Tuesday, July 9, 2013


Summer is definitely my favorite time of year, and the season I most look forward to enjoying with my family and friends. July, especially, is a time for gathering—two family reunions, several birthdays, and, of course, Independence Day!

My family does a lot of outdoor celebrating, so we're always making cold salads, baking fresh fruit pies, and grilling vegetables straight from the farms around the Finger Lakes region of Upstate New York, where my new novel, Stardust Summer, is set.

I have fond memories of picking blueberries, peaches, and apples at local orchards and am fortunate that my boys have the same opportunity today. There's nothing like delicious fruit straight off the vine!

Many years ago, my father gave me The Silver Palate Cookbook, which is a wonderful compilation of New York-style recipes. It's a treasured reference and contains fabulous dishes for just about any occasion.

My favorite recipe of the many I've tried from Silver Palate is Tarragon Chicken Salad. I often make it for get-togethers, and it usually draws rave reviews from anyone who tastes it. It's fairly simple to make, uses only a few ingredients, and keeps well in the refrigerator for several days. Enjoy!

Tarragon Chicken Salad (4-6 portions)
The Silver Palate Cookbook

3 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 cup of heavy cream
3/4 cup sour cream
3/4 cup of Hellman's Mayonnaise (feel free to use the light version, but do not substitute for another brand)
3 celery ribs, chopped
1/2 cup walnuts or more to taste
2 tbsp dried tarragon
salt and pepper to taste

Directions:  Arrange chicken in a single layer in a cooking pan. Spread evenly with heavy cream and let bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. Remove from oven and cool.

Cut chicken into bite-sized pieces and transfer to a bowl. Whisk sour cream and mayo together in a small bowl and pour over chicken. Add remaining ingredients and toss well.

Refrigerate, covered, for at least 4 hours. Taste and correct seasoning before serving. Serve on a bed of lettuce with grapes or other fresh fruit on the side for a light lunch or dinner.

LAUREN CLARK is the author of Dancing Naked in Dixie, Stay Tuned, and Stardust Summer. She writes contemporary novels sprinkled with sunshine, suspense, and secrets. A former TV news anchor, Lauren adores flavored coffee, local book stores, and anywhere she can stick her toes in the sand. Her big loves are her family, paying it forward, and true-blue friends.

Lauren is a member of the Gulf Coast Writers Association, the Mobile Writers Guild, and a regular contributor to Parents & Kids Magazine's Mississippi Gulf Coast Edition. Check out her website.

Where to Buy Stardust Summer:

Amazon - Kindle

Barnes & Noble - Nook 


In celebration of In Need of Therapy's one-year anniversary and the book's Cuban heroine, enter to win a copy of the cookbook Celebrate Cuban - 100 Great Recipes for Cuban Entertaining by Three Guys From Miami. You can enter up to 6 times using the Rafflecopter widget below. The giveaway will end at midnight on Wednesday, July 31st, and a winner will be announced on Thursday, August 1st. This contest is open to residents of the USA only.

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  1. Love this recipe! Tarragon is such an interesting herb. Good choice for summer!

    1. Thank you Martha! It's one of the best I've tried. I don't get tired of it and it's so pretty on a bed of lettuce :)

  2. Now I'm feeling really hungry! Lovely recipe, love tarragon. xxx

    1. Me too! Need to go home and make some right now!

      xx, Lauren

  3. Replies
    1. Laura - It's pretty fast and easy. Definitely one of my summer favorites. You can dress it up with some red grapes on the side for a sweet touch :)

  4. This recipe sounds like one for me. Quick and easy and stays good for days. I have a lot of memories from my time when I was a little girl living in New York. My grandparents grew all sorts of fruits and veggies and sold them at a stand by the street. I always loved helping out. I used to eat apples straight from the tree and strawberries too. Most times I ate so many I ended up with a tummy ache. But, I always went right back at it the next day.

    1. Oooo yay! Fellow New Yorker :) I grew up in Akron (near Rochester) same memories of the strawberries!!! <3 Lauren

  5. Thank you so much for hosting me on BBB today, Tracie! This is one of my favorite and so-easy-to-make salads for summer!

    Tarragon makes all of the difference in this dish!

    Congratulations, Tracie on your one year anniversary of INOT's release! Yay, fabulous you!

    xx, Lauren

  6. My mouth is watering. Delicious, LC! XOXO

    1. Awww! Thanks Jen Jen! It is one of the yummiest I've tried. Especially when you sprinkle toasted pecans on top. And SALT. Don't forget the salt.

      xxx Lauren

  7. Ooh, this sounds scrumptious! And Lauren, you may be from New York, but you're a Southern Belle now! After reading that bit about not substituting Hellmann's for another brand, I LOL'ed and went to find this hilarious book I have: "A Southern Belle Primer: Or why Princess Margaret Will Never Be a Kappa Kappa Gama."

    The Mayonnaise Girls vs. The Salad Dressing Girls

    "Good Southern belles don't put dark meat in their chicken salad and they don't put Miracle Whip on their tomato aspic. In fact, they would never have Miracle Whip in their refrigerators. They use mayonnaise - real homemade mayonnaise. If this isn't available, Hellmann's "store bought" is a good substitute (although you might add a little lemon). Belles are not so pure in other areas: they use a lot of condensed soup mix, Cool Whip, and Marshmallow Fluff. But when it comes to mayonnaise, they are unbending.

    'But I love Miracle Whip,' a woman who has lived in Memphis for thirty-five years told her friends over bridge.

    'My dear,' one of them answered. 'You were born in the Midwest, and it shows.'"

    1. Bless your heart, Libby! I MUST find that book! One of my favorites is "Suck in Your Stomach and Put Some Color On." Too funny :)

      Yes, it has to be homemade or Hellman's.

      Love, Lauren