Monday, January 30, 2012

unwrapping the secret to happiness

My son commented the other day while we were at the dentist, that people, like his dentist or teacher, who work in small groups, all seemed really happy with the job that they do.

I thought that was an interesting insight.  I watched our dentist, as he laughed and joked with the receptionists and dental assistants, creating a family atmosphere.  When I pick up my kids from school, I noticed that his teacher is equally smiling (although it could be because it's the END of the day!), however, he appears to truly care about the students in his class, whether he's watching them play hockey at recess or chatting over what they did on the weekend during lunch.

I remember when I was employed at a large corporation, we used to huddle in little groups and go out for lunch together.  It was like a little family.  Putting aside personality differences, egos, professional conflicts.  And spending time together, enjoying something universal:  FOOD.

I stumbled upon this Flickr photostream, where an Apple employee documents all the (organic) culinary lunch menu options at the Apple office. Organic free-range chicken wellington! Organic kale! Organic roasted baby carrots!  His appreciation speaks volumes about how important healthy food is and what it really means to him:

"I've never had the same dish twice, and the food is made with the freshest ingredients, and most of all crafted with love and attention...the same of which is asked from me while I produce the work that I do at Apple"

Eating well prepared, healthy foods together creates happier people.  It makes us more productive, so we can accomplish what we're here for, and move forward. (I wish more schools adopted Apple's idea of healthy options in the cafeteria...I'm in Jamie Oliver's camp when it comes to nutrition for children!).   I wonder if that's the secret ingredient to happiness.  That just might be the secret that is still waiting to be unwrapped.

French Cream Chicken Wrapped in Puff Pastry
(adapted from and Martha Stewart)

Inspired from the Chicken Wellington on "An Apple A Day Foodblog" on Flickr.  This recipe is a twist on the traditional chicken wellington dish, using a french mustard/tarragon cream sauce in the filling.  This can be made and refrigerated 2 hours ahead of time, and placed in the oven, increasing the bake time by 5 minutes.

  • 500g package of puff pastry sheets ( thawed for about 20 minutes)
  • 2 cups boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cooked and cubed (about 2-3 large breasts)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • salt and pepper, to taste.
  • 1 large onion or shallot, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves minced garlic 
  • 1/2 cup (4 ounce) ricotta cheese (or cream cheese)
  • 1 tbsp. fresh tarragon (1 tsp. dried) or to taste.
  • 2 tablespoons Honey Dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp of milk, to brush on pastry. (or egg whites)
  • Heat butter in a skillet.
  • To the same skillet add in onions and garlic until tender.
  • On a floured surface, roll out each puff pastry sheet to a 14-inch square.
  • Cut into four even 7-inch squares.
  • Place about 1/2 cup of chicken over each puff pastry square (one side)
  • Set oven to 400 degrees.
  • In a small bowl combine the ricotta cheese with mustard and tarragon, salt and pepper, then spread over the chicken.
  • Then top with about 2-3 tablespoons onion & garlic mixture.
  • Fold pastry over the chicken breast, using a fork to press the edges to seal tightly.
  • Brush the tops with milk wash.
  • Bake for about 20 minutes, or until puffed and golden brown.

Serve with salad.

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