Sunday, January 10, 2016

Perfect Roast Chicken

1 5-6 lb. roasting chicken (I bought mine cut up)
Olive oil
2 1/2 tbsps. butter, softened
Kosher salt
Fresh ground black pepper
1 tsp. ground thyme
1 butternut or acorn squash
1 large yellow onion
1 bulb of fennel
6 medium carrots
1 orange
1 lemon, quartered

Preheat oven to 400F degrees

Combine the butter, salt, pepper and thyme in a small container and set aside (I apologize, I forgot to take a picture of this step)

Remove skin from squash and chop in chunks.  I would have preferred to use a butternut squash over the acorn squash only because the acorn squash is difficult to cut.  It took me a little longer than usual and with all it's curves, I was afraid of my sharp knife slipping and cutting off my finger. So be careful when you cut your squash, they're slippery!  Place squash in a large bowl.

Cut the onion into slices.  As you can see I chopped mine up, oh well it really doesn't matter

This is a fennel bulb just in case you've never seen one before.  Our local grocery store had a bunch in the vegetable section and they looked so good, clean and fresh (which at times is a rarity).  I just had to buy one.  Anyway, chop off the stems and cute the bulb into thick slices.

Place the fennel slices in the same bowl

Cut the carrots in chunks and place in bowl with other vegetables

Sprinkle with salt and pepper, a generous amount of each.  Drizzle with oil about 2 tbsps. worth.

With a spatula combine to cover all the vegetables with the oil

In a large tray 1 inch deep, drizzle on some olive oil.  Add bowl of vegetables to tray.

With a zester, sprinkle orange zest over all the vegetables.

Then cut the orange in half and squeeze juice over all the vegetables.  Place lemon quarters in with the vegetables.  Set aside.

Prepare chicken by rubbing the butter mixture over every piece including getting underneath the skin.  Try not to tear it though.

Place the chicken pieces on top of the vegetables.  Drizzle with olive oil.  Bake 1 1/2 hours, rotating the tray once halfway through.

I'm thrilled how the chicken looked when it came out of the oven.  Golden brown with crispy skin.  The vegetables were roasted just as well and very tender.

Place roasted chicken pieces on a large platter, the vegetables around the edges then sprinkle with fennel fronds.

I first saw this recipe around five years ago as it was being prepared by Ina Garten on her Barefoot Contessa food program. I had never seen or heard of fennel and it aroused my curiosity.  As she finished the recipe, the chicken looked so savory and so good but then, in my opinion Ina makes everything look delicious.  I have now cooked this recipe at least ten times.  I have tweaked it slighty by omitting the garlic and adding the squash and the orange.

I used a tray/cookie sheet instead of a casserole dish this time knowing that the edges and sides of the chicken would also get golden brown.  It helped that the chicken was cut up too.  Much to my surprise, I loved how crispy the skin came out and I'm certain it is because I used the the tray.

Hubby loved it and commented several times how it had a great flavor and the seasoning was just right.  I love to cook and I love to make him happy.  As the chicken roasted, the whole house was filled with amazing delicious aromas.  We both agreed it would make a great dish to serve when we have friends over.  I highly recommend you try this recipe, there's a good reason why the word "perfect" is in the title.

Have a blessed week.  Until next time,

Monday, January 4, 2016

Chicken Broccoli Cheese Soup

1 boneless chicken breast
Olive oil
1 tablespoon MzzBev's Mexican Seasoning
1 stick of butter (1/2 cup)
1 medium onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped
1/3 cup all purpose flour
4 cups whole milk (we only had 1% so I had no choice but to use it)
1 cup sour cream
1 pinch of nutmeg
Salt & Pepper to taste
1 large bunch fresh broccoli, cut into flowerettes
2 cups of cheddar cheese, grated
Preheat oven to 375F degrees. Place chicken breast on a cookie sheet or oven proof pan.  Rub MzzBev's Mexican seasoning on the chicken breast.  Drizzle the chicken with olive oil.  Roast in pre-heated oven for 25 minutes.

In the meantime....In a large pot on medium heat, melt butter

Add chopped onions to melted butter.  Stir and cook for 5 minutes or until the onions are translucent.

Add the garlic and stir.  Cook for 2 minutes (make sure not to burn garlic, gets bitter when that happens)

Add the flour to the butter mixture and whisk until well blended.

Stir for about 2 minutes, whisking the whole time.

Add the sour cream and the milk and stir until well blended.

Add a pinch of nutmeg (I like using fresh whenever possible)

Add the broccoli and stir in

Cover and simmer for 30 minutes or until the broccoli is tender.  Stir occasionally to keep milk from sticking to pan.

