Curried Chicken Salad with Roasted Carrots

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It’s rather amusing to me that although I’m doing a post on chicken salad today, the truth is up until about roughly 3 years ago, I absolutely LOATHED the stuff.

Seriously. I just couldn’t abide it. If you were to put a bowl of chicken salad underneath my nose I’d probably start gagging. That’s how serious it was.

The thing is, (and as you guys know about me by now) I actually love chicken and eat it all the time. And the ingredients in most chicken salads are ingredients that by and large, I’m fine with.

Save for one.

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Friggingodawfulmayonnaise.

Oy vey.

I don’t think there are enough words in the English language for me to express how much I completely and vehemently despise mayonnaise.The smell is enough to trigger my gag reflex and kill my appetite. The thought of the stuff literally makes my skin crawl. Not joking, guys. It’s just one of the worst things to ever be created and for the life of my I don’t understand how people can actually enjoy it.

Miracle Whip is slightly less egregious to me, but not by much.

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However, as we all know mayonnaise happens to serve as the base for most chicken salad recipes. If you don’t like it, then chances are you won’t like chicken salad–which would explain my nearly life-long aversion to it.

So, how did I get over it? Easy. I learned a little trick of swapping out the mayonnaise for another base: Greek yogurt.

Whole milk Greek yogurt is thick, creamy and a perfect substitute for those of us who can’t get down with the mayonnaise. It’s much better for you too so this dish is actually one you can eat and feel pretty good about afterwards.  If I had one personal criticism of Greek yogurt it’s that sharp tangy aftertaste it’s got. I know that most people love that about it, but for me, I need something to temper it. That’s where this recipe came in and saved the day.

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The other ingredients in this salad really work to temper the sharpness of the Greek yogurt. The roasted carrots and golden raisins give it an excellent sweetness all on their own, but then the spices (curry powder, honey, cumin, turmeric and cardamom) also work together to give it another depth of flavor that elevates the typical ‘monotony’ that is most chicken salad recipes. The nuts just give it that extra edge of crunchy texture that it needs. The recipe does suggest using walnuts, but all I had in the house were almonds at the time so that’s what I went with and (like most of my improvisational kitchen decisions) it actually turned out to be what I think I would’ve preferred in the first place.

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As you may have guessed, chicken salad actually tastes better the day after you make it, when the ingredients and flavors have time to sit and really meld together. So if you have the time to do so, I do recommend you making it at night just before you go to bed, then maybe taking it with you to work for  lunch the next day, or saving it for dinner the next day. You won’t be disappointed, this makes an awesome sandwich,  guys.

Side note: you want to send your chicken salad sandwich over the top and into the stratosphere of deliciousness? Add a layer of potato chips before you put on the top slice of bread. TRUST ME.

As I do every week, I’m linking this post up to the Fiesta Friday #116, co-hosted this week by Judi @ cookingwithauntjuju and Cynthia @ eatmunchlove.

Curried Chicken Salad with Roasted Carrots

Recipe Adapted from Food & Wine

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Ingredients

  • 3/4 pound carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • Pepper
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (or almonds, which is what I used)
  • 2 cups plain whole-milk Greek yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 4 cups shredded rotisserie chicken (1 pound)
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins
  • 1 small Granny Smith apple-peeled, cored and cut into a fine dice

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400°. On a rimmed baking sheet, toss the carrots with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

Roast for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the carrots are tender. Let cool to room temperature. While the carrots are roasting, spread the almonds on a pie plate and toast for 3 to 5 minutes, until golden.

In a large bowl, mix the yogurt with the honey, cumin, curry powder, turmeric, cardamom and remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Fold in the shredded chicken, carrots, walnuts, golden raisins and apple and season with salt and pepper.

