Roast Chicken Waldorf Salad

Roast Chicken Waldorf Salad | Brittany's PantryI will be the first one to admit that I have not always been a Waldorf salad fan.

The Waldorf salads of the 70′s and 80′s usually contained WAY too much celery (not my fav), nuts (which I generally avoided unless it was in a dessert), and were often completely tasteless.  A mayonnaise-y covered fruit blob.  If any of you have been to a church, neighborhood, or sport team pot luck dinner, then you know ex-ACTLY what I am talking about.  You could usually find it right next to the lime green jello with the carrots shredded on the top and beside the macaroni salad.  Mm mmm, right?

*shudder*  Not always good eats.

However, several weeks ago, I started thinking about those traditional Waldorf salads of my youth and imagined it as more of a really good chicken salad with all the Waldorf elements.  I took to the kitchen and this recipe was the result.  My first attempt came out so well I didn’t change anything and it was so darn good, I couldn’t keep my hands out of the bowl.  The second time I made it I served it to company, hoping to use them as my test subjects and glean some sort of constructive criticism from them.  I was not prepared for the first clean plates and shouts for seconds to come from the kids table.  They inhaled it.  I knew it was good, but I was trying to be objective.  No need.  The only complaint was that I didn’t make enough.

And so, our new favorite summer dish was born!  My aversion to celery has faded over the years and the added crunch of walnuts is no longer something I avoid, so both have modest but suitable amounts in this dish.  The tangy and slightly sweet dressing is light and meant to just coat the ingredients, not overload or weigh them down.  The addition of some plain yogurt, an ingredient I always have in my kitchen and a natural addition for me to add to this salad, lightens up the richness of the mayo and pairs OH so well with the fruit!  As a one dish summer dinner, it just can’t be beat.
Roast Chicken Waldorf Salad | Brittany's PantryRoast Chicken Waldorf Salad
Feel free to use lemon juice in place of the vinegar in this recipe.  Both acids work well.  Personally, I prefer the more round taste of the vinegar with this combination of ingredients as opposed to the more bright flavor of lemon juice, but its your call!

2 large roasted chicken breast, boned and skinned, and cubed into bite sized pieces
2 c of grapes (red or green) halved
2 stalks celery, sliced thin
2 large apples, cored and cut into bite sized pieces
1/4 c plain yogurt (I use fat free or low fat)
1/3 c good mayonnaise
1 heaping T of raw honey
1 T of red wine vinegar
pinch of salt
black pepper to taste
1/2 c chopped walnuts, optional
Spring greens

In a large serving bowl, add the first four ingredients and let sit covered in the fridge until the dressing is made.  If you are concerned about the apples oxidizing, just wait until the end to add them at the last minute.  Combine the mayo, yogurt, honey, vinegar, and seasoning.  Pour over salad ingredients and gently toss until evenly coated.  Serve over a bed of greens and garnish with a heavy pinch of walnuts, if desired.

Green Tea Citrus Punch

Green Tea Citrus Punch | Brittany's PantryYes yes.  Green tea again.  Get over it.  Its good for you.

I love anything citrus even more than I love green tea so this recipe was a natural fit for me.  I was experimenting with juices and cold tea and when I was digging through my computer, I came across this recipe and realized I had nearly replicated it.  Simple and straight forward, this is full of Vitamin C and all the good antioxidants that come with green tea.

This is such a light, refreshing drink that I can’t help but want to make it continuously!  But be forewarned:  Inferior juices make for a rather icky drink.  Use a good, quality orange juice (pulp free would be best) or better yet, squeeze it yourself.  Fresh lemon juice too.  You can REALLY taste the difference if you cheat with this one.

If you are opposed to using refined white sugar, you can always steep the tea in plain water-minus the sugar-and sweeten the drink with raw honey while the tea concentrate is still warm.  Either way, green tea + fresh juice = the tastiest drink around.  Kids inhale it too so you may just want to start with a double batch.  Heck!  It would be great hot too!!

Next up?  Green tea omelets.  Or maybe green tea pancakes.  Oh oh!  I know!!  Green tea roast pork!!

Yes?  No?
Green Tea Citrus Punch | Brittany's PantryGreen Tea Citrus Punch | Brittany's PantryPlease know I was completely kidding about the green tea ideas above.  Depending on how well you know me, my sarcasm may not have been obvious…  :)

Green Tea Citrus Punch
Recipe kinda sorta adapted from Oxmoor House
This recipe is pretty cut and dry.  Nothing too fancy.  But OH so good on a summer day!

6 c water, divided
1 c sugar
16 green tea bags, regular or decaf
1 3/4 c OJ
1/4 c fresh lemon juice (Please don’t use the bottled stuff here!)
Orange slices for garnish if desired

Bring three of the cups of water and the one cups of sugar to a boil and stir, dissolving the sugar.  You are basically starting a simple syrup here.  Remove from the heat and add the tea bags to steep.  Leave five minutes.  Pull out the tea bags but DO NOT SQUEEZE THEM!  This results in a cloudy, off color tea!  Just let them drain a bit and discard them.  Cool the sweetened tea syrup.  Add the juices and remaining three cups of water.  Stir to combine, chill, and serve over ice with orange slices if desired.

