One of the biggest reasons I’ve become so successful at sticking to a tight weekly food budget is leftovers. Leftovers, specifically the act of using leftovers, have become an essential tool in my kitchen and budgeting plans. There is only one problem. I’m feeding a small ravenous army and there are rarely enough leftovers to create a full sized dinner the following evening. So just use it for lunch right? Pull out your culinary creativity and magically transform those leftovers into a piping hot lunch good enough for a queen, right? Wrong. I am at my laziest right around lunch time. I do not cook lunch, I don’t want to chop, I don’t want to preheat, and I don’t want pans to scrub. I mean my gosh I have to start dinner preparations in a couple of hours! The most cooking I can commit to is dump, stir, and chow down.
Today I had this poor and pathetic chicken just a laying around I my fridge. She hasn’t always been pathetic, last night she was a gloriously roasted chicken. So here she lays today, a sad little carcass, not enough meat to feed my family again and too much meat for me to rationalize throwing away. What to do? Surely I can come up with some way of honoring this chicken in the way she deserves. I bet she was a nice chicken. She provided my family with a very affordable dinner after all. That’s when it hit me, the craving for chicken salad, and this bird had just enough meat for a large single serving. This leads me to one small problem, actually a rather large problem in the world of chicken salad, I do not eat mayonnaise. Ever. I have the biggest food aversion to the white goop that I just can’t seem to get over. It has nothing to do with calories or fat, it is the white goop part I simply cannot accept.
This food aversion has led me down some creative roads in the effort to find a suitable replacement. Dressings, vinaigrettes, and yogurts have all been used. Today I hit the jackpot with a mixture of thick and creamy Greek yogurt and Litehouse’s sweet Poppyseed Dressing. I knocked it out of the ball park! Being the “no chopping at noon” type I ravaged through my pantry and fridge looking for additions that would easily take this from “out of the ball park” to out of this world with as little effort as possible. Dried cranberries for a little sweet tart surprise, almonds for crunch (who wants to finely chop celery?), Litehouse’s Instantly Fresh Dill, and Litehouse’s Artisan Blue Cheese crumbles (because blue cheese is good enough to put in anything, and should be put on everything). What resulted was an amazing chicken salad that was like none I’ve ever tasted before, and it was all dump, stir, and chow down. It was so delicious I even skipped the bread. That’s a pretty big deal in my world; I don’t turn down bread often.
The next time you sacrifice a chicken to the “My Kids Are Bottomless Pits God” be sure to set aside any leftover meat, wait until you are alone and treat yourself to this delicious, different, super easy, and mayo free Cranberry Almond Poppyseed Chicken Salad with Blue Cheese. I mean it, wait until you are alone. You will not want to share and if your family is anything like mine any food on your plate is fair game. Insert eye roll here. Bloggers note: Can’t find the Poppyseed Dressing? Try using Litehouse’s Lite Honey Dijon or even their Fuji Apple Dressing!