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Here are the tastingspoons players. I’m in the middle (Carolyn). Daughter Sara on the right, and daughter-in-law Karen on the left. I started the blog in 2007, as a way to share recipes with my family. Now in 2022, I’m still doing 99% of the blogging and holding out hope that these two lovely and excellent cooks will participate. They both lead very busy lives, so we’ll see.

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BOOK READING (from Carolyn):

Have only begun Geraldine Brooks’ brand new book, Horse. Oh my, is it a page turner. Loving it so far. It’s a fictional creation but based on a real racehorse owned by a black man, back in the 1850s. Technically, the story is about a painting of the horse but there are many twists and turns. If you’ve ever enjoyed Brooks’ books in the past, this one won’t disappoint.

The Book of Lost Names, by Kristin Harmel (no, not Hannah). Certainly a little-known chunk of history about a woman who becomes a master forger during WWII to help get Jewish children out of France. Not easy to read, meaning the difficulty of anyone finding the means and place to DO the forgery and right under the noses of the Nazis. Really good read.

Liane Moriarty’s first novel, Three Wishes, follows the travails of adult triplets, so different, yet similar in many ways. Two are identical, the third is not. So alike, and so not. It takes you through a series of heart-wrenching events, seemingly unrelated, but ones that could bring a family to its breaking point and test the bonds of love and strength.

Recently I’ve read both of Erin French’s books, her cookbook, The Lost Kitchen, and since then her memoir, Finding Freedom. About her life growing up (difficult) about her coming of age mostly working in the family diner, flipper burgers and fries (and learning how much she liked to cook). Now she’s a very successful restaurant entrepreneur (The Lost Kitchen is also the name of her restaurant) in the miniscule town of Freedom, Maine. She’s not a classically trained chef, but she’s terrifically creative. See her TV series on Discover+ if you subscribe.

Migrations, by Charlotte McConaghy. To say that this book stretched my comfort zone is the least of it . . .think about a time in the not very distant future, when global warming has done it’s worst and nearly all animals are extinct. No bird song in the air or fish in the sea. There’s this woman, Franny, who is on a quest to follow the very small, but last migration of arctic terns, who fly from pole to pole each year. She somehow sees this migration as a paean to her own life (of many travails). Is this book a foretelling of what our world will be like?  There’s a lot of angst going on here in this book, with her marriage, with her career, with her perpetual need for travel . . . always needing to go somewhere else other than staying at home and finding peace and happiness there. Then this final, gritty, illegal at-sea voyage trying to find the terns. Very much worth reading if you can stomach the sadness in it. Soul-searching is a common denominator here, but then aren’t a lot of books?

Jo Jo Moyes has a bunch of books to her credit. And she writes well, with riveting stories. Everything I’ve read of hers has been good. This book, The Girl You Left Behind, is so different, so intriguing, so controversial and a fascinating historical story. There are two timelines here, one during WWI, in France, when a relatively unknown painter (in the style of Matisse) paints a picture of his wife. The war intervenes for both the husband and the wife. A German Kommandant enters the picture in this tiny berg in France. Knowing her husband is in a camp, most likely a death camp, she compromises her morals to save the picture and possibly save her husband’s life. Jump to somewhat current day and the painting, which has survived all these years, and is in the hands of a young widow who has an extraordinary connection with the painting. A lawsuit ensues having to do with art stolen by the Nazis and a convoluted trail of how the painting traveled in the intervening years. Even though this was WWI, not WWII, but the law encompasses the past. It’s a heart-wrenching story. There’s a love interest too. Well worth reading. Would make a good book club read.

Memoirs are such fun, especially if you really enjoy/love the author. This was the case as I read Rachael Ray 50, an ode to  her age. So I read online, Rachael discloses more about her personal life in this book than she has done in her many other cookbooks. I really enjoyed reading the book, as she told stories about her growing up, including some of her mother’s recipes and from other family members. She and her family eat tons of pasta, so lots of the recipes I probably won’t prepare, but okay, I still enjoyed reading all the stories.

Eli Shafak’s Island of Missing Trees. This book was just a page turner. If you’ve never read anything about the conflict in Cyprus (the island) between the Turks and the Greeks, you’re in for a big history lesson here. But, the entire story centers around a fig tree. You get into the head/brain/feelings of this big fig tree which plays a very central part of the story. You’ll learn a lot about animals, insects (ants, mosquitos, butterflies) and other flora and fauna of Cyprus. I’m not a gardener at all, but I found the story just fascinating. It chronicles the love story between a young couple, human ones, not trees, one a Greek, one a Turk and their relationship (verboten back in the 70s). It goes back and forth between the 70s (when the real conflict was going on) and current day (2010ish). Loved this book from page one to the last.

If you’re a fan of Kazuo Ishiguro, you’ll find his newest book a league apart. Klara and the Sun. It takes place in the near future when we humans can go to a store and buy an AF (artificial friend). These robotic humanoid “things” have knowledge and personalities. The book follows along as a family buys Klara, an AF with perhaps a better personality than some. She has feelings, but not very many needs. The reader never really “sees” Klara except for a few descriptions of her human-type shape. You get into Klara’s brain (her PC chip) and know how she feels about her family. Her main job is to be a friend to the daughter, Josie, who has some kind of unnamed illness. The AF must spend a part of every day in the sunshine (some kind of hidden solar unit must be within Klara). There are any number of other characters in the story (mostly human, not AFs) which add dimension. I was quite mesmerized by the story and am in awe at the creativity of this author. Loved the book. May not be for everyone. I’m not a science fiction fan at all, but this was believable. And you’ll fall in love with Klara who wants so much to be wanted and loved.

Also read Apples Never Fall by Liane Moriarty. Ohhh my, such a good book. I couldn’t put it down. Whatever you do, do not read the ending before you start the book. I’ve never understood people who do this. The book chronicles the day a mom just ups and disappears. The grown children come back home, in panic. The dad isn’t much help, and he becomes the prime suspect of foul play. There is no body, however. The husband and wife own a tennis school (this takes place in Australia) and the children grow up surrounded by tennis everything. The children don’t necessarily get along. The parents haven’t always gotten along, either, although through many years the parents were quite besotted with each other, to the detriment of the parenting. Much travail from all the family members. But oh what a story. It had me riveted and wondering, until the last 5 pages of so when the resolution occurs. Big surprise.

Amor Towles’ new book, The Lincoln Highway: A Novel. Literally it’s a page turner. I think it’s still on the best seller list. A young man, Emmett, is released from a youth work camp (back in the day) and is returned home (by the camp warden) following the death of his father, to find that the home they’d lived in was in foreclosure. His mother abandoned them years before. His intent is to pick up his 8-year old brother and they will head off for Texas, but then he discovers two of his work-camp-mates had hidden themselves in the trunk of the warden’s car. Oh my goodness, such a tangled web. Fascinating, and Amor Towles has such a way with words. His sentences are like blooming flower vines, with metaphors in nearly every sentence. Such a gifted writer.

