Shredded Lemon-Yogurt Chicken over Grain-Free Naan with Garlicky Tzatziki

 

Shredded Chicken on Naan with Tzatziki

(Shredded Lemon-Yogurt Chicken over Grain-Free Naan with Garlicky Tzatziki)

Sometimes in the dead of winter, you long for something sunny and bright. During winter’s darkness I often become hungry for the bright sunny tastes of the Mediterranean.

On a recent trip to Costco we were excited to find organic chicken – breasts and thighs. This might not sound very exciting, but when you raise your own chickens for meat (and eggs!) most of the time the only chicken meals you really make are whole roasted chickens or chicken soup. When you free-range your chickens they don’t tend to get as nice and plump and so the breasts and other parts tend to be on the smaller side. So we were excited to find decent quality chicken cuts for very good prices at Costco to add some diversity to our dinners.

Having various cuts of chicken is a luxury for us and so I wanted to do something fun with the meat. I made several slices into each breast and stuffed them with slices of meyer lemon. Then I rubbed the breasts with a mixture of homemade goat yogurt, salt, garlic, oregano, mint and lemon juice. I baked the breasts in the oven until the meat could be easily shredded. Then I served the shredded meat on top of grain free naan bread with slices tomatoes, cucumbers and arugula and then topped the whole thing off with homemade tzatziki.

This meal really hit the spot! It was comprised of all the flavors I was looking for without taking a long time to make. Cooking with an infant in the house means cooking in stages. I made the naan earlier in the day – easy to reheat later. I also made the tzatziki early, so the garlic had time to really penetrate the yogurt. I decided to bake the chicken so it was very hands off. Then at the end I just had to pull the whole thing together.

I served it with a simple side of oven roasted eggplant dices.

Lemon-Yogurt Chicken Breasts

INGREDIENTS:

2 organic chicken breasts
¼ cup plain organic yogurt (cow, goat, non-dairy)
2 TBS lemon juice
2 cloves of garlic, minced
salt to taste
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried mint
drizzle of good extra virgin olive oil

METHOD: Place chicken breasts in a shallow baking dish and mix with all the ingredients. Let sit in the refrigerator to marinate for at least 2 hours. Preheat oven to 350 F. Place baking dish with chicken and marinade in the oven and cover, bake for 45 minutes until meat is tender enough to shred.

Tzatziki

INGREDIENTS:

1 ½ cup plain organic yogurt (cow, goat, non-dairy)
2 TBS lemon juice
½ of an English (seedless) cucumber, shredded
5 cloves of garlic, shredded or grated
salt to taste
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried mint
drizzle of good extra virgin olive oil

METHOD: Mix all ingredients together in a bowl and place in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours before serving.

Oven Roasted Eggplant Dices

INGREDIENTS:

2 small eggplants, diced and salted
extra virgin olive oil

METHOD: Preheat oven to 400 F. Dice the eggplant and place in a colander, lightly salt the eggplant and let sit for about 20 minutes. In 20 minutes rinse the eggplant and squeeze the pieces to get the water out. Place on a cookie sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Roast for about 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. Salt to taste.

Grain-Free Naan Bread

I have used both of these recipes and they are great for this purpose!

Grain Free Garlic Naan (Gluten/Yeast/Nut/Dairy Free) by Real Sustenance
Paleo Naan Bread (Flatbread) by Swiss Paleo

 

Eggplant Relish

15 lbs of homegrown produce!

Harvest season is here! This has been our best gardening year yet. I owe it all to our bunnies actually. It was their little pellets, collected through the winter which has made our plants produce like crazy. Between that and the warmer, drier temperatures this summer, we are just awash with so many delicious fresh vegetables!

This year we are growing tomatoes (we have about 30 plants!), zucchini, ground cherries, carrots, cabbages, sugar snap peas, potatoes, cucumbers, eggplant, peppers, melons lettuces, Swiss chard and arugula and beans (hope I am not forgetting anything). We tried new varieties of tomatoes this year, German Pink, Black from Tula and Ukrainian Purple, all developed in colder climates. We also tried cold climate melons. All are doing great this year!

