Loaded Chicken or Tuna Salad with Greek Yogurt Garlic Ranch "Mayo", and The End. | Parsley, Sage, and Sweet

Loaded Chicken or Tuna Salad with Greek Yogurt Garlic Ranch “Mayo”, and The End.

April 8, 2014 at 12:22 pm | Posted in Dinner, Healthy, Lunch, Poultry, Rainbow, Sandwiches/Wraps, Seafood, Vegetables | 105 Comments
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I wrote a long preface to this post, but was told to ditch it.  Too personal, too revealing, too much apologizing and explaining, they said.  So, I gave in and ditched it.  All that matters is that the end is finally here, so let’s celebrate with sandwiches, or wraps.  Did you just hear the dull, hollow thud after I said that?  Yeah, it’s there, an apropos response to sandwiches after 2 years of jotting down this long, drawn out memory.

Loaded Chicken or Tuna Salad with Garlic Greek Yogurt Ranch "Mayo"Sloppy and blurry, but oh so good.

Man oh man oh man, I never thought I’d be ending this story with chicken salad sandwiches.  I wanted to make something spectacular, and I tried, and I failed…twice.  It was the most disgusting thing I’d ever put in my mouth. Then I felt sick again, so I gave up and made an easy chicken salad, which really isn’t much of a recipe, but it’s the best I can do for now.  Plus, I can sit and chop, so win-win.

I’ve been making this chicken (or tuna) salad since I was 12 and learned how to roast peppers.  I add roasted peppers to all of my mayo based salads because it makes them remarkably better – the sweet, roasty undertones, just magnificent. You get your crunch from the celery, so nothing is missing.

Back in the day, I used to mix some of those ranch seasoning packets into the mayo before mixing it in with the chicken and veggies.  I thought I had discovered something brilliant, but people have been mixing ranch seasoning packets with mayo long before me.  They just add buttermilk and call it ranch dressing.  I decided to go as a fresh as possible, eliminating the salt lick packs they call ranch seasoning.  I also switched out most of the mayo for Greek yogurt, but, by all means, use all mayo or all yogurt..either way is delicious.

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you may have noticed that I like my sandwiches big, overstuffed and messy,  If the filling falls out while eating it, even better. However, this salad is so pretty, it would make delightful, dainty, crustless tea sandwiches too.  No need to pick up after me, I’ll get to it eventually.

If you want to take chicken or tuna salad to a realm above and beyond the norm, a realm that elicits “OMG” with eat bite, this is the way to do it.

Loaded Chicken or Tuna Salad
Makes a good amount of sandwiches, depending
on how much salad you use per sandwich

2 to 3 cups shredded chicken (I use a roast chicken and a mix of white and dark meat) or 4 cans of white albacore tuna, drained
2 green onions, both the light and dark green parts, sliced
1 red bell pepper, roasted, peeled, seeded and diced
1 yellow bell pepper, roasted, peeled, seeded and diced
1 small carrot peeled and grated or shredded (sometimes I steam the carrot shreds, about 1 to 2 minutes, for more flavor)
2 large stalks of celery, peeled (this is the best way to add it to salads, no strings), thick white end cut off, split vertically three or four times, finely diced, LIKE THIS
1 very small red onion or one-quarter of a large red onion, diced LIKE THIS (or 1 large shallot, diced)
1 to 3 avocados, depending on how many sandwiches, each half slightly mashed
Garlic Greek Yogurt Ranch Mayo (recipe follows). the amount depending on how ‘wet’ you like your chicken salad
kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper, if needed.

DIRECTIONS:
1. Combine the first 7 ingredients in a large bowl.  Mix in as much of the Greek Yogurt ranch mayo as you desire.

2.  The Secret – Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours (I refrigerate it overnight)  before serving to allow the flavors of the chicken salad and yogurt ranch to really blend or shall I say ‘sing’? Because it really does sing!  You’d be amazed at the difference it makes, not unlike beef stew eaten the day after it’s cooked.  Season it with extra salt and pepper after letting it chill, if need be.

3. Serve as sandwiches, slightly mashing an avocado on top or spreading the avocado on one or both slices of bread (which I should have done for photos – neater) then layering boston or butter lettuce and tomato, if desired, or roll into whole wheat flour tortilla wraps or flatbread.  Keep it low-carb and gluten-free by serving as is on a salad plate or spooned into a ripe avocado half.

Greek Yogurt Garlic Ranch “Mayo” (Double or add add another half of this recipe for more ‘mayo’)
Adapted from this recipe
Makes about 1 cup

PrintHighlight the recipe, then right click on it and choose print. in the drop down menu. Voila..only the recipe prints, nothing else.

2/3 cup Greek Yogurt (Use all mayonnaise instead of yogurt, if desired)
2 to 3 tablespoons mayonnaise (if using all mayonnaise, just 2)
1/4 cup chopped. fresh parsley
2 tablespoons chopped, fresh chives
1 tablespoon chopped, fresh dill weed
1 garlic clove chopped and smashed into a paste with a pinch of kosher salt, LIKE THIS
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 cup buttermilk (more or less, taste as you drizzle it in and stir, or 2 teaspoons buttermilk powder*) You can omit all the buttermilk, if you like. It’s great without it too, since yogurt is already tangy.  If using all mayo, you need to use it.
salt and pepper to taste

* You can usually find buttermilk powder in the baking or dried milk aisle in supermarkets.  If not, you can order it online.

DIRECTIONS:
1. Place Greek yogurt in a strainer lined with cheesecloth (or a paper towel) over a bowl.  Cover the strainer and allow excess liquid to drain for about 1 to 2 hours.  You’ll be replacing the liquid with buttermilk to make it ‘ranch’. (While it’s draining, start roasting the peppers and prepping the rest of the vegetables for the salad).

If you’re using all mayonnaise, obviously you can skip the above step.

2. In a medium bowl, stir together strained Greek yogurt, mayonnaise, parsley, chives, dill, garlic paste,, garlic powder, and onion powder. Stir in buttermilk. Add more or less buttermilk for desired taste and consistency.  I like it thick, like, well..mayo.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Wrap  and refrigerate for several hours before adding it to salad, if you have the time.  Even more flavor!

Without further adieu, the conclusion to Bad Boy First Love.

If you’re tuning in for the first time, here are the previous parts to this story. Part One is HERE, Part Two is HERE , Part Three is HERE, Part Four is HERE, Part Five is HERE, Part Six is HERE, Part Seven is HERE, Part 8 is HERE, Part 9 is HERE, Part Ten is HERE, Part 11 is HERE, Part 12 is HERE, Part 13A is HERE, Part 13B is HERE, Part 14A is HERE,  Part 14B is HERE , Part 15 is HERE, Part 16 is HERE , Part 17 is HERE and Part 18 is HERE, and Part 19 is HERE., Part 20 is HERE, Part 21 is HERE, and Part 22 is HERE.

I cleared my throat and tried not to sound upset or desperate.

“Hi, is Dreamboat there?” I asked, hoping I sounded cool and confident in a way that suggested ‘No bitch is gonna take my man..yeah, thaaas right!  Don you even think about it, missy!’, but still cordial, if that makes even the slightest sense.  She could just be a friend, I thought, although I didn’t know of any girl ‘friends’ he had down the shore, or at home for that matter.  Come to think of it, he had never had a girl ‘friend’ in the almost 7 years we were together.

“Who’s this?” she asked, miles and miles more cool and confident than I.

“Lisa” I replied, breezily.  This was turning out to be a war of voices, but she was there with him, so her arsenal was loaded.  She was Union to my Confederate.

“Yeah. hang on.” she said in a somewhat amused voice, and then a loud smirk/laugh after she told him “It’s Lisa,” while handing him the phone.

