My mother was Norma Jean Nebeker. She was a saint, calm as a cucumber, as organized as a drill sergeant (but nicer), a trooper, a great travel buddy, smelled like roses with soft skin, and had flaming red hair the likes of Lucille Ball with freckles from head to toe that she hated (but I loved her for them). Sadly they were removed from her face, to her joy, by the photographer in the portrait below. According to her, because of these Irish traits, she didn't fit the "profile" in the 40's and 50's combined with her tall athletic build and square jaw, but she most definitely could have been runway model material if she had grown up in the 80's and 90's. Especially because of her clear blue eyes and if she would have been brave enough to grow out her beautiful red wavy hair! Thankfully, a clothing line called Benetton, famous for changing the status quo of beauty in the 80's with their international models, freckles and all, made it so girls and women today can be more free to be their own kind of beauty.
After retiring from the University of Irvine (UCI), she liked to experiment with different recipes to come up with her own take (as she did with most things in her life. Wonder where I got that from???). She didn't fit the mold so she created her own mold, thank goodness, and allowed me to create myself in my own way as well. She was great at taking the "miscellaneous" in life and creating something eclectic and new; all her own. Here is one of her best recipe creations that I love. You can serve it alone or on croissants. Great for showers, lunches and brunches. Enjoy!
NORMA JEAN'S MISCELLANEOUS CHICKEN SALAD
Recipe Yields About 6 to 8 Servings (More if putting on croissants)
- 3 Tbs. oil (vegetable or avocado oil work best due to light flavor)
- 1 to 2 Tbs. orange juice (pick one with a strong flavor)
- 1 Tbs. vinegar (Super Important! I forgot this one time and couldn't figure out why it was so horribly bland. Figured it out thankfully! It's like life, you have to have some spunk (vinegar) to make yourself and life more interesting, or it falls flat!)
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 3 c. cubed cooked chicken breast (Bite-sized) / About 3 large chicken breasts (You can use boiled (15 to 20 min) or baked chicken, but it's best if unseasoned and put in a crock pot on low for 3 1/2 hours)
- 1 1/2 c. cooked white rice / unsalted and cooked without oil (not minute rice)
- 3/4 c. sliced celery
- 3/4 c. seedless sliced green grapes (2 to 3 slices per grape)
- 11 oz. can mandarin orange segments (drained)
- 8 oz. can pineapple tidbits in it's own juices (drained)
(I even thought this might be good with some additional sliced strawberries in it as well. For another time I guess.....)
- 3/4 c. mayonnaise ("Light" mayonnaise works well too but not fat free)
- 3/4 c. unsalted cashews (whole or halves) BUT WAIT TO PUT THEM IN UNTIL AFTER REFRIGERATING AND JUST BEFORE SERVING
1. In a small bowl combine the oil, orange juice, vinegar and salt. Stir and set aside to dissolve into each other.
2. In a large bowl, throw in but don't mix the chicken, rice, celery, sliced grapes, drained orange segments, drained pineapple, and mayonnaise.
3. Stir the oil and orange juice concoction again and pour over the chicken and other ingredients in the large bowl, making sure to scrape the sides to get all the residue and salt. Stir together until fully incorporated. DO NOT SERVE YET! IT WON'T TASTE PERFECT UNTIL AFTER REFRIGERATION. Refrigerate for 4 to 8 hours. The rice will puff up with the juices, and the chicken will take on the flavors as well.
4. When ready to serve, mix in the cashews. Serve alone or on croissants. Please comment and let us know if you made any changes to make this your own "Creation In The Kitchen"