Yogurt Chicken Salad

 

 

I will admit – I LOVE mayonnaise. Not just any mayo, but the Best Foods straight up bad stuff. I used to adore white sourdough sandwiches layered thick with mayo and salami. Mmmmm … but ever since learning how bad store bought mayo is, I have cut it out of my diet. (note, real mayo made at home or with real ingredients is just fine). The mayo I like from the store is made from soybean oil, high fructose corn syrup, corn starch, etc. All of these come from GMO crops. Your body can’t break down soybean oil well and treats it as a toxin, sending it straight to the liver. Anyways, this is a conversation for another day … I digress.

At the gym, I try to pretend I don’t know about store bought mayo and I often get myself a treat: the chicken salad snack. It’s soooo good. I KNOW it’s made with the addictive Best Foods mayo.  So I decided I have to take matters into my own hands and find a way to recreate this yummy dish without the mayo at home. Right now, I don’t have the time or interest to make my own mayo – although maybe someday I will and I will use the previous link when I do!  So for now,  I wanted to try a quick yogurt alternative. I played around, and this recipe is very similar and quite tasty. Would be excellent to make a huge batch and have it ready to go throughout the week for an easy healthy lunch.

Chopped cooked chicken breast (i used a costco rotisserie chicken)
Chopped red or green onions
Dried cranberries (trader joes and costco both carry brands that do not add sugar to their dried fruit!)
Sliced grapes
Chopped apple
Sliced almonds
Garlic powder or salt
Black pepper
Plain yogurt

Mix and determine amounts as needed. You can see my amounts in the picture. Play around with what suits your taste buds. Enjoy on bread or wrapped in lettuce!

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Picture Step by Step Chicken Soup Tutorial

Here is a step by step picture tutorial on how to make your own nourishing chicken soup.  In our house, we use quinoa instead of noodles, but Chicken Quinoa Soup just doesn’t have the same ring to it ask Chicken Noodle Soup!  So, if you prefer noodles, go ahead and skip the quinoa prep parts, but I do highly recommend you try it with quinoa instead because of the wonderful nutritious value of this super grain.

Do youself a favor when you make this – make it BIG so that you have some to freeze for the future, when you are feeling under the weather, and you need a quick hardy soup on hand.  I always feel infinitely happier when I know there is frozen soup in my freezer!!

And forgive the quality of my pictures.  I’m not going for a food blog award here.  These are iPhone photos taken in my small messy kitchen with poor lighting.  It’s real life folks.  Real life.

And onward to the soup!!

Step 1: Peel and chop half an onion.  Ignore the Safeway receipt.  

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Step 2: Sauté chopped onion with a few pats of butter in a stock pot or dutch oven.

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Step 3: Peel and mince a few cloves of garlic, add to the sautéing onions


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Step 4: Toast 1 cup of quinoa in a saucepan for about 6 minutes. Just quinoa in the pan, nothing else. You will know it’s done toasting when you can smell it. Don’t let it go too long or it will burn. If you need to, put a timer on it!


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Step 5: Chop several stalks of celery

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Step 6: Add chopped carrots. These are extra carrots and green beans that I had over the summer, so I chopped them up and tossed in a freezer bag. Perfect and easy to put in soups when you are short on time! I put them in the soup completely frozen. Freezing pre-chopped veggies is amazing and so helpful.  How did I just learn about it?  Life changing!!


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Step 7: Add herbs. Here I am using fresh parsley. If you have it, great. If you don’t, no worries. Allow veggies to cook until softened.  Also add some salt.


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Step 8: By this time, you should smell your quinoa toasting up nicely. Measure 1 3/4 cups water, preferably boiling hot, but it’s ok if it’s not.

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Step 9: Add the water to your quinoa

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Step 10: Add a tbsp of olive oil to the pot with the water and quinoa. I don’t measure, just a quick pour.

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Step 11: Add a tsp of salt to the quinoa. 

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Step 12:  Bring quinoa to a boil, then down to low and simmer for 20 minutes.

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Step 13:  Revisit your veggies.  Add spices.  These are my favorite cast of characters.  Just a pinch or two of the turmeric will give a nice flavor.  I like to be generous with the garlic salt and other seasonings.  Other yummies to add are dried onion, onion salt, thyme.

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Step 14:  Add your cooked chopped chicken.  Stir to get them covered with the flavors and cook for a minute.  This is where already cooked chicken from the freezer comes in very handy – preferably if you made a roast chicken and shredded the extra meat!  Also another great way to save $, one whole chicken can make several meals if you roast it, then shred it, make broth, and soup.  Our family of 5 can use one 4 lb chicken for 3 meals.  You rock, roast chicken! 

