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You might call me an occasional cook.

I have good-cooker genes in spades, but I haven’t brought them to a complete boil yet. You might say my skills are blanched, at best. Or maybe parboiled?

I like to cook when I have time or if I’m in the mood for a specific dish (which is almost always this Creamy Tomato Bowtie Pasta for me). I like to cook when I want to serve up a big helping of love to my husband  and this when I want to make my picky tween-age daughter happy.

Even though I didn’t spend much time actually preparing food when I was a kid, I absorbed lots of cooking terminology while watching my mother, aunts and grandmothers flit about the kitchen, simultaneously sautéing while prepping homemade biscuits for the oven.  

Because of those amazing home cooks, I innately know what it means to fold, dredge, julienne and caramelize.

I also learned it’s not a big deal to keep measurements completely precise, unless you’re baking, that is. And for Heaven’s sake, if you don’t like an ingredient in your chicken salad (recipe below!) or chicken pot pie – or whatever you’re making — just leave it out, replace it with something you like better or use more (or fewer) of the called-for ingredients. It’s all about customization in your kitchen.

I remember my best friend in middle school marveling at how I could cook up a tasty pot of macaroni and cheese without measuring out the six cups of water as instructed on the box. And how did I know to add a splash of olive oil to the pot so the water wouldn’t boil over?!

As with most of the cooks in my family, I just “eyeball it” when it comes to measuring.

My mother is the Queen of the Kitchen. She can pull together the most complicated meals at top speed. It ain’t no big thing for her to whip up some chicken and dumplings while making a from-scratch blackberry pie with the fruit her granddaughter just picked from the bushes up by the horse barn (that happened several times this summer).

Compared to my relatives, I’m not the Master of my Kitchen yet, but I’m becoming more advanced the older I get.

I prefer to cook a little more simply, though. Maybe it’s because I’m woefully inept at getting all the food on the table while everything’s still hot. I still don’t know how my mom does it.

One of my favorite (simplest, yet delicious) recipes right now is fall-inspired chicken salad.

I first made this fruited chicken salad recipe for a nautical-themed baby shower (link: at my house in Fayetteville back in May. Here’s a shot of the cute “crabs” I served:

Crab chicken salad

This recipe has become a go-to for me. I found it on the All Recipes website, but adapted it, i.e. added extra ingredients I liked and took out the ones I didn’t.  Like I said, super easy to make:.

Curry Chicken Salad
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  1. 4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts (cooked, diced)
  2. 1 small red apple (cored, diced)
  3. 1 small Bartlett pear (cored, diced)
  4. 1/3 cup raisins
  5. 1/3 cup halved green grapes
  6. ½ teaspoon curry powder
  7. ½ teaspoon onion powder
  8. 1 cup mayonnaise (less if you like your chicken salad drier)
  9. Salt (to taste)
  10. Pepper (to taste)
  1. Mix diced, cooked chicken with mayonnaise.
  2. Then add curry powder, onion powder, salt and pepper. Stir.
  3. Next, add fruits and gently stir until well mixed.
  4. You can serve immediately, but it always tastes better after it’s been in the fridge for an hour or two.
Arkansas Women Bloggers

You can serve this chicken salad on croissants, fancy flatbread (or any bread, really), atop a salad (if you’re making a salad, consider cutting the pear into larger pieces and adding to the top for pretty) or just as an entrée on the plate by itself.

Here, I just made a quick salad and added a dollop of the chicken salad on top (I didn’t have green grapes, so I used red):

Chicken salad salad, Shannon


I  hope you enjoy the crunch of this chicken salad and happy fall! Here’s to eating at tables brimming with your favorite foods, friends and family. Cheers!



shan-blue-dress-circle   Shannon Magsam is mama to one little lady(bug), is married to a long-time newspaperman, John, and co-founded    nwaMotherlode, a resource website devoted to entertaining and connecting moms and families in Northwest Arkansas. nwaMotherlode offers advice, health information, book reviews, local mom interviews, recipes and much more. 

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By Dorothy Johnson, Reflections from Dorothy’s Ridge

I must admit I have several guilty pleasures. There’s eating more Dove Dark Chocolate at one time than prescribed by those wonderful people who declared it heart-healthy. And, of course, that shoe thing.

