Not So Perfect Chicken Salad

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Although this chicken salad is good, it’s not perfect. And it’s not perfect because I really don’t think there is such a thing.

Growing up in California and Nevada I don’t remember eating chicken salad, tuna salad sure but not chicken salad. I think it must be a regional thing because down here, it’s a science. Nuts, no nuts, grapes, dried cranberries, celery, curry, hot, cold, mayonnaise, Miracle Whip…there are A LOT of different versions. I would like to think this is a fairly basic version where additions can be made to suit one’s taste.

Ingredients

2 1/2 c. cooked chicken breasts, chopped or shredded
1/2 c. mayonnaise
1 c. celery, finely diced
1 tsp. onion, finely diced
1 c. pecans, chopped
1 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. black pepper

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Pile all these into a bowl and mix it all up.

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Now pile it onto some good ol white bread or onto some saltines or onto a bed of lettuce, whichever way you go it’s good, damn good…just not quite perfect.

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Asian Marinated Cucumber

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I actually made these last night so they’d be able to sit and get yummier all night. And yummy they are! Believe it or not I hadn’t had cucumbers any other way besides in a salad until last spring. Our garden was going CRAZY, can’t imagine why. Someone got a little plant happy and planted at least 5 plants of each kind, the whole thing was close to a 1/2 an acre.

Anyways, garden crazy, started looking for a non creamy cucumber dish. Don’t ask why I didn’t want creamy, it just didn’t sound as refreshing to me. I found many fairly simple recipes and began serving marinated cucumbers on a weekly basis. My basic recipe is nothing more than vinegar, olive oil, sugar, water, black pepper and dried parsley. And of course cucumbers and onions.

Tonight though we’re having an asian version because I love practically anything asian in flavor and I am the boss of what we eat after all.

Ingredients

1 cucumber
1/4 of a small white onion
2 Tbsp. sugar
1/3 c. rice vinegar, seasoned will work too
1/2 tsp. sesame oil
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes or to taste
Kosher salt for salting the cucumbers

Start out by washing your cucumbers very good. Slice the ends off and then take a peeler to the cucumber. Peel the whole thing or you can make it pretty and peel a strip then leave a strip unpeeled. Regardless, slice it in two slicing is lengthwise then slice each half into 1/4 inch pieces.

Note: I just realized I left the seeds in these, normally after I slice the cucumber in half I take a spoon and scrape out the seeds. Do this. Don’t be like me and have to scrape the seeds out of each piece after they’ve been salted, unless you don’t mind the seeds. Heck, just do as you please.

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Place the sliced cucumber pieces into a colander over another bowl or over the sink and sprinkle the cucumbers with a good dose of salt. Let these sit for at least 45 minutes.

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After you think the cucumbers have given off as much liquid as they’re going to, place the cucumbers into a bowl. Slice the onion into very thin slices and add the onion to the cucumbers.

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In another bowl, mix the sugar, vinegar, oil and red pepper flakes with a fork until the combined. Now be warned, if you use the full 1/4 tsp. of red pepper flakes they will be spicy, not uneatable but there will be some warmth.

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Pour this mixture over the cucumbers and onions. Gently toss the whole mixture. I would recommend refrigerating for at least 6 hours. Enjoy!

Pasta e Fagioli Soup

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I found this recipe on one of my late night recipe searches on Top Secret Recipes.

The ingredients include:

1 pound ground beef
1 small onion, diced (1 cup)
1 large carrot, julienned (1 cup)
3 stalks celery, chopped (1 cup)
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 14.5-ounce cans diced tomatoes
1 15-ounce can red kidney beans (with liquid)
1 15-ounce can great northern beans (with liquid)
1 15-ounce can tomato sauce
1 12-ounce can V-8 juice
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon basil
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon thyme(I didn’t have any so I used 1/2 tsp. of italian seasoning)
1/2 pound (1/2 pkg.) ditali pasta (I used a mini penne
(I also added 1/2 tsp. of cracked black pepper)

Start off my browning the meat in a heavy duty pan, I always make my meat into uniform pieces by mashing with a potato masher after it’s mostly browned.

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Drain the meat in this here handy dandy expandable colander

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Put the meat back in the pot along with the onions, celery, carrots and garlic. Normally I would chop everything by hand because I overcomplicate things like that, but today my hands are very dry and cut up from finally taking down the Christmas tree yesterday, so I let the food processor do all the chopping for me. Sauté the meat and veggies for about 10 minutes or until fragrant.

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At this point add all the remaining ingredients excluding the pasta. My version has a few adjustments, the V8 juice I bought came in 5.5 ounce cans so I used two of those and then rinsed out the tomato sauce can with a little water, I also didn’t have any thyme so I added a 1/2 tsp. of italian seasonings and lastly I added a 1/2 tsp. of cracked black pepper.

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Let this simmer for 1 hour. In the recipe it says to begin boiling the pasta 50 minutes into the simmering. I let mine simmer for about two hours before added the al dente pasta.

Laddle it up and serve it along side some garlic bread. Dinner is served!

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The only adjustment I would make in the future is to add an additional 5.5 ounce can of V8 or maybe another can on tomato sauce.