As a child, one of my favorite activities was coloring.  My father would take me on weekly trips to the grocery store and allow me to pick out a treat. I always picked out a box of Crayola crayons – and not just the box of the original 8 colors. Glitter crayons, metallic crayons, neon crayons, glow in the dark crayons, pastels, colored pencils, magic markers, I had them all.  And I remember the magical feeling of overwhelming joy and excitement I was filled with in anticipation of using these unique colors to paint a new canvas.

I get a similar feeling about dining at Aurants in Duryea.  Each time I go there, I feel giddy with anticipation about the endless culinary combinations on the menu, which includes many things I have never even tasted before. It’s slogan, “A separation from the rest,” appropriately describes this unique restaurant. A far cry from the diet of pizza and wings that are traditional in the area, Aurants offers bold and innovative creations. Don’t get me wrong, I do love pizza and wings, but, like the original box of 8 Crayola crayons, I tire of them and need more “color”!

Chef and owner David W. Ciminelli, Jr. (“Chef Davo”) has carefully crafted an extensive menu that changes often, offering a plethora of flavors and “proteins” in ever color. The menu is divided into different sections, “Easy pickings” (appetizers, small plates, soups and salads), “Hand held hotties” (described as modern gourmet sandwiches), “make a meal mayhem” (create your own entree section) and “Side car tag alongs” (your choice of accompanying sides that are available to be purchased separately for $5).

When I heard about Aurants, I couldn’t wait to try it. I was a huge fan of Chef Davo’s homemade potato chips with blue cheese dip and pretzel encrusted chicken bites when he was a chef at the River Street Ale House. I have heard that these chips sometimes grace the menu at Aurants and have been on the lookout for them ever since.
Here is a sample of some of the tasty treats we have tried at Aurants.

The first bite I ever had at Aurants blew me away. I ordered the chocolate jalapeno corn fritters, an appetizer described as “southern style corn fritters infused with minced roasted corn, pickled jalapenos, banana puree and saved which chocolate, pan fried and plated with a side of ancho chili maple syrup.”  Now, I have had corn fritters before, but this sweet and savory appetizer was unlike anything I have ever tasted. There were so many layers of flavor that were way beyond anything I could imagine. The deep fried, spicy chocolate taste made me feel like I had gone to heaven and hell at the same time. Hell because I knew it probably wasn’t the healthiest choice, but heaven because I loved it anyway and would order it again. Sometimes, it feels good to be bad.

Aurants boasts a wide selection of domestic and imported beers, bottled and on tap. They cleverly showcase this feature seamlessly in their menu by offering a Chicken Dogfish Chowder as an appetizer. A chowder of chicken tenderloin morsels, bacon, granny smith apples, corn, basic root vegetables, smokey cheese and random selections of dogfish head beers with crispy onions,” this chowder was the perfect remedy to the winter blahs. One bowl warms the soul, and if you are still in the mood for Dogfish Brews after your dinner, Aurants is open late every night. See below for details and hours.

The Aurants house salad is a colorful combination of the freshest ingredients and is by far one of the best salads in the area. Available in a small or large size, the house salad is a heaping pile of baby spinach greens with vine ripe tomatoes, english cucumbers, artichokes, portabella mushrooms, mixed kalamata olives, caper berries, fresh mozzarella cheese dressed with a house lemon garlic vinaigrette. The olives were jumbo and delicious, like homemade mix my uncle makes.  Be warned, the large size house salad is very large!  Definitely enough for a table of four, and a nice starter to accompany any appetizer on the menu.

One of the most popular items on the menu is the Blue Crab Grilled Cheese, composed of Muenster cheese, poached garlic, artichokes, and blue crab meat on a thick sliced ciabatta bread. As you can see, the portion is extremely generous.

My experience of living in Philadelphia provided me with a solid education on cheese steaks, and I have tried a wide variety of them but I have never before seen this version. Aurants offers a Gouda Duck Cheese Steak, made of pulled duck confit, smoked gouda cheese, portabella mushrooms, yellow peppers and sweet onions on a Philly roll. 
(They also offer a Chicken Garlic Cheese Steak, which I will absolutely be trying in the near future. It is served on a Philly roll with roasted free range chicken, mozzarella cheese, melted onions, poached garlic and lemon garlic aioli.)

