Easy Roast Chicken

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Roasted chicken pieces is an easy weeknight meal that I usually have as a go to with packages of chicken in the freezer ready for early morning move to the fridge or counter to defrost for that night’s dinner.  I am perpetually playing beat the clock with 3 boys and a full-time job…it can be pretty hectic around here.  This roast chicken is a no brainer, I can make it in my sleep, purchasing the chicken already cut up instead of doing it myself is a great shortcut.

Early in the morning I start by taking the chicken out of the freezer and placing on a plate on the counter to defrost as I begin the boys breakfast.  If I have an abundance of time I will make them a hot meal of scrambled eggs & toast or waffles, etc.  If I am running behind then I prep the counter with cereal bowls, boxes of cereals, spoons and a pitcher of milk.

But I digress, on to the evening meal…

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This is the way my mom has always made this dish and I am not one to mess with success so I do it the same way.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  One package (defrosted) whole chicken cut up into 6-8 pieces, one large fennel bulb, vegetable oil, salt, pepper, and garlic powder.  Start by placing the chicken into a colander and giving it a good rinse.  Set colander aside to drain and prep your vegetables.  Slice the fennel and a large white or Vidalia onion.  Set aside on your cutting board as the veg are going right into the roasting pan.  Add a little bit of vegetable oil in the bottom of the roasting pan, drop in the veg and stir it all around so it is coated with oil.  Sprinkle salt, pepper and garlic powder all over the top.

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Next go back to the chicken that has been draining in the colander.  Place chicken on a cutting board and proceed to pat each piece dry with a paper towel. 

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When every piece has been dried put them into the roasting pan on top of the fennel and onion. Make sure there is a little room around each piece of chicken.  Don’t lay them on top of one another.  

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Season with salt, pepper, garlic powder and any other seasonings you are partial too.  Some of my favorites are thyme and rosemary.  The roasting pan looks crowded but trust me it is not and the chicken will roast up crispy and delicious!

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Into the oven at 350 degrees for about 45 to 60 minutes.  Roast the chicken until the juices run clear when pierced with a knife.  Internal temperature will be 165 degrees.  I cannot give a precise time as oven temperature’s vary so you really need to know your oven and test the chicken with a meat thermometer after 45 minutes.

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A quick side of roasted potatoes…

Yukon gold potatoes, peeled, sliced into wedges, coated in olive oil, salt & pepper.  Roast in the oven with the chicken for the least 30 minutes.  The potatoes will not take as long as the chicken.  

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The chicken has finished and it smells divine!  Juicy inside and crispy on the outside.  My boys love this meal… 

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Perfect chicken, roasted potato wedges, green peas and fennel.  The perfect comfort meal on a cold January night.  Delicious 🙂

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This meal will feed four of us (hubby not home for dinner) with no leftovers.  

We are having a big snowstorm in New England tonight so my best wishes to everyone!  Stay safe and warm!

-Andi

 


Shrimp & Grits

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I have been on a quest to expose the boys to different foods.  I want them to have more of an appreciation of not only healthy food but also foods that they don’t normally see at local restaurants, the school cafeteria or at home.  I want them to be brave eaters and not be afraid to try new things. So far my two oldest are game but the youngest is not on board.  Example: when I offered fruit salad to everyone as dessert one night during the holidays he informed me that he doesn’t like fruit or salad and would not be eating any!  Ummm, hello?  You do to like fruit!

Anyway, I am not giving up and in that spirit I made a delicious meal of shrimp and grits for dinner.  Hayden loved it and barely came up for air while eating.  Evan loved the shrimp as they were buttery with lots of garlic & lemon.  He was less enthusiastic about the grits but he did give them a try.  I think grits may be a food he will grow into if I serve it more often.

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First I peel and rinse 1 pound of large shrimp (20-25 per pound), set aside to drain, and gather the rest of my ingredients.  Old fashioned grits, salt & pepper, lemon juice, minced garlic, fresh parsley, grated cheese, unsalted butter & olive oil.

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Next comes the grits:  Bring 4 cups of water to boil.  Add 1 cup of grits and turn the heat down so the grits cook (covered) at a simmer until all the water is absorbed (20 – 25 minutes).  I check the grits and give them a stir every so often.  Grits cooking away nicely in the photo below.

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While the grits cook I get to work on the shrimp.  In a large cast iron skillet I heat up some olive oil and a pat of butter.  I drop in the shrimp and spread them out evenly in the pan to cook.  I am working on medium hi heat and I don’t leave the stove.

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Watch the shrimp as they are cooking in the pan and turn each one over as it becomes pink on one side.  They smell sooooo good.  Look at those delicious little morsels sizzling in the skillet.

