A simple salad entree with a lot of flavor.
It's hard to believe that we'll be celebrating Labor Day this weekend. Is it just me, or does it feel like two seconds ago we were swapping out our pastel Easter decor for red, white and blue?
One of my favorite parts of this season has been taking care of our first garden here at the house, and from that we had quite a burst of tomatoes. With all of this rain, we're at the end of that harvest and I wanted to make sure to use up what I still had in a tasty and quintessentially summer dish.
This past week the heat crept back (we're talking high 90's!), and I was trying to think of something easy to make that wouldn't require me to stand over the oven for too long. With it being the end of the season, I felt nostalgic for a summertime classic - the BLT! To make this salad a little heartier, I added chicken so that it was a suitable entree.
CHICKEN BLT SALAD
2 hearts of romaine lettuce (there's just two of us, but chop more if you've got more people to feed!)
4-5 chopped tomatoes
2 cooked chicken breasts, chopped
6 slices of cooked bacon, crumbled
1/4 c croutons
Dressing (we used caesar)
1. Cook the bacon over medium heat. Set aside on a plate lined with paper towel (to help absorb the grease). If bacon is your favorite part of the BLT, add more to the pan ;)
2. In the same skillet with bacon drippings, add the chicken and a thin layer of water. Cover with a lid and allow to cook, about eight to ten minutes. Halfway through, rotate in the pan with tongs.
3. Once the chicken is done, remove from pan and allow to cool about five minutes.
4. Rinse the romaine, and add to a large salad bowl with chopped tomatoes, croutons and bacon (crumble or chop it first).
5. On a cutting board, chop the chicken into bite-sized pieces and add to the salad.
6. Top with your favorite dressing.
It wasn't the easiest week. For years, I've battled with my health whether it be Lyme disease and lingering neurological effects from 2014 or a gluten-intolerance that resulted from the same disease. Before that, I was dealing with a hormone imbalance which caused one heck of a year for me in college.
Freshman year of college, I woke up one morning to find that I'd gotten my period, and just an hour later found myself in the most excruciating pain I'd ever experienced. Realizing that there was something more than cramps going on, my parents took me to the emergency room where I was at first thought to be having an ectopic pregnancy. Once that was ruled out, they conducted ultrasounds to find that I'd had a cyst rupture. Every month, for at least six months after that, I found myself dealing with a ruptured cyst when I'd get my period. Many times this landed me in the ER with morphine-filled IV drip, vomiting and convulsing from the pain. It got to the point that if I was on-campus and felt cramps coming on for my period, I'd rush to my car and rush home for fear that I'd have a rupture. I was also informed around that time that I had fibroids, which are common, but that mine could potentially affect my fertility.
In later months after that, I wound up on the birth control pill because the synthetic hormones would help to regulate mine. It did keep me from experiencing another cyst burst... until recently.
In February, I stopped taking my pill because I realized that masking the symptoms with a band-aid wasn't going to make them go away. The past seven months have been tumultuous to say the least.
After a couple of very long days and a lot of emotions, I took Rufus out into the yard so that he could run around, and I headed over to the garden to check on the tomatoes. Some were ready, some where just getting started, and some were orange and already on their journey. Pausing and taking a moment to look at them, I realized it was the reminder that I needed to slow down and to be OK with this journey my body and I are on, and to not get so frustrated that I'm not where I want to be yet. It can't be forced, it has to just happen. Like our garden that I've dedicated so much time to this season, I need to just continue to nourish my mind, body and soul and it'll heal.
If you've been following me for the past few years, you know that I have a background in archaeology and anthropology. Last year, Historic Yellow Springs asked me on as their archaeology camp instructor, and I was thrilled to have the opportunity to go back (I worked there out of college before starting my own company).
I was invited back this year, and it's been such a fun experience again. Though we're going to be doing a few makeup days this week because of the flood earlier this week (this seems to be a recurring theme this summer, right!?), we've had some good digging weather.
Our dig location this year is at the poolhouse/old bathhouse - there's a rich history here and if you're interested in learning more about it, I highly recommend that you pop on over to Historic Yellow Springs' site. Since we're digging at a site that was high in activity, we're hoping to continue to find some artifacts like buttons or even clay marbles. We did find one button remnant thus far, and are holding out hope that this week we'll get a little deeper into our pits for more artifacts. Right now, we're mostly finding brick, mortar and glass shards. Still exciting!
On Friday night, I decided (for the first time ever) that I wanted to try making a cocktail for Dan and I from scratch. As it turns out, it's not too hard if you don't mind putting a few minutes into it! We had a bunch of blueberries left over from the week, and a fresh bottle of bourbon that we hadn't broken into (and wouldn't unless we had something to do with it), so I figured I'd do a little something to get some use out of each.
Blueberry Bourbon Cocktail
2 tablespoon fresh (grated) ginger
1 1/2c blueberries
1 1/2 shots of bourbon
Club soda (or if you're winging it like me, a dash of Sprite)
The idea of making simple syrup from scratch seemed intimidating, but as it turns out you just have to boil sugar. In a small saucepan, add the sugar, water and the grated ginger and allow it to come to a boil. Stir, and then reduce the heat. The sugar will begin to dissolve, and when it does you'll want to remove the pan from the heat and let it cool. I found that it took a really long time to cool in the pan, so I transferred it to a small mixing bowl and let it cool on the counter to shorten the waiting time.
Then, in my blender, I added the blueberries, bourbon and the cooled simple syrup. I pulsed it a few times and then poured it into a glass over ice. Add the dash or two of Sprite (or club soda if you've got a better stocked fridge than I do) to top it off.