I don’t eat salads very often, mostly because I get bored of them very quickly. But when a salad like this one comes along it’s a love affair. After the salad I went nuts over last year that involved roasted butternut squash it should be no surprise that this most recent culprit also includes the same fall ingredient. It is paired up with dried cranberries, pistachios, and feta, all mixed into a bed of baby kale and spinach. There’s even these things called red winter berries in there which I had never even heard of until now. I don’t know how to describe them if you are unfamiliar, but they are a bit chewy – in a good way!
Speaking of salads, remember when I told you about the Advocare 10 Day Cleanse? Well I finished! I definitely felt lighter and unbloated even after only 2 days. Now at the end I can actually see a little bit of my abs that I knew were hidden under there somewhere. I learned about this cleanse from Steph who is doing the 24 Day Challenge and hosting a Gobble Gobble Challenge as well. Her amazing results are what inspired me to try the 10-day. I’ve shared my Day 1 and Day 10 photos below (self-conscious moment).
One year ago: Homemade Funfetti Cupcakes
Salad?!? When was the last time I posted a recipe for a salad? There was a small salad served alongside the mini Greek meatloaves I shared in early May, but before that it was the roasted butternut salad in January (which blew my mind). But I keep telling myself I need make salads more often and in an effort to eat more greens I made this salad topped with taco-seasoned grilled chicken and all sorts of good taco-salad-esque things – even quesadilla strips. You can barely find the leafy greens under all of that but hey, it’s still a salad right?
Get out your grocery list because you need to make this tonight. Yes, I am ordering you to make a salad which is strangely out of character. As you may have noticed I do not eat many salads, but this is the best salad I’ve ever had. EVER. To the point where I would pick this salad over pizza. This is monumental, folks and I am already putting butternut squash back on my grocery list to make this again.
The recipe says it should serve 4, but two servings disappeared before I knew what happened. I never know roasted butternut squash could be so magical! Even the dressing was just a bonus and almost wasn’t even necessary. Seriously, why are you still reading this? Go and let your taste buds rejoice!
For some reason chicken salad is never something I really want to take on a dance with my taste buds on a regular basis. Not that I don’t like the taste, it’s just not visually appealing. Guess it makes me think of tuna salad, and if you haven’t noticed from the minimal amount of seafood on my blog I don’t really enjoy it.
But when my friend Brandi made a version of chicken salad with chopped up apples, grapes and nuts, it was both visually and texturally satisfying. I love the little bits of crunch that the apples and nuts and reminds me of a Waldorf chicken salad.
Lookie. I put guacamole in a sandwich with chicken and it’s freaking tasty! Not really surprising, since anything with avocado is a dream.
In case you don’t have any bread lying around, you’re in luck because this magically transforms into a dip – perfect with tortilla chips. Yes I ate it both ways. I may have even dipped kettle chips into my sandwich a couple of times while eating it. Don’t judge.
Leftovers didn’t really occur from this meal, it disappeared much too quickly. But avocados are full of “good fat” right?
2 cups cooked, shredded chicken (about 1/2 a rotisserie)
2 avocados, peeled and cubed
1/4 cup red onion, chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
1 cup grape tomatoes, quartered
8 slices bacon, crumbled
1/4 cup reduced fat sour cream
1/4 cup reduced fat mayonnaise
2 Tbsp fresh cilantro, minced
1 Tbsp lime juice
1 clove garlic, minced
Salt & pepper, to taste
Mixed salad greens
4 Bagel-thins (I chose the everything ones)
- In a large bowl, toss together the chicken, avocado, red onion, jalapeno, tomatoes, and bacon; set aside.
- In a small bowl, combine the sour cream, mayo, cilantro, lime juice, and garlic. Stir into the chicken mixture until well combined. Season with salt and pepper.
- Serve on a toasted bagel-thin with mixed greens (or enjoy as a dip with chips).
Source: The Spiffy Cookie original
I know it may not seem like Brent and I try to eat healthier most of the time, but we really do. We just eat smaller portions of those not-so-healthy dishes, and I take most of my baked goods into work O:-) (where my lab-mates blame me for making them fat – yet they complain when there’s nothing to snack on). But sometimes I make things which contain no pasta (shock!) and minimal cheese (gasp!). What is that green stuff anyway? You call it a sal-lad? I’ll pretend and just call it a steak sandwich without the bun.
In the end there’s no need to convince yourself to eat this, cause it’s awesome! And by marinading overnight, this was a really quick and satisfyingly tasty meal, perfect for a busy weekday.
BLUE CHEESE DRESSING:
1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese
2 Tbsp reduced-fat sour cream
2 Tbsp reduced-fat mayonnaise
1/4 cup buttermilk
1 Tbsp white-wine vinegar
1 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1 Tbsp chopped scallions
Salt & freshly ground pepper, to taste
- Whisk together blue cheese, sour cream and mayonnaise in a small bowl. Stir in buttermilk, vinegar, parsley and scallions. Season with salt and pepper.
GRILLED STEAK SALAD:
2 flank steaks
1 bottle of Italian marinade
Fresh salad greens
Salt and pepper
- Overnight, place the steaks into a large zip-lock bag and add the marinade. Seal and wait 12 hours or more.
- Preheat and clean an outdoor grill*. Place steaks on direct high heat, turning once, 4 minutes per side. Do not overcook.
- Remove from grill and let rest for 10 minutes to let the juices settle before slicing against the grain into very thin slices.
- Place the sliced meat over fresh salad greens and drizzle the blue cheese dressing over the salad. Season with salt and pepper.
