Basic Roast Chicken

I’m breaking my hiatus briefly because several people have asked me how to make roast chicken, and I thought this would be the easiest way to post my recipe. Or perhaps I should call it a technique instead.

I love making roast chicken, it’s probably one of my favorite foods to both make and eat. Once you learn to make a basic one, there’s unlimited possibilities in what you can do to mix it up.

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Here’s what you need to get started:

5 lb whole chicken (usually called a roaster at your meat counter, doesn’t have to be exactly 5 lbs)

Fresh Herbs (I usually use rosemary and thyme, but use what you like. Many stores sell a “poultry mix.”)

2 Onions, big chunks

Garlic, how ever many cloves you want

Veggies–This is where you get to mix it up. Root veg is traditional. Carrots, baby potatoes. Last night I used apples. You could use lemons or oranges, fennel. You want something you can put on the bottom of the pan to lift up the chicken, and the juices will run all over. Sometimes you may want to eat them later, like the roots, sometimes you may discard them, like the citrus. Up to you. Be creative.

Salt, pepper, spices.

 

Ok, now you’re ready to get started. Adjust your oven racks so you’ll have space and preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Get out a big pan–for a chicken, you don’t necessarily have a fancy roasting dish like if you were doing a turkey, but you need something heavy enough to hold in the juices. I usually use a shallower broiling pan without the grill topper. I’ve seen people use a wide cast iron pan too.

Place most of your veggies in the bottom of the pan. Save some of the onion, garlic, and herbs.

On a clean cutting board, prepare your chicken. Pat it dry with a paper towel, then salt and pepper heavily. Use whatever spices you want. The salt is going to help the skin crisp and trust me–it’s the best part, so you want it to be flavorful.

Stuff the cavity with onions, garlic, herbs. You can also stick citrus wedges or apples up there. Anything flavorful that is going to give off steam and flavor. That cavity may look gross but IT IS YOUR FRIEND.

Put your chicken on the veg in the pan breast up! I don’t truss up my bird with twine, I just make sure everything is tucked in close–the wings usually come folded already, the legs you can lean in the ankles together.

Pop it in the oven for 20 min a pound. For a 5 pound bird that is usually a little over an hour and a half. The temp should be 180 at the thigh, since the breasts take a little bit longer to cook. When you are getting close to that temp, you can turn the broiler on to crisp the skin for 2-3 min. Just watch it, it happens FAST.

Once you take the chicken out of the oven, leave it to rest in the pan for 10-15 min. Remove to a clean cutting board and carve. Often the meat may just come apart in your hands, so be careful with the knife! There are plenty of videos on youtube if you aren’t sure how to approach this.

Spoon up your veg, plate with the chicken, and wha-la! Dinner. See, that wasn’t so hard! It just takes time, and there are lots of steps. But when stores put whole chickens on sale they are CHEAP, and it makes a good hearty dinner with lots of leftovers for two of us.

Plus…chicken skin, people. CHICKEN SKIN.

Thai Butternut Squash Soup

We are at the end of week two of the Anti-Inflammation diet! So far, so good! I’ve not cheated once, and I’ve lost 3 pounds! WOOT!

My favorite recipe of the week was this fantastic soup from Carlsbad Cravings. I typically don’t eat a ton of creamy soups–I’m usually more of a stew girl–but this was super delicious, and lasted most of the week. It doesn’t have a ton of calories (only 220 per serving), so it was good for lunch. It’s also got SO MUCH VITAMIN A. Unfortunately the sodium count registered pretty high on MyFitnessPal, maybe from the chicken stock and fish sauce? Not much you can do about the fish sauce, but using homemade stock would help that a bit.

To blend this, I used a “boat motor” straight in the original pot, but you can also split it up in a blender or food processor. Just be careful if you do that not to overfill–it might explode on you!

