Friday, October 30, 2015

Boo To You!

While I was staying with Mommy's family, there were several times when it was just me and the bigger sisters at home. Mommy was at the hospital all of the time. J-Daddy was there late afternoon and evening. And you know when Mimi is left in charge, the rules get bent a little.

So when Big Sister asked one night if she could bake something after supper. I told her it was fine with me—as long as she cleaned everything up. And I meant I didn't want to wash or wipe one single thing. She agreed and stuck to her end of the bargain. Big Sister picked a recipe she had made before, so she knew what she was doing. 

Poor Little Sister didn't get to eat a cupcake until the next day because her bedtime came before everything was done. She is such a little ray of sunshine, though, and she went on the bed willingly. 

She did remind me promptly the next morning that she was supposed to have a cupcake! She wanted it for her breakfast. After some fast talking, she agreed it would be better for her afternoon snack. (Remember, I said I "bend" the rules—not totally break them!)

I asked Big Sister if she would make a couple of photos when she was done so I could use this recipe here on the blog sometime. She grabbed a couple of decorations off the mantle and staged these pictures. Just right for a Halloween blog post. And they were Devil's Food cupcakes. Couldn't have been more perfect for this holiday! Sometimes luck is better than planning.

The cupcakes were totally yummy! Big Sister is very at home in the kitchen, both the cooking and the cleaning parts. So proud of the young woman she is becoming. 


1/2 cup unsweetened natural cocoa powder
3/4 cup all-purpose flour (spooned & leveled)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup vegetable or canola oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
*1/2 cup buttermilk, room temperature

Vanilla Frosting:
1 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
4-5 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
salt, to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with cupcake liners. Line a second pan with 2 liners--this recipe makes about 14 cupcakes. Set aside.

Make the cupcakes:
Whisk the cocoa, flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together in a large bowl until thoroughly combined. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk eggs, sugar, brown sugar, oil and vanilla until completely smooth. Pour half of the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients; then the buttermilk. Gently whisk—about 5 stirs. Repeat with the remaining wet ingredients and buttermilk. Sitr until just combined. Do not over mix. The batter will be a little thin.

Pour batter into the liners, filling only halfway to avoid spilling over the sides. Bake for 18-21 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool completely before frosting.

Make the frosting:
With a handheld or stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until creamy, about 2 minutes. Add 4-1/2 cups powdered sugar, heavy cream and vanilla with the mixer running on LOW. Increase to HIGH speed and beat for 3 full minutes. Add up to 1/2 cup more powdered sugar if frosting is too thin, or another tablespoon of cream if frosting is too thick. Add a pinch of salt if frosting is too sweet.

Big Sister had written a note on the bottom of the recipe page that said:
*To make buttermilk, place1 tablespoon white vinegar in a 1-cup measure. Fill the rest of the way with whole milk. Let stand 5 minutes.
She did ask me how to divide a tablespoon in half. I told her that a tablespoon equals 3 teaspoons, so she made a half-cup of her substitute buttermilk:  1-1/2 teaspoons white vinegar, plus whole milk to equal 1/2 cup.

Big Sister made these cupcakes look so professional by spooning the frosting into a ziploc bag, snipping off a corner and piping the frosting onto the cooled cupcakes.

Another tip Big Sister learned from her Mimi this time—if you can't find a toothpick (and we couldn't) to check for doneness, press your fingertip lightly into the top of the cake. If it springs back, it's time to take them out of the oven. If a dent remains where you pressed, let it bake a little longer.

Happy Halloween!

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Life Happens (originally titled On The Needles)

I had written this "On The Needles" post a couple of weeks ago with plans to post it during a busy week. Well, that certainly was a busy week. But not in the way I expected. Looking at this post now (it was in my list "to be posted") it reminded me of the quote, "Life is what happens while you're busy making other plans." I always thought that quote was from John Lennon, and he did include the line in a 1980 song. But the quote can be tracked back to the 1950s to Reader's Digest. Remember the Quotable Quotes? And the same words popped up several other times in different publications in the 50s. 

