Skip the watercress and cucumber, and opt for heartier fare for your Mother’s Day Tea with this easy allergy-friendly recipe for Cherry Pecan Chicken Salad. Serve this delicious soy-free and egg-free delight with gluten-free bread or crackers for all your guests to enjoy worry-free. Or just make a nutritious lunch of adorably shaped finger sandwiches for the kiddos and a stuffed tomato for yourself. Either way, try some today!
Measure and mix all of the ingredients. Add sea salt and pepper according to your taste and sodium requirements.
Here I cut the top off of a large red and purple heirloom variety tomato, and then scooped out some of the center. Then I spooned a good portion of chicken salad into it and garnished the top with ground red peppercorns and green onion.
The green and purple artisan lettuce it’s resting on, also makes a wonderful carb-free wrap for the chicken salad. Those are gluten-free vegan Mary’s Gone Crackers in the Super Seed variety… yum!
To go beyond tea sandwich triangles, simply press a cookie cutter into the bread, and fill with chicken salad. (Tulip, daisy, and butterfly shapes were my choice for the tea, but you can see bunny bread here with my carrot crouton recipe.)
Thanks Mom, for all the chicken salad you’ve made me over the years!
This cilantro chicken quesadilla is the latest in my healthy undercover veggie series because it gets spinach haters to eat like Pop-eye. And you don’t have to strong-hold the recipe to make it gluten-free and dairy-free… just switch out a few simple ingredients so that everyone may enjoy it. This makes it the perfecto appetizer for a fabuloso Cinco de Mayo Fiesta. It’s one of my favorite delicioso lunches because it’s so quick and easy to make. So let this recipe send you to Tex-Mex heaven too… guilt free!
Ingredients (for each quesadilla)
2 brown rice tortillas (or any variety of wrap you like)
a few ounces gourmet vegan soy-free cheddar shreds (this kind doesn’t have canola, soy, or milk casein protein… but try any variety of cheese you like)
First gather all the ingredients then wash and chop the veggies. (I’ve used frozen spinach here because it’s easy to keep on hand for impromptu meals, being frozen means it’s retained all of its nutrients, more quantity may be added than if using fresh, and it doesn’t need to be washed and dried before cooking. Microwave it if you like, but definitely chop it into smaller bits.)
Lightly spray a skillet with oil and place it over medium heat. (Here I’ve used a ceramic variety, but the non-stick types work well.) Line it with your first layer of tortilla, and then sprinkle half of the cheese evenly over it.
Layer the chopped spinach over the cheese. Then dust it with spices according to your preferences.
Scatter the diced onion across the spinach layer. Add cilantro if not using it as garnish… or do both!
Then distribute the chicken over the onion. (Think about cooking extra chicken to slice and freeze for easy last minute lunches like this one.)
Add the remainder of the cheese. (An even layer acts like a glue for the tortilla.)
Top with the last tortilla and press it down with a large spatula as it cooks through. (Using a cast iron press is another option.) When the quesadilla has heated thoroughly enough to stick together, flip it over quickly with a large spatula. This side won’t take as long to cook… it will be done when it has browned nicely.
Transfer the finished quesadilla to a cutting plate and slice into equal triangles like a pizza. Serve it in the round or stacked in a pretty arrangement like this.
Offer bowls of toppings like guacamole, yogurt, sour cream, salsa, diced tomatoes, and fresh cilantro… or add dollops and sprinkles to each slice.
I like to smother flavor toppings onto each triangle then grind fresh peppercorns over the top… and the cilantro is not only a pretty garnish but adds a distinct burst of flavor.
Keep a bunch of these warm in a low temp oven to serve all at once for your Cinco de Mayo Fiesta… or just make them for yourself as mouthwatering meal that only seems indulgent!
P.S. Holy guacamole! I’ve been seeing a new commercial that erringly pronounces the G in that green goodness over and over and over. If any of you out there are now wondering which way is right way to say it… think Fozzie Bear and begin the word with “wocca”. “Muchas gracias amigos!” on behalf of my Texan ears. 🙂
This sautéed greens with chicken recipe makes an easy but elegant weeknight meal, yet is worthy to set before a table full of guests. The kale, spinach, chard and protein packed pine nuts make a lovely side dish or even a delicious meal by themselves. Succulent herb roasted chicken may left off vegan plates and extra pine nuts added instead. This makes it easier for families of mixed preferences to adapt peaceably… and peace is the perfect ingredient for a family gathering!
