Search This Blog

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Salsa All'amatriciana Richness.

      Oh potlucks are my favorite and at potlucks you get to share in everybody's favorite dish,how cool. I love spaghetti and meatballs.I must admit though I don't eat spaghetti and meatballs all the time because in my college days,I ate it all the time.It was a cheap,quick, and filling meal and hey I got to eat garlic bread alongside.I love bread,I will totally admit that.
    This week's theme was...hold on,wait for it...potluck! We each got to pick a recipe of Giada de Laurentiis's ,any one we wanted to cook and go to town! I chose a recipe from Everyday Pasta and it was a fantastic choice,no amazing choice. It's a fairly quick pasta sauce,has so much depth from the bacon (bacon makes life so much better) and the brightness of the tomatoes is brought to life by the spicy red pepper flakes.Let me tell you about this sauce:
Get your ingredients together:olive oil,bacon,yellow onion,garlic,red pepper flakes,tomatoes,salt and pepper and Pecorino Romano cheese.This is gonna be a good one,bacon and garlic,yum.
Soooo the recipe calls for tomato puree and well see I read a long time ago,that if the tomato is the star of the dish then buy good tomatoes.Cento tomatoes are some fine canned tomatoes.To be honest,the peeled ones were on sale.I broke out the immersion blender and pureed the whole tomatoes,ta-da!Pureed tomatoes!
Ok so heat up your olive oil in a large,heavy bottomed saucepan.Add your pancetta or bacon and saute until golden brown.The goodness lies underneath that bacon layer,fond,I call it culinary gold. I could go on for days about this stuff and one day I will.
Add in the onions and saute until tender,about 5 minutes or so.The add in the garlic and red pepper flakes and saute until fragrant,about 30 seconds.       ***A little word of wisdom: During this step the fond on the bottom,the brown goodness under the bacon mixture,well it got a little too brown.I had to act quick!!! A very good friend/talented cook told me to add just a little water CAREFULLY to the bottom of the pan and it will loosen the brown bits.It helps to slow down the cooking just enough to scrape up the brown bits and rescue all the flavor wrapped up in the bottom of the pan.*** See you learned something new,we all say "Thank you Jon."***
Next add in those "pureed" tomatoes and then the salt and pepper.Simmer that pot of heaven over medium-low heat for 15 minutes or so.All the flavors will blend together nicely and! this is the perfect time to broil your meatballs. I made the meatballs from the Mexican Meatball Soup post and they were divine in this sauce.A perfect pair.

Like a ribbon on a big ol' present,the Pecorino Romano cheese is stirred in after the sauce has simmered for a little bit.The cheese really brings out the bite in the sausage (in the meatballs) its just so good swirled all through the sauce.

And here we are,one heck of a plate full of spaghetti and meatballs.Oh my heavens this was good and the recipe made enough for us to have leftovers for a few nights.Score!
Salsa All'amatrciana
adapted from Everyday Italian
by Giada de'Laurentiis
2 Tablespoons olive oil
6 ounces pancetta or bacon,diced
1 yellow onion,finely chopped
2 garlic cloves,minced
pinch of red dried red pepper flakes
1 (28-ounce) can tomato puree
1/2 teaspoon salt,plus more to taste
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper,plus more to taste
1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
1.In a large,heavy bottomed skillet,heat the oil over a medium flame.Add the pancetta or bacon and saute until golden brown,about 8 minutes.Add the onion and saute until tender,about 5 minutes.Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and saute until fragrant,30 seconds or so.Stir in the tomato puree and 1/2 teaspoon each of the salt and pepper.Simmer uncovered,over mediu-low heat until the sauce thickens slightly and the flavors all blend together,about 15 minutes.
2.Stir in the cheese.Taste the sauce and season to taste with the salt and pepper.Enjoy!
*The sauce can be made up to 1 day ahead,cool,then cover and refrigerate.Rewarm over medium heat before serving.)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Mid-Week Moment #15

"If every word I said could make you laugh,I'd talk forever." -Anonymous

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Sweet Potato Biscuits and A Winner!

