School Begins: Open-Faced Chicken Salad Sandwiches

September 18, 2011

When it comes to weather, I’m an equal-opportunity bitcher.  Well, okay, not quite equal–winter gets the lion’s share of my wrath, but extreme heat isn’t my favorite, either.

In my neck of the woods, we just waved goodbye to our hottest August on record. Miss D. began her school year on a 99-degree day, and boy, was she woofed by 4 o’clock when she slithered off the bus, a puddle of butter.

I was woofed, too, because Miss M.’s kindergarten hadn’t yet started.  Translation: Mommy is now the equivalent of Cedric the Entertainer. Holy seven kinds of…board games, Batman.  After a long summer break, I’d forgotten how adept Miss D. is at keeping her sister busy and delighted, and how much Miss M. depends on her for amusement. I was a damn shoddy second, let me tell you, and I heard about it almost immediately.

Operating procedure went something like this:

-walk Miss D. to bus stop, all in good cheer.  Physically restrain Miss M. as she tries to board the bus with her sister.  Pull M. off the steps of the bus, avoid pointed kicks to the calf,  apologize to driver, try to contain Miss M., who is thrashing like an agitated badger.

-walk home, extremely slowly (between fits), pausing on occasion to wipe runny nose, tear-stained cheeks, howling mouth. Dodge, on occasion, a small, enraged foot to the shin.

-enter home. Pacify wailing child by promising a trip to Target.

-drive freshly-minted, cheerful child to Target. Pick up a few grocery items (necessities, yo. Like Capri-Sun. And Spongebob yogurt). Reassure child every twenty seconds that, “No, honey, I have not forgotten that you get to pick out a small toy.”  Dearly hope that nobody overhears this blatant bribery.

-buy cheap, nasty toy that will provide 5 minutes of entertainment. Return home. Spend 10 minutes trying to wrestle cheap toy from plastic clam-shell thingy and rubber tethers.

-hand toy to child. Open laptop. Grant child’s wish for a snack. Return to laptop. Grant child’s wish for a drink. Return to laptop. Grant child’s wish to play with Play-Doh.  Open containers, procure rolling pin and bucket of cutouts. Return to laptop. Pretend to actually play with child, but really just offer vague “Mmm-hmm” noises as she chatters.  Respond to three emails. Grant child’s wish to put away the Play-Doh. Scrape Play-Doh off of hardwood floors.

-tell child that no, you are not taking her back to Target.

-grant child’s wish to play Trouble. And Hullaballoo. And Dinosaurs Extinct. And My Pretty Pony. Deny request for CandyLand.

-make lunch. Fail to negotiate consumption of Madarin oranges, snap peas, watermelon.

-clean up lunch, load dishwasher. Return to laptop. Deny child’s request for a snack.

-grant child’s wish for a trip to the park. Pack sunscreen, wipes, BandAids, insect repellent, water bottle, sunglasses, hat. Open door and immediately kick yourself because Jesus, lady, it’s 99 fucking degrees outside.

-arrive at park. Scan the premises. Lament the lack of any covered or shaded structure at the park. Okay, who built this shoddy bit of business, anyways? Clearly, assholes who don’t take their own kids to the park.

-5 minutes later, pack up, load car, deny child’s request for an emergency Slurpee. Call mother and threaten suicide.

And so it went. I even made M. take an unnecessary bath, just because it bought me fifteen minutes of productive activity. Of course, productive activity=laundry and dishes. Is it just me, or are laundry and dishes the kingpins of household terrorism?

By the time we picked Miss D. up at the bus stop, M. and I were thoroughly sick of each other. A girl was never happier to see her sister.  Actually, maybe I was the happier camper. Relief had arrived.

It was too hot to cook, and my duties as (inadequate) Cruise Director had licked the last bit of energy from my bones.

I am a wimp and a slob, so  sandwich night was clearly in order. I made these guys. They are lovely, knife-and-fork kind of sandwiches. If you have leftover rotisserie chicken in the house (and I always do–invoke the lazy clause, people! Embrace it, love it, read it, ‘Goodnight, Moon,’ and call it a suburban victory!), these sandwiches are also drop-dead easy. I will admit, to my shame, that I was so overcome by the vapors that I didn’t bother with the Prosciutto this time around.  That’s a Code Red, readers. You know this girl’s deep in the stuff when she bypasses pork product. Agg, the horror.  I beg of you, don’t neglect the pork. Pork makes this crazy world go ’round.

