Baked Crispy Cajun Spiced Chicken Thighs

Bake Cajun Spiced Chicken Thighs

It was both a grievous and wonderful moment when I first made baked chicken thighs a couple of years ago. Up to that point I had squandered many years avoiding any meat from a chicken other than the white meat. There were several reasons for that. One, I’m the girl who eats her ribs with a fork and prefers them falling off the bone, so naturally the thought of working around smallish chicken bones to get my meat was not super appealing. Two, I’d bought into the idea that low-fat diets were most nutritious and that lean chicken and turkey were the best sources of animal protein. So the fact that chicken thighs are higher in fat than chicken breasts was another deterrant in my consumption of dark chicken meat. Three, I’d never bought chicken thighs before and had no idea what to do with them. But finally, after nearly three decades of a dark chicken meat free diet, I experienced the insane deliciousness that are chicken thighs. I guess I’ll have to spend the next 3 decades making up for lost time. Oh the difficulties of my life!

There are several perks to eating chicken thighs. First, they’re budget friendly. I picked up a 3 lb family size package of bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs at Whole Foods last weekend for about $7. The boneless, skinless chicken thighs were a bit more – about $12 for a family size package. At Whole Foods comparable quantities of chicken breasts are more in the $15-$20 range. Of course, prices will vary depending on your grocery store and region. Second, they’re delicious and so worth the tiny amount of effort it takes to get the meat off the bones. Third, they’re actually quiet nutritious for you. Now that we know it’s not fat that is bad for us but rather sugar and excess carbs, we can enjoy dark chicken meat guilt free! They’re also a great source of potassium (which protects your blood vessels from oxidative damage) and selenium (which helps the body make antioxidant enzymes) and contain folate, iron and vitamins A, K, B6, and B12.
 Bake Cajun Spiced Chicken Thighs

Use your best judgement based on your own health and dietary needs to determine whether its best for you to eat the skin or take it off. If you’re watching your calorie intake, have high cholesterol, or have already consumed a lot of fat in your day, you may want to take the skin off.

I made these Cajun spiced chicken thighs for dinner earlier this week and the hubs and I devoured them while our dog stared sadly and adorably at us. These will definitely be added to our list of of favorite weeknight dinners. There’s not much hands on time which makes these really easy, but they do require an hour of marinating and 35 minutes of baking, so plan on about an hour and forty-five minutes from start to consumption.
 Cajun Spice Blend

These Cajun spiced chicken thighs have a great flavor, but they’re not spicy. If you’d like to kick the heat up a bit, try adding more cayenne pepper and/or red pepper flakes to the Cajun seasoning blend.

Enjoy with some roasted veggies for an easy and nutritous dinner!
Baked Crispy Cajun Spiced Chicken Thighs
 
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Author:
Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: American
Serves: 2 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 Tablespoon lime juice
  • 2 teaspoons dried rosemary
  • 1 Tablespoon Cajun seasoning (recipe below)
  • 1 Tablespoon coconut oil, melted
  • Sea Salt
  • Black Pepper
  • 4 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (about 1.5 lbs)
Mild Cajun Seasoning
  • 1 Tablespoon salt
  • 1 Tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 Tablespoon smoked paprika
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon white pepper
  • 1½ teaspoon onion powder
  • 1½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1½ teaspoon oregano
  • ½ teaspoon thyme
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
Instructions
  1. Combine all of the ingredients for the Cajun seasoning. Store in a small air tight container. Makes about 5 Tablespoons total. You can double or triple the recipe if you'd like to keep more on hand.
  2. Combine the lime juice, rosemary, and Cajun seasoning in a small bowl to form a paste. Add the chicken thighs and lime/rosemary/Cajun seasoning paste to a large bowl or ziploc bag and toss the chicken until evenly coated. Marinate in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
  3. Preheat the oven to 400. Brush a small-medium sized rimmed baking pan with a bit of the melted coconut oil, just enough to coat the bottom of the pan.
  4. Place the chicken thighs on the baking pan and brush both sides of the chicken with the remaining coconut oil, then sprinkle just a bit of coarse sea salt and freshly cracked pepper on both sides of the chicken. Leave the skin side facing up for baking.
  5. Bake on 400 for 35 minutes or until the internal temperature is 165 and the skin is a crispy golden brown. If you'd like your skin a bit crispier you can switch the oven to a high broil for about 1 minute, keeping a close watch to make sure the chicken doesn't burn.

Quick Paleo Blueberry Muffins

Blueberry Muffins

I’ve had a thing for blueberries this summer. I’ve been buying a quart nearly every week. My dog has had a thing for blueberries this summer, too. He thinks it’s, like, the best when I toss a couple in the air for him to catch. And then he won’t leave my side while I’m in the kitchen. And then when I do leave the kitchen I have to make sure he follows me, otherwise I may return to find that apparently I only made 10 blueberry muffins, not 12. Don’t worry, that didn’t happen this time. I learned that lesson a while ago.

This past Saturday I had a leisurely morning at home and decided I wanted blueberry muffins. A few months ago I bought Primal Cravings: Your favorite foods made Paleo (affiliate link) by Brandon and Megan Keatley of Health-Bent and I’m a huge fan of it so far. It’s become my go-to paleo/primal cookbook for more indulgent recipes, especially for baked goods. Their recipe for biscuits with honey butter is just insane. I grew up in the south and I love a good biscuit, especially on a Sunday morning, so I was thrilled to find a really phenomenal paleo version. But, that’s a bit off topic. This weekend I wanted blueberry muffins, and though Primal Cravings doesn’t have a recipe specifically for blueberry muffins I knew that I could probably tweak one of their recipes and end up with a pretty good result. The outcome was light and fluffy, slightly sweet muffins with bursts of blueberry throughout – exactly what I was hoping for! Actually, they were way better than I was expecting, as paleo baked goods can sometimes be dense and dry, but had I not known these muffins were grain/gluten free, I never would have guessed.

And if you need some extra motivation to spend 30 minutes making these muffins (10 minutes of prep, 20 minutes of baking) consider the benefits of blueberries:

  • More antioxident compounds than any other fruit
  • Can help keep your eyes healthy
  • Can lower cholesterol
  • Can help prevent diabetes, some cancers, heart disease, and memory loss
  • Can help protect your digestive tract from intestinal upsets and food poisoning
  • Can help with recovery from urinary tract infections

Pick up some fresh blueberries at your local farmer’s market this week and give these muffins a try! Let me know how they turn out for you and any modifications you make!

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Quick Paleo Blueberry Muffins
 
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Don't be intimidated by the ingredients in this recipe! Trader Joe's carries coconut flour and coconut sugar, and tapioca flour can be found at most grocery stores with the gluten-free baking ingredients (I use Bob's Red Mill).
Author:
Recipe type: Breakfast
Serves: 12
Ingredients
  • ½ cup coconut flour, sifted
  • ½ cup tapioca flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • ½ cup butter, melted
  • ¼ cup coconut sugar
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350. Line a 12 serving muffin tin with parchment paper liners.
  2. Whisk the dry ingredients together in a large bowl.
  3. In a separate bowl whisk the butter, coconut sugar, and maple syrup together, then whisk the eggs in one at a time.
  4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir until combined, then gently fold in the blueberries.
  5. Fill each muffin tin ¾ full with the batter.
  6. Bake 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1 muffin