(here it is out of the fridge)

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(then chopped and in the soup!)

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Step 15:  Add your homemade chicken broth until the veggies are completely covered, and then some.  Yes, homemade broth.  It’s where all the nutrients and healing “powers” of the soup come from.  Store bought broth does not have the same nutritional qualities.  But if you are pressed, store bought is OK.  Just promise me next time you’ll do homemade, ok?  

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Step 16:  Bring to a boil.

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Step 17:  Once your quinoa is done, it should look like this.  Add to your soup.  I like to add all of it.  I think it makes a hearty soup and keeps you full longer.  Of course, if you are doing noodles instead, add the cooked noodles now.

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Step 18: Check your flavors.  Taste, adjust, taste taste, adjust more!!  I always end up adding more salt and seasonings.  Just use a clean spoon for every taste.   🙂  And voila!  Your soup is done!  Super healthy, warms up up inside (which helps fight germs, too!), veggies, bone broth gelatinous goodness to keep your immunity up, and all the delights of the complete protein, high calcium, magnesium, and iron of the lovely hardy gain quinoa.  Eat!  Enjoy!  (remember to stir well when serving because the quinoa is heavy and sinks to the bottom).

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Whole Chicken in a Crock Pot

 

 

I just discovered this incredibly easy way to prepare a whole chicken! Seriously, no prep AT ALL! Love it. The chicken is tender and great for shredding into tacos, soups, salads, etc.

4 lb Whole Chicken

Salt Chicken

Place in crockpot, add in lemons and garlic if you have it – if not, no problem!

Cook on High for 3 hours. If 5 lb bird, cook 3.5 hrs.

Allow chicken to rest 10 minutes before cutting into it. The skin will not be crisp like a roasted chicken, but the meat will be moist and tender!

Don’t forget to use that chicken later for homemade chicken broth!!

Susie’s Chicken Enchilada Soup

 

Susie inspired me with her talk about chicken enchilada soup! I did my best to recreate her vision after she visited us. Thankfully, soups are forgiving and you can play around with this recipe using a few simple ideas as a base.

Sautee in butter or olive oil:

Onions, garlic, bell peppers

Add in:

Enchilada Sauce

Homemade Cream of Chicken Soup

Shredded cooked chicken (about 2 breasts)

Corn or canned cream corn

Beans (black)

Cheese (a few handfuls of a hearty cheddar)

Adjust flavor with spices:

Cumin, Garlic Salt, Chili Powder, Salt, Salsa

If you soup is too thick, thin it out with some milk/water combo.

Serve with chips, cheese, green onions, cilantro on top!

 

Thai Chicken Quinoa Salad

The best part of this salad is the dressing! Yum! Salads are great because you can pick and chose what to include based on what you have. I wanted to use up our leafy greens, so I added them – but didn’t have carrots, edamame, or cilantro. We didn’t miss those too much! The quinoa and chicken made this salad a hearty meal.

Thanks to Bites and Mel’s Kitchen for this recipe!

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 1/2 cups uncooked quinoa, rinsed well
  • 2 cups cooked chicken
  • 1/2 cup chopped carrots
  • 1/2 cup shelled edamame
  • 1/2 cup chopped red pepper
  • 4 green onions, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped roasted peanuts
  • 1/2 cup freshly chopped cilantro
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 tablespoons sweet chili sauce
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons canned coconut milk
  • 1 tablespoon packed light brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons creamy peanut butter
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 1 lime juiced, about 2 tablespoons
  • Pinch of ground ginger

DIRECTIONS

  1. Prepare quinoa according to package directions. I usually cook quinoa in low-sodium chicken broth: 1 cup quinoa to 1 1/2 cups liquid.
  2. While quinoa is cooking, combine all of the sauce ingredients together in a liquid measure and whisk to combine (or pulse in a blender). When the quinoa finishes cooking, scoop it into a large bowl. Stir in the sauce and mix well. Stir in the chicken, carrots, edamame, red pepper, green onions, peanuts and cilantro. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm, room temperature or chilled.

How To Stir Fry

 

Just yesterday, I was talking to my sister about how I am not one to make a “quick and easy stir fry”. She lives in Shanghai, so I thought she’d have some good ideas for me. She did – and so I put them together with the help of my handy dandy favorite cookbook, and made a simple guide to the stir fry world. I like that you can play around with whatever veggies and meats you have on hand. Perfect for cleaning out the fridge night.

Chop meat in small cubes – use pork, chicken – or thin slices of beef

Marinate while you chop veggies. You can look up a fancy marinade or just dose with a tsp of fish sauce and a tsp of soy sauce. Add a hearty pinch of salt and pepper.  We like to use Tamari soy sauce because it’s GMO free!

