Smoky chicken salad is seasoned with cumin, paprika, and black pepper.
Smoky chicken salad is a new flavor for me. I love the smell of a campfire. I love smoky spices. It's as if this dish and I were meant for each other.
How it came to be.
Here's the story. I'm sticking to it. I wandered into a deli. The smoky chicken salad was on the menu. Of all the chicken salads I've tried before, I've never tried a smoky chicken salad. If I'm going to mention a few... I couldn't. If you've ever been to the restaurant Chicken Salad Chicks, you may know they have quite a variety of chicken salads. I've tried all but two. My favorite on the menu is the lemon basil.
Back to the smoke. I stopped by Kitchens Cafe on Harrison St. in Paducah. It's part of the WKCTC campus. More often than not, they'll feature gluten-free items. On this day, they didn't. I started ordering random things. This cold salad was one of the things.
No ingredients were listed on the packaging. So, I started analyzing my lunch. I began with the easy ingredients like cubed chicken, celery, and pecans. Next, I would taste the sauce, and taste the sauce, and taste the sauce. Based on my tastebuds, love of smoky flavors, and the seasonings readily available in my cabinet. Viola, the recipe.
Ingredients: Three chicken breasts (either roasted or poached)
Three celery stalks
1/2 cup of chopped pecans
One cup of mayonnaise
2 tsp. paprika
2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp black pepper
When the chicken is cooked, cut into cubes. Next, use celery hearts. Slice in half. Chop. Add to the chicken. Add the pecans. Mix the sauce ingredients together. Fold into the chicken. Time for lunch.
If you love smoky flavors, a chipotle might be nice in the chicken salad. I detected no heat in Kitchens Cafe Smoky Chicken Salad. I wanted to try my best to replicate it. I believe I came very close.
Smoky chicken salad serves 3 -4 people
The breading batter is key to a delicious and crispy eggplant parmesan
Eggplant Parmesan is a favorite among those who enjoy Italian cuisine.
The process is simple. The key is the batter.
The first time I tried eggplant parmesan was at an Italian restaurant in Lexington, KY. We had finished a project, successfully, and were celebrating our victory. I believe it was Rick Pitino's restaurant. Yes. It was! As I'm writing this recipe, everything's coming back. Our significant other was invited to tag along too. It was a 'no holds barred' affair. We dressed for success. Enjoyed endless bottles of wine. A champagne toast. And an entire room to ourselves. Quite the experience.
I'm sure many of the readers of WKY Community Living have tried eggplant parmesan. On that note, I'm sure many have made eggplant parmesan. If you've experienced sogginess, this is your answer to the soggy bottom.
The process of eggplant parmesan
Prepare the eggplant as follows: slice the eggplant into 1/4 to 1/2-inch slices. Set on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt. Let the eggplant slices sit for 10 minutes. Dab away any additional moisture from the eggplant with a paper towel.
Dredging the eggplant is like all other flour, egg, and breadcrumb processes. First, dip eggplant slices into the flour mixture. Next, the egg. Finally, the bread crumbs.
Eggplant Breading Mixture: If you're using one large eggplant
One cup of flour
Two Tbs. Mrs. Dash Seasoning
One Tbs. of baking powder
Mix together. This is the first step in dredging. Next, use one egg. This should be ample for this recipe. Coat both sides of the slices in egg. Next, sprinkle your preferred breadcrumb on either side of the eggplant. I like panko.
You can either bake or fry the eggplant. If you bake it, do so in a 350-degree oven for 25 - 30 minutes. If you fry it, I like to use coconut oil. Fill a sauté pan with 1/4 inch of oil. Check the temperature by flicking a bit of cold water in the oil. If it sizzles, it's ready. Fry on both sides until golden brown.
For the marinara, use your favorite prepared brand or make your own. It depends on my schedule as to how much time I have available. I love my sauce but I don't always have time. I'll save the marinara for another recipe. Enjoy!
Iron skillet chicken with fennel, onion, jalapeno and an herb-based sauce drizzled across the top of the chicken. Fresh roasted corn will be added to the skillet after a quick sauté.
It was a rainy Friday and not much to do other than eat. After opening the freezer and seeing the three chicken breasts alongside three hamburger patties; I chose chicken. Most of the ingredients were available in my pantry and refrigerator except the fennel. If you've tried roasted fennel, it's a sweet treat with a bit of a licorice flavor. It's not overpowering and more flavorful than celery.