Do you know what a smirk/laugh is?  It’s a diss of epic proportions when it’s girl versus girl.  It’s a combination of a hiccup and a laugh, or a small cough mixed with a chirpy giggle – Uhh Heh with a with a slight breath in between. The ultimate FU, a complete knock down..a childish taunt of  “Neener Neener, he’s mine now!”.  Apparently, she found it funny that I was calling..or even worse, I was a joke not to be taken seriously.  That hurt, but also made me start to rage just a leetle bit.

She’d thrown down the gauntlet.  I was ready.

As soon as he said hello, the smirk/laugh looping through my head, mocking me repeatedly, my first words were;

“WHO WAS THAT?”  No hello, no small talk, just “WHO WAS THAT?”  Not the greatest way to start off when you want to make up and get back together, well, more like win, now that I’d be KO’d by a smirk/laugh.

He immediately started to placate me –  pure, unadulterated pacification, his usual weapon of choice.  Remember, he was always as cool as a cucumber when I was angry with him or overly emotional, and it always bugged me.  In fact, in all of our years together, I don’t think he raised his voice in anger once. When compared to most other bad boys, who are quite extrovertive when angry, he was milquetoast.  However, if that toast was burned by those of the male persuasion, he talked alright – with his fists.  A strong, silent bad boy. A strong silent bad boy who was possibly no longer mine.

Loaded Chicken or Tuna Salad with Greek Yogurt Ranch "Mayo"

“It’s no one” he said softly.  She was either out of earshot or enjoying his ruse with me, because no woman in her right mind would put up with being called ‘no one’.  He continued to assuage the situation, but at the same time, sucker punch my heart, callously dislodging the feeding tube he’d placed there 7 years ago, stating several more times “It’s no one.”. He didn’t even say she was just a friend..just, “It’s no one.”

“Bullshit, is she your new girlfriend?” I asked, my voice about 3 notes higher than normal and kind of screechy.

“It’s no one, okay?  I’ll call you later.” He replied calmly.

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing, but knew him well enough to know that his insistence that she was ‘no one’ not only made her a ‘someone’, but a very important ‘someone’ at that.  In all of my years with him, whenever he undermined something, whether it be a person, object or situation, he, she or it was always on a much grander scale than he made he, she or it out to be.

“I don’t believe you.” I said, trying not to cry, and then hung up.  I sat cross-legged on my bed in a sort of stunned silence, the enormity of what had happened not having yet sunk in.  I began absentmindedly chewing my cuticles, something I’d stopped doing when I was 11-years old and got my first manicure.  I remember the nail technician telling me that boys didn’t like chewed cuticles on girls, as she painted a perfect black and white daisy on one nail.

Dreamboat chewed his cuticles a lot.  I wondered if he was chewing them now.

I was trying not to work myself into a poisonous lather of anger and jealousy – trying so hard not to foam at the mouth.  For a few minutes, I thought about driving down and confronting him and the smirk/laugher in person.  It’s harder to be a sarcastic, mocking bitch when the object of your smirk/laugh is standing right in front of you.

I thought better of it. What would that solve?  He was obviously already involved with her to some degree, and she was, to quote Charlie Sheen, circa 2011, “Winning!”. Plus, my desire to go there had a tiny bit more to do with confronting her rather than salvaging our relationship, so I would have just ended up embarrassing myself. I was amazed I could think so rationally in that moment.

I picked up the phone and called Raven, tearfully giving her the play by play.  Raven liked to think she had some kind of extra sensory perception, a soothsayer of sorts, and in a way she did (another story), so at this point, I was more than willing to listen to her ‘vision’.  She told me she could see him, at that very moment, standing on the street in front of the shore house in a pair of cut-off sweats, barefoot..with her, which just made me feel worse.

As an aside, Raven had never seen him in the cut-off sweats she described since they were just recently cut off. But, she hit the nail on the head, right down to one of the tie strings being chewed and frayed by the family dog, and the second letter on the label washed out. Eerie.

But none of that mattered because I knew it was over.  Even if he called and wanted to see me, it would never be the same. You can’t put a band-aid on a gaping wound and expect it to fully heal, and even if by remote chance it did, the scar would have been ghastly.

Soon, the ‘light-bulb’ moments began to pile up.

It finally dawned on me why everything he did with me our last night together was so cold, awkward and peculiar. It was because he had been with her while working on his parent’s shore house. She was probably the reason he stayed those extra days ‘to paint’. Yeah, the only thing he was painting was her body with his..okay, no need to elaborate any further. You get the bitter gist.

Well, I knew one thing for sure, she was an extraordinarily bad kisser and he’d adapted to it, kissing me like he was used to kissing her, touching me like he touched her.  She was obviously busty since he’d kept reaching for them and missing, his wide open hands in a sporadic, upward slide, fingers spread and stretched, awkwardly hitting my collarbone, then sliding back down and cupping in defeat.  I cringed from the inside out every time I thought about it.  Even typing it just now made me cringe!

I had a strong feeling it was the girl who pulled up to the front of the house and beeped when I was down there with him and P a few years back.  The girl he made P run outside and talk to.  The girl he briefly dated when I was in college!  All I recalled was long, light brown hair, one side tucked behind her ear.  I didn’t see her face. Then it hit me. That girl was also the faceless drive-by night stalker from a few months earlier. Same hair and car. No wonder he had blown it off.  He knew.

Now I understood the smirk/laugh.  He’d chosen me over her for years, so I had become the enemy, the girl she undeservedly hated and placed blame on because she was in love with him and couldn’t have him.  She wanted to make me feel as bad as she had for a period of time.  For all I knew, he could have been using the old ‘I’d be with you, but I don’t want to hurt her’ excuse that many a cheating boy uses to soothe the rejected girl while keeping her on the back burner. Not at all unlike a married man persuading his mistress with empty promises, since he’s only staying in it for the kids or to avoid being taken to the cleaners.

So, he cheated on me while working on his parent’s house, and he cheated for keeps. She finally got her man and he got his ‘shore’ dream, since she was a local.

He called twice a few days later, but didn’t leave a message.  I didn’t bother calling him back because I knew they were just courtesy calls. There was nothing left to say on either end.

It was hard to fathom how something so intense for so many years could end the way it did.  I grew up with this guy, he was my first everything.  The abruptness was startling. After about a week, I had a change of heart and wanted some answers and ideally, closure, but, he wasn’t a phone chaser, and I wasn’t going to phone chase him, especially after that last call. BUT, again, it didn’t matter. He didn’t want me anymore, so I definitely wasn’t going to get the answers I was desperately seeking, at least not while it was fresh.

Nonetheless, something was amiss.  Why wasn’t I sobbing face down in my pillow?  Why did I still have a slight appetite?  Why wasn’t I mourning him like I did when he broke up with me that awful night at the lookout? Don’t get me wrong, there were many nights of manic supposition, a smattering of regret, horrid visuals of him loving her, and a healthy dose of tears, but those tears weren’t flowing like I thought they would.  Much to my surprise, it didn’t feel like I was pinned under the wheels of three tons of sadness.

So I cracked, but I wasn’t broken. However, our emotional umbilical cord, which had been stretched many times but never broke, was now broke.

Maybe I could live without him.  I’d move on and be okay, I promised myself.

Loaded Chicken (or Tuna) Salad with Greek Yogurt Ranch "Mayo"

Of course, my brain welshed on that promise.  I was stuck in a rambling, inner soliloquy of whys, what ifs, and analogies, even going as far as comparing my breakup to my friend’s past breakups, looking for some kind of self-soothing, small consolation.

I’d been front row and center for some of my friend’s crumbling relationships, and they always seemed to be a lengthy series of fights, breakups, gamesreconciliationslather rinse repeat – fractures and bone chips all over the place until someone finally surrendered, sweeping up the carnage and ending it for good. We had broken up once before, but it was discussed for three hours and he had articulated his feelings sufficiently. This time it was sudden, the expansive floor of our love wiped clean with one, voracious sweep of a soaking mop. It was as if we’d never happened.

