Waldorf Salads

Waldorf Salads have a long history in America, as noted in the exceprt from the Wikipedia page below. As Americans are wont to do, things have changed to suit different tastes over the years since it’s initial creation, giving us numerous ways to prepare and enjoy them.

From Wikipedia: “A Waldorf salad is a salad generally made of fresh apples, celery, grapes and walnuts, dressed in mayonnaise, and usually served on a bed of lettuce as an appetizer or a light meal.

The Waldorf salad was first created for a charity ball given in honor of the St. Mary’s Hospital for Children on March 14, 1893 at the Waldorf hotel in New York City. Oscar Tschirky, who was the Waldorf’s maître d’hôtel and developed or inspired many of its signature dishes, is widely credited with creating the recipe. In 1896 the salad appeared in The Cook Book by “Oscar of the Waldorf”.

The original recipe did not contain nuts, but they had been added by the time the recipe appeared in The Rector Cook Book in 1928.

Other ingredients, such as chicken, turkey, grapes, and dried fruit (e.g. dates or raisins) are sometimes added. Updated versions of the salad sometimes change the dressing to a seasoned mayonnaise or a yogurt dressing. A variation known as an Emerald Salad replaces celery with cauliflower. The salad also may include zest of oranges and lemons.

One thing about Waldorf style salads is that they are chunky rather than smooth. This allows an individual to experience not a mash of flavors, but individual spikes of flavor and texture. That aspect has always appealed to me personally, and has led to some outlandish tuna salad coming out of my kitchen!

Prep Time: 20-30 minutes
Servings: 4-6
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
3 cups chopped cooked chicken
1 cup seedless red grapes, halved
1 large Gala apple, diced
1 cup diced celery
1 cup mayonnaise Salt and pepper to taste
Place all cut ingredients into a large bowl.

Add mayo on top and fold together gently.

Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve on a bed of greens.


Prep Time: 20-30 minutes
Servings: 4-6

1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
2 12 ounce cans tuna in water (albacore recommended), drained
1 cup seedless red grapes, halved
1 large Granny Smith apple, diced
1 cup diced celery
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup brown mustard
Salt and pepper to taste

Place all cut ingredients into a large bowl.

Add mayo on top and fold together. Be gentle so the tuna remains chunky.

Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve on a bed of greens.


The Meat
Meat was not originally an ingredient in Waldorf salads, though it has become very popular over time. Chicken is likely the most popular protein source in use in the United States, though tuna, cubed ham and beef, turkey, and venison have all been seen in Waldorf style recipes. Leftover or broken meats are a popular source.

The Nuts
Nuts are also a later addition to the Waldorf salad. Use nuts that add a contrasting element to your salad. Walnuts are a dryer flavor with a softer texture. Pecans add a subtle sweetness and a stronger flavor. Almonds, whether they are whole, blanched, slivered or sliced, add a definitive hard texture and savory flavor.Pine nuts are generally smaller and have a popping mouth feel. Match your nut choice to your other ingredients and your individual tastes.

The Fruit
Grapes and apples are the tradition. Red grapes are the usual choice due to their size and sweetness.

Apples come in so many varieties that choosing one to your tastes can be problematic. The choices in the recipes above were made as examples of the use of a sweet apple and a tart one. Gala, Pink Lady, and a host of other firmly fleshed, round, sweet apples are available in most grocery stores. Granny Smith on the other hand is a consistently tart, firm apple that adds a bit of punch to the combined ingredients. Choose an apple that suits your tastes.

This is one ingredient I don’t particularly care for the taste of, but a lot of people do. It’s mildly sweet with extremely firm flesh, and adds a lot of fiber to the dish. Choose fresh stalks. De-vein them, removing the hard, fibrous strings from the backs of the ribs, and shop them into appropriately sized pieces. The leafy tops can even be used as a garnish for a finished salad.

The Binders
Mayonaise is the base binder for the Waldorf style salad. Adding spices, different types of mustard, or other similarly textures sauces can dress your salad up or down. Brown and honey mustard are quite popular.

The Spices
Be aware of the amount of salt, pepper or other spices used to cook the meat you use. This will add flavor to the salad and may negate the use of additional salt in your dish.
Curry is another wonderful addition to the Waldorf style salad. It adds a distinctive aroma and flavor to the other ingredients, and the sweet notes become more pronounced.

