Homemade Chicken Salad.

If I ate less chicken salad, I’d probably be wealthier.  If I walk anywhere near a deli counter, or a sandwich shop, or a brunch menu with chicken salad on the menu, it’s game time.  Part of the reason I love going home so much (other than of course seeing my parents, hi M+D) is because my dad always has a container of chicken salad chilling in the fridge.  I. Love. Chicken. Salad.

It’s a bit surprising, then, that I’ve never actually made it myself.  I was in New York a few weeks ago, eating a chicken salad sandwich on a fresh, delicious sesame seed bagel with my sister-in-law, and she mentioned that sometimes she made chicken salad for herself.

This was an earth-shattering revelation.

For some reason, I have always assumed that magical chicken salad makers just lived at the deli/grocery store/farmer’s market, just waiting for their opportunity to hop me up on too much mayo.

But no.  I could make this delicious, addicting, amazingness myself.  So I did.

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Homemade Chicken Salad

  • 2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
  • for the poaching liquid:
    • fresh herbs (I used some thyme)
    • 1/2 onion
    • 3 garlic cloves, smashed
    • salt
    • water
  • 2-3 stalks celery, washed and chopped
  • 2-3 green onions, chopped
  • handful parsley, chopped
  • about 1/2 cup mayo
  • about 1/2 plain Greek yogurt
  • about 2 cups red grapes, sliced
  • juice from 1/2 lemon
  • salt + pepper to taste
  • optional: handful toasted nuts
  1. Add chicken and all poaching liquid ingredients to a pan and bring to a full boil.  Turn down the heat and poach gently for about 10-12 minutes (the chicken should be white all the way through).
  2. While the chicken cooks, prep your veggies and grapes and place in a large-ish bowl.
  3. Remove chicken from the poaching liquid when done; discard liquid + contents.  Let chicken cool a bit, and then cut into little cubes.  Add to the veggies.
  4. Add mayo, yogurt, lemon, salt and pepper.  Mix thoroughly and taste – add whatever’s missing.
  5. Put your delicious, amazing salad between two pieces of toasted bread, a slice of red onion, and a large Romaine leaf.  Fall in love.

The Verdict:

HOW WAS THIS THE FIRST TIME I MADE THIS!?!?!?!

Sausage and Veggie Calzones

Tomorrow, Husband and I are jetting off on a very big vacation.  For me, vacation means eating, drinking, and eating some more.  Husband is a little more taken with hiking and outdoor things.

However.  This vacation is my kind of vacation.  Destination: London and Paris.  In other words, by this time tomorrow, I will be chowing SO MANY baguettes.  (OK, to be technical, by this time tomorrow I will be drinking wine courtesy of Virgin Airlines.  But I digress).

Of course, we had to practice our eating, so last night, I made these calzones.  Just to forewarn: this is quite an endeavor – almost two hours.  But this recipe makes so many that unless you’re a member of the Duggar clan (YIKES), you’ll have leftovers, which you can freeze.  Which we have, and will eat the second we get off our return flight to DC.

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Sausage and Veggie Calzones

  • 2 pounds premade pizza dough, brought to room temperature
  • olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large onion, chopped and divided in half
  • 1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • salt, pepper, crushed red pepper
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • large handful fresh basil
  • 8-10 sprigs fresh thyme
  • about a pound (4 or so links) hot Italian sausage
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • shredded mozzarella cheese
  • about half a pre-washed bag of arugula
  1. Heat a medium saucepan over medium heat and add olive oil.  Add half of the diced onion, cook down a few minutes before adding garlic and tomato paste.  Cook down another few minutes and add tomato, salt, pepper, crushed red pepper, and sugar.  Stir together and cook for about ten minutes.  Add basil and thyme and keep the sauce warm over low heat.
  2. As the sauce cooks, prepare your filling.  Heat a large skillet over medium heat, add olive oil and the other half of your diced onion.  Cook down a few minutes and add bell pepper, salt, pepper and some crushed red pepper (after all, we like it spicy around here).  Cook for a few minutes before removing sausage from casings; make sure to break it up in the pan.  Cook until the meat is completely brown.
  3. Divide your (room temp!) dough into eight sections and roll each out on a lightly floured surface – so they’re about 6 inches across and as close to round as they’ll get.  Let’s be honest: this is the hardest step.  Because my kitchen is tiny, I found it helpful to layer the rolled out rounds on a plate between sheets of parchment paper.
  4. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and assemble the calzones: top each pizza dough round with a layer of sauce, sausage mixture, a sprinkling of mozzarella, and a small pinch of arugula.  Fold over and crimp the edges of the calzone together.
  5. Bake at 450 degrees F for 25 minutes and serve with an additional spoonful of sauce (and some salad, let’s keep it healthy!).  If you want to freeze any calzones – pull them out at the 15 minute mark, let them cool completely, and then wrap in aluminum foil before placing in a ziplock bag in your freezer.  To reheat, bake the frozen calzones at 400 degrees F for 20 minutes.

