Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Lemon Thyme and Rosemary Roasted Chicken with a side of Rice Medley

I love roasting chickens. It is so easy, and it is fun to come up with different flavor combinations. Tonight I browsed through my fridge and found that I had fresh thyme, fresh rosemary, and lemons. Combine those ingredients with butter, lots of garlic, and onion, and this chicken was good to go.
The side dish tonight I call a "Rice Medely". It wasn't anything I had planned on doing I just started adding things. It contains long grain rice, lentils, vermicelli, walnut pieces, celery, onion, garlic and a couple dried herbs. So what am I supposed to call it? Yeah, that's why it is a "Rice Medley". I would like to say that this little side dish was freaking awesome. Especially with the pan gravy I made with the drippings from the chicken. I'm glad I have leftovers.

Lemon Thyme and Rosemary Roasted Chicken

  • 1 31/2 -4 lb chicken rinsed, patted dry and giblets removed

For the Cavity:

  • 2 sprigs thyme
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • 1 whole lemon halved (juice reserved)
  • 1 onion quartered
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • salt and pepper

Stuff cavity with all ingredients and tie legs together with butcher twine


  • 1 sprig thyme and 1 sprig rosemary leaves removed
  • juice of lemon
  • 1 tsp. dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 3 TBS. unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1tsp. pepper
  • 1 cup chicken stock

Put all ingredients in processor and blend thoroughly. Massage into bird making sure to get under the skin. Put bird in roasting pan add stock and roast for 30 minutes breast side up. Turn chicken and roast another 35-40 minutes breast side down. Cover with foil for the next 10-15 minutes so skin does not overcook. When thickest part of thigh reads 180 on a meat thermometer the bird is ready. Take out of oven put on carving board to rest for 15 minutes. (cover with foil to retain heat.)

Rice Medley

  • 1 1/2 cups long grain rice
  • 1/2 cup lentils
  • 3/4 cup vermicelli
  • 1/2 cup walnut pieces
  • 2 stalks celery chopped
  • 1/2 cup onion diced
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 3 Tbs. unsalted butter
  • 2 tsp. dried rosemary
  • 2 tsp. dried basil
  • 3 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • tsp. salt and pepper to taste

Heat butter in a medium sized sauce pan over medium heat. Add onions and celery and sauted until onions are limp and transluscent. Add garlic, rice and vermicelli and saute for about 2 minutes. Add lentils, herbs, salt, pepper and stock and bring to a boil. When mixture comes to a boil reduce heat to low cover and simmer for 20-25 minutes.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

It's been a while...and Hello Dolly

It's been 2 weeks since I've last updated. I have made a few dishes, but they were repeats. Actually, last night I planned on updating with a potato soup recipe. But I was too irritated. At my husband. I had all my garnishings set aside for a photo (bacon, green onions, cheese) and when it was time for the potato soup "photo shoot" the bacon was missing. He says he didn't know it was for my soup. *sigh* So instead of posting an ungarnished soup, I just ate it.
As I began to update tonight I made the comment out loud that it has been a while since I have done so. Chad then asked if it was because of the "Bacon-Gate" scandal. Lol.

So.... Hello Dolly! The name "Dolly" has a special place in my heart. My Grandpa used to call most of the women in his life "Dolly". Especially me and mom. he even named one of his Yorkies Dolly. So when I hear that name, I get a vision of his jovial face calling to me "Hello Dolly!" I sure do miss him.
So the reason for making these was simply for the fact that I had all ingredients on hand, and they are one of the easiest baked goods I have ever made. You basically pat down a graham cracker crust, then load whatever ingredients you are craving on top. Cover with sweetened condensed milk, bake and voila! Hello Dolly! There are many variations, and a few other names for this dessert. A couple I know of are 7 Layer bars and Magic Cookie Bars. But they'll always be Hello Dollies to me.

