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!  

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!

Tangy Tomato Tart

I love alliteration, have you noticed? But I couldn’t resist adding “tangy” to this blog post title because what better word could describe the creamy tangy goodness that is goat cheese?!  

 Who knew that something so simple could taste so good? Goat cheese, with its pristine white color and distinct flavor is one of the most amazing foods in the world — a humble basic for some, a gourmet delight for others.

Notice what wholefoods.com has to say about this dairy delight…

Who knew that something so simple could taste so good? Goat cheese, with its pristine white color and distinct flavor is one of the most amazing foods in the world — a humble basic for some, a gourmet delight for others.

Our selection of goat cheeses ranges from creamy, mild spreads to pungent, crumbly discs to reinterpretations of favorite cow’s milk cheeses. It’s an essential part of any cheese plate, a course in itself or the secret behind the subtle tang in favorite recipes. Have a taste and enjoy the modest yet noble virtues of goat cheese.

Why we Love Goat Cheese

Variety! Goat cheeses can range in taste from strong and pungent, to delicate and mild. They come in many shapes: cone, disc, wheel, “button,” the log-like bûche (say: boosh) and the puck-like crottin (say: cro-TAN). They delight with textures from creamy to crumbly to semi-firm. They are sold fresh, aged or marinated in olive oil or red wine. They may get coated in herbs (lavender is fantastic), black pepper, edible flowers and yes, even chocolate.

An Ancient Tradition Lives On

Goats were some of the first domesticated animals, thus the art of making goat cheese has a very long history. It began in the Eastern Mediterranean thousands of years ago, spreading through both mountains and deserts into Spain and France where it was heavily adopted.

Today goat cheese remains a staple of the Mediterranean diet, while North America furthers the tradition by producing an abundance of fabulous goat cheeses of its own. Many come from cherished, small, local producers with unique regional flavors. Others are from renowned cheese makers who have won international awards for their creations.

Nutrition and Goat Cheese

Compared to cow’s milk products such as cream cheese, goat cheese is lower in fat, calories and cholesterol. It also provides more calcium than cream cheese. Even though goat cheese has fewer calories, it has a full, rich and creamy flavor. Goat cheeses at Whole Foods Market® are all natural with no artificial additives or preservatives.

Now let’s get to the matter at hand, that gorgeous tart at the top of the page you’re drooling over! Have an abundance of end of summer tomatoes but no idea what to do with them? Try this delicious and easy tomato goat cheese tart. Make it as an appetizer or a main dish with salad. Or hey, even breakfast, why not?! All you need is 4 ingredients! Here’s what you’ll need:

Beauty & The Butcher’s Tomato & Goat Cheese Tart

1 small log goat cheese room temp

1 store bought pie crust

2 oz. Cream Cheese room temp

6 plum tomatoes or 3 large of whatever variety you like

Preheat oven to 350. Line tart pan with pie crust and trim edges if necessary. If you don’t have a tart pan (a round shallow pan with fluted edges and a removable bottom) then I highly suggest getting one, they’re very affordable and can be found in most stores. A pie plate will do in a pinch though. Mix the cream cheese and goat cheese in a bowl with a little kosher salt (I used a goat cheese with herbs already infused into it but if you can’t find it then use plain and add whatever herbs you like such as thyme, rosemary, and basil.) Spread cheese (it must be room temperature or spreading it will be very difficult and you will risk tearing the crust) mixture on top of crust in a thin even layer. Slice tomatoes in thin rounds, squeeze out extra juices, and layer them, covering the cheese until you can’t see it anymore. Sprinkle with kosher salt and more herbs if you’d like. Bake for about 40 minutes or until crust is golden brown. Let cool for about an hour to firm up any remaining tomato juice. Reheat briefly before serving or serve at room temp. Enjoy!

  

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!!!

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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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!