After 7 years, from the fevered flush of first love, to the well-seasoned bliss of mature love, to nothing, in a split second, the cold, dead silence was crushing.  I felt empty. This was ‘another woman’ breakup, and unfortunately, that’s how those usually end.  But still I continued to ponder it relentlessly;

Why couldn’t he have just told me he didn’t want to wait any longer?  Why couldn’t he have just told me he had fallen for someone who could give him what I couldn’t? Why couldn’t he have just told me he wanted to date someone else before actually doing it?

Why couldn’t he have he just told me he didn’t want me anymore?

Cake and eat it too was the general consensus among my friends.  Whoever broke first (me, obviously) was let go to fend for herself.  She was probably ready to give him what he wanted.  I was not.  So, instead of just telling me he didn’t want to wait any longer, or that he wanted to move on, he surreptitiously kicked me to the curb.

Just like the moment the opening chords to Sweet Child O’ Mine wiped out glam metal and synthesizers forever, and then these guys wiped out metal altogether, a smirk/laugh wiped out me and Dreamboat forever.

After about a month or so, I slowly started to date again.  It was difficult at first, but I eased into it as you would an ice-cold swimming pool on a scorching day, my body eventually adjusting to the temperature.  Soon I was treading water comfortably.

One guy I met while driving to work.  He pulled up next to me and started a game of red light, look and smile, green light, glance and go. He was very cute, in a Taylor Lautner sort of way.  He motioned for me to pull over, I motioned for him to follow me.  I felt safer meeting and talking by the tanning salon. Soon we were seeing each other on a fairly consistent basis and it seemed promising, in a transitional sense, since I wasn’t even close to ready for an exclusive, committed relationship.  He didn’t give me mad butterflies, but, damn, the boy could kiss!  Maybe it could become something eventually, I thought.

Loaded Chicken (or Tuna) Salad with Greek Yogurt Ranch "Mayo"

As we spent more and more time together, something started to feel off.  There were moments where he kind of looked like he should be sipping from a juice box instead of quaffing his favored gin and tonics when we went out to dinner.  Not to mention, he would get crazy excited to do late night donuts in an empty parking lot down by the Hudson in Edgewater.  After a while, I got tired of all the scary spinning and skids and made him let me out first, sitting on the steps to a gym, yawning, while I watched him play Dukes of Hazzard with his ‘vette.

Then I found out why.

He told me he was 21, but he was really 17 and a senior in high school, thanks to one of his ex-friends who actually came up to the tanning salon to out him.

knew his ID was fake!

A five-year age difference isn’t a huge deal, but it is when you’re 22 and the guy is a freakin’ teenager in high school.  Not to mention, he wasn’t even legal for me to date! Now the gin and tonics made sense.  They ‘aged’ him. He kept calling on and off for about two weeks after I found out, first claiming he was really 21;

“It’s a lie, I swear I’m 21!  John just said that because hates me and was jealous!”

Then he resorted to making up all kinds of excuses as to why he lied, one of them being; “My grandmother has been really sick.  I’m all out of sorts, man.”

“Oh, so that led to you forgetting your real age?” I couldn’t resist asking.  I continued to listen to his excuses, letting him say his piece because it brought me back to when I added a year plus to my age when I met Dreamboat.  But, we were both teenagers at the time.

He finally realized there was no way I was going to continue dating a 17 “But I’m gonna be 18 in January!!” year old and let it go.

For a long time the jabs from my friends were rampant; “But, Lisa..you’re passing up the opportunity to take him to his prom!” was one, and it still makes me giggle to this day.

Dreamboat and I had now been broken up for 3 months and I was really starting to miss him again, especially after unknowingly dabbling jail bait. He’d pretty much been my life for 7 years, and the intrinsically tangled heart is not that easily untangled.  I was starting to hope he might call, even just to see how I was doing. There were some moments when I almost called him, but fought it off, repeatedly slamming the fridge door shut on that seductive slice of pie. Clearly, I was still susceptible to the sporadic emotional currents trying to pull me back to him, but I’d learned to paddle my way to safety, or cling to the betrayal buoy, to avoid drowning in the vast ocean of memories with him I so cherished.

Regardless, you can’t fight for someone who doesn’t want you anymore.

After a few months of on and off dating, and just when I started to worry I was never going to feel butterflies again because Dreamboat had ruined me forever in ways both positive and negative, I sparked with someone at a club in Hoboken. He was a combination of Dreamboat and Hockey Guy; a tall, dark and handsome college athlete (baseball pitcher), but tough with a bad boy edge and that deep, sexy voice that only guys who grew up on the other side of the GWB had.  In fact, he lived in a town between me and Dreamboat, the next town over from the tanning salon I worked at in Fort Lee.

Aside from the fact that he was the first guy who induced those now elusive butterflies since Dreamboat, I could talk to him about most anything, no blank looks or feigned interest.  We had some pretty awesome phone conversations before our first date and they continued into our first date. and second and third…..  Ding, ding, ding!

Jackpot.

The urge to hear from Dreamboat began to fade with each amazing date, and soon my malnourished heart was feasting again.

After dating for a few months, right after we both said the first “I love you” and couldn’t wait to have a fantastic summer together, he got a phone call from the Atlanta Braves and soon after, the NY Mets, both offering him a contract to pitch for them.  To backtrack, he’d gone to an open tryout a few days earlier since he was injured his senior year in college and lost out on the draft.  He chose the Braves because they upped the ante, and he was a Yankee fan.  In New York and New Jersey, if you’re a Yankee fan, you hate the Mets, and vice versa. Crosstown rival nonsense we all adhere to.

Loaded Chicken or Tuna Salad with Garlic Greek Yogurt Ranch "Mayo"

It figures, I thought, and it happened so damn fast – a little over two days to be exact. The phone call, then a going away party for him put together by his family and friends, and the next morning he was on a plane to some boonie town in the Appalachians where their rookie league was located.  At the airport, with my face crushed against his chest (He’s 6″4′) while he held me in a farewell bear hug, he told me as soon as he was settled in and knew where the hell he was, he would call, and of course, send me money for a plane ticket to visit him.

Just like that..poof.  This time the feeding tube was removed gently, but the pain wasn’t much different.  On the drive home from the airport, I remember stopping at a small candy store in the town we lived in briefly before moving to our forever town.  I stocked up on a pound of penny candy (which was now nickel candy) like I did back then with the quarter my parents gave me every day, but no kid excitement this time, just a need to sugarcoat the gloom.

When I didn’t hear from him after two days, I started to worry a bit, but tried to remain positive.  One afternoon at work, when it hit day three and still nothing, I thought maybe I was a flash in the pan and he’d already met some hot baseball groupie.  After what happened with Dreamboat, distrust had snaked its way into my head and nestled into a corner of my subconscious. Suddenly, I needed to talk to an old friend. The intensity came on fast  and consumed me like wildfire for several minutes.  I should have waited and let it pass, but instead, I hastily dialed. After the second ring, Dreamboat’s voice was on the other end.

My stomach fluttered when he said hello.

Was it possible I wasn’t fully over him?

He was surprised and seemed really happy it was me.  One “How are you?” led to him chattering on about what he’d been up to since we’d broken up, a lot of it about going to see bands play with his friends and how the night before they actually met and partied with Joan Jett and she looked “HOT” for her 40-something age.

“You know she’s into chicks, right?” I asked, to slacken the awkwardness.  He paused for a moment, then responded with a “Yeah.”, followed by a timid laugh.

He was nervous.  I’d never heard him like that before.  Ever.

After the moment of awkward that I tried to make not awkward, I just listened because I had nothing more to add to the conversation.  It was strange – incredibly familiar, but at the same time, incredibly bizarre.  When he finished rambling on about his rockin’ nights, so unlike the guy I used to know, he asked how I was, but before I could answer, he said;

“I miss you.”, and his voice cracked in the middle of it.

He was actually choking up.

I waited for that old, familiar feeling to come over me..the butterflies, the good jelly legs, even happy tears, and then both of us would cry, realizing we were meant to be together.

