O’Charley’s Pecan Crusted Chicken Salad

I have been wanting to make this salad in Peru for a very long time. I am not sure where all O’Charley’s is located, but it is one of my favorite restaurants in the states. They have some killer yeast rolls they serve warm, and they never disappoint me in their salad category. To my friends in Texas, their menu reminds me a lot of Cheddar’s. Back in the day when Greg and I were living off of one salary and paying for two masters degrees, we would occasionally splurge to have a date night and share this salad. They would serve you unlimited rolls so we always got our fill. (On a side note, I forgot that we used to go on dates whenever we pleased without worrying about childcare–oh the days!)

So, if there is a dish that communicates love to my husband (there are more than one), THIS is definitely one of them. I found the recipe on line. I will just share the link with you if interested, and share any extra tid-bits I learned along the way with some pictures.

Click here to see the site with the recipe

First of all, I lucked out on all the ingredients. Greg and I both love foods with ingredients we would never think of putting together, and we love a lot of weird ingredients. We recently got a new grocery store here in Arequipa that carries Craisins from the states. Also, the mandarin oranges are delicious right now. My girls can eat about 5 in one sitting–deliciously sweet. Pecans are outrageous price-wise all year round, so this salad will have to be a special occasion salad for Arequipa as well.

First, I made the candied pecans. We LOVE candied pecans. In fact, they have become a traditional Christmas treat for us. I have a recipe that uses butter, sugar, and egg whites, but I don’t think I will be using that recipe anymore. These were so EASY to make. I almost feel like I should post a separate recipe for “Honey Toasted Pecans” all on its own. All you need is 2 cups pecans, 1/4 cup honey, and 1 tsp salt. They also only take about 20 minutes to cook–much shorter than my other recipe.

I allowed them to cool on foil and then chopped them for the salad. I couldn’t keep myself from snacking on “a few” before we ate lunch, though. Oh, and 2 cups was way more than we needed for four good sized salads. I actually could have gotten away with using 1 cup.


It is hard to say which ingredient “makes” this salad, but the chicken absolutely rocks my world. After eating this salad, Greg asked, “How did you make that chicken?” He wanted to know because he said it was the best tasting chicken I have ever prepared here. Well, for starters, it is the first time I have fried chicken here in Peru. But what makes this chicken so delicious is that it is pecan encrusted. Don’t you love that phrase? That is the kind of phrase that smart menu makers put on a dish title to suck me in immediately. You cut 2 lbs of chicken into strips, roll them in flour, place them in egg, and then drench them in the deliciousness of bread crumbs, pecan crumbs, nutmeg, and orange juice. Can you say “yum?”


Now comes the part where you assemble the ingredients: Romaine lettuce, mandarin orange slices, dried cranberries, bleu cheese, and honey roasted pecans. Does it get much better than this?


The answer is yes. It does get better than this… add the pecan crusted chicken tenders on top. And if you can believe it, it still gets better…


This is our middle child (2 years old), drinking the rest of the balsamic dressing left in her bowl. I make my own, and I have found a recipe that we really like. Here it is if you are looking for a good balsamic dressing recipe: Shelia’s Best Balsamic Dressing. And for the record, I ALWAYS double this baby. It is the perfect finishing touch to bring all of the ingredients together.


And I, of course, had to get a picture of her when she came back up for air.


Look at that face and that empty bowl. Does it look like she enjoyed it? I will admit that my kids are not picky eaters, but this was a great family recipe. We all loved it. If you live near an O’Charley’s, go order this baby. But if you don’t, this recipe is so worth the time if you like a good salad. I considered making their yeast rolls, but got lazy and bought the fresh baked croissants at the bakery this morning (we may not have O’Charley’s, but I seriously doubt that many of you can buy fresh baked croissants.) I will live it up here while I can. 😉

O’Charley’s Pecan Crusted Chicken Salad


I am a missionary. Even if I were not sent to Arequipa, Peru with the title “missionary” I would still be a missionary. It isn’t my vocation. It is my life, what I am called to do, be. Through my teenage years and into my college years I struggled with the word “evangelism.” I had some major misconceptions about what it meant to evangelize. A few are: 1. I had to have some major sob story to really bring people to Christ. 2. I had to know a lot more than I do to even try and talk to someone about Christ. 3. Getting a person to come to church with me on a Sunday morning is evangelism.

So much of my thinking has changed. People evangelize in many different ways, and I am going to be honest with you. I have been in groups to “evangelize the lost” and I don’t think I was doing it in a way that was pleasing to God. Evanglizing isn’t only about telling. It is about being. We tell others about Christ, but it does no good if we are not being Christ in their lives. If I had to sum up evangelism in one word it would be “relationship.” That is how Jesus did it. It is true that people listened to his preaching and believed. It is true that Jesus would right-out confront people of their sins without first inviting them over for dinner. I do believe that there is a time and place for some of those actions, but I step back and think, “He was the Son of God. I am not.” I believe there are many gifted teachers and preachers. There are people that have horrible pasts with a story resulting in redemption, and when they share their story people cry and sometimes come to faith because of it. Well… I don’t think of myself as a gifted teacher. I don’t have that personal story that brings people to tears. But I do have the Holy Spirit. And I do have a love for God’s creation.