The Greens
Fresh baby spinach or mixed greens are used often as the serving base for Waldorf salads, though it’s very likely in the beginning to have been a pretty Romaine. Use what you like. Arugula is bitter, iceberg is mild, spinach has a texture all it’s own.


I hope you’ve found this dissection of the Waldorf salad as enlightening as I did writing it. This has been one of my favorite types of salad since I was a child, and is likely to remain on my personal menu for many years to come.


— Ann Cathey

Something New from Denny’s

Denny’s is a southern US institution, and like a lot of institutions, it has great pancakes, but everything else can be a gamble. In this case, that gamble paid off. After the cruise aboard the Carnival Breeze, I figured anything set before me might be a bit of a letdown. I was happily proven wrong.

I hadn’t been into a Denny’s for a while, and was very pleasantly surprised to find a new “skillet” on the menu: Smoky Gouda Chicken & Broccoli.

“Roasted seasoned chicken with caramelized onions, sautéed mushrooms and broccoli served atop whole grain rice. Topped with Italian cheeses and Gouda cheese sauce.”
– Denny’s Menu


Smokey Gouda chicken & Broccoli Skillet


The dish you receive never looks quite like the advertising photos, but this one was tasty enough that I really didn’t care. the chicken was tender and not overcooked. the broccoli was firm, but not super crunchy. The mushrooms and onions were done to a turn rather than partially raw or blackened. The Gouda sauce, while supported by other cheeses, was well flavored and had just the right thickness to it.

I recommend this dish and it’s companion, the Smoky Gouda Prime Rib & Broccoli Skillet, to anyone who has a liking for cheese!

— Ann Cathey

Birds in Flight

Just in case there are any bird watchers in the audience, I was able to add a few to my life list on the cruise along with seeing many old friends. While these particular birds are not roasted or fricasseed, they might still be of interest to some folks.

The brown pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis) is a small pelican found in the Americas. This possibly immature specimen was photographed in the Port of Galveston.

I’m not sure what this specimen is, though it was flying blithely along side the Carnival Breeze in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico when it was photographed.



A feral chicken was the only bird spotted during our stop in Montego Bay, Jamaica. apparently what used to be a household food bird there, became a neighborhood standard as the bird ran loose and bred. I’m told by a local that they are everywhere and are treated sort of as community pets.



Frigatebirds (also listed as “frigate bird” or “frigate-petrel”) are a family of seabirds  which are found across all tropical and subtropical oceans. This specimen appears to be a magnificent frigatebird (Fregata magnificens). It was photographed along the coastline of George Town on Grand Cayman.



The osprey (Pandion haliaetus) is also called fish eagle, sea hawk, river hawk, and fish hawk across it’s rather cosmopolitan range. It appears on all the continents with the exception of Antarctica, though this specimen was photographed along the coast of Cozumel, Mexico.



My bet is on this bird being some species of cormorant. This specimen was perched on the forward rigging of the Carmival Breeze while we were at sea in the Gulf of Mexico.



Any assistance in identifying the two unknowns is most appreciated.

— Ann Cathey


Cruise Cuisine – Jamaica

When one visits another country, it’s expected that you will look up local foods to try out. In Jamaica, that food would have to be jerked. Jerk chicken, goat, or conch matters not – you have to try something jerked at least once.

We only had one opportunity, and it turned out to be a good one. At the back end of the Shoppes at Rose Hall lies a large deck with a bar at the back end. That deck and bar offer some very tasty jerk indeed.

The jerk chicken was plentiful, served with a couple of corn fritters and some generously hot and flavorful sauce. My partner and I were able to enjoy not only the signature dish of Jamaica, but had the added bonus of washing down with a Red Stripe.



We were able to explore the duty-free shops in the complex as well, most of them being typical of the tourist trade. There was a coffee house featuring Blue Mountain and High mountain coffees in both whole bean and ground varieties, several shops offering the gamut of tchotchkes from t-shirts to shot glasses, and the ever present round of jewelers.

One enterprising gentleman had a sidewalk display of wooden sculptures, two of which followed me home.


There was a vendor of fresh coconut, which he hacked open for visitors with a machete.

There were a few history lessons available.


Of course there were several individuals sporting local color.


Jamaica is an amazing place, even from what little we were able to cram into a single days visit. There is so much more to see, and we hope to be able to go back again and again.

–Ann Cathey

Cruise Cuisine – Supper in Sapphire

On our third day of the cruise, we were back in Sapphire for dinner. Things were pretty relaxed, and while there was a dress code, no one was really enforcing it.

