Dreamy's Delights

It's all about the food!

Bacon Wrapped, Cream Cheese Stuffed Chicken Breasts

I got the following recipe off Facebook. It makes one serving. So I’m posting the original and then what I really did with it. ๐Ÿ™‚

Bacon Wrapped, Cream Cheese Stuffed Chicken Breasts

1 boneless skinless chicken breast
2 tablespoons cream cheese
1 tablespoon green onion, Chopped
2 pieces bacon, Partially Cooked

Directions:

Pound out Chicken breast so it is about 1/4″ thick.

Mix together cream cheese and green onions and spread cheese mixture over 1 side of chicken breast.

Roll CHicken breast up to conseal cream cheese.

Wrap partially cooked bacon around chicken breast and secure with toothpick.

Place on baking sheet and back for about 30 minutes at 375.

Broil for about 5 minute to crisp bacon.

 

Recipe

4 large, boneless, skinless chicken breasts

8 TB of chive and green onion cream cheese

12 pieces of bacon, partially cooked

a sprinkle of toasted, dried garlic

Preheat oven to 375F.

Here’s where I really started to deviate from the recipe. Rather than mixing cream cheese and green onions, I just bought it that way.

Next was butterflying open the chicken breasts. Pounding a whole chicken breast to 1/4 inch thick is possible but takes an annoyingly long time. So I butterflied the chicken then finished pounding it to the correct thickness.

bacon-cream cheese chicken

Spread 2 TB of cream cheese over half of the chicken. Roll the chicken up with the filling in the middle. Then wrap chicken around with 3 pieces of bacon. I skipped using any toothpicks and it worked out just fine.

bacon-cream cheese chicken3

Bake at 375F for about 30 minutes. Check the internal temp to make sure it’s cooked through. I didn’t even have to put mine under the broiler, the bacon was plenty crisp when the chicken was done.

bacon-cream cheese chicken2

Jene said it was really good and it’s something he’d be happy to eat again. ๐Ÿ™‚

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Kicked-up Scrambled Eggs

I hate scrambled eggs. It was the first thing I learned to cook around age 3-4. I ate them as a kid with no problems. The problem was when I became an adult and a LOT more discerning in my tastes. Scrambled eggs usually have one of two things wrong with them. They’re overcooked, dry and rubbery (the way I grew up with them) or they’re undercooked and slimy (gross).

The other day I was hungry and eggs were about the only thing left in the house since we’re technically on a juice fast. I have discovered though that I need more protein so I’m usually eating at least one heavy protein meal a day. Anyway, I digress, back to why I made something I hate.

I was thinking that if I made a couple of changes to the standard “dump the eggs in a hot skillet and stir” method, I might get something more edible. (Sorry, Mom, I just don’t like the way you cook scrambled eggs)

Now, one way to avoid dryness is to add a little bit of liquid. Heavy cream is PERFECT for this because it adds a bit liquid without overpowering the eggs, is very thick and rich with fat so increases the softness of the finished product.

Next, I wanted a bit moreย  flavor. I decided dill and shallots would give me an herby, oniony flavor without being too strong.

Finally, a little more protein, bacon and feta cheese.

Recipe

3 large eggs

1 TB heavy cream

1-2 tsp chopped fresh dill (use 1/3 this amount if using dried dill)

1 tsp freeze dried shallots (use a bit more if using fresh and saute them in the pan to tenderize them before adding the egg mixture)

1/4 cup bacon bits

ground black pepper to taste

1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese

Grease a small skillet and preheat over medium heat.

In a bowl, mix together everything except the feta cheese. (If using fresh shallots, saute them in the skillet you’re making the eggs in until translucent. You can dump the rest of the egg mix right on top.)

Pour this mixture into the hot skillet. I like to use a silicone spatula for this part because the eggs don’t stick to it but use what ever stirring implement you have on hand. Gently scrape around the edge of the skillet and then underneath the egg mixture to bring up the cooked bits and let the raw mix get down to the bottom. Basically, this is your standard scrambling technique. You want the eggs to be cooked so that they’re not slimy but still have just a touch of sheen to them.

Dump them into a bowl and top with the Feta cheese. I think it took me less than ten minutes to make.

kickedupscrambled eggs

A note about my ingredients: I used the pre-cooked bacon pieces you can buy at the store. I know that I try to stay away from processed and preservative laden foods but I’m lazy and yes, I use pre-cooked bacon pieces. Freeze dried shallots are the bomb and I really prefer the freeze dried shallots over fresh because the flavor is a bit milder.

