Archives for category: Chicken

frittata 4 lemon chicken 099My last blog post was titled “Self Hosting Fun”  and it was not fun at all.

This is why I have not been blogging.  I regret it.  I have blog posts swirling around in my brain all of the time.  I still have not been blogging.

Why?

Fear of failure.  It really is that simple.  I tried to jump over to self hosting with a new template and failed at being able to figure it out.   I have used many different types of templates and have been pretty successful at figuring  out how to work with templates, but not this time.  I have met my match and lost the fight.  The template I chose was not something I could figure out.  I failed.

I have a quote on my fridge that says, “Success consists of going from failure to failure without a loss of enthusiasm.”  -Winston Churchill

It is on my fridge! I see it everyday but I was not approaching this particular failure with enthusiasm.  Instead I was hiding from it.  My goal with the self hosting and new template was to create a more professional looking blog.  How could I go back to blogging until I succeeded?

My failure was not in being unable to figure out my new blog template but by not continuing to blog while I solved the problem.

I was talking on the phone to my lovely sister Shelley over the holidays and she said, “My mother in law, Doris and I love cooking the recipes from your blog.”

That was it.  That was all I needed to hear.  This is why I write this blog.  It has nothing to do with professionalism or how the blog looks.  It is about getting people to enjoy being in the kitchen and cooking healthy, scratch-made meals for family and friends.

I have not given up on making the change to a more professional looking blog but will continue to post while I approach the transition without fear and with lots of enthusiasm.

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Lemon Chicken Thighs with Thyme and Garlic

Simple and delicious, this entree is easy to make and tastes great.
Gluten Free and low carb as well as Paleo,  I love to make this dish on any night since it is quick and easy.

4-6 servings

10 minutes prep and 20 minutes cooking, but remember to let the chicken rest for at least 10 minutes after baking for the lovely juices to redistribute in the chicken for the most tender and moist results.

Start heating your oven to 425 degrees for at least 20 minutes before baking the chicken.

Total time:  40 minutes to delicious chicken.

6-12 Good quality Chicken Thighs with bones and skin.

4 large good-looking lemons, preferably organic as you will be using the whole lemon with skin and all.

1 generous handful of fresh thyme chopped lightly with the woody stems cut off or 1 tbs dried thyme (if I am using dried I like to use the French thyme from Savory Spice Shop)  Remember to save your fresh thyme stems for stock, just put them in a zip lock bag in the freezer for later use.

2 large cloves of fresh garlic minced.

2 tbs good quality unsalted butter softened. 

1 ½ tsp kosher salt

Cracked pepper to taste

Get your oven really hot.  Pre-heat to 425 degrees for at least 20 minutes while you are prepping your ingredients.

Smash together in a small bowl, the garlic, ½ tsp of kosher salt and ½ of your fresh thyme and your softened butter.  Use a fork to get it all mixed together by smashing it with the tines of the fork.  

Slice your lemons into thin circles.  Remove any seeds. 

Lay the chicken out on a foil or parchment lined baking sheet.  Give the thighs a little room for the heat to circulate around them and allow for the skin to get crispy.

Lift up the skin of the chicken thighs and insert a small amount of butter mixture and one slice of lemon.  If you are making 6 thighs you will put in more butter mixture than if you are make 12 thighs.  Just use you judgment on how much you should put in.  You can measure out the butter mixture ahead of time so that you can see how much to use on each thigh.  I usually use around ¼ tsp per thigh.

frittata 4 lemon chicken 069

Season the top of the chicken with the rest of your kosher salt and cracked pepper.  Liberally sprinkle the rest of the thyme over the top of the chicken and bake for 20 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches around 170 degrees and the skin is crispy and browned.

Let chicken rest for about 10 minutes.

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Great served with roasted Brussels Sprouts or steamed fresh broccoli.

Yesterday my husband and I spent the whole afternoon in our garden.  My hands are a bit worse for the wear and I was tired and cranky last night but it was well worth it.

For those of you who garden, you will really understand the joy of watching your seedlings come up and urging them along.

