Chicken Zucchini Bites

Every time my husband searches for a recipe online he gets frustrated by blog posts that lead off with a three thousand word story that usually has nothing (or little) to do with the actual recipe being posted. He then is forced to scroll and scroll and scroll – through text and pictures – to the very bottom of the blog post where the actual recipe resides.

In deference to my husband, please see up front the super simple recipe for these super simple (and delicious!) chicken zucchini bites. You’re welcome.

(For those of you still looking for a story, keep reading!)

chicken zucchini bites | bearfamilystrong.com

Chicken Zucchini Bites

makes 12-15 bites

WHAT YOU NEED:

1 lb ground chicken

2 medium zucchini, grated

1/2 onion, grated

1 tbsp cumin (optional)

1-2 tsp garlic salt (to taste – I used Trader Joe’s garlic salt grinder)

black pepper, to taste

WHAT YOU DO:

Preheat oven to 375. Grate your zucchini and onion – I used a food processor and did both together. Once the vegetables are grated, wring out the excess moisture. I did this by dumping the veggies into a clean dishtowel and then squeezing all the extra water out. Trust me – this step is important if you want your zucchini bites to hold together!* In a bowl, combine all ingredients and mix well. Form 12-15 balls and place on a baking sheet – don’t beat yourself up too much if they look more like odd lumps, this is because of the stickiness of the dough. Bake at 375 for 12-15 minutes, flipping them halfway through.

*NOTE: You don’t necessarily have to wring out the excess water from your zucchini/onion mixture, but if you don’t the meat “dough” will be super sticky and it will be much harder to form meatballs. When I first started playing around with these I did NOT wring them out and had to use muffin tins for the meatballs because I couldn’t get the mixture off my hands. That said, they still tasted delicious!

chicken zucchini bites | bearfamilystrong.com

There’s not much of a story to these cute little chicken zucchini bites really. Each week I like to have a few easy to grab, pre-cooked proteins on hand for work lunches or snacks, and some sort of meatball or patty usually makes an appearance. I had seem some version of chicken-zucchini meatballs on Pinterest and as it just so happened, I had ground chicken and zucchini in my fridge this week. Thus, these babies were born.

Because zucchini holds a lot of water (even after wringing most of it out), these meatballs stay moist, even after a couple of days in the fridge. They were delicious straight out of the oven (served with a side salad and topped with guacamole, as it happened), but they tasted just as good – if not better – served cold. Many times I find my turkey or beef meatballs can dry out pretty quickly but these retained the moisture from the zucchini, keeping them juicy and delicious. I packed two of them as a snack for my husband the other day and he liked them so much he turned around and finished off the rest with lunch.

Enjoy!

chicken zucchini bites | bearfamilystrong.com

Lemon Thyme Roast Chicken

I love roast chicken.

bearfamilystrong.com | lemon thyme roast chicken

Not only is roasting a chicken pretty much the easiest thing in the world, but one chicken usually serves our family three meals at least. The week I made this bad boy, my husband and son were out of town and one four pound bird lasted me three full days for lunch and dinner. Basically I ended up eating leftover chicken over salad vegetables for lunch, and then for dinner I would heat up some of the chicken and serve it with a different vegetable each night (steamed snap peas on Monday, pan fried okra on Tuesday, and roasted green beans on Wednesday). Admittedly, if you are a person who enjoys variety in your meals and doesn’t like leftovers, this will definitely not work for you. But for me, it not only eliminated the need to plan additionally dinners, but it also saved me a ton of time in the kitchen!

bearfamilystrong.com | lemon thyme roast chicken

The other nice thing about roast chicken is that you can experiment with flavors. (See here and here). I usually throw a chicken in the crockpot which really saves time, but the chicken tends to fall apart and you don’t get the crispy brown skin that results in roasting a chicken in the oven. Just remember that if you are going to roast our chicken in the oven, it’s going to take about 90 minutes – so plan accordingly.

