Roasted Garlic Vinaigrette Chicken Salad

Hi, my name is Jessica and I have a confession to make.

Despite the name of this blog being Cooking is My Sport…I don’t always love to cook. Sometimes it’s the very last thing I want to do. I mean, the LAST. I envision putting on my baggy round the house clothes, pulling out pots/pans and standing in the kitchen for a while cooking–and I’ll just say to myself, “Yeah, nope. It’s not gonna happen today.”

And you know what? That’s okay. When those times arise, (and they will for everyone) there are a few different alternatives I will take to cooking a super ‘hands on’, full effort, time consuming meal:

First, I’ll order takeout–usually a pizza. Do I really need to do much explaining for this one? I mean, sometimes carb-heavy, greasy, sodium overload food is just what your body is craving. Life is short and if I don’t feel like cooking, pizza is a tried and true fail safe.

Second, I’ll eat cereal and milk. It’s quick, it’s not overly filling and so long as you pick cereals that aren’t loaded with sugar, it’s not the unhealthiest option either. (Honey Bunches of Oats and Hney Nut Cheerios is my winning combination in case you were curious).

Third, I’ll just pick up a rotisserie chicken.

Let me just say this right now: rotisserie chicken slander will not be tolerated on this here blog. I stan for rotisserie chicken and all the things that can be done with it. They’re awesome. They’re a pretty inexpensive buy whether you buy them fresh and cook them yourself, or pick a premade one up from your local grocery store deli. If the seasoning is done right by the deli, they usually taste pretty good on their own, but even if their bland on their own, it’s EXTREMELY easy to take the chicken off the carcass and give it a flavorific makeover within minutes.

I don’t like most chicken salad recipes because they’re mayonnaise based; mayonnaise triggers my gag reflex. So, I tend to stay away. However,  a little while ago I started experimenting with different ways to make the dressings for chicken salad, swapping out the mayonnaise entirely for other options, like this recipe where I used a base of Greek yogurt instead). This time around, I decided to go for a spin on chicken salad that was  made with a vinaigrette dressing rather than a creamy one.

I started out this post by saying I don’t always feel like cooking, and this recipe stays true to that. Literally the only thing that gets ‘cooked’ is garlic heads that are roasted in the oven. ‘Why do we roast garlic?’, you may ask. It cuts through the sharp flavor of raw garlic and improves it, giving a sweeter, richer flavor that really can’t be beat. You’ll be thanking me for this little trick and be using it in all kinds of dishes in the future.

Once the garlic is roasted, you really are practically done. From there, you just mix the rest of the dressing ingredients together in a blender, then pour it over the chicken and vegetables that make up your salad. I used roasted red peppers, cucumbers and onions (the usual suspects in my salads). There’s also a generous portion of chopped parsley leaves in there, which give it a zesty, peppery flavor.

I have to say, the dressing is the star here. The roasted garlic gives it a savory and almost caramelized flavor that’s gets balanced out with the remaining ingredients; acidity with the vinegar and honey mustard, and sweetness from the honey and OJ. Even if your rotisserie chicken isn’t seasoned right, this will spruce it right up. It tastes SO fresh and bright. It’s satisfying, but still light enough to where you won’t feel too full afterwards. This may have been a bare minimum effort meal, but we gobbled it up–I’ve already been asked to make it again. It’s really good and I think you ought to give it a shot on a non-cooking night when takeout or cereal isn’t tickling your fancy. Linking this post up to Fiesta Friday #219, co-hosted this week by the lovely Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook.

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Roasted Garlic Vinaigrette Chicken Salad

Recipe Adapted from The Kitchn

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Ingredients

For Dressing

  • 1 head of garlic
  • 2 tablespoons vinegar (I used malt vinegar, but you can feel free to use red wine, white wine or balsamic, according to your preference)
  • 2 teaspoons honey mustard
  • Juice of 1 freshly squeezed orange
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1/2 cup olive oil

For Salad

  • 1 rotisserie chicken, deboned (It should yield 2 1/2-3 cups of shredded chicken)
  • 1/2 cup baby cucumbers, chopped and sliced in half
  • 1/2 cup roasted red peppers, sliced
  • 1/2 cup yellow sweet onion, finely diced
  • Handful of chopped parsley leaves

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°F. Rub about 1 teaspoon of vegetable or canola oil on top of garlic head. Sprinkle the top with salt & pepper and place in the middle of a piece of aluminum foil. Wrap the foil around the garlic, like a package. Place on a half sheet pan and bake in the oven for about 50-55 minutes.