        These are so goooood. Like dessert good,come to think of it it could be a dessert biscuit! Yeah that's it! Pale orange biscuits with little sweet potato jewels tucked away inside each bite...Okay wait now they are some darn fine biscuits,but that might be taking it a little to far.
     See just plain ol biscuits...well not really.These are Sweet Potato Biscuits and they have changed my view on just what a biscuit is supposed to be.I have recently learned how to make simple tasty traditional biscuits. And I thought I had found the biscuit recipe to use from now until the end of time.Oh and drop biscuits,have that recipe almost memorized they are so good.Welll...
  Let's just say now I have three biscuit recipes that make my heart sing.Each sweet potato biscuits is so simple in it's make up,light and almost fragile with every bite and the tiny bits of sweet potato are really an added bonus,come on sweet potatoes and bicuits,swoon.I love biscuits for dessert.

     I love a big ol' flaky biscuit with some butter and homemade jam.Come to think of it,that might have been a driving force this past canning season and why I made four bagillion different kinds of jam.That explains a lot.On that note let's get down to some business: We have a winner of last week's giveaway,(drumroll please):
  CT mom ! Congrats CT mom,you will be enjoying a lovely half-pint jar of homemade Orange Plum Jam,with an extra touch of lavender sugar,mmm so tasty. It's my new favorite jam and it's also pretty tasty with sausage (and what else) biscuits. And sounds like that Wolfgang Puck all-in-one mixer has got it goin' on,homemade pasta and mix drinks,sounds like a dinner party waiting to happen.If you would email me at and I'll get you that jam just in time to make some Sweet Potato Biscuits! Thanks everyone for commenting,it was so great to hear about all your favorite kitchen tools,from good husbands to good knives!
Sweet Potato Biscuits
adapted from Screen Doors and Sweet Tea
by Martha Hall Foose ( You want Southern charm,this 
book has all kinds of it,a joy to cook from and read too!
page 176
1 cup mashed baked sweet potato(about 2 medium)
 (I just peeled and chopped into uniform pieces 2 medium sweet potatoes
and then softened them in a saucepan with some water until they were sufficiently soft.)
2/3 cup whole milk
4 TBL(1/2 stick) unsalted butter,melted
1 1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
3 1/2 tsp baking powder
2 TBL sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Grease baking sheet and set aside.
2.In a medium bowl,mix the sweet potato,milk,and butter.In a separate bowl sift together the flour,baking powder,sugar, and salt. Add to the sweet potato mixture. Gently mix the dry ingredients into the sweet potato mixture to for a soft dough. Drop the dough by tablespoons onto the prepared baking sheet.
3. Bake for 12-15 minutes,or until deep golden orange tinged with brown. Serve warm or let cool on a wire rack.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

I heart cooking clubs!

So let's be real honest,mahi mahi is not a real good-looking fish.It looks like a fish's fish,but oh bless it's heart.As my husband said as we sat down to enjoy some of this tasty fish,"It's not a pretty fish I'll tell you that." Thank you honey.
No,it would not win the Miss USA pageant,but if it was judged on taste,it would take that crown and run with it... Wait swim with it... you get the drift.(Although from what I've read,when it is swimming under water it's blue green scales are iridescent,that might be something to see.)It swims in sub-tropical waters off the coast of Florida and Hawaii and it taste great! Although it looks like a fish's fish,it's not so fishy in taste.I've never cooked it until last Thursday evening and it won me over.

I joined an online cooking club called .The group is going to be fun,real fun. It keeps you on your toes,sort of.A chef/cook is chosen,his or her recipes are the focus for 6 months and each week within that 6 months ,there is a different theme and you pick a recipe to make that follows that theme. The different themes keep you on your toes,but at the same time you really get to enjoy the variety recipes of a chef/cook for that little while.You get to take in all the recipes have to offer and be creative at the same time.And honey a week is not that long,so you gotta keep moving.I liked this idea and had to be a part of it.

