Friday, April 8, 2011

Chicken Salad Avocado Boats

That's not actually what Emeril calls them, but that's what they look like to me.  I made my version of this recipe, technically called Chicken Salad with Fresh Herbs, for lunch yesterday and it was f-a-b-u-l-o-u-s.  I found this recipe in my Food Network Magazine in the April edition of this year.  David's not a fan of cold salads...or, this was all on me.  My mom came to my house and we shared this dish...and we both loved it.  When she was leaving, she told me, "THAT'S definitely a repeat." 

Chicken Salad Avocado Boats
adapted from Emeril

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Salt and Pepper
2 tbsp olive oil
1 cup mayonnaise
5 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 tsp dijon mustard
1/2 cup finely diced celery stalks
1/4 cup chopped celery leaves
1/3 cup finely chopped red onion
3 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1/2 tsp celery seeds
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
2-3 avocados, halved and pitted

Preheat the oven to 400 degress.  Rinse the chicken briefly under cool running water, then pat dry with paper towels.  Season on both sides with salt and pepper.

Heat the olive oil in an oven-proof sauté pan over high heat.  Add the chicken and cook 2 minutes.  Turn the chicken over and immediately place the pan in the oven.  Roast for 15 minutes.  Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the mayonnaise, garlic, mustard, celery, celery leaves, red onion, parsley, celery seeds and cayenne pepper.  Mix well.

When the chicken is cool enough to handle, cut into a 1/2-inch dice.  Add it to the mayonnaise mixture and mix well. 


If not serving immediately, transfer to the refrigerator to chill.

Serve in avocado halves.  Enjoy!


Are you interested to know what ingredient I used up with this recipe?  Mayonnaise.  Now, if I can use up at least one ingredient with every meal I prepare, then maybe I won't have 15 boxes of food to move...

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Take a Walk on the Orient...

Or something like that.  I'm currently in the mode of "use up everything within this kitchen" since we'll be moving in less than one month.  It's official, our move date will be May 6th...and today is April 7th.  Can we say YIKES?!  One of David's favorite meals to prepare himself (which does happen from time to time) is General Tso's Chicken.  This means I have a few oriental oils, seasonings, etc. in my cabinets. 

Luckily, I was able to use up one of the bottles of oil with dinner last night.  And dinner was SO good.  When I saw that the PW had posted this recipe last week, I knew I had to try it soon.  Rather than prepare rice noodles with these Beef and Peppers, I decided to give PW's Sesame Noodles a go.  This was a good decision.  Honestly, how could a meal that starts out with the ingredients looking this good go bad?

Try these recipes today!  Below, I've shared the links to the original tutorials and printables.  Good and good for you...which you can't always say about PW recipes...

PW Beef with Peppers

PW Simple Sesame Noodles

The Forgotten Garden

I have mentioned recently that I've been in a reading funk.  Everything I've read has been pretty mediocre with no real winners.  The last couple books I've read were good, but I really hope this book has broken my cycle.  The Forgotten Garden.  It was really, really good.

I don't want to give too much information away about this story, but I'll give you the basic set-up.  Nell Andrews learns on the night of her 21st birthday that she's not who she thinks she is...her father informs Nell that he found her on a ship dock when she was a small girl.  At the time Nell didn't know who she was or how she got they just raised her as their own.

This story is written in three different time periods... #1 the story of what actually happened before Nell was discovered on the dock, #2 the story that Nell is trying to piece together years later and #3 the story that Nell's granddaughter finishes solving because Nell died before ever finding the truth.

There were times when I became frustrated with reading in the section of #3.  From the point of view in #1, everything is very fascinating and intriguing and the other two sections can drag at times.  However, I loved the story.  There's a good twist at the end that I didn't see coming and was glad occurred. 

If you're into historical fictions, mystery, intrigue, familial betrayal, a good dose of weirdness and innocent hope, this is a good one to read!  So far, both people I know who have read this loved it!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Widow of the South

I have a few books to review before I can start reviewing the books from my personal challenge made earlier this week.  The Widow of the South was an audiobook I picked up a few weeks ago at the library book sale.  The backcover was intriguing and the more I listened, the more interesting this story became.  Classification for this book is somewhat difficult because it's considered fiction...however, the basis of the story is true. 

The basic gist of this book concerns the life of Carrie McGavock.  Mrs. McGavock's house was converted into a hospital by the Confederate army during the Civil War...specifically during the Battle of Franklin.  This was one of the bloodiest battles of the war and many, many men were brought to the Carnton Plantation, the McGavock household. 