Remove and allow to cool until warm enough to handle. Take the roasted garlic head and break off individual cloves. Use your fingers to press/squeeze out the pulp into the container of a blender/food processor with the veggies. (It should come out very easily).

Pour the vinegar, honey mustard, orange juice, honey, olive oil and salt and pepper in the blender with the garlic. Process on high until smooth—taste and adjust for seasoning. If it’s still a little thick you can add a few tablespoons of water to thin it out.

Combine the chicken, cucumbers, red peppers, onion and parsley together in a large bowl. Slowly drizzle in about half of the dressing and stir thoroughly to combine. Taste it—if it’s to your satisfaction, you can leave off the rest of the dressing and save it for later, or you can add and stir it into the rest of the salad mixture.

Cover the chicken salad and refrigerate for at least a few hours, but preferably overnight to allow flavors to meld.

Falafel Patties

How was everyone’s holiday? You get any good presents? Eat any good food?

I hope the answer to both of those questions is yes. You deserve both.

Here we are at the end of 2017, and I feel like this year just flew by. My cooking and baking schedule for December is almost always hectic as I’m busy putting together recipes and posts for the 12 Days of Christmas series I do every year on the blog. Then all at once the holiday comes, the bustle is over and everything is calm and lax.

A lot of us have a tendency to indulge in a whole lot of sweet and not so lean treats during the holidays that after a while may feel like a sugar overload. I certainly love my carbs and sweets and I’ll never give them up–but after a while I too find myself craving leaner foods with fresh ingredients that leave you feeling full but not bloated or lethargic.

Usually when I get those cravings, I go to particular cuisine: Mediterranean.

Apart from soul food, if I had to pick a cuisine to eat for the rest of my life it would definitely be Mediterranean/Lebanese. I’m addicted to so many things about it: the fresh ingredients, the bright, zesty seasoning and spices, the satisfaction it brings to my belly without making me feel guilty if I ate a lot of it. It’s just the best.

I’ve shared a few of my favorite Mediterranean dishes on the blog already, and I highly recommend that you check them out, as they’d make a good accompaniment to the dish I want to share with you guys today.

No, I mean it. Chicken Shawarma and Roasted Red Pepper Hummus, stat. They’ll change your life.

My ‘must-haves’ for a Mediterranean meal include a plate of chicken shawarma, hummus and falafel.  It’s the perfect trio. I hope to God that you know what falafel is, but on the most outrageous of off chances that you don’t…it’s a mixture of ground chickpeas, veggies and spices that are mixed together and then usually deep fried until crispy on the outside.

I say ‘usually’ because I’ve recently found that falafel doesn’t always have to be fried to taste good.

The base ingredients for traditional falafel are still here: you’ve still got your chickpeas, parsley, lemon juice, cilantro and garlic. I also added in plenty of cumin and smoked paprika with some other spices that I thought complemented the others well. I do recommend that you allow the mix to sit in the refrigerator overnight for two reasons: first, the colder it is, the more time it has to firm up and be easier to shape into patties. Second, it allows the flavors to marinate and develop into the beans.

The process of cooking the falafels is simple. After shaping them into patties, they get a quick sear on the stove, then a few minutes in the oven.From there, you can do whatever you like with them; eat them as a sandwich on a bun, stuff one into a pita, crumble them up into a salad, or even just eat it all on its own dipped in hummus. All of these are good choices.

I am most definitely not a vegetarian and it’s very safe to say I will never become one. I love poultry too much to do that. However! I will say that for several days I ate falafel patty sandwiches and found myself uncharacteristically not missing the meat. The garbanzo beans give the patty a ‘meaty’ texture and the fiber in them fills you up in an even better way than meat because your stomach doesn’t feel as heavy. These are really good and I think they’d be a nice way to start the year off if you’re in need of a lighter meal.

Linking this last post of 2017 up to Fiesta Friday #204, co-hosted this week by Sandhya @ Indfused.com.

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Falafel Patties

Recipe Adapted from Chowhound.com

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Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups dried garbanzo beans (chickpeas)
  • 1/2 medium red onion, coarsely chopped
  • 4 medium garlic cloves, peeled (preferably roasted garlic)
  • 1 cup finely chopped cilantro
  • 1 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • Canola, vegetable or peanut oil for frying

 

 

Directions

Place the chickpeas in a bowl of cold water, cover and refrigerate for 24 hours or at least overnight. Drain well. They’ll expand to about 4 cups.