We face several challenges gardening in the Rocky Mountains at 8000 feet.  First off, you can get frost up until the middle of June and as early as late August.  We have set up a system to cover the garden this year.  Last year we had several tomato plants with lots of green tomatoes and corn and zucchini we lost to the frost.  We are much more prepared this year.  I also learned you can pull up the tomato plants and hang them upside down in a sunny spot in your house and the tomatoes will continue to ripen.

Then there are the critters.  Ground squirrels, rabbits, prairie dogs, deer and elk all menace my garden.  We have a garden that has been dug underneath at about 4-5 feet and with heavy-duty mesh wire sheets laid down so the burrowing creatures cannot help themselves to our crops.  The garden is actually above this mesh with dirt about 4 feet high over the mesh. This wire mesh continues up the sides of the fences and the fences are 7 feet high to discourage the deer.  Now as for the Elk we just have to cross our fingers that a huge bull elk does not decide to push the fence over to get at our goodies.  It has not happened yet!  Cross your fingers for me.

My husband spent about a week this spring re-building the door and reinforcing the fence around the outside so there are not any holes for ground squirrels to get in.  I had a lovely crop of cabbage and collard greens that the ground squirrels enjoyed last spring because we had a hole in the fence.

It is such a gamble to try to garden under these conditions that the chance we will succeed with gardening is pretty small but we also learned a lot last year to help us protect the garden this year.  If this project fails at least we had fun doing it.  I loved hanging out with my husband in the quiet mountain air and listening to some classical music on his smart phone while digging in the dirt.  Yesterday afternoon was priceless.

Before we started out to the garden plot we sat down for a tasty and light salad for lunch.  We talked about how fun it would be to eat our own salad greens.  The ones we were eating came from Whole Foods.  Our salad rows are looking like they have been chewed on by the moths that come out in the early evening.  Do any of you experience gardeners know how to deal with this?

Spring Salad with Chevre, Chicken and Red Onions

Serves 4

1 lb Mixed Spring Salad Greens

1/4 red onion sliced thinly

1/2 carrot grated on a box grater on the small holes

1/2 lb Laurels Chanel Chevre crumbled

8 chicken tenders

2 tbs extra virgin olive oil

2 tbs balsamic vinegar

Sea salt and pepper to taste

Heat oven to 425 degrees.  Place chicken tenders in a roasting pan and drizzle 1 tbs balsamic vinegar and 1 tbs olive oil over the top.  Season with sea salt and cracked pepper.

Bake until cooked through but not tough on the outside.  About 15 minutes or until internal read thermometer reads 160.

Cool in the refrigerator for 20 minutes.

Toss salad greens, grated carrot and sliced red onion together.

Top with shredded chicken, crumbled goat cheese and 1 tbs balsamic vinegar and olive oil.  Season to taste.

I love grilled food.  Anything really…pizza, meats, fruit, veggies…you name it  I will grill it.

This weekend I was cooking for a church retreat at Cal-Wood.  Columbine Unity Youth Group.  What an absolutely charming group of teenagers.  No less than 8 of these great kids asked me if I needed any help in the kitchen.  They were so eager to lend a hand.  While these teenagers were visiting Cal-Wood half of the group stayed on site to help our forestry manager Angie with some physically taxing outside volunteer work while the other half went to one of our neighbor camps Colorado Mountain Ranch to help with the ongoing clean up from the devastating 4 Mile Canyon Fire.  This was the most destructive forest fire in Colorado history. Colorado Mountain Ranch lost many cabins and much of their land was burned during the fire.  The clean up will go on for years.

The volunteer work done by the kids of Columbine Unity Youth Group was not easy and when they came back to camp they were tired and hungry!

Since the weather was as warm as a summer day I decided to dust off the grill and make some bbq chicken.

I wanted to make sure the menu was both filling and healthy.  I was making my famous baked mac and cheese and wanted to lighten up the rest of the meal.

I used boneless skinless chicken breasts for the bbq and grilled up a bunch of fresh veggies.

For the chicken I made sure to paillard the chicken breasts and marinate them in balsamic vinegar, garlic, sea salt, cracked pepper and canola oil.  This deeply flavors the bland chicken breast and helps to  caramelize the chicken for more flavor during grilling.  I made my own bbq sauce that simmered most of the afternoon on the stove.

