Homemade | Pancake Mix

Last year I was tired of Kyle getting up and running off to work on the house before we’d even gotten a chance to see him after the long week, so I instituted a new family tradition: Saturday Morning Breakfasts. But we’re not morning people…how in the world was I going to pull myself out of bed and make breakfast every Saturday morning?

Insert: stubbornness and pancakes. Everyone loves pancakes. Pancakes are enticing. Pancakes are yummy. Pancakes know no age, like eggs benedict or some such goodness. Pancakes are a crowd-pleaser. Pancakes are easy to double in case of company. Pancakes are available at breakfast joints if we’re ever out of town and want to keep up the tradition. Pancakes are easily portable and can be made over a campfire if needed. Pancakes can be customized/altered to fit the season. Pancakes!

Pancakes also require measuring and mixing, probably pre-tea.

Insert: pancake mix.

Now, just as a note this is not my modus operandi. My mom is Tammy Circeo. I don’t buy/use mixes. But there was a gluten-free mix that came highly recommended, and then I just started trying different [read: cheaper] ones. We settled on one that we like best, and that was that, despite the twinge of shame I felt as I pulled it out each week.

Then my Homemade experiment started. One of the most obvious offenders is my pancake mix. How was I going to replace it? Gluten-free baking is hard, man!

After my first forays into gluten-free baking when I was diagnosed with a wheat allergy/gluten sensitivity at age eighteen, I’ve been gun shy. After nine months of not baking at all (which was a bfd for me), I got up the courage to try. Try I did, I tried and tried. I was optimistic and full of hope, things were tasting better and better to me as I went along, but the reviews from others were not quite as enthusiastic or hopeful as mine. The texture was different and foreign, the taste was off and didn’t make anybody want seconds, and I grew discouraged until finding that I could tolerate spelt flour quite well as long as I didn’t eat my weight in baked goods everyday (which, let’s be honest, is probably not advisable anyway). Spelt is a low-gluten grain, but for my day-to-day, it was a perfect solution. Those early days in my mom’s kitchen did not go well.

Fast forward seven years, and more recently I’ve been trying to cut down on my gluten intake (similarly to how I’ve cut down on dairy) for health reasons. Gotta get my body healed up! Truth be told, it’s less that I’ve been trying to cut down on gluten and more just hoping that it’d magically disappear from my kitchen and my life with little to no effort from me. Which is not really a thing. So I grew my courage again and have looked for some better recipes than were available in the beginning of my GF experimenting days.

Insert: Blackbird Bakery Gluten-Free. I’ve had this book for quite a while now (had picked it up years ago in a moment of severe weakness, desperately enticed by the looks-good-enough-to-eat cover), but hadn’t tried anything from it until last Christmas when I decided that I needed to take gluten-free cookies to a party (Why? Why do I do these things?). Both varieties I made were a hit!

Then it was on to the biscuits. If I couldn’t make a decent gluten-free biscuit, life was going to be much much more difficult and discouraging in general. But when I made them, my husband didn’t even know they were gluten-free. Boom…aced biscuits.

Then the pancakes. Guys. She calls them Sunday Morning Pancakes in the book, and she’s Texan, so she knows that giving something a name like that has meaning. It’s not taken lightly. These pancakes aren’t supposed to be just any old pancakes, they are SUNDAY MORNING PANCAKES. The girl means business.

We had doubts. We were skeptical. Anything with almond anything makes me wonder.

One bite and all doubts flew away. These things were really really good. All it took was one gluten-free recipe and we could change how we did Saturday mornings.

Now that I’ve got it all built up, I’ve got to say that out of respect for the author, I’m not going to post the recipe. I know I know, I’m so sorry. But writing a cookbook is hard, and it just wouldn’t be okay for me to put a recipe out there that she hasn’t yet. So go buy the cookbook. It’s worth it for the pancakes and the biscuits alone!

Usually I have a price breakdown on here for y’all, to prove to/remind myself later of how much I’m saving by putting in just a little extra work and time. This time I have less of that, but I can say that for fifteen extra minutes a month, knowing that we’re not eating powdered milk is nice.

Here’s my set up.

