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.

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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Uncanny | Salad Dressing

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Uncanny is a series in which I explore the different uses for jams and preserves that we put up during the summer. Because even though each jam you make is wonderful on its own, a veritable taste of summer in a jar… sometimes, you just get TIRED of eating summer on toast.

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I forget why this came to me… but I’ve been culling inspiration from the most random places lately. Whether it be a dish I had a restaurant (recipe coming tomorrow!), or a product I saw in the grocery store, or just from talking with my mother at 4 pm as to what she should make for dinner at 6 pm, from the somewhat limited pantry she keeps. (Mom, you know it’s true — you keep nada in your pantry and it’s HARD to figure out what you should make! So don’t play.) Anyways, so I’m not entirely sure when, why, or how this came to me, because fruit dressings are very popular. Who hasn’t had raspberry salad dressing? Let’s ignore the fact that the aforementioned raspberry salad dressing usually tastes like crap (at least the raspberry vinaigrettes that I’ve partaken of…) But still, it’s not like this is a new idea.

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This is one of those crazy savory interpretations of sweet preserves and jams that you’ve got in your pantry. You can take almost any jam, jelly, preserve, marmalade, what-have-you and adapt it to this recipe, and serve it over whichever salad greens and toppings you prefer. There’s just an unending list of adaptations.

  • I used plum jam, because it was one of the open jars hanging out in my fridge, but you can use whichever canned sweet preserve you want.
  • Try using a different vinegar! I used white balsamic vinegar because I wanted to maintain the color of my salad dressing… but you could use whatever vinegar you like: balsamic, red wine, apple cider, brown rice; the possibilities are endless.
  • Add herbs or spices to your dressing – try a little fresh thyme, or a dash of cumin.
  • If your original jam was chunky, but you want a smoother dressing, throw it in the blender until the dressing reaches a consistency you like.
  • Throw in a bit of mustard if you like. I chose not to add any mustard in this vinaigrette, although mustard plays a huge role in most of my homemade vinaigrettes.

I also added a bit of hot water to my dressing, since the jam I started off with was very, very thick. The hot water thinned out the jam to more of a liquid consistency without me having to add more vinegar, which would overwhelm the jam flavor (trust me, I know… my first batch was kind of heavy on the balsamic. Blech.)

Then serve over spinach, arugula, or baby mixed greens. Top with whatever salad accoutrements you prefer – I had my Plum Jam Dressing over mixed greens with goat cheese and toasted pecans.

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Which jams will you be trying this out with? I’m anxious to hear your ideas!

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Plum Jam Salad Dressing

Original recipe from The Kitchenette
Makes 1/4 cup

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Gather:
2 tablespoons plum jam (or other jam of your choice)
1 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar (or other vinegar of your choice)
1- 1/2 tablespoons hot water (optional, to thin out thicker jams)
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt and pepper

Prepare:
Add all ingredients to an empty canning jar. Cover with lid and ring, and shake vigorously until combined. If desired, run dressing through blender or food processor until consistency desired is achieved. Serve over salad of your choice. Store leftover dressing in jar in fridge.

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Other Uncanny Ideas from Around the Interwebz:

in SmoothiesUse whichever jams you have to spice up a morning smoothie! (via Food in Jars)

Thumbprint CookiesA small dollop of jam on a sugar cookie. This is great because you can use whatever jam you have in your pantry! I can think of quite a few tasty interpretations… (via Sugarcrafter)

On Toasted Sandwiches on Food in JarsThis makes me wish I had put up some spicy tomato jam this summer! (via Food in Jars)

In BreadUse up home-canned applesauce and fruit butters in this tasty whole grain bread. (via Food in Jars)

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Wolf Parade / What Did My Lover Say? (It Always Had to Go This Way)

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Tips & Tricks | Salad Prep

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With holiday parties coming up, I just wanted to share a little something that I’ve picked up along the way when it comes to prepping salads ahead of time.

(Please love that I sound like I throw holiday parties every day during the season. Whatever. You know me better than that. My idea of a holiday party is, “Hey, come over and watch Ian Somerhalder Vampire Diaries with me. I’ll make us some cheesy pasta, and it won’t even be from the box. Oh, and Merry Christmas, by the way.”)

