Thinking outside the Valentine’s box

So, confession, I am not really all that into Valentine’s Day. I can’t remember a time that I really was. Jeremy and I do not celebrate the holiday and up until this year, I’ve had no reason to decorate a shoebox and buy a package of valentines for Young Master Gray. As you might guess, I was not exactly thrilled to have this task this year. I did come up with a cute idea for the valentine’s box, but my heart still wasn’t in it. The valentine options at the store were nothing to get excited about either. I didn’t want to spend way too much money on overpriced slips of paper plastered with obnoxious characters that would most likely end up in the recycling bin. (Yes, I know it’s possible that one day Young Master Gray may beg for them and I will most likely have to change my stance.) Then, the other day I was scrolling through my Insta feed and I saw the cutest valentines from Gingiber.

Seriously. Just imagine me with heart eyes.

I have shopped with this small, Arkansas-based business before (see Young Master Gray’s shirt in yesterday’s post, for example) so I did not hesitate to purchase them. I mean, for $2 for the digital download and the cardstock that was already sitting in my printer, it was a no brainer compared to the boxed valentine prices! Not to mention they are super duper cute. Cute enough for me to want to hand them out to my own friends!

Now I cannot wait for Young Master Gray’s Valentine’s Day party! Gotta get started on that shoebox…

Chicken Salad with a Kick

Not too long ago I read a story about a woman who stabbed her boyfriend after he ate all of their salsa. I’m just going to say, while I don’t condone her violent actions, I could definitely feel some empathy for the woman. My love for salsa started as a toddler living in Texas. I’m told that I would eat chip after salsa-dipped chip regardless of the tears streaming down my face. That is commitment. To this day, I am still committed to my obsession for love of salsa. While he has no fears of getting stabbed, my husband picks up bean chips and salsa at the market like another man might get roses and chocolate for his wife. He knows me all too well. I’m a little embarrassed to admit that I can go through 2 jars of salsa a week. I don’t have a problem, I swear!  

Recently, I had the opportunity to visit P. Allen Smith’s Moss Mountain Farm for their reprise of Farm2Home, an event bringing together Arkansas farmers and makers with bloggers from the state. As part of the schedule of events, we (the bloggers) were let loose to sample from Arkansas Grown and Arkansas Made products at a pop-up Farmer’s Market right there on the farm. Among the many people I met and sampled from was Dennis Pratt. By the time I made it to his booth I was almost too full from all of the sriracha rolls, chocolate goat cheese, and gluten-free brownies I had tasted, but Mr. Pratt had salsa! There is always room for salsa.

Over the crunching of the chip and my mouthful of Pratt Family Salsa (I went for the medium), I learned from Dennis that the deliciousness I was partaking of came from a spice mix that can be added to fresh (or canned) tomatoes.

Because fans of Pratt Family Salsa enjoy using the spice mix in other recipes, Dennis said they are about to launch their first recipe contest. Check their website for an announcement regarding how to submit your own recipe.

Once I returned home with my own package of the Mabelvale, AR made blend of spices, I could not stop thinking about that recipe contest. Also on my mind was the chicken salad that was served for our lunch at Moss Mountain Farm. Naturally, I immediately went to work on a recipe for a chicken salad that would incorporate the spice mix. 

I started with 6 tablespoons of traditional plain Greek Yogurt (none of that reduced fat stuff!), plus 1 tablespoon of mayonnaise.  My family and I love the tang of mustard so I also added a teaspoon of Dijon mustard. The recipe would be fine without the mustard if you prefer to leave it out. After rummaging through the fridge, I decided to add about 2 tablespoons of sliced green onions, 2 teaspoons of fresh lime juice, and a tablespoon of coarsely chopped cilantro. I didn’t have any celery, so to add some crunch to the salad, I incorporated a mixture of fine chopped and coarsely chopped toasted almonds, about 2 tablespoons.

Next, I added 2 teaspoons of the Pratt Family Salsa spice mixture.

Because the spice mix already has salt in it, I did not add any extra, however, I did add a bit of freshly ground black pepper. Once that was all mixed together, I added my chicken. Now, normally I would use poached chicken made ahead of time. In fact, I still recommend it for this recipe. I think 2 chicken breasts would be enough. However, my husband talked me into buying organic chicken breast in a can on our last Sam’s Club trip. I initially said it was up to him to eat it, but in my excitement to make (and eat) this chicken salad, I grabbed it and threw it in. Honestly, I could not even tell once it was mixed into all of the other yummy ingredients.

Throwing things together like this is completely out of my comfort zone–I thrive within the confines of a recipe–so I was so thrilled that I was not only able to make even such a simple dish without a cookbook or Pinterest, but also that the result was fan-freakin-tastic! My own family loved it as well and I cannot wait to make it for friends and family at our next gathering.

Any other recipe ideas for this dry salsa mix?

The recipe contest is slated to start July 1. According to Dennis, “We are looking for
great dishes that have utilized our spices. They don’t have to be a
gourmet dish, sometimes the simpler dish is just as good. We will not
reject any recipe as long as it is made with our spices. At this time,
we plan to pick the best 2 recipes per month to award a large bag of our
salsa spices.  We will then post [the recipes] on our website with the name of
person who sent it in.”

I hope my Chicken Salad with a Kick is worthy of a bag of salsa spices!


12.5 oz can organic chicken breast (or 2 chicken breasts, poached)
6 Tbsp plain Greek yogurt
1 Tbsp mayonnaise
1 tsp Dijon mustard (optional)
2 tsp fresh lime juice
2 Tbsp green onions, sliced
1 Tbsp cilantro, roughly chopped
2 Tbsp toasted almonds, chopped
2 tsp Pratt Family Salsa spices
Ground pepper, to taste

Combine Greek yogurt, mayonnaise, mustard, lime juice, green onions, cilantro, almonds, salsa spices and pepper. Stir in chicken. Serve.