Thursday, September 24, 2015

Apples make more than pies!

This perfect harvest time chicken and sides complete meal is special enough for a small dinner party - not so fussy that it can't be served on a weeknight. Prep time is in the brining, which can be done in the morning and will be ready to roast at the end of a busy day.

Luscious aromas coming from your kitchen will delight and tickle your appetite. So pour yourself a cup of warm apple cider (maybe spiked with a little bourbon) and nibble a slice of local cheddar to tide you over until dinner is served!

3 cups apple cider
2 tablespoons brown sugar

3 tablespoons sea salt

1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon bourbon

1 whole chicken (3 to 4 pounds)

Cold water

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1/4 cup brown sugar 

3 apples, quartered

2 large shallots, quartered
4 quartered sweet potatoes                                                                                                                                               
Heat the cider in a 5-6-quart stockpot over medium heat until warm to the touch.  Remove from heat. Whisk in sugar, and salt until it dissolves. Stir in the pepper, vinegar and bourbon. Cool the cider for twenty minutes, then drop in the chicken and add water to completely submerge it. Cover the pot, transfer it to the refrigerator, and brine the chicken for 8 to 12 hours.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Remove the chicken from the pot and discard the brine. Blot dry with paper towel. Tuck the wing tips behind the bird and tie the legs together with 100% cotton cooking twine.

Whisk oil, vinegar, and brown sugar, in a large bowl.  Add apple, shallot and sweet potato quarters. Toss gently making sure all are coated.  Place the prepared vegetables in the bottom of a shallow roasting pan. Place bird on top.  Roast at 350 degrees for one hour and 15 minutes.

Increase the oven temperature to 400 degrees and continue roasting the chicken for another 30 to 45 minutes, until its skin crisps and browns, accompaniments will be fork tender and lightly caramelized.  Remove the chicken from the oven, tent it with parchment paper or foil, and allow to rest for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

Serves 4 - 6.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Who needs pasta noodles for yummy lasagna?

Wishing for a low-carb dinner that satisfies your Italian food craving.  This lasagna is the perfect solution, especially in the summer with homegrown garden-fresh veggies and herbs. That said, don't underestimate its appeal in the winter when only comfort food will do.

You won't even miss the noodles!

Eggplant “Noodles”
2 large eggplants peeled, sliced lengthwise into 1/4 inch noodle-like strips
cooking spray (olive oil spray is best)
1 cup flavored breadcrumbs


2 tablespoons olive oil
1 clove grated garlic
1 red pepper, chopped
1 (8 ounce) package mushrooms, chopped
1 tablespoon italian seasoning (or mix of oregano, basil and thyme)
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper (optional)
1/2 cup red wine
1 (28 ounce) can tomato puree
2 cups fresh (or one 15 ounce can) diced tomatoes


Cheese Mixture
2 cups ricotta cheese
2 eggs
1 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley
2 cups shredded mozzarella
1⁄2 cup grated parmesan

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Spray cookie sheet with olive oil spray.
Dredge each eggplant slice in flavored bread crumbs, arrange in single layer on prepared cookie sheet. Lightly spray tops with oil before baking the slices 5 minutes on each side. Remove eggplant from oven.  Lower oven temp to 375.

Saute garlic in olive oil for 5 minutes on top of the stove in a large skillet. Add chopped red pepper and mushrooms, and cook 5 minutes. Add tomatoes, tomato sauce, spices and wine and simmer for 5-10 minutes.

Blend ricotta, egg and parsley mixture in a medium sized bowl.

Spread 1/3 of sauce in bottom of 9” x 13” metal pan. Layer ½ eggplant slices, ½ ricotta mixture, 1/3 mozzarella and parmesan. Repeat. Add last layer of sauce, then mozzarella and parmesan on top.

Cover with foil and bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes. Remove foil and bake or broil another 5-10 minutes until cheese is browned.  Let it rest 15 minutes before slicing.  Serves 8.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Easy Peasy Pickles

Today the pickle cucumbers are ready to harvest. Seemed just the right time to repost this gem of a refrigerator dill recipe! 

Anyone remember the pickle episode from The Andy Griffith Show?  All Andy and Barney had to do was give Aunt Bee this easy peasy recipe for refrigerator garlic dills and their troubles would have been over!

But NOOOO...

The resulting hilarity was worth it on the sitcom but at home, I much prefer a big success on days like today, when the cukes are ready to pick from our backyard garden. This one is a winner! 

2 pounds Kirby cucumbers

1 cup apple cider vinegar

1 cup water

1-1/2 tablespoons pickling salt (or Kosher salt)

4 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed (2 per jar)

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper per jar (1/2 teaspoon total)

1 teaspoon dill seed per jar (2 teaspoons total)
1/8 teaspoon yellow mustard seed per jar (1/4 teaspoons total)

Wash, dry and cut cucumber end so they will fit in the jars. Cut them into spears or coins.

Arrange jars on counter and dole out the spices to each. Pack the cucumber spears firmly into the jars. You don't want to damage the cukes, but you do want them packed tight.

Combine vinegar, water and salt in a medium pot and bring to a boil.Pour the hot brine into the jar, leaving approximately ½ inch head space. Tap jars gently on counter to loosen any trapped air bubbles.

Apply lids and let jars cool to room temperature before you place the jars in the refrigerator. Cool your crunchy munchy dill pickles for 48 hours minimum. They'll keep well in the refrigerator for 4-6 weeks ... if they last that long!