I  cut my zucchini lengthwise down the center, toss in some sweet red bell peppers cut down the center in halves and de-seeded and large red onion slices.  I used the same marinade as the chicken and let the veggies marinate for most of the afternoon.  I tossed them on the grill first and then chilled the grilled veggies before cutting.

I blanched broccoli spears separately on the stove and let them chill for at least 1 hour

For the chicken I grilled it until I had good grill marks on the meat and finished it in the oven.  Often when you cook chicken breasts on the grill they dry out before they reach an internal temperature of 160 degrees.  When I finish the chicken in the oven it helps keep the moisture in and lets the meat cook slowly without drying.

When the teenagers of Columbine Youth Group tucked into this meal there is very little left over.  Nearly everything was devoured from the green salad, veggies, mac and cheese and chicken.

Grilling Tender Chicken Breasts

4-6 boneless skinless chicken breast

1/4 cup good balsamic vinegar (I use Costco Balsamic)

1/4 cup canola oil

1 minced garlic clove

1 tsp sea salt

1/2 tsp cracked black pepper

Paillard your chicken breasts to flatten them out and make sure the meat is evenly flattened.  This will ensure that the chicken will cook quickly and not dry out.  If you pound the chicken thin you may not even need to use the oven to finish it.

Marinated the chicken in balsamic, canola, sea salt, pepper and minced garlic for at least 1 hour.

While your chicken is marinating prep your veggies for the grill.

Grilled Balsamic Marinated Veggies

4 zucchini cut lengthwise into 2 pieces

4 sweet red bell peppers cut in half and de-seeded

2 sweet red onions cut into third horizontally with the skin removed.

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar (again I used Costco Balsamic)

1/4 cup canola oil

1 tsp sea salt

1/4 tsp cracked black pepper

1 tsp dried thyme (I used my lovely French Thyme from Savory Spice Shop)

Marinate veggies for 15 minutes and cook on the grill until slightly charred.  I usually take the zucchini off a little under done as they finish cooking after removing from the grill.  I like my veggies to have a slight crunch and not be soggy.

Reserve the marinade and pour back over the veggies.  Never do this with meat marinade but you can with clean veggies.

To add another element to the salad I blanched 1 head of broccoli in salty boiling water until al dente.  Chill and add to grilled veggie before adding marinade.

Chill veggie for 1/2 an hour to 45 minutes.  Cut and serve.

Pre-heat the grill and when it is hot place the chicken on the grill.  It will only take about 4-5 minutes for each side of chicken to be cooked.  The balsamic vinegar will help create nice grill marks and caramelization on the chicken adding great flavor.  This step can be omitted if you are using bbq sauce but I feel it makes the chicken much more flavorful.

Coat with BBQ sauce and put back on the grill for 3-4 minutes.

Let chicken rest for at least 5 minutes before serving.

Salt is one of the most powerful tools and chef can use.

Not only does is enhance the flavor of fresh food and preserve foods but combined with water, salt becomes more powerful and will aid in keeping meats moist and tender when cooking.

We are all familiar with the difference in flavor from well seasoned food and un-seasoned food.  Most people have enjoyed a good cured ham or some tasty beef jerky but the use of salt as a brine has not come into popularity until recently.

The most familiar use of brining has been brining turkey.  Many people now use brining as a method to keep big Thanksgiving turkeys moist.

Brining is an important tool to helping to keep many different cuts of meat moist during cooking.  Brining is the most effective marinade because it penetrates meat quickly and seasons the meat to the bone.  The salt water solution of a brine will enter the meat and expand the size of the protein molecules allowing for more moisture to stay in the meat during and after cooking.

I am often faced with cooking large quantities of meat and need to make sure every piece is tender, moist and seasoned properly.  Brining is an essential tool in my kitchen to make sure all meats are tender and tasty.

Last week I had a group of 100 kids and adults at Cal-Wood Education Center and wanted to roast  chicken leg quarters for dinner.  I needed to cook 75 lbs of chicken and had to be sure it every piece would turn out perfectly.

I was looking for a moist and tender piece of chicken with a crisp skin.  I used five gallon bus tubs to brine the chicken and a 2 to 1 ratio for the brine.  2 cups kosher salt and 1 cup of sugar for every 2 gallons of water.  The recipe was 5 cups of kosher salt and 2.5 cups sugar to five gallons of water but I wanted to give the chicken an interesting flavor  I replaced 1/2 of the water for apple cider.  I added some granulated garlic, thyme, rosemary and lemon juice.

