pan-fried chicken salad with honey mustard dressing

Pan-Fried Chicken Salad with Honey Mustard Dressing 1

I know, I know. You guys are probably like, but you just DID salad, Carter.

Yeah, well… welcome to my house. I’m not really all that creative.

(It’s why I picked food instead of fashion. Also, I can’t sew.)

Seriously, even Lindsay asked me what’s up lately:

Well, I’m in charge of cupcakes for the St. Patrick’s Day party this weekend. So there’s probably going to be booze AND dessert here on the blog soon. Possibly in the same dish, no less.

But for the meantime – back to salads. (You need to eat lots of salad to counteract all the green beer this weekend, right?)

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Last night, I emailed B asking him if he was going to make it home for dinner (if he doesn’t come home, I tend to default to a bachelorette-style bowl of noodles. Don’t judge me.) What are you going to make? he asked. Was thinking crispy chicken over salad greens… nothing fancy, I typed, hoping he wouldn’t remember we had eaten the same thing for dinner just last week, and probably the week before. One of my favorites, came his answer. Honey mustard dressing?

Well… crap. I’ve never made honey mustard dressing before.

But I HAVE made honey mustard dipping sauce before… meh, I’ll just wing it.

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And although it might sound self-righteous, I have to say… this might be the best honey mustard dressing I’ve ever had. Tangy and not too sweet, and not so thick that it’s like trying to mix concrete into your salad greens. (I hate that.) With the crispy chicken, it’s like a grown up version of chicken nuggets. Minus the uncomfortable driver’s seat and soggy fries, of course.

We loved this dressing so much, it’s probably going to be the new default dressing ’round here for the next few weeks. But, should honey mustard not be your thing (not everyone likes mustard – I don’t know who you are or what’s wrong with you, but I know you’re out there) this goes perfectly with the balsamic vinaigrette or champagne vinaigrette I featured the other day.

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Pan-Fried Chicken

Serves 2

1/4 pound chicken tenderloins (or chicken breast, trimmed of fat and sliced laterally into 1/4-inch-thick pieces)
2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
a pinch cayenne, optional
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon milk or water
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1/2 cup panko
1/4 cup grated parmesan
1 tablespoon safflower oil or other high-heat oil
chopped mixed greens and honey mustard dressing, to serve

Combine flour, salt, pepper, and cayenne in a wide, shallow bowl, and stir to mix. Whisk together egg, milk or water, and mustard in a second bowl. In a third bowl, mix panko and grated parmesan together. Dip each piece of chicken into flour mixture, coating lightly. Shake off excess flour and dip each piece into the egg mixture. Shake off excess and finally dip each piece into panko mixture. Press panko mixture onto chicken with your fingers. Put coated pieces of chicken in a single layer on a baking sheet or plate. Ideally, place your baking sheet or plate in the fridge for about 10-15 minutes – it will help the crumbs adhere to the chicken during cooking – although if you don’t have time, skip the refrigerator.

Heat safflower oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When you think the oil is hot, drop a few stray panko crumbs into the pan – if they start to sizzle and brown immediately, your oil is hot enough. Carefully place chicken in pan in a single layer, and cook for 2-3 minutes or until golden brown. Turn chicken to other side using tongs or a fork, and cook another 2 minutes, or until browned. Remove to a plate covered in a paper towel, and let drain.

Cut into slices and serve over mixed greens, if desired.

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Honey Mustard Dressing

Serves 2

one heaping tablespoon of yellow mustard
two teaspoons honey
one tablespoon olive oil
one teaspoon mayonnaise
one to two teaspoons water

Combine all ingredients in a jar and shake to combine. (Note: if you have access to a microwave, heat the honey up for 15 seconds – it will mix in much more readily with the other ingredients.) Adjust seasoning to your preferences.

the perfect side: chopped mixed greens with vinaigrette

Confession Wednesday, you guys. I’m having an affair.

I’ve been cheating on the typical winter sides – mashed potatoes, glazed carrots, roasted squash – and fallen in love with the simple green salad.

