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Carolyn

Sara

Sara and me

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Esther Freud’s book The Sea House: A Novel is about a small village on England’s southern coast. There are characters galore in this book, and it sometimes takes a bit to figure out which decade you’re reading about (few clues) or which person. Oh yes, her, current day. Oh, that’s him, during the war. Max, oh, I thought he died. No, that’s his son. I think. The book is about love found, love lost, love sometimes found again, sometimes not. About how fleeting it can be or seem. There is family dysfunction. Relationship dysfunction. There is quite a bit of adultery going on, yet I found myself understanding why. The book relays a true story (names changed) about an architect and a woman who is trying to write a book about him. Drawings and paintings of this village play a big part. There is some mental dis-health too. And throughout, it’s about the land, the sea, and this remarkable house. I wondered if in the hardback edition there were any photo plates of the drawings. One character is driven to draw the rooms he’s in, the house he’s in, or the house he conjures in his mind. There are lots of beach walks, and there is a huge tidal flood too. Despite having some difficulty keeping track of the characters, it was a good read.

Amor Towles’ book, Rules of Civility: A Novel was quite a read. It’s NYC, 1937. Twenty-five-year-old Katey Kontent [Kon-TENT she iterates to many] is in a Greenwich Village jazz bar when a handsome banker, happens to sit down at the neighboring table. This chance encounter and its startling consequences propel Katey on a year-long journey into the upper echelons of New York society—where she will have little to rely upon other than a bracing wit and her own brand of cool nerve. She struggles to keep her poverty at bay, and like many women of her time and the day, wished themselves on men of means. There is love. There is loss. And through it all, the thread that holds it all together is the mores – the rules of civility – required of most everyone. To keep up the face. To swing. To survive. Really well developed drama and a very real sense of place. I’m reviewing the book in one of my book clubs; fortunately there is a lot online about this book.

Wesley the Owl: The Remarkable Love Story of an Owl and His Girl by Stacey O’Brien. What an adorable book. True story about Stacey’s 20 years with a feisty but lovable barn owl. She’s a biologist, was working at Cal Tech and someone brought in a tiny abandoned barn owl. She took him home, and he became her “mate” (that happens at year two). Everything about this book is interesting, from how she nurtures him in his tiny habitat, to how she transforms her living space to accommodate a full grown owl. He couldn’t be habilitated to the wild because of a wing injury (likely when he fell out of the nest). It’s a heartwarming story.

Loved The Wedding Officer: A Novel by Anthony Capella. It takes place in the middle of WWII in Naples. A young British officer, Captain James Gould, is sent to Naples to wade through the zilions of applications from soldiers to marry local Italian women (and presumably take them back to England when the war ends). The supposition is that all the women are ladies of the night, and it’s their ticket to a better life. He holds to his principles until he meets lovely Livia, who begins cooking for a group of soldiers (it was a real job). Food plays a starring role in this book, as well as Vesuvius’ eruption. It’s a very interesting story – I don’t know if it’s true there were such positions in the British military, but it sounds like it. Gould has to find his way through the miasma of politics, corruption, provisioning in a war-torn country and the warfront. But all of it is laced with the very sweet love story.

Reading behind Bars: A True Story of Literature, Law, and Life as a Prison Librarian by Jill Grunenwald. So interesting. Jill is  young, with a newly minted degree in library science at a time when the economy was very slow. She accepts a position in a minimum security prison in Ohio. She needs a job, and agrees to the commute, rain, shine or snow. The “library” is limited. The inmates her “staff.” She weaves her way through the pitfalls of limited funds, theft, perversion, jerks, rules, and every myriad of inmate problems. Very interesting read.

The Walls of Lucca by Steve Physioc. A novel that takes place in between WWI and II. Franco is a weary Italian soldier. He stumbles into a vineyard and is hired. It’s hard work (nothing he’s ever done before) but he’s a very diligent worker. He didn’t stop there to find love, but it found him. There’s a lot of sinister Fascist activity throughout the book, plenty of local history, and of course, a bit about the walls of Lucca.

The Hired Man by Aminatta Forna. A novel about Croatia in the aftermath of their more recent wars. A British family buys a very dilapidated house, and a local man (the handyman) begins helping them fix it up. Two children play a part, with the British husband merely peeking in now and then. There is local dissension, town secrets, some violence as the town tries to heal from years of war. And the handyman just keeps working, pondering his own demons as well. Very riveting story.

A Column of Fire: A Novel by Ken Follett. It takes place in the 1500s, in England, and has everything to do with the war between the Catholics and the Protestants, that raged throughout Europe during that time, culminating in the Spanish Inquisition. Some of that is hard to read, but Follett writes sagas, and I was really “into it.” Have always loved his writing, and if you haven’t ever read this sidebar before, or my section on books, his book, The Pillars of the Earth: A Novel  is my#1 favorite book I’ve ever read. In this Fire book, though, there are numerous characters, families really, in France, London and the (fictitious I think) town of Kingsbridge. Riveting reading, as are all of his books.

Having read all of Kristin Hannah’s books, I knew I’d read her latest too: Between Sisters: A Novel.  Two sisters, raised by the same mother but different fathers. At a young age a rift occurs and the sisters go their own way. Anger is there, but deep down you know, reading this, that they care about each other. The one that left is a successful but lonely attorney in Seattle. The other is a single mother who owns a small seasonal cabin rental facility near Seattle. It’s a very sweet story – takes awhile to “get there” but you know they’re going to reconcile and find their sister-groove again. Good book. Worth reading.

Just finished Matt McCarthy’s book The Real Doctor Will See You Shortly: A Physician’s First Year. It tells the true life story of his first year as an intern at a New York hospital. You ride the wave of his first, painful days when he questions if he was ever meant to be a doctor, to the end of the year when he recognized his true passion for infectious disease diagnostics. I really enjoyed the book, and commend him for being so brutally honest about his own vulnerabilities and what he saw as complete inexperience. If you enjoy this genre of book, this is a good one.

Also read Karen Harper’s book The Royal Nanny: A Novel. The time frame is 1890s onward, at Sandringham, when Charlotte Bill (a real person) was hired by the Duke and Duchess of York, to care for their children. She was hired as an under-nurse, but soon became the prime caregiver of the youngest children. She became “Lala” to the children, and they loved her dearly. And she them. This is a serious below-stairs look at that part of the royal family, their foibles, idiosyncrasies, and even the proclivities of the children themselves. It was a great read. Loved it from the first page.

Also read Roger Swindell’s Mendelevski’s Box. It’s an historical novel about the aftermath of WWII in impoverished Amsterdam. It’s an eye-opener. Over the last many years I’ve marveled at authors who have found a niche of some part of that awful war and it was enough to write a great story. Simon is the hero, here. He was a Jew and miraculously survived Auschwitz and returned to his home, hoping to find his mother and sister (who were also at Auschwitz, but he knew not their fates). He knew his father had died in the camp. The family home had been taken over by others. He was destitute. He befriended two young women (one had worked for his father in his clock-making business). There is a “box” in the story – an important element. Simon finds a job, income, friends, and love. Finds some caring people, but also encounters some very shady characters as well. The story is told very well. There is mystery, poignant love and redemption. Well worth reading.

Camille De Maio wrote Before the Rain Falls. Very interesting story about a young doctor who returns to her border town in Texas for a very short vacation. And about a young down-on-his-luck journalist who goes to the same town to get a story. There’s a death/murder long ago, the sharp shards of emotions that remain in the town. The survivors. The grandmother who spent 7 decades in prison. And a love story. Very sweet book about family. Love. Loss. As I write this, it’s $.99 on Kindle.

Also read a very quirky non-fiction book: The Perfect Gentleman: The remarkable life of Dr. James Miranda Barry by June Rose. This is a biography about a person who lived in the mid-1800s. He was a surgeon; graduated from Edinburgh Medical School at the age of 14. Joined the British Army as a medical officer then sent off to South Africa and many other tropical outposts during his career. There was always “talk” about him. He never married. He was querulous. He got high-handed too frequently. He was a tee-totaler, and always had a dog named Psyche. He was a brilliant diagnostician and was appalled at the condition of prisons and even ordinary Army barracks. When he died it came out – Dr. James Barry was really a woman. And a woman who had borne a child. Facts that were suspected by many, but never corroborated. S/he did so because a woman wasn’t allowed to go to college, let alone medical school. When you read it in context, it’s logical what her mentors suggested she do. I can’t say that this book is all that well written – some of it uses the stilted language of the time, even though it’s current in its publication. But it’s a fascinating read nonetheless. So I’ve read, there is going to be a documentary made about her life.

