Grilled Chicken Salad with Chipotle Honey Vinaigrette
Just over two months from now, this blog will celebrate its fifth birthday (anniversary?). I have been thinking about this date a lot. I’m horrible about over thinking things and wondering what I could have done differently over a given amount of time (my birthday and New Years Eve do this to me too). In the time that I’ve had my blog, I’ve moved, become a homeowner, become a mom, had friends come and go, met friends through my blog, received kind words from readers when I most needed them and a thousand other minor things that I won’t list. I’ve also watched the way people blog change. Maybe it was the rise of Pinterest or the fact that companies realized food bloggers were a good way to gain an audience or something else entirely. Instead of just writing a post, it seems as though now I have to worry about analytics and how many comments I get and backup ads and perfectly styled photos and how to time my tweets and gain more followers on Pinterest. When I started this blog in 2008, I didn’t anticipate being concerned, or feeling like I should be concerned, about those things.
When thinking about how this blog has grown and changed over the past five years, my first thought isn’t pride. It’s inadequacy. I wonder why my blog hasn’t grown as much as another, maybe one that’s been around for less time. There was once a time I didn’t compare my blog to others, but I’ve had difficulty stopping myself lately. I ask myself what I’m doing wrong. Are my words, my pictures, simply not good enough? And if that’s the case, why do I keep putting them out there? The answer to that is simple. I love blogging. I love the friendships it has brought me, the world of food it has opened up to me, the photography skills I’ve learned because of it. When I started this blog, I had no intention of getting any traffic, hosting giveaways, attending a blogging conference or even becoming friends with other bloggers. I started this blog was for one simple reason – to have a place to save recipes we enjoyed and be able to easily share them with other people. My blog has grown more than I ever expected it to, so I’m not sure why I started caring that it hasn’t grown as much as someone else’s. I’ve gained so much from it that I can’t even imagine what my life would be like if I had never started it. And who says traffic is indicative of success? Have you seen my early blog photos? The fact that the ones I have now are so much better makes it clear to me that I have been successful in improving my photography. My early writing was awful, too. I’ve definitely grown as a writer. So instead of looking back and wondering how I could have gone further, I’m going to look back and see how far I’ve come. Eric told me a couple months ago, “The truth is, it’s a game and you don’t like playing. You just like making pretty things.” So that’s it. I’m out. I’m over it. I just want to make delicious food, take pretty pictures of it and share them with all of you. That’s what I’ve been trying to do all along. Somehow, recently, the other stuff seemed to take more and more time away from doing that. I didn’t plan on telling you guys any of this, but I knew something was wrong when I debated sharing this recipe because I didn’t get a picture of the dressing. Really?! What a dumb reason.
Chipotle has become our go-to takeout place. I really love burrito bowls and was planning to make them at home recently. We ended up having a heavy lunch that day, so I decided to change things up and make Chipotle-inspired salads for dinner instead. We already had all the ingredients on hand, so it was easy to switch up our dinner plans. This dressing is sweet and smoky, with a little tang from the red wine vinegar and lime juice. I think it would be fantastic on any salad, not just a Tex-Mex one. We haven’t bought bottled salad dressings in years, and this is why. It’s so incredibly easy to whip them up at home, and you can totally customize them to your liking.
- YIELD: about 1½ cups of dressing
For the dressing:
½ cup red wine vinegar
⅓ cup honey
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1¼ teaspoons ground chipotle powder
1 teaspoon lime juice
¾ teaspoon black pepper
¾ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon paprika
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon onion powder
¼ teaspoon dried oregano
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
For the salad:
Chopped romaine lettuce
Cooked black beans
Grilled chicken (we seasoned ours with taco seasoning)
Finely shredded pepper or monterey jack cheese
Combine all the ingredients for the dressing, except for the olive oil, in the bowl of a food processor or blender. Blend on low speed for about 10 seconds. With the machine running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil. Alternately, you can just as easily whisk all the ingredients together in a medium bowl and then slowly whisk in the olive oil. Chill for at least an hour.
To assemble the salad, plate the lettuce in salad bowls. Top with black beans, grilled chicken and cheese. Drizzle the dressing over the top, and add a spoonful of guacamole if desired. Serve immediately.