Hey ya’ll! I’ve been at the beach for a nice relaxing vacation this week with my mom and my puppies! I’ve had so much fun and I wish I could stay forever but, unfortunately, we have to go back to reality soon! When me and mama go to the beach, we eat out a lot! We usually have lunch on the beach and come back in around 4:30 or 5:00 to shower and get dressed and go somewhere for supper. Normally, we just have ham or turkey sandwiches. This time, I thought I would do something special so I made Chicken Salad. Pretty much everyone from the South has some kind of chicken salad recipe somewhere. There are a lot of things that constitute as a chicken salad. You can add black beans, corn, and avocado and have a Tex-Mex chicken salad; ginger and sesame seeds and have an Asian chicken salad; you can add broccoli, dill pickles, sweet pickles, pickle relish, peppers, walnuts, pecans, cashews, whatever. Chicken Salad is a very versatile recipe, you can do pretty much anything with it; however, ours is more traditional. Growing up, we had chicken salad a lot but I would never, ever, ever, ever eat it. Something about the way it looked, the thought of grapes in a savory dish, and celery made my skin crawl. But now, I’ve come to really like it, I guess once you live here for long enough you have to eat it or starve! 🙂 Every restaurant makes it, every bridal shower and baby shower has sandwiches made out of it, and every family reunion has globs of it. It’s everywhere!! I’m also going to give you the recipe for Crunchy Romaine Salad. This is a recipe my mom’s best friend gave us and I’m adopting it as my own because it’s so darn delicious that I’m jealous that it isn’t my own! It’s become a favorite in my house but I’ll tell you a little more about that later! And last but certainly not least, I’m going to give ya’ll the recipe for something called Apple Fritter Bread. This is a brand new recipe that I’ve adopted, rearranged, and made my own. My family absolutely loved it and I can’t wait to have some more of it myself!

When I decided that I wanted to make Chicken Salad, I began searching for a perfect recipe. We have a couple in different cookbooks, but I’d never made them before and I didn’t want to make it and waste it because it wasn’t any good. I was looking for something traditional, but easy and delicious. My mom reminded me that my Aunt Linda had an awesome recipe for Chicken Salad that everyone always loves! My Aunt Linda is my dad’s, mom’s sister. So she’s my great aunt. I remember going over to her house when I was a kid. Her and my Uncle Jerrell had huge Emu’s and when we went over there my dad always came home with something called Emu Oil. My Uncle would always give it to him, it smells kind of like banana’s and in my family, we swear it’s the miracle cure to pretty much anything. It’s right up there with lye soap! I loved going to see the birds, my dad loved getting the Emu Oil, and my mom? She loved the chicken salad! So I called Aunt Linda and got her recipe! We spoke about the recipe and she mentioned that it was all in her head and that she didn’t even have a copy of it written down anywhere. It made me think. We really don’t have a lot of this stuff written down. The way my mamaw and Aunt Linda and even I were raised, we didn’t write down our recipes. Our parents taught them to us and we added and took away from them. Our friends told us the recipe and we wrote them down, but we lost them or filed them in places that we don’t remember and it didn’t matter because we had made it so much that we had it memorized. So that is my next goal. I’m going to type up all of my mamaw’s favorite recipes, all of my favorite recipes, my mom’s and my friends and I’m going to bind them. I started a few years ago and gave them away for Christmas gifts to my family members. I think it’s really important for them to be passed down to our kids and our kids, kids. It keeps our family memories and traditions alive!