Helly Dolly Bars
1 1/2 cup Graham cracker crumbs (or about 3-4 crackers crushed fine)
1 stick unsalted butter melted
1/2 cup coconut
1/4 cup chocolate chips
1/4 cup sliced unsalted almonds, toasted
1/4 cup toffee bits
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/2 can sweetened condensed milk

Heat oven to 350 degrees
Combine butter and graham cracker crumbs in a bowl. Mix well and transfer to a 9x9 square pan. Pat down to make a crust. Top with the rest of the ingredients in order. Bake for 20-25 minutes.
***You can add/delete your favorite ingredients. This is an easy recipe to get those creative juices flowing!****

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Chicken Paremsan with Farfalle

Not sure what to make with the chicken breast I had in the refridgerator, I started to think of old favorites. Chicken parm is one of them. A very comforting dish, that is easy and pretty light on the time it takes to prepare. The thing I love most about this dish is the cheese. Melted cheese on anything is good in my book though. I used 3 pretty thick chicken breast halves and instead of pounding them thin, I thought I'd leave them be. I made a quick marinara with some ingredients I had on hand, and this dish came together in no longer than 45 minutes. The only pasta I had on hand was farfalle, and it worked perfectly. Because this was a pretty hearty meal Chad and I felt it was appropriate to skip the salad or bread. I'm glad we did, I could only eat half of what I put on my plate.

Quick Marinara
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped green pepper
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 tsp. of each: dried basil, oregano, salt, pepper, parsley flakes, red papper flakes
    2 bay leaves
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme
  • 1 8oz. can tomato sauce
  • 1 cup diced tomatoes
  • 1 can tomato paste
  • 1 1/2 cups beef broth
  • pinch of sugar
  • 1 Tbs. olive oil

Heat a large pot over medium heat and add olive oil. Add onions and pepper and cook until onion is transluscent. Add garlic, thyme, other herbs, and bay leaves and cook a couple minutes more. Add tomato products, and beef broth and stir to combine. Let it come to a simmer and simmer 25-30 minutes. Reserve 3/4 cup for chicken. Toss the pasta in the pot and stir to combine.

Chicken Parmesan
  • 3 boneless skinless chicken breast halves
  • salt, pepper, and garlic powder to season
  • 1/2 cup flour for dredging
  • 2 cups seasoned bread crumbs
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 Tbs. water
  • canola oil for frying
  • 1/2 cup mozzarella
  • 1/2 cup fresh parmesan
Heat oven to 350.
Season chicken and dredge in flour, egg and water wash, and then bread crumbs. Heat a skillet over med. heat and add oil. Fry chicken breasts a couple minutes on each side to get a nice crust. Transfer to a dish top with marinara and cheese. Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes, uncover and let the cheese get a nice brown color, about 5 minutes more

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Shrimp Etouffee

Needing to free up some room in my freezer, I decided to use one of the 10lbs. of shrimp that was stocked in there from my last trip to New Orleans. I wasn't in the mood for a pasta dish, and didn't feel like grilling them so I browsed the web until I found something to satisfy my fancy. I used the recipe for stock and the etouffee from THIS website. I visit this site often when I am in the mood for some good cajun recipes, not one has failed me yet.
I served this with rice and crusty french bread, what else?

Shrimp Etouffee
  • 1lb. 20/25 size shrimp shells removed and reserved for stock
  • 2 Tbsp Creole Seasoning
  • 4 Tbsp Unsalted Butter
  • 1/2 Cup Onion, Finely Chopped
  • 1/4 Cup Celery, Finely Chopped
  • 1/4 Cup Bell Pepper, Finely Chopped
  • 1/4 Cup Flour
  • 3/4 Cup fresh Tomatoes, diced
  • 1 1/2 Cups Shrimp Stock (I actually used 3 + cups. and at the end I added a flour slurry to thicken a bit)
  • 2 Tbsp Minced Garlic
  • bundle of Fresh Thyme
  • 2 tsp Homemade Worcestershire (I used store bought)
  • tsp Hot Sauce (I use Crystal)
  • 1/2 Cup Green Onions, thinly sliced
  • 3 Tbsp minced Italian Parsley
  • 3 Tbsp Unsalted Butter
  • Salt & Freshly Ground Black Pepper to taste
Season the shrimp with 1 Tbsp of the Creole Seasoning.Melt the butter in a large cast iron skillet, add the onions, bell pepper, and celery, saute until translucent. Whisk in the flour to make a blonde roux, stirring constantly, about 3-5 minutes. Stir in the remaining Creole Seasoning. Add a small amount of the shrimp stock, stir well to form a paste, add the remaining stock gradually, whisking constantly. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. You may need a little more stock, but the end result should be the consistency of a gravy, not too thick, not too thin.Add the tomatoes, garlic, Thyme, Worcestershire, and hot sauce, a little salt, black pepper, and Cayenne. Simmer for 20-30 minutes.Add the shrimp, green onions, and parsley, simmer for 10 minutes more or until the shrimp are cooked through. Stir in the 3 Tbsp butter, and adjust the seasonings to taste.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Chili Rigatoni

When I asked Chad what he wanted for dinner tonight with ground beef he said he'd get back to me. Well, he made up his mind and he requested chili mac. I was really hoping he'd choose something a little more sophisticated, but then I thought about how easy it would be and decided to grant his request.