Each sandwich and main protein dish comes with your choice of side car tag along, which includes the popular bacon smoked Gouda macaroni and cheese. 

In the “make a meal mayhem” portion of the menu, your choice of protein can be prepared in one of six signature ways. The protein list at Aurants is updated daily, and specifically provides that the meats are raised free range style, without any hormones, antibiotics or unnatural farming practices involved. The seafood is wild caught and ocean farmed. This may account for the high price ($12-$40) for some of the first class selection of meats and seafood, but you get what you pay for, and it’s nice to know where your dinner comes from.
 Seafood protein offerings have included: diver sea scallops, yellow fin tuna loin, atlantic coast mahi mahi, new zealand king salmon, and east coast halibut. Meat protein offerings have included angus top sirloin filet, pork mignon, baby veal chops, New York Strip steak, and even game meats like Canadian buffalo tenderloin, Red Elk Rib Chops, and even KANGAROO! But vegans and vegetarians, don’t stress. Tofu is available as a protein, and is also available as an appetizer. 

These protein offerings can be prepared in six different fashions as described on their menu:

basic pan roast style
rubbed w/ dried herbs, lightly seasoned, pan roasted and finished w/ port wine shallot butter, pan juices and crispy tumbleweed onions.
au poivre diane clash
pepper tarragon spiced, pan seared and plated over dijon green peppercorn sauce w/ poached garlic, caper berry pods, shaved asiago and set afire.
spanish thai on the fly
rubbed w/ chili spices, painted w/a mojito mole aioli, baked and plated over coconut curry cashew sauce w/ crispy cellophane noodle and blackened candied cashews.
spinach pesto parmesan
ginger coriander rubbed, pan seared, brushed w/ spinach walnut pesto, ambushed w/ parmesan, baked and finalized w/ a tad more spinach walnut pesto and lemon garlic aioli.
mediterranean style
caraway dill weed infused, pan seared and displayed over zinfandel remoulade, cucumber dill sauce, topped w/ olive tapenade and asiago.
east vs. west
sesame seared one side, blackened on the other, plated w/ maple mustard, wasabi wing sauce, sriracha stripe, cellophane noodle and crispy onions.


If the choices overwhelm you, no need to worry. The wait staff at Aurants are patient, kind, and professional. More importantly, they are knowledgeable of the offerings on the menu and available to make a recommendation.  Here are some of the proteins and side dishes we have tried:
Filet mignon with a side car risotto tag along.

Pork mignon prepared East and West style, with a side of spinach garlic artichoke saute.

Atlantic Coast Mahi Mahi prepared Mediterranean style, a perfect choice for seafood dishes, with the gorgozla polenta pumpkin plank. The Mahi Mahi was cooked to perfection, and the olive tapenade really created a nice layer of flavor. I loved the polenta and plan on ordering it again. (Note to those unfamiliar with polenta: It’s just another carb made of cornmeal that you will love. Try it!)

Colossal diver sea scallops, prepared Mediterranean style with a side of pan fried asparagus and portabella mushrooms.
Each time I visited Aurants, the food blew me away. If I HAD to offer complaint, there are two things I would like to change. First, it seems like a good number of the patrons order sandwiches, which eradicates the need for a bread basket. But for those patrons that order entree selections, especially the pricer items that can cost upwards of $38 and $40, an accompanying bread basket and/or a  modest house salad of mixed greens would be nice.
Second, I would really love a side of mixed greens with my sandwich. The sandwiches, which range from $12-$15, are already accompanied by your choice of a generous side dish. While you can chose a vegetable, the natural and more popular choice of side with a sandwich is a starch like potato salad or the restaurant’s popular mac and cheese. Add in some mixed greens with vinaigrette on the side, and your plate would be a more balanced dish of perfection.

Lastly, Aurants offers desserts made in house, including flan. My personal choice is the rich chocolate cherry creme brulee, which I always order with a nice hot cup of tea.

