Skillet Roasted Chicken with Stuffing

The chicken I had planned on making for my Halloween meal was originally going to be a version of pollo alla diavola or devil’s chicken. However, I spent the other morning trimming my rosemary bush and couldn’t let the rosemary to go to waste, so I made a small change. The on again, off again rain also discouraged my grilling outdoors. Then, a loaf of frozen Italian bread fell out of the freezer on my foot and that’s when the recipe went in an entirely different direction. What resulted was some good old fashioned comfort food, perfect for All Hallow’s Eve. The skin is crispy, the meat is flavorful and the bread toasts and then soaks up all the juices making the stuffing super delicious.

The recipe that inspired this meal was from Zuni Cafe but her bread salad just wasn’t enough for me so I looked to Cook’s Country for their chicken and stuffing in a skillet.

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Skillet Roasted Chicken with Stuffing


1 5 lb chicken
3 tablespoons chopped rosemary leaves
4 cloves garlic, minced
6 tablespoons butter, divided
1 large onion, diced
4 stalks celery, diced
salt and pepper
1/4 cup chicken stock
1/4 cup chopped pecans (or another nut)
1/2 loaf of French or Italian bread, cut into 1 inch pieces

Butterfly chicken. With the side of your knife, mix the rosemary and garlic together to form a paste. Use your fingers to gently lift the skin from the breasts and thighs. Stuff the garlic and rosemary under the skin. Sprinkle salt all over chicken, cover loosely and refrigerate for 24 hours.

Use a large cast iron skillet big enough to hold the bird. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F while warming up the skillet on the stove top. Melt 4 tablespoons of butter and brush all over the top of the chicken. Lay the chicken, breast side down, and cook on the stove top for 10 minutes. Remove to a platter.

Melt the remaining butter and sauté the onions over medium heat for 10 minutes until they’ve become soft and translucent. Add in the celery and cook five minutes more. Season with salt and pepper. Pour in chicken stock and pecans. Stir well and then make a single layer of the vegetables in the bottom. Carefully place chicken, breast side up into skillet. Arrange the bread pieces around the chicken.

Drop the oven temperature to 350 degrees F and place the skillet on the middle rack in the oven. Roast for about an hour or until the thighs register 175 degrees F. Remove chicken to a platter to rest. Stir bread with vegetables and pan juices. Cover and allow to sit and absorb the juices for about 10 minutes.

Carve chicken and place a generous serving of stuffing on each plate.

Rosemary Salted Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

It is Halloween time and hidden in each potential jack o’ lantern is a delicious snack.  Sure, pumpkin seeds are healthy and good for you but they’re also fun to make and eat.

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Rosemary Salted Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Seeds from 1 pumpkin (about a cup)
2 tablespoons butter melted (or vegetable oil)
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves, chopped
2 tablespoons coarse sea salt

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.

Using a spoon, scrape the pulp and seeds out of the pumpkin into a bowl. Clean the seeds by separating the seeds from the stringy pulp and rinsing the seeds in a colander under cold water. Allow to dry.

Combine the rosemary and sea salt, stir to combine. I put mine in a mortar and pestle and crush them together to really mix the flavors well. In a bowl, toss the seeds with the melted butter, coating thoroughly. Add seasoned salt to taste.

Spread seeds in a single, even layer on a baking sheet. Bake for 30 to 45 minutes, or until the seeds are golden brown. Stir the seeds every so often while they’re baking, so that they roast evenly.

Are you wondering what scary design I ended up putting on my jack o’ lantern? Just a little something to put shivers down the spine of religious extremists everywhere:

pumpkin pic

Boo!

You can get the pattern from Emily’s List.

Peanut Butter Pie with Chocolate Ganache for #MoranStrong

In the wake of Sandra Moran‘s devastating announcement that she has been diagnosed with Stage IV of a very aggressive form of pervasive cancer and only has a few months to live, fellow authors Lynn Ames and Ann McMan  concocted the Moran Mayhem Plan (also known as Laughter is the Best Medicine). Every day of the week has a special theme. Among posting bad hair day pictures (Sunday), pictures of pork rinds/foul food (Friday) and wearing neon running attire (Thursday), Tuesdays are for celebrating Sandra’s love of pie charts (and pie)!

I read in an interview after her book Nudge came out that she likes peanut butter cookies, so I figure she’d also go for a peanut butter pie. In honor of the hours of enjoyment her books have given me, here is my contribution. 