Orange Honey Mustard Baked Chicken Breasts

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Back when my sister was still planning her wedding, the venue at which the reception was at had a fully functioning kitchen/staff that would cater a sit down dinner as apart of the fee for renting out the space, if desired. Rather than bring in an outside caterer, she decided to go with this option. Just about three months before the wedding, the venue’s chef and staff would hold what were called collective “tastings” where they would cook samples of just about everything that was on their menu for the couples who had booked rooms in advance to come and taste so that they could pick which one(s) they wanted to serve at their reception.

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Fortunately, my sister was allowed to bring guests with her to the tasting; so she ended up bringing me, my mom, my aunt and my niece with her.

Hey, it was free food. You guys KNEW I was gonna tag along for that. I thought that it was just going to be one or two pieces of meat that they plunked down on a few saucers that we had to share and nibble on.

Yeah, no. What is actually was, was a full on buffet of not only every main dish, but every side dish that the venue had on their menu. We could eat as much of it as we wanted (you know, for quality control purposes) and the chef was even on site for any questions that the brides/grooms had about the preparation of the food in general. And they had just about everything: several chicken, beef, fish AND pasta dishes. Several vegetables sides. They even put out some of the appetizers. Every person that attended got a small little card with a list of the food names, and a scale of 1-10 that the couples and their guests could rate them on for our favorite to least favorite that I assume the bride/groom could use later to pick which dishes they wanted to serve at their reception.

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I’d never been to a real wedding reception tasting before, and I was VERY impressed with not only the service of the staff, but the overall experience in general. We were STUFFED by the time we left and I’m pleased to say it was due to mostly excellent food.

For her two entree choies, my sister ended up picking a delicious flank steak dish, and a stuffed chicken one that reminded me of something you’d serve on Thanksgiving. However, the stuffed chicken wasn’t her favorite preparation of it that we sampled that day and it wasn’t mine either. We were blown away by this Dijon mustard chicken dish that even to this day, I STILL find myself thinking about and kinda salivating over. The balance of tanginess from the mustard and the sweetness of the honey was so just well executed and the chicken (a breast at that) was still so moist and flavorful.

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My mom (rightly so) advised my sister that since not everyone likes the flavor of mustard it might be better to pick a more ‘generic’ chicken dish that was still delicious, which is the reason why she went with the stuffed chicken.

Even so, ever since that wedding reception tasting back in July I have been trying my darndest to try and make a chicken dish that is even as remotely delicious as the Dijon mustard one we tried that day. I’ll be perfectly honest: this one isn’t quite it.

But! It IS still delicious, quick and ridiculously simple to pull off.

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Lemme just first talk about this sauce: after making the first batch to pour over the chicken while it’s baking, I tasted it and immediately got to work making a second one just to have for extra dipping later. It’s that good. The combination of citrus from the orange juice and zest and the dijon mustard is a truly perfect combination; not too sweet, while also not too sharp or tangy either. It also makes one kick-ass sandwich spread, AND a pretty good salad dressing.

I covered my chicken with foil while baking this and it came out SOOOOO moist. Even I can’t usually make my chicken breast bake up that moist and tender, but by Golly, this time I nailed it. I was one happy camper that night for dinner let me tell you. So I think it goes without saying that I’m placing my heavy rubber stamp of approval on this recipe for you guys to try for an easy weeknight dinner. Have at it, will ya?

Happy Fiesta Friday #113 and thank you to our co-hosts for this week,  Sonal @ simplyvegetarian777 and Laurie @ ten.times.tea.

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Orange Honey Mustard Baked Chicken Breasts

Recipe Courtesy of Chowhound

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Ingredients

  • 3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 4)
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons finely grated orange zest (from about 2 oranges)
  • 1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (from about 6 oranges)
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped yellow onion or shallot
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons whole-grain mustard
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter (1/4 stick), cut into 4 pieces and at room temperature

Directions

Heat the oven to 400°F and arrange a rack in the middle.

Season the chicken with 2 teaspoons of the salt and all of the pepper; set aside.