I joined up in the middle of Giada de Lauretiis's 6-month stint with the cooking club.The theme for this week was California Dreamin'.You are supposed to choose a recipe of Giada's that "speaks California " to here goes nothing.I found a recipe in her Everyday Italian cookbook,Spinach and Pine Nut Pesto.I thought a little more about the theme, I got my pesto recipe,what's going to make this recipe speak California to me...let's put this sauce over fish.Yeah yeah,mahi mahi that sounds California to me.(Folks I've never been to California and can only imagine,so go with me here.)Here we have it Spinach nad Pine Nut Pesto over Seared Mahi Mahi.
And dang it was good. The pesto was rich in spinach flavor,had a subtle nuttiness (thank you pine nuts,toasting them is the key)and the fish was the perfect stage.It has a less fishy flavor and a stronger,almost buttery nature about it.The mahi mahi filet was a meaty piece of fish.The only seasonings I used were salt and pepper and that's all it needed.I heated up some extra-virgin olive oil in a non-stick skillet,patted dry the filets,seasoned them and 3-4 minutes each side,ta-da! you have tasty fish just for you!
I made the pesto,then seared my fish then ate it up like no tomorrow.The bag of frozen fish fillets had three pieces of fish in it.We split the third fillet and were in heaven.The dinner from start to finish took less than 30 minutes.I call that a real California daydream,qucik,tasty,rich dinner who could want for more.

Get together your spinach,toasted pine nuts,lemon zest,lemon juice,olive oil,parmesan cheese and salt and pepper.
Throw the spinach,pine nuts,lemon zest and lemon juice in the food processor.Well not throw,maybe gently drop into,if throw them you'll be picking up lemon zest and pine nuts for days...
Now with the machine running,stream in the olive oil in a steady stream.Whir the mixture until nice and creamy. Whir it all around,whir whir.
After it has whirred it's little heart out,pour it into a bowl and gently fold in the Parmesan,salt and pepper.Mmmm this makes it real good.I love cheese.
After you've seared you fish (Heat a few tablespoons of olive oil in a large nonstick skillet.Pat dry your fish filets,season with salt and pepper. Cook 3-4 minutes on each side.)Spoon the pesto over your fish filets and enjoy! It's a real treat.The spinach is brightened by the lemon juice,the lemon zest and the parmesan cheese pair really well and the saltiness of the parmesan cheese and the buttery flavor of the fish,that's good eatin' .
I couldn't wait to actually get my serving on the plate,thirty seconds after the picture it would be on my plate. But no,couldn't wait. And you won't be able to wait, delish. Enjoy!
Spinach and Pine Nut Pesto
adapted form Everyday Italian
by Giada de Laurentiis
makes 1 cup,

2 cups (lightly packed) baby spinach leaves
(about 2 ounces)
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
1 -2 tsp grated lemon zest(about 1 lemon)
2 TBL fresh lemon juice (about 1/2 lemon)
1/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp salt,plus more to taste
1/2 tsp black pepper,plus more to taste.
1.In the bowl of a food processor,combine the spinach,pine nuts,lemon zest and lemon juice.With the machine running,gradually add the oil,blending until the mixture is creamy.
2. Transfer the pesto to a medium bowl. Stir in the Parmesan and 1/2 teaspoon each of the salt and pepper.
3. Season the pesto with more salt and pepper to taste.(the pesto can be made up to 2 days ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)

Friday, January 21, 2011

Classic snack AND Giveaway!!!

 So as Winston watches the snow fall,I figured it was a perfect time to tell you about my most useful Christmas present.

