Chicken and Rice with Caramelized Onions and Cranberries

This recipe is quite involved and takes some time but it’s not a difficult dish to make. And to be sure, every minute spent on this is well worth the effort! The herbs and spices used amp up the flavor profile and adding some freshly grated lemon zest and lemon juice at the end takes it over the edge! Rather than adding the lemon juice at the end, some sliced lemons on the side would also work.

First, peel, cut in half and then thinly slice:

2-3 medium-sized sweet onions

If you don’t have sweet onions, add 1 teaspoon date sugar when you cook them. Let them sit while heating a medium-sized Dutch oven over medium heat with:

2 tablespoons olive oil

When the oil is shimmering add:

1 1/2 to 2 pounds bone-in chicken thighs or boneless, skinless chicken breasts

that are seasoned with:

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

If using skin-on, bone-in thighs, cook skin side down. Loosely arrange chicken in pan (may take more than one batch). Brown on all sides, about 6-8 minutes. Remove to a plate. Drain all but 2 tablespoons oil from the pan before adding the onion slices. Reduce heat to medium low and cook, stirring frequently until well caramelized (browned). If not using sweet onions, here’s where to add the:

1 teaspoon date sugar

It can take 25-30 minutes to caramelize the onions because they need to cook slowly so that they don’t burn, we want them browned – caramelized, not burned. Once the onions are ready, add to the pot:

4 garlic cloves, minced (about 4 teaspoons minced garlic)

2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger (or 1/2 teaspoon dried ginger)

1 teaspoon fresh thyme (or 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme)

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander (or cardamom, nutmeg, or allspice)

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/8 teaspoon saffron threads, crushed

Sauté for about 30 seconds until the herbs and spices are fragrant before adding:

6 ounces sliced mushrooms (Optional, peas would also work)

2 cups chicken stock or bone broth

the browned chicken pieces and any juices on the plate

If using skin-on thighs, be sure the browned side is up. Cover and let simmer for 20 minutes. Add to the pot:

1 1/2 cups uncooked rice*

1/3 cup dried fruit (I used cranberries but raisins or dried cherries would also work)

Stir in the rice and fruit, bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover and cook for another 30 minutes or until rice is tender and chicken is cooked. Most of the liquid should be gone from the pot so be careful not to burn the dish. Remove the chicken from the pot, moving the pot off the heat and re-cover so that it stays hot. Remove skin if using skin-on chicken and let sit for 8-10 minutes before slicing the meat (and removing the bones if using bone-in chicken). Add the chicken back into the pot along with:

1/2 teaspoon lemon zest

1 tablespoon juice

3 tablespoons fresh cilantro or parsley (Optional)

Stir to combine. Reheat until the chicken is heated through and serve. Serves 4-6.

*I used pre-cooked brown rice in my dish so I cooked the chicken 30 minutes before adding the frozen rice and then cooked it only an additional 10 minutes.

Since I don’t care for cilantro and don’t think much of parsley either, I sprinkled some green onions on top of my dish.

Raspberry Chicken

I do love raspberries but it never occurred to me to use them in savory dishes. This one takes some time to make the sauce but it’s so succulent and rich, the time is worth it. The sauce can be made ahead and frozen. In fact, with the chicken I used, I had an extra 2 cups of sauce when I was finished so I put it in the freezer for another time. The recipe may not be a fast one to complete, but it is fairly easy to make. And very easy to enjoy! I used a little vinegar and honey but if you can have white wine, feel free to substitute one cup of white wine for the vinegar and honey. Makes 4-6 servings.

In a medium saucepan, bring to a boil:

32 ounces of chicken stock

2 teaspoons minced garlic

Boil for about 15-20 minutes until the stock is reduced by half. Add:

1 cup cranberry juice

3 cups raspberries (fresh or frozen)

2 tablespoons seasoned vinegar (this is a vinegar which has a small amount of sugar and seasonings added)

2 tablespoons honey

Boil until reduced by half, about 30-45 minutes. Strain the sauce to remove most of the raspberry seeds. Return to saucepan and return to heat, low heat. Make a slurry with:

1/4 cup water

2 tablespoons cornstarch, tapioca starch, or arrowroot

Add the slurry to the sauce, increasing the heat to medium, and stir until the sauce thickens, about 2 or 3 minutes. Reduce heat to low, simmer. While the sauce is reducing, cut into chunks:

8 boneless skinless chicken thighs and/or breasts

In a ziplock gallon storage bag combine:

1/2 cup all purpose gluten free flour

1/4 cup tapioca or casaba flour

1/2 teaspoon herbamare (or sea salt)

1/4 teaspoon ground pepper

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

When the sauce is ready, add the chicken to the mixed flour and shake to coat all the chicken chunks. Heat in a large skillet:

1/2 cup olive oil

When the oil is hot (shimmering in the pan), add the chicken chunks individually, shaking off any excess flour, and cook, turning once, for 2-5 minutes depending on the size of the chunks or until cooked. Using a slotted spoon, remove the chicken from the oil and add to the sauce.