But that didn’t happen.

I felt nothing…zero..zilch.  Not even a speck of butterfly larvae.

I could only respond with “That’s sweet, thank you.” because I would have been lying if I said I missed him too.  Wow. I couldn’t believe it.  Just as I was feeling my forehead to make sure I didn’t have a fever from some brain eating disease that rendered me callous to his sentiment, he said;

“I wanted to call you so many times, but I really messed up and thought you’d hang up on me. Plus, I heard you were seeing someone…”

All at once, I felt uncomfortable and desperately needed to get off the phone.  I made up some lame excuse about customers coming in and said goodbye, hanging up quickly before he could say anything else.

I suppose it was the closure I needed?

When I got home from work later that afternoon, Raven called.

“Start packing, H (another friend, though not close) and I are going down the shore and you’re coming with us!” she exclaimed excitedly.

Knowing, or hoping, rather, that Dreamboat needed to stay home for work and wouldn’t be there, made the decision easy. I needed this.  A fun weekend with the girls at the beach would be the perfect elixir for missing/waiting to hear from Baseball Guy and the discomfort I still felt from the phone call with Dreamboat.

We didn’t stay in Seaside, but we went there one night to hang out.  It was strange being there without Dreamboat and without any connection to Dreamboat, and it was changing fast. Dance clubs were now dotting the boulevard and boardwalk.  One strip of arcades, and a pizza stand I’d been so used to seeing, was now one huge strip of dance club.  Gone was the casual, wind-blown, cut-off crowd and Jon Bon Jovi wannabes (with hair exactly like this, bandana included), replaced by decked out, deeply bronzed guys slathered in hair product and decked out, deeply bronzed girls slathered in makeup, some wearing heels, moving stealthily to avoid jamming one between the boards.

Loaded Chicken or Tuna Salad with Garlic Greek Yogurt Ranch "Mayo"

“High heels on the boardwalk?? WTF?”  I remember the three of us clucking abashedly in unison.

We always went barefoot, (sandals or sneakers at most) no matter what we were wearing (cute and casual, but never dressy), to avoid being called a benny.  When you were vacationing there for a while, like we used to, you did not want to be called the dreaded benny and went to all costs to avoid it.  Besides, it was summer, it was the beach, so walking barefoot was freeing and worth the occasional splinter.

Ironically, on this eff men - fun girl’s weekend we spent the majority of our time checking our voicemail.  Raven had a few dates with a guy she really liked and hadn’t heard from, but kept hearing from a guy she went out with once and wasn’t interested in at all.  Every time there was a another message from him, she’d have a hissy fit, banging the phone against the wall (the man she later married).  H had just broken up with her boyfriend a few days earlier but missed him and realized she’d made a mistake, so she was hoping he’d return her messages, and, of course, me checking for Baseball Guy.

We were a pathetic bunch.

On our last full day down the shore, we decided to go to the beach in Seaside, not the usual main part between the piers, but the side at the end of the boardwalk next to Ortley Beach, right by the street we’d spent those incredible teenage summers on. H had bought a few of those small beach lounge chairs because we were now “..old and didn’t need to be getting any sand up our butts” as she so succinctly put it.  We lounged back by the dunes like little old ladies, replete with sunglasses, SPF 30, hats, and a cooler full of hidden Corona Lights with lime, a far cry from the beach-blanketed, well-oiled, sun worshiping teenagers we were just 4 years earlier.

The girls were happily pickled, the Coronas washing away all thoughts of the men they were missing.  I managed one, then refrained because I’d barely eaten anything and was feeling a bit woozy. I just vegged out in my own little world, watching with amusement as they succumbed to flirtatious barbs from a group of 20-year-old guys a few feet away.

“Oh, damn, we’re out of Coronas.”  H moaned as she lifted the cover and looked into the cooler.

I quickly volunteered to go buy some more.  My kind gesture was a farce. It was an excuse to sneak in a call to my voicemail to check if Baseball Guy had left a message.  We’d decided to stop checking, and I’d held out for as long as I could, but I wilted, and needed to check one more time,   I pulled on some shorts and off I went..with some guy named Pedro.  Yeah, some guy named Pedro.

Pedro was one of the beach blanket bimboys (as we jokingly called them, resulting in a fun name flame war with them – we were The Golden Girls) my friends were flirting withI vaguely  remember him asking to come along because I was so caught up in my thoughts, but I must have said yes because he was walking alongside me as I trudged down the ramp to the boulevard, then a right to one of the side streets where there was a liquor store. All I recall is dark, spiky hair, caramel tanned skin, puppy dog eyes and a pretty nifty six-pack.  I couldn’t help realizing that this new breed of Seaside was loaded with six-pack ab boys.  He was wearing a thin, gold chain with a cross.  Not quite guido, but he could be on his way, I thought.

It was slowly turning to dusk, my favorite time of day down the shore. The lights of the arcades and carnival attractions were starting to come on, so beautiful against the pink blue sky.  Dusk always held promises of amazing nights to come, nights when I’d scamper down the boardwalk breathlessly to meet Dreamboat after work, or wait outside for him to pick me up, my heart racing at the familiar rumble of his Beetle a block away, scads of butterflies erupting in my digestive system when he pulled up.  A moment of that old excitement returned as I watched the  lights to the Star Jet coaster flicker and zip while we walked, and then a brief feeling of sadness since it was no longer that time and I was no longer that girl.

Loaded Chicken or Tuna Salad with Garlic Greek Yogurt Ranch "Mayo"

As we walked across a small, sandy lot leading to the liquor store, I watched a car pull in and park in one of the spots near the door.  I knew that car.  I knew that car very well.  I stopped dead in my tracks and hung back, slowly moving sideways towards a tree to hide behind, instinctively reaching back to keep Pedro from moving forward.

“What’s wrong?”  He asked.

I put my index finger to my lips to suggest “Shhh”, but mumbled through it..”That car that just pulled in, it’s my ex-boyfriend.”  He got it and stood still.

I watched as he got out of the car, followed by his familiar stretch, then a hand through his hair.  Now I realized why it was so easy to feel nothing on the phone a few days earlier.  I hadn’t laid eyes on him since that awful night when he fumbled me like a football.

He looked beautiful, but his beautiful was now bathed in betrayal.  I had deluded myself into thinking I was completely over him, but in truth, the full emotional fallout had been cloaked by the anger of that betrayal. Just one look at him, and the pain and longing resurfaced, much worse than it had ever been since the split.   He was wearing a favorite pair of black jeans I’d bought him two birthdays ago.  I remember marveling at how great he looked in them while he smiled bashfully.  Much to my dismay, I wanted to run him. He did say he missed me and he choked up while saying it, and he was edging towards more before I hung up, so it’s not as if I was playing with half a deck here.

After watching him walk into the store, I took a step forward, and then another.  The mix of emotions running through me was puzzling.  He’d hurt me tremendously, and I thought I loved someone else, but suddenly, I needed to be in his arms again.

Not so fast.

It was then I saw the dark silhouette of a girl’s head in the passenger seat that used to be mine.  I knew it was the smirk/laugh girl, the faceless drive-by stalker, the long, light brown hair tucked behind one ear and when stalking, beneath a baseball cap. And with that realization, I started to feel woozy again, the Corona blowing bubbles in my empty stomach, threatening gastric Armageddon.

It happened so fast, I couldn’t control it.  My legs started to give out, and for a second I thought I was going to faint.  I turned and slowly crouched down, squatting, one hand against the tree, the other over my mouth, trying to hold back the bile that was rising way, way, way too fast.  No matter how many times I’d felt that bile in the past, from possible rejection after a year, to marriage, babies, and houses talk, to his almost arrest, I’d always managed to keep it down and recover.  I looked down at the gravelly sand while Pedro tried to comfort me, his hands on my shoulders, asking frantically what was wrong.  Should he call 911?

