Grape Pecan Chicken Salad

I love chicken salad.

Chicken salad is a comfort food to me. There is a very “girlie” restaurant in my hometown that serves perfect chicken salad on fluffy rolls that will change your life. My mom and I love to eat at the counter there and gobble up chicken salad rolls. We also love the iced cookies, but that is a different issue.

I have really been craving chicken salad lately, and although Texas has some awesome tacos, I am yet to find a great chicken salad joint. Alas, I would just have to make my own.

For this recipe, you will need:

cooked and cubed chicken breasts, mayo, salt and pepper, grapes, pecans

First, put one and a half pounds of cubed cooked chicken breasts in a food processor.

Add 2 spoonfuls of mayonnaise and pulse for about 10 seconds.

Pulse for about 10 seconds, and then mix together with a spoon. Add one more spoonful of mayo.

Pulse until the chicken is your desired consistency.

In a bowl, add one teaspoon of salt and one teaspoon of pepper. Mix well.

At this step, it all comes down to preference. If you like chopped celery, add chopped celery. If you like curry, add curry. To each his own. You get the picture.

I like grapes and pecans, so I am going to add and (gently) stir 1/2 cup chopped pecans and 1/2 cup of halved grapes.

Scoop and enjoy!

Advertisements

Sliders

This is a slider, and it is Daniel’s favorite thing I cook.

Understandably so. (Humble brag). They are chock full of flavor, and sliders are a man food for sure. They make you want to grab a beer…Call people “bro”….Watch some baseball…. You get the picture.

Luckily, they are incredibly easy to make.

To make the hamburger patties, you will need:

worcestershire sauce, garlic powder, black pepper, honey mustard, italian seasoning, ground beef

For one pound of ground beef, add 1 tablespoon of worcestershire and 2 tablespoons of honey mustard. The honey mustard is key here! It gives the hamburger tons of flavor and juiciness! Go crazy with the honey mustard. You won’t regret it.

Knead together well, then add 1 teaspoon of Italian seasoning, 1 tablespoon of garlic powder, and a good helping of ground black pepper.

Knead together, and then form into small patties. Remember you are making sliders! You want them to be a bit smaller than a regular hamburger patty.

Grill to desired doneness. (Is that a grammatically correct statement? I’m not quite sure. Hm.)

While your burgers are grilling, saute 1/2 cup of mushrooms and 1/2 cup of chopped onions in olive oil over medium heat.

When the burgers are cooked, I added some munster cheese and left them on the grill for about 2 minutes, to allow the cheese to melt.

Place the cooked cheesy burgers on slider buns. Yes, they make slider buns. Yes, they were on sale at Kroger this week. Yes, that is awesome.

Then, top with the sauteed mushroom and onion.

Add your ketchup, mustard, whatever you prefer, and enjoy!

Please note several things about this photo.

1. Daniel stinks at “posed candid”. When you tell him to “act natural” he will look about as unnatural as possible. This is the reason we did not do engagement pictures. Oh well. He’s still cute.

2. He demanded that his Auburn cup be in the photo. War Eagle.

3. It looks like we are really healthy and just having sliced tomatoes as a side, but in reality, I just didn’t put the fries in the oven at the right time. We devoured fries after finishing our sliders. Whoops.

Blackberry Toast Bites

This is one of my favorite recipes!

Image

First of all, these little bites are absolutely delicious. The creaminess of the goat cheese mixed with the juiciness of the blackberries makes the perfect appetizer.

More importantly, these little bites will impress your guests, and they are so, so, so easy to make!

Your guests will assume you spent hours in the kitchen, honing your culinary genius, when you really watched three back to back episodes of Law and Order. (Don’t judge me.)

For this recipe, you will need:

Image

First, cut the baguette into thin slices.

Image

Then, place the sliced bread on a cookie sheet and bake in a preheated 250 degree oven for about 5-7 minutes, or until the bread is warm and toasted.

Image

Spread a dollop of goat cheese on each toast bite.

Image

Then, put a fresh blackberry on top of each toast bite.

Image

Enjoy gobbling these little toast bites up!

No Excuses, but…

Alright, so I haven’t been putting up many recipes lately. I have to tell you the truth…

I haven’t been cooking lately!

We have had some fun, wonderful summer days that have required no cooking on my part.

Let me show you my great excuses for staying out of the kitchen:

We had a family dinner with literally my favorite people in the world.

I was in heaven.

We celebrated a dear friend’s wedding with other dear friends.

And most importantly, I met Maddalena. She is a sweet bundle of goodness who belongs to my dear friend Brittany.

