Garlic Kale Salad

I’m not a huge fan of raw greens. For many reasons. One of which is the issue of the anti-nutrients that cooking or culturing neutralizes in greens. So, even if I loved them, raw greens are still not a great idea from a nutritional standpoint on a frequent basis. A couple of years ago though I had a delicious raw kale salad served as a side at a slow food restaurant. It was so yummy 2 years later I still think about it every time I prepare Kale. So, tonight, I threw together a knock-off version of it using the delicious, mild and delicate curly leaf kale provided by our wonderful Winter CSA. Got some recipe ideas from a couple of on-line sources and cobbled together my own. It’s yummy. I ate 3 servings of it in one sitting.

Garlic Kale Salad

  • 2 bunches curly leaf kale (although any kind of Kale will do)
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1/3 cup organic extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice (raw is useful because the extra enzymes in it make the kale more nutritionally accessible in it’s raw state)
  • 3 large cloves raw garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon cultured g/f soy sauce (Can substitute Coconut Amino Acids in it’s place if soy needs to be avoided at all costs)
  • 1 minced anchovy fillet or 1/2 teaspoon anchovy paste (this is totally optional but please don’t leave it out even if you typically think of anchovies as disgusting. It simply adds a bit of mild salty tang with no residual fish taste once it’s blended into the whole recipe)
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  1. Strip leaves from the stems (discard stems). Wash and dry the leaves. Tear the leaves into small pieces and place in a large bowl.
  2. Add Parmesan, oil, lemon juice, garlic, soy sauce, anchovy (if using), pepper and salt. With clean hands, firmly massage and crush the greens to work in the flavoring. Stop when the volume of greens is reduced by about half. The greens should look a little darker and somewhat shiny. Taste and adjust seasoning with more Parmesan, lemon juice, garlic, soy sauce and/or pepper, if desired.
  3. Leave for a minimum of 30 minutes to allow flavors to develop. Can be made a day ahead and stored in refrigerator. Tastes bolder and more flavorful the second day!

Garlic Kale Salad

Stop breastfeeding because it’s….too effective?

A friend linked me to an article written by a well known alternative health “educator” I use quotes because this particular gentleman does a certain amount of fear mongering in a rather deliberate way as part of his very successfully monetizing marketing campaign. Fear for sales is not something I am a fan of. Reading his article I couldn’t help but think that this was like many other articles I have read of his…overblown with conclusions drawn that were a stretch at best. To satisfy my curiosity about whether or not researchers had actually gone on record suggesting what he said was suggested I went digging for source materials.

Interestingly enough in his “sources” he did not link to the actual source of the information from which he wrote such a disturbing article, which is a fascinating study performed by several researchers at the National Centers for Immunization and Respiratory Disease, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention which is part of what we commonly know as the CDC. The title of this study is Inhibitory effect of breast milk on infectivity of live oral rotavirus vaccines Or, in plain English: Why breast-milk would make live oral rotavirus vaccines ineffective or less effective.

The abstract of this study can be read here: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20442687

The study begins with a statement about how the Rotavirus vaccine has proven less effective among children in poor developing countries compared with middle income and industrialized countries for reasons that are not yet completely understood. The scope of the study was to determine whether the neutralizing activity of breast milk could lower the titer of vaccine virus and explain this difference in vitro.

Just incase you are wondering here’s the definition of in vitro:  In vitro comes from the Latin term “in glass” and refers to studies of biological properties that are done in a test tube (i.e. under glass) rather than in a human or animal. As opposed to in vivo (“in life”) studies which are done inside an organism. In vitro studies allow scientists to isolate specific cells, bacteria, and viruses and study them without the distractions of having to look at a whole organism.

With that clarified we’ll move onto the next section which is the methods used for the study.