This is not a whine about not getting to do what I wanted to do. Not in the least. It's about life. It's about how life happens. People and real life will always come before "plans." I was so happy that I could help them out. And happy that all is well now. So here is what I was going to post a couple of weeks ago:

Pattern: Grandmother's Favorite
Yarn: Sugar & Cream
Needles: size 7

Yes, in between everything else going on, there has been knitting. What's been on my needles? I made a couple of dishcloths to take to the Cornerstone Retreat in Illinois in a couple of weeks. There is a dishcloth swap for a get-acquainted activity. Wish I'd had time to make a fancier dishcloth, but truly, this pattern is my favorite for washing dishes. Just a good basic dishcloth.

Didn't make it to Cornerstone due to hospital crisis with Baby Girl.

 Pattern: Kid's Fruit Hat
Yarn: Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino
Needles: size 6

And right before the knitting retreat, there is a baby shower at our church. I knit a little newborn size hat for every baby. I have used other patterns, but again, this simple one is my favorite. It's not as showy but it is the most practical. The roll brim lets you roll it up or down to make it fit as the baby grows.

Didn't get to go to the baby shower. Same crisis. But the hat got delivered on time.
Yay! for knitting ahead for once in my life. 

Pattern: Summertide
Yarn: Madelinetosh Tosh Light
Needles: size 6

But you don't want to knit basic and simple all of the time. This work-in-progress is a challenge. It is a mystery knit-along—that means hundreds of knitters from around the globe signed on to knit this pattern that they haven't seen. We only knew it was a shawl. Clues are emailed once a week for four weeks. There is an online forum for lots of chatter. Knitters can help each other along and cheer each other on. It's been fun. The last clue was released last week and I'm behind. This pattern requires attention. It was not one to do while the grandchildren were here last week. And it's not one to take to my weekly knitting group where sometimes there's more talking than knitting. I'll get it done somewhere along the way. Thankfully, unlike the two easy projects above, this one doesn't have a deadline.

Deadline for this mystery KAL is October 31—tomorrow. Won't finish on time. 
It will get done later.

Doesn't matter who said the "life happens" quote. We just know it's true. Let this be a challenge to all of us to pay more attention to the moment—what's happening to us right now. Good and bad.

So now as things are back to normal (at least as normal as life gets), I have a couple of new dishcloths to give to Mommy. I washed a lot of dishes there. She needs some new ones and she'll get the ones I made. Daddy-O dropped the baby hat off at church before the baby shower. And the lace shawl will be finished when it's finished. There are no knitting police.

Here's to rolling with what ever life hands you. Each and every minute of the day. The ones that go as planned and the ones that veer off in another direction. Will I stop planning? Of course not. Plans will be made. And when they change, I'll adjust and keep on keeping on.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

So Good So Easy Soup

 Chicken Tortellini Soup

One of the things I helped with while I stayed at Mommy's was keeping everyone fed. There was so much going on and so much zipping up and down the highway while Baby Girl was in the hospital, that I only cooked easy things. (The next-door-neighbor sent supper one night, too. Bless her.) When I walked into the grocery store down there the first time, I saw that tortellini was "buy one/get one free" and I remembered this recipe.

The soup recipe was given to me by my young friend Holly last year and she told me it was one of their favorites. Her recipe called for homemade chicken stock. Now, I am more likely to make this if I use store-bought chicken broth. So I simmered some vegetables and a bay leaf in the broth-from-a-carton before I continued with the recipe. Close enough to homemade for me!

Big Sister ate the last bowl of this at suppertime (I had made it for lunch) and she declared, "Now there are TWO soups I like!" I know she eats more than two kinds of soup, but I think it is high praise that this recipe made the "I like it" list. Best of all, this is easy enough for her to make. Maybe she'll make the family dinner one night soon.

We had a rotisserie chicken for dinner the night before and I used the last of that for the cooked chicken the recipe calls for. That made it really easy to put together.

       (also called Italian-style Chicken Noodle Soup)

2 (32-oz cartons) chicken broth (that's 8 cups)
a carrot
a large stalk of celery
1/2 a large onion
1 bay leaf
8-oz. cheese tortellini (dried or refrigerated--I used whole wheat Buitoni)
1 or 2 cups of cooked chicken, cut up  (use up what you have)
8-oz. bag flat leaf spinach, thinly sliced (I only used about half the bag)
salt & freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons coarsely chopped flat leaf parsley (I didn't have any)
freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Place broth, carrot, celery, onion and bay leaf in a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer, covered, 30-40 minutes. While broth simmers, stack the spinach leaves and slice into thin "ribbons" and set aside. Grate some fresh Parmesan and set aside. When the broth has simmered long enough, remove the vegetables and bay leaf from broth and discard.

