Monday, March 30, 2015

Curried Chicken Salad

I could eat chicken salad every single day, and most of my girlfriends feel the same way.  My go to easy appetizer when I am in a hurry is Fresh Market rotisserie chicken salad on miniature croissants. YUM. But, as always, if you have the time it's often cheaper, healthier, and more fun to make it yourself. Here is my favorite variation on chicken salad, a curried version that's sure to please! 

As always, take this recipe and make it your own. Add celery, substitute a crunchy apple for the grapes and mango, or use almond slivers instead of cashews. Add green onions or diced red pepper, whatever suits your fancy. 

I like mine on a bed of greens or wrapped up in a lettuce wrap, and I like to add celery and a fuji apple for extra crunch. 

Curried Chicken Salad
adapted from Epicurious

1 3/4 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts
1/4 cup mayo
3/4 cup plain yogurt
3 teaspoons curry powder
1 Tablespoon fresh lime juice 
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 medium red onion, finely chopped (1 cup)
1 firm mango, peeled, pitted, and chopped
1 cup seedless red grapes, halved
1/2 cup salted roasted cashews, coarsely chopped

Bring 4 cups water to a simmer with chicken broth in a 3 quart saucepan. Add chicken and simmer, uncovered, for 6 minutes. Remove from heat and cover, then let stand until chicken is cooked through, about 15 minutes. Transfer chicken to a plate to cook 10 minutes, then chop into 1/2-inch pieces. 

While chicken is cooling, whisk together mayonnaise, yogurt, curry powder, lime juice, ginger, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Add chicken, onion, mango, grapes, and cashews and stir gently to combine. 

* if making in advance, add the nuts just before serving to keep the salad crunchy.

Friday, March 6, 2015

White Turkey Chili

This has been a tough week in our house, as we said goodbye to our oldest boxer Heidi after almost 11 years of life. She was the sweetest, most endearing old soul and we all loved her dearly. To us she represented love. She loved strongly and completely, and asked for just a little in return. She saw us through our best and worst times, and always looked at us with kind eyes.
So what do you do when you lose someone you love? I have realized that you have two choices: you can sit and cry, or you can stay busy and try to remember the good times. You still cry, but you also continue to live. Life is full of joy and pain. You can't have one without the other.  I realized that #2 was the better option, so I washed the dog beds, the sheets, the floors, and I made big pots of comfort food. I chopped and filled the house with the smell of onions cooking in olive oil. I made my first Marcella Hazan recipe and we filled our empty hearts with pasta and red wine. I also made this chili. 
I am remembering all my memories with Heidi, and one of my favorites was sitting in our yard in Catawba on a towel with my camera and photographing the two of them sprinting, rolling in the grass, and lounging. They loved that great big yard, and they taught me how to use shutter speed priority to get shots like this one. 
This recipe is from my mom's friend Pat, and we are all crazy for it. She always makes a double batch because it freezes so well. She filled our freezer with this chili when I was home on maternity leave so we could have a real meal at night with no effort. This has become my favorite chili, and so I've decided to share the recipe today. We all need comfort food sometimes, to celebrate the joy and survive the pain of life. Please remember Heidi today, and remember that to love is to live. 

White Turkey Chili
from my mom's friend Pat Burton

1/4 cup vegetable oil 
1 cup chopped onion
2 Tbsp minced garlic
1 Tbsp ground cumin
1 pound boneless turkey or chicken breast, cut into 1/4 inch cubes
1 pound ground turkey
6 cups chicken stock
2/3 cup pearl barley
1 Tbsp chopped jalapeno peppers
1 tsp dried marjoram
1/2 tsp dried summer savory
2 cans garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
1 1/2 Tbsp cornstarch dissolved in half cup of water
Chopped green onions
2 cups grated monterey jack cheese

Heat oil in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and saute until tender, about 5 minutes. Add cumin and stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add cubed turkey breast and ground turkey. Saute until no longer pink, 4 minutes.

Add the chicken stock, pearl barley, chickpeas, jalapeno, marjoram, and summer savory to turkey mixture Cover and simmer until barley is almost tender, stirring occasionally, about 45 minutes. Stir in cornstarch mixture, and simmer uncovered for 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve topped with cheese and scallions. 

*this is the original recipe from my mom's friend. I used olive oil, increased the barley to 1 cup and skipped adding the cornstarch to thicken. I also used pepper jack cheese and added several dashes of Tabasco to the pot for a little heat. 

*when my mom makes this recipe to freeze, she adds the cheese at the final step so it melts into the chili.