Sweet & Savory Chicken Salad

Chicken Salad

Chicken salad is the epitome of the old saying, “It is whatever you make of it.” As long as it involves some kind of chicken and a mixture of other ingredients, it can probably be classified as chicken salad, but all chicken salads are definitely not created equal.

I’ve always preferred a sweet chicken salad with a bit of crunch to it. What I’ve found over time is that grapes add the sweetness I like, while thinly chopped almonds supply the proper crunch. Many folks add celery to chicken salad, which gives you a kind of crunch, but it also alters the flavor to produce a certain “bite” that I’m not always fond of.

After a little experimenting in the kitchen to get just the right mixture, here’s the #FoodieScore chicken salad recipe we have come to love. Sometimes we’ve used can chicken, which works extremely well for simplicity or in a pinch, but we’ve discovered that the freshness of leftover rotisserie-style chicken is even more flavorful and hearty. We’re also fond of boneless chicken breasts that have been boiled, shredded by hand and then incorporated into chicken salad.

This chicken salad recipe, which will serve about 4, is delicious in on simple white bread, on fresh, lightly toasted croissants, or as more of a dip on a plate with your favorite crackers or chips. Enjoy!

Ingredients (Just blend together well)

1 ½ cups (or 12.5 ounces) shredded chicken

1/2 cup Duke’s mayonnaise

1/4 cup chopped red grapes (any color is fine, but red can add a nice pop visually)

1 tablespoon chopped almonds

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Slow Cooker Bacon Jam

Bacon Jam

Most everyone loves bacon.

You can easily make a spreadable bacon that you can slather on your burgers and other sandwiches, your breakfast toast, or even crackers for a salty-sweet snack.

If you have a skillet, slow cooker and food processor, you only need the right ingredients and a little time to make this delicious Bacon Jam. We’re sure you’ll enjoy it all the ways we suggested above—and in your own creative uses for all your favorite foods. Let us know what you think!

What You Need:

1 ½ pounds bacon sliced into 1-inch pieces

2 medium yellow onions, chopped

3 smashed garlic cloves

½ cup apple cider vinegar

½ cup brown sugar

¼ cup maple syrup

¾ cup brewed coffee

What You Do:

1. Cook the bacon until it’s slightly browned in a skillet. (I prefer cast iron for this.) Drain the bacon.

2. Keep about a tablespoon of bacon fat in the skillet, add the onions and garlic, and cook for about 5 minutes.

3. Add the vinegar, brown sugar, syrup and coffee and bring to a boil. Scrape fat from the pan to include, then add the bacon to the mixture and stir to combine.

4. Transfer the mixture to a slow cooker, and cook uncovered on high until the liquid is syrupy, about 4 hours.

5. Transfer the mixture to a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped.

You can refrigerate the bacon jam in airtight containers for up to 4 weeks. Enjoy!

Rwandan Beef Stew

Rwandan Beef Stew

For more than five years, my wife Molly has sponsored a child through global aid organization Compassion International. That means she sends money through Compassion each month to benefit the child’s family, corresponds by letter with the child and occasionally sends special gifts via the agency.

Molly’s child, who shares the same birthday in January, lives in the east-central African nation of Rwanda, a country ravaged by war and genocide, even decades after its most well-known time of tragedy. Compassion often shares information about life in Rwanda through its magazine and other materials we receive by mail and online.

In one of Compassion’s magazines, the organization shared a recipe for Rwandan Beef Stew, along with background information that children in Rwanda look forward to times when they can eat roasted goat or beef stew because they don’t often have meat available to eat.

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I decided we should enjoy a Rwandan Beef Stew to think about Molly’s sponsored child, her family and all of the nation’s people who experience life so much differently than we do in the United States. We are blessed to be able to eat meat most every day, and we were especially blessed by Compassion sharing this meal with us as a thank you for our gifts to a child in need halfway around the world.

Here’s how you make the Rwandan Beef Stew.

What You Need:

2 pounds stewing beef (you can use a smaller package)

1 chopped onion

3 large green plantains, sliced

2 tablespoons peanut oil (you can use another oil)

4 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

2 teaspoons salt

1 beef bouillon cube

1 large peeled, de-seeded, coarsely chopped tomato

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

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What You Do:

1. Brown the beef and onions in oil using a heavy, large pot over gentle heat.

2. Add plantain slices that have been rubbed or soaked in lemon juice.

3. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring constantly.