Chop and separate your veggies. Use anything. Carrots, Bell Peppers, Squash, Cabbage, Kale, Swiss Chard, Tomatoes, Onions … separate the harder veggies from the soft.

Mix together a “sauce”. This is a forgiving science. Some good choices are equal parts soy sauce, fish sauce with a dash of chicken broth, water, plum sauce, brown sugar, cornstarch …. even ketchup! I typically leave out the sugar and cornstarch and my sauce ends up just fine.

Finely mince some garlic and/or ginger.

Putting It All Together:

Make sure everything above is prepped and ready to go.

If you have a wok, you are awesome. Pull it out and heat that baby up on a medium high heat. If you are like me and have no wok, use a large nonstick pan. If you are skilled in cooking on stainless steel, give it a go.

Here is the trick to stir frying – use a small amount of oil and a high heat. This will sear and cook your food without the veggies getting soft.

Add a scant about of oil – 1 tsp. Most cookbooks call for peanut oil. I used olive oil – or I think coconut would be good too.

Put half of your meat in the pan and cook until browned. If it’s not done all the way, that is OK, it will go back in the pan later. Take it out, put it in a bowl or plate, and add the other half. If you pieces are small this process should only take a few minutes.

In the empty pan, add a bit more oil. Put in the harder veggies and start cooking. Add the softer veggies once the harder ones have softened a bit.

Make a hole in the center of the pan. Put a scant bit of oil, and add the garlic and ginger. Let it cook in the center, mashing it with the back of spoon, until it is fragrant and starting to brown. Then mix into the veggies.

Now add back in the meat, and dump in your sauce. Stir and cook until the sauce gets warm and thickens.

Add some fresh herbs if you like – and perhaps some nuts!

Serve over rice, quinoa, or noodles.

Yum!

 

Artichoke Mustard Chicken

 

Yum, we’ve loved this each time I made it. Henry, age 5, asked for “that chicken that I love so much”. This is it! I bet this would be tasty cold on a salad the next day, too – but we eat it up so fast there are never left overs! I use marinated artichoke hearts from Trader Joes which give it a great flavor as well. And, a quick tip, slice your chicken breasts vertical to make them thinner – the dish will cook more quickly.  Thank you Flax+Honey!
INGREDIENTS:
  • 4 organic chicken breasts (thighs/legs would do great, too)
  • 1 can artichoke hearts, quartered
  • 1 onion roughly chopped
  • 1 pound mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons of brown mustard
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup red wine
  • 1/2 teaspoon of Trader Joe’s 21 Seasoning Salute (If you aren’t familiar with this, it’s basically just a fabulous blend of spices – I use it for practically everything.)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • Salt and pepper to taste
METHOD:
  1. Pre-heat oven to 350.
  2. Line a 13 x 9 baking dish with parchment paper. Arrange the artichokes on the bottom of the pan, place the onions next, then the mushrooms.
  3. Lay the chicken on top of the veggies.
  4. In a mixing bowl combine and mix the mustard, garlic, oil, vinegar, wine and spices. Pour this mixture over your chicken. I let mine marinate in this for about an hour before placing it in the oven, but you certainly can skip that step.
  5. Cook for about 45 minutes. *If your chicken pieces are on the thinner side, check your chicken for doneness around the 30 minute point, you definitely don’t want to overcook it. However, the thicker pieces may need to cook for as long as an hour.
  6. Serve hot and pile all the veggie goodness on top of your chicken. Hope you like it!

Homemade Chicken Stock

 

 

So, no, of course you don’t HAVE to make your own broth. You can easily get away with the store bought stuff. But in all honesty, once you do your own, you’ll have a hard time going back. Everything is so much more delicious and flavorful with homemade broth. Especially soups. And, it’s super good for you. The vinegar in this recipe helps leach the marrow from the bones, and that’s the good stuff that makes you feel better when you’re sick and boosts your immune system.

Homemade Chicken Stock
Bones from leftover roasted chicken

a few carrots roughly chopped

a few celery stalks roughly chopped and the end bits that you usually don’t use

some leaves from the celery (lovage) and carrot tops if you have them

quartered onion (no need to peel)

parsley – fresh is great if you have it

a few garlic cloves

lots of salt

a splash of white wine if you’ve got it

a few tbsp vinegar

Put it all in the biggest stock pot you have – add water to cover everything, and bring to a boil. Then simmer and cover for at least 24 hrs, if not longer. When the water cooks down, add more.

After simmering is done, drain the broth and discard the solids. Divide into 2 cups and freeze in plastic baggies. Voila!