If you’d like a mystery read, try Dete Meserve’s The Space Between. It’s just the kind of page-turner I enjoy – a wife returns to her home after being away on business for a few days, to find her husband missing and what he’s left for her is an unexplained bank deposit of a million dollars, a loaded Glock in the nightstand, and a video security system that’s been wiped clean. Oh there are plenty of twists and turns. Couldn’t put it down.

Read Alyson Richman’s historical novel called The Velvet Hours. Most of the book takes place in Paris, with a young woman and her grandmother, a very wealthy (but aging) woman who led a life of a semi-courtesan. Or at least a kept woman. But this grandmother was very astute and found ways to invest her money, to grow her money, and to buy very expensive goods. Then WWII intervenes, and the granddaughter has to close up her grandmother’s apartment, leaving it much the way it had been throughout her grandmother’s life, to escape the Nazis. Years go by, and finally answers are sought and found. An intriguing book, based on the author’s experience with an apartment that had been locked up similarly for decades, also in Paris.

Susan Meissner is one of my favorite authors. This book, The Nature of Fragile Things tells a very unusual story. About a young Irish immigrant, desperate to find a way out of poverty, answers an ad for a mail order bride. She moves to San Francisco and becomes the bride, and mother to the man’s young child. But all is not right with the world. Sophie senses an undercurrent about her husband’s life. He’s elusive, leaves her alone for days on end, doesn’t share her bed, and she begins to feel the only reason he wanted a wife was to care for the child. Then the world turns upside down with the 1906 earthquake. And then there’s more. . . and more. . . very gripping read.

Also read Rachel Hauck’s The Writing Desk. You could call this a romance. A young professional, a writer of one successful book, has writer’s block. Then she’s asked to go to Florida to help her mother (from whom she’s mostly estranged) through chemo. She goes, hoping she can find new inspiration. Oh the various twists this book can give you. There’s a guy she meets, but she’s keeping her boyfriend at home on the string, sort of. Then there’s the desk itself, that has history. Oh my, does it have history. Really interesting story, light reading.

One of my book clubs has us reading Matt Haig’s The Midnight Library: A Novel. What a premise for a book. About a library you can whiz to in the middle of the night and discover other lives you could have lived. And experience them. To find out the answers to those questions we ask ourselves sometimes, “I wonder what would have happened if I’d . . . .” taken that other job, gone out with that guy, taken that trip. That kind of thing. You’ll find out what happened to one particular woman who thought she had nothing left to live for. Good read. Very different. A bit space-agey. Sort of time travel, but not really. But yes, maybe.

James Shipman has written an intriguing book, It Is Well: A Novel, about a man who has lost his wife. And about a woman who has lost her husband. But their relationship stalls, big time, because the guy made a promise to his wife, and he feels duty-bound to honor it. There is much angst about it all. Much wringing of hands, some tears on her part. Nice book; good read.

I wrote up a post about this book: Most Spectacular Restaurant in the World: The Twin Towers, Windows on the World, and the Rebirth of New York by Tom Roston. Go read the full write-up if you’re interested. The book is a complete history of the famous restaurant on the 107th floor of one of the Twin Towers.

Also recently finished The Weight of Ink by Rachel Kadish. The book goes backwards and forwards in time, from the 1600s in London with the day-to-day lives of a group of Jews (who had to be very careful about how they worshiped) to current day as an old house is discovered to hold a treasure-trove of historical papers. The story is mostly about a young woman, educated, a Jew, who is the scribe (in secret) to an aging religious leader (in a time when women would have been verboten to hold such a position). And about her own curiosity about her religion and how she eventually begins writing letters (using a male pseudonym) to various Jewish leaders abroad, questioning their religious beliefs. The book is extraordinarily long – not that that kept me from turning a single page! – and complex with the cast of characters from the 1600s and the cast in today’s world of highly competitive experts analyzing the ancient papers. Altogether riveting book. Loved it from beginning to end.

I’m forever reading historical novels. The Lost Jewels: A Novel by Kirsty Manning is a mystery of sorts, going back in time in London in the time of aristocrats and their jewels (pearls, diamonds, gems of all kinds) sometimes made it into the hands of the digger or a maid. Then to current time as a young woman tries to ferret her family history and particularly about some old-old jewelry that they can’t quite figure out – how the grandmother came to have them. Fascinating tale.

Not for the faint of heart, Boat of Stone: A Novel by Maureen Earl tells the true tale of some misplaced Jews at the tale-end of WWII who ended up on Mauritius.

Colleen Hoover has written quite a book, It Ends with Us: A Novel, with a love story being the central theme, but again, this book is not for everyone – it can be an awakening for any reader not acquainted with domestic violence and how such injury can emerge as innocent (sort of) but then becomes something else. There is graphic detail here.

Erin Bartels wrote quite a complex story in The Words between Us: A Novel. We go alongside a young girl as she goes to high school, trying (somewhat unsuccessfully) to be anonymous (because her mother and father are both in prison), taking on a fake name. She meets a guy and they share a bond of reading and some romance. Years go by and she’s now owner of a failing independent bookstore (and married, or separated) and suddenly begins receiving a used book (that she recognizes) every day from a different place in the country. A message for sure, but where will it lead? Yes, it’s a romance. Lots of introspection going on. Enjoyed it.

Nicolas Barreau’s novel Love Letters from Montmartre: A Novel  is very poignant, very sweet book. Seems like I’ve read several books lately about grieving; this one has a charming ending, but as anyone who has gone through a grave loss of someone dear knows, you can’t predict day to day, week to week. “Snap out of it,” people say, thinking they’re helping.

Another very quirky book, that happens to contain a lot of historical truth is The Phone Booth at the Edge of the World: A Novel by Harry N. Abrams. Set in Japan just after the tsunami 10 years ago when 18,000 people died. At a private park miles away, some very special people installed a phone booth, with a phone (that didn’t work) at the edge of the park, and the survivors of the tsunami began wending their way there to “talk” to their deceased loved ones. Very poignant story.

No question, the most quirky book I’ve read of late, a recommendation from my friend Karen, West with Giraffes: A Novel by Lynda Rutledge. Back in the 1930s a small group of giraffes were brought across the Atlantic from Africa to New York, destined for the then-growing San Diego Zoo. The story is of their journey across the United States in the care of two oh-so-different people, both with a mission.