Breast milk samples were collected from mothers who were breast-feeding infants 4 to 29 weeks of age (ie, vaccine eligible age) in India (N = 40), Vietnam (N = 77), South Korea (N = 34), and the United States (N = 51). We examined breast milk for rotavirus-specific IgA and neutralizing activity against 3 rotavirus vaccine strains-RV1, RV5 G1, and 116E using enzyme immunoassays. The inhibitory effect of breast milk on RV1 was further examined by a plaque reduction assay

IgA can be read about in all it’s geeky detailed glory by clicking the name.

Now onto the part that I found the most fascinating.

Breast milk from Indian women had the highest IgA and neutralizing titers against all 3 vaccine strains, while lower but comparable median IgA and neutralizing titers were detected in breast milk from Korean and Vietnamese women, and the lowest titers were seen in American women. Neutralizing activity was greatest against the 2 vaccine strains of human origin, RV1 and 116E. This neutralizing activity in one half of the breast milk specimens from Indian women could reduce the effective titer of RV1 by ∼2 logs, of 116E by 1.5 logs, and RV5 G1 strain by ∼1 log more than that of breast milk from American women.

Now, the researchers do not venture a speculation as to why this antibody action would be so much less in American women as compared to the breast milk of women from other countries. My best guess would be that it pertains to our deplorable nutrient deficient SAD diets. The lack of nutrients means a lack of reserves for a woman’s body to use to create these immune beneficial properties to then pass along to an infant via breast-milk. How’s that for motivation and encouragement to eat nutrient dense foods while we are nursing eh Mamas?

And now for the part that had my jaw hitting the floor and a feeling of incredulity washing over me.

The lower immunogenicity and efficacy of rotavirus vaccines in poor developing countries could be explained, in part, by higher titers of IgA and neutralizing activity in breast milk consumed by their infants at the time of immunization that could effectively reduce the potency of the vaccine. Strategies to overcome this negative effect, such as delaying breast-feeding at the time of immunization, should be evaluated.

Allow me a bit of incredulous reaction. We are speaking of specifically poor, developing countries. One of the things about poor countries is that well…they are poor. Poor means they don’t have much money or access to heavily refined products. Products like oh, let’s say formula for example. Most women in poor countries can neither access or afford high quality infant formula. When the researchers suggest the possibility of delaying breast-feeding at the time of immunization are they suggesting perhaps that a baby be forced to “fast” for a matter of hours during the time of the administration of the vaccine? Or for a matter of days without access to breast milk to assure the vaccines greatest opportunity to work? If it is a matter of hours you run into the potential of lactating mothers becoming engorged. Unlike their industrial country counterparts women from poor un developed countries do not have easy or affordable access to such conveniences as breast pumps. If it is a matter of days they are suggesting a lactating woman to simply “take a break” from nursing and a) find alternate means of nourishment for her baby and b) managed to maintain her milk supply without becoming engorged or having her supply disappear due to lack of demand seems utterly ludicrous to me.

As it is commonly asserted by leading immunologists infants do not have much if any immune system of their own before they are a year old. I talk about that in this post. It seems as though something these researchers are suggesting is that they think it might be a viable and perhaps even healthier choice to restrict an infants access to the nourishment that is providing it’s sole source of immunity in order to give it a live vaccine that works by stimulating the immune system. Am I the only one that sees this experiment ending with a lot of sick babies? It’s like Ok, let’s take away the one thing that is protecting these infants, perhaps a little too well, to the point that it’s messing up our standard protocol of vaccinations, and introduce a live disease element to their young bodies and expect this to provide optimal health to these children. It makes absolutely no sense to me.

I for one hope their desired followup ideas are not explored. Sounds like a miserable thing to do to nursing Mamas and Babies at best and potentially catastrophic at worst for the ‘subjects’ submitted to follow up testing.

But my takeaway point isn’t that some group of scientists that seem oblivious to the logistics involved in the real world want to try something out that seems futile…It’s the suggestion and reminder from the data that came back in the study that American’s women’s immunity they are passing to their breastfed babies is not as “potent” as that of their unrefined countries counterparts. I’m off to eat a nutrient dense, whole foods breakfast and take some basic immune support supplements. My body is my babies immune system protection right now and I’m gonna start taking that responsibility a whole lot more seriously.