As do little brown-eyed girls.  And Mamas. Oh, Mamas. I really want to tell you about our trip…the walks and talks and tiredness and truth…but honestly, I haven’t been able to put it into words yet. I’ve tried.  I think I need more time to drink things in.  I swear, the older I get, the more I feel like I don’t know jack about anything. But this I think have learned: take that person who knows you–truly knows you–and loves you anyway. Take them. Somewhere.  Quit talking and let yourself sit for awhile. Hold that hand that saw you through days and weeks when you thought yourself unlovable.  Hold still, and you will see.

Open-Faced Chicken Salad Sandwiches with Asparagus and Prosciutto

serves 6

slightly adapted from Bon Appetit magazine

1 pound slender asparagus, trimmed

1/2 cup mayonnaise; half full-fat and half reduced-fat

1/4 cup plain, non-fat Greek-style yogurt

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

4 cups cooked chicken, diced into bite-sized pieces

1/2 cup chopped fresh chives or parsley

1 teaspoon fresh tarragon

Nonstick vegetable oil spray

6 thin prosciutto slices

6 1/2-inch-thick slices of bread, preferably rye lightly toasted

sliced tomato (optional)

2 small green onions, thinly sliced

Cook asparagus in a pot of boiling salted water until just crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Drain. Place asparagus immediately in a bowl of ice water to cool. Drain and pat dry. Cut on the diagonal into 3/4-inch pieces.

Whisk mayonnaise, yogurt, lemon juice and Dijon in a large bowl. Add chicken, chives, tarragon and asparagus. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Preheat oven to 375. Spray a rimmed baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray. Arrange prosciutto slices in a single layer on baking sheet and bake until crisp, about 15 minutes. Cool.

Divide chicken salad among toasted bread slices, sprinkle with green onions and top each with a slice of crisped prosciutto. Add tomato, if desired.

{ 51 comments… read them below or add one }

Heather September 18, 2011 at 7:50 pm

To this day I cannot fully put into words everything that my sister and I shared in the days leading up to her death. While your mama is hopefully not in that predicament, these are very special days for you. I would understand fully if you could never truly put your trip into words. I’m so glad you got that time. Hugs to you.


Lyndsey September 18, 2011 at 8:21 pm

I don’t know what to say. I have an only child so I missed out on this and I was there volunteering in the class and at the school. I now work there and she is in high school. I know things will be going smooth in no time…right? Kids are so adaptable …it’s us adults that take some time to adjust…right? :) The sandwich looks lovely, do your girls like this it’s such a grown-up kind of sandwich? It took my daughter awhile. Keep us posted!


TKW September 19, 2011 at 6:55 am


The Minxes will have nothing to do with anything containing mayonnaise, so they had to settle for quesadillas. Someday, right?


C @ Kid Things September 18, 2011 at 8:22 pm

Your day sounds a lot like mine. With my boys in school, I’ve been having to entertain my 3yo. It’s not easy. She likes to play games too, like Memory. And by play, I mean she likes to win. She’s a very sore loser, actually. So I’ve been tossing a lot of games, I guess I should say. And by the end of the day, I’ve just been throwing a movie on so we both get a break.


TKW September 19, 2011 at 9:10 am


We have a severe case of “sore loser” over here, too. Makes things doubly torturous.


camilla September 18, 2011 at 11:05 pm

I could do with one of these right now! They look delicious…Oh and ps, I don’t miss those days at all! both in school and loving every minute of it- is that bad?


Frelle September 19, 2011 at 2:38 am

I loved the look into your life, it reminds me of when my oldest two were small and the monotony and how the life could get sucked out of you.

For my little ones, it hasn’t been board games. It’s the ever-loving doll house. And I have fallen asleep in front of the dollhouse more than two or three times. Seriously.

And the sandwiches look amazing. NOM. Thank you for those too!


TKW September 19, 2011 at 6:56 am


It’s funny–my girls have a dollhouse and never play with the thing. I never know what’s going to be a “hit” with them or not. Well, unless it’s a toy sword. Swords are king in my house.


Tinne from Tantrums and Tomatoes September 19, 2011 at 4:31 am

A sister – wether big or small- is an essential tool to keep a little girl happy and entertained. Ours have just discovered it is fun to race after one and other around the dinner table (they are 2,5 and 14 months, give them some slack).
And yes, I too give them a bath just to get out of reading the same story over and over again.


TKW September 19, 2011 at 6:57 am


My kids are much older and still run around the dinner table, so no judgment from me!