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Thai Butternut Squash Soup

Adapted from Carlsbad Cravings

3 Tbsp coconut oil
1 sweet onion, diced
1/4 cup red curry paste
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp turmeric
1 Tbsp fresh ginger, grated
8 garlic cloves, minced
3 cups butternut squash, peeled, cut into 1″ cubes, seeds separated (this was about half of a big squash)
1 large sweet potato, peeled, cut into 1″ cubes
3 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
4 cups chicken or veggie stock (use homemade to lower sodium)
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
14 oz coconut milk (I used the SO refrigerated stuff and it was fine, but the canned would be better)
2 Tbsp fish sauce
1 Tbsp dried basil

Honey Sriracha Butternut Squash Seeds

Reserved seeds
1 Tbsp honey
1/2 tsp coconut oil
1/2 tsp sriracha or hot chili sauce
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground cumin

Preheat oven to 300 degrees and line a baking sheet with foil sprayed with Pam. Rinse seeds and pat dry. In a small bowl, mix together 5 ingredients for seed sauce, and then stir in seeds until well coated. Spread seeds out evenly on baking sheet in single layer, and bake 25-30 minutes until crunchy.

Melt coconut oil in Dutch oven over medium heat. Saute onions until soft, about 3-5 minutes. Add red curry paste, red pepper flakes, turmeric, ginger, and garlic. Saute for about 3 min until fragrant and garlic is soft. Add veggies and chicken stock. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to boil and then reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer for 15-20 min until vegetables are soft.

Once veggies are cooked, turn off heat split soup in half. Pour half into blender/food processor. Puree until soup is smooth, taking care not to cover the blender completely or it will explode! Then transfer to a clean pot. Repeat with remaining soup. (Or just use a boat motor like I did, it saves SO much time and extra pots.

Add coconut milk, fish sauce, and basil, then cook about 5 more minutes just until heated through. You can add lime juice or Sriracha to taste, depending on whether you want tang or spice (although mine was plenty spicy at the end). Top your bowls with seeds and yum!

This made between 6-8 servings, I’ve eaten it for lunch just about every day. The seeds didn’t last that long, but you could always buy pumpkin seeds at the store and do the same thing if you wanted more.

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White Beans with Spinach and Sausage

Fresh starts. It’s been the theme this week, hasn’t it? Most of us have set at least one goal for the new year. Resolutions, we call them.

I am no exception to that–I posted my 2016 Goal post (no pun intended) on Monday, and so far I’ve done quite well. I’ve already lost 2.2 pounds, so obviously my body had some “mystery inflammation” that it was hanging onto.

The best part of this whole detox/clean eating/anti-inflammation diet, whatever you want to call it, is that I am cooking again. For real cooking, every night of the week cooking. I had a meeting last night and so I just made a smoothie for dinner and it felt WEIRD to not make a real dinner. I was triumphant passing fast food place after fast food place on the way home and NOT STOPPING. I almost waved at them.

Hands down my favorite recipe this week has been the white beans I made on Monday. God they were good. I’d probably make them every week if I could get away with it. Alas, my husband has asked for some variety. (I think he’s not as thrilled with this diet as I am.)

The original recipe used dried beans and kielbasa, I’ve changed it the process up a bit.

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White Beans with Spinach and Sausage
Adapted from It’s My Side of Life

3/4 pound chicken sausage, sliced about 1 inch thick (I used 2 Chicken & Kale links from Fresh Market)
2 cups chicken broth
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp dried dill (if you’re not a fan of dill, use whatever herb you like)
Cayenne pepper to taste
2 14 oz cans of Cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
olive oil
2 Roma Tomatoes, diced
1/2 small sweet onion, diced
6 cups spinach (could use kale too!)
Pepper

In a sauce pot, simmer the beans with the chicken broth, dill, and cayenne (I added a dash of nutmeg to it too. Sounds weird, but trust me.) for about 45 min until thick. Stir occasionally so the beans don’t burn to the bottom of the pan, and remove before they turn to mush. The goal is to thicken the liquid, but still have structured beans, so use your best judgement on the time.

