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Stuffed Chicken Breasts with Spinach, Mushrooms and Goat Cheese, Wrapped in Bacon {Gluten-free, Low-carb}

Stuffed Chicken Breasts with Spinach, Mushrooms and Goat Cheese, Wrapped in Bacon {Gluten-free, Low-carb}
Bacon-wrapped stuffed chicken

Bacon-wrapped stuffed chicken

I don’t know if low-carb, grain-free eating gets much better than this! Beautiful skinless, boneless chicken breasts stuffed with soft chevrie goat cheese, spinach, mushrooms, walnuts and wrapped in bacon… ohmygosh! And to top it off, it’s easy-peasy 🙂 I enjoy recipes that use ingredients that I typically have on hand, or that can be modified easily.

This was a meal that I shared just with my husband on a weekend night at home while our son was spending time with friends, so we used ingredients we really enjoy like mushroom and spinach. (Yay, kitchen time together!)…I think next time I make this for all of us, I will let my son decide what to put inside his, so that he can enjoy as well. Why does pepperoni, tomato, basil and mozzarella come to mind?! 😉   Good for 2 of us, I also think that it would be great for a primal-ish dinner party, or even cut up in sections as an appetizer.

Normally, I do keep the skin *on* my chicken as a source of healthy fats, but in this case, I was happy to go without in exchange for some bacon-y goodness!! The filling was easy and could be tweaked in many ways to your own personal tastes (and pantry). I took several pictures along the way to show the process, but to be honest, the recipe amounts will just be a guess, as I made it up as I went along (as usual.) In other words, stuff it with whatever you want! The amount of stuffing you need will vary by the size of the chicken breast, so keep that in mind if you need to add a little more. The minced pork rinds are a great substitute for bread crumbs as a binder in stuffing recipes.

 

Spinach and Mushroom Stuffed Chicken Breasts
Wrapped in Bacon (serves 2-4)

Spinach Filling

Spinach, garlic, mushrooms, onion, and walnuts for the filling

  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (butterflied open)
  • coconut oil or butter
  • 1/2 C frozen chopped spinach
  • 1/2 small onion, diced (1/4C or so)
  • 3 mushrooms, sliced thinly (used crimini, baby bellas)
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/4C pork rinds, finely chopped
  • 1/4C chopped walnuts
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 3oz soft goat cheese such as chevrie
  • 6-8 slices raw bacon
Spinach Filling

Chicken breasts: butterflied and filled.

Directions: Preheat oven to 400. Prepare filling ingredients: I put the frozen spinach and chopped onion in a microwave-safe bowl, salt lightly, cover with wrap and microwave on high for about 5 minutes and then drain, but you can saute if you choose not to use a microwave (I just like the gentle sweetness of the onions steamed this way, and I can multi-task.) Meanwhile, saute the mushrooms and garlic in butter or coconut oil until done. Add the cooked spinach and onion, heat through, add the walnuts and pork rinds to complete the stuffing.

Wrapping in bacon

Wrapping in bacon

Lay out each butterflied chicken breast, salt and pepper to taste. Use 1/4 of the cheese on each breast, placing it near the center. Top each with 1/2 the stuffing mixture and the remaining cheese (if you have too much stuffing, don’t use it all.). Carefully fold each breast in half, keeping the stuffing in place with your fingers. Carefully wrap each breast in bacon strips, one at a time, spiraling around, making sure to cover all the stuffing. Bake on a cookie sheet (I used a silicone mat on mine) for about 20-25 minutes, (flipped chicken halfway through bake time.) I then broiled the tops for about 3 minutes per side to ensure bacon was cooked completely, but you may find that baking alone is fine.

 

In the pictures shown, I have a side salad of fresh spinach, tomatoes, swiss cheese topped with a simple vinaigrette of 2Tb warm bacon fat, 2Tb balsamic vinegar and 1Tb orange juice with a touch of tarragon, salt and pepper.

Stuffed chicken wrapped in bacon, and simple spinach salad.

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Warm Veggie Salad with Grilled Chicken

If you are like me, you eat plenty of salads, right? I know we love our greens and the health benefits that come with them, but I also get in salad “ruts” sometimes where I know I should eat them, but I also know just how they will taste, and get a little bored with the concept.

This morning I didn’t feel like eggs or a smoothie for breakfast, and decided to have a salad instead, so I started looking through the fridge to see what I had on hand. I knew there was leftover orange ginger grilled chicken breast that I wanted to use, and of course greens. I also had fresh crimini mushrooms, which i love, but the problem is that I only like cooked mushrooms, not raw ones. Cooking the mushrooms led to this delicious and light warm salad… for a vegetarian version, simply omit the chicken and cheese and use coconut oil to saute veggies. Having a late breakfast in the backyard listening to the birds singing up a storm was a refreshing start to my day, but I don’t think I will be hungry at lunch time!