You can see more of her cuteness as http://www.lifeofcharmings.com.

my sweet friends and a sweet baby

So, family, friends, and a baby…those are all fantastic reasons to stay out of the kitchen. Unfortunately for Daniel, we had cereal for dinner on Tuesday night. Whoops. Sorry hubs.

Frozen Margaritas

It’s hot.

Like, nasty, steam up your sunglasses, hit a brick wall of fire, hot.

There is a remedy for the heat.

Frozen margaritas.

For this recipe, you will need:

tequila, triple sec, agave nectar, limes, lemon
not pictured: ice and a blender

First, mix 1/2 cup of tequila with 1/4 cup triple sec. You could choose to do more here, but this was a Wednesday night. If it’s a Friday, or you’re on vacation, you can go a little wild here.

I mixed my liquids together in a bowl. With a whisk. Real bartenders would use one of those cool shaker things. Oh well, I’m doing what I can, okay?

 

Then, add the agave nectar. This is for sweetness, so you can vary it based on your own preference. I put about 2 tablespoons in.

Next, juice 3 limes and one lemon. Add the juice to the other liquids.

Mix together well.

Now, take a-lot-uh ice and put it in your blender, like so:

Pour the liquid mixture over the ice, and blend, blend, blend! In my case, you have your super pretty friend Lauren (who you invited over for dinner and then put to work) blend it for you. She’s a master margarita-er.

When the ice is all blended up, pour into some margarita glasses and enjoy!

Hot weather? What hot weather? Ahh….

Pasta with Veggie Sauce

This is our friend Shawn.

He grew those cucumbers, and then turned them into pickles. Homemade pickles. I mean, seriously? This city boy has a garden that the Green Giant himself would covet.

So you can imagine my delight when Shawn gifted us with these friends from his garden:

Wow.

These garden goodies have been great on our salads and just cut up with some ranch dressing, but I wanted to use them for something a little more creative.

Cue… Pasta with Veggie Sauce.

For this recipe, you will need:

onion, basil, diced tomatoes, bow tie pasta, olive oil, italian seasoning, garlic, red bell peppers, eggplant
not pictured but ya still might want it: laughing cow cheese and grated parmesean cheese

Two things are going to be happening here.

First, you need to cook some bow tie pasta. Boil, cook, drain. You got it.

While that is happening, you can make the veggie sauce. Yum!

Start by heating some olive oil on medium heat.

Add 1/2 diced white onion and a hunk of minced garlic. The more garlic, the better.

Cook for about 3 minutes, and then add 2 chopped eggplants and 2 chopped red bell peppers.

Cook and stir until the eggplant browns up nicely.

When the eggplant has browned, add 1 can of diced tomatoes, and a handful of chopped fresh basil.

Add about 2 tablespoons of italian seasoning and let simmer. You want the juice from the canned tomatoes to simmer out. If you are like me, you also add more garlic here. Just because you love garlic… and the only person smelling your breath tonight is your husband. He’s stuck with me, regardless of my stanky breath.

At this point, my pasta had finished cooking. I saw that sad, lonely pasta, and I decided it needed some cheese. I took 2 triangles of Laughing Cow cheese and stirred it in with the bow tie pasta. It got all melty and gooey and awesome, and was the perfect base for this sauce. I did not take a picture of this. I was too enamored with the melty cheese. My apologies.

When your sauce has simmered out most of the tomato juice (about 10 minutes), ladle some on top of the pasta. Sprinkle with grated parmesan cheese.

Muah! Pasta love. Enjoy!

Brown Sugar Chicken Marinade

When Daniel and I were in college, he invited me to a cookout with some of his friends. In an attempt to be the coolest girlfriend e-v-e-r, I knew I had to bring the perfect item to grill. I bought some chicken tenders, and I doused them, I repeat doused them in a store bought marinade. They were so overly seasoned that Daniel couldn’t even fake enjoy them, which he usually does to spare hurting my feelings.

Now, four years later, I have finally mastered a good marinade for grilled chicken. Daniel eats it, and he ask for seconds! Whoop whoop!

For this recipe, you will need:

Image

brown sugar, garlic, salt, pepper, soy sauce, olive oil, white wine, paprika, rosemary, and fresh basil

First, add the following ingredients together in a large mixing bowl.

  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 1/2 tsp rosemary
  • 2 tsp garlic
  • 1 tsp paprika

Image

Mix together, and then add 1/4 cup white wine, 1/4 cup soy sauce, and 1/4 cup olive oil. Mix well.

Image

Add chicken breasts (I used 3), and make sure they are fully immersed in the marinade.

Image

Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Grill until cooked through.

Image

Garnish with fresh chopped basil. Serve and enjoy!

