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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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Hollandaise Sauce…. Lemony, Buttery, Eggy Low-carb Goodness!

Hollandaise sauce is one of those treats that used to be a guilty indulgence, before embracing a lower-carb lifestyle that includes a healthy amount of fat. NOW however, there’s no reason to be afraid to serve it up to enhance even a weekday meal.

Haven’t had Hollandaise? It’s the sauce traditionally served with Eggs Benedict… you know, the fancy breakfast of an English muffin topped with a poached egg, Canadian bacon and that lovely lemony sauce? (To make it WB compliant, how about Instead of an English muffin, we use an All-in-one Bun?) We also love Hollandaise for dipping steamed artichoke leaves alongside a succulent grilled steak and a bottle of wine. Oh My!!

Parmesan-crusted pork medallions, roasted Brussels sprouts and sauteed mushrooms with a side of homemade Hollandaise sauce.

Parmesan-crusted pork medallions, roasted Brussels sprouts and sauteed mushrooms with a side of homemade Hollandaise sauce (with a few capers thrown in.)

It’s really fabulous with just about any vegetable, and last night it was a complement to roasted Brussels sprouts, Parmesan crusted pork medallions and sauteed mushrooms, MMMM! I wish I was having it again for lunch right NOW! Since the single batch of Hollandaise uses 2 egg yolks, I made use of the whites for dipping the pork medallions before dredging them in a mixture of grated Parmesan cheese (1/2C) plus a couple tablespoons of almond flour and seasonings, before pan frying them in coconut oil. (My son says that this is the perfect way to make pork chops, and that they should all be this way, haha.)

There are only 3 simple ingredients to Hollandaise sauce: egg yolks, fresh lemon juice, and butter! If you want to kick it up a bit you can add a pinch of cayenne pepper or stir in some herbs, but the basic recipe is… well, basic!

And yet many people I know (and BEWARE, MOST restaurants) use the packets you can purchase at the grocery store instead. Why? Well, I’m not sure exactly. I think there is a misconception that it’s a very difficult sauce to make. It does take a little attention, but it’s actually quite easy, even if you’re not a seasoned home chef. Personally, I almost always have these simple ingredients on hand.

So, what are the ingredients in packaged Hollandaise? Let’s see…

hollandaise sauce mix.ashxMcCormick Hollandaise Sauce Mix:

WHEAT STARCH, CORN MALTODEXTRIN, WHOLE EGG SOLIDS, EGG YOLK SOLIDS, YEAST EXTRACT, SALT, ONION, SPICES (INCLUDING MUSTARD, PAPRIKA, TURMERIC), SOY LECITHIN, CITRIC ACID, AND NATURAL FLAVOR (INCLUDING LEMON EXTRACT).

Hmmmm…. looks like toxic sludge for those of us who are avoiding grains!

Here is the simple recipe that I always use for Hollandaise from Betty Crocker (I have added a few small edits in italics.), though there are many variations of the recipe, using different ratios of egg, lemon juice and butter, as well as some that first clarify the butter. This recipe is heavier on the lemon than many others, which is how we prefer it. I’ve made this many, many times and it’s always turned out perfectly and gets devoured 😉

Classic Hollandaise Sauce

  • 2 egg yolks
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup firm butter (cut into small chunks)

In small saucepan, stir egg yolks and lemon juice briskly with wooden spoon (I use a whisk.) Add half the butter; stir over very low heat until butter is melted.
Add remaining butter, stirring briskly until butter is melted and sauce thickens. (Be sure butter melts slowly as this gives eggs time to cook and thicken the sauce without curdling.) Serve hot or at room temperature.

 

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Pizza: Cheese-Crusted, Gluten-free, Grain-free!

Now, if you are not a low-carber, you may want to avert your eyes…

No really, do it now. I’ll wait.

If you are still reading, I am going to assume that a pizza crust made with 3 kinds of cheese, eggs, and no flour is RIGHT up your alley! I will admit that while I am 99% grain free (other than an occasional delectable sushi roll, oops) even I was feeling a little guilty with this cheesy indulgence, but it sure was good!

Many of you have either found me through my posts on the Wheat Belly blog or Facebook page, and even if you found me through the wonderful world of food and health blogging, you likely know how enthusiastic I am about the wheat free lifestyle! One of the cool things about being part of a thriving Wheat Belly (WB) community online is that everyone is more than happy to share their experiences, advice and recipe tips! In a recent post, after I suggested the Socca Pizza crust with Garbanzo flour, a fellow WB’er shared her favorite gluten-free pizza crust recipe (which is veryyyy low carb), and I gave it a whirl… YUMMO!