Now I've only made this dish a couple of times, and although it is not very sophisticated, it is extremely delicious and hearty. I don't make the "mac" part of this dish, instead I use a larger hollow noodle like rigatoni. We like to top it with a handful of cheese, and sometimes a dollop of sour cream. This was definitely a no-frills meal, but it is quick and tasty. Can't get better than that.

Chili Rigatoni
  • 1 lb lean gound beef
  • 1 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1/2 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 can tomato paste
  • 1 1/2 cup beef broth
  • 1 onion diced
  • 1/2 bell pepper diced
  • 3 cloved of garlic minced
  • 3 Tbs. fresh chopped flat leaf parsley
  • 3 Tbs. chili powder
  • 1 Tbs. cumin
  • 1 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp. cayenne
  • 2 tsp. dried basil
  • 1 tsp. oregano
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1 box rigatoni
  • 2 cups cheese (we like colby monterrey jack blend)
Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add ground beef, onions and peppers. cook until meat is almost completely browned and add garlic. Cook for 3 or so more minutes and drain. Return meat to pot and add the rest of the ingredients. Bring to a simmer and continue to let it simmer for about 20-25 minutes. Cook rigatoni al dente and and serve with chili. Top with cheese and enjoy!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Curry Chicken and Lebanese Rice

For dinner tonight Chad and I were in the mood for spice. I had 3 large chicken breasts defrosted in the fridge so we had to use that up. I started thinking curry spicy, rather than cajun spicy. With no recipe in mind I just started to throw things together. The chicken came out perfect. I mean, Chad was oooing and ahhhing as it was cooking. That is always a good thing.

For a starchy side I wanted something rather simple and full of flavor that would compliment the spiciness of the chicken. I decided to make a favorite of mine,nLebanese rice. Not sure if the origin of this rice dish is Lebanese, but I used to eat this growing up at family meals so I coined it "Lebanese Rice". Actually, all it is is rice with vermicelli. I had some pine nuts lying around so I decided to toast some up and throw them in there as well. They added a delicious nutty flavor and slight crunch.
The chicken had such a spicy kick to it, and the rice was also full of flavor, so for a veggie side I knew I needed to do something exceptionally simple. I just steamed some fresh green beans in the microwave (yes, the microwave!) and called it a night. The simplicity of beans complimented this spicy meal very nicely.

Curry Chicken
  • 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts or 1 1/4 lb cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 1 Tbs. curry powder
  • 1 Tbs. Garham Masala
  • 2 tsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp. coarse salt
  • 1 tsp. fresh ground pepper
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1 tsp. dried basil
  • 1/4 cup lite sour cream (you could use yogurt, as I would but alas I did not have any and the sour cream worked the same)
  • 1 Tbs. olive oil
Mix all spices together and add sour cream stir to combine. Add chicken coating thickly and marinate for an hour.
Heat skillet over med. heat and cook chicken for 15 minutes or until cooked through.

Lebanese Rice
  • 1 1/4 cup short grain rice
  • 1/4 cup vermicelli broken into small pieces
  • 2 Tbs. unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup minced onions
  • 2 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
  • salt and pepper to taste
Heat med. sized saucepan over med. low heat and add pine nuts. Toast until lightly brown. Tansfer to a plate and raise the heat to medium. Add butter, when melted add onions and saute until soft. Add vermicelli and cook a couple minutes. Add rice and cook a couple more. Add the broth bring to a boil and lower to simmer. Cover and let simmer about 15 minutes. Uncover and add pine nuts. Remove from heat, return the lid and let heat through for 5 minutes more.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Cabernet Pot Roast and Roasted Potatoes

Today was definitely not a chilly fall day. Here in HOT-lanta we rose to a high of 75 degrees. It certainly did not feel like a normal fall November day. So why am I making a fall/winter type meal? It's because of the braised short ribs we had for dinner the other night. They were so good, I have been craving more.