When I’m prepping a salad – whether it’s for the aforementioned horrible-teen-drama-filled-Thursday-night-get-together, or because I’m taking it over to my aunt’s house for our annual Christmas Day supper – I’m a big fan of the Ziploc bag method.

One, I wash all my greens in a salad spinner.

Two, I dry them by gently spreading them out onto a large dishtowel.

Three, I pick out any salad pieces that are going bad. With the salad greens all spread out, it’s easy to spot the little pieces that are wilty and slimy and all-around nasty.

Four, I lay another dishtowel on top of the greens, and then I gently roll up the towels into tubes, to dry the leaves.

Five, I store the greens in a Ziploc bag, alternating a handful of leaves with a paper towel. Yes, I add the paper towels directly to the bag. The paper towels soak up any extra moisture and keep the greens from getting moldy in the meantime.

Six, I add to the bag any salad ingredients that won’t damage the leaves before serving. For example, dried cranberries can be added now. Spiced nuts can be added now, as long as they are cooled. Apple slices and raw onion slices can be added now. But, of course, do NOT add the salad dressing yet. Mix that separately and store separately, too.

When I’m ready to serve, I simply remove the paper towels, add my salad dressing to the bag, zip tight, and shake it up. The salad gets coated with vinaigrette or what-have-you, and I can dump the entire bag into a serving bowl and dig right in.

And, if you’re running low on serving dishes, the Ziploc bag is a convenient serving dish in itself! I’ve gone there, yes I have. What can I say, I have EXTRA class.

The Ziploc-bag-with-paper-towels method also works well to store mixed greens on a day-to-day basis. I’ve stored lettuce and other salad greens (already chopped into bite-size pieces, too!) up to a week without it going bad.

Happy (almost) party season!

And let’s be honest, Happy Season 2 of Vampire Diaries!

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Linguine Alfredo with Fresh Greens and Vinaigrette

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Yesterday afternoon I arrived home from Austin City Limits. It seems like a year ago (most certainly not last Thursday) that I flew to Texas and skipped right into LiLi‘s open arms. It was like a scene out of a movie, you guys. There was squee-ing and hugging and jumping, and probably a few people watching us who thought we might make out any second (sorry to disappoint, Dallas). After three days of constant sunshine, intermittent assaults on our eardrums, and the rare consumption of flavorless festival food, I arrived home in Denver feeling tired, with the lingering fear that I might still be covered in residual sunscreen, and harboring a varsity craving for fresh fruit, and funnily enough, pasta.

The craving for fresh fruit was easy enough to understand – the week before I left, I had been working my way through 10 pounds of apples I bought at the farmer’s market, sometimes consuming 2 or 3 apples a day. I barely consumed any fruit in Texas, simply because there wasn’t a good grocery store near our hotel. So I think I was simply going through withdrawal in that respect. So I remedied that problem immediately when I got home… I went to the store and bought 5 pounds of pears. Normal, right?

The pasta craving I can’t really explain. But I still took care of it. (I belong to the “If the Craving Lasts for More Than Two Days Then It’s Probably a Vitamin or Mineral That You’re Low On” school of thought when it comes to cravings. As long as you’re not hoovering a 3-pound bag of cookies, of course.)

Fettucini alfredo has always been a favorite pasta dish of mine.

It might have something to do with the cream and butter involved… but that’s just a guess.

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I discovered the Pioneer Woman’s recipe a little over a year ago, and it’s my favorite way to make alfredo now. But, as many of the Pioneer Woman’s dishes (I’m also looking at you, Giada and Paula and Ina), I find that the butter and cream in this recipe are a little… overwhelming. Like, I don’t need a FULL stick of butter in the sauce. That just seems like overkill. And I like to throw in a few vegetables, too, so that I can rationalize the fact that I’m essentially consuming a plate of carbs covered in 2 different kinds of animal fat for my dinner. Generally I like to throw in a handful of spinach into the hot pasta, because spinach is one of my favorite veggies.