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The Verdict:

We love our calzones/stromboli around here – the Husband is a pro.  But as he carefully admitted last night, “these gave [his calzones] a run for his money, and that money is still running.”

PS: I won’t be posting for the next week or so.  There are just TOO MANY baguettes to chow!

Slow Cooked Roast Beef

Today is my husband’s birthday.

I sometimes give him a hard time on here for being a picky eater (who doesnt’ like fish?!), or for boiling an entire box of pasta and calling it dinner, but the truth is, I am an obscenely lucky woman to be married to him.  Not only is he deeply kind, hard working, funny, and handsome (in fact, he is dark, tall AND handsome!), he is also quite handy in the kitchen. And not just for getting down the pots from the hard-to-reach cabinets: the man can cook, especially when it comes to the crockpot.

In honor of his birthday, a recipe developed entirely by my main squeeze.

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Slow Cooked Roast Beef

  • about two pounds rump roast (or other meat you can cook for a long time to make tender)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 6-8 sprigs of fresh rosemary or thyme
  • about 4 cups of beef broth
  • for the spice rub:
    • 1-2 tablespoons Italian seasoning
    • 1 tablespoon crushed red pepper
    • 1-2 tablespoons chili powder
    • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
    • 1 tablespoon onion powder
    • salt, pepper
  • for serving sandwiches:
    • good rolls
    • a little bit of sour cream, mixed with freshly prepared horseradish
    • spicy arugula
    • mustard
    • cheese of your choice (Husband notes: “A purest would use provolone.”)
  1. Mix all of the spices together in a small bowl and then rub them into the roast, making sure all sides are covered.  Season generously with salt and pepper.
  2. Pour enough beef broth into a crock pot for about a 3/4 inch bath; add onions, garlic, about half of your rosemary/thyme, and a dash of crushed red pepper.  Add the roast in the middle, top with additional rosemary/thyme.
  3. Cook on the low setting for about 8 hours.  Remove and let rest a few minutes before shredding to assemble into sandwiches.  Serve with your choice of delicious toppings.

The Verdict:

An easy-to-make, hearty, and tasty meal that makes tons of leftovers.  My husband advises you “chow yours with a side of potato chips, preferably Utz or Cape Cod.”  In other words, a Bostonian meets a Philadelphian, and they live happily ever after.

Pea & Asparagus Soup with Poached Egg

If you’re a regular reader around here (which, obviously I hope you are) you know I get a special thrill every time I bust out the immersion blender.  Now that it’s spring, though, that little wonder machine has been sitting in the back of the cabinet, awaiting fall, while I luxuriate in all things fresh and seasonal and NOT canned.  (Side note: I know people enjoy summer time soups.  I do not understand this.  Let’s be real: cold soup is just…cold.)

UNTIL – I happened to spot some beautiful fresh spring peas at Trader Joe’s the other week, and then happened to notice this recipe in Cooking Light.  This is a seriously delicious (and healthy!) soup..and a perfect excuse to use my trusty immersion blender once again.