So, since one good turn deserves another, I am sharing the link to the original page HERE, at Gluten Free Easily, with pictures of a very classic-looking pepperoni pizza. I will definitely have to make this version when I have pepperoni on hand, but since I didn’t, I improvised with what I did have.

Here you see the crust ingredients spread into a parchment-lined pan.

Cooked up and ready to be decked out!

Sauteed crimini mushrooms

Wilted spinach and garlic.

Our Pizza toppings included: spinach sauteed with minced garlic, sauteed crimini mushrooms, left-over pork chop, thinly diced and crisped in a pan, and some crumbled feta cheese, along with the Organicville spaghetti sauce and some shredded mozzarella cheese mixed with chopped fresh basil.

Our first cheese crust pizza! Mushrooms on one half only 😉

 

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Italian Stuffed Mushrooms {Grain free, Gluten free, Low Carb}

Pizza Stuffed Mushrooms

An appetizer that we enjoy making at home in a wide variety of flavors, is stuffed mushrooms. Traditional recipes usually call for bread crumbs or some sort, and being gluten free, we no longer use the crumbs, but have no problem finding delicious fillings. This variety was intended to be sort of a pizza-inspired treat. You can use any mixture of ingredients that sounds good to you including cheeses, meats, seafood, veggies, seasonings. This is just one option out of endless possibilities! I honestly did not measure any of the ingredients, just threw them together., so just use your own judgment for amounts, and of course, feel free to change anything that suits you!

*** Another variation would be to use shrimp and seafood as a stuffing with celery, onion, garlic, and make an easy cheese cream sauce instead of using a tomato-based sauce. To think outside the box, consider a cheeseburger filling, a Mexican inspired filling or certainly vegetarian would be great too!

Stuffed MushroomsPizza Stuffed Mushrooms:

  • 10-12 large mushrooms, cleaned and stems removed
    (keep stems for another use or dice some for stuffing)
  • Healthy oil
  • diced celery
  • chopped garlic
  • diced ham
  • chopped greens (such as spinach or mustard greens)
  • chopped walnuts
  • fresh chopped basil
  • Italian cheese blend
  • low carb spaghetti sauce (I used Organicville)
  • salt, pepper and seasonings to taste
  1. Heat oven to 400. Clean large button-style mushrooms and remove the stems. Save the stems for another use, or finely dice and include in the stuffing (which I did.)
  2. Place mushrooms rounded side up in a lightly oiled baking sheet and bake for 10-15 minutes just to get a jump on the cooking process.
  3. While caps are cooking, saute filling ingredients except cheese and sauce, and cook to desired done-ness.
  4. Mix filling with enough sauce to coat well, but not runny, mix in chopped basil (or any other herbs and spices as well.)
  5. Remove mushroom caps from oven and turn over (drain mushroom liquid from the pan if needed.) Place a tsp or so of cheese in each cap, then top with about 1Tb of filling and a little more cheese.
  6. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until cheese is melted and mushrooms are cooked through.
 

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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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Seared Sea Scallops with Sauteed Greens and Mushrooms

Seared Sea Scallops with Sauteed Greens and Mushrooms

I usually determine what we’ll eat by what I find on sale or fresh at the market. I rarely go out looking for specific ingredients unless I am preparing food for guests, or because one of us has a serious craving. The seafood sale at VG’s on jumbo sea scallops is what landed them in my freezer, and pulling them out for Mother’s Day dinner seemed like a brilliant idea! (Except to my son, who won’t eat anything that swims… for him it was crisped ham.) These were particularly large and beautiful, and the 6 scallops weighed just over a pound.

While the weather was stunning on Sunday and I considered grilling, scallops are so delicate (and I only had a few), that I wanted to have more control over the cooking process so that they didn’t end up overcooked. That is one of my biggest pet peeves in the food world, going to a restaurant, ordering something that should be succulent, and ending up with an expensive platter of rubbery food. Not that it doesn’t happen to the best of us at times, but ruined seafood makes me want to cry!

I had fresh spinach and turnip greens in the fridge, along with crimini mushrooms, and decided that they would make an awesome accompaniment to the seared scallops, along with a caprese salad of tomato, fresh mozzarella and herbs. It turned out to be an incredible dinner!

Seared Sea Scallops with Sauteed Greens and Mushrooms

To make the scallops:

  • 1lb sea scallops, fresh or thawed and dried of excess moisture
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • coconut oil

Heat a heavy pan over high heat for several minutes. Add several tablespoons of coconut oil, allowing it to melt and then become hot. Carefully add the scallops one at a time, searing on one side for about 3 minutes, or until they start to brown. (If using smaller scallops, adjust the time accordingly so that they are not overcooked.) Gently turn scallops, carefully loosening from the pan with a sharp spatula if needed; cook another 3 minutes and remove from pan and set aside. Reserve oil and juices in pan and cook mushrooms as below.

