Chicken Salad Sandwich with Herb & Saffron Mayo

The thing I love about rotisserie chicken is that it cuts down my cooking time of most dishes to under 20 minutes. Being a working woman with mouths to feed, it’s almost like a dream come true that I can hopscotch over to the nearest Costco or Safeway and pay anywhere from $4.99 to $6.99 for a whole, fresh bird cooked to beautiful perfection. Not only do I get to do fun things with the meat like make a delicious chicken salad sandwich, but I also reserve the bones and skin to make a robust homemade chicken broth that completely elevates the taste of many of my dishes. I am true believer in not wasting food, and chicken bones are definitely never found in my trash bin unless I’ve simmered the heck out of them over a low flame while making a broth! 🙂

This chicken salad (sandwich) is an ode to the classic lunch box fare. However, the salad is perfect as an appetizer on top of a crostini or even as a picnic lunch with a fresh baguette in hand. Scoop up some of this chicken salad with a cracker if a baguette is nowhere to be found, and you’re sure to please your taste buds even then!

Enjoy! 🙂

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Ingredients
1 rotisserie chicken, bones and skin removed
2 stalks of celery, chopped (chop up the leaves too! why waste?)
1 can of pitted olives, drained, rinsed, and halved
1 bell pepper (color of your choice), seeded and chopped into small pieces
1/2 red or white onion, chopped
1/4-1/2 cup Priyanka’s herb & saffron mayo
Kosher salt, to taste
freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
Variation: Add bacon bits or crunchy potato chips to your chicken salad for an additional crunch!
Garnishes to assemble sandwich: avocado, tomato, cheese, fresh spinach

Directions

Remove the meat from the rotisserie chicken, reserving the skin, bones, and dark meat for making your own homemade chicken broth, if desired! Otherwise, discard and place only the boneless meat in a large bowl. Add in the celery, olives, bell pepper, onion, and anywhere from 1/4-1/2 cup of Priyanka’s herb & saffron mayo.

Mixed thoroughly, but gently, until all ingredients are well-incorporated. Taste the salad and adjust seasoning, per your taste. Refrigerate in an air tight container for up to 2 days.

Serve chicken on toasted bread or hamburger bun, accompanied by avocado slices, tomato slices, pepper jack cheese, and fresh spinach. Add some bacon, sriracha hot sauce, or spicy brown mustard for a fun twist! Serve alongside baby carrots, potato chips, or fresh fruit for a complete meal! 🙂

Spiced Grilled Carrots with Mint Yogurt

My husband and I recently discovered a DELICIOUS, new restaurant in Redwood City called ‘Vesta‘. All I can say is, WOW – their menu is creative, simple, yet delicious and fresh. We ordered a wonderful pizza, accompanied by some grilled carrots that were both a beautiful presentation and outright delicious. I had no choice but to replicate it at home for a get together recently, and they were a smash hit (and a healthy one too!). The natural sweetness of the carrots mixed with the paprika and cumin, dipped in a spiced yogurt sauce is perfect. Just when we almost forgot that grilling carrots in a beautiful manner was even an option, the perfect crispy, yet charred taste through this cooking method is divine. This is the perfect side dish to any meal.

I hope you enjoy this in your kitchen as much as it was enjoyed in mine! ❤

Love,
Priyanka

Spiced Grilled Carrots

Yields: 4-6 servings

Ingredients

4 carrots, cut into strips (don’t worry about making these even – this is a rustic and beautiful dish!)
1/8 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon paprika
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon garlic paste
Kosher salt, to taste

Yogurt Sauce
1 cup of yogurt
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
1/2 teaspoon cumin
Kosher salt, to taste
2 teaspoons fresh, chopped mint

Directions

Heat up your grill or grill pan and make sure it is hot! Meanwhile, in a bowl, combine the carrots, spices, and extra virgin olive oil. Make sure the carrots are well-coated with the spices.

For the yogurt dipping sauce, combine all ingredients in a separate bowl and set aside. Place in refrigerator covered with plastic wrap until ready to serve. Can be made 1 day ahead.

Once the grill is hot, place the marinated carrots onto the hot grill and let them get a nice char by not moving them for 2-3 minutes. Rotate them to allow beautiful grill marks all over them and serve hot with the yogurt dipping sauce!!