The result was amazing.  The chicken literally fell off the bone.  Most of the fat reduced off while cooking and the skin became crisp and browned.

There was a hint of sweet apple cider, lemon and herbs in the meat.  The chicken was not salty but seasoned perfectly.  Such a simple meal made a big impact on the guests at Cal-Wood.  No less than 10 people came into the kitchen to say that it was the best chicken they had ever had.   Yay!  Mission accomplished!

This dinner is exactly what I strive to provide for my guests.  A simple and healthy meal made to taste wonderful.  Let me assure you that this time consuming process is well worth the effort.  Once you get in the habit of planning ahead and brining meat, poultry and pork you will not want to cook it any other way!

I recently posted a recipe for how to make corned beef.  This is essentially a brine as well.

Here are some brining tips and ratios from one of my favorite books.  Charcuterie-the craft of salt, smoking, and curing by Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn

All-Purpose Brine

1 Gallon Water

1 Cup Kosher Salt

1/2 Cup Sugar

Optional Seasonings such as rosemary, thyme, bay leaf, garlic, onion, parsley and black peppercorn

Combine all of the ingredients in a stock pot and simmer on the stove until the salt and sugar are dissolved.   Refrigerate until chilled.

Brining is a powerful tool so use with care.

Make sure to brine all meats in chilled brining solution in the refrigerator.

Do not go over the recommended time for brining as this may cause your meat to become salty.

Always let the meat rest for 2-4 hours after brining and rinsing to evenly distribute the seasonings.

Salt will be most concentrated at the outside of meat just after brining and will distribute evenly during the resting period.

Recommended Brine Times:

Boneless Chicken Breast (approx 8 oz)  2 Hours

Pork Chop (approx 1.5 inches thick) 2 Hours

Whole Chicken (approx 2 lbs)  4-6 Hours

Whole Chicken (approx 3-4 lbs) 8-12 Hours

Boneless Turkey Breast 12 Hours

Pork loin Roast (4 lbs)  12 Hours

Whole Turkey (10-15 lbs) 24 Hours

Thin Fish Fillets  1 Hour

Cider Brine Chicken

4-6 chicken leg quarters

1/2 gallon water

1/2 gallon apple cider

1 cup kosher salt

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup lemon juice

1 tbs rosemary

1 tbs thyme

1 tbs granulated garlic or 4 cloves minced fresh garlic

Simmer brining ingredients in a stock pot on the stove top until sugar and salt are dissolved.  Refrigerate brine until chilled.  Submerge chicken leg quarters in the brining solution.

Brine chicken for 4 hours.  Take the chicken out of the brine and make sure you discard used brining liquid.  Do not re-use brining liquid.  Rinse chicken throughly under cold running water.

Let chicken rest for 2-4 hours in the refrigerator after rinsing.

Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees.

Pat chicken dry and place on a foil lined sheet pan. Roast in hot oven until internal temperature of 165  degrees and skin is crisp and browned.

Let rest for 10 minutes before serving.

This is my math equation for the day.  Chilled to the bone=Cream of Chicken Soup.  Since the home school Hubs and kids are always working on math when I get home from work I figured I needed my own math equation.

As I was walking home from work I became chilled to the bone.  It did not look very cold outside but once I started my trek home I realized that it was indeed quite cold. 

When I hit my front door I had the whole body shivers.  You know the ones where your whole body shakes and the shivers have taken control of you and you just kind of rattle.

I discard my shoes and go directly to the freezer and pulled out some frozen chicken breasts.  These are the kind that are quick frozen and can be baked without de-frosting.  I turned on the oven to 425 degrees and let it warm up. I baked the chicken after giving it a good covering of olive oil, italian seasonings, sea salt and cracked pepper and a dash of lemon juice.  While the oven was warming I assembled and diced celery, carrots and onions.  Fresh garlic, parsley, thyme and heavy cream were also ready on the counter.  I grabbed some of my most yummy ever chicken stock from the fridge.  Deep in color and thick with flavor this a chicken stock that I had simmering over night on thursday and then let it simmer most of the next day.