Place 2 cups of the beans in a food processor (or blender). Pulse a few times, then process until a smooth paste. (If the mixture is too chunky, add about 2 tablespoons of water to the food processor or blender to make it smoother). Remove to a small bowl, then pour in the other half of the beans. Pulse these a few times until they are mostly chunky—they don’t need to be as smooth as the first batch, it’s alright if there are some large bits still in there. Remove the second batch of processed beans with the first to the bowl. Place the herbs, lemon juice, spices and baking powder in the processor and process thoroughly. Pour the chickpeas back into the processor and process mixture all together. (If too thick and ‘dry’ to hold together, add a couple tablespoons more of water. If need be, you can also do this in batches, then mix it all together in a bowl afterwards).

Refrigerate the falafel mix overnight to allow it to firm up and for flavors to fully develop.

Scoop the falafel out with about heaping 1/3 cup measure, then shape into patties. Refrigerate patties for 30 minutes. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a skillet or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add three patties to the pan, then cook for about 6 minutes per side. Remove to a wire rack that you place over a sheet pan. Repeat frying process with your remaining patties and oil until finished.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake the patties in the oven for an additional 10-15 minutes before serving on toasted hamburger buns or inside/alongside pita bread.

(Note: You don’t have to bake the patties in the oven if their initial consistency/taste after frying is okay with you. I like to bake mine to give the chickpeas as ’cooked’ a flavor as possible, but it’s not mandatory. )

Chicken Bulgogi

It is hot.

I don’t think y’all heard me the first time, so let me say it again for the people in the back.

It.is.HOT. Unbearably hot. I am not okay with this.

I’ve never been one that does well in extreme heat. It’s not a pretty picture. For one, it makes me straight up cranky. I start sweating, which makes me feel gross.  My hair gets frizzy at the roots, and other Black women will know just why and how much of a problem this is for styling & manageability. My sinuses swell and my nose starts getting congested so it’s harder for me to breathe. It’s pretty miserable.

This is also an apt description of the weather here for the past week. The upper 80’s are already uncomfortable when you’re standing or walking in the sun without any shade. This week, the temperatures climbed all the way up into the mid to upper 90’s, and today, peaked in the 100’s.

Normally, I try to take my niece out for at least a few hours a day to play outside in a park nearby our apartment, or we’ll go downtown to the library, then walk back home. Needless to say, our plans for this week were disrupted by the heatwave. Even if the mere idea of going out in that kind of heat didn’t make me want to melt, it’s just too hot to take a small kid out in without the risk of them getting dehydrated or heat stroke. So, we switched up the routine a bit and spent some time in Berkeley where my sister’s working for the summer, where the temperatures are MUCH cooler. The U of C campus there is very pretty and she was able to ride her scooter around on it.

With such extreme weather, I’m sure that the very last thing most of us in the States feel like doing is switching on an oven, whether you have air conditioning or not. I’m certainly not gonna do it. Fortunately, today’s recipe doesn’t require you to.

Let’s just get the obvious question out of the way first, shall we? For those who don’t know off the bat (and no, I didn’t know either before cooking it myself) it’s pronounced BOOL-GO-GEE. It refers to a Korean dish where the protein is sliced thin, marinated, then cooked over high heat over a grill or on a stove top. The marinade usually has soy sauce, sesame oil and garlic in it, and is usually also slightly spicy.

There are several Korean restaurants in our area, but I thought that a nice way to introduce us to bulgogi, rather than pick a random spot we found on Yelp and hope for the best, would be to instead follow the basic guidelines for it in terms of the process and form a recipe suited to our tastes who’s ingredients still qualified as ‘bulgogi-fied’. That way, I could make adjustments to fit our palates, not waste money and still come out with a good result.

The most obvious change I’ve made from a traditional bulgogi is that I’ve used chicken rather than the typical beef or pork.  You guys already know I’ll swap chicken in for just about anything if I can get away with it, and I really do think I got away with it here. The flavors of the marinade I think would work well with any meat and white bird meat is usually more inexpensive than red cow or pink pig.