Meanwhile, in South Carolina…

South Carolina | Pine IslandWell, my family and I have been here in South Carolina for about two months now and this state continues to surprise us.  For obvious reasons, my world had been limited to that which deals with my three children, buying a home and property, and food.  Statewide travel has been limited.  But here on the outskirts of Columbia, we are happy campers, loving the people, the hot weather (most of the time), having a blast exploring all there is to do here, and enjoying all the new FOOD!

This lake might not be the first thing you think of when thinking about South Carolina, but let me tell ya, its uber important to this gal!  It feels so much like  MN it immediately puts me at peace.  The above picture is Pine Island on Lake Murray and it is our little slice of home.  Love love love love it.  As with any move to a new part of the country, there are things that confuse us, make us laugh, make us shake our head in shock, and of course, things that we just love.  Here are a few impressions of what I have discovered and adjusted to this summer!
IMG_1380The sunshine.  Its everywhere!  The sun is abundant and hot and unrelenting.  I have never been big into wearing sunglasses, but you can bet I am starting now.  You can see that my kids have followed suit.
IMG_1810IMG_1809IMG_1743 IMG_1746Peaches!  These southerners are serious about their peaches and as a northern transplant, I want like to be supportive of my new surroundings.  They are everywhere and even celebrated with a festival on the fourth of July.  Needless to say, I had to sample everything; peach cobbler, peach ice cream, peach ice tea, and even a peach slushy.  I can definitely get used to this.
IMG_1269IMG_1270I was in this state for all of 24 hours when I found myself with this handy informative pamphlet.  No tornadoes, ice storms, or blizzards to prepare for here, but it may take me awhile to get used to the idea of hurricanes.  After thoroughly reading my preparation booklet, I had only one question: Who gets to pick the names of the hurricanes every year?  I would love that job!  I’m thinking Hurricane Gale.  :)  Get it?  Get it?  I couldn’t resist.
IMG_1266In addition to hurricane evacuation route signs, the other thing I see everywhere is okra.  Fresh to buy at the farm stands, deep fried in cornmeal on every menu, and frozen whole, frozen sliced, frozen breaded, frozen spiced, and frozen mixed.  I have never been a fan of okra myself-its a texture thing-but the rest of my family loves it.  So much so that I am willing to suffer through a local festival called the Okra Strut, coming in September.  I am so darn curious about it I would go even if my husband wasn’t planning on eating his body weight in the fried stuff.

Speaking of grocery stores, I am continually amazed at the differences between regions.

For example.  There is a small super market not far from our rental home.  This is the bbq section:
IMG_1268If you include hot sauces, it extends another five feet.  From what I have witnessed so far, this enormous part of the isle which, here in the carolinas includes all the vinegars as well, is actually the smallest I have seen in a store.  The larger stores practically have their own wing for bbq sauces.  It is a complete understatement to say that I kind of love it.
IMG_1265Only in the south can you find black eyed, purple hulled peas in every market.  My friends in Mississippi have taught me to eat them poured over cornbread.  I don’t know if that is how they do it here, but I am sticking with what I know.  Peas + cornbread = yum.
IMG_1468See this?  White Lily flour!  I haven’t seen this brand in a store in forever!  So glad to have access to it on a regular basis now!  This stuff makes the lightest, fluffiest sponge cakes and pure white cupcakes you have ever tasted.  I have been pinning recipes from their product site like CRAZY!
IMG_2142And now we come to this building.  This wonderful, beautiful, cherished building.

To the untrained eye, this is an unlabeled, rather tiny, unassuming shack that happens to actually be a gas station.  Like most refueling stations we have seen here in South Carolina, its parking lot has a mini ATM and a portable stand that sells boiled peanuts.  Driving past, most don’t even notice it.  You wouldn’t give the building a second thought.  But those of us with inside information know that this slightly derelict structure houses the best fried chicken east of the Mississippi.
photoTwo heavenly women inside this building season, flour, and fry the most crispy skinned, juicy chicken you have ever had.  Coleslaw and plain Jane macaroni salad worthy of a southern church social are my regular selections when I need a complete meal.  No matter how many times I go I am inevitably stopped by someone much older than me, stepping out from behind a display of  Slim Jims to tell me that I must come back for the breakfast there as well.  And every time I leave the building with my white paper bag of salty treasure, I am sent on my way with friendly wave and a hearty “God bless you, Sugar!  Bye now!”  The people, and yes, somehow the building too, make my meal taste that much better.

In addition to food (hehe), we have purchased land to build on and are ecstatic to finally put down some permanent roots.  If an occasional home picture makes it in amongst the food you will know why!

Thank you South Carolina for making my family and I feel so welcome!  Your hospitality is greatly appreciated!

So is your fried chicken…