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Cherry Chicken for Picnickin'

Posted Jul 17 2011 6:08pm
Picnicking is suck a weird word, isn't it? Adding that 'k' in the middle just messes with my eyes and my head and makes me start panicking, whose similarly added 'k' only contributes to the downward spiral of confusion. It's like adding 'e' when making potato plural. [I thought only Mr. Potato Head had pota-toes?] Or not changing the 'y' to 'ie' when pluralizing monkey. [Hey, hey, you were The Monkies...but "hey, hey" you failed your spelling test.] And let's not even get started on the conjugation of the verb "to ski."
But I digress.
(Before I've even begun!)
Last Sunday evening, I was picnicking at the park--Zilker Park to be specific. I, along with a plethora of other Austinites settled in to the Hillside Theater for the annual summer musical production: Footloose.
Having been to see Annie last summer , I knew that the production would be populated with lots of people having picnics prior to the performance.* (I also knew that the people around me would be happier this year, as I didn't know much of the music and couldn't sing-a-long or try to dance on my blanke t like I did for Annie.)
*I think I deserve a standing ovation at curtain call for that alliteration!
After having grabbed a bite for my visitor at Torchy's beforehand (and me not being very hungry due to the heat), our picnic was quite plain: a tub of Cedar's Roasted Red Pepper Hummus--one of my favorites, actually [even if they do spell hummus with an o^]...
^When did I become the spelling police?
...and an assortment of crudite.*
*Bonus points to Liz for actually using the word crudite (and pronouncing it correctly) in describing what we were taking to the park.
I also popped not one, but two, bags of popcorn. The larger bag is the incredibly delicious Boy Scouts of America Light Butter Popcorn (perfectly salted, not too buttery) and the smaller bag is a 100-calorie Pop Secret Kettle Corn on which I sprinkled cinnamon and Savory Spice Shop 's Honey Powder .* We had some cantaloupe from the Farmers' Market as well.
*Which Liz still can't believe exists . I was pretty satisfied with our collection of nibbles, even if in my mind I had envisioned a perfectly prepped and packed basket of sandwiches, salads, and assorted dessert cookies and bars. Perhaps even a pie ? When I looked around at all the other picnics being spread on the hillside, I couldn't help but feel a little envious: margaritas were being mixed, homemade chicken salad sandwiches were being consumed, cheese boards were being assembled, wine was being poured. I could have done better! Heck, even Grace Kelly was able to provide some baked chicken for Cary Grant in To Catch a Thief.*
*Which I saw on Thursday on the big screen at The Paramount. Seriously, who knew that the trio of Kelly, Grant, and Hitchcock could be so darn laugh-out-loud hilarious?
[ Source ]
And I did!
[Better late than never, right? Even if I didn't actually take it on a picnic.
I
could have. I still can. And that is all that matters.]
Yes, y'all, I fulfilled my chicken salad dreams---and played a nice game of "what else could I possibly throw in this mess?"---to create some "Just Peachy" Cherry Chicken Salad for you to enjoy at home or in a field or under a tree...or wherever else you might care to eat lunch. [Hopefully not at your desk or in a windowless room or something.]
Once you have your ingredients prepped, it is super easy to prepare. Start with 1/2 lb. of cooked chicken, shredded or chopped. (I've always had this thing about shredded chicken in chicken salads...don't know where it came from, but I'm sticking to it.)
Mix in 1/4 cup plain yogurt* and 1 Tablespoon coarse ground Dijon mustard.
*I have convinced myself that using yogurt, with its natural bacteria and cultures, means you can take this on a picnic and not worry about it the way you might with mayo. It's also healthier, so there's that.
Add a dash of salt and pepper and stir well to coat the chicken. Chop up some cherries and peaches.
Add those to the mix, along with 2 Tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil. [At this point I felt a bit like I was making my Cherry Peach Salsa .]
Stir it up!
Once you have everything incorporated, you can leave it just as it is for serving. If you are feeling a little ambitious, you could add some diced celery or onion for a little extra crunch or tang.
I myself was feeling nutty (as though that is something new) and threw in some finely chopped pecan 'chips' that I found hanging around the kitchen which I think belonged to my roommate. Mix it up one more time!
For something so seemingly random...
...it certainly is delicious. If you do make a sandwich, might I suggest some Cucumber Salad on the side?
Don't be scared. Make this! Picnic blanket totally optional. "Just Peachy" Cherry Chicken Salad
[Makes approximately 2 cups]
1/2 lb. cooked chicken, shredded or chopped
1/4 cup plain lowfat yogurt
1 Tbsp. coarse ground Dijon mustard
1/2 cup cherries, pitted and chopped
1 medium peach, chopped
2 Tbsp. finely chopped pecans
2 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh basil
s + p

1. In a small mixing bowl, stir together chicken, yogurt, and mustard.
2. Add a dash of salt and pepper; stir well to combine.
3. Add remaining ingredients. Mix well until evenly distributed.
4. Serve chicken salad on toasted bread, or on top of a bed of lettuce [or any other way in which you might like to serve or eat chicken salad :)].
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