This year, so far we have preserved 25 lbs of cabbage (red and green), 11 lbs of greens, 15 lbs of stone fruits, 10 lbs of tomatoes, as well as assorted carrots, green beans, sugar snaps, onions, peppers, zucchini and eggplant. So it has been a busy couple of months. We are really going to enjoy this in the winter months. That taste of summer is always so welcomed when the snows are falling down all around us.

I want to share with you a delicious condiment that I made. One that I wanted to dig right into but will have to reserve a bit of will power to leave it on the shelf for the dead of winter when the taste of sun ripened tomatoes, peppers and eggplants will be just the right thing I need to lift my spirits!

Eggplant-Tomato Relish (from The Joy of Pickling – My VERY favorite cookbook for this time of year!)
Makes 2 pints

INGREDIENTS:

1 lb eggplant, peeled and cut into ¾ inch cubes
2 tsp sea salt
6 TBS olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 large red bell pepper, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 cups peeled and coarsely chopped tomatoes
¾ cup raw apple cider vinegar
1 bay leaf
1 tsp whole mustard seeds
1 TBS pine nuts
1 TBS capers
Black pepper to taste

METHOD: In a bowl, toss eggplant with salt, put in a colander and let drain for an hour or so. Rinse eggplant and drain it well. Heat the oil in a large non-reactive pot. Add eggplant and sauté about 5 minutes. Add onion and pepper and sauté another 10 minutes. Add remaining ingredients. Over medium heat bring mixture to a simmer. Simmer uncovered, stirring often for about an hour. Remove bay leaf and ladle mixture into pint or half pint mason jars, leaving ½ inch headspace. Close jars with 2-piece caps and process for 15 minutes in a boiling water bath. Store jars in a cool, dry, dark place.

Rose-Vanilla Syrup

 

Anyone who has known me for a long time knows how much I rely on herbs and plants to keep myself healthy. My interest in herbs began sometime in high school after reading The Mists of Avalon which is full of herbal lore and of course magic and just went on from there.

I don’t think herbal remedies are magic, per se, I think they are natural ways to keep our bodies in the best shape possible, mentally, physically and emotionally. Herbs are helpers who have evolved right along with us, our allies. As people that love to cook, we use herbs a lot in day to day life spicing up our dishes. But there are also healing properties behind the many culinary herbs we use.

If you have ever enjoyed Middle Eastern desserts you may have encountered rose water. Or if you watched the amazing movie, Like Water for Chocolate you will remember vividly the scene in which the protagonist cooks up a wooing meal using roses.

Roses, both wild and domesticated are edible, the darker the color, the stronger the flavor. I find roses to taste rather sweet (big surprise!) and they are also incredibly soothing. In herbal medicine they are considered to be cooling and dry, but there is a warmth to them to be sure. It is no coincidence that people have been using roses to tell people they love them for a very long time, because it has much to tell us about the properties of roses.

Roses are associated with the heart and are good for both cardiovascular issues and emotional well-being. They are good for keeping our bodies balanced. Rose petals are high in Vitamin C making it a good idea to use in staving off colds or other infections. Rose petals, because of the natural occurring acids they contain is good for keeping your GI tract in good condition. Rose petals have been known to expel toxins in the gut and helps support the good and friendly flora in the gut.

Rose petals can also help with stress and emotions. One of my herbal teachers recently said that she uses Rose to help people create healthy boundaries, to give the person an ability to give and receive love without wearing their heart on their sleeve. Rose petals are physically almost see through when you hold them up to the light, but to the touch they are almost leathery, roses are beautiful but also thorny. Rose teaches us about balance, helps regulate the emotions and helps us navigate intimate relationships.

Roses are in full bloom right now, but if your roses are past their prime, don’t worry, just wait for them to give way to rose hips, their natural fruit!