Anyway, back to the chicken salad! As we were talking Aunt Linda also mentioned that she usually uses her homemade pickles in the Chicken Salad; but that no one has time to make them anymore. I wasn’t thinking and said, “Oh, what a coincidence! I just learned to make my own pickles.” Of course, she meant sweet pickles and I made dill pickles; but, I wasn’t thinking, I was just excited that I was going to get to use my pickles. I was so excited that I made them and that they turned out well. Of course, I should have realized it because my mom told me she didn’t have a recipe for dill pickles and that she only had one for sweet; but excitement got the best of me. Oh well, I made this chicken salad with my homemade dills, which I will be giving ya’ll the recipe for later this week. But, my mom, while she liked the chicken salad, said that it would have been better with sweet pickles. It’s all up to ya’ll though. Since I’m at this condo and we have limited resources, I bought a rotisserie chicken instead of boiling my own. Two things, I thought it was pretty good but could have been better. My mom hates dark meat, so I didn’t use as much as I could have. Second, you can use any kind of chicken. My Aunt even uses the canned chicken when she makes it. She said that she eats it for lunch every day and it’s just easier and cheaper to use the canned. But, you can use the rotisserie chicken, boil your own, or use canned. You can also use turkey! If you do use the rotisserie, there are a few things you want to keep in mind. Don’t use the skin, make sure you scrape it good and don’t get any fat in there. Also, make sure you don’t let any bones slide past you. As I said, my mom hates dark meat so don’t use the thigh or the leg if you don’t like dark meat. There’s nothing wrong with dark meat, it has more flavor and tends to be more moist. This is why my mom doesn’t like it. She is the only person I know that HATES moist chicken! She wants it dry and BURNT! Crazy lady! 🙂

Aunt Linda’s Chicken Salad:

3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts,

1 1/2 cups seedless, purple grapes,

1/2 medium Vidalia onion,

1 cup chopped pecans,

6 dill pickle spears OR sweet (Bread and Butter) pickles spears OR 3 tbsp. sweet or dill pickle relish,

1 cup good quality mayonnaise ( I use Blue Plate),

1 cup celery, chopped,

Garlic powder, salt, and pepper to taste.

Whatever chicken you decide to use, cook it and then shred or chop it. It’s up to you how you do it. I chopped it because I have carpal tunnel and there was no way my wrist was going to let me shred it; however, I like it better shredded a little. Chop your onion, pecans, pickles (if you use spears), celery, and grapes. This is where I changed things up a bit. My mom hates celery as well (the woman is picky!). So I omitted the celery. I also had some green onion that I really needed to use so I threw some of that in there as well. I didn’t chop up the grapes finely, I washed them and sliced them in half. It took a minute but it was worth it! Same as the pecans, don’t do a fine chop on them, just rough them up! Once everything is chopped and/or shredded, add it to a large mixing bowl.

chicken salad 1 chicken salad 2 chopped pickles

Mix it all well enough so that everything is nicely incorporated and you can easily get a bite of everything when you fork it up. It doesn’t take long! Then allow it to chill in the fridge for about an hour or so. I like this on a nice sandwich with creole mustard and Swiss or Pepper Jack cheese. It’s also really good on Ritz crackers.

chicken salad

Forgive me Aunt Linda, I do have a couple of ways that I would like to try it. This is absolutely delicious and ya’ll don’t have to do any of this to make it better! However, in my normal fashion, I always have to change things up. I think mixing half a cup of softened cream cheese with half a cup of mayo would be really good. I would also like to add a little creole mustard, I really love the twang of creole mustard with this. I also like the idea of adding a little shredded pepper jack cheese! These are all things I will try at some point! Thank you so much Aunt Linda for giving me this amazing recipe! I’m so glad, not only to have it, but also because it feels like a piece of family history that I can pass on! \

Now, one of the best salad’s in the whole wide world is coming your way! Get ready for it because you’ll be eating it every chance you get from now till the end of time! It’s fantastic and I’m so excited to tell ya’ll about it. My mom’s best friend Pam Howard gave me this recipe and I don’t know where she got it but it’s a hot commodity in my house! In fact, I’ll tell ya’ll a little story about it! One of my really good friends hates broccoli. He can’t stand it. He’s a grown man, but acts like a kid when you put broccoli in front of him. Literally, he will start gagging like my 8 year old nephew does when I ask him to eat the brown wienies instead of the red. It’s ridiculous. The man is a child when it comes to broccoli. So, I go over to his house a couple of weeks ago and I’m making dinner. I have the salad and dressing already made and I made his plate so he wouldn’t see the broccoli. I know, I’m acting like his mom, but I’m determined to make this man child eat his broccoli. It’s healthy and delicious, he’s 34 year’s old, he should be able to eat broccoli without gagging! I wait until he’s devoured, I mean DEVOURED this salad, ok? I ask him, “Ya liked that huh?” He says, “Yea, even the broccoli was good. I’d eat poop if it was covered in that dressing!” 🙂 So here’s how you do it! And some of the ingredients are a little odd but just do what I say! 😉