I hope you enjoyed my sampling of photos from my delicious dining experiences at Aurants. Their menu changes daily and they are always offering new items, so please let me know if you go and try something amazing and it brings the color back into your life! 🙂
If you go:  Aurants is located at 941 Main Street in Duryea, PA 18642. Aurants is now open for lunch and its hours are as follows:
Tuesday- Thursday: 11am-midnight
Friday: 11am-2am
Saturday: 5pm-2am
Sunday: 5pm-midnight.
I suggest you make reservations well in advance. I called the day of my birthday (too late) and was SOL. While the staff is always very accommodating, they’re always packed for dinner, especially on a weekend!! But it’s well worth the wait. 🙂

“Let us go early to the vineyards to see… if the pomegranates are in bloom – there I will give you my love.” Song of Solomon 7:12

‘Tis the season for one of the world’s oldest and mythical fruits, the pomegranate.  Dubbed “nature’s most labor intensive fruit” by Barron’s Food Lover’s Dictionary, pomegranates are the perfect seasonal fruit to zest up your holiday dishes. Pomegranates are large, heavy fruits with a thin, leathery skin.  The tiny red seeds that grown within a white membrane are edible.  These seeds, called arils, are en-coated in a red juicy pulp and are rich in potassium and vitamin C.  You can sometimes buy these arils separately, as prying them from the skin of the pomegranate can prove to be a messy and dangerous task.  Pomegranate juice stains easily, so beware!  Why go through the trouble of cutting and seeding these beautiful fruits?  Asides from the juicy flavor and delicious taste, pomegranates allegedly have more antioxidant power than other beverages, including red wine, blueberry juice, green tea and cranberry juice.
The pomegranate is rich in history and is believed to be one of the world’s first cultivated fruits.  It has been a symbol of good health for centuries all over the globe, and because of this, pomegranates were often depicted in artwork and used as decorations.  The fruit originated in the Middle East over 4,000 years ago. Pomegranates were found in Iran and the Himalayas in Northern India, and then culitvated throughout the Europe, Asia, Africa and China.  In 957 B.C., the pomegranate decorated King Solomon’s temple and the robes of  the Torah. The pomegranate also adorned Jewish coins, jewelry and furniture.
  In 1600 B.C., the pomegranate was abundant in Egyptian culture.  The Egyptians used the juice of the pomegranate to fight intestinal worms and used the pomegranate skin to dye leather.  Pomegranates were commonly found on Egyptian wall paintings in tombs as they symbolized life after death. King Tut also took a pomegranate vase into the afterlife with him. 
 In 700 B.C. when Zoroastrianism became the major religion of the Middle East, the pomegranate became associated with fertility. The leaves of the pomoegranate tree, which remained green for the majority of the year, symbolized eternal life. Thus, pomegranate trees were planted in the courtyards of Zoroastrian temple.
Also in 700 B.C., pomegranates were introduced to the ancient Romans, who named the fruit “Punicum malum” or “Phoenician apple.”  They grew in shady areas of residential courtyards for Roman people to enjoy.  Roman women wore headdresses made of pomegranate twigs to symbolize their status as married women.
In Greek mythology, Hades, Lord of the Underworld, famously used a pomegranate to tempt Persephone, daughter of Zeus and Demeter. When Persephone succumbed to temptation and ate the arils of the pomegranate, she was joined to Hades forever.  Demeter, heartbroken at the loss of her daughter, prevented the earth from bearing fruit unless her daughter returned to her from the Underworld.  Zeus arranged a compromise with Hades, providing that Persephone would only live with Hades for one third of the year, and the other two thirds with Demeter.  The arrival of Persephone from the Underworld each year signifies the arrival of Spring.  
In Buddhism, the pomegranate is considered to be one of three blessed fruits. The legend is that between the period of 563-483 B.C., many of the Buddha’s wealthy disciples presented him with lavish gifts. When an old, destitute woman presented the Buddha with one small pomegranate, the Buddha rang the bell of honor in her name and considered this to be his greatest gift. Pomegranates are widely depicted in Asian art as a tool to repel evil spirits and is a symbol of good health and blessings.
In Islam, the legend is each pomegranate contains one aril that has been descended directly from paradise. In 600 A.D., the prophet Muhammad considered the fruit to be a cornerstone of good physical and emotional health. Pomegranates are abundant in Islamic art and architecture. 
 The pomegranate arrived in North America around 1521 A.D., after Spanish conquistador Hernando Cortes conqured the Aztecs in Mexico, Spanish missionaries planted pomegranate trees.  The pomegranate was then transported north to missions in California and Texas. 
It is said that Thomas Jefferson planted pomegranates at his plantation, Monticello, in Virginia and that the English colonies attempted to grow them as well.  However, the fruit did not adapt to the harsh weather in the Northeast and fared better when it was grown in the south, namely, in Florida and in California.  Today, pomegranates are primarily harvested in California but are available throughout the United States. They are in season from August through December and are readily available in Northeastern Pennsylvania in November and December.
In 2002, POM Wonderful launched a line of conveniently extracted and packaged pomegranate juice. POM Wonderful grows, juices and bottles its own fruit and promises 100% authentic pomegranate juice free of added sugar, colorants and other low-grade fruit juices.
This year, I was delighted to receive a complimentary case of POM Wonderful pomegranate juice to use in my culinary recipes. As a little girl, I enjoyed eating pomegranate seeds and was amazed at the inside of the fruit. I wasn’t aware of how many culinary uses there were for the pomegranate, and had fun experimenting with different recipes on the POM Wonderful site. The bottled juice is easy to use in the kitchen. Here is a sampling of the POM recipes below, great for easy and fun holiday entertaining. You can find more recipes by visiting the POM Wonderul website.
Mini chocolate brownies with POM cream cheese icing.
Pomegranate Cream Cheese Icing