To address the three statements I listed above:

1. I had to have some major sob story to really bring people to Christ.

I have a story. Everyone does. I have something to share. His name is Jesus, and he transforms my life. I really believe that if someone struggles to know what to share, they may have some searching to do. Seek and you will find. When Jesus is truly transforming one’s life, there is plenty to share–it flows from you. You see, you don’t even always have to use Jesus’ name. His power and work is evident in the most mundane things going on. At least for me, that is what I have discovered. Recently we met with another NGO here in the city. We call our development work “holistic ministry.” I was talking to one of the NGO leaders and expressing my excitement of how much has occurred in our work in the last three years. I have no clue what faith these volunteers have or share. I wasn’t used to trying to describe the good being done without mentioning God. Yet I found myself trying to be careful about too much “religious talk.” But it is evident in our work here. What has been done is because of a power bigger than ourselves. We are the feet and hands of Jesus. Any good that comes about is in accordance with his kingdom plan.

2. I had to know a lot more than I do to even try and talk to someone about Christ.

I will never “know” enough. My Christian journey is a constant path of learning, reflecting, changing, being molded. Things are hard for me to “get” sometimes. The Bible is hard to understand in certain places. There are cultural things going on, arguments that I need to understand more fully (when Paul is specifically writing to different churches). I used to just flip through my Bible and think, “If I could just memorize enough of the ‘right’ verses to quote to an unbeliever…” I believe that God works powerfully through his word. But I think I had replaced sharing God with just a desire to know the Bible. The Bible is wonderful. It is a book of love letters from God through the hearts of so many of his people. But I think that there is a major reason that John calls Jesus the Word. The Word isn’t a book. The Word is God made into flesh among us, loving his people, serving his people, building relationship with his people. I love that there are four different gospel accounts. I want to know Jesus. I want to hear from the people that walked beside him or were friends with those that walked beside him. I love that we pick up on so many different things from all four different accounts. Isn’t that human? We relate differently. In the Bible, we have four different people to try and relate. I love to learn more about him. I love to read the stories that I have read my entire life with new eyes because of the way the Holy Spirit is guiding me, changing me. Everyone is in a different place. All I can do is share what I know and why I believe it. I don’t have to know everything. I don’t have to have all the answers for someone’s doubts. I still doubt, but isn’t that really where the faith part comes in? You know what has come to be such a comfort to me? God has left us with the “Comforter–the Holy Spirit.” He is the one that does the convincing. It isn’t all up to me to bring someone to Christ. God and me, we are a team. Apparently I am not the only one that has struggled with that idea. I seem to remember Paul having to remind the early Christians about the watering and growing process. When that really clicked with me, there was such a burden lifted.

3. Getting a person to come to church with me on a Sunday morning is evangelism.

I remember limiting my thinking to evangelism as the “Bring a friend Sunday” that my home church would host. I think a special Sunday where the outsiders are invited in is a wonderful idea and wonderful way for the church family to open themselves to the public, but I sadly viewed it as “the way” to help save someone. Church buildings serve some wonderful purposes. There is a blessing to hear 500+ people in an auditorium lifting up their voices together in song to God (I have really come to appreciate that since being away from such a large group of believers). A building can serve as a wonderful outreach tool to a community, but when it becomes the outreach tool, when we pour all of ourselves into making that our only personal outreach tool, we have missed it… big time. Getting people to come to a place is not what evangelism is about. Jesus didn’t tell us to tell others to “come.” He told us to “go.” We are to be in other’s lives. Remember? We are the hands and feet of Jesus. So much of what we read about him takes place in people’s lives: their workplace, a boat, a well, their home. We don’t have a number of the people Jesus preached to and saved. But we do have the part of the story where he devoted three long years to a specific 12 men. We do have the many stories of where he took the time to sit and know someone. That is some major relationship building. Have you read Acts? Have you seen what came from the fruit of investing himself fully in those men’s lives? I have prayed for relationships here that I have now. I am disappointed if something doesn’t happen in three meetings with someone. Well, first of all, I need to make myself available. Secondly, I need to care about a person and invest in them not solely because I want to “bring them to Christ” but because they are God’s child and I am called to love them. Thirdly, with the Spirit’s prompting, I need to be ready to share what I do know. And fourthly, I need to depend on God’s power transforming them. It isn’t me that changes them. It is God’s Spirit and them coming into faith in him.

I have a long way to go still in forming my strategy to evangelize. I wasn’t planning this post, but this morning I read from two different blogs that really hit home with me. Here are the links if anyone is interested:



So, what do you think? Do you have anything to add?