Sherri September 19, 2011 at 5:06 am

OMG – this different start times for kindergarten (AND preschool in this house – with a yukky, buses in the way, push past throngs of kids afternoon pick up for the latter) is killing me… plus – ours was only half days the first week…. I completely lived the same day, I think – right down to the 99 effing degrees and the bizarre alternating open laptop / attend to child dance. This sandwich looks yummage though…. will try.


Wendi @ Bon Appetit Hon September 19, 2011 at 5:41 am

Hang in there lady. Both with the Minxes and your Momma.


Meister @ The Nervous Cook September 19, 2011 at 5:49 am

“I swear, the older I get, the more I feel like I don’t know jack about anything. But this I think have learned: take that person who knows you–truly knows you–and loves you anyway. Take them. Somewhere. Quit talking and let yourself sit for awhile. Hold that hand that saw you through days and weeks when you thought yourself unlovable. Hold still, and you will see.”

This is the most beautiful and the most poignant thing I’ve read in a while. Thank you for this, and thank you for your candidness. What a gift it is for those of us who admire you.


TKW September 19, 2011 at 6:58 am


You just made my Monday a little brighter. Off to check out your salad!


Amber September 19, 2011 at 6:20 am

This looks so freaking yummy. I love chicken salad but have never ever heard it made this gourmet before. And that’s why you need to invite me over for lunch. Like today.

Anyway, I understand this whole thing with Miss M thing. My kids are sick of me by 8 am.


Rebecca September 19, 2011 at 7:24 am

I have always admired the way you can jump between your two writing personas…. tender & insightful and snarky & hilarious. This post is a brilliant mix! Strength to you lady!!


Jennifer September 19, 2011 at 8:36 am

I love chicken salad. It is one of my favorite things. Our grocery store deli makes one with a spicy mayo and celery that is so, so yummy.

I’m so glad I didn’t have to do the one going off to school and one at home thing. The beauty of daycare entertainment.


Gale @ Ten Dollar Thoughts September 19, 2011 at 8:42 am

Comedy, poetry, and recipe, all blended together in a single post. You know how to bring it!


Jenna September 19, 2011 at 9:04 am

What. A. Day. Wow. I guess children are needy little creatures. This reminds me of why if I have children I must have multiple children–so that they can entertain each other!


The Curious Cat September 19, 2011 at 9:16 am

Sounds seriously delicious and now I must go make dinner as I am hungry! Sounds like you had your work cut out for you today! Funny and entertaining to read though! :) xxx


Mary Lee September 19, 2011 at 9:33 am

I, who have part of such a chicken in my fridge, salute you for your impeccable timing.

Prosciutto, huh? I won’t argue.

Happy belated anniversary. My sympathies about The Incident at the bus stop. May kindergarten start soon!


Cathy September 19, 2011 at 10:49 am

I am ashamed to admit that there are moments when I relish the fact that all three of my boys are video game addicts. Yep, this “feature” means that I can have each kid in a separate room (read: no fighting) and 100% entertained (read: I can do whatever I want). Yeah, I AM that mom.


BigLittleWolf September 19, 2011 at 11:27 am

And we wonder why we’re so depleted at the end of the day, or month, or year…

The sandwiches look fantabulous. My school lunches for the boys never looked that good.


Biz September 19, 2011 at 11:48 am

Ha – loved reading this KW – although I was a working Mom always, I applaude women like you – I don’t think I could handle it 24/7!

And my hubs will be all over that sammie – with the proscuitto! :D


Kristen @ Motherese September 19, 2011 at 11:59 am

And this is why I love you: you make me laugh and laugh and laugh. And then I’m crying (and a little hungry). Just like the very best days with the very best friends. xo


TKW September 19, 2011 at 6:08 pm

I love you, too. Wish you and Gale lived next door so we could eat sandwiches together and say naughty words. Ah, a girl can dream.


jacki September 19, 2011 at 12:17 pm

Oh how I envy the relationship you have with your mother. Enjoy and relish every moment you have with her. I hope you know just how special it is to have someone like that. You’re a very lucky girl.


Emilie Frostmann September 19, 2011 at 2:46 pm

This looks like the perfect breakfast sandwich to me! I love chicken.. and as you may or may not have heard, Scandinavians can’t eat any thing without bread.
Thanks for sharing!


TKW September 19, 2011 at 6:09 pm


I grew up in North Dakota, so I love Scandinavians! And krumkake. And those trademark open-faced sandwiches.


