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!  
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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! 

Sweet Sprouts

“Brussels sprouts?! Yuck!” 

Those were my sentiments, as I’m sure most of yours as well, towards brussel sprouts as a child. Actually, to be honest, those feelings took me pretty far into adulthood as well. But as I have learned in my culinary journey, anything can be good if seasoned and prepared well. (Not saying my mother didn’t prepare them well, I’m sure her’s were delicious. I just wasn’t willing to give them a fair chance at the time because, well, they were brussel sprouts people!) 

First of all, can we just talk about the fact that they are actually called “Brussels Sprouts” and not “Brussel Sprouts”?! Who knew about that extra “s” at the end?! Not me, my friend, not me. World rocked. 

Members of the cabbage family, production of Brussels sprouts in the United States began in the 18th century, when French settlers brought them to Louisiana. Their highest producer to date is the Netherlands, where they’re probably served alongside raw herring or something different like that. Isn’t different such a nicer word than weird? Although now I’ve gone and said weird anyway, so you still know that was my initial word…I digress. 

These little cruciferous veggies help lower cholesterol, prevent cancer, and aid proper thyroid function. So basically, as usual, your mom was right; eat your vegetables! 

So, Mom, I hope you’re happy. Here’s a Brussels sprouts recipe that even kids will love, because they’re sweet, tangy, and crunchy and almost make you forget you’re eating veggie! I said almost, I’m not a magician….

  

Beauty & The Butcher’s Sweet Sprouts

Ingredients

  • 1½ lbs brussels sprouts, halved
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • ¾ tsp kosher salt
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar or 1 tbs balsamic glaze if you have it (trader joe’s makes an excellent one)
  • 2 tsp honey

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 425°.
  • Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil or use a silicone baking mat.
  • In a large bowl, toss brussels sprouts with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, kosher salt and black pepper to coat thoroughly.
  • Transfer the brussels sprouts to baking sheet and roast until tender and caramelized, about 20 minutes. Don’t freak out if some of the leaves get a little burnt, those crispy bits are the best part!
  • Place brussels sprouts back in bowl. Add remaining tablespoon olive oil, balsamic vinegar and honey and toss to coat evenly. Taste and season with kosher salt if necessary and serve. Or at least try, I set mine to cool on the stovetop and most of them were gone by the time dinner was ready…

I paired them with my famous (in our house at least) turkey meatloaf and creamy goat cheese polenta! But that’s anothef post for another day… 

Crazy for the Caprese! 

  
For many of you, summer is almost over. Hopefully though you still have a few remnants remaining, namely, tomatoes and fresh basil. Let’s put them to good use!

To me there is no salad more refreshing than a traditional Caprese. Italians call it “Insalata Caprese”, meaning “Salad of Capri” and it’s a simple salad, made of sliced fresh mozzarella, seasonal tomatoes and basil, seasoned with salt, and olive oil. It was made to resemble the colors of the Italian flag: red, white, and green. In Italy, it is usually served as an antipasto (starter), not a contorno (side dish) like most salads. 

You can serve it in domino layers on a platter or make a little tower like I’ve don’t in the picture. For extra flavor, I like to drizzle it with balsamic vinegar or better yet, a balsamic glaze {made from reducing the vinegar over heat until it thickens and becomes slightly sweeter}. Mangia!

To Die For Tomato Tart…

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So don’t get me wrong, my goat cheese and tomato tart is super delicious. However, this one almost puts it to shame. The combination of the sweet carmelized onions, light buttery crust, tart juicy tomatoes, and the rich nutty flavors from the three cheeses are to die for. It’s a fairly simple recipe, a definite crowd pleaser, and also happens to be vegetarian if you’re concerned about that sort of thing. (As I think to myself in my best caveman voice, “Me like meat”) The butcher doesn’t love tomatoes but as soon as he bit into this he immediately said, “This is fantastic!” So here’s the recipe.