I made my rose syrup the same day that I was blanching stone fruits for the freezer. I decided not to throw away the water I used for blanching and to use it for my syrup. I also added a star anise, a few cardamom pods and a vanilla bean to the brew in addition to following the recipe from A Girl’s Guide to Guns and Butter. The result is a delicious syrup, perfect for adding to fizzy water for a wonderful summertime drink. I also find it goes well in a cup of herbal tea as the sweetener. Check out the link to the original recipe and you will find more uses there for rose syrup.

Rose-Vanilla Syrup (adapted from A Girl’s Guide to Guns and Butter)

INGREDIENTS:

approximately 3 cups loose, unsprayed rose petals
5 cups cold water
3 cups granulated sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 star anise
A few cardamom pods
A vanilla bean

METHOD: Just pick a few handfuls of unsprayed rose petals, throw them in a pot with sugar and water (and additional spices, if desired), bring everything to a simmer and cook for about five minutes before adding lemon juice (important for both the color and the flavor!). Remove from heat, and allow everything to infuse overnight. All you have to do the next day is strain it and store it in the refrigerator (I also froze some).

Your Favorite Posts of 2011

 

I really want to take a moment to thank all of my readers and blogging friends for your support this year, both on this blog, as well as through Facebook and Twitter! As social media grows, it seems more of our interactions together take place on other websites, for example my Facebook page and Twitter account has amassed so many followers, I am just astounded and overwhelmed. I have really enjoyed getting to know many of you this way! Thank you!

It is hard to believe another year of blogging has gone by! Getting these posts together every year is always a great look back on all the wonderful food we have enjoyed. I hope all of you reading this also had a great 2011 and are all looking forward to 2012! Here are the top 10 posts from this year. If you enjoy something that I post, please click the “like” button at the top, to “like” it on facebook, also feel free to tweet about it or leave me a comment. This is very helpful to me to know what kinds of posts you all want to see!

Please leave a comment and let me know what kinds of posts you would like to see on this blog in 2012! Happy New Year!

 

NUMBER 10: Breakfast of Champions and my First YouTube!


 

Number 9: The BEST Gluten-Free Pancakes EVER

 

Number 8: Drying Apples For Winter Storage

 

Number 7: Raw Avocado Chocolate Pudding

 

Number 6: Coconut Milk Panna Cotta Parfaits

 

Number 5: Musings on Homesteading

 

Number 4: How to Make Kefir at Home…and Why You Should!

 

Number 3: DIY Holiday Gift Series: Dairy-Free Decadent Chocolate Truffles

 

Number 2: Making Yogurt at Home: Filmjölk

 

And your favorite post of 2011: Number 1: Got Raw Milk? Food Freedom Fighters!


Guest Post: Delicious and Healthy Avocados

So, just as I promised, here is the first post in a series of guest posts for this blog, featuring some of my favorite blog authors! We are kicking things off with a post from my good friend and longtime blog buddy Ben Herrera of What’s Cooking Mexico.

Ben and I started blogging around the same time, and I have always loved his unique and delicious recipes featuring REAL Mexican food. Just like many other food cultures, real Mexican food features fresh and local ingredients, and uses them to the fullest.

I have also really enjoyed watching his food photography and styling skills skyrocket over the years! Ben lives in Mexico City and offers insider peeks of all the delicious markets and fresh food that Mexico City has to offer. Today he shares a post about a staple food to Mexican cuisine- the delicious and nutritious Avocado, and shares his recipe for guacamole with an unexpected ingredient! So here is Ben! THANK YOU, BEN!

Who hasn’t tried guacamole at a Mexican restaurant or watching a football game with friends? Avocado is the main ingredient for that delicious dip that has become very popular in the US. I love avocados. I can eat them in many different ways, from slices in salads and tacos to sauces and as one of the ingredients for bread. Their buttery texture and flavor makes them what my dad calls nature’s butter.

