Guest Blog: Light & Easy Asian Style Chicken Salad by Jason of Ancient Fire Wine


Jason and I first connected when I started searching for food bloggers changing the world.  In addition to being a cancer survivor, fully employed, a dedicated wine maker and wine and food blogger Jason  also raises serious cash for the American Cancer Society through Relay for Life.  I honestly don’t know how he does it all. 

Below he shares one of his time saving, healthy and tasty entree salads.  Enjoy and please support Jason and his fight to beat cancer by donating to the Relay for Life here

Easy Asian Style Chicken Salad by Jason of Ancient Fire Wine

I’m Jason from the Ancient Fire Wine Blog. Sarah put out a call for guest posts a while back. I responded and then forgot to put it on my schedule. So I am late in returning my healthy meal that can be prepared in a jiffy. I picked this type of meal because I could tell Sarah was feeling stressed from the crush of all the things she was into. I know how she feels and sometimes making a big blog-worthy meal is just too much. Many nights of the week simple and light is best.

My wife found this recipe on the Cooking Light magazine web site. We have enjoyed it several times now and have adapted it in different ways from time to time without diminishing the enjoyment. Here is the recipe link for the original Cooking Light Asian Chicken Salad.

Photo by Ancient Fire Wine

When you are careful with non-vegetable ingredients and your choice of dressing, salad can still be a healthy meal without being boring.

Asian Style Chicken Salad

2  tbsp  seasoned rice vinegar

1  tbsp  low-sodium soy sauce

1  tbsp  sesame oil

1  tsp  bottled ground fresh ginger

1  tsp  real maple syrup

6  cups  chopped romaine lettuce

2  cups  chopped cooked chicken

1  cup  thin sliced carrots

1  cup  snow peas, trimmed and cut into thin strips

2  tbsp  chopped walnuts

Combine the first 5 ingredients and whisk to combine for the dressing. Prep all the vegetables, add the chicken. Pour over the dressing and mix to coat. So easy!

Photo by Ancient Fire Wine

We usually serve this with pita bread or high fiber wraps that have been warmed up. You can eat the salad in the bread or eat them separate, whatever you like.

For this posting I tried a pairing with the salad and choose a sake to keep with the Asian them. I selected the Rihaku Junmail Ginjo “Wandering Poet” sake. The only flavor in the sake I had the vocabulary to pick out was green apple, but that was a cheat because I knew that was common from other sakes I had tasted. It was medium-dry and very tasty and refreshing on its own. The sake paired admirably with the salad, but I didn’t feel I had hit a home run with it. I’ll have to try again.



Stupid Knife Tricks

At a food outing last year, I received the Devil: “The knife that cuts mainly anything.”

According to its packaging, the Devil can cut through metal cans and still slice fruit.

To find out if it really can, check out my short video below.  To make this into a drinking game, drink every time I stumble over my words and/or mispronounce things 😉

This demo makes a great party trick for your foodie friends or anyone who has had a lot of wine.

Betty C Is My Homegirl (Guest Blog by Jennifer)

Guest Blog by My Sister Jennifer

People are always amazed when any baked good is “homemade.” Many cooks brag about their baked goods being from scratch. Yet if you admit to using Betty Crocker it is suddenly “from a box.” Well, I added eggs, oil and stirred and then I baked at my home…I guess since I didn’t measure the dry ingredients I didn’t home-make it? What the hell?

This is truly one of my pet peeves. I don’t believe that since you measured the flour yourself it makes it any better than a box of good ole Betty Crocker cake mix. Generally I would have to say, your cake tastes too heavy because you did not sift the flour and we all would have enjoyed dessert a bunch more had you used Betty C. PS: your frosting sucks too.

Betty Crocker is a brand that has been with our country since before the great depression. The brand is based on bringing better solutions to cooks. They have test kitchens where they test over 50,000 recipes a year. I am pretty darn sure that someone who is paid full time to play with and create cake mix and frosting is going to come up with something better then I will in my spare 30 minutes. Yet the snobbery persists.

Here is a fun game I like to play. I use my Betty C and say I “made the cake”, then when people drool over the fact it is “homemade” I say nothing. I laugh to myself. Betty C has my back.

Test it out. Have a cupcake contest and you make Betty C and have your scratch friend make a cake from scratch. Don’t tell anyone who made what. You can jazz up your Betty C with infusions. Do chococlate mix and then get a cupcake plunger and fill the middle with cream cheese frosting (jam, whatever) and then frost the top with Betty C chocolate frosting. People will think you are a true gourmet. Shave some dark chocolate on top for effect. It works every time. See who wins….

For more ideas check out

On the homemade vs scratch here are a few things to consider:
When you grate the cheese by hand, did you do it from scratch?
When you pull apart the lettuce yourself, then is it homemade?

P.S. From Sarah: Jen makes really awesome candy – from scratch. Irony.

Apricot Bread with a Twist

I am not by nature a recipe developer. I’m much too afraid of screwing things up, especially in the precise realm of baking. But sometimes you have to dip into the buttery end of the baking dish.

A few weeks ago, I made a Sally Lunn style apricot bread for writing class. I wasn’t satisfied with the results. While it wasn’t bad, it wasn’t what I craved. It was too savory and too crumbly. I started scouring my baking books and after looking at many recipes decided I wasn’t going to get what I wanted unless I created the recipe myself. And so my foray into recipe development began.