 

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Caprese Salad

Caprese Salad is almost the most basic thing you can make. It has a whopping five ingredients (seven if count salt and pepper). What makes MY caprese salad amazing is that I’m using mozzarella that I made myself and basil that I grew myself. Later this summer, I’ll even be able to use my home grown tomatoes. How’s that for home made! lol

So the recipe is really simple. Slices of mozzarella cheese layered with a basil leaf and a slice of tomato, topped off with either olive oil or a balsamic vinegar reduction (or just the vinegar out of the bottle if you’re lazy like me).ย  Sprinkle with a bit of salt and pepper if you choose. I don’t but Jene loves lots of black pepper on his. ๐Ÿ™‚

To me, this recipe is the epitome of summer decadence. If you’re lucky, you can eat it with tomatoes that are so fresh from the vine that they’re still warm from the kiss of the sun.

A note about the balsamic vinegar reduction. Reducing the vinegar will give you a thick, syrupy sauce to make graceful and elegant zig zag lines across your salad. It also refines and concentrates the flavor. If I were serving this for a party, I would make the reduction. When it’s just Jene and I and just a couple of bites worth, I don’t bother. ๐Ÿ™‚

And here’s a lovely picture of my salad that I’m about to eat!capresesalad

You can see a tiny little corner of basil leaf sticking out from the top right bit. It’s lovely to be able to wander out onto the desk and pick a couple of basil leaves for this. I’m growing Genovese Basil and African Blue Basil. This particular one is the African. It’s milder than the Genovese which makes it rather nice for this dish. The basil flavor isn’t quite so over whelming. Enjoy!

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Oven Baked Pot Roast

Jene and have I have been eating a lot of chicken and pork lately. I had a craving for some beef. So in addition to the 5 lbs of hamburger, I also got a couple of nice London Broil steaks. I got a rough idea from another source but then turned it into something completely different. Now, you’ll notice that the title of the post says “pot roast.” That’s because we decided that london broil is really much too lean for this sort of long cooking period. The flavor was there but the meat was really dry. So this would be perfect with a tough fatty cut like chuck roast.

Recipe

3-4 lbs of Chuck Roast

1 28oz can of San Marzano (or stewed) tomatoes – I used San Marzano because I could

6 cloves garlic minced

1 large onion chopped

several fresh sprigs lemon thyme (you can use normal thyme)

4-5 large fresh basil leaves torn into pieces

4 large celery stalks chopped

4 large carrots chopped

1 – 1.5 lbs crimini mushrooms quartered

Preheat the oven to 350F. Place the london broil in the bottom of the pan, season with a bit of salt and pepper. I laid the springs of thyme directly on the meat. Pour the tomatoes over the steak. The San Marzano tomatoes were whole in the can so I broke them up with my hands a bit. I sprinkled in the torn basil, minced garlic, chopped onion, celery, carrots and mushrooms. Total cooking time is about 2.5-3ย  hours (possibly longer, you want the meat fork tender).

Post eating note: Don’t bother with the basil until the very end. The flavor is too delicate for this long of a bake. Sprinkle it over the dish about 15 minutes before you pull it out of the oven.

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Chicken Stock

Now I already mentioned making my chicken stock in a post about canning. I mentioned the things I tossed in the pot but didn’t really give much of a recipe. This time I thought I’d give something resembling a recipe. Now, this is a really big recipe, I used a 20 quart pot, but you can scale it down very easily. ๐Ÿ™‚

Recipe

Chicken bones from a rotisserie chicken (I used six carcasses)

3 large carrots

4 ribs of celery

3 large chard leaves

8 mushrooms

1 head of garlic, skin left on, cut in half horizontally

2 onions, skin left on, cut in half horizontally

3 large bay leaves

salt and pepper to taste

When I peel a chicken, I like to save all the bones. I was as Costco last week and got six rotisserie chickens. I like them because they’ve already been roasted, they’re cheaper than buying a whole, fresh, uncooked chicken and they taste good. Making stock is a good way to cook out the last of the yumminess from the bones and save money buying stock at the store.

Take a pot (in this case, a 20 qt pot) toss in the bones. After that you can pretty much put in what you want. In this case I didn’t use potatoes because I didn’t have any but you can do so. You can buy in anything you want to flavor the stock with. Unlike broth, stock should have a nice, rich flavor that is more than just chicken.

