I had never imagined, when first I set out to write about food, that I would ever say the words "it all started with a box of prepackaged Pillsbury mix," but here we are.
To be honest, I don't even know where the stuff came from. I was cleaning out the cramped cupboard that houses my "baking only" ingredients and found this guy crammed in the back with some boxed cake mixes, from some long ago time when I must have not really given a damn. The first impulse was to chuck it. I've been enjoying baking more and more, and cooking alongside Poppin' Fresh seemed like a setback. However, I'm cheap and it's wasteful. I knew from the start that I didn't want to make the hot rolls that were the main focus of the product. The "great pizza crust" touted in the lower left corner was tempting, but once again I'd already locked in my menu for the week, and I wanted the dough boy gone. (I needed room for cake flour, so that I could eventually make these.) As anyone who even periodically reads this blogs knows, one area where I do have room to tamper is with dessert. The two years I spent working at a cinnamon roll factory had ruined me off of the sticky treats for most of my adult life, but with one caveat. Orange rolls. Perhaps it was because they only made them sporadically, perhaps they were just better, but while the cinnamon rolls I bagged each day grew to disgust me, orange rolls were a highlight of my day whenever the test pan ended up in the break room.
Let's get something straight right up front. When I say chicken salad, I'm not talking about tuna's equally gloppy cousin. I'm talking about a healthy, vibrant green salad topped with juicy slices of chicken breast. If you were expecting the other chicken salad, you'll have to look elsewhere.
Now that we have that out of the way, let's turn our attention to the salad. While the actual assembly of the salad is easy, the quick part is relative. To give our chicken the proper flavor (one that will allow us to eat the salad completely dressing free,) we have to prepare it at least several hours in advance. You'll want a couple of boneless, skinless chicken breasts-one for every two people you plan to serve. Poke them a couple of times on each side with a fork, and place them in a large Ziploc bag with a tablespoon of olive oil, the juice of one lemon, and a teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes, plus a few dashes of salt, then stick them in your refrigerator to marinate.
I started this week off with a dilemma. Although I got behind a bit during the holidays, I feel like I need to post at least once a week to remain a viable blog. After all, I'm making money now-my first payment from the mucky-mucks who provide the advertising that frames this page will be here by the end of this month. But there can be no clicks without content. Problem is, I don't just write about food. I read about it as well. I've already gushed about Macheesmo on these pages but there is also Kayln's Kitchen, which has food so delectable I looked at it off and on for a month before I realized it was dedicated to the South Beach Diet, and The Food in My Beard, whose author must really take the whole "a picture is worth a thousand words" thing to heart-his step by step photos make any recipe seem easy. I could easily list a dozen more, but I'm worried if I gave you that many great blogs to read you wouldn't come back. The point of all this is that I ended up with a cooking conundrum. I need content, but on all the days I allot to creative cooking (three days a week are for leftovers or such challenging meals as potatoes topped with chilli,) I filled the menu with other blogger's dishes. Had they been written any length of time in the past I could have filed them under "Other People's Recipes" and hoped any slight modifications I made might make it worth reading about the process, but the things I am cooking are from recent enough posts that even fairly heavy modifications would still feel like theft. Obviously, I could have scrapped one of the meals and replaced it with something of my own, but that isn't what I wanted to do. African peanut stew sounds great. Chicken tortilla soup simmering all day in the crock pot sounds wonderful. I decided I would have to bite the bullet and find the cash to finish my half written review of the Salt Tears Coffeehouse and Noshery some lunch hour, and headed to the store.