Posts for Recipe Box Category

Quick and Easy Chicken Salad

Popular Recipes, Recipe Box - Ruth - October 29, 2020

Car picnic season is in full swing! My daughter had her first cross country meet. She’ll be starting her quick-recall Bible quiz team practices soon. Church activities are on the schedule. What and when are we going to eat?

While lunch meats/cold cuts/deli meats are quick and portable sandwich fillings, they are also expensive and often less than healthy choices. I’ve come to rely on this quick and easy chicken salad recipe to stuff sandwiches when I don’t have other good options and often when I do. It’s tasty!

Now to be clear, this is not the chicken salad I would serve for a ladies’ luncheon. This is the throw-together-and-go chicken salad that I can make from pantry ingredients. The ingredients aren’t all shelf-stable but they are all things I keep around as a matter of routine.

Enough chat, then! Let’s go!

  • about a cup of cooked chicken, either cooked at home or canned will do
  • about 2 “table spoons” of mayo, or whipped salad dressing if you like it like I do
  • about a third of a “table spoon” of instant minced onion, or chop up a bit of fresh if you have the time or inclination

Note: If I’m making this chicken salad, I’m probably in a hurry. I’m not going to dig out measuring spoons or generate any more messy dishes and flatware than I absolutely must. So when I say “table spoon” in this recipe, I’m referring to the larger spoon in the following picture. The smaller spoon is a “tea spoon” that I would use to eat my breakfast cereal or my pudding. The larger one is a soup spoon or “table spoon” and not a serving spoon. So one spoon, one bowl, mix and done!

What to do:

Start with about a cup of cooked chicken. I cooked it fresh because I had time, but leftovers are fine, as is a can (drained) of cooked chicken breast. You can use any amount of chicken if you adjust the other ingredients accordingly. Dump the chicken into a cereal bowl, or obviously a larger bowl if you’re using more chicken.

Add the mayo, relish, and onion. My family likes onion, but if you’re not a fan then adjust it down or leave it out altogether.

Stir it up until everything is evenly mixed.

Now you have a choice. If you used fresh onion then you can slap the chicken salad on bread and eat it right away. If you used the instant minced onion then you really need to let the chicken salad sit so the onions can rehydrate. If you’re packing a car picnic then the sandwiches will probably sit for a while anyway, so you can make and pack your sandwiches and head out the door. If you used instant minced onion and you’re planning to eat right away your chicken salad will be edible but maybe a little crunchy. Or if you have one of those great days when you’re planning ahead you can make the chicken salad now and make the sandwiches right before you head out the door so your bread doesn’t get soggy. And don’t forget your cooler!

How easy was that?!? Pull four ingredients from the fridge & pantry, mix in one bowl with one spoon, and you’re done. It’s quick and easy and it creates very little mess to be cleaned up. If you want to get fancy you can substitute ranch dressing for the mayo and onion, skip the relish, and then add a little minced bacon and shredded cheddar cheese to make bacon-cheddar-ranch chicken salad. Or leave out the pickle relish and add a splash of soy sauce, a bit of mustard, and a pinch of ginger powder to make an Asian-inspired chicken salad. Or just stick with the classic. You could also make this recipe with tuna instead of chicken if you like seafood. I hope you enjoy your quick & easy chicken salad in whichever form you try it!

Where do you think you’ll take your quick & easy chicken salad?

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My “Chocolate Day” Haul (and what I plan to do with it)

Desserts, Recipe Box - Ruth - October 28, 2020

The day after Valentine’s Day has become a cultural holiday in and of itself. My daughter calls it “Chocolate Day” because that’s when the stores mark down Valentine candy. She has learned from her mother (*wink, wink*) that the candy beneath the pink & red, heart-covered wrapper tastes exactly like the regular stuff. It just costs less! So she is the one who kept reminding me that we needed to go “Chocolate Day” shopping.

I hit several area stores after Christmas and still have some candy sealed in glass jars from that expedition. Remembering where I found the best prices, I drove her straight to a certain grocery store and we made a beeline for the “seasonal” aisle. The aisle had been ransacked like the bread aisle before a snowstorm, but we still found the bargains we wanted!