Frosted Coke4b

However, lately my biggest indulgence involves a childhood treat: The Frosted Coke (aka Coke Float.) I’m not sure what got me started, but this summer, it became my comfort food of choice.

It’s not as if I consume one every day—more like weekly. (Except when we’re at the beach.) I must admit that I looked forward to fixing one to photograph for this post. And once I made it, I couldn’t let it go to waste.

Frosted coke5b

I don’t really remember the first time I tasted the sweet, fizzy concoction, but it goes way back to when I was growing up in Searcy. We always had Coca-Cola in those little bottles in the fridge and Yarnell’s Vanilla Ice Cream in the freezer. (I know that dates me, but I am a grandmother.)

Frosted Cokeb

These days I drink more iced tea than colas, and when I do indulge, I choose Caffeine Free Diet Pepsi (who knows what’s in it). Consequently, that’s what goes in my Frosted Coke. Edy’s Slow Churned one-half-the-calories ice cream is in my freezer at the moment. It’s not quite as tasty as Yarnell’s, but it’s good enough. Both of those lower calorie substitutions salve my conscience enough to allow me to indulge occasionally.

I feel especially decadent when I enjoy a Frosted Coke while watching my favorite television show, NCIS. Mark Harmon is still a cutie, plus I like the entire cast. They have good chemistry and the writing is good. We record it every week.


In the past couple of years, Terry and I have watched more NCIS reruns than I care to tell you, which made me especially glad to see the new season roll around. The next thing on my agenda—after I finish this post—is to watch this week’s show.

Maybe I’ll celebrate with a Frosted Coke.


By Ramona Collins of Addicted to Fries

ARWB WW 1022 RCollins

ARWB WW Mac and Cheese 1022 RCollins

ARWB WW Hot Choc 1022 RCollins

RCollins bio photo 2 At the core of things, Ramona Collins is a storyteller. As the creator of the Addicted to Fries blog, it’s fitting that she enjoys french fries and everything associated with them. She’s a foodie, a carb lover and someone on a mission to lose the extra pounds. Professionally, she is a marketer in the retail industry. Her content focuses on food, exercise, traveling and events. Ramona is a daughter, sister, aunt and friend. Her blog is her life…one post at a time.

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2014 Handmade Holiday Ornament Exchange

October 21, 2014

Welcome to year three of the Handmade Holiday Ornament Exchange! This is your chance to send a little token of the holiday’s to one of your ARWB sisters!  And you will get a little something too. Here’s how it will work! AWB Handmade Ornament Swap {Secret Santa} This week we’re inviting you to show off [...]

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Dog-Gone Crazy {Blogger of the Month}

October 20, 2014

By Miss October 2014, Deborah Brauser I believe the world is made up of animal lovers and non-animal lovers. And that first group can be subdivided further by levels of love. My “guilty pleasures” confession this week is that yes, I am one of those crazy-about-my-dog people. But come on, look at those big blue [...]

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Sunday Link-Up {Oct. 19, 2014}

October 19, 2014

Hellooo! #Sunday #LinkUp is waiting for you! Don’t miss out!Click To TweetPowered By CoSchedule

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Karen Weido: Cooking With Kids {Foodie Friday}

October 17, 2014

  Since the day my daughter was old enough to sit up, she has been in the kitchen with me. It doesn’t seem like that long ago that I had her sitting up on the counter top while I measured the ingredients, analyzed recipes, and did my best to place something edible on the table [...]

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Not Guilty Whovian {Guilty Pleasures}

October 16, 2014

By Jeanetta Darley This will come off sounding completely arrogant but honestly I rarely feel guilty about much of anything. So you can imagine my lack of inspiration when given the topic of “guilty pleasures” to write on. While I personally don’t feel the need to keep the odd or possibly embarrassing things I love [...]

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Guilty Pleasures: All Things Pumpkin {Wordless Wednesday}

October 15, 2014

By Nana 

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Living and Telling Great Stories: #AWBU #Recap {Part 2}

October 14, 2014

  Last month I shared that one of the great stories we can be telling on our blogs is the story of the Sacred Everyday. This month I want to talk about another kind of story we can be creating and telling on our blogs: Noteworthy Days. Sometimes, one of my kids gets invited to [...]

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