Glazed Bacon Chicken

Weird name, I know.  I just couldn’t think of anything else to name it (Beloved was no help; when I asked him what I should call it, he said “Good.”).  At any rate, you’ll see my reasoning behind it in a minute.

I also know it’s horribly, horribly hot in a lot of places – I’m quite worried about Darling Daughter out in Vegas, where it’s supposed to reach 117 F today – so for those of you in those horribly, horribly hot places, save this recipe and tuck it away for a time when you can do something with your oven besides look at it.  As for us, it’s been rainy and reasonably cool – upper 70s, low 80s – and will remain so for at least the rest of this week.  This makes it hard to go swimming every afternoon (the one day we managed it we darn near froze our tookuses off), but it means I can turn on the oven and roast a bunch of chicken legs and thighs for dinner.

A bunch of sweet, spicy, delicious chicken legs and thighs.  It was a HUGE hit for dinner last night and I have a feeling there will be a couple of tussles over the leftovers today.

This is an extremely easy recipe, and it just couldn’t be tastier.  It’s also pretty low carb, because I used coconut sugar, which is mostly inulin (i.e. fiber) and is pretty low on the glycemic index.  It’s also good to note that it has appreciable amounts of magnesium, potassium and B vitamins, so I didn’t feel the least bit guilty in using an entire half cup in this recipe.  You can certainly sub another type of sugar if you can’t get any coconut sugar, such as evaporated cane juice, but the calorie and carbohydrate count will increase significantly.

So.  Coconut sugar, salt and cayenne.  Mix and sprinkle over the chicken pieces.  Drizzle with melted bacon fat and rub it all over the chicken until it forms a wet rub.  Bake.  A glaze will form that reminds you of candied bacon.  Eat.  Listen to your husband tell you how great it is.  Bask in the praise.

Glazed Bacon Chicken. Unbelievably easy and delicious, you'll never believe this sweet and spicy chicken is low carb.

Click on the image to enlarge

Glazed Bacon Chicken
Serves: 6 to 8
Ingredients
  • 8 chicken pieces (legs, wings, thighs)
  • 4 tablespoons bacon fat, melted
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Rinse the chicken and pat it dry. Place, skin side up, in a glass baking dish large enough to hold all of the pieces comfortably.
  3. In a small bowl, mix together the coconut sugar, salt and cayenne. Sprinkle this mixture evenly over the chicken pieces, coating them well. Drizzle the coated chicken with bacon fat, rubbing it into the skin.
  4. Bake the chicken for 45 to 50 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 165 F. Allow to rest for 5 minutes before serving.
  5. Nutrition (per serving): 393 calories, 27.8g total fat, 112.4mg cholesterol, 461.4mg sodium, 269mg potassium, 7g carbohydrates, <1g fiber, 7g sugar, 26.4g protein

Quick and Easy Huevos Rancheros

Well, I thought I was back on schedule last week, but everything just caught up with me, and I had no time to post Thursday or Friday (and nothing to post, quite frankly).  Beloved had to leave on a business trip early Saturday morning, so we took the day off and celebrated Father’s Day on Friday.  Darling Daughter also had to leave Saturday, but since her flight wasn’t until early afternoon we got to spend the morning together as I ran to pick up our CSA share and eggs for the week.

Since she had a long flight from Podunk to Las Vegas, I made her a nice lunch to keep her sated while on her journey.  Part of it was scrambled eggs, topped with diced avocado, cheese and salsa.  As I watched her eat, I kept thinking, “My, that looks good…”

The next thing I knew, I was planning this for my Sunday brunch.

Since it was just me, I didn’t care to go to all the trouble to make an authentic ranchero sauce, but the combination of the eggs, jalapeno and fresh tomato more than make up for it (and keep it, as the title says, quick and easy).  At the request of Darling Daughter, Mexican Meatzza had been part of our menu so I had some queso cojita left over in the fridge, as well as a perfectly ripe avocado on the counter.  Add to that some sweet yellow onion and some diced jalapeno in the freezer – part of last summer’s harvest – and I had the makings of what is one of the easiest most delicious brunch dishes I’ve prepared in quite some time.