CT—5 months

5 months! Say what?! I cannot believe that we are almost to the half-year mark… increible! I don’t know a cuter 5 month old. He is my little boy, and I couldn’t help but post a photo gallery of him. Gram and Memaw, I hope you enjoy the many “faces” of your precious grandson. We wish we lived closer so that you could see him in person, but these photos will have to do for now.

This is “Sumo” Cohen (how many rolls can you count on his back?)


“Puppydog-eyes” Cohen
“Good Morning” Cohen
“Excited to eat cereal” Cohen
“I can sit up on my own” Cohen
“Still trying to figure out this rolling over thing” Cohen
“Handsome blue-eyed” Cohen
“I love my activity block” Cohen
At 5 months:
1. You are exploring your vocal cords. You have a high-pitched squeal that you have discovered.
2. You laugh and smile a ton more than last month.
3. You still don’t have the greatest night schedule (though I started sleep training and you are no longer eating every 3 hours).
4. You go to bed from 7-8 and get up in the morning around 6:30 am (you are down to waking up twice or three times in between those hours).
5. Bedtime ritual–clean diaper, swaddle, pacifier, “Jesus Loves Me” in rocker (I love that I never rock you to sleep. You fall asleep in the crib on your own).
6. Still taking 3 fat naps a day. Eating every 4 hours now.
7. You are eating rice cereal and oatmeal once a day. We are about to try some new foods.
8. You spit up a TON (like Ana did). You always need a bib if we don’t want to change your whole outfit. I would worry about you getting any nutrients except for the rolls on your thighs. You aren’t hurting.
9. You can situp on your own, but you don’t have the balancing all down quite yet.
10. You eat in your purple bumbo.
11. You grab things and hold on to them much easier.
12. You love the activity block that Maggie got for her first Christmas when she was 5 months old.
13. Ana and Maggie love to make you smile.
14. Your head is covered in peach fuzz (it is all growing in). On the top of your head is really long, fine wispeys. Daddy wants to cut them, but I really like your wind-blown mohawk look.
15. I can no longer leave you in the corner of the living room couch by yourself. Last night, you leaned forward, and rolled off the couch. You cried, but there are no bumps on your head this morning. I felt terrible.
CT—5 months


Cohen has been eating oatmeal for over a week now. He turns 5 months old in about a week. None of my other children started this early. My babycenter email suggested that a child can begin solids: a. if they are between 4 and 6 months old, b. double their birth weight, c. have good neck and tongue control, d. take interest in you eating. I could say yes to all of those things. So, Cohen Timothy, here’s to you being a chub. 🙂



Pat and Joshua’s Visit 2011


We have been excited ever since Pat shared with me over our furough (last Christmas) that he was planning a trip with Joshua. Joshua turned 10 this year and something neat that my brother and sister-in-law do is rites of passage. They have decided that age 10 marks a special trip with Daddy where they discuss some pretty big topics. Since we are here in Peru and Pat has wanted to visit us, they felt it was appropriate to make Joshua’s special trip to Peru.

They decided to make it over the Labor Day weekend so that J wasn’t missing an entire week of school. They arrived early Sunday morning and left Friday evening. It is the shortest amount of time anyone has stayed with us so I was worried that it would go by way too fast, but we ended up doing the tourist thing with them mixed in with some homecooking from Manuela and it was a great trip.

I loved this visit because:

1. I love my siblings so much. It is an absolute delight when I get to spend an entire week with one of them. Pat has always been one of my heroes, and I soaked up every minute I had to spend with him.

2. I am Aunt “Mamie.” Joshua is my first nephew, and when he started calling me by name “Mamie” is how “Megan” came out. Because of this, I am Aunt Mamie to all of my nephews and nieces. He is 10 years old and he still calls me Aunt Mamie. I hope he is still doing it when he is 25. I LOVED being called this all week. Pat and Deborah, you have done an excellent job in training your children. It was made more evident to me in how Joshua acted this past week.

3. I love visitors that want to try new things, especially food. Pat commented that he didn’t have his hopes too high for the food here since he has visited several Latin American countries and not been that impressed. He changed his mind about Arequipa (what many call the culinary capitol of Peru). We ate and ate and ate. (our pictures are the proof)

4. The “tourist thing” gets old after you have lived here awhile, but it had been so long since we’d done it, I really enjoyed it.

5. Cousin time. Ana misses her cousins so much, and we will sometimes find her randomly crying about missing family back home. Joshua was SO GOOD to her. They played and laughed. Maggie was even included in on the playtime sometimes. Also, my brother is one of those fun uncles. He has always been able to make my babies laugh, and it was no exception with Cohen. I loved Maggie walking through the house asking for “Bat.” (Pat)

6. It is so neat to share kingdom work with family. Greg and I really enjoyed our late night talks with Pat discussing new books, authors, church work, vision. What a blessing.

Pat and Joshua, thank you for blessing us. We love you so much. The only way the trip could have been made better is if Deborah, Caleb, and Daniel had been able to come. Maybe one day. We love you!!!

Here is the link to all the pictures:

Click on this line to see pictures on Facebook.

Pat and Joshua’s Visit 2011