1-1/2 cups POM Wonderful 100% Pomegranate Juice
4 oz. unsalted butter, room temperature
8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
14 oz. powdered sugar
Store bought mini brownies. (I like Sam’s Club.)

Pour the POM juice in a small saucepan and reduce on low heat until the mixture has a syrup like texture.Set aside and let cool.  In a large mixing bowl, combine the butter and cream cheese. Beat and slowly add the powdered sugar and POM syrup.

Ice the mini brownies with the POM cream cheese icing. Top with red sprinkles or pomegranate arils.

Mixed green salad with shredded chicken and POM Honey Dijon Dressing.
Pomegranate Pear Salad with POM Honey Dijon Dressing
(Serves 8)

This recipe is by Chef Michael LeClerc of 350 Main Brassiere in park City, Utah. It appears courtesy of POM and can be found here


POM Honey Dijon Dressing 
Juice from 2-3 large POM Wonderful Pomegranates,* or 1 cup POM Wonderful 100% Pomegranate Juice
1/2 cup white vinegar
1 lemon, juice and zest
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 cup canola oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Pear Salad
1/2 cup arils from 1-2 large POM Wonderful Pomegranates
1 lb. salad greens
1/2 cup sliced honey roasted almonds
1 cup blue cheese crumbles
2 ripe d’Anjou pears


POM Honey Dijon Dressing: Prepare fresh pomegranate juice.* In a large mixing bowl, combine the pomegranate juice, white vinegar, lemon juice and zest, honey and Dijon mustard. Slowly whisk in the oil, seasoning to taste with salt and pepper.

Pear Salad: Score 1-2 fresh pomegranates and place in a bowl of water. Break open the pomegranates under water to free the arils (seed sacs). The arils will sink to the bottom of the bowl and the membrane will float to the top. Sieve and put the arils in a separate bowl. Reserve 1/2 cup of the arils from fruit and set aside. (Refrigerate or freeze remaining arils for another use.) Toss the salad greens with just enough dressing to lightly coat. Top with almond slices, blue cheese crumbles and sliced pears. (Slice the pears at the last minute to prevent browning.) Garnish with fresh pomegranate arils.
Pomegranate guacamole with cucumbers.
 Pomegranate Guacamole
(Serves  8)
This recipe appears courtesy of POM and can be found here on their website.
 It’s a really great way to incorporate healthy benefits of pomegranates into a festive holiday appetizer. It’s also delicious on pita chips!

