Bacon-Wrapped Honey Mustard Chicken Strips

I was a bit bummed because I have no saga to post about this week, and have no Random to report.  I was going to Spin but I am already overwhelmed today, so you just get a recipe.

But oh!  What a recipe!

When Beloved’s out of town on business, I tend to cook simpler things – and more kid-friendly dishes, too, since The Young One is known to have such a picky palate (although that certainly seems to be changing).  Last night I got a bit carried away and made something of a feast (and got the boy to eat OKRA!!), of which this dish was a part.

Holy moley – I’ve found boneless, skinless chicken Nirvana.

The recipe is easy as heck, too – cut the chicken into strips, wrap the strips in bacon, brush the strips with the honey mustard mixture, bake the strips until the bacon is golden brown and crisp.  Boom, boom, boom, boom.

And any kid that turns them down needs to be seen by a professional – there’s obviously something wrong with their taste buds.  And as a certified grownup-almost-old-person, I can honestly say you will enjoy them, too.

Oh, and the recipe says it will feed six.  That’s six normal people.  Otherwise if feeds you and a teenage boy.

Who will ask for more.

Note:  when I made this, I just placed the bacon-wrapped strips in the baking pan and by the time I turned them over, they were just sitting in a ton of bacon fat.  Not necessarily a bad thing, of course, but it seemed to be keeping the bacon from crisping up as much as I’d have liked.  So I added the step of placing them on a wire baking rack, suspended over the baking dish, in the hopes that this will mitigate that somewhat.  Use your best judgment.

Bacon-Wrapped Honey Mustard Chicken Strips
Bacon-Wrapped Honey Mustard Chicken Strips
Bacon-Wrapped Honey Mustard Chicken Strips
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 18 strips
  • 18 strips thinly sliced bacon
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup spicy brown mustard
  • 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 425 F. Place a wire baking rack over a baking dish large enough to hold it.
  2. Wrap each strip of chicken in a strip of bacon, covering the surface of the chicken entirely if possible. Place each strip on the wire baking rack and brush the top with half the honey-mustard mixture.
  3. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the bacon is beginning to brown. Turn the strips over and brush with the remaining honey-mustard mixture. Return to the oven and bake for another 10 to 12 minutes, until the bacon is cooked and golden-brown.
  4. Serve immediately.
  5. Nutrition (per serving): 443 calories, 28.5g total fat, 87.1mg cholesterol, 699.9mg sodium, 427.7mg potassium, 24.4g carbohydrates, <1g fiber, 23.2g sugar, 23.5g protein

 

Zucchini-Currant Muffins

Happy Monday, everyone!  I hope you all had a nice weekend – ours was lovely, but brief; Beloved had to fly to California on business yesterday morning.

Since he had to leave so early (we were at the airport at 9:30 a.m.), we were up at 4:45 just so we could spend a little quiet time together, especially since we’d had The G Man most of Saturday and kept him overnight.  Knowing that Beloved was facing a very long day and would probably not get to eat until much later, I decided to make him a great big breakfast, which included this very delicious treat.

I really think I’m getting this grain-free baking thing down, which is a good thing and a bad thing.  Good because the baked goods coming out of my oven are simply delicious, and bad because the baked goods coming out of my oven are simply delicious.   Grain-free or not, too many baked goods are not necessarily, well, good.

Did any of that make sense?

And then there’s the fact that The Young One has been pestering me to make chicken and dumplings which, yeah, I think I can do grain-free.  In fact, I’m positive I can.

We’re screwed.

Anyhoo, this recipe was a direct result of having more zucchini in my refrigerator than we could possibly hope to eat, plus I have some dried currants (no added sugar, no sulfites) on hand that I’d purchased some time ago and haven’t done much with, aside from add them to salads.  I just love currants, but if you don’t you can certainly leave them out, or substitute raisins if you’d prefer.

The best thing about these muffins, though, is the incredibly moist texture; often grain-free baked goods will dry out if you overbake them even a little or leave them out too long to cool.  Not these babies, though – in fact, I had to bake them a bit longer than normal for muffins to keep them from being too mushy, which is why I suggest cooling them completely before eating in the recipe.  I’m giving the zucchini full credit for this, and may add it to future recipes in small quantities just for that reason alone.

By the way, The G Man loved these.  Of course, I told him it was cake, but still – he loved them.

