Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Grilled Chicken followed by Chicken Salad

Welcome to my new food blog! I'm anxious to get started documenting my trials, successes and periodic errors in the kitchen. I love to cook/bake. I know many people like to do one or the other - but I enjoy both. Alot! For many years I've been recording what I cook/bake with side notes of what I changed, liked or to "never make again". I've referred back to these notes MANY times! I"ll share more about that in a future post. I also hope to eventually use pictures in my blog, but I have to confer with my blogging mentor on how to do that!

This past weekend I decided to make some grilled chicken, potato salad and corn on the cob for our Sunday dinner. In preparation, on Saturday, I put 7 huge chicken breasts in Italian dressing in a ziploc bag. I should mention that I was making more chicken then we needed for dinner with the intent of making chicken salad out of it. I also boiled 5# of new potatoes Saturday night so they would have time to chill before making my salad.

On Sunday, I got going on my potato salad. The recipe is from my cousin Deb (hence the name I've given it). It has no eggs in it and is absolutely wonderful. After having it at a dinner party at her house last year I had to have the recipe! I've made it many times since - YUM!

Deb's Red Potato Salad


5# red potatoes with skins left on (I prefer using the small new potato variety)
1# bacon, cut up into small pieces, fried and drained on paper towel (I like the ready-to-use Hormel bacon pieces in a bag- no frying for me!)
3 scallions/bunches of green onions chopped fine (I use green onions)
Approx 1/4 to 1/3 cup fresh chives, snipped into small pieces (spend the money and buy the fresh chives if you don't have them - it makes the salad!)
1 cup (more or less) real mayonnaise (I use Hellman's Light)

Cut up the potatoes with the skins on, add bacon, scallions/green onions, chives and mix with mayonnaise. Chill and enjoy!

This salad will last up to a week in the refrigerator

Now the whole reason this meal was planned for Sunday dinner was so I could have chicken salad to enjoy during the week. Looking back I now wish I had NOT used the grilled chicken. In the past I've always made this salad with chicken that I boiled specifically for that purpose. The grilled chicken, that was marinated in Italian dressing made the finished salad not taste as great as it has in the past. Oh well, live and learn! I'm not saying we didn't eat it, because we did! And we enjoyed it, but it just wasn't up to my expectations. I don't know where I got the original recipe as I have no source info on my sheet. This recipe has two of my favorite things in it - grapes and nuts. Here is the recipe with my side comments:

Chicken Salad with Grapes

4-5 cups of cooked chicken (could be boiled and then cut up into bite sized pieces or cut up and then cooked quickly in a skillet) and chilled
1/2 cup of chopped onion, scallion or green onions
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (I like to use almonds - slivered or sliced)
1 cup seedless grapes - halved (green or purple - I prefer green)
1 cup mayonnaise (I use Hellman's Light)
1 tbsp fresh parsley (I like to use fresh dillweed)

In a mixing bowl, stir the chilled, cut up chicken with the onion, celery, nuts and grapes.

In a smaller bowl, blend the mayonnaise and seasonings together. Adjust as needed and then mix into chicken mixture.

Yield: enough fililng for 8 sandwiches

All of the amounts are able to be increased according to taste - more grapes - more nuts, feel free to change it up!

Our vegetable for the meal was sweet corn on the cob. I boiled the corn on the stove and it was absolutely wonderful - the peaches n' cream variety (or some say milk n' honey). I melted some of the "healthy" margarine and mixed in some Ms. Dash Garlic Herb Blend for slathering on the corn. Butter was available as well as salt and pepper.

Rounding out the Sunday meal was fresh strawberries over angel food cake with cool whip. I make my angel food cake from scratch (which I will share at a later time) and because it is a much larger cake then you can buy in the store I oftentimes have some left over. I had a couple quarter cakes in the freezer which I had thawed out. I cleaned the quart of strawberries that I had purchased, cutting them up into small pieces. I then sprinkled a tablespoon or two of sugar over them and then took my potato masher and gave the mixture several good smashes. I let it sit in the fridge for a few hours and served the strawberries over slices of angel food cake with a dollop of cool whip on top! A great ending to a great meal!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

1st Running Race.....ever!

Race report – 7/4/09 Fifth Season Race

My first 5K is under my belt and I feel good about it. Had you told me 2 months ago that I would be running the race, not walking as I have done for years I would have laughed in your face. My girls, Rachelle & Becca have inspired me to be more fit. I’ve watched them work very hard to accomplish various fitness and training goals over the last few years and I stand in awe of them.

A couple months ago Rachelle and I discussed the possibility of me starting to run. My birthday was in early May and she decided that in order to reinforce this interest she would take me on a shopping spree. New running shoes…cute new running outfit…the right socks…and a visor. I was set…and I looked good! All I needed was a plan that wouldn’t scare me off and wouldn’t hurt this 52 year old body. Rachelle hooked me up to the Couch Potato to 5 K Running Plan – a 9-week training plan.

I think back to the first couple weeks – they seemed too easy - probably because I wasn’t exactly a couch potato going into this. (I’ve been using a treadmill, elliptical and stationary bike for daily workouts for many years. Plus I walk outside 1.5 to 2.5 miles several times a week.) But at the end of week three I panicked. I was struggling with the 3-minute runs and the next week was going to require me to run 5 minutes at a time. So I called Rachelle and explained my concerns and asked if I should repeat that week. Rachelle asked me the following questions about my current workout: First, was I lightheaded? Secondly, did I feel nauseous? And lastly, was there any pain? The answer was no to all of them. Apparently I was finally moving out of my body’s comfort zone. I needed to press on and I did. Week after week I could feel my stamina improving and I was running for longer periods. My longest run up to race time was 25 consecutive minutes.

The 5K Plan
Because my training had not actually gotten me to the point of running a full 5K – Rachelle, had decided on a plan for me. I would run the first mile; walk till recovered and then finish the race.

I was up early, ate a breakfast of Lego waffles and a half-cup of coffee and felt ready. But once I got to the race site I found myself with a case of pre-race jitters or were they shivers due to cool temps and constant rain? My hubby Jim and Rachelle were there to provide moral support and cheer our efforts. Becca was going to run as well as my sister Patty. Patty and I would run together. We had done some training together and had similar paces.

Ready, set, go!
Since I had only been a walker in previous years I had never experienced the excitement of being a part of the big running group. It was great! Part one of the plan was on schedule. Patty and I ran the first mile and then walked from there to the 1.2 water station. We shared some water and then resumed our jogging pace. Unfortunately the rest of the plan didn’t go as it was supposed to. We ran two more legs of .5 – .75 miles and had to take a recovery walks after each. So there was a total of 3 short recovery walks. We ran the last half-mile in and crossed the finish line. HURRAH!

My time was 32:09. There were only 51 women finishers in the 50-59 age group and I finished 5th! The 3rd & 4th place finishers were only seconds ahead of me! Do I wish that I had skipped one of the recovery walks? No. This race is my benchmark for all future races - I have nowhere to go but up! I’ll be done with my current training schedule in 2 weeks and then my next race will be the Sweet Corn Festival 5K in 6 weeks and I should be ready to bust out by then! Plan on a marked improvement!!!!