(I think it’s serious.)

I might be alone in this, since too often I get emails or phone calls or texts asking for a good side dish involving carrots, potatoes, or green beans. Personally, I could have salad every meal. Is there anything more perfect than a simple mixed greens salad with a tangy homemade vinaigrette? (Unless Ryan Gosling is bringing the salad to you, of course. In that case, ignore this post and continue on with your amazing life.)

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People are always fascinated when I say I make my own salad dressing, but hand to God, I cannot figure out why. I tell people to try it themselves – chances are they have most of the ingredients in your fridge and pantry anyways. You certainly don’t need any fancy gadgets to make a vinaigrette. And it can be as simple or as complicated as your skills/time/confidence/imagination allows.

The basic ingredients are: mustard, vinegar, and oil. As for mustard, you can use whatever you’ve got in the pantry (although I would stay away from yellow and brown mustard in the beginning – try a classic dijon or country mustard first). For vinegar, there are so many options: balsamic, white balsamic, red wine, white wine, sherry, champagne, cider, rice wine, brown rice wine… the list goes on and on. And oils! My preference is a good olive oil, but you can always experiment with a nut oil like walnut or hazelnut, or a flavorless oil like canola or grapeseed.

When you’ve been making vinaigrettes for as long as I have (the last store-bought dressing I had expired in 2009, don’t ask me why I remember that) you end up with an impressive vinegar and oil collection. Which means you can whip up any number of crazy vinaigrettes each night. Add some honey if you want, some lemon juice, some crushed red pepper flakes. GET CRAZY.

And as far as the logistics of making a vinaigrette… step away from the bowl and whisk. All you need is a jar with a lid. Go look in your fridge for that one jar of random condiment that you aren’t sure you’ll ever use again or you’re not sure if it’s still safe to eat… go ahead, I’ll wait. Dispose of whatever ill-fated condiment was residing in that jar, give it a good scrubbing, and you’ve got your very own vinaigrette maker.

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Now for the greens. Maybe eventually I’ll get some salad greens from the garden, but for right now I’m perfectly happy with the massive tub you can get from the grocery store. (I prefer organic greens, because then I can rationalize it away when I’m too lazy to wash them.) Now here’s the kicker – I chop my salad greens. EVERY TIME. My sister-in-law turned me onto this — I call her the Salad Whisperer behind her back, because she can make a salad that will bring you to your knees with its deliciousness. I can’t put my finger on it as to exactly why I love chopping the greens up… I guess it really just makes a salad easier to eat. More composed. So you feel like your kitchen is a 4-star restaurant.

I don’t know though. Maybe it’s magic.

So, here’s my favorite two vinaigrettes. The balsamic for if you’re just starting out, and the champagne for when you want to graduate to a lighter flavor. If you’re feeling adventurous, add some golden raisins, dried cherries, or blanched almonds on top.

I’m betting you’ll develop a crush on salad, too.

The Basic Balsamic Vinaigrette

a teaspoon or so of dijon mustard
about two tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
about two tablespoons of olive oil
a pinch of kosher salt
a pinch of cracked pepper

Combine all ingredients in an empty jar and shake until combined.

My Favorite Champagne Vinaigrette

a teaspoon of champagne mustard (like Cherchies)
about two tablespoons of champagne vinegar
about two tablespoons of olive oil
a pinch of kosher salt
a pinch of cracked pepper

Combine all ingredients in an empty jar and shake until combined.

Thanksgiving 2010 | Autumn Salad with Apples and Spiced Pecans

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I swear, November 1st could not come soon enough this year. I decided (waaaaaay back in early October) that I would post my Thanksgiving menu ideas the first week of November. I figured, that’s when people (who aren’t crazy overbearing foodbloggers, that is) would start thinking about what to serve at their Thanksgiving table.

But as it got to be the third week in October, by which I had already done run-throughs of half my dishes, complete with 7 am photoshoot for each, I was just ITCHING to share all of the recipes with you. Because, somehow, I figured you guys would get just as excited about holiday menu planning as I do… although I’m going to assume you’re way less nerdy about it than I am.