The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley. The premise of this book is different . . . a woman writer goes to Scotland to connect with distant heritage. She hopes to gain inspiration for her next book. As she investigates, she discovers she’s related to a family that lived in the early 1700s at Slains Castle on the east coast of Scotland near Aberdeen. This was the time of the Jacobite rebellion (the exiled King James and his hoped-for return to England). When I say this woman gets inspiration . . .well, it’s more than that. She questions whether she could possibly have genes that contain memory (what an idea, huh?), because she begins to know how events took place, who the people were, what they said, exactly where they stood, the layout of the castle, even the furniture in the rooms. She wasn’t channeling, actually, but I suppose it could be interpreted so. The book is full of the Jacobite history (more than I’d ever known before, but then I love English/Scottish history). There’s a romance back then, and a romance in the today time. Both lovely. Great book. An historical novel of the first order.

Another great read, The Island of Sea Women: A Novel by Lisa See. Six months ago I attended an author’s talk at the Bowers Museum. Lisa See was the speaker and shared her story about this book. I’ve heard her speak several times before (she lives near me) and have read several of her books. This one, though, is very different. She was sitting in a doctor’s office reading some magazine and spotted a tiny snippet of data about Jeju Island off the coast of Korea where the island as a whole is matriarchal because the women were trained from a young age to deep dive, free dive, for mollusks. These women were the breadwinners. Husbands stayed home and cared for the babies. The island is real. The history is real. And what happened during WWII on this island is horrific – makes me feel ashamed that our military had a hand in what happened to many people. But everyone should read this book. It’s a novel, about 2 girls who are divers and how their lives diverge for a variety of cultural reasons and because of the war.

Radio Girls by Sarah-Jane Stratford. A novel about the early days of radio in London. This book takes place in the 1920s and tells not only the general history of the early days of radio, but also the role women played (a vital one). Initially it was in the background, because women weren’t considered intelligent enough. Maisie, the heroine in the book, works her way up the ranks. It’s a fascinating read from beginning to end. Many famous characters (real) flow through the studios. Early voting rights play a part in the story line also. And some wartime intrigue. You’ll find yourself cheering from the bleachers when women make a tiny inroad into the male-dominated field.

A Well-Behaved Woman: A Novel of the Vanderbilts by Therese Anne Fowler. My friend Ann, from Idaho, brought it with her as we spent a week in Palm Desert in February. She handed it to me and said I’d really like it. Oh, did I! Loved the book. This book is a novel, but based on the life of Alva Smith Vanderbilt (Belmont). Her family was nearly destitute (and faking it) when a marriage was proposed for her with William Vanderbilt. There is lots of dialogue in the book which is made up, but I’m guessing the author probably read many diary entries of Alva (and the family) to create a very intriguing and readable story. A life of unbelievable privilege. Several children, including one who marries into a titled family in England. You see the inner life of Alva – her day to day busy work, charity work, visiting for afternoon tea, the undercurrent of society’s morals – men were nearly expected to have mistresses or affairs. This was the Victorian Age when sex between husbands and wives was not necessarily, and usually not, passionate. I loved this book from page one until the end.  Alva was a suffragette of the first order. Having read the book, I have a lot of admiration for her, even though she lived in the highest echelons of society.

Also read In Falling Snow: A Novel, by Mary-Rose McColl. From amazon: Iris, a young Australian nurse, travels to France during World War I to bring home her fifteen-year-old brother, who ran away to enlist. But in Paris she meets the charismatic Dr. Frances Ivens, who convinces Iris to help establish a field hospital in the old abbey at Royaumont, staffed entirely by women—a decision that will change her life. Seamlessly interwoven is the story of Grace, Iris’s granddaughter in 1970s Australia. Together their narratives paint a portrait of the changing role of women in medicine and the powerful legacy of love. The book  gives you a vivid picture of the state of nursing in WWI, but the story is quite mesmerizing. And there’s a twist almost at the end. Highly recommend.

Also couldn’t put down The Secret Wife by Gill Paul. A long story that begins in war-torn Russia. Cavalry officer Dmitri falls head over heels in love with one of the daughters of Tzar Nicholas. But events intervene, as history tells us. That was 1914. Cut to 2016 when a young woman inherits an ancient cabin in upper New York State and she discovers a jeweled pendant. The two times weave together to make a really riveting story. Lots of Russian history; well written; as I said, couldn’t put it down.

Uncommon Woman. A book about Colonial America, but really the western frontier at that time, which is in western Pennsylvania. The warring native Americans play large in this book. There is a romance, yes, but this book is not “a romance.” It’s more than that – about the hardships of living on the land, away from protection, Tessa and her family struggle to make a living and avoid the angered natives who take revenge when their people are murdered. Clay Tygart is a respected officer/soldier and commands a fort near where Tessa lives. Clay was captured by Lanape Indians when he was a young man, so he straddles both sides of the equation – first hand, he knows how the natives feel, but also his role in the lure of American exploration of the west. The natives wish to preserve their hunting grounds from the encroaching settlers. This book takes place in the mid-1700s I think. Loved it. Not only the history that is brilliantly detailed, even to the summer heat they experience. The crops they raise, the constant fear of attack. And the sweet love that weaves through it. Not a speck of sex in it.

Reading mysteries has never loomed large in my reading life. Occasionally, yes. And some espionage type books. But light mysteries have not intrigued me much. But one of my book clubs had us read Louise Penny’s novel, A Rule Against Murder (Chief Inspector Gamache Novel). The member actually handed out a cheat sheet of the characters in the book (many) and posed several questions of us as we read through it. The cheat sheet really helped. She asked us when (or if) we caught the foreshadowing of the murder culprit (I never did). The book takes place at a lovely inn in Canada and Chief Inspector Gamache (he is quite a character – along with his wife – are vacationing there) when a murder occurs. None of the characters escape the C.I.’s scrutiny. Lois, our book club member, led us through a very thorough and lively discussion of the book. Usually, my complaint about murder mysteries is that they don’t make for good discussion at a book club – but this book was an exception, for sure. Many of my learned book club friends rave about Louise Penny. One told me I should read Still Life next, and probably should have read it before I read this one.

Rachel Hauck is an author I’ve enjoyed reading over the years. Just finished reading The Memory House. It’s about relationships. Love. About family. About secrets. Doesn’t that just describe about 90% of every novel out there these days? Beck is a cop in NYC; a series of events occur and she is forced to take leave. Just then she inherits a house in Florida. She barely remembers the woman who bequeathed the house to her. Then you meet Bruno, a sports agent who will figure large in Beck’s life. Then the book jumps back in time to Everleigh, the woman who owned the house and you learn her story. Really stories of her two husbands. And how do those stories connect to present day. Very sweet book. Not a speck of sex in this one, either.

The Parrot Who Owns Me: The Story of a Relationship by Joanna Burger. Such an interesting book – nonfiction. The author is an ornithologist by profession (and a PhD) and this memoir of sorts is about her Red-Lored Amazon parrot she and her husband own. But no, it’s the parrot who owns her/them.

My Name Is Resolute by Nancy Turner. She’s the author of another book of some renown, These is my Words: The Diary of Sarah Agnes Prine, 1881-1901 (P.S.). Resolute is what I’m discussing here. A book club friend recommended this book, I immediately bought it on my Kindle. I could NOT put the book down. I devoured it. Any other “work” I should have been doing was swept aside as I read and read of Resolute’s adventures. It’s fiction, but based some on a true story. Resolute, as a young girl from a privileged life on a plantation in Jamaica, was taken captive by slavers, eventually ended up in Colonial America. This book is the story of her life. The people she met, the men in her life, her children, and always about her indefatigable energy for life. Always hoping to return to Jamaica.

