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Mom’s Day without crying “Mayday”

I love the month of May. The weather, while often unpredictable, is generally lovely (random Colorado snowfall notwithstanding). It is also a month of celebrations – Mother’s Day, milestones like graduation, and all things end-of-the-school-year, mean lots of happy reminiscences. And parties. Lots of parties, with lots of delicious springtime treats. I love that May celebrations mean flowers on the table, and fruity, colorful goodies on my plate.

May can also be extremely busy, so things that are easy to assemble are always a good idea. While I like nothing more than baking from scratch, May meals and snacks nearly always involve some component of store-bought ingredients used to their best advantage. Pound cake from the grocery store bakery, for instance, is my go-to base for springtime desserts. Topped with syrupy fresh fruit or soft whipped cream, it is an unbeatable treat that takes just minutes to put together. High-quality bagged salads, dressed up with a crumble of cheese and a sprinkle of fresh-toasted nuts makes for a side worthy of the fanciest entree. As an added bonus, foods that come together quickly mean more time to spend with friends and family gathered together.

The recipe I have shared here was specifically made for a Mother’s Day lunch or afternoon tea, but it would work for almost any daytime party. Basic, thin sliced bread from the grocery store shelf seems like the most pedestrian of all the things you might pick up on your weekly shop. Filled with a chicken salad that is both savory and sweet, that plain, inexpensive bread provides the perfect pillowy canvas. Strawberries, plentiful at the store, are mixed with canned mandarin oranges, chicken breast, poppy seeds, and seasoning for a tasty accompaniment to tea, lemonade or any other beverage.

In order to offer a variety of flavors, I also spread that grocery store bread with seasoned Boursin cheese and layer in thinly-sliced cucumbers. For a sweeter option, I whip three ounces of cream cheese with two tablespoons of honey and then add sliced strawberries. A package of pretty bite-sized cupcakes and a few fancy platters, and voila! A light lunch feast fit for any mom or other guest of honor.


Chicken Salad Tea Sandwiches

If you opt to make the chicken salad ahead of time, omit the pecans until you’re ready to serve to preserve their crunch.

  • 12 slices thin-sliced sandwich bread (such as Pepperidge Farms)
  • 2 ½ cups chopped cooked chicken breast
  • 1 cup chopped strawberries
  • ½ cup chopped toasted pecans
  • 1/3 cup chopped celery
  • ¼ cup chopped green onions
  • 11-ounce can mandarin oranges, drained and chopped

For the dressing:

  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • 1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp poppy seeds
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp ground black pepper

In a small bowl, whisk together the dressing ingredients and set aside. In a medium sized bowl, combine chicken breast, strawberries, pecans, celery, green onion and mandarin oranges, then pour in the dressing and toss to coat. Refrigerate the mixture for about an hour. Then, spread the mixture onto the bread. Remove crusts and cut sandwiches into quarters. Serve immediately.

Article and photo by Lisa Crockett




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