Alice Chicken

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Let’s start off by saying, I don’t know why this is called Alice chicken. But since we have an Alice, I figured we’d go for it. Also, I haven’t been in the kitchen for a MONTH (gasp) and this was a delightful way to re-enter. At first, I wasn’t feeling the whole “cooking” thing. A month off is a long time and I was kinda getting used to take out (thanks NYC) and others cooking for me (thanks family in town!). But once I got that bacon sizzling on the stove, I was back in 100%. This was amazing. I’m already planning to make it again in a few days.

Check the original recipe via Flax+Honey here!

INGREDIENTS:
  • 4 chicken breasts
  • 6 slices of bacon
  • 1/2 package of sliced mushrooms
  • 1/4 cup mustard
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1-2 cups colby jack cheese, cheddar will do fine, too. We like Kerrygold Cheddar Cheese. (Omit cheese if Paleo)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
METHOD:
  1. Pre-heat oven to 350. Line a 9 x 13 baking dish with parchment paper.
  2. Cook your bacon. Put cooked bacon aside. Do not dump out the bacon grease – you’re going to brown your chicken in it in the same pan!
  3. While your bacon is cooking, mix the mayo, mustard and honey together. This is your honey mustard sauce.
  4. Place your chicken in the pan with the bacon grease still in it and cook chicken 3-4 minutes on each side or until lightly browned.
  5. Place lightly browned chicken in your baking dish, top with slices of bacon, mushrooms, the honey mustard and then finally the cheese!
  6. Let bake until chicken is fully cooked, about 30 minutes, but be sure to check for doneness.
  7. Serve with extra honey mustard sauce, if desired. Kids love dipping their chicken in this!

Favorite Roasted Chicken

 

It seems like a big production, doesn’t it? To roast a chicken? I usually think it is, and then I remember how simple popping a whole chicken in the oven really is. The prep is significantly less complicated than most weeknight dinners. And roasting a chicken makes your house smell DIVINE, so there’s that plus too.

Here’s my favorite way to prep a whole chicken. I think I saw it on some cooking thing with Jamie Oliver, way back when, long before I met Andrew. It was so simple, even the non-cooking younger version of myself was able to pull it off (and remember it many years later).

One more plus of roasting a chicken – making your own healthy bone marrow broth!! Post later to come!

So, get a good high quality roasting chicken (around 4-5 lbs).

Rub the outside down with lots of salt.

Take the insides out. Don’t worry, this used to freak me out. Usually the insides are all nicely in a bag inside the chicken so you don’t have to dig around for a heart or something gross. And, even if you do, it honestly is not that bad.

Boil a lemon. Yes, boil water and drop a lemon in. Let it boil while you do the next steps.

Mash together a few tbsps of soft butter, fresh rosemary, lemon zest, garlic, and salt. It doesn’t really matter how much of anything. That’s the great part of making a chicken.

Slide your fingers in under the skin of the bird. Push the butter mixture around, under the skin. Just as much as you can.

Now using tongs, take the boiled lemon out and stab it a few times with a fork or a knife. Put inside the bird. Throw some garlic and onions in there too, if you can. Don’t bother peeling those. It doesn’t matter. This is just for flavor.

Put the chicken in the roasting pan. This is not science. Every single time I do this, I put the bird in upside down. Really. I dont mean to, I just have some kind of mental block about how to do it. You know what? It still comes out just fine. Even cooked upside down.

Toss some rosemary springs on the bird.

Cook on 350 for about an hour.

Meanwhile, chop up some root veggies. We usually do some kind of combo of carrots, potatoes, parsnips, turnips, onions, butternut squash or pumpkin. Really whatever you have is good, as long as it’s a root veggie.

Toss those with some olive oil and salt.

After the chicken as been cooking for around an hour, add the veggies to the pan with the chicken. Have extra veggies? Put them in a baking dish and cook along side the chicken.

Periodically check on the chicken, using a baster or a spoon, and cover the chicken and veggies with the cooking liquid.

Once the breast meat reads 190 on a thermometer, or the juices are clear when poked, the bird is done.

Let it sit for 10 minutes before you cut into it. Which is the perfect time to make the gravy.

Don’t skip and not make the gravy. You’ll be sad. The gravy is super easy and pretty much the best part.

Take your roasting pan, and put it on two burners on the stove. Set to medium. Add a hearty amount of chicken broth and several shakes of salt, enough broth to fill and coat the pan. Using a wooden spoon, scrap off the bits from the pan and let it simmer for a little while. Then add a good splash of white wine, let simmer. When it browns and thickens up, add a splash of half and half. Mix around, let cook for just a minute longer (enough to warm the cream) and voila! Done.