Merry Christmas!

December 25, 2014 – 7:53 pm

It’s been a great year! We’ve had a blast with Steven, helping him to grow and learn. He’s 16 months old now, a full-on toddler, and loving life!

Saturday, we had a get-together with his friend, Amary, and her mom and dad. The kids had a great time playing together, Ben and Shaun kept Star Wars cartoons going in the background, and Manda and I made a bunch of spritz cookies and fudge. Lots o’ fun!

We had pot roast for dinner, which everyone large and small enjoyed. Triumph!

Christmas eve dinner was our usual steamed crab and bacon wrapped shrimp, with bacon wrapped asparagus, because, well, does bacon really need a reason? 😀

Christmas morning, we had maple sausages and cinnamon rolls. I cheated and used Immaculate Baking’s pre-made rolls, which were quite good!

Christmas dinner was a beautiful and always delicious standing rib roast with boiled potatoes and steamed baby peas.

Product Review: Trader Joe’s Country Potatoes

October 12, 2014 – 12:02 pm

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We tried these Trader Joe’s Country Potatoes With Haricots Verts & Wild Mushrooms for a side dish earlier this week. They cooked up quickly in a skillet, and were a very tasty and easy side. The combination of sliced potatoes, green beans, and a mix of mushrooms, including criminis and chanterelles, tossed with herbs would pair well with many proteins. Find these in the frozen aisle!

As always, my reviews are my own, and I am not compensated in any way.

Chicken and Rice

October 7, 2014 – 6:46 pm

This is a great way to use up leftovers and bits and pieces of veggies. I used leftover steamed rice, leftover chicken from one of our cider roasted chickens, some carrots, and some peas. Mushrooms would also go very well in this. I didn’t end up seasoning any extra, since the chicken and pan drippings (including the cider) were plenty tasty, but if you use a rotisserie chicken or don’t have the pan drippings, add some salt, pepper, garlic, and thyme as you like.

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Chicken and Rice
Serves two, generously

1 tbsp butter
1/2 cup sliced carrot (about 10 baby carrots)
2 cups leftover steamed rice
2 cups leftover roasted chicken with pan drippings
1 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup frozen peas

Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the carrot and cook for 4-5 minutes, or until just starting to caramelize and turn tender. Add the rice and toss to combine, separating the grains and coating them with butter. Add the chicken broth and scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the chicken and the peas and stir well. Turn the heat to medium high and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium low and simmer for 5-8 minutes, or until the carrots are tender and most of the broth is absorbed by the rice. Serve warm.

Cider Roasted Chicken

September 15, 2014 – 6:45 pm

This is a take on our beer roasted chicken. We used Angry Orchard Green Apple Hard Cider this time with outstanding results. Their regular flavor turned out okay, but the green apple was somehow just perfect. We served this with some sauteed zucchini, but steamed or roasted broccoli, or a green salad also work very well.

I use a cheap little roasting rack like the one at the bottom of the post here (amazon affiliate link) placed in a heavy duty rimmed baking sheet lined with foil. It works great, and clean-up is easy too.

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Cider Roasted Chicken
Serves 4-6

For the rub:
2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1`tsp dried thyme leaves
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp onion powder
1 tbsp canola oil

For the rest:
1 whole chicken, 4-5 pounds
1 bottle hard cider (we especially liked Angry Orchard Green Apple)

Set the racks in the oven to the lowest level, removing the upper ones if necessary to fit the chicken in vertically.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Set up your roasting stand.

Mix all of the spices and herbs with the canola oil to make a rub.

Remove and discard the neck and any giblets from the chicken and pat the skin dry.

Rub the chicken all over with the spice mixture, getting some under the breast skin as well. Pour most of the cider into the chicken roaster stand. Place the chicken, legs pointing down, over the roaster so that it is standing vertically, supported by the center of the roaster.

Bake for 50 minutes to 1 1/4 hours or until the internal temperature taken in the center of the breast is 170 degrees F. Remove from the oven, use tongs to take the chicken off the roaster and onto a platter, and let rest for 10 minutes before carving and serving.

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Chicken en Papilliote with Zucchini and Tomatoes

September 1, 2014 – 8:10 am

This way easy dinner came together in no time, cooked quickly with no supervision, and was very tasty to boot! I used skinless boneless thighs instead of breasts, and used well drained canned tomatoes since I was inexplicably out of fresh. My version is below.

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Chicken en Papilliote with Zucchini and Tomatoes
Serves 2
1 lb skinless boneless chicken thighs
3 small zucchini
1 15-oz can fire roasted tomatoes, drained of excess liquid
1 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
kosher salt and black pepper

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Thinly slice the zucchini into rounds and set aside. In a mixing bowl, combine the olive oil, garlic, red pepper flakes, and about 1/8 tsp each kosher salt and black pepper. Remove half of the oil mixture to a small bowl and set aside. Toss the remaining oil mixture with the zucchini.