I got a brand new,shiny Cuisinart food processor.It's a pretty nice food processor and was an even more generous present from my in-laws this past Christmas. A few years ago I got a pistachio-green KitchenAid mixer and see there was one more piece of kitchen equipment that I wanted.Not so much needed,but I was growing out of the much smaller food processor I got as a birthday present a few years ago.It makes great pesto and it takes a few rounds to make a spicy batch of salsa,but it is perfect size for just that,smaller batch recipes.I though want to move on to some bigger quantity recipes.
 A few months back I tried to make a recipe that will remain nameless and it called for a whole lot of flour.A lot of flour and my smaller-batch food processor gave it her all.She put up the toughest effort,then I tried to call in the pastry blender and after all was said and done,it was a big ol mess and well we'll see if I make that recipe again.Mmmmhhh!
   So what to make now that I've got this nifty piece of machinery,pie dough? tons of pesto? homemade mayo? I chose almond butter. I know right! out of nowhere,but oh what a delish choice. I had the almonds, the food processor and the salt.I needed to pick up maple syrup and walnut oil.Walnut oil... it's high in omega 3's which helps fight off bad cholesterol and isn't refined so that leave us to enjoy a delicious oil that is very high in natural antioxidants.I got the maple syrup and the walnut oil,got down to breaking in my new favorite kitchen appliance.
 I found the recipe on . It looked fairly easy,I said " I got this." funny thing is now that I think about it it was snowing the evening I made the almond butter.It's finished up snowing for today,but I'm just sayin,coincidence,probably. So big batch or small batch this almond butter is so worth making.It's just sweet enough,with a hint of maple syrup and the natural sweetness of the almonds. The dash of salt added in balances out the sweetness really well.And oh goodness the texture is just divine. It's chunky even though it's smooth and a little,bitty bit of crunch thats softened by the smooth texture of the almonds.It's pefect for a peanut butter & jelly sandwich.I had this classic snack this afternoon with this Orange Plum Jam ,perfect for a snowy afternoon.
     I would also like to announce this is my first GIVEAWAY here at! Hooray for Orange Plum Jam. This jam has become one my favorites since canning season and well you need to have a jar. Comment at the end of this post and tell me about the most useful kitchen tool you have in your kitchen! I will choose the winner randomly and the giveaway will end this Sunday night,Jan.23,2011 at Midnight. The winner will be announced on Tuesday,Jan.25! 
Now stay focused,yay almond butter! So here's how goes it makin' that lucious almond butter,oohhh shiny food processor,high class:
You toss 1 1/2 cups of almonds with maple syrup. Roast the almonds at 325 degrees for 20 minutes,GENTLY stirring around half way through.
Let them cool for a little bit and toss them jokers in your food processor.(now if you have a smaller than say 9-cup food processor,you would have to make this in a few batches,so keep that in mind.)Pulse a few times to break up the nuts.Then drizzle in the walnut oil and run the food processor for 30 - 45 seconds continuously.
After you've added the oil and let it run for a tiny bit this is what it will look like.It will start  to roll itself into a ball.Be sure to scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula.

Let the machine run a few more times for 30 -45 second intervals until it becomes way smoother and creamier.
It will eventually just get as smooth as it's going to get.Carefully scrape it into a small jar,the recipe will make almost a full 1/2 pint (8 ounces).
It was a great sandwich,the jam made it fabulous,the almond butter made it great.
adapted from
she was inspired by this cool blog
1 1/2 cups raw almonds
3 TBL maple syrup
pinch of sea salt
1-2 tsp walnut oil
1.Spread the nuts on a prchment-lined rimmed baking sheet or a baking mat.Drizzle the maple syrup over the nuts,toss with your fingers to coat as evenly as you can.
2.Roast at 325 degrees for 20 minutes,tossing at least once during roasting process.
3.When fully roasted,remove the pan from the oven.Let the nuts cool for 10 - 15 minutes.
4.Pour the nuts into the food processor,pulse to break up.Add a drizzle of the walnut oil and run the food processor for 30-45 seconds.Remove the lid,scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula.Repeat the process until completely broken down and as smooth as you would like it. *You might not need all the oil depending on the moisture content of the almonds.-Store in the fridge, not a super long lifetime,but will last for about a month in the fridge.Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Mid-Week Moment #14

"Everyone has his day and some days last longer than others." -Winston Churchill

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Absolute comfort.

Every winter I get into a long-standing habit of making nothing but soups.I mean not a whole lot of other main dishes make it on our table,but soups. I love a fresh,hot bowl of soup on a chilly winter's day,couldn't ask for more. The idea of the south having a "winter " is not the same winter as say Colorado has,but nonetheless it gets cold enough for me in the days following Thanksgiving to break out my soup recipes.
   Back last January of 2010,a dear,dear friend gave me a really nice gift. I mean a really nice gift that I would have eventually bought myself,but he beat me to it. Thank heavens he got to the finish line before me,because I wouldn't have enjoyed my winter soup recipes without this nice gift. What was this nice gift?