This time I decided to use a 2lb Chuck roast, and roast the potatoes seperately. I cooked this in my huge cast iron skillet because I still don't own a heavy dutch oven. Not yet anyway (hint hint Chad). This would be a great meal to entertain with and I'm thinking of making it for my lunch club. The meat is inexpensive, and using the braising technique will guarantee a juicy roast with remarkable flavor. Let me add that the leftovers are phenominal, almost better the next day.
Cabernet Pot Roast
  • 1 2 lb. chuck roast trimmed of excess fat
  • Flour for dredging plus 1 Tbs. for slurry
  • salt, pepper and garlic powder for seasoning
  • 2 Tbs. canola oil
  • 1 cup Cabernet
  • 1 cup diced tomatoes
  • 1 1/4 cup beef broth divided
  • 3 med. sized carrots cut into long strips
  • 2 celery stalks roughly chopped
  • 1 medium chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves roughly chopped
  • 1 rosemary sprig cut in half
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 sage stems with leaves
  • 1 Tbs. unsalted butter
Preheat oven to 325
Heat skillet over med. high heat and add oil. Season meat with salt, pepper and garlic powder and dredge in flour. Sear meat in skillet on all sides, and set aside. Add butter to the pan and take off burner to cool down. Lower heat to med. low and return the skillet to the burner after a few minutes. Add all veggies and herbs except garlic. Saute for about 5 minutes or until onion is translucent and soft. Add garlic and cook a couple minutes. Deglaze the pan with the wine scraping all the stuck on bit from the bottom of the pan. Add tomatoes, and broth and bring to a simmer. Let simmer about 5 minutes until slightly reduced. Add roast, cover skillet tightly with foil and roast for 2-2 1/2 hours.
Take skillet out of oven and put meat and veggies on a platter. Discard stems and make a slurry with 1 Tbs. of flour and water. Turn heat on burner to low and stir in slurry and 1/4 cup of beef broth. Continue stirring until you have the consistency desired. Serve over roast and potatoes.

Rosemary Garlic Roasted Potatoes
  • 3 Medium sized potatoes cut into one medium wedges
  • 1 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. coarse salt
  • 1/2 tsp. fresh pepper
  • 1 tsp. fresh rosemary chopped
Put all ingredients into a bowl and toss to combine. Line a cooking sheet with foil and roast in the oven with the beef at 325 for 30-40 minutes.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Peppery Italian Wedding Soup

I've been in a funk the entire day. When I'm feeling this way I have learned that it is best to keep myself involved in something. One thing I commonly find myself getting into is cooking. So I decided to make a soup. Because I have about 5lbs. of ground beef seperated into 1lb portions in the freezer, I decided to free up some space in there and use a pound. I was in the mood for something comforting, so I was thinking soup. I was desiring a brothy soup, but also something hearty. After fumbling through recipes, I concluded on an Italian wedding soup. Like chicken noodle, there are many variations to this soup. It can include various veggies and proteins, but the star ingredient is the mini meatball. For my adaptation I added a small pasta (pastina) as well as kale and lots of pepper. The soup hit the spot, and the best thing was that it was very simple to prepare, quick to cook, and let me ease my mind from distress.

Italian Wedding Soup
For the meatballs:
  • 1lb lean ground beef
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. dried basil
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • Salt and Pepper

  • 1 small onion diced
  • 3 carrots chopped
  • 2 large celery stalks chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves minced
  • 2 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 Tbs. unsalted butter
  • 1 Tbs. olive oil
  • tsp. of each: oregano, basil, parsley flakes
  • 3 large stems of kale torn into pieces with hands
  • 1 cup white mushroom chopped
  • Salt
  • Fresh gound pepper (I used a lot. about 1 and a half Tbs. The spice just kicks it up so nicely!)
  • 8 + chicken broth (for this batch I used 11 cups.
  • 1 cup (or more like I like it) small pasta such as pastina
Heat oven to 350 degrees
Add all meat ball ingredients and mix with hands until just combined. Do not over mix!
Roll into little meatballs and put on cooling rack set over a baking sheet so the fat can drip away from the meat. Cook for 10-12 minutes.
While meatballs are cooking heat oil and butter in a large pot over med. heat. Saute onions, celery, mushrooms, carrots, thyme, and bay leaves. Cook until onions are soft and add garlic. Saute a few minutes and then add broth, oregano, basil, salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer and add Kale and pastina. Take meatballs out of oven add them to the pot and let simmer about 10-15 minutes. Serve with a little grated parmesan and crusty bread.

