Blueberry Chicken Salad Croissant

I've been on a blueberry kick lately, even though they aren't in season. I've made these fabulous blueberry muffins, blueberry cardamom smoothies (I'll be sharing those soon), and my all-time favorite lunch— blueberry chicken salad.

This delicious dish was one of the first I discovered when I came to visit my husband in Wisconsin (he lived there for nearly a year before we got married.) I came up to visit every opportunity I could, but I was working two jobs, finishing up my my senior thesis and catching up on work from the leave of absence I took the previous semester. My time to visit was both sporadic and limited, I'd often come up for a day or two at a time before turning around and making a marathon sprint back home (hopefully arriving in time for my first class on Monday.)

While I waited for him to get off of work I would walk over to the coffee shop near his apartment, grab a bite to eat, and attempt to get some work done. My favorite menu item was called the bluebird, a chicken salad made with dried blueberries, walnuts, and white cheddar served on a locally made baguette. It was delicious, addictive, and I knew I had to figure out a way to have it more often. After toying around with different ingredients and proportions for a few weeks I finally came up with something that tasted even better than the original. Seven years later it still remains one of my favorite things to make for lunch and since it uses dried blueberries it can easily be made year around.

Do you have a favorite go-to lunch item? I'd love to hear about it in the comment section below.

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Blueberry Chicken Salad
makes 3 - 4 sandwiches

Ingredients

16 ounces chicken breasts
sea salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
¼ cup chicken broth or stock
¼ cup dried wild blueberries
¾ cup mayonnaise
¼ cup celery, diced
1 Tablespoon shallot, diced
 cup walnuts
mixed spring greens 
3-4 croissants

Directions

  • Lightly season the chicken breasts with sea salt and pepper, then place in a skillet with chicken broth or stock. Bring the stock to a simmer, cover the skillet and cook for 10 - 15 minutes on medium-low or until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 160°F.
  • Dice chicken, add dried blueberries, and cover while the chicken cools. The steam from the cooked chicken will rehydrate the blueberries.
  • Once the chicken has cooled add mayonnaise, celery, shallot, and walnuts. Mix well, then refrigerate overnight.
  • Serve on a croissant topped with mixed spring greens. Enjoy!

Notes

This dish is best when prepared in advance and allowed to sit overnight, but will be ready to eat after about 4 hours of refrigeration. It can be stored in a sealed container for 3-4 days.

White Whole Wheat Pizza Crust #Unprocessed

I tend to get stuck in a rut when it comes to menu planning. We have meatless Monday, taco Tuesday, some sort of pasta on Wednesday, leftovers on Thursday, and pizza night on Friday. Most of my creativity in the kitchen comes out on the weekends, which is why one of my goals during October #Unprocessed was to experiment with healthy ingredients that I had never used before. In addition to making our meals more nutritious I wanted to use this as an opportunity to shake up our menu a bit. 

Early in October I read that white whole wheat flour is a good middle ground for anyone who don't care for the strong flavor of traditional whole wheat flour. Because it is made from a different type of wheat the flavor is more mild and the texture isn't as course. That little bit of knowlege solved a problem I've been struggling with for six years. Just shortly after my husband and I got married I discovered that he hates whole wheat flour. That posed a bit of a problem for my baking style since that was pretty much all I used. I wasn't going to make my hubby eat something he hated (although I do sneak a few things in on occasion.) Instead, I spent a good portion on my free time adapting my recipes to work with unbleached all-purpose flour. I wish I would have known about white whole wheat at the time, it would have saved me a lot of work in the kitchen.

My first attempt at using it was in the pizza crust recipe I'll be sharing with you today. I knew that I couldn't go a whole month without eating pizza, so that was one of the first recipes I decided to adapt to be unprocessed. The good news is that my husband didn't even notice the change and even I found the differences to be rather subtle. The crust had a slightly more dense texture than it's all-purpose flour counterpart and baked up to be slightly more crispy on the bottom. I happened to really enjoy that, it solved my soggy pizza problem that I encounter occasionally when I try to drowned my pizza in sauce. Not all crusts hold up to my love of pizza sauce, but this one was perfect. My husband and I both agreed that this was one change that I made last month that will be sticking around. The cheesesteak pizza we enjoyed every Friday during the challenge is something I'll continue to make for pizza night. I love the fact that we can still enjoy pizza and not feel guilty about what we're eating. When we make pizza at home we have full control over the ingredients and pizza can be a healthy meal.

White Whole Wheat Pizza Crust
makes 1 extra large or 2 medium crusts

Ingredients

2 ¼ teaspoons active dry yeast
½ teaspoon brown sugar or turbinado sugar
1 ½ cups warm water (110°F)
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
3 cups white whole wheat flour + additional  - ½ cup for rolling out dough 

Directions

  • Fill a small glass bowl with warm water (110°F) add sugar and yeast, then let it sit for 10 minutes to activate.
  • Add olive oil to a mixing bowl, making sure to coat the sides of the bowl. Add flour, sea salt, and the activated yeast, then mix using the dough hook attachment until well combined.
  • Cover the bowl with a towel and let the dough rise for 1 hour until it doubles in size. Punch the dough down and form it into a ball, then let it relax for a few minutes before continuing.
  • While the dough is relaxing preheat the oven to 425°F. If you are using a pizza stone you will want to preheat the stone for 20 minutes before you are ready to make your pizza.
  • If you don't want to make an extra large pizza split the dough into 2 balls before rolling it out. See notes below for storage tips.
  • Turn the dough out on a floured surface, sprinkle the dough ball and rolling pin with flour, then roll the dough out working in a circular pattern.
  • Remove the pizza stone from the oven, place the rolled out crust on the stone, and add toppings as desired. Work quickly so the stone does not cool off, it is best if you have your ingredients laid out and ready to go.
  • Bake for 18 - 20 minutes, until the cheese and crust start to turn golden brown. Let the pizza rest for several minutes before slicing. Enjoy!

Notes

This recipe can be divided into two portions and the leftovers frozen for up to three months. Just thaw the dough in the refrigerator overnight before using and let it come up to room temperature before you roll it out.

If you haven't used your pizza stone before or it isn't well seasoned I suggest adding a small handful of corn meal to the stone before laying down the pizza crust. This will help prevent it from sticking to the stone.