Roast chicken with spring vegetables

With the proliferation of food – foodies talking food on food shows and in food magazines – it seems as if many recipes are getting more complex and the ingredients are becoming more esoteric. I like trying new ingredients every once in a while, but sometimes simple is just simply delicious.

Case in point: This roast chicken recipe from the Food Network. There are no off-the-beaten path ingredients in this, nothing you’ll have to go to a specialty store to find. But it’s incredibly delicious. The chicken and vegetables get crispy, and the lemon, paired with the olive oil, adds just a hint of zing. It received a big thumbs-up from He Who Must Be Fed. (I really liked it, too.)

Ingredients:

  • 3 1/2 pounds skin-on, bone-in chicken quarters or thighs
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 lemon, halved
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound fingerling or other small potatoes
  • 1 bunch scallions
  • 1 bunch baby carrots

Preheat the oven to 500° F. Rinse the chicken and pat dry. Season with salt and pepper, then place skin side up on a rimmed baking sheet. Squeeze 1/2 lemon over the chicken and drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Roast 20 minutes. ChickenRawMeanwhile, cut the potatoes in half and cut the scallions into thirds. Toss the potatoes, carrots, scallions and the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a bowl and season with salt and pepper. Remove the chicken from the oven and scatter the vegetables around it. Continue to roast until the vegetables are tender and the chicken is golden and cooked through, about 20 more minutes. Squeeze the remaining 1/2 lemon over the chicken and vegetables. Season with salt and pepper.ChickenCooked Full recipe disclosure: If you view the recipe on the Food Network’s site, you’ll notice I made a couple of changes. I did not use radishes. I’m sorry. They’re just too bitter and gross for me. I also used chicken thighs and cooked them without the vegetables for 20 minutes instead of 15, which is what the original recipe called for. However, 20 minutes was perfect. And, I didn’t add dill. I didn’t have it on hand and didn’t want to make a special trip to the store. Again, it was delicious without it. ChickenPlated

Advertisements

Gnocchi with bacon and escarole

Sometimes you can just read a recipe and know it’s going to be awesome. I saw this recipe for gnocchi with bacon and escarole from the Food Network Magazine and knew I had to try it for several reasons.

A. Bacon

B. I’m usually starving when I get home after a long day of working with words, and this looked like something I could make quickly.

C. I knew the flavors of the tomatoes and gnocchi and cheese and olive oil and onion would work perfectly together like Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers or Kim and Kanye, for those of you way younger than I.

D. Bacon

And it didn’t disappoint. I made it for the Youngest Spawn of He Who Must Be Fed, and we both hoovered it down like two people anticipating that long walk down the green mile.

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 slices thick-cut bacon, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1 small head escarole, roughly chopped
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 17 .5-ounce package potato gnocchi If you’re really with it, you can use the homemade gnocchi you made earlier, which is frozen and just waiting for you to use
  • 1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Heat the olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the bacon and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned and crisp, about 7 minutes. Add the onion and continue cooking until softened, about 2 minutes. Stir in the escarole, 1/2 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of pepper. Cook until the escarole is completely wilted, about 3 minutes.Escarole In Pot

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the gnocchi and cook as the label directs. Reserve 1/2 cup cooking water, then drain the gnocchi and add to the pot with the escarole mixture. Add the reserved cooking water and stir to coat, about 1 minute. Stir in the tomatoes, Parmesan and parsley; season with salt and pepper.

Full-recipe disclosure: I doubled up on the bacon. (Bet you didn’t see that one coming.) Also, I sprinkled a couple shakes of hot pepper flakes to jazz it up a bit. Perfect.

GnocchiDishFinished

 

Greek Potatoes with Lemon Vinaigrette

The other day we were contemplating having lamb burgers for dinner. But I couldn’t think of what to have with them. So, I did what I usually did. I started trolling the Food Network and found this recipe for Greek potatoes with lemon vinaigrette from Chef Bobby Flay that sounded awesome and easy.

I wasn’t disappointed. Neither was you know who. The potatoes were a perfect complement to the lamb burgers, but they’d taste great with other main dishes, too. In fact, the second time I made them, I had some leftover vinaigrette, which I used to marinade pork chops on the grill. Yum.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 6 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 large shallot, quartered
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 4 sprigs oregano, leaves only (or 1 tablespoon dried)
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves, plus some 1 tablespoon chopped, for serving
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 3 pounds large russet potatoes, cut lengthwise into wedges (Keep the skins on.)