I sautéed my vegetable and added the chicken, stock, lemon juice, heavy cream and seasoned to taste.   The addition of a little bit of lemon juice brightens the flavor of the soup. 

The finished soup was lightly creamy, warm and satisfying.  When I sat down to enjoy my soup I felt an overwhelming sense of satisfaction that can only come from home-made chicken soup. 

I will thicken the rest of the soup and add some biscuits because the Hubs was saying just this week he wanted some chicken and biscuits….Dinner for tomorrow is done too!

Cream of Chicken Soup

1/2 cup unsalted butter

1 onion, chopped

6 celery ribs, chopped

3 carrots, chopped

8 cups chicken stock

1 tbs fresh parsley

1 tbs fresh thyme

3 cups roasted chicken, diced

1/2 cup heavy cream

1 tbs lemon juice

Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions

Sauté veggies with butter in a large pot. 

Pour over the chicken stock and simmer for about 20 minutes.

Stir in the chicken and simmer for another 5 minutes.

Stir in heavy cream, lemon juice, fresh herbs and season to taste.

 

Roasted Chicken is my favorite weeknight dinner. 

There are hundreds of ways to flavor and roast chicken but the one I use most frequently is one that involves stuffing the bird with whole lemon, fresh herbs and garlic.  This method is simple and delicious.  The lemon helps keep the bird moist while imparting a light lemon flavor.  You do not need to peel the garlic clove just give it a good bash with the side of your chef’s knife.

Stuff the cavity of the bird with a whole lemon that you cut 3/4 of the way down to help release the juices.  Bash up some garlic cloves and add some fresh herbs.  I like to use rosemary but you can use thyme, oregano or basil.

Pre-heat your oven to a high temperature of 425 degrees.  Wash your chicken well and dry it off.  Drying helps the skin to crisp up instead of steam.  Season with sea salt and pepper.  Tie up your chicken and stuff with the lemon, garlic and herb mixture.  Bake chicken at 425 until browned and turn temperature down to 350 to finish.  Remove chicken when internal read thermometer temperature reads 160 degrees.

This week I have been featuring how to cook tender and flavorful chicken with bone-less, skin on chicken breast.  My daughter Maddy loves Chicken Cordon Bleu.  I wanted to make a healthier and lighter version for her with the same salty ham and cheese combo in a white meat chicken breast filet.  I used the first steps in the last two recipes but ended up rolling the filling into the breast, tying it with kitchen twine and baking it.  The result was outstanding. 

Super Tender and Healthy Chicken Cordon Bleu

Gluten Free, Low Carb and Low Fat

2 boneless skin on chicken breasts

4 oz good ham such as Cure 81

8 oz Gruyère cheese or Swiss cheese

 Sprigs of fresh thyme, rosemary or sage or all 3

Kitchen Twine

Olive Oil

Sea Salt and Cracked Pepper

1.  Pan sear chicken breast skin side down in a hot pan for 3-4 minutes and pre-heat oven to 425 degrees.

2.  Dice ham and cheese and clean and cut herbs.

3.  Lay chicken breast skin side down on a cutting board with the kitchen twin underneath lengthwise and pile cheese, ham and herbs on the skin less side.

4.  Roll chicken breast and tie with twine.  This takes a little time and is just a tad bit difficult but have patience it is worth it.  Spread a small amount of oil oil on the bottom of your baking pan so that the chicken does not stick.

5.  Arrange chicken breasts in pan and bake for 20-25 minutes or until skin is crispy and internal thermometer reads 160 in this thickest part of the chicken.  Do not insert thermometer into ham and cheese center but off to this side in the chicken meat for best results.

Let rest for 5 minutes before serving.

 

 

 

 

One of my favorite flavor combinations is the classic greek combination of feta cheese, lemon and kalamata olives.  I am continuing on from my last post on great ways to cook chicken breasts so that they are moist, flavorful and tender.

Here is an excerpt from that post.

The most important part of this recipe is that you are flavoring and cooking the breast meat without having it make direct contact with high heat surfaces.    This ensures success in keeping the meat tender and moist.  First I season the chicken with salt and pepper and pan sear the skin of the chicken breast only and do not sear the skin less side.