I’ll close with a short message from Caleb, on behalf of all nursing babies out there. “We thank you Mamas of the world for sacrificing vanity, personal comfort, convenience and at times public approval to attempt to feed us all too often ungrateful little chubby things food manufactured from your body. Eat good food!”

"Eat Good Food Mamas!"

“Eat Good Food Mamas!”

Apple Creamcheese Coffee Cake

We have a lot of apples. Apples that I have yet to turn into sauce, dried chips, canned apple pie filling or any number of other delicious options. They are being steadily munched on but not disappearing fast enough. For some reason every time I’ve passed the box of apples the past few days a craving for that baked apple flavor + cream cheese dances across my pregnancy addled brain.

So I started googling. Go-to move when I have a craving. Sooo many creative bloggers and brilliant chef’s and cooks out there freely sharing their inspired recipes. Nobody seemed to offer what I was looking for. Gluten Free. Apple and Creamcheese coffee cake type thing. What I did find called for ingredients I didn’t have or required way more work than I felt like doing.

When google fails me I pull out my favorite “unhealthy” cookbook of all time. The Ultimate Southern Living Cookbook. I found a recipe in there that had everything I wanted only it was for regular gluten laden flour and blueberries. That’s Ok. I’m fearless. I can adapt. And adapt I did with really scrumptious results.

Without further prefacing or disclaimers…

Apple-Cream cheese Gluten Free Coffee Cake

1/2 cup softened Butter

1 cup Sugar

2 Large Eggs

2 Teaspoons Vanilla

2 Cups Gluten Free Flour Mix

1 Teaspoon Baking Powder

1 Teaspoon finely ground Sea Salt

1 Cup Whole Milk

1 (8 ounce) package Cream Cheese softened and cubed

1 Large or 2 small Apples finely chopped

2 Teaspoon Cinnamon

1/2 Teaspoon Powdered Ginger

1/2 Cup (or less if your apples are more sweet than tart) large granule Raw Sugar

Crumb Topping

1 Cup Gluten Free Flour Mix

1 Cup Sugar

5 Tablespoons Butter

Sea Salt to taste

Caramel Topping Drizzle

1 Cup large Raw-unrefined Sugar

1/2 Cup Half and Half or Whole Cream

Instructions:

Pre-heat Oven to 375. Spray rectangle cake pan with Olive Oil or your favorite non-stick spray.

– Combine 1 Cup Gluten Free Flour Mixture and 5 tablespoons softened butter and mix well with a fork until nice and crumbly. Set aside.

– Beat 1/2 Cup of Butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Gradually add 1 Cup sugar beating well. Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Add Vanilla.

– Combine 2 cups flour, baking powder, and salt, stir well. Add flour mixture to butter mixture alternatively with milk beginning and ending with flour mixture. Mix at low speed after each addition until well blended.

-Mix Apples with Raw Sugar, Cinnamon and Ginger. Toss until well coated and set aside. Can add a splash or squeeze of lemon juice if so desired. Should have two cups of finely chopped Apple Mixture.

– Gently stir into cake batter with spoon or spatula apple mixture and chunks of cream cheese. Gently pour cake batter into pre-sprayed cake pan. Coat the top generously with crumb topping and slide into pre-heated oven. Bake for 50 minutes or until done. This is a very moist, bordering on gooey cake so don’t expect the crumb free test to work. You just want to bake it long enough to ensure the middle is actually baked and not dripping dough.

– While cake is baking mix Raw Sugar and Cream together in heavy sauce pan on stove top. Whisk Raw sugar rapidly until it is completely dissolved. Allow sugar and cream to bubble together with close supervision until past the soft ball stage. The goal is to make a pourable caramel that is slightly crunchy when cool.