Zucchini-Currant Muffins
Zucchini-Currant Muffins
Zucchini-Currant Muffins
Serves: 12
Ingredients
  • 1 cup almond flour
  • 2 heaping tablespoons tapioca flour
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons potato flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup ghee or clarified butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup coconut milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 medium zucchini, grated (about 2 cups)
  • 1/4 cup dried currants
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Generously grease the cups of a standard muffin tin (12 muffins).
  2. In a large bowl, stir together the flours, salt, baking soda, coconut sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the eggs, ghee, coconut milk and vanilla until well blended. In three additions, add the dry ingredients to the wet, mixing on low and scraping down the bowl between each addition, until the batter is smooth. Stir in the zucchini and currants.
  4. Evenly divide the batter between the 12 muffin cups and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean.
  5. Place the muffin tin on a wire rack and cool for 10 minutes; remove the muffins and allow to cool completely before serving.
  6. Nutrition (per serving): 165 calories, 11.4g total fat, 60.1mg cholesterol, 113mg sodium, 171.2mg potassium, 12g carbohydrates, 1.6g fiber, 7.6g sugar, 2.1g protein

 

Scooter’s Raw Food Diet

I was going to put off this post until next week and instead do a huge political rant, but this isn’t a political blog, as Beloved has repeatedly pointed out.  So let’s just suffice to say that yes, I’ve read the entire thing, I understand the context perfectly well, thank you very much, and it’s still insulting as shit.  There must be something very comforting in the idea that if you’re not responsible for your successes, you must not be responsible for your failures, and that someone will come along and bail you out – but everyone will get a trophy anyway.  Just remember that when someone comes along and takes away everything you thought was yours because “you didn’t build that,” you gave them permission to do so.

I’m sure the Chinese – who are funding the massive, crushing debt we’re passing on to future generations and expecting someone else to take care of (basically anyone with more money than us) – will appreciate it.**

Moving forward.

About a year ago, I wrote about Scooter – our little beagle/dachshund mix – and the autoimmune disease centered in his anal glands that he developed after years of eating commercial dog food (Kibble and Bits Beefy Bits, to be exact).  The ingredients are horrible:

Corn, soybean meal, beef and bone meal, ground wheat flour, animal fat (bha used as preservative), corn syrup, wheat middlings, beef, water sufficient for processing, animal digest, propylene glycol, salt, hydrochloric acid, caramel color, potassium chloride, sorbic acid (used as a preservative), sodium carbonate, minerals (ferrous sulfate, zinc oxide, manganous oxide, copper sulfate, calcium iodate, sodium selenite), vitamins (vitamin E supplement, vitamin A supplement, niacin supplement, D-calcium pantothenate, riboflavin supplement, pyridoxine hydrochloride, thiamine mononitrate, vitamin D3 supplement, folic acid, biotin, vitamin B12 supplement), choline chloride, titanium dioxide, calcium sulfate, red 40, yellow 5, yellow 6, BHA (used as a preservative), potassium sorbate, dl methionine.

You have no idea the guilt I feel because I let my sweet little dog eat that garbage for so many years.

When Scooter began having his problems, they were accompanied by terrible inflammation and infections.  I was pretty sure that much of this could be mitigated by diet, but when I spoke to the vet about it, he said I should keep him on commercial dog food, because if I fed him anything else he would run the risk of nutritional deficiencies.  In fact, his only solution to the problem was to put Scooter on steroids for the inflammation and give him antibiotics for the infections.  So we did, and the minute his course of steroids ended the inflammation returned, and eventually the infection did as well.  This happened three time before the vet decided that he was just going to have to be on steroids permanently – he could even end up on low levels of the antibiotic for the rest of his life, as well.

In the meantime, Scooter was miserable.  The inflammation was somewhat better, but he was still constantly licking his backside and dragging it across the carpet.  Because of the steroids, he was constantly, ravenously hungry and even though I wasn’t feeding him any more than usual, he was still gaining weight – at his heaviest, he was 24 pounds.  That may not seem like a lot, but for a dog that’s only supposed to weigh 16 or 17 pounds, that’s a lot of weight gain, especially in a very short period of time.  He also lost all of his spunk; he’s always been a happy, active dog – even at 10 years old, he’s more than happy to play fetch, or zoom around the house if he can get you to chase him, or run around the yard or take a walk.  But no longer; all he wanted to do was eat and lay on the sofa.  It was breaking my heart.

Now, as soon as he became ill and the vet told us to keep him on commercial food (and tried to sell us a brand that cost almost as much per week as we spent on groceries for the three of us), I began  to make Scooter’s food myself.  After doing a little research on what was in most home-prepared pet foods, he went on a mixture of cooked beef, rice and vegetables, mostly peas, carrots and green beans.  He loved it at first – he’d always preferred “people food” over kibble – but when those initial courses of steroids were over, he began to lose his appetite and often refused it, which worried me a great deal – Scooter NEVER left food in his bowl.  By the time the vet said he needed to be on steroids permanently, I decided it was time to get drastic – so I put him on a raw food diet.