Finished The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek: A Novel by Kim Richardson.  It’s a novel about the first mobile library in Kentucky (this is the 1930s) and the fierce, brave packhorse librarians who wove their way from shack to shack dispensing literacy, hope, and, just as importantly, a compassionate human connection.

The Shepherd’s Life: Modern Dispatches from an Ancient Landscape by James Rebanks. This book was offered as a bargain book from Bookbub, and something about the description resonated with me – maybe because of my Old Testament readings regarding the lives of shepherds back in ancient days. I utterly loved this book. It might not suit everyone – it’s a memoir, so a true story, of a young man growing up in the Lake District of Northern England, the son of a farming family, who sabotages everything in his being regarding going to school and leaves as soon as he is able (probably about 8th grade, I’d guess). And becomes a shepherd. And at night, he read literature that he accumulated from his grandfather. He bickers with his father, eventually moves out. One night in a pub with his blokes (friends) he enters some kind of a contest in the pub and realizes he has a lot more knowledge than he thought he did. In time he applies to get what I’d call here in the U.S. a G.E.D (high school diploma), which he does, and then he applies to Oxford, on a whim. And gets in. He graduates. He applies his knowledge to his rural life. He marries, has children, but still, his day to day life is all about his Herdwick sheep, although he does have a day job too working for UNESCO. You’ll learn more about sheep than you might have wanted to know. I absolutely loved, LOVED this book. If you are interested, James Rebanks has a Twitter feed, called @herdyshepherd1, and you can sign up to get updates from him about his farm and his sheep. I don’t do Twitter or I would.

Moloka’i: A Novel by Alan Brennert. A riveting book about the early days of Hansen’s Disease (leprosy) in Hawaii, and the stigma attached to the victims AND their families. It chronicles the story of a young woman, diagnosed almost as a child, and ostracized from her family, subsequently learning to live alone and remote.

House by the Fjord by Rosalind Laker. What a darling story. From amazon: A touching and atmospheric love story – When Anna Harvik travels to Norway in 1946 in order to visit the family of her late husband, the country is only just recovering from five cruel years of Nazi occupation. So it is with surprise that she finds in this cold and bitter country the capacity for new love and perhaps even a new home. I just loved this book – could hardly put it down; yet it’s not a mystery. You’ll come away with a desire to find that house by the fjord. I want to go there and have some coffee with the Anna, who was a Brit, yet fell head over heels in love with Norway.

Running Blind (Jack Reacher) by Lee Child. A Jack Reacher mystery. From amazon: Across the country, women are being murdered, victims of a disciplined and clever killer who leaves no trace evidence, no fatal wounds, no signs of struggle, and no clues to an apparent motive. They are, truly, perfect crimes. Until Jack Reacher gets in the middle of it. A page turner, as are all of the Jack Reacher stories.

Say Goodbye for Now by Catherine Ryan Hyde. This story, which takes place in a kind of Texas backwater, sets a town into an angry mess when two young boys, one white, one black, become friends, something most folks don’t like. At all. There’s a dog involved, the father of the black boy, the father of the white boy plus a woman who lives in the town and does her best to avoid people altogether. But they all get fused. Wonderful story.

Summer at Tiffany by Marjorie Hart. A sweet book, true story, of the author and her friend, during one summer in the midst of their college years, going by train to NYC and ultimately getting a job of Tiffany’s.  Cute read.

Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann. You might think what a stretch – what does an Indian (Native American) tribe have to do with the FBI. Read and you’ll find out. This is back in time, 50s I think, and a number of murders have taken place on the Osage Reservation. A wake up call, even for today.

Oh wow. Just finished reading David Guterson’s book, East of the Mountains. You know this author from his most well known book, Snow Falling on Cedars. I loved the Cedars book when I read it years ago, and assumed I’d like this other book (not new) as well. Have you learned to trust my judgment when I tell you, you HAVE to read a book? If I tell you the story line, I can already hear you thinking . . . oh no, I don’t want to read this kind of a book. Please trust me. You’ll come away from it being glad you did.

A fabulous read – Catherine Ryan Hyde’s newest book, Have You Seen Luis Velez? I marvel sometimes about how authors ever come up with the ideas they do, to create the premise for a novel. And this one is right up there at the top of the list. Raymond, a youngster, an older teenager, who has a big lack of self-confidence and feels like an odd duck sometimes, reluctantly (at first) befriends an elderly woman in the apartment building where he lives with his mother and step-father. He discovers she’s blind and needs some help, which he gives her.

Magic Hour: A Novel

Excellent Women

Pachinko (National Book Award Finalist) by Min Jin Lee

An American Marriage (Oprah’s Book Club): A Novel by Tayari Jones.

Recently finished Sally Field’s memoir (autobiography) called In Pieces.

If you want grit, well, read Kristen Hannah’s newest book, The Great Alone: A Novel.

You’ve got to read Catherine Ryan Hyde’s book – Take Me With You. What a story.  From Amazon’s description: August Shroeder, a burned-out teacher, has been sober since his nineteen-year-old son died. Every year he’s spent the summer on the road, but making it to Yellowstone this year means everything. The plan had been to travel there with his son, but now August is making the trip with Philip’s ashes instead. An unexpected twist of fate lands August with two extra passengers for his journey, two half-orphans with nowhere else to go. What none of them could have known was how transformative both the trip—and the bonds that develop between them—would prove, driving each to create a new destiny together. Have a tissue handy at the end. It’s such a charming, sweet story. You’ll fall in love with the young boys, and fall in love with them again 10 years later.

The Last Letter from Your Lover: A Novel by JoJo Moyes.

Mark of the Lion : A Voice in the Wind, An Echo in the Darkness, As Sure As the Dawn (Vol 1-3) by Francine Rivers.

Flight of the Sparrow: A Novel of Early America

Answer As a Man

Celeste Ng Little Fires Everywhere.

The Rent Collector by Camron Wright.

C.J. Box’s book The Disappeared (A Joe Pickett Novel).

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng.

The Boston Girl: A Novel by Anita Diamant.

Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers.

The Tuscan Child by Rhys Bowen.

Leaving Blythe River: A Novel by Catherine Ryan Hyde.

The Girl with Seven Names by Hyanseo Lee.

The Sandcastle Girls by Chris Bohjalian.

The Good Widow: A Novel by Lisa Steinke.

The Girl Who Wrote in Silk by Kelli Estes.

How It All Began: A Novel by Penelope Lively.

 

Tasting Spoons

My blog's namesake - small, old and some very dented engraved silver plated tea spoons that belonged to my mother-in-law, and I use them to taste my food as I'm cooking.

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Posted in Chicken, on June 16th, 2020.

roast_chix_schmaltzy_brussels_onions_plated

Absolute divine chicken and vegetables.

A few weeks ago I was reading Smitten Kitchen (blog) and Deb had written up a recipe for smaltzy chicken with a bed of cabbage underneath it. I know enough Yiddish to know that schmaltz is chicken fat. I laughed at Deb’s naming of the recipe – schmaltzy – to connote the fat that drips down from the chicken into and onto the bed of cabbage underneath. When I made the dish, it was absolutely fabulous. I mean drop-dead fabulous. And I took pictures of it. But when I tried to work with the photos, it was just so “brown.” You know me and dull, brownish pictures. Hate them. I used all of that chicken, and ate all of the delicious cabbage that had been permeated with the chicken juices, and fat, of course. So, with another chicken in my frig, but no cabbage, I decided to try it with different veggies.

