One of the things that I've enjoyed most about not working full-time has been the time I'm able to put into our home life. I clean more, take care of our little garden, and I experiment with our food. Instead of relying on old stand-by recipes, I now have the time to explore a little, even if it's just recipes I've never made from my expansive recipe collection.
Those of you who buy Pampered Chef products know that most of their items come with a recipe or two that you can use the product to make. I threw most of them away but kept a few that sounded yummy. As I searched my recipe collection trying to find something new and summery, I came across this salad. Here's the Pampered Chef recipe, then I'll tell you what I did differently.
3/4 c ranch salad dressing (I love Wild Coyote Ranch)
1 jalepeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped (we used one from our own garden!)
2 tsp taco seasoning
1 tbsp lime juice
1/2 c pitted ripe olives, sliced
1 c diced red bell pepper
1 pkg (10 oz) torn romaine lettuce (I like it super shredded into small pieces)
1 c black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 c whole kernel corn
2 c diced cooked chicken
1 ripe avocado, peeled, seeded and diced (optional)
Combine all the ingredients for the dressing and whisk until well-blended. Refrigerate until ready to use.
Combine all the salad ingredients then pour dressing over it. Toss gently to coat and top with avocado if desired. Serve immediately.
I used the whole can of black beans, about 1/2 cup more than the recipe calls more and I put more corn in than called for and less olives (my husband doesn't love olives). I bought one of those cooked chickens from the grocery store and diced the whole thing since I need more cooked chicken for a recipe later this week. Then I measured out 2 cups. When I make this again, I'll add another cup of chicken to make the salad a little heartier.
When I had mixed everything together, I added about 1/4 c finely chopped cilantro, about 1/2 tsp salt, and a few more dashes of lime juice.
Today, when I had the salad for lunch, the flavors were really enhanced, especially the jalepeno flavor. I added shredded cheddar cheese and a little more lime juice to brighten up the leftovers. The lettuce was wilty, not my favorite, so I'm thinking I may just omit the salad next time, or use a lot less. It was still really delicious!
With the chicken pre-cooked, there was absolutely no cooking involved in this recipe. Perfect for hot summer evenings when you really don't feel like having the oven or stove on.