Fig & Goat Cheese Stuffed Chicken Salad

When explaining the paleo diet to people, they often say “no dairy means no eggs?!”…. Then I kindly remind them that eggs do not come from cows.  Neither does goat cheese.  While it isn’t the most paleo-friendly option, it sure is delicious!  This was so yummy and the ooey gooey goat cheese made it even better! Yes, “ooey gooey” is a technical term!

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Ingredients:

2 chicken breasts

1 sprig thyme

1/4 cup goat cheese crumbles

6 fresh figs

2 plates fresh greens

1 pear – thinly sliced

1 Tbsp. honey

1 Tbsp. white balsamic vinegar

1 Tbsp. olive oil + a drizzle

Salt and pepper to taste

1.  In a small bowl, mix half of the goat cheese and two figs diced.  Place a small slit in each chicken breast to create a pocket.  Stuff with goat cheese and fig mixture and seal shut with toothpicks.  Season with thyme leaves, salt, and pepper and set aside.

2.  Lay fresh greens on two plates.  Top with pears, half of the goat cheese and remaining figs that have been halved.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.

3.  Whisk together white balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and honey and set aside.

4.  Preheat a drizzle of olive oil in a large frying pan over medium high heat.  Cook chicken while covered for 7-8 minutes per side.

5.  Top salads with chicken (remove the toothpicks too!) and pour the honey balsamic dressing over it.

Gigantic Smothered Pork Chops

Wow.  This was awesome!  How have I never seen these thick cut pork chops before?  Better yet, I got two huge chops for $4!  Brining these suckers makes them incredible, but then smothering them in sauteed goodness makes them out of this world!!  I was a bit nervous about cooking them properly because they were so thick, but there really is no way to not make a delicious brined pork chop!

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Ingredients:

2 wide cut pork chops

4 cups hot water

5 garlic cloves – peeled and smashed

1/4 cup salt

1 Tbsp. black peppercorns

1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar

1 Tbsp. oregano

1 Tbsp. coconut oil

1 large onion – sliced

1 red pepper – sliced

1. In a gallon sized storage bag, combine water, garlic, salt, peppercorns, vinegar, and oregano.  Refrigerate until cold.  Add pork chops and allow to brine for 4 hours.

2. Preheat grill to medium heat.  Cook pork chops for 8 minutes per side.  Because they are so thick, you need to cook them slow and low to cook through.

3. While chops are grilling, heat coconut oil over medium heat in a frying pan. Sautee onion and pepper until onion caramelizes.

4.  Remove chops from the grill and smother with the onion and pepper goodness.

Spiced Up Portuguese Cockles

My husband had been traveling through Korea and China on business for two weeks. Obviously, I was going to make whatever he wanted when he returned to welcome him home. Through Skype, I asked him what he was craving after eating deep fried everything in China. He said that everything I blogged while he was away looked so good and he was looking forward to anything healthy again. I then got him to narrow that down. He wanted cockles.

Mmmmmm cockles! My man is very lucky to have married a Portuguese girl! I grew up watching both my Vovo (grandmother) and mother cook incredible creations in the kitchen with such ease. These ladies never ever had to follow recipes. They would just create culinary masterpieces. I like to think that growing up exposed to this is what has instilled in me my love of cooking. Following in their footsteps, I don’t use recipes either…I create them.

I wish my Vovo were around to see my creations. She passed away in 1999, before I ever even fathomed that I would be blogging. I credit my love of cooking to those hours I spent watching her seamlessly make meals to feed our family.

Not all supermarkets and fish markets will have cockles. Quite frankly, I have no clue where to purchase them other than the Portuguese supermarket called Seabras. I am pretty sure that Seabras does not exist outside of New Jersey. If you can’t find cockles, this recipe would be delicious with any small clam. The smaller the better! Also, piri piri isn’t that readily accessible. I am slowly using up my supply that I got on our perfect honeymoon to the Mediterranean. Any chili powder would work as a substitution.

Without further ado, I bring you Spiced Up Portuguese Cockles!

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Ingredients:
2 pounds cockles – washed in cold water
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 onion – chopped
5 cloves garlic – minced
2 red bell peppers – chopped
1 green bell pepper – chopped
1 cup white wine
1/4 tsp piri piri (not going to lie, I put much more in, but not everyone loves spicy food like we do!)
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Over medium high heat, heat the olive oil in a large pot. Add onion and garlic, and sauté while frequently stirring until onion is translucent and garlic is lightly browned.
2. Add peppers, and cook for about 5 minutes until very fragrant.
3. Add wine and piri piri. Allow to reduce for 5 more minutes.
4. Make sure that your molho (Portuguese term that could mean any type of sauce from meat drippings to gravy) is delicious by adding salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a slow boil.
5. Add cockles, stir, and cover. Cook while shaking it up ever few minutes. Once all cockles are open, you are ready to serve it piping hot with some delicious Portuguese bread on the side for dipping!
6. Enjoy to the very last bite! As you can see here, my hubby sure did:
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