Roast Chicken 

 
Some (especially Ina Garten’s husband Jeffrey) would argue that there is nothing more comforting than a roast chicken with vegetables. After smelling my house while this was in the oven, I’d have to agree with them. Sure, you can buy a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store but it’s just not the same, and not nearly as delicious.

So I implore you to try this simple recipe and you won’t be sorry. Feel free to make it your own, increase the quantity of ingredients to feed a larger crowd or add different veggies, slices, herbs, etc. Let’s get started!  

INGREDIENTS 

  • 2tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 ½ pounds small red potatoes (about 15)
  • 1 pound medium carrots (about 6)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1 3 ½- to 4-pound chicken
  • 1 lemon
  • 8 sprigs fresh thyme

INSTRUCTIONS 

  • Place the butter on a plate and set it aside to soften. 
  • Heat oven to 425° F (I used the convection setting and it worked beautifully) and begin preparing the vegetables. Scrub the potatoes. Peel the carrots, halve them lengthwise, and cut them crosswise into 2-inch pieces.
  • Place the vegetables in a large roasting pan or baking dish and toss with the olive oil, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper. 
  • Remove the neck and the bag of giblets from inside the cavity of the chicken and discard them. (Thankfully, my chicken didn’t come with any of these but just in case…)
  • Pat the bird dry with paper towels.
  •  Prick the lemon several times with a sharp knife and place it in the chicken along with the thyme.
  •  Rub the outside of the chicken with the softened butter and season with ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. 
  • Tie the legs together with kitchen twine or a handy reusable silicone kitchen tie like I have, found here. Place on top of the vegetables in the roasting pan. It should look like this!Like my roasting pan? It’s Rachel Ray stoneware, get your own here!
  • Put the chicken in the oven and roast until the vegetables are tender, the chicken is golden brown, and the juices run clear when the thigh is pierced with a fork, 65 to 75 minutes. (If you use an instant-read thermometer, it should register 165° F when inserted in the thickest part of the thigh.) 
  • Let the chicken rest for at least 10 minutes before carving.  
  • Serve & enjoy!  

Pumpkin Paradise

  
These days, way before you smell the crisp fall air, see leaves turning, or start wearing long sleeves, you are smacked in the face with the arrival of the pumpkin. This popular gourd signals autumn before anything else whether it be in lattes, baked goods, or home decor. But who’s complaining?! 

The thing that immediately comes to my mind though, is always, pumpkin pie. (And pumpkin soup, but that’s another post for another day.) 

Baking and family history are two of my most favorite things so I’m elated today to combine the two with this delicious pumpkin pie recipe, made in my husband’s late great aunt Louise’s pumpkin pie dish. It’s so seasonal and so simple you’ll love it. The men in my life wouldn’t even let it cool before they dove in; the (homemade, anything else is just a sin) whipped cream was melting all over the top. I prefer it a little more room temp but either way, it’s pretty delicious. Here’s the recipe.

Beauty & The Butcher’s Pumpkin Pie

INGREDIENTS

  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 can organic pumpkin (make sure you get plain pumpkin not pumpkin pie mix that has all kinds of seasonings already in it)
  • 1 can evaporated milk
  • 1 unbaked pie crust (I like to use Pilsbury pie dough and form in it in the pan myself but you could use a pre-baked pie shell, ooh graham cracker might even be good!)
  • Whipped cream (I’d say OPTIONAL but it’s really not, what’s pumpkin pie without FRESH whipped cream?! If you’ve never made your own it’s very simple, just mix about 1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream with 1/3 cup powdered sugar and with a whisk attachment beat the daylights out of it until it’s firm and full of little peaks. But don’t over mix, that’s how you get butter!)

INSTRUCTIONS

  • Beat eggs in large bowl. Stir in pumpkin, sugar, and spices. Gradually stir in evaporated milk.
  • Pour into pie shell.
  • Bake in preheated 425° F oven for 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350°F; then bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until knife inserted near center comes out clean. Cool on wire rack for 2 hours (or two minutes in my house) Serve immediately or refrigerate. Top with whipped cream before devouring…er, serving. 

