Mystery Dish: BBQ Chicken Salad with Jalapeno Basil Ranch Dressing

Today I have the BEST SALAD EVER to share with you!! I am so psyched, I can hardly wait to tell you about it [even though it is not original at all. But that's okay.] But first, this recipe qualifies for not just one, but two challenges. Woohoo! First of all, I created this recipe for Mystery Dish. But since it includes a fantastic homemade ranch dressing, it also helps fulfill one of my 30 before 30 goals. Score!

BBQ Chicken Salad with Jalapeno Basil Ranch Dressing | thepajamachef.com #mysterydish #salad #summer

This month for Mystery Dish, Chez Catey Lou is our host. Cate is so sweet and gave us such a creative list to work with! We had to use at least two ingredients from this list: raspberries, peanut butter chips, edamame, lemon, yeast, whole wheat pastry flour, bacon, buttermilk, basil, and zucchini. There were a thousand ways I thought about going [I probably say that every month...sorry] but my craving for a salad won out in the end. I used a few of Cate’s ingredients [lemon, buttermilk, and basil] to make an awesome Jalapeno Ranch Dressing to dress up a BBQ Chicken Salad.

BBQ Chicken Salad with Jalapeno Basil Ranch Dressing | thepajamachef.com #mysterydish #salad #summer

I have long searched for a good homemade ranch dressing. I’ve made this recipe once before and let me tell you..it’s a keeper! It’s creamy, spicy, and best of all… clean! No weird mystery ingredients in the powder, thankyouverymuch. The key to this recipe is the jalapeno. It just elevates this creamy, herby dressing with a bit of spice. Oh so good!

BBQ Chicken Salad with Jalapeno Basil Ranch Dressing | thepajamachef.com #mysterydish #salad #summer

You know what else is good? This salad! I know a zillion restaurants have variations of BBQ Chicken Salad and this was mine. I just used seven ingredients so it’s pretty basic: lettuce, chicken, BBQ sauce, corn, tomatoes, black beans, and ranch dressing. You could also add avocados, onions, bacon, or anything else that strikes your fancy.

BBQ Chicken Salad with Jalapeno Basil Ranch Dressing | thepajamachef.com #mysterydish #salad #summer

I kept it simple though so the flavors could really shine. You will really want to make it again and again. One bite of this and Ben was swooning. Seriously! This is a man’s salad, and definitely fancy enough for a restaurant. Hope you enjoy it as much we do!

BBQ Chicken Salad with Jalapeno Basil Ranch Dressing | thepajamachef.com #mysterydish #salad #summer

one year ago: Strawberry Muffins
two years ago: Sweet-Tart Quinoa Salad
three years ago: BAST sandwich

BBQ Chicken Salad with Jalapeno Ranch Dressing
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Ingredients:

  • 2 cups cooked chicken [leftovers from a roasted chicken work great]
  • 1 cup bbq sauce [I used Sweet Baby Ray's]
  • 1 large tomato, chopped
  • 2 cups black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 3 cups fresh corn, cut from 3 ears of corn
  • 1 head romaine lettuce
  • Jalapeno Ranch Dressing, recipe below

Directions:

Stir together chicken and bbq sauce in a skillet set over medium-low heat. Heat for 5-7 minutes or until heated through, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, toss together romaine lettuce and Jalapeno Ranch Dressing in desired amounts. Divide lettuce between four plates, then top each with a quarter of all ingredients: chicken, tomato, black beans, and corn. Toss together and enjoy!

Time: 10 minutes.
Yield: 4 meal-size salads or 8 side salads.

Jalapeno Ranch Dressing [slightly adapted from The Lively Kitchen]

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk [for this I use real buttermilk, a substitute could be kinda weird]
  • 4 green onions, chopped, with white bottoms removed
  • 1/2 of a chopped, deseeded jalapeno [~2 tablespoons]
  • 3 tablespoons  fresh parsley, chopped [or 1 teaspoon dried parsley]
  • 1/3 cup fresh Thai basil, chopped [or cilantro, basil, etc.]
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste

DIrections:

Place all ingredients in a blender or food processor and pulse until smooth. An immersion blender works great!

Dressing thickens in the fridge so add some extra buttermilk before serving leftovers as desired.

Time: 5 minutes.
Yield: 2 cups.

Please check out the other awesome recipes from this month’s Mystery Dish!