Warm Veggie Salad with Grilled Chicken

  • 1/2 grilled chicken breast, cut up
  • 1 large leaf of napa cabbage
  • handful of fresh spinach leaves
  • 1 carrot, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 stalk celery, thinly sliced
  • handful of crimini musrooms, diced
  • butter or coconut oil to saute veggies
  • sprinkling of shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 lime, juiced

Saute carrot, celery and mushrooms in butter for a few minutes, cooking lightly and maintaining crispness. Add grilled chicken and warm through, remove from heat. Lay the napa down as a base for the salad, either whole for a wrap, or chopped. Add spinach over napa. Top with veggies and then cheese. Squeeze lime over the top and serve immediately.

 

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Gingered Walnut Chicken Salad {Gluten Free}

Ginger Walnut Salad with Strawberry

It’s been a busy day in the kitchen, getting some convenient foods ready for the weekend. We cooked a beautiful farm-raised chicken last night that my husband bought from a friend at work. What a treat to have fresh and unprocessed meat! We roasted it on the rotisserie and ate some of the dark meat for dinner; today I decided to make a chicken salad with the breast meat, and use the carcass, skin and scraps of the chicken to make stock; nothing gets wasted at my house! The stock is simmering on the stove with a little thyme and vidalia onion tossed in, and is reducing nicely.

I’m not quite sure what I will make from the stock, but I am thinking I will refrigerate it and probably come up with some sort of soup on Sunday. Already I took 2 cups out that I used to cook the brown rice that is one of the ingredients in the home made dog food that I am feeding my dog Suzie (golden retriever), nursing her past an illness. She seems to respond very well  to the concoction of ingredients that I put together for her, and I think that wet food, especially with some anti-inflammatory oils and ingredients added, is helpful to keep her hydrated and less itchy.

So back to the chicken salad… I had a lovely bowl of cubed chicken breast, and had to decide what to pair it with. I do enjoy a standard mayo-based chicken salad, but I was wanting something a little different, with a freshness, zing, and full of protein! I bought a nice bag of limes at the market yesterday, which ended up being my jumping off point, and I crafted the rest of the recipe around the lime and chicken. I decided to pair it with some frozen grated ginger, coconut oil, a little honey, thyme from my herb garden and some kefir for the dressing, along with walnuts (toasted with ginger and pepper), coconut flakes and celery. The walnuts add another layer of ginger flavor and spiciness, being toasted with ginger powder and fresh pepper. A little bit tropical, summery and fresh, delicious!

Gingered Walnut Chicken Salad

Fresh Lime, Thyme and Frozen Ginger

Dressing:

  • juice of 2 limes
  • 2Tb coconut oil
  • 2Tb grated ginger
  • 2Tb fresh thyme
  • 1C Kefir (probiotic smoothy similar to yogurt)

Salad:

  • 3 C cut up cooked chicken breast
  • 1 C toasted gingered walnuts (tip to follow)
  • 1/2 C flaked unsweetened coconut
  • 2 ribs celery, split and thinly sliced

Toast walnuts, set aside. Make the dressing: combine the lime juice and coconut oil in a medium bowl, and heat in the microwave for 10 seconds or so, to allow the oil and juice to whisk together easily. Whisk in the honey and thyme. Slowly add the Kefir, a little bit at a time, stirring after each addition. Set aside. Place the cubed chicken in a large bowl, and add walnuts, coconut, and celery, tossing well. Slowly add the dressing to the chicken mixture, stirring well after each addition, with the thought of allowing the chicken to slowly soak up the dressing. Serve over a bed of greens, in a cabbage wrapper, on cheese crackers, or topped with strawberries. Makes about 4 cups.

Tip: To make the walnuts, heat about a tablespoon of coconut oil in a skillet, add the walnuts and gently toast. Mix together 1/2 tsp powdered ginger, 1/4 tsp fresh cracked pepper, a couple pinches of kosher salt, and 1 tsp turbinado sugar, and sprinkle over nuts, allowing them to toast 2 minutes longer, stirring frequently over medium-low heat, so they don’t burn. These are also great to snack on, so make a few more than you need 😉

 

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Crunchy Hot Wings and Blue Cheese

OK, first things first… if you are a chicken purist, and think that parboiling is akin to software pirating, please discontinue reading and forget you were ever here!

On the other hand, if you don’t mind some kitchen short-cuts to yummy, crunchy wings, that aren’t deep fried, you are in luck! This is the wings method I have been using for several years, though I don’t recall quite where the idea came from. I vary the sauce depending on what we are craving, and what’s in the fridge, but this is a pretty basic mild hot-wings style I have going here. It’s reassuring that one of our faves does NOT have to be altered to be gluten-free! I am watching the carbs though, so I stayed away from the sweet sauce this time around.

