Main Dishes, Recipes, Salads

Chopped Thai Chicken Salad

Chopped salads are my favorite salads… they’re just so fun to eat! This version combines chicken, cabbage, carrots, and mango but the peanut butter based dressing takes the cake by far! 🙂

Thai Chopped Salad: a hearty winter salad everyone will love!

Salad in January? So cliched, I know. Especially since last week with that Amish Cheeseburger Soup I talked about how we didn’t need to just ‘eat healthy’ in January. Ummm, right. 🙂 But still, I stand by what I say… and salads are definitely part of our normal meals. Normally, our salads are pretty standard: romaine/spring mix/spinach, carrots, peppers, cucumber, maybe tomatoes or mushrooms or something else based on what’s in season. Dressing, yes… croutons, cheese… maybe. But never anything too exciting, unless I make a salad for our main course. Then, it is GOOD STUFF! And this salad is good stuff. 🙂

Thai Chopped Salad: a hearty winter salad everyone will love!

Every bit of this salad is incredible, and it’s perfect for the winter since it’s so hearty and filling, and isn’t your typical bunny rabbit salad fare. 🙂 This salad is basic and fancy all at once, with a basic chicken-cabbage-carrot mixture dressed up with mango, cilantro, green onions, and peanuts. But the best part of this salad by far is the peanut butter-based dressing… it’s just SO flavorful, tangy, and fantastic. The salad easily serves four, so what we do is divide everything in half and eat half for dinner, and save half for lunch the next day. Leftovers will do okay in the fridge for the next day, but for best results combine the salad and dressing immediately before serving–hence dividing everything in half before serving. Hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

one year ago: Southwest Veggie + Taco Rice Casserole
two years ago: Oreo Ice Cream Pie
three years ago: Lemon Cranberry Muffins
four years ago: Spaghetti and “Meat” Balls
five years ago: Caramelized Onion Dip

Chopped Thai Chicken Salad

  • Servings: 4
  • Print

from Pinch of Yum


for the salad

  • 2 cups cooked and shredded chicken [I used some from a chicken we roasted earlier in the week, but a rotisserie chicken would be great too!]
  • 3 cups shredded cabbage [I’ve used green, red, and a combination]
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded carrot [about 3-4 medium]
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped mango [or green papaya if you can find it]
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1/2 cup green onions, chopped [about 1/2 a bunch]
  • 1/2 cup peanuts, chopped

for the dressing

  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons honey or sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon fish sauce
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • pinch of cayenne
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter [natural works great–just microwave for 10-15 seconds to melt a little if it’s too hard to combine]
  • 1/4 cup water


Combine chicken, cabbage, carrots, mango, cilantro, and green onions in a large bowl. Toss to combine, then stick in the fridge while you prepare the dressing.

In a small bowl, whisk together soy sauce, vinegar, honey, lime juice, oil, fish sauce, garlic, and cayenne. Add peanut butter and water and whisk again until smooth.

When ready to serve, pour half of the dressing over the salad, then sprinkle with the chopped peanuts. Add more dressing to taste, or save for later–the dressing will keep in the fridge for up to a week. Leftovers will be okay in the fridge for the next day, but for best results combine the salad and dressing immediately before serving.


Breakfast, Muffins, Recipes

Mango Coconut Muffins

I love fruit. Love, love, love it. Crisp apples, slightly underripe bananas, juicy peaches, sweet blueberries… I could go on and on. I love them all. Nine times out of ten I’d choose fruit over chocolate–whether on its own or in a dessert. But when you add chocolate to fruit…? Oh man. I’m in heaven. Heaven! Like these muffins, a basic coconut batter filled with juicy chunks of tropical mango, coconut flakes, and white chocolate chips.

Mango Coconut Muffins |

These muffins are my dream come true!

You can make these muffins with the regular variety you buy in the grocery store but my favorite kind of mango is the Ataulfo mango, also known as the honey or champagne mango. They are rich and sweet, and in my opinion… easier to cut. They have an intensely sweet flavor, with some peppery or minty notes.

Mango Coconut Muffins |

They’re soft and fluffy, perfect for any occasion from book club [that’s what I made them for!] to lunchboxes. Ben’s been taking them in his lunch and people have been asking him what in the world is in that glorious muffin that smells SO SO good. I mean, who can resist these tropical treats, especially during a long day? I know I can’t! And you won’t be able to either! 🙂

Mango Coconut Muffins |

Mango Coconut Muffins [adapted from Following in My Shoes]
click to print


  • 1 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted + cooled
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon coconut emulsion/extract [or vanilla extract]
  • 1 cup fresh diced mango
  • 1/4 cup white chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup dried coconut, divided


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line muffin tins with paper liners or grease well.

