garlicky garlic baked chicken

Jeanne here.

The Cowboy (aka my husband) has been working in Canada for a few weeks, and the littles and I were finally able to make the drive to meet up with him just a few days ago at his sublet apartment in Vancouver, BC.

A word about Vancouver: holy COW is it expensive! But that’s not news. It was reported last week to be the most expensive North American city for living. And I believe it. $11 to park in public parking lots. $7 for one package of wipes because I accidentally left our wipes at the apartment and really needed them but didn’t have an extra 30 minutes to drive home to get them. $40 for lunch for one adult and two toddlers at a pizza joint near the Cowboy’s office. Crazy.

And we’re deep in the heart of downtown. Skyscrapers. Asphalt Jungle. Coffee shops on every corner. Hot dog carts and soft pretzels on every other. Rear Window living as no one closes their shades on the 33rd floor of a high-rise. Aquariums. Art galleries. Science World. Museums. And it never gets dark. The lights from all the buildings keep the rooms lit almost to dusk even at 2 am.

I’m amazed at how amazed I am.

I mean, I lived in Los Angeles for 16 years. And before that, I lived in Washington, DC. I’ve worked on movies in San Francisco, Atlanta, Detroit and Albuquerque, and spent a lot of time in New York and London, so it’s not like I’ve never experienced city living. I’ve only been in Montana for 4 years. Well. Almost 4 years. It’ll be 4 years in June. But I’ve come to really like seeing stars at night. And not hearing the constant hum of cars. And sirens. I guess I’ve really done it. I’ve gone Montana.

I could wax-nostalgic for hours but what I really wanted to say is that we are here for two weeks and I don’t want to eat out for every meal. I also don’t want to stock a second kitchen like ours at home so I’ve been making simple foods and it turns out that the kids and the Cowboy are pretty happy about it.

A few nights ago, for example, I made this:

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Looks a little boring, right? Baked chicken and a salad.

But I’ll tell you something: It’s five ingredients. 20 minutes. And it’s flavorful and made for four happy eaters. So happy, in fact, that I made it again a few nights later.

Garlicky Garlic Baked Chicken

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 chicken breasts
  • 2 Tbls sesame oil
  • 6-8 cloves garlic (rough chopped)
  • 3 Tbls grade B maple syrup
  • sea salt & fresh ground pepper (to taste)

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Rinse and pat dry the chicken breasts. Patting the chicken dry seems to help ensure moist chicken. One day I’ll figure out the science of it. But in the meantime, I highly recommend patting it dry. Set in a non-reactive roasting pan and season the chicken with salt and pepper. (We use glass or ceramic. I’m happy to say that the owner of this apartment left one glass baking dish.)

Heat the oil in a small saucepan. Add the chopped garlic and sauté until translucent. Remove from the heat and add the maple syrup. Pour the mixture evenly over the chicken. I lift each chicken breast to let the mixture get under the meat as well.

Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes, until the maple syrup gets all frothy and the liquid from the chicken runs clear.

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Remove from the oven. Let stand for 2-3 minutes while you plate your side dish (we had a mixed green salad with pink lady apples and a balsamic honey mustard dressing). Slice and serve.

What do you feed your family when you’re on an extended trip that’s not really a vacation?

coconut chicken nuggets … everybody wants some

I know there are a lot of folks out there who love The Nugget.  Who depend on it.

But we’ve never been big nugget eaters in our house.

Maybe it’s because I ate a primarily vegetarian diet for so many years.

Maybe it’s because I’ve seen one too many documentaries on the manufacture of fast food versions.

Or maybe it just wasn’t on my radar … or I didn’t know how easy it was to make …

Until …

IMG_5829 Meet the Coconut Chicken Nugget.

I’m not going to deny it … these were totally inspired by Abby’s fried chicken.

But the first time I tried to make hers, I didn’t have Italian-seasoned Panko.  Actually, I was at my mom’s, and she didn’t have oregano or garlic or Italian seasoning in her cupboard.  But I did have a cup of shredded coconut.  I had sea salt.  And I had coconut oil.

They are sweeter than Abby’s.  And nuttier.  (I was thinking that using finely chopped almonds instead of bread-crumbs would be a great gluten-free option, but I haven’t tried it yet because everyone loves these so much.)