Image

WAIT WAIT WAIT! What is that beautiful summery saladness perched in the background? That, amigos, is a  fresh and delicious Lemon Orzo Pasta Salad that can be found at my dear friends’ Molly and Allison’s blog, A Bike Built for 2. It is a mecca of thoughts, ideas, and advice on having a healthy and whole life. It is a must read, so check it out!

Peanut Party Mix

This party mix will make you say “nom, nom, nom” as you inhale it by the handful. It’s great for large groups of people, or just to have around the house.

For this recipe, you will need:

corn chex, goldfish crackers, salt, butter, peanut butter, peanuts, M&Ms, Worcestershire sauce, garlic

In a large bowl, mix together 3 cups of corn chex and 3 cups of goldfish crackers.

Next, add in 2 cups of peanuts.

Mix together well, then set aside.

In a pan, melt 1/2 cup butter and 1/2 cup peanut butter over medium heat. Be careful not to burn it!

Add 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce, a dash of salt, and 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder.

 Pour the melted mixture over the dry ingredients.

Mix together well, until all the pieces are covered.

Spread the mixture out on a cookie sheet, and bake for 1 hour at 25o degrees, stirring occassionally.

Take out of the oven, and let it cool completely. When it is cool, add one large bag of M&Ms and mix well.

Dig in and enjoy!

Iced Sugar Cookies

Yes, I love all of the important things about the Fourth of July, such as celebrating our freedom and remembering our important history as a county.

But, I also love the shallower aspects of Independence Day, especially patriotic baked goods.

Cue Iced Sugar Cookies:

These trinkets of sugar are sure to be a crowd pleaser, and you can change up the shapes/colors for any holiday or event. (duh.)

For this recipe, you will need:

milk, powdered sugar, shortening, sugar, flour, baking soda, baking powder, egg, vanilla extract, butter, and cinnamon and food coloring (two things you forgot to photograph because you were too distracted by Will Smith in Independence Day)

Begin by creaming together 1/2 cup butter, 1/2 cup shortening, and 1 cup of sugar.

Then add one egg and one tablespoon of vanilla extract.

In a separate bowl, combine 2 1/4 cups flour, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon baking powder, and 1 tablespoon cinnamon.

Now add these dry ingredients to your first bowl.

Combine the dry and wet ingredients. You are really gonna have to use some elbow grease! I kneaded it together with my hands.

On a clean (no breakfast taco crumbs) surface, sprinkle some flour so you can roll out your dough.

Roll out your dough, and cut out your fave shapes.

Place on a cookie sheet and cook at a preheated 350 degree oven for about 12 minutes.

Allow to cool completely before icing.

Speaking of icing, this is how my mom taught me to make icing. It is a simple, rich, sweet treat, but it can be a little tricky, so pay attention! Sorry, that was bossy.

First, you need one cup of powdered sugar. Then, add just a splash (a tiny splash!) of milk.

Stir until it is combined. If it is runny, add more powdered sugar. You don’t want it to drip all over the sides of the cookies.

Then add food coloring.

Ice those cooled cookies!

Let the icing set, and enjoy!
 Side note: Some cooking adventures involve crying. Like the time I baked a blueberry pie, only to discover it was not fully cooked as Daniel made a hard right turn in his truck and the inside of the pie went sloshing everywhere. Whew, I think that was a run on sentence. Regardless, there were tears that time. While cooking these lovely cookies, I broke a cardinal rule of cooking. I plugged my electric mixer in before I put the beaters in the mixer. As I was putting the mixer together, it turned on and my finger got caught in it! Daniel came into the kitchen to find me in the fetal position, crying. No fingers were lost. No blood was shed. I did learn my lesson, though. Owie.

The Perfect Smoothie

This is not a recipe. This is not cooking. This is simply throwing stuff in a blender to create deliciousness.

I learned this recipe from a boot camp trainer. It is full of all things good, and no things bad. It is perfect for one of those days when you realize you have eaten cereal, a PB&J, pretzels, and zero fruits or veggies. Does anyone else have those days? Please say yes.

For this lovely concoction, you will need:

frozen berries, banana, fresh spinach, honey, olive oil

The frozen berries give the smoothie its awesome ice-y smoothie-ness, but sometimes they cause problems in the blender. I usually put mine in a bowl and microwave for about 10 seconds to make blending easier.

Put the berries in the blender.

Slice the banana and put it in the blender.

Throw a good handful of spinach in the blender. Yes, spinach. I promise you won’t taste it, and it is chock full of protein and goodness.

Now add a squirt of honey for sweetness.

Then, add a dash of olive oil. The boot camp trainer said it had health benefits, and I believe him. I’m trusting like that.

Now, blend all that yumminess together.

Serve and enjoy that cold healthy greatness!