~1 pound of greens (I used baby kale, baby spinach, & baby chard)
½ cup pine nuts (or any nut you prefer)
¼ cup olive oil (or another healthy flavorful oil, adjust amount as desired)
½ orange (or use another citrus juice)
1 teaspoon dried marjoram (add more if using fresh)
1 teaspoon dried thyme (add more if using fresh)
sea salt & ground peppercorns (to taste, or use a salt substitute)
Optional: chicken breasts (1 for each person, + extra herbs & olive oil)
If opting for the roasted chicken, prepare that first so it may be cooking while you fix the greens. Drizzle olive oil over the chicken breasts and sprinkle marjoram, thyme, salt and pepper over them. Roast them in a 375ᵒ oven for about 45 minutes. (Adjust the cooking time to the size of your portions and your oven’s temperament… the pieces I cooked were huge!)
Wash your greens well in a colander. (I chose baby varieties not merely for their tenderness, but also to save time in preparation. They don’t need to be chopped or have hard core stems removed.)
Heat the pine nuts and olive oil in a pan on the stove. (I actually used my big wok because the sloped sides prevent the greens from overcooking.) When they are bit browned, add the greens.
Also add in the herbs and seasoning, and toss to cook down. (The volume of the greens will shrink as it’s cooked, so you can add smaller portions a little at a time until all of it fits in.)
Off of the heat, squeeze in the citrus juice and mix well. (Heat negates the vitamin C benefit.)
Serve them whole, or slice the roasted chicken breasts for presentation.
Add more herbs, pine nuts, or even a new element as garnish. (I used leeks in the pictured dish… because I adore them.)
Steamed Dumplings are an absolute must serve “lucky” dish for the Chinese New Year, but unfortunately they were also a dish I must not have… and I know I wasn’t the only unlucky one. Different restaurants have varied recipes for them, but nearly all make them with allergens. So I decided to make my own recipe that played on the basics but omitted the soy sauce, pig lard, pork, shellfish, mushrooms, etc. Plus, by using my optional substitutions, just about everyone can enjoy these delightfully delicious dumplings!
Shell Ingredients: (note that ~ means approximately)
~ 3½ cups sweet rice flour + a good bit more for rolling (a.k.a. glutinous rice flour… that is 100% gluten free!)
~ ⅔ cup boiling water
~ ⅓ cold water
~ ¾ pound ground chicken (or turkey… or minced water chestnuts/mushrooms/tofu for vegan)
3 tablespoons sesame oil (or another flavored oil of your choice)
2 tablespoons Coconut Aminos (a.k.a. soy sauce that is 100% soy free… or soyu if you like)
2 teaspoons minced ginger root (or garlic)
¼ cup minced leeks (or spring onions, bamboo shoots, shredded cabbage, etc.)
Filling Seasoning: (I used these, but add whatever you like adapting it to your tastes.)
2 teaspoons sea salt
1 teaspoon ground coriander (try adding 1 tsp. ground ginger if not using minced)
3 teaspoons of Eden Shake + more for garnish (a.k.a. black & white sesame seeds plus pickled redshiso leaf… Anyone with sesame allergies can use hemp seeds which are the perfect high protein substitute.)
↑ This is a picture from my grandmother’s old recipe book that called for pig lard, soy, and the other things I spoke of earlier. I’m sure it was a tasty recipe, but I changed every ingredient but the rice flour… which I increased the portion of because the dough was too sticky to roll as it was. Note that even more flour than this will be needed as you roll.
First mince the ginger and leeks. Then mix all of the filling ingredients well.
The ground meat will absorb all of the liquids, but you can tell when it is well mixed when the minced ingredients seem well dispersed. Let this marinate in the refrigerator until you’re ready to fill the dough.
Place your measured rice flour into a larger mixing bowl.
Boil about a cup of water then use just a ⅔ cup of it. This is the easiest way to ensure the right amount. Mix it into the flour well, making a gooey paste. Then add the other portion of water, and mix it well. Let this sit about 15 minutes while you get everything else ready for your dumpling preparation… rolling pin, pastry mat, steamer, dumpling mold if you have one, etc.
Mix the dough again by hand and see if it’s the right consistency for rolling. Note that it will be much stickier than any wheat based dough, but you should be able to dust your hands with sticky rice flour and roll little 1 inch balls of dough in your palms. Mix in more flour if you need to. Take each ball and smash it flat with a floured palm into a floured surface. You will be making little pancakes. Then roll them out with a floured rolling pin into about 3 inch diameter circles, like tiny tortillas. In fact, this is exactly how I would make wheat based tortillas growing up. Working gluten-free is admittedly a bit trickier though.
Use the smallest size dumpling mold, if you have one. Molds are a speedy way to make perfect portions, but don’t fret if you don’t own one. Either way, you just spoon about a teaspoons worth of filling into the center of the circle. Close the mold tightly and remove the excess dough… or close the circle by hand into a half moon shape over the filling, and pinch pleat the rounded edges together. You could even use a fork to press the edges like you would a pie crust.
