22 June 2012

Chicken, Cherry, and Crouton Summer Salad

Now that we are into the Summer season, I find that I want my dinners to be lighter and not require very much oven time, but still need to make sure I don't find myself staring into my refrigerator a few hours later because I am still hungry! I came across the original recipe for this salad while perusing Epicurious for Summer Salads/Main Course Salads. I loved making it as much as I did eating it, so wanted to share it! For those of you who like to do things by the book, here is the link to the recipe! I decided I was less interested in making the Pan-Roasted Chicken Thighs, that the recipe calls for, and instead snagged a rotisserie chicken on my way out of the grocery store. And also, instead of searching for butter lettuce, I used the romaine that I already had. For a single girl with a busy week it is usually better to figure out a more realistic way to prepare dinner! So, here is my version:

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
3 tbsps Spicy Brown Mustard (Use Dijon like it calls for if you have it, this is just what I had in the refrigerator. I think it made for a great substitute though!)
couple of pinches of Dill (I didn't have fresh, but felt that dried was just as tasty)
2 tbsps honey
1 garlic clove, minced, aka, a small spoonful of the minced garlic in a jar (i love garlic, you may not, add as much as you prefer)
1/4 cup olive oil
Kosher salt & pepper

—whisk all of the ingredients together and set aside. This made more than I needed for my salad, but it is so good you may want to make a bigger batch and store in the refrigerator for future salads!

Olive Oil
Kosher Salt

—The original recipe called for pan-frying in the leftover chicken fat. Again, no doubt that tastes amazing, but to keep it a bit more healthy and because I was not making the chicken portion, I stuck with good ole olive oil. Heat a thin layer of olive oil in a pan. Slice the baquette in a few slices that are roughly an inch thick. Cube the slices down into bite-sized pieces. I got about 6 out of each slice. Pan-fry until browned on the majority of the sides. Season with salt and set aside on a paper towels to drain.

To prepare:
Chopped Romaine
Chopped/Shredded Chicken

Combine the chopped romaine, chicken, and cherries. If you don't have a fancy cherry pitter, just take a knife and cut close to the pit and then you can wedge the pit out. The final result of the cherries in the salad is to be crushed so keeping them perfect is not necessary. Toss in the croutons and the dressing and you are done!

20 June 2012

Summer Solstice

The Summer Solstice is happening today. The longest period of daylight this year. Makes sense why it is believed to bring inspiration and spiritual insight. More time to reflect, maybe? More time to be open to it? For whatever reason, I find the comfort in imagining that point of shift. That peak where the day almost stops just long enough to hang on, and then follows course to keep moving. The reminder that there is always movement, even if we feel we will never get past where we are, is refreshing. Recently I crossed from the second year of E's passing, into the third. I can say the first year felt like eternity. Most days felt so heavy because they were coupled with grief and feeling lost, that I wasn't sure I would make it out of that hole. This past year has turned out to be the year of learning how to live again. How to live alone again, how to live within that transitional balance of wishing to still be in one place while being pushed forward into another, learning how to let go in order to let new things in. How to allow more days in that did not involve grief, learning who I really am and how to live a more authentic life. I expect all that learning will begin to shift into actually living again as I move into the third year. I wrote in my first blog about this loss that "Life doesn't stop for anything....We either jump back in or we watch it race by from afar. We are not promised tomorrow, so I suppose it is better to find a way to jump back in." Well, I did. I still am. I feel I am at my own peak of sorts—able to stop a bit and reflect on the stretch I have traveled—and then keep following the course that is already set out for me. Knowing that I have more strength, and experience, and understanding of love, to carry with me. That there is a purpose worth pursuing. And that connection is at the root of it all.
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