Throughout college, I searched for an end-all, be-all cure for homesickness. I wanted to quell that longing for the familiar — that aching, desperate feeling that washed over me anytime I was alone on the weekends or was too far away to pop in and take part in one of my family’s many, many traditions.
The bittersweet truth is that there is no cure. As the years have taught me, the pangs lessen over time, as you develop friends and a routine in your new surroundings. Like time, money and relationships, it’s a challenge you must learn to manage. The trick, I’ve learned, is finding alternative ways to keep your far-flung friends and family involved in your life in new ways.
For my family, that means food.
We may not be able to clamor around the dinner table every evening anymore, but when my mom photographs and sends me her latest recipe, or my dad texts me cooking tips, I can feel like I’m right there. Suddenly, as I steam crisp asparagus spears and listen to the chicken sizzle, I can practically feel my kitchen getting larger, replacing the wooden floors with Chiclet-like white tiles. The sounds of kids playing on the stoop to my building could almost pass for my youngest brother, Carson, and his friends as they play freeze tag in the backyard. It’s not quite Florida, but it’s pretty darn close.
The beauty of trading recipes is that you’re not just sharing your thoughts or the latest in your life; you’re sharing an experience, too. Even though I’m not a big fan of asparagus, I couldn’t resist trying this recipe, just so I could replicate the meal, give my mom a call and get the scoop on her life, and just for that evening, transport myself home.
Homesickness doesn’t stand a chance against a hearty, homemade meal.
(Recipe originally from Publix Apron Meals)
Kitchen gadgets needed: measuring cups, cutting board, knife, frying pan, stove top, large wooden spoon
- 1 lb fresh asparagus spears (trim asparagus, removing the tough root end)
- 4 boneless, skinless chicken filets (2 lb), sliced in half to create 8 thin chicken breast pieces
- 1 tablespoon of Zataran's Big and Zesty Creole seasoning
- 1 tablespoon canola oil
- 2 tablespoons + ¾ cup water, divided
- ¾ cup plain yogurt
- 1 (1.25 oz) dry packet broccoli cheese soup mix
- ¼ cup diced green chiles
- Preheat large saute pan on medium-high for 2-3 minutes. Coat both sides of chicken with Zataran's Creole seasoning. Place oil in pan, then add chicken, cooking on both sides until they're golden.
- Reduce the heat to medium-low. Arrange asparagus spears over the chicken. Add 2 tablespoons of water and let it cook covered, steaming the ingredients inside. Heat for 4-5 minutes until chicken is thoroughly cooked and asparagus is tender. Transfer chicken and asparagus to a serving platter.
- Whisk together ¾ cup water, yogurt and dry soup mix in a small sauce pan. Bring just to a boil on medium heat. Reduce heat to low and stir in green chiles. Then, simmer it for 2-3 minutes or until the sauce has thickened. Spoon sauce over chicken and serve.