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
click to print

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

About these ads

Black Bean-Pumpkin Soup

Updated March 30, 2014… so today, I was looking through some blog pics and realized I made a terrible error! The soup that had been pictured here was NOT this wonderful Black Bean-Pumpkin Soup, but rather a Minty Tomato Soup. Whoops! Somehow I mixed up my labels. Sorry about that! This soup is still delish no matter how it looks, but I wanted to come back and make it right with you. :) Forgive me? 

Black Bean-Pumpkin Soup | thepajamachef.com

I hope you’re okay with another soup recipe this late in March! If you aren’t, look away. But be forewarned: you’ll miss some awesome soup. It was snowing in Nashville yesterday [not enough to stick, but still], so soup is entirely justified I think!

Black Bean-Pumpkin Soup | thepajamachef.com

Earlier in the year, my mom texted me a picture of her dinner: a delightful orange-y colored soup. I asked for the recipe and received a text with a picture of the recipe, which I immediately made for lunch the next day. Yay for iPhones and technology! :) That soup is the one before your very eyes now… a creamy, flavorful, filling Black Bean-Pumpkin Soup. I’ve made plenty of black bean and pumpkin soups in my day–but never together, and never this good. The soup is a cinch to throw together and definitely gets better as it sits. With just a hint of spice and a bit of sweetness, this soup is unlike any I have ever tasted. Next time I make it I will be sure to stock up on sour cream, green onions, and pumpkin seeds because the [unpictured] toppings are the very best part! Enjoy!

one year ago: Roasted Chickpea, Carrot, & Radish Salad with Lemon-Dijon Dressing
two years ago: Cinnamon Curry Tuna Wraps
three years ago: Fruit and Nut Granola Bars

Black Bean-Pumpkin Soup [slightly adapted from a magazine via my mom]
click to print

Ingredients:

  • 2 – 15 ounce cans black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 – 15 ounce can diced tomatoes, drained
  • 2 cups loosely packed spinach
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil [STAR Fine Foods Grilling Cuisine Cooking Oil is what I used; extra virgin would also work]
  • 2 medium onions, finely chopped
  • 1 jalapeno, deseeded [optional]
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 3 cups chicken [or vegetable] broth
  • 1 – 15 ounce can pumpkin puree
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1-2 tablespoons molasses or bourbon [optional]
  • sour cream, for topping
  • sliced green onions, for topping
  • pumpkin seeds, for topping

Directions:

In a food processor, combine black beans, tomatoes, and spinach. Process until smooth.

In a Dutch oven, heat olive oil on medium. Add onions and jalapeno [if using] and cook until soft. Add garlic and cumin and cook for another minute, until fragrant. Then stir in broth, pumpkin, vinegar, and pepper. Bring to a boil then cover and reduce to a simmer for 20 minutes.

Remove from heat and stir in molasses if using, then serve with sour cream, green onions, and pumpkin seeds as desired.

Time: 35 minutes [15 minutes active].

Yield: 8 servings [about 2 quarts]

Mystery Dish: Spicy Chicken, Spinach, and Corn Enchiladas

This month for Mystery Dish, Christine from I Dig Pinterest and I Did it Too was the head honcho. She gave us the following ingredients to work with: fresh mushrooms, pork, spinach, cream cheese, pineapple, butterscotch chips, macadamia nuts, Sriracha, Ritz crackers, and tortillas. When I first saw the list, I had dreams of a fabulous dessert. But things just didn’t work out due to family and work things… so dinner it was! But shhhh! Don’t tell these enchiladas they were a second choice because they’d be oh so sad. They were SO tasty and SO spicy and SO worth it.

Spicy Chicken, Spinach, and Corn Enchiladas | thepajamachef.com

The two ingredients I used from Christine’s list were spinach and tortillas. I thought about also using Sriracha in the spicy enchilada sauce, but after a quick test taste, I realized there was no way I’d be able to handle the heat if I added that. :) So two ingredients it was! Obviously tortillas are an essential part of enchiladas–but spinach? Sounds a little weird. But I’m never one to shy away from adding veggies where they are unexpected. The combination of chicken, spinach, and corn made for a delightful enchilada filling, and when we had a little leftover, I saved it for quesadillas later in the week. Also an excellent choice for this filling! If a super spicy sauce isn’t your thing, feel free to buy some or try my [old old old] recipe for a classic enchilada sauce.