Don’t worry about peeling the veggies. Just wash the dirt off and cut them small enough to go in the pan. Don’t take the skin off the garlic or onions, it gives extra flavor.

For seasoning, I keep it simple with just bay leaves, salt, and pepper but again, you can add other stuff if you want. Fresh herbs such as thyme, rosemary, and sage are all good too. You want to use just enough to accent the flavor of the chicken without overwhelming it.

Once you have everything in the pot, fill the pot with water and put it on the stove over medium low heat. Bring it to a boil and then reduce the temperature to very low. Cover it and let is simmer for a day or two. Yes, I did say a day or two. This batch simmered for two days before I shut it off. There are a couple of reasons for this. One is that you make sure you’ve gotten every tiny bit of goodness out of the chicken bones. The other is that I usually don’t have room in the fridge for this big of a pot and it lets me avoid trying to put it away to cool.

So once it’s done, strain the stock. I use a big wire mesh strainer and a piece of cheese cloth. I put the strainer over another large pot (16 qts I think), doubled the cheese cloth and lined the strainer. Then, I put my big burly man to work. A pot this big is HEAVY! So he was kind enough to slowly pour the contents of the pot into the strainer. Once I had all the chunky bits in the strainer, I gave them a squeeze to get the last bit of goodness out and then threw them away.

First off, let the stock cool before you do this part. Nothing sucks so much as having hot stock splash all over you.

Some people (like my mom) think you should be able to save the solids and use them for something else. You shouldn’t. ALL the goodness is now in the stock. The chicken bones have had all the collagen cooked out and will now crumble in your hands. The tiny bits of meat and the veggies are nothing but mush with very little flavor and a rather icky texture. Throw this stuff out or toss it on the compost pile.

Finally, it’s time to chill the stock. Make sure it’s cool enough to put in the fridge. I actually had to leave my pot sitting on the stove for several hours before I could do this. Then I had to put a whole bunch of veggies in a cooler so I had room in the fridge lol. Once the stock is cold, skim off the fat solids that are on top.

Once that’s done, you’ve got a beautiful pot of chicken stock. In my case, since I made so much of it, I’ll be spending the day canning it in quart jars. If you make a smaller batch, it’s now ready to use to make soup, gravy, and anything else you come up with. ๐Ÿ˜€

Just a quick note to say that I got 12 quarts of stock out of this. And I’m happy to report that every jar sealed ๐Ÿ˜€

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Pork Chili

It’s cold. Some parts of the country actually have snow this time of year (poor buggers). Here in the Bay area it’s mostly just kind of chilly. It’s still good weather for making a nice thick hearty chili.

Recipe

This makes about 6 quarts so use a big enough pot.

5-6 lbs boneless pork butt/shoulder cubed into 2″ pieces

1 head celery, chopped (yes, it’s a lot)

3 cans diced tomatoes

2 onions chopped

chili seasoning of choice

salt

I like to use my crock pot for this. I’ve got a nice big one, about 6 quarts I think. I spray the inside with non-stick cooking spray and just toss everything in. For the BEST flavor, brown the cubes of pork over medium high heat in a skillet on a the stove before putting them in the crock pot. I didn’t do that today because I wasn’t feeling good. Thus the chili was a little bland. Once you have all the pork in the crock pot (browned or not) add the canned tomatoes, salt and chili seasoning. I used about 4 TB of Penzeys Chili 9000 which is probably my favorite. I also kicked it up with a bit of extra cumin. I let the pork, tomatoes and seasoning cook on high for about three hours and then added the celery and onions. It cooked in the crock pot for another hour until we had to leave for the party. My crock pot was too full so I moved everything to a large stock pot. Then it simmered on the stove at Darren’s house for another hour or two. So probably, a cooking time of about six hours. I could have started it last night and kept it on low.

Garnish with sour cream, green onions and shredded cheese. Pretty tasty. ๐Ÿ™‚

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What does it mean to eat low carb?

I took BART into the city today and got to talking to a few people on the train about weight loss and eating low carb.ย  I thought it might be a good idea to write up a post about it and what it means to Jene and I. Before I get into this, I need to say, these are my own personal beliefs and thoughts after doing a lot of reading on the internet and having some personal experiences. I don’t have any sources to cite because I’m too lazy to go back and dig it all up. Any one of the Atkins Diet books can explain the science behind why carbs store as fat and protein doesn’t. Google what I think and you’ll find plenty of sites, on both sides of the issues lol.

