Modified Sonoma Chicken Salad

Here’s the original recipe

I was craving this salad enough to go out and get pecans today. I also grabbed a bottle of poppyseed dressing to take a shortcut in preparation.

Modified Sonoma Chicken Salad

  • 1/2 to 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 1/2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup poppyseed dressing
  • salt & freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 lbs chicken breasts, cooked and diced
  • 3/4 cup pecan pieces
  • 1/2 cup whole cranberry sauce*

In a bowl, combine mayonnaise, vinegar, poppyseed dressing, salt and pepper. Refrigerate until ready to dress the salad. This can be prepared up to 2 days ahead. When ready to serve, toss dressing with chicken, pecans, cranberry sauce.

Serve on crusty rolls or I really like them on romaine lettuce leaves.

*I have cranberries in the freezer as a staple, so I made my own whole cranberry sauce.

Also, I never post photos of this because I always use fresh cranberries and unlike dried cranberries, it turns the entire salad pinkish.

Holiday Gifts: Spicy-Sweet Pecans

I received this as an early Christmas gift. Yum. They are addictive. The rosemary is the surprise ingredient that takes it up a notch. This will make your gift boxes and bags really stand out.

Friends Mary and BJ included the recipe.  Here you go:

Mary and BJ’s Spicy-Sweet Pecans

  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tsp finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp finely crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 large egg white
  • 4 cups pecan halves

cooking spray, wax paper, bowls, baking sheet, parchment paper Continue reading

Dried Fruit Breakfast Bars

DSC_1999(1600x1200)Mrs J is always on the lookout for these cereal bar types of recipes and tried out this one that uses dried fruit. I got a notion some time ago that we needed some dried cranberries so I looked on Amazon and found a 5 pound box of them that looked fairly priced, then saw blueberries and cherries from the same source so I bought a box of each, thinking they would keep well enough.  They do keep but we are happy to find recipes that help us use them up.DSC_2001(1600x1200)We even found some of the whole wheat pastry flour the recipe called for at the local Kroger store.  Mrs J tells me that she used 1 cup each of the blueberries and cherries, and 1-1/4 cup of the cranberries, and used pecans in the crust.  She substitutes Splenda for sugar throughout.DSC_1998(1600x1200)I worried that we would mess up the bars getting them out of the pan but they came out of it quite readily when inverted onto a board, note that you should let them cool down before you try this.

Dinner Menu: Chicken Primavera and Fruity Carrot Cake

Carrot Cake1

I love a quick and easy meal that looks and tastes like it took much longer. This menu sure qualifies. Lots of fresh vegetables and if you want to really amp up the flavor, use a flavored linguine, either from a local source (farmer’s markets usually have them) or the gourmet section of the market. A lemon pepper pasta is really good with this. For the vegetables, I’d go with whatever you favor and is fresh, think of the list below as a suggestion. Maybe add mushrooms, artichoke hearts, fresh spring peas.

The carrot cake is not what you’d expect, it is a fruity, light confection with a definite spring touch.  A favorite when I’m taking birthday cake requests.

Meanwhile, on the board tonight:

  1. Chicken Primavera
  2. Carrot Cake

Chicken Primavera

  • 3 boneless chicken breasts, cubed in large pieces
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • 1 to 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 8 oz sliced carrots
  • 8 oz broccoli crowns
  • 1 small yellow summer squash, sliced
  • 2 tsp basil, crushed or ¼ cup fresh basil leaves
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • 2 Roma tomatoes, quartered
  • ¾ cup chicken broth or equivalent
  • ¼ cup white wine
  • 2 oz grated parmesan
  • 9 oz fresh linguine

skillet, large saucepan

Sprinkle salt & pepper over chicken pieces. Heat oil in skillet, add chicken and saute for 5 minutes over medium-high heat, until golden on all sides. Add carrots, broccoli and squash, and stir for 2 minutes. Add basil, garlic, tomatoes. Stir additional 2 minutes. Remove mixture to bowl. Add chicken broth and wine to skillet, deglaze drippings, bring to a boil, reduce heat, add chicken mixture, toss and cover. Reduce heat to low and let simmer while pasta cooks. Bring water to boil in saucepan and cook pasta according to package directions. Drain very well and toss with chicken mixture. Sprinkle with parmesan and serve.

