Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Chicken 201 - Salads

I did not get a chance to make a blog post last night, and for this I am very sorry but I was stuck in @#$%^^&*!! traffic due to the torrential downpours yesterday.  It took me over an hour to get home and get my daughter, and I live 20 minutes away from my workplace.

And now, today, it’s 25 degrees again. For extra added fun, it snowed last night. Yeah, after the day before was 75 degrees. Welcome to NJ in the springtime. Not.

On to the chicken blog – chicken breast is ideal to use in salads. I am not a fan of buying the prepackaged, precooked breast strips because they are overpriced and contain far too much sodium. I  stock up on raw boneless breasts by shopping the sales circulars and cooking them myself– often they have ½ price sales and I stock up, since freezing is not a problem.... because....

You can keep frozen chicken breasts for up to 9 months (!) as long as you keep your freezer at 0 degrees or below. Look at us, budget friendly AND cooking chicken!

Since I didn't blog last night, I’m including two chicken salad recipes that are fast and easy and don’t involve a lot of prep. 

Note when you’re cooking the breasts to use in salads:
Use boneless breasts, pound them down to about ½” thickness, and spray lightly on both sides with cooking spray. Bake them on a cookie sheet for 30 minutes at 400 degrees, and set aside to cool for about 15 minutes, then shred or dice or slice and toss them into the salad of your choice.

Here are the recipes:

Honey Mustard Chicken Salad
12 ounce broiled or baked chicken breasts
3 large celery stalks
1 small onion
1 1/3 tbsp lite mayonnaise
4 ½ tsp honey mustard **
9 cups mixed salad greens
6 tbsp Balsamic vinegar and olive oil dressing ***

**Honey mustard:  2 ¼ tsp honey plus 2 ¼ tsp mustard, and whisk – if you want more, increase the quantities on both items in equal parts and go for it – I don’t like a lot of it, especially with the balsamic but it’s your call.

***Dressing: 3 tbsp Balsamic vinegar and 3 tbsp olive oil and whisk

Shred chicken, dice celery and onion and combine with mayo in small bowl.  Toss the salad greens with the dressing and serve with chicken salad on top.

Quick and Easy Chicken and Italian Dressing salad
This one is my attempt to recreate a salad I always used to get at our favorite restaurant when dining out. It is very, good if I do say so myself J
12 ounces broiled or baked chicken breasts
1 packet Good Season’s Italian Dressing mix, fully prepared with oil and vinegar
9 cups mixed salad greens of your choice
½ red onion, sliced and quartered
2 hard boiled eggs, crumbled*
1 cup shredded light cheese of your choice
Roasted shell-less pumpkin seeds or alfalfa, or even some chopped pecans
4 slices cooked turkey bacon crumbles

Pound the chicken breasts to ½” thickness and put them in a Tupperware container. Marinate them in the entire dressing mixture for at least 1 hour in the refrigerator. Pull them out and you can either bake them at 400 degrees for 30 minutes, or grill them if you want that nice charcoal flavor.

Cool and slice into strips. Toss the salad with the cheese, the seeds, red onion and bacon bits and top with chicken and hard boiled egg.

If you have never hard boiled an egg before, here is my tried and true method.

Put the eggs in a pot and just cover with COLD water. Put the pan over medium heat and bring it to a rolling boil. Turn OFF the heat and cover with a lid and let sit for 10 minutes. Voila!– hard boiled eggs.

Enjoy the salads, and tomorrow I will post some recipes that I use all the time at home with shredded chicken as the main event.

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