To make this recipe work, I think you DO need to use firm brassica vegetables (Brussels, cabbage, turnips and/or cauliflower). I had Brussels, but nothing else, so I added onions on top. Onions aren’t of the brassica family, but they do take a long time to cook through. So, I thought, why not? Oh my goodness. A marriage made in heaven.

chix_brussels_in_panThis dish is a cinch to put together. I mean it. The Brussels sprouts are halved if they’re big, otherwise left whole, and they’re placed cut side down into an oiled iron skillet. One that’s big enough to hold all the vegetables and the whole chicken sitting on top of them. Then the halved and sliced onions are put on top of that. I seasoned them with salt, pepper and dried thyme (my favorite go-to herb). The whole chicken is dried off, then oiled with EVOO, salted, peppered and more dried thyme, then set atop the veggies. Into a VERY hot oven (450°) it goes for about 50 minutes. My oven runs a tad hot, so I used 445°F. At the halfway point I turned the pan around 180°F in the oven.

roast_chix_iron_skilletWhen I made chicken before, I removed it when the thigh had reached 165°F, the usual temp cooks say it needs to reach. But I wasn’t totally happy with the chicken – to me it wasn’t quite done. It was done, but it wasn’t done enough. The leg wasn’t loose – the sure sign that a chicken is cooked through. So this time when I opened the oven at 50 minutes, the chicken was very golden brown. So I turned the oven down to 420°F and let it roast for another 10 minutes, at which point the thigh had reached 180°F. If you have a smaller chicken or a larger one, you might need to adapt the total baking time. I removed the pan with all the wonderful chicken and onion flavors floating around my nose, tented it with foil for about 10 minutes, and was ready to serve. chix_brussel_onions_in_pan

The vegetables stayed plenty warm in the hot-hot frying pan while I carved  up the chicken. My portion control went right out the window. I hate a leg (thigh and drumstick) and a big scoop of vegetables. And as I peeled off all the chicken from the carcass later, I nibbled on more juicy, dripping chicken. Oh my.

What’s GOOD: there is nothing that wasn’t sensational about this chicken. If I don’t have brassicas to add to the pan, well, I’ll just use more onions. But the combo of Brussels and onions was doubly wonderful. If you’re not a Brussels sprouts fan, use cabbage and onions.

What’s NOT: nothing that I can think of – you do need some kind of veg that needs long, hot cooking. Hence I didn’t think broccoli would work here. Cauliflower would, however, so I’ll try that next time, providing I have some.

printer-friendly PDF and MasterCook 15/16 file (click link to open recipe)

* Exported from MasterCook *

Roasted Chicken with Schmaltzy Brussels and Onions

Recipe By: Adapted from Smitten Kitchen blog, 2020
Serving Size: 5

2 teaspoons EVOO
1 pound Brussels sprouts — stems trimmed, halved if large, whole if small
2 large yellow onions — halved and sliced
salt and pepper to taste, sprinkled on top
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme — sprinkled on the vegetables
3 1/2 pounds whole chicken — patted dry with paper towels
1 tablespoon EVOO
salt and pepper, sprinkled on the chicken
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme — sprinkled on the chicken
2 teaspoons fresh parsley — chopped, for garnish

1. Preheat oven to 445-450°F. My oven runs hot, so I reduce the temp by 5°F.
2. Smear the EVOO in the bottom of a cast iron skillet large enough to hold the vegetables and the chicken to sit on top.
3. As you cut the Brussels sprouts, lay them cut side down in the skillet and add the additional ones on top. Sprinkle with some of the salt and pepper.
4. Arrange the halved and sliced onions on top, sprinkle with a bit more salt and pepper, then sprinkle dried thyme over all.
5. Pat dry the chicken, then rub it all over with EVOO, salt, pepper, then set it on top of the vegetables. Sprinkled dried thyme on top of the chicken.
6. Roast in oven for about 50 minutes. If you’re brave, remove the pan from oven halfway through and if you find drippings in the bottom, use a deep spoon to drizzle it over the top of the chicken. If not brave, rotate the chicken 90°F. Check the internal temp of the bird. Usually chefs say cook until the thigh is 165°F, but I prefer a whole chicken roasted further, as often the leg is not loose and not ready to eat. Turn down heat to 425°F if the top of the bird is overly browned. Continue baking for about 10 more minutes, until the internal temp of the thigh is at 180°F and the leg joint moves easily.
7. Remove pan from oven, tent loosely with foil for 10 minutes.
8. Remove chicken from the pan to a carving board and carve thick slices of breast and remove legs, cutting them in half. Serve with generous servings of the Brussels sprouts and onions on the side. Sprinkle with fresh chopped parsley if desired.
Per Serving (assumes you’ll be eating all the skin, hence numbers are high): 774 Calories; 52g Fat (61.0% calories from fat); 62g Protein; 13g Carbohydrate; 4g Dietary Fiber; 286mg Cholesterol; 247mg Sodium; 4g Total Sugars; 0mcg Vitamin D; 88mg Calcium; 6mg Iron; 1023mg Potassium; 550mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Chicken, Grilling, on July 31st, 2019.

balsamic_grilled_chix_italian_street_corn

Corn is in season – get yourself some – and make this delicious topping for grilled chicken.

Remember, I went to a cooking class a week or so ago and came home with 3 chicken recipes. One more to go after this one. Phillis Carey did a riff on Mexican Street Corn, a recipe I have here on my blog. In this version she Italianized it with different herbs – she also cut it off the cobs and used it as a side/topping/relish.

The chicken breasts, cut and pounded to an even 1/2” thickness, are marinated in an Italian-style mixture with balsamic vinegar, olive oil, garlic, rosemary, thyme and a little bit of brown sugar. Some of the marinade is removed and set aside to use on the chicken as it’s grilling. The chicken can be marinated for a max of 3 hours, but 30 minutes is fine too.

The corn – it’s grilled while it’s still on the cob – then cut off the cobs and mixed while it’s still slightly warm with olive oil, mayo, rosemary, thyme and some grated Parm. Meanwhile, the chicken gets grilled until just cooked through – don’t overcook it or no one will be happy – and serve with the corn mixture on top.

Easy. Delicious.

printer-friendly PDF and MasterCook 15/16 recipe (click link to open recipe)

Balsamic Grilled Chicken with Italian Herb Street Corn

Recipe By: Cooking class with Phillis Carey, July, 2019
Serving Size: 4

CHICKEN:
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon brown sugar — use Swerve brown sugar if possible
3 cloves garlic — minced
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary — minced
2 teaspoons fresh thyme — minced
salt and pepper to taste
4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves
CORN:
3 corn on cob, whole
2 tablespoons olive oil — divided use
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 teaspoons fresh rosemary — minced
1 teaspoon fresh thyme — minced
3 tablespoons Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese — grated
fresh salt and pepper to taste

1. CHICKEN: cut chicken breasts in half, crosswise, then cut thicker end in half horizontally and pound to even thickness, about 1/2″. Combine balsamic, oil, sugar, garlic, rosemary and thyme. Season marinade with salt and pepper. Remove 1/4 cup marinade and set aside.
2. Add marinade, turning to coat well. Let stand at room temp for 30 minutes or refrigerate up to 3 hours.
3. Preheat grill. Brush corn with 1 T olive oil and grill until charred over most of the surface. Remove and cut kernels off the cobs. Place corn in a bowl and once cooled some, add mayonnaise, herbs, Parm and remaining oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
4. Remove chicken from marinade and grill, prettier side down, for 4 minutes. Turn over and grill for 4-6 minutes or until cooked through. Brush with reserved marinade during last 2 minutes of cooking. Serve with corn on top or each piece, or on the side.
Per Serving: 402 Calories; 25g Fat (54.7% calories from fat); 30g Protein; 17g Carbohydrate; 2g Dietary Fiber; 71mg Cholesterol; 129mg Sodium.

Posted in Chicken, Grilling, on July 23rd, 2019.

salsa_verde_chix_onion_relish

Bet you thought you wouldn’t hear from me again. Gotcha! Carolyn here. After attending a cooking class last night. Had to share a few recipes with you. There will be two more chicken recipes plus a dessert coming up in a bit.

That photo may not be the best representation – brown food never looks that photogenic – it’s a red onion (grilled) with Cotija cheese crumbled in it set atop a grilled (marinated) chicken breast. Oh gosh, was it good! Phillis Carey said we’d all likely want to have the whole bowl of onion relish. Yes. My hand would have poked in the air begging for an extra serving. There weren’t any leftovers at the class, alas. Hence I’m going to have to make this dish sometime soon.

What makes this is the onion relish, for sure, but the marinade gives the chicken lovely flavor and I know for sure the fresh lime juice squeezed over the top just before serving added a whole lot of extra piquancy. But I could have eaten several servings of the red onion relish.