There are several approaches to eating a low carb diet, Atkins, South Beach and the Paleo diet are a few. The idea behind it is that our bodies, through evolution, are not designed to eat the sheer quantities of grains and sugars found in the modern world. Our ancestors grew up eating primarily meat and the seasonal vegetables that could be gathered. Once agriculture started in the Fertile Cresent of Mesopotamia, grain became a larger part of the diet but still not the staple that it is today. Even 100 years ago, people did not consumer the vast quantities of processed carbohydrates that we eat today. It basically started with the huge growth of agriculture in the central U.S. Wheat became cheap and easy to grow, store and transport. Over time it was altered so that it would produce higher yields and be more disease and pest resistant. The farmers from 150 years ago probably wouldn’t recognize the wheat that’s grown today. The incidence of gluten intolerance in humans has gone through the roof in the last couple of decades. My personal belief is that the wheat grown today has even more less digestible gluten than the ancient grain grown by our ancestors. It irritates the lining of the intestines and creates all sorts of nasty problems.

Now, here’s what else carbohydrates do and why they help make people fat. It has to do with the way the body burns the carbs. When too many carbs are eaten you get a quick burst of energy as your body burns some of the carbohydrates but then the rest of the sugars in the carbs get stored as fat because your body can’t use them right away. If you think about the seasonal cycle, carbohydrate loaded foods were usually only available in the fall when wild grains ripened. Humans were just like animals in that they built up a store of fat to see them through the lean winter months. Protein from meat was the primary source of energy for daily life. It was available year round and could be easily preserved through smoking and/or salting. Protein burns much more cleanly in our systems. It doesn’t get stored as fat because our bodies use it up much more efficiently. If we only ate carbs a couple of times a year, we would be fine. But we live in a world where carbs are eaten at every meal and sometimes from multiple sources at the same meal.

By removing the high levels of carbs from our lives we eat more protein. This helps us feel full longer, we feel energized longer and, after awhile, actually eat less because our bodies are actually using what we eat more effectively.

When Jene and I started the low carb thing a couple of years ago, we got one of Dr. Atkin’s books and read through it. His philosophy is that you should go through an “induction” stage were you eat 20 grams or less of carbs a day. That is VERY low carb but it works. The carbs you do eat come from green vegetables such as leafy greens, broccoli, asparagus, cucumbers, bell peppers, mustard greens, kale, etc. You do NOT eat foods with a high level of natural sugar such as corn, carrots, potatoes, any grains, any fruits, no fruit juice, no alcohol…. you get the idea. After a few weeks of this you can start to add back in some things such as berries, the occasional carrots, some nuts…. The point is to get your body burning the stored fat and then running off the protein you eat while you slow add some carbohydrates back into your diet.ย  Jene lost 60 lbs and I lost 40 lbs. I’ve put a few lbs back on but not much and I don’t gain weight like I used to even though I’ve been eating lots (LOTS) of carbs in the last few months. (I tend to eat sweets when I hurt a lot.)

So what do we eat? Steak! Chicken! Pork! Fish! Eggs! Lots of salad greens made with field greens. Lots of kale and cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus. Many of my recipes on this blog are fairly low carb. Not all of them because I do love to bake lol. As we move further into the year I’ll be posting more low carb recipes as well as discussing my cheese making adventures. ๐Ÿ™‚

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Sausage and Sauerkraut

I occasionally get really random food cravings. Yesterday I decided I wanted some polish sausage and sauerkraut. With that in mind, I got the ingredients and cooked it up tonight. It’s a pretty easy dish to put together but very tasty.

Recipe

2 packages kielabasa or polish sausage (13 oz each), sliced

1 32oz jar sauerkraut (I used Claussen brand)

1/4 large onion, finely chopped

1 red bell pepper, sliced into strips

Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the sausage and cook, stirring frequently until browned. Reduce heat to medium and add the onion, bell pepper and sauerkraut. Cook, stirring frequently until the onions and peppers are tender.

That’s it lol.

sausageandkraut

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Braised Turkey

I made this at Thanksgiving and didn’t post the recipe! *GASP* Fortunately I had some thighs and legs in the freezer so I decided to make this today. The ingredient list looks a little intimidating but it’s actually really easy to make. This recipe comes from the 2011 Thanksgiving issue of Cooks Illustrated. It is one of my favorite ways to make turkey (besides smoking) and the braising liquid makes fabulous gravy.