I’m going to be honest, yours might not taste quite as good as mine unless you also have an heirloom pumpkin pie dish and a crate & barrel plate that says “easy as pie” to serve it on. But you can certainly try! 

nothing vegan about it…

  
Eating healthy is good. Eating a plant based diet of fruits, vegetables, and legumes is even better. And then, there’s chicken pot pie. There’s nothing vegan about it, but it sure is delicious. And that’s ok. With me at least, but, whatever floats your boat. All things in moderation right?

For me, food is love. I’ve found, as I grow older and expand my culinary prowess, I have an inexplicable urge to feed people. It brings me joy and comfort to see someone else enjoy something that I worked hard to create, to hear an irrepressible “mmm” escape from their lips, and to know that they feel loved by me because I have fed them. At least that’s the experience I hope for. Especially when it’s something warm and deliciously comforting. Sometimes people are just hungry, and that’s ok too. I guess…

This humble pot pie full of simple ingredients and lots of calories is the epitome of comfort food, in my opinion. And sometimes when somebody you love is hurting, there’s nothing to can do but feed them, because food is love.

Beauty & The Butcher’s Chicken Pot Pie 

 

Ingredients

  • 2-3 chicken cutlets dice
  • 1 bag frozen mixed vegetables
  • 2 red potatoes diced
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup
  • Dash of minced garlic
  • 1 box store bought pie crust
  • Salt, pepper, & pinch of sage

Preheat oven to 375. Season chicken with s&p. Sauté garlic & chicken in olive oil until no longer pink. Add vegetables and sauté for a minute or two. Add cream of chicken and sage then let simmer for ten minutes. Prepare pie plate by lining with one roll of crust. Spoon mixture into dish and cover with remaining roll of dough making sure it’s securely attached to the bottom crust and sealed. Pinch pastry along the sides to firmly seal and crimp with a fork if you’re fancy. Pour a few tablespoons of milk into a cup and brush top of pie and all along crust with milk, this will give you a lovely honey colored crust! Bake until golden brown & enjoy!!!

Blue Ribbon Chili

 Today our congregation had a chili cook off. My mom’s “Shocking Good” (a play on her last name, Schochler) hot & spicy turkey chili from the Schochler Pennsylvamia Kitchen was a big hit and there wasn’t a drop left in the crock pot! And no, in case you were wondering, I did not enter. I’m still relatively scarred from a family cheesecake competition…

I asked her if she could send me the recipe and she replied that she didn’t have one. 

“Mom, you gotta give me something. Just try” I guess I know where I get it from now, always struggling to give you people measurements and what not. 

This is what I got via text message…

“I just got in from taking your grandmother back to the nursing home. I can give you a list, but measurements differ depending on quantity you want.”

So my friends, here’s the list, but you’re on your own when it comes to quantity and measurements. Just wing it I guess…

  • Ground turkey or beef
  • 1 can tom paste
  • Lg can crushed tomatoes 
  • Lg can diced tomatoes 
  • Lg can chili beans or red kidney or assorted combo
  • Garlic
  • Onions
  • Half small can of adobo Chilis
  • Cumin
  • Chili powder 
  • S & P
  • Coriander 

“Thanks mom. But can you give me a little more, like the process you go through when making it?” Now I’m thinking maybe she just doesn’t want to give me her prize winning recipe…So she responds…

“Sauté onions and garlic first. Then add ground meat and cook with adobo chilis plus all dry spices. Add all cans with liquid. As you cook you may need to add little bit of water if tomato paste is too thick. Taste to adjust seasonings. Always better the 2nd day! How’s that?”

I sent her a thumbs up emoji (which probably just looked like an alien with a square around it since she most likely has not updated her iPhone software to include the emoji keyboard…4 parents and my husband is a lot of technology to manage, aye aye aye) and said, “Perfect mom, just perfect. And so was the chili!”

pho sho…

Last night we enjoyed some delicious pho with some of our best friends. It was delightful. But you might be asking yourself, what IS pho?  