So first you marinate the chicken in jarred (Trader Joe’s) salsa verde along with oil, lime juice, garlic, chili powder and cumin. The chicken breasts were given the royal Phillis Carey treatment (she being the queen of the myriad uses of chicken breasts and the pounding of them). She has a new technique, however. Since so many chicken breasts are SO big, she first cuts each breast in half crosswise in about half. Note, crosswise, not lengthwise. The thinner end is probably already thin enough, you don’t need to pound it at all – if any, just the thicker end a tiny bit. The other piece she cuts horizontally in half which gives you two equally sized pieces and those two get pounded just slightly (put the pretty side down, cover with plastic wrap and gently pound to equal thickness). So each big chicken breast = 3 nice sized entrée serving pieces. And all will cook evenly.

The onions are oiled and grilled until soft and caramelized, then removed. They’re chopped up coarsely (see photo) and some of the reserved salsa is added plus some Cotija (a dry, Mexican style salty cheese, similar to Feta) that’s crumbled up into it. The chicken is grilled as well and taken off before they overcook. Some salsa is put on the flipped over side, then you serve it with the onion piled on top. Done. You’ll hear raves, I just know it. Oh, don’t forget the grilled lime half that you grill also and squeeze that over each person’s serving. Grilled limes look so pretty – let each person squeeze their own.

What’s GOOD: the onion relish, tender, juicy chicken, everything.

What’s NOT: nothing.

printer-friendly PDF and MasterCook 15/16 file

Salsa Verde Chicken with Grilled Onion and Cotija Cheese Relish

Recipe By: Cooking class with Phillis Carey, July, 2019
Serving Size: 4

12 ounces salsa verde — Trader Joe’s, jarred, divided use
3 tablespoons avocado oil
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 cloves garlic — minced
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves Salt and pepper to taste
2 whole red onions — cut in thick slices
2 whole limes — halved (for grilling)
1 tablespoon fresh oregano — chopped
1/2 cup Cotija cheese — crumbled (or use Romano, or Parmesan)

1. Remove 1 cup of salsa from the jar and set aside. Combine remaining salsa, 2 T. oil, lime juice, garlic chili powder and cumin.
2. Trim chicken and pound to an even thickness or about 1/2″. You’ll probably want to cut the chicken breast into 2 or even 3 pieces. Place chicken in non-reactive dish, season with salt and pepper to taste then pour the salsa mixture on top of the chicken, turning to coat the pieces well. Let stand at room temp for no more than 30 minutes, or cover and refrigerate for up to 2 hours (no longer or the chicken will begin to “cook” in the acidic salsa).
3. Preheat grill. Brush sliced onions with oil and grill until soft and brown. Remove to a cutting board and stir in the 1/2 cup reserved salsa and the fresh oregano; set aside to cool and then toss in the Cotija cheese. Grill lime halves until browned to a medium color on the cut sides.
4. Remove chicken from marinade and grill about 4 minutes on the prettier side. Do NOT overcook. Turn over and spoon about 2 T. salsa on each chicken breast. Close lid and grill about 4 more minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Serve chicken topped with onion cheese relish and with a grilled lime half to be squeezed over the chicken.
Per Serving: 298 Calories; 12g Fat (36.9% calories from fat); 29g Protein; 18g Carbohydrate; 2g Dietary Fiber; 69mg Cholesterol; 367mg Sodium.

Posted in Chicken, easy, Healthy, on June 2nd, 2019.

One of my go-to quick, easy and healthy weekday meals. 

This post is from Sara:  I found the original recipe on Delish.com which is a favorite healthy recipe website for me.  I mostly plan my week’s meals out on Sunday and shop accordingly so that I don’t have to make several trips to the grocery store after work.  However, there are those days that I am not in the mood for my plan or life happens and dinner plans change.  This is one of the fast, easy and healthy recipes I love to make.  It’s a one-pan dish and I usually have everything on hand as it’s fairly common ingredients, at least in my household.  If I don’t have fresh basil, I almost always have pesto sauce that can be substituted.

I serve it with a salad and some balsamic vinaigrette that I add a tsp of pesto sauce to bring up the flavor.  You could also add pasta if you don’t have an aversion to carbs.  Or, like me, you have teenagers that need more calories.  I love this dish because of the fresh ingredients.  I always have grape tomatoes in my fridge as I eat them as a snack daily.  I used fresh mozzarella because I prefer it but regular mozzarella or provolone would work.

Having made this a few times, I found that I prefer to slice the chicken breasts horizontally into two thinner slices.  This keeps my portion size down and gives me leftovers for lunch the next day!  Another bonus of this recipe is to make enough for leftovers so I add the cold chicken cut up to a salad with tomatoes, fresh mozzarella bits and the pesto balsamic vinaigrette dressing.

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Chicken Caprese

Recipe By: adapted from Delish.com
Serving Size : 4

1 tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 pound boneless skinless chicken breast halves — cut horizontally into 4 pieces
Kosher salt to taste and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup Balsamic vinegar
2 cloves Garlic — Minced
1 pint grape tomatoes — halved
2 tablespoons fresh basil — freshly torn
4 slices mozzarella cheese — use fresh if possible or substitute pesto sauce
12 basil leaves — for garnish

1. In a large skillet over medium/high heat, heat oil. Season chicken with salt and pepper and cook until golden and cooked through, approximately 6 mins per side depending on thickness. Transfer to a plate.
2. Add balsamic vinegar to skillet, then add garlic and cook until fragrant, 1 min. Add tomatoes and season with salt. Let simmer until soft, 5-7 mins. Stir in basil.
3. return chicken to skillet and nestle in tomatoes. Top with mozzarella and cover with lid to melt.
4. Spoon tomatoes over chicken and sprinkle more fresh basil if desired.
Per Serving: 537 Calories; 33g Fat (55.5% calories from fat); 51g Protein; 8g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 167mg Cholesterol; 552mg Sodium.

Posted in Chicken, on November 24th, 2018.

artichoke_chicken_590

Oh so easy – chicken breasts, marinated in Italian salad dressing, then with an easy-to-put-together topping of canned artichoke hearts, Parm and mayo. So moist and flavorful.

My Northern California daughter, Dana, eats lots of chicken, and she occasionally finds a recipe that floats her boat. This is the one. When I drove up there a few weeks ago (for her 50th birthday – oh gosh – does that make me feel old!) she fixed this one night. She’d found the recipe on Pinterest, from a website called Plain Chicken. First you marinate the chicken (she used boneless, skinless breasts, but I’m sure you could use thighs) in some kind of Italian salad dressing. If you don’t have some on hand, make some. It probably wouldn’t take all that much dressing to be enough to marinate. Start on this a few hours ahead, or even overnight works.

artichoke_chix_before_baking_590Then, you pan sear the chicken on both sides, (Dana forgot to do that step, as you can see – raw chicken breasts there) put them out onto a foil-lined baking sheet and cover the tops with a mixture of canned and chopped artichoke hearts, grated Parm, mayo and some garlic powder. How easy is that? Into the oven it goes and bakes until perfectly juicy and tender.

When Dana made these, she used really big, thick chicken breasts, and we talked about it, that none of us could finish a whole half-breast, so if I were making it I’d cut the chicken breasts into 2 pieces and pound both pieces to an equal thickness (not super thin) and I’d pan sear the chicken only on one side. Then I’d put the artichoke mixture on the un-seared side and I’d watch the temp really closely once baking them. The recipe says 20-25 minutes. If you did the half of a half-breast, it might only take 12-15 minutes. Use an instant read thermometer, and take them out of the oven a few degrees shy of 165°F and tent the pan for just a few minutes and the temp will rise a little bit. Fix the rest of the dinner in those few minutes, then serve. The topping stays really – REALLY hot, just so you know. I think 2 or 3 of us burned the roof of our mouths on the topping. Thanks to the blog writer from Plain Chicken for this recipe.

What’s GOOD: great flavor – the salt in the topping tastes extra good (from the Parm and mayo) and it’s a perfect protection for the chicken breasts so they don’t get over done. Make a salad and you’ve got dinner.

