Southwestern Chicken Salad with Homemade Mayo

Southwestern Chicken Salad

I’ve been thinking about making homemade mayonnaise for a long time.  But I hadn’t gotten past thinking about it until I used my Barnes and Noble Christmas giftcard to buy Jamie Oliver’s Great Britain.  Not only do I highly recommend the latest cookery book (as they say in the UK) from the good-natured Essex maverick, but I also insist that you make this mayo immediately!

Other food-obsessed friends had been telling me for years.  But I don’t eat that much mayo, and figured it wasn’t worth the trouble.

I was wrong.

Not only was it quick and easy, the result was so rich that Eric and I were desperately trying to think of things to use mayo on or in!  We ended up making a huge bowl of chicken salad, and it was so good, I had to share the recipe (see below).

I also used Eric as a food taster, making him do a blind test.  It was quite simple to tell the difference between the mass produced, processed mayo in our fridge and this stuff.  I was afraid the olive oil would be too overpowering (you can cut it with half rapeseed oil for a less robust flavor), but we really liked it.  I’m going to make some of Jamie’s variations soon: basil, garlic, and curry!  Mmm, curry.

Somehow, I didn’t take any pictures of the process; but it’s so straightforward (really, stop worrying and just whisk!).  Here it is.

Stella’s Homemade Mayonnaise
adapted from Jamie Oliver
3 egg yolks
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1.5 cups extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
juice of one lemon
salt, to taste

1. In a medium mixing bowl, lightly whisk egg yolks and Dijon mustard. Slowly drizzle in olive oil, only a little bit at a time, while continuing to stir. It’s best if you take up to ten minutes to do this, so the ingredients won’t separate.

2. As the mayo begins to thicken, add the vinegar and lemon juice while continuing to whisk. Continue until it is well mixed and smoothly textured.

3. Add salt to taste; scoop mayo out into a Mason jar or other sealable, refrigerator-safe container.

Yields approximately two cups of mayonnaise. Will keep for two weeks in the fridge.
 

Southwestern Chicken Salad
4 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 cup homemade mayo (see above)
1/4 white onion, finely diced
handful cilantro, roughly chopped
2 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 Tbsp Cholula hot sauce
dash of balsamic vinegar
2 tsp chili powder, plus more to garnish
4 Tbsp crushed pecans
salt and pepper, to taste

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Meanwhile, prep other ingredients.

2. Bake chicken on a foil-lined baking sheet for approximately 30 minutes, or until fully cooked through. Remove from oven and allow to cool for about five minutes.

Southwestern Chicken Salad3. Chop or shred chicken to desired consistency. Sometimes, I pull it by hand; for this dish, I cubed it on a cutting board with a knife. Place cubed chicken in large mixing bowl.

4. Add mayo, onion, cilantro, and lemon juice, and mix thoroughly. Then add hot sauce, vinegar, and paprika, and stir again. Taste, then add salt and pepper as desired.

5. Spoon out chicken salad onto serving plates and garnish with a dusting of chili powder, crushed pecans, and additional cilantro sprigs. Serve immediately.

Serves 4-6. Refrigerates well; eat within a couple of days.

Southwestern Chicken Salad

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Garlic Cauliflower Mash

1 large head of cauliflower / 1 lb bag of frozen cauliflower
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 large onion, widely sliced
~1/2 tsp raw, brown sugar
2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp sour cream
olive oil

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Drizzle a little olive oil in a medium baking pan; grease the pan with your fingers. If using frozen cauliflower, defrost first; otherwise, place de-leafed, chopped cauliflower and garlic in pan. Add salt and pepper and turn over a few times so that the veggies are nicely mixed and coated with oil. Bake for 20 minutes, turning over with a spoon halfway through for even roasting.

2. Meanwhile, in a medium skillet, melt 1 tablespoon of butter over medium high heat. Add onions and sugar and stir. Sauté for about fifteen minutes, stirring occasionally, until onions are nicely browned, fragrant, and caramelized.

3. Add caramelized onions, the remaining tablespoon of butter, sour cream, and a drizzle of olive oil (about 1 teaspoon) to a food processor. Once the cauliflower is done (you want it cooked through and just roasted—crispy but not deeply browned), add it to the food processor, too. Make sure you get all of the garlic out of the roasting pan and into the mixer. Mix with other ingredients until smooth (about three minutes). Use a spoon to scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl if necessary.

4. Spoon out and serve immediately with butter, cheese, or gravy.

Serves 2.

Shown here with bangers and Stella’s Special Mushroom and Onion Gravy.

Paleo Pumpkin Pudding

While browsing the Paleo in Portland blog, I came across this tempting butternut squash pudding, which she, in turn, had adapted from paleOMG’s Sugar Detox Carrot Cake Pudding.

Having neither carrots nor butternut squash on hand, I decided to take it up another notch and make pumpkin pudding. This recipe is adapted from both Paleo in Portland and paleOMG.

15 oz. puréed pumpkin (1 can) – or use fresh!
2 Tbsp coconut milk
2 Tbsp almond butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp honey (optional*)

1. Add all ingredients to a food processor and purée to desired smoothness. For a silkier finish, drizzle in more coconut milk, a tiny bit at a time.

That’s it! Enjoy!

Serves 2-4.