Oddly enough, I ended up focusing on his feet, trying hard to will the nausea away.  I remember thinking he had very nice toes for a guy and could easily be a foot model..and then it all came gushing out, all over those pretty toes.

The poor kid didn’t see it coming.  I’d be forever remembered as the girl who threw up on his feet. Well, at least it was liquid, it could have been worse.

I have to admit, the boy done good, meaning he didn’t freak out. I sort of half smiled up at him, trying to convey “sorry” with my eyes.  When he saw I was going to be okay, he ran into the liquor store, the liquor store Dreamboat had hopefully vacated, and bought some bottles of water.  Two for me, and two for his feet.  I inwardly blessed his puppy dog eyes and six-pack abs.

Almost immediately, I felt better..and not just physically.  It was like my whole being was finally clean, no sticky residue clinging to my heart, no hidden dust in any nooks and crannies, just spic and span, white glove test, clean.  I felt lighter, fresher, brand new.  I guess when I threw up on Pedro’s feet, I’d finally purged Dreamboat completely from my system.

The fat lady capped off her cadenza with a curtsy and the Poltergeist lady announced that my house was clean (forget that in the movie it actually wasn’t).

Pedro helped me up.  This time there was a real spring in my step.  I was really going to be okay, well, okay if I heard from Baseball Guy, I thought as I stepped away from Pedro to check my voicemail.  He had called.  He had left a message. My heart swelled when I heard his voice. The spiritual/ju-ju side of me deemed it fate, and fate wasn’t going to let us be in touch again until I was thoroughly cleansed of everything Dreamboat, the good and the bad.

I finally had full closure.

I couldn’t help grinning ear to ear while I listened to him fit as much as he could into the 2 minute message time limit, first explaining why it took days to hear from him (7 game road trip the minute he arrived, working with the pitching coach for hours on end, and rooming with him), and proudly boasting about his first 3 outs in professional baseball, a K, a ground out and an infield popup.  Rapidly running out of time, he shouted out the phone number in the trailer he was now living in with three teammates, begging me to call him ASAP because he loved me and wanted me there with him ASAP.

So I was to become a traveling baseball woman for years to come.

But that’s another story.

I never spoke to Dreamboat again, although his number did show up on my phone a few times the next few months.  Blondie spoke one more time to his brother, about a year later.  He claimed Dreamboat married “..the girl he loved second best.”, as if that was any consolation (it wasn’t).  She had their baby soon after I puked all over Pedro’s feet, so he got his first kid at the tail end of 25, just as he’d wanted and planned.  I think it would be pretty safe to say he knocked her up during the those two plus weeks down the shore working on his parent’s house, or in Virginia Beach.  Yeah, she was the one he went to Virginia Beach with. She had relatives there. He hadn’t spun any globes.

I found out years later that they had 5 kids.  Yep, 5 kids, and possibly more to come. I’ve often wondered if she wears a flowery housecoat and dilapidated flip-flops.  All kidding aside, I’m happy for him..and them.  They were meant to be together to create a beautiful family, true soul mates.  There was no way he would have ever gotten 5 kids out of me, no matter how sexy or persuasive, so major, major kudos to her.

Having said all that, even though I was hurt in the end, I don’t regret even one second of our time together.  I was lucky to have had such an amazing first love.  He wanted to start a family more than he wanted to wait for me to be ready to start a family, and that’s just how it goes sometimes.  But, he gifted me with a bunch of killer memories, some of which I’ve shared with all of you, so I’m richer for it.

As for me, well, that will all come as or if this blog goes on.  There will be more stories, but none that cannot be finished at once..no more parts, even if I have to make a separate page for it.  Dreamboat will show up occasionally in posts because it was during our time together that I fell madly in love with cooking and baking, so he factors into some of the treats I have in store and the stories behind them.

Loaded Chicken (or Tuna) Salad with Greek Yogurt Ranch "Mayo"

I was never in Seaside again, Long Beach Island and the Hamptons becoming our new summer playgrounds.  As you all know, super storm Sandy ravaged Seaside, and the last remaining bit was eaten up by a fire last year, so there’s not much left from my memories with him. Most everything is brand new.

I had always planned on returning one day, especially to see if something I carved into one of the wooden beams beneath the roller coaster on the Casino pier, was still there.  It was simply L loves D, carved deep with a quarter into the wet wood during low tide one late afternoon on my way to visit him at work.  That roller coaster, called the Star Jet (formerly the Jet Star), is the coaster in this now iconic photo, before and after.  The beam I carved it into broke off with that coaster. However, I can always see the Seaside I knew, forever in here (tapping head), so it really isn’t gone, and I’ll always remember it like this, and this..and this.

Remember yesterday
walking hand in hand
love letters in the sand
I Remember You
-Dave Sabo

The End

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  1. I’m all chocked up and teary eyed after finally finishing the story! It brought back a lot of memories and a feeling of wistfulness for the excitement of young love and inevitable heartbreak in so many relationships. Thank you for sharing this part of your life with us.

    • Aww, Heather *hugs* I’m so glad my story was able to elicit those feelings in you. I choked up myself at the end, then started from part one to relive it one more time :)

  2. I’m so happy you’ve finally gotten to finish the story. It was beautifully written. I absolutely loved it and the fact that you decided to share an important part of your life .

    • Thank you so much, Alyse..I’m so glad you loved it. xo

  3. This made me emotional in so many ways. It’s the end of a two year(!?) saga of reading this story, the emotional pain I felt FOR YOU reading about his betrayal, and the understanding ache of having a boyfriend move hundreds of miles away for work in a very short time frame. Even though I could tell the direction the story was going in from the last few parts, I still secretly wanted you two to end up together, but maybe that’s just the hopeless romantic side of me. Though, seeing how he ended up, I think you dodged a bullet. I imagined 7 people trying to live in one of the little run-down shacks you described and I actually cringed.

    I already want to hear your stories with baseball guy! Are you two still together?

    Also thank you so much for sharing your story with us. Digging up those memories must have been very bittersweet, but I know that tons of us loved tuning in. Can’t wait to read whatever else you come up with! :)

    • Katie, I was bummed I couldn’t give you all a fairytale ending because it would have been pretty cool. I even waxed on about it to others, like “I wish I could surprise them with marriage to him, kids and the white picket fence” replete with a big, shiny photo, because I knew that’s what many were hoping for. But, that’s life, and like I said, no regrets whatsoever. If I had to do it all over again..who knows? However, I think I dodged a bullet too..and LOL@ 7 people living in that shack. Let’s hope not!!

      As for me and Baseball Guy, if I gave it away, I wouldn’t be able to write about it with any cliffhangers lol You’ll know soon..I promise!

  4. Wow.. That was a great ending. I can’t lie, I was secretly yelling at you to stay behind that tree! I hope what passed after this was worthy of amazing memories as well. There is something nostalgic about that particular time in our lives, the music, the freedom, the friendships. Thanks for sharing with us. I may just start the whole thing over so I can go from start to finish. AND, I am adding roasted peppers to my chicken/tuna salad for sure. It looks colorful and delicious! And that bread….

  5. Bravo, Lis! You emptied the tank. That was very definition of bitter-sweet. Such amazing recall of nuance and emotion (I’m not sure if that’s a blessing or a curse, but what a soulful journey you took us on.) Yanked(!) from the deepest nooks and crannies of your soul. Well…They just don’t write ‘em like that anymore: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f07cXFlSnQ8

    • Thank you, my dear friend :)

  6. The end was exactly as wonderful and tear jerking as I imagined it to be, thank you for sharing this story with us.

    Hugs
    Uru

  7. You had us all hanging from your fingertips….
    Thanks for sharing this great first love story. I was together with my ex for 7 years too, and he made my knees jelly and he could kiss. I wish I could remember all those years like you did yours.

    I hope you will be ok, I am sending good health vibes your way. It sounds like something that is not getting better, hugs to you.

    That chicken salad looks so delicious and healthy with all those veggies, I will have to try it.