May Mystery Dish Collage

1. Raspberry Lemon Sweet Roll Cake with Buttermilk Glaze – Baking a Moment
2. Twice Baked Zucchini Boat – Chelsea’s Messy Apron
3. Buttermilk Panna Cotta with Raspberry Mint Compote – Blahnik Baker
4. Lemon-Raspberry Bundt Cake – I Dig Pinterest
5. Peanut Butter Chip Cookies – The Dessert Chronicles
6. Mini Coconut Cupcakes with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting – I Want Crazy
7. Zucchini Noodles with Meat Mushroom Tomato Sauce – Joyfully Healthy Eats
8. Baked Wonton Cups Filled with Edamame Corn Salad – The Well Floured Kitchen
9. Easy 30 Minute Orange Rolls – Yummy Healthy Easy
10. BBQ Chicken Salad with Jalapeno Basil Ranch Dressing – The Pajama Chef
11. Mini Reese’s Peanut Butter Cupcakes – Culinary Couture
12. Zucchini Muffins with Lemon Glaze – The Weary Chef
13. Lemon Bundt Cake – Chez CateyLou

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Kale Quinoa Salad

When I was asked to cater the bridal shower, I was told that the bride loooved kale and quinoa. This salad was the direct inspiration of that. Well, and of Smitten Kitchen. Ha. But anyways, this kale quinoa salad is just SO good, you guys. It’s so fresh and delightful, I could seriously eat it for breakfast and be happy. With a fried egg on top? Oh goodness, I think I’m going to try that really soon.

Kale Quinoa Salad | thepajamachef.com

Like any kale or quinoa salad, the sky’s the limit on mix ins. I just used some basic, affordable pantry staples: dried cranberries, almonds, and feta, but feel free to adjust based on your preferences. I’m a huge pistachio fan myself and think think that would be yummy. Oh, and don’t skip the dressing! Sometimes I just wanna do a basic olive oil rub on kale or quinoa but taking a couple minutes to mix up this vinaigrette-eqse dressing is totally worth it. Enjoy!

Kale Quinoa Salad | thepajamachef.com

one year ago: Mexican Rice
two years ago: Black Bean Wraps

Kale Quinoa Salad [adapted from Smitten Kitchen]
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Ingredients:

for salad

  • 1 1/2 cups cooked quinoa, cooled
  • 8 ounces kale, stems removed and thinly chopped
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries [or cherries]
  • 3 scallions, chopped
  • 1/2 cup toasted slivered almonds
  • 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese

for dressing

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried dill
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper, as desired

Directions:

In a large bowl, toss together quinoa, kale, cranberries, and scallions. In a small bowl, whisk together the dressing ingredients: olive oil, viengar,lemon juice, mustard, honey, and dill. Taste and add salt and pepper as desired. Pour dressing over salad and toss well. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving to set. Top with almonds and feta just before eating.

Time: 40 minutes [10 minutes active].
Yield: 6-8 servings.

Zin-Zen Chicken

I don’t even want to tell you when I made this stir fry originally. It’s too embarrassing. But it is what it is, and even though time has gone by since this dish graced our table, its goodness hasn’t gone away. [Did that make any sense to anyone but me?] ANYWAYS…. Ben, especially, loves stir fry. I can’t say that it was my favorite dinner as a kid, but I’m starting to appreciate it more and more these days since it’s quick, healthy, and flavorful.

Zin Zen Chicken | thepajamachef.com

What makes this stir fry SO good is the combination of the orange-flavored rice with the gingery and garlicky chicken and vegetables. Ya know, the zin/zen thing. Rachael Ray was up to something with her recipe title, I do believe. :) Another good thing about this dish? It uses up some of that Chinese five spice powder that’s probably languishing in your cupboard. Please tell me I’m not alone in that. Mmmmkay, thanks. As always, enjoy! :)

one year ago: Guacamole Salsa
two years ago: Peanut Butter Pretzel Granola Bars
three years ago: Oreo Truffles

Zin-Zen Chicken [from Rachael Ray]
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Ingredients:

  • 1 cup white rice
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • zest and juice of 1 orange
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into chunks
  • cracked black pepper
  • 3 cups chopped bell peppers [I used red, orange, and yellow]
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 inch grated gingerroot [or 1 teaspoon ground]
  • 1 red or yellow onion, minced
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1 cup Zinfandel wine or chicken broth
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons Chinese five spice powder
  • 4 scallions, sliced on the bias

Directions:

Combine rice, chicken broth, and orange zest in a medium pan. Set to high heat, then bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer until liquid is absorbed.

In a separate large skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Saute chicken, seasoned with black pepper, until golden brown, about 6-8 minutes. Remove chicken to a plate and cover with foil. Place bell peppers, garlic, ginger, and onion in the pan and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the veggies to the chicken, then melt butter in skillet. Whisk in flour and cook for 30 seconds. Then add the wine/chicken broth, soy sauce, and five spice powder and stir to combine. Reduce heat to medium low. Put the chicken and veggies back in the skillet and simmer until thickened, about 3 minutes.