When you have about 15 minutes left on the beans, in a large skillet, heat a bit of olive oil over med heat. Sweat out your onions until they are starting to turn translucent , and then turn the heat up to med-high and add your chicken sausages. Cook until almost done. Add your garlic and tomatoes. Saute for a minute, making sure to scrap the good stuff off the pan as the tomatoes sizzle.

By then your beans should be ready. Add them into the sausage mixture. Slowly wilt in handfuls of spinach, and then add pepper to taste. You probably won’t need to add much salt because of the beans and sausage.

I put a bit of mozzarella on top of mine. If you’re not avoiding processed carbs, this would be fantastic with crusty garlic bread, and wine would have been great in the bean broth mixture. But…I can’t have any of those things right now! Sigh…still, this will be making a reoccurence over the next month, I guarantee it!

Flemish Rabbit with Prunes

December doesn’t exactly get cold in Texas. This is the time of year when our trees turn gold, orange, and red–long after the trees back home have already dropped their leaves–Oh look, here come the Leaf Blower Men now, right on time! *groan*

Our Christmas tree is up, but our windows have been open all week. We even have a giant Rockafeller Square-like tree slash Ice Rink…inside the Galleria Mall.

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The holidays are just different here, ok? It’s weird. I miss snow.

Still, this is the time that The Hubs and I can’t help but bring out our favorite stew recipes. We’ve been craving them all year, and we just can’t wait any longer. Football is rounding down, and so are our busy work schedules. We’ve finished all the fall finales of our shows, and there’s nothing else to watch but movies and HGTV marathons. It’s stew time, baby.

Two things happened almost simultaneously last week:  I had a conversation in the AdultBooklr chat about rabbit stew, and a Belgian friend spoke about the differences in wine vs beer in that sort of dish. Oh man it sounded so good! Then, a few days later, The Hubs came home and mentioned his store had brought in rabbit, and did I want some? ABSOLUTELY! I’ve never cooked with rabbit, but I’d had the recipe stuck in my head and now was the perfect time to try it!

I break down whole chickens a few times a year, and turkeys really aren’t that different. But rabbit is, quite literally, a whole different animal. I watched a few videos on YouTube, and got to work. It’s always so much fun learning something new…and of course, cracking a few bones in the process. The only part I really had trouble with was the chest–I’m still not sure how to get the rib meat separated from the rib bones. It seemed like every video I watched had a different suggestion, and none really worked for me. If anyone has a great plan of attack–let me know!

The stew turned out amazing, gave more yield than I would have thought for such a tiny animal….and IT REALLY DID TASTE LIKE CHICKEN. OR maybe goose, it was a bit gamier. I’ll definitely make this again. I have adjusted the original recipe for American measurements, and changed the potato suggestion.

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Flemish Rabbit with Prunes

Adapted from Fans of Flanders

  • 1 rabbit of about 1.5 pounds, chopped in pieces
  • 32 oz of dark beer or cherry beer
  • 1 cup of dried prunes
  • 2 big onions, chopped in big pieces
  • ½ litre of cooking stock for game animals (I used beef)
  • ½ a tablespoon of mustard
  • Herbs (I used a poultry mix, you could use thyme, rosemary, sage)
  • 1/4 cup of butter and some oil
  • Flour
  • Salt & pepper
  • Dried herbs of your choice (I used dill, Italian seasoning)

Fill a bowl with warm water and soak the dried prunes in it, set aside.

In a flat dish, mix flour, salt, pepper, dried herbs. Lightly dust rabbit pieces. Heat a dutch oven over med-high heat with a little oil and butter. Add rabbit, brown on both sides. Remove to plate.

Add the onions to the fat still in the pot, fry them until turning soft and brown and then drown them with half of the beer. Be sure to scrape up the good stuff off the bottom of the pan as it sizzles! Add the rabbit back to the pot, along with the rest of the beer and stock. Add herbs and mustard, season with salt and pepper (but be careful not to do too much, as this will reduce). Let simmer for 45 minutes.