Beauty & The Butcher’s To Die For Tomato & Onion Tart

3 Tablespoons Butter
2 Large Sweet Onions Sliced Thin
Salt & Pepper to taste
2 Storebought Pie Crusts…obviously you could make your own but why?
2 cups of two to three grated cheeses of your choice (I used what I had on hand, a sharp white cheddar, Parmesan, and fresh mozzarella)
2 cups (or more) Cherry Tomatoes (yellow Or Red)
About a dozen fresh Basil Leaves, Chiffonade

Heat a large pan over medium-low heat. Add the butter, onions, salt, and pepper and cook for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft and deep golden brown.
Preheat the oven to 450 F.
Lay pie crusts onto a shallow sheet pan (I used my pampered chef stone) Sprinkle the cheeses over the entire crust, lay on the caramelized onions, then put the tomatoes over the cheese.
Mix an egg and a few splashes of milk in a bowl and using a pastry brush, brush it over the crust around the edge of the tart. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until the tomatoes are starting to burst apart & the crust should be deep golden brown.
Remove the tart from the oven and let it to sit for at least 5 minutes so the juices can firm up. Sprinkle the fresh basil all over the top. Cut into squares and try to get a piece for yourself before the vultures in your house descend upon it!!!

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In love with my DIY midcentury coffee table

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I’ve gained quite a few readers since I first started blogging so I decided to repost one of my favorite projects, and the first project the Butcher and I did together! It was so inexpensive, SO easy, and truly one of a kind!

First, you’ll need a pencil, drill, sandpaper, and measuring tape.

Now your materials. From Lowe’s I purchased…

1 piece of pre-cut 20×45 wood
1 small can of walnut stain with polyurethane mixed together
1 paintbrush
4 angle top plates (make sure they are angled, that’s very important to get the right look) they look like this
4 metal hairpin or wooden taper legs (I bought mine on ebay, they are real vintage legs from the 50’s!) but you can find new ones here

Sand your table and prepare stain according to package directions. Apply stain to table and legs. I did two coats on the table and one on the legs. Let dry according to directions. Once dry, turn the table over and measure for the leg placement to be centered on all 4 corners (ugh math). Finally, screw legs into table. Turn it over. Take your hand and reach around to your back, all the way, you can do it. Now pat yourself on the back and prop your feet up on the table, maybe even with a cocktail…just don’t forget to use a coaster!

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Blog Update:

I just received an email from one of my readers, Rebekah Selle, with this picture along with the message… “Here’s a picture of the table after I finished it. Turned out great, it was such a helpful tutorial!” I am tickled pink that I not only have people that follow and read my blog but that actually try out the projects and recipes I post! She made the coffee table featured here. Comment on a post that you’ve tried or email me at Lorirao@gmail.com and I’ll feature you on the blog too. Thanks to Rebekah and all my readers!image

Summertime Fruit Tart 

  What screams summertime more than fresh fruit?! Here is a delicious, light, and crowd pleasing dessert featuring the finest of Summer’s harvest. So easy too, here it is!

Beauty & The Butcher Fruit Tart

Ingredients
Crust:

  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 sticks butter, room temp.

Filling:

  • 1 package cream cheese, room temp
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon good vanilla

Topping:

  • Fresh strawberries
  • kiwi slices
  • blueberries (really you could use any fruit you like, raspberries, peaches, star fruit, etc. heck you could even throw some chocolate chips on there and really get crazy!)

Glaze:

  • 1 can frozen limeade concentrate
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1/4 cup sugar

* if you don’t have the glaze ingredients,  a little lemon juice mixed with sugar will work in a pinch

Directions

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F
  • For the crust: In a food processor or blender (I used my trusty Blendtec) combine the powdered sugar, flour, and butter, and mix until the mixture forms a ball. With your fingers, press the dough into a 12-inch tart pan with a removable bottom, making sure it’s evenly spread and pushed into the indentations along the side. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until very lightly browned. Set aside
  • For the filling and topping: Beat or stir the cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla together until smooth. Spread over the crust once it’s cooled. Cut the strawberries into 1/4-inch slices and arrange around the edge of the crust. Fill spaces in between with blueberries. For the next circle, use kiwi slices. Repeat these steps and try to make a pretty design in the middle. Pretty easy huh?!
  • For the glaze: Combine the limeade, cornstarch, lime juice, and sugar in a small pan and cook over medium heat until clear and thick, about 2 minutes. Let cool. With a pastry brush, glaze the entire tart and save the remaining glaze for another dessert!
  • Keep the tart in the fridge and remove about 15 minutes before serving. You might want to make two because this will go so quickly, trust me. It’s also a great thing to bring to someone’s house because you can make it ahead of time, it’s cheap and simple but would be at least $30 in a bakery, and this beautifully shiny fruity masterpiece will impress everyone at the party!