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!  

Kung Pao Goodness 

  This salmon dish is spicy and sweet in all the right ways, super healthy, and according to the butcher, “the best seafood dish he’s ever had”. It’s also easy to make and, gasp, I even measured out my ingredients for you this time! If you’re allergic to peanuts, leave them out. If you’re allergic to salmon, use chicken or beef. If you’re allergic to beef then well, we can’t be friends. Here’s what you’ll need… 
 2 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes

extra-virgin olive oil

2 teaspoons cinnamon

2 heads of broccoli

1/2 cup low sodium soy sauce

1/4 cup rice vinegar

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon minced garlic

1/2 teaspoon minced ginger

1/2 teaspoon chili flakes

1/2 teaspoon hot sauce

1 lb. skinless salmon fillet, cubed

2 tablespoons unsalted peanuts roughly chopped
Now let’s get cooking!

Preheat oven to 375°. On a baking sheet, toss sweet potato chunks with 1/2 tbsp oil. Add cinnamon, season with salt and pepper, and toss again. Spread sweet potato chunks in a single layer and bake until soft, 15 to 20 minutes. In a bowl, toss broccoli with 1/2 tbsp oil; season with salt and pepper and toss again. Push sweet potato to one side of sheet and arrange broccoli on other side in a single layer; bake until tender, 10 to 15 minutes more. In a bowl, whisk together soy sauce, vinegar, brown sugar, garlic, ginger, chili flakes and got sauce; set aside. In a pan over high heat, heat 1 tbsp oil; cook salmon, until browned on all sides, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer salmon to a plate and set aside; add soy sauce mixture to pan and simmer until thickened, about 3 minutes. Reduce heat and return salmon to pan along with vegetables; turn gently to coat. Top with peanuts and serve. YUM! It seriously was so delicious, I will definitely be making this again soon. For two people you could definitely cut this in half, I always make extras so we have leftovers for the butcher’s lunch and this made two nice portions of leftovers. To make it even better, I recommend enjoying it on the patio with a glass of wine and the love of your life, that makes any dish fantastic. 

 

One pot wonder…

I’ve been in a funk all week. My anxiety has been extremely high and I just haven’t wanted to get out of bed or see anyone. But yesterday afternoon was so gorgeous I decided to lay on the couch on our patio, get some fresh air, and read. The air was warm with a nice breeze gently blowing, birds were chirping, the Spanish moss on the neighbors huge oak tree was swaying in the wind, and the calming sounds of Brazilian singer Joao Gilberto on his guitar (great pandora station, you should give it a try you’ll feel like you’re at a cafe in Rio or on a beach in Bali) were coming from my little Bluetooth speaker. So of course I fell asleep. I woke up to the butcher, who had just gotten home from work, gently stroking my forehead (my mom used to do this as child, he knows I love it) as he lay next to me on the couch. All of the aforementioned conditions combined with a nap must have been exactly what I needed, because I was in a much better mood. After chatting a little bit about his day, he promptly fell asleep as well. But now I was awake and hungry, and I knew he would be too when he woke up. I decided to go in and make dinner. I wanted it to be quick and was in the mood for pasta. 

We very rarely eat pasta so I wasn’t sure if I even had any but I found a box of spaghetti (yes ma, white flour, so shoot me) in the back of the cupboard. I had seen on Pinterest several “one pot” recipes where you throw a bunch of ingredients in with pasta, cook it all together, and you’ve got a meal. So I decided to give it a try. I had some grape tomatoes from the farmers market that needed to be used before they went bad as well as some spicy andouille sausage. The rest is history (see recipe below) and as I came out onto the patio with two steaming bowls of deliciousness, the butcher sat up from his nap and smiled, ready to eat. 

  

Beauty & The Bitcher’s                   
One Pot Pasta

Ingredients

  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • 1 12 ounce package smoked andouille sausage, thinly sliced
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 cups halved grape tomatoes
  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves (just a really good handful, you can never have too much basil) 
  • 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • Kosher salt and black pepper, just a good pinch of each 
  • grated Parmesan

Instructions

  • In a Dutch oven on medium high heat, combine spaghetti, sausage, onion, tomatoes, basil, garlic and 4 1/2 cups water; season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  •   
  • Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, until pasta is cooked through and liquid has reduced, about 8-10 minutes. Stir in Parmesan.
  •   
  • This truly was a “one pot wonder”, SO easy, and really yummy to boot! Enjoy! 
  •   

pumpkin lovers unite!

It’s fall y’all! And in honor of such, what could be a better recipe to make than pumpkin soup?! I made a huge vat of it recently for a congregation work day and it was a huge hit with lots of recipe requests. So here you go!

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Beauty & The Butcher’s Cream of Pumpkin Soup

1 cup chopped onion
2 tablespoons butter
1 carton chicken broth
1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
(as per usual all of the spice measurements are merely an approximation; feel free to do more or less of what you please especially the cayenne- just taste as you go people, you can do it!)
1 cup heavy whipping cream…this obviously makes the soup creamy, rich, and delicious but if you are anti-dairy (or happiness https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=kH1UtGUSvrE ) then you can use a soy milk creamer or leave it just as it is, it’s still yummy. You could use olive oil instead of butter to make it completely vegan) This recipe makes a small pot, I usually always at least double it and in case you’re wondering how to make it for 100 people, just multiply everything by seven!