What’s NOT: really nothing, although ideally you start this the day before and marinate them overnight.

printer-friendly PDF and MasterCook 15/16 file (click link to open recipe)

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Artichoke Chicken

Recipe By: From a blog called Plain Chicken, via Pinterest
Serving Size: 4

1 cup Italian salad dressing
4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves
1 tablespoon olive oil
15 ounces canned artichoke hearts — drained and chopped
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

NOTES: If the chicken breasts are particularly large, cut them in half and pound them some, to an even thickness – but not too thin or they won’t stay moist enough. Half of a large chicken breast is enough for one serving unless you’ve got hungry teenage football players on hand.
1. Marinate chicken breasts in Italian dressing in a sealed plastic bag for a few hours to overnight.
2. Preheat oven to 375ºF.
3. Heat olive oil in non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Remove chicken from marinade and brown lightly 2 minutes per side. Place chicken on foil lined baking sheet. If using the half breasts, sear on one side only, turn over and put topping on the un-seared side.
4. In a medium bowl, mix together chopped artichoke hearts, Parmesan cheese, mayonnaise, and garlic powder. Spread artichoke mixture evenly on top of chicken – go all the way to the edges which helps keep the chicken moist.
5. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until juices run clear. If using pounded-thinner half of a chicken breast, it will likely take 12-15 minutes to bake – test several times with an instant read thermometer to make sure you don’t over bake them – it should register 165° F.
Per Serving (calorie count assumes you consume the salad dressing-not): 839 Calories; 73g Fat (76.5% calories from fat); 37g Protein; 13g Carbohydrate; trace Dietary Fiber; 95mg Cholesterol; 1319mg Sodium.

Posted in Chicken, Miscellaneous, on October 11th, 2018.

chakalaka_relish

A lovely relish (or kind of like a salsa) to serve with grilled meat.

Presuming you read my post from yesterday, about the BBQ Chicken, South African Style, then you already know this relish is supposed to be served with that chicken. It came from a cooking show with Sarah Graham, who’s from South Africa. This side/relish is just so different – when I watched the show a couple of years ago I was intrigued with the ingredients . . .

It has some very standard things you’d expect in a relish – onion, a chile pepper, a bell pepper, garlic, even tomatoes. But a bit more unusual is a bunch of grated carrots, some chutney (I used apricot jam), a jot of ketchup. But this one also has a little bit of curry powder (but not really enough to taste it), AND it has a small can of BAKED BEANS in it.

Here’s what wikipedia has to say about it:

Chakalaka is a South African vegetable relish, usually spicy, that is traditionally served with bread, pap, samp, stews, or curries. Chakalaka may have originated in the townships of Johannesburg or on the gold mines surrounding Johannesburg, when Mozambican mineworkers coming off shift cooked tinned produce (tomatoes, beans) with chili to produce a spicy relish with a Portuguese flair to accompany pap. The many variations on how to make Chakalaka often depend on region and family tradition. Some versions include beans, cabbage and butternut. For example, a tin of baked beans, tin of tomatoes, onion, garlic, and some curry paste can be used to make the dish.

In case you’re interested, pap is a kind of cornmeal porridge, and samp is another kind of dried corn variant where the corn kernel shells are removed and then the inner meat made into a porridge type dish. Reading about the history of this dish, it makes so much sense that mine workers had to use canned foods and they discovered a way to make a spicy relish/side from canned tomatoes and baked beans.

The onion, chile, bell pepper and carrots are cooked a little bit (I cooked them VERY little as I wanted crunch) with the onions getting the most amount of cooking time, then you merely add in all the other ingredients. Since I made it I’ve had it alongside the leftover chicken, also some grilled sausages, and some fish. All good with it. I made part of mine without the beans (cuz I’m not eating beans on this diet I’m on), but I DID taste it, and thought the addition of the beans was really good. I was expecting it to not taste good, but it was. I gave away all of the bean relish and kept the part without beans and enjoyed it for a week or so afterwards.

What’s GOOD: it’s unusual, that’s for sure. Liked all the lively flavors in it – because I was having guests I used the lesser quantity of curry powder – I’d likely add more next time. Make ahead is fine, and it keeps for at least a week.

What’s NOT: nothing really . . . it was a really good addition to my potluck dinner to serve with the chicken.

printer-friendly PDF and MasterCook 15/16 file (click link to open recipe)

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Chakalaka Relish

Recipe By: Sarah Graham, Cooking Channel, 2016
Serving Size: 4

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion — finely chopped
1 whole red chile — seeded, finely sliced
1 whole red bell pepper — seeded, finely chopped
1 clove garlic — minced
1 teaspoon curry powder — (1 to 2)
1/2 teaspoon dried mixed herbs
2 medium carrots — grated
14 ounces baked beans
14 ounces canned tomatoes — chopped
1 tablespoon chutney — or apricot jam
1 tablespoon ketchup
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until softened, at least 5 minutes.
2. Add the red chiles, bell peppers, garlic, curry powder, mixed herbs and carrots, and cook for another 3 to 5 minutes.
3. Add the beans, tomatoes, chutney, ketchup and a generous pinch of salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes. (I didn’t cook this for 30 minutes as I liked the crunch to the vegetables, but traditionally you would.)
Per Serving: 227 Calories; 8g Fat (27.5% calories from fat); 7g Protein; 38g Carbohydrate; 9g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 602mg Sodium.

Posted in Chicken, Grilling, on October 10th, 2018.

bbq_chix_south_african_style_chakalaka relish

Just another grilled chicken recipe, but with a South African twist.

The picture at right is Sarah Graham. A cookbook author, writer, and a host of two seasons of a cooking show on the Cooking Channel. She lives in South Africa, and what I loved about her show was the location – she filmed outside and off in the distance behind her outdoor kitchen, were wild animals. You might still be able to find her shows on reruns if you look up Sarah Graham’s Food Safari. When I was watching her show, it was just before and just after I went to Africa and did a couple of weeks of safaris (loved it). I do enjoy listening to South Africans with their very different English accents. So it was with Sarah Graham.

A few recipes from her shows got saved to my to-try file (recipes are still available at the Cooking Channel, I would assume), and this is one of them.

This post is lagging a bit behind – – I made this over Labor Day weekend when I decided I was not going to be sitting home on the holiday Monday doing nothing. So I invited a group of friends over (all widows) and we did a potluck dinner. One friend brought lovely Dutch cheeses and crackers. Another brought a delicious apple crumble pie; yet another a green salad, another a rice, green chile and cheese casserole, and lastly a cold broccoli salad. And I did the main dish (chicken) on the grill. Along with a very unusual relish (that mound of red stuff on the right on the plate at top).

labor_day_dinnerHere’s a photo of our group, from left: Annette, Judy, me, Judy and Mary Lou. Nancy took the photo. It was a gorgeous evening – we had been having lovely weather the last 2 weeks, gearing up, probably for blistering heat we usually have in September and October. I made strawberry gins – I should write up a post about that. My family (well, the ladies of my family) enjoyed them mostly in England, but we also found them in Paris and Florence also. So very refreshing. I found strawberry gin at my local “Total Wine,” but you might have to seek it out. You macerate a strawberry or two in a glass, add the strawberry gin, then top off with tonic. And lots of ice. Then wedge a strawberry on the rim of the glass, add a mint leaf and present!

So, back to the chicken. I’m going to post the relish tomorrow – so DO wait until you get that recipe before you make this. The relish is so unusual and different, but goes perfectly with the chicken. Anyway, the recipe indicates using a spatchcocked chicken (my Trader Joe’s has them fresh) or you can ask a butcher to cut it, or you can cut it yourself. You cut through the backbone (and remove it completely) and flatten out the bird so it can lay flat on the grill. You might have to nip a bit around the breast bone to get it to flatten out. I decided, actually, to cut the bird in half as I thought it would be easier for me to maneuver on the grill. It was a 5 pound bird I bought.

Marinate the chicken overnight – I used a big Ziploc bag – first I added in all the marinade ingredients – oil, balsamic, pourable honey, lemon juice, paprika, dry cilantro, cinnamon, garlic, fresh red chile, and a little jot of ketchup. The next morning I turned the bag over and squished the marinade around (it doesn’t make all that much). About 45 minutes before grilling, take it out of the refrigerator and let it warm a little bit. Meanwhile, fire up the grill.

You might find this hard to believe, but truly I’m a novice or an apprentice (but without a teacher) at the grill. You read this here before, my DH Dave was the grill meister in our house, and I merely told him what I needed him to do – cook to what temp and what the internal temp needed to be. He loved everything about mastering the grill techniques. Me, not so much. Because I’m alone now, when I have to manage or monitor what’s on the grill, I have to leave my guests – although every one of my friends understood why I was up and down checking on the chicken. No way did I want it to overcook!