I usually set my meat in an overnight marinade to let the flavors really absorb into the meat but if you’re crunched for time or trying to make this into a weeknight dinner, I think a quick marinade would still get the job done and deliver results that everyone will like. The sauce that gets drizzled on top of the chicken is outstanding: it’s got that earthy saltiness from the soy sauce and added fish sauce, the sweet from the brown sugar and mirin, then it’s given just enough of a kick from the ginger and five spice. Some people like to eat their bulgogi over rice. We ate ours in tacos shells, drizzled with some of the glorious sauce and some shredded carrots and green onions. I even added some spicy kimchi on top of mine: it really was a PERFECT bite.

Sharing this at Fiesta Friday #177, co-hosted by Ai @ Ai Made It For You and Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook. Stay cool guys!

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Chinese Bulgogi

Recipe Adapted from FoodNetwork.com

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Ingredients

  • 3 pounds of boneless skinless chicken breast or thighs, cut into strips
  • 1 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup mirin
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup sesame oil
  • A few dashes of fish sauce
  • 6 garlic cloves, crushed and minced
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon Chinese fivespice
  • 6 scallions,plus more for serving
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • Vegetable or canola Oil
  • Tortilla shells for serving
  • Shredded cabbage or lettuce, matchstick carrots, daikon radish, for serving (optional)

 

Directions

Place the chicken in a gallon size re-sealable Ziploc bag.

In a blender combine the soy sauce, mirin, sugar, sesame oil, fish sauce, garlic cloves, minced ginger, five spice and 6 scallions. Puree until smooth.

Set aside about half of the marinade in a bowl. Pour the other half over the chicken. Seal the bag securely and shake, making sure to coat the chicken evenly with the marinade. Refrigerate overnight or at least three hours.

Heat vegetable or canola oil over medium high heat in a large Dutch oven or non-stick skillet. Add the chicken in batches, frying in the pan until golden brown and crisp at the edges. When finished, place in a bowl and keep the bowl covered with aluminum foil.

Strain the remaining marinade to rid of excess bits, then place in a small saucepan over high heat. Whisk in the cornstarch and allow to cook until reduced and thickened into a sauce, about 10-15 minutes.

Spoon the chicken into tortilla shells and garnish with cabbage, carrots, radishes, scallions or desired toppings.

Chicken Parmesan Sandwiches

Chicken Parm Sandwiches8

I’m really not a huge fan of authentic Italian food.

I don’t like lasagna. I don’t like carbonara. I don’t care for the white heavy cream based sauces that can be found in a lot of Italian dishes at all. I’m not one for using lemon in savory applications. I’m actually not even a huge fan of cheese in general. If it weren’t for pizza, I could probably live without eating it entirely.

Chicken Parm Sandwiches1

My love for Italian food can basically be summed up in a plate of pasta (preferably spaghetti, rotini or ziti) and a mess of meaty marinara sauce dumped on top of it. If I’m feeling really “adventurous” there’ll be Parmesan cheese sprinkled on top.

And that just about does it.

Everything else I’m probably going to want to pass on.

Chicken Parm Sandwiches4

All of the above is what makes today’s recipe somewhat special.  I count it as me daring to be ‘adventurous’ and cook then eat something Italian that isn’t just pasta and meat sauce.

I needed to cook something that would last for the week but I didn’t really know what. I looked through the sale ads and didn’t seem any meat that was on sale except for pork chops and pork loin (neither of which I really felt like cooking or eating). So then, I went digging through my freezer to see if I’d bought any meat a while back then saved for later and just forgot about it.  Turns out, I had. I found two packs of chicken cutlets (chicken that’s thinly sliced and/or pounded thin by the butcher ahead of time).

Chicken Parm Sandwiches3

Most times meat that’s been prepared into cutlets is for the purpose of sandwich making. The protein is thinner, so it cooks relatively quickly and can fit on pieces of bread without much hassle. I’ve already made chicken schnitzel before on the blog with great results, but I wanted to make something new that I could post and share.  I’d also made shredded chicken into tacos just a couple weeks ago, so using the cutlets for that for that seemed kinda redundant.

Chicken Parm Sandwiches6

As a cook and eater with Southern roots, I’m of the opinion that it’s pretty tough to go wrong with chicken that you bread and fry, no matter what cuisine we’re talking about. Then, because a good red sauce is one part of Italian food that I like, I figured throwing them together couldn’t result in too shabby a meal. It also wouldn’t take a very long time to make, So for all those reasons, I decided to go ahead and make Chicken Parmesan for the first time, ever.