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After flipping all the shrimp over add 3 tbsp. lemon juice, 2 tbsp. minced garlic and a couple of tbsp. of freshly chopped parsley.  Just tear some parsley off of the bunch and roughly chop it up before sprinkling over the shrimp.  Cook the shrimp for another 2-3 minutes.  They are basically done at this point so turn off the burner and remove them from the heat.

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Time to get back to the grits.  Lid off the pot and give the grits another stir.  When you see that all the water is gone and the grits are thick and creamy take them off the heat.  Next stir in 4 tbsp. of butter and 1 cup of shredded cheese.  I use a blend of cheddar and monterey jack.

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Stir it all together until well combined.

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Warm, scrumptious, and filling on a cold winter night. 🙂

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This recipe makes about 4 servings. Bon Appetit!


Holiday (I am sick of turkey) Stir-Fry

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We occasionally have chinese take-out for dinner.  After so much turkey at Thanksgiving and again at Christmas we splurge on a night of chinese takeout to break up the dining routine during the holidays.  I always order waaaayyyy too much food and thus leftovers are a given.  What to do with all that leftover fried rice?  Well, I make a mean beef stir fry.  

It’s really easy……I purchase pre-cut beef round, add some vegetables, usually what I have in the refrigerator, and I am ready to go with a meal in minutes.

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Beef Round (pre-sliced into strips)

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Red onion and broccoli florets

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Broccoli & onions into a hot skillet with a little olive oil.  I cook on medium high heat until the onions begin to soften and the broccoli softens as well.  The broccoli are still crisp at this point as I like a little texture (crunch) in my vegetables.  Remove the veg from the skillet and set aside.

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Next the beef strips go into the same hot skillet with a little olive oil to keep it from sticking.  I season the beef well with garlic powder, salt & pepper.  Keep moving the beef around in the pan, it is very thin so it only takes a couple of minutes and it’s done.  If you cook it too long it will become tough so don’t walk away from the stove at this point.  

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Beef is just about finished so back into the skillet with the broccoli and onions.  Turn off the stove top and add a little bit of sesame oil and shake some low sodium soy sauce over the top.  The cast iron skillet retains heat very well so everything will keep on cooking even after the stove top is off. 

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Plate up your beef and vegetables with warmed up vegetable fried rice and you have a meal in no time at all.

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday, whether you celebrated Christmas, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah or just reflected on the year that has past as you plan for the new one to come.  

Many blessings from me to you.

 


Pecan Pie In A Jar

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I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday.  No traffic jams at the airport or on the roads.  You made/ate the best turkey ever and the kitchen magically cleaned itself! 🙂  

That was my wish anyway, not only for myself but for every American celebrating.  On that note I want to share my pecan pie making secret with you.  I don’t actually make a very good pecan pie — so I cheat a little…..

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I discovered this wonderful product last year at christmas time.  Pecan pie in a jar – what a fun concept!  I purchased a couple of jars and proceeded to make the most delicious pies.  My family and guests devoured them.  At first I was going to take credit for the pie magnificence but…I am not a very good fibber and the guilt would have gotten to me so in the end I shared my secret with everyone at the table.  

They were very understanding.  Not everyone makes a good pie they said, baking isn’t for the faint of heart my sister chimed in.  *Snort*  I am a good baker, I just don’t make a good Pecan Pie!  Geez, you would think I had no skills in the kitchen at all.  (I am all about shortcuts in the kitchen as long as they do not detract from the finished product.)

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The ingredients needed are few.  To make 2 pies you need 4 eggs and 4 tablespoons melted butter.

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Pre-made pie crusts if you have some available but if you prefer to make pie crust from scratch then by all means do. 🙂 

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Beat the eggs in a large bowl until they are just combined, then add in the melted butter and stir.

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Pour in the contents of the pecan pie from the jar.  The directions state to microwave the jar, lid off, for a minute or so to soften the contents and make it easier to pour out.  This is a must as otherwise the sugar and pecans are so thick and sticky that they will never flow from the jar without the extra help from the microwave.

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Stir it all together.

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Pour equal parts into your pie crust(s).

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Bake pies at 300 degrees for 50 minutes.  To bake one pie only increase your baking time to 1 hr. 20 min.  The pies puff up as they bake and fall a little when they are cooling.  The directions state to let the pies cool for a minimum of 4 hours so they can set properly or overnight.  If you do let it rest overnight be sure to warm up the slices before you serve them.  Nothing worse than ice-cold pecan pie from the fridge.

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The finished product, minus the tip that Morgan snatched off with his little fingers and ate.  I love the snowman plate, just perfect size for dessert.

I found these plates at HomeGoods.  There are three in the set and each has a different illustration.  Snowman, Christmas Tree and Reindeer. So cute!

Cheers!
Andrea