South West Chicken, And A Few Other Tantalizing Tidbits!

My husband Jerry made this recipe up a few years ago. I entered it in one of those national recipe contests, but didn’t hear from them. If they actually tried this recipe I think the outcome would’ve been different. I do not mean to sound boastful, but this one is so easy and so delicious; extremely moist and the bacon lends a beautiful smokey flavor to the chicken thighs and avocado. Here goes…

Chicken Thighs with Avocado, Pepper Jack and Bacon

8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
2 big cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
2 Tbsp. Olive Oil plus more for drizzling
2 large avocados
8 oz. Pepper Jack cheese, sliced into 8 pieces
8 strips Bacon
Cilantro, chopped, optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut fat and gristle off chicken thighs. If you cannot find boneless/skinless thighs, it is not that much work to bone and skin yourself; just takes a bit of time. Thigh skin and bones make wonderful chicken stock.

Rinse trimmed thighs. Pat dry. Place in a shallow baking dish with Olive Oil, generous salt/pepper, and 2 cloves coarsely chopped garlic. Let marinate at least a couple hours, but if you left all day it won’t hurt them. Peel, seed and slice avocado. There are many ways to skin an avocado, but what I do is cut in half and then hit the seed or pit with the knife and pop it out. Make 4 slices in the avocado while it is still in its skin. Take a teaspoon and run between the flesh and skin and the avocado will come out whole, but pre-sliced!  After they have marinated, lay the chicken thighs flat; inside up. Divide the avocado slices between the 8 thighs. Add 1 oz. of Pepper Jack to each thigh. Because the chicken has been marinating in olive oil, they will be slippery. Roll up and wrap with one strip of bacon pulled tight to go around the thigh like a belt. Drizzle with a little more Olive Oil and bake for about 1 hour or until bacon is crisp. Baste every 20 minutes or so with pan juices.  Let sit for 15 minutes. Top with with chopped cilantro and serve.  These South West Chicken Thighs are excellent with black beans and Mexican rice.

Here is a simple idea for a quick lunch that looks attractive enough to serve to guests. You can use either real crabmeat (always better, but expensive) or the immitation crab, which is actually made from pollock. I like the immitation stuff, although I don’t think it really tastes like crabmeat.


                                     WITH CRABMEAT

This does not really need a recipe.  If you are using fake crab, just chop it into a fine dice, add a bit of finely diced celery, salt, pepper and mayo. Mix it well.  Slice a tomato into eighths being careful not to cut all the way through so the tomato keeps its shape.  Salt the inside of the tomato.  Place about 1/2 cup crab salad into the sliced tomato. You may have to push the crab salad down into the tomato. Top with freshly chopped chives and a sprig of parsley and you have a nice little lunch that takes about 10 minutes to make. If serving to guests add a chilled glass of Sauvignon Blanc and a hard roll and you have a perfectly balanced meal. In fact, even if you don’t have guests that sounds pretty good!

Another quick and easy lunch idea…
This also takes only minutes to prepare, is super healthy, delicious and different. You can add any ingredient you like or may have on hand.  This is especially fast if you have leftovers, but even if you don’t, it takes no time at all to prepare. This time I used salmon and sauted veg.
My husband filling his leaves!

This does not need a recipe either. Chop/dice whatever vegetable you choose. I used tomato, celery, carrot, leeks, garlic, avocado and coho salmon. Saute the celery, garlic, leek, carrot, salt/pepper in a little olive oil until tender. Toss in the chopped tomato and diced salmon. Cook for 2-3 minutes until the salmon turns opaque. Take off heat and add chopped avocado. You can use any type of lettuce, but iceburg makes a nice wide surface. Lay out a few leaves of lettuce on each serving plate. Place the cooked veg and salmon in a serving bowl and let each guest fill and roll their own leaves. Most people like to be involved with their food and this easy luncheon dish gives them the whole experience.


Lettuce wraps can be messy, but they are worth it!