When I told the vet this, he said that was unsafe; it was simply not a “balanced diet” for a dog.  But the more I thought about it, the sillier that statement seemed and when I began researching raw food diets for dogs, it became even sillier.  So Scooter began eating raw meat – mostly beef and pork, with some chicken thrown in every now and then and liver or other organ meats about once a week.  (We do give him bones from time to time, but even before he became ill bones messed with his digestive system – when we give him one, we have to confine him to areas of the house that are tiled because there will be a mess.)

Scooter loved the raw food diet – he ate it enthusiastically, and it wasn’t long until we began to see some improvements.  He continued to gain weight, because that’s just the nature of the Prednisone beast, but he regained some of his spunk and began acting more like the dog we all love so much.  And after much deliberation, we decided that when it was time to get the steroid prescription refilled, we’d wait a bit and see what happened.

What happened was astounding…or maybe not.  The inflammation not only didn’t return, it became better.  Not entirely better – it may never go fully into remission – but remarkably better.  The lingering infection, which the vet said might not ever entirely go away, even with long term antibiotic use, cleared up almost immediately.  He immediately began to lose weight and is now back down to 17 pounds.  More importantly, he is his old self again – active and happy and feeling pretty good for a 10-year-old dog with what amounts to nagging case of hemorrhoids.

Now, we’re not going to fire the vet – we’ll continue to take Scooter for his immunizations and we’ll take him in case of another serious illness or accident.  But if you think I’m going to listen to another blessed thing that man says about diet for my dog…well, you’re as crazy as you’d be if you think I’d listen to my doctor about my diet.

**I have a lot more to say about the subject, and will be glad to take the discussion respectfully into the comments section if you want.  However, I may not be able to get back to you immediately; we have a busy day in front of us – it’s Jolly’s birthday and we’re spending much of the afternoon/evening with her, and I will be busy at work this morning so I can do that.  But before you begin making any assumptions about why I feel the way I do, let me say right now that I am NOT a Republican and can’t stand Mitt Romney.  And I don’t particularly care that Ayn Rand collected Social Security; I’m not an Objectivist either.

Confetti Quiche

Part of our agreement with the CSA we joined this year is that we will work on their farm for 3 hours at some point during the season.

Last Saturday turned out to be “some point.”

We spent 2 1/2 hours (making it a total of five hours between the two of us) weeding and pulling the shallots out of two beds, weeding two beds of carrots and I pinched back the basil (an entire bed), which was beginning to flower.  As a result, Mrs. Farmer, who was overseeing said weeding, pulling and pinching, gave us some extras left over from the CSA pick-ups that morning.

And we had more carrots, zucchini and yellow squash than we really knew what to do with.  Plus a nice handful of shallots.

So what do you do with all that produce?  You shred it, make a quiche on Sunday morning and serve it with bacon and fresh watermelon, that’s what you do.  And you call it a Confetti Quiche because of all the colorful shreds in it.  It will be so delicious your husband will eat all but one piece, which he will hoard for breakfast later in the week.

In the interest of transparency, I did not make the recipe exactly as written.  I added a cup of manchego cheese which, I felt, added little to the overall dish; I couldn’t even taste it, there was so much going on in there.  Add whatever kind of cheese you’d like, if you’re so inclined, but without it the dish is Whole30 compliant if you use coconut milk instead of cream in the custard.

I also shredded a total of 4 cups of squash, zucchini and carrots and used 6 eggs in the custard.  It was way too much, even for my 10″ deep dish pie plate; it was filled to the brim and a little of the egg mixture leaked into the water bath while it was baking.  So I reduced the vegetables to 3 cups and the number of eggs to 4 in the written recipe, but I doubt very seriously that it will affect the taste or texture of the quiche.  Oh, and I had 3 okra pods on my counter we’d picked from our gardens, so I sliced them very thinly lengthwise and put them on top with the tomatoes.  If you’ve got them, use them, but don’t feel compelled to.

