Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Seeking Roast Chicken Perfection

I’m on  quest to make the perfect roast chicken. I keep trying new methods and new recipes. Today I decided to try roasting at a high heat of 500 degrees (F) inspired by Chef Michael Symon with a little Ina (Garten) of course.

Here’s what you need:

- A whole chicken
- Lemon
- Head of Garlic
- Thyme (optional)
- Salt
- Butter
- Carrots (optional)
- Kitchen Twine (optional)

Here’s what you do:

- Preheat your oven to 500 degrees F (yep)
- Put a big cast iron skillet in the oven to preheat too. I didn’t have one but I bought mine at Home Depot online. I think it was a 13.25 inch one. They sell tons of kitchen stuff online at Home Depot.
- While the oven and pan are preheating, prepare the chicken. How do you do that?
- Here’s what you do:

-Pat the chicken dry with paper towels so the skin gets crunchy
- Pull out the bag of stuff in the cavity and throw it out or find a use for it
- Cut a head of garlic in half
- Cut a lemon in quarters
- Shove the lemon, garlic and thyme in the cavity
- Tie the chicken legs together with twine
- I also sliced some lemon slices and put them under the breast skin with some thyme
-  Melt some butter (maybe 2 tablespoons)
- Put the chicken in the hot skillet
- Paint the butter on the whole chicken
- Salt liberally
- Roast for ~45 mins (mine was a 3.5 lb chicken)

-While the chicken is roasting, peels some carrots
- When the chicken is done, take the chicken out of the pan and let it cool for about 20 mins on a cutting board
- Put the skillet with all the left over drippings on your stove on high and add the carrots and stir. Throw in the lemons and garlic from the cavity. Add salt. Cook and add water at times to keep the pan sizzling.
- Throw out the Lemons and Garlic

When the chicken is able to be handled, slice into 8 pieces. All kinds of you tubes on how to do it right. 


Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Quarantine Cinco De Mayo Tortilla Chip Crusted Shrimp

Cinco de Mayo to me, means celebrating with Chips, Queso and Margaritas at my local Mexican Restaurant patio.

Staying at home, I couldn’t help but throw together a Mexican inspired dish with what I had on hand. Tortilla chip crusted shrimp with Guacamole and chips!

knew I wanted Tortilla chips, so I started there. I had a fresh bag of lime flavored (thanks Instacart substitutions) in the pantry. I also had a half started bag of tortilla chips that was a little stale 🤷🏻. If Im going to eat chips, Im not eating stale chips.....but quarantine times call for quarantine measures. What could I do with the opened bag? Cant throw those babies out!  Aha, I will grind them up in my magic bullet blender. Poof - I have tortilla chip crumbs. What else do I have?  Shrimp I need to use in the fridge! I will dip those in the chip crumbs. 🧐

And then it began!


- Raw Shrimp (peel them and take tails off). Maybe a pound?
- Avocados (I used two small hass)
- Red Onion (I used about 1/4 giant red onion). Chop it.
- Lemon (or lime - I like lemon). Squeeze the juice.
- Salt, Garlic Powder and Cumin
- Fresh Chips and stale chips (ha or you could use all fresh!)
- Sour cream (optional)

And then:

- Crush up some chips in a blender/chopper until looks like sand
- Coat shrimp in the chip crumbs (they will be a little damp from rinsing them before you coat them so the chip crumbs stick)
- Melt some butter and olive oil (butter alone will burn) in a sauté pan on medium high
- Sauté shrimp a minute or two on each side. I did two batches to not crowd the pan.
- Salt the shrimp with sea salt

Make the guacamole:

- Mix together the juice of a lemon, the avocados, salt, onion, garlic powder and cumin. Mash with a fork til creamy.

Serve the shrimp with the guacamole, chips and sour cream.

You are done! De nada!

Saturday, May 2, 2020

Quarantine Grilled Steaks, Potatoes and Beets

It’s a sunny beautiful Spring Day in Atlanta and it feels like Summer. My Blue Apron box is lost in transit with FedEx for the second week in a row. Whole Foods via Amazon Prime to the rescue with delivery in two hours.