Crunchy Romaine Toss:

1 head Romaine lettuce,

1 cup walnuts,

1 pkg. Ramen Noodles,

4 tbsp. butter,

1 bunch broccoli,

4 green onions,

White Wine Vinegarette (recipe below.)

Wash, dry, and chop the romaine lettuce. Chop walnuts, broccoli, and onions.

romaine    green onions

Break up the Ramen noodles and take out the season pack. Place the 4 tbsp. butter in a skillet and allow it to melt. Then add the walnuts and Ramen noodles. Sprinkle a little salt and allow them to brown. It won’t take long and you’ll need to stir it up a bit to keep the ones on the bottom from burning. You just want the noodles to turn a nice golden brown; this is to make them taste crunchy, salty, and buttery instead of like an uncooked hard noodle. You’ll see… I promise!

browned walnuts

The one’s in the picture above, are not all the way done, they needed a couple more minutes. Once they are done though, allow them to cool. You don’t have to drain the butter off but you can. There’s not much to though and it doesn’t make the lettuce greasy. You do want it to cool because if it’s hot and you put it in with the lettuce, the lettuce will wilt. I chop my broccoli very finely, taking the florets, and chopping the stems off of that. Now add the romaine, the broccoli, the green onions, the walnuts, and the Ramen noodles to a bowl. Toss the salad and set it aside.

crunchy romain salad

White Wine Vinegarette:

1 cup vegetable or canola oil,

1 cup sugar,

1/2 cup white wine vinegar,

2 tbsp. soy sauce,

Salt and pepper to taste.

This is easy as pie, you just mix it all together! It looks something like this:

White Wine Vinegarrette

Now this is after it’s separated. The sugar, salt, and pepper goes to the bottom, the vinegar and soy sauce go to the middle, the oil is on the top. Mix it before pouring. The original recipe calls for you to pour it over the salad and toss it; however, I don’t like to do that because some people like more dressing than others. So I keep it in a little jug with a top and let them pour it over their own salads. They will devour it!!

This next recipe is very new to me but I’ve fallen in love with it. Recently, I was craving something with apples and cinnamon, but I didn’t want Apple Pie. I couldn’t figure out what I was craving. I just knew I wanted it to have a cream cheese type frosting and pecans. Little did I  know, I was craving this bread that I had yet to taste! I set out on my trusty Pinterest account to find something to satisfy this craving. I typed “Apple Desserts” into the search engine and sat back to look through the thousands of recipes that popped up. I never thought I would find what I wanted, figuring I would end up  making something up. When I came across Country Apple Fritter Bread I knew I had found THE ONE! 😉 Again, true to form, I wanted to make it my own. I didn’t have a bread pan; however, I had my mamaw’s handy dandy bundt cake pan. The only problem with that was that I was worried that the recipe wouldn’t make enough to fill the pan properly. So I decided to double it. This was my mistake. I should have maybe added a little to it, but definitely not doubled it. Also, I think I’m going to buy a bread pan for the next time I make it. The original recipe for the icing also didn’t call for cream cheese and I didn’t add it; but, I will next time. Here’s the original recipe, I will stick by doubling the brown sugar in it though. It needed a little sweetness. I also added pecans, this is optional. If you don’t like nuts or if you’re allergic, it’s ok not to add them.