– Pull cake out of oven and while still hot drizzle caramel mixture over top. Can poke holes in cake to allow caramel to drip through. Eat warm with coffee or wait until cool and eat with coffee. Or drink with a hot black tea. This cake was made to be consumed with a pleasurable beverage.

So sorry I only got one lousy picture. This picture was taken before the rest of the caramel was drizzled over the top, that was just round one for the caramel.

Guten Free Apple Caramel Cream Cheese Coffee Cake

Guten Free Apple Caramel Cream Cheese Coffee Cake

The cake was devoured before I had a chance to get better pictures. Hate that you can’t see the moist amazing inside with the heavenly chunks of cream cheese scattered around. You’ll have to take my word for it that they were there.  I plan on making this again and hopefully I’ll be quicker with the camera next time around. 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oreo Cream Cheese Cake (With gf adaptations)

Nope. It isn’t healthy. Definitely not traditional. But it *is* delicious. This has been the cake DaMan has requested three Birthdays running now in the place of a more traditional cake. As a once (or twice) a year splurge it’s something most can afford to indulge in on the rare special occasion. I have converted this recipe into a Gluten Free version once successfully and will include those changes at the bottom.

Oreo Cream Cheese Cake

Chocolate Glazed Oreo Cheesecake

Chocolate Glazed Oreo Cheesecake

Prep: 40 Min.

Cook: 1 Hour 30 Min.

Chill: 4+ Hours

Phase 1:

2 Cups fine Oreo Cookie Crumbs (You could use a food processor to crunch these down, I used a large mortar and pestle. Rolling in a gallon ziplock baggie with a rolling pin works well too. Do *not* use double stuffed Oreos. I’ve tried that twice and it’s a disaster. Just don’t do it. Newton’s Own or some other organic/healthier brand of Oreos works great in the place of the really bad for you mainstream name brand)

2 Tablespoons melted Butter

1/4 cup firmly packed Brown Sugar

Phase 2:

4 (8 Oz.) packages Cream Cheese softened

1 1/4 cups Sugar

1/3 cup liquid Whipping Cream (Raw cream skimmed off milk works great. The pasteurized version from the store is good too)

2 Tablespoons Flour

4 Teaspoons Vanilla Extract

4 Large Eggs

2 Cups coarsely crumbled Oreos (roughly 14 cookies)

Phase 3

1 (16 oz) carton full fat Sour Cream

1/4 cup Sugar

2 Teaspoons Vanilla Extract

Phase 4

1/3 liquid Whipping Cream

1 1/4 Cups Semi Sweet Chocolate Chips or Chunks

1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract

Garnish (Optional) Additional Oreos crumbled or whole

– Combine the 3 ingredients of Phase 1 in a medium bowl; firmly press mixture evenly in bottom and 2 inches up sides of a lightly greased 10 inch springform pan. Bake at 325 for 10 minutes.Remove and set aside.

– Beat Cream Cheese at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy.  Gradually add sugar, beating well. Add Whipping Cream, Flour and Vanilla, beat well. Add Eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Pour 3 1/2 cups batter into prepared crust. Top with coarsely crumbled cookies; pour in remaining batter on top. Bake at 325 for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Put a small bowl of water in oven while it bakes to help prevent cracking.

– Combine Sour Cream, Sugar and Vanilla. Spread over top of cheesecake when it finishes baking. Bake at 325 for 7 minutes. Turn oven off, and leave cheesecake in oven with door closed for 45 minutes. Remove from oven, and cool completely on wire rack. Cover and chill 4+ hours. Remove sides of pan.

– Combine Whipping Cream and semi-sweet chocolate morsels in a saucepan; stir over low heat until chocolate melts. Stir in Vanilla. Remove from heat. Carefully spread over chilled cheesecake allowing it to drip down the sides. Store Cheesecake in refrigerator. Garnish, if desired.