Recipe

Published November 1, 2011. From Cook’s Illustrated.

Serves 10 to 12

Instead of drumsticks and thighs, you may use 2 whole leg quarters, 1ยฝ to 2 pounds each. The recipe will also work with turkey breast alone; in step 1, reduce the salt and sugar to ยฝ cup each and the water to 4 quarts. If you are braising kosher or self-basting turkey parts, skip the brining step and instead season the turkey parts with 1ยฝ teaspoons of salt.

Ingredients

  • Turkey
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup salt
  • 1 (5- to 7-pound) whole bone-in turkey breast, trimmed
  • 4 pounds turkey drumsticks and thighs, trimmed
  • 3 onions, chopped
  • 3 celery ribs, chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 6 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 6 sprigs fresh parsley
  • 1/2 ounce dried porcini mushrooms, rinsed
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup dry white wine

Gravy

1. FOR THE TURKEY: Dissolve 1 cup salt and sugar in 2 gallons cold water in large container. Submerge turkey pieces in brine, cover, and refrigerate for 3 to 6 hours.
2. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 500 degrees. Remove turkey from brine and pat dry with paper towels. Toss onions, celery, carrots, garlic, bay leaves, thyme, parsley, porcini, and 2 tablespoons butter in large roasting pan; arrange in even layer. Brush turkey pieces with remaining 2 tablespoons butter and season with pepper. Place turkey pieces, skin side up, over vegetables, leaving at least ยผ inch between pieces. Roast until skin is lightly browned, about 20 minutes.
3. Remove pan from oven and reduce temperature to 325 degrees. Pour broth and wine around turkey pieces (it should come about three-quarters of way up legs and thighs). Place 12 by 16-inch piece of parchment paper over turkey pieces. Cover roasting pan tightly with aluminum foil. Return covered roasting pan to oven and cook until breasts register 160 degrees and thighs register 175 degrees, 1ยพ to 2ยผ hours. Transfer turkey to carving board, tent loosely with foil, and let rest for 20 minutes.
4. FOR THE GRAVY: Strain vegetables and liquid from roasting pan through fine-mesh strainer set in large bowl. Press solids with back of spatula to extract as much liquid as possible. Discard vegetables. Transfer liquid to fat separator; allow to settle, 5 minutes. Reserve 3 tablespoons fat and measure out 3 cups braising liquid (reserve any remaining broth for another use).
5. Heat reserved fat in medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add flour and cook, stirring constantly, until flour is dark golden brown and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Whisk in 3 cups braising liquid and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until gravy is thick and reduced to 2 cups, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove gravy from heat and season with salt and pepper to taste.
6. Carve turkey and serve, passing gravy separately.

Now, before you worry about how huge the ingredient list is, most of them are ingredients most people already have in the kitchen. The dried porcini mushrooms are something I consider to be optional. They lend a tremendous amount of flavor but if you don’t have them or can’t find them at your store, don’t worry about it. As far as the fresh herbs are concerned, the thyme really is necessary. Fortunately, it’s easy to find at the store. If you don’t want to use wine, just use extra chicken stock or water. So that’s it, follow the recipe and enjoy! ๐Ÿ˜€

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Steaks with Sauteed Mushrooms

There is nothing better than a good sale on ribeye steaks. Safeway had ribeyes for $5.99/lb when I went to the store tonight. I only got four steaks though because I had other stuff to get and a tight budget. (I used a chunk of grocery money paying off my car lol.) Since I am low on energy tonight I decided to cook something really simple and basic. For the steaks I heated my griddle over medium heat. While it was heating I seasoned the steaks with Penzeys Mitchell Street Steak Rub and started the mushrooms.

Sauteed Mushrooms with Shallots and White Wine

sliced mushrooms (however much filled my 10 inch saute pan lol)

1 TB butter

2 ounces white wine

2 TB dried shallots

Melt the butter in a saute pan. Add the shallots, white wine and mushrooms. Cook over medium heat until the moisture cooks out and the mushrooms start to brown.

As far as the steak goes, I cooked it for about 5-6 minutes a side for medium rare. Finally I steamed up some broccoli as a side dish.steaknmushrooms

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