GreekPotatoSaucePreheat your oven to 425°. Put the olive oil, lemon juice, shallot, garlic, oregano and parsley in a food processor; add 1 teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste. Puree until mostly smooth.

Toss the potatoes with 1/2 cup of the prepared vinaigrette in a large bowl and spread in a single layer on a large rimmed baking sheet. Save the remaining vinaigrette. Roast the potatoes until tender and golden, turning occasionally, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Mine took 45 minutes.GreekPotatoesInOven

Transfer the potatoes to a platter and drizzle with some of the remaining vinaigrette. Season with salt and garnish with the chopped parsley. Serve with the remaining vinaigrette on the side.

GreekPotatoesFinished

If you make these for another main dish, let me know. As you know, I’m always on the prowl for cooking ideas.

Chewy (and awesomely delicious) sugar cookies

I was looking in the refrigerator the other day — well, I look in the fridge multiple times a day — and noticed that I had some extra strawberry frosting and some leftover lemon frosting from the cookies I made a while back.

What was I going to do with it? I certainly couldn’t let it waste, right? So, I thought I’d make some sugar cookies and frost them with the leftover frosting. That would make them delicious and pretty, right?

I have a good sugar cookie recipe, but that involves flouring the counter top and rolling out the dough and using cooking cutters, and I just didn’t want to work that hard. So I went trolling for an easier recipe. The Food Network  never lets me down. I found this recipe for chewy sugar cookies.

Ingredients:

  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup softened butter
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons buttermilk

Preheat your oven to 375° degrees. In a small bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, and baking powder. Set aside.

SugarCookieBatterIn a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in the egg and vanilla. Gradually blend in dry ingredients. Add enough of the buttermilk to moisten the dough and make it soft, not wet.

BrushingButtermilk

Roll rounded teaspoons of dough into balls and place on a ungreased cookie sheet. With a brush or your fingers, moisten the top of each cookie with the remaining buttermilk and slightly flatten the top of each cookie.

Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until slightly golden. Let stand for 2 minutes before removing to cool on a rack.

Full-recipe disclosure:  I flattened one batch then forgot to do it with the rest, and they turned out just about the same. So save a step; no need to flatten.

So, they were easy, but you’re wondering: were they good? Well, when He Who Must Be Fed tried one, he said, “Now THAT’s a cookie.”

And, he’s not only cute, but he’s smart. He suggested making sandwich cookies out of them. So, instead of frosting the tops, I frosted the bottoms with some chocolate frosting I found in the fridge — yes, our refrigerator is full of these kinds of goodies — and made sandwich cookies.SugarcookieSandwidch

Yum.

Easy Taco Melts

If you’ve been following along, you know I love to cook. I have to admit, though, there are some days when I’ve had an exceptionally long day of thinking big thoughts at work, and I don’t feel like picking up a pan and making anything too complicated when I get home. But then what would He Who Must Be Fed Do?

I stumbled across this recipe for Easy Taco Melts from Pillsbury that is not only easy but also incredibly versatile. More on that later.

Ingredients:

  • 1 package taco seasoning mix
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1 pound ground beef, cooked and drained
  • 1 can Pillsbury Grands biscuits
  • 1 cup shredded Monterey Jack or cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup sour cream, optional   
  • 1 egg, beaten, optional
  • a sprinkle of chili powder and smoked paprika, optional

Preheat your oven to 375°. In a medium skillet, cook your ground beef. Once browned, drain off grease and add the 2/3 cup water and the taco seasoning mix. Stir until thickened. Yes, just like you’re making tacos.

RollingOutTacoMeltsPress or roll each biscuit into a 6-inch round. (Hint: Spray your rolling pin with nonstick cooking spray to make this super easy.) Spoon 1/4 to 1/3 cup meat mixture and 1 tablespoon cheese onto center of each round. Fold dough in half over filling; press tightly to seal. Place on greased cookie sheet.FillingTacoMelts

Brush each with beaten egg and sprinkle with chili powder, smoked paprika and a little extra cheese. Bake for 9 to 14 minutes or until golden brown. Serve with salsa and sour cream.

TacoMeltsIntotheOven

Super hint: These are even easier to make if you have some leftover taco meat in the refrigerator. No need to heat the meat beforehand. In fact, it’s much easier to work with if it’s cold. It’s easier on the fingers, too.

Other ideas: This recipe works great with other fillings, too. Try sloppy joe filling or shredded barbecue chicken. I’ve tried both, and they’re fantastic.

It also would be tasty with pepperoni, salami, provolone, a little roasted red peppers and some pizza sauce, don’t you think? Use your imagination. If you come up with a great combination, let me know.