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Chicken Salad with Walnuts and Pomegranates

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I have a confession. First, I have never made chicken salad. Second, I don’t think until I’ve tried a waldorf salad I ever thought that a chicken salad could be delicious. I’m no expert, but I think it’s safe to say that when you add chicken, lemon juice, walnuts, and the kitchen sink you’ll get magic. And that’s exactly what happened.

You can omit whatever you like from the below recipe but I just thought what would be appealing, both visually, texturally, and …. well that’s it.

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Chicken Salad with Walnuts and Pomegranates

(makes approx 6 cups)

  • 2 chicken breasts, boiled in salted water and diced/ cubed
  • 3 tbsp nigella seeds, or black sesame seeds
  • 1/2 cup or more of pomegranate seeds
  • About a handful of shredded sweet cabbage
  • juice from one lemon
  • generous salt and pepper shaking
  • approx 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • approx 1 1/2 cups grapes, cut in half
  • 2 celery stalks, cut in half lengthwise, and sliced
  • 2 cups of light mayo
  • 2 tbsp dried basil

Start off by dicing the chicken, if you haven’t already done so. Make sure that it’s not just in cubes, but in actual small pieces, the size of a grape, no larger. This really helps with the consistency of most salads you’re used to, like in the markets or restaurants. Add in the nigella and pomegranate seeds. Add in the cabbage (mine was already pre-shredded thanks to Trader Joe’s) and squeeze the juice of a lemon over the whole thing; add zest if you like as well. I was too lazy to be honest. 

Add the salt and pepper and mix together.

Add in the walnuts, grapes (cut in half), celery and basil. Finish off with Mayo. Stir until everything is coated. Add or decrease the amount of the mayo based on your taste. About 2 cups was just right for me to coat everything and not be COVERED in the mayo. Which would be too overpowering. If you can’t find pomegranate seeds, I’d recommend adding in apples for added crunch. 

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Walnut & Pear Jam Cookies and What I Did With My January

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Hello All!

It’s been a very, very long time. As my friend pointed out earlier today, it’s been about a month since I’ve lasted attempted at making anything delicious (well, I have, like ribs, but sadly I haven’t really attempted to chronicle the occasion).

Today was the day. I’m procrastinating pretty hard today when it comes to homework. I’ve been cleaning, baking (obviously), and working out. Doing anything I can not to think about the hours of work that’s ahead of me. I’m even going to be a perfect, model student and meet with a classmate to work together and study. That’s right, about 7 hours worth of study and ABA terminology for my Saturday. How fun.

Mostly, I’m excited to get work over with, and just sleep in past 7 am.

In the meantime, I get to enjoy these lovely cookies. They were adapted from Home Cooking Adventure and I couldn’t be happier with the way they smell, and taste.

The only thing that I changed really, was that I didn’t add walnuts on top of my cookies (and that was explained below) and I used pear jam I got from a trip to Yuciapa for apple picking. I know, funny how I got pear jam when I went apple picking. But I got enough apples that I thought I’d be making my own (secretly).

It turned out amazing, and since I’m trying to be healthier overall, I did a little calorie count for y’all: these cookies are a smooth 90 calories each! Which means I get to enjoy them as I’m typing this up AND when I’m done working out. Win win, indeed.

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Walnut and Pear Jam Cookies

  • 1 stick butter
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup pear jam
  • 1/4 tsp almond extract
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 cup walnuts, chopped
  • walnuts for top (I omitted this, as I prefer to have more walnuts IN my cookies than ON TOP of them)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until well mixed. Beat in the egg.

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Add apricot jam, almond extract and vanilla extract and stir well to incorporate. Stir dry ingredients together,  flour and baking powder and add into butter mixture.

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Fold in the chopped walnuts.

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Using a tablespoon or your ice cream scoop take small balls and place on prepared baking sheets with distance between them. Top with chopped walnuts and bake 15-17 minutes in the preheated oven or until golden brown. Remove from sheet to a cooling rack. Cool completely.

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Now that I’ve got you hooked on the cookies, I can discuss where the rest of my January went.

I’ve been eagerly (and frighteningly) preparing for my first ever visit to Cal ABA. For those of you that don’t know. Cal ABA is a California based conference for professions and students (and affiliates and parents and everyone) that discusses future and current research in Applied Behavior Analysis. My company will be going there, as well as my University program. Not to mention a few of my classmates will be presenting their research there– I couldn’t be more excited.

In other news… I accomplished one of my 2013 goals already! If you all remember, I wanted to purchase an item from Agent Provocateur , just for myself, not for anything special, or for a birthday (or Valentine’s Day). So basically, instead of that store, I chose another, based out of New York, Called Journelle.

