Our Favorite Roast Chicken

Favorite Roast Chicken|Home Is Where The Cookies Are

Can we just agree that life always seems to come back around to being crazy?

Always.

Sometimes there is an ebb, sometimes a flow, but Crazy always makes his way back.

Sometimes we might be fooled into thinking if we can just get over the hump, all of a sudden we will be standing in the greener pasture, a fresh breeze will be blowing, our kids will be skipping gleefully through the wildflowers and maybe even holding hands – and our schools will initiate a no homework policy. Forever and ever, Amen.

Ahhh. If only. . . .

But then, the hump never comes, it just changes. And we go through the cycle again.

So, we’re in another cycle now, and I’m coming out of the kicking/screaming/crying about it phase, and going back into the embracing it/making it work phase, which means . . . planning ahead.

That’s where dinners make a huge difference.

That’s where roasting two chickens at once so you can have one today, leftovers tomorrow, and chicken soup, enchiladas, or chicken pesto pasta a few days down the road makes a mama happy.

And what do we all know? A happy mama makes a happy home.

I’m not going to get all wordsy at you right now.

Mostly because roast chicken doesn’t need to be a wordsy thing, (spell-check is also telling me that “wordsy” is not a word. Whatevs, “spell-check”) but also because there are ideas and inspirations percolating in my deep-heart, quiet places and I’m waiting for them to come full circle before I blab about them.

But the chicken. . . .

Favorite Roast Chicken|Home Is Where The Cookies Are

The basics for the recipe came from my sister – the method, the cooking time, the loose suggestions for brine and rub ingredients, and this is the combo we’ve been using since I first made it and my family practically cried out in unison, “Can you please only ever make this roast chicken?!”

This chick’s got everything a good chick should have – super moist savory meat, delightfully golden, flavor-packed, crispy skin, and an aroma that just plain says, “We’re home, and we’re cozy tonight”.

It’s a hands down favorite. It’s pretty. It’s delicious enough for company and easy enough (with planning ahead) to make on a school night, and certainly fancy enough for Sunday Supper. (And let us not forget – it makes great leftovers.) I have yet to truly mess it up – because even when I messed it up, it still got rave reviews. My mother-in-law even admitted to me that she’d entertained ideas of asking me to cook one ahead for her and she’d come pick it up.

She lives 60 miles away.

You might want to try it.

Our Favorite Roast Chicken

Prep Time: 4 hours, 15 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Total Time: 5 hours, 45 minutes

Yield: 4-6

Our Favorite Roast Chicken

As my sister said, "This sounds complicated, but it's actually pretty easy. It's probably only 20 minutes of prep, total". It's true - you just need to think ahead a little. Be sure to allow time for the brining, anywhere from 4-24 hours, then allow a total of 2 hours for prepping, cooking, and resting the chicken before you carve it. (In the cooking times listed above, I've included the minimum brining time, the prep time, and I've added the resting time in with the cooking time, so when you're planning ahead you can make time for each step). Also, in this recipe, I've not specified a specific weight of bird. I find that they're all pretty average sized (I usually buy the Coleman Organic Whole Chickens from Costco), and as long as you are using a meat theremometer as your guide, the size doesn't matter so much.

Ingredients

  • 1 whole chicken, average sized (I like to do two at a time. if you're doing two, get them slightly smaller, so they can fit in the brine bowl together. Then increase brine ingredients by 1/2, and double the rub ingredients so you have enough for both birds.)
  • For the brine:
  • 2 cups of water (plus more later, and some ice)
  • 1/3 cup table salt
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 3 peeled and roughly chopped garlic cloves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • For the "rub":
  • 3 tablespoons butter, mostly melted (I use salted butter, and I find the herbs mix in best if it's not completely melted, but slightly drippy, and more like thick cream.)
  • 2 garlic cloves, preferably pressed, but finely minced would be ok too, or garlic powder would be ok in a pinch
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme (rubbed between palms)
  • fresh ground black pepper to taste ( I do about a half teaspoon)
  • 1/2 lemon

Directions

For the brine:

In a medium saucepan, combine 2 cups of water and next 5 ingredients (through peppercorns). Bring to a boil.

While you're waiting for the brine to boil, get a large bowl (think mixing bowl or popcorn bowl) and fill it with about 6-8 cups of ice. (you can skip this step if you have time to allow your brine to cool to room temperature before submerging your chicken).