What’s GOOD: really liked the flavor, and it was super-moist and tender. I first grilled it over high heat, then turned it down to medium and kept checking the internal temp. The skin charred well (see photo at top) but the chicken just below it was juicy.  The relish that went with it was a hit – it’s very unusual. The marinade did give the chicken some flavor, and cooking it with the lid down on the grill gave it some smoky flavor too. Likely you could bake this in the oven easily enough too. Yes, I’d make it again.

What’s NOT: nothing other than needing to start this the day before, to marinate the chicken.

printer-friendly PDF and MasterCook 15/16 file (click link to open recipe)

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BBQ Chicken (South African)

Recipe By: Sarah Graham, Cooking Channel, 2016
Serving Size: 4

2 tablespoons ketchup
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon honey — needs to be thin in order to dissolve in the marinade
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons paprika
1/2 teaspoon dried cilantro
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 cloves garlic — minced
1 green chile — seeded and chopped, or 1 teaspoon dried chile flakes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 1/2 pounds whole chicken — spatchcocked or cut into 8 skin-on pieces

1. In a sealing plastic bag, mix together the ketchup, olive oil, balsamic, honey, lemon juice, paprika, dried cilantro, cinnamon, garlic, chiles and a generous pinch of salt and pepper.
2. Add the chicken, squish it around, seal the bag and refrigerate at least 1 hour, or preferably overnight. Turn bag over at least once so the other side of the chicken is marinated as well.
3. Remove the chicken from the refrigerator 20-30 minutes before cooking to bring to room temperature.
4. Grill the chicken, lid down, for 30 to 35 minutes, or until cooked through, turning halfway and basting with extra sauce every 10 minutes. Thigh meat should register 160-165°F.
5. Serve immediately with a side salad and the chakalaka relish on the side. If you have fresh cilantro, sprinkle a little bit on top of the chicken. Cut serving sized pieces and plate it.
Per Serving: 680 Calories; 48g Fat (63.8% calories from fat); 51g Protein; 10g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 247mg Cholesterol; 283mg Sodium.

Posted in Chicken, on October 2nd, 2018.

triple_layer_chix_quesadilla_wedges

Mouth watering going on here at my end – this was before I started on a carb-free diet, and I ate this with relish back a few months ago.

This diet I’m on (virtually carb-free) does have me wishing for some Mexican food now and then. I miss chile rellenos and tostadas. Even refried beans. Didn’t think I’d miss them! It’s the crunch of the tortillas I miss, too. But, oh well, I’m working off the pounds slowly without tortillas, potatoes, rice, grains, bread, beans, squashes, etc.

But, since you, my readers, aren’t following my diet – you can make this recipe with abandon and you’ll love it. At the cooking class with Phillis Carey, she made her own pico de gallo, and her own buttermilk garlic dressing for the salad. You can short cut by purchasing those things. But I’ll include them all in the recipe below. The tortillas are stacked with Jack cheese, cheddar, goat cheese, olives and chicken meat that’s been tossed with some barbecue sauce. You make 2 layers, using 3 tortillas total for each serving (so this recipe makes 3 of the layered pieces which are then cut into wedges to serve). The quesadillas are baked first (10-15 minutes) until the tops are browned and crispy, then you cut each into wedges, add the lettuce with dressing and some pico de gallo and lastly sprinkle on some fresh cilantro. Altogether easy – ideal if you have some leftover chicken, perhaps? This could be an appetizer or a dinner – it’s rich with all the cheeses in it, so maybe an adult could eat one full round.

What’s GOOD: this is easy to make if you have the cheeses on hand, and you have some chicken already made. Use ranch dressing as a stand-in, and some jarred salsa too. Really delicious – and different because of the way you make them – layered/stacked and with the BBQ sauce on the chicken.

What’s NOT: nothing, really.

printer-friendly PDF and MasterCook 15/16 file (click link to open recipe)

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Triple Layer BBQ Chicken Quesadilla Wedges

Recipe By: Phillis Carey, cooking instructor, 5/2018
Serving Size: 6

PICO DE GALLO:
6 medium plum tomatoes — seeded, diced
1/2 serrano chile — seeded, minced
3 cloves garlic — minced
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
3 tablespoons fresh cilantro — chopped
salt and pepper to taste
SALAD & DRESSING:
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
3 cloves garlic — minced
1/4 cup red onion — minced
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro — chopped
2 teaspoons chipotle chile canned in adobo — finely chopped
6 cups Romaine lettuce — shredded
QUESADILLAS:
2 boneless skinless chicken breast halves
1 cup barbecue sauce — smoky type, DIVIDED USE
salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
9 6-inch flour tortillas
2 cups jack cheese — shredded
2 cups cheddar cheese — shredded
1/2 cup goat cheese — crumbled
1 red onion — thinly sliced
6 ounces sliced black olives — drained
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon chili powder
1/4 cup fresh cilantro — chopped

1. PICO DE GALLO: Combine all ingredients and season with salt and pepper. Let stand at room temp for up to 3 hours (or refrigerate for a few hours more – best eaten the day it’s made).
2. DRESSING: Puree ingredients in blender (except lettuce), then season with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate for up to 48 hours.
3. QUESADILLAS: Trim chicken and pound to an even thickness of 1/4″. Pour 3/4 cup of barbecue sauce over chicken, turning to coat. Let marinate for 2 hours in the refrigerator, or 30 minutes at room temp. Wipe barbecue sauce off chicken (it burns) and brush chicken with oil. Grill (stovetop grill or outdoor) 3-4 minutes per side over medium heat.. Let cool and cut chicken into thin strips, toss with remaining 1/4 cup barbecue sauce.
4. Preheat oven to 425°F. Add red onions to a small bowl with water and a small splash of white or apple cider vinegar. Let those sit for about 15-20 minutes, drain, blot on paper towel.
5. Arrange 3 tortillas on 1 or 2 parchment-lined baking sheets. Combine the 3 grated/crumbled cheeses. Using half the cheese blend, half the onion, half the olives and half the chicken placing some chicken around the outside edges to help prop up those edge so they don’t collapse when baked. Top with another tortilla and repeat process. Top with remaining tortillas. Brush tops of all 3 stacks with oil, using a silicone brush, then sprinkle the tops with chili powder. At this point these may be refrigerated (covered well with plastic wrap) for several hours. If refrigerated, the baking process may take a few extra minutes.
6. Bake the quesadillas for 10-15 minutes, until tops are lightly browned and crispy.
7. Cut each quesadilla in 6 quarters. Meanwhile, toss lettuce with some of the dressing and add to the serving plate. Serve 3 wedges per person and add pico de gallo on top, a drizzle more dressing and sprinkle with fresh cilantro.
Per Serving: 777 Calories; 52g Fat (59.6% calories from fat); 32g Protein; 49g Carbohydrate; 6g Dietary Fiber; 86mg Cholesterol; 1267mg Sodium.

Posted in Chicken, on August 13th, 2018.

chix_thighs_garlic_lime

Can we ever have enough recipes for a weeknight chicken dish? Here’s another one, a new one for me, bright with leeks, lime juice and garlic.

As I clicked through recipe after recipe for some new way to fix chicken, I finally came across this one – I had chicken thighs to begin with, I had fresh garlic and I had a lime. Plus a leek, which needed using. As I read this one, it said I’d entered it into my recipe program years ago (in 2001), from Cooking Light. Wow, long time ago. The original recipe didn’t have leeks in it, but I decided to use them anyway, and they provided a nice topping (and a side dish as you can see on the plate). I had 2 leeks – one would have been ample.

The chicken is mixed with lime juice and garlic. I let that sit while I sweated the leek in olive oil. Then I added the chicken thighs to the pan along with more lime juice, a little tiny bit of low-sodium chicken broth and white vinegar. That was brought up to a boil and baked for about 20 minutes – or until the middle of the chicken reaches 165°F. If you use bone-in meat, it’ll take a bit longer, just so you know . . .

