Monday, December 12, 2011

Rotisserie Chicken Salad Recipe

This week I am on a mission, a mission of frugality, something which as a full-blooded Taurus is not in my nature. Fact is, I like spending money on food (a lot). I love nothing more than to spend a leisurely afternoon traversing the shiny, happy aisles of my local Whole Foods Market tossing high dollar cheeses into my cart at will, but life at home is about to get tight. I'm about to tackle a very big writing project which will involve considerable research, a buttload of words on the page, and more hours of complicated recipe testing than I can count.

What this means on a financial level is that I won't be able to do much of anything else, including any freelance writing for about 6-10 months, perhaps longer. Sure, I'll receive an advance, but as those of you who have have written cookbooks already know, unless you are Rachael Ray, Mario Batali or some annoying celebrity food writer wanna-be-chef like Gwyneth Paltrow, there's no way in heck you will be living off of any book advance money, especially when you figure in food costs, which can be quite significant depending on the number of recipes in the book along with complexity of their preparation and whether your penning a cookbook featuring lobsters or pinto beans.
Biscuits are super cheap to make and freeze well so you can make them in bulk
Moreover, lets not forget that an advance is exactly that-- an advance on future royalties from book sales, so asking for more money than you actually need up front is a great way to cut off your nose to spite your face as they say. When it comes to advance money, a writer must pay back the full amount of the advance before she sees one nickle of book royalties and figuring that from start to finish we're talking years here, I've found that it's best to stash as much cash as you can whenever you can. All I can say is thank god my husband has a real job.

So, here I sit, attempting to morph into my mother, who is the portrait of parsimoniousness and has a basement filled to the ceiling with on-sale canned and dry goods, two freezers toppling over with meats, ziplocked bags filled with frozen fruits and vegetables from last season's farmer's markets along with an entire separate room brimming with home-canned everything. This spartan existence comes natural to her, but then again, she's not a Taurus.
Oven baked bacon tastes as good as it looks.
For me, this whole saving money thing will begin with itsy bitsy baby steps, and step one will be designating Mondays as a make-a-bunch-of-crap for the whole week day. This morning I baked a pound of bacon in the oven (here's a fantastic recipe for roasted bacon by the way) and made a mess of biscuits to go with it. My dear husband is a breakfast sandwich addict and is often on the road for long hours at a time which makes the Mickey D's drive-thru line a fast, easy choice, so the first order of business was to provide him with all the bacon, egg and cheese fixin's he would need to easily recreate these sandwiches at home. Even better is that he now knows he's eating real bacon, eggs, cheese and biscuits.

Next up, I will be making a large pot roast. We'll have this for dinner tonight along with a big salad and some roasted sweet potatoes (sweet potatoes are super cheap and soooo good for you). Any roast beef leftovers will morph into shredded beef and bean burritos somewhere down the line later this week since I already picked up a big can of refried beans and a packet of large flour tortillas on sale for half off.

For the rest of this week's lunches, I'll make an easy rotisserie chicken salad made from a store-bought whole rotisserie chicken that I purchased for $6.00. In addition to sandwiches, said chicken salad might fill a tomato for an impromptu diner-style lunch or get spread on crackers for a last minute snack. Once we eat up all the chicken salad, I'll make a batch of egg salad, which will serve the same purpose using a similar dressing, and it's even less expensive. More to come as the cookbook progresses and operation "living lean" goes into full effect. In the meantime, enjoy this super easy chicken salad recipe.
Tarragon Chicken Salad Recipe

This is an easy to make basic chicken salad recipe. Feel free to leave out the walnuts and grapes or add in any other ingredients of your choosing such as diced apples, sweet pickles (or dill pickle relish) or curry powder. Also, go easy on the salt since many store-bought rotisserie chickens are already heavily salted.

Serves 6


2 cups rotisserie chicken, both white and dark meats, cut into bite-size pieces
1/2 cup lightly toasted walnuts
1/2 cup white grapes, sliced in half
1 stalk celery, cut into a small dice
1/2 small sweet onion, minced
1/4 cup mayonnaise (I prefer Duke's)
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons fresh tarragon leaves, minced
Salt and pepper, to taste

In a big bowl mix together your chicken, walnuts, grapes, celery and onion. In a separate small bowl, mix together mayonnaise, mustard and tarragon. Season with salt and pepper. Add dressing to chicken mixture and blend well. Check again for seasonings. Then, cover and refrigerate at least 4-6 hours or preferably overnight.

Serve chicken salad inside a hollowed out tomato or on dense whole grain bread with lettuce and tomato.

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