I really, REALLY liked the results.

Chicken Parm Sandwiches2

The best marinara sauce I’ve had to date is the one I made for my Pizza Hut-style breadsticks and Pan-Pizza that I made a while back on the blog, so that’s what I decided I would use for this recipe. I did a double batch because I love my sauce and wanted to have plenty to eat during the week for leftovers, but you can always cut it in half if you’re a less is more kind of a person.

Anytime you let chicken soak in an overnight buttermilk bath, you know that you’re going to have chicken that cooks up very moist and tender. I let mine chill for the whole 24, and once again I proved to myself that chicken breast haters are just doing their chicken breast wrong in how they treat it. The cutlets came out VERY moist and juicy on the inside. Chicken breading can sometimes run the risk of being bland and tasteless, but the method of including cheese with the actual breadcrumbs that the chicken is fried in gives it a GREAT flavor and texture. The crust came out perfectly crisp and golden when fresh and even when reheating the leftovers throughout the week, I found that I liked it even after it had gone soft.

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If you’re not a fan of Ciabatta bread, or you can’t find a grocery store or bakery in your area that carries it, that’s totally fine. Pepperidge Farm bread slices have also worked for me. I will say though, that for these sandwiches you want to use a bread that when toasted is big and sturdy enough to support the weight of the hot chicken and won’t get flat and soggy when you pile on the cheese and warm sauce. So please don’t sell yourself short; go for the good stuff.

The verdict is in and…Chicken Parmesan can sit with us. Finis.

Happy Fiesta Friday #132, co-hosted this week by Sandhya @ Indfused and Nancy @ Feasting With Friends.

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Chicken Parmesan Sandwiches

Recipe Adapted from Serious Eats

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Ingredients

For the Tomato Sauce:

  • 2 (15oz) cans tomato sauce
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 2 tsp dry oregano
  • 1 tsp dry basil
  • 1 tsp dry marjoram
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt

For the Chicken:

  • 3 boneless skinless chicken breast halves
  • 1 3/4 cups buttermilk, divided
  • 2 medium cloves garlic, minced (about 2 teaspoons)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 loaf crusty italian bread, crust removed, sliced into 1/2-inch slices
  • 5 ounces grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil
  • 1 quart Tomato Sauce  (see above recipe)
  • 10 ounces shredded mozzarella or Italian blended cheese
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley, basil, or a mix
  • 1 loaf of Ciabatta bread or another sturdy crusty bread for sandwiches

Directions

Split chicken breasts in half horizontally. Working one piece at a time, place inside a plastic zipper-lock bag and pound with a meat pounder or the bottom of a skillet to an even 1/4-inch thickness. Transfer to a large bowl.

Add 1 1/2 cups buttermilk and minced garlic to bowl. Season with 2 tablespoons kosher salt and 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper. Turn chicken with hands until salt, pepper, and garlic are evenly incorporated and all the chicken is coated in buttermilk mixture. Transfer to a large zipper-lock bag, press out the air, and seal. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours and up to overnight.

Meanwhile, place bread slices on a rack set in a rimmed baking sheet. Leave out on counter for at least 4 hours and up to overnight until mostly dried.The next day, break bread into rough pieces (leave the wire rack in the rimmed baking sheet) and combine with 4 ounces Parmesan cheese in the food processor. Season with black pepper. Process until bread is finely ground, about 20 seconds. Transfer mixture to a large shallow bowl or pie plate.

Place flour in a second shallow bowl or pie plate. Whisk eggs, 2 tablespoons buttermilk, and 1 tablespoon of the flour in a third pie plate. Drizzle remaining 2 tablespoons buttermilk over the breadcrumb/Parmesan mixture and incorporate with your fingertips. The mixture should be mealy, but hold together in clumps if you squeeze it together with your hands.

Working one piece of chicken at a time, remove from the bag and add to flour. Turn to coat, shake off excess, and add to egg mixture. Turn to coat, letting excess drip off, and add to breadcrumb mixture. Turn to coat, piling crumbs on top and pressing down firmly so a thick layer adheres. Transfer coated chicken to the wire rack and repeat with remaining chicken breasts.

Adjust broiler rack to 8 inches below the heat source and preheat broiler to high. Place ciabatta cut-side-up on a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Place under broiler and cook until well browned and crisp, about 2 minutes.

