Sweet and Spicy Chicken Salad

Every once in a great while I buy a rotisserie chicken at the store because, like everyone, I just don’t feel like cooking. I bought one several days ago and like so often happens, found I couldn’t eat all of it before it would spoil. In those cases, I usually dice up the chicken breasts and freeze them for later use. It’s amazing, I don’t understand why, but when cooked chicken is frozen, it makes such a better chicken salad than fresh chicken. Perhaps because it’s really cold? Anyway, try putting the diced chicken in the freezer for about an hour before making the salad and let me know if you agree with me that it has a better taste.

For the salad:

2 rotisserie chicken breasts diced

3-4 celery stalks, diced

2 tablespoons dill relish (or up to 1/4 cup depending on taste)

2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds, or diced jicama, or diced water chestnuts (just looking for more crunch)

1 avocado, diced

For the dressing:

1/2 to 3/4 cup vegan mayonnaise (depending on how much chicken there is)

1 tablespoon hot sauce

1/2 teaspoon herbamare (herbed salt)

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/8 teaspoon ground black (or white) pepper

2 tablespoons honey (or agave or coconut nectar, or date syrup)

Mix all the ingredients and serve with lettuce. Garnish, if you have some, which I didn’t, with chives or scallions. Also, it’s delicious with sliced fresh strawberries or tomatoes. Makes 4 servings.

Carob Orange Tapioca Pudding

Used to love vanilla tapioca pudding as a child. Hadn’t thought of it in years. You know the kind, with the nutmeg on top, all creamy with the little balls of tapioca. There was a restaurant in Derry, New Hampshire, when my husband and I lived there that still served it. Don’t know if they’ve survived the pandemic. So anyway, I wondered about other possible flavors for tapioca pudding and happened upon a recipe for orange and changed it up a bit, obviously replacing the whole milk and white sugar. Pretty easy to make, but not something you can walk away from!

In a small saucepan, bring to a boil:

1 cup water

Stir in:

1/4 cup small tapioca pearls

Reduce heat to medium low and continue to simmer, stirring frequently, until most of the water is gone and the tapioca pearls are swollen and translucent. Add to the pot:

3/4 cup non-dairy milk

1/4 cup honey

2 tablespoons unsweetened carob chips

the tapioca pearls just cooked

Cook, stirring frequently, until the mixture thickens (it will still be fairly loose), about 3-5 minutes. Stir in:

juice and zest from 1 orange

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Let cool slightly before spooning into individual serving bowls or glasses. Cover and chill. Makes four servings. It can be eaten warm but is much better after it’s sits overnight and firms up.

Orange Sauce

You’ll need:

  • 1/4 cup raw honey
  • 1/3 cup orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • dash of salt
  • 1 1/4 cup stock (chicken or vegetable)
  • 1 tablespoon vegan margarine
  • 1 tablespoon gluten-free flour (all purpose or brown rice works best)
  • 1 tablespoon grated orange rind

In a small saucepan, heat the orange juice and honey along with the vinegar, salt, orange rind and stock. 

Mix together the margarine and flour into a paste.   Add to the simmering sauce using a whisk so that you don’t get any lumps.  Continue cooking sauce until thickened, only a couple of minutes.  Its now ready to serve.

Easy Moroccan Chicken

With all my food allergies, I eat a lot of chicken so I’m always on the lookout for new, interesting chicken dishes. I don’t know how many of you subscribe to the magazine “Simply Gluten Free” but I’ve been a subscriber since their very early days when they were titled “Cooking Without.”

This last issue had a recipe for easy Moroccan Chicken which I thought sounded interested and it turns out it is very delicious. I’ve changed the recipe slightly to meet my tastes and decided to share it with you. Several cautions – cook in a slow cooker if you want but if you do it in the oven like me, be sure to cook at 350 degrees. I screwed up this time and used 375 and even with watching it closely and cooking no more than 1 hour, the top still scorched. So in the oven, be sure to cook at no higher than 350. It should only take 3/4 to 1 hour to bake.

You’ll need:

4 chicken thighs (I tried using a breast and it was tough)

1 cup salsa – use whatever salsa your family prefers, mild, medium, hot or spicy, doesn’t matter

1 teaspoon honey

1 teaspoon garam masala

1/2 teaspoon salt

Spray a 9×9″ pan with cooking spray. Mix the salsa, honey and spices together (I use a small whisk) and put a thin layer on the bottom of the pan. Arrange the thighs on top and then spread the remaining salsa mix on each thigh. Bake.

It’s that easy! You can serve it with brown rice, mashed potatoes or celery root.