Carrie is not a perfect woman, but she has a soft spot for the numerous men that are wounded and die within her household.  There are descriptions within the book that are astonishing, it's no wonder McGavock has a hard time not getting attached.  For example, amputations occurred upstairs and it is said that the pile of limbs thrown from this window reached that second story window before the house was turned back over to the McGavocks.

The incredible thing Mrs. McGavock did at the end of this novel is this...  Rather than letting someone plow over the dead bodies buried in the spots where they died on the battlefield, she had them moved to her her own personal cemetery.  From there, she tended the graves and corresponded with the mens' families for the next 40 years of her life.  Incredible. 

A lot of historical literature is quite dry.  And though this is not truly historical...there were a lot of holes in the documents and historical files so Hicks had to piece bits together...I would still consider this a good historical narrative.  Robert Hicks does a very good job of melding facts and patching holes in information so that the story weaves well.  I would definitely recommend this book if you're looking for a true (to a point) tale that you don't hear every day. 

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

"Regular" Pizza

Last week I made pizza.  Twice.  The PW basic pizza crust makes two crusts, therefore we always have pizza twice in one time frame.  When it came around time to make the second pizza, I intended to make this one.  David loves it (what man doesn't love BBQ?), but I guess he's tired of it...he asked for "regular" pizza.  Even in my short period of being married, I know this is one of those times when you're supposed to read your spouse's mind.  And if you get it wrong, there are dire consequences.  So, rather than guess at what "regular" pizza is, I asked him to drop by the grocery store on his way home from work that day and get "regular" toppings.  This made for a very happy husband, toppings-wise. 

Now, the challenge was to find the perfect pizza sauce.  I had the crust and toppings, but what to smack between them?  I found this recipe by simply googling "pizza sauce" and perusing the search results.  This is from the website.  I tweaked it a tiny bit, but the result was quite tasty. 

Regular Pizza

To start, prepare a pizza crust.  Here (scroll to the bottom of the page) is my ol' standby and it comes out perfect every time.  Good ol' P-Dub.

Now for the pizza sauce...

Exquisite Pizza Sauce
modified from

1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
6 fluid ounces warm water
3 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tbsp honey
3/4 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp dried marjoram
1/4 tsp dried basil
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
salt to taste

In a small bowl, combine tomato paste, water, Parmesan cheese, garlic, honey, onion powder, oregano, marjoram, basil, ground black pepper, cayenne pepper and salt.  Mix together, breaking up any clumps of cheese.

Sauce should sit for 30 minutes to blend flavors.  Spread over pizza dough and prepare pizza as desired.

So are you prepared to see what David considers "regular" pizza?  Well, we start off with some yummy veggies...

I would have been happy to pile on the cheese at this point...but, my "something's gotta die" husband had to add some meat.  He decided instead of sausage to slice up some cooked brats to go alongside some pepperoni.

But, hey...I didn't realize this until after I'd already piled them on.  David did try to be a little healthy in that he purchased turkey pepperoni.  It was quite good, actually!

Here's the final product after I baked it at 400 degrees until the crust browned and cheese melted (approximately 20 minutes).

Can we say yum??  This "regular" pizza will be making a repeat appearance around this house soon!  Try out the crust and sauce.  Both are scrumptious, then load up your favorite toppings!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Personal Challenge

Due to our move, I will be spending the next month packing a lot of my house down.  As of this past Thursday at 5pm, I became unemployed.  This is all in preparation for the official move, but I know I will eventually get tired of packing things up and determining what to purge...

As you already know, I love to read...and when attending my book club, I have a tendency to grab a lot of books.  The amount I currently have borrowed from the club is a little insane.  So, I'm challenging next book club is on April 22nd...the same day that this wonderful movie will be released, based upon one of my absolute favorite books! 

Before I go any further...if you haven't read this book yet, pick it up today!  It is f-a-b-u-l-o-u-s!

OK, back to my challenge to myself is to finish all of my borrowed books by my next book club.  It's not like I don't have some extra time on my hands.  Do you want to join me?  Here's what I've got...

  • Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin (this is becoming a movie this summer too!)
  • Something Blue by Emily Giffin
  • The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
  • the entire Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins
  • Sleeping Arrangements by Madeleine Wickham
  • A Woman In Berlin by Anonymous
  • Shanghai Girls by Lisa See
  • Identical by Ellen Hopkins


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