Directions

Sauté chopped onion in butter in medium pot until translucent. Add half the carton of chicken broth; stir well. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes.
Transfer broth mixture into the blender and purée until smooth. Make sure you have an oven mitt or potholder over the top of the blender in case of splashing because the liquid will be very hot, I’m speaking from experience here, trust me.
Return mixture to saucepan. Add remaining can of broth, pumpkin, salt, ground cinnamon, ground ginger, and ground pepper; stir well. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. The “cover” part is very important because the pumpkin likes to pop and otherwise you’ll have little orange splotches all over your kitchen! Again, speaking from experience.
Stir in whipping cream and heat through. Do not boil, it will curdle the cream. This is a great soup to make a ahead and reheat but don’t add the cream until you have reheated it and are ready to serve. Ladle into individual soup bowls and serve, hopefully with grilled cheese!!!

Steak Pizzaiola

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Steak pizzaiola, or carne alla pizzaiola (roughly translated as “meat in pizza”) is a dish derived from the Neapolitan tradition that features meat (often less expensive cuts of beef) cooked with peppers, tomatoes and olive oil, long enough to tenderize the meat. I was in the mood for Italian, had a flatiron steak in the fridge, and I ALWAYS have an array of canned tomatoes on hand so I decided to throw together my own version of a “Pizzaiola”. Here’s what I used…

Ingredients
3/4 lb flat iron steak
1 can crushed tomatoes
Garlic
Oregano
Basil
1 Red bell pepper (I had a few small sweet peppers in the fridge that I used so really any red pepper will do, even if it’s roasted in a jar)
1 onion
Crushed red pepper
Salt

Heat some olive oil in a pan. Season the steak with a little salt and put into pan just enough to sear on both sides. Remove from pan and set aside. Add garlic, chopped onion, and diced bell pepper to pan and sauté about 3 minutes. Add tomatoes, oregano, salt, basil, (obviously fresh herbs are always better but dried are perfectly acceptable. Forgive me for not giving measurements but you got this, just eyeball it) crushed red pepper, and about 1/2 cup water to the pan. Bring to a boil then let simmer, the sauce will begin to thicken. Cook for about 10-15 minutes (the longer the better for the flavors to really meld together but if you’re starving and can’t wait then I’d say at least 7 minutes!) Place the steak back into the pan and nestle it into the sauce. (Before doing that if you want to slice it you can, we like to keep ours whole in this house) Let the steak cook a little in the sauce and then you’re done! You can enjoy this over pasta, or by itself with a nice hunk of toasted Italian bread drizzled with olive oil (you’re totally drooling now aren’t you?) and a side salad. Mangia Mangia!

Not very pretty, but pretty delicious…

In the spirit of my “MAYbe Tomorrow” Pinterest challenge I decided to do something edible because, let’s face it people, most of what we pin on Pinterest is food related. This particular recipe was from the blog 30 Handmade Days and is called, “Stick of Butter Rice”, so it pretty much Jerry Maguire’d me and had me at “stick of butter”. I had an open stick of butter in the fridge so mine turned out to be more like 3/4 of a stick of butter rice, which hey great, a healthier option to the original. (snicker). This recipe really can’t get any easier, it only has four ingredients;
10 oz. beef broth
1 can condensed French onion soup
1 Cup uncooked rice
1 stick butter
In hindsight I would have added mushrooms, almost like a stroganoff rice.
Here’s the ingredients along with the before rice…(it’s not pretty I know, just stay with me). Combine soup, broth, and rice in baking dish then slice butter and add. Cover with foil and cook at 425 for 30 minutes then remove foil and cook for another 30 minutes.

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Here’s the finished product…

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I paired it with some yummy roasted broccoli and chicken cutlets. All in all it was pretty good, and the butcher was quite happy. Which is good, since we’ll be eating the leftovers tomorrow!

breakfast for dinner

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we have been vacationing in outer banks, North Carolina since I was ten years old and I love it more every year. Next month we are going with 5 other couples and in preparation of that my husband wanted to test some of his breakfast recipes. He gets up every morning and makes breakfast for everybody and he gets really into it so we had a “brinner” party and sampled such delicacies as cream cheese & blueberry stuffed French toast, tomato spinach frittata, maple bacon cheddar deviled eggs, and Denver omelet hash brown cups! I got to use all my bright cheery dishes because breakfast is cheery right? The sun is shining the birds are chirping the orange juice is bright & citrusy (albeit mixing with your freshly brushed toothpaste mouth is not so pleasant…) I love setting the table and theming it out no matter what the occasion. When we were kids my mom had such a plethora of dishes and when we had company she would carefully select the tablecloth, drinking goblets, plates, napkins, etc to fit the theme of the meal. Looking back I’ve come to realize that a) I obviously inherited this from her and b) this was not the norm, most little girls didn’t grow up polishing silver for dinner the next day! But I’m do grateful that was my experience because it made me the hostess I am today, thanks mom!