1/2 cup arils from 1 large POM Wonderful Pomegranate

2 ripe avocados, pits removed, peeled and diced
1/2 cup chopped cucumbers
1/4 cup chopped green onion
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste

Place diced avocados in bowl. Score 1 fresh pomegranate and place in a bowl of water. Break open the pomegranate underwater to free the arils (seed sacs). The arils will sink to the bottom of the bowl and the membrane will float to the top. Sieve and put the arils in a separate bowl. Reserve 1/2 cup of the arils from fruit and set aside. (Refrigerate or freeze remaining arils for another use.) Add 1/4 cup pomegranate arils and the remaining ingredients to the diced avocados. Mix well. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Place guacamole in a serving bowl and sprinkle remaining pomegranate arils on top for garnish. Serve with assorted color tortilla chips.
Mixed berry POM smoothies.
Fairytale Mixed Berry POM Smoothies
(Serves 4)
1 6 oz container of Fage Greek yogurt, 0% fat
1 cup of frozen mixed berries (or plain frozen blueberries)
1 cup of frozen strawberries
1/4 cup of orange juice
1/2 8-oz. bottle of POM Wonderful juice
Optional: fresh berries or pomegranate arils, and mint leaves as garnish.
Combine all ingredients in a blender and pulse.  If too thick, add more POM juice or some water and blend. Top with fresh berriesor arils and mint leaves as garnish.

Enjoy! 🙂
Halloween is coming!!! This week I will be posting some of my favorite fall recipes that are perfect to feed a crowd or yourself in celebration of the fall season. I absolutely love this salad! The salad is my own fall concoction using ingredients that are in season. The dressing is a recipe from Southern Living magazine and is so fresh and flavorful. It’s the perfect compliment to fall apples. I added in a little bit of extra basil than called for in the recipe because I wanted to use it up from my herb garden before the REALLY cold weather comes! 
Fall Apple Salad
(Serves 6-8)
2 heads of Romaine Lettuce, chopped
3/4 -1 bag of spring mixed greens
1 cup of whole pecans
2-3 gala or other sweet apple, cored and sliced
2 granny smith apples, cored and sliced
1 container of crumbled Gorgonzola cheese
Salt and pepper
Combine the above ingredients in a large bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Brown Sugar-Cider Vinaigrette
From Southern Living Magazine
(1 Cup)

2/3 cup canola oil
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
2 green onions, chopped
3 tablespoons light brown sugar
3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
Whisk together all ingredients until blended. Pour entire cup over salad when ready to serve.
Couscous is a staple of the Middle East but is widely enjoyed all over the world.  It is especially popular in Maghreb, a region in North African encompassing the countries of Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libra and Mauritania.  This healthful grain is derived from the moistened semolina grain and coated with semolina flour. It is then shaped into small sphere-like beads. The shape of these beads vary and the more processed the couscous, the smaller the bead. Israeli couscous is usually larger in shape but equally delicious and a bit easier to make is the precooked instant couscous sold in boxes at your local grocery store.  Since I’ve never been a huge rice lover, I use couscous in many ways: as a side dish alongside a piece of broiled salmon, as a main dish mixed with mushrooms and grilled chicken, or as a snack with feta cheese and kalamata olives. 
The name couscous comes from the Maghreb dish “couscoussiere” where the semolina is steamed in the top part of a special pot and chunks of lamb or chicken, vegetables, chickpeas and raisins simmer in the bottom part.  This recipe for the perfect summer couscous salad is derived from the idea of this dish. I also added some fresh mint from my garden to give it a fresh flavorful kick. 
Fairytale Couscous Salad

1 box of Near East whole wheat couscous
2 large grilled chicken breasts, diced
1/4 cup raisins
1 cup reduced fat feta cheese
½ cup of green or kalamata olives, sliced
1/4 cup of diced red onion
1/4 cup of chopped fresh mint (or 1/8 cup of dried mint)

1/4 cup olive oil
3/4 teaspoon of cumin
salt and pepper
juice of 1 ½ lemons

Prepare the couscous according to the directions on the box (usually its 1 ½ cups of boiling water over couscous with a drop or two of olive oil.) Add in the raisins.  Remove from heat and let cool.  Once it has cooled, add the diced chicken, feta cheese, olives, onion and mint.  In a separate small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, cumin, salt and pepper and lemon juice.  Pour over the couscous salad and mix well.  Enjoy! (Can be made the night before – just chill in refrigerator and reserve the dressing for the next day.)