TKW September 19, 2011 at 6:10 pm

Ooops, Emilie. :)


Contemporary Troubadour September 19, 2011 at 3:07 pm

YES. Laundry and dishes ARE the kingpins of household terrorism. If I get nothing else done during the day, it is those two chores because if I don’t, I get buried by the result.

My mother sings the praises of the fact that my dad’s wardrobe consists of nothing but scrubs, which get laundered by the hospital where he practices. I’m sure that wasn’t why she married him, but it’s a hilarious (and sometimes enviable) benefit, no?


Katybeth September 19, 2011 at 3:26 pm

I have a feeling if I say isn’t it nice that you are raising daughters who love their sister. are going to really use your words in my directions,
Your a saint! I don’t do borad games ever…when Cole was little I was fond of saying…..greatest comes from boredom and then we would clean together. I also would remind Miss D that moms can also leverage a quick kick to the shin (but don’t wear your heals when you do it–there are those high and mighty parents that just don’t get it)
Jungian analyst believe in psychological alchemy: In short powerful experience should be held tightly in a sealed vessel (never shared to early) out of this process gold is formed. (very simple explanation..but you get it right? )
The sammie looks great! Not a fan of Prosciutto.


Salad in a Jar September 19, 2011 at 4:46 pm

I feel loved…but not known in the way you seem to mean it. Is that possible?

The sandwich looks yummerly. Good luck with the girls. So thankful those days are past for me although I admit to being less attentive than I should have been.


TKW September 20, 2011 at 7:02 am


Did you get the part where I pretend to play with my child and keep trying to sneak away to my laptop? I am obviously inattentive, so I throw no stones.

And yes, I think it’s possible not to feel “known” in the way I describe it…I only have one person who knows.


SuziCate September 19, 2011 at 5:00 pm

We forget how well the older children entertain the smaller ones until they are somewhere else. Remember to raise the older one’s allowance! Can’t wait to hear about your trip with your mom.


Velva September 19, 2011 at 5:56 pm

What a great post. A great sandwich too. After 99 degrees days, why would you eat anything else. I know, I live in Florida.



Stephane September 19, 2011 at 7:29 pm



bryan September 19, 2011 at 7:36 pm

I am so into the trip to Target bribe. The kiddos can get some crappy toy that they will hopefully lose in the neighbor’s yard and I can pick up a couple of things too. I had to laugh at your comment about “pork makes the world go round” I was just talking to a co-worker today and posed the question, “If, for some reason, God didn’t want us to eat pork or lobster why did he make them taste so fricken good?”


TKW September 20, 2011 at 7:03 am


I am in complete agreement. Pork is murder. Tasty, tasty murder.


elizabeth September 20, 2011 at 11:38 am

I think Miss D has earned herself an end-of-summer bonus for entertaining her little sister!


Tiffany September 20, 2011 at 2:03 pm

The sandwich and tidbits from your day with Miss M were funny and wonderful as usual…but I really love your advice at the end. I’m glad you had that special time with your Mama.


pamela September 20, 2011 at 4:29 pm

You make me laugh so hard. I am SO HAPPY I am not the only one who has days like these:) Love it – and that chicken salad. I don’t even eat meat and yet …. you make me question this decision with your recipes!! xoxo


Maria September 20, 2011 at 5:15 pm


Sometimes our hearts are so full, the words cannot be conjured, cannot adequately describe them.

I am so happy that you were able to take this trip with your Mama. I hope that she is on the mend…or at least on the road to it.

Siblings are the salvation (or bane) of our existence…Sibling rivalry reigns rampant in these sweltering parts (I mean, who the HELL decides to start school in the FREAKING middle of HURRICANE season, but I digress) but when one is missing, this Mama isn’t much better at entertaining the troops. And yeah, I’m with you on the bribery. Bribery=Quiet=Sanity…but only sometimes.

That sandwich looks wicked good. Maybe some bribery for the big guy around here ;) Got a smoke alarm that needs replacing…


Naptimewriting September 21, 2011 at 1:45 pm

“take that person who knows you–truly knows you–and loves you anyway. Take them. Somewhere. Quit talking and let yourself sit for awhile. Hold that hand that saw you through days and weeks when you thought yourself unlovable. Hold still, and you will see.”

So where do you want to go for lunch? :-x


Rudri Bhatt Patel @ Being Rudri September 26, 2011 at 6:48 pm

“take that person who knows you–truly knows you–and loves you anyway. Take them. Somewhere. Quit talking and let yourself sit for awhile. Hold that hand that saw you through days and weeks when you thought yourself unlovable. Hold still, and you will see.”

This got me. In the core. It made me wish for more days with my father. xoxo


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