What you need:

Skirt steak (or similar)
Potatoes (I’m using small Tri color potatoes)
Onion (I’m using white)
Red Beets (about 3 or so)
Pesto (I had a packet of pesto left over from something)
Banana peppers (optional)
Parsley (optional)

Here’s what I did:

- Pour some Worcester sauce, olive oil and sea salt on the steak. Let marinate. Overnight would be best, but I did for about an hour
- Boil Water
- Cut potatoes in half and beets into quarters
- Drop into salted and boiling water
- Preheat grill outside
-  Let potatoes and beets parboil and small dice an onion, a handful of banana peppers, and some parsley
- Peel and slice the orange
- Put orange into a bowl with banana peppers. Pour a little white balsamic if you have it over them and a pinch of sea salt
- In another bowl, put the onions, parsley, a pinch of salt, and pesto it you have it
- Drain beets and potatoes and put some olive oil and salt on them
- Go put steak on grill and potatoes/beets on grill. The potatoes/beets will need to go on a piece of aluminum foil so it doesn’t fall down the grates
- Flip the steak once nice and charred
- Once other side cooked take the steak inside and let in rest covered in aluminum foil loosely
- Let potatoes/beets stay on grill about 5 -10 mins more
- Slice steak
- Put beets in bowl with oranges
- Put potatoes in bowl wirh onions/parsley/pesto

That’s it!

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Quarantine Roast Chicken

When you make a roast chicken in quarantine, you use what you have. Roast chicken is so flexible with the flavors. It is also so easy.

On a short break between my many video conference calls today, I took 15 minutes to prep the chicken, pop it into the oven, and go back to my conference calls. About an hour and a half later, it was ready!


* A whole chicken I had on hand from my Whole Foods/Amazon Prime delivery this weekend
* Had no onions so normally that would be on the list, but wasn’t
* Had no thyme so normally that would be on the list, but wasn’t
* Yellow potatoes
* Carrots
* Lemon
* Head of Garlic

During that 15 minutes between calls;

* Preheat oven to 425 degrees
* Rinse off the chicken, take out the bag of stuff in the cavity 😳, pat dry with paper towels and tie the legs together
* Peel and cut about 1-2 lbs of carrots and about 2 lbs of potatoes
* Put the carrots and onions into a baking dish with some cooking spray and salt
* Cut a head of garlic into half and put inside the cavity
* Cut a lemon in half and put into the cavity
* Melt butter (about 2 oz) and then brush over chicken
* Salt generously
* Put chicken atop potato/carrot mix
* Pop into oven

Go back to your conference calls and let the smell of amazingness fill your house. About 90 mins later your chicken is ready. Flip it over for about 15 mins to brown the bottom. Or don’t.

Let it cool. Cut (google that) into 8 pieces.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Spicy Macaroni Quarantini

It doesn’t GET any easier than this. Are you ready for it? It’s 3 ingredients.

1) Boil pasta and drain
2) Cut Velveeta into chunks and add to pasta and stir over low heat
3) Drain a can of rotel, than pour into pasta


That is all. You are welcome!

Monday, April 13, 2020

Shrimp Scampi Quarantini

It’s about a month into the quarantine here in Atlanta, and I’ll just say one of my favorite things about being home every night, is slowing down to cook dinner. I’ve enjoyed making up my own quick recipes and was quite pleased with this quick dinner I made tonight. Once I realized I had enough ingredients to make a version of shrimp scampi, off I went. This isn’t a precise recipe. Anything goes. Add, take away, make it your own.

Items I found:

  • Box of Spaghetti 
  • Garlic
  • Lemon
  • Kale
  • Shrimp
  • Parmesan cheese 
  • Salt
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Butter
  • Olive oil

How I made it:

  • Boil and salt a big pot of water
  • While waiting for water to boil, pat dry the raw shrimp, and pull the tails off
  • Slice the lemon into thin rounds 
  • Peel and chop some garlic (maybe 5 cloves. The more the better)
  • Wash then chop the kale
  • Boil spaghetti 
  • In a heated pan, pour some olive oil (maybe a TBLSP), let it heat, them sauté the kale with a little salt until tender 
  • In another heated pan, pour some olive oil (maybe a TBLSP) and some butter (maybe 2-3 TBLSP) and cook the shrimp. Add the garlic. Add a pinch of red paper flakes. Then lemon slices. Then the cooked kale. 
  • Drain pasta, and add to the shrimp mixture
  • Top with Parmesan cheese

Easy peasy quarantini. 

