I’m going to a really special event here in Chicago this summer and I’m taking along a fun meal. The annual event, Chicago In White, is a social gathering where hundreds of folks, all dressed in white, meeting at an iconic location and simply enjoy food, entertainment and a wonderful evening under the stars.

Everyone brings their own food and drink and, in the past, their own table and chairs as well.  But this year, on Saturday, August 8, the event will be held in conjunction with Ravinia Festival in Highland Park, Illinois.  Ravinia is proving a special section on the lawn, complete with tables and chairs, and the entertainment for the evening will be Chicago Jazz Legend Ramsey Lewis and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. The charity partner is Ravinia’s Reach Teach Learn program that seeks to make music training accessible to over 75,000 students. For more information, check out Chicago In White online.

Now, for my meal for the evening, I wanted something that would be portable and easy to enjoy. So, I’ve created two jarred dishes, my layered Tarragon Chicken Salad and my Strawberry and Ginger Snap Parfait. These dishes are great for any outdoor outing.

Mason Jar Chicken Salad


1 6oz Chicken Breast
1/2 sm Onion, roughly chopped
1 tbl Fresh Tarragon
2 cloves Garlic, peeled and smashed
1/2 tsp Salt
1 tsp Louisiana Hot Sauce
2-3 cu Chicken Stock
1/2 tsp Pepper
1/2 Seedless Cucumber, thinly sliced
2 lg Carrots, thinly sliced
2 lg Celery Stalks, thinly sliced
1 can Whole Kernel Sweet corn, rinsed and drained
1 med Red Pepper, seeded and diced
6 oz Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing
3 cu Baby Arugula
2 Wide Mouth Mason Jars, 32oz size
Square Paper Napkin and Twine, optional, to wrap lid of jar


Tenderize the chicken breast by piercing it multiple times with a fork and place in a medium sized pot.

Place Onion, garlic, tarragon, salt, Louisiana hot sauce and about 1 cup of chicken stock in a blender. Blend until smooth and pour mixture over chicken. Add additional chicken stock to fully cover the breast. Bring mixture to a boil and then lower to a simmer. Cover and poach chicken for 15 minutes until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F. Remove from liquid to a dry surface and liberally season with black pepper. Set aside to cool.

Once chicken has cooled thinly slice. If it’s a large breast, split it lengthwise before slicing.

To assemble, pour about 3 ounces of balsamic vinaigrette into the bottom of each mason jar. Top with half of the chicken. Use a long fork to get the chicken slices and other layers to lay flat. Top the chicken with cucumbers, followed by carrots, celery, corn and red pepper, layering each as evenly as possible. Finish with baby arugula, gently packing it to fill the remain space in the jar. Cover the lid with a paper (or cloth) napkin and secure it with twine.

To serve this salad, rigorously shake the jar for a few minutes until everything is combined. eat directly from the jar or pour into a large serving bowl. This is a big entree size salad. Experiment with 16 ounce jars for smaller, lighter or appetizer size versions.
Mason Jar Strawberry Bites


2-3 lg Ginger Snap Cookies, chopped into small pieces
3-4 lg Strawberries, hulled and diced
1/4 cu Prepared Whipped Topping
1 1/2 tbl Mini Chocolate Chip Morsels
2 sm Mason Jars, 4oz size
Square Paper Napkin and Twine, optional, to wrap lid of jar


Divide the ginger snaps between the two jars. Cover with strawberry pieces. Put the whipped topping into a disposable bag and press out all of the air. Seal the bag and cut a small hole in one corner. Using it as a pastry bag, squeeze the filling over the strawberries stopping just below the rim of the jar. Top with chocolate chip morsels and seal the jars. Cover the lid with a paper (or cloth) napkin and secure it with twine.

To serve, simple remove the top and enjoy.