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I always try to serve a salad with a big meal, only because 1) it’s healthy and 2) there’s usually someone who wants salad at their meal, whether it’s because they’re on a diet or just because they like salad. It’s also a great meal enhancer because salads are usually pretty low-key, mostly just tossing together a few ingredients. Most times I just round out the meal with a bowl of mixed greens, a few chunks of goat cheese or shavings of parm, and maybe a handful of dried fruit. But this time I thought I would make a salad that really whispered “fall is here.”

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I love a good fall salad, and this is one of the tasty ones. Both radicchio and endive are cold-weather greens, so unless you’re in Hawaii, these should be easy to find at the grocery. The radicchio can be bitter depending on how long it’s in storage; icing it the day before will cut down on the bitterness. Taste your radicchio; if it’s fresh, you might not even need to ice it down at all.

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Autumn Salad with Apples and Spiced Pecans

Inspired by Bon Appetit, January 2007
Serves 6

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Make sure to pick up the “natural” seasoned rice vinegar, not the “regular style” seasoned rice vinegar (which is filled with mostly high-fructose corn syrup, among other grody preservatives.)

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Gather:
2 teaspoons unsalted butter
1 cup pecan halves
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 tablespoon Worcestershire
scant 1/8 teaspoon cayenne

2 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1/4 cup olive oil

2 Braeburn or red-skinned apples, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 pound radicchio (about 2 heads)
1 pound endive

Prepare:
Prepare the spiced pecans. Melt butter in a small skillet over medium heat. Add pecans and stir 1 minute. Add sugar, Worcestershire, and cayenne; stir until coated. Remove from heat and let cool. Store in a plastic container until ready for salad assembly. (Make ahead: Can be prepared up to 2 days in advance.)

Prepare the salad dressing. Add vinegars, dijon mustard, and olive oil to an empty mason jar. Shake vigorously to combine. (Make ahead: Can be prepared up to 2 days in advance.)

Prepare the radicchio. Fill a deep bowl with ice and cold water. Submerge the radicchio in the ice water, and weigh down with a plate if necessary. Let sit in ice water for an hour. Then remove and let drain on a kitchen towel for 30 minutes. Cut in half and peel leaves off radicchio, leaving each leaf as whole as possible. Add leaves to a Ziploc bag, insert a paper/kitchen towel in the plastic bag (in this manner), and store until you’re ready to assemble the salad. (Make ahead: Can be prepared up to 24 hours in advance.)

Prepare apples and endive. Toss apples in lemon juice and store in plastic bag. Cut root end from endive leaves, and tear leaves apart. Store in plastic bag with a paper towel inserted into the bag. (Make ahead: Can be prepared up to 24 hours in advance.)

Assemble. Add radicchio leaves, endive leaves, and apple slices to the serving bowl. Drizzle with dressing and toss lightly to coat. Sprinkle pecans on top of salad and serve.

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Thanksgiving Menu 2010:
Autumn Salad with Apples and Spiced Pecans
Steak over Butternut Squash with Caramelized Onions

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Thanksgiving Background Music Recommendation of the Day – in our house, we like a constant stream of mellow background music to enjoy along with our holiday festivities. Here is a week of safe-for-childrens’-ears, no-curse-words-to-creep-out-Grandma, soft tunes to accompany your turkey and mashed potatoes. (And not one of my recommendations will be a washed-up-musician’s rendering of Christmas hits, I promise.)

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Neko Case / Middle Cyclone

My love for Neko knows no bounds… she is fierce, as Tyra would say. This is upbeat and soulful folk rock for you to sing along to while you toast pecans.

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Hummus, Deconstructed

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I know that if I write this post and say that I’m addicted to hummus, you people are going to be all, “Dude, what AREN’T you addicted to?!” I know, I am a food addiction slut. Addicted to mustard, addicted to balsamic vinegar, addicted to pasta… and chocolate (hello, I have boobs, so that one is a given). But although my hummus addiction comes in waves… it is just that. An addiction.