But avocados are not only delicious. They’re also a great source of healthy nutrients.  Avocados promote heart health because they contain oleic acid, a monounsaturated fat that may help to lower cholesterol. They are also a good source of potassium, a mineral that helps regulate blood pressure, and folate, a nutrient important for heart health.

Furthermore, they promote optimal health because they are a concentrated dietary source of the carotenoid lutein. It also contains measurable amounts of related carotenoids (zeaxanthin, alpha-carotene and beta-carotene) plus significant quantities of tocopherols (vitamin E). Avocados also increase your absorption of carotenoids from vegetables and recent studies show that they help to combat oral cancer, a form of cancer more deadly than breast, skin and cervical cancer.

Next time you’re at the grocery store look for this healthy fruit. I’m sure you’ll find a delicious way to eat them. If you have never bought avocados before you might want to keep in mind these simple tips:

  • A ripe and ready to eat avocado should be soft when you squeeze it, but it should not have dark sunken spots or cracks.
  • If you are not planning to eat avocados right away select the ones that are harder when you squeeze them. Avocados ripen in a few days outside the refrigerator, but if you are not planning to eat a ripe avocado, put it in the fridge and that will slow the ripening process.
  • The flesh of the avocado starts turning black the moment it comes in contact with air. Lime juice slows this process. If you are storing an open avocado wrap it in plastic to prevent contact with air.

Two of my favorite ways to eat avocados are in guacamole and salads. Making guacamole is very easy. However, I like to twist it a little bit adding mango. It gives the guacamole a very special and sweet flavor.This is how you prepare it:

The ingredients:

  • 2 large avocados
  • 1 mango
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped
  • handful of cilantro, chopped
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • salt and pepper to taste

The how-to:

  • Cut avocados and mango and put them in a bowl.
  • Smash with a fork and add the rest of the ingredients.
  • Mix well until they form a smooth salsa.
  • Enjoy!

To make a healthy avocado and tuna salad, just cut one avocado in half and dice it. Mix one can of tuna, one can of mixed vegetables, one TBSP of low fat mayonnaise and the avocado and serve. It’s easy enough for a quick lunch.

I hope you like these simple ideas to eat avocado, one of nature’s most delicious fruits.

Buen provecho!

Sources:

More avocado ideas from Ben’s blog – Avocado Corn Muffins

Deviled Eggs

 

So I lied, here is one more post for all of you before I take my September blogging break. Like I said in my last post, don’t worry, I have some great guest posts lining up for you from some of my favorite bloggers, so these pages will remain active and full of delicious, simple, whole food recipes while at the same time exploring the wealth of the food blogging community!

But today I wish to wax a little poetic about eggs. Some days, I get a little emotional about the beauty of the natural world, and how some foods are just perfect acts of nature. To me, eggs really are the perfect food. They are well balanced in terms of protein and fat, a great way to start your day, or give you a boost of energy when you need it. As most of my readers know, we raise heritage chickens for eggs. So eggs are an important part of our diet – the cornerstone really. We eat at least one egg a day, and usually two or more. Each day somewhere between 5-8 miracles happen out in our chicken coop in the form of a beautiful highly nutritious food, right in its own perfect little package.

Now not all eggs are created equal, and I have discussed that on this blog many times before, so I am not going to go into it again. Just to remind you that there is nothing like the perfect food that is a farm fresh egg that comes from chickens who spend as much time as they like outside, eat bugs and grass, and are fed healthy, organic kitchen scraps. If you want to read more about eggs and their nutritional qualities, please check out this post.

So today I want to talk about Deviled Eggs. Deviled eggs are the perfect summer picnic food and so for Labor Day, which is on Monday, here in the USA, I thought sharing my take on deviled eggs would be fun! Deviled eggs, according the The Secret Life of….TV show on The Foodnetwork, originated in ancient Rome. The term “deviled” comes from the 18th and 19th century and usually refers to foods with a lot of spices, or “hot spiced” foods.

