chicken salad with grapes and raisins

Mayonnaise tends to be a rather black and white issue — you either love it or you hate it. I haven’t met many people who fall in the middle. In my house, just like with tomatoes, I’m the only one who loves mayonnaise. My husband cringes at the thought of it touching his sandwiches. And because they are loyal to their dad, my kids are following in his footsteps. But me? When I was pregnant with both kids, I didn’t crave pickles. I craved mayonnaise. The real, full-fat mayo. Well, that and Icees.

Because this week is going to be a bit of a beast, I told myself that I would be prepared for it this time. Not only will I put on my This-Week-Will-Not-Get-Me-Down game face, but I will actually pack a lunch.  Novel concept, I know, but sometimes these little things are sometimes tough to keep up with. I decided that I would make chicken salad — all for myself. And I can justify this, you see, because no one else likes mayonnaise. [imagine evil laughter here]

So, as I sit here on a rainy Sunday afternoon typing away on my Mac laptop, I’ve got two lunches chilling in the refrigerator.  I’ve made two little containers full of the most delicious chicken salad. When I finally get to squeeze in a few minutes for lunch Monday and Tuesday, the chunks of roasted chicken mixed with mayonnaise, celery, grapes, and golden raisins will give me a smile and get me through the rest of those busy days.

I am ready for this week. Oh, yes I am.

Chicken Salad with Grapes and Raisins

As much as I love full-fat mayonnaise, I just can't justify it, especially when I'm going to be the only one eating all of this delicious salad. I used a combination of light mayonnaise and nonfat Greek yogurt, and the flavor is spot on. You'll never notice the difference. Serve it up on your favorite sandwich bread, or just eat it out of a bowl.


2 chicken breasts (bone-in, skin-on)
1 tablespoon olive oil
Kosher salt
1 celery rib, cut into 1/4-inch slices
1 tablespoon finely chopped shallot
1 cup halved seedless red grapes
1/4 cup golden raisins
1/4 cup mayonnaise (I used Hellman's Light.)
1/4 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon black pepper


Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Place chicken breasts skin-side up on a sheet pan lined with foil. Brush chicken with olive oil and sprinkle generously with Kosher salt. Roast chicken breasts for 35-40 minutes, until the thickest part of the chicken breast reaches an internal temperature of 160 degrees. Let cool to room temperature then remove skin and bones. Cube chicken into 1/4-inch pieces.

Mix cooked chicken, celery, shallot, grapes, and raisins in a large bowl. In a small bowl, combine mayonnaise, Greek yogurt, lemon juice, 1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt, and black pepper. Mix well, then add to large bowl with chicken. Stir well to combine.

heirloom tomato bruschetta

I was listening to The Splendid Table podcast one day recently, and I heard a segment that Lynne Rossetto Kasper did on foods that we eat when we’re alone. It got me thinking about the foods that I eat when I’m alone. And, to be perfectly honest, I’m sort of embarrassed by my laziness when it comes to meal preparation when I’m only responsible for feeding myself. I’m perfectly content with a bowl of cereal. Actually, I’m usually excited to be able to eat a bowl of cereal. Awful, I know.

This past weekend was a bit of an unusual one. Because it was a working weekend for me, and because my husband and I planned to attend my high school reunion on Saturday evening, my parents kept our children for both nights. On Saturday, while Sam was doing some volunteer work, I found myself all alone at lunch time – a bit of a rarity on the weekends. After being inspired by one of my colleagues at work (a fellow foodie, of course!), I bought some beautiful heirloom tomatoes and decided to have a simple bruschetta. I can only do this when I’m alone, you see, because of my tomato-hating husband.

The bruschetta was simply divine. My only regret was that I had not made more of it. Had I let it sit for more than about 15 minutes, it probably would have been even better, but when there’s a beautiful tomato drenched in olive oil and balsamic in front of me, I simply cannot control myself. And especially not when said tomato is topped with a light sprinkling of fleur de sel.

By the way, if you don’t already listen to The Splendid Table podcast, you are seriously missing out. Lynne Rossetto Kasper gets me to work every morning and home every evening. Between her and Ira Glass of This American Life, I am one happy commuter.

Yield: 4 servings

Heirloom Tomato Bruschetta

Recipe just slightly adapted from this one in Bon Appétit, June 2008. I used heirloom full-size tomatoes instead of cherry tomatoes. I highly recommend using high quality olive oil and balsamic vinegar since these really make the dish.


6-8 ripe heirloom tomatoes (just depends on the size of the tomato)
1/2 small red onion, finely chopped
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing on the bread
3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Fleur de sel


Core and remove seeds from the tomatoes. Dice the seeded tomatoes into small pieces, depending on your preference (1/8 inch approximately).

Add tomatoes, onion, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar. Toss to combine. Sprinkle with fleur de sel just prior to serving.

Note: Serve with sliced baguette that you have rubbed with olive oil and toasted under the broiler. Or, simply eat out of the bowl with a spoon - which is what I did.

malted milk chocolate cookie tart

I have always been a fan of malted milk chocolates – Whoppers, to be exact. That malted milk center is just so addictive that I can’t resist them. When I saw this recipe in the July 2010 issue of Bon Appétit, I was sucked right in.

The malted milk chocolate cookie tart is really a dessert for kids, or at least adults who are really young at heart. With a SERIOUS sweet tooth.

I screwed it up a little by overcooking the edges, and I think that could have been prevented by covering the edges with foil partway through the baking time. I also used semisweet chocolate instead of bittersweet. Since my target audience was between the ages of 2 and 6, I thought semisweet was a better choice.

Although the kids really liked it – and I think my husband did too – it was too rich for me. I preferred to nibble the Whoppers off the top. And out of the box.

Yield: 16 wedge-shaped cookies

Malted Milk Cookie Tart

Only slightly adapted from this recipe in Bon Appétit, July 2010 issue. Instead of using bittersweet chocolate, I used semisweet. Because it sounded so perfectly simple, I decided not to fool around too much with the recipe. Note: If you don't have a 9-inch tart pan, use a buttered 9-inch pie plate instead.


1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 cup malted milk powder
1/2 cup sugar
1 scant teaspoon kosher salt
8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces, at room temperature
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup malted milk balls, coarsely chopped


Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
In food processor, pulse flour, malted milk powder, sugar, and salt. Add butter; pulse until moist clumps form. Transfer dough to work surface; gather into ball; and press evenly into the bottom of a 9-inch diameter tart pan with removable bottom.
Bake crust until evenly golden brown, about 45 minutes.
Scatter chocolate chips over crust; let stand 5 minutes to soften, then spread melted chocolate over hot crust in well that forms as center sinks. Sprinkle chopped malted milk balls all over. Cool completely. Remove tart from pan; cut into wedges.