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I will say, I alter her recipe just a smidge by doubling the baking powder. Kyle grew up with pancakes quite literally made from a muffin recipe, so he likes them fluffy. He actually would prefer if each one would look more like a top hat, but I tell him that if he wants muffins I’ll make him muffins. These are pancakes.

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Saturday mornings all I have to do is toss the mix in a bowl with two eggs, a cup of buttermilk, and two tablespoons of melted butter. “Mix mix mix,” Nolan says  🙂

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Et voila. Petit déjeuner pour trois.

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Thanks for reading this novel of a post. Congratulations for making it to the bottom! Do you have a great gluten-free pancake recipe? Or maybe it’s not gluten-free but it’s killer? Do share!

Kitchen Art | Mama Trudy’s Recipes

Due to some weird (read: super annoying) communication things that happened with a contractor who was installing our kitchen, we landed this odd space between the top of the range and the bottom of the microwave.

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The perk is that it’s now a great place to hang some art! It took me a bit to figure out what I wanted there, but one day it struck me that I want our home to be a place where we carry on the legacies that have been left for us and where we establish our own legacy to pass on to our kids. One of the legacies we’ve inherited is from my mom’s grandma, Mama Trudy. She was a wonderful, peaceful, loving, joyful woman, and just a blessing to be around. I needed some MT in my kitchen.

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When Mama Trudy passed away in 2012, my mom took a bunch of her recipes home. I asked Mom if I could look through them and pick out a couple. We photocopied them so as to not mess up the originals, and I picked up some frames to spray paint at Goodwill. The mats were leftover from another project for which I’d bought new frames, so it was nice to have a chance to use a couple of them.

I used double stick tape squares to get the recipes to stick to the fabric, which was a remnant square I had laying around from the local fabric store.

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Then, being Goodwill frames, came the trick of hanging them. They didn’t have picture claws in the back, and weren’t terribly receptive to them when I tried to give them some. Not only that, but the teensy tiny little strip of wall I had to hang them on, above the tile and below the microwave, wouldn’t hold them well.

Bingo! Command strips! Right? Wrong. Let’s remember that this is above my stove. Where there is heat. And grease. And stuff. Frequently. Command strips lasted about an hour, then Kyle had to dig out the frames from behind the stove…

This is where I landed:

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And even this wasn’t working out great for the longest time because one of the frames took to it really nicely and the other was like, “Oh honey, noooooooo.” For months. During which time I had one frame hanging above my stove. One. Just the one. The other floated about on the counter the whole time. *eyeroll*

Now that it’s done, doesn’t it look lovely? I’m so glad to have a bit of Mama Trudy in my kitchen  🙂

Homemade | Yogurt

I can’t say enough good things about yogurt. It’s creamy and yummy and tangy and versatile, and the bacteria is so good for your belly and helps to keep so many things in check, and the healthy fat in whole-fat yogurt is excellent for like a zillion things. Fill your body with that and you won’t even want the cookies! Okay, that’s a lie. But you’ll probably want them a little bit less.

With such a love for yogurt, you can bet we’ve always had plenty at our house. Always plain, organic, whole-milk yogurt. I stopped caring whether it was Greek style or not. But even stripped down to the bare bones of it all, that creamy, tangy goodness is $5/quart! I winced every time I put it in my cart.

But then Christmas came, and oh my friends, you should have seen my face when I opened that box from my mom and there she was…

yogurtmaker

This little beauty has revolutionised my kitchen AND my grocery shopping. That sounds so dramatic, but I’m not even kidding. I make over a quart of yogurt for $1.45. Again: not even kidding.

This is my process. It’s literally all I do to save $3.50/week. Which is $182/year. Guys, I can DO SOMETHING with $182/year.

First, heat the milk.

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Different instructions will give you different temperatures to heat the milk to. All the ones I found said at least 180. I followed the instructions that came with the yogurt maker SUPER STEADFASTLY the first time I made it (Guys, I got up in the middle of the night in order to turn off the yogurt maker and put the yogurt in the fridge. That right there…that’s dedication.) and it turned out a bit too runny. Runny’s fine. Too runny is not fine. The next time I made it, I lost track of the milk while it was heating and it got a little foamy and was pulling up the sides of the pot (so…basically…it was boiling…), and my yogurt turned out so much better. So now I don’t check the temperature while it’s heating, I just wait till it’s kinda foamy, then turn off the heat and let it cool down to 95 degrees.