Just a quick 3-4 minute sear to add some color to the fat side of the chicken and start the cooking process.  Then lay the chicken on a bed of fresh Meyer lemons and herbs.  This keeps the bottom side of the chicken from making contact with the hot pan in the oven, infuses the meat with flavor during baking and allow the skin up side to get crispy and tasty.

Using this idea I have added red onions to the pan along with lemon and herbs.

This dish is a wonderful gluten free, low carb or just plain healthy way to enjoy chicken that is moist, flavorful and tender.

Super Tender and Moist Chicken with Kalamata Olives, Feta and Fresh Tomato

Low Carb, Gluten Free and Low Fat

2 Boneless Skin-on Chicken Breasts

15 Kalamata Olives pits removed

2 Teaspoons Olive Olive plus more for the pan

1 large sliced Red Onion

1 sliced fresh Meyer Lemon

Fresh Thyme, Rosemary and Oregano about 3 sprigs each

Good Feta Cheese about 1/2 Cup

Sweet Grape Tomatoes about 1 Cup

Sea Salt and Cracked Black Pepper to taste.

1.  Add sliced onions, lemon and 1/2 of the fresh herbs to baking dish.  Spread 1 teaspoon olive oil spread inside the baking dish.  You only need to put oil in the center where you will place the onions and olives and not over the entire dish.

2.  Pan sear the chicken breasts skin side down in a hot pan for 3-4 minutes.  Do not sear the side without skin.

3.  Arrange the chicken breasts skin side up on top of the onion, lemon and herb mixture.

4.  Top chicken with olives, feta, tomato and fresh herbs.

5.  Bake at 425 degrees until internal read thermometer reads 160.

6.  Let rest for 4-5 minutes and remove skin before serving.

I think you will love the way the tomatoes get all sweet and jammy and the cheese melts and starts to brown.  The bright flavors of the lemon and fresh herbs along with the salty cheese and olives complimented by the sweet onions and tomatoes make this a hit with my family and clients.

I applaud the farmers who are now raising tender and tasty all natural chickens in more humane ways.  Here in Colorado my two favorite are Red Bird Farms and Bell and Evans.  If you have not tried either of these chicken products I highly recommend it.  We frequently eat chicken in my household and I have it on the menu at Cal-Wood at least once a week.   I have found a way to make super tender chicken with great flavor and very little fat that is simple, easy and delicious.

A cut of chicken that I use frequently is the boneless, skin on chicken breast from Red Bird Farms.  I do not see this cut at most grocery stores but only at specialty meat counters.  In Longmont we are blessed with a wonderful old style butcher when most butchers have gone out of business.  Your Butcher Frank is a treat and hopefully they will be around forever.  The knowledgeable staff and fresh high quality meats are well worth the trip if you do not live in Longmont.  Whole Foods also carries boneless, skin on chicken breasts.  Ask at your meat counter but stick to an all natural or organic chicken when possible.

The reason I like to use boneless, skin on chicken is the skin will keep the meat very moist while cooking.  I have developed a way to flavor the meat while baking that ensures that the meat stays moist and tender but the chicken is full of flavor.  This easy recipe takes no time at all.

The most important part of this recipe is that you are flavoring and cooking the breast meat without having it make direct contact with high heat surfaces.    This ensures success in keeping the meat tender and moist.  First I season the chicken with salt and pepper and pan sear the skin of the chicken breast only and do not sear the skin less side.

Just a quick 3-4 minute sear to add some color to the fat side of the chicken and start the cooking process.  Then lay the chicken on a bed of fresh Meyer lemons and herbs.  This keeps the bottom side of the chicken from making contact with the hot pan in the oven, infuses the meat with flavor during baking and allow the skin up side to get crispy and tasty.

Put about a teaspoon of olive oil on the bottom of a casserole dish and arrange sliced fresh lemon in the pan and top with fresh rosemary and thyme.  After arranging the chicken skin side up on the lemon and herbs put the chicken in a preheated oven at 425 degrees and bake for 10-15 minutes depending on the size of the chicken breast.  Use an internal read thermometer to check is chicken is done.  A good internal read thermometer is the most important tool you can use when cooking meats at home.

This technique allows the chicken to absorb the flavors of the lemon and herb while keeping it protected from the direct heat of the pan.