Once the brine boils, pour it over the ice and allow it to melt, then stir to mix well.

Prep the chicken by removing anything from the inside - gizzards, pouches, neck pieces, etc).

Put the chicken in the brine, breast down. If the chicken is not completely covered by the brine, add enough water to make it so. Cover, and refrigerate overnight if you have time. (If not, I've found 4-6 hours to be good too.)

When you're ready to cook the chicken, Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F. Remove the chicken from the brine and rinse it with water. Pat it completely dry with paper towels (this makes for crispy skin). Place it on a roasting rack in a roasting pan, breast side up, and wings tucked back (if you want - I don't always do this).

For the rub:

Combine mostly melted butter, garlic, and spices (I usually just give it a quick stir with a fork).

Slowly pour the melted butter mixture over the chicken, using a rubber spatula or your fingers to rub evenly over the skin. Save a little for the bottom too, and if you have a little left over, drip it inside the cavity as well. Squeeze the half lemon inside the chicken cavity, and leave the squeezed half inside while roasting. At this point, if you like, you can tie the legs together with kitchen twin - or not. Either way works.

Place the chicken in the oven and cook at 500 degrees F for about 18 minutes. Then, turn the heat down to 400 degrees, or 350 if you have more time available. After 40 - 50 minutes, remove the chicken from the oven and, in the thickest part of the breast meat, test with a meat thermometer. The temperature must read 160 degrees before you can remove it for resting (as it rests, temperature will rise to a safe 170 degrees). If it's not at 160, pop it back in the oven and cook it a little longer. Once your thermometer reads 160, remove the chicken from the oven and tent it with foil for about 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, carve it, and eat!

Source

Sara, via her sister, Jill|Home is Where The Cookies Are

http://www.wherethecookiesare.com/2014/10/16/our-favorite-roast-chicken/

Farro and Herb Roasted Mushroom Salad Bowl

Farro and Herb Roasted Mushroom Salad Bowl

The September edition of BH&G came in the mail the other day.

It’s the Stylemaker issue.

I’m pretty sure this is supposed to excite and giddify me. I’m probably supposed to be eagerly anticipating the next great inspiration for the mantle I don’t have.

I think “they” expect that I’ll be all amped up and ready to do something great and colorful to my “space” with paint, because it’s the easiest and cheapest way to do any and all things wonderful to said space.

But I was born with a decorating defect, because all it did was make me feel like hyperventilating and scavenging for chocolate covered espresso beans.

Oh. And screaming too. It made me do lots of internal screaming as my blood pressure blew past the stratosphere.

I kept flipping pages faster and faster, frantically hoping to find other things. Food things. “Dear God, where is the flipping food?! Where are the recipes?!”

Lawd help me.

I am not a de-coh-rah-toor.

This is so much more my speed (If you ♥ Anthropologie and a good snort-laugh, this is a must-read. Be forewarned though – there’s an eensie bit of swearing that takes place.) because I am a Boho gal at heart. It must be because I’m totes ok with throwing a bunch of nonsense together and calling it good.

We’ve lived in our house for 12+ years. . . .

I’ve re-arranged the furniture . . . once.

Basically, I’ve thrown it together and called it good for one big, fat, swollen decade.

I’ve been thinking about making changes. Things I’d like to do. It’s just that actually doing them. Well, now. That takes thought. And know-how. And work.

Oh. And money. It takes money.

And what’s that other thing it requires? Ooooooh. Yeah. Time.

It takes time. Which I obviously have, because I’m wisely stewarding my spare minutes reading magazines that make me hyperventilate (sarcasm intended).

And then, I started reading this. Because I quickly skim Nesting Place on a fairly regular basis.

Mostly I look at the pictures, and read if something captures my attention.

I’ve noticed she has a book out now though, and I’ve been curious about it, just not $18-ship-it-to-my-door curious. (Reminder: the prospect of interior-design, by me, for my own home, plagues me with nervous sprints to the bathroom.)

BUT, and mine’s a big one, Amazon was running a crazy-good special on the Kindle version, and all of a sudden, it sounded fun (like bungee jumping or sky-diving fun, which, c’mon – can’t really be fun, but it’s a challenge and when you’re done, if you’re not dead, you can be like, HEEEEY!!! I JUST SKY DIVED AND DIDN’T DIE! I’M AWESOME!! . . . AND ALSO, I’M NOT DEAD!!)