If the chicken is done by now.  Let sit for 5 minutes.

When the soup is almost done simmering, chop chicken into bite sized pieces

Add the cheese to the soup and blend well

Blend the soup with an immersion blender.  If you don't have one, blend two cups of the soup in a blender.   You can blend half of it or all of it, doesn't matter.

Add the cooked chicken to the soup (make sure it's added after the soup os blended).  Simmer for another 5 minutes.

Serve with your favorite artisan bread or just alone.

The power of suggestion!  I was relaxing with my feet resting on the ottoman, sipping my tea and enjoying an e-book when the author mentioned that a character had offered some Broccoli Cheese soup.  It had me at broccoli.  In a split second I was looking up the recipe of the soup and sure enough, Google pulled up Pioneer Woman's recipe and sure enough, I clicked on it.  It seemed I had everything for the recipe except for the whole milk (I had 1%) and half/half (I used sour cream).

I was surprised how thick the soup was, which is what I wanted.  I was also surprised the sour cream did not effect the flavor in any way, just helped make it thick and creamy.  The soup hit the spot and it took no time to make it.

Hubby passed by while I was making the soup, and  sarcastically asked what in the world was I making?  LOL!  I knew he wouldn't want any because he's not crazy about broccoli so I made him a hamburger and that always makes him happy.

I so enjoy cooking in the kitchen, trying new recipes.  It's always fun when I have all the ingredients for any given recipe.

For the past couple of years, I've gotten into the habit of buying a Christmas themed book during the holiday season.  This past year, I bought two and also started a previous one I had read before.  I just love being taken away to a snowy lodge up in the mountains or somewhere like that.  With this being my 2nd winter in Michigan, you'd think I'd be sick of snowy, chilly winters but on the contrary.  It just makes me love the books even more.  I don't like them when they're too mushy & sultry though but I do like them when they're humurous mysteries and thrillers, not to mention a story having a cat in it.  Even with Christmas come and gone that's okay, I still enjoy reading them.   I will post my book list (just like Monique does from La Table de Nana) on the right side of my blog. Feel free to let me know if you've read any of the ones I have listed.

Until next time,

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Chocolate Espresso Bundt Cake

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup high quality dark Dutch process cocoa
1 tablespoon  Espresso instant coffee dissolved in 3/4 cup of water
2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs at room temperature (I used 3 because mine were small)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350F degrees.

Butter and flour bundt pan (I couldn't find my bundt pan so I resorted to this angel food cake pan)

Melt butter in large saucepan over medium-low heat.

Add the cocoa and whisk . . . .

. . . . whisk until smooth

 Whisk in the espresso water and remove from heat

Add the sugar (forgot the sugar picture), sour cream,

vanilla extract (my very own homemade extract)

and the eggs and whisk until smooth

In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and salt.

Add all at once to the chocolate mixture and whisk until well blended.  Since I was doing it by hand, it was taking a good five minutes of continuous stirring to get it good and smooth but it still looked a little lumpy.

Pour into prepared pan

Bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes or when a toothpick placed close to the center comes out clean.  I ended up having to bake mine for at least 1 hour, I'm not sure why.

Once it's done baking, remove from oven and let cool before removing from pan.

Once it's cool, invert into plate.  Frost, glaze or decorate depending on what you desire.  You can eat it plain too if you'd like

I left the cake plain but then decorated each cut piece to whatever hubby wanted.  He liked the toasted crunched almonds on his.

Another piece had powdered sugar sprinkled on

Mine had a spoonful of raspberry jam

I agree, Happiness is homemade

I rarely make chocolate cake anymore but for the last couple of days I have been craving it.  I visited one of my top favorite bloggee girlfriend's site who in my opinion is right up there with Martha Stewart and Pioneer Woman, I am serious.  Her blog is Le Table de Nana, her name is Monique and she lives in Canada.  An amazing woman and VERY talented.  I knew she would have the perfect chocolate cake I would be looking for and sure enough she did.  Monique made the cake, if you click on the link to her site, you'll see the beautiful cake she baked.  She is amazing - browse around her site and you'll agree with me.  She also gave the link to the cake from where she got the recipe and so here's the original:  Chocolate Espresso Bundt Cake with Dark Chocolate Cinnamon Glaze.  As you can see, I didn't make the glaze as I just wasn't in the mood for cinnamon.

Hubby and I were very happy the way the cake came out.  It was solid, chocolatey and the espresso  brings out that perfect chocolate flavor even more.

A nice treat to have while watching the first episode of Downton Abbey.

Have a great week.  Until next time,