Add the chicken to broth. Return broth to a boil. Add the tortellini and cook as directed on package. Use the lesser time given. Add the spinach and cook for 1-2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Ladle into bowls and garnish with parsley and Parmesan cheese.

I am wishing I had this now that I'm back at home. Despite being an avid hand washer, I came home with a miserable cold. This soup would just hit the spot—if I had the makings on hand.

Take this as a reminder to wash your hands frequently during this winter. Wipe off your cell phone, computer keyboard and remote controls often. And don't forget all of the handles in your house—refrigerator, sink, stove, dishwasher, door knobs, etc. That's about the best thing we can do to stay healthy.

If the cold bug finds you anyway, make this soup!

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Three Hat Crisis

Pattern:  see notes below*
Yarn:  Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino in Slate & Baby Blue
Needles:  sizes 5 & 6, 16-inch circular

When I left yesterday to head home, Mommy said, "It was a three-hat crisis, wasn't it? Glad it wasn't a blanket crisis or a sweater crisis!" In my world, we sometimes measure life by how much knitting I get done. This stay at Mommy's indeed was a "three hat crisis."

Crisis knitting must be simple—something to keep the hands busy, but not requiring so much mental focus. It would have been hard to keep up with a complicated lace pattern during the past two weeks. But I've made so many of these little baby hats that I can do them without pulling out the pattern. Just what I needed while I was helping out while Baby Girl was sick. This kind of knitting takes the edge off the worry. The striped hat was made with the leftovers from the other two hats. Changing yarn every two rounds was just enough to keep that third hat from being boring after knitting the same pattern the third time in a row.

Baby Girl was really sick for a while, but thankfully, she seems to have recovered. Here she is after a few days at home. Walking. Smiling. Just like we wanted to see her.

Baby Girl is wearing a hand knit sweater that was made for her mommy over 30 years ago. I wonder when my Aunt Sis made this, if she was knitting for her pleasure or if maybe she needed to keep her hands busy during some hard time. I love that we are still connected to her, even though these little girls will only know her through this sweater. (Little Sister also wore it a couple of winters ago.)

The following quote specifically mentions a shawl, but the sentiment applies to all of our knitted gifts. Seems appropriate to share it here.
“Given good yarn, good workmanship, and good care, a knitted shawl can outlive its knitter, providing warmth and pleasure to several generations of family and friends.”
― Martha Waterman 

The little hats I knitted are for babies due this winter. Maybe 25-30 years from now, someone will pull them out for another round of wear for another round of new babies. Makes me smile to think about it.

These beautiful colors greeted me as I turned in our driveway yesterday. Fall colors mean cooler weather and a chance to actually use the things I knit all year!

For the knitters among you:  I made all of these little hats from the same yarn. I used a size 5 on the slate color and a size 6 for the blue and the striped ones. The hat knitted on the size 5 needle measured roughly 11 inches inside the rolled brim. The hats knitted on the size 6 needles measured about 12 inches.  I have always wanted to compare the difference when using the different needles sizes. Knitting three hats this quickly let me finally do that. I have made them both ways for newborns.

*Cast on 72 stitches. Join. Knit for 5 inches in the round, and start the decreases. k2tog, k6; k2tog, k5; k2tog, k4; etc. Continue in this manner until there are 5 stitches left. (Switch to DPNs when necessary.) Knit about 4 rows of i-cord and finish.


Wednesday, October 21, 2015

One Of Life's Detours

Life can turn on a dime, can't it? If you noticed that nothing has happened here on the blog lately, it's because lots was happening in real life. Baby Girl has been very sick (she's better now) and spent a week in the hospital. I grabbed a few clothes and zipped down the interstate to help out with the other ones. This is my second week here.

It has been frightening, exhausting and challenging. Things are beginning to get back to normal. I am still here for a few more days, so I likely will not post again until I'm home.

But I did want you to know why I disappeared. And I wanted to share one recipe that Little Sister and I made while the baby was in the hospital. Little Sister was such a helper—as in I had LOTS of help. This recipe is a good one, because it survived many non-standard mixing techniques. And it was still delicious. I am pretty convinced after making it this time that you cannot mess this recipe up.