Carrot Cake

  • 1 cup grated carrots
  • 1 cup unbleached flour
  • 2/3 cup white sugar
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 8 ounce can crushed pineapple
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans

Frosting:

  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar*
  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • 3 tbsp butter, melted
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans

2 bowls, 8×8 baking dish, well greased

Preheat oven to 350°

In a large bowl, combine grated carrots, flour, white sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Stir in egg, oil, vanilla, pineapple and pecans. Spoon batter into prepared pan.

Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Allow to cool.

Frosting: In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients, except nuts. Beat until smooth. Spread on cooled cake and garnish with pecans.

* I use half of the sugar because I don’t like it quite that sweet.

Shopping List:

  • 3 boneless chicken breasts
  • 8 oz sliced carrots
  • 8 oz broccoli crowns
  • 1 small yellow summer squash, sliced
  • 2 Roma tomatoes, quartered
  • ¾ cup chicken broth or equivalent
  • ¼ cup white wine
  • 2 oz grated parmesan
  • 9 oz fresh linguine
  • 1 cup grated carrots
  • 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 8 ounce can crushed pineapple
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 ¼ cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans

Also: salt, pepper, olive oil, vanilla, butter, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, garlic, basil,

Graham Cracker Toffee Bars

DSC_1566 (1600x1060)Josie, a commenter at Balloon Juice, put this recipe up in an open thread:

Graham Cracker Toffee

Ingredients
16 graham cracker sheets
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup butter
1 cup chopped pecans
6 oz. milk or semi sweet chocolate chips

Instructions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Line cookie sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray.
Cover prepared cookie sheet with whole graham cracker sheets.
In saucepan, bring brown sugar and butter to a boil over medium heat. Boil for four minutes stirring constantly. Pour over graham crackers and bake for 8 minutes at 350 degrees F.
After baking, Immediately sprinkle chocolate chips over the top of graham cracker and let sit for about two minutes. Spread melted chocolate with a knife. Sprinkle nuts over the top.

I made the recipe in 2 quarter size sheet pans because they were new and I really wanted to use them for something, anything!DSC_1571 (1600x1060)We used Kroger’s house brand crackers and I’m thinking they were sized differently than the ones Josie wrote the recipe for, but cover the bottom with crackers and you’ll be on the right track.  I used way more chocolate chips than the recipe called for, at least twice as many or more, and I’m thinking that it would be better to melt the chocolate separately and then pour it over the toffee after it comes out of the oven, but these came out OK.  I did put the trays with the chips back into the hot oven to help the melting.

 

Breakfast Treat: Sour Cream Coffee Cake with Pecans

Photo from Martha Stewart

Photo from Martha Stewart

When I’m expecting company for the holidays, I usually indulge in baking sweet treats that can be enjoyed with coffee for breakfast, at people’s leisure. I love a good coffee cake. Add pecans and I’m sold.

Sour Cream Coffee Cake with Pecans

Cake:

  • 1 1/2 sticks butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 tsps vanilla
  • 1 1/4 cups sour cream
  • 2 1/2 cups unbleached flour
  • 2 tsps baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Streusel:

  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cup unbleached flour
  • 1 1/2 tsps ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsps cold butter, cut into pieces
  • 1 ½ cup whole pecans

Glaze:

  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tbsps orange juice

4 mixing bowls

Bundt pan, greased and floured

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

With a mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light. Add the eggs one at a time, then add the vanilla and sour cream. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. With the mixer on low, add the flour mixture to the batter until just combined. Using a spatula, scrape the sides and bottom to make sure the mixture if fully combined.

For the streusel, crumble the brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, salt, and butter in a bowl (I use a fork or pastry cutter). Gently mix in pecans.

Spoon half the batter into the pan and spread it out with a knife. Sprinkle with 1/2 of the streusel. Spoon the rest of the batter in the pan, spread it out, and scatter the remaining streusel on top. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean.

Let cool on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes. Remove cake from the pan and place on a serving plate. Whisk the powdered sugar and orange juice together, adding a more OJ if necessary, to make the glaze runny. Drizzle as much as you like over the cake with a fork or spoon.

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Bread Machine Banana Bread

DSC_0923 (1600x1060)Mrs J and I had shopping to do today and as we stirred about in preparation to leave I noticed two over ripe bananas.  I’ve never used our bread machine for banana bread but thought it would be nice to return to a great smelling house.  I found a recipe geared towards our machine but it should adapt easily to other models.  We subbed pecans for the walnuts in the recipe and added raisins and chocolate chips.  Worked great!