" There is no love sincerer than the love of food."
- George Bernard Shaw

Carrot Chicken Bake

This insane concoction came about one night back in 2011 while waiting for the hubby to get home from one of his late classes. I didn't know what exactly I wanted, but I had chicken and a whole bag of carrots. Really, though, I think it was just me throwing things into the pan that I thought would be interesting together. Turns out, I was right!

Carrot Chicken Bake - BEFORE
Salt & Pepper
3-4 Carrots
2 Tablespoons Minced Garlic
Brown Sugar
3 Tablespoons Butter
4 Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts
12-16 Whole Cloves 
Chili Powder
1 Medium to Large Orange

Preheat the oven to 350oF.

Sprinkle a 13x9 casserole dish with salt and pepper. Peel and cut enough carrots to completely cover the bottom of the dish. Add two heaping tablespoons of minced garlic and generously sprinkle brown sugar over the carrots. Drop in three tablespoons of butter. Place the dish in the heated oven for 2-3 minutes or until the butter is melted. Return to the counter and sprinkle on a little cinnamon to cover, then stir everything to coat.

Clear enough space between the carrots to place 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts. Stud each breast with 3 or 4 whole cloves [This really depends on the size of the breast; use your best judgement]. Sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper. Sprinkle cinnamon on the chicken only [The carrots are already coated!] and then add the chili powder over the entire dish [This will cut some of the sweetness and add a nice flavor. As always, use more for more heat and less for just flavor)]. Cut the orange in half and juice with a hand juicer over the chicken and into the carrots. Mashed pulp is edible and perfectly fine to let fall on top of the chicken.

Bake uncovered for 35-45 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through. The carrots will not be mushy soft and will retain some snap to their centers [which is just perfect if you ask me].

Remove the cloves and serve the carrots alongside the chicken with rice or mashed potatoes, or whatever side you prefer.

Exactly 4 servings, unless you are like a friend of ours, who only ever eats half a portion at a time....

While this recipe certainly looks a little crazy, I assure you it tastes pretty good. As with all randomly-created recipes, this one has had approximations substituted for some of the measurements (carrots, butter, and garlic) and relies on the cook to make his/her own adjustments to other flavors (brown sugar, cinnamon, and chili powder). With any new recipe I try, I always try to follow the exact recipe the first time and add or subtract amounts of various bits on subsequent preparations. This recipe, however, pushes the creativity on the part of the cook the first go round - so if the first time you try this, you think something is missing, don't just automatically give up; try it again with a little more of that one thing you felt wasn't enough. Or, if it has too much of one thing, scale back on that item. Play with it and make it your own! And, as always, if you add something new, let me know so I can try it, too!

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