    A Le Creuset round,5 1/2 quart Dutch Oven. I mean folks really,I just about came apart when he walked in my door with that bright orange box. Hello! The heavens sang and everyone else around me was smiling because they knew,they just knew! that many good meals were to come from that pot.
           Fast-forward to last weekend.I had just come off of being sick for a few days and had just started to feel "human." I also had to sit still for a few days,not so fun. We were also expecting some "winter" weather here and I knew just what I wanted to make,get ready...drumroll please....soup! I had been eyeing this recipe in a soup cookbook that I have in my cookbook library.The soup cookbook had a perfectly lovely recipe,but I got online to look to see what other recies were out there.I found one on ,read through the reviews and I was in business. Although I didn see one common theme in some of the reviews that just jumped out at me,folks were saying that the leftovers were even better than the first taste.The "winter" weather was expected on Sunday.I planned to make this soup Saturday night,so look out we were having left-overs.Tasty,rich,savory leftovers,rumor had it.And we were gonna get some snow too,well sign me up,lets get to the grocery quick! The recipe was for Mexican Meatball Soup and it has moved up to the top of my soup recipe list. I think it has a permanent spot on that list,my goodness it was absolute comfort.
Here's how it went down:
Gather together the meatball mixture-ground beef,pork sausage,onion,cilantro,garlic,cornmeal,egg,cumin,salt,black pepper and milk.Mix all together in a large mixing bowl,let chill for 30 minutes in the fridge.
Next round up your soup ingredients,you will see some of the same ingredients show up here too.I like consistency.
We've got olive oil,garlic,onion,bay leaves,diced tomatoes,salsa,beef broth and rice.

The original recipe tells to add the rice to the pot and cook it in the soup itself. I followed the welcomed advice of other reviewers and cooked the rice separately.It is a little bit more work,but it adds to the soup nicely.
Now in the pot,sweat the onions,garlic and bay leaves for 5 minutes.

Next add in the rest of your soup ingredients and bring to a boil.
While the pot comes to a boil,get out your meatball mixture and cookie scoop.Scoop out meatballs,put them onto a foil-lined baking sheet.Broil them for 10 minutes in the oven. As suggested by other reviewers,cook the meatballs on the side.The recipe tells you to cook them in the soup. I have watched meatballs disintegrate in soup before and it just becomes a mess.So cook them separately,it works I promise.
Add the cooked meatballs to the soup,reduce the heat,cover and simmer for 20 minutes.While the soup simmers you can cook your rice.Next break out your bowls,scoop in your cooked rice and ladle the soup over the rice.I love this soup.

adapted from
Makes 6-8 (main-course) servings
Soup :
2 TBL olive oil
2 3/4 c chopped onions,divided
4 garlic cloves,minced and divided
5 14.5 ounce cans beef broth
1 28-ounce diced tomatoes in juice
1/2 c chunky tomato salsa (med-hot)
1/2 c chopped cilantro,divided
1 lb lean ground beef
1/4 lb pork sausage
6 TBL yellow cornmeal
1/4 c milk
1 large egg,lightly beaten
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp gr. black pepper
1/2 tsp gr. cumin

1/2 c long-grain white rice,cooked
For the meatballs: mix together the ground beef and the sausage until well combined. Then mix in 1 tsp minced garlic,1 cup onions,1/4 cup cilantro,cornmeal,milk,egg,salt,black pepper and cumin. Mix well in a large mixing bowl,cover with plastic wrap and let chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
For the soup:
  Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add 1 3/4 cup onions,1 tsp minced garlic and the bay leaves.saute 5 minutes. Add the broth,tomatoes with juices,salsa and 1/4c up,bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes.
At this point,preheat your oven's broiler. Take the meatball mix out of the fridge,using a cookie scoop or rounded tablespoon-size balls,scoop out the meatballs. Put the meatballs on a foil-lined baking sheet and broil for 10 minutes. Next add the cooked meatballs to the soup mixture,reduce the heat,and cover. Simmer for 20 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
While the soup simmers, you can cook your rice. After you've cooked your rice and the soup has simmered with the meatballs,get out your soup bowls. Scoop the rice into the bowl and ladle into the bowl over the rice. This soup is really good to dip bread into,I made these biscuits (scroll to the bottom of this link) and this soup also goes really well with hot sauce,dang fine with hot sauce.I'm just saying.

Friday, January 14, 2011

It's not just a phase...