Riveting story of post-WWII- Japan in Ana Johns novel, The Woman in the White Kimono: A Novel. About a young Japanese girl who falls in love with an American serviceman.

Also read Rishi Reddi’s novel, Passage West: A Novel with a very different take on the migration of Indians (East India) to the California agricultural lands east of San Diego during the 1920s and 30s.

Maybe not everyone’s cup of tea, but the Mary Morris book, A Very Private Diary: A Nurse in Wartime tells the true day to day life of a young Irish girl who becomes a nurse, in England, France and Belgium in the midst of WWII and immediately after the war.

Could hardly put down Krueger’s book, This Tender Land: A Novel. Tells the harrowing story of a young boy, Odie, (and his brother Albert) who became orphans back in the 30s. At first there is a boarding school, part of an Indian (Native American) agreement, though they are not Indian. They escape, and they are “on the run.”

Just finished Kristin Hannah’s latest book, The Four Winds: A Novel. What a story. One I’ve never read about, although I certainly have heard about the “dust bowl” years when there was a steady migration of down-and-out farmers from the Midwest, to California, for what they hoped to be the American Dream. It tells the story of one particular family, the Martinellis, the grandparents, their son, his wife, and their two children.

Brit Bennett has written quite a book, The Vanishing Half: A Novel. It’s a novel, yet I’m sure there are such real-life situations. Twin girls are born to a young black woman in the South. Into a town (that probably doesn’t exist) that prides itself on being light-skinned blacks.

What a book. The Only Woman in the Room: A Novel by Marie Benedict. A novelized biography of Hedy Lamarr, the famous actress.  Very much worth reading.

Also read The Secret of the Chateau: Gripping and heartbreaking historical fiction with a mystery at its heart by Kathleen McGurl. There are two stories here. The historical part is just prior to and up to the French Revolution, and the second in current day as a group of friends purchase a crumbling chateau. Very interesting. I love historical novels like this, and this one in particular does have quite a mystery involved, too.

Also finished reading Sue Monk Kidd’s recent book, The Book of Longings: A Novel. It is a book that might challenge some Christian readers, as it tells the tale of Jesus marrying a woman named Mary. I loved the book from the first word to the last one. The book is believable to me, even though the Bible never says one way or the other that Jesus ever married. It’s been presumed he never did. But maybe he did?

Jeanine Cummins has written an eye-opener, American Dirt. A must read. Oh my goodness. I will never, ever, ever look at Mexican (and further southern) migrants, particularly those who are victims of the vicious cartels, without sympathy. It tells the story of a woman and her young son, who were lucky enough to hide when the cartel murdered every member of her family – her husband, her mother, and many others. It’s about her journey and escape to America.

Also read JoJo Moyes’ book, The Giver of Stars. Oh gosh, what a GREAT book. Alice joins the Horseback Librarians in the rural south.

Frances Liardet has written a blockbuster tale, We Must Be Brave. I can’t recommend this book highly enough. Although the scene is WWII England, this book is not really about the war. It’s about the people at home, waiting it out, struggling with enough food, clothing and enough heat.

William Kent Krueger wrote Ordinary Grace. From amazon: a brilliantly moving account of a boy standing at the door of his young manhood, trying to understand a world that seems to be falling apart around him. It is an unforgettable novel about discovering the terrible price of wisdom and the enduring grace of God. It’s a coming of age story.

Follow the River: A Novel by James Alexander Thom. This one is also based on the history of a woman (married, pregnant) who was captured by the Shawnee, during the early settlement days east of the Ohio River, about 1755. And her eventual escape.

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.

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. 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.

The Shepherd’s Life: Modern Dispatches from an Ancient Landscape by James Rebanks. This is a memoir, so a true story, of a young man growing up in the Lake District of Northern England, who becomes a shepherd. Not just any-old shepherd – actually a well educated one. He knows how to weave a story.

 

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, Pork, Veggies/sides, on May 20th, 2022.

An easy, easy dinner for two. Sheetpan suppers are just the best!

A post from Carolyn.  I’d bought some fresh chicken sausages (with jalapeno in them) and was contemplating what I’d do with them, and since I also had asparagus, zucchini and sweet potatoes, a recipe was born. Many years ago I started buying a seasoning packet from Urban Accents. They had (and still do have) several varieties, but my favorite is the one for vegetables. You can buy their packets on amazon. See photo at right. The one I used was the middle one with Parmesan in it. Each bag or box of these has several smaller packets inside – I used one packet for the sheet pan’s worth of food. You could use pork sausages in this rendition too – Italian would be perfect. I was trying to go a more healthy route with the chicken.

I have a chart I downloaded from the ‘net about how long it takes to roast just about every kind of vegetable. The sweet potatoes would take the longest. And the sausages too. I tossed them with some EVOO and they went into a 425°F oven. After 20 minutes, I took out the pan and added the zucchini, also oiled with EVOO and sprinkled with seasoning. It went back in the oven for another 10-15 minutes, then I added the oiled asparagus and the rest of the seasoning and baked again for another 10 minutes – I checked the veggies and they needed another 5 minutes and everything was done. It might depend on how thick the asparagus was, and how thickly you cut the zucchini.

If you wanted something to serve with the sausages – try a variety of mustards (hot, sweet, stone ground) or some salsa, or marinara sauce, or mix up a little bit of sour cream with a little speck of horseradish in it. What can I tell you? This was so easy to make and it was SO delicious.

What’s GOOD: how easy it was to put together on the sheetpan and it cooked in less than an hour. All the veggies were perfectly cooked – crisp tender veggies- and the sausage just right. Love the Urban Accents seasoning to put on it all. Do buy some if you don’t already have it in your pantry (amazon link above).

What’s NOT: only that you need to have some of that seasoning on hand. I always do have it.