We were getting more into the swing of things and finally noticed this little addition to the menu that featured an unusual appetizer: “Rare Finds”. My partner in food was much more willing and able to take advantage of this particular little gem. While I returned to the shrimp cocktail, he adventurously ordered the Escargots Bourgignonne (snails in Burgandy). They were not presented in shell, but on a special plate with numerous cups around the rim, each holding a snail. The flavor of the sauce they had been cooked in was outstanding, the heartiness of wine mixed with spices and butter. I was at least brave enough to try that, if not the gastropods themselves.

Sadly, in our excitement, neither of us remembered to take photos of the appetizers.

Our main courses were more mainstream, being beef and chicken, but were as delicious as everything else we had been served to date.


Chicken Milanese with charred lemon, sautéed green beans, and steamed vegetables.


Flat Iron Steak with au jus, a baked potato and steamed veggies.

On we went, after a measured pause, to dessert. One of the selections truly surprised me, being lower calorie and having no added sugar. Of course I had to try it and I was not disappointed.


Chocolate Panna Cotta. A deliciously chocolate dessert with lowered calories and no added sugars.


Cheese Plate with whole grain bread, blueberries and strawberries, A Swiss-type cheese, a bleu cheese, a Gouda, a Cheddar and a Brie.

If for nothing else, time spent together with excellent food readily available made this trip more than worth the price.

— Ann Cathey

Slow Cooker Recipes from Crock-Pot #4

I like to use slow cooker liners. Whenever I buy a box of them, there is invariably a little handout inside that includes a few recipes. They are great for folks starting out with slow cookers!

This is a simple version of an Italian favorite!

Chicken Marsala
Cook time on Low: 6-8 hours
Cook time on High: 4-5 hours
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Servings: 4-5

4 chicken breasts, boneless, skinless
1 stick butter
8 oz cream cheese
2/3 cup Marsala wine
21-1/2 oz mushroom soup, canned
3/4 cup water
1/4 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp basil
1.2 tsp garlic powder
Salt & pepper to taste

1. Place chicken, butter and spices into the stonewear.
2. In separate bowl, mix cream cheese, wine, water, and mushroom soup.
3. Pour mixture over over the chicken.
4. Cover and cook as directed above.

Be careful not to overcook the chicken as it will get tough.

I tend to prefer crimini or button mushrooms for this dish. I also like pre-roasted garlic over garlic powder. Both of these substitutions will give the dish a richer flavor.

— Ann Cathey

Slow Cooker Recipes from Crock-Pot #3

I like to use slow cooker liners. Whenever I buy a box of them, there is invariably a little handout inside that includes a few recipes. They are great for folks starting out with slow cookers!

Here’s another soup dish to help keep you warm this holiday season!

Chicken Tortilla Soup
Cook time on High: 3 hours
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 4-6

4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
4 oz green chilis, canned, drained and chopped (hot or mild, your preference)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 yellow onion, diced
30 oz diced tomatoes, canned, including fluid
1/2 to 1 cup chicken broth
1 Tbs cumin
2 Tbs cilantro, chopped
1 lime
salt & pepper to taste
4 corn tortillas, sliced into 1/4″ strips
1/2 cup Monterrey Jack cheese, shredded
1 avocado, diced, tossed with lime juice to prevent browning

1. Place chicken in stoneware.
2. In separate bowl, combine chilis, garlic, onion, tomato, 1/2 cup chicken broth, and cumin. Blend and pour over chicken.
3. Cook three hours.
4. When chicken is tender, use the tines of 2 forks to shred the meat.
5. Adjust seasoning to taste and add remaining 1/2 cup chicken broth if needed.
6. Just before serving, add cilantro and tortilla strips.
7. Top individual servings with shredded cheese, avocado and a squeeze of lime.

Be careful not to overcook the chicken as it will get tough.

Personally, I prefer to mix the ingredients listed in #2 directly in the stoneware and add the chicken gently to the mixture. This prevents having yet another dish to wash – I use lots of them when cooking!

— Ann Cathey

Food Porn 4

As has been previously noted, writing about food can work up a great appetite, but looking at food can make your stomach complain that you are not paying it any attention.

This time around, we are taking a peek into my daughter’s kitchen, and my own. My daughter has a lovely home garden that is sometimes restricted to a side porch, but more often spills out into her back yard.