I treat deviled eggs just like any other dish in my kitchen; I rarely make them the same way twice. I like to make them the classic way, with paprika sprinkled on top. But also I enjoy spicing it up in different ways, a new twist on an old classic. I have made curried deviled eggs, deviled eggs with lobster (actually my dad made these, but I was the sous chef), deviled eggs with fermented pickles, roasted red peppers, sun dried tomatoes, capers, olives, etc. mixed in. However, I always add homemade mayonnaise to the filling, usually Dijon mustard, and sometimes hot sauce. I have even substituted homemade yogurt for the mayo when I was in a pinch. I also like using some kind of fresh herbs when available, chives and cilantro are some favorites.
So whip up a batch of your own creatively flavored deviled eggs and challenge yourself by using what you  have on hand, to celebrate this weekend and be sure to thank your feathered friends for their contributions!

 

Homemade Nutella for Norway

 

I really wish I had a Norwegian recipe to post today. I have been really saddened by the tragic events in Oslo on Friday. As many of my readers know, I spent a year in Norway as an exchange student, in between high school and college, and I have very fond and vivid memories of my life there. The people, culture and independent spirit of Norway all have a very special place in my heart. I formed many long lasting friendships that year and still have many good friends and loved ones that live there, and a lot of them currently reside in Oslo. So  Friday and Saturday were scary days waiting to hear from everyone.

Photo Courtesy

JEG ELSKER NORGE!

I have been comforted these past few days by these words by Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg:

“You will not destroy us. You will not destroy our democracy, or our commitment to a better world. We are a small country nation, but a proud nation. No one shall bomb us to silence, no one shall shoot us to silence, no one shall scare us out of being Norway. We must never stop standing up for our values. We must show that the Norwegian society can stand up to these testing times. We must show humanity, but not naivety.”

I keep reading this over and over and praying for the truth in those words. As an American, experiencing 9/11 and seeing the aftermath of such events and in many ways the loss of our many freedoms and our independent spirit, I can only hope that the Norwegians will keep that alive.

Although I know this does nothing, other than feebly lend support and love to my Norwegian friends and Norwegians all over the world, you can check out some of my Norwegian and Scandinavian inspired recipes from the past. Comfort food really is a comfort and can aid in feeding our spirit during trying times.

I spent all of Friday sweating over steamy vats of curds and whey and fluffing cheese curds at The Cellars at Jasper Hill – that is something for another post though…so when I got home that night, I hadn’t heard anything about what was going on in Norway. One of my best friends lives in Oslo, and so Roberto really was worried about telling me what had happened, but luckily she had posted on my facebook wall that everything was OK, and like a lot of other Norwegians, she and her husband were out of the country on holiday.

So in lieu of posting a Norwegian recipe, I am going to post about making homemade Nutella, because the first time I ever tasted Nutella it was in Norway. The first time I had it, I thought it was a Norwegian invention, and I was hooked! When I returned to the US, after my year in Norway, I was lucky to be able to find it in the grocery stores here, and so it has always been a staple in my house. Then I married an Italian (Italy is the actual birthplace of Nutella) and we just always had a jar in the pantry…until we noticed the ingredient profile had changed and it now included soy lecithin and vanillin – artificial vanilla …so we stopped buying it. We have found and tried several organic and more healthy versions, but they never really tasted that good, and were expensive.

In comes The Spunky Coconut blog. I am an avid fan of both the blog and the cookbook – The Spunky Coconut has really changed my life in a lot of ways, her baked goods are all gluten and grain free and don’t contain weird fillers and gums, like a lot of gluten-free baked goods do. I have tried several of her recipes, and they have all been fantastic – perfect taste and texture every time – and they don’t require any tweaking, which makes my life so easy!

So when she posted a recipe for homemade Nutella on her blog, I felt like our prayers had been answered – especially for Roberto.

The only thing I changed about the recipe was by adding a bit of maple syrup at the end to taste. Roberto, the official taste tester felt that it wasn’t sweet enough. I probably ended up adding a little shy of ¼ cup of it after all was said and done. The recipe makes 3-4 small mason jars full, and she says in the comments that she actually froze one jar of it – but I am not sure if it turned out OK.