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

* Exported from MasterCook *

Sheetpan Chicken Sausages with Veggies

Recipe By: My own recipe
Serving Size: 3

1 pound fresh chicken sausage — links, fresh, not pre-cooked type, or substitute pork sausages if desired
2 medium sweet potatoes
3 medium zucchini
1/2 pound fresh asparagus
3 tablespoons EVOO
1 packet Urban Accents Veggie Roaster seasonings

NOTE: many butchers now make various chicken sausages with flavors like jalapeno, Italian, Thai, spinach/feta, garlic, spicy Mexican, or with cheese and flavoring. You do not want pre-cooked sausage for this sheetpan dinner as they would be overcooked.
1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Line a sheet pan with a baking mat or with foil.
2. Prepare the vegetables by peeling and chopping the sweet potatoes in chunky half rounds. Cut the ends off the zucchini and cut into chunky rounds or half rounds, depending on how big around they are. Cut off the tough ends of the asparagus.
3. Place the sausages and sweet potatoes on the sheet pan. Drizzle with EVOO and toss around to cover them in oil. Bake for about 20 minutes.
4. Remove pan, add the zucchini to the pan, drizzle with olive oil and toss lightly and sprinkle the entire sheet pan with most of the seasoning packet. Bake for about 12-15 minutes. Remove pan and add the asparagus, tossed lightly with EVOO and sprinkled with the last of the seasoning. Return to the oven and roast for another 10 minutes, making sure you don’t overcook the asparagus. Test the zucchini and asparagus – you want them to be just barely tender.
5. Remove veggies and sausages and serve on a big platter. Serve with hot or spicy mustard on the side (for the sausages) or marinara sauce, salsa, or a mixture of sour cream and horseradish.
QUICK ROASTING INSTRUCTIONS at 425°:
Sausages and sweet potatoes – 20 minutes
Add Zucchini – 12-15 minutes
Add Asparagus – 10 minutes, depending on thickness of asparagus
Check for just barely tender zucchini and asparagus
Per Serving: 296 Calories; 17g Fat (50.4% calories from fat); 11g Protein; 27g Carbohydrate; 6g Dietary Fiber; 25mg Cholesterol; 295mg Sodium; 10g Total Sugars; 0mcg Vitamin D; 76mg Calcium; 3mg Iron; 957mg Potassium; 155mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Chicken, easy, on April 14th, 2022.

Elegant dinner but super easy. You’d think it’s complicated and time consuming, but it’s really not. 

A post from Carolyn.  Someone asked me recently what chefs I follow . .. . my answer? I don’t really follow many chefs. Probably my two favorite food TV shows are Ina Garten and Rachael Ray. Neither of them are professionally trained. They’re both excellent cooks who make very approachable food. Do I have cookbooks from famous chefs? Yes, I do, but I can’t say I turn to them all that often for inspiration. I love reading cookbooks, however.

So, a few weeks ago I was watching a Rachael Ray show and she made these delicious little  morsels and I couldn’t wait to try it. Since I always have chicken thighs in my freezer, and I always keep shallots on hand, it was an easy “yes” that I’d make them. She explained that this recipe is Canadian and on a trip she saw a recipe in a magazine and tore it out and probably made it her own somehow. She thought these tournedos were worthy of even a wedding dinner. And I would agree. They’re really fabulous.

I changed just two things in her recipe: (1) I spread a bit of mustard on the insides of the chicken thighs; and (2) I added a little splash of cream to the sauce. You can certainly eliminate both of those if you want to be true to Rachael’s recipe. Usually tournedos refer to beef, but the word refers to the shape, I think (normally it’s beef tenderloin). So someone, ingeniously, decided to try the techniques with chicken.

So first you spread the inside of the chicken thighs with grainy mustard. The first thigh you mold (as best you can) in a roll, a log shape. Then drape the other thigh over the first one. Then wrap the bacon slice (use thick sliced if you can) around the outside edge and loop kitchen twine to tie it. It’s a little awkward getting the bacon in the right place and the twine just in the middle and then tied properly. Just takes a little bit of fussing. The chicken is sprayed with oil or some kind of spray and baked for a mere 30 minutes, until the chicken reaches 165°F. Use an instant read thermometer to make sure you don’t overcook them.

Meanwhile, make the sauce – butter shallots, sherry, mustard, maple syrup, Worcestershire and cream. Some is poured over the chicken, and the rest you can serve on the table. Poppy seeds are sprinkled on the top (kind of an unusual garnish for chicken, I thought) but it looks good.

What’s GOOD: everything about this is good – the moist chicken, the lovely bacon flavor and the sauce. Altogether wonderful. Easy too.

What’s NOT: nothing at all.

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

* Exported from MasterCook *

Canadian Chicken Tournedos with Creamy Sherry Sauce

Recipe By: Adapted from Rachael Ray (her original recipe)
Serving Size: 4

CHICKEN:
8 boneless skinless chicken thighs
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
4 slices bacon — very meaty
Kitchen string
Olive oil cooking spray
SAUCE:
3 tablespoons butter
2 large shallots — finely chopped
1/2 cup dry sherry — or white wine
2 tablespoons hot English mustard — or grainy Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons maple syrup — or smoked maple syrup
Splash of Worcestershire sauce — optional
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons poppy seeds

1. Preheat oven to 400°F, with rack in center.
2. Season the chicken on both sides with salt and pepper. Roll 4 pieces tightly into cigar-like logs, then drape the top of each cigar-shaped piece with the remaining pieces of boneless thighs and form a round shape like a firm bun. Wrap the side edges of each chicken “bun” with 1 slice of bacon. Secure the bacon to the chicken “bun” by snugly tying a piece of kitchen twine around the bacon. Arrange the chicken on a parchment-lined medium-sized baking sheet, then lightly spray or drizzle with olive oil, transfer to preheated oven and bake 30 minutes, to 165°F on an instant-read thermometer. A few minutes before the chicken is done, top with the glaze and return to the oven.
3. Heat a sauce pot or small skillet over medium heat, add butter and sauté shallots seasoned with salt and pepper for 3 minutes or until lightly browned. Add sherry and reduce to 3 tablespoons, add mustard, maple syrup and a splash of Worcestershire sauce, then cream and swirl a minute or so. Pour some of the sauce over the chicken tournedos and baste to coat evenly. Return chicken to the oven to finish cooking and to set the glaze, just a couple of minutes.
4. To serve, remove string from the chicken. Top the glazed tournedos with poppy seeds and serve with remaining sauce on the side.
Per Serving: 693 Calories; 44g Fat (56.8% calories from fat); 60g Protein; 15g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 332mg Cholesterol; 992mg Sodium; 11g Total Sugars; trace Vitamin D; 99mg Calcium; 1mg Iron; 196mg Potassium; 110mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Chicken, Grilling, on February 20th, 2022.

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Do you ever wish you could make something that is just bursting with lemon flavor? And garlic too? Throw in rosemary as well?

A post from Carolyn. Since I didn’t name this recipe, I guess I really shouldn’t re-name it; even so, it would be difficult to do, because these three flavors (lemon, garlic, rosemary) are just all there. Equally so. I think the lemon is predominant, however.

My friend Dianne made this chicken for the luncheon I told you about in my last post (for the classic rice pilaf – that went with this chicken). She told me that a few years ago her grown kids and grandkids were visiting and her daughter said “what’s for dinner,” and Dianne suggested they try one of the recipes from Zov’s (a local restaurant). It’s since become a favorite in her family and whenever they visit, it’s a regular on the menu. The recipe comes from Zov’s cookbook, Zov: Recipes and Memories from the Heart. It was published in 2005, (also updated in 2008) but it’s still available. Zov is Armenian by heritage and her recipes certainly reflect the Mediterranean and beyond culture and cuisine.

