I currently live in Charlotte, NC and after spending 7 years as a personal chef and caterer, I am now happy to share my love of cooking with friends and family. My heart is in the kitchen, but my soul is in the stars!

You are my sunshine....

photo by Dear Ole' Dad :)

It's not very often that I participate in a blog event - mostly because my schedule is so erratic and I can never seem to get the dish made, photographed, and blogged about before at least a month has passed since the event. But when Lisa of La Mia Cucina and Kelly of Sass and Veracity put the call out for a Salad 'Stravanganza in an effort to trim down for bikini season, I made it my personal mission to participate. And here I am skidding in on two wheels just in time for the deadline.

Lisa and Kelly were looking for any kind of salad recipe and not just lettuce type salads. Macaroni, Seafood, Chicken, Dessert, Pasta, Veggie, Fruit - all kinds. In addition, they were looking for homemade dressing recipes. I have a plethora of both salad and dressing recipes in my collection, but as soon as Lisa posted about the event, I knew without a doubt what I would submit. My most favorite chicken salad ever. I found a recipe called "Sunshine Chicken Salad" several years ago on the internet while gathering and researching recipes for my personal chef service. I had one client who requested this salad every single week and she literally begged me for the recipe when I told her that I was moving out of state and had to discontinue her service. My current catering clients love it too. Alot of them ask what we put in the salad to make it taste so good, and my standard answer is that it's loaded with chicken and fruit with a honey and mayo based dressing with "our secret ingredients" added. You'll see below that our "secret ingredient" is in fact a packet Hidden Valley Ranch dressing mix. The original recipe called for almonds to be mixed into the recipe, but I usually omit those because after the salad sits for a day or so, the nuts become bloated and mushy. I do, however, like to garnish with slivered toasted almonds when I'm serving for a catering function. I usually pick up a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store when I make this recipe at home.

I'm pretty sure this salad doesn't fall into the "low fat, low calorie" category considering all the mayo, honey, and sugars from the fruit and even though Lisa said "portion control is key," when it comes to salads of this nature I bet she, Kelly, and even you won't be able to stop yourself from sneaking another bite! Enjoy!!

* Exported from MasterCook *

Sunshine Chicken Salad

Serving Size : 8

Amount Measure Ingredient -- Preparation Method
-------- ------------ --------------------------------
1 package Hidden Valley Ranch dressing mix
1 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup honey
2 pounds cooked chicken -- small dice
2 cups sliced celery
16 ounces pineapple tidbits in juice, drained well (it is really important to drain them well or your salad will be wet and drippy. Just pour them into a strainer and let them sit for a few minutes while you go about the rest of the recipe)
3 cups seedless red grapes -- cut in half
1 cup toasted slivered almonds, for garnish

Combine dressing mix, mayonnaise, and honey thoroughly in a small bowl; chill for 30 minutes. Place remaining ingredients except almonds in a large bowl; toss with chilled dressing. Spoon mixture onto a bed of torn salad greens and sprinkle almonds on top to serve.

*To toast almonds, place in a shallow baking pan. Bake at 350*F for 15 to 20 minutes or until almonds are lightly browned, stirring occasionally. Cool. Or, place in skillet over medium heat and toast almonds, stirring constantly, until golden in color. Be careful not to burn nuts.

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Lis said...

You have no idea how much I love this kind of chicken salad.. so YUMMY!

I don't think I've ever had it with Hidden Valley in the dressing.. Can! Not! Wait! To! Try!!! heee! =)

Thank you sooooooo much, sweetie! I know how darn busy you are, so I really appreciate this - you rock =)


kellypea said...

I am so impressed by what you've built -- and I'm not just speaking of the salad. How amazing. Truly. I've had others suggest I do what you are doing, and I shy away because it seems so daunting. Hats off to you -- especially because you took the time from your busy life to send in your salad.