Cooking is my therapy. The repetition of chopping, slicing, sauteing, and stirring calms my soul and releases my locked up thoughts and feelings.
For Cinco de Mayo this year, I decided to fix something delicious and festive for dinner. Creamy chicken enchiladas sounded perfect. However, after stepping on the scale that morning and seeing I was down a couple pounds, I decided to go with a *HEALTHY, delicious and festive dinner. Thus, Mexican Chicken Salad. It was fantastic, folks! It smelled good. It looked good. And more important, it tasted good. I was proud to serve it to my family.
As I began preparing the meal, I became acutely aware of all that was around me. Through the open window I could hear my daughter quietly singing to herself while playing in the backyard. I could hear my neighbor mowing the lawn. I could smell the fresh cut grass (it mingled with the cilantro I was chopping at the moment - Heaven). The setting sun was filling my kitchen with bright, early evening light. It was a simple yet powerful moment. All was right in my world. The frustrations from earlier in the day were gone and I felt peaceful from the top of my head to the tips of my toes.
The Mexican Chicken Salad is a mix of a few of my favorite things. All tossed together-they are a tasty treat! As I began the prep work of seeding tomatoes and red peppers, cleaning the scallions, thawing the sweet corn and poaching the chicken, I could feel my muscles relax. Negative thoughts whispered through my mind and left. Perhaps they went out the open window, I don't know. My pent-up feelings from the day bubbled to the surface and I was able to look at them calmly and release them. It felt so good. If only every meal of every day was so therapeutic. This kind of therapy is something I could market!
I am posting the recipe for Mexican Chicken Salad. I hope you make it for dinner tonight and let it be your therapy for today. Kinda like Mexican Chicken Salad For the Soul (rather than soup).
Until next time,
*My definition of healthy food is whole food. Whole grains, whole fruit, whole vegetable, whole fat. Don't tell the latest diets. They will eat me for (a fattening) dinner. haha
Mexican Chicken Salad
by Amy Dotson (and Diana Schwarzbein)
4 boneless, skinless chicken beasts
1 cup fresh steamed corn (or frozen and thawed)
3 seeded and diced tomatoes
2 Tbl minced fresh cilantro
1 small minced fresh jalapeno pepper; or 1 to 2 Tbl canned diced green chilies, to taste.
6 cups fresh, washed spinach, torn into bite sized pieces
1 diced red bell pepper (I used 1/2 a red bell pepper)
1/4 cup diced red onion (I didn't have it-didn't use it)
1/4 cup chopped scallions
1/2 cup sliced black or green olives (I used black)
Mexican Chicken Salad Dressing (recipe to follow)
4 sprigs of cilantro for garnish (optional-of course)
In a medium, covered skillet, poach chicken in 1 inch of water with 2 bay leaves over medium heat until cooked through, about 20 minutes. Do not overcook. Let cool and shred with fingers (I chopped mine).
In a large bowl, combine all ingredients except spinach and cilantro sprigs. Mix with salad dressing. Line 4 plates with prepared spinach. Top with scoops of chicken salad. Garnish with a sprig of fresh cilantro.
Mexican Chicken Salad Dressing
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1 tsp. dries oregano
1 tsp ground cumin
2 minced garlic cloves (I like the jarred stuff)
1/2 cup mayo (made from pure-pressed oil preferrably)
1/4 cup pure-pressed vegetable oil (I used regular)
pepper and salt to taste
In a blender or food processor, blend all ingredients until smooth, or place ingredients in a jar with a tight-fitting lid and shake vigorously until well blended. Taste, and adjust seasonings.
Amy has been married to her hunky, business owning, semi-pro football playing, graphic designer husband for nearly 8 years. She is also mother to an energetic, delightful, and precocious 3 year old little girl. You'll find more at I Wish I Was in Dixie. Visitors always welcome.