January 31, 2011

Oven Roasted Chicken... Day 1

I try to plan out a weekly menu, so that I can get all of the major grocery shopping done in one trip, make life easier during the week, and save money.  One of the most common tips out there to help with menu planning, is to make a large amount of something one day to then reuse in different ways throughout the week.  This week, I decided to try it...roast some chicken- and enjoy it 3 ways.

Day 1: Roasting Day: Oven Roasted Chicken and Sauteed Spinach with Lemon and Shallots
The recipes that I picked for later in the week require 2 cups of meat each.  I estimated, rather generously, that I would need about 9lbs. of whole chicken (for 3 dinner recipes and a few lunches).  Whole "fryer" chickens happened to be on sale for .99/lb this week at the grocery store... so, I picked up two of them and headed home.

Although I wanted to use flavors on the chicken which would be versatile, so that it would easily fit into the recipes that I chose... I also wanted to make sure that the chicken had enough flavor to stand alone both tonight, and perhaps for lunch. So, I went with my favorite flavors, and tried it out... the result: some of the best oven roasted chicken I've ever made.

Chicken Seasoning (for 2 chickens)
1 stick unsalted butter
2 tbsp. fresh chopped basil
1 tbsp. (or so) dried oregano
6 chopped garlic cloves
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Ground black pepper
Kosher salt

First, I tossed out bag of chicken-parts from the centers of the chicken, rinsed them out, and rubbed them down with some kosher salt.  Then, I mixed the butter, garlic, lemon, basil and oregano together, and rubbed the mixture under the skin of the chicken and all around the skin. Next, I stuck half of a lemon inside each chicken.  Then, (thanks to my husband Matt, who quickly looked up a how-to video, and had the patience to do so), the chickens were trussed, and into the oven.  Baked at 425 degrees for 30 minutes, (after about 20 minutes, I poured about 3cups of chicken broth into the bottom of the roasting pan), then at 375 degrees for another 30. After making sure the thermometer agreed that they were done (read 180 degrees), I took them out of the oven to rest.

While the chicken was resting, I sautéed some shallots in a little bit of olive oil, added most of a bag of spinach (I don't do a good job of measuring things...), stirred to wilt the spinach, then added a pinch of salt, black pepper, crushed red pepper, and a splash of lemon juice... delicious!!

Coming tomorrow night: Day 2: Chicken and Corn Chowder

January 24, 2011

"What's For Dinner?"

Sometimes the greatest challenge is figuring out what in the world to cook for dinner. I don't always know what I want...  When I know what I want, I'm not always at home, sitting in front of my computer, able to search for a recipe... Let alone search simultaneously through Food Network, Cooking Light, Epicurious, All Recipes, Food And Wine (and more!) for a recipe that looks good.

This app, (which is available for Palm Pre/Pixi, iPhone, and soon for Android), has saved me time and time again. I have used it at the liquor store to hunt down just the right Sangria recipe... I've used it to find and weed through red-velvet cake recipes, to find a good Oat Bran muffin, and to run through the ingredients in Jambalaya, to make sure that I have all of the spices I need at home before I get there.  

Along with searching through an extensive library of recipes, you can save them to your recipe list, make shopping lists and even enter in and save your own original recipes.  

I hope that you find this application useful!! If there are any apps that you use to help answer the age-old question "What's For Dinner?", please share them!!

January 20, 2011

Farfalle with Parsley Walnut Pesto and Roasted Cherry Tomatoes

Tonight's Mission: To make dinner without having to go to the grocery store.

I was in the mood for pasta, but didn't want something heavy and had a craving for something fresh and "happy" tasting, (to match my mood).  Immediately, the idea of pesto jumped into my head.

The only problems were: 1. I had no fresh basil, 2. I had no pine nuts, 3. I had very little suitable cheese, 4. I have never actually made pesto, let alone a pesto without basil or pine nuts.  What I had, in fact, were leftovers from an Italian extravaganza I had made a week ago... fresh parsley, and a little bit of leftover shredded pecorino romano. The good news?  I had the internet, and I knew that pesto could be made with other nuts, namely walnuts, (which I have excess amounts of due to some holiday baking).  So, I set out to find a recipe to make something out of nothing.

I found a winner! Parsley Walnut Pesto (recipe below). Thanks to epicurious.com this wonderful recipe from Gourmet was easy to find.  In the recipe, the pesto was served on spaghetti squash, but I substituted farfalle because I love pasta.

Parsley Walnut Pesto

1/4 cup walnuts
1/2 garlic clove
1 1/3 cups packed fresh flat-leaf parsley
3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
2 1/2 tbsp. finely grated Pecorino
1 tbsp. water
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. finely grated fresh lemon zest

I decided to add some roasted cherry tomatoes to boost my veggie intake for the day, add some color... and to save the tomatoes in the refrigerator from going bad. ( Not to mention I love the taste of roasted tomatoes.). I tossed them with some olive oil, salt and pepper and put them into a 400 degree oven, until they were soft, and their skin had split open just slightly.

While the tomatoes were roasting, I toasted the walnuts as per the recipe.  While they were cooling, I got all of my ingredients ready to go.  With the pasta boiling, and the tomatoes out of the oven, it was time to break out my food processor. 

Note: I did not follow the recipe's instructions at this point.  I added the oil and water first, followed by the garlic, parsley, and nuts, pulsed them together, stirred it up a little bit, then added the cheese and seasonings and pulsed again.  (I did not use the full tsp. of salt, I only added about 3/4 tsp.).

This recipe made enough for 4 servings of pasta, and some leftovers.  I plan on trying to use the leftover portion with some chicken, soon.

Then, it was time to toss the farfalle in the pesto, and top with the warm tomatoes.  It was delicious!! 

Not only will I definitely be making this again, but it has given me the courage and ideas to perhaps play around with some pesto recipes of my own! Does anyone have any great pesto recipes to share?

You can find the complete original recipe, here from Gourmet December 2004, via epicurious.com.

January 17, 2011

Welcome to people food!

How people food got its name:  My beautiful, produce-loving, incredibly affectionate yellow lab Honey.  Whenever I am in the kitchen, which happens to be quite often, Honey is right there with me at my knees begging for whatever she can get.  Tomatoes happen to be her favorite, (although she is willing to try whatever I will toss her way).  I often find myself having to defend my spot at the counter, desperately trying to explain that whatever I have in my hands is “people food” and therefore not suitable for her very sophisticated palate, or good for her sometimes-sensitive stomach.  (I should mention that other than tomatoes, she LOVES the taste of paper…).  Already thinking of beginning a food blog, and after agonizing over what-in-the-world I was going to name it (it was a discouraging week), I finally realized that the name was right there in front of me!

Why I decided to start a blog:  I love food.  Pure and simple.  Not only the experience of cooking, and baking, but everything that comes along with food itself.  From the ordinary details to the special indulgences. I love the many colors, textures, aromas, sounds and flavors associated with food… and the memories we create with it.  I wanted to create a place where I could share my enthusiasm, everyday experiences and recipes with my friends, family, and fellow food lovers that I hope to meet along the way…