Of course, I made this non-paleo by adding whipped cream to the top! But it’s pretty wonderful on its own, too. If I’d had any grated coconut, I would’ve used it.

*I buy local, raw honey from Round Rock at the Austin Farmer’s Market.

Stella’s Green Beef Curry

My stepmother has been eating gluten-free for the past ten months, and reports a real turnaround in the way she feels. Meanwhile, my best friend was recently diagnosed with a medical condition that may be treatable with a gluten-free diet, so she’s also eating that way. And, though no one told me when I was diagnosed six and a half years ago, apparently gluten-free is the way to go for those of us suffering from Hashimoto’s Disease (the auto-immune form of hypothyroidism, suffered by about one in every thousand people, mostly women).  So I’ve been trying to cut back lately, too.  Not because it’s a trend, but because I want to achieve optimum health.

I don’t know about you, but I tend to crave bright, fresh flavors in the summer: lemon, lime, pistachio, berries, gelato, sorbet, and fresh herbs from the garden.  And we’ve been on a real cilantro and lime kick at our house.  So I decided to try my hand at a Thai-inspired green curry.  Since I had a whole pound of fresh ground beef from Wheatsville on hand, that’s what I made, and the result was luxurious.

This one’s actually pretty darn easy; so if you like the flavors like I do, and you’ve never tried to make a curry at home, this is a great place to start.  Using coconut oil and coconut milk infuses this dish with that unmistakeble, creamy flavor, and blending in practically a whole armful of fresh cilantro results in a refreshing and aromatic curry.

If you like these flavors, you might also try my popular Chicken Enchiladas with Sour Cream and Cilantro Sauce.  And check back next week for another lime-doused, cilantro-sprinkled meal for summer.  August may well prove to be the Month of Green.

The meat and veg
1 heaping Tbsp coconut oil
1 medium green bell pepper, chopped
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
1 medium head of broccoli, washed and chopped
1 medium head of cauliflower, washed and chopped
1 cup cremini mushrooms, thickly sliced
1 lb. ground beef
fresh chopped cilantro for garnish, to taste

For the curry
~2 cups of cilantro, washed and chopped
12 oz. coconut milk (one standard can)
1 tsp curry powder
1 tsp green Thai curry paste
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp salt
~2 Tbsp fresh lime juice
lime wedges for garnish

1. In a large skillet, melt coconut oil over medium heat. Add bell pepper and onion and sauté for about five minutes, until onion is translucent and fragrant. Add broccoli and cauliflower (you can used frozen veggies, but thaw them first). Cook for another ten minutes, stirring frequently. Add mushrooms and cook for about two minutes, just until they begin to soften.

2. Add beef, breaking it up with your spatula. Stir thoroughly and allow to cook for about ten minutes, turning the meat and veggies over a couple of times.

3. Meanwhile, add all the curry ingredients to a blender and liquefy. Taste the curry, and adjust seasonings to suit. Set aside.

4. Once beef is cooked through, pour curry into skillet and mix well. Reduce heat to low, and allow to warm thoroughly (about ten minutes), stirring occasionally.

5. Spoon out mixture into bowls and serve topped with fresh cilantro and lime wedges. Squeeze the lime juice over the bowl before digging in!

Serves 4.

Stella’s Perfect Scrambled Eggs

I eat a lot of eggs.  I have two or three eggs for breakfast at least five days a week.  Most of the time, I have a couple of rashers of crispy bacon; sometimes I have salsa, herbs, migas, cheese, and/or breakfast sausage.  Over the past few months, I’ve really perfected my scrambled eggs recipe.  They turn out light, fluffy, rich, and delicious.  The secret is in the pre-scrambling, and to cook over low heat.

Next time you’re hungry for some eggs—for breakfast, lunch, or dinner—give these a try!  This recipe is for a single serving.  Double for two people, etc.

Ingredients:
Three large eggs
1 Tbsp softened butter, halved
2 Tbsp heavy cream (or milk)
Salt and pepper, to taste

Equipment:
Medium mixing bowl
Whisk
Small to medium skillet
Flat spatula

1. Crack the eggs into the mixing bowl.

2. Using the end of the whisk, break up the yolks with light pressure.

3. Lightly whisk the eggs until just well mixed.

4. Add salt and pepper; slowly pour in cream while continuing to whisk lightly.

5. Let eggs sit for a few minutes at room temperature.

6. Meanwhile, melt butter in the skillet over low heat.

7. Pour eggs into skillet, and stir lightly with spatula.

8. Allow to cook over low heat for a couple of minutes, until the eggs are partially set, then stir, using the spatula to scrape up the cooked egg from the bottom of the pan. Stir well and allow to cook for another minute or two.

8. Increase heat to medium low. Turn eggs over constantly, but gently, with the spatula until well done and fully firm. Fold, don’t stir.

9. Slide eggs out of skillet and onto a plate using the spatula. Garnish with additional salt and pepper, if desired. Serve immediately.

Serves one.

Scrambled eggs with deconstructed pesto

Scrambled eggs with deconstructed pesto

To jazz up these basic scrambled eggs, consider:

  • adding some minced garlic to the melting butter (or garlic powder to the egg mix);
  • folding in some grated cheese at the end of the cooking;
  • including finely diced onions or chile peppers;
  • garnishing with fresh herbs or salsa.