On our last night in Nashville, we ventured to the Germantown Cafe, one of the top rated restaurants in Nashville, to see what all the fuss was about and hopefully enjoy some of the local cuisine beyond greasy fried foods smothered in barbecue sauce.  I’m happy to report that we had a very pleasant experience here and I would absolutely return there again. The atmosphere was quaint and cozy, the crowd a mix of all ages from locals to foreign CMA music fest concert goers. Though we didn’t have reservations, we didn’t have to wait for a table. The hostess was kind and happy. She seated us a a table near the glass window which allowed just enough of the setting sunlight to peer in to the restaurant. There was a great view of the Nashville skyline.

I was pretty impressed with our server, who had the patience of an angel when answering all of our detailed questions about the menu and the daily specials.  She was a perfect example of what every server should be: kind, patient, attentive, prompt.  She possessed an all encompasing knowledge of the items on the menu and was not afraid to steer me in the right direction when it came to ordering the restaurant’s specialties. 

We started with the strudel and the fried green tomatoes.  The tomatoes, served hot, were deep fried in a crisp and greasy (but not too greasy) coating and topped with miniature goat cheese rounds, accompanied by a spicy red bell pepper aioli sauce. We devoured these within seconds.

The Germantown Cafe Strudel was served with a tropical salsa. Studel, German for “whirlpool” or “eddy” is a type of pastry composed of thin layers of dough spread with a filling and rolled and baked until crisp and golden brown.  The dough tastes just like the Greek phyllo dough, commonly known as a puff pastry shell.  (These sheets can be found in the frozen aisle of your local grocery store.) Strudel is commonly filled with fruit but it can come in all different varieties and be savory as well.  The Germantown Cafe Strudel was a savory, spicy blend of chicken, cream cheese and peppers. It was very different and that is why I loved it! 

The most jaw dropping part of our dining experience at the Germantown Cafe may have been the bread basket, which was really a little bundle of heaven. Imagine biting into soft and buttery round roll right out of the oven – sounds like a pretty ordinary indulgence. Now imgaine that the bread is deep fried, making the outside crust crisp, flaky and a bit oily with a soft warm center. Bread is absolutely my weakness in this life and I have sampled many different kinds but I’ve never had anything like this before. And there was a silver lining. Indulging in a deep fried roll made it easier for me to limit myself to one.
The caesar salad was equally as delicious, with its crisp romaine lshaved parmegiano regiano cheese and deep friend herbed croutons. Add a piece of grilled shrimp, this could have been dinner.

The Germantown Cafe offered a generous portion of a crab cakes, placing three decent size lightly pan fried cakes consisting mainly of jumbo lump crabmeat on a dish with an abundant serving of french fries and green beans. The crab cakes were served with a mustard-tartar sauce, a nice and creative accompaniment to this classic dish, without being over the top. 

The plum pork was tender and delicious. Thinly sliced pork medallions grilled and served in a savory but sweet plum sauce over mashed potatoes and served with green beans.

I decided to take a chance on the fresh catch of the day, the Grouper. Served over creamy polenta and accompanied by a heaping portion of lima beans drizzled with a light chunky tomato sauce, this dish was a much welcomed change from the greasy southern barbecue we loved but overdosed on. The Grouper was delicate but firm, easily flaked with a fork and oozing with its own juices. A light cream sauce with parsley adorned the grouper, enhancing its own flavor.

The only negative part of the dining experience was that we were too stuffed to try the desserts, which sounded sinfully delicate and delicious – but it’s all the more reason to return again next year!

Enjoy! 🙂

Anyone who knows me well knows that I have never been a huge fan of Chinese food. It’s alright and I will eat it if it’s there, but I favor other cuisines. The exception: this salad, a mix of chinese and new american flavors. It is crunchy, tangy, and incredibly fresh tasting (thanks to the cilantro!) I came up with this recipe after seeing it made several different ways in a few cookbooks that I have. Sometimes I make my own dressing but to keep it simple this time I just opted to use the Newman’s Own Low-Fat Seasame Ginger Salad Dressing. Boy, was I glad I did – the flavors were amazing!

I recently made this salad for the barbecue that I spoke about in my berry strata posting. I was really surprised at the overwhelmingly positive response I got from everyone! After one nameless individual who is normally a vegan unabashedly proclaimed that it was the best salad she had ever tasted, I knew it would be worthy a Fairytale Feast posting.