In a large bowl, whisk together flours, baking powder, sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. In a separate bowl stir together buttermilk, milk, coconut oil, egg, and coconut emulsion. Fold wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, then gently fold in mango, white chocolate chips, and half [2 tablespoons] of the dried coconut.

Divide batter evenly between prepared muffin tins and then top with remaining coconut.

Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool completely. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days and then freeze leftovers.

Time: 30 minutes.
Yield: 16 muffins.

Cakes, Desserts, Recipes

Mango Quick Cake Squares

Classic 1980s family recipe right here. These buttery, thin, quick cake squares were one of the desserts of my childhood. And my high school graduation party too, back in the day… 10 years ago. Yikes. On that note, we need a recipe like this to celebrate the first day of summer. And Mango Quick Cake Squares are just the thing! Soft and fruity cake that couldn’t be simpler to make.

Mango Quick Cake Squares | The Pajama Chef

This easy cake, like Monday’s Thai Tofu Ramen, has gotten a bit more sophisticated over the past ten years. Me too? One can only hope. The original Quick Cakes Squares starred classic ingredients like store-bought cherry pie filling and margarine, but when I needed a quick dessert to take to dinner at some friends’, I had to improvise. Use what I had. Remix the recipe, if you will. By using butter and mangoes. Because who store-bought cherry pie filling in their pantry? Though it is delicious….

Mango Quick Cake Squares | The Pajama Chef

These quick cake squares are a taste of the tropics in yellow cake form. Though I’ve never had a mango pie, I think I need to make one now because my mango ‘pie’ filling is super addicting, and incredibly simple. Just mangoes, coconut milk, sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla. That’s it! Seriously good. And easy too! Just the way I like it, haha.

Mango Quick Cake Squares2

Anyways, these Mango Quick Cake Squares have minimal ingredients, take little effort, and are made in a jelly roll pan so they are great for a barbecue or a crowd. The cake batter might not look like enough to spread in the pan, but just work at it [and don’t lick the spoon prematurely] and it should spread out enough. Also, be sure to dot the pie filling on before baking. I like to use a rubber spatula to section off the batter in the pan to dot in the filling, but you can also eyeball it. I hope you’ll try these yummy cake squares–whether you choose to use mangos or cherries, you can’t go wrong! Enjoy! 🙂

Mango Quick Cake Squares [from Mom]
click to print


for mango filling

  • 2 tablespoons coconut milk [could sub regular milk or water]
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 mangoes, peeled and diced

for cake

  • 1 cup butter, softened [or margarine]
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium bowl, whisk together coconut milk, sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla, then stir in mangoes. Set aside.

With a hand or stand mixer, cream butter and sugar together. Next add eggs, beating well, and mix in flour and lemon juice. Spread in a jelly roll pan [12.5×17.5×1 inch].

Section off into 24 squares gently with a rubber spatula, then dot each square with a small spoonful of mango filling. Bake for 28-30 minutes, until golden brown. Cool completely in the pan before cutting. Enjoy!

Time: 40 minutes.

Yield: 24 servings.

Notes: Also awesome with other prepared pie filling, storebought or not, like cherry. A classic taste of my childhood.

Linked up with: Weekend Potluck.

Breakfast, Granola, Recipes

No Bake Tropical Energy Bites

So, as you guys know, I’ve been furiously writing away on my thesis for the past few weeks. I worked on it before, but I took a break from my campus jobs to really focus. That helped… but you wanna know what really helped? These awesome, tropical little bites of energy! Enjoying a treat full of coconut, apricot, mango, and white chocolate makes the tedious just a lil bit better!

So many good things could be said about these little treats. I think the most important thing about them [besides their fun flavors!] is that they are little! I’ve always loved cute little things like these pumpkin chocolate chip muffins [sorry about the photo, I reallllllllly need to update the pic of these muffins for the blog] or way back in the day [circa 5th grade], those mini poptarts. Anyone remember them? My favorite flavor was grape or wildberry or something like that… they were so small you couldn’t put them in the toaster, and I used to beg my mom to let me eat them on the way to the bus stop. No idea why, but she never liked the idea because then it meant I couldn’t brush my teeth after eating. I thought that was the dumbestexcuseeverughmomnooooooo! Now, I wouldn’t really dream of eating poptarts, especially not on the way to the bus stop, because I’m obsessed with brushing my teeth. Go figure.