So I jumped.

Or dove.

Whatever.

And I now  ♥ her book and her style.

Let me show you why:

“Imperfection is a sign of maturity.” (Hallelujah! I’m a Golden Girl in that case!!)

“Housekeeping done incorrectly still blesses the family.” (quote via The Fly Lady, Marla Cilley in her book, Sink Reflections) Oh, yes! I am a blessing fiend!!

“At times, good enough and done is a smarter choice than perfect. . . ” (Amen, Sister.)

“. . . if a neighbor walked in and saw a trail of mud, I wouldn’t need to be embarrassed. It’s just proof of lives being lived, and houses are for living. My home is a reflection of our life, and life’s messes can be gloriously beautiful.” (Ahhhh. I’m breathing without a bag.)

 

The amazing thing, Friends, is that it’s awakened my dormant and gun-shy decorating bug – with a tickle of excitement instead of a looming cloud of doom.

I’m debating.

I’m debating about showing you my “space”.

Maybe a before and after.

And the budget.

But this is a food blog – (well, sometimes other stuff too, but mostly food) –  and is that cool, or annoying?

Hmmm. Tell me, do. (Then hand me a brown paper bag!!)

Baby steps, Folks. Baby steps.Farro and Herb Roasted Mushroom Salad Bowl 2 550 b

And food.

Back to food, because, like I said *ahem*, this blog is mostly about food.

So, we have a salad bowl today.

A salad to bring us back to our senses and balance out the decorating-panic-induced chocolate covered espresso bean binge.

We have farro, which might be my new whole grain bestie.

Why did it take me so long to try you, Farro? You’re so good, it’s like you could be Egyptian royalty or something. Wait a minute. . . .

We have crisp-edged, oven roasted, thyme and oregano mushrooms snuggied up with red onions (which turn so crispy and delicious they might give bacon a run for their money. #forreals.)

We have feta cheese.

And we have avocado. What I really wanted to call this dish was, “Farro and Herb Roasted Mushroom Salad Bowl Plus Avocado Because Always and Everywhere All Things Are Better with Avocado”.

But I thought that title was too wordy.

Opinions?

I made this with a creamy avocado dressing too, which – don’t get me wrong – kind of made my eyes roll as far back as they could reach with yum!!, but it’s totally not a deal breaker if you don’t have time. I’d say a splash of good olive oil and a squeeze of fresh lime juice, plus a crack of pepper and pinch of salt would be just as good to top this bowl off.

And bonus – these components, stored separately, keep really well for multiple lunches later in the week. Like 3 days in a row. Because you won’t get tired of this and you’ll be counting down the minutes till lunch time.

My friend said to me one time, “What do vegetarians even eat?!”

This. They eat stuff like this. And then they high-five each other for mushrooms well roasted.

Who needs meat when you have exciting little salad bowls parked and waiting in your fridge for you at 11:59 AM?

Farro and Herb Roasted Mushroom Salad Bowl

Total Time: 40 minutes

Yield: 4 salads

Farro and Herb Roasted Mushroom Salad Bowl

This salad is full of pleasing flavors and textures. I've written the recipe to serve 4 - so share it with your family and friends, or save it for lunches throughout the week. With a glass of wine, it'd make for a nice light dinner to come home to after a busy day as well. Keep leftovers as separate components in sealed containers, and refrigerate for up to three days.

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup dry Farro
  • For the Mushrooms:
  • 1 8oz package sliced button or baby portabello mushrooms
  • 1/3 medium red onion, sliced thin (vertically)
  • 3-4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons fresh chopped oregano
  • 1 teaspoon fresh chopped thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
  • Splash of dry white wine (optional)
  • For the Dressing:
  • 1/4 of a fresh, soft Hass avocado
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice (about 1/2 a lime)
  • 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon fresh chopped basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh chopped oregano
  • pinch of fresh thyme
  • 1/8 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse Kosher salt (to taste)
  • Fresh cracked pepper (to taste)
  • 2-4 teaspoons water (as much as you want to thin dressing to desired consistency)
  • Additional ingredients for the Salad
  • about 8 cups Arugula or other salad greens
  • 3/4 avocado, sliced thinly, lengthwise
  • 1/2 cup Feta cheese crumbles

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare a baking sheet by lining with parchment paper or a silpat mat (silpat will give you crispier edges on your mushrooms).

