December in the kitchen – Coconut crusted chicken and persimmon caprese

December in the kitchen – Coconut crusted chicken and persimmon caprese

I love a crisp coating on chicken, but would like to avoid the refined carbohydrates and fat of fried chicken. I’ve been searching for something that gives chicken that same satisfying crunch in a baked version. Paleo circles use almond meal to coat chicken. I tried it and found it to be too heavy, not crisp enough, and fairly high in calories (although delicious).

Then I had an idea; what about coconut meal? Maybe coconut meal (which has more texture than coconut flour) would be a healthy way to add coconut flavor to the chicken, eliminate gluten, and increase crispness. As an added benefit, it is both high in fiber and low in saturated fat. And, coconut fried shrimp have a lovely crunch (although there is still the problem of frying), so crunch is possible.

Thus was born Coconut Crusted Chicken!

With the chicken I wanted to serve something festive. There were some Fuyu persimmons, picked up at a farm stand the week before, in a bowl on the counter. I made a simple caprese salad by replacing the usual tomatoes with persimmons, garnishing with pomegranate seeds and chopped almonds. As a finishing touch I drizzled an aged balsamic vinegar over the whole.

coconut crusted chicken

Coconut crusted chicken

Coconut Crusted Chicken

  • 6 -8 bone-in chicken thighs, trimmed to remove any excess skin and fat (you can use other cuts, adjust the cooking time)
  • 1 cup of coconut meal
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Place racks in a roasting or baking pan large enough to hold the chicken in a single layer.
  3. Place the coconut meal, salt, and cumin in a shallow bowl or plate and mix.
  4. Roll the chicken in the coating, patting it on to cover all sides
  5. Place the chicken, skin side up, on the racks.
  6. Roast for 45 minutes to an hour until juices run clear and chicken is crisp.
persimmon salad with mozzarella

Persimmon caprese

Persimmon Caprese Salad

  • 4 fuyu persimmons, sliced about ¼ inch thick
  • 1 large ball of fresh mozzarella, sliced ¼ inch thick
  • ¼ cup of pomegranate seeds
  • ¼ cup of chopped roast almonds
  • Aged balsamic vinegar
  • Salt and pepper
  1. Alternate the persimmon and mozzarella slices on a platter.
  2. Generously salt and pepper.
  3. Garnish with the almonds and pomegranate seeds.
  4. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar.
persimmon salad

Persimmon caprese

I added a salad of arugula for a touch of green and the sharpness of the leaves.

Coconut crusted chicken with persimmon caprese

Coconut crusted chicken with persimmon caprese

It worked!

I’m taking this to the party at Friday Favorites sponsored by the Blog The Diary of a Real Housewife, and Real Food Fridays sponsored by Lydia’s Flexitarian Kitchen. Come join us at the last parties of 2014. Happy Holidays!

December in the kitchen – Marmalade chicken

December in the kitchen – Marmalade chicken

I was all ready to create a new recipe tonight but ran out of steam, does that ever happen to you? So, what to do? I poked around in the pantry and fridge to discover what could be used as a quick, easy, hassle free “dress up” for the chicken thighs I had planned to cook. I found a jar of ginger marmalade and some whole grain mustard; together with some soy sauce they would make a simple glaze for the chicken. Three ingredients (not counting the chicken), what could be easier?

You could use any kind of marmalade you have on hand…ginger, orange or lemon. You could also use chicken breasts or legs or wings, I just happened to have thighs which are favored by my family.

Marmalade baked chicken

  • 1/2 cup of marmalade
  • 2 rounded teaspoons of Dijon mustard, regular or whole grain
  • 1 tablespoon of soy sauce
  • 6-8 chicken bone-in thighs, trimmed of excess skin and fat
marmalade baked chicken

marmalade baked chicken

  1. Melt the marmalade in a small saucepan or the microwave; mix with the mustard and soy sauce.
  2. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F
  3. Line a baking pan with foil, place some racks on top (I used cookie cooling racks). The racks will keep the thighs out of the melting fat below.
  4. Pat the thighs dry with paper towels, place them skin side up on the racks in the baking pan. Brush the marmalade mix over the skin and exposed meat.
  5. Place in the oven and bake for 1 hour to 1 ½ hour depending on the size of the thighs.

 This is a perfect dish for a busy weekday evening. Bake some sweet potatoes in the oven with the chicken, make a salad and dinner is ready with a minimum of fuss and hands-on time.

baked chicken

Marmalade chicken

I made a lentil and cauliflower couscous to go with the chicken, look for that recipe on another post.

You could save the juices to use in soup or another dish. Pour the juices in the bottom of the pan into a large heatproof container and put it in the refrigerator overnight. The next day, skim off the fat and discard it.

Tip – I keep the cans from tomatoes or other canned goods for discarding fat. Place the fat in the can, put the can in a plastic bag and put it in the trash. Plastic yogurt containers also work.

