Happy Monday everyone, I hope you had a lovely weekend!
For once the weather totally cooperated around here, setting the perfect stage for a good old fashioned baby shower and Father’s Day BBQ. Saturday morning my friends and family assembled from near and far to help celebrate the little man’s arrival in just 6 weeks. Umm, can you say brunette power? BaHA!
I was so happy that Ben’s Mom and Dad were able to come to town to join the fun, and especially thankful for two of my besties for putting on such a wonderful shower. It was so great to catch up with all my girls.
These two were the matrons of honor at Ben’s and my wedding, so it was fitting that they’d throw us a baby shower. You know you’re close when you can pick and poke at each other for no apparent reason!
Most of the girls at the shower have little ones of their own, so it was awesome to stock up on Mom-approved essentials. Can’t deny the squealing power of adorable baby clothes though.
Ben was also thrilled with the thoughtful gifts, though he complained the onesies came 10 sizes too small. And there was’t enough beer. What do you do?
Sunday we all gathered at my parent’s house to celebrate this guy…Dad!
My niece and nephew were in rare form. Cute overload all day long.
My brother, father of said niece and nephew, grilled us up a feast for lunch.
Let’s see, what do we have here…grilled brats, roasted asparagus, Grandpa’s Pasta Salad, and a fresh garden salad from my sister-in-law’s epic garden.
Angel Food Cake + berries and whipped cream for dessert. Say it with me…summahtime…
After lunch we all sat under the sun, some of us playing bags while others lounged. The women killed it!
Happy Father’s Day to my one and only, super-crazy-special Dad, Father-in-Law…
and favorite Dad to be! (Forgot to snap a photo of his gift – got him some awesome Glen Cairn whiskey glasses that we’d found in Charleston. Better enjoy ’em while he can! J/k. Kind of. ;) )
Although it doesn’t feel like a Monday, it’s back to reality which involves whipping up yummy dishes like Maple-Pecan Crusted Chicken Salad for a satisfying and fresh meal. I am obsessed with the crust on this chicken!
Last week I saw a recipe for pecan-crusted salmon, which reminded me of my favorite pecan-crusted chicken salad that I used to order at TGI Fridays back in the day…when I wasn’t ordering kid’s chicken fingers with a cup of French Onion Soup, that is. What? They’re delicious!
Anyway, in my version, lean chicken breasts are brushed with a mixture of real maple syrup and dijon mustard then smothered in toasted pecans and breadcrumbs before being quickly roasted. After cooling slightly, the chicken is sliced then served over a bed of lettuce with lots of crunchy and sweet toppings including dried cranberries, chopped apples, crumbled feta, and sliced green onions.
I. Heart. This. Salad! Sort of fall feeling, but a total winner nonetheless.
Start with the pecans, which form the base of the maple-pecan crusted chicken. Toasted nuts taste especially delicious on breaded chicken or fish, as the flavor really pops and they get even more crispy when cooked, so I toasted 1/2 cup pecan pieces in the oven for 5 minutes at 350 degrees then cooled completely. Easy.
Pop the cooled pecans into a food processor then process until fine. NOT until the pecans start to turn into pecan butter, but just until they’re like fine crumbs. If you don’t have a food processor, chop the pecans up as small as you can. The smaller the pecans the better they’ll stick to the chicken!
Pour the pecan crumbs into a shallow dish then add 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper then mix to combine and set aside.
Next stir together 3 Tablespoons real maple syrup (not pancake syrup) and 1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard in a small dish.
Brush 1lb chicken breasts with the maple-dijon mixture then dunk into the pecan crumbs, making sure everything’s covered well.
Place the chicken onto a nonstick sprayed cooling rack set atop a baking sheet then bake for 18-20 minutes at 400 degrees.
Let the chicken cool slightly then slice and place over a bed of mixed greens. Add crumbled feta cheese, dried cranberries, chopped apple pieces, and sliced green onions, then devour!
Maple-Pecan Crusted Chicken Salad
- 1/2 cup pecan pieces
- 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 1 lb chicken breasts
- 3 Tablespoons real maple syrup
- 1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 9 oz mixed greens
- 2 red apples chopped
- 1/3 cup dried cranberries
- 1/3 cup feta cheese crumbles or bleu cheese crumbles
- 2 green onions chopped
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees then spread pecans out on a baking sheet. Bake for 5 minutes or until pecans are toasted and fragrant, shaking pan halfway through. Remove to a plate to cool completely then place pecan pieces into a food processor and process until they resemble fine crumbs. Pour into a shallow dish then add panko bread crumbs, salt, and pepper and mix together.
- Stir together maple syrup and Dijon mustard in a small dish then brush chicken breasts with the mixture and dunk into pecan/panko mixture, covering both sides well. Place onto a nonstick sprayed cooling rack set atop a baking sheet then spray tops with extra virgin olive oil or nonstick spray. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through. Cool slightly then slice.
- Divide lettuce between plates then top with apples, cranberries, feta cheese, green onions, and maple-pecan crusted chicken.
Like I said – OBSESSED with this chicken! The pecan coating gets nice and crispy on the outside, while the chicken stays juicy and tender on the inside. That sweet maple and tangy dijon flavor totally sings too. I could have eaten the whole pound of chicken!
I recommend dressing this salad with either a balsamic vinaigrette or honey-mustard vinaigrette. Annie’s makes both, which I really like. Hope you all enjoy!