Pho is a Vietnamese noodle soup consisting of broth, linguine-shaped rice noodles, herbs, and traditionally beef or chicken although vegetarian options are just as delicious. The hearty soup originated in Northern Vietnam during the 20th century. Pho was originally sold at dawn and dusk by roaming street vendors, who amazingly shouldered mobile kitchens on poles across their backs. From the pole hung two wooden cabinets, one housing a cauldron over a wood fire, the other storing noodles, spices, cookware, and space to prepare a bowl of pho. Boy does that sound heavy! Thankfully now it’s much more widely available and no poles are necessary, you can go to your local pho eatery and order a bowl. (Our favorite spot is Pho 88 on Mills Avenue in Orlando for you local folks)


 
       

But what if you don’t have a pho eatery near you, or you want to try making it at home? Now you can! You can judge how good a Pho soup is by how much concentrated flavor is packed in the broth while still retaining a clean, clear broth. I like my Pho without Sriracha or Hoisin sauce (or “the brown stuff” as the butcher calls it)…I really enjoy the purity of the chicken broth without anything to hide its flavor and aroma.

There are 2 very important steps to a clear but intense broth – 1) parboiling the chicken to get rid of the impurities 2) charring the ginger and onion for a naturally sweet, robust flavor.

INGREDIENTS:

1 whole (preferably organic) chicken (4-5lbs)

1 whole onion, unpeeled and cut in half

3-inch chunk of ginger, unpeeled

{Broth spices}

2 tbl whole coriander seeds

4 whole cloves

2 whole star anise

2 tbl raw sugar 

2 tbl fish sauce…be sure to choose a fish sauce light in color, it should look like brewed tea….anything darker than that (looking like Coca Cola) is inferior quality.

small bunch of cilantro stems only, tied in bunch with twine

1 lb dried rice noodles 

{Table Accompaniements}

2 cups bean sprouts 

cilantro tops – leaves and tender stems

1/2 lime, cut into 4 wedges

Sriracha hot sauce

Hoisin sauce

sliced chili or jalapeño (for the brave people out there)

DIRECTIONS:

Place ginger and onion on a small baking sheet. The top of the onion should be about 4″ from the oven’s heating element. Set to broil on high for 15 minutes. Turn the onion and ginger occasionally, to get an even char. The skin should get dark and the onion/ginger should get soft. After cooling, rub to get the charred skin off the onion and use a butter knife to scrape the skin off the ginger. Slice ginger into thick slices. I know this may seem tedious but trust me it’s worth it for the rich flavor it produces!

Fill a large pot or Dutch oven with water and boil. With a sharp knife, carve the chicken breast meat off and reserve. Or just marry a butcher. With the rest of chicken whacking hard through the bones to get sections about 3″ big. The more bone that is exposed, the more marrow that gets in the broth (translation: rich, flavorful). You can even whack several places along the bone just to expose more marrow. When the water boils, add chicken sections (not breast) and boil on high for 5 minutes. You’ll see lots of foam and “stuff’ come up to the surface. Drain and wash your pot thoroughly. Refill with about 4 quarts of clean, cold water. (If making vegetarian pho, this step can be skipped and just use vegetable broth or make your own veggie stock) 

Add chicken, chicken breast meat, onion, ginger and all of the broth spices in the pot and cover. Turn heat to high – let it come to boil, then immediately turn heat to low. Prop lid up so that steam can escape. After 15 minutes, remove the chicken breasts, shred with your fingers when cooled and set aside (you’ll serve shredded chicken breast with the finished soup). With a large spoon, skim the surface of any impurities in the broth. Skimming every 20 minutes ensures a clear broth. Simmer a total of 1-1/2 hours. Taste and adjust seasoning with more fish sauce and or sugar.
Strain the broth, discarding solids. Prepare noodles as per directions on package. Ladle broth, add shredded chicken breast and soft noodles in each bowl. Have all the table accompaniements at table for each person to add to their bowl based on individual taste. Even though your broth may not be as clear, you can also make this recipe in your crock pot and come home to the delicious aromas of Vietnam!  
 It was PHO yummy! Photastic! Can I have pho mo?! I could do this all day…

We also had some DELICIOUS spring rolls with a to die for peanut sauce but that’s another recipe for another day! 

