I have been dying to find time to get in the kitchen and do some baking. Last Sunday, the weather was so cool and I had several hours of free time and decided to spend the entire afternoon in my sparkling clean kitchen baking and making a variety of delicious delights! I started out making some Cake Batter Ice Cream, which unfortunately I failed to photograph finished before it was quickly gobbled up (but I promise I'll be making it again very soon and will share photos and the recipe then). It was absolutely heavenly--so creamy and rich!
After I made the ice cream, I decided to bake a loaf of Country Crust Bread, which I adore! I always crave freshly baked bread and rarely buy bread from the grocery store. So, when I want bread, I bake it! I decided I wanted to make Chicken Salad Sandwiches for my lunches this week, so I needed bread. I blogged about the Country Crust Bread previously, so you can find the recipe here. The bread is divine! I love the texture and the flavor. I decided to cut the recipe in half and only make one loaf for now. My hubby has been on a bit of a diet so I figured one loaf would last several days, and I didn't want to risk the second loaf going stale. I'll probably end up baking another loaf as soon as we finish this one, because it is that good. Seriously folks, try this bread! Make Chicken Salad Sandwiches, like I did, or some heavenly BLT's. You won't be sorry.
After I had my bread dough finished and was waiting on it to rise for 1 hour, I whipped up a triple batch of my favorite granola (I promise to share the recipe soon). This is the third time I have made this recipe and I can't get enough of it. It is perfect for a quick, simple, yet filling breakfast and it is so easy to throw together. I haven't bought cereal from the store in months.
Cake Batter Ice Cream, Country Crust Bread, and Homemade Granola made for one fantastic, relaxing day in the kitchen. I love when I am baking for myself, taking my time, enjoying the sights, sounds, textures and smells of a kitchen full of warmth and love. There is nothing like the smell of freshly baked bread or the scent of cinnamon and maple syrup escaping from an oven filled with homemade granola. I am happiest when I am at work in the kitchen.
Don't you just love the crumb of homemade bread? There has been a no-knead craze sweeping the nation as of late, and while I certainly see the benefits and convenience of no-knead recipes, I just can't hop on the bandwagon enthusiastically. I certainly LOVE the flavor of the no-knead Rosemary and Olive Oil Bread I blogged about over a year ago, and I did buy a copy of Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, but when I make this bread, I am speechless. Besides, I personally don't mind kneading bread. I like getting my hands dirty and really working at something. Bread baking is one of the most fulfilling pastimes.
So, enjoy a relaxed weekend afternoon. Bake yourself a loaf or two of Country Crust Bread, and then make yourself a big batch of chicken salad to enjoy for days to come. Heck, make some and gather your dearest friends and go on a picnic!
Killer Chicken Salad Sandwiches
makes 5-6 sandwiches
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 Granny Smith apple
half of a medium white onion
2 ribs of celery
1/4 cup pecans, coarsely chopped
3/4-1 cup low fat mayonnaise
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Pound 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts to an even thickness. Season chicken breasts with salt and pepper. Place chicken breasts in a 9x13 glass baking dish lightly oiled with 1-2 tablespoons olive oil; turn chicken to coat with oil. Bake uncovered 25-30 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through.
3. Cook chicken breasts in a hot cast iron grill pan until grill marks appear. (I did this to add some extra flavor to the chicken breasts, but this step is entirely optional. Alternatively, you could choose to skip the baking and grill your chicken breasts entirely.)
4. While chicken is cooling, prepare your other ingredients. Peel and core 1 Granny Smith apple. Chop into coarse chunks. Peel and chop half of a medium white onion. Chop 2 ribs of celery. Coarsely chop 1/4 cup pecans. Once your chicken has cooled enough to be handled, coarsely chop the meat. Add all prepared ingredients to a large bowl. Add 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper, more or less to taste. Add 3/4 cup to 1 cup low fat mayonnaise and stir to fully combine ingredients. Serve immediately on homemade bread, or store in an air tight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.
*You can chop the ingredients as coarsely or finely as you prefer. I like to cut the chicken and Granny Smith apple fairly coarsely (1/2 inch chunks) while I chop the onion, celery and pecans more finely (1/4 inch chunks).
I came up with this recipe based on portions found in various other recipes, but with the ingredients I preferred. This chicken salad was amazing! I really loved the balance of flavors and textures between the meaty chicken, tart Granny Smith apples, crunchy onion and celery and nutty pecans. This is by far my favorite chicken salad I have ever had. If you try this out, let me know what you think!