  8. oh my goodness girl, you rock-
    beautiful ending to a beautiful story of beautiful memories..
    thank you for sharing all of that and in such a painterly way–both through your writing and your cooking and photography. they ALL contribute to each other beautifully and i fully enjoyed every minute of every part.

    also, i am deeply grateful to you for giving me a substitute recipe for..MAYO..!! (because i don’t like store mayo with all the fake stuff, and sometimes i just don’t feel like making an aioli by hand; plus, using yoghurt is WAY lower in calories–sometimes a plus). i have tried different made up concoctions for years, with yoghurt, but have never been successful! it always tasted too sour and not creamy enough. so really, thank you so much for this awesome recipe.
    and, i LOVE LOVE LOVE these kinds of fresh sandwiches–just a beautiful sandwich, esp with all that lovely avocado.
    you know, this sandwich was the perfect recipe to end your story with: the simplicity and homeyness of the (old) Jersey Shore, combined with a *fresh* start for your life at that time. Bravo girl! believe in yourself…
    :))
    i look forward to your next posts.

    • I always look forward to your comments, johanna. You will LOVE the yogurt “mayo”, I just know it! I tried it with the Wallaby non-fat yogurt (love them because, like you told me, they’re good to their cows) and it was just as amazing..couldn’t tell the difference between full-fat and non-fat. That said, I like your take on ending it with a down-home comfort sandwich because it’s Jersey Shore ‘homey’. I feel better about it now xo :)

  9. “So I was to become a traveling baseball woman for years to come, but that’s another story.” Ahhhhh….

    Wow, what a beautiful ending, closing this reliving of who you were and what you almost became and I’m glad you did that. With us. I never really lived a relationship like that, so intense, so long, such a rollercoaster of days and emotions. And your telling of yours just swept me away and left me breathless.

    Don’t stop writing, especially the part about how you came to cooking and baking. xoxoxo

    And I love a good chicken salad sandwich and yours looks extraordinary, especially the yogurt ranch mayo which I have to try. Perfect sandwich for a perfect story – and I do think this sandwich is the best for comforting…

    Love you xo

  10. I loved that story and the ending! Wonderful. An intense relationship…

    This sandwich looks amazing and ever so mouthwatering!

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  11. What a story with the beautiful ending, Lisa. The sandwiches look fanfreakingtastic, just like the way you tell the story :-) Thanks for sharing!

  12. You finished this perfectly…it was worth the wait. I’ll be waiting for more stories about food and life from you…I hope you’ll continue to share your gift of writing with us all. Sending you wishes for good health, good eating and happiness. xo

  13. Beautiful story! I hope you are able to continue writing!

    • Thank you, Kelster, I hope so too!

  14. Bravo Lisa. That was a beautiful wrap up. I grew up on the beach in LI and a lot of your story resonated with me. Fantastic writing. Just loved it. Oh and your chicken salad recipe is fantastic.

  15. Wow, just wow. You ended it perfectly. I’m always afraid that an endings will disappoint, but this one was perfect. Even though I want more, I feel satiated. Lisa, thank you so much for this story, and if you feel better, can you write more? Would love to read about you and baseball guy!

    • Thank you, Michelle. I’m thinking about it :)

  16. I can only echo all the comments already posted…it is a beautifully written “first love” story that’s simply captivating! Thank you for sharing.

    • It was a pleasure, Amy, and thank you for reading! xo

  17. A huge bravo from us office people. The last one of us just finished it and some of us even teared up because you so perfectly conveyed the pain we’ve all experienced at one time or another in relationships. so happy you found someone amazing. Are you still with him? We’re all dying to know, including the sensitive guy! Like I said the last time I commented, please write more…we’re begging you! We won’t mind if we have to wait between parts!!! :)

    • Wow, thank you and your coworkers, Deborah, I’m so flattered and I promise I will do my best! xo

  18. This.” callously dislodging the feeding tube he’d placed there 7 years ago” Made me cry. I was also hoping you’d end up together..but after the “it’s no one” crap, I was glad you didn’t. Thank you for such a wonderful memory shared,

    • That one came to me sudden;y right in the middle of typing it, like some weird force just filled in the blank. I couldn’t imagine a better way to describe what it felt like in that moment. It made me cry typing it, like it just happened yesterday. I’m so glad you enjoyed reading it. xo

  19. Wow you really went to another level with your writing. As others have said your writing is beautiful and clear. I truly hope you use your gift and decide to keep writing. Well done! :)

    • Thank you, Dave -I’m incredibly flattered..and humbled.

  20. I’m never ever making chicken salad without roasted peppers again. This was the best I’ve ever had…thank you!

    • You’re so welcome! It makes a world of difference, doesn’t it? Glad you hopped on the roasted pepper boat!

  21. I’m sorry, but he didn’t just want a wife..he wanted a submissive baby making machine!!! You were better off, honey :) Loved the story and your chicken salad looks fabulous and is on my “to do” list this weekend :)

    • Ha ha, Janet, that made my day. Thank you and hope you enjoy the chicken salad!

  22. What a tear jerking ending. I was crying and drooling as I would see a photo of that messy killer sandwich and then the wraps. I am wreck, I am off to the kitchen to make myself one of these phenomenal sandwiches.

  23. Thank for sharing your story. I enjoyed reading every installation to it.

    • You’re so welcome, Breabella! xo

  24. I’m so sad it’s over :( but I’m going to read it again from part one because it’s just so amazing, your recollections enthralling, always keeping me on the edge of my seat, making me laugh sometimes, making me cry sometimes..and making me remember my first love, although it wasn’t nearly as intense as yours and only lasted a month!! But i was still a great first love. Thank you so much for this. It was very brave of you to share such deep feelings to strangers, but very generous at the same time. It’s not often you find nonfiction love stories that keep you completely captivated, and yours did that and then some! Alright, back to part one nd all the way through again!!! :)

    • Thank you so much, Jenna. I’m glad my story brought out those feelings in you. Enjoy your second ride through! There were little tidbits I remembered and added into the previous parts the past 8 months, so there’s a few more little surprises!

  25. You so rock. I just finished reading and it’s been a long time since I’ve enjoyed a story this much. Would love to read more from you! I was really taken with the passage from childhood to adulthood in your writing, light and fluffy to somewhat sad and conflicted. It would be a travesty if you didn’t write a book. Thanks so much for sharing!

    • I’m so thrilled you enjoyed reading it, Karen. It was quite a trip writing it, one that I’m glad I now have recorded, along with others I haven’t posted. As for a book, no, because I’m not a writer, and wouldn’t want to insult those who are! As I’ve mentioned before, I’m just a memory rambler, but I’m very flattered. :)

  26. Thank you for the beautiful story, I loved every bit of it, and a lot of the comments above share my feelings too…. Looking forward to the new stories and amazing recipes to come!!!

    • Thank you so much, Linda and thank you for reading and enjoying it! xoxo

  27. Outstanding salad and sandwich! The dressing is terrific and love that the sandwich is stacked with avocado. Gotta come back and finish the story…can’t believe it’s “the end”!

  28. I could totally devour a big and messy sandwich. this recipe looks awesome and love the roasted bell peppers for sure. Makes a huge difference. So glad you finally finished this amazing story. I think you took us all for an emotional ride with our first loves. You had a great experience sprinkled with a few tough ones. Sounds cliché but I do think you are better of not being with him. 5 kids, OMG!

  29. Hi!!!!! I think this is a pretty spectacular recipe…..just sayin’ :-) Definitely pinning, because I need to make soon! Hope you are doing well! I am glad I happened upon you on Healthy Aperture! Hugs, Terra

  30. Holy Moly, this is THE BEST chicken salad! I added a roasted jalapeno along with the bell peppers. My kids (a teen and a preteen) never want it any other way again! Thank yo so much for this recipe!

  31. My goodness. I saw your sandwich via foodgwaker and came to check it out and was really excited to read your post. Nice to meet you.

