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!

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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?

Cheese straws

After talking and hemming and hawing about it forever I finally bought a cookie press. It’s so much fun! I can’t believe I waited so long. I just had to try cheese straws first, and they were fantastic.

They also kind of made me want to wear a big hat and drink mint juleps, but that’s for another day.

The cookie press I bought came with a recipe book with this recipe included; I changed it to use butter instead of margarine, because yuck.

Cheese straws

Yield: 5 dozen 3 inch straws

Ingredients

  • 8 oz sharp cheddar cheese, graded
  • 3/4 cup butter, well softened
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp hot sauce (I used Louisiana)
  • 1 3/4 cups flour, sifted
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (or more if you like the heat)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven 400 F
  2. Blend cheese, butter, egg and hot sauce and set aside
  3. Sift together flour and spices, then knead into butter mixture, either by hand or in a food processor with the metal blade
  4. Use cookie press with star disk, or pipe out of ziptop bag onto ungreased cookie sheet, and bake for 10-13 minutes until golden brown. Remove immediately to cooling rack; store in airtight container when completely cooled

By the way, show of hands: who has had cheese straws before? Turns out my lived-in-the-South-all-her-life friend Vanessa had never had them. What about y’all?