*I used a George Foreman instead.
Before I get to the delicious salad I am sharing with you today, I decided to follow Lindsey’s (Gingerbread Bagel) lead and fill out the ABCs of me. You may not care, which is totally fine, but today it provided me with some entertainment.
A. Age: 25 (26 on May 4th – hint hint).
B. Bed size: Queen. But my sectional couch’s chaise suffices at times.
C. Chore you hate: Cleaning out hair from the shower drain. Compromised with Brent saying I’d clean the rest of the bathroom if he did that.
D. Dogs: I think Jack Russel’s are my favorite kind I’ve ever met. But I’m more of a cat person.
E. Essential start to your day: Breakfast. Doesn’t matter what it is, but I need something in my belly to get me going. No coffee though.
F. Favorite color: Purple. So much so that it was in my hair for several years. I used to be a little punky.
G. Gold or silver: Silver. But platinum is okay too .
H. Height: 5’5″ which is why I own so many heels. Yet I wear my low-top Converse more than anything.
I. Instruments you play: I played the Flute starting in Elementary school all the way through highschool. Tried to teach myself the bass guitar in college but haven’t touched it in years .
J. Job title: Graduate student (PhD Candidate to be technical) – AKA cheap labor.
K. Kids: I have no idea if I want kids or not. Besides, apparently I am one myself because I get carded for Rated R movies still. Hopefully I can retain my youthful look for when it will feel more like a compliment.
L. Live: Memphis, TN for the past four years, and two more to come until I graduate. I can only tolerate the heat & humidity 6 months out of the year for so much longer.
M. Mom’s name: Anna.
N. Nicknames: Air-In, Rin, Rinny, Nire.
O. Overnight hospital stays: None ::knocks on wood::
P. Pet peeve: Flaky people.
Q. Quote from a movie: ‘The goat?” – “The REMOTE!” – Muppets from Space.
R. Right or left handed: Right.
S. Siblings: Older brother (w/ sister-in-law), and older step-sister.
T. Time you wake up: Weekdays I try to be up by 6:30am to get to lab before 8am, but sometimes I fail due to gross traffic or being lazy. The weekends I’m usually up between 7:30-9am. I’ve completely lost my ability to sleep in.
U. Underwear: Yes, I am pro underwear. I have the black VIP Victoria’s Secret card to prove it.
V. Vegetables you dislike: Mushrooms, mushrooms, and more mushrooms. And cucumber. I’m actually impressed with myself right now for only listing two. I used to be such a picky eater growing up, the only vegetables I ate were potatoes, carrots and corn. Thankfully my taste buds finally woke up.
W. What makes you run late: Traffic in the morning. Gym at night.
X. X-Rays you’ve had: Teeth for routine dentist things, left shin from a bad flag football incident (but not broken thankfully just bruised from the knee down), right wrist broken from snowboarding.
Y. Yummy food you make: Is it okay that I think almost everything I make is yummy? I cannot pick and choose which are my favorites.
Z. Zoo – favorite animal: Elephants, especially when there are babies. I wish they could make mini ones as household pets.
And now for the main event! Coconut chicken had been lingering in the back of my mind for a couple months and I’m glad it finally come out with this! The coconut is perfectly crispy on the chicken and is complimented by the vinaigrette. The leftovers will make for a great lunch too. This may be the first time I finish a bag of salad greens before they spoil.
1 Tbsp apricot preserves
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp Balsamic vinegar
2 tsp Dijon mustard
- Whisk all vinaigrette ingredients; set aside.
1 cup sweetened coconut flakes
1/2 cup flour
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
10 chicken tenderloins
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
6 cups mixed baby greens
3/4 cup shredded carrots
1 large tomato, sliced
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Lightly beat the egg in a medium bowl; set aside. Mix the coconut, flour, garlic powder, salt and pepper in a shallow bowl.
- Working with one chicken breast at a time, dip the chicken in the bowl with the beaten egg and then coat with the coconut mixture. Place on the baking sheet. Once all chicken breasts are coated and on the baking sheet, evenly drizzle with the melted butter. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, flipping once halfway.
- Place baby greens on each plate. Divide carrots and tomato evenly between each plate. When chicken is ready slice on the diagonal and place on top of greens. Top with Vinagrette.
Although I do not frequent the Olive Garden often at all, I do enjoy their salad. Of course that meant when I craved it the other day I had to figure out how to make it on my own. Thanks to Copykat Recipes I was able to recreate the salad and dressing without troubleshooting (yes I was lazy). And it really does taste like their salad! I may have to use the dressing on other things too now that I’ve got my hands on it.
I served this along with dinner Saturday night with a group of friends. Huge hit! One person was even tricked into liking mayonnaise, which is part of the dressing. I feel like a mom trying to think of ways to get her kids to eat vegetables, but in this case it’s a not-so-healthy item O:-).
1/2 cup mayonnaise (I used reduced fat)
1/3 cup white vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp corn syrup
2 Tbsp Parmesan, shredded
2 Tbsp Romano, shredded
1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp Parsley
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1/2 Tbsp sugar (optional)
- Place all ingredients in a blender and pulse until combined. Add sugar to taste (I used 1/2 Tbsp). Place in airtight container in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
1-12 oz bag American blend salad
4-5 red onion slices
4-5 black olives, sliced (I don’t like olives so I opted out)
2-4 pepperoncini or banana peppers
1/2 cup croutons
Small tomato, chopped
Fresh shredded Parmesan, for topping
- Place all ingredients in a salad bowl and toss. Top with Parmesan and serve with dressing.