After the rice is cooked, add scallions and orange juice and fluff with a fork. Serve the chicken and vegetables over the rice.

Time: 30 minutes.
Yield: 4-6 servings.
Note: For four, this amount of rice is perfect. For six, doubling it would be best.

Linked up with: Weekend Potluck.

Grapefruit Arugula Salad

Once I tasted a bite of this awesome Grapefruit Arugula Salad, I knew I had to photograph and share it, even though it was late and I was making this salad when all the natural light had already bid Nashville farewell. [translation=indoor photography :(] My sister and brother-in-law were visiting, and this salad was the perfect accompaniment to our roasted chicken and vegetable dinner.

Grapefruit Arugula Salad | thepajamachef.com

I know there are a million variations of grapefruit arugula salad out there, and this is the first version I’ve ever had, so I can’t say it’s the best, but I can say it’s MY best. :) How’s that? Well, it’s just so much yumminess in one bowl! You’ve got your juicy citrus, your tangy feta, and your peppery arugula all dressed in a lemon vinaigrette dressing. Basically an explosion of flavors. I totally wish I had made bigger salads so don’t make the same mistake I did. This is one salad I know I’ll be coming back to time and time again. Enjoy, friends!

one year ago: Herb, Tomato, and Cheese Crackers
two years ago: Smoky Fried Chickpeas
three years ago: Pantry Pasta for Two

Grapefruit Arugula Salad
click to print

Ingredients:

  • 1 large grapefruit
  • 3 ounces arugula
  • 1 ounce crumbled feta cheese
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • lemon pepper
  • salt

Directions:

Using a sharp paring knife, section the grapefruit into segments. I tried to do this without a tutorial and it didn’t go so well, so check out this tutorial and your grapefruit will look better than mine. :)

Divide arugula between four bowls, then divide grapefruit between the bowls as well. Top with feta cheese.

Whisk together oil, lemon juice, and balsamic for the dressing. Add lemon pepper and salt to taste, then drizzle over salad immediately before eating.

Time: 5 minutes.
Yield: 4 servings.

Chipotle-Cilantro Mashed Potatoes

Thanks for coming back for another edition of Thanksgiving week! On Monday I shared my recipe for Pumpkin Cloverleaf Rolls. On Tuesday, it was Mixed Vegetables Mornay [my fave side ever!!]. And today, it’s mashed potatoes.

Chipotle-Cilantro Mashed Potatoes | thepajamachef.com

I know, I know. Mashed potatoes are super classic… and you probably don’t even need a recipe to make them. BUT hear me out! These mashed potatoes are something extra special, because they’ve got a Southwestern flair to them! Chipotle peppers and cilantro are an awesome flavor combo, so why not add ‘em to mashed potatoes??!

Chipotle-Cilantro Mashed Potatoes | thepajamachef.com

I seriously couldn’t get enough of these potatoes. And I’m not a mashed potatoes girl. I prefer baked potatoes or fries, anything really besides mashed potatoes. These potatoes are different though. They’re interesting and spicy, but not hot or anything out of control. I thought about adding some cheddar cheese–and I’m sure that would be awesome, but before you add a bunch of cheese… just try ‘em! The cilantro adds SO much flavor. I know these mashed potatoes are far from traditional but you should definitely give them a try! Feel free to add more butter or use cream instead of milk if you like, but since I was making these for two, I decided to be a little less liberal with the indulgent stuff. And truthfully, I think these potatoes were creamy and flavorful enough without tons of cream and butter. They’re amazing, and I think I’ll go have a bowl now! Be sure to come back tomorrow for some turkey, and Friday for pear crisp! Yum yum and YUM!

Thanksgiving Meal | thepajamachef.com

two years ago: KC’s Dilled Carrots
three years ago: Layered Taco Dip

Chipotle-Cilantro Mashed Potatoes [flavor combo idea adapted from Food Network Magazine, November 2011]
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Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds potatoes [Yukon Gold or Russet]
  • 1 tablespoon Kosher salt
  • 1/4-1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1-2 tablespoons chipotle pepper in adobe sauce, minced
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, minced [loosely packed]
  • Kosher salt + freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Directions:

Wash and dry potatoes, then cut into quarters and place in a pan.  Cover with cold water by an inch or two, then add 1 tablespoon Kosher salt. Bring to a boil and then reduce to medium-low heat. Cook, uncovered, until tender, about 30 minutes. Drain potatoes and let sit until cool enough to handle. Peel potatoes and transfer to a bowl.

Add butter and milk, then mash with a fork or potato masher. Stir in chipotle pepper and cilantro, then season to taste with salt and pepper.

Time: 60 minutes.
Yield: 8 servings.