THAT’S THE TEMPERATURE YOU NEED TO PAY ATTENTION TO! PAY ATTENTION TO THAT TEMPERATURE!

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It should be 95 degrees. Seriously.

And it might look like this.

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Don’t worry, totally normal. Just toss that part, no big.

Then add a 6-oz. container of plain store-bought yogurt and mix it in really well. Once you have yogurt that you’ve already made, you can add a container of those instead of store-bought yogurt. Which is awesome.

Now pour it into your lovely little yogurt containers that are cute as can be.

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Try to divide it up as evenly as possible, and don’t sweat it too much if you spill some.

Transfer them carefully to your yogurt maker, put on the lid, and turn on the yogurt maker.

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Yes, so that last part: do not forget to turn on your yogurt maker. It keeps the temperature of your jars just right so the little bit of yogurt you mixed into the PERFECTLY TEMPERATURED milk can turn into a lot of yogurt for you to gobble up. And try not to move or jostle the yogurt maker while it’s culturing. Culturing’s a delicate art. Respect the art.

According to the instructions that came with my yogurt maker, my whole milk yogurt should be in the maker for eight hours. I left it longer one time because we were away from the house, and I actually liked the consistency better. So now I leave it in there for roughly nine hours or so. All that to say, you can’t really mess this part up as long as you let it sit long enough. There’s a big window between “long enough” and “too long.”

When your yogurt is done to your liking, turn off the machine, put the dandy little lids on the jars, and put them in the fridge for at least three hours. They’ll firm up a bit more and be all tasty when you go to eat them. It’ll look something like this. Sometimes mine looks a little more watery on top…don’t pour that out. It’s whey and it’s good for you.IMG_5559

 

When you’re ready to eat the goods, I recommend mixing in some peach jam or compote, and maybe some granola. Or just mix in leftover peach crisp.

I’m on a peach kick, okay? And they were all organic and home-canned last summer, so stop judging my need for peaches in February…leave me alone, man…

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So we just established that this process takes a while. The milk has to heat, then cool, then go in a cooker for at least eight hours. That’s a minimum of a nine hour job.

So here’s my tip. Start it first thing in the morning. Your yogurt will be ready around dinnertime and you can pop it in the fridge while you’re already doing other dinner clean up, and it’ll be ready for the next morning.

Don’t do what I did the first time and start making yogurt at 4pm. Unless you’re regularly up at 2am, it’s less fun that way.

So go get yourself a yogurt maker, or dust yours off, and make. this. happen.

Almond Flour Drop Biscuits

I’ve had The Gluten-Free Almond Flour Cookbook for several years and have made a few things out of it, but when spelt is an available option, almond flour is less appealing. However, in an active effort to waste less this year, I’ve been searching for ways to use up the almond meal I’m left with after making almond milk. Between that, a request for take-out pizza for dinner (to which I’m allergic), and a lack of bread in the house resulting in a much-craved sandwich being out of the question, out came the cookbook and my gumption the other night, and these biscuits appeared on my plate.

Now let’s be clear, they’re not the flaky goodness your grandma made growing up. These are different in texture, but they have their own kind of appeal. I had mine with a fried egg and some sautéed kale, and I really enjoyed the bit of sweetness they brought. The boys thought they were great, even after their requested pizza! They’re really versatile, too. You could easily sub coconut oil, increase the sweetness, add in some orange zest and dried cranberries, or chocolate chips (which I maybe tried…this child within me has zero self-control, okay?!), or fresh berries, then maybe dust with coarse sugar before baking…all of a sudden you have gluten-free scones!

I love that they’re so filling. Three is too many for me, which is saying something! I can eat one as soon as I wake up in the morning (a necessity these days…baby girl must burn through whatever I store up for overnight because we wake up grumbly!) then have a banana or a little something else at breakfast time with my boy, and I’m actually full till lunch. UNHEARD OF around here. I also don’t mind that my son loves them (at least when they’re chocolate studded) and I can feel confident that he’s actually getting a little protein punch with his sugar.

