Honey Lemon Chicken

I needed a quick meal when I came home from an all day event in Baton Rouge but I didn’t want to sacrifice flavor. This meal takes a little over an hour but that includes the marinade time. I prepped the marinade and let it sit over the chicken when I first came home and then changed clothes and walked the dog and the chicken was ready to cook when I was done with those chores. Stove time is about 20-30 minutes, about the duration needed for the rice to cook.

The chicken is sweet from the honey, tangy from the mustard and sour from the lemon. The chicken stock adds a depth of flavor that you usual don’t get from a quick meal.

Honey Lemon Chicken

1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon stone ground mustard
2 chicken breasts, skinless although they don’t need to be boneless
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 lemon, sliced

Whisk together honey, lemon juice and mustard. Pour over chicken and allow to marinate for 30 minutes.

Heat olive oil in large skillet over medium heat. Remove chicken from marinade and season both sides of the chicken with salt and pepper.

Sear chicken in skillet, for about 5 minutes per side. Remove to a plate.

Whisk together the marinade and chicken stock. Pour into skillet and whisk until boiling. Reduce to a simmer and add chicken and juices back in pan. Lay the lemon slices over the chicken, cover the skillet and let simmer for 10 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. If using bone-in chicken breasts, increase cook time to 20 minutes.

Serve over a bed of rice, with remaining sauce poured on top. Squeeze the lemon slices for a bright burst of flavor.

 

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Bacon Wrapped Grilled Whole Chicken

I tip my hat to my brother-in-law, Wayne, who made such a delicious bacon wrapped pork loin that I decided to get in on the fun. I choose a chicken as I had one thawing.

I didn’t have a can of beer so I drank a can of Coke and filled it halfway with water and dropped in a couple of garlic cloves. I went with the “beer can up the butt” method as that was the easiest way to get the bird in a position for the wrapping. It also keeps the grill environment moist during the cook.

Use your favorite chicken rub for the dry brine. I used my Rosemary Sage Grilling Rub. You’re looking for a good amount of kosher salt as you’re basically jumpstarting a breakdown of the protein structure. This denaturing makes the meat hold onto more water so your final result will be a tender and juicy bird. I don’t generally rinse the brine off but, because the bacon is salty, I brushed off as much as I could before wrapping.

I only had thick cut bacon in the house, so I went out and bought a cheap pack of thin for this recipe and it shrank so much it pulled off the toothpicks. It did give plenty of flavor anyway and ended up looking like the chicken was wearing a coat of many colors. The finished resulted looked awesome and tasted delicious. The meat was luscious and juicy with just the right amount of seasoning and a little crunch from the cooked bacon.

Bacon Wrapped Grilled Whole Chicken

4 lb whole chicken, neck and giblets removed
2 tablespoons Rosemary Sage Grilling Rub
1 can beer or soda – drink half the beer or all the soda
2 cloves garlic
1 lb bacon, thin sliced
bunch of toothpicks

Rinse the chicken and pat dry. Use a dry rub to cover the chicken both inside and out. Place in the refrigerator, uncovered, overnight but no more than 24 hours.

Remove chicken from fridge and brush off any visible salt. Set aside to dry while you prepare the grill for indirect cooking. Fill and light a charcoal chimney and, once the coals are ashy, pour them around the edge in a horseshoe shape.

Drop the garlic cloves into the half full can of beer (or half filled with water coke can). Work the chicken onto the can by placing the can on a solid surface and setting the back end of chicken over the top of the can. Work it down until it is securely inside. Use the legs to set it up like a tripod and begin the process of draping it in bacon.

Wrap the chicken strip by strip with bacon and secure with toothpicks. Don’t forget the wings Transfer the chicken, with it’s can, to the grill and place it on the center of the grate and drop in some wood chips for smoke.

Cook the chicken for at least an hour or until temperature of the thighs is 175 to 180 degrees F. Remove from the grill and let stand for 10 minutes before removing the can and then carving the bird.

Taco Seasoning

I’m not a fan of commercial taco seasoning packets. Mainly because it is really easy to make your own and know what you’re putting on your food. I make about a cup so I can store the rest in a jar for the next time I want to season everything from tacos to beans and rice to scrambled eggs.

I used 1 tablespoon of it with a pound of ground beef I browned with onions to make the filling for quick, easy and awesome tacos.

Taco Seasoning

3 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons granulated garlic
1 1/2 teaspoons granulated onion
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper
1 teaspoon chipotle powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano

Mix all ingredients together. Store in an airtight container.

Bacon Cornmeal Waffles

I’m still on a cornmeal kick and have been craving waffles, too. I went to the Joy of Cooking I inherited from my paternal grandmother, circa 1953. They have a variety of waffle recipes that looked promising, although most needed a little updating.

The original recipe called for 5 tablespoons of melted bacon fat. That would have made them too greasy, so I used mostly melted butter instead with a single tablespoon of bacon fat for flavor. Like most good Southern girls, I keep a jar of bacon fat in my fridge for just a use. I also bake the entire package of bacon (on a baking sheet for about 30 minutes at 350 degrees F) and then freeze what I don’t eat. This way, I usually always have bacon ready to eat and it was easy to pull some out and chop it for this use.