My personal favorite flavor combination of late has been super simple lemon and thyme, with a salt crust made with an herbs de provence salt blend I purchased while in Paris this summer. To recreate this salt at home, simply mix some coarse salt with herbs de provence – it’s as easy as that!

bearfamilystrong.com | lemon thyme roast chicken

Lemon Thyme Roast Chicken

Ingredients:

one whole roaster chicken (organic free range if possible)

fresh thyme

butter, melted

salt

herbs de provence

2 lemons

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Rinse and pat your bird dry. Give your bird a healthy melted butter bath, then cover liberally with the herbs de provence salt blend, making sure the chicken is evenly coated. Sprinkle a handful of chopped thyme over everything. Inside the cavity of your chicken, add two lemon halves, a handful of fresh time, and more salt if desired. Cut the second lemon into 4-6 wedges and tuck them into the roasting pan with the chicken. Bake at 400 for about 80 minutes, then remove from oven and rest an additional 10 minutes. Chicken should reach an internal temperature of 165F.

bearfamilystrong.com | lemon thyme roast chicken

Foodie Flattery: Thai Lemongrass Chicken Braised in Coconut Milk

Welcome to the second edition of Foodie Flattery!

bearfamilystrong.com | thai lemongrass chicken braised in coconut milk4

So, I decided that I’m going to make this “Foodie Flattery” idea a thing on my blogs. I love to check out other food blogs – mostly for the pictures, I’ll admit – and it only recently occurred to me to try to re-create some of the dishes I ogle over on the internet. I often wonder how much of the picture is attributed to excellent food styling and photography, and how much is actually because the food really does look that good.

The verdict: Definitely the former. Case in point, take 30 seconds to check out this picture, and then compare to my picture above. Am I right??

Anyway, I was trying to come up with some new dinners to eat during our Whole30 when I got distracted and wandered over to Half Baked Harvest by Tieghan Gerard. I adore looking at the pictures on Tieghan’s blog – she is a fabulous food photographer – but I’ve never really had any intention of making the recipes because frankly, they sound like a lot of work. Many of the recipe titles imply about a thousand ingredients, and I always just assumed that many of them weren’t (or couldn’t be adapted to be) Whole30 approved, and so I usually just ogled over the pictures and then moved on. Really, it just means that I’m lazy.

So when I actually looked at the ingredient list for this Thai Lemongrass Chicken Braised in Coconut Milk I was pleasantly surprised – if you omit the rice and noodles, this is totally Whole30!

bearfamilystrong.com | thai lemongrass chicken braised in coconut milk

I love coconut milk, but aside from curry I rarely use it in my food. The recipe also calls for lemongrass, fresh ginger, and fresno chiles – also ingredients I rarely or never use.  I’m afraid of braising – mostly because I never really understood what it meant. So in terms of stepping out of my comfort zone, this recipe fits the bill on multiple levels. In terms of simplicity, I’d call this recipe a 5 out of 10. Once you get everything in the pot, it drops down to a 1 because all you do is let it cook, but browning the chicken ended up being a bit more difficult – the chicken kept sticking to the pan so I lost a lot of skin by the time it was all said and done.

bearfamilystrong.com | thai lemongrass chicken braised in coconut milk2

In terms of looks, I’d give my end result a 3 out of 10. Clearly I have a ways to go in my food styling ability. (Note to self; next time, remember to keep some of the fresh ingredients to use as garnishes in the picture!) But in terms of taste the recipe gets a solid 10 – it was delicious. I loved the combination of lemongrass, ginger, and the hint of heat from the fresno chiles. I wasn’t sure how I felt about the bok choy and cilantro – they end up getting cooked in the dutch oven with everything else, so I found them to be a bit too overcooked for my liking. If I were to make this recipe again, I think I’d cook the bok choy separately and use fresh cilantro as a garnish.

bearfamilystrong.com | thai lemongrass chicken braised in coconut milk3

Back to my point above – obviously this is a dish best served with rice or noodles. To keep it Whole30, I whipped up a batch of saffron scented cauliflower rice and served the chicken and vegetables atop the rice and drizzled with a couple spoonfuls of the delicious coconut milk sauce from the pot. Looks aside, it turned out to be an excellent dinner!

bearfamilystrong.com | thai lemongrass chicken braised in coconut milk5

*Original recipe can be found here.