Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Apple, Walnut and Blue Cheese Salad with Cider Vinaigrette

A few months ago, I posted this recipe for Strawberry Feta Salad with Sweet and Spicy Pecans and Balsamic Vinaigrette. I hope you all love that recipe as much as we do. It is definitely a staple at the Patterson's; however, strawberries are sadly going out of season... :( 

But the silver lining is that I have come up with a new fall version! Hooray! I wanted to come up with something that showcases the flavors of the season and I think this recipe does the trick! This version utilizes apples instead of strawberries, walnuts instead of pecans, blue cheese instead of feta and a new vinaigrette recips. If you've made the Strawberry version, then this will be a snap for you!

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 shallot, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons dijon mustard
1 teaspoon honey
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Whisk the vinegar, shallots, mustard, garlic, honey and salt and pepper in a small bowl. While continuously whisking with one hand, very very slowly drizzle the olive oil into the bowl. It is important to continue whisking and drizzle as slowly as possible so that the dressing will emulsify and not separate on you. If it easier for you, you can easily do this in the blender, drizzling the olive oil slowly through the top opening. Chill the vinaigrette until you are ready to assemble the salad.

1 c water
1/4 c sugar or Splenda*
1 cup pecan halves
3 T sugar or Splenda*
1 T chili powder
1/2 t cayenne pepper
1 t cajun seasoning

Preheat the oven to 350. Microwave the water in a microwave safe bowl until the water boils. Remove from microwave and dissolve the fourth cup of sugar in the water. Soak the walnuts in the sugar water for about 10-15 minutes. Meanwhile, mix the remaining sugar, chili powder, cayenne and cajun seasoning in a plastic baggie. Drain the walnuts and toss in the sugar mixture to coat. Spread onto a foil lined baking sheet and bake for about 15 minutes. Immediately spread the walnuts onto wax paper to cool. Do NOT let them sit or the sugar will harden and all the walnuts will stick together!

3-4 chicken breasts
Garlic Powder
3 hearts of Romaine, rinsed and torn into bite sized pieces
2-3 oz. blue cheese, crumbled
1 tart apple, rinsed, cored and sliced or chopped into bite size pieces**

Heat grill to medium high heat. Season chicken on both sides with salt, pepper and garlic powder. Grill chicken breasts until cooked through, about 7-10 minutes on each side depending on size. Remove from grill, cool and cut into strips or bit size pieces.

In a large bowl, toss lettuce with desired amount of dressing. Add apples, blue cheese and walnuts tossing gently. Serve with chicken on top. 

Serves 4, as a main dish.

I hope you enjoy this fresh and delicious fall version!

*I have tried the pecans (from the strawberry version) with Splenda but they do not turn out as sweet or crunchy.
** My absolute favorite apple is the Honeycrisp apple. They are sweet and tart and in peak season, they are about the size of a grapefruit! yum! They can be a little pricey though, so other favorites of mine are Granny Smith, Gala and Pink Lady if you don't want to get the Honeycrisp.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Football Food Friday! Spicy Artichoke Dip

I am so excited to share this recipe with yall as this dip is by far my favorite dip and I love any opportunity to make it! It is creamy and delicous with just a hint of heat.

Another great thing about this dip is that it is great hot or cold, so depending on when you're making it, if you're taking it somewhere, etc. you can decide whether or not to serve it hot or cold.

2 cups of artichoke hearts, drained, lightly chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 jalepeno peppers, finely diced
1/2 cup sour cream
8 ounces cream cheese
1/2 cup mayonaise
1 cup grated parmesan cheese

To serve warm: Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Mix all ingredients together and pour mixture into an oven proof dish. Bake uncovered until lightly browned on top, approximately 25 minutes.

To serve cold: Mix all ingredients together and pour mixture into a serving bowl of your choice.

Serve with pita chips, wheat thins or crackers or chips of your choice.


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Crispy Ranch Chicken

Looking for a new twist on boring ol' chicken? Well here is a healthy and flavorful chicken recipe that is super easy! You'll never think chicken is boring again!

This chicken is baked so it is healthier than typical crispy chicken but the Panko gives it the crunch of fried chicken, so you won't miss out on the flavor and you definitely won't miss the extra calories and fat of typical fried chicken!

If you are not familiar with Panko, it is a Japanese bread crumb and is drier, lighter and flakier than a typical store bought bread crumb and provides the perfect crunchy coating. Once you try Panko bread crumbs, I can promise you that will be hooked!

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 egg whites, lightly beaten
1 package of dry Ranch dressing mix
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Season both sides of chicken breasts lightly with salt and pepper. Lightly beat the egg whites in a shallow bowl. Combine ranch mix, parmesan and Panko in another shallow bowl or plate. Dip one chicken breasts in the egg whites, coating both sides and then dredge in the ranch mixture, patting the mixture into the chicken to completely coat the entire chicken. Repeat with remaining chicken breasts.

Place chicken breasts in an oven proof baking dish. Allow to sit for about 10 minutes. This will allow the coating to dry out a bit and will give you a crunchier coating.

Bake chicken for approximately 30 minutes or until cooked through. If desired, turn your broiler on high and brown the tops of the chicken for one to two minutes or until golden brown.


Sunday, September 19, 2010

Green Beans Amandine

If you like fresh green beans, you'll love this recipe. It is super easy, fast and big on flavor. The combination of the crisp green beans with the crunch of the almonds makes for a great side dish with great flavor and texture.

1 lb. fresh green beans, rinsed, ends trimmed
1-2 teaspoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2-3 tablespoons butter, margarine or spray butter
1/4 cup sliced almonds
1/2 lemon

Fill a medium pot with water and bring to a boil. While water is coming to boil, fill a bowl with ice water.

Cook green beans in boiling water for 2-3 minutes until just tender. Remove green beans from boiling water and plunge into the ice water to stop the cooking process and maintain the bright green color. Remove from ice water and drain.

Heat the olive oil in a large nonstick pan with over medium heat. Add garlic and saute for one minute. Melt butter in the pan and add green beans to pan, tossing to coat with the butter and garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Cook until green beans are tender but still crisp.

Meanwhile, toast the almonds in a small pan over low heat until just golden brown. Add almonds to green beans and toss to combine. Squeeze the lemon juice over the green beans and toss to combine. Taste the green beans for seasoning and add additional salt, pepper, or lemon if necessary.


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