But when I was making this last night, I tossed the pasta with the alfredo sauce, and I couldn’t get out of my head how much better the dish would taste with a bit of vinegar sprinkled over the top. I thought of this, of course, just as I realized that I had had a major brain fart and had forgotten to toss in the spinach. Then it struck me – have you ever seen those pizzas topped with fresh greens? – why not put a salad on top of pasta?

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This might be the only way I eat alfredo pasta for the foreseeable future. The texture of the fresh greens is the perfect contrast to al dente pasta. And the vinaigrette cuts through the heaviness of the alfredo sauce exactly as I had hoped; it almost makes the sauce seem light, which is pretty hard to do when it’s basically cream and butter. It’s also quite a pretty presentation, in my mind… I think this would be great as a big dish to serve to your guests at a party or holiday; double or triple this recipe, and serve the pasta in a large shallow serving bowl, topped with all the greens. Pretty, pretty, pretty.

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Linguine Alfredo with Fresh Greens and Vinaigrette

original recipe from The Kitchenette
Serves 2

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Gather:
1/2 pound linguine or other dried pasta
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup cream (heavy, table, or half and half)
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon champagne mustard
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
4 cups packed fresh baby spinach or mixed baby greens
salt and fresh cracked pepper

Prepare:
Bring a large pot of water to boil over high heat.  Add a generous tablespoon of salt to the water. Add the pasta, and cook according to package directions.

Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the cream and whisk to combine. Heat over medium for a few minutes, or until the sauce thickens. Season with a pinch of salt.

Whisk the mustard, olive oil, and white balsamic vinegar in the bottom of a mixing bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Toss greens with vinaigrette, and set aside.

Place grated parm in the bottom of your serving bowl. Pour thickened cream/butter mix over cheese. Season with plenty of cracked pepper. Let sit until the pasta finishes cooking. Reserve a cup of pasta cooking water (which can be added to the sauce later if it is too thick to coat the pasta evenly). Drain pasta and add cooked pasta to serving bowl. Toss to coat pasta with sauce. Add reserved cooking water, a tablespoon at a time, if necessary until sauce coats pasta evenly.

Top pasta with dressed greens. Serve immediately.

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Dawes / Love Is All I Am

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NFMW 2010 Day One: Brisket and Fresh Snap Bean Salad

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On Saturday, we ate breakfast at the market, because we were starving. We each got two breakfast tacos with carnitas, scrambled eggs, and poblano hollandaise… it was insanely delicious.

Once we got home, I pulled out some brisket that I had left over from the last time I picked up brisket at the Boulder market. I set the oven to 250 degrees, and I slathered the brisket with a rub consisting of the following:

- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon Hungarian sweet paprika
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper
- 1 teaspoon salt

Then I poured 1/2 cup water over the top, covered the baking dish with foil, and let that sucker cook low and slow at 250 degrees, for about 6 hours, turning over and dusting with additional spice rub, every hour or so.

Bonus: having your oven on at only 250 degrees does not make your kitchen feel like the 7th circle of Hell, even when it’s 90 degrees outside. SWEET.

To round out the dinner menu for Saturday night, I made a fresh snap bean salad with half of the beans that we got from the market. You may like to blanch the beans beforehand (especially if you’re not so much into extra-crunchy beans like we are) but I had purple green beans, and the purple beans turn green if you cook them, so I wanted to preserve the purple color. You could also blanch only the green and yellow wax beans if you prefer, and/or cut up the beans into 1-inch pieces.

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Fresh Snap Bean Salad with Basil Vinaigrette

Recipe from The Kitchenette
Serves 2

Gather:
1/2 pound fresh snap beans, washed and ends removed
1 teaspoon fresh basil chiffonade
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
salt and pepper

Prepare:
Whisk together the basil, olive oil, and lemon juice in the bottom of a serving bowl; season to taste with salt and pepper. Add green beans to bowl and toss to coat. Let sit for approximately 30 minutes before serving to let flavors meld.

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Dangermouse Sparklehorse / Little Girl (feat. Julian Casablancas)

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