4. Add the remaining ingredients and enough water to cover.

5. Keep adding water where necessary, cooking until the meat is tender.

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We cooked our stew for almost six hours, and it was delicious! We were amazed how much the plantains tasted just like potatoes after cooking that long! This particular recipe reminded us very much of beef stew we’ve eaten in the Southern United States throughout our lives. It’s amazing how we can find similarities with people and experiences in very different places! All we have to do is open our eyes and try.

Visit compassion.com/sponsor for more information about helping a child in need.

Simple Dark Chocolate Hummus Dip

Dark Chocolate Hummus

Who doesn’t like to snack? Even if you eat filling meals, there are times when you crave a little something to keep you from fighting intense hunger until the next one. Growing up in our Southern home we called snacks or small meals something to “tide us over.”

Sometimes we desire something salty like a chip or cracker. Other times we want something sweet like a cookie. Well, I have good news. This recipe can offer a little bit of both.

There are many ways to make hummus, but you typically need a few basic ingredients to start, regardless of your intended final product of savory or sweet. Most folks begin with chickpeas (also called garbanzo beans) and tahini, a nutty, buttery, pasty substance that helps provide a lot of the smoothness we enjoy in hummus.

Tahini isn’t the easiest ingredient to find in all our local grocery stores. The one place I did find it, a small jar was $7, not friendly to my constant-cooking budget. I couldn’t justify it. So, I did a little research on some favorite fellow food blogs and discovered peanut butter is an acceptable substitute for tahini in a hummus recipe. It also fits perfectly in this particular version because the point is to create a slightly sweet and very cocoa-chocolatey treat. Otherwise, I kept the recipe on course with others I found, with just a few slight modifications.

NOTE: Many cooks even argue you should call such a mixture a “spread” because hummus, they say, actually translates quite literally to ground chickpeas. I disagree, opting for the western world definition of hummus that includes all the mixture’s ingredients.

You can serve this hummus with most plain crackers (i.e. butter or saltine), pretzels, a plain cookie (such as a vanilla wafer) or with fruit (most common, strawberries or apple slices). And other than adding the calories for those accompaniments, it’s pretty healthy at just 55 calories and 2 grams of sugar per 1/4 cup.

Dark Chocolate Hummus

Ingredients

1 15-ounce can chickpeas

1/2 cup cocoa powder

1/4 cup peanut butter

1/4 cup maple syrup

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon salt

4 tablespoons water

 

Directions

1. Drain the chickpeas.

2. Puree the chickpeas, peanut butter, syrup, cocoa, vanilla, salt and 2 tablespoons of the water in a food processor for about 30 seconds. Scrape down the bowl.

3. Add more syrup if you want a sweeter mixture, but be advised that the bitterness will subside just a bit once you chill the hummus in the fridge. It will still be a bit bitter like dark chocolate, however.

4. Add another 2 tablespoons of water and puree again, about a minute or two, until you get a creamy consistency.

5. Store in the fridge in an air-tight container for up to 10 days. You’ll have about 5 cups of hummus total, enough for 10 half-cup servings or 20 quarter-cup servings.

Gluten-Free Roasted Chickpeas

Roasted Chick Peas

Most all of us like to snack from time to time (or all the time). Problem is, much of what we eat between meals tends to have no nutritional value at all, but it has tons of fat, salt or sugar.

If you’re prone to reaching for chips, crackers or other high-calorie, low-benefit salty snacks, try these Roasted Chickpeas. They’ve got the crunch and nuttiness of a peanut, while also having the texture and similar flavor to a sunflower seed. You can season them in various ways, or you can keep them plain for a more natural flavor and no-salt version.

The best part is, you get the perception of a crunchy, fried snack food without much of the negative result of something like a bag of chips. And they’re gluten free!

Roasted Chickpeas

Ingredients

1 can chickpeas (also called garbanzo beans)

2 Tablespoons olive oil

garlic salt, optional, to taste

cayenne pepper, optional, to taste

Directions

1. The most important step is to drain your chickpeas. Start by removing the water with a colander. Then take a kitchen towel or paper towel(s) and pat the peas dry. You want to remove all the moisture possible to help them develop a crunch in the oven.

2. Toss the chickpeas with the olive oil in a medium bowl. Add garlic salt or just regular salt, if desired.

3. Bake the chickpeas in a pan in a 350-degree oven for about 50 minutes. Your baking time will vary depending on the oven.  Be sure to watch the peas after they’ve been cooking for a while to ensure they don’t brown too much or burn.

4. Remove the peas and return them to a medium bowl, but not the olive oil bowl if you haven’t washed and dried it. Season with cayenne pepper or another spice and toss before serving.

5. Store in a cool, dry place (but not the fridge) in an enclosed container to maintain freshness and crunch for several days.