Roberto’s tasting notes: Regular Nutella is now way too sweet for us (we have cut down on a lot of sugar and don’t use any refined sugar products), and it has more of a bitter dark chocolate taste than regular Nutella, however because it is less sweet, he says it is more versatile. He has been enjoying it spread on The Spunky Coconut’s Boulder Banana Bread (minus the walnuts, I usually add about 2 TBS of almond butter).

Smoked Mackerel Salad and My Journey from Vegetarian to Omnivore

 

Have many of you bought a fish like this? With the eyes still there? This was a new experience for me. Even though I am no stranger to the cycles of life and how food gets to my plate, I never bought or ate a whole fish before. I have not really cooked much seafood in my kitchen career, but I do enjoy it. I love smoked fishes, and there is a store sort of near to us called Healthy Living, that actually sells several varieties of whole smoked fishes. The last time we were there, they had this guy, for about $9, which is a steal if you are used to buying smoked fillets. So with an adventurous spirit, I bought it, bones, fins, eyes and all.

Funny story interlude…so Healthy Living also has a great variety of local meats and sustainable seafood– things like pork, beef, venison, lamb, duck, chicken – pretty much you name it, it has probably graced their shelves at some point. So I like to go every so often, and buy a small variety. So on the day we bought Mr. Mackerel, we also bought some Highland grassfed beef, duck rillettes, some venison shanks, several packages of chicken wings, pork belly, cans of tuna, fresh marinated anchovies etc. That was all we bought – no veggies, no fruit, and no dairy. So we get to the check-out line, and our cashier was kind of scowling at us. Her lips were pursed and her nose wrinkled like she smelled something really foul. As she was scanning our box of meat, she was only touching the corners of the packages and moving them across the scanner as quickly as possible. Then it dawned on me, and I said “I hope you aren’t a vegetarian”, and she responded, “No, I am a vegan, actually”. SCREEEECH. Talk about a clash of cultures.

But it really got me thinking about my days as a vegan (all 6 months of them), and I felt like, even though we take very different approaches, this girl and I both care about the welfare of animals and are taking action to opt out against the inhumane slaughter of them for human consumption. She was young, so you never know where her path might lead. When I was a vegan, and a vegetarian (for 10 years) I never in a million years would have thought I would raise animals for meat. But once I saw first-hand how animals can be raised humanely and with love and respect, for consumption, and how feeding your family from the sweat of your brow and your own hands is more honorable than buying non-meat items that are subsidized by the government, (like soy, a major vegetarian protein and something I ate a lot of) to the detriment of us all, animals included…and when I learned enough about the natural world that I had been so disconnected from, and learned that even if I was a vegetarian, in order to eat, animals had to die, I decided there had to be a better way, a way where I could take full responsibility for the food on my plate while at the same time take my place in the natural world, as a part of it- and this is one of the reasons I do what I do on the homestead – because I love animals and because I am an animal. To the cashier that probably sounds so backwards, but I have been forward, back and back again!

 

So anyway, back to Mr. Mackerel…like I said, I love smoked fishes, and I wanted to showcase this beautiful fish in a nice spring dish. I decided on a mackerel salad. Mackerel is packed with protein and essential fatty acids. It has a nice meaty texture and smoked it is just delicious! One of our favorites. To make the salad, I mixed together half of the fish (after I opened it up, took the bones out, etc) with 2 hard -boiled eggs, capers, roasted red peppers a splash of red wine vinegar and a touch of homemade mayo. I then served it on a bed of greens. We dined al fresco on the porch looking at the mountain and admiring the buds on the trees, the greening of the grass and the beautiful tulips in bloom.

Also, don’t forget – you have a few more days to enter for your chance to win the book Root Cellaring, and to get your very own Leftover Queen Award  ! I want to hear your tips -what are some small things do you do in your kitchens that make you a “Leftover Queen”?