Mandy's Marvelous Meals

Recipes, tips, tricks, and my journey into cooking fabulous food!

Pecan Crusted Chicken Salad

Have I mentioned recently how hot it’s been?! Not that I am complaining…I LOVE when it is hot. I’ll take 90s/100s any day. However as much as I love it, the heat does take its toll on me including not wanting to cook anything major or eat anything heavy. I found this recipe for Pecan Crusted Chicken Salad in Cuisine at Home Magazine and knew it would be perfect for dinner on a hot summer night.  I make salad a lot for myself and occasionally for both Hubby and me, but sometimes grilled chicken on a bed of lettuce gets to be a little bit boring. This version with a pecan crusted chicken was a very nice change of pace. It was quick and easy to make and the dressing was delicious!

For the dressing, I highly recommend using “raw honey”. It is a little bit more pricey than regular honey, but it tastes so much better and is better for you. You can usually find it at specialty stores or in the “organic/natural” section of most large chain grocery stores. You will get the most health benefits from it if you can buy it local from a farm. The reason being is that raw honey has pollen in it and every region has different types of pollen. Eating local raw honey will help build up your immunity to these types of pollen. (For more information read this article). It also has a lot of other benefits, so check it out!  If you can’t find raw honey or just want to use the regular kind, that’s cool…but you are definitely missing out! 😉  This recipe makes 4 “entrée” size salads, but can easily be changed to make whatever size you like.

Hmmmm…seems like I have a lot to say about “salad” this week!!!

Pecan-Crusted Chicken Salad

(Recipe modified from “Cuisine at Home” Magazine)

Honey Mustard Dressing

¼ cup raw honey

3 tbsp. Dijon mustard

3 tbsp. olive oil

1 tbsp. minced shallots

1 tbsp. cider vinegar

Juice of ½ lemon

Salt & Pepper, to taste

Pecan Crusted Chicken

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pounded to ½” thick

¾ cup finely chopped pecans

½ tsp. dried oregano

½ tsp. dried thyme

½ tsp. paprika

¼ tsp. cayenne pepper

1 egg, beaten

2 tsp. cornstarch

Juice of ½ lemon

1 cup panko-style bread crumbs

1 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley

1 tsp. salt

¼ tsp. black pepper

Zest of 1 lemon


3 cups romaine lettuce (or mixed greens)

½ cup thinly sliced red onion

1 large carrot, thinly sliced or shredded

4 oz. crumbled gorgonzola cheese

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Spray a glass baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. Whisk the egg, cornstarch and lemon juice in a shallow dish.
  3. In another shallow dish, combine the breadcrumbs, parsley, salt, pepper & lemon zest. Add the pecans, oregano, thyme, paprika,  and cayenne.
  4. Dredge the chicken in the egg mixture then the breadcrumb mixture and place in the prepared baking dish.
  5. Bake in the preheated oven for 10-15 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F.
  6. Meanwhile, make the dressing by combining the honey, Dijon, olive oil, shallots, vinegar, lemon juice, salt, and pepper in a bowl for the dressing until blended.
  7. Toss the lettuce, onions, carrot and cheese in a large bowl. Divide salad among four plates.
  8. Slice the chicken and place on top of the lettuce. Sprinkle any toasted crumbs left in the baking dish on top of the salads.
  9. Serve with dressing on the side.
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A Healthy Side Dish…Disguised as a Bad Guy!

So I have a confession to make….I have been eating total crap (and lots of it too) for the past few weeks! It’s weird…because as much as I love my junk food, my body is totally crying out for some healthier options like more fruits and veggies and less processed CRAP!  Blame it on the heat, stress at work, boredom, whatever…but I am not heading down a good path. However, slowly but surely I’ve been getting back in the swing of things…but of course I can’t let my junk food go to waste so I’ve still been eating it in between some of the healthier stuff. 😉  I promise next week I’ll be back on track!

One way that I’ve been trying to go the “healthier” route is that I’ve been sneaking in a lot of greek yogurt into our meals.  I haven’t told Hubby (although once he reads this he’ll know!) but it’s amazing how well it substitutes into everything. I’ve used it in pasta dishes, baking, salad dressings, etc. Let’s face it…by itself it’s disgusting, so it took me some time to try it as a substitute…but now that I have I’m totally hooked.

So here is a quick side dish that I made with pulled pork sandwiches. One serving (about 1/2 cup) is only 1 Weight Watchers Points Plus! It tastes great and all I did was substitute the mayo for greek yogurt and you would never ever know! Hubby didn’t! 😉 Also, I was feeling lazy so I bought a bag of Dole shredded red cabbage which is about 3 cups. It saved a lot of time from having to cut up an actual head of cabbage!

So go make this for your next barbecue and you can feel good knowing you served something healthier than traditional coleslaw!

