Apple Almond Chicken Salad

The long lazy days of summer are here in New Zealand and I’m taking full advantage of them. This means a little less time in the kitchen and a bit more time outdoors. I’ve lived here for about two years now and don’t think I’ll ever get over the amazing scenery I have access to outside my front door!

With the days being hotter than usual – and that is saying something considering how windy Wellington is – my hubby and I both find our tastebuds crying out for colder items, steering us away from the warm comfort foods we both usually adore. I’m a fan of a good chicken salad and this one is one of my favorite cold (and gluten free) salads to whip up when we need a fix.

 

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Apple Almond Chicken Salad

  • 1 cup chopped apple
  • 1/2 cup mayo (I used Best Foods Lite)
  • sugar (to taste)
  • 1/4 cup almonds chopped or slivered
  • 2 cups of chopped or shredded chicken
  • 1/4 c chopped parsley (fresh)
  • 1/4 cup of shredded carrots
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice

Combine apples, almonds, chicken, carrots and parsley in one bowl. In a separate bowl mix the mayo with sugar (I used approximately 1 1/2 tbsps this time). Once this was properly whisked, I added it to the other bowl of ingredients then topped it with the lemon juice. Give it a stir or two then put in the fridge. I liked letting it sit for about 2 hours to let the flavor truly pop before we ate.

We enjoyed our meals on a bed of lettuce with some tomato and cucumbers on the side – we also had some of my homemade ranch dressing nearby, but found we didn’t need to use it. The tastes and textures of this dish will keep you happy bite after bite!

PS: If you’re watching your sugar intake, feel free to leave it out. I play with the amount I use depending on how I feel. It’s totally up to you.

 

 

Banshee Broccoli Salad

In the town of Chestertown, Maryland – where my family lives – there used to be an Amish co-op where we’d go to purchase cheeses, deli meats, yummy breads (before I went gluten free) and some of the best side dishes you could find in three counties. A summer BBQ with the family wasn’t complete until we had at least two of their famous side salads on the table.

These days, I live in Wellington, New Zealand and haven’t had a chance to get home for a holiday in the last two years, much less a summertime get-together. During the holiday season, as I enjoyed some much needed downtime with my husband, and this included binge watching some TV Shows we’ve been recording. One of the shows we’re finding mildly amusing is called “Banshee” and the storyline involves an Amish community in rural Pennsylvania. This brought up some questions from my Kiwi-hubs, as well as my own memories of yummy days-gone-by.

This side dish is my own ode to those lazy days of summer spent on the Chester River with the family. It’s gluten free, healthy, and is the perfect companion to just about any meal.

Hope you like it. We did!

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Banshee Broccoli Salad

  • 1 bunch broccoli
  • 1/2 yellow onion (sautéed)
  • 1/2 apple (chopped)
  • 3 medium-thick slices chopped ham (cooked then let to cool) – I used a ham from Cameron Harrison Butchers here in Wellington
  • 1/2 c sour cream (regular or lite)
  • 1/2 c mayo (regular or lite)
  • sugar to taste

 

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Chop ham and onion first and put in a pan with some EVOO and sautée lightly. While this is cooking, chop broccoli and apple, mix together. In a separate bowl, whisk sour cream, mayo and sugar. Once onions are translucent and ham has browned, place on a paper towel to drain an extra oil. Wait for ham and onion to cool then combine all ingredients. Refrigerate immediately.

***This dish is best served after chilling in the fridge for an hour or two.

Enjoy!

Dairy Free 21-Day Challenge

Have you ever thought about giving up dairy? Not forever (well, unless you really, really wanna) but for just a little bit?

I love cheese. LOVE it. Could take a bath in it. I enjoy finding a little cafe where I can sit and order a cheese plate complete with olives and almonds (and gluten-free baguette in my dream world) so I can have my own French-themed picnic. Heaven.

Apparently, I’m not alone. In 2009, Americans consumed an average of 32.8 pounds of cheese that year.

That’s per american.

That’s a lot of cheese.

I love and follow Ashley Borden, she’s a celebrity trainer and lifestyle consultant in Los Angeles. One thing she says over and over to her followers is to try giving up dairy, even if it’s just for a few days. She asks her #RollingOutRevolution (those are her peeps!) to take note of how their body reacts and see for themselves at the end of 11 days (her recommended time to try going dairy-free) how they feel.