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No Bake Peanut Butter Pie with Chocolate Ganache

1 9 inch chocolate wafer cookie crust, store bought or recipe follows
1 pint heavy cream, divided
8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup peanut butter
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon Créme De Cocoa (or vanilla extract)
1 cup powdered sugar
1 cup semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate morsels
Optional: chopped peanuts for garnish

In a small bowl, whip 1 cup of heavy cream until stiff peaks form. Set aside.

In the bowl of your electric mixer, add cream cheese, peanut butter, sweetened condensed milk and beat. Add the Créme De Cocoa (or vanilla extract) and powdered sugar. Mix until smooth and well blended. Gently fold in whipped cream. Transfer mixture to pie shell. One of the reasons I typically use store bought pie crusts for pies like this is that they are slightly smaller than 9 inches. This means, there is more filling than space so, as the baker, I get more than just the bowl scrapings to enjoy! Once shell is filled, place in the refrigerator until the ganache is ready.

Place chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Bring the remaining 1 cup of heavy cream to a boil in a small saucepan. Pour over the chocolate and let stand for 1 minute. Using a rubber spatula, stir until all the chocolate is melted. Let cool slightly then pour the ganache over the top of the pie and smooth with a spatula.

Chill the pie until ready to serve. Sprinkle chopped peanuts over top before slicing–this is optional, especially if you use crunchy peanut butter!

Crust Recipe

Preheat over to 300 degrees F. Break up 6 oz of chocolate wafer cookies in a food processor and pulse to make crumbs. Add ¾ stick melted butter and pulse until mixed well. Press into a 9 inch pie plate and bake for 15 minutes. Turn off oven and let piecrust stand in oven to cool slowly. Cool in refrigerator before using.

While I don’t believe my little pie will heal the world, it will hopefully put a little more happiness out there. Loving people and cooking them tasty food is one way to put positive energy out into the universe and everyone, including Sandra, can benefit from that.

I hope you get an opportunity to enjoy your own slice of pie today. Consider buying and reading Sandra’s books, too. She’s a fabulously talented author and all around awesome person. Here is a picture I took of her speaking at the Golden Crown Literary Society Annual Conference in July:

sandra moran

Please, keep her in your thoughts. Together, we can be #MoranStrong

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Slow Cooker Ham and Applesauce

Today the Saints were playing the Indianapolis Colts (and won 27-21). The game started at noon and I have folks coming over for dinner, so I decided to pull out my Crock Pot and let it do the work while I enjoyed the game.

This recipe started from one I saw on Make, Blog, Repeat a while ago. I’ve experimented with amounts and have decided the ham really needs a brown sugar/cinnamon coating and that the applesauce was less salty if a bit of apple cider is added at the beginning of the cook time and some cinnamon/brown sugar added in the final cooking of the applesauce. Give it a try yourself and tell me what you think.

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Slow Cooker Ham and Applesauce

1 tablespoon butter
4 to 6 lb bone-in ham, I used Chisesi
3/4 cup packed brown sugar, divided
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 tart apples, I like Granny Smith
1/2 cup apple cider (or apple juice or even water)
1/2 cup water

Slather the bottom and the lower third of the crock pot with butter. Sprinkle 1/4 cup of the brown sugar on the bottom of the slow cooker. Score the ham with shallow gashes in a diamond pattern. Place in the slow cooker. Combine the remaining 1/2 cup of brown sugar and the cinnamon in a bowl and mix well with your fingers. Press the mixture to the sides and top of the ham.

Peel and quarter the apples, placing them in a bowl of water with a bit of lemon juice to keep from browning. Dice the apples into the slow cooker. Pour in the apple cider (trying not to pour directly over the ham and taking off the brown sugar coating). Cover and cook for about 5 hours on low or 2 hours on high or until the internal temperature of the ham is 160 degrees F.

Remove the ham from the slow cooker and allow to rest before slicing. Strain apples from the juices and place in a small saucepan. Use a fork (or potato masher) and up to 1/2 cup of water to get them to desired applesauce consistency. Stir over medium heat. Add additional cinnamon and brown sugar to taste. If you want to make them more tart, add a little bit of lemon juice. Stir well and remove from heat.

Serve slices of ham with the applesauce.

Cast Iron Seared Steak

Steak is one of the few things I don’t put on the grill. I’m usually too careful with my money to risk overcooking a good piece of meat (and why have steak at all if it isn’t going to be a good piece of meat?). I usually go for bone-in ribeye of 3/4 to 1 inch thick.