Transfer top bun to a large cutting board. Spread bottom bun with extra sauce and top with chicken cutlets, shingling them so they all fit in a single layer covering the bread (cutlets should already have sauce and some cheese on them). Top with more cheese. Return to broiler and cook until cheese is fully melted and starting to bubble and brown.

Remove from oven and immediately close sandwich, pressing down firmly to seal. Let rest for 1 minute. Slice into 6 to 8 single-serving pieces and serve. 

Curried Chicken Salad with Roasted Carrots

Curried Chicken Salad5

It’s rather amusing to me that although I’m doing a post on chicken salad today, the truth is up until about roughly 3 years ago, I absolutely LOATHED the stuff.

Seriously. I just couldn’t abide it. If you were to put a bowl of chicken salad underneath my nose I’d probably start gagging. That’s how serious it was.

The thing is, (and as you guys know about me by now) I actually love chicken and eat it all the time. And the ingredients in most chicken salads are ingredients that by and large, I’m fine with.

Save for one.

Curried Chicken Salad3

Friggingodawfulmayonnaise.

Oy vey.

I don’t think there are enough words in the English language for me to express how much I completely and vehemently despise mayonnaise.The smell is enough to trigger my gag reflex and kill my appetite. The thought of the stuff literally makes my skin crawl. Not joking, guys. It’s just one of the worst things to ever be created and for the life of my I don’t understand how people can actually enjoy it.

Miracle Whip is slightly less egregious to me, but not by much.

Curried Chicken Salad1

However, as we all know mayonnaise happens to serve as the base for most chicken salad recipes. If you don’t like it, then chances are you won’t like chicken salad–which would explain my nearly life-long aversion to it.

So, how did I get over it? Easy. I learned a little trick of swapping out the mayonnaise for another base: Greek yogurt.

Whole milk Greek yogurt is thick, creamy and a perfect substitute for those of us who can’t get down with the mayonnaise. It’s much better for you too so this dish is actually one you can eat and feel pretty good about afterwards.  If I had one personal criticism of Greek yogurt it’s that sharp tangy aftertaste it’s got. I know that most people love that about it, but for me, I need something to temper it. That’s where this recipe came in and saved the day.

Curried Chicken Salad2

The other ingredients in this salad really work to temper the sharpness of the Greek yogurt. The roasted carrots and golden raisins give it an excellent sweetness all on their own, but then the spices (curry powder, honey, cumin, turmeric and cardamom) also work together to give it another depth of flavor that elevates the typical ‘monotony’ that is most chicken salad recipes. The nuts just give it that extra edge of crunchy texture that it needs. The recipe does suggest using walnuts, but all I had in the house were almonds at the time so that’s what I went with and (like most of my improvisational kitchen decisions) it actually turned out to be what I think I would’ve preferred in the first place.

Curried Chicken Salad4

As you may have guessed, chicken salad actually tastes better the day after you make it, when the ingredients and flavors have time to sit and really meld together. So if you have the time to do so, I do recommend you making it at night just before you go to bed, then maybe taking it with you to work for  lunch the next day, or saving it for dinner the next day. You won’t be disappointed, this makes an awesome sandwich,  guys.

Side note: you want to send your chicken salad sandwich over the top and into the stratosphere of deliciousness? Add a layer of potato chips before you put on the top slice of bread. TRUST ME.

As I do every week, I’m linking this post up to the Fiesta Friday #116, co-hosted this week by Judi @ cookingwithauntjuju and Cynthia @ eatmunchlove.

Curried Chicken Salad with Roasted Carrots

Recipe Adapted from Food & Wine

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Ingredients

  • 3/4 pound carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • Pepper
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (or almonds, which is what I used)
  • 2 cups plain whole-milk Greek yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 4 cups shredded rotisserie chicken (1 pound)
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins
  • 1 small Granny Smith apple-peeled, cored and cut into a fine dice

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400°. On a rimmed baking sheet, toss the carrots with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

Roast for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the carrots are tender. Let cool to room temperature. While the carrots are roasting, spread the almonds on a pie plate and toast for 3 to 5 minutes, until golden.

In a large bowl, mix the yogurt with the honey, cumin, curry powder, turmeric, cardamom and remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Fold in the shredded chicken, carrots, walnuts, golden raisins and apple and season with salt and pepper.