After much research and tasting, the result was:

Apricot Bread with a Hint of Cardamom

  • 1 c. dried apricots, diced
  • 1 1/2 c. sugar
  • 2 1/2 c. flour
  • 1/2 c. unsalted butter (1 stick), melted
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 tsp cardamom
  • 3/4 c. milk
  • Boil 2 c. water and add apricots to soak.

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

    In a large bowl add sugar and melted butter. Beat with a mixer on low until thoroughly combined and creamy.

    Add vanilla and eggs to sugar/butter mixture and mix together until well blended.

    Sift together remaining ingredients except the milk and slowly beat into sugar/butter mixture alternating flour mixture and milk.

    Thoroughly drain apricots and fold into batter. If too wet, add a bit more flour until mix is not runny but not too thick. It should be the consistency of banana bread batter or a rich overnight moisturizer.

    Spray a deep nonstick loaf pan with Pam. Pour batter in.

    Bake for 45 mins uncovered. Remove from oven and place a piece of foil over the edges of the bread so only the middle is exposed. See here for illustration. Put back in the oven and bake for another 15 minutes or until a toothpick through the middle comes out clean.

    Enjoy! When you try out this recipe, please let me know what you think.

    Happy Friday everyone!

    Green Beans with Attitude


    Done right, green beans are the perfect vegetable.  Crisp, flavorful, versatile.  Sautéed with butter and crumbled bacon, sautéed in olive oil and topped with parmesan, the options are endless.  The trick is not to overcook them.  I also like to add in a bit of a surprise to punch up the dish. 

    Zesty Green Beans

    Serves 2 but recipe is easily doubled and tripled

    • 20 Green Beans
    • 1 TBSP Olive Oil
    • 1-1 1/2 TBSP Garlic (amount depends on personal preference – I like a lot)
    • 1 TBSP + Lemon Juice (splash to taste)

    Trim green beans and cut into bite-size pieces.

    Add olive oil to medium frying pan and heat over medium-high heat.

    When oil is hot, add green beans and sauté for 4 minutes.

    Add garlic and sauté for 4-5 more minutes until green beans are cooked but still super crisp.

    Splash in enough lemon juice so the green beans have a lemon zing but aren’t saturated.  Sauté additional minute.

    I’ve served these with Christmas dinner, crab, chicken, steak, pork – they go with everything.  Who knew sneaking in veggies could be so easy?

    Comfort Food: Mom’s Rice

    I lucked out in the mom department.  Not only did I get cake for breakfast, but candy and cookies in my lunch.  When I was sick Mom spoiled me with a “couch bed”, chicken noodle soup, 7-up and all the television I could stand (our tv hours were usually fairly restricted).

    Certain foods remind me of my Mom and their very aroma is as comforting as her embrace was when I scraped my knee or had a bad day at school.  My Mom’s baked rice is one of those foods.  Simple, uncomplicated comfort with a subtle twist that makes this rice the favorite of Jim and many friends.

    Mom’s Rice

  • 2 c. water
  • 2 beef bouillon cubes
  • 1/2 onion (I prefer Walla Walla Sweets but any kind will do)
  • 1 c. brown or white rice
  • 1 TBSP butter (optional)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste (I use pepper only)
  • Add bouillon cubes to boiling water and let dissolve (if you’re impatient, stirring with a fork speeds up the process. 

    In a covered baking or casserole dish combine the water, bouillon infused water and onion.  Add butter if desired. 

    Bake, covered, at 400 degrees for 45 minutes.

    I like to serve Mom’s rice with my zesty green beans (recipe in an upcoming post) and Cooking Light’s  pan-roasted chicken with a French mustard-cream sauce (in photo above) or a thick juicy steak.

    Cake – It’s What’s for Breakfast

    When I was growing up, the nazi nutritionism of today was noticeably absent.  Sure, there were still some whole foods, eat-from-the-earth types hanging around from the 60s but they were, hippies.

    There were also some parents who restricted the amount of sugar their children could consume – to keep them from climbing the walls.  My mom was not one of them.

    As long as we were’nt visibly sick and not trending toward the chubby side, we could eat whatever we wanted.  Chips, cookies, Grape Nuts, nothing was forbidden.  (Well, maybe the Grape Nuts, which my Mom decried as “cardboard.”)  Every other month or so, there was even . . . cakeFor breakfast.

    My Mom’s cake-for-breakfast rationale was simple: “You eat it with milk and it has eggs and stuff in it.”  There’s just no arguing with that logic.  Besides, why would you want to?

    My Mom didn’t just make any old cake though, she made slide cake.  You can spot a slide cake by its distinctive irregular sliding shape:

    Here’s Mom’s secret recipe:

    Mom’s Slide Cake

    • One box chocolate cake mix.  Any type will do, but Mom preferred Betty Crocker;
    • Eggs (the amount specified on the cake mix of your choice);
    • Vegetable Oil (oh yeah, I said, vegetable oil, I don’t want to see that new-fangled better-for-you Canola Oil in my slide cake);
    • Water (the amount specified in your cake mix of choice);
    • 1 can chocolate frosting.  Again Betty Crocker was a fav.

    Make according to cake mix directions. 

    When the cake is finished baking, immediately remove it from the oven and plate it.  Do not let the cake cool – there are children to be fed!

    Frost.  Technique is not important here.  Just slap that frosting on.  If you have leftover frosting – shame on you – you can refrigerate it and add it to graham crackers for a cinnamon, chocolatey snack.

    Slice, plate and serve with a big glass of nonfat milk.


    Happy Friday Everyone – hope your weekend is filled with chocolate and fun or chocolatey-fun (Valentine’s Day is coming up, it’s never too soon for a trial run .)