I’m taking this to Fiesta Friday to share with Angie from the Novice Gardener as well as Real Food Fridays hosted by Lydia’s Flexitarian Kitchen. This is the busy season for us all.


October in the kitchen – Jerk Chicken in a Slow Cooker

October in the kitchen – Jerk Chicken in a Slow Cooker

I don’t use my slow cooker that much. I have found that it’s a tricky thing to adjust a regular recipe to the crock pot.The amount of liquid has to be reduced dramatically. As well, I don’t find most recipes specifically designed for the crock pot that interesting (except for soups, chili and beans); and lastly, I think everything often turns out tasting the same. But, I recently came across a recipe for Crock Pot Jerk Chicken which sparked my curiosity. Jerk chicken is usually made in several steps; marinate, roast, and grill. This recipe was easy, quick and eliminated both the marinating (although you could still do that if you wanted) and the roasting, needing only a quick run under the broiler or on the grill to crisp at the end.

This recipe is adapted from one on Bakers Royale.

Crock-pot Jerk Chicken

  • 16 scallions (about two bunches), chopped coarsely
  • 1 cup of cilantro
  • 4 Serrano chilies, seeds and veins removed
  • 1 (2 inch) piece of fresh ginger, peeled and cut into ½ inch slices
  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 tablespoons of fresh thyme (or 2 teaspoons dried)
  • 4 teaspoons ground allspice
  • ½ teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 2 teaspoons of coarse salt (I used grey salt)
  • ¼ cup of molasses
  • ½ cup of neutral oil such as sunflower or canola
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 4 lbs. of chicken pieces, skin on
  1. Dump the first 10 ingredients into the bowl of your food processer. Chop them coarsely until mixed. While the motor is running, add the oil and lime juice, puree.
  2. IMG_0071 IMG_0072 IMG_0073
  3. Transfer half of the mixture to your slow cooker, add the chicken and turn to coat with the marinade. Refrigerate the rest of the marinade for later.
  4. Cover and cook on low for about 6 hours.
  5. At this point you can either broil the chicken in your oven (10 inches from the heat) or BBQ it on the grill. Either way, brush the chicken with the remaining marinade and cook on each side until lightly charred.


I used 4 chicken leg-thigh quarters and added a few extra wings to the mix. We are not big white meat fans but I think breasts would also be good.


A friend sent me this photo, I had to include it in the post! Jerk chicken, lost in translation…

Jerk Chicken

October in the kitchen – Easy Baked Chicken with Lemon

October in the kitchen – Easy Baked Chicken with Lemon

One of the wonderful things about living in California is having a Meyer Lemon tree in the backyard. It was already a mature tree when we purchased our home 25 years ago. Unfortunately the tulip magnolia it was planted next to is now huge and shades half of the lemon tree in the summer. But, this less than ideal situation doesn’t stop it from producing prolific amounts of lemons.

I use those lemons almost every day. There is not much that isn’t improved by a last minute grating of fresh lemon zest or a squeeze of lemon, or both. Meyers do well in containers if you don’t have yard space; they only need a warm spot with some sun and a deep watering once a week.

For lemon chicken you will need:

  • 4 chicken leg quarters, the leg and thigh attached
  • 2 large lemons
  • 8 sprigs of thyme
  • Olive oil
  • A pinch of chili flakes
  • Sea salt or kosher salt
  • ¼ cup of white wine
  1. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Cut one lemon into thin slices and the other in half.
  3. Line a baking dish with foil and place the leg quarters in the pan, skin side up. Sprinkle the chicken with salt and a pinch of chili flakes. Lay the slices of lemon on top of the chicken, then the thyme sprigs. Squeeze the halved lemon over it all and drizzle with olive oil (you don’t need much). Toss the squeezed lemon into the pan with the chicken.
  4. Pour 1/4 cup of the white wine in the bottom of the pan. Pour the cook a glass as well.
  5. Bake, uncovered, for an hour to an hour and 15 minutes depending on the size of the quarters. The juices should run clear when pierced with the tip of a knife. Let the chicken sit for 15 minutes before serving. Don’t toss out those lemon slices! They are caramelized and delicious to munch on.


Your kitchen is about to smell amazing!

Finished lemon chicken

Finished lemon chicken

You’ll have some scrumptious pan drippings. Pour them into a saucepan and bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until they begin to thicken slightly. This simple gravy can be poured over mashed potatoes, yum.

Or, simply moisten slices of some good crusty bread with the juices and bake them until crisp in the oven. I just lay them in the roasting pan until they soak up some flavorful drippings, then place them on a baking sheet back in the oven until crispy. Watch carefully so they don’t burn. Yum, yum! Serve the chicken on top.

If you are counting calories, the chicken is delicious “as is”. A squeeze of fresh lemon juice and some chopped parsley is all that is required.