Meet Ashley Borden - She's super-kickass and DAIRY FREE!! ;) Get to know her at www.ashleyborden.com
Meet Ashley Borden – She’s super-kickass and DAIRY FREE!! 😉 Get to know her at http://www.ashleyborden.com

As 2014 takes off, and my resolutions with it, it was fitting I heard about So Delicious hosting a 21-Day Dairy Free Challenge. I decided last week…”Screw it. I’m giving this a shot.” After all, 21 Days is not a long time in the big picture.

Right?

Starting tomorrow, the challenge begins. I know I’m taking it, and I hope some of you will, too. I’ll be looking around this week for recipes that are not only gluten-free, but dairy free as well that I can share with you guys!

So…who’s in? #LIVEDAIRYFREE

Take the So Delicious 21-Day Dairy Free Challenge!
Take the So Delicious 21-Day Dairy Free Challenge!

Gluten Free Focaccia Bread – Oh yes, you can!

Have you ever baked bread?

I haven’t…I’m not lying. I’ve done cookies, cakes, pastries – I’ve mastered the art of making an amazing garlic clove chicken. This whole cooking thing is still somewhat of a new passion for me. It’s something I’ve always been good at doing, but until recently I never felt the drive or the need to create in the kitchen. Then, one day you’re told you can’t have gluten. Suddenly, a daily task such as eating is never going to be the same again.

I’ve taste-tested my fair share of bread options. While some are …well, chewable, I’m still on the hunt for bread that will be soft on the roof of my mouth again or that will not be as thick as a brick. I’m sure they are out there, but this girl is still in search. Bread bowls at dinners out are sadly off my radar now, and one of my favorite items was gone forever. Focaccia bread.

Or, so I thought.

For anyone else out there that loves bread and would like to be able to break off a piece of focaccia and run it through some olive oil and balsamic Vinegar, I have the best news ever.

You can! Best part? My taste testers didn’t know this recipe was gluten free when I had them sample it.

Along with the help of my good friend Mimi Germaine, and based on a recipe from the cookbook Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison, I’ve found a focaccia recipe that will make folks at your Thanksgiving table come back for thirds and fourths!

Ingredients:

2 tsp active dry yeast

½ tsp sugar

1 tsp salt

2 tbsp olive oil

2 ½ -3 cups of Gluten Free Flour  (I used Bob’s Red Mill)

1 ½ tsp coarse sea salt

  1. In ¼ warm water, dissolve yeast and sugar. Set this mixture aside for up to 20 minutes. Some recipes suggest 10, BUT Mimi (aka Kitchen Goddess) suggested I let it dissolve longer to “add air” since my issue with most bread was the denseness.
  2. Prep a mixing bowl for the dough by oiling it thoroughly.
  3. Using a separate mixing bowl, mix together 1-cup warm water, salt, oil and flour. Add yeast mixture to this concoction and lightly knead. After flour ingredients are all mixed together, turn out ingredients on to a floured surface to lightly knead, no longer than 2 minutes or 3.
  4. Place the dough inside the oiled bowl, covering top with a damp cloth. Place bowl in a warm spot for dough to rise for the next hour. Again, as with the yeast, some recipes suggest letting the dough rise for 45 minutes. Go longer, add air. It’s the Germaine way!
  5. After the dough has risen, you can put it in a bread pan, shape it into a circle and use a pizza stone or do what I did: I spilt the dough in half, dividing it into two different sized Le Creuset bakeware dishes.  This way I could also make one loaf of plain Foccacia and one loaf with some pizzazz!
  6. After the dough has been placed in the bakeware, pinch it or poke small holes in the top with fingertips to make a decorative top to the bread.  Cover again and let rise in a warm place for the next 45 minutes.
  7. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Top with anything from Rosemary to pre-roasted garlic or you can even add some onions (I used fried onions leftover from making the Gluten Free Green Bean Casserole). Bake for 30 minutes.

While it’s cooling off, get a plate and pour some olive oil and balsamic vinegar on it for your dipping pleasure.

Trust me – this bread is going to be a hit on your dinner table!