Divide the zucchini evenly between two 14″x12″ squares of aluminum foil, mounding in the center of the square. Place the chicken thighs on top of the zucchini and season lightly with salt and pepper.

Toss the drained tomatoes with the other half of the oil mixture, then scoop the tomatoes on top of the chicken.

Fold the foil up and around the chicken and vegetables and crimp on top to seal.

Bake for about 25 minutes, or until the chicken has reached 165 degrees F and the zucchini is tender.

Carefully open the packets and use a large spatula to transfer the contents to plates. Serve warm.

This was a definite keeper of a recipe from my current favorite cookbook:

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No Pectin Added Blueberry Jam

August 3, 2014 – 1:29 pm

I followed this Taste of Southern recipe for a no pectin added blueberry jam. I had about 4 cups of blueberries, used 2 cups of sugar, and still a full 2 tbsp of lemon juice. Not sure yet how well it will set up, but it looks promising, and it’s very tasty! I’m just using my freezer jam jars rather than canning. I got two scant pints out of the quantities I had.

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Garlicky Potato Salad

July 20, 2014 – 4:56 pm

This fresh, no mayo potato salad is great for summer afternoons. 🙂 The garlic is strong, cut back to one clove, or substitute roasted garlic if you prefer.

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Garlicky Potato Salad
Serves 8 as a side

2 lbs red potatoes, cut into 1/4 inch chunks
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/8 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp dried basil
2 cloves garlic, pressed
1 large tomato, cut into 1/4 inch chunks

Boil the potatoes for 6-8 minutes, or until fork tender but not yet falling apart. Drain well and set aside.

Whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, salt, pepper, oregano, basil, and garlic. Dump the hot potatoes in and toss to coat well. The potatoes will absorb the dressing. Stir in the tomato chunks.

Let sit for at least 10 minutes to let the flavors mingle. Serve warm or chilled as desired.

Peach Cobbler

July 4, 2014 – 5:20 pm

This recipe is modified from the one on the back of a bag of frozen peaches. A good starting point, I think, for future endeavours. 🙂 It turned out quite well, especially for how little effort it took to put together.

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Peach Cobbler

For the peaches
1 16-oz bag frozen peaches
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup water

For the batter
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla bean paste (or extract)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Thaw peaches for 30 minutes on the counter, or 1-2 minutes on defrost in the microwave.

Heat the peaches, water, and sugar in a saucepan over high heat until the syrup comes to a boil, about 5 minutes.

Melt the butter in a 9 inch cake pan.

Mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, milk, and vanilla in a bowl until combined. Spoon the batter over the melted butter and smooth in an even layer. Place peaches evenly over the batter. Pour the syrup on top. Do not stir.

Bake for 40 – 45 minutes, until the top is golden brown and a toothpick poked into the cake comes out clean. Serve warm.

Chicken Lettuce Wraps

July 1, 2014 – 6:22 pm

These easy wraps make for a light dinner, perfect for a warm summer evening.

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Chicken Lettuce Wraps
Serves 2 generously

2 tbsp canola oil, divided
1 tsp sesame oil
1 9-oz package mung bean sprouts
1 lb shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and caps quartered
1 lb ground chicken
1 large clove garlic, pressed
2 tsp freshly grated ginger
2 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 large head bibb lettuce, leaves separated, washed, and patted dry

Heat 2 tsp of canola oil in a large skillet or wok over medium high heat. When the oil shimmers and just starts to smoke, add the bean sprouts. Stir fry until they are translucent and tender. Remove the sprouts to a bowl. Add another 2 tsp of canola oil to the skillet and the 1 tsp of sesame oil and heat again. When the oil shimmers, add the mushrooms and stir fry until nicely browned and tender. Remove the mushrooms to the bowl with the sprouts. Add the final 2 tsp of canola oil to the skillet and heat one last time. Add the chicken when the oil shimmers and stir fry until cooked through. Add the garlic and ginger and toss to combine, cooking until the garlic is fragrant, about another 30 seconds. Add the oyster sauce and soy sauce and toss to combine. Return the sprouts and mushrooms to the skillet, stir well, and turn off the heat. Serve with the lettuce.

Copper River Salmon

May 19, 2014 – 6:07 pm

The much ballyhooed Copper River salmon is here! Costco had great looking whole fish when we went Sunday morning, so we had to pick one up for dinner that night. We haven’t got the grill in summer working order yet, so I just oven roasted it after seasoning with kosher salt – about 35 minutes for my fish and oven, using convection. Absolutely delicious! Our little guy liked it too. 🙂

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