Confetti Quiche
Confetti Quiche
Confetti Quiche with Salsa
Confetti Quiche with Salsa
Confetti Quiche
Serves: 8
Ingredients
  • 2 medium shallots, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons ghee or clarified butter
  • 2 cups shredded zucchini and yellow summer squash
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 1 cup sliced cherry or grape tomatoes
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups coconut milk or heavy cream
  • salt and freshly-ground black pepper
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Melt the ghee in a heavy skillet over medium low heat. Add the shallot and onion and cook, stirring frequently, until golden brown and caramelized, about 20 minutes.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and coconut milk or cream with a little salt and pepper. Spread the caramelized onions over the bottom of a greased deep dish pie plate; spread the shredded vegetables over the onions and cheese and layer the sliced tomatoes over the surface. Carefully pour the egg mixture over the top.
  4. Place the dish in a pan large enough to hold it; carefully pour very hot water around the quiche, until it reaches about halfway up the sides of the dish.
  5. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until the quiche is set and beginning to turn golden brown on top. Remove from the water bath and cool for at least 15 minutes before serving.
  6. Nutrition (per serving): 237 calories, 14.6g total fat, 100.6mg cholesterol, 65.8mg sodium, 645.7mg potassium, 22.8g carbohydrates, 1.2g fiber, 2g sugar, 7.4g protein

 

Pork Tenderloin with Peaches

Before I begin with the recipe (which is really good, and would work well with boneless, skinless chicken breasts if you don’t eat or don’t like pork), let me just say this:  I got The Young One to eat a salad for dinner last night.

A SALAD.  With lettuce, tomatoes, carrots, bell peppers and salad dressing (the boy has a strange prejudice against any condiment that isn’t barbecue sauce).  Of course, it was topped with a ton of steak and cheese, but…HE ATE IT.  All of it.

It’s one of the supreme achievements of my life.

Moving forward.

This recipe was one I made while my oven was out of commission.  Peaches are in season, and as I’m wont to do, I bought more than we could possibly eat at the farmer’s market a couple of weeks ago.  What can I say – I love fresh peaches.  I’d actually made the sauce for a duck that Beloved and I decided we’d try to grill, but due to circumstances beyond our control we ended up with duck jerky (and a ton of lovely fat, so it wasn’t a complete loss).

We were kind of hesitant to do another form of fowl, so chicken was out, and I didn’t know how it would go with the filet of Coho salmon we have in the freezer (probably quite well, but I didn’t want to risk it), and didn’t think the sauce would go well with beef.  So pork tenderloin it was – and my, oh my, was it so very, very tasty.

Other than peeling and dicing the peaches, this sauce really couldn’t be simpler, and if you’re hoity-toity so inclined you could pureé until smooth it and call it a gastrique.  The tenderloins are merely rubbed with spices and pan-roasted; the total cooking time is less than 20 minutes.

I’d like to take this opportunity to encourage you to purchase, if you don’t already own, an instant read thermometer.  It is indispensable when preparing something like pork tenderloin, a cut that is simply inedible when overdone.  But cooked to an internal temperature of 145 F, and allowed to rest for 5 to 10 minutes before slicing, it is tender, juicy and delicious.  And pretty elegant, for such a simple preparation.

Note:  The amount of coconut sugar used in the sauce is pretty dependent on how sweet your fruit is; if the peaches are very ripe and very sweet, you may not need any at all.  If you use ghee and omit the sugar and wine (use a little more vinegar), the dish is Whole30 compliant.

Pork Tenderloin with Peaches
Pork Tenderloin with Peaches
Pork Tenderloin with Peaches
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 pounds pork tenderloins
  • 1 tablespoon lard or other cooking fat
  • salt and freshly-ground black pepper
  • Cajun seasoning
  • 2 tablespoons ghee or unsalted butter
  • 1 shallot, peeled and minced
  • 2 cups fresh peaches, peeled and diced
  • 2 tablespoons coconut sugar
  • 3 tablespoons dry white wine
  • 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • salt and freshly-ground black pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. In a medium skillet, melt the ghee over medium heat and cook the shallot until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Increase the heat to medium high; add the peaches, coconut sugar, wine and vinegar and bring just to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer until the peaches are very tender, 10 to 20 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper and set aside.
  2. Rub the tenderloins with salt, pepper and Cajun seasoning. Heat a large, heavy skillet over medium- high heat; melt the lard and sear the tenderloins on all sides until golden brown. Reduce the heat to medium and continue cooking, turning frequently, until the pork reaches an internal temperature of 145 F on an instant read thermometer.
  3. Remove the tenderloins and allow to rest for 5 to 10 minutes. Slice and serve with peach sauce.
  4. Nutrition (per serving): 302 calories, 10.2g total fat, 95mg cholesterol, 73.5mg sodium, 819.4mg potassium, 19.5g carbohydrates, <1g fiber, 7.2g sugar, 31.9g protein