Spicy Chicken, Spinach, and Corn Enchiladas | thepajamachef.com

We loved how flavorful, fast, and unique these enchiladas were, and I bet you will too! Be sure to check out some of the other creations made by my Mystery Dish pals. :)

one year ago: Italian Sausage and Red Rice
two years ago: Sausage, Apple, and Egg Casserole
three years ago: Roasted Vegetable Lasagna

Spicy Chicken, Spinach, and Corn Enchiladas
click to print

Ingredients:

  • 4 ounces tomato paste
  • 1 cup tomato juice or water
  • 1/2 cup onion, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup green pepper, roughly chopped
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1-2 chipotle peppers in adobe sauce
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 6 ounces cooked chicken, shredded
  • 2 handful spinach, torn
  • 1 cup corn
  • 1/2 cup salsa
  • 8 flour tortillas
  • 1 cup white cheddar cheese [pepperjack or a Mexican blend would also be good]

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a food processor, combine tomato paste, tomato juice, onion, green pepper, garlic, chipotle peppers, chili powder, cumin, and oregano. Process until smooth. Spread 1/3 of the enchilada sauce in the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish.

In a bowl, stir together chicken, spinach, corn, and salsa. Divide mixture between the tortillas, then place seam side down in the baking dish. Top with remaining enchilada sauce and the cheese.

Bake for 25-30 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly.

Time: 45 minutes [15 minutes active].

Yield: 4 servings.

February Mystery Dish Collage
1. Grilled Pineapple with Nutella and Macadamia Nuts by Joyful Healthy Eats
2. Hummingbird Cake by Baking a Moment
3. Three-Cheese Spinach Squares by The Well Floured Kitchen
4. Easy Pesto Pita Bread Pizzas by Yummy Healthy Easy
5. Minty Pea Prosciutto Toast by Chez CateyLou
6. Pina Colada Cheesecake by Blahnik Baker
7. Chocolate Banana Cheesecake Chimichangas by Culinary Couture
8. Pork with Pineapple Fried Rice by I Want Crazy
9. Tropical Green Smoothie by The Dessert Chronicles
10. Spicy Chicken, Spinach and Corn Enchiladas by The Pajama Chef
11. Pineapple Drop Cookies by I Dig Pinterest

Pizza Frittata

So, what’s better than pizza? If your answer is pizza, you are definitely right. And if you’re confused, look no further than this AWESOME breakfast, lunch, dinner, or brinner recipe for PIZZA Frittata! Woohoo. Welcome to deliciousness, folks!

Pizza Frittata | thepajamachef.com

Whenever I’m in a bind with my menu plan for the week, I turn to one of my standbys: black beans and rice [cheap and tasty], breakfast for dinner [indulgent because this usually turns into pancakes for dinner], or a frittata [easy, cheap, and totally customizable]. What do these dishes have in common? They are all cheap [read: so I can spend more cash $$$$ on fun ingredients like mini chocolate chips], all things that I love [convenient, right?], and made from pantry staples that I always have around. Problem is… Ben gets really tired of all those dishes, really fast. Especially frittatas. Probably cause I stuff them full of my favorite veggies like kale and bell peppers. Ha ha, poor guy. But because I love him so, sometimes I experiment.

Pizza Frittata | thepajamachef.com

Experiments can be good or bad, and occasionally, they can be excellent, as was the case with this PIZZA Frittata. Sorry for shouting, I’m just excited. This frittata tasted just like a pizza, except instead of a chewy, carb-licious crust, you’ve got a soft egg base. It doesn’t taste like eggs, so don’t you worry–these aren’t pizza eggs. All you can taste are the flavors of pizza: garlic and onion, herbs, tomatoes, and cheeeeeseLots of flavorful cheese! Our pizza toppings included fire roasted red peppers and pepperoni, but feel free to sub out for your favorites. I think italian sausage, bell peppers, mushrooms, or ham would be pretty tasty in the future too.