There's a particular marinade that I make that's a go-to for many of my grilled meats. I decided to add a few more dried herbs to the special marinade to pour directly over the chicken before roasting it in the oven.
Most of the ingredients are readily available in cupboards and refrigerators. If you're missing one or two items, you may always improvise. Let's get to it!
3 chicken breasts
3 T. olive oil
A pat of butter
A medium onion
A fennel bulb
3 ears of fresh corn on the cobb
A large jalapeno (seeded and membranes removed)
2 T. lemon juice
Tsp. lemon zest
Tsp. of oregano
1/2 tsp. of dillweed
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
3 cloves of garlic (chopped and crushed)
Lightly salt and pepper the chicken breasts and sear in the iron skillet with a tablespoon of olive oil. Go ahead and sear both sides. Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside.
Make the herb olive oil with the remaining oil (two tablespoons), salt, pepper, 2 T. lemon juice, lemon zest, oregano, dillweed, and garlic. Whisk together.
Slice the fennel and onion and chop the jalapeno. Place in the iron skillet. Add the seared chicken breasts. Drizzle the herb olive oil over the top of the chicken.
Shuck the corn and cut off the cob. Heat a pat of butter in a small skillet. Add the corn, salt, and pepper to taste, and sauté for a couple of minutes. Once sautéed, add the corn to the skillet with the chicken.
Cover the skillet with aluminum foil and place in a 400-degree onion for 30 to 40 minutes. Halfway through the roast, spoon some of the liquid over the chicken. Once the chicken reaches 165 degrees, take the skillet out of the oven to sit for 10 minutes. Serve.
Classic Recipes: Chicken Asparagus Extra Cheesy Casserole
During the winter months, casseroles and soups are a mainstay in the kitchen. Outdoor grilling isn't much of an option and let's face it, meals can get boring. Since the pandemic, there's been quite a bit of takeout at our home. Don't get me wrong, having a meal prepared by someone other than myself is nice. But sometimes, it's nicer to stay inside and 'do it yourself'. On those nights, blow the dust off the old recipe box given to you by grandma or mom and find some classic recipes.
I say, go for the 'stick to your ribs' recipes that everybody enjoys. The ones with the baked cheese and the creamy white sauces that are oh-so delicious. We're talking 'comfort food'. With the world turned upside down and little relief in sight, we need a break. Let's indulge.
Chicken Asparagus Casserole is one of my Aunt Marge's classic recipes. After sharing tonight's dinner menu with me, I was reminded of Mom's asparagus casserole. I'd forgotten, until tonight, how much I loved her casserole. It was creamy, flavorful, and one of those dishes you couldn't stop eating. Check out the recipe and find some substitutions for those wanting to cut out some salt or stay with fresh ingredients.
Chicken Asparagus Casserole
4-6 deboned chicken breasts
2 (16) ounce cans of whole asparagus drained (you may use fresh...see tip below)
Cup of mayonnaise
2 cans cream of chicken soup (see below for quick homemade soup with less salt)
tsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
tsp. Cavender's Greek seasoning
1/2 tsp. cumin
Cup of sharp cheddar cheese
Cook chicken breasts in rolling hot water for approximately 30 minutes. After draining the chicken, let it cool and cut into cubes. Mix the chicken with the cans of cream of chicken soup. Place chicken in a 9 x 13 dish. Layer the whole asparagus on top of the chicken. Mix together the mayonnaise, lemon juice, and seasonings. Spread over the asparagus. Add the cheese. Cook for 30 minutes in a 350-degree oven. If you want the cheese a bit crisper, broil for five minutes or less.
Tip for using fresh asparagus (shared by Chef Jeff)
"Simply put on the plate, sprits with a bit of your favorite oil & season with salt and pepper. Cover with plastic, wrap, and microwave at two-minute intervals to the desired doneness. Use immediately or place in fridge or freezer for a couple of minutes."
Recipe for homemade cream of chicken soup (double the recipe for the two cans)
3 Tablespoons butter
3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 cup chicken stock or broth
1/2 cup milk (1 or 2%)
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
Salt and pepper to taste
In a small saucepan, melt the butter, add flour, and whisk together to make a roux (a minute or two). Add the chicken broth and milk, and whisk until creamy (no lumps). Add the garlic powder. Salt to taste.
Bring to a simmer and continue cooking until the mixture thickens about 2 to 3 minutes.
Remove from heat. This will make the equivalent of one can of cream chicken soup. Double it for this recipe.