So, the recipe uses boneless, skinless chicken breast halves. Dianne pounds them to an even thickness (so you get even cooking on the grill). Then they’re marinated for about 24 hours. The recipe indicates you can marinate them a shorter period, or even longer, but Dianne likes the 24 hours as a regular benchmark. They are patted dry with paper towels, then grilled swiftly over a medium-high grill heat. Then she carefully slices them on the diagonal (so you get slightly wider slices than when cutting straight down). Put them onto a heated platter (because they cool very quickly) and serve immediately. Do put some fresh rosemary and a wedge or two of lemon on the platter when serving  – it looks so pretty.

Dianne made more than enough of this, so when we were divvying up the leftovers, she generously let me have a bunch. My granddaughter Taylor and I had two dinner meals with the leftovers, and still had more for some evening dinner salads with the chopped up cold chicken on top.

What’s GOOD: the flavors are, as I mentioned, just bursting through. Does that tell you enough – the lemon, the garlic and the rosemary. Absolutely delicious. So worth making.

What’s NOT: only that you must plan ahead at least 24 hours to get the most out of the marinating.

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Rosemary Garlic Chicken with Lemon

Recipe By: Zov Karamardian, Zov’s Bistro
Serving Size: 8

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary — chopped
1 tablespoon fresh thyme — chopped
1 tablespoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
6 tablespoons olive oil
8 boneless skinless chicken breast halves
Italian parsley or rosemary sprigs, for garnish lemon wedges, for garnish

1. Place chicken breast (firm side up) on a piece of plastic wrap and cover with a second piece. Gently pound chicken with a flat pounder until chicken is an even thickness. Repeat for remaining chicken pieces.
2. Whisk lemon juice, garlic, rosemary, thyme, salt, pepper and oil in a large bowl to blend. Add chicken and toss well to coat. Cover and refrigerate, tossing occasionally, for at least one hour or up to two days.
3. Prepare barbecue for medium-high heat. Grill chicken breasts until they are just cooked through and golden brown, about 3 minutes on the first side, and about 1 minute on the 2nd side. Test the interior temperature with an instant read thermometer – it should not exceed 160°F. Transfer chicken to a cutting board and slice chicken on a slant into long strips then transfer chicken to a heated platter. Ganish with parsley or rosemary and lemon wedges.
Per Serving: 350 Calories; 17g Fat (44.0% calories from fat); 48g Protein; 1g Carbohydrate; trace Dietary Fiber; 151mg Cholesterol; 1277mg Sodium; trace Total Sugars; 0mcg Vitamin D; 19mg Calcium; 1mg Iron; 804mg Potassium; 472mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Chicken, on January 21st, 2022.

Butter Chicken is a favorite of mine, and this version of it is SO very easy, you simply won’t believe it. Everything for this dinner is cooked right in the Instant Pot.

A post from Carolyn. My Instant Pot sits on a shelf in my laundry room (mostly because I don’t have room in my kitchen for it), but it gets a pretty good workout even so. And this recipe is going to make your day. It’s so very easy, and dinner is ready in a flash – truly, under 30 minutes. This recipe came from Food52, from Urvashi Pitre. She’s known as “The Butter Chicken Lady,” and rightly so. She’s a celebrated author of numerous instant pot cookbooks, and let me just say, this recipe is a winner. I’ve followed her blog for several years (called twosleevers.com), and have made a few of her recipes in the past, but it’s for this one that she’s the most famous. She even got a write-up in the New York Times.

Her title for this recipe is “Now and Later Instant Pot Butter Chicken.” That’s because when you make this, you’ll end up with about 1 1/2 cups of extra sauce, which you’ll save (and freeze perhaps) to use with some other leftovers another night. What I love about this recipe is that into the instant pot you combine the canned tomatoes, ginger, garlic, turmeric, cayenne (or Kashmiri chile powder in my case), paprika, salt, cumin and garam masala. You stir it just a bit, add the chicken thighs, stir that just a bit so the chicken is coated in the flavorful sauce.

Meanwhile, you will use a small glass or ceramic bowl (that will fit into the Instant Pot) to which you’ll add basmati rice, water, butter and salt. After placing a trivet (I used the instant pot trivet that has the two handles) on top of the chicken, you place the rice bowl on top. Put the IP lid on top and pressure cook the chicken for 10 minutes. Then you let it sit for 10 minutes, undisturbed. Release the pressure, remove the bowl of rice (now fully cooked) with the trivet handles, remove the chicken to a bowl (large enough so you can pull apart the chicken easily). The sauce on the bottom of the Instant Pot gets smoothed out with an immersion blender, which takes about 20 seconds or so, then you add cream (or coconut milk), 4 T of butter and some chopped cilantro plus another teaspoon of garam masala. Your butter chicken is done. Put the chicken back in the pot and stir it around, and serve with the rice.

What’s GOOD: how absolutely simple this is. It’s genius, as they say at Food52. This is going to become my go-to butter chicken recipe henceforth! Only thing I might do differently is add some chopped up onion to the mixture. Not sure that’s authentic, but I’ll try it that way next time. I served it with some steamed broccoli on the side.

What’s NOT: nothing at all – such a simple dish, easy and flavorful.

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Instant Pot Butter Chicken with Rice

Recipe By: adapted very slightly from Food52
Serving Size: 5

RICE:
1 cup basmati rice — rinsed
1 cup water
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
BUTTER CHICKEN:
14 ounces diced tomatoes — undrained
1 tablespoon minced ginger
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon kashmiri chile powder — or more to taste, or cayenne
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons garam masala — divided use
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 pound chicken thigh without skin — boneless, left whole
4 ounces butter — cut into cubes (use coconut oil, if making this dairy free)
4 ounces heavy cream — or use full-fat coconut milk
1/3 cup chopped cilantro — using some to garnish