     Ok so I know,I know you've seen this one before ,oh but wait! You haven't seen this dressing before,only a dressing of similar color, a mason jar... and that same red bowl. Well ok,I'll give you that much,but what's inside that mason jar is what really counts. I 'm totally fine admitting I have a thing for mason jars and since I have 20 or 30 leftover from canning season,I have found new uses for them. All kinds of uses.
    Ok here goes: I put homemade salad dressings in them!  Novel I know. Blew you away. I have also become not just a fan of mason jars and their many uses,but of homemade salad dressing. Gosh it's a good thing. The newest salad dressing that has has me all in a tizzy is Honey Mustard Vinaigrette.
The recipe on the right is this mexican meatball soup,made that this past weekend. You'll hear more about it,very soon.So break out your cookie scoop!
      Oh, what an awesome cookbook. We've known this for years,oh say at least 75 years. They have all kinds of recipes in this big ol' book,one of them being the recipe for my new favorite dressing.Honey Mustard Vinaigrette! And! it doesn't have to go on just salads,although I encourage eating darks greens. They are good for you and packed with all kinds of vitamins,mmm lets see vitamins A,C,K folate,iron and calcium. You dress those good-for-you greens up in this dressing and that salad looks real good right about now. But back to the dressing...
       Let's talk honey,honey. The recipe calls for honey,now there's a show-stopper.We picked this jar on a trip back in the fall and it came in real handy for this recipe.It's rich,sweet and the sweetness held intact by a piece of the honeycomb that sits inside that little jar.The honey mellows out this next ingredient: whole grain mustard.
     The real treat of this vinaigrette is the whole grain mustard. It's hearty with the depth of the mustard seed and tangy with a splash of white wine vinegar. The combination with the honey really is so dang good,oh what a pair. I've now used whole grain mustard in a few recipes and have definitely become a fan!
    Now go find you some dark leafy greens and make you up a jar of this vinaigrette. You'll love it and your salad.
Honey Mustard Vinaigrette
Makes a generous 1/2 cup
Ingredients and Directions,all in one!
(Love love love The Joy of Cooking!)
1. Whisk together in a small bowl:
 2 TBL fresh lemon juice
 1 TBL white wine vinegar
 1TBL honey,or to taste
 1 TBL coarse-grain mustard,or to taste
 Salt and black pepper to taste
2.Add in a slow, steady stream,whisking constantly :
  6 TBL extra-virgin olive oil
Taste and adjust seasonings.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Mid-Week Moment #13

"If a dog jumps in your lap it is because he is fond of you,but if a cat does the same thing, it is because your lap is warmer." -Alfred North Whitehead

Monday, January 10, 2011

Delicious Test-Run

   So you ever go to the grocery store all jazzed up about making a certain recipe?You have your list in hand, ready to get the ingredients you need and then well...

   Well that was me,last Sunday and all I wanted was a whole roasting chicken. I went to the grocery with dreams of a perfect,WHOLE roasted chicken on a platter,covered in gravy and I knew it was just going to be the best roasted chicken dinner ever. The closest thing I could find to a whole chicken was split chicken breasts.I knew the benefits of using split chicken breasts in a recipe. You get all the meaty,juicy benefits of roasting the chicken on the bone and oh the skin. The skin on the chicken is nothing but goodness wrapped around the chicken breasts.It holds in all the flavors,continuously cooks the chicken in it's own fat,oh the flavors.Oh and really it acts like plastic wrap for the chicken,it holds in any extras you smooth under the skin,enriching the taste of the chicken at the same time! Chicken can be like a blank sheet of paper,you have so many opportunities to enrich the flavors of the chicken and welcome in soooo many other flavor/taste combinations.
         Back to reality,standing in the meat section of the grocery store staring at split chicken breasts.I give in and throw caution to the wind,what the heck split chicken breasts it was! I finish picking up the rest of my lists and I was back home soon enough to make some fine roasted chicken.I decided folks this would be a "run-through" of the recipe that called for a whole roasted chicken,a test run of a recipe that I had read rave reviews of and knew it would taste just fine whole or not. Ina Garten's  Perfect Roast Chicken recipe sounded pretty darn wonderful and looked to be pretty straight-forward. It was.It made my house smell amazing. The chicken was cooked perfectly,did I mention gravy,oh good heavens the gravy (should have picked up some Sister Schubert rolls or hey I could have made these .).. and so darn easy. Thanks Ina.