I couldn't find the beaters to the hand mixer in Mommy's kitchen, so I used the wire whisks. (I know better. I was tired.) Little Sister asked me, "Mimi, why is stuff flying through the air?" That would have been my butter and sugar. You cannot cream butter and sugar with the wire whisk beaters. Mistake #1.

Then the recipe says to alternately add flour and mashed bananas. My little helper dumped all the flour in at once. Mistake #2.

All of these mistakes and the bread was still yummy. It was even the first food Baby Girl ate when she got home from the hospital. Little Sister was sad this morning to discover there was none left for her breakfast. There was none left because I polished it off last night.


1/2 cup butter, softened (1 stick)
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 cups self-rising flour
3 ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 cup chopped pecans (optional)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs and beat. Alternately add flour and bananas (start and end with the flour.) Stir in nuts. Pour into greased 9-inch loaf pan.

Bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour. Remove from pan and cool on a rack. Wrap in foil and let the loaf "ripen" for a day before slicing. (Have no clue why this makes it better, but trust me, it does. It is much more moist.)

This can also be baked in three 5-inch baking pans, to make small gifts. Reduce baking time to about 45-50 minutes.

I should be back home next week, posting more regularly, when I am on my own computer.  Say a prayer that the rest of winter is a healthy one.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Full Bucket

Long, long ago I attended an inservice training and all these years later, I remember the key note speaker's words: "You HAVE to keep your bucket full!" He talked about how many people "dip into our buckets." Kids, spouses, work, volunteer obligations, school, church, family...all of these need something from us. Each time we respond to a need, it's a dip out of our bucket.

He reminded us how important it was for us to keep our own buckets full so that we can continue to help meet all of those needs. When you think you don't have time to do something for yourself, do it anyway. That's when you need it most. Somewhere recently I read that you should, "Spend 10 minutes in nature on the days you have time. Spend 20 minutes in nature on the days you don't have time!" Same kind of thinking.

This weekend was one that filled my bucket up to overflowing. I took a "road trip" last Friday with friends. Just a couple of hours up the road to the mountains for lunch and a little browsing. Then on Sunday I went to see the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain in concert. (That red arrow points to my head. We sat second row center!) Another fun time with a friend and daughter Jessica.

And it's a good thing I filled my bucket up, because in the morning I'm headed out again to help Mommy tend to a sick Baby Girl. As long as she needs me. Hopefully she bounces back quickly like children can do. Glad I am available. And I am glad I am going to help with a "full bucket."

Friday, October 9, 2015


A Jessica-baked treat from last weekend—Reese's Pieces Chocolate Chip Cookies! The plan had been for her to make a popcorn snack from this month's Southern Living. I bought the Reese's Pieces. But when Saturday afternoon rolled around, we discovered that I was nearly out of popcorn. Not enough here to make the recipe.

This is when you gotta love the internet. Just plug your available ingredients into Google and search for a cookie recipe. She found a recipe that sounded good, and more importantly, we had all of the ingredients here. Saturday was when the torrential rains were falling outside. No one wanted to venture out in that to make a trip to the grocery store.

I need to make cookies for the Kairos prison ministry in the next week or so, and these might be my choice this year. They are delicious and they don't crumble easily. That a big consideration when you are packing them to distribute. If you try them, let me know what you think. All I know is that I've eaten too many!


1 cup shortening
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons hot water
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 eggs
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup Reese’s Pieces candy or baking pieces

Cream together shortening, brown sugar and sugar. Add water, vanilla, and eggs, and beat together until fluffy.

Add flour, salt and baking soda and mix until just combined. Stir in chocolate chips and Reese’s Pieces.

Using a medium cookie scoop, form and drop dough onto parchment or silicone mat covered baking sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for 10-12 minutes. Allow to cool on cookie sheet 2 minutes before transferring to wire rack to cool completely.

Makes about 5 dozen cookies

Butter vs Shortening:
Now, if some of you are wondering about using shortening in cookies instead of butter, you can read about the differences here. Butter in cookies certainly tastes yummy. But don't count out these shortening cookies. Butter melts easier and your dough will spread out thinner and give you a crisper cookie. Cookies with shortening don't spread nearly as much, resulting in a thicker soft-baked cookie, which is good for packing. My ginger cookies are made with shortening and I mailed them to Italy when Jessica was studying there and they arrived all in one piece. I like both kinds. For the grandmother often used half butter and half shortening.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Sunday's Menu

For once, I was more focused on the food and family than on the photographs. And that's a good thing. (I realized that I make too many food photos when Little Sister has to "photograph" her food before she eats it.) But this time when we had finished our meal, I was sad that I didn't snap a quick pic to share. So that I'd have one picture for this post, I made the salad photo—after we had eaten half of it!