You may notice the absence of corn tortillas here.  I didn’t have any in the house, and even if I did I’m not sure I’d have used them – we had more than our fair share of indulgences while my kids were visiting and I’ve had quite enough of “borderline” acceptable food for the time being.  You can, of course, use them if you wish; soften them in a little hot lard or olive oil first, then place them in a small, oven-proof dish.  Top with the remaining ingredients, starting with the onion mixture, and proceed as directed.

Note:  Use ghee instead of butter and leave off the cheese and this is not only delicious, but Whole30 compliant.

Quick and Easy Huevos Rancheros - a deliciously simple version of the classic Mexican egg dish.

Click on the image to enlarge

Quick and Easy Huevos Rancheros
Serves: 1
Ingredients
  • 1/2 small onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1/2 tablespoon ghee or butter
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 large tomato, diced
  • 1/2 medium avocado, diced
  • 1 tablespoon grated Mexican cheese, such as queso cojita (optional)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. In a small, oven proof skillet, cook the onion and jalapeno in the ghee over medium-low heat until the onion is soft and begins to turn golden, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and carefully crack the eggs into the onion mixture, taking care not to break the yolks. Scatter the tomato over the top of the eggs.
  3. Bake the eggs for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the whites are set but the yolks are still liquid.
  4. Remove from the oven and gently slide the contents of the skillet onto a plate. Top with the avocado and cheese, if using, and season with salt and pepper.
  5. Nutrition (per serving): 404 calories, 31.3g total fat, 395.9mg cholesterol, 249.4mg sodium, 886.9mg potassium, 16.3g carbohydrates, 8g fiber, 5.5g sugar, 17.4g protein

Breakfast Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

Happy Monday, everyone – I hope your weekend was nice.  Ours was; the weather was gorgeous and Sunday we celebrated Cinco de Mayo with a couple of Beloved’s Killer Margaritas while we tried not to laugh at The G Man when he called everyone “butt-head.”  Ah, 3-year-olds…they’ve gotten to the point where they realize they can shock people (or make them laugh) with what they say.

It’s funny when you’re the grandparent.

Sunday is also usually my “brunch” day, and I was at a bit of a loss this weekend.  Then I ran across a picture over at Foodgawker depicting a version of this recipe and said, “That’s it!  We’re having those for Sunday brunch!”

I have to tell you, as far as Beloved was concerned, this was a huge hit – he loved them.  I must admit, they were pretty darn good and they weren’t that difficult at all – it’s just sausage, scrambled eggs and baked sweet potatoes with a little cheese.  And really, the cheese is optional so if you’re avoiding dairy it’s really no big deal.

The recipe calls for regular breakfast sausage, but it would be great with a good hot Italian sausage or even a Mexican chorizo, and it’s perfectly suited for whatever else you might want to stir in; it’s a wonderfully versatile recipe.

Leave out the cheese and it’s Whole30 compliant, too.

Breakfast Stuffed Sweet Potatoes. All of your favorite breakfast foods stuffed in a delicious, nutritious sweet potato!