Country Fritter Apple Bread:

2/3 cup + 2 tsp. brown sugar (separated) (original recipe only calls for 1/3 cup but, the brown sugar adds a little sweetness and depth that you’ll like),

2 tsp. ground cinnamon, (separated)

2/3 cup + 3 tsp. granulated sugar, (separated)

1/2 cup butter softened,

3 eggs,

2 tsp. vanilla extract,

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour,

2 tsp. baking powder,

1/2 cup milk,

4 apples, peeled and chopped, leaving the core out.

1 1/2 cup roughly chopped pecans.

Glaze:

1 cup powdered sugar,

3/4 cup milk,

1 block softened cream cheese.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and get your pan ready. For me, I melted some butter into the bottom of the pan, sprinkled in brown sugar, granulated sugar, and a few pecans (the batter was poured over this later.) Just make sure the butter or spray covers the pan at least half way up. Now, mix 2/3 cup brown sugar and 1 tsp. cinnamon together and set it aside. Mix apples, 3 tsp. granulated sugar, 2 tsp. brown sugar, 1 tsp. cinnamon together and set that aside as well. In another bowl, beat 2/3 cup granulated sugar and butter together until smooth. I use an electric mixer for this, but you can do it by hand. The electric mixer just seems to mix it better. This is where it gets harder to do it by hand. Add in the eggs, one at a time, only adding the next one after the first one is fully incorporated. Add in vanilla.

apple bread batter

Whisk together flour and baking powder in a separate bowl. Add it slowly, into the egg, sugar, and butter mixture. Once that is fully incorporated, add milk until the batter is smooth and thick.

apple bread batter 2

Now, fold in half the pecans. Pour half the batter into your greased pan. Add half the apple mixture and half the brown sugar mixture to the batter.

apple bread pan 2

Lightly pat the apples and brown sugar into the batter. Add the rest of the batter and top it off with the apples and brown sugar mixture.

apple bread

Pat into the batter lightly and swirl the mixture into the batter using a knife  or spoon. Bake until toothpick comes out clean. About 50-60 minutes. As you can see, mine was pretty full. But I did double it, so yours wont be this full!

apple bread 1 apple bread 2

Now, it’s time to make the glaze. It’s super easy. Whip the cream cheese with an electric mixer, add the confectioners sugar. This could get messy so you want to go slow at first and once most of the sugar is incorporated into the cream cheese, speed it up. Now add the milk and maybe a touch of vanilla. Then pour the mixture over the cooled cake. Mine looked like this:

apple bread cooked

Over time, I spooned the icing that gathered in the middle over the outside to and allowed it to coat the top of the cake. It’s not very pretty at all; however, I think it would have been prettier had I let the bread cool a little longer and used the cream cheese. It was delicious and disappeared like hot cakes! Speaking of hot cakes, this is a great dessert but it also works really well for a breakfast! My nephew ate it for breakfast a few times. Now, I gotta say…. me and my oldest nephew, have a special bond. I love all my nieces and nephews the same. I have special things that I do with all of them. Different kids have different things in common with me. My niece Hazie, loves to go get our nails done. My nephew Jeffery, loves to watch cartoons with me. My niece Addie, loves to read with me. But me and Judd? He loves to cook with me, but most of all… He loves, loves, LOVES to drink coffee with me! I know what you’re thinking… he’s 10!! Don’t worry, it’s decaf and mostly milk and sugar! I like to take him to what used to be Seattle Drip but is now Mocha Mugs and getting him a decaf frappe.

me and my boys getting coffee

But that doesn’t stop me from having a cup of “coffee” and a slice of this Apple Bread with my sweet little dude! He said it was his favorite breakfast ever!

I can’t wait for ya’ll to try these out! I also can’t wait to share my fabulous new recipe with ya’ll in the couple of weeks! It’s something I’m sure I’ve told ya’ll about a time or two. I PERFECTED MY SPAGHETTI SAUUUUUUCCCEEEE!!! Whoo-Hoo!! Can’t wait for ya’ll to read it and let me know what you think! In the mean time, I’m making myself a Chicken Salad Sandwich with a side of homemade dill pickle and going to the beach to enjoy this beautiful day!! Ya’ll have a good one!!

beach day