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Monday, May 20, 2013

Buffalo Chicken Salad with Blue Cheese Dressing

With the school year almost over, each day seems to get more and more busy.  Between field trips, class projects, award ceremonies and graduations, the calendar for this month is fully booked!  As a result, our weeknight dinners have been quick meals that we can work in among all of the activities.  I'm ready for a nice relaxing summer, where most of the meals can be prepared on the grill.  Until then, I'm always looking forward to our weekly Sunday Salad feature, so I actually have a little time to do some cooking.

Sunday Salad continues this week with a healthier version of Buffalo Chicken Wings, and this salad was a huge success!  For this dinner salad, instead of using chicken wings, we used boneless and skinless chicken breast and lightly coated the chicken with a flour and cornmeal breading.  The breading gave the chicken the familiar taste and texture you would find on wings, but without the fat from the chicken skin.  Even better, the chicken breast is baked, then quickly broiled for just a few minutes to give the chicken a nice exterior, while keeping the interior moist and tender.

To complete this salad, we mixed up a homemade Blue Cheese Dressing that requires just a few basic ingredients.  The dressing itself is amazing!  If you are a connoisseur of blue cheese dressing, this is going to be some of the best stuff you have ever tasted.

Although this recipe has several steps, it can be pulled together pretty quickly.  If you prepare the dressing and salad ahead of time, the chicken and sauce will be ready in about 20 minutes, start to finish.

Blue Cheese Dressing
8 oz  Blue Cheese Crumbles
1 tsp  Sea Salt
1/2 tsp  Freshly Ground Black Pepper
1 TB  Chopped Chives
1/2 cup  Buttermilk
1/2 cup + 2 TB  Sour Cream (regular or low-fat)
2 TB  Lemon Juice
1/2 tsp  Red Wine Vinegar

Combine all ingredients in a glass bowl and stir with a fork to combine.  For best results, refrigerate for at least one hour before serving to allow the flavors to blend.

For the Salad
1  3-pack  Romaine Lettuce Hearts, washed and chopped
1 small  Carrot, shredded

Combine the lettuce and carrot in a large bowl and refrigerate until ready to serve.

To prepare the Buffalo Wing Sauce
6TB  Salted Butter
1 TB  Red Pepper Flakes
3 TB  Garlic Powder
1 tsp  Black Pepper
1/4 tsp  Salt
3/4 cup  Frank's Red Hot Sauce
1 TB  White Vinegar

In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium-low heat, then add the red pepper flakes, garlic powder, salt and pepper, stirring to combine.  Stir the mixture until you have a roux consistency, then add the hot sauce and vinegar.  Bring the mixture to a low simmer and continue for 10 - 15 minutes on low heat.

Keep the mixture warm until ready to prepare the chicken pieces.

To prepare the Buffalo Chicken
2 lbs  Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast, cut into 1-inch cubes
3/4 cup  Flour
1/2 cup  Cornmeal
1 TB  Garlic Powder
1 TB  Seasoned Salt
1 tsp  Freshly Ground Black Pepper
Olive Oil in a Spritz Bottle

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with non-stick foil and set aside.

In a large bowl combine the flour, cornmeal, garlic powder, salt and pepper, and stir to combine.

Add the chicken pieces to the breading and lightly toss to coat each piece.  Place the chicken pieces on the lined baking sheet so they are not touching, and spritz the chicken lightly with olive oil.

Bake the chicken for 6 minutes, remove from oven and turn the chicken over.  Lightly spritz the chicken with olive oil and return to the oven until lightly golden, about 6 minutes.  Turn the oven to a broil setting and broil the chicken for 3 - 4 minutes or until browned.

Remove chicken from the oven and dip the pieces into the wing sauce, one at a time, to evenly coat, and place the chicken in a bowl.

To assemble the salads:  Place a serving of lettuce in a large salad bowl and place several pieces of the Buffalo chicken in the center.  Drizzle the salad with blue cheese dressing and garnish with carrot and celery sticks.  Serves about 6.  Enjoy!!

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