Let chicken rest for 3-5 minutes and serve.

You can eat the crispy fat or remove it for a lower fat dish.

Tender Lemon Herb Baked Chicken Breast

Gluten free, Low Carb and Low Fat

3-4 boneless Skin on Chicken Breasts

2 Meyer Lemon

3-4 Springs of fresh Thyme and Rosemary

Salt and Cracked Pepper

Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees.

Season and sear chicken skin side down in a hot pan for 3-4 minutes.  Slice lemon and arrange in baking dish with herbs on top.  Lay chicken skin side up on lemon and herb bed making sure the chicken is raised above the pan.  Bake for 10-15 minutes or until internal read thermometer registers 165 degrees.  Let rest for 3-5 minutes and serve with either the skin on or take it off for lower fat dish.

Now that the weather is getting very chilly up here at Cal-Wood all I can think about is soup.

Something simmered for a long time.  To me it is almost a visceral need to cook  chicken soup at this time of the year.  I love to take my time with the process and stretch it out over a couple days.  First I will roast a few chickens. Usually two large sized birds.  Chicken stuffed under the skin with butter, garlic and fresh herbs and roasted will usually result in a bird that is tender and juicy.  If I have some fresh herbs left over or a whole lemon I will stuff the cavity of the bird for even more flavor.

After the chicken is cooked put it in the fridge overnight to cool.  The next day  pull all of the tender meat off the bones and set aside.  The bones w go into a large  stock pot covered in water.  After the bones have been simmering for about 1-2 hours  add what veggies clippings or what I call stock stuff.  There is always a gallon size bag in my refrigerator labeled “stock stuff”.  Into this bag I put all carrot peelings, onion skins, garlic skins, herb stems, celery tops and any other aromatic veggie scraps.  If there is not at least 3 cups of scraps in the bag I will add some more celery, carrot or onion.  This mixture should simmer for 4-5 hours on low.  If you can get it low enough for just a few bubbles to rise to the top of the stock then your stock will be clear but if you are in a hurry you can crank the heat up but you stock will be more cloudy.

What you are looking for is the healthy cartilage in the chicken carcass to melt and incorporate into your stock.  This is what will cause your stock to be  jello like after it cools.  If you use an already roasted carcass from a roasted chicken instead of a raw chicken then the process has already started in the roasting phase.  You will also have a richer tasting stock from roasted bones because the browning from roasting boosts the flavor.

After the stock has simmered for 4-6 hours then strain the whole mess.  I use a chinois but you can use a fine strainer or cheese cloth lined strainer.  Put the stock in a shallow pan or several shallow pans to cool for at least 45 minutes outside of the fridge and then move to the fridge to cool over night.  If you do not cool your stock in shallow pans with about 1-2 inch sides you risk the stock growing bacteria while cooling.  If you cool in deep containers then your stock will not cool fast enough.

After the stock has cooled over night you can remove any fat from the top easily.

Here is the recipe for my favorite Chicken Soup Base.   I call it Chicken Soup Base because it is the base for many yummy dishes.  I freeze it and can later defrost and add all kinds of other starches or seasonings to make several different soups or stews.

Here are some simple ideas:

Add soy sauce, toasted sesame oil, green onion and udon noodle for an Chicken and Udon Noodle Soup.

Add cooked rice for Chicken and Rice Soup.

Add egg noodles for Chicken Noodle Soup.

Add Thai red curry paste, coconut milk, 2 tbs sugar, rice noodles and top with fresh cilantro for Thai Curry  Chicken Soup.

Chicken Soup Base Recipe

2 Cups  Cooked Chicken Diced or pulled into large shreds

8 Cups Chicken Stock

6 Celery stocks medium dice

3 Carrots medium dice

1 Onion medium dice

1 Clove Garlic minced

1 TBS Flat Leaf Parsley chopped

1 TSP fresh Rosemary  finely chopped

Butter or Olive Oil for sauteing veggies.

Sea Salt and Pepper to taste.

Saute veggies in butter or olive oil just enough to coat the veggies.  Season veggies with salt before sauteing to concentrate flavor.  Saute the veggies until soft.

Add veggies, chicken and rosemary to chicken stock and simmer for 15-20 minutes.  Season to taste.  Add parsley before serving.

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