…this chicken salad is heavenly.  I have made it twice in the past 4 days and both batches disappeared in less than 24 hours.  This stuff is magnificent.  Poor Big Daddy, yesterday he calls me after an appointment and says “I think I have my mind set on one of those chicken salad sandwiches”.  I had to say “babe sorry, there is no more”.  The disappoint in his voice was pitiful but he forged ahead and I promised him I would make more.  And I did.  And now it is all gone again.  So just in case I have any fellow chicken salad lovers out there, I figured I would make this hump day/National Sandwich Day an extra special one.  Ya’ll ready for this?  Yeah I figured.

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So pretty, don’t you think?

Southern Chicken Salad (adapted from Debbie Lawrence @ http://drmommyonline.com)

Serves 6

Prep time 10 minutes

Ingredients

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1/2 cup Duke’s mayonaisse (she didn’t specify this…that is mine because its the best! But feel free to use whatever kind you want)

1 teaspoon kosher salt

3 1/2 cups diced, roasted, or boiled chicken

1 cup finely diced celery

1/3 cup chopped pecans (I added about 1 cup total because we really like them)

1/3 cup diced red grapes (again I put more…it makes it even better)

Directions

In a medium sized  bowl, whisk together mayo, lemon juice and kosher salt.  Add in the diced chicken and give it a good toss to let the mayo mixture coat the chicken.  Then fold in pecans, celery and grapes.  That’s it.  Your done.  I served mine on a bakery croissant with a leaf of romaine lettuce.  Perfection!!!

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You want one too, don’t you?