The cookbook author, Elana Amsterdam, has a helpful blog that you might want to peruse. She posted a very similar biscuit recipe on there that I’m going to try out next time.

 

Classic Drop Biscuits

Adapted from The Gluten-Free Almond Flour Cookbook by Elana Amsterdam
Makes: 8

Ingredients:

  • 2 ½ cups blanched almond flour
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. In a large bowl, combine the almond flour, salt, and baking soda. In a medium bowl, whisk together the oil, syrup, eggs, and vinegar. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry until thoroughly combined. Drop the batter onto the baking sheet in eight equal mounds about 2-inches apart.

3. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until golden brown or a toothpick inserted into the center of the biscuit comes out clean. Let the biscuits cool briefly on the baking sheet before serving warm. (If making scones with chocolate chips, let them cool on a baking sheet for longer…you may otherwise wind up with fewer taste buds than you had before…)

 

Any great almond flour/meal recipes from your kitchen? I’d love to try them out!

Kitchen Tools Tour

As I jump into sharing my Homemade experiment on here, I imagine it might be helpful to see what I’m working with. Because, you know, context. I can’t pretend to have the most efficient kitchen or the most snazzy appliances, but I get by just fine. I try to tamp the clutter down and only keep what I really need and use. Also, before we diverightin, I’m sorry. I’ll try to get the blog formatting thing down at some point. Until then, it’ll just look like a second grade book report.

DAILY USE

  • blenderBlender: We use this for smoothies nearly daily, and for almond milk weekly. It does a great job for those, but I’ve had trouble using it for anything more heavy duty. The same base is used for both the blender and the food processor, which saves on cabinet space.

Wishlist BlenderThis beauty will live in my kitchen someday. Yes it’ll require a separate food processor, but for the awesome job the blender does at being a blender, that’s fine by me.

  • Toaster Oven: We got this as a wedding gift from toasterovenKyle’s parents and we use it every single day. Kyle heats his breakfast sandwiches in it, I toast Nolan’s waffles in it and my toast in it, and our family is such a size at this point that I can frequently use it for roasting our vegetables for dinner. We use it for heating leftover pizza and other bread-y goodness, and it’s a lifesaver in the summer when I can bake up some chicken or fish in there instead of turning on the range.
  • kettleKettle: Another thing we use several times a day. Mostly because I’m a tea addict (no shame). This kettle is great because you can select what temperature you want the water to heat to. Making tea or coffee? There’s a temperature for that. Yeast bread, and need it at 120? There’s a temperature for that. How about a bottle for your ten-month-old? Yes. There’s a temperature for that, too. Makes life super simple.
  • Cookware: I do all my cooking in an eclectic collection of cast iron skillets and a set of stainless pots my parents got us when we got married. Cast iron is a great thing to buy used because they’re so much better seasoned than new ones, don’t require a lot of maintenance, and they just don’t make them like they used to. Our stainless pots are fantastic and I’d never get rid of them. Read here and here about why teflon will probably kill you.canningfunnel
  • Canning funnel: Because I’m not a crazy person, I definitely don’t can anything on a daily basis. But I do use my canning funnel for everything from chicken broth to almond milk to pancake mix, and a few things in between. The wide bowl is a mess-saver! Srsly.

  • kitchenaid
    KitchenAid: This is certainly not the color of KitchenAid I have, but I love it! KitchenAids are indispensable. I could not do without mine. It makes everything easy, from mixing up bread or pizza dough to whipping meringue. If mine ever burns out (which is unlikely…my grandmother has used her machine for twice as long as I’ve been alive…) I’ll get this pistachio green  🙂
  • Mason jars: We use them for everything. Storing chicken broth and almond milk, dry goods in the pantry, snacks in the diaper bag, salt scrub in the shower, laundry detergent by the washer, flowers everywhere, you get the idea. I read somewhere recently, a design site or something, that mason jars are “on the way out.” *all of the annoyed emojis* (Don’t worry, I have a diatribe waiting.)
    (Here you go.)
    Mason jars were about as “in” as Red Sox hats were in 2005. Everybody jumped on board with something that MILLIONS OF US already know to be amazing and worthwhile. We millions know this from having used them for OUR ENTIRE LIVES. Friends, I’ve long spoken out against bandwagon fans of anyone (particularly my beloved Sox), but just like being a Sox fan isn’t just a hobby, MASON JARS ARE A LIFESTYLE. If you’re not on board for life, don’t pretend to be while it’s popular.