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Pea & Asparagus Soup with Poached Egg

  • 1 or 2 pats unsalted butter
  • 3 leeks, white and green parts only, thinly sliced
  • 4 cups high quality chicken stock (use vegetable if you want a veggie preparation)
  • 2 teaspoons fresh chopped thyme
  • salt, pepper, crushed reds
  • 10 oz fresh peas
  • 1 bunch fresh asparagus, trimmed and chopped
  • a big handful parsley, divided
  • optional: olive oil, green onions
  • for the eggs:
    • cold water
    • pinch salt
    • about a tablespoon white vinegar
    • 2 eggs (or however many you’re feeding)
  1. Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat; add sliced leeks and cook about 5 minutes, until nearly translucent.  Add stock, thyme, crushed reds, a pinch of salt and pepper and bring to a low simmer.  Add asparagus, cover and cook about 3 minutes, and then add fresh peas.  Cook about a minute, then add parsley (you can include the stalks, which will give it an additional pop of green!).
  2. Blend soup until smooth with a traditional or an immersion blender.  Season to taste and then return to low heat while you prep your eggs.
  3. Bring about an inch of salted water to a boil in a small pot.  Reduce heat to a simmer, add vinegar, and slowly/carefully add your eggs.  Cook about 3-4 minutes, or until the white of the egg firms up around the yolk.
  4. Ladle your soup into bowls and (carefully) add your egg.  Top with parsley, additional cracked pepper, and if you like, some olive oil and/or green onions.  Break that yolk open and enjoy the bounty.

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The Verdict:

Husband, who is not a fan of eggs (I married him, but do not claim to understand him), gobbled this up and went for seconds.  Needless to say, we were both bummed when this only made enough for one more (lunch) meal.  Make this.  I promise you will not regret it.

Homemade Chicken Soup.

Today was a day of reckoning.

I’ve never made honest-to-goodness chicken soup.  Crockpot soup, immersion blender soup, roasted vegetable soup, sure.  But the kind of soup my mom made when I was sick as a kid?  That kind of soup is sacred territory, the kind only a mom knows how to traverse.

Then, the Husband woke up with the cold I had all last week.  And despite ribbing him occasionally on the interwebs, I think I’m a pretty good wife/dance partner/roommate.  After all, he deserves that – he’s a pretty good husband/dance partner/roommate, too.  So I busted out the recipe book I received for my bridal shower – full of handwritten recipe cards from the best moms I know: mine, my husband’s, my surrogate aunts (aka my mom’s besties), and my husband’s aunts.

This chicken soup was inspired by my mom’s BFF, J – in fact, inspired (but not duplicated) by her mom’s recipe.  I’m not even going to wait to give the verdict on this one: it.was.awesome.

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Homemade Chicken Soup

  • olive oil
  • s&p
  • 2 large bone-in chicken breasts, skin removed
  • 6-8 cups chicken broth (or water)
  • 4 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 large onion, roughly chopped
  • 3-4 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 3-4 bay leaves
  • 10 or so sprigs fresh thyme
  • large handful whole black peppercorns
  • about 5 stalks fresh parsley, plus more for serving
  • 3-5 slices fresh jalapeno (depending on your level of tolerance for heat)
  • juice from 1/2 lemon
  • 1/2 package long noodles
  • optional: Parmesan cheese, fresh spinach, escarole
  1. Heat olive oil in a large Dutch oven.  Season the chicken with salt and pepper and then sear on both sides, about 3 minutes each side.  Add enough stock/water to cover the chicken and bring to a boil.  Strain the grayish top layer that appears (will make your broth less cloudy).
  2. Add onion, carrots, celery, jalapeno and all herbs.  If you’re feeling fancy, tie them together to make a little bouquet garni – this will make it easier to remove it at the end.  Reduce heat to medium low and cook until chicken is done, about an hour.  Every so often, strain the top layer again.
  3. Remove the chicken and set aside to cool.  Remove the herbs and discard.  (Make sure to taste your broth and season accordingly!)  Shred the chicken from the bone and add the meat back to the pot.  Add a spritz of lemon and stir.
  4. Boil water for pasta and cook according to directions; place a small amount at the bottom of large individual bowls.  Ladle the soup over the pasta and serve with additional fresh parsley.  Feel your sinuses open up for a brief, glorious moment.

IMG_3242The Verdict:

See above.  J, I hope I did you proud.