Add prunes, taste for seasoning, and let simmer for another 30 min.

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Not exactly the prettiest picture…but it’s stew!

The original recipe called for plain boiled potatoes. I didn’t realize that ahead of time, I thought the potatoes were going in the stew–so I ended up just mashing them after the fact. I have excluded them from my recipe above. Next time, I will roast baby potatoes in garlic, butter, and herbs. They will accompany this much better. The mashed were just too soft to hold such a thick stew, especially since the rabbit is served bone-in.

Sage Roasted Turkey with Apple Cider Gravy

November is my favorite month. My birthday is next weekend…29. Yikes! I am so not ready for 30. And my favorite holiday is in November! Everyone gets so excited for Halloween, and then immediately starts preparing for Christmas. But WAIT! What about Thanksgiving, ya’ll? IT IS THE BEST HOLIDAY!

Maybe I just love it the most because it’s my time to shine. I’ve been making the Thanksgiving turkey for the last 5 or so years, and I love doing it. It takes a ton of effort, and I’m ready for a nap immediately after eating, but it is so worth it to watch the gravy get soaked into every bit of stuffing.

Turkey prep starts early for me. I’ll order my bird this weekend, to make sure I get a good one, and then pick it up a week in advance. Brining is also a VERY important step. DO NOT SKIP THIS. I’ve used the recipe below every time I’ve made a turkey and it’s turned out amazing.

I will be making my own chicken stock next weekend. Keep an eye out for that recipe next Freaky Friday! If you like to go all out on homemade, you’ll want to start STOCKing up! *nudge nudge*

Sage Roasted Turkey with Apple Cider Gravy
Notes: Thaw turkey in fridge from Fri-Mon before Thanksgiving, brine from Mon-Wed night.
Brining
8 quarts cold water
1 cup salt
8 dried bay leaves
2 tablespoons black peppercorns
1 tablespoon allspice
1 16- to 17-pound turkey; giblets removed,
Herb butter and gravy
3 tablespoons minced fresh Italian parsley
3 tablespoons minced fresh sage
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
4 cups low-salt chicken broth
2 cups apple cider
3 tablespoons all purpose flour
1/2 cup whipping cream
Roasting
2 large Granny Smith apples, quartered, cored
2 large onions, quartered
1 cup apple cider
 
To brine the turkey:
Line extra-large pot or bowl with two 13-gallon (or larger) plastic bags, 1 inside the other. Combine 1 quart water, salt, bay leaves, peppercorns, and allspice in large saucepan. Stir over medium heat until salt dissolves. Remove from heat. Add 1 quart cold water and cool to lukewarm. Pour into plastic bags; mix in remaining 6 quarts water. Submerge turkey in brine to cover completely, gathering bags tightly to eliminate any air; tie bags closed. Refrigerate turkey in brine in pot at least 18 hours and up to 20 hours.
Line large roasting pan with 4 layers of paper towels. Remove turkey from brine and drain well; discard brine. Place turkey in prepared pan. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
 
For herb butter and gravy:
Mix parsley, sage, and nutmeg in small bowl. Transfer half of chopped herb mixture to small bowl; mix in 1/2 cup butter.
Combine broth and apple cider in heavy large saucepan. Boil until reduced to 3 cups, about 20 minutes. Pour broth reduction into bowl. Melt remaining 1/4 cup butter in same saucepan over medium-high heat. Add flour; stir 1 minute. Whisk in broth reduction, then cream, and remaining chopped herb mixture. Bring to boil; reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until gravy base is thickened and reduced to 2 3/4 cups, whisking often, about 20 minutes. Cool gravy base slightly. (Gravy base and herb butter can be made 2 days ahead. Cover and chill.)
 