Doesn’t he look a bit like a Rabbitt?? Chicken or shrimp and sauted vegetable also work well in a lettuce wrap. Or you can do an all vegie wrap with lots of fresh herbs. The choices are endless…

TIP:  This relates to nothing, but I just tried it recently and it is really yummy. We like to make popcorn at night as a snack. Next time you’re popping, add a couple Tbsp. of truffle oil to the oil you are popping in. It makes the popcorn taste like it is dredged in butter. I like to use a combination of olive oil and grapeseed oil. The grapeseed oil has a higher smoke point (the point at which the oil begins to break down and starts to smoke just before burning) so pops the corn quickly making it very light. I know there are those who say you should never cook with grapeseed oil because it is mainly a polyunsaturated oil which releases lots of free radicals, when heated, but I choose to cook with it anyway because I love the taste. The addition of truffle oil elevates popcorn to a very decadent treat.

On to another different entre idea…


This is the strangest squash and really does turn into spaghetti once it is cooked. Use it as you would spaghetti and top with red sauce and meatballs or olive oil and veg which is what I made for dinner the other night.

This squash is very hard, similar to a Blue Hubbard so be careful when you are slicing.

Scoop out the seeds and other fibrous stuff inside. I cooked the squash as two separate halves which took a lot of time, but I wasn’s sure if I cut it up if I would still get the long spaghetti strings. Next time I would cut it at least in long quarters. Boil in salted water until tender.

Using a fork, scrape out the squash by running the fork through the flesh of the squash. Plate it up just as you would spaghetti and add your topping. I used a very simple sauted mushroom, lots of garlic, chopped tomato and a splash of white wine. Garnish with basil. Again, the combinations for spaghetti squash are limited only by our imaginations. If you close your eyes while eating this, you really do think you are eating spaghetti!

THE QUESTION OF FAT:  This also has nothing to do with anything, but as you may know I am a big fan of Dr. Andrew Weil and read his health and cooking tips daily. This week he came out with a story on LARD. Yes, the solid, white pig fat that for years has been considered horrible for you. I happen to like fat of all kinds, pig included (pork rinds anyone?) and although I do not bake with lard it does add a flavor and flakiness to pastry that is unmatched. Dr. Weil claims the latest studies show that lard and other saturated fats formerly believed to cause coronary heart disease, high cholesterol, heart attacks, etc. are not really bad for you after all. Of course, he recommends you use lard from organic, grass-fed pigs. BRING ON THE LARD!

What next?!? I am of the belief that “they” do not really know what is good or bad for us and you should pretty much eat, drink, DO whatever you like as long as it makes you happy and doesn’t hurt anyone else. If eating something makes you feel good, it is probably good for you.



I have started experimenting with unflavored Knox gelatin by making home-made jello. It is so much better than the stuff we ate as kids that is filled with artificial colors and flavors, and it is very easy to make. Mix 1 packet unflavored gelain and 4-6 packets of Stevia or sugar. Heat 2 cups of fruit juice. Add to the gelatin/sugar and stir until dissolved. You can either pour the gelatin in individual serving bowls or use 1 large mold. The first time I used V-8 Light  Fruit Fusion–Blueberry Pomegranate. It was fabulous. Next I tried Light Tropical Punch Fuze. I did not realize until after I made the jello that this particular Fuze has pineapple juice in it which impedes the thickening of the jello. If you used all pineapple juise it would not jell at all. I topped the tropical punch jello with alcohol infused whipped cream making it a little more grown-up. This whipped cream comes in different flavors. The vanilla worked well in this case.

I think unexpected flavors like grapefruit or pear nectar will be fun to try.
Remember tomato aspic? That will be the next one I try.

I have had a ball this afternoon thinking about food and hope you enjoyed reading as much as I did writing!  Now, let’s get cooking!  Until next time…

Be bold in the kitchen. Try new flavors.
Get your creative juices flowing. Have fun!
There are no mistakes when it comes to cooking!
Tune in again soon for another episode of:

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