Gluten Free Modifications: Whole Foods carries Gluten Free Oreos. Purchase those and use in the place of the gluten Oreos. Use gluten free flour in the place of the 2 tablespoons of wheat flour. Make sure Vanilla and Chocolate used are Gluten Free. Everything else is done the same.

Slice of finished Oreo Cheesecake

Slice of finished Oreo Cheesecake

Tuscan Squash Casserole

DaMan is not crazy about squash. Not even a little bit. He doesn’t even pretend to tolerate it very well and all but visibly cringes when he sees it appear on the supper table. My challenge to myself this summer has been to create a squash dish that would rock his world and make him appreciate this very underappreciated veggie. A couple of nights ago I managed to pull it off!  He not only devoured it happily but gave it rave reviews and requested it again soon.

You all know how I am with measuring and keeping track of recipes as I make them so here is my best guess at what I did. Writing it down as much for my sake as anybody elses in the hopes I can successfully re-create this dish again tomorrow.

Spicy Tuscan Squash Casserole

2x Round Yellow Squash. I used an heirloom variety provided by our CSA called yellow scallop squash. Thin Slice.

Yellow scallop squash

Yellow scallop squash

1 Free Range Egg

Free Range Egg

Free Range Egg

2/3 cup crumbled Feta Cheese

Crumbled Feta Cheese

Crumbled Feta Cheese

2 Tablespoons Tuscan Herbal Dried Seasoning Mix

Tuscan Seasoning Mix

Tuscan Seasoning Mix

Veggie Herbal Seasoning Mix. I used an Organic blend of spices from Costco but something like Mrs. Dash would work well too.

Veggie Herbal Seasoning Blend

Veggie Herbal Seasoning Blend

1/3 cup pureed, Roasted Peppers. You could do these from scratch if you wanted by broiling in the oven, peeling the skins off and removing the seeds and running it through a food processor. I used some that were canned in a glass jar. We like spicy around here and the ones I used were pretty hot. Adjust the amount/type of peppers based on personal heat preference.

1/3 cup Sour Cream

Sea Salt

Black Pepper

Spray the bottom of a glass pyrex 8×8 square pan with Olive Oil. Or take a stick of butter and rub it around to grease the bottom. Lay the first layer of thin sliced squash over the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle that layer with Veggie Seasoning Mix. Add another layer of squash and sprinkle seasonings until all the squash has been layered into the pan. It’s important to sprinkle the seasoning on top of *every single layer* for the best flavor. In a bowl mix together the Egg, Sour Cream, Feta Cheese, a couple Tablespoons of the Tuscan Seasoning and Peppers. Add Salt and Pepper to taste and mix well. Pour and Spread mixture over the top of the seasoned layers of squash. Allow to drip down sides and seep through the layers. Bake at 375 until done.

I baked ours in the toaster oven since I didn’t want to heat up the whole house with the big oven. It took a bit longer than I think it would have in the big oven, about 40 minutes. Bake only until squash is just tender and you can easily poke a fork through the middle. Try to avoid over-baking or it can be soggy and or mushy making it that much harder for those who dislike squash to eat it. Top of casserole should be browned and bubbly around the Feta Cheese lumps.

Enjoy!

Incredible Indulgence

It came to me in a dream. No, seriously, it did! The Doodlebug was having a few too many meltdowns and I recognized the signs. The anti-nap child must nap today or she would drive us all insane. She hasn’t taken daily naps (minus road trips in car-seat naps) in months.  She’s currently in a “I’m a baby!” stage and is determined to do all things baby-like. Primarily whine which holds true to to how she spent most of her time when she was an actual baby. I plunked her down in our bed and informed her that if she was a baby then she must take a nap. Now trapped into conceding to a nap in order to stay true to her baby persona she laid down somewhat willingly while clutching my hand. Deciding to cuddle with her until she dozed off and then go back to being the responsible adult I pretend to be most days I snuggled up next to her. The next thing I knew we both opened our eyes and I was met with a beautiful toddler grin and the announcement “I baby Mom!” Naptime didn’t change much in her world but mine was rocked by a dream of brownies.