Pizza Frittata | thepajamachef.com

Though this frittata is a bit more work than the typical frittatas I make, it’s definitely worth it and makes a great anytime meal with some fruit or a salad. Hope you enjoy! :)

one year ago: Pumpkin Cornbread
two years ago: Honey Whole Wheat English Muffins
three years ago: Pumpkin French Toast Sandwich

Pizza Frittata [adapted from Rachael Ray Magazine, July/August 2012]
click to print

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1/4 cup onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup fire roasted red peppers, chopped [from a jar]
  • 6 eggs
  • 1/2 cup skim milk
  • 3/4 teaspoon dried oregano [or several tablespoons fresh oregano]
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried parsley [or several tablespoons fresh chopped parsley]
  • 3 ounces grated Mozzarella cheese, halved
  • 1 ounce grated Parmesan cheese, halved
  • 8 ounces tomato sauce, halved
  • 12 pieces pepperoni

Directions:

In a 10 inch skillet, heat canola oil over medium heat.

While oil is heating, whisk together eggs, milk, oregano, parsley, half of both cheeses, and half of the tomato sauce.

When oil is hot, add onion and cook until softened, about 2-3 minutes. Then add garlic and cook for 30 seconds until fragrant. Season with pepper, then add red peppers to skillet.

Pour egg mixture over vegetables, then evenly top with pepperoni. Allow to cook for a couple minutes, until the bottom of the frittata starts to set, then use a thin spatula to lift the edge of the frittata. This allows the uncooked egg to transfer below to cook. Cook for 10-12 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat oven to 400 degrees.

When eggs are almost set, drizzle with remaining tomato sauce and top with remaining cheese. Place in the oven to cook for 15 minutes, or until cheese is melted. Cool briefly before cutting, then serve warm.

Time: 40 minutes.

Yield: 4 servings.

Skinny Southwest Chicken Dip

love dip. I am made for dip. In my younger years, if I wasn’t ordering chicken fingers at a restaurant, it was some kind of dip. Instant high school/college dinner! Yes! While I don’t do that very often anymore, I do love me some dips for group appetizers. Snacky foods just bring people together because they’re always coming back for more! I made this Skinny Southwest Chicken Dip for the last big church event Ben and I went to in Bloomington, soon before moving to Nashville. This dip was a big hit with everyone, and I can see it being perfect for football parties this fall too!

skinny southwest chicken dip | thepajamachef.com

When I told people the name of the dip, I intentionally didn’t emphasize the “skinny” bit. See, people tend to equate skinny with not flavorful, boring, or blah. This dip is anything BUT! The skinny bit comes from the dip’s greek yogurt base, replacing the usual suspects like mayo or sour cream. I love greek yogurt for what it is–yogurt. I could eat yogurt [greek or not] day in and day out without complaint. I love the stuff! But subbing greek yogurt for mayo or sour cream in dips and such really freaks me out. I love those other creamy things for their unique flavors and plain greek yogurt is NOT the same. But in some things, when there’s lots of other stuff going on… use the healthy, creamy, protein-packed alternative without fear. </rant> :)

skinny southwest chicken dip | thepajamachef.com

The seasoning for this creamy chicken, bean, and veggie dip was originally a flavorful blend of chili powder, onion powder, and garlic powder. But since I was making this for a crowd–and using the church’s dollar–I didn’t want to buy three new jars of spices. So I just bought one–an amped up Southwest Mrs. Dash. Seasoning blends can get a bad rap, but for dishes like this they are a fabulous bargain. [P.S. I also like to add those blends to roasted potatoes, hot rice, or even a wrap/grilled cheese.] Taco seasoning would be an equally great alternative, or you could go back to the original recipe and use the suggested blend, plus some cayenne for a ‘lil kick. However you season this dip, the Southwest/Mexican seasonings pair amazingly well with the chicken, black beans, and veggies. Be sure to make this dip ahead of time so the flavors have time to marry in the fridge before being scooped up with a salty tortilla chip. I liked it best on day number 2! Enjoy!

Skinny Southwest Chicken Dip [adapted from Yellow Bliss Road]
click to print

Ingredients:

  • 16 ounces plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons Mrs. Dash Southwest Chipotle seasoning [or taco seasoning, or chili powder + garlic powder + onion powder + cayenne]
  • 1 pound chicken, cooked and shredded
  • 15 ounce bag frozen corn
  • 1 cup fresh sweet peppers, diced
  • 15 ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 15 ounce can diced tomatoes, drained
  • tortilla chips, for serving

Directions:

In a large bowl, mix together yogurt, Southwest Chipotle seasoning, chicken, corn, and peppers. Then slowly stir in black beans and tomatoes. Refrigerate for one hour or more [overnight is best] prior to serving with tortilla chips.

Time: 10 minutes.

Yield: 5-6 cups.