Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Killer Chicken Salad Sandwiches

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!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Meatless Chili

I made a pot of meatless chili a few days ago. I decided to serve it on a bed of brown rice to help it last longer. My hubby has been on a diet lately, and since I stay pretty busy in the studio most of the time, I haven't been wanting to cook every night. I have been turning towards various soup recipes that are healthy and filling to cover my meals over a week's time.

This chili was a long time coming. I first tried to make chili almost a week ago, and after sauteing my onion and throwing in my ground beef, I realized something was off. Though I had put it in the freezer only a day after the "sell by date," my ground beef had gone bad. And boy was the smell of it awful! I had three candles lit in my kitchen the rest of the evening. Then just a couple days ago I decided I was going to try chili again, this time meatless as I had no more meat in the house and didn't feel like buying any. I was trying to make a healthy chili and figured it was better that I skipped the meat anyway.

I didn't miss the meat any, surprisingly! I loved the complex flavors and textures of the ingredients I did use. This chili was full of dark red kidney beans, black beans, corn and diced tomatoes. It was delicious! When you're looking for a healthy alternative to your traditional chili, try this one out.

Meatless Chili

serves 6-8, or more if served with rice

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large white onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 1/2 tablespoons chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 14 oz. can of Swanson reduced sodium beef broth (you could substitute vegetable or chicken broth)
1 tablespoon hot sauce
2 teaspoons Worchestershire sauce
1 packet of taco seasoning (I used McCormick)
1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
1 can diced tomatoes with green chilies
1 15oz. can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 15oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups frozen sweet corn kernels

In a large pot or dutch oven over medium-high heat, warm two tablespoons olive oil. Once oil is hot, add in onion and saute 5 minutes, or until translucent. Add in minced garlic and cook for 1 minute more, until garlic is fragrant. Add salt, pepper, chili powder and cumin and cook, stirring for 1 minute.

Add the broth to the pot and stir to combine ingredients. Next add hot sauce, Worchestershire sauce and taco seasoning. Once combined, add your tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, beans and corn. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium/medium-low and cook for 30 minutes until flavors have blended and ingredients are warmed through.

Serve atop a bed of brown rice with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkling of shredded cheddar cheese. Enjoy!

Alternatively, I'm sure you could throw everything in a crock pot, stir, and cook on low for 4-6 hours or on high for 8-10 hours.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Fairy Tales Come True Necklace

This is absolutely my favorite design I have created to date. This necklace is one of a kind and can be worn two ways. The design features a vintage 12k gold-filled Catamore carved rose brooch, a 12 carat micro-faceted pink chalcedony pear briolette, and freshwater pearls. The findings are all 14k gold-filled.

This is my favorite option for how the necklace can be worn, with the brooch placed vertically going up the necklace chain. I love the soft colors and feminine shapes of the design.

This is the second option for wearing the necklace, with the brooch turned horizontally. Also gorgeous!

I have the necklace displayed on my dress form in my studio and every time I pass it, I stop and stare. I want so badly to keep the necklace for myself, but the hubby would never allow that. And besides, I don't have a dress to wear that would do the necklace justice.

Look at the gorgeous facets of the pink chalcedony. They bestill my heart. I wish I had created something like this for myself for my wedding. It is insanely feminine and romantic.

I am planning on taking this design with me when I visit a fantastic local boutique full of gorgeous designer dresses. Every time I drive by said boutique, my heart skips a beat as I view all the lovely frocks in their pretty, pretty window display. It is a dream of mine to have some of my designs carried there.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Getting Organized

The past several days I have been working hard getting my items photographed and edited. I have been entering every item into an Excel file where I can keep track of the item name, number, and price. This has been a great jump into being much more organized with my business. It feels like such a relief to get this done. I've also been adding items to my Etsy shop. I have quite a few dangle earrings listed now and will be adding necklaces, bracelets, rings, hair pins and brooches in the next few days. I hope to have my entire current stock listed by the end of the week.
Unfortunately one of the boutiques in Lexington where I have selling my jewelry is closing. I had been doing quite well there with sales and no longer being able to sell there finally pushed me to get myself together and get my Etsy shop really going. I have been ignoring my shop for the most part this past year as I preferred to focus on local boutique sales and craft fairs. However, I'd really like to see where my business can take me and having a substantial online presence is necessary.

At show I always have so many customers ask me if I have an online shop. I always answered yes but also had to explain that it was rather empty and wasn't representative of the full range of my line.
By the end of the week I should be able to proud say that, yes I have an online shop and it is full of tons of gorgeous pieces! I look forward to seeing where things will lead from here.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Change is Hard

I have been watching She + Him videos nonstop lately while in the studio. This is one of my current favorites. Zooey Deschanel's voice is heavenly live.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Festival Update

The Lexington Fourth of July Festival went well, not super great, but well. I had very high expectations from the event as I had heard that 150,000 visitors were expected. The day started out great as the weather was lovely, but by 2pm the rain had rolled in and by 4 everyone had left due to pouring rain and we decided to pack up early and leave. No point in staying out in the cold rain, ruining my display when there was no one around to buy anything anyway. There was also a parade that lasted an incredible 1.5 hours during which time no one moved from the street to shop. Considering the 3+ hours that were lost due to the parade and weather, it wasn't an awful day. I made more than enough to make the day worthwhile, however, I do not think I will sign up for the event again next year. I was located in Triangle Park with other juried artists (everyone else was located up and down various adjacent streets) and, from what others said, there were significantly fewer juried artists than previous years. I counted seven total artists in Triangle Park (five of which were selling jewelry), which was quite a low number. Usually the park is full of venders. There were actually spots of both sides of me reserved for venders who never showed up. I was disappointed to see that many of the non-juried tents were "information" booths and folks reselling various junk. Overall the festival was a big disappointment. I was however thankful as I was set up for the day more than an hour before the festival offically began. I used that time to take plenty of booth photos. I also wandered through the entire festival and bought some unbelievably delicious Kentucky Cream Candy.

Various photos of my display:

I spent the evening with the hubby. We met for the first time/had our first date on the Fourth of July two years ago. We had dinner at Logan's Roadhouse, where he had taken me for lunch on that day before. We had a super sweet, low key evening together.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

New Designs for the Fourth of July Festival

I have been incredibly busy preparing for the Lexington Fourth of July Festival, which I mentioned in my last post. I am super excited about the event. I have a prime spot in Triangle park, under beautiful trees and next to a relaxing fountain. I will be at the heart of the festival. I am expecting a busy day and have been creating lots of new designs for the event.

One of my favorite new pieces is a gorgeous bracelet of vintage lucite beads in dreamy, creamy matte shades of cream, baby pink and brown. I have carefully wire wrapped each of the beads using sterling silver and finished the piece with a sweet sterling silver heart shaped clasp, a length of dazzling extender chain decorated simply with a single brown freshwater pearl. I am in love.

I have two of these pieces available and I really wish I could keep one for myself. I just love vintage lucite beads, especially those with a matte finish. The beads used in this designs are some of my favorite.

I have also been working with more lucite to create several new color combinations of my Vase Earrings. I look forward to debuting all the new designs this Saturday.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Share Buttons