Apron Strings by Samantha Gianulis – Affection, Lean Protein and Frugality.

New Year’s Resolution #1: Make everyone feel loved, everyday.

New Year’s Resolution #2: Eat even healthier.

New Year’s Resolution #3: Find ways to save money!

 

 

NOT JUST ANY CHICKEN SALAD

1 cup cooked chicken (from either a roasted chicken or a store-bought rotisserie), diced or cut up fine

3 stalks celery, diced

optional: 1 hard boiled egg, chopped

optional: one green onion, sliced thin

optional: 1/3 cup toasted walnuts, pecans, or almonds – cut up, sliced or slivered

2-3 tbsp. mayonnaise

1 tsp. sour cream

1/2 tsp. smoked paprika

1/2 tsp. Old Bay seasoning

salt and pepper to taste

squirt of lemon juice

Mix all ingredients well, taste to check seasonings, Add salt and pepper last, after checking seasonings! Good on toasted bread or sourdough roll.

Obvious way to accomplish all three: Make my husband’s lunch. Not just his lunch but his favorite food. An alternative to the nutrition-lacking drive-thru food. A better solution than the $5 sub sandwich.
I think these are resolutions I can stick with.

There are certainly resolutions I can not maintain, even through January. Like laundry and ironing. Somehow by mid-January, I find myself piled under clothes despite my best efforts to wash, fold, and put away at least one load per day of the week. And ironing? Forget it. I gave up that endeavor. The only hot press I use is a panini maker.

One year my resolution was to bring order to the closets and hair accessories of my daughters. I tried to reassemble the 2-piece and 3-piece outfits my youngest child owns to give me a sense of control over her half hand-me down, half purchased at Costco wardrobe. This effort was vanity in vain, and became an unrealistic casualty of our early, rushed school mornings. I quickly surrendered to “if it’s clean, put it on!” philosophy, and we’re all happier for it. The strangest part is that I never thought a “choose your battles” approach would apply to off-center ponytails and clothes that don’t match; camouflage t-shirts with striped pants Tuesday and a polka dot skort with a cow print jacket on Wednesday. One day I will miss these quirks. They stay.

But the last resolution is one that I romanticize, one that I desperately want to claim as conquered: to learn how to properly set a dinner table. To inherently know the right size taper candles so people can hold a civilized conversation about eighteenth century English literature, or discuss generations-old southern recipes. I want to understand the concept of the formal charger plate. I wonder, and feel very undignfied because I am not sure how many serving dishes can be on the table at once, or how long the tablecloth should be. I remember some clever napkin folding tricks from my catering days, so I suppose I have something going for me. When I have hostess mojo that matches my cooking ability, I will feel all grown up. I’m counting on that.

Resolutions. Start the year off right. Make the resolutions everyday so they become a habit.

Everyday.

It’s the things we do everyday that matter. Right?

I hope so. Because my first three resolutions – each year I build upon them – bring me so much, ridiculous giddy joy that I don’t give up all hope on myself as a good wife and mother, which is really the point of everything I do.

It all comes down to the same thing, all resolutions lead to home. Things second nature to me now were once resolutions that caused me to change something about me then, and that is how it’s supposed to work come January 1st.

You’ve got to start somewhere. I make everyone’s lunch every night after cleaning up dinner, and in 2011, they’re going to be even better. Healthier, more delicious. Keep us chugging along, feeling good.

I shall make paninis – deconstructed Nicoise Salads within a crusty bread, and send hubby off with a red wine vinaigrette in a cute little Tupperware so the bread doesn’t get soggy sitting in the fridge overnight.

I shall construct for my kids lunch boxes the classic BLT’s, but on whole wheat, with hearts of Romaine, so the sandwiches crunch so freshly the next day when bitten into. (I’m not with them at work or school, but I am sure this audible crunch will occur, with or without me there, like the tree in the forest).

I will make the sentimental favorites, like egg salad.  Just how they like it (extra, extra mustard) and no deli anywhere in the country could make it better for them than I do. I can prove it, just give me a few minutes on network television.

I promise trendy items like wraps, and not with deli chicken because that is overly salted and loaded with preservatives. I will roast a chicken, slice the meat thin or shred it with my own two hands, and make a basil or red pepper aioli to be topped with with Swiss or sharp cheddar (the sharper, the beddar), add a Romaine leaf, then wrap it up in foil so well, I make burrito-wrapping taco shop dudes look like novices.

And when hey start to like what I’m eating instead of what I make them, I’ll take a hint and give them what they want; slathered hummus into a pita, stuffed with alfalfa sprouts, diced tomatoes, hard-boiled egg, and whatever lean protein we had for dinner the night before, then put in it parchment paper for good measure, and that is worthy of a profile in Cooking Light, I swear.

My New Year’s Resolutions are just like yours – to make something better. Those extraordinary brown bag I send hubby off with, I hope, translates into, with this healthy grilled panini without ingredients you can’t pronounce, may you sleep next to me every night into an eternity. The melon balls and made-to-be-eaten foods crammed into my kid’s Princess-themed lunch boxes are intended to let food be they medicine, and medicine be thy food, while masquerading as scrumptious treats. That isn’t easy. Resolutions aren’t supposed to be.

When you are so intertwined with someone, or have such an emotional investment in another’s well-being, even chicken salad can say, this lunch means I love you so unexplainably much.

With scribbled x’s and o’s and hearts drawn in red Sharpies on the sandwich baggies, of course.

 

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