Breakfast for my Husband

With the time change I got up pretty early this Sunday morning. When I realized what time it really was I decided that I would make breakfast for Chad instead of going back to bed. While I browsed the pantry for things he likes to eat for breakfast I came across the loaf of white bread I got for a penny at Publix. I love taking advantage of the "mystery coupon" on Sunday's and Monday's but this time I felt a little guilty. The bread has been sitting untouched for a week. So I decided to make french toast and I was happy to use a little of that loaf up. I used Alton Brown's recipe for french toast because I've never gone wrong with any of his recipes. I just adjusted the amount of ingredients since I wasn't making 8 slices. I found a praline maple syrup in the pantry that I got from a local farm here in Georgia, so I was even more excited for his breakfast because this was the first time to crack that bottle open. Chad was pleasantly suprised to wake up to the smell of fresh coffee and french toast for breakfast, and devoured his plate in minutes. I think I deserve a gold star for this one. : )

French Toast (courtesy AB)
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1 Tbs. honey (heated in the microwave)
  • pinch of salt
  • one egg
  • 1 1/2 Tbs. unsalted butter

Heat skillet over med. low heat and add butter.
Beat all ingredients together and let sit for about 10 minutes. Soak each piece of bread in the batter for a couple seconds then transfer to hot skillet. Fry a few minutes on each side. Sprinkle with powder sugar, cinnamon, and chopped pecans. Serve with your favorite syrup

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Pumpkin Cake Doughnut Holes with Two Toppings

Today was a good day. Our house has been in desperate need of a good scrub down. So Chad and I got up pretty early (well, early for a Saturday) and cleaned until our hands were wrinkly and our foreheads were beaded with sweat.

After showering and relaxing on the couch, I remembered a candle I bought on clearance last January. It's a large orange tinged candle with the scent of pumpkin spice. Perfect for the beautiful autumn day we were having. While the candle burned for a while the entire house smelled like pumpkin pie. This is the sole reason for my baking experience this evening.
I browsed through some online recipes for pumpkin desserts, but nothing was getting my attention. So then I started to browse some of my favorite blogs. Usually when I am in the mood for baking I will check Peabody's blog. As I have said before, she is brilliant when it comes to baking and desserts.
I came across her recipe for plain cake doughnuts. Not pumpkin, I know, but plain doughnuts are a favorite of mine. I read the ingredients and decided that I could probably incorporate pumpkin into the batter. I wouldn't usually challenge a baking/dessert recipe, but I was willing to take the risk. I thought to myself, the least that could happened is they don't turn out. Given the fact that I wasn't changing much I was confident they were going to be fine. And they were more than fine. They were incredible!
Pumpkin Doughnut Holes
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 quart oil for frying optional - powdered sugar or cinnamon sugar mixture
Heat oil in deep fryer to 375 degrees F.Sift flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, cinnamon and nutmeg. Mix in butter until crumbly. Mix in pumpkin then stir in milk and egg. With floured hands, lightly knead the smooth dough. Turn onto area prepared with flour. Pat dough into 1/4 inch thickness. Dip either doughnut cutter or two biscuit cutters (one 1-inch and one 3 or 4-inch) in flour. Use to cut-out doughnuts. Carefully drop doughnuts into hot oil, only a few at a time. Fry, turning once, for about 3 minutes or until golden brown. Drain on prepared paper towels. Sprinkle with powdered sugar or cinnamon-sugar mixture.
I also made a glaze of powder sugar, butter, a bit of vanilla and some milk. Here are my approximate amounts.
  • 1 1/2 cup powder sugar
  • 1 tbs. unsalted butter softened
  • 1/4 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 Tbs. milk
  • Mix all ingredients until smooth. Drizzle over holes and let sit 10 minutes.

Note: The dough is very sticky. Don't let that discourage you. And if they aren't perfectly round it doesn't matter, it's the flavor that's important!