NOTE: This recipe makes more sauce than is needed for the dish. Originally it was called “Now and Later Instant Pot Butter Chicken” because you serve it the first time for 4-5 people, then you have about a cup and a half of the sauce to freeze, or to use in some other dish for some other leftovers.
1. Combine all the ingredients for the rice, place in a 6 or 7-inch heat-safe pan or dish (that will fit in the Instant Pot, with room for the rice to expand), and set aside.
2. Place tomatoes, ginger, garlic, turmeric, cayenne, paprika, salt, 1 teaspoon of the garam masala, and cumin into the Instant Pot. Mix the sauce a bit, then place the chicken on top of the sauce and stir around a little to coat the chicken. You are putting in everything except the butter, cream, cilantro, and 1 remaining teaspoon of garam masala.
3. Place a steamer rack/trivet on top of the chicken mixture, and place the uncovered bowl of uncooked rice on the rack. Make it as level as possible.
4. Pressure cook for 10 minutes.
5. Once it is done cooking, allow the pot to cool for 10 minutes, undisturbed. Then, release all remaining pressure and open the pot. Remove and set the cooked rice aside (cover it if you want to keep it super-hot). Remove the chicken and set aside.
6. Using an immersion blender, blend together the sauce until it is smooth. Let the sauce cool for 5 minutes. Stir in the cut-up butter, cream, cilantro, and garam masala.
7. Remove half the sauce and freeze or refrigerate for later.
8. Break up the chicken into bite-size pieces, add it to the sauce. Serve with rice. Add more cilantro on top if desired.
Per Serving: 431 Calories; 33g Fat (68.4% calories from fat); 20g Protein; 14g Carbohydrate; 2g Dietary Fiber; 163mg Cholesterol; 960mg Sodium; 3g Total Sugars; trace Vitamin D; 50mg Calcium; 2mg Iron; 480mg Potassium; 219mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Chicken, Pasta, on December 23rd, 2021.

Oh goodness, is this good. Easy to make, and sensational to eat.

A post from Carolyn. This recipe is such a winner. Really quite easy to make – the creamy white sauce starts it off, but then you add cream cheese to it, and Caesar salad dressing. Not a lot of the dressing, but just enough that you can barely taste a hint of Caesar flavor. If you’re into EASY, then do buy a rotisserie chicken, which yielded about 3 cups of shredded chicken for me, just the right amount for this casserole.

After that, it’s the usual kind of lasagna, cooked noodles (I undercooked them slightly), layered with the cheeses and the creamy sauce and chicken. Plus some baby spinach added into each layer. Originally this recipe came from A Pinch of Yum (from 2013!), but I altered it a bit – increasing the sauce quantity and another layer of noodles, and I used a grated cheese blend. Although I’m more of a traditionalist about cheeses (almost never using pre-grated cheese because they put something on it so it won’t clump), this time I was into speed, so I bought Kraft’s Italian blend of cheeses in 8-ounce bags. I used 1 1/2 bags for this recipe. My only caution: make sure you have enough cheese left over to put on the top layer of noodles – you don’t want crispy edges. I also added a pinch of freshly grated nutmeg to the sauce – certainly not traditional! In savory dishes like this with a creamy sauce, I just think nutmeg is a sure-fire winner. You don’t really taste the nutmeg.

I made this the day before I wanted to serve it, and just let it warm up to room temp for about 45 minutes before I put it in the oven. It took a little longer to get it all heated through. I cut it into lunch-sized portions (for one of my ladies’ book groups, a potluck), so use a sharp knife to cut the slices evenly. Do let it cool about 10 minutes before serving.

What’s GOOD: oh gosh, the creamy sauce; altogether deliciousness. It’s easy to put together; can be made ahead too. Loved the leftovers as well.

What’s NOT: not a thing. This recipe is a keeper.

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Cheesy Chicken Caesar Lasagna

Recipe By: Adapted from Pinch of Yum, Nov. 2013
Serving Size: 12

3 tablespoons butter
3 1/2 tablespoons flour
1 3/4 cups whole milk
4 ounces cream cheese — cut into 1/2″ cubes
1/2 teaspoon salt
ground black pepper to taste
1/8 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/2 cup Caesar salad dressing
12 ounces grated cheese — Kraft’s Italian cheese blend, comes in 8 ounce packages
12 lasagna noodles
3 cups chicken, meat only — from a whole rotisserie chicken, shredded
3 cups fresh spinach — baby spinach
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, oil-packed — chopped

NOTE: the original recipe called for 1/2 cup grated Parmesan and 3 cups shredded Mozzarella. The purchase of the Kraft pre-shredded Italian blend worked beautifully in this recipe, and simplified the work.
1. Melt the butter over medium high heat. Stir in the flour and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the milk, a little bit at a time, until the mixture is smooth and creamy. Whisk in the cubes of cream cheese, nutmeg, and Caesar dressing until smooth and creamy. Continue cooking over low heat until cream cheese has melted. Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary.
2. Cook the lasagna noodles a minute or two less than the package directions (noodles will continue to cook in the oven). Add the chicken to the sauce mixture and keep over medium low heat.
3. Grease a 9×13 pan and preheat the oven to 375°F. Cover with 3 lasagna noodles. Top with 1/3 the chicken mixture, a third of the spinach, 3 tablespoons of the sundried tomatoes, and a quarter of the cheese. Cover with 3 more noodles. Repeat layers, ending with another layer of noodles and the remaining 1 cup cheese. Make sure you leave enough cheese to cover the top layer.
4. Bake for 30 minutes covered with greased foil. Remove the foil and bake for another 5-10 minutes to brown the cheese. Let stand for 10 minutes before cutting. Can be made ahead and refrigerated. Remove from refrigerator for about 45 minutes before baking.
Per Serving: 673 Calories; 26g Fat (35.6% calories from fat); 34g Protein; 74g Carbohydrate; 3g Dietary Fiber; 94mg Cholesterol; 539mg Sodium; 5g Total Sugars; trace Vitamin D; 292mg Calcium; 4mg Iron; 537mg Potassium; 457mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Chicken, on July 23rd, 2021.

The picture above shows the chicken in mid-bake – – – forgot to take a photo of the finished goods! When finished, the grapes were mostly wrinkled and had oozed some juice that went into a sauce.

A post from Carolyn . . . I’m back home from my 2 1/2 week road trip and haven’t had time to write another post about my trip – but this recipe was sitting in the drafts – something I made a month or two ago . . . . I had friends and family here for dinner. I served some various cheeses with crackers, this chicken alongside the layered salad that’s already been posted. I’d stewed some cherries, already on my blog, called Bing Cherry Compote, that I’d made a few days before, that were put on the top of some vanilla ice cream, for dessert. We opened an old bottle of red wine from the cellar and there was dinner!

There were 5 of us, and two of them hungry men, so I figured I’d best make two chickens. Probably I could have made do with just one chicken, but oh well, I’ll make soup or something with the remaining chicken. My cousin Gary is visiting as I’m writing this (although he’s driving back to the Bay Area in a couple of days) and he’s expressed interest in learning more about cooking. So I suggested HE make the spatchcocked chicken. I know I can buy already uncooked, but dressed/marinated spatchcocked chicken at Trader Joe’s, but those are seasoned, and I wanted to try this recipe. Besides which, I was happy to have Gary’s strong hands to cut out the backbone of those two birds. Sometimes I struggle cutting the largest bones. If you don’t know how to spatchcock a chicken, there’s a 1 1/2-minute video on youtube.