Serves 6 (maybe more, depending on how hungry you are!)

1 head red cabbage
1 head Napa Cabbage
2 chicken breasts, shredded (I used all white meat from Wegman’s plain Rotissieri Chicken)
2 cups cilantro
1 jar Dole mandarin oranges (drained)
3/4 cup slivered almonds
1 teaspoon sugar
La Choy Chow Mein Noodles
1/2 bottle of Newman’s Own Low-Fat Seasame Ginger Salad Dressing

Optional Ingredients (I didn’t add them here):
water chestnuts (sliced, drained)
shredded carrot

Direstions: Slice red cabbage and napa cabbage into thin strips. Discard cores. In a large salad bowl, toss cabbage and sprinkle with sugar.  Shred chicken and add to cabbage. Chop cilantro, discardding stems, and add to bowl.  Add slivered almonds. Mix well.

When ready to serve, add 1 jar drained mandarin oranges. Top with noodles. Season with dressing.  Mix well. Serve immediately.


I was a young and impressionable 18 year old when I first arrived in New York City. I didn’t know a lot about city life but I quickly learned that Manhattan cuisine was unlike anything I’ve ever tasted in my homeland of Northeastern Pennsylvania.  (Don’t get me wrong – NEPA has some amazing foods that cannot easily be replicated in NYC or anywhere else. AKA: square pizza, pierogies, cheesesteaks, Pennsylvania Dutch influenced menu items, WINGS and other items too numerous to mention.)  But in New York City, fresh of the Martz Bus, I felt like a girl who had just won the golden ticket.

From the corner deli to the Zagat rated restaurant, everywhere I went in New York City there was something new for me to taste. Authentic Mexican, Italian, French, Asian, Moroccan, Indian, Thai, Creole, Soul Food, Southern Barbecue were all easily within my reach.  Some were available via biker delivery, 24 hours a day.  Even ordinary items like pizza and bagels were available in so many variations and packed full of so many new flavors, I felt overwhelmed at times.  All of my life, I had loved food but never realized how much until I arrived in the city.    Every time I stepped foot outside of my apartment, I became a kid in a candy shop.  In many ways, when I visit the city, I still am.On one occasion during my first Spring season in New York City, I had one of the most incredible, flavorful chicken salad sandwiches while enjoying a sunny picnic lunch in Central Park. I had ordered lunch to-go from a little deli on the Upper West side. While I don’t remember the name of the deli, I do remember the chicken salad sandwich – in fact, my mouth still waters when I think about it.  Unlike any chicken salad I have ever had before, this chicken salad was composed of jumbo lumps of roasted white chicken breast that undoubtedly did NOT come from a can.  Scooped between two pieces of thick, crusty rustic rye bread, this chicken salad had a unique crunch that was intensified by slivered roasted almonds.  It was as goey as it was crunchy, mixed with just the right amount of creamy mayonnaise that dripped into the wax paper it was wrapped in as a I took each bite.  Most surprising to me were the chopped New York red delicious apples hidden in the chicken salad mix which took this chicken salad to an entirely new level of deliciousness for a sandwhich.

Now, years later, I still crave this sandwich so I’ve come up with my own quick and light version.  I switched full fat mayo for a lighter version and I cut down on the amount to save some calories.  To save time, I used canned chicken breast, but it is admittedly more flavorful if you roast your own chicken breasts. (Season with olive oil, salt and pepper. Bake for 35-40 min at 350 degrees. Shred or chop.) But who really has time for that?

Diana’s City-Style Chicken Salad Sandwich
Serves 3-4

1 can of chicken salad
1 small tart apple, diced (can substitute handful halved grapes)
1/4 cup of diced red onion
1/4 cup of diced celery (1 stalk)

1/4 cup of slivered almonds
1/4 cup of fat free mayo
2 tablespoons chopped tarragon
Sliced red tomato
Handful of mixed greens

Combine all the ingred0ients. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve on crusty rye bread, pumperknickle toast, or mini whole wheat pitas.  Layer with thin slices of juicy red tomato, handful of mixed greens.

If you need a little bit more comfort and buttery goodness, try this salad on buttered and grilled Texas toast. Beware this will increase calories/fat but sometimes, its all worth it!