This was our rainy Sunday lunch. It was all easy cooking. If you are a newer cook, you might pay attention to the recipe times and make a plan so that it all gets done at about the same time. But this is a menu that I want to remember, so I'm making a record of it here.

For Sunday's lunch, I made Bourbon Marinated Pork Tenderloin in the oven, baked sweet potatoes, fried apples, Roasted Asparagus, Romaine & Fruit Salad, and Mayonnaise Biscuits. This menu worked. Most of it was just stuck in the oven. Not much attention needed.

If you are short on oven space, the asparagus could be done in a skillet and it's just as good. And you could use bought rolls (which I would have done if I'd had any.) We said that homemade applesauce (instead of fried apples) would be good, too, and that could be done ahead. Take a minute to think before you cook and figure out what works in your kitchen.

Our ukulele band played at a church last week. After we sang, they served us tomato basil soup and Ham Delights, along with a lettuce and fruit salad (another good menu idea.) Every table had a bowl of this salad on it. We all talked about how good the salad was and wished for the recipe. I decided I'd make a good guess. It's pretty close to what we were served last week.


romaine lettuce, cut into bite-size pieces
fresh fruit, cut up 
bottled sweet vidalia onion dressing

Mix the romaine and fruit. Add the dressing—a small amount at first because you want it lightly dressed. Toss gently. Add more dressing, as needed. Put a pair of tongs with the bowl for easy serving.

Because I was dealing with sinus woes all weekend, I wanted the least work possible. I bought bagged salad and cut it up a little smaller. (My first choice is cutting up hearts of romain, instead of using bagged.) I bought a bowl of fresh fruit at Publix that contained pineapple, strawberries and mandarin oranges. And I used Ken's Steak House Sweet Vidalia Onion dressing.  I'm keeping this in mind for the next covered dish dinner at church.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Rain, Rain, Go Away

Baked Sausage Dip

What a weekend! It has rained non-stop for days now. As of this morning, we've had over 10 inches of rain in four days. (And it's still raining.) As bad as that has been, the midlands and low country parts of our state have had serious flooding. I keep seeing photos from family and friends of water standing in their houses, of tadpoles caught swimming through the house, of backyards deep under water.

While this weather is wreaking havoc on farm work, our house-on-a-hill has not been affected. When Daddy-O rode out in the truck this morning to check the creek and the river, he made a photo of the creek that runs through our pasture. Check last summer's photo against this morning's photo—that's the same spot in the creek. We've had a lot of water, but I think it's almost over.

We were happy to stay indoors all weekend and watch football on television. Now, I had thought about snacks for TV viewing. I didn't have a huge plan, but I bought goat cheese for a Rosemary Goat Cheese Ball that is served with crackers and fig preserves. And it's delicious.

But this weekend, we had a young man in the house. A young man who cooks. I learned that "boy food" snacks are different than my snack ideas. He made a sausage dip that was delicious. Good enough that it could have been my supper. Jessica says every time he makes this, it's a hit with his guests.

It's early in the football season, so tuck this recipe away for future reference. It's a keeper.


1 lb. spicy (or hot) breakfast sausage
8-oz. block of cream cheese, softened
10-oz. can original Rotel tomatoes, drained

Brown sausage and drain. Mix together with softened cream cheese and tomatoes. Put in a 1-1/2 quart baking dish. Bake at 325 degrees for 20-30 minutes, or until hot and bubbly. Let stand a few minutes before serving. (So you don't burn your guests!)

Serve with sturdy crackers.

We enjoyed our weekend visitors and look forward to the next visit. Hopefully, on a sunny weekend!

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Falling Rain...Football...Food


What a day to be under the weather. And there is certainly plenty of "weather" to be under. It doesn't look like we will get the predicted 14 inches. Still, a lot of rain has fallen and it's not over yet.