You know that when you flatten a chicken, it cooks more evenly. The breast meat and the thigh meat seem to cook to just the right temp without compromising each other. The recipe came from The Splendid Table, from Melissa Clark. It was described in a podcast I listened to and I promptly came to my computer to look it up. It’s a great recipe.

The essence of this recipe – the chicken is flattened on the baking sheet and a rub is added to it (EVOO, salt, fennel seeds, pepper and lemon zest) both top and bottom. I used two sheetpans obviously, as a flattened chicken takes  up a good part of the big pan. After the chickens rest a bit (sitting with the rub), they’re baked at high temp (475°F) for 20 minutes. Then you add the grapes (I bought a mixture of colors because they’d be pretty on the plate) which have been lightly tossed in EVOO and salt and pepper and a tiny sprinkling of sugar. The pans go back in the oven for another 20-25 minutes until they’ve reached the correct temp. Once they were removed, the chickens were put off onto a cutting board, and they rested under foil for about 15 minutes while we put the pan on the cooktop (without the parchment), simmered the juices there (after having removed the grapes) and then added a pat of butter and some sherry vinegar. What a lovely combination! The grapes and sauce were heated on the stove, poured into a pitcher and people drizzled the sauce over the chicken.

My friend Cherrie’s husband Bud carved the birds for me, and we sat down to eat. Daughter Sara had driven up from San Diego, as she wanted to visit with cousin Gary, so she came for dinner too. Anyway, we all went back for seconds on everything, I think.

What’s GOOD: liked the fennel flavor in the chicken, and oh gosh, the grapes were a genius idea to serve alongside chicken. Loved the flavored sauce and did I say how good the grapes were? Oh my.

What’s NOT: nothing other than you need spatchcocked chickens to make this. It’s a relatively easy recipe otherwise.

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Chicken Spatchcocked with Grapes and Sherry Vinegar

Recipe By: Melissa Clark podcast
Serving Size: 4

1 tablespoon kosher salt — plus more as needed
1 1/2 teaspoons fennel seeds — lightly crushed in a mortar and pestle
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper — plus more as needed
Grated zest of 2 lemons
1 tablespoon EVOO
1 whole chicken — spatchcocked (backbone removed, flattened to break the wishbone) patted dry with paper towels
12 ounces seedless grapes — stemmed (1 1/2 cups) [I used multi-colored grapes]
2 teaspoons EVOO
1 teaspoon sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons sherry wine vinegar — or more to taste
1 1/2 teaspoons unsalted butter

1. In a small bowl, combine the salt, fennel seeds, pepper, lemon zest, and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Rub this mixture generously over the chicken. Place the chicken, skin-side up, on a rimmed baking sheet and let it stand for at least 1 hour.
2. About 15 minutes before you are ready to cook the chicken, heat the oven to 475°F.
3. Transfer the chicken to the oven and roast it for 20 minutes.
4. In a small bowl, toss the grapes with the remaining olive oil, sugar, salt and pepper to taste. Scatter the grapes around the chicken, and roast until the chicken is just cooked through and the grapes are lightly caramelized, 20 to 25 minutes. Test the chicken for internal temperature. Breast meat should be at least 160, and thigh meat 165. The chicken will continue to cook as it rests.
5. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board to rest. Tent with foil and let it sit for about 10-15 minutes.
6. Spoon the grapes into a bowl and set aside. Place the baking sheet over two burners on medium-high heat. Add the vinegar to the pan juices and scrape up the browned bits from the bottom of the baking sheet. Pour the mixture into a small saucepan and warm it over medium heat. Whisk in the butter. Do not boil as the butter will separate.
7. Carve the chicken and top it with the grapes and a spoonsful of the sauce.
Per Serving: 641 Calories; 48g Fat (67.5% calories from fat); 36g Protein; 16g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 145mg Cholesterol; 1880mg Sodium; 15g Total Sugars; 0mcg Vitamin D; 45mg Calcium; 3mg Iron; 590mg Potassium; 356mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Chicken, on October 19th, 2020.

food_cart_chix_curry

My riff on a chicken curry recipe similar to what’s served from food carts in India.

You all know who Ruth Reichl is, right? From the venerable halls of food writers and editors, and cookbook authors. Memoir writers too. She used to work at the Los Angeles Times, so I’d been familiar with her for decades. I’m not sure which one of her books this recipe came from (I own a couple of her books, but not all of them). She’s such a good writer, witty and informative, providing plenty of humility when it comes to cooking. Anyway, this came through on one of my feeds from a blog – not sure which one. So the story goes, Ruth has spent more than one trip food-crawling in India, or maybe it was a similar food-crawl in New York City, but no matter how, this is one of her favorite pastimes, partaking of the chicken served from street food carts. She wrote:

The entire city smells like curry. Passing the fourth halal chicken cart, I can’t resist.

Spicy, tangy, irresistible. The taste of now.” Ruth Reichl

Lately I’ve been craving curry again, and since this was a recent recipe I added to my chicken recipes, it was what was on my mind. As I’m writing this it’s early October and this won’t post until later in the month, but what’s important is that I finally began going to grocery stores. It had been 7 months since I’d set foot in one. For my first foray, I visited a nice, new one, a bit smaller than the mega-grocery chains, and found it not crowded, which made me feel better about being there. I was able to buy a red onion for this dish, then I defrosted a pouch of chicken thighs. I used most of them in a soup that I’ll post in a few days, but I saved out some and made this chicken curry and served it on a bed of cauliflower rice.

Several hours ahead I marinated the chicken in a mixture of spices, with some EVOO and lemon juice added. That rested in the frig. Meanwhile I pulsed some fresh cauliflower (I’ve made a big decision – I much prefer prepping a big whole cauliflower into “cauliflower rice” than I like eating the stuff already prepared and sold as “cauliflower rice.” I’m guessing that by the time it gets to stores, it’s several days old. I may never buy the cut up bag  (but still raw) stuff again. I cooked the cauliflower rice in butter over low heat until it was just barely tender.

zucchini_with_food_cart_chix

The CHICKEN: When you’re ready to cook, have everything ready, as the dinner comes together quickly. Into a nonstick pan the chicken goes – it doesn’t need any fat as there is enough in the marinade. Cook it low and slow – it takes about 10 minutes. Test a little piece of chicken to see if it’s done. As I said, meanwhile I did the cauliflower with nothing more than butter in it. I plated the dish.

The ZUCCHINI: I also chopped up one big zucchini and sautéed it in the same pan once I removed the curry. The pan still had a bit of fat in it, AND some of the wonderful spices too. So I got two portions of veggies – the cauliflower rice under the curry AND the zucchini on the side.