Hershey Kisses were at the top of my list because I use them to make peanut blossom cookies. The recipe is one I learned from my grandmother but I’ve seen it since in cookbooks and online. This simple little concoction is perfect when you just want a few cookies for the family because it’s quick, easy, and only makes about a dozen and a half.

Before I make the cookies I’ll sort the Kisses by wrapper color. The red ones will be used for cookie baking and the pink & white ones will be saved for Resurrection Sunday treats. About 18 Hershey Kiss candies, unwrapped, if you want peanut blossoms

What to Do:

  •  Thoroughly mix the peanut butter, 1 cup sugar, and egg. Roll the mixture into 1″ balls. Roll the balls in extra sugar to coat.
  • To make regular peanut butter cookies (like those pictured), place the balls about 2″ apart on an ungreased baking sheet. Press a fork into the top of each ball twice, in a criss-cross pattern, to flatten. Bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes. Allow the cookies to cool for a few minutes on the baking sheet, then remove them to a cooling rack.
  • To make peanut blossoms, place the balls about 2″ apart on an ungreased baking sheet but DO NOT flatten them. Bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes. Remove the cookies from the oven and immediately press the flat side of one unwrapped candy into the center of each cookie ball to flatten it. Do not press the candy all the way through to the baking sheet. The cookies will puff out and crack around the edges. Allow them to cool for a few minutes on the baking sheet, then remove to a rack to cool.

Some of the Reese’s Cups will be used to make chocolate-peanut butter ooey gooey butter cake and some will be sorted out like the Kisses to be used for Resurrection Sunday treats. Others will probably be eaten just as they are long before Resurrection Sunday. Most of the candy is already sealed in my largest Food Saver vacuum canister. The large bag of Reese’s Cups is in the cabinet because I hope to make that ooey-gooey butter cake very soon! (My Food Saver is older, so I linked to something similar that is currently available. I hope that helps!)

And since I’ve been chatting about Resurrection Sunday you might have guessed that the plates and napkins will be set aside for that day. Resurrection Sunday is a working day for a minister’s family. It’s a holiday worth celebrating with fancy dishes and table service but it’s also very impractical for us to do so, which is why I am happy to find cute disposables to keep things in balance. I don’t know yet if we’ll be hosting the family or going to another family member’s home, but I thought I’d plan ahead and get the paper products since these were fun and festive and even less expensive than the dollar store. If we don’t host then I’ll have them available for summer gatherings or the inevitable car picnics that are sure to come as the weather warms up.

I realize I might have saved a bit more by waiting for the 75% off sales in a week or two, but I know from experience that the things I actually wanted would be long gone by then. Now that my “babies” are teenagers I don’t have to buy egg hunt candy, which I used to wait and get later at larger discounts. So what did I actually spend? This time I spent $2.14 per bag on the Hershey Kisses and smaller Reese’s Cups and $3.19 for the larger cups. I was sort of annoyed at the cost of the Kisses because they were only $1.88 per bag after Christmas. The paper products were only $.62 each, so you can see why I went ahead and got those.

That’s probably all of the candy buying I’ll do for a while. I may get some treats after Resurrection Sunday to stash for car picnics and that sort of thing, but I’ve also learned that I can’t eat it if it isn’t in the house!

My daughter, who loves stuffed animals, bought herself a strange little creature that looks like somebody took spare parts from a hippopotamus and a platypus and stitched them together. She decided to buy him and bring him home because he was the only platypotamus (her word) she’d ever seen. Remembering our recent trip to the theater, she decided to name him Cyrano de Platypotamus. The name and the nose fit.

I mention Cyrano because there were several other cute stuffed toys in the Valentine’s Day section that were pink or red but not necessarily Valentine-y. There were sock monkeys and fish and a very glittery unicorn. Any of them might have been good to stash as gifts for little people. Or teenagers who still love stuffed animals.

Did you shop on “Chocolate Day”? What did you get and where did you find the best deals?