Prepare the Farro according to package directions.

Meanwhile, For the Mushrooms:

In a large bowl, toss the sliced mushrooms and onions with the olive oil. Use enough oil so the mushrooms are evenly coated. Add in fresh herbs, salt, and wine. Toss again. Spread mushrooms and onions out evenly over parchment-lined (or silpat-lined) baking sheet. (Make sure there is room between your veggies - space is what allows them to crisp as they roast, instead of steam to soft oblivion.) Bake mushrooms for 20-30 minutes. If necessary, remove onions first, so they don't burn. Set aside until ready to assemble salad.

For the Dressing:

To a small food processor, (I used a Magic Bullet), add all ingredients except the water. Blend for about 30 seconds. Check for consistency, add desired amount of water. Blend again. Check for taste and adjust accordingly. (If you don't have a small food processor or Magic Bullet, I'm guessing you could use a sumbersion blender here, or just mash the avocado as finely as possible, then whisk the ingredients together with lots of elbow grease!)

To Assemble the Salad:

Place 2 cups of arugula on each of 4 plates.

Divide farro, mushrooms, and avocado evenly among the 4 plates.

Add 2 tablespoons of crumbled Feta cheese to each plate.

Drizzle with avocado dressing and serve.

Source

Sara| Home is Where the Cookies Are

http://www.wherethecookiesare.com/2014/09/08/farro-and-herb-roasted-mushroom-salad-bowl/

Crock Pot Chicken and Mushroom Ragu

Slow Cooker Chicken and Mushroom Ragu

Sometimes I wish I could travel back in time.

Like, I wish I could sit in the crowded bleachers at my dad’s high school football game and watch him run the one and only touchdown my mom ever witnessed.

I wish I could sit in my grandparents’ Latin class and watch my grandpa ask my grandma out on a date over and over and over again until finally, one day, she turned the tables and asked him to a Sadie Hawkins dance.

I wish I could  walk the 7th grade hallways with my husband, in his Z Cavariccis and spiked hair, and meet the teacher that would eventually inspire him into the field of oncology.

I wish I could flash back to a barn dance in the 1940’s and watch my mom’s parents tear up the floor with their jitterbug.

I wish I could be seven years old again, playing outside in the summer time with my sister and making mud-pies with a hidden center of saw dust.

I wish I could revisit the births of each of my children and hold their tiny, warm, squishy bodies and smell their little baby smells and stroke their tiny little baby fingers.

Sometimes, I wish I could be a teenager again. Sixteen and sleeping in. SLEEPING IN.

Do I need to say it again?

Sometimes, I think I’d like to go back to our newlywed apartment, to the fresh married years where I was an excellent housekeeper and we had a retro 1960’s glass dining table with olive-green velvet chairs, one whole living room wall was devoted to toddler artwork, and we had a spare bedroom. Spare. Room. . . .

Sometimes it’s simpler. Like I wish I could rewind just an hour or two and not say that awful embarrassing thing I said. I wish I could shake my head like and etch-a-sketch and just erase. ERASE!

Sometimes, I’d just like to travel back twelve or 24 months, and invite the myself to dinner at my house then – because I just browsed over the last two years of July foods, and I want to eat them again. Heirloom tomato flatbreads? Pesto Guacamole? Summer squash and corn chowder? Veggie stuffed pasta shells? Sweet potato chips and creamy avocado dip?? Yes, please. To all of them.

And this one? This chicken and mushroom ragu? Well, it wasn’t too long ago that it sat, steaming on the kitchen counter, but I’d go back to it in a flash. Tender chicken pulled into delicate shreds, Italian sausage spicing up each bite, Parmesan cheese and fresh basil sprinkled over the top – making the whole dish fresh and bright. . . .

And the flavors get better as the daysslow cooker chicken and mushroom ragu go by, so YES TO LEFTOVERS!! (T-shirt, anyone?)

Whether you like it piled over rice or pasta or served alone with some crusty bread, it’s all up to whatever your seasonal little heart desires – and the whole crock pot situation means it’s a goodie in the summer OR the winter. So yes – future me will be revisiting this one come November or February, or. . . next week.

