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October 26, 2004   Email to Friend 

Talladega County Chef Wins Heritage Cooking Contest
Jeff Helms

Winners in the 2004 Heritage Cooking Contest show off their prize-winning chicken recipes. From left are Mindy Luker of Talladega County, first place; Joy Elliott of Escambia County, second place; and Dora Rider of Monroe County, third place.
A low-fat, easy-to-prepare curried chicken recipe won Mindy Luker of Talladega County top honors and $150 in the Alabama Farmers Federation's Heritage Cooking Contest Sept. 2 in Montgomery.

The Heritage Cooking Contest is sponsored each year by the Federation's Women's Division as a way to promote the creative use of Alabama agricultural products in nutritious meals. This year's theme ingredient was chicken.

Luker, who farms with her husband Bob, said she came up with the Curried Chicken recipe because she was looking for a fast, low-fat, one-dish meal. "Bob works hard on the farm, and he often gets home late from working. This is a healthy dish that I can prepare quickly, and it's lower in fat than a lot of recipes," she said.

Joy Elliott of Escambia County placed second and received $100 for her Good-To-Go Grilled Chicken Veggie Salad, and Dora Rider of Monroe County took home third-place honors and $75 for her Baja Chicken Salad. The winners qualified to compete in the statewide cooking contest by placing first in their county competitions.

Curried Chicken - First Place
1 tablespoon cooking oil
1-2 teaspoons curry powder
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup thinly sliced celery
1 very thinly sliced onion
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup coarsely chopped apple (about 1 large apple)
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 cup cold water
2 cups hot cooked rice
Raisins, coconut and peanut (optional)


Heat oil in large skillet. Stir in curry powder. Add chicken. Cook and stir until chicken is browned. Slowly add broth, celery, onion, pepper and salt. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer 15 minutes. Add apples, cover and cook 5 minutes. Combine cornstarch and water. Add to skillet stirring until thickened. Cook and stir 2 minutes more. Serve with rice and, if desired, fruit or nuts. Makes 4 servings. --Mindy Luker, Talladega County

Good-To-Go Grilled Chicken Veggie Salad - Second Place
3 cups fresh broccoli flowerets
3 cups fresh cauliflower flowerets
2 cups fresh mushrooms, sliced
2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup onion, chopped
2 cups grilled chicken, chopped
1 cup Italian dressing


Mix all ingredients well, cover and marinate overnight in the refrigerator. Toss well before serving. Makes 6-8 servings. --Joy Elliott, Escambia County

Baja Chicken Salad with Taco Vinaigrette - Third Place
1 envelope (1.25 ounces) Old El Paso® taco seasoning mix
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup cider vinegar
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cut into 1-inch pieces
1-2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 (10 oz.) package mixed salad greens or baby greens
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup sliced red onion
2/3 cup shredded Cheddar-Monterey Jack cheese blend
1/3 cup sour cream
1 avocado, pitted, peeled and sliced
3 tablespoons sliced ripe olives
Blue tortilla chips


In medium bowl, combine taco seasoning mix, brown sugar, 1/2 cup oil and vinegar; mix well. Place chicken in shallow medium bowl. Pour 1/2 cup seasoning mixture over chicken. Reserve remaining mixture for dressing. Heat 1-2 tablespoons oil in medium nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until hot. With slotted spoon, remove chicken from seasoning mixture; discard marinade. Add chicken to skillet; cook and stir 5 minutes or until done. In large bowl, combine greens, tomatoes and onion. Add reserved seasoning mixture; toss to coat. Arrange on serving platter. Top with chicken, cheese, sour cream, avocado and olives. Arrange tortilla chips around salad. Makes 6 servings. --Dora Rider, Monroe County


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