Not just any brownies mind you. Gluten free, chocolate, fudgelike brownies but with a special twist. Cappuchino-Chocolate Brownies. Could it be done I wondered? A quick google search informed me that indeed, it could be done. Not wanting to taint my dream inspired version of this delight with other peoples versions I refrained from skimming others recipes. Instead I conned-I er, coaxed my fellow kitchen conspirator Liz to help me come up with a recipe.

Coffee-Toffee Nut Brownies

1 stick salted butter

3 Tablespoons Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil
6 ounces bittersweet Chocolate pieces
1 ounce (1 square) unsweetened chocolate, roughly chopped
1 Cup Heavenly Sugar
½ cup plus 1 tablespoon GF Flour Mixture
½ teaspoon Xanthan Gum

1/2 Cup Cappuccino Mix (We used French Vanilla and White Chocolate)

1/4 Cup veryVERYvery strong (bordering on Espresso strength) Coffee

½ teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon unsweetened raw cocoa powder
3 eggs
1 Tablespoon real Vanilla (I used my homemade Bourbon Vanilla)
Couple of Squares of Chocolate Covered Toffee. We used Pistachio Dark Chocolate covered Toffee from Trader Joe’s

1. Preheat oven to 325°. Line edges of pan with foil. (I went ahead and lined the whole thing with foil in anticipation of these being very prone to sticking) Spray with Olive Oil.

Sprayed, Foil lined glass pan

Sprayed, Foil lined glass pan

2. Combine butter, coconut oil and chocolate in a thick bottomed pot or well seasoned cast iron pan. On low stir until melted and thoroughly mixed in.  Let stand and then stir until smooth. Add sugar and stir. Set aside to cool slightly.

Melting butter, coconut oil and chocolate

Melting butter, coconut oil and chocolate

Melted Butter/Coconut oil/Chocolate

Melted Butter/Coconut oil/Chocolate

Heavenly brand herbal processed raw sugar

Heavenly brand herbal processed raw sugar

3. In a small bowl, whisk together GF Flour Mixture, xanthan gum, salt, and cocoa powder and cappuccino mix. Set aside.

Gluten Free Flour mix from Austin TX

Gluten Free Flour mix from Austin TX

Cappucchino Powder

Cappucchino Powder

4. Whisk eggs one at a time into chocolate mixture; then stir in Vanilla and Coffee. Add flour mixture and mix until just combined. Pour into pan. Pound Toffee into chunks and sprinkle across top of brownies.

Brownie batter, high glossy sheen with a thick/smooth texture

Brownie batter, high glossy sheen with a thick/smooth texture

Toffee Topped Brownie Batter

Toffee Topped Brownie Batter

5. Bake 35-40 minutes, turning halfway through. A toothpick inserted in center will come out with a few moist crumbs (or clean). Let cool completely. Brownie will be extremely moist (it becomes more fudgy as it cools). The Toffee will melt into the batter as it bakes resulting in even more deliciousness and adds a hint of crunch when it cools. The texture of this amazing brownie is more like cheesecake than brownie. It melts into your mouth with velvety smoothness while delivering the complexity of deep chocolate flavor with the nutty undertones of coffee and a creamy hint of cappucchino. And did I mention moist? It almost went without saying that these are beyond moist. Not dense, not overly fluffy…just right.

There just are no words for how incredibly delectable these are.

Brownies cooling fresh out of oven

Brownies cooling fresh out of oven

Detail of Brownie showing the edge where Toffee melted into the brownie

Detail of Brownie showing the edge where Toffee melted into the brownie

More Brownie texture detail

More Brownie texture detail

Enjoy with a tall glass of milk or a cup of hot tea. If you make it tell me how it turns out for you!