To roast the turkey:
Position rack in bottom third of oven and preheat to 350°F. Remove turkey from roasting pan; drain any accumulated juices from main cavity. Discard paper towels from roasting pan. Melt herb butter in small saucepan over medium heat. Brush bottom of roasting pan with some of herb butter. Return turkey to prepared pan. Tuck wing tips under; tie legs together loosely to hold shape. Place some apple quarters and onion quarters in main cavity. Brush remaining herb butter over turkey; sprinkle with pepper. Scatter remaining apples and onions around turkey in pan.
Roast turkey 1 hour. Baste with 1/2 cup apple cider. Roast turkey 30 minutes. Baste with remaining 1/2 cup cider. Roast turkey until thermometer inserted into thickest part of thigh registers 175°F, basting turkey every 30 minutes with pan juices and covering breast loosely with foil if browning too quickly, about 2 hours longer (3 1/2 hours total). Transfer turkey to platter; let stand at least 30 minutes before carving (internal temperature will rise 5 to 10 degrees).
Discard apples and onions from pan. Pour pan juices into large glass measuring cup; spoon off fat from surface. Pour
degreased juices into gravy base and bring to boil over medium-high heat, whisking occasionally. Boil until gravy thickens enough to coat spoon and is reduced to 3 1/2 cups, about 15 minutes. Season gravy to taste with pepper.
Serve turkey with gravy.

Udon and Chill

For almost everyone, October means Halloween and hot beverages and warm blankets and magic.

But for some people, including The Hubs and I…October means one thing:  BASEBALL PLAYOFFS.

Nothing else exists for us until baseball is over. Sure, there’s football, and trust me, football IS EXTREMELY IMPORTANT. I mean, I am married to a Notre Dame fan.

But I digress.

BASEBALL PLAYOFFS. If you have been watching the coverage at all, or seen the gifs/tweets/posts, you’ll have noticed all those white/blue/orange/red rally towels that all the parks have been passing out at every game. They are a great way to get the crowd involved, and they look fantastic on TV. What you don’t see on TV is the lint snow that comes off of those puppies.

We went to two games:  Sunday evening and Monday afternoon. By the seventh inning on Monday, I was having such a severe reaction to the rally towel lint snow that I was watching the game with a baby wipe tucked under my glasses and over my face like surgeon’s mask. It was a totally sexy look, let me tell ya.

Thankfully, Tuesday evening, I had NO plans. The Hubs worked late, so I had the house to myself. Because I was feeling so poorly, there was only one thing I wanted. My special mix of chicken broth, spices, and udon that I make every time I’m sick. This recipe takes 5 minutes, takes almost no effort to make, and is the most soothing thing in the world. It’s also really easy to keep the ingredients on hand at all times for when you need it.

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Haley’s Sick Day Udon

1 1/2 cup chicken stock/broth (I make my own, but you can use store bought)

Dash of cayenne pepper (to your spice level, this helps clear out stuffed sinuses)

Dash of nutmeg

Dash of cinnamon (these two seem weird, but trust me)

Dash of garlic salt (or powder, if your broth is really salty)

1 pkg udon noodles

On Med High heat, get your broth simmering. Add all of the spices. (I include the flavor packet from the noodles, but that’s up to you, depends on your sodium preference. Because I’m using homemade stock, I can stand the flavor punch.) Once everything is boiling, add the noodles and cook until soft, about 2-3 minutes, depending on package instructions. Pour into favorite bowl or mug. Enjoy hot with a side of Gilmore Girls, or other satisfying Netflix binge! Feel better soon!

 

Lord Nut

 

I’m a snackaholic. My whole family is that way–we are grazers. Our pantry was always more full of chips and cookies and dip and pickles than real food. When we get together, there’s always a gigantic orange bowl of homemade chex mix, and someone is always making brownies. With that in mind, I couldn’t resist making our very first Freaky Friday post about one of my very favorite munchies!

It didn’t hurt that they were going for 2 for $5 at a local Oktoberfest this past weekend. HAD to grab some!

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Hailing from ye olde Blighty–a land devoid of flavour–Lord Nut Levington is a never-ending quest for tastes that titillate his tongue…

mmmmkkkk….

