Chicken Salad with Pecans and Bacon
2 cups cooked chicken, diced (I always use leftovers)
2 celery stalks, thinly sliced
1 small sweet onion, minced or grated
¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 cup toasted pecans, chopped
3 slices crisp-cooked bacon, crumbled
½ cup mayonnaise
½ cup sour cream
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice (gives a nice zing, but you can leave it out)
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Mix all ingredients until well combined. This salad is delicious served on rolls or on a bed of lettuce.
Sample from Chapter One of Taking Love in Stride
Andrea's frown deepened. She knew that Denise had no desire to run track, but thought the girl was keeping up the stubborn pretense in an attempt to reach the common teenage goals of being popular and visible. Now, from what Denise was saying, the root of the problem was something, or rather, someone completely different.
Andrea knew from personal experience what could happen when parents pushed their kids into doing things they had no desire to do. Frustration, anger and a slow but steady eating away of the child's self-esteem was all it achieved. It had taken Andrea several of her adult years to figure out that she was not put on this earth to make her impossible-to-please father happy.
"Denise, I can't believe your father is insisting that you participate in sports. He's never been to any of the track meets. It's your grandfather who always comes to cheer us on." Andrea remembered the gentleman confined to a wheelchair who never missed a meet.
"Dad travels a lot, so he can't come," Denise explained. "But he thinks my being on the team will teach me all about competition." Denise made a face. "And, he says, healthy competition is what the business world is all about."
"Denise, as long as I've known you, you've never shown an inkling of business aspiration. You're in this art room every minute you can spare." Andrea's head tilted and her eyebrows rose in admonishment as she added, "And quite a few that you can't."
Andrea's eyes swept from the girl to the painting she was working on. The power and vitality of the colors on the canvas surprised her. "You're good," she said. "You're really good. I can almost hear the crashing of the waves and the rumbling thunder. Denise—" Andrea turned back to her student "—doesn't your father know that you can learn 'healthy competition' with your art? There are all kinds of contests. In fact, the school is sponsoring one this month. Have you entered?"
"Oh, no! I couldn't. I couldn't do that..." Her voice trailed off and her hands darted with quick jerky motion as she replaced the caps on tubes of paint and wiped her pallet clean.
"Well, why not?"
Andrea knew by Denise's nervous tidying and the girl's refusal to meet her coach's gaze that something was wrong here, something serious. Reaching out, Andrea placed a quelling hand on Denise's forearm.
"Denise," she softly said. "I asked why not?"
The teenager's gaze rose reluctantly. "He doesn't know," she whispered.
"What? You're kidding me." Andrea watched Denise drape a white sheet over the entire easel. "Your father doesn't know about your painting?"
Her chin lowering, Denise swished her fan brush around in the jar of golden liquid, wiped off her pallet knife and threw it into her paint case before snapping it shut. "Look, Miss O'Connor, I have to go. Please give me another chance. I promise..."
Andrea shook her head. "Denise, I can't do that."
Denise took a deep breath as she picked up her case and stuffed it in the bottom of a large duffel bag, taking pains to hide it underneath her school books. "Well, I'm in for it," she replied miserably. "And don't be surprised if my dad comes in to see you."
A small spontaneous smile twitched on the corners of Andrea's mouth. Teens treated every event in their lives as extremely grave, monumental.
"It's not as bad as you think. Go home and talk to your dad."
"I can't!" Denise almost shouted her conviction. "You don't understand. I can't tell my dad."
Denise picked up her backpack and hurried from the room without saying another word. Andrea stared at the empty doorway for a long time. Was Denise overreacting to how she thought her father would respond to her being dropped from the team? Or could her father, indeed, be forcing her to run track in some vain effort for his daughter to learn "healthy competition"?
Andrea couldn't tolerate pushy, overbearing parents whose goals were to raise bright, profit-making, overachieving children. All these parents succeeded in doing was turning their happy, well-adjusted kids into insecure neurotics. She'd love the chance to tell Denise's father exactly what he was doing to his daughter. Diplomatically, of course. Her frown was replaced with a slow, devilish smile. She hoped Mr. Powers would come in to see her.
"I'll be waiting for him," she whispered.