Sun-Dried Tomato & Olive Muffins

This recipe started years ago in my kitchen as an experiment for when a friend came over to my home. I made it once, and never made it again for some reason, even though we all really enjoyed them hot out of the oven! Fast forward a few years, and that same friend who I just co-hosted a baby shower for, specifically requested that I make these for her shower. I was so incredibly honored! 🙂 At the same time, I realized that it had been so long since I had made them and had never written the recipe down…oops!

I tested this recipe until it’s perfection in time for the baby shower and it was a hit, again. The subtle flavor of the cheese mixed in with the tanginess of the olives and heartiness of the sun-dried tomatoes is divine. I hope you get to share this with your families and loved ones over this beautiful holiday season.

Cheers,
Priyanka

Sun-Dried Tomato and Olive Muffin

Note: You can make mini muffins or full-sized ones, just be sure to adjust your baking time accordingly!

Yield: 12 full-size muffins or 24-30 mini muffins
Ingredients
1 cup milk, (preferably not fat-free – I use whole milk)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 egg (can be substituted with egg-replacer powder)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup grated cheese blend (of your choice)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves or 1 teaspoon dried basil leaves
1 tablespoon dried or fresh tarragon (optional)
1 tablespoon paprika
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil, drained
1/4 cup pimiento-stuffed olives
grated cheese blend of your choice, reserved, for topping the muffins

Directions
Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Grease your muffin pan with either melted butter or cooking spray.

In a large bowl, beat the milk, oil and egg using a fork or whisk. Fold in the flour, shredded cheese, basil, tarragon, paprika, baking powder and salt using a spatula, just until all of the flour is moistened.

Continue to fold in sun-dried tomatoes and olives. Divide batter evenly among muffin cups using a cookie scoop and fill each cup to approximately 2/3 full. Sprinkle the top of each muffin with the reserved shredded cheese.

Bake your muffins on the middle rack of the oven for 18 to 20 minutes or until golden brown (depends on your oven strength, so watch them!).

Immediately remove from pan to wire rack. Serve warm if desired.

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Why waste the beautiful seeds that come out of our Halloween pumpkins every year? Create a delicious, healthy snack out of pumpkin seeds! Only 4 ingredients and an oven needed! 🙂

Enjoy! 🙂


Ingredients
2 cups raw whole pumpkin seeds, cleaned and dried
2 teaspoons butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne powder

Directions

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F (150 degrees C).

Toss seeds in a bowl with the melted butter, garlic salt, and cayenne powder (or chili powder). Spread the seeds in a single layer on parchment paper lined baking sheet and bake for about 1 hour 15 minutes, or until golden brown; stir occasionally during the roasting process for even browning.

Serve hot and sprinkle Kosher salt on top, as desired. You can also sprinkle a little sugar on top for a sweet-savory flavor when they are still warm!

Fancy Wedge Salad with Avocado, Strawberries, Bacon & Shrimp

This is a ridiculously easy, no-cook recipe (the ingredients I use are already cooked) that is crispy, fresh, sweet, savory, salty, and anything but boring! This is a great dish to take to a potluck (everyone will be so impressed with you – the beautiful colors of this salad jump out and the presentation with individual wedges is unique and appealing to the eye!). And, regardless of what people might say, yummy-looking food is always more appetizing.

It’s true that other kinds of greens (think: arugula, spinach, chard, etc.) are more nutrition-rich than iceberg lettuce. However, the crunch and crispiness of the iceberg cannot be replicated any other way.

I LOVE this salad, and my friends have enjoyed it with me. I hope you share this with your loved ones and become your next party’s superstar chef with little effort!

Yields: 12 servings
Ingredients
2 heads of iceberg lettuce
~1lb cooked shrimp (peeled)
2 ripe avocados, cubed
6 slices of crispy, cooked bacon, crumbled (I prefer thick-cut)
1/2 cup of either finely sliced red onion or finely diced red onion
1 cup of thinly sliced strawberries
Kosher salt, to taste
freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon of lemon zest
Salad dressing of your choice

Optional: Sliced, toasted almonds

Directions

Wash and dry the heads of lettuce. Remove the outer layer of lettuce. Split each head in half through the ‘root’. Then cut each half into three wedges. Each head of lettuce will yield 6 wedges.