    • Nice to meet you too, Bintu! I hope you try and enjoy the chicken salad :)

  32. Oh my goodness, this ending is so bittersweet for many reasons. I’m sad to have this story come to an end. I’ve truly loved reading every word of it. It’s bittersweet because I have been able to relate to all those intense first love feelings as well as the feels of being betrayed by someone you truly love. Thank you so much for pouring yourself out on “paper” and sharing this with us. It was captivating! So, will we be hearing all about your time as a traveling baseball woman? ;)

  33. If you are not a writer, then color me chartreuse. What I just read is not only writing, but beautiful, open and honest writing at that. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

    • Thanks, Karen..that’s sweet. xo

  34. I’m so happy I randomly stumbled across your blog. Your way with words is amazing. You sucked me in before I even understood what I was reading—I just knew it wasn’t a recipe! Thank you for sharing your memories and thoughts of a time that I think most people can relate to. It was a very moving and emotional experience for me. You’ve inspired me to write more! Thank you.

    • Thank you, Noesi. I’m so glad my story inspired you to start writing again and so glad it moved you and brought you back in such ways. If you write something and put it online, could you link me to it here or via email? I would love to read it! :)

  35. Just had to leave you a note to tell you how much I enjoyed reading your Dreamboat saga.
    -
    I stumbled across your story through a Pinterest post and when I started reading it, I was completely absorbed. I was actually shopping and had to sit down and read another chapter while I was in the store! Then I told myself to get a grip, went home, and finished reading.
    -
    It was absolutely gripping and some of it totally resonated with me. I have to say that I don’t think he found his ‘soul mate.’ I think you and he were soul mates but unfortunately wanted different things in life. I think he settled for her and I would bet the mint that he often thinks of you with regret. Not that he was blameless – I think you would have split up anyway even if he had have been faithful. You were both growing up and finding what you both really wanted. So does the story continue? What happened with baseball guy??
    -
    Thanks for writing such a great story. I completely enjoyed reading it and it brought back some if my youth as well.

    • Your comment totally made my day, Debra. To stop mid-shop to read is a compliment of the highest form. I can’t say 100% we would have split up if he hadn’t been unfaithful, because I was pretty crazy about him, albeit the long-term familiarity ‘rut’ stage of the relationship I thought I had hit (apparently not). I’m so glad you enjoyed my story. Baseball guy comes later. xoxo

  36. Have you ever tried this using fresh crab meat? Wondering how that would be. I can’t wait to try this recipe! Thanks for sharing!

    • No, Tess, but I LOVE crab meat salad. There is no doubt in my mind that it would be amazing using it. Thanks for putting the thought in my head! Going to make it once I get my hands on some good jumbo lump :)

  37. You really need to get this story up on a story sharing site like Wattpad or Booksie.com, because people are coming here looking for recipes not reading and you’ll have a vast audience, looking for exactly what you’ve written, at either of those two sites, I only stumbled upon it when I accidentally scrolled too far past your peach cobbler recipe. Once I started this story, I couldn’t stop and ended up reading well into the morning! I finally read the end just now, and it was perfect. If you put this story up on one of the sites, you’ll have loads of readers, and they will love it as much as I did. Hoping on seeing more from you, Lisa!

    • Thank you, Emily, but I’m just going to keep it here and leave it at that, since it was never meant for anything other than this blog. I wrote it as a therapeutic portal for myself and was pleased that some enjoyed it. :)

  38. At long last – an end to the Dreamboat saga. Happy endings are for Disney movies, but in a way it is a happy ending – as you said, “you dodged a bullet”, but really, his wanting kids and you not being ready should be a deal breaker if you’re both to be happy. Now I see where the line drives come in – but I don’t see it in your blog name any more. Hmmm. Can’t wait for the next story, Lisa! Take care and messy chicken salad sandwiches are awesome!!

  39. So I made this last night and wrapped it up like you said to enhance the flavor. When I got home three hours ago, I pulled off the plastic wrap and oh my gah, it smelled so good!!. We ate the whole bowl, just two of us, with forks. This is the best chicken salad I’ve ever had in my life! Thank you so much, Lisa! Just subscribed to your blog! Looking forward to more recipes of yours!

  40. I’m so glad I found your blog because I just finished your Bad Boy story and what a trip! I laughed, I cried, I nodded in agreement and shook my head in disagreement. I have not had this experience with a story in such a long time and I want to hug you for bringing back so many long lost memories for me. I had forgotten what that first love moment feels like, but I felt it again for the first time in twenty years, thanks to you. I also forgot the pain of love lost, and although not pleasant, I felt it again too, bringing me to tears, but in such a bittersweet, satisfying, thorough way (I love a good cry!). I can’t thank you enough for sharing such a private, REAL and personal moment in your life, and I’m hoping we get more amazing stories from you! I’m now a fan for life!

    • Thank you, Candace. In moments where I feel a little embarrassed by all the personal stuff I put out there, and suddenly want to take it down, comments like yours make me remember why I kept going and why I should keep it up a little longer. I’m so glad my memory was able to bring you back xo.

  41. WOW! I clicked on this for a recipe and got the bonus of an amazing story! I don’t know who you are but your story touched my heart. Thank you.

    • Hi, Elizabath :) Well, now you sort of know who I am! I’m thrilled that you enjoyed it and it touches my heart to know it touched yours. I’m choking up here… lol

  42. when the pain of love surrounds you
    and the world may be unkind
    i’ll put my loving arms around you
    take you far from this place and time

    • I think I know who you are. ;D

  43. This chicken salad was outstanding! I omitted the red onion because I hate red onion, but otherwise, perfect! And the Greek yogurt mayo, delicious! It’s my new “signature” dressing from now on ;). BUT BUT BUT, as I was reading through the directions before I made it, I came upon your story and now I’m on part 10 and chugging along ravenously! You can really tell a story, and I’m with you every step of the way because I had a similar first love, and it’s bringing back so many memories for me, IF you substitute Tampa, Fla for the Jersey Shore and green eyes for blue! I’m so looking forward to a lot of reading this weekend! Thank you so much for sharing your memories, and the wonderful chicken salad! :)

    • Thanks so much for your kind words, Leslie! Glad you loved the chicken salad and dressing AND really glad my story has taken you back to your green-eyed first love. First loves occupy a part of our hearts forever, so it’s always nice to reach in and grab it every so often. :)

  44. Excelente. Felicitaciones. Cariños. Peky (Mendoza-Argentina).

    • Gracias, Rosa :) Me alegro de que te guste! (thanks to Babelfish) lol

  45. This chicken salad was a huge hit at a Mother’s Day picnic, Sunday. Thanks so much!!

    • Glad to hear that, Kristen! You’re Welcome! :)

  46. I’m so glad you felt up to writing the rest (I just caught up on the last 2 posts)!! I have stayed up a few late nights to read these. Thank you for sharing something so personal and life-changing with us. You really pull a person in to the story and leave the reader wanting more. Now, as a HUGE Braves fan, when can we expect THAT story?! And you better believe I’ve been trying to google this guy to figure out who it is. :D I’ve been a fan since I was in middle school (and this number freaks me out) so it’s been around 23 years of me cheering them on.

  47. Ha ha, I would be googling like crazy too, especially if it was a Yankee player (Yankee fan since I could say ‘Bucky’ when someone pulled the bottle from my mouth). It will come in time, although I’m still trying to figure out how without embarrassing anyone or revealing too much. I’m so glad you enjoyed the story, and it still blows my mind that some did. With that said, I think we need another Yanks-Braves WS, don’t you? ;)

    • I’ll take my Braves against anyone in the WS at this point but if they were to battle the Yankees again I’d like a better result this time. ;)

  48. Well, the Yankees are old and the injuries are piling up again, so if I were to bet, I think I’d take the Braves too, and that’s just making it to the WS! I’ll keep the 1996 result, obviously, the start of that amazing dynasty. :)

  49. I officially have no life–haha! My husband is now helping me google who it is. :D We’re not crazy stalkers. Promise!! :)

    • Like I said, I would be doing the same lol If you find out, with so little to go on, you will officially blow my mind.

