Chicken, Bacon and Apple Salad w. Pecan Vinaigrette.

For some reason, October is always our busiest time of the year. I blame it on the fact that football kicks into overdrive and our birthdays book-end the month. This year we've decided to take it from simply busy, to insane.  I'm excited to share that we are starting the house hunting process! I can't wait to finally have our own home to decorate. And grill out. And host lots of family holidays and dinner parties. We are SO ready for the phase in our life.

We are also currently in the process of trying to buy a new (used) car, host/attend several baby/bridal showers in the next month and a million other small things that add up to one crazy busy month. I think the paperwork alone from trying to get pre-approved for a mortgage is going to do me in!

With all that said, I've been too busy to cook more than a couple nights a week. Enter, this salad. Not only is it incredibly delicious, but I can have all the ingredients ready in the fridge and throw it together at the last minute. It combines juicy chicken, crisp apples and salty bacon with a quick and easy toasted pecan vinaigrette for a great quick meal. Don't have apples, use pears. Don't like Gorgonzola, try feta. The beauty of this salad is that it's easy to adapt to your specific tastes.

I served this salad to my mom a few weeks ago for lunch and she raved about it. It was nice to be able to sit with my mom over a great meal and talk about our lives and the future. To take a break from all the craziness and simply connect over a leisurely lunch. Now every time I make this salad, I think of her. Ladies, invite your moms to lunch and make them this salad. And talk about all your dreams for the future. Life is all about making delicious memories together.

Chicken, Bacon and Apple Salad

{ Serves 2 }

2 hearts of romaine, chopped into bite-sized pieces

1 slice of bacon, cooked and crumbled

1 chicken breast, cooked and cut into bite-sized pieces

1/4 cup dried cranberries

1 small apple, chopped

1/3 cup Gorgonzola

Mix all ingredients and toss to combine. Add a few tablespoons of dressing (recipe below) and lightly toss to dress salad.

Pecan Vinaigrette

Adapted from Tupelo Honey Cafe

{ Makes 1 cup }

1/4 cup pecans

1/8 cup apple cider vinegar

1 garlic clove, minced

1 1/4 tsp. Dijon mustard

1 1/4 tsp. whole-grain mustard

1 TBS honey

1 tsp. sugar

1 1/2 tsp. coarse sea salt

few cracks fresh black pepper

1/2 cup olive oil

Set oven to 350 degrees. Place the pecans on a small baking sheet and roast in the oven for 15 minutes or until lightly toasted. Remove from oven and set aside to cool. Once cool, coarsely chop pecans.

In a blender or food processor, blend together vinegar, garlic, both mustards, honey, sugar, salt and pepper. While the machine is still running, slowly add in the olive oil. Blend until combined. Stir chopped pecans into mixture.

Remove mixture and pour into an airtight container. Keep dressing in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.