Skewer the shrimp and avocado, alternating if desired for better presentation, and spike each wedge with your loaded toothpick.

Top each wedge with the bacon, red onion, strawberry slices. Sprinkle the salt, pepper, lemon juice, and lemon zest evenly over all 12 wedges.

Drizzle the dressing of your choice (blue cheese dressing or poppy seed dressing are my favorites!) and enjoy! 🙂

Classic Banana Bread

It’s amazing what some ripe bananas will make someone like me do 🙂 At our startup’s office (InsideVault), bananas are everyone’s favorite fruit to consume and thus I oblige by keeping the stock of bananas as plentiful as possible. Sometimes I can’t keep up with how quickly bananas disappear! But other times, no matter how hard I try to predict banana-eating behavior around me, I inevitably find myself staring at anywhere from 4-6 perfectly ripened (and unwanted) bananas from time to time.

And thus was born my classic banana bread recipe below – it’s easy, simple, and puts to use food that would otherwise go to waste. And if you know me, you know I hate wasting good food (and I hope many of you agree with me!). Everyone who I have shared this bread with has enjoyed it very much and I hope you do too! 🙂

PS – remember not to use rotten bananas, only ripe and very ripe! 🙂 A good rule of thumb is to use bananas you would eat, perhaps not at your favorite moment in it’s life, but one you would nonetheless still eat if you had to 🙂


Ingredients
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup white, granulated sugar
1/3 cup butter, softened
2 large eggs
2-2.5 cups mashed ripe banana (about 4-5 bananas)
1/3 cup plain yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Cooking spray

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt in a bowl – stir with a whisk or fork and set aside.

Place sugar and butter in a large bowl, and beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended (approximately 1-2 minutes). Add the eggs one at a time, incorporating them well into the butter and sugar mixture. Now add the mashed banana, yogurt, and vanilla; beat until blended.

Add flour mixture and beat at low speed just until moist. Use a spatula if needed to ensure that none of the flour mixture is left dry and unmixed.

Spoon batter into an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2-inch loaf pan (other pans work too, as long as they are non-stick) coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350 degrees F for 1 hour or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean (this depends on your oven strength, so start testing after the 40 minute mark).

Cool 10 minutes in pan on a wire rack; remove from pan. Cool completely on wire rack.

If desired, sprinkle powdered sugar on top of bread once cooled and serve sliced.

French-Style Goat Cheese & Mushroom Baguette

This is a fabulous, vegetarian party appetizer where you hardly miss the meat! The wholesome mushrooms cooked in the sherry and fresh parsley and garlic is a delicious, French way of cooking these mushrooms. Coupled with cheese and baguette, you are truly eating like a Parisian!

If you are not a big fan of the tanginess of goat cheese, feel free to substitute with brie cheese (also a lovely combination!) for a more mellow taste, or even thinly sliced swiss cheese.

Enjoy! 🙂

Ingredients

2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound large cremini or button mushrooms, trimmed and sliced through the stem end
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/3 cup sherry (preferably dry sherry, but regular cooking sherry works)
1 teaspoon paprika (ideally use hot smoked Spanish paprika)
4 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
zest of 1 lemon
KosherSalt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Goat cheese, to taste
16 slices baguette (can be sourdough, whole-grain, etc.)

Directions

In a large saute pan, melt the butter with olive oil over medium-high heat, until frothing (but not smoking!). Add the mushrooms and cook while stirring frequently, until just cooked through and beginning to brown (approximately 3-5 minutes).

Now add the garlic and cook for 1 minute longer, or until fragrant. Add the sherry, paprika, parsley, and lemon zest, and stir for 30 seconds, or until most of the liquid is absorbed into the mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper. Note: Do a taste taste after you think it is done, and add more salt and pepper as desired.. Set aside.

Spread goat cheese on each slice of baguette and spoon about a tablespoon of the mushroom mixture on top of each slice.

Note: Another way to serve this is to lay out the baguette slices, goat cheese log, and bowl of mushroom mixture and allow your guests to assemble their own slices as they want (I prefer this method since many of my friends do not enjoy cheese, so they can omit that and still enjoy a mushroom baguette!). Whereas, if it was me assembling my own slice of baguette, I would lather on the goat cheese! 😉

Enjoy 🙂

Pair it: with a great glass of Chardonnay!