Place the orange zest, juice, onion or shallot, honey, and remaining teaspoon of salt in a large oven-safe frying pan, whisk to combine, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer until reduced by almost half, about 3 minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the Dijon and whole-grain mustards.

Add the reserved chicken, spoon some of the sauce over each breast, and bake until the chicken is just cooked through, about 30 minutes.

Remove the chicken to a serving platter and tent with foil. Whisk the butter into the sauce 1 piece at a time, letting each piece melt before adding the next. Spoon the sauce over the chicken and serve.

Roasted Maple Curry Brussel Sprouts

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My twin sister is getting married soon. Really soon. Like, September soon.

She’s been engaged for over a year now, but I still don’t think it’s really sunk in for me yet. Jas has lived with me every single day of our lives since we were conceived. Literally That’s 25 years, plus change since our birthday also happens to be in September.

There are 9,131 days in twenty five years. Of those 9,131 days, I don’t think more than 10 (and I mean, 10 maximum) have went by that Jas and I have not seen each other.

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But come September, Jas will be moving out and living elsewhere from me. It’s not that big of a deal. It’s not like she’s moving to another state.  Her house is about twenty minutes away from where we live now. She’s already informed me that she plans to visit here often and that I’m more than welcome to come over to her place, and I believe her.

Still. The closer we get to the actual Big Day, I have to confess the idea of her moving out does feel a little…weird.

It’s definitely gonna be different not having her here all the time. It’ll definitely be an adjustment. But I’m sure it won’t take too long for me to get the hang of it.

I hope.

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On the brighter/less sappy side, I’m REALLY happy for my sister and her fiance. They’ve known each other for over ten years, and I could tell even way back when we were in high school when they were in that “just friends” stage that they were really into each other. They’ve always had a really awesome dynamic that at times, I have even felt myself being a little envious of. I think that the best couples are the couples that first of all, have a lot of fun together, and second, complement each other very well. That’s definitely the case with Jas and her guy.

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They’ve been friends just as long as they’ve been together romantically. They have lots of inside jokes. They like’doing things’ together, but they’re also just as cool with being together and ‘doing nothing’. They’re not similar people personality-wise, but the different elements of their personality work together really well.

They just have a great relationship, and as a sister, I’m really proud of the choice that Jas has made for her life partner.

The main ingredients for this dish kinda remind me of the relationship that Jas has with her fiance, as well as the relationship that I’ve seen with other happy couples.

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Maple syrup and curry powder. I know it’s maybe not exactly an union that may seem to be successful at first. On their own, the ingredients are already pretty strong and assertive: maple syrup with it’s prominent sweetness, and curry powder with it’s pungent spiciness. Kinda polar opposites, right?

Still, I gotta insist that you guys trust me on this: once you combine them together, they really really REALLY work well. The assertiveness of both spices, combined with the slight bitterness from the brussel sprouts creates this harmonious marriage of flavors (pun intended) that I was really very impressed with. It made for a delicious side dish that I’m definitely sticking in my bag of tricks to use repeatedly in the future.

I’ll be taking myself and my sprouts over to the Fiesta Friday #76 party by the way. See you guys there 🙂

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Roasted Maple Curry Brussel Sprouts

Recipe Courtesy of Jess@Cooking is My Sport

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Ingredients

  • 2 lbs. fresh Brussel sprouts, washed, trimmed and halved
  • 2-3 tbsp. olive oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1 1/2 tsp. yellow curry powder

Directions

400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Line a sheet pan with parchment paper and coat evenly with cooking spray.

Toss Brussel sprouts with olive oil in a large bowl and season with salt and pepper.

Arrange in a single layer on sheet pan and roast in oven, 35-40 minutes, stirring halfway through until sprouts are tender in the center and crisp on the outside.

Meanwhile, combine maple syrup and curry powder in a glass measuring cup. When sprouts are done roasting, drizzle curry maple syrup over them*. Serve.

*You may not want to use all of the syrup, depending on your personal preference of sweetness and spice.