Summer of 2012, huh? One more for the history books.
I don’t know about you, but my summer was completely ordinary by some measures and absolutely extraordinary by others. I didn’t have a fancy internship. I didn’t study abroad. I didn’t vacation in a fancy resort and party with oil tycoons (seriously, my best friend found herself part of a real life entourage this summer and has insane stories).
On the other hand, my humble Pittsburgh life was radically changed by the addition of so many new people to love in my life. Firstly, my sister got married to an amazing man who I am happy to call my new brother! If you followed my blog in the spring, you already know a little bit about their Cinderella story >> http://www.hercampus.com/school/cmu/cooking-caitlin-chicken-salad. Secondly, I visited D.C. to get to know my bouncing baby nephew, Henry Paul Jones. He is so charming! I have never so instantly loved anyone or anything the way I did when I saw him for the first time. Lastly, I started dating a guy friend of mine and it has been going so well! I have never been in a long distance relationship and it came surprisingly easily. I realized if you really want to be with someone, that distance makes the heart grow fonder. I am so happy to have him back in Pittsburgh for the fall!
But back to my D.C. visit. My sister-in-law Tiffany has been so busy with the baby that she has no time to cook for herself or my brother. This was a perfect opportunity for me to cook up some delicious family meals that I normally wouldn’t make for myself at school. First, I made a spinach walnut pesto sauce to have with whole wheat linguine and chicken breast. Alongside, a giant chopped salad and a delicious apple crisp recipe for dessert (Emeril Lagasse’s recipe is THE BEST I highly recommend it). The following night, I made a signature dish of fennel sautéed with tomatoes, layered with butterflied shrimp, and finally topped with torn baguette, feta cheese, tons of fresh parsley, and copious amounts of flavorful olive oil, all baked in the oven until the shrimp are opaque. But the dish I have included for all of you tonight is the simplest and most versatile. On the last night I made chicken breast coated in pecans and oats, topped with mango salsa, with roasted broccolini on the side. What makes it so versatile is that the chicken can be coated in just oats, just pecans, or any nut for that matter. You can make extra mango salsa and eat it later with chips, over fish, or over rice. If mangoes aren’t in season, peaches or nectarines would work as well. If you don’t have broccolini on hand, any green cruciferous vegetable would be great to roast with this dish! Keep those possible alterations in mind when you are collecting ingredients for this dish, but following is my original recipe:
Pecan Crusted Chicken with Mango Salsa
For the Mango Salsa:
1 ripe mango
½ medium red onion
1 small red bell pepper
1 small yellow bell pepper
Salt and pepper
Directions – dice the first four ingredients and combine in a bowl. Squeeze lime juice and season with salt and pepper, mix thoroughly.
For the Pecan Crusted Chicken:
1/2 cup flour
1 egg, beaten
½ cup finely chopped pecans
½ cup oats
Salt and pepper
3 chicken breasts
Directions – Preheat oven to 350°. Grease a casserole pan with nonstick spray. Place flour, egg, and combined oats and pecans in three separate shallow pans or plates. Season each with salt and pepper. Cut each chicken breast in half so that you have two thin pieces of the same area that you started with. Dredge one chicken breast half in flour, dip in egg, and gently press in pecans and oats. Repeat with all chicken breasts and place in prepared pan. Bake in oven for about 30 minutes, or until center of chicken is no longer pink. Serve topped with mango salsa and with roasted broccolini on the side.
For the Roasted Broccolini:
1 pound broccolini spears
Directions – Place all of the ingredients on a baking sheet and bake in a 350° oven for 15 – 20 minutes or until caramelized.