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+++Enter At Your Own Risk+++ At the gentle nudging (I said gentle y'all) of a few friends, I have started these blogs in order to share my culinary goings-on and daily misadventures through my own brand of humor (ok, sarcasm). I just write about stuff! At 50, I have learned that living has gotten in the way of life - and I am going to blaze my own personal trail to fun (hopefully)! If it is feminine, great. If it is not, so much the better! Hopefully fun that does not land me in jail............

Sunday, April 15, 2012


A very slight variation on a Pampered Chef Recipe

I had no idea I would ever willingly pass up cake for salad.

My friend Lisa invited me to a Pampered Chef (PC) party – and it happened to fall on a day that work was INCREDIBLY HORRIBLE.  I had a “run-in” with a co-worker that I did not expect.  Needless to say, I was NOT in good humor. 

Actually, I have been in ‘less than good humor” for a few months.  That is a story for another day. 

Anywho, I was in no mood to attend the party, but Lisa needed bodies, and I committed myself to attend a whole month ahead of time. Lisa is great at reminding me when the event it coming up.  I cannot even conveniently ‘forget’.

I am not a big “gadget” girl.  I especially avoid electrical appliances. Why?
  • Cost (I always want the best – champagne taste on a beer budget)
  • Space to store them (I have a 900 Sqf house)
  • If the power goes out, I can keep cooking/prepping by candlelight and with a grill

I guess I need to list MY ‘cooking must-haves’ someday.

I had only been to one other PC party. I purchased a slicing mandolin and a set of torte pans – that I have never used. I had warned Lisa that I would probably not buy anything really, but I would go.

Famous last words.

So, in the ‘not so fabulous mood’, I meet up with Lisa and follow her to I-have-no-idea-where. I remember saying out loud ‘Hurry up, I hear banjos playing’.  Now, it wasn’t the country – but I had no idea where I was.  Thank goodness I have a GPS to get me back home, or I would be typing things like “Help, I am trapped in a cell-phone factory and I can’t get out!

When the ‘party’ started, there were 10-12 people. The PC consultant was high energy and a good saleswoman. She had us engaged and participating.  No small task with me that night.  I was the first to fall – she picks me to be the ticket-girl. I gave out tix to anyone who asked a question about the business end of PC.  Yes, PC is always looking for a few good women!  If I were ever going to be a consultant for a business such as this (Avon, Premier Jewelry, Princess House, etc.) it would be PC.

After the initial quick run-through of specials, business options, and highlights in the catalog, the consultant announced we would have food for the evening and proceeded to assign each of us a task for creating the meal of the night. 

  • No-Knead Yeast Bread made earlier
  • Southwestern Chicken Salad
  • Chocolate Lava Cake

She asked ‘who has had the worst day’? Lisa points to me…  So, I got to ‘beat the meat’.  Yes, it went hysterically downhill from there. We had spice girls, a cake mixer, a salad spinner, can openers…  But no, Cookie gets to not only beat her meat, she also got to massage her breasts with olive oil. Do you see where that went?  The atmosphere went downright dirty…  It was fun actually.

So, bottom line? I learned the following tips:
  1. Boneless, skinless chicken breasts cook unevenly due to thickness issues. So beat the meat to even it out.
  2. When beating your meat, put it in a ziplock bag to keep the mallet clean and keep meat from flying if you get too energetic with beating it.
  3. Put a little olive oil inside the bag after you beat your meat – and massage that oil around in the sealed bag.
  4. You can make ready-made salad dressing into a totally new flavor with a few added ingredients.
  5. Chocolate Lava Cakes made in the microwave are pretty darn good.
  6. If a salad is so good that I will pass up the chocolate cake and stuff myself on the salad – it is an awesome salad!
  7. If you cut up, wash and spin dry your lettuce, then place it in a paper-towel lined stainless bowl and cover, it will last like a week.  I am currently testing this one!

My Purchases:
  • 2 each Dijon Mustard Rubs
    • One for me, one for a friend
    • I just smelled it in the bottle and I was ‘up-sold’
  • 1 grill pizza pan
    • For cooking your pizza in the grill
  • 1 set of nesting biscuit cutters
    • For a friend.
    • I use my grandmother’s old cutter.
  • 1 Adjustable Measuring Cup
    • For a friend.
  • 1 Mini Adjustable Measuring Cup
    • For a friend.
  • 1 Food Processor (non-electrical)
    • Mine, all mine!!!!!!!!!!!!