Slimmed Down Red Cabbage Cole Slaw

(Makes 6 servings; 1 serving = 1/2 cup = 1 WWPP)

3 cups shredded red cabbage

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped

1 tbsp. dijon mustard

2 tbsp. cider vinegar

2 tbsp. sugar

1/2 cup non-fat greek yogurt

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

1/2 tsp. celery salt

  1. In a medium size bowl, whisk together all the ingredients except for the cabbage, until well combined.
  2. Stir in the cabbage and allow to sit in the refrigerator for an hour or so before serving.
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Homemade Ranch Dressing

I have definitely been slacking in the blogging department, but not the cooking department! I’ve finally got a moment to post some of the yummy food I’ve been creating.  I have just been enjoying this hot summer weather spending all my free time in the pool! AHHHHHH!

So without further ado, here is a good summer recipe that can be used for not only salad dressing, but lots of other foods such as pasta salad, pizza, veggie dip, etc.

I have to say that ever since the first time I made my own homemade salad dressing I loathe the store bought kind. So today’s post is for Homemade Ranch Dressing, which is sure to please!  I decided to make chicken ranch pizza on the grill and used the ranch dressing for the “sauce” of the pizza. Since I was using this for a “sauce” as opposed to a dressing, I made it a bit thicker than normal, so if you are using it for something besides a dressing and you need it to be thicker just add less buttermilk. It’s best to make this at least an hour in advance for the flavors to combine and become prominent. The dressing should last about 3 days. This recipe makes a fairly small batch so if you need a lot you should probably double the recipe. Remember to taste the dressing and adjust the seasonings to your preference. If you are feeling really adventurous fry up a few pieces of bacon, crumble and add to the dressing…voila…bacon ranch dressing! 😉

Homemade Ranch Dressing

½ cup mayonnaise

¼ cup buttermilk (more to thin it out & less to make it thicker)

1 tbsp. white vinegar

¼ tsp. onion powder

1 clove garlic, crushed

¼ tsp. salt

Freshly crushed black pepper, to taste

½ tbsp. freeze dried chives

1 tbsp. dried parsley

Place all ingredients in a medium bowl except for the buttermilk. Whisk until just combined. Add the buttermilk 1 tbsp. at a time until you reach the desired consistency, whisking thoroughly. Refrigerate for at least an hour or overnight. Dressing should keep for about 3 days.


To Grill or Not to Grill? At Least We’ll Still Have Our Salad!

To grill or not to grill?? That is the question…

The sun has been fighting to come out most of the day and has finally succeeded! Gloomy, rainy weather is finally over…or is it? I really want to make dinner on the grill, but there is now a chance of thunderstorms! I just can’t win…and after a week of crappy weather I’m ready for it to end!

No matter, whatever delicious creation I come up with it will be accompanied by Caesar Salad. Yesterday’s post was for my Slimmed Down version of caesar dressing, so today I thought I’d share the original version for those of you who are not so concerned about calories. Like most things I make, I have to make two versions….regular and slimmed down. Regular for Hubby (who can eat anything he wants and still maintain a slim physique) and Slimmed Down for me, of course. I do try to trick him once in a while, but he can usually tell right away that something is just not quite the same as he is used to. I ran out of the regular caesar dressing one night so I gave him mine and he said it was good but he didn’t like how thin it was. Go figure!

This recipe is not exactly a traditional caesar recipe, as it doesn’t have egg or anchovies, like authentic caesar dressing. Here comes one of my weird quirks…I know I’ve had “authentic” caesar dressing a few times at a few higher end restaurants and thought it was delish! However, since I am the one making it….I would not be able to eat it knowing that there is raw egg and anchovie substance in it! Ick!! But not to worry…this recipe tastes just as great!!!

When you make this, I’d recommend using all fresh ingredients (i.e. fresh lemons, oranges, garlic, and parmesan cheese). However, if you’re in  a hurry or don’t have that stuff on hand it tastes good with the bottled version (lemon juice, orange juice, grated parmesan) of all of those things….I’ve made it both ways when I didn’t have the stuff on hand and although the fresh version was better, the other way was really good too.

Caesar Salad Dressing

3 tbsp. lemon juice

1 tbsp. orange juice

4 cloves garlic

1 tbsp. dijon mustard

1 tbsp. mayonnaise

1 tbsp. red wine vinegar

1/4 tsp. salt or to taste

1/8 tsp. freshly ground black pepper, or to taste

1/2 cup olive oil

1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated

  1. In a blender or food processor, combine the first eight ingredients. This will only take a few seconds until everything is blended well.
  2. With the blender still running on low, add the olive oil in a thin stream until emulsified.
  3. Add the grated cheese and blend for a few more seconds to incorporate.
  4. Store unused dressing in the refrigerator for up to 1 to 2 weeks.

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