Perfect Roast Chicken
Serves 3-4
1 5 to 6 pound roasting chicken
( I used 5 pounds total of split chicken breasts, yay for being spur of the moment!)
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 large bunch fresh thyme
(I had a craving for rosemary.I used rosemary evidently.)
1 lemon,halved
1 head garlic,cut in half crosswise
2 TBL butter,melted
1 Spanish onion,thickly sliced
1 cup chicken stock
2 TBL all-purpose flour
1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Remove the giblets. Rinse the chicken inside and out. Remove any excess fat and leftover pinfeathers and pat the outside dry.
2. Place the chicken in a roasting pan. Liberally salt and pepper the inside and outside of the chicken. Stuff the cavity with the bunch of thyme,both halves of the lemon, and all the garlic( I tucked the stems of rosemary under the chicken skin and in between the chicken pieces.Cut the lemon into 8 wedges and the garlic into 4 quarters and tucked them in between the chicken pieces too.) Brush the outside of the chicken with he butter and sprinkle again with salt and pepper. Tie the legs together with the kitchen string and tuck the wing tips under the body of the chicken. Scatter the onion slices around the chicken.
3. Roast the chicken for 1 1/2 hours, or until the juices run clear when you cut between a leg and thigh.(When roasting the split chicken breasts,it didn't take as long in the oven,it really took about half as long 30-40 minutes) Remove to a platter and cover with aluminum foil while you prepare the gravy.
4. Remove all the fat from the bottom of the pan,reserving 2 Tablespoons in a small cup. Add the chicken stock to the pan and cook on high heat (on the stovetop) for about 5 minutes,until reduced,scraping the bottom of the pan. Combine the 2 tablespoons of chicken fat with the flour and add it to the pan. Boil for a few minutes to cook the flour. Strain the gravy into a small saucepan and season it to taste. Keep it warm over very low heat while you carve the chicken. Slice the chicken onto the platter (keep the chicken bones for making stock,instructions coming soon!) and serve immediately with the warm gravy.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Oh the lemons.

   It's winter time here in the mid-south and what does that mean? It's time for the sniffles,sneezes and break out the hot tea.Hot tea was the first thing I thought of when I saw this recipe from . I knew that in the middle of winter I would have a jar of this lemony-honey marmalade goodness in my canned goods inventory.It would be ready for all the mugs of hot tea I was going to drink. What I did not know is that I would be "under the weather" and this stuff would come in handy for all my sniffles and sneezes.

   So this past summer as I gradually (some would say plowed) made my way through all the different canning recipes, I knew that marmalade would have to be on my list of "must-makes." I tasted marmalade as a kid. It wasn't that sweet so I wasn't a fan. I really didn't become a fan until I busted out my new zester/vegetable peeler and was humbled by some assorted citrus fruit.I wanted to make one more citrus-type marmalade and all I found was a hard time .Good lawd the lemons.SO one weekend afternoon I got busy chopping some lemons and knew this marmalade recipe better be worth it. It was.
  The recipe called for a whole lot of chopped lemons,more like diced.I rinsed off each lemon and got to business.All the lemon-chopping gave me a little time to reflect on my feelings for the lip-puckering fruit. I've never been a real big fan of lemons other than the occasional slice in my iced tea and I knew that had to change. I was starting with this recipe but maybe I'll try this one or how about this good-looking pie ,oh gosh who knows.I also noticed in my recipe notes,I made this two days after my 30th birthday,so between lemon recipes and thirty years worth of all the memories I was a thinkin' and a choppin'. I did know that all the zings from each slice of each lemon were going to make me love or hate lemons. I chose the high road and I'm glad I did.It's so fantastic in a mug of hot tea and it makes the winter months a little sweeter.
Honey-Lemon Marmalade
adapted from
makes 6 pints
8 cups chopped lemons (about 14 lemons)
2 cups honey
4 cups cane sugar ( I granulated sugar)
1 1/2 cups water
2 packets liquid pectin (6 ounces total)
1. Prepare your canners,jars and lids.
2. Combine chopped lemons,honey,sugar and water together in a non-reactive pot. Bring to a boil,reduce temperature and let simmer for 30 minutes.
3. Add pectin to the fruit and let it gently boil for 5 minutes.
4 Remove from the heat and fill jars. Apply lids and rings and process in a boiling-water bath for 10 minutes. Remove the lid and let boil for 5 minutes more. Remove jars and let the jars cool overnight,to give pectin time to fully activate.