To make the mushrooms:

  • 1/2 lb crimini mushrooms, sliced
  • remaining oil and juice, plus more coconut oil if needed
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/4C-1/2C white wine to deglaze pan

Keeping the pan hot from searing the scallops, add the mushrooms, salt and pepper to taste, and cook for 5 minutes or so, until they reach the desired doneness. You may need to add a little oil because ‘shrooms can act like little sponges and soak it up. In my case, I hadn’t planned on using the wine, but there was a little stickage at the bottom of the pan (as you can see in the pic) after cooking the scallops, so when the mushrooms were almost done, I just poured in the wine (honey mead actually), and deglazed, working all the stuck bits into a delicious flavoring for the mushrooms. When done, remove mushrooms from pan and set aside. Keeping the pan hot, reserving any remaining juices and oil, and continue to cook the greens as below.

To make the greens:

  • 1lb of fresh, cleaned, greens (I used about half spinach and half turnip greens)
  • coconut oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4C pinenuts to garnish

Still using the same pan, melt a little more oil if needed and start adding the greens to the pan. Greens cook down a LOT, so you will want to add them in stages, because they will be overflowing if you dump all of them in at once. When the greens are wilted, add salt and pepper to taste, and cook to your desired doneness.

To assemble the plate: Arrange greens on the plate, top with scallops, surrounded by mushrooms. I added a few pinenuts to add another flavor and texture. This is a very easy and elegant dinner, which cooks up rather quickly, using the same pan for each stage of the cooking process, while keeping the ingredients separate and distinct until they are plated.

 

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Quick Eggy Breakfast

Broccoli Mushroom Scramble

Yesterday was a tough day… NO energy, extreme fatigue, ugh! It made me wonder whether I had accidentally ingested some gluten because “brain fog” is an understatement to how I was feeling! Without body aches and pains though, I had to think it was something else. One thing about going off gluten and eating low carb, is that my appetite isn’t what it once was, and I sometimes forget to eat… so last night my hubby busted me for not having breakfast and snacks during the day. It’s harder to eat when you’re not hungry!

Today I decided to make sure I had a nice dose of protein to start my day, along with a few mineral-rich veggies tossed in to round things out. I can’t say yet whether it will get my energy back on track, but I am hoping so!

What do you do differently when you notice that you are fatigued?
Does it help you to address it with diet?
Do you have any tips or tricks to share? I would love to hear them!!!

Broccoli Mushroom Scramble

  • 1 Tb olive oil or butter
  • 3 small stalks baby broccoli
  • 1/4 C sliced crimini mushrooms
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 Tb cream
  • 2 Tb sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 roma tomato, sliced

Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat, and saute broccoli, mushrooms and garlic gently for a couple minutes, until broccoli is tender. Beat eggs with cream and add to pan, scrambling just like normal scrambled eggs. When the eggs are almost done, add the cheese and transfer to a plate along with the sliced tomatoes.

 

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Morels with Creamy Mushroom Leek Soup

One of the great pleasures of food, for me, is having the opportunity to use ingredients fresh from the earth. Spring is the beginning of the season where Mother Nature’s bounty becomes accessible to us once again, and for many people, seasonal spring foods are a bit of a celebration.

This weekend, we spent some time in the woods, searching for our favorite spring treat, Morel mushrooms! Because of the weather, we’ve had a very early season for them, and the gray morel variety is already out. Morchella Esculenta is a very distinctive fungus, as are the earlier, darker, Morchella Elata. The morel mushroom is one of the most easily recognizable varieties that people hunt, but care still needs to be taken to have a full understanding of all look-alikes before foraging in the woods, and it’s a very good idea to accompany a seasoned mushroom hunter if possible.  (Please see Northern Country Morels website for more information.) Also remember that while the morels are edible and choice for most people, it is always possible that someone could have intolerance to a new food, so only eat a small amount to begin with, until you know that they are safe for you.  There’s a saying … “You can eat ANY mushroom, once.” We definitely want to live to taste another day! Personally, I have been hunting morels since I was a child, going on many trips into the woods with my parents to hunt for the elusive fungus of my dreams! Now I go out with my husband, and we very much enjoy the time walking the woods, even when we come up empty-handed. And when I say fungus of my dreams, I mean it literally… every spring I have dreams of finding groves of lush morels growing, just waiting for me to find them… unfortunately, that doesn’t translate to reality very well most of the time 😉

The good news is that even if you aren’t planning to hunt your own mushrooms, you can purchase dried morel mushrooms at many larger grocery stores, as well as order them online. We are lucky, even though our weekend hunting didn’t result in a basket full of ‘shrooms, we have a friend who shares with us the morels he finds when mowing his yard! What a guy, huh?! Since he is so generous with one of our favorite treats, I return the favor when we make fresh sushi rolls at home, and send a few in his direction.

