Thursday, June 28, 2012

Fool-proof Cranberry Chicken Salad

This is my go to pot luck dish. I've made it for baby showers, pool parties and picnic lunches, and it's always a hit.

It's also kind of irresistible, well, to my husband at least.

On more than one occasion I've found him eating a bowl of chicken salad that he knew was supposed to be saved for an event. The last time I caught him it was after 9 at night. At first I thought he was eating a bowl of ice cream, then I noticed he was acting guilty.

The man loves his meat.

You can use leftover chicken of any kind for this recipe but I usually simmer chicken breast in spices. I think it creates a better texture for chicken salad. I'll bring a pot of water to a boil, add dried herbs and spices like bell's seasonings, bay leaves, rosemary, and thyme, turn down the water to a simmer and cook for about 20 minutes. Then I leave the chicken in the broth and let it cool off before chopping (I feel like this helps keep the chicken moist).

Below is the recipe but keep in mind the measurements are pretty loose. I don't recommend messing with the ingredients much, but just about everything can be added to taste.

Cranberry Chicken Salad

1 lb cooked chicken, cubed
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 small grated, or finely diced onion
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup pecans, loosely chopped
1/4 cup fresh flat-leafed parsley, chopped
Salt & pepper, to taste

Add all of the ingredients in a large bowl and toss until evenly coated.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Spinach Artichoke Dip Mashed Potatoes

The word accomplishment has a different definition for me now.

It used to be that I felt accomplished when I finished a triathlon or received an award at work.  

Nowadays, if I'm able to exercise, shower and cook dinner in the same day, I feel like superwoman.

...As the commercial goes, having a baby changes everything. 

I felt like I had accomplished something (albeit a little victory) the other night when I needed to use up 3/4 of a can of artichokes and a bit of spinach. Oh, and some potatoes that were starting to sprout. My tape-worm of a stomach called at me to make spinach-artichoke mashed potatoes, and so I did. 

It was quite delicious. 

I simply made the beginning of a spinach-artichoke dip and added it to mashed potatoes, checked the seasonings and added some dairy goodness. I really think it could be delicious without the dairy too. The spinach and artichoke add a great heartiness to the potatoes (and a nice kick of color).

Spinach Artichoke Dip Mashed Potatoes
serves 4-6

2 lbs yukon gold potatoes, roughly chopped (or any good mashing potato)

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, chopped

5 oz fresh spinach (frozen will work here too)
14 oz can of artichokes, loosely chopped
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup cream cheese

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add potatoes and cook for 10-12 minutes, or until tender. Meanwhile, in a saute pan over medium low heat, add chopped onion and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Then add the garlic and cook another minute or two. Then add the artichokes and spinach and season with salt and pepper. Cook another five minutes or so. When the potatoes are done boiling, drain and return back to the pot. Add the spinach mixture and cheese, sour cream and cream cheese. Taste and season with more salt and pepper and serve (with a bit more parmesan cheese on top if you'd like).