It seems we barely get cleaned up from one reception, and it’s time to prepare for another. We have many events happening on a regular basis and they almost always are accompanied by the serving of food or refreshments of one kind or another. At a recent reception we revised an old favorite that met with a great response. We served this hot chicken salad in little cream puffs and they disappeared so quickly we couldn’t keep the trays filled.
Hot Chicken Salad Puffs
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Lightly grease 9 x 13 inch baking dish.
- In a large bowl mix the chicken, celery, mayonnaise, lemon juice, onion salt, spices, onion and almonds.
- Transfer to the baking dish, and top with Cheddar cheese and crushed potato chips.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes, until lightly browned.
- Fill cream puffs, arrange on platter and serve.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Lightly grease (or line with parchment paper) two baking sheets.
- Combine the water, butter and salt in a medium-sized saucepan, heat until the butter has melted and bring to a rolling boil.
- Add the flour all at once, stirring vigorously until the mixture smooths out and follows the spoon around the pan; this should take less than 30 seconds.
- Remove the pan from the heat, and let the mixture cool for 5 to 10 minutes.
- It will still feel hot. Transfer the dough to a mixer.
- Beat in the eggs one at a time; the mixture will look curdled, but when you add the last egg it should become smooth.
- Beat for 1 minute after adding the last egg. You will have a stiff, smooth batter.
- Drop the dough by Tablespoonful’s onto the prepared sheets.
- Leave about 2″ between them.
- Bake for about 20 minutes, till they have puffed, they are medium golden brown and they look dry.
- Remove baked puffs from the oven and use a sharp knife to cut a slit into the side of each puff, for steam to escape; this will help prevent them from becoming soggy.
- Return the puffs to the oven for 5 minutes, then remove from oven and transfer to a rack to cool.
- Slit each puff in half around the circumference and fill with a heaping Tablespoonful of chicken salad.
- Replace the top.
As I write this, it is raining. I think not too long ago I was writing about all of the rain and cold we were having. (I will never complain about that again!) It’s finally been so dry that the garden could be tilled, and the tomatoes are being planted. I feel like having a party! Its the time of year that I try and think of what I can cook with the least amount of stove or oven usage.
I was recently cooking for a group, and not in the kitchen I am used to, which did not have a fully stocked pantry. I wanted to make a broccoli salad, so found a couple of recipes that looked promising, but of course did not have exactly what was called for, especially in the vinegar department. So, of course I would have to improvise. It was a no cook broccoli salad with a mayonnaise, vinegar sugar dressing. I remembered that there was a bottle of white balsamic vinegar in the cupboard – ah sweet! I also wanted to cut down on the amount of mayonnaise, and use it more like the oil in the dressing, and I must say that balsamic can cover a multitude of sins. So, here is my version of fresh broccoli salad, improv style.
Improvised Broccoli Salad
Improvised Broccoli Salad
- Trim off the large leaves from the broccoli stem.
- Remove the tough stalk at the end and wash broccoli head well.
- Cut the head into bite-size flowerets and the stem into bite size pieces.
- Place in a large bowl.
- Add the bacon, onion, raisins, and carrot.
- In a small bowl, combine the dressing ingredients, stirring well.
- Add to broccoli mixture and toss gently.
- Last of all add in the tomatoes and toss again gently.
- Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Memorial Day is supposed to be the kick off for summer, but it was a little questionable with the cold temperatures and constant rain. The vegetables in the garden seemed happy enough — potatoes, beans, leeks all were thriving with the extra moisture they were getting. I was a little concerned that steaks on the grill weren’t going to do all that well in the pouring rain. Monday dawned clear and warmer, and we were able to have our picnic as planned. It was delightful and almost sparkling in the sunshine. I made my favorite potato salad. My sister has always made it this way, and I recently realized that this is also the way my mother always made it. The secret is in the salad dressing going on the potatoes while they are still warm and making it a day ahead so the flavors have a chance to develop.
- Cook potatoes in a pot of boiling salted water until tender.
- Drain and transfer to a bowl. Pour on the vinaigrette.
- Let sit for a few minutes.
- Then combine the remaining ingredients. Cover and refrigerate overnight or until cold.
I happen to be one of these people who have a natural love for vegetables and never had to be coaxed or made to eat them – I realize that this is not the case with everyone. Just recently I overheard two mothers talking about this. One was telling the other that the only way she can get vegetables into the family diet is to blend them into spaghetti sauce. Of course a good Bolognese sauce already has carrots, onions, and celery in it. I suppose one could slip a little green vegetable in if they were careful not to overdo it.
The other mother maintained that her trick was to always serve them with tasty dips and sauces. I would like to offer another suggestion that works especially well with broccoli, the widely acclaimed miracle food, medically proven to be a nutritional super star. Hidden within each stalk and floweret is a powerful substance effective in lowering cholesterol and preventing cancer and contributing to overall health in general.
Try my Broccoli Bake and see for yourself if you don’t immediately feel stronger, healthier and more satisfied than you ever have after eating this nutrient rich vegetable!
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Beat egg whites until soft peaks form.
- Fold in mayonnaise.
- Stir in cheese, parsley, and lemon peel.
- Arrange cooked broccoli in oven-proof serving dish.
- Pour melted butter over broccoli.
- Top with egg white mixture.
- Sprinkle with paprika.
- Bake 5 minutes or until puffy and lightly browned.