So now that I have a gorgeous bowl of fresh morels, I have to decide what I want to do with them. I usually sauté them in butter and often make them part of a cream sauce, because I like to keep the contrast mild, to preserve the unique morel flavor and texture as much as possible. I started to look around to see what else I had on hand that would go well with them…  a package of crimini mushrooms that need to be eaten soon (thinking I can stretch the flavor a bit by using the oil left from sautéing the morels for the criminis)… remembering I have some nice sized leeks in the garden that wintered over (when cooked, leeks are so mild and sweet, perfect complement to the mushrooms), still have some of my parmo wheel, heavy cream of course because of the low-carb diet… wishing I had beef filet, but I do have some very fresh ground chuck and thick cut bacon from the meat market…

Morels and Creamy Mushroom Leek Soup

Simmering cream with the criminis and leeks.

Morels with Creamy Mushroom Leek Soup

  • ½ lb thick cut bacon, ½” dice
  • ½ to1 lb morel mushrooms, soaked, rinsed, dried off, and otherwise free of dirt
  • Butter as needed for sautéing
  • 1 lb sliced crimini mushrooms
  • 2 medium leeks, thoroughly cleaned and sliced
  • ½-1C heavy cream
  • ¼ C finely shaved Parmesan Cheese
  • kosher salt and pepper to taste

I prefer to work with either an enameled cast iron skillet for this, or Caphalon because they are nice and heavy, but use whatever is comfortable for you. Cook the diced bacon down slowly until it begins to crisp, and the fat is rendered.  Remove the bacon to a plate using a slotted spoon and set aside, reserving the bacon fat in the skillet for sautéing the morels.

With the fat heated over medium, carefully add the cleaned morels, minding them closely and turning as needed until they brown up a little and seem done, about 10 minutes. Remove morels and set aside.

If there is enough fat remaining in the pan, add the sliced crimini mushrooms, or add a Tb or so of butter first. (If you are wondering why I didn’t cook both mushroom varieties together, it’s because I don’t want the morels cooking down into the soup, I would rather layer them on at the end, as the spotlight of the dish.) Cook the crimini mushrooms for 5-10 minutes, until they begin to look done.

Leeks are notorious for being very dirty, so be sure to split them lengthwise and rinse all sections in water before using.

Add a little more butter if needed and add the sliced leeks, cooking for an additional 5 minutes or so, until they begin to soften. Slowly add the cream to the pan, not quite covering the mushrooms and leeks, and simmer over low heat for another 5 minutes, stirring frequently with a heat-proof spatula or wooden spoon. Add the shaved Parmesan to the pan, stirring to allow it to melt. Add salt and fresh pepper as desired. Dish into bowls, top with morels and bacon, or serve over a small tender burger, as we have done.  Makes 2-3 servings.

As always, this recipe is free from gluten, free from wheat, and low-carb, though it is quite high in fats. While I do use fats in my gluten-free lifestyle, this is not the kind of rich meal we would eat every day, but what a treat it is for a springy Sunday afternoon! The servings are smallish, and every bite is worth savoring, mmmm.

 

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Dilled Salmon with Zucchini and Mushrooms (GF)

Here’s another easy salmon (or any rich fish) recipe… if you’re waiting for something more complicated, sorry! I tend to favor quick, easy and nutritious when it comes to weekday meals. I almost consider this more of a Method, than I do a recipe, because there are endless variations that I throw together depending what I have on hand. One of the reasons I like the fish and veggie combination, is that they can both cook together in under 20 minutes!

Method: In this case I seasoned the salmon with extra virgin olive oil, dried dill and fresh lemon, along with sprinklings of other seasonings like garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne pepper, kosher salt and fresh black pepper. The veggies are 2 small chopped zucchinis, a cup or so of quartered crimini mushrooms (baby bellas) and 1/4 of a sweet orange bell pepper. The veggies received the same seasonings as the fish, with the addition of a splash of balsamic vinegar and then a few tablespoons of heavy cream in the last 5 minutes of cooking. The whole thing cooked at 400 degrees for about 15-17 minutes, with the cream added in at the 12 minute mark. It’s so quick and very tasty!

 

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