Chili con Carne

When the craving for chili hits, you gotta go with it. Otherwise, it haunts you. There’s nothing in the world that can be substituted.

The process of making chili ranges from complex to very simple. My recipe is in the moderate range. Do a little work upfront, then let it simmer for a while. It’s very customizable (see the Notes and Meal Suggestions). This recipe calls for beef, but you can go with ground turkey (or shredded turkey). You can use pork. You can use chicken. Don’t want beans? Don’t have to have ‘em.

In fact, there is only one, unbreakable rule when it comes to chili-making: do not skimp on the cumin! You can adjust this seasoning, that ingredient, but the cumin is essential.

Once we were at a friend’s for a Super Bowl party. I took one sniff of his chili and knew it would be good. The cumin was right there. He seemed surprised that I knew about the cumin rule. I think he doesn’t get out enough.

A note about heat. My husband loves his food very spicy. I am more of a medium, and this recipe reflects my tastes. As you review the list of ingredients, take your personal tastes into consideration. You can always start on the careful side and adjust the seasonings as you go.

Banh Mi Style Chicken Breasts

Banh Mi is a Vietnamese sandwich filled with fragrant spices, seasoned meat, and crisp veggies. Traditionally, it’s served on a crusty baguette. I’ve been known to substitute Udi’s Gluten-Free breads as they’re more readily available.

However, one afternoon, I was craving this combination of flavors and found myself breadless. Since I had the chicken and the rest of the ingredients, I improvised. This chicken was so tasty, I snuck it into my leftovers for several days!

It combines sweet, sour, spicy flavors in a way that makes me want to make it again as I type this recipe.

Chicken with Sour Cream Sauce

Yeah, I know. Another chicken and sauce recipe. What can I say? I love dressing up plain chicken to make it special. Particularly chicken breasts. Of course, this recipe can be made with any type of boneless, skinless cut of chicken. Which is great because the grocery stores of the world have just realized that customers adore chicken thighs!

Sorta Chicken Pot Pie

Once, in a moment of weakness, I confessed my deepest, darkest secret to my former boss: at those times I really needed serious comfort food, I reached for frozen chicken pot pies served over rice. Ain’t nothing healthy about that, but so comforting.

Obviously, I never eat like this in front of my husband. At least, I hope I don’t.

My former boss has never forgotten this. Just like I know about her meatball sandwich cravings. Sometimes, you just need food that serves your soul. Food that reminds you of something…even if that memory is a formerly-frozen chicken pot pie made on an assembly line.

So one day, faced with leftover chicken and carrots and celery that needed to be used, I thought “pot pie”. Then I thought “do I really want to make gluten-free pot pie?” The answer was — and was based quite a bit on the time of day this craving hit — was no. However, I still had the chicken, carrots, and celery.

Something had to be done.

This is definitely not the stuff you remember from your childhood. I serve it over rice (score!). And — in another nod to my misspent youth — took advantage of GF Bisquik to make drop biscuits to serve as my “crust”.

Gluten-Free Fried Chicken

I don’t remember how many years ago it was, but one of my friends brought Kentucky Fried Chicken to our monthly bookclub meeting. Prior to this, the height of decadence in bookclub came in the form of our local so, so bad-for-you Chinese restaurant. With the exception of our vegetarian member, everyone, after noting they hadn’t had KFC in years, dug into the chicken. And the biscuits.

Before long, fried chicken became a regular feature at bookclub. And I am not ashamed to say the one thing I regretted most about going gluten-free was…yes, no more KFC. Which meant I had to get over my fear of frying.

Needless to say, making fried chicken is a personal thing. Everyone has a recipe they swear by. The trick is to gussy up the flour mixture with herbs and spices and tasty stuff to give it lots of flavor. The other trick is to use really hot (350 degrees) oil to get a good seal on the chicken — that way the juiciness stays in while the oil stays out.

You can fry in a deep fryer, on the stove in a deep skillet or Dutch oven, or even bake this version of fried chicken. And, of course, make it your own by mixing up the seasonings to your own taste. And while you can use any and all part of the chicken, remember that breasts tend to dry out more than legs and thighs.

Chicken Enchiladas

Easy, easy, easy weeknight dish. And versatile. There is no right way to make enchiladas…don’t want to roll your filling in your tortilla? Go ahead, make layers like lasagna. Change up the ingredients to suit yourself. It’s all good.

Since I make my own chicken stock, I often have leftover (bland) boiled chicken. This is a great dish for using up extra chicken, and the heat can be adjusted to suit your tastes. You can make this red or green — though, in all honesty, I prefer a green salsa. The tanginess of the tomatillo makes my tastebuds happy.

Also, I prefer salsa to pre-made enchilada sauce. For reasons that escape me, the sauces sold by my local store all contain wheat. Weird. Your mileage may vary.

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