Inexpensive bamboo steamers are widely available, but here I’ve used a stainless one that sets onto my wok base. I love this thing! I actually made enough dumplings to fill it twice with this recipe. If using metal, use cooking spray on the top portion that the dough will rest on. If using bamboo, the Chinese recipe advises lining the bottom with a cloth.
Place the dumpling portion over already boiling water set on high. The Chinese recipe advises 15 minutes steaming, but I intentionally overcooked mine because I left the chicken filling out a good while during rolling… and no one wants salmonella. I actually left the second group on almost 30 minutes and they were fine, so just use your judgment.
Any leftover dough and filling can be combined into meatballs (like these that are uncooked), and baked at 325° for about 30 minutes.
Use two forks to plate your dumplings, or just bring a bamboo steamer to the table. Next time, I think I’ll roll mine out thicker and use a bit less filling. They seemed to expand as they cooked. I garnished these with more Eden shake because I love the flavor, but you can serve them with any sauce.
Here are the leftovers reheated in the microwave with marinara to morph them into an Italian ravioli fusion! They were fantastic this way! I just garnished them with parsley. You can even try adding rice based parmesan if you avoid dairy.
Though more work than an everyday food, these little dumplings are worth the effort… especially when other family members help by making a chatty assembly line. It’s a great way to gather for a holiday!
With the winter season so turkey saturated for the holidays, I thought I’d utilize my overabundance of rooster décor and host a cozy dinner party by the fire. I used my Healthy “One-Pot” Cocorico Roasted Chicken (or Turkey) & Root Vegetables Recipe as a family-style centerpiece of food. And with my printable place-cards, it’s an easily emulated dinner party that offers a warm welcome for out-of-towners in for the holidays!I love the idea of taking dinner out of the dining room, especially in winter when there is a cozy fire available. So, my first task was to move the couches into a dining configuration. I have a large round antique coffee table that is mechanized to pop up to dining height. To accommodate more guests, I topped it with a $12 precut 4’ x 4’ plywood square from a chain hardware store. The edges of this were taped to avoid snagging the tablecloth. A card table is another easy option. Layering fabrics is a quick and easy way to add warmth to a gathering, so I draped layers of tablecloths over the square. The first layer was chocolate brown, then beige burlap with added trim, and a fall paisley print over the top.I exchanged the usual living room décor with various bits of rooster ephemera. I set a ceramic chicken on a side table next to cranberry colored candlesticks, and tucked feather tassels under the large candles. By the fireplace, I placed a rooster painting on an easel atop an old burgundy leather suitcase. Another served as a base for a spiral topiary. It was housed in an inexpensive and lightweight cranberry pot meant to simulate glazed pottery. In front of that, I positioned a small vintage brass rooster doorstop. I actually have many more roosters, but I was able to (somewhat) contain myself.I gathered sage and chocolate colored throw pillows to coordinate with the linens and dishes. These softened the deep chocolate leather sofas. Switching out small elements of your décor for an evening is an easy way to experience a change of scenery without breaking the bank. I set the table with wood-handled flatware and layers of dishware in various patterns. This included wooden plates as chargers, sage green bordered dinner plates, and a selection of chicken and rooster plates. Though completely untraditional, I figured these could be set to the side for bread later… they just looked too cute stacked this way! I actually found these little gems for $3 clearance at Dillards. Now they’re a part of my last minute rooster dinner party arsenal.My other go-to elements are antique chicken salt and pepper shakers from my grandmother, and vintage multicolor rooster stemmed glassware from my mother.It’s really great to have coordinating pieces that can be thrown together without much forethought, while having the appearance of effort. In this way, a simple chicken dinner is elevated to a special evening. Make a point of collecting what you like, and pull it out for your get-togethers.Another component which you can make for yourself is my DIY Rusted Rooster Chicken Wire Votive Holder Craft. Because they were so easy, I actually made many more than I used in the pictures. (These can be made with any shape you like, fall leaves for example.) They really added a beautiful glow to the table.I transformed, recolored, combined, and resized vintage images to make 3 free printables for invitations, labels, signs, menus, food tents, name place-cards, recipe cards, etc… (These are free for personal use only.)