Crock Pot Chicken and Mushroom Ragu

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 4 minutes

Total Time: 4 hours, 30 minutes

Yield: 10-12 servings

Crock Pot Chicken and Mushroom Ragu

This is a great dish for summer (no kitchen heat in the hot evening!) or winter - (hot, comforting supper!), but most of all, it's easy enough for a weeknight and it makes a gigantic batch. With one batch, we feed a family of six with enough left over for another night or lots of lunches - and as it "ages" it becomes even more flavorful. You can freeze your leftovers, or refrigerate them and use them within a few days.

Ingredients

  • 2 slices of bacon
  • 1 large (or 2 small) Yellow onion, peeled, and cut into 8 wedges
  • 1 (12 oz. package) AidellsItalian Chicken Sausage, sliced into discs
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 (26 ounce) carton Pomi finely chopped tomatoes
  • 12 ounces sliced button mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup minced fire-roasted red pepper
  • 3 cloves garlic, smashed, peeled, and roughly chopped
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon peppercorns
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 6-8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (equaling roughly 2 lbs)
  • additional salt to taste
  • fresh, chopped basil for garnish
  • fresh grated parmesan for garnish
  • pasta or rice prepared according to package directions.

Directions

Heat a 10" skillet over medium heat.

Add bacon slices, and cook till crisp.

Remove bacon from skillet to paper towel. (When cool, crumble and add to the crock pot.)

Add onions. Allow wedges to brown well, turn, and brown on other side.

Remove onions to crock pot.

Add a single layer of sausage slices to the pan. Allow to deeply brown, then flip. You only need to do this with about half the sausage slices, so you can save some time here!

Add the browned sausage slices, as well as the others to the crock pot.

Turn the stove off and remove the pan from heat. Pour the wine into the pan and scrape up all the browned bits with the wine. Pour wine and scrapings into the crock pot.

Add tomatoes and next 6 ingredients to the crock pot and stir everything together.

Nestle the chicken thighs evenly throughout the crock pot, cover with lid, and cook on low for 4 hours.

Shred chicken in the pot, taste for salt. Serve hot over pasta or rice, and garnish with fresh basil and shredded parmesan cheese.

Source

Sara| Home Is Where The Cookies Are

http://www.wherethecookiesare.com/2014/08/01/crock-pot-chicken-and-mushroom-ragu/

Tex-Mex Slow Cooker Chicken

Tex-Mex Slow Cooker Chicken

Don’t be fooled by the frying pan.

This recipe is for slow cooker chicken.

Really, really good slow cooker chicken that you might want to stand over the crock eating before you serve it up.

The most perfect thing about this chicken though? It makes a HUGE batch.

We’re talking massive. Like, “let’s feed 20 people” big.

Really.

Or, “let’s feed the fam (of six people) three times over” big.

“Eat one portion now, freeze two for easy nights later in the month” big.

Therefore – the frying pan. For reheating purposes. . . . Continue reading

Sugar Snap and Barley Salad with Spicy Grilled Shrimp

Sugar Snap and Barley Salad with Spicy Grilled Shrimp

Let’s chat for a moment, you and me.

Let’s talk about diets and binges, too much birthday cake, and climbing back on the wagon. Continue reading

Pasta e Olio

What’s not to love about pasta and olive oil?

Especially when you add in a little butter, loads of garlic, a few flecks of red pepper and top the whole thing off with some fresh grated Parmesan cheese.

I feel like Giada with a big toothy grin when Pasta e Olio is the dish of the evening.

I’m indulging the child in me who just wants pasta and butter, but pretending it’s more grown up – which – who are we kidding – it’s not.

But it’s romantic.

I’m not kidding here. Continue reading

Summer Squash and Corn Chowder {light}

There are few meals in life more comforting than soup.

(I would count intravenous sugar and chocolate fudge among those few – and yes, I realize I referred to these as “meals”).

That’s just the truth.

And a soup that starts and ends with bacon?

I don’t even need to say it. Continue reading

Andouille Soup with Red Beans and Rice

Let’s start with lists:

Cajun things I do not like, not one little bit:

  • crawfish
  • turtle soup
  • oysters in any way, shape, or form (I’m sorry. I lack ‘culture’ in this regard.)
  • hurricanes (obviously, not strictly Cajun, but Southern in general)
  • Shirtless men in denim overalls

Cajun things I can totally dig:

Continue reading