First, the Blue Cheese Dressing: Again, I admit that I really don’t measure things that I make frequently. To make a small batch of dressing, I would use about 4oz softened cream cheese, 1/4C mayo (regular or light), a few tablespoons of crumbled blue cheese or Gorgonzola, freshly ground black pepper, and maybe a pinch of rice wine vinegar. Combine well, and refrigerate for an hour or so to let the flavors come together. Simple! If it is too thick when you remove it from the fridge, just add a little milk.

To make the Wings: Thaw chicken wing sections (if frozen) and cover with water in a stock pot. Bring to a boil and cook for about 10 minutes. Next, line a cookie sheet with foil to make clean-up easier, and arrange wings. Broil on medium heat for 8-10 minutes, turn over and finish broiling another 8-10 minutes until wings are crispy and cooked through.

Sauce: Meanwhile, whip up a sauce of your choosing to coat the wings. I used about 1/4 cup of Frank’s RedHot sauce, a few tablespoons of butter and a dash of Ken’s Steakhouse Lite Raspberry Vinaigrette dressing, heated in the microwave about 90 seconds, until the butter melts. (I have also used Asian marinades, BBQ sauce, minced garlic, fresh ginger, dried ginger, sesame oil, soy, hot pepper flakes, pretty much anything you enjoy.) Place the wings in a large bowl and pour the sauce over the top; toss to coat.

Kitchen Tip: I usually serve with celery and sometimes carrot sticks. I don’t know if it’s just me, but I get just as excited about celery leaves as I do about the celery stalks! I always save the leaves and dry them so that I can add them to soups. I just put the leaves on a paper plate and rearrange them every so often to help them dry over the course of a couple days. I think I may be one of the only people who choose their celery by how many leaves they have!

 

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Southwest Style Chicken Veggie Soup (GF of course)

So last night for dinner, we grilled a whole chicken with some smoker chunks thrown in, and afterward made a homemade chicken stock (kitchen tip to follow). Tonight I wanted to take advantage of the fresh stock and make some kind of chicken-based soup. I have already admitted that I don’t use recipes to cook most of the time, especially when it comes to food that I am comfortable with, but tonight I did make note of the ingredients that I used (just for you!) This has a nice Southwest flavor without the carbs from tortillas.

GF Southwest Style Chicken Veggie Soup

  • 2-3 TB olive oil
  • 4 leaves napa cabbage, chopped
  • 3 stalks celery, chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 1 medium sweet onion, chopped
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 red sweet pepper, finely diced
  • 3 quarts homemade chicken stock (or GF canned broth, or GF chicken base and water)
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 3 TB chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 tsp arrowroot powder dissolved in a couple TB water (optional for body)
  • 1 C diced cooked chicken breast
  • 1 can cannelini or black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can Rotel tomatoes and peppers
  • Cumin, paprika and oregano to taste
  • Sour cream and fresh cilantro as garnish (optional)

To make the soup: Heat olive oil in stock pot and add next 6 ingredients (fresh veggies). Feel free to add or omit anything that you choose, however if you add a tender vegetable like zucchini, you’ll want to wait until later in the cooking process so that it does not dissolve completely. Cook over medium heat, stirring often, until vegetables are tender. Slowly add chicken stock, followed by lime juice and cilantro, and simmer for 15 minutes or until the vegetables are as tender as you wish them to be. We prefer them a little al dente’, so I use the shorter cooking time. Slowly stir in the arrowroot and water if you choose to use it. Add chicken, beans, Rotel and spices to taste, heat through. Serve as is, or garnish with a dollop of sour cream and cilantro.

I have always had a tendency to favor fresh ingredients and clean flavors, which has translated well to a gluten-free diet so far. If you are vegetarian, simply substitute vegetable broth and skip the chicken. Likewise, if you are avoiding legumes, skip the beans. I feel that every recipe is merely a source of ideas, and encourage everyone to get comfortable with their ingredients and experiment freely.

Homemade Chicken Stock: No need to be intimidated by this task, it is very simple. Also, I tend to be frugal in the kitchen and like to make complete use of every ingredient. I can’t imagine just tossing the chicken carcass into the garbage, when I know how delish real stock is! This works just as well whether you have cooked your own whole chicken (or turkey), or if you have picked up a rotisserie chicken at the market for the sake of convenience.

To make the stock, simply collect all the bones, skin, and waste pieces from the chicken and throw them into a stock pot. Cover with water. Add a couple roughly chopped onions and cloves of garlic if you wish. Bring to a boil and cook at a medium heat (low boil), stirring occasionally, until the liquid is reduced by at least half. I usually add more water at this point and continue cooking to reduce again, to get as much flavor as possible. Place a colander into a large bowl or pot and strain stock. This can be used immediately, or refrigerated or even frozen for later use. If you would like to remove the fat, simply refrigerate until the fat rises and becomes firm, then remove it with a spoon. Homemade stock takes a little time, but the effort is truly minimal, and you will be rewarded with a richness that you can’t get from a can or powder!

 
 

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