Honey Mustard Pork Chops (Dairy-free, gluten-free, sugar-free)

My mother used to make pork chops covered with onion-soup mix and cream of mushroom soup.  I loved those pork chops and have been trying for years to find a recipe that I could eat that would produce such juicy, succulent pork chops.  And I think I’ve finally found one!  This recipe adds some spice (I like to use spicy brown mustard) along with a slight sweetness to a juicy chop.  I serve it with some of my celery root and parsnip mash that’s been reheated in a skilled until crispy brown.

This recipe is for 2 chops but can easily be doubled or tripled depending on how many chops are needed.

In a small bowl mix:

  • 1/4 cup spicy brown mustard
  •  2 tablespoons honey (I like to use raw organic honey)
  •  2 tablespoons olive oil

Grease a 6×9″ baking dish.  Trim excess fat from the pork chops.  Add the chops and spread with half the honey mustard mixture.  Turn over the chops and spread with the remaining mixture.  Marinate at least a half hour but I’ve left them as long as overnight.  The vinegar in the mustard will tenderize the pork so the longer you let them marinate the better.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Bake the chops for 10-15 minutes depending on the size of your pork chops and then remove and turn the chops over.  Be sure to test with your finger or a spoon to determine if the chops are cooked (a done chop with have no give when pushed with a spoon or finger).  If my chops are almost done after turning over, I put them under the broiler to brown the top for 3-5 minutes.    A 1-bone chop takes roughly 20 minutes total.  Let sit for 5-10 minutes to rest before serving.

Duck L’Orange (dairy-free, gluten-free, sugar-free)

I love duck, its my favorite poultry.  This Thanksgiving, now that I’m alone and this being my first holiday without my husband, I didn’t want to do the traditional Thanksgiving feast that would give me more leftovers than I could possible eat so I decided, when I saw them in Whole Foods the other day, to cook myself a whole duck.  I usually stick to duck breasts (see recipe under Entrees) but I’ve had duck l’orange several times and really enjoyed it but it’s so sweet the issue was how to do it without the sugar.  Here’s what I did. You’ll have to forgive me for not including an image; I got so excited about this that I cut it up before taking a photo!  And it was delicious – the skin was so crunchy and full of flavor thanks to the spice mix and the meat so juicy and flavorful.  I served it along with creamed onions and peas and a wild rice and quinoa stuffing which was really good with the orange sauce (see side dishes for both these recipes). Makes 2 generous servings.

You’ll need for the duck:

  • 4-6 pound duck
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry thyme
  • 1 orange cut in half
  • 1 large onion cut in eighths
  • fresh thyme sprigs
  • fresh marjoram sprigs
  • 1 cup stock, chicken or if you can find it, duck
  • 2-3 carrots
  • 2-3 stalks of celery
  • a large baking pan, preferably with high sides to reduce fat spattering
  • gravy separator if you have one
  • meat thermometer

You’ll need for the orange sauce:

  • 1/4 cup raw honey
  • 1/3 cup orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • dash of salt
  • 1/4 cup stock
  • 1 tablespoon vegan margarine
  • 1 tablespoon gluten-free flour (all purpose or brown rice works best)
  • 1 tablespoon grated orange rind

Preheat the oven to 475 degrees.  Prepare the duck by cleaning out the cavity and drying the skin.  Mix the salt, coriander, cumin, pepper and dry thyme.  Rub the outside of the duck with the spice mixture and sprinkle some inside as well.  Add 1/2 of the orange , 4 wedges of onion, the springs of thyme and marjoram to the cavity.  Place the cleaned celery, carrots and other 4 wedges of onion in the baking dish in a line so that they raise the duck off the bottom of the pan (we’re using them like a baking rack).  Put the duck in the oven and cook for 20-30 minutes (you might want to be sure to turn on your overhead exhaust while you’re doing this to avoid the smoke alarm going off like it did in my house even though I didn’t see any smoke).  While the duck is searing, mix together the juice of the other 1/2 orange with the 1 cup of stock.  

After 20-30 minutes, reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees and add the stock mixture to the bottom of the pan.  Continue to cook for approximately 1-1/2 hours until duck reaches 170 degrees internal temperature in one of the thighs using a meat thermometer.  Remove from oven and baking dish.  Be sure to tilt when removing from the dish so that the internal juices can run into the baking dish.  Carefully pour the baking dish juices into the gravy separator.  While the duck is cooking make the sauce.

In a small saucepan, heat the orange juice and honey along with the vinegar, salt, orange rind and stock.  Simmer until the duck is cooked.  Add duck juices drained from the baking dish without the fat.  If you don’t have a gravy separator, using a spoon, remove the fat from the top of the juices.  If the duck juices don’t equal 1 cup, add stock to make up the difference. 

Mix together the margarine and flour into a paste.   Add to the simmering sauce using a whisk so that you don’t get any lumps.  Continue cooking sauce until thickened, only a couple of minutes.  Its now ready to serve.