Breakfast Stuffed Sweet Potatoes
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 2 large sweet potatoes
  • 8 ounces breakfast sausage
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese, divided
  • salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  2. Wash the sweet potatoes and pat them dry. Poke several holes in the surface with the tip of a sharp knife and bake for 50 to 60 minutes, or until they give a little when gently squeezed. Remove from the oven and cool slightly.
  3. While the potatoes are baking, cook the sausage in a skillet over medium-high heat, breaking it up with a wooden spoon, until it is no longer pink in the center. Remove with a slotted spoon to a paper towel lined plate and discard all but a tablespoon or two of the fat.
  4. Lower the heat under the skillet to medium low. Whisk the eggs in a bowl; cook in the fat from the sausage until softly scrambled and fluffy. Remove from the heat and set aside.
  5. Cut the sweet potatoes in half lengthwise and carefully scoop out the flesh into a large mixing bowl, reserving the skins; lightly season with salt and pepper. Gently stir in the sausage, scrambled eggs and 1/2 cup of the shredded cheese until well-mixed. Spoon the mixture back into the reserved sweet potato skins and transfer to a rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the tops.
  6. Return to the oven and bake at 350 F for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and the potatoes are heated through.
  7. Serve with salsa, if desired.
  8. Nutrition (per serving): 414 calories, 29.2g total fat, 256.5mg cholesterol, 642.8mg sodium, 456.4mg potassium, 13.8g carbohydrates, 2g fiber, 3.1g sugar, 22.9g protein

Baked Potato Soup with BBQ Pork

This is one of those recipes I sorta pulled out of my, um, refrigerator.

We’ve been so very, very busy with work this week and I’d taken a small pork shoulder roast out of the freezer with the intention of putting in the crock pot Monday morning for barbecue pulled pork that evening.  Insomnia and our morning schedule conspired against me and I forgot all about the roast and the crock pot.  I was kicking myself over it when Beloved suggested I throw it in the pressure cooker.

That made sense, so I did.  Then I started a quick version of my Maple Barbecue Sauce and wondered what the heck I was going to serve it all with.  Well, The Young One would eat barbecue pork-stuffed baked potatoes every day of the week if I made them, but I was more in the mood for something like…soup.  So I compromised and made baked potato soup.  Then I piled the pork in the middle of the soup, topped it with bacon and cheese and called it good.

Actually, it was better than good – it was incredibly, amazingly delicious.  The Young One, who tends to be lukewarm about soup, and Beloved, who tends to be lukewarm about white potatoes, both inhaled this, then went back for seconds and inhaled those, too.  It was declared “the best thing you’ve ever made, Mom!” and Beloved didn’t really say anything because he was too busy eating it.

I have to admit – I really liked it too.  So much so that I ate the little that was left for breakfast the next morning.

The list of ingredients and instructions are long, but it really was simple and came together in just over an hour.  Of course, if you have leftover barbecue pulled pork, it will come together in about 20 minutes, since all you’d have to do is make the soup and the microwave really comes in handy in that regard; I’m of the opinion that if you have a tool, you should use it.  Mostly we use it to heat up leftovers, so it’s nice when I can use it for a more “legitimate” purpose.

This would be good with just about any meat that is chopped and mixed with a delicious barbecue sauce, so if you don’t do pork, try it with chicken thighs.

Baked Potato Soup with BBQ Pork.  All of the goodness of a BBQ pork stuffed baked potato in a comforting soup.