Orange Honey Mustard Baked Chicken Breasts

Orange Honey Mustard Chicken Breasts2

Back when my sister was still planning her wedding, the venue at which the reception was at had a fully functioning kitchen/staff that would cater a sit down dinner as apart of the fee for renting out the space, if desired. Rather than bring in an outside caterer, she decided to go with this option. Just about three months before the wedding, the venue’s chef and staff would hold what were called collective “tastings” where they would cook samples of just about everything that was on their menu for the couples who had booked rooms in advance to come and taste so that they could pick which one(s) they wanted to serve at their reception.

Orange Honey Mustard Chicken Breasts3

Fortunately, my sister was allowed to bring guests with her to the tasting; so she ended up bringing me, my mom, my aunt and my niece with her.

Hey, it was free food. You guys KNEW I was gonna tag along for that. I thought that it was just going to be one or two pieces of meat that they plunked down on a few saucers that we had to share and nibble on.

Yeah, no. What is actually was, was a full on buffet of not only every main dish, but every side dish that the venue had on their menu. We could eat as much of it as we wanted (you know, for quality control purposes) and the chef was even on site for any questions that the brides/grooms had about the preparation of the food in general. And they had just about everything: several chicken, beef, fish AND pasta dishes. Several vegetables sides. They even put out some of the appetizers. Every person that attended got a small little card with a list of the food names, and a scale of 1-10 that the couples and their guests could rate them on for our favorite to least favorite that I assume the bride/groom could use later to pick which dishes they wanted to serve at their reception.

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I’d never been to a real wedding reception tasting before, and I was VERY impressed with not only the service of the staff, but the overall experience in general. We were STUFFED by the time we left and I’m pleased to say it was due to mostly excellent food.

For her two entree choies, my sister ended up picking a delicious flank steak dish, and a stuffed chicken one that reminded me of something you’d serve on Thanksgiving. However, the stuffed chicken wasn’t her favorite preparation of it that we sampled that day and it wasn’t mine either. We were blown away by this Dijon mustard chicken dish that even to this day, I STILL find myself thinking about and kinda salivating over. The balance of tanginess from the mustard and the sweetness of the honey was so just well executed and the chicken (a breast at that) was still so moist and flavorful.

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My mom (rightly so) advised my sister that since not everyone likes the flavor of mustard it might be better to pick a more ‘generic’ chicken dish that was still delicious, which is the reason why she went with the stuffed chicken.

Even so, ever since that wedding reception tasting back in July I have been trying my darndest to try and make a chicken dish that is even as remotely delicious as the Dijon mustard one we tried that day. I’ll be perfectly honest: this one isn’t quite it.

But! It IS still delicious, quick and ridiculously simple to pull off.

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Lemme just first talk about this sauce: after making the first batch to pour over the chicken while it’s baking, I tasted it and immediately got to work making a second one just to have for extra dipping later. It’s that good. The combination of citrus from the orange juice and zest and the dijon mustard is a truly perfect combination; not too sweet, while also not too sharp or tangy either. It also makes one kick-ass sandwich spread, AND a pretty good salad dressing.

I covered my chicken with foil while baking this and it came out SOOOOO moist. Even I can’t usually make my chicken breast bake up that moist and tender, but by Golly, this time I nailed it. I was one happy camper that night for dinner let me tell you. So I think it goes without saying that I’m placing my heavy rubber stamp of approval on this recipe for you guys to try for an easy weeknight dinner. Have at it, will ya?

Happy Fiesta Friday #113 and thank you to our co-hosts for this week,  Sonal @ simplyvegetarian777 and Laurie @ ten.times.tea.

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Orange Honey Mustard Baked Chicken Breasts

Recipe Courtesy of Chowhound

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Ingredients

  • 3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 4)
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons finely grated orange zest (from about 2 oranges)
  • 1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (from about 6 oranges)
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped yellow onion or shallot
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons whole-grain mustard
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter (1/4 stick), cut into 4 pieces and at room temperature

Directions

Heat the oven to 400°F and arrange a rack in the middle.

Season the chicken with 2 teaspoons of the salt and all of the pepper; set aside.

Place the orange zest, juice, onion or shallot, honey, and remaining teaspoon of salt in a large oven-safe frying pan, whisk to combine, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer until reduced by almost half, about 3 minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the Dijon and whole-grain mustards.