WEEKLY USE

  • griddlerGriddle/waffle iron: This was a very sweet gift from our wedding that I had no idea what to do with. I used it to make waffles a few times when Kyle and I were first married, but other than that it’s been pretty lifeless and I’ve considered getting rid of it several times. However, because the plates are removable and dishwasher safe which makes clean-up super fast, last year I started using it to make our Saturday morning pancakes. Now it gets a weekly workout and I’m interested into trying it for other stuff too!
  • Crockpot: I use this a couple times a week for crockpotdinners and usually once a week to make broth. Broth cooks for a long time whether you make it on the stove or in a crock pot, and I like that when I make it in the crock pot I can just set it and leave it without worrying about either adding water to it as it evaporates, or burning down our house. I consider that a perk. I love that ours has the lid that seals really well and snaps on, so I can make something and pack it over to a friend’s house without spilling a drop.Wishlist crockpot: Programmable, with a 7 quart stove-to-slow cooker pot, and a sealing lid like my current one has. I don’t know if it exists, but if it does, I wouldn’t complain about owning it someday. (Do we need 7 quarts of…anything…right now? No. But I’M A LONG TERM THINKER, OKAY?)
  • thermometerThermometer: My sweet husband hooked me up with this thing after the hand-me-down from my mom stopped working. Not too pricy, has a great cord that I’m pretty sure is indestructible, and reads pretty darn accurately. Also comes with a handy clip thingy that you can snap onto the side of a pot or bowl.
  • Yogurt makeryogurtmaker: This was a big deal when it popped out of the box at Christmas. I told Kyle for months that it would make a big difference in our grocery budget if we got a yogurt maker, and I think he’s starting to believe me. This makes homemade yogurt so easy, and it’s really foolproof. As our family gets bigger over the years I think we’ll need a bigger one, or one where you can stack the jars, but for now this comfortably gets us through nearly a week.
  • saladspinnerSalad spinner: I actually just got this for Christmas, too. Actually before Christmas because my sweet husband saw me struggling yet again to roll up lettuce leaves in tea towels in an attempt to dry them off. Love my new spinner! The Amazon link you’re taken to touts it as being “space saving.” Still haven’t mastered that feature. This thing is huge.

OCCASIONAL USEapplecorer

  • Apple corer/peeler/slicer: In all honesty I probably use this little gadget maybe two or three times a year. But when I need it, man do I need it! Not only does this makes pushing through forty pounds of apples a snap, it makes it fun. When you’re twenty-three pounds into forty pounds of apples, trust me…you’re searching every which way for fun.

 

  • icecreammakerIce cream maker: This thing is so fun! I love that it attaches to my KitchenAid so simply and just does its thing. I do wish it didn’t have to be frozen for quite so long (read: FOR-EV-ER, Sandlot style) before being able to use it, but it turns out some beautiful ice cream.

2016: Homemade/No Waste

Being pregnant the second time around has opened my eyes to how much I’ve learned in the past couple of years about renovations, health and wellness, cooking, and you know, life. I’m only 25, so I guess I should be aware of how much I have to learn and that two years is a decent chunk of my life.

Something that’s been on my mind as a matter of curiosity has been where our food specifically comes from and how we can be as aware as possible of that. Learning some of that is obvious, like with produce. Last year we were part of a six-month long local produce CSA that only offers things grown within a two-hour drive of our home, and it was so wonderful! We ate a bunch of stuff we otherwise wouldn’t have, and it was delicious. We’ll be part of the vegetable CSA again this year, but were kinda overloaded with fruit so we’ll wait on that part until the kids are big enough to help out more on the eating front.