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DIY Large Candy Bouquets

DIY, Recipe Box - Ruth - September 25, 2020

Over the weekend my husband and I decided we needed to provide thank-you gifts to two teams of caregivers who have been helping a family member. It just so happened that the same store that was selling the Candy Bouquet mugs I wrote about here was also selling larger candy bouquets. That seemed like a good gift to give the caregivers since we weren’t sure exactly how many people were involved and a large candy bouquet would provide a little treat for everyone on the team.

Since I already detailed how to create a smaller candy bouquet in this post and how to make bows in this post, I won’t repeat it all here. I will share some pictures of the assembly process for these larger bouquets since everything had to be scaled up a little bit.

And since I did a more detailed cost analysis for the smaller bouquets, I’ll just mention here that the store was selling the large bouquets for $19.99 (US). I had some supplies left from my previous candy bouquet projects but had to buy a lot more candy to fill the larger vases, so I estimate I spent about $12 per large bouquet, including estimated costs for the supplies I had on hand. While the percentage savings wasn’t as great for these bouquets as for the smaller ones, it’s still money that stayed in my pocket rather than being spent and the gift was of my time rather than that of someone I paid to do it for me.

  •  Candy to fill the vase. How much depends upon the size of the vase you choose. My vases actually held more than I thought they would.
  •  Dry floral foam. I actually used less foam per vase than I did per mug for the smaller candy bouquets because I was just filling the neck of the vase.
  • Bamboo skewers. I used 8″ skewers and cut them down as needed. For this project I only needed a couple of 8″ skewers per vase but cut several more down to 4″ or 2″ lengths for most of my fillers. I used about a dozen total 8″ skewers per bouquet.
  • Clear packing/mailing tape. I used the roll I worked from on the other projects and I still have tape left.
  • Candy to make the bouquet. How much depends upon your vase. I used 8 candy canes, 5 marshmallow snowmen, and a “million dollar” candy bar for each bouquet.
  • Colored cellophane. I used about a dozen pieces that were roughly (very, very roughly) 8″ square for each bouquet.

What to do:

Start by filling the vase with candy. If your vase has a narrow neck, like mine, then fill it up to the neck. If your vase has straight sides then leave yourself about 3″ between the top of the candy and the top of the vase.

Fit a piece of floral foam snugly into the neck of the vase to fill as much of the remaining space as possible. The neck of my vase was totally full but there were some small gaps between the edge of the foam and the top of the vase because the vase angled outwards. Make sure your foam doesn’t wiggle around in the vase. You’ll need it to be snug. You can look back at the original DIY Candy Bouquet article if you need more information about fitting the foam.

Attach skewers to each of your fillers. I used an 8″ skewer on each candy bar with 4″ skewers for the snowmen and candy canes. More information about attaching the skewers to the candy is in the original post here.

Make your cellophane fluffs. Directions are here in the original DIY Candy Bouquet post. I used both 4″ and 2″ skewers on the fluffs.

Start assembling your large candy bouquet by putting the candy bar in the very center. Then arrange the 8 candy canes evenly around the outside edge. I alternated red & white and multi-colored candy canes, angling the red & white candy canes slightly outward and the colored ones more sharply outward.

Arrange the 5 snowmen as a center ring around the candy bar. I put 2 of the snowmen so they were somewhat framing the candy bar and then placed the other three in the back.

Put one large cellophane fluff behind the candy bar, between it and the ring of snowmen, to hide the skewer on the back of the candy bar.

Arrange a middle ring of cellophane fluffs on 4″ skewers among the snowmen. Then add cellophane fluffs on 2″ skewers around the very edge of the vase so that the fluffs somewhat hang over and cover the edge of the foam and the vase. You may end up pushing the 2″ skewers in almost sideways.

Tie a piece of wide, wire-edged ribbon around the neck of the vase, almost exactly as you would tie a bow on your shoe. Use the wire edges to help spread the ribbon out in the back of the bouquet to cover the foam. Fluff the bow in the front of the bouquet. Trim the streamers on the bow. If you want a more elaborate bow, you might want to read this post on “How to Bow Like a Pro.”

To whom might you give a candy bouquet? Would you like to receive one?

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