Serve over brown rice or mashed potatoes. Garnish with fresh raspberries and scallions.

Pumpkin Spice Stuffed French Toast (dairy-free, gluten-free, egg-free, vegan)

I’ve always wanted to try stuffed French toast but how to make French toast without eggs was the dilemma.  Here’s the solution.  It takes a bit of forethought but its well worth the effort.  Makes four servings.

You’ll need:

  • 8 slices of gluten-free bread, the thicker the better
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 tablespoon date sugar
  • 6 ounces of non-dairy cream cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 cup milk of choice
  • 2 tablespoons ground flax
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Dash of salt
  • 1 cup cranberry compote (see separate recipe)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

Spray a 8×10 inch baking dish.  Mix:

  • 6 ounces of cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 tablespoon date sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

Using a fork, mix until well blended.  Spread on all 8 slices of bread.  Heat the milk and add the ground flax.  Let cool until just warm.  Add the baking powder, salt and vanilla and whisk to combine.  Spread some of the cream cheese mixture on each of the bread slices.  Add a tablespoon of cranberry compote to 4 slices.  Top those slices with the other 4 slices of bread.  Place in the baking dish.  Top with the milk mixture.  Let sit 15 minutes and then turn the bread over so that the other side can absorb milk mixture.  Refrigerate for 1 hour.  Turn the bread over again.  

In a 10-12″ skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil (or your oil of choice).  Add the 4 bread pieces and cook over medium low heat for 5-6 minutes or until golden brown.  Turn over and repeat.  The slices may slip slightly from the cream cheese stuffing getting warm so be careful in turning.  Here we want to allow the milk mixture to cook along with the bread but not overheat the middle cream cheese mixture which will then run out of the bread thereby taking away the “stuffed” part of the French toast.  So keep the heat fairly low even it takes slightly longer to cook.  When done, slice each diagonally and top with more cranberry compote or maple syrup if preferred.

Alternatives:  If you don’t like pumpkin and cranberries here are some alternatives.  Use instead of the pumpkin, apple or pear sauce (preferably chunky) along with a berry jam or apple butter.  OR delete the pumpkin from the cream cheese mixture and use strawberry, raspberry, blackberry, blueberry, or cherry jam instead of the cranberry compote.

Chicken and Cranberry Salad with Green Goddess Dressing (dairy-free, gluten-free, egg-free, nut-free)

As all my allergies progressed, one of the things that most bothered me was a sensitivity to leafy green vegetables.  No more salad, what was I going to do!  Then I discovered that I could eat red leaf lettuces, what a relief.  Now I have a salad almost daily and here’s one of my favorites.  I really like various textures in my salads so I add crunchy ingredients as well as softer ones.  Green Goddess dressing usually has walnuts in it but since I’m allergic to nuts, I used pumpkin seeds instead.  You could substitute sunflower seeds.

You’ll need for the salad (for 2 entries or 4-6 side salads):

  • 1 head of red Romaine, cleaned and broken into bite-size pieces
  • 1 cucumber sliced
  • 2-3 small tomatoes
  • 2 wedges of jicama, diced
  • 2 stalks of celery, diced
  • several scallions or some red onion diced, optional
  • 8 ounces of cooked chicken, diced
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup of dried cranberries (I used the kind sweetened with fruit juice and unsulphered)

For the dressing, in a food processor put:

  • 1 ripe avocado, skinned and pitted
  • 1/4 cup dried parsley, or 1/2 cup fresh parsley (you can add more if you like parsley; not one of my favorite herbs so I didn’t use much)
  • 2 tablespoons avocado oil
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice (or lemon juice if you prefer)
  • 2 tablespoons ground pumpkin seeds
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Water to get to dressing consistency, 1/4-1 cup (my dressing came out fairly thick and I used 1/2 cup of water)

Blend until creamy and all ingredients are combined.  Here, again, I used some roasted whole coriander seeds that I pulsed in my spice grinder so they were not fully ground and the pumpkin seeds were also only partially ground.  This added some crunchy texture to the dressing.