Baked Potato Soup with BBQ Pork
Serves: 8
Ingredients
  • Pork
  • 2 pounds pork shoulder or picnic roast
  • 3 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
  • 1 teaspoon kosher sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Chinese 5 spice
  • 1 tablespoon tamari or gluten-free soy sauce
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • BBQ Sauce
  • 2 cups tomato sauce
  • 1/4 cup dried onion
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 3/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup tamari or gluten-free soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • Soup
  • 3 large baking potatoes
  • 2 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 ounces bacon, diced
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Instructions
  1. Cook the diced bacon over medium heat until crisp. Transfer to paper towels to drain and set aside. Reserve the bacon fat.
  2. Rub the pork shoulder with the salt, pepper and Chinese 5 spice. Heat the reserved bacon fat in a pressure cooker over medium-high heat and brown the pork shoulder on all sides. Add the chicken stock, tamari and onion to the shoulder.
  3. Lock the lid of the pressure cooker in place and increase the heat to high until the cooker reaches full pressure (15 psi). Reduce the heat to medium, and cook for 1 hour. Remove from the heat and allow the pressure to decrease naturally.
  4. Combine the sauce ingredients in a large, heavy sauce pan over high heat. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring frequently, until the mixture has thickened into a sauce, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
  5. Scrub the potatoes well and prick them all over with the tip of a knife. Microwave them for 5 to 6 minutes, or until soft and cooked through, turning the potatoes every 2 minutes.
  6. Cut the potatoes in half lengthwise and scoop the flesh out of three of the halves into a large saucepan with the chicken stock. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to low; add the milk and simmer for 5 minutes. Using a stick blender, puree the soup mixture until smooth. Stir in the flesh from the remaining potato half; season to taste with salt and pepper and keep warm.
  7. Remove the pork shoulder from the pressure cooker and trim away any excess fat if necessary. Using two forks, shred the meat and transfer to a large bowl with the barbecue sauce, mixing it well.
  8. Ladle the soup into serving bowls and carefully mound the barbecue pork in the center of each. Top with the cheese and bacon and serve immediately.
  9. Nutrition (per serving): 504 calories, 20.6g total fat, 100.1mg cholesterol, 1404.3mg sodium, 1237.3mg potassium, 45.4g carbohydrates, 2.9g fiber, 25.8g sugar, 34.3g protein

Tangy Country Style Ribs

This week’s Spin Cycle is all about “inspiration.”  What inspires you?  Where do you find your inspiration?

In my freezer, mostly.

I think I’d mentioned last week that the “quick, easy and obvious” stuff from our most recent hog and side of beef is more or less…gone, leaving me with bits and pieces that require, if not more thought, certainly more cooking time.  I’d forgotten to take anything out of the freezer for dinner yesterday morning so I had to when we went home for lunch, and I began rummaging around, looking at hog jowls and pork belly and venison roasts and beef liver and soup bones, wondering if perhaps there weren’t more spare ribs since I’d been so mean as to make them when Beloved was out of town on business.  There are more, but not enough to feed the three of us, so I ended up taking a couple of packages of country style ribs – which really aren’t ribs, but slices of shoulder – out to thaw.

It was too late to throw them in the slow cooker, and braising them in the oven or on the stove top would take more time in the evening than I cared for, especially since I had plans to make ketchup.  So out came the pressure cooker again, and the newly-made ketchup went into a sauce that went on the ribs and boom – dinner in about 40 minutes, from start to finish.

So if anyone wonders what inspires me, it’s odd cuts of pork, homemade ketchup and pressure cookers.

For the record, the resulting dish was absolutely delicious on top of being quick and easy.  Both Beloved and The Young One went back for seconds.

Note:  If you don’t have a pressure cooker, you can braise these on the stove for about an hour to an hour-and-a-half over low heat.  The rest of the instructions remain the same.

Tangy Country Style Ribs.  These saucy country-style pork ribs are a snap to prepare in the pressure cooker.

Tangy Country Style Ribs
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 2 pounds country-style pork ribs
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon kosher sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon lard
  • 1 cup chicken stock, preferably homemade
  • 3 tablespoons [url href=”http://www.janssushibar.com/monday-ketchup/” target=”_blank”]Ketchup[/url]
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon prepared mustard
  • 1/8 teaspoon celery seed
Instructions
  1. Sprinkle the pork with the onion powder, salt, pepper and paprika. Heat the lard in the pressure cooker over medium-high heat and brown the ribs on both sides. Whisk together the remaining ingredients in a small bowl and pour over the meat.
  2. Lock the lid of the pressure cooker in place and increase the heat to high until the cooker reaches full pressure (15 psi). Reduce the heat to medium, and cook for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow the pressure to decrease naturally.
  3. Serve the ribs with the sauce from the pan, if desired.
  4. Nutrition (per serving): 389 calories, 17.2g total fat, 173mg cholesterol, 996.1mg sodium, 936.6mg potassium, 5.8g carbohydrates, <1g fiber, 2.8g sugar, 49.1g protein