The packaging on these babies is actually quite hilarious. But, to get down to nuts and bolts *nudge nudge*, the company is based out of Dallas, Texas, and strives to add quite a bit more kick than the usual salt and honey to our peanut snack. They have five flavors:  Spicy Bloody Mary, Hot Buffalo, White Cheddar & Jalapeno, Zesty Chili Lime, and Thai Curry & Lemongrass.

I have tried two out of the five. All have 160 calories per serving. Looking at the distribution map on the website, they are available at specialty grocery stores nationwide or on their website. They retail for about $5.00/can.

Also, for disclosure purposes, I have not been sponsored by this company, and I purchased these myself. I just really like this product, and wanted to share it with you!

……………….

Spicy Bloody Mary

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Bloody Marys (Maries? It looks weird either way.) are a staple in our house. 90% of the time, we have mix ready to go, and Tito’s nearly always has a place in our freezer door. Hubs and I are spicy people. So these nuts are RIGHT up our alley. In fact, these are what got our attention to the Lord Nut brand in the first place–he did a taste test for his store and EUREKA! I’m pretty sure he brought home 2 or 3 cans.

They didn’t last long.

These puppies taste EXACTLY like our favorite drink. They are sweet and tangy and spicy, plus you get a bit of salt from the peanuts. I can’t get enough of them. I opened a can to do this taste test and I’m trying really hard to have self control…but it’s not working.

 

Hot Buffalo

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This was the first time we had seen Hot Buffalo, and as soon as I sampled it…I was HOOKED. Hubs doesn’t carry this flavor in his store, but he may have to look into it now because there’s no way I’m going to be able to live without it.

I am in love with chicken wings. We still have not found a GREAT wing place down here, and so it’s a craving I just cannot cure since leaving Indiana. Texans love their BBQ, and they do fried chicken well, but not those crispy, saucy wings. Must be a northern thing. Oh man.

Because of this, I am always looking for snacks to satisfy this need. And these peanuts hit about as close as you can get without being chicken fat. Do you see how much flavor powder they put on those things? YOUR FINGERS WILL BE ORANGE, PEOPLE! As in, eating an industrial bag of Cheetos, orange. And 50 times as delicious. And spicy. These taste exactly like hot wings, but less greasy. They NAILED this flavor.

 

If you like nuts, and spice, and flavor, go grab these off your grocer’s shelf. They are a little more expensive than the honey roasted kind, but sooooooooooooooo much better.

The Comfort of Cooking » Herb and Citrus Oven Roasted Chicken

I know, I know…this is a book blog, not a food blog. But, in my past life, I used to cook on the daily. I even tried to write a couple food blogs and just couldn’t keep up with them. So, now that I’m trying to get back into cooking…I may post some of my recipes that are successes. They won’t be the focus of the blog, but hey, food is part of my geek, and THAT is what this blog is about. 

Guys, you HAVE to make this chicken. It’s what I made for dinner tonight, and it’s one of the best chicken recipes I’ve made. I used a whole chicken that I cut to pieces, but you could use whatever you wanted. I would recommend skin on though–that’s the best part. I took to the citrus off for the last 10 minutes and cranked the oven up to 500 to crisp the skin. Otherwise, I mostly followed the recipe.

I served this with new potatoes that I quartered and tossed in a casserole dish with a few garlic cloves and an Italian herb mixture, salt and pepper, plus a few pats of butter. I just put it in the oven to roast along side the chicken, it was ready at the same time! Easy peasy.

Oh, and don’t forget the bread. I did, and I was super disappointed. There was so much sauce/gravy in the pan, and it was SO flavorful. Seriously, I could have swam in it.

We drank a very inexpensive Once Upon a Vine Sauvagnion Blanc with it (We are running VERY low on whites at the moment. Time to stock up!). I’d recommend something a little less sweet, but definitely a white. Maybe a Reisling would be better with the citrus. I’m definitely not the best judge when it comes to whites, but I do think a red would be too heavy for this dish.

The Comfort of Cooking » Herb and Citrus Oven Roasted Chicken.