Fruity chicken salad

 

The Yankee recently made a discovery, and I’m in love.

With tea.

I used to buy gallons of fruit tea from a BBQ joint called JJ’s in Spring Hill, TN. It was amazing, and usually came in a washed out gallon-size pickle or mayonnaise container. Fine by me, as long as it ended up in my kitchen.

We moved away from Spring Hill about nine years ago, though, and I have been fruit-tea-less and bereft.

UNTIL NOW.

The Yankee found Alley Cat Tea at our local Publix and bought some for me to try. It is the real deal, folks. So much so that they don’t even know I’m writing this review/recipe — they didn’t give me any free or pay me, I just think it’s so great that y’all should know about it. To be fair, they DID offer to give me some tea, but our schedules do not mesh well.🙂

Anyway!

My favorite is to just drink it straight, but a little Jack Daniel’s in it doesn’t hurt either.😉 I wanted to find a way to cook with it, too, so I made this fruity/fruit-tea (see what I did there) chicken salad and it’s SO GOOD. It has sweetness from the tea, pineapple, and craisins; it has a tiny bit of sour from the lemon juice, and the chicken holds it all together. It does not have celery, because I don’t like eating dental floss.

To make your own:

  • 2 chicken breasts, marinated (see below)
  • 1 cup fruit tea, divided
  • 2 ounces mayonnaise
  • 1/2 granny smith apple, diced
  • 1/4 cup craisins
  • 1 small can crushed pineapple, drained
  • juice of one lemon
  • Salt, pepper
  1. Cut the chicken breasts into large chunks, and marinate in 3/4 cup fruit tea — at least a couple hours, preferably overnight
  2. Cook the chicken in the tea; I did mine in a slow cooker for about 2 hours, then shred the chicken
  3. Mix cooled, shredded chicken with mayo, apple, raisins, pineapple, lemon juice, plus remaining 1/4 cup fruit tea, then add salt and pepper to taste

 

This is amazing served as a sandwich on Hawaiian rolls, and also great with crackers for little appetizers. Enjoy!

Strawberry vinaigrette, and Ball giveaway

It is no secret to any of you that I adore kitchen classics; cast iron pans and Mason jars are at the top of the list. When Ball contacted me to see if I wanted to do a giveaway with them for the inaugural International Can-It-Forward Day I was ALL OVER THAT. This is stuff I use in my kitchen every single day, and have for years before I even started a blog.

The info on Can-It-Forward day:

On Saturday August 16, Jarden Home Brands will host the first annual International Can-It-Forward Day with special guest renowned chef and Bravo’s Top Chef judge, Hugh Acheson!  A day to celebrate home canning, International Can-It-Forward Day allows food enthusiasts to connect via a variety of online and in-person activities. New and experienced canners can participate in a live webcast on http://www.frespreserving.com, taking place on ground in Brooklyn Borough Hall Farmers Market, filled with canning demos where viewer questions will be answered in real-time by Chef Acheson and other experts while they learn the most popular (and delicious) home canning recipes. Twenty five farmers markets across the country will also be hosting Can-It-Forward Day celebrations!

In addition to the canning demos, there will also be segments on crafting, herb gardening and the brand’s new drinkware line! We will also be attempting a Guinness World Record for the World’s Largest Mason Jar Mosaic!

Here is the ridiculously awesome prize pack for the giveaway:

You can see my documented love for Mason jars here, and here’s another favorite food-in-a-jar, a recipe that’s sort of an amalgam of a few recipes I found online:

Strawberry vinaigrette

Ingredients

  • 10 strawberries, hulled
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 4 tbsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar or balsamic vinegar
  • 4 tbsp olive oil

Instructions

  1. Process the strawberries in a food processor until they’re pureed, then add lemon juice, sugar, and salt; process again until completely blended
  2. With the processor still running, add in the vinegar then oil in a steady stream until completely combined and thickened

I’m required at this point to tell you that Ball provided me with all these goodies to review at no charge, but for heaven’s sake y’all already know I love the stuff. Opinions are mine, and I’m not paid to say how much I adore them. I just do.

Giveaway closed! Thanks, y’all, and CONGRATS LEAH!

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Want some???

Let’s make this easy: just leave a comment below telling me which item in the prize pack you’re most excited about, and what you’d use it for (or for what you would use it, in case my Aunt Jane is reading).

Want an extra entry? Pin this post and come back and leave an additional comment telling me you did.

I’ll use random.org to pick a winner after midnight on August 15, central time.

And go!

Peanut butter muffins

Kiddo started public school in January so this year I had a whole new adventure: packing lunch. Being seven, he’s terribly busy at lunch doing important things like gut laughing at fart jokes discussing global economic issues, so I need to send food that packs a nutritional punch and tastes good. I thought peanut butter muffins might be a good way to get some protein in him while being a little bit of a departure from a plain ol’ peanut butter sandwich.

