Tuesday, August 28, 2012

2-14 Harbor Chicken Salad with Pecans - Gluten-free

I sat and looked at the lunch menu.It was filled with cleverly named pasta dishes, layered sandwiches with specialty breads and battered and breaded meat and fish.  What I wanted was a modestly-priced, gluten-free meal. The gluten-free aspect eliminated most of the menu and I moved on to the salads. They all came with a side of bread, but I hoped the salad I selected would be generously proportioned and enough to fill me up.



My friends and I talked about our lives until the waitress arrived with a very heavy tray of food. My choice of salad was meal-sized, but it lacked the mouth-watering appeal of lasagna or a Ruben sandwich. Still, because of digestive issues, gluten-free was what I had to have.



Half-heartedly, I tasted what I thought would be the usual flavors of restaurant-style, chicken salad.


Wow, was I wrong! My salad was heavenly and I fairly inhaled the whole plateful of food; it was out-of-this-world delicious!



My Harbor Chicken Salad with Pecans recipe is a close duplicate of the memorable luncheon salad. Happy eating!


Harbor Chicken Salad with Pecans

 



1 can chicken, white meat
1-2 ribs celery, finely chopped
2-3 T dried cranberries (raisins may be substituted)
2-3 T toasted, chopped pecans (may be toasted in the microwave)
Hellmann’s Real Mayonnaise
1-2 T carrot slivers

Juice from 1/2 fresh lemon
1 can mandarin oranges (Clementines may be substituted)
Candied-cinnamon pecans (purchased or recipe below)
Baby lettuce salad blend
Apple, thinly sliced

Fruit-based dressing (optional) - cherry/poppyseed pictured.

Drain chicken and shred meat to a fine consistency. Add finely-chopped celery, lemon juice and dried cranberries; blend with enough mayonnaise to make a creamy mixture that holds together. Gently fold in carrot slivers. Taste and adjust. (This mixture may be made ahead and refrigerated at this point).

Add chopped, toasted pecans and mix gently. Arrange salad greens on a serving plate and place a dollop or two of chicken mixture on top. Garnish side of plate with mandarin oranges and apple slices. Sprinkle top of chicken salad mixture with sweetened pecans just prior to serving. Serve dressing on the side if desired






Candied Pecans

 


¼ C pecans
2 T sugar
2 T water


Combine water and sugar in a small sauce pan over medium high heat. Stir to dissolve sugar. Add pecans and stir to coat; sprinkle with cinnamon to taste. When sugar mixture comes to a boil, turn down heat to low and simmer 6-7 minutes until the pecans are evenly coated. (There should be no  syrup in the bottom of the pot and pecans will look dry).




 

Remove coated pecans to cool in a single layer on a piece of parchment or wax paper.





Sunday, August 12, 2012

2-13 Stir-Fry Rice, Deluxe


Everyone buys food. The big question is, will we buy it prepared, partially prepared or fresh and waiting to be prepared?
Other options include all that stuff crammed into the freezer…which probably includes frozen left-overs or something we bought for the sole purpose of giving a cooking break to the household chef.
One of the prepared meals I have enjoyed is a frozen, fried rice entrĂ©e sold at Sam’s Club. This satisfying mixture pours out of a bag and stir-fries in minutes. The only down side to this meal is that it is not inexpensive.
Today’s recipe replicates that comfort-food meal with a substantially lower cost, more wonderful ingredients and better flavors. If more rice is added, Stir-fry Rice, Deluxe, can be stretched to feed several hungry people very economically. Another plus to this recipe is that it freezes well and can be made ahead, packaged by portion and saved for the next too-tired-to-cook day!


Stir-fry Rice, Deluxe
Gluten-free Meal





3 cups prepared rice (white or brown)
½ C chopped, smoked ham
2 T bacon bits

½ C braised chicken, chopped
1 egg
2 T (each), chopped vegetables: sweet onion, carrot, zucchini, celery.

Optional vegetables: chopped green pepper, chopped red pepper, peas, soy beans, chopped water chestnuts, thinly sliced mushrooms.

Soy sauce (optional – gluten free)
Salt (Himalayan pink, optional)
Pepper blend (Trader Joe’s 21 Seasoning Salute)
Olive oil, olive oil spray

Heat a heavy pan to med.; coat pan bottom with olive oil spray and scramble egg, breaking cooked egg into small pieces; remove to heated plate. Turn up heat to med-high. Add olive oil to coat pan bottom. Add chopped vegetables, season with pepper blend and stir until tender crisp; remove to a warm plate. Coat the pan bottom with more olive oil and add cooked rice. Stir rice to quickly heat through and brown slightly. Add soy sauce to taste and continue stirring until well blended. Add cooked ham, cooked chicken and bacon bits. Heat through. Add egg  pieces and vegetables back to rice mixture in pan and gently toss to blend and heat evenly.
Remove pan from heat and taste. Add Himalayan salt to taste and bled gently. Serve immediately. Serves 4

(From the frozen: pour the desired amount of mixture onto a heated, griddle which has been coated with olive oil spray. Stir until heated through. Adjust seasonings if necessary. Serve).