Yes, we are in the middle of a heat wave and an awful pandemic. You don’t have to worry or complain about having to go outside to fire up the grill and throw on a steak or burgers and dogs; it’s too darn hot. As for me, I’m setting my morning alarm an hour earlier so that I can get chores done earlier, like watering the outdoor plants that are now wilting every afternoon and walking the dogs before the sidewalks and greenbelts are too hot on their paws. But by the time 9 a.m. comes around, if I haven’t done my outside to-dos … they are moved to 7 p.m.!
So, what do I do inside about preparing meals? I really don’t want to turn on the oven, so I’m making cool summer dishes or quick stirfrys on the stove.
Our daughter Lorie is a fantastic photographer and a genius behind the camera, but in the kitchen, she prefers quick, pre-made or carry-out meals; all but one item, which is her Achilles heel. Lorie likes to make cupcakes using a few packaged mixes. I have been staying at her house, so I told her it was all up to her if she wants to heat up her kitchen. “Please Join Our Table” and enjoy quick, easy summer entrees and yes, Lorie’s yummy cupcakes, too!
The Deerwood Club Chinese Chicken or Shrimp Salad
In 1987-88 I worked at the Deerwood Club and one of the ladies’ golf group’s favorite lunch menu items was the very unique Chinese Chicken Salad. The club tried to take it off the menu several times, but by member requests, it was always brought back. Jackie Berdine, a Deerwood Club member, secured the recipe and shared it with me. Give it a try; easy, fast and really tasty.
1 head of cabbage, shredded (may use Napa cabbage)
4 green onions, sliced thin on the diagonal
4 tablespoons of toasted slivered or sliced almonds
4 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
2 packages of chicken-flavored ramen noodles, broken up
3/4 cup canola oil (I use grapeseed oil)*
1/4 cup sesame oil*
4 tablespoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons pepper
6 tablespoons vinegar (I use rice vinegar)
1 1/2 teaspoons of Accent seasoning or the ramen noodle seasoning
1 pound cooked chicken (cut into small pieces) or shrimp (in this hot weather I just buy a rotisserie chicken from H-E-B or pre-cooked shrimp from the fish counter)
* The original called for 1 cup all-vegetable oil, I think sesame oil adds more flavor; you can omit the sesame oil and use 1 cup regular vegetable oil.
Whisk vegetable oil, sesame oil, brown sugar, salt, pepper, vinegar, Accent seasoning or the noodle seasoning together, set aside. Mix broken noodles into cabbage with green onions. Pour dressing over cabbage and noodle mixture. Add chicken or shrimp and cover. Set in fridge 2-3 hours. Toss cabbage mixture gently with sesame seeds and put in serving dishes. Top with toasted almonds.
Mock Chelsea Deli Chicken Salad
I am notorious for posting food photos on Facebook. One item, my mock Chelsea Deli Chicken Salad, was liked about 100 times. I had many requests for the recipe so here is my version. It has lots of flavor and can be made dairy-free. I don’t always write down my recipes so here it is as best as I can remember it!
1 cup celery, minced
2/3 cup red onion, minced
3 cups cooked, skinless chicken breast meat (finely minced)
1/2 to 3/4 cup Duke’s Mayo
1/2 cup full-fat Greek or sheep yogurt, strained 12 hours through cheesecloth (or coconut or cashew yogurt, same straining applies)
1 large teaspoon lemon pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder with parsley
Salt and black pepper to taste
Splash of lemon juice
I run the celery, onion and chicken separately through the food processor or chopper until chopped up really fine. Place in a large mixing bowl. Add mayo, yogurt and seasonings. Mix well and chill 1 hour or more before serving.
I serve it over an extra-virgin olive oil and tarragon wine-vinegar dressing and arugula (I like the sharpness of it against the rich creamy chicken salad). I garnish with tomatoes and avocados.
Note: For extra flavor, in place of the strained yogurt I will add homemade tzatziki sauce.
One-bowl Strawberry Cupcakes
Here is one of the cupcakes our daughter Lorie can’t resist. She received this recipe when she was 20 years old from our former neighbor, Pam Wohlers.
1 15.25-ounce box white-cake mix
1 small package strawberry Jell-O mix
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup water
1 16-ounce container of creamy supreme strawberry frosting
Optional: Juice from a small 8-ounce frozen package of strawberries
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, mix together the cake and Jell-O mix. Add the water, strawberry juice (optional) and oil, and using a mixer, mix 2 minutes. Add eggs 1 at a time, stirring after each egg. Place in cupcake pan that has paper liners in each section. Fill each 2/3 full. Bake 20 minutes. Cool and frost.
Note: If serving immediately after frosting, Lorie sometimes adds a fresh strawberry on top of each cupcake.