The chicken and leeks were removed, then I boiled down the juices in the pan (on the stovetop), and that was spooned over the chicken. If you remember, serve with lime wedges and some chopped cilantro on top. Done. I’d roasted some broccoli and onions and served that alongside. One thigh was enough for me, but my son-in-law who was visiting, ate two of them.

What’s GOOD: the chicken was perfectly done – still moist, yet tender. Loved the sauce on it – you’ll want to scrape your bite of chicken through whatever is lingering on your plate. Leeks were tender and delicious too. Altogether nice dish, albeit with a bit more work than some.

What’s NOT: nothing, really.

printer-friendly PDF and MasterCook 15/16 file (click link to open recipe)

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Chicken Thighs wtih Garlic & Lime

Recipe By: Adapted from Cooking Light, May 2001
Serving Size: 2

1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice — divided
1 large leek — cleaned, chopped
1 tablespoon EVOO
4 boneless skinless chicken thighs
3 tablespoons low sodium chicken broth
1 tablespoon white vinegar
2 teaspoons chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 teaspoon lime zest
2 lime wedges

1. Preheat oven to 350°.
2. Combine first 5 ingredients in a small bowl; stir in 1 tablespoon juice. Rub garlic mixture over chicken.
3. Heat EVOO in a medium skillet and add leeks (patted dry with paper towels). Cook until leek mixture is translucent and fully cooked. Do not brown. Place chicken on top of leeks.
4. Combine 1 tablespoon juice, chicken broth, and vinegar; pour over the chicken. Place over medium-high heat; bring to a boil. Remove from heat. Wrap handle of pan with foil. Cover and bake at 350° for 20-25 minutes or until a meat thermometer registers 165°.
5. Remove chicken and leeks from pan; keep warm. Place pan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, and cook until reduced to 1/4 cup (about 3 minutes). Spoon over chicken. Zest half the lime and wedge the other half. Sprinkle with cilantro and lime zest, and serve with lime wedges.
Per Serving: 415 Calories; 23g Fat (48.8% calories from fat); 42g Protein; 13g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 170mg Cholesterol; 728mg Sodium.

Posted in Chicken, on June 29th, 2018.

fresh_mozzie_stuffed_chix_breasts_parm

See that ooey-gooey cheese seeping out of the middle of the chicken? My fork just made a mad dash to slick up that stuff. The only thing I’d add to the plate would be a small mound of buttered pasta. Not lots, but just enough to be flavored by the marinara sauce underneath the chicken.

My guess is that the #1 animal protein sold these days is chicken breasts. They come in mostly the same shape, but they can be small – these are chicken breast halves I’m talking about – (3-4 ounces) or huge (8-10 ounces) depending on whose label you purchase. Organic chicken breasts are smaller (because the chickies are not fed antibiotics, hormones or grain/corn – no GMO anything). If you buy regular ones, they’ve been treated with antibiotics and hormones to enhance their ability to plump up with all the fat in the grains and GMO corn they consume in the last week or two of their lives. Those latter were what I used to buy. Now I seek out organic and if I can find it, pasture raised. I watched a TV program recently where someone in the food science industry visited a poultry farm and categorically said if you ever visit one of those places, you’ll never eat another chicken in your life. I also read very recently that poultry farmers pretty much make up their own rules to describe their chickens as organic or pasture-raised. One example I read – a poultry farmer called his chicken meat “pasture-raised” if the 500+ chickens in the barn are given a 6 inch square opening to the outdoors once a day for 5 minutes. How many of those chickens ever get OUT the door that’s 6 inches square? And they just get there and they’re herded back into the smelly barn enclosure. Probably artificially lighted, is my guess. Supposedly, poultry farmers submit paperwork explaining how/why they call their birds organic and pasture-raised, and someone in Washington reads it (maybe) and says okay. Doesn’t make sense to me. But I’m certain there is a very powerful chicken lobby working on their behalf in Washington.

But I do still eat chicken. I like chicken, but my preferred cut is thigh meat, even though it’s higher in fat. I think the flavor is better, AND you run a lot less risk of overcooking it. But today I’m talking about chicken breasts. White meat for sure. Plump, juicy and tender. And really, I must admit, that if you cook a plain chicken breast with little or no enhancing flavor on it, the chicken meat is rather tasteless. Dull, flat. The chicken breast contains the least amount of fat of any meat on the bird, hence it’s tasteless characteristic. Salt helps. For me, though, you have to DO something to a chicken breast to make it interesting. I love chicken piccata. Funny, I don’t even have a recipe for that here on my blog. I don’t make it for myself – I order it out usually. It’s something I could have on my current diet as long as I didn’t overwhelm the sauce with butter.

Anyway, medium-thick chicken breast halves are what you want for this recipe – thick enough that you can cut a pocket into it (from the thicker side). Big enough to salt and pepper the inside just a little, and big enough that you can stick a long wedge of fresh mozzarella cheese in it. Do buy fresh mozzarella – this is not a dish to use the ubiquitous ball of Mozzarella you’d use in lasagna. No, use fresh. Some markets now have sliced fresh mozzarella cheese – that’s what you’ll want if you can find it. Otherwise, buy the medium-sized balls of fresh mozzarella floating in water. Cut it as best you can into rounds and stuff about 2 slices into each breast. You may have to cut off one side of each piece of cheese to make it fit. Once the cheese is nestled inside, do your best to kind of stretch the chicken so the 2 sides of the pocket hold together. The sticky consistency of the raw chicken helps the two edges to adhere a little bit. You don’t want any cheese sticking out of the pocket or ALL the cheese will ooze out during the baking.

The chicken is dipped in flour, eggs, then panko crumbs (mixed with some Parm, garlic powder and dried oregano). Then the chicken breasts are lightly sautéed in a big nonstick skillet with about 1/4” of olive oil heated in it. You’ll brown the chicken breasts on both side about 4 minutes per side. Then the chicken goes into a large glass or ceramic baking dish. Jarred marinara sauce (have you tried the Victoria brand from Costco?) is poured around the chicken (not on top), fresh basil is added to the sauce and the chicken is baked in a 425°F oven for about 14-16 minutes (depending on thickness). The dish is removed and allowed to sit for 4-5 minutes, then you garnish with parsley and serve.

What’s GOOD: it’s a lovely presentation, whether you make some pasta on the side or not. Really good flavor, but enhanced with the cheese that slightly oozes from the pocket. DO salt and pepper the interior pocket, however, as fresh mozzarella doesn’t taste like much either unless it has something on it. Delicious.

What’s NOT: well, there IS some prep to this dish, but not all that much. If you buy a good jarred marinara, really the steps are quite simple.

printer-friendly PDF and MasterCook 15/16 (click link to open recipe)

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Fresh Mozzarella Stuffed Chicken Parmesan

Recipe By: Phillis Carey cooking class, 2018
Serving Size: 4

4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves
8 ounces mozzarella cheese — fresh, sliced
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup flour
3 large eggs — lightly beaten
1 1/2 cups panko
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese — grated
2 cups marinara sauce
1/4 cup fresh basil — slivered
2 tablespoons Italian parsley — chopped

1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Using a sharp knife, cut a deep pocket into the side of each chicken breast. Season inside lightly with salt and pepper then stuff pockets with fresh mozzarella and then gently press edges together to seal. Season outside of chicken with salt and pepper.
2. In 3 shallow bowls place flour, eggs and panko. Whisk into the panko bowl add the oregano, garlic powder and 1/4 cup of the grated Parmesan.
3. Dip the stuffed chicken breasts into flour, shaking off excess, then dip into beaten eggs, turning to coat, and lastly dredge in the panko, making sure the chicken is coated evenly.
4. Heat a 1/4″ layer of olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the chicken and cook until golden brown on both sides, about 4 minutes per side. Transfer chicken to a glass or ceramic baking dish.
5. Gently pour the marinara sauce around the sides of the chicken – NOT on the top – and sprinkle the marinara with the fresh basil slivers. Sprinkle chicken with remaining Parmesan and place in the oven and bake for about 16 minutes, or until cooked through (cheese will be slightly oozing from the edge). Serve garnished with Italian parsley.
Per Serving: 637 Calories; 23g Fat (32.9% calories from fat); 52g Protein; 52g Carbohydrate; 4g Dietary Fiber; 278mg Cholesterol; 947mg Sodium.

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