As soon as I got this pretty package in the mail I knew I’d be happy.

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In my humble opinion, I think that Journelle is a lot better (price wise for the same quality) and it’s more versatile  I can wear it for a romantic night out, or under work clothing (and not feel filthy).

I purchased about 5 different styles (bras with undies to match), and they all fit perfectly, true to size and quality to boot! Absolutely wonderful! Aaaand free shipping~

I know that January is a long month, but that’s basically all I’ve been doing with it.

Christmas

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So Christmas is in a week and I’m in the spirit of baking, cooking, searing, and soaking everything I possibly can as long as it’s got Christmas somewhere in it.

I had my Christmas Part with friend last Friday and it was a blast. I opted for a lot of finger foods, and my friend offered some lovely chili which I ate gluttonously the next morning before work. I have been pottering away at my Nigella cookbooks and a few stars of the show (Christmas Spiced Nuts and Pistachio Fudge) will make another appearance as I head out to family parties and give some Hostess gifts.

First, I got a hold of some fresh cranberries, and what better way than to make my Cranberry Bakewell Tart (courtesy Nigella). I have to say that the recipe was a slight challenge as I added too much water to the dough, however, it came out perfectly, and deliciously.

Next to that I had my lovely spiced peaches to go to friends and family, and spiced Christmas nuts.

Cranbery Bakewell Tart

For the pastry
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup ground almonds
1/3 cup confectioners sugar
1 stick plus 1 tbsp cold butter
1 egg, beaten
1-3 tbsp iced water
pinch salt

Put the flour, almonds and confectioners sugar into a food processor and pulse together. Add the diced butter and process again until the mixture looks like oatmeal.

Beat together the egg, salt and ice water and tip down the funnel of the food processor as it is running, to bind the pastry. Form the pastry into a flat disc, wrap in plastic wrap and leave to rest in the fridge.

For the filling
1 stick plus 1 tbsp butter
1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp sugar
3 eggs
zest and juice of 1 clementine
1 1/4 cups ground almonds
1 cup cranberry jam*
8 oz royal icing

Preheat the oven to 400.
Melt the butter and leave it to cool slightly. Beat together the sugar, eggs and zest, then add in the melted butter, stir in the ground almonds. Roll out the disc of pastry to fit in a 10 inch deep fluted tart pan with a removable base, and prick the base with a fork. Spread the jam onto the pastry and pour over the almond mixture.

Bake for 45 minutes, leave to cool completely on a wire rack. once cooled make the royal icing using the juice from the clementine, work over the top of the tart and decorate with almonds, nonpareils, cranberries, etc.

Cranberry Jam* 

This cranberry jam is the easiest recipe ever, and the one which is well worth it.

Take 4 cups of fresh cranberries to 1 3/4 cups sugar and about 1/4 cup of water and dissolve sugar in water. After this is done, and it will take a while, you raise the heat to make the mixture boil, about 10-12 minutes.

DONE! Let cool before adding to tart above.

Spiced Christmas Nuts
4 cups of assorted nuts (almonds, hazelnuts, cashews, peanuts, pecans, walnuts).
2 tablespoons garam masala
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1.5 tablespoons of celery salt
kosher salt to taste
In a large skillet add nuts and heat for 3 minutes. Add oil and spices, leaving the salt out, and mix for another 7 minutes or so, making sure everything is glossed with the spices.
Pitch out onto a plate or aluminum tin and season with salt to taste.

shown: almonds, cashew, walnuts, and pecans

perfect for gifting!

Lastly, my spiced peaches for my boyfriend’s mother will be the tie in to the post. It’s really awesome, in my opinion, to give the gift of food and deliciousness. It’s not that it’s hard to find gifts for her, and in fact I’ve already done that, but it’s fun to get people stuff throughout the December time without them expecting it, and even if they do (because they know me so well) it’s nice to give all month long!

Sealed and Stored

Spiced Peaches
These are wonderfully perfect. You can eat them hot or room temperature, as long as they’re stored in a sterile jar and sealed they can keep for 6 months and if not sealed about 5 days in the fridge.
Ingredients:
2 14-oz cans of peach halves in syrup
an inch of ginger root, peeled and thinly sliced
1/4 teaspoon of black pepper corns
3 cloves
2 small cinnamon sticks
1 tablespoon of rice vinegar or white wine vinegar
Add peaches with syrup into a pot or deep pan. Let warm through about 2 minutes, add Vinegar, ginger root, cloves, black pepper  corns and cinnamon sticks. Let come to boil (about 5 minutes) and take off heat. Serve or store in sterile jars.