These are available at the end of the article (simply right click on each image, and print in color and on photo settings on cardstock). Then just cut out your place-cards as needed… or enlist a significant other or kiddo to do it while you prep for dinner!The last step was to add the food… artisanal rosemary bread in terra cotta to compliment the Cocorico, compound butter in a rooster dish, mixed olives seasoned in flavored oil and spices, and the off-center centerpiece of roasted chicken and multi-colored root vegetables of carrots, beets, parsnips, radishes, and fingerling potatoes. Cocorico roasters are perfect “one-pot” wonders that deliver beautifully from oven-to-table. Root veggies may be peeled and seasoned the day prior to an after-work gathering if need be. Simply pick up bread and dessert to accompany your meal. Or, try out my Easy No Cook Layered (N)ice-Cream Pie with Nut Crust (Vegan, Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free) which may also be made with traditional ice cream, and can be made and frozen well in advance.Happy Fall Y’all! (…I couldn’t resist.)Faithfully Yours,
Making healthy roasted chicken and root vegetables is so easy with a Cocorico Roaster. I love to use mine as an easy “one-pot” wonder that presents beautifully from oven-to table. The night before a long day, I can peel the veggies and add herbs so it only needs to put it in the oven for a hardy home-cooked meal. Larger roasters will also accommodate a small turkey for the holidays.
1 roasting chicken (or turkey, in a size that will fit your Cocorico roaster)
2 teaspoons thyme
2 teaspoons rosemary
1 fresh lemon
1 teaspoon sea salt (or to taste)
Olive oil (enough to coat chicken & drizzle a little over veggies)
Multicolored root vegetables in season (enough to fill the cocorico base):
~1 pound carrots
~1 bunch radishes
~1 or 2 pounds fingerling (or new) potatoes
(& turnips if you have better luck than I did finding good ones)
Cocorico roasters in glazed terra cotta are available locally and online. I ordered mine from Napa Style because it was the biggest I’ve seen, and also had a larger turkey cone that fit over the chicken cone. Soak the whole thing under water at least 30 minutes before cooking. This prevents any heat damage to the vessel. I saturate mine in a bleached clean sink.
Preheat your oven to 400ᵒ, while you soak the roaster and prep your veggies. There are a beautiful variety of purple, orange, red, and white root vegetables available. Peel and cut them into about 2 inch chunks to ensure even cooking. Some recipes will advise you boil potatoes ahead of roasting, but I’ve found that to be completely unnecessary if you buy small fingerlings. They roast just like baked fries. They’re prettier, easier, and quicker… so save the big ones for baked potatoes. Radishes may seem like an odd choice for roasting, but they completely change character after cooking. They mellow out, losing their sharpness and spicy heat. I really do prefer them this way.
Place these in a bowl with herbs and add just the smallest drizzle of olive oil. (The chicken juices will flow over the veggies while cooking thus providing more flavor.) Squeeze a little of your lemon over the veggies, and save the rest to place inside the chicken cavity before setting over the roasting cone. Add sea salt and toss to coat everything well. This may be done ahead of time, just cover the bowl and refrigerate it until needed.
Many recipes will also instruct you to wash chicken inside and out before cooking, but I read a study that found it only served to spread dangerous bacteria all over your kitchen. Thorough cooking will kill bacteria while rinsing will not. Drain the fluid and remove any extra gifts left in the cavity (neck, gizzard, giblets). Then set the chicken onto the soaked Cocorico. Other recipes will also say to do this with the legs up and trussed, but this is really subjective to the size of your roasting cone versus the size of your bird. I used a smaller chicken in the pictures, which would have been physically impossible to set upside down. It cooked beautifully and tasted great. Just place the chicken whichever way you can get it onto the cone. It’s really hard to mess up dinner with a Cocorico!
Roast in the oven at 400ᵒ for about 15 minutes, and then reduce it to 375ᵒ for an hour longer (for ~4 lb chicken). Because every oven heats differently, the safest way to cook is with a meat thermometer. Place it in the thickest part of the thigh, but not to the bone. www.foodsafety.gov says 165ᵒ is poultry’s magic number! I’ve also read to rotate the Cocorico every 15 minutes. Thinking of how heavy it was, how that would let heat escape, what else I could spend my time accomplishing, and burn potential… I decided to forgo that. Once again, the simplest way proved itself. The chickens turned out exactly the same.
Use a serving spoon to gently toss the roasted veggies, so that the juices are fully distributed. It’s easiest to serve the veggies first and then carve into the meat, using the newly empty well to hold the pieces. Or it can all be transferred to other serving dishes… but I prefer to avoid washing extra tableware, and the filled Cocorico looks so lovely. If trying this, be sure to use adequate hot pads beneath it.
In the past, I’ve saved time by omitting the oil and placing the roots directly into the Cocorico. When it finished cooking, I would sprinkle fresh herbs and orange juice over the top, stirring it right in the roaster. Whichever way you chose to prepare it, with whatever vegetables, with either chicken or turkey, and legs cooked up or down… Cocorico roasters make it all turn out so beautifully! (See this for yourself at the link: Last Minute Cocorico Rooster Theme Dinner Party Décor Ideas.) So think about getting one for yourself, and leave the “beer-can chicken” to the tailgaters! 🙂