  50. I found your story through foodgawker and it pulled me in completely, so much, that I forgot about the recipe! I really hope you write more because you have such a knack for it and your words and memories are so enthralling! I would love to hear more about the next chapter of your life..the baseball one! I just subscribed so I won’t miss it if you decide to write about it (pretty please?)!

    • That’s so sweet, Kayla, thank you :)

  51. Wow, that was a great story! I started checking out one of your recipes through Pinterest and stumbled onto your bad boy story. Hours and hours later I’m done reading, and I loved everything you wrote! I too had a bad boy first love, and related to many of your experiences and feelings. My bad boy first love now has 4 kids (with two different women) and ultimately I too am happy for him and I hope he is happy with the life he has. And I’m thankful that I don’t have that life with him. We had some great times together but I wouldn’t trade my family and the life I have now for anything. Thanks for sharing such a touching story.

  52. I’m so glad you enjoyed it, Lynne, and also glad you have no regrets and wouldn’t trade what you have now for anything. You see, I mostly think that way, but sometimes I wonder if maybe I should have taken a wide right instead of a sharp left ;)

  53. I just have to say, I found this blog while looking up chicken salad sammies on Pinterest, and ended up getting sucked into your final installment of the ‘Dreamboat’ story haha! I forgot the reason I originally ended up on this page, because I just had to know the rest of the story, even though I knew how it would end. (Bummer!) I loved it, and couldn’t stop reading it. I hope to hear more about baseball guy and life after Dreamboat as well! :) And by the way, the chicken salad looks and sounds AHmazing!!

    • Hi, Chelsie! For a short period of time as a kid, I used to read the end of a book first because I was convinced (and terrified) that a nuclear missile would hit before I finished it! I’m so glad you enjoyed it, and I’ll do my best concerning what comes next. Thank you for your compliment about my chicken salad – I hope you try it!

  54. Thank you so much for this chicken salad recipe! I didn’t strain the yogurt bc I didn’t want to use buttermilk, but it was still unbelievably phenomenal and “ranchy”. Like you said, yogurt is tangy on its own and doesn’t really need it. I also started reading your story! I just finished part two and my heart is still thumpin’ from the first kiss! I remember that feeling so well, and the way you put it into words was perfect! Back to reading!

    • Wow, how did I miss this? So sorry for the delayed response, Cara. I’m thrilled that you had success with the chicken salad and glad you were enjoying the story as of June 11th! I’m assuming you finished by now :).

  55. I just wanted to thank you for this amazing memory you shared with us. I was in the hospital recovering from ankle surgery last week, and your story had me so hooked, that I kept forgetting I was in the hospital! One question and a silly question at that since I’m a car freak and love driving stick. Why didn’t you drive his car when his brother’s friends were drunk since you learned stick not too long before?
    I know, I’m weird, but just curious LOL. Like others have asked, are we getting a next installment soon? I do love your blog and would love to see a new recipe too!

    • I’m so sorry you had to have ankle surgery, Elena, but it sounds like you’re mending well! What did you do to it that required surgery? That said, not a silly question at all, and in fact, I’ve been asked that in an email! The stick had no cover, it was just sharp metal and it hurt my hand, plus it was hard to change gears, sort of like trying to push an anvil on the clutch and stick- old car problems! He would just push it effortlessly with his palm to change gears, and since his hand was calloused from construction work, he barely felt a thing. No idea why he never bothered to get a cover!
      ————–
      I’m really glad my story helped make your hospital stay a little better. As for my next post, I’m dealing with some serious issues right now, so I can’t say when, but I do have some delicious treats ready to go when things are better. :)

  56. Well that makes sense! That metal would definately hurt! I fractured my ankle tripping down some rocks while hiking two weeks ago. It was bimalleolar fracture, meaning both the fibula and tibula were broken. The worst is that I can’t put weight on it for 6 weeks! This is why I was hoping for another post from you soon, especially one with a story! I’m so sorry to hear you’re dealing with serious issues. I hope it gets better soon!!

    • Wow, that’s a killer break, but so glad it’s taken care of and healing. I know all about the non-weight bearing, for weeks, after having knee surgery back in ’08. I chose to stay at the rehab center so I could zip around in a wheelchair. While the knee healed, the arms looked great! lol Hope it goes quick for you!

  57. We gorged on this chicken salad Friday. I made one version with all yogurt and one version with all mayo. They were both delicious, and roasted peppers really do make a huge difference! Thanks for the recipe!

    • You’re so welcome, Pam! Glad you enjoyed it!

  58. Hi, long time lurker slash reader here. I know you’re really, really sick, but I’m hoping you get well soon because I miss your posts. Somehow, they always made my days a little better..no matter what you wrote about. Just wanted to say that. :)

    • What you said is one of two reasons I will try to continue. Just the fact that I made your day a little better, makes me so happy. I’m all sniffly now. Thank you for that…so so much. xoxo

  59. Wow! Really wow! I just finished reading your story….after the long wait. I am welling up and lumping up. Your writing has the ability to do that. So sorry for what you went through, although at some point it was clear you were headed in that direction. Glad you re-claimed yourself, and have been able to move on, although I am sure there will always be a certain spot in your heart, healed, but hardened over with scar tissue.

    Love your website, recipes, stories….I will keep looking out for more of your gems. Wishing you all the best and a very bright future.

    • Thank you, Yael. I’m all emotional from Allie’s comment,…and now your comment adds to those emotions..but, both in a good way. I think we all have varying amounts of romantic scar tissue in our hearts (not including those who struck gold on the first shot!), but it’s what you do with it that counts. You can let it continue to calcify, or soften it by remembering the good times and what you learned from the bad. Like I said, I’m richer for it. By the way, I got your email, and will respond some time tonight or tomorrow :).

  60. Holy Moly! I just spent all day…from 10 am until now, w/small breaks, reading your story! I had so much to do today but I couldn’t stop so I got nothing done! Is that a bad thing? Maybe, but it was worth every unproductive moment! I must admit, I too was bummed that it didn’t work out.. and even though it was already going in that direction several parts prior, a tiny part of me was hoping it would turn around and the two of you would be happily ever after. In the end, I think it was probably best for you because I guarantee you wouldn’t have been happy in the long run, 5 kids or not.I made the opposite choice with my first love, and I’m now a single Mama to two. I don’t regret my babies one bit, but I missed out on so much of my youth and many opportunities that arose at the time. Thank you so much for sharing this, and please get healthy soon so we can all enjoy more of your writing!

    • Thank you, Cindy! I’m so flattered that it led to you shirking your to-do list lol Been there far too many times! That said, I’m sorry your first love didn’t last forever, but like you said, you got two amazing children out of it, so that’s what counts the most :) Health wise, I’m trying…hoping.

  61. I just finished reading all the parts of your story, staying up until 2 to do so. Your writing is wonderful and your story actually helped me to finally make a very difficult decision in my life currently. I know our stories are different, but what you had to say really made me see how things in my life are and give myself a reality check. Your story definitely hit close to home and touched my heart and I just want to say thank you for that.
    I really hope you are doing all right since you mentioned that you are having serious problems. I will send loving thoughts your way.

    • Thank you, Cee. I said most everything in reply to your email, but I just wanted to reply here too. Thank you for your loving thoughts..I need a lot of those right now. xoxo

  62. Dear Lisa, I enjoyed your story. I been there myself. After 10 years with Sweetums, his kisses are still the same. I hope you feel better and get back to telling tales.

    Hugs to you and yours
    Emma Mae

    • That’s beautiful, Emma Mae, you’re a lucky gal! So glad you enjoyed the story, and here’s to another 10 years of amazing kisses! (clink) :) Thank you for your sweet sentiments.


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