And hey, there are worse addictions than pureed chickpeas. (I’m looking at you, American Idol fans.)

My favorite hummus is a small brand called Asmar’s that I’ve only ever seen in two places – the Richmond, VA Whole Foods and the Charlottesville, VA Whole Foods. Seriously. Best. Hummus. Ever. When I went home to Virginia this past Christmas, I came across it in Whole Foods… and I think I might have screeched. In the middle of the grocery store aisle. Dad will have to confirm this; I may have just gone speechless, the memory is blurred for me; no doubt due to an adrenaline overdose. I bought the party size and a double pack of pita, and I think my brother and I ate our way through that party size container in about 36 hours. (Apparently hummus addiction runs in the family.)

While I’m still perfecting my at home hummus recipe (the perfect proportion of tahini and olive oil is an elusive combination… much like the sparkly silver mary janes I’ve been after for years now), this salad is much easier to throw together. It’s essentially all the ingredients in hummus, with the addition of a bit of red onion and parsley for color and flavor.

Once you’ve mixed the ingredients together, you smoosh (a very technical term) the chickpea salad using whatever you have around – a potato masher, a wooden spoon, your fingers, whatever. I used a wooden spoon and smooshed the salad into the side of the bowl, but I was feeling lazy and so my salad was a bit more chunky than the original recipe calls for. I ate this for lunch for 3 days in a row, and it’s just another one of those perfect lunch recipes – it’s cheap, it’s portable, and it’s filling without sending you into a post-lunch coma.

I made this with canned chickpeas, because I had some old cans to use up. Feel free to make this with dry chickpeas that have been soaked in water overnight. If you’re not familiar with tahini, it’s ground sesame seed paste; you should be able to find it in a Middle Eastern grocery in your area, if it’s not already available in your local grocery store.

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Hummus, De-constructed

Loosely adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Serves 4

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Gather:
2 14-oz cans of chickpeas, or 28 oz of  dry chickpeas soaked overnight
1/4 of a medium-size red onion, finely diced
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon tahini
salt and pepper to taste
a dash paprika (optional)

Prepare:
Mix all ingredients in a bowl. Smoosh to the consistency you prefer, using whatever means available (potato masher, wooden spoon, fingers, etc.) Serve by itself or on toast.

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Now Playing: The Silver Seas / The Best Things in Life  – love these guys. Their new album is available for purchase here (official release date is June 6th, 2010)

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Cabbage and Apple Slaw

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Ohaithere kids! My bad for neglecting the blog for the past two weeks… I was busy squeeing my pants over getting onto foodgawker for the first time… and then I had to tend to my real-life job, which tends to generally suck all the wit and cheer right out of me, leaving none for craftily weaving quips about Chuck Bass into stories about zucchini.

But, back to real life. I’ve been cooking a lot lately (and taking photos! lots of photos!) and using local produce where possible… because, you know, there just isn’t that much growing here in Colorado until late May, give or take a week. You may remember I made a trip to the Boulder Farmer’s Market a few weekends ago, and low and behold, I still hadn’t used up that head of red cabbage. But one of my clients was having a potluck lunch the other day, and instead of bringing a bag of nacho chips, I chose to contribute a head of 3-week-old cabbage with some sweet apples and mustard dressing (I know, I’m such a pal… I have their health issues in mind). Surprisingly, even though I assumed I would be shunned for bringing vegetables, the slaw was a big hit. I got a lot of requests for the recipe for the dressing… which totes made my day because I really just made that part up.

This is a great make-ahead recipe, and plus, it’s pretty local if you have storage apples and locally-grown cabbage. I’m not such a fan of the mayonnaise-based coleslaw recipes, and so this is its exact opposite – a sweet, crunchy, mustard-y slaw that is just all-around amazing.

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Cabbage and Apple Slaw

From The Kitchenette

Serves 8 as a side

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Gather:
1 medium head cabbage
3 apples, of the tart/sour persuasion
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons dijon mustard
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons lemon juice

Prepare:
Halve the head of cabbage, and cut each half into thin strips. If the cabbage pieces are more than a few inches long, cut them in half so that they are easier to eat. Cut the apple into 1/4 to 1/8 inch matchstick pieces.