Well, these energy bites are most assuredly not mini poptarts, but they are just as tasty [if not more so!!]. These energy bites are sweet, filling, and a snap to throw together. They literally take 5 minutes to stir together and another 5-10 to shape. Add in some downtime in the middle to chill [perhaps during your favorite TV show? Or while reading a “scholarly” article…sigh.], and you’re ready to go.

I stored them in the fridge and loved taking the first gloriously cold, slightly sticky bite. Indulgent and delightful, I say. [Ben ate them in one bite and just said yum.] Whatever you say, just be sure to make them soon. I wish I had more right now! Anyone wanna send me a care package? 🙂

No Bake Tropical Energy Bites [inspired by these energy bites]
click to print


  • 1 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 1 cup coconut flakes [I used sweetened but unsweetened would work too]
  • 1/3 cup dried apricots, diced
  • 1/3 cup dried mango, diced
  • 1/3 cup white chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil [melt on low heat in the microwave to bring to liquid consistency for easier stirring]
  • 1/2 teaspoon coconut extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract


In a large bowl, stir together oats, coconut, apricots, mango, and white chocolate chips. In a small bowl or measuring cup, whisk together honey, oil, and extracts. Pour wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, then stir to combine.

Let chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to firm up, then roll into heaping tablespoon-sized balls. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week [if they last that long] and enjoy!

Time: 45 minutes [15 minutes active].

Yield: about 2 dozen bites.

Breakfast, Granola, Recipes

Mango Coconut Granola

Quiz time… what do I love but never buy?


Okay, that might have been a wee bit obvious judging from the title of this post, but alas… no permanent harm done.

Seriously though, I just don’t understand how companies that sell 10-12 ounce bags of granola for SIX to EIGHT dollars apiece each stay in business. [Please excuse my internet shouting. I get worked up about overpriced items. I’m cheap frugal.] I get why they have to charge those prices… many of the granola brands I’m thinking of are organic, have a variety of nuts or special sweeteners or dried fruit, etc. And the company has to pay its employees and stay in business too, of course. That’s all well and good, and these pricy granolas are mighty tasty. But for the time being, I can’t justify paying that much moolah for one portion of my breakfast that will be finished in a week, tops. Yup, grad student speaking here. So what do I do? Make my own!

I’ve actually been making quite a few different versions of granola that I haven’t blogged about over the past threeish months… mainly because I have so many recipes in the queue that are frankly more exciting. This time though, nothing is holding me back! This Mango Coconut Granola is a tropical treat. It is officially my favorite granola of all time, a prestigious title to be sure.

So what makes this granola so great? Well, let’s see. Quiz time again.

Is it:

a) the triple punch of coconut [oil, flakes, extract]?
b) the use of almonds, the greatest nut ever?
c) the use of very expensive dried mango that my grandpa bought me at Costco?
d) all of the above.

If you picked d, you are very, very smart.

Coconut times three plus almonds plus dried mangoes just cannot be beat, even though I realize that if I added up the cost of the ingredients for this granola they might rival the expensive brands. No bother though–making things at home is part of the fun, and if you can have homemade, crunchy, flavorful granola… why wouldn’t you?

So far, my favorite way to eat this awesome granola has been with Mango Chobani and blueberries, but it’s also great with any other fruit/yogurt combo.

By the way, in case you’re interested, I’ve recently started playing with instagram a lot. 🙂 I’ve had it since I got my iPhone but never really used it til this summer. If you want to follow me, I’m @thepajamachef. Be sure to leave your username in the comments too so I can follow you back! Thanks and happy Friday!

Mango Coconut Granola [from Megan’s Cookin’]
click to print


  • 6 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup almonds, sliced or chopped
  • 1 1/3 cups sweetened coconut flakes, divided [could use unsweetened]
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar [if using unsweetened coconut, could increase to 1/2 cup brown sugar]
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil, melted and slightly cooled
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/2 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon coconut extract
  • 1/3 cup dried mango, chopped


Preheat oven to 275 degrees. Spray a large baking sheet with cooking spray and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine oats, almonds, 1 cup coconut, and brown sugar. In a small bowl or measuring cup, whisk together coconut oil, honey, and cinnamon, then add vanilla and coconut extracts. Pour wet ingredients over dry ingredients and mix well.

Press mixture evenly into baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes, then stir, press again, and bake for another 15 minutes. Cool completely, then add dried mango and remaining 1/3 cup coconut flakes. Store in an airtight container.

Time: 45 minutes [15 minutes active]

Yield: about 9 cups.