Home Grown Mint

Home Grown Mint

Baked Cheesecake

Baked Cheesecake

Scratch made cookie dough

Scratch made cookie dough

Creamy Chicken Casserole with Biscuit Crust

Creamy Chicken Casserole with Biscuit Crust

Creamy Chicken Casserole emplated

Creamy Chicken Casserole emplated

Quiche with roasted carrots and asparagus

Quiche with roasted carrots and asparagus

— Ann Cathey

You start with liver…

Sounds kinda gross, right? While a lot of people think of liver and shudder, it is a concentrated source of many healthy minerals, predominantly iron. Chicken liver in particular has a gentler flavor than beef or calf liver, and may be used as a background ingredient for many dishes to increase rich flavors.

I have been asked by several folks for my chicken & dumplings recipe. As it seems to go hand in hand with a dirty rice recipe, I thought I might share both. These two recipes enjoy a boost from chicken liver, though it’s rarely even guessed at in the first dish. Sorry I don’t have any photos for the process or the dishes, but the family ate them all up!


Chicken & Dumplings

This is what I call a “throw down” recipe: there’s a long way and a fast way to do it. Let’s start with the long way. Notes have been added to indicate the short cuts if you prefer them.

1 lb chicken liver (other giblets are okay if they are included in the package)
1 whole chicken (substitute just thighs or breasts if you prefer)
1 large can cream of whatever soup. (mushroom, chicken or potato is preferred)
4 cans of cheap biscuits (pay attention here – CHEAP biscuits)
Salt & pepper to taste

1. In a large pot, bring the chicken livers and 2 quarts of water to boil. Let it roll for about 15 minutes and remove from heat. Drain and reserve fluid for the dirty rice.

2. Without rinsing the pot, add whole chicken and enough water to cover it. If the neck and.or any giblets are included, add them with the chicken. Bring this to a boil and allow to cook until chicken is cooked through. Drain and return fluid to the pot.

3. De-bone the chicken, removing all undesirable bits such as skin, cartilage and bone. Skin may be cut up and returned to the pot if desired. Shred or dice the chicken as desired and toss it back into the pot.

4. Using a fork, mash up and de-vein half of the chicken liver. Reserve the rest for the dirty rice. Any odd giblets (I got a two hearts and a kidney in the last batch) may be reserved for the dirty rice or used as a treat for your dog. Add the mashed liver to the pot and stir.

5. Bring the pot back to a low boil. Begin opening the biscuits and slicing them into 6 pieces. This makes a good size dumpling. The dumplings will begin to dissolve if boiled too long, so be sure to move quickly and use them all. Drop the cut biscuits one piece at a time (to keep them from clumping) into the pot. Stir often to keep the dumplings circulating and the chicken from sticking. When all the dumplings are in the pot, turn the heat off.

6. Open the can of cream of soup and dump it into a bowl. Ladle about a cup of fluid from the pot into the can, stir, then pour into the bowl. Whip the hot fluid into the soup. This helps to prepare the soup to go into the pot and ensure that it will not clump up, but disburse smoothly. Pour the soup into the pot and stir.

7. Allow the contents of the pot to rest for a few minutes and heat through before serving. We like it with non-sweet cornbread underneath and a dash or two of hot sauce on top.

8. Serve. Feeds six easily.

Variations on this recipe include using boneless, skinless meat rather than going through the de-boning process, You may also add vegetables, but it will change the basic makeup of the dish and make it just another chicken soup. You may choose to use some other form of fowl, such as turkey, or beef as the meat. both are delicious and follow the same basic procedure.


Dirty Rice

This is my take on an old Cajun classic. The use of vegetables such as onion and celery will alter the flavor, but you are more than welcome to use them if you like.

This dish takes a little layering, especially of the spices. Be sure to taste test it often to make sure that it’s not too salty, nor yet too hot for your preferences.

12 oz sausage (any kind will do)
Chicken livers reserved from the other recipe above, about 1/4#
Other giblets (if desired)
Tony Chachere’s Original Cajun Seasoning or other spices as desired
2 cups white rice (dry)
Water reserved from boiling chicken liver
1 15oz can of black beans
Olive oil

1. Cook the rice in the water reserved from boiling the chicken livers, adding whatever amount necessary for the rice. If you need to, add additional water. Reserve.

2. Mash and de-vein the chicken livers and set aside. Dice the sausage and set aside. If you plan to include any of the pre-cooked giblets, dice them and set them aside.