Whisk the olive oil, dijon, vinegar, and lemon juice in the bottom of a bowl. Add the cabbage and apple, and toss well to coat. Let sit for 20 minutes before serving to allow the cabbage to soften somewhat.

(Do ahead: Up to 24 hours in advance, cut the cabbage and apples as directed. Separate the apples into a plastic bag, add 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice and toss to coat. Prepare the dressing as directed, using only the remaining tablespoon of lemon juice. Mix approximately 30 minutes prior to serving.)

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Now Playing: Band of Skulls / Light of the Morning

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(turn down the volume so it doesn’t bust your speakers)

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Plum, Goat Cheese, and Dandelion Greens Salad with White Balsamic Vinaigrette

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I feel like dandelion greens kind of have a bad reputation outside of the foodie world. I certainly didn’t know anything about them before I started cooking hardcore about 6 years ago. I mean, what do we think about when someone says “dandelion”? That nasty yellow flower that grows in your front yard when you don’t want it to! Do I want to eat that? Of course not!

But then once you try dandelion greens, you realize how freaking awesome they are. Sure, they are an acquired taste, but I think overall, I think they are pretty delish. It’s definitely a bitter green, not quite as sweet as baby spinach or even mature spinach; however, with the right ingredients, I think it’s quite delicious.

Mixed greens would work just as well in this salad, or try some other greens from your garden or the market. And other stone fruits would also work well; use whatever is in season in your area.

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Spinach Salad

SpinachSalad1

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So, I have kind of an addiction. And no one really knows about it. Well, I mean, other than my addiction to cooking magazines. Everyone knows about that one; it’s well documented. I’m talking about my recent obsession with spinach – which comes at a very convenient time, since spinach and other salad greens are in season RIGHT THIS MOMENT (depending on where you are, of course).

This addiction comes at the hand of my friend Kristen J – hey girl! – who brought over a really delightful spinach salad for our Twilight DVD release party waaaaaaaaay back on March 21st. (Yes, we had a DVD release party. Yes, I am 25 years old. Yes, it was totes awesome, and admit it, you’re jealous.)

Anyways! She brought over this really, really good salad with spinach, red onion, cherry tomatoes, and slivered almonds. I was originally disappointed because, as far as I knew at that particular point in time, I didn’t like spinach salads. The spinach can be a bit bitter on it’s own, and is it just me, or is every single spinach salad served with a raspberry vinaigrette? And I don’t know about you, but I have yet to taste a good raspberry vinaigrette. Raspberry vinaigrette is the bane of my existence. Along with lemon zest. But that’s another post.

But then the next morning, I ate the same salad… for breakfast. And dinner that night, too, if I remember correctly. And I think I ate spinach salad for like, 3 days straight. And then I subtracted ingredients, because I had no food in my house, and then I added things when I had random things around the kitchen… and now I have this masterpiece. I may or may not have eaten large portions of this salad out of a mixing bowl. Trust. It’s that good.

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SpinachSalad2

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The Players:

  • Spinach
  • Dried Cranberries
  • Mandarin orange segments, drained (I prefer the kind that come “in a light syrup”)
  • Feta cheese
  • Red onion
  • Balsamic Vinaigrette

The Game:

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1. Slice and ice the red onions. (Note: I like to soak red onions in ice water if I’m going to eat them raw. The ice water helps to take the “bite” out of the onions. I have no idea how this works. Perhaps if we get a Chem major reading the blog we can figure it out. Anyways, it works, so try it if you don’t like raw red onions because it really does help. Five minutes usually does the trick.)

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2. Add spinach to bowl.

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3. Add mandarin oranges to bowl. 

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3. Add dried cranberries to bowl. Yes, I know these instructions are quite difficult. Please try to keep up.

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4. Drain the red onion slices and add to the bowl.

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5. Add the feta cheese.

6. Dress with balsamic vinaigrette. Serve immediately.

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