The cornmeal gave the waffles a bit of nutty taste, with bacon in every tender bite. Definitely a recipe to repeat. Good thing I have extras to freeze and just pop in the toaster oven for a quick meal.

Bacon Cornmeal Waffles

2 eggs
1 3/4 cups milk
1 cup all purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup cornmeal
4 tablespoons butter, unsalted
1 tablespoon bacon fat, melted
4-6 slices bacon, cooked and chopped into small pieces

Beat the eggs in the milk.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt. Whisk together with the cornmeal. Stir in the milk. Mix in the melted butter and bacon fat. Stir in the bacon pieces. There will still be some lumps but everything should be incorporated.

Let batter stand while the waffle iron heats up. Brush lightly with vegetable oil. Add batter in 1/3 cup measures to each side of the waffle iron. Wait two minutes after most of the steam has escaped to check for doneness. You’re looking for even golden color and crispy to the touch. Place finished waffles in a 200 degree F oven while cooking the rest.

Olive and Rosemary Cornbread

I’ve been inspired to do more with cornmeal lately and it has nothing to do with my buying a 5lb bag of freshly ground cornmeal at the farmers market. Nothing at all!

After watching a TV chef add cornmeal instead of semolina to their focaccia, I looked around for more recipes. I found several different versions online of cornbread focaccia (including this one from Southern Living) that I used as a stepping off point.

I love the crust it gets from baking it in a cast iron skillet. While this doesn’t make the best sandwich bread (as it is a little crumbly), it is delicious on its own as an appetizer or snack or with soup.

Olive and Rosemary Cornbread

2 cups cornmeal
1/2 cup all purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups buttermilk
2 1/4 teaspoons dry yeast (1 packet)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon honey
2 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary, divided
25 Kalamata olives, pitted and roughly chopped (about half cup chopped)

Combine cornmeal, flour, baking soda, salt, buttermilk, yeast, eggs, butter and honey in a mixing bowl. Allow the yeast to proof for a five minutes. Stir together until well combined. Sprinkle in 2 tablespoons of the rosemary and stir to mix. Let stand while the oven preheats.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Put 12 inch cast iron skillet in the oven while it preheats.

Lightly oil the skillet, using a basting brush to get up the sides as well. Pour dough into hot skillet. Sprinkle the top with remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons of rosemary and the chopped olives.

Bake the focaccia for about 30 minutes or until the top is golden brown. Remove the focaccia to a rack to cool completely before serving.

 

Shaving Cream Easter Eggs To Deviled Eggs

My sister and I played with shaving cream and food coloring to dye a couple dozen eggs. The first batch was a little light, so we went again and the eggs turned out pretty good.

We used shallow aluminum pans and filled them with shaving cream, then put drops of food coloring over the shaving cream. Then, we dragged a butter knife through the shaving cream and dye to make designs. We added the eggs and used the butter knife to cover them entirely with colored shaving cream and let them sit for twenty minutes. After rinsing and drying, we repeated to darken the designs.

We then made deviled eggs with most of them – who wants to hide eggs, when they make such a delicious dish?

My recipe for deviled eggs is totally to taste. With this dozen eggs, we used about a half cup of mayonnaise, a tablespoon of yellow mustard, a teaspoon of sweet pickle relish juice (no relish, just the juice) and salt and pepper. I smashed all the yolks before adding the condiments and stirred to combine. After tasting, I added more pepper and mayo before filling the egg whites and dusting with paprika.

Cornbread Sticks

I’m giving one of my cast iron cornbread stick pans to Michelle and I just had to check that it was working properly. I can cheerfully report that it does. It really does!

I inherited this one from my dad’s parents and it is perfectly seasoned after years and years cornbread making.

I like cornbread sticks as they increase the ratio of crunchy to the rest of the bread. Trust me, it makes scientifically better cornbread!

If all you have is fine or medium ground corn meal, use just the one cup. But I like the texture from the crunch of coarse or stoneground corn meal so I add that. I do soften it in milk, as I don’t fancy chipping a tooth!

Soften some butter as the cornbread cooks, to make slathering it on super easy.

Cornbread Sticks

1/4 cup coarse ground corn meal
1/4 cup milk
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup finely ground corn meal
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg beaten into 1 cup of milk
1/4 cup Crisco shortening

Place the coarse ground corn meal in the milk and stir to combine. Let sit for 30 minutes to soften and absorb the liquid.

After 30 minutes, pinch off pieces of the shortening and place dollops in each slot on the cast iron cornbread stick pans. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F with the pans in the oven, melting the shortening.

Mix all other ingredients in a large bowl. Pour in the melted shortening until it is the consistency of thick pancake batter. Pour the mixture into each of the corn sticks in the pans and bake for 20 minutes, rotating the pans midway through cooking. Tops will be golden brown. Immediately remove from pans to cool.

Serve with lots of butter or crumble some in a glass with a drizzle honey and plenty of cold milk.