When I went looking for a new recipe to try, I literally looked for the recipe with the most amount of peanut butter. Let’s not fool around here! Kiddo and I (and Peanut, actually) LOVE peanut butter, and we want to taste it! This recipe started with “no such thing as too much peanut butter.” I knew we had a winner! The original recipe was filled with mini Reese’s cups and had a sweet topping. While that sounds freaking amazing, I was going for a lunch food here.🙂

 

Peanut butter muffins

Yield: 12 muffins

Ingredients

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 2/3 cup creamy peanut butter (that’s 169.6 grams*)
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 and line or grease a 12-muffin pan
  2. Beat butter, peanut butter, and sugar together in the bowl of a stand mixer until very well combined.
  3. Mix in eggs, one at a time, then milk
  4. Stir together dry ingredients, then mix into wet ingredients until JUST combined — some little lumps are okay, you just don’t want any dry flour
  5. Bake for about 20 minutes until a toothpick comes out dry

Notes

*measuring peanut butter is for the birds — much easier to set the mixing bowl on a scale and scoop out what you need!

Second grade isn’t far off! Would love to hear more suggestions for easy-to-pack lunches! What do y’all make?

Alabama white sauce

I am really, really lucky.

And by really, really lucky I mean I live about a mile away from Martin’s BBQ Joint. This is nationally acclaimed BBQ practically in my back yard!

One of my favorite things there (which is a pretty major decision; it’s all amazing) is the Alabama white sauce. It’s incredible on Martin’s smoked wings, but it’s also incredible on turkey sandwiches, meatballs, you name it. Fortunately Pat Martin shared the recipe with Garden & Gun a while back, so I get to make it at home now, too. I scale it way down to 1/4 of his recipe (see below); you can see Pat’s original proportions here.

Alabama white sauce

Ingredients

  • 1 cup mayonnaise (I use Duke’s)
  • 5 ounces cider vinegar
  • 3/4 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 tsp. minced garlic
  • 1/2 tbsp. kosher salt (heaping)
  • 1/2 tbsp. black pepper (heaping)
  • 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper

Instructions

  1. Stir it all together (I use a whisk), then store in a squeeze bottle or Mason jar
  2. Add to everything you can think of.

Pineapple bacon sandwich rolls

The Yankee went through a period where he was making bacon pretty regularly, which meant I had a fantastic supply of bacon grease to use up. I thought I’d try something new with them, and these turned out great. The bacon grease makes them very hearty, with a hint of sweetness from the pineapple juice — really great for turkey sandwiches!

These are a riff on my earlier blogged yeast rolls. Please to enjoy!

Pineapple bacon sandwich rolls

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 1 cup lukewarm pineapple juice (heating it for a few seconds in the microwave is fine)
  • 3 cups AP flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 6 tablespoons room temperature bacon grease
  • 1/4 cup dry milk powder
  • 1/2 cup instant mashed potato flakes

Instructions

  1. Combine all ingredients and knead together in a stand mixer for about six or seven minutes on the second speed; the dough should clean the sides of the bowl
  2. Let it rise till doubled, about an hour
  3. Separate dough into 16 pieces, roll into balls and place in two greased pie or cake pans
  4. Let rise again until rolls are touching and very puffy
  5. Bake at 350F for about 20 or 25 minutes until golden brown; cool for a few minutes in the pan, then transfer to a wire rack to completely cool

I’m thinking I need to try these for pimento cheese sandwiches, too. What else?

Pimento cream cheese

As discussed here over honey mustard, I’m still new to liking mayonnaise. One of my favorite things about liking mayo, though, is pimento cheese. It COMPLETES me. I always have some in the fridge now. Pimento cheese on Wheat Thins? Possibly a perfect snack.

My very favorite kind of pimento cheese is Palmetto Cheese, which is made with mayo and cream cheese. The cream cheese gives it a little extra thickness and tang and it’s just so, so good. When I heard Damaris Phillips mention on TV that she made her pimento cheese with cream cheese, I knew this was a recipe I had to try. I change hers up just a bit, using sharp yellow cheddar and adding some hot sauce; it’s a definite staple in my house now.

Pimento cream cheese

Ingredients

  • 4 ounces softened cream cheese
  • 2 ounces mayonnaise (I use Duke’s or homemade)
  • 8 ounces sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 4 ounces diced pimento (one small jar)
  • Hot sauce to taste (I use Louisiana)
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Mix together cream cheese and mayo until thoroughly combined
  2. Add in cheese and pimento and stir till well mixed
  3. Add hot sauce, salt, and pepper, tasting as you go till it’s perfect to you!

If you haven’t yet,  you really must try mixing pimento cheese into your scrambled eggs. I also love it on the afore-mentioned Wheat Thins, and of course pimento cheese sandwiches.  How do y’all eat it?

Spicy black bean soup

This recipe was born of a sudden cold day, and the accompanying feeling that I MUST EAT SOUP TODAY. I was ready for fall; what can I say? Fortunately I had what I needed on hand (which was very little, honestly) to throw this together. It’s not super spicy, but has just enough kick to warm you up; the protein from the beans makes it deliciously filling.

Spicy black bean soup

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cans (15 ounces each) black beans
  • 1 can Ro-tel
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp. chili powder
  • 16 ounces chicken broth
  • Shredded cheese, hot sauce, tomatoes, sour cream, and or green onions for topping

Instructions

  1. Heat the olive oil over medium heat, then saute the onion till it’s nice and soft
  2. Add in beans (you can drain if you want, but either way is fine), Ro-tel, tomatoes, chili powder, salt, pepper, and chicken broth; stir well
  3. Let simmer for at least 20 minutes or so; you can serve as is or blend a little with an immersion blender, which is what I did. Top with whatever sounds good, and enjoy!