Sunday, January 12, 2020

The Kitchen Counter Cooking School will make you fearless to Roast a Whole Chicken

Roasted Chicken with Vegetables

Several years ago, I read The Kitchen Counter Cooking School: How a Few Simple Lessons Transformed Nine Culinary Novices into Fearless Home Cooks, by Kathleen Flinn.  I love picking up a book I haven't read in a while, and rediscovering it from a new perspective.  I decided to read it again, and was captivated by the stories of women who couldn't cook at all, to ladies who could make the most amazing, but simple recipes.

 It all came down to a little knowledge, real food, and a willingness to push through fear.  Cooking really is all about being fearless - recipes are just guidelines (unless you are baking, and then that is more of a science project), and you really can't mess it up (or not as bad as you think). 

While I certainly know how to cook (hello cooking blog), the last few years of crazy work schedule, and the pervasiveness of "convenience" everywhere, has shifted a lot of my cooking to things I perceive as easier.

First, I went for Blue Apron and got a box each week to cook recipes, and while this is true cooking (I mean I must have chopped 100 cloves of garlic with this subscription), it often took more time to cook even with the ingredients all nicely collected in one box.

Then, I went for Freshly, which I actually got this week, which has 6 prepacked meals...but the catch is they are "fresh" and "not frozen."  Don't get me wrong, these are easy to pop in the microwave, healthy, and pretty tasty, but I probably could have spent a short amount of time cooking on the weekend and make my own meals.  If you want to try them out, here's a $40 Off code.

So, back to this book. She inspired me to get back to basics. The author is a trained French chef from Le Cordon Bleu, yet takes such a simple approach to reminding you that it only takes a few ingredients (normally less than 5) to make something outstanding.  We sometimes get so caught up in taking a short cut, and thinking it's more convenient...but really the "real thing" is so much better, is more cost effective, and doesn't take more time.

Some examples:  Basic Alfredo Sauce.  Why do so many people buy jars or boxes to make this?  Did you know ALL you do to make the sauce is take heavy cream and reduce it? (Basically bring to boil and reduce heat and simmer for a while). A pinch of salt, pepper, and parmesan cheese and you are done. Pour it over the pasta.  Not only does it taste better than a box or a jar, but it's easier and cheaper.

Let's get to my favorite recipe in the book...the easiest thing to make of all...which for some reason I thought might be a Basic Roast Chicken.  When I say it took me less than 10 minutes to prepare, I'm serious.

Let me tell you how easy this is:

1)  Buy your whole roast chicken at the grocery store.  Mine was about 4 lbs and from Springer Mountain Farms, who supposedly treats their chickens humanely. Go ahead and set the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.

The bag of "goodies" pictures here in the cavity

2)  Take the brown bag out of the cavity of the chicken which has all the "stuff" and throw it out or save it. Now, you could totally keep it and make something out of it if you want.  I thought about cooking for Sophie, my dog, but decided that was a project for another day.

3) Give the chicken a quick rinse under the sink and pat it totally dry

4)  Take some butter, salt, herbs (I used thyme) and mix it up.  Shove some of that under the skin and then melt some butter and brush it on the outside and top with salt. Repeat:  baste with butter and put a good amount of salt on the outside (coarse salt).

Chicken with butter and herbs shoved under skin

P.S.  I'm in love with my new butter crock which allows you to keep butter at room temperature.

My Butter Crock

5)  Put some herbs (I used thyme), salt, a lemon (I used an orange because that is what I had), and maybe a halved onion in the cavity

6)  I think this is optional, but tie up the legs with some twine and tuck the wings under to avoid them burning

I had a roasting pan and in the bottom I cut up a few potatoes (maybe 4) some whole carrots (maybe 6) and some onions (maybe 2). Just cut up what you want and pour some olive oil and salt over them.

All the steps above should take you no more than 10 minutes.

Now, Roast it in the oven for about an hour for a 3 lb chicken.  I did about 90 minutes.  I also pulled out and basted with melted butter about halfway through. I think technically you can also use a meat thermometer to make sure it's 180 degrees F if you want to be technical.

Let it sit for about 10 minutes and then slice it. You can google all kinds of ways to cut it up, but really it won't be pretty.   Just pull the meat off the bones using your common sense and it doesn't have to be perfect.

Let me tell you what was perfect. The taste, the aroma, the flavor.  So easy, so good, why don't more people make whole roast chickens?  I think I need to start making one every week.

Here was the finished product.  So YUM. 

Bonus: I then put the bones in my crock pot with water to make into bone broth. Google it - so healthy. 

Have you tried to make a roast chicken before? What's your favorite recipe?