And there wasn’t one bite left after dinner.

Next thing I knew, they became a staple of our diet.

We eat them for dinner at home.  We take them for picnics on the go.

They make easy protein-packed road-trip snacks.

For Four Servings:

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 chicken breasts, 3 chicken thighs (cut into 1 1/2 inch bites)
  • 4 eggs
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat Panko-style bread crumbs
  • 3/4 cup shredded coconut (we get our from the bulk aisle at the Coop, but it’s available in bags, too)
  • 1  1/2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 3/4 cup of coconut oil (plus more, if you need it)

DIRECTIONS:

coconut nuggets PNG

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Cut the chicken into 1 1/2 – 2 inch “bites.”

Combine the bread crumbs, coconut and salt in a medium bowl.

Beat the eggs in another medium bowl.

Add half of the chicken to the egg.  Let soak for a few minutes.

Meanwhile, begin to heat a large saucepan.  If you’re using stainless steel, let the pan get good and hot before adding the coconut oil.  Hot pan.  Cold oil.  Heating the pan before adding the oil goes a long way toward making the pan “non-stick,” and a LOT easier to clean.

While the coconut oil melts, move the chicken from the egg into the coconut-bread-crumb bowl and toss until well coated.   And put the second half of your chicken to soak in the remaining egg.  By then, your oil should be good and hot.  (You can check this by dropping a few drops of water into the pan … if it sizzles, it’s hot enough.)

Transfer the coconut coated chicken (piece by piece) into the sizzling coconut oil.  While they cook on one side (for about 3 minutes), put the chicken that’s been soaking in the egg, into the coconut-crust.  Also, taking a page from Abby’s book, line a baking dish with brown paper (a great way to re-use brown-paper grocery bags).

Turn the chicken, cooking for another 3-4 minutes.  Then transfer fried chicken to the baking dish.

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Repeat with the second batch of chicken.  And then add that to the baking dish.  (If you feel like you need to add a little more coconut oil to the pan, the time to do that is between batches, so it has time to heat up again.)

Bake for about 20 minutes until the chicken is cooked through.  (These take less time than Abby’s because they are smaller.)

And if we were having a Superbowl Party tomorrow, I’d probably make two batches … and serve them with a few different dipping sauces (like a yogurt sauce with maple, a spicy honey mustard and maybe a buffalo hot sauce, which would be a great contrast to the sweet crunchy coconut coating).  In fact, I might just make them and turn our super bowl watching into a party!

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So whatever your nugget needs … I hope you’ll give these a go.

back to basics – braised (shredded) chicken

Ever since Abby posted her incredibly unabashed taquito recipe, I’ve been struggling to find time to make shredded chicken so I could either follow suit, or just make some tacos.

And ever since Abby posted the taquitos recipe I’ve been doing a totally unscientific poll about how people make their shredded chicken (and, in fact, I’ve NOT asked Abby how she shreds chicken … Abby, how do you prepare your shredded chicken?)

Some people use just chicken breasts.

Some use chicken on the bone.

Some use it already de-boned.

Some people bake their chicken.

Some fry it.

Some roast.

Some braise.

It’s apparently as personal a choice as what kind of toothpaste you use (we use Nature’s Gate Anise Natural Dentrifice … you?)

Basically, what I’m discovering is there is no really wrong way to shred your chicken.

But in case you don’t yet have a way that you’re committed to, I would suggest you give this braising a go, because the thing about braising (especially when it includes a little apple cider vinegar and garlic and onions and bone broth) is you end up with an incredibly succulent shredded poultry that falls off the bone and makes any recipe that calls for it taste even better …

Sure … it takes two and half hours to cook (it was 30 minutes in the oven when we decided we couldn’t wait last night and ended up ordering Chinese).

But today (regardless of the bloat from the bad food last night), we’re happy to have a vat of shredded chicken that we’ll be able to use in tacos for lunch … chicken salad for dinner … or maybe a pot-pie … or Abby’s taquitos! … the options are endless!

shredded chicken

Here’s how we do it …

INGREDIENTS:

  • about 6 lbs of skinless dark meat chicken (legs and thighs)
  • 1 cup poultry bone broth
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 3 cloves garlic (peeled and a rough chop)
  • 1 medium yellow onion (quartered)

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DIRECTIONS:

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.