But what about other things? We cook from scratch a LOT at our house, but what about the little convenience things I buy for us? I’m curious. So I’m going to take as many of those convenience foods I buy and find out how to make them at home, and in the process I hope to learn more about where my raw ingredients come from. At the same time, I hope to learn how much of the food waste I make can be turned into something else, and turn my kitchen into a waste-as-little-as-possible zone.

If you’ve visited my blog more than once, you know I’m a terrible blogger. So inconsistent. I’m awful. But as a rough goal, I’d like to figure out something new once a week, so I’ll likely be posting on this topic about that frequently (mostly as a way to keep track of it myself in the future), at least until the baby comes in May. Or until we move. Or until something else comes in between me and the blog. Which will probably come next Tuesday or something, and likely in the form of an overflowing laundry basket. But until then, I’ll document what I’m learning on here each Wednesday. Wish me luck, and thanks for following!

9 Great Chicken Salad Ideas

We love roasted chicken at our house. LOVE it. Doesn’t hurt that it goes on sale every Monday, so I can buy an organic chicken already roasted for cheaper than I could make it, should I so choose (although it’s yummier when we make it, so that happens pretty often too). There are plenty of ways to serve a roast chicken, but whipping up a quick chicken salad is one of the easiest things to do. A whole chicken turned into chicken salad can feed us for so many days! However…I just can’t get on board with eating the same thing four days in a row. Some people can do that, but I prefer a little more variety. Toss in a little of this and a little of that and you have an entirely new lunch! Here are some ideas for riffing on chicken salad.

Classic
The root of it all. The mother of all chicken salads. The staple of your Great-Aunt Nellie’s lunch diet for approximately 79.5 years.
Dressing: mayonnaise, salt, pepper, maybe a dollop of mustard
Add: shredded/chopped chicken, chopped pickles and celery, hard-boiled eggs if you’re feeling fancy

Tarragon
This tastes so much more fancy than the time required really merits.
Make the dressing first so the flavors have some time to ooze together: mayo, olive oil, juice of half a lemon, chopped tarragon, a very well endowed chopped clove of garlic (or three), and salt and pepper.
Add: chopped chicken.
Enjoy: quickly if you want to get any at all. This one’s a crowd-pleaser.

Coronation
My riff on the British staple. Not as good as when eaten in England, but I’ll take what I can get.
Dressing: one part mayo, one part plain yogurt, good shakes of both curry and cumin, juice of half a lemon
Add: chicken, halved grapes (or raisins, if you must), slivered almonds
Enjoy: on whole grain bread while listening to the angels sing around you. In British accents.

Autumn
Inspired by a delicious version I had at a local diner.
Dressing: olive oil, a dollop of mayonnaise, red wine vinegar, bit of mustard, salt, pepper, and chopped rosemary and/or sage
Add: chicken and chopped pistachios
Enjoy: over lettuce. Or make with leftover Thanksgiving turkey and serve on one of Mom’s rolls.

Thai
Rough recipe from an old friend.
Dressing: mostly just your favorite peanut sauce
Add: chicken, chopped bell peppers, cole slaw cabbage, peanuts, and chopped cilantro
Enjoy: when it’s really warm out, you don’t want to generate heat by cooking, and you would like Thai takeout but it’s not in the budget or is too much effort to pick up. BOOM.

Fresh Mex
Dressing: one part sour cream or plain yogurt, one part your favorite salsa
Add: chicken, roasted corn, black beans, cherry tomatoes, chopped cilantro, and ¼-inch cubes of pepper jack
Enjoy: on Taco Tuesday

Italian
Dressing: olive oil, red wine vinegar, dollop of mustard, salt, pepper, chopped basil and oregano
Add: chicken, diced marinated artichoke hearts, and garbanzo beans
Enjoy: alongside homemade foccacia

Spring
Dressing: mayo or plain yogurt, olive oil, juice of half a lemon, salt and pepper, chopped mint
Add: chicken, peas
Enjoy: if you like mint

Honey Almond
Inspired by a favourite at a local deli bar.
Dressing: dollop of mayo, olive oil, squirt of mustard, a bit of honey, salt, pepper, and chopped sage if you have it
Add: chicken, slivered almonds
Enjoy: whenever the mood strikes…you’ll probably have all this on hand

Any great chicken salad recipes at your house? Do share!