Downton Withdrawal            

Have you, like me, been sitting in front of your television late Sunday evenings feeling like something is missing from your life? It’s called Downton withdrawal! (ok to be honest I usually watched it Monday on the dvr while folding laundry but that wasn’t as dramatic) So to cheer you up a bit I decided to show you our fabulous (if I do say so myself) Downton Abbey party. Really the fabulous part was my friends, who totally rose to the occasion and dressed to the nines. I am in a bit of disbeleief that I have not shared any of this with you up until this point! (insert emoji with the mouth open, “home alone” hands on cheeks) So lets dive right in.

I love the Pbs show Downton Abbey and I love throwing parties. So, duh, a downton party needed to happen. I decided to make it a tea party with some hearty food as well since it was dinner time and there were men attending. And since I knew everyone would want to sample all of the delicious treats, I split the evening up into two parts; dinner and sprakling wine, then a downton game and viewing the special features as well as secrets of the Highclere Castle (the estate where the show is filmed). After that it was tea, dessert, and time to watch the finale! I purchased the season online so that we could watch the finale at the party before it actually aired on television. Here are some pictures of the food, the decor, and the guests! 
Oh and me, the hostess, in my fun blonde flapper wig!IMG_7457   

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how much wood would a woodchuck chuck…

Chuck roast. I asked the butcher for a good definition and this is what he sent me…

“This particular cut of meat comes from the sub primal cut known as the chuck, an area located near the neck and shoulder area of the steer. It’s very popular as a ground meat due to its high fat content but is also delicious left whole and served as a roast. The fatty tissue, collagen, (no Botox necessary) melts for the most part during long cooking methods and makes for a delicious meal.”

Smart and funny! I picked a good one, that’s for sure! That may be the technical definition but I, however, define it as the ultimate air freshener and perfect meal on a cold rainy day like today. I decided to combine a few of my favorite recipes and flavors to make the perfect pot roast. Give it a try, I dare you. 

Beauty & The Butcher’s Pot Roast  

Ingredients

  • a few tablespoons olive oil
  • Chuck Roast apx. 4 lbs.
  • 1 good sized yellow onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup good balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard (don’t you just love Dijon mustard? I feel it’s an under utilized condiment that adds a tangy distinguished flavor to many dishes. Not to mention the grey poupon jokes.)
  •  a handful of thyme. obviously fresh sprigs would be prefered but I only had dry on hand and it’ll do pig, it’ll do.
  •  2 cups beef broth
  • several carrots (honestly whatever you have on hand and yay! no peeling! just chop off the ends)
  • kosher salt & black pepper

* side note: you may have noticed the lack of potatoes in the list of ingredients. this was done purposely. although most traditional roast recipes call for them, I find that after cooking for such a long period of time the potatoes become mealy and mushy. that combined with the fact that I make a pretty mean mashed potato, i prefer to prepare them separately, mash them, and serve the roast atop the delicious spuds.) All that being said, add potatoes if you want, it will still be yummy.

Instructions

  •  Preheat oven to 300F.
  • Heat oil in a large dutch oven (i love my blessed discounted le crueset dutch oven! If you don’t have one then a crock pot should work too) over high heat.
  • Season chuck roast well with salt and pepper, add to pan and brown well on all sides (a few minutes a side.)
  • Remove roast and set aside.
  • Add chopped onion to drippings in pot and reduce heat to medium.
  • Sauté onions until soft, about 5 minutes.
  • Add balsamic vinegar, increase heat to medium-high and boil until reduced and slightly syrupy, about 4-5 more minutes. 
  • Stir in Dijon. Man I wish you could smell this right now!
  • Set roast on top of onions in pot.
  • Pour in 2 cups beef broth and add thyme. 
  • Cover and place in oven for 2 1/2 hours or until very tender.
    Add carrots and to pot and return to oven. Continue cooking until they are tender, about 30 minutes or more depending on how you like your carrots.
  • Season again with s&p, serve over a bed of mashed taters, and enjoy!