Spicing up a favorite recipe


After years of creating recipes, shopping and cooking, even a Kitchen Diva needs to update her old favorites from time to time. It's amazing how changing a few ingredients and adding new spices and herbs can revive an old recipe.
 I've decided to update my Chicken and Rice Salad by giving it a Mexican twist. I'm adding flavorful herbs and spices to change the flavor profile of the dish.
 The black beans and avocados give the salad a creamy, buttery texture and add additional protein and nutrients. Nutrients found in avocados include vitamin E, vitamin C, lutein and the B vitamins folate, B-6, pantothenic acid, riboflavin and niacin -- all of which have been shown to be good for hair and skin.
 Be selective about the avocados you use in this salad. An avocado is ready to serve when the skin turns from dark green to nearly black and yields when pressed gently with a thumb. Firm avocados will ripen in a day or two at room temperature in a brown paper bag on your kitchen counter. Ripe avocados can be kept in the refrigerator for several days. 
Try this updated Avocado, Chicken and Rice Salad dish, and feel free to think outside of the recipe box the next time you prepare an old family favorite. 
  2 cups cooked long-grain white rice
 2 ripe avo­ca­dos
 1 tea­spoon fresh lem­on juice
 1 (15 ounce) can black beans
 3 cups cooked chick­en, shred­ded or cut in­to bite-sized pieces
 4 green onions, root ends re­moved and dis­carded, white and green parts, chopped
 1 tea­spoon chili powder
 1/2 tea­spoon salt
 1/2 tea­spoon freshly ground black pep­per
 1/4 tea­spoon cay­enne pep­per
 1 cup Itali­an dress­ing
 1 cup cherry to­ma­toes
 1/4 cup chopped cil­antro, op­tion­al
  1. Prepare rice according to package directions. Dice avocados and toss with lemon juice; set aside. Rinse and drain black beans. When the rice is ready, stir in chicken, beans, green onions, chili powder, salt, black pepper and cayenne pepper. Add Italian dressing and toss well to combine.
  2. Pour into a serving bowl, cover with plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes to 1 hour. Add the avocados and cherry tomatoes, tossing gently to combine. Sprinkle with cilantro, if desired.
 Makes 6 servings. *** 

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