The Great Chicken Cook-Off

Ok so it wasn’t so great. But it was certainly a lot of fun! A friend of mine, Liz is an aspiring Chef and a wonderful inspiration and encouragement to my kitchen adventures. I also have the priviledge of working with her almost every day of the week. A couple of days ago, as we counted down the last hours of our work day we both realized that we had whole chickens in our respective refrigerators that needed to be cooked soon. And suddenly, just like that the idea of a chicken cook-off was born.  The minute the clock struck five we took off to our kitchens and the baking commenced. Neither divulged to the other the seasoning scheme, the plan being that it would be a total surprise.

I started with an Organic Birdie purchased from the Mainstream Costco. No, I don’t want to hear about how it’s still industrialized farming and that the bird was probably fed a steady diet of pure soy. Nope, just don’t wanna hear it or think about it right now thank-you-very-much.

Fresh Organic Chicken

Fresh Organic Chicken

I rinsed it off really good, patted it down and sprinkled sea salt on the interior then laid it to rest with it’s companion internal parts in the pan to prepare for the “Seasoning”

chicken prepared for it's seasoning

chicken prepared for it's seasoning

I use garlic for everything. In the case of this particular chicken I took garlic cloves (a whole heads worth) and peeled the skin off of each one. Toddlers are great for these sorts of projects. The Doodlebug loves helping me and this is one of her favorite jobs.

Fresh head of garlic

Fresh head of garlic

Once I had the garlic gloves ready the insertion stage began. I slide garlic cloves under the skin of the chicken alternating with pats of butter. It makes the skin kinda look weird but assures that the meat is niiiiiice juicy and tender. And the garlic adds a nice roasted flavor as well. Some fresh ground pepper on top and a few drizzles of lemon juice (normally I use fresh, only had the refrigerated kind this time, it gives a bit more concentrated flavor)

Butter and Garlic under the chicken skin

Butter and Garlic under the chicken skin

Next we slather seasonings alllll over the top and inside cavity.

MSG Free Chicken Seasoning

MSG Free Chicken Seasoning

My own personal mix of Cayenne and Indian Spices in the Cayenne container

My own personal mix of Cayenne and Indian Spices in the Cayenne container

Sea salt and black pepper

Sea salt and black pepper

Now that the chicken is thoroughly covered….

Seasoned Chicken

Seasoned Chicken

Next the “Trussing” in which you can have fun tying up the chicken.

Trussed Bird

Trussed Bird

Once the bird was tied I stuck a head of garlic into the cavity and piled a few more seasonings over the top for good measure. Foil was used to seal the bird in and the whole thing slid into a 400 degree oven. After it baked for about 40 min. I removed the foil and let it bake uncovered the rest of the time until it was done. While the chicken baked I made a cabbage based stir fry with roasted red peppers and oh yes, more fresh garlic. I also reheated some cheese gluten free biscuits leftover from the previous nights meal.

Cabbage Stir Fry

Cabbage Stir Fry

Finally the hour of truth! Both our birds were ready for the standoff. I was pleased with the nice crisp skin mine ended up with!

My bird

My bird

Liz my worthy opponent tried a totally different technique from mine. She baked her bird breast down which is a trick many recommend to ensure that the breast meat stays juicy since it is facing down. She also did not truss her bird and it ensured even crispy skin all over. Her bird had a wonderful Southwestern Smokey flavor that was divine! ALSO she made the most AMAAAAAAZING potatoes ever. Seriously. She says her secret was sprinkling them with steak seasoning. I don’t know if that is true or not but I DO know they were truly incredible. Good thing our side dishes were not cooking off against each other because no matter how good a stir-fry there is no way it can stack up against potatoes like those.

Liz's Chicken

Liz's chicken

All in all I liked Liz’s bird much better than mine. It was smokey, full of flavor, slightly spicy and yet moist and tender. With both of us casting votes for each others chicken we ended up with a tie. It was a LOT of fun and I recommend cook-off’s to any of my friends who like fooling around in the kitchen! I suspect Liz and I have a few more cookoffs in our future. Stay tuned.

The two Chickens about to be eaten.

The two Chickens about to be eaten.