Let me just say that I have made the Southwestern Chicken Salad several times in the past 3 weeks.  EVERYONE has LOVED it. Nobody has turned their nose up or thought it was simply “ok”.  This is a great salad with a different flavor.

OK¸ enough of the babble.  As with most ‘non-baking’ recipes, I have made a few changes and have noted them in the following recipe:

  • 16 ounce bottle of ranch salad dressing
  • 1 fresh jalapeno pepper (with pith/seeds removed and diced or run through food processor)
  • Juice of 1/2 or 1 lime (I use fresh squeezed, not bottled)
  • 4- 6 tsp. taco seasoning mix (I like a little more than the original 4 tsp) I make my own now....
  • 1 small yellow or red onion (I do not put much onion in, but that is my preference)
  • 1 ½ +- pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1-2 Tbl. Olive oil
  • 1 clove fresh garlic, peeled and minced (I use a garlic press)
  • 1 head iceberg, green leaf, or romaine lettuce (I use romaine)
  • 3 Roma tomatoes (or a package of cherry/grape tomatoes)
  • 1 fresh cucumber, sliced (you can score along the length of the cucumber with a fork to create a ‘flower’ affect after they are sliced)
  • 1 green, red or yellow bell pepper
  • 1 can (14 ounces) black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can yellow sweet corn, drained
  • 1 block (8 ounces) cheddar cheese, grated (Or bagged pre-grated Cheddar – I like super-super sharp)
  • 1 bag tortilla chips, crushed
  • Your choice of ‘rubs’ for the chicken.  (I use homemade taco seasoning)
  • Optional: Sliced Avocado

  • Dressing
    • Pour salad dressing into a 2c (or larger) glass/ceramic container.
    • Stir in jalapeno, lime juice and taco seasoning and stir well. I use a whisk.

  • Chicken
    • Place chicken breasts in a ziplock bag, get most air out and seal it.
    • Use a mallet to beat your meat – down so that each breast is generally the same thickness from one end to the other.
    • Open the bag, pour your olive oil in, reseal and massage the oil around all over the breasts.
    • Open the bag, add the garlic and reseal and massage the garlic around your breasts.
    • Coat a fry pan with oil and preheat on medium heat. Or preheat your George Foreman Grill (that is what I have been doing).
    • Press ½ lime over chicken using Citrus Press (note, I have NOT done that yet. Keep forgetting!)
    • Either cut open the bag or pull your breasts out of the covering and coat with your choice of “Rubs”
    • You can use salt and pepper if you wish, but if you choose a nice “Rub or Rubs” will negate the need really.  And THAT piece of advice comes from someone who OFTEN over salts foods because I LOVE SALT.
    • I would tell you how long to cook the chicken – but that is up to you. You want it cooked through, but not dry.
    • Cut into thin slices – maybe 1”-2” in length. Do as you wish on that part.

  • Salad
    • Cut lettuce of choice
    • Rinse lettuce well and spin excess water out in spinner
    • Place in large bowl
    • Add chicken, tomato, cucumber, bell pepper, black beans, sweet corn, cheddar cheese, avocado (if used), and crushed tortilla chips.
    • Toss
    • Add salad dressing.
    • Toss
    • Serve
      • -OR-
        • Layer the salad ingredients to be pretty.
        • Serve with dressing on the side.

My suggestions:
  • The salad fed 10 people (along with a no knead bread that was made ahead of time and a chocolate lava cake). 
    • You can cut all the ingredients and store in the fridge separately to pull at a moment’s notice. 
    • Great for carting to lunch functions.
    • If you make a large salad, do NOT put the crushed chips in it until ready to serve so they do get soggy.
    • If you are serving this for a lot of people at one time and want to make sure your dressing does not run out – toss it into the salad before serving.
  • If calories are a concern, use a low cal Ranch dressing.
  • If calories are a SERIOUS concern, water the dressing down before tossing it into the salad.  You would not believe how far the flavor still goes.

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