I scaled down this recipe since I’m just one person, but two chicken thighs made enough for me to have at least 2 meals. I might even stretch it to 3. Especially if I serve a moderate portion of the zucchini as well. The only change I made to this recipe was to add some Greek yogurt at the end. And I used a bit more of the oregano than the original called for. As for the yogurt – I like a creamy curry. Street carts don’t do that, apparently, so I did veer off a little bit. Food carts serve a cold sauce on the side that’s a mixture of yogurt, mayo, sugar, salt, pepper and vinegar. So, your choice. I let the yogurt simmer too long so it began to separate – so do as I say, not as I did – simmer the yogurt for just long enough to heat it through, then serve.

What’s GOOD: This dish is divine! What else can I say – SO delicious. So comfort-food for me. I nearly licked the plate. Everything about it was fantastic. I’ll be making this again and again. Thank you, Ruth Reichl!

What’s NOT: only that you need to start this the night before or at least 4 hours ahead to marinate the chicken. The seasoning permeates the chicken well during that time – don’t eliminate that step.

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Food Cart Chicken Curry

Recipe By: Adapted from Ruth Reichl
Serving Size: 4

1 pound chicken thigh, meat only — boneless, skinless
1 tablespoon curry powder
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/2 red onion — halved, sliced
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
2 cloves garlic — minced
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
salt and pepper to taste
1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 1/2 cups Greek yogurt, full-fat
Cilantro as garnish
Serve with rice or cauliflower rice and zucchini on the side

NOTE: I served this with a side of zucchini, trimmed, chopped, and cooked quickly over high heat in the seasoning and oil that was left in the skillet after making the curry.
1. Cut the chicken into bite-sized chunks, and slice the onion into thin slices.
2. Make a paste by combining the olive oil with 1-1/2 tablespoons lemon juice, the coriander, garlic, curry powder, oregano, paprika, cumin, salt and pepper.
3. Place onions and chicken into a plastic bag, with the marinade, and squish it all round so the onions and chicken are thoroughly coated. Marinate in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or overnight.
4. Add onions and chicken to large skillet (nonstick) and saute for about 5 minutes, tossing every minute or so. It will splutter a bit.Taste the chicken to see if it’s tender and add additional salt and pepper to taste.
5. Serve over white rice or cauliflower rice. At many food carts they serve this with a white sauce – combine equal parts of mayonnaise and Greek yogurt, then add a dollop of sugar, salt and pepper, and a splash of vinegar. Some prefer to sprinkle on red hot sauce.
Per Serving: 354 Calories; 22g Fat (57.3% calories from fat); 26g Protein; 11g Carbohydrate; 2g Dietary Fiber; 138mg Cholesterol; 157mg Sodium; 3g Total Sugars; 0mcg Vitamin D; 43mg Calcium; 2mg Iron; 372mg Potassium; 227mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Chicken, Salads, on September 25th, 2020.

chicken_salad_grapes_dill

Maybe I’m bored with my own cooking of late. Decided to do something outside the box.

As I’ve mentioned many times here, most days I have soup (laden with lots of veggies) for lunch. But you probably heard earlier this month here in SoCal, the temps were in the 100s. One day it was 108 here at my house. Even though I have AC in my house (thank you, Lord!) I could still feel hot around the edges. I didn’t want hot soup, and the soup I had in the frig wasn’t one that could be eaten cold. So I decided to fix myself an open faced sandwich. I didn’t even have leftover chicken – so I used canned chicken. I do that sometimes when I’m not wanting to cook a chicken breast. Costco’s canned chicken is very good, if you’ve never tried it.

These days, with the pandemic still keeping me at home (oh, I’m so very tired of it), I don’t always have food items I need to make something new. So I used what I had and created a chicken salad and served it atop a nice wheat type thin slice of toast, some sliced avocado (hidden under the greenery) and with arugula. So, I thought about what I could do to make this salad different. Well, I had dill. Good, that would work. I had almonds in the freezer, so that was easy, although I didn’t toast them (it was just too hot even to turn on the toaster oven). I combined the chicken, Best Foods mayo, some minutely diced celery, lemon juice, a minced up green onion, some red grapes that I diced up (optional) and then I threw in a heaping tablespoon of mango chutney. That chutney was just the ticket. It added that slight bit of sweetness and flavor variation that I was seeking. I had enough to make this sandwich three times, although only the first time did I use the toast and avocados.

It took me very few minutes to make the salad, toast the bread, slice the avocado, chop up the arugula, mince the dill, and it was done. Don’t add salt until after you’ve tasted it – the mayo has some already – so I didn’t add any, though I did grind in some pepper.

What’s GOOD: very easy and quick to make. The mango chutney was the surprise flavor here, and I really liked it. The dill was another flavor profile I enjoyed. I don’t suppose this recipe will win any county fair prizes, but it was just the answer to my wish for something easy and different.

What’s NOT: well, during a pandemic, you might not have all the ingredients. I always keep Major Gray’s mango chutney in my refrigerator – it virtually keeps forever, and the other ingredients were all staples, except for the dill. I wish I could grow dill at my house, but it’s always too hot. This sandwich isn’t low calorie – I was kind of surprised when I looked at the nutrition count. Must be the mayonnaise!

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Chicken Salad – for open faced sandwich

Recipe By: My own combo, 2020
Serving Size: 3

CHICKEN MIXTURE:
1 1/4 cups cooked chicken — chopped
1/3 cup mayonnaise — Best Foods
1 tablespoon lemon juice — or more to taste
2 tablespoons red grapes — chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons mango chutney
1/4 cup celery — minced
1 tablespoon fresh dill — chopped
1 whole green onion — diced
freshly ground pepper to taste
2 tablespoons sliced almonds
SANDWICH:
3 slices whole grain bread — toasted
1 avocado — thinly sliced
1 1/2 cups arugula — chopped
3 sprigs fresh dill — for garnish
2 tablespoons sliced almonds — for garnish

1. In a bowl combine all the chicken salad ingredients, reserving some of the almonds. Taste for seasoning. It may not need salt, but pepper for sure.
2. Place toast on individual plates, add avocado slices, mound arugula next, then spoon the chicken salad on top. Garnish with additional almond slices, and a sprig of dill.
Per Serving: 490 Calories; 24g Fat (43.5% calories from fat); 38g Protein; 32g Carbohydrate; 8g Dietary Fiber; 89mg Cholesterol; 406mg Sodium; 6g Total Sugars; trace Vitamin D; 120mg Calcium; 3mg Iron; 817mg Potassium; 378mg Phosphorus.

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.

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