Add the reserved chicken, spoon some of the sauce over each breast, and bake until the chicken is just cooked through, about 30 minutes.

Remove the chicken to a serving platter and tent with foil. Whisk the butter into the sauce 1 piece at a time, letting each piece melt before adding the next. Spoon the sauce over the chicken and serve.

Curried Chicken Sandwiches

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I’m always a little wary going through a drive through or a sit down restaurant and ordering a sandwich. Why? Because I know that unless I’m able to be standing right there and watching them make my food, there’s a pretty good chance that someone working there is going to get my order wrong. And fewer things tick me off more than someone making a sandwich for me that is made ‘wrong’.

I’ve always been pretty picky when it comes to my sandwiches guys- I’m not like most people.

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In the first  place, I absolutely can’t stand mayo or miracle whip. Never have, never will. To this day, I don’t know how people eat that stuff. The smell alone triggers my gag reflex, which is why I make a special point of requesting it left off any sandwich I get anywhere. In the past I’ve received sandwiches where they put the mayo or miracle whip on anyway. Regardless of the fact that I could have scraped it off, regardless of how much I paid for the food- if they put mayo or miracle whip on it, I WILL throw it out completely. No amount of scraping off can get rid of the smell or the slight, tangy after taste. Just thinking about it is grossing me out, so I’m moving on.

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Another pet peeve of mine is when businesses lay on the condiments that I do like too thick, like oil and vinegar. I understand you want me to taste it, but gol-ly: the bread should not be soaking wet by the time I get back so that it literally ‘squishes’ when I take a bite. That’s gross. My favorite deli place never fails to do this to me so I’ve learned to just leave off any wet condiments at all when ordering and just waiting until I get home to sprinkle my own vinegar on it just the way that I like it.

I usually have to repeat myself in asking for ‘no cheese’ on a sandwich too- it catches a lot of people off guard. Apparently cheese on sandwiches is a pretty popular thing.

I hate those huge tomatoes. Don’t try to put one on my sandwich. I will throw you major shade.

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Come to think of it, usually the only things that I order on most sandwiches is just the meat, lettuce, and MAYBE a few veggies. It’s weird I know, but that’s just how I roll. Having said all that, this recipe may seem to be missing quite a few key components that most people would put on a sandwich. That’s only because it’s made the way that I would like it- don’t take it personally. Honestly, I couldn’t tell you what the right kind of cheese would work well with a chicken curry sandwich so I didn’t try. I didn’t include a recipe for a yogurt raita or a mayonnaise based condiment; I’m not a fan of either. I’m giving you guys a sandwich with the bread meat, lettuce, onion and roasted red pepper because that’s exactly how I ate this thing. And to me, that was pretty darn perfect all on it’s own.

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However, feel free to add cheese, tomato, raita, mayonnaise to your heart’s content if that’s your thing. I’ll just be over here with my plain sandwich.

Broiled chicken is really underrated. It can take the plain, ordinary chicken breast and elevate it to the level that it really deserves giving that flavorful, dark char on the outside that looks and tastes really good. So instead of grilling the meat like Bon Appetit did, I broiled it in my oven.  It made the cook time super quick and easy, with wonderful results. The chicken was moist and flavorful from the overnight buttermilk brine that really packed a punch.

(Me and the grill still don’t get along in case you were wondering. )

I’ll be taking these sandwiches to the Fiesta Friday #61 party hosted by Angie and co-hosted this week by  Selma @Selma’s Table and Margy @La Petite Casserole. See you guys there!

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Curried Chicken Sandwiches


Recipe Adapted from Bon Appetit.com

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Ingredients

Curry Brine

  • 1 quart buttermilk
  • 4 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 teaspoons curry powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons ground turmeric

Sandwiches

  • 2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts (about 1 pound), halved horizontally
  • 1/4 recipe Curry Brine
  • 4 large or 8 small slices country-style bread
  • 1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 roasted red pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup chopped romaine lettuce

 Directions

1. For Curry Brine: combine the buttermilk, kosher salt, black pepper, curry powder, cumin, turmeric.

2. Add chicken and refrigerate overnight, or at least 4 hours.

3. Preheat broiler and spray broiler pan with non stick cooking spray.

4. Broil chicken until golden brown and slightly charred and juices run clear. (Inner temp of chicken should reach 160°-165°)

5. Layer bread with chicken, onion, red pepper and lettuce. Serve.