I recommend pulling the steak out of the fridge about an hour before cook time (the same time I put the baked potato in the oven). You want it to come to room temperature. When the potato is done, crank the temperature of the oven up to 450 degrees F. Put a high flame under a cast iron skillet and let it heat up. I salt both sides of the meat and wait for the pan to get screaming hot.

After putting just a little oil in the center of the pan, the steak goes on the first side for 2 minutes. Then, flip it over for two minutes searing on the other side. Slide the hot pan into the oven for 2 minutes for medium rare or up to 4 minutes for medium. This will depend on the thickness of the steak. You are aiming for around 120 degrees F for rare, 125 degrees F for medium rare, 130 degrees F for medium.

Remove the skillet from the oven and place the steak on a plate but do not touch it for 5 minutes. Don’t worry! It will still be warm and delicious but a lot more juicy when you cut into it if you wait.

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I let my dog, Daisy, gnaw on the bone for a little bit after I’m done with dinner.

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Mashed Potatoes Recipe

I posted the recipe for Tarragon Chicken yesterday and then had someone point out I neglected to add a recipe for mashed potatoes to the blog. This is one of those dishes that I don’t really use a recipe for but I will post my standard procedure.

My basic recipe is one potato per person plus one for the pot. Roughly peel (I prefer the rustic look and taste of a little potato skin in the final dish) the potatoes. Quarter them so the pieces are all about the same size and put in a pot and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil and boil gently until the potatoes are fork tender.

While the potatoes are boiling put butter and milk (or cream) in a small sauce pan. The rule of thumb is 2 -3 tablespoons of butter and 1/4 cup milk for every 2 potatoes. Place this saucepan on the stove near a heat source so the butter melts and milk warms. You never want to add cold milk or butter to your potatoes as it will cool them off too fast.

Once the potatoes are cooked through, drain and then put them back in the hot pan. This will keep them warm and also dry off the last of the water. Mashed to desired consistency (I like a few lumps to show the dish started with real potatoes). Stir the milk mixture to combine the butter and milk and add half the liquid to the pot and stir well. Add half of the remaining liquid and a little salt and pepper and stir some more. Look at it – does it look dry? Add more liquid. If you aren’t serving immediately, add a little more of the milk mixture than you think it needs as it will absorb the liquid and keep the potatoes from becoming dry after they’ve been sitting. Taste and add more of what’s missing.

Serve and savor!

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Tarragon Chicken with Mashed Potatoes

Rouses Supermarket had an excellent sale on whole chickens the other week and I wound up with 3 of them in my freezer. It was an easy matter to defrost one for dinner. I wanted to make something a little different so I decided on tarragon chicken. George Graham is right that the cream sauce is awesome on mashed potatoes.

I used as my stepping off point his recipe from Acadiana Table. I omitted both the bell peppers (I didn’t have any in the house) and wine. Some of the folks coming to dinner are in recovery and it was easy enough to double the chicken stock instead. I also took all the parts of the chicken I cut up (neck, backbone, wings, etc) and put them in a zip top bag in the freezer for the next time I make stock.

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Tarragon Chicken


1 whole chicken cut into quarters
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup diced onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon
2 cups chicken stock
1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon fresh tarragon leaves, for garnish

Rinse the chicken and pat dry. Cut the chicken into quarters, scissors work best here. Sprinkle both sides of the divided chicken with salt and pepper.

In a heavy skillet with lid, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Lightly brown chicken on all sides. Remove from the pan and keep warm. Add the onions to the skillet and sauté until they turn translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and the fresh tarragon as well as one cup of the chicken stock (add 1 cup white wine here if you are using that instead). Let cook 5 minutes more then add the rest of the chicken stock and cream. Stir constantly while bringing up to a boil.

Return the chicken to the pan and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cover the pan and cook for about 45 minutes or until the chicken is done to an internal temperature of 165ºF. About 20 minutes in, turn the chicken over, replace the lid and continue to cook. Once the chicken is cooked through, remove it from the pan. Pour the pan liquid into a blender and pulse until it is smooth. Return to the skillet and bring back to a simmer. Cook for around 10 minutes more, stirring regularly until it reduces to the optimal thickness. Taste for salt and pepper once it has been reduced.

Serve with mashed potatoes. Spoon the sauce over the chicken and the potatoes. Garnish with chopped fresh tarragon, if desired.

Author’s note: I posted this and someone pointed out I didn’t included a mashed potato recipe. Here it is!