Fortunately there has been plenty of football on television to keep us entertained today. Sadly, in the first game, Daddy-O's team lost. In the second game, it's not looking good for Boyfriend's team. We don't have any big fans for the third game that will be on later, but that's the college that my dad attended and loved. And that college was my employer for ten years. So I'll pull for the Tigers to win tonight.

Since we are all staying in, I put supper on the stove this afternoon. It can simmer until someone gets hungry. I made a double batch of chili and beans. There will be plenty to put in the freezer (I think) for another game day. Because I knew my energy was low, I chopped the peppers and onions this morning and measured the seasonings. This afternoon, I only had to brown the meat and vegetables and mix it all together. It seems like it's less work when it's done in steps like this.


2 lbs. extra lean ground beef
1 large onion, chopped
1 large green pepper, chopped
1 8-oz. can tomato sauce
1 8-oz. can water
1 tablespoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped (I used the refrigerated jarred kind)
1 teaspoon salt
1 16-oz. can light red kidney beans, drained & rinsed
*1 15-oz. can diced tomatoes

Brown meat, onion and green pepper in large skillet. Put into large Dutch oven or stockpot. Add remaining ingredients. Simmer for 2-3 hours.

*I add a single 15-oz. can of diced tomatoes to the recipe whether I'm making a single, double or triple batch. The original recipe didn't call for this but I thought it needed to look "redder." Other than that, I never stray from the original recipe.

Interesting fact—this recipe came from a 1977 ad for Presto pressure cookers. I found it in the booklet that came with my first pressure cooker and I've been making it ever since. I also won 1st prize with this recipe at our church contest in 2012.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

How Did She Do It?

One day there is going to be an argument in my family. And it will be about my chicken salad. "I KNOW she put pecans in it." (Yes, I did.)  "No. She made it with apples." (Yes. That's correct.) "Well, I'm pretty sure it didn't have nuts or apples. It had pickles." (Yes. You're right.)

I always made it with toasted pecans years ago. Until Big Sister couldn't eat nuts anymore, so I switched to diced apples. I made buckets of it that way last year when I stayed with them in Arkansas so long. Then this summer, I just forgot about using apples all of those times. I still couldn't use pecans, because now Daddy-O doesn't eat nuts. I made it with salad cubes (diced pickles) instead.

When Jessica asked if I'd make more for Boyfriend's birthday, she told me, "Oh...and he doesn't eat pickles." So I went back to nuts for him. By now Mommy has reminded me, "But you always make it with apples!" 

All of the other ingredients always remain the same. It always has celery. It always has cheese. It's that third add-in that I change around. This week, I'm back to the apple version.

To be truthful, I don't measure anything. But then, I've made lots and lots and lots of chicken salad. Just know that you don't have to be precise. And it probably takes more mayonnaise than you think. Just so you know, I like all of these variations.


3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/2 - 1 teaspoon Lawry's seasoning salt (I just give it a good shake)
1 large rib celery, diced fine
1 medium red apple, unpeeled & diced (or toasted pecans or salad cubes)
1/2—3/4 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
sprinkle of salt
a good squeeze of fresh lemon juice
enough Duke's mayonnaise (or other good quality mayo) to make it spreadable

Cook chicken in water with seasoning salt added, until tender, about 40-45 minutes. Let cool in broth, until cool enough to handle. Chop chicken medium-fine. In a large bowl, add in celery, apple and cheese. Add in enough mayonnaise to make it spreadable. I start with 3 or 4 big tablespoons full and stir and then add more, one spoonful at a time, until I get the right amount. (Because chicken breasts and celery and apples are different sizes, it's hard to be precise with a mayo measurement.) Stir until well blended and spreadable.

Tonight I'm eating the very last of this week's chicken salad. Mommy, Big Sister, Little Sister and Baby Girl have been here for a few days while they were on fall break. I made a big batch of chicken salad for sandwiches because everyone likes it. We had fun with them here. The noisy, messy kind of fun that you have with very little people. And today they headed home. So tonight the toys are picked up. The sippy cups are put away. The kitchen is clean. Daddy-O is at a dinner meeting. It's just me and my sandwich and a cup of Zen tea. It's quiet here. It's a little too quiet.

It does feel good to sit still and prop my feet up. But I'll miss reading bedtime stories tonight. I'll miss the early morning snuggles tomorrow. Hope it won't be long until we see them again.