3. In a large skillet, spray or spread a bit of olive oil. Drop in your sausage and giblets with a few dashes of Tony Cha’s seasoning. Cover and allow to cook for a few minutes. Uncover and stir, making sure any browning that occurs is well tossed. Anything that sticks will essentially be deglazed as you continue making the dish.

4. When the sausage is cooked to your liking, add the can of black beans, fluid and all. Generously sprinkle on some of the Tony Cha’s spice blend. Stir until all ingredients are hot. Add mashed chicken liver and stir.

5. Begin folding in the rice. It should completely mix with the meat and bean mixture. Some rice clumping may occur. If needed, stir in a quarter cup of water to maintain moisture and prevent drying or scorching.Add a little more of the spice blend while folding to ensure that there is enough spice for your tastes and that is is evenly distributed.

6. Serve. You may have been beating the heathens off with a wooden spoon at this point, but now it;s time to share the goodness! If they burn their fingers or tongues, well, you tried to teach them better. Feeds four huge appetites, or 6-8 more normal ones.

These two recipes are cold weather favorites at our house. I hope you like them enough to let them find a place in your kitchen as well. As always, feedback is appreciated.

Bon appetite!

— Ann Cathey

Raising Cain’s – Hammond, LA

Warhol style dedication to Raising Cane I.

Warhol style dedication to Raising Cane I.

The story is on the wall of how Raising Cain’s was formed and named. It’s rather humorous and involves a dog. This is one of those neat success stories where the guy who started it was told that a chicken finger place “just won’t work” by individuals and lending institutions who reviewed his business plan. Guess what, people – you were wrong!


We first encountered Raising Cain’s in Hammond, Louisiana. We were lucky enough to stumble over another location in the Woodlands, Texas, that upheld all the quality we experienced in Hammond. There is now a location open in Conroe, Texas, too. Each location has had some local flare, but overall the sense of humor and decor follow a distinctive pattern.


Raising Cane’s in Conroe, Texas.



The dining area in each location we have visited has been very open and airy. There’s a lot of red brick, light colored wood, and cutesy local stuff on the walls. Not so much as to be distracting; it’s just enough to be interesting.

Airplane propeller ceiling fans add to the cool temps and the ambiance.

Airplane propeller ceiling fans add to the cool temps and the ambiance.




A 6 Piece Meal

A 6 Piece Meal




The chicken – that’s all they serve is chicken tenders – is outstanding! The breading is light and crispy. The meat is consistently, across three locations, tender and never hard or dry. The fries are crinkle cut, but they are thin rather than thick. This gives them a lasting crunchy texture. The Texas toast is light and lovely, being a very soft bread that’s butter grilled to a crispy outer layer that accentuates the spices and textures of the chicken. The coleslaw is fresh and not pretentious – it’s green and purple cabbage, slivered carrots and a light sauce that doesn’t overpower the cabbagy goodness. It also has a hint of melon that accentuates the natural sweetness of the veggies.



IMG_0239While everything else on the menu is good, the sauce deserves it’s own paragraph. At first glance,it seems to be just another ketchup and ranch dressing concoction. Upon first taste, you will find this to be a gross underestimation. There is plenty of black pepper and cayenne, without being too much. Notably, there is a hint of curry underlying the general sauciness that can make you overlook all the other spices that have been included. No one flavor is strong enough to be overpowering. They all work together to delight the palate and bring together all the other flavors on your plate. It’s so good, it made me forget all about ketchup for my fries.

No leftovers here!

No leftovers here!

A friend of mine in Louisiana has been saddened that she is allergic to coconut, and there appears to be coconut in some form in the Raising Cain’s recipes. Whether it is oil in the sauce or ground coconut in the chicken batter, we do not know, and the employees cannot confirm or deny it for us. If you are allergic to coconut be aware. If you are not, go find a location and try them out!


IMG_0241If you are into supporting your favorite eateries by wearing their gear, Raising Cain’s is ready to oblige with an online store. They offer apparel, koozies, and the ever present gift cards. They do not, however, offer their sauce (yet) or the recipe!






On the 1-5 scale, Raising Cain’s gets:
Cleanliness – 5
Service – 5
Quality of food – 5
Flavor – 5
Pricing – Moderate
Overall experience – 5


Christopher – photo by Ann.

Ann - photo by Christopher

Ann – photo by Christopher



–Ann Cathey