If the chicken you have still has skin, peel the skin, trim the fat and separate the legs and thighs.

IMG_5604 Heat the broth in a large dutch oven on your stove top.  Whisk in the salt, pepper and apple cider vinegar.  Add the onion quarters and garlic. (The onion almost acts as a “stand” upon which you layer the chicken … keeps it out of direct contact with the liquid at first).

Turn off the heat and start stacking your chicken on top of the onion.

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IMG_5639 Once it’s all in, turn the heat back on and bring the liquid to a boil.  Once that happens (which only takes a moment), put the lid on your dish and pop it in the oven.

Let it slow cook for two and half hours.

(About halfway through the process, give the contents of the dutch oven a good toss, rotating the chicken from the bottom to the top and vice versa so it gets a nice even cook.)

Remove it from the oven, take off the lid and let the chicken cool enough that it’s not so hot you can’t touch it.

Use a large fork to remove the chicken from the bones (discarding the bones and the onion)

IMG_5653 And this is what’s left in the pot …

IMG_5652 At this point, drain the liquid and separate the chicken into meal portions (freeze what you don’t need immediately, or just make a plan for a lot of tasty chicken in the next few days).  As of this moment, I’m planning on tacos, taquitos, chicken salad and maybe a pot pie.

Whatever you decide … enjoy it!

How do you shred your chicken?

fried chicken, honey-mustard, and an easy salad


Fried chicken.  Not exactly something you would call a health food.  But tonight my family was craving it, and with a foot of snow and temps in the teens… comfort food just felt right.

I changed things up a bit from your typical fried chicken to make it a little more health-nut mama friendly and here’s where we ended up.

What I used:

  • 4 large organic boneless chicken breast
  • 3 large eggs
  • coconut oil (about a cup)
  • 1/3 bag Panko italian seasoned bread crumbs
  • salt and pepper
  • large skillet
  • large (11 x 13) glass baking dish

What I did:
Pre-heat oven to 350. Then, using a sharp knife and a non-wood cutting board, slice chicken into strips.

Place the eggs in a bowl and whisk.  In a separate bowl place the bread crumbs.

Next, fill the large skillet with enough coconut oil to coat the pan and get a thin later on the bottom.  Turn the heat up to medium high.

While the oil is getting hot, now is the time to prepare your tenders.  Lightly season them with salt and pepper before dunking them one-by-one in the eggs.

After the eggs, place the tenders in the bread crumbs.  I should note here that you don’t have to use Panko style, but I really love the texture they add.  In the past, I have also used gluten-free bread crumbs or even chia seeds (a recipe I haven’t quite perfected yet.)

By this time, your oil should be hot enough to fry.  It should lightly sizzle when you place the tenders in.  If it doesn’t sizzle just yet, give it a minute or 2 and you should be fine.

After about 4-5 minutes, flip the chicken.  Before you turn, make sure they are plenty browned on the bottom.  Through-out the frying process, you may need to add more oil.
After the second side gets to fry for another 4-5 minutes, place the tenders in the glass baking dish and place in pre-heated oven.  To help absorb the oil, I place a brown paper bag (cut to the size of the dish).  Tonight, I didn’t have one of hand, so I lined it with unbleached coffee filters.
Bake for 25-30 minutes or until your tenders are cooked all the way through.  Every oven is different so just keep an eye on them.
For a quick, tasty, fantastic dipping sauce… mix equal parts honey and mustard.
I also threw together a quick kale salad to add a little green to our meal.
  • Finely chop a few cups of kale. This green is tough so it’s important to chop finely!
  • Dice up a quarter of an red onion and a quarter of an apple.
  • I made a quick dressing by placing equal parts balsamic vinegar and olive oil in a jar with a lid and shake.
  • Combine kale, onion, apple and dressing and let sit for about 15 minutes before eating.  Letting it set also helps slightly soften the kale.

My 3 year old, who can be a picky eater, gobbled this up!

This meal pleased every member of my family!  Love it when that happens!
-Abby