Lemon Lavender Roast Chicken

I was in a general store last month and they had dried lavender amongst other things. I picked up some on a whim, not knowing if I wanted to cook with it or be crafty with it. As the grocery store had chicken thighs on sale, I decided to go ahead and cook with a portion of it.

This roast chicken recipe is very fragrant and flavorful. I think I will cook this again for a romantic occasion. I served it with roasted potatoes tonight that I dunked into the pan juices before serving. Next time, I might use the time while the chicken rests to make a sauce to pour over the chicken and jasmine rice.

Lemon Lavender Roast Chicken

Juice and zest of two lemons (approx 1/3 cup juice)
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup honey
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoons dried lavender
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 3lb whole chicken or 3 lbs of chicken thighs
1 lemon cut into slices

Combine all the ingredients for the marinade and place into a zip top bag with the chicken. Rub well to coat completely and let marinate in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Place chicken in a roasting pan on a rack, skin side up. Squeeze out any remaining marinade from the bag and smear it over the skin. Roast until the internal temperature of the thighs is 165 degrees, about 40 minutes to an hour. After 30 minutes of roasting, place slices of lemon on the chicken.

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Pickle Juice Brined Chicken

Daisy waits for the chicken to be done

I don’t know about you but when I eat the last pickle in the jar, it hurts me to let all that juice go down the drain. I’ve taken to saving it and using it as a brine on chicken. It is great as a base for fried chicken (especially if you’re like me and a fan of Chick-fil-a’s chicken but not their politics). It doesn’t make pickle chicken, though. There is a nice tang, like what you get from a buttermilk soak. I wanted to see if I could translate it to grilled or roasted chicken as well.

I used one of my favorite meat rubs (Emeril’s Rustic Rub) but any kind you have that includes salt, black pepper and cayenne pepper would be delicious.

Pickle Brined Roast Chicken

4 lb whole chicken
2 cups pickle juice
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons dry rub, plus additional

Stir together the pickle juice, sugar and rub. Whisk until the sugar and salt has dissolved. Place the chicken and liquid in a zip top bag and refrigerate for 2 to 4 hours.

For grilling: Heat up a chimney full of coals and pour them in a half circle around the edge of your grill.

For the oven: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Heat an ovenproof skillet (I use cast iron) over medium high heat.

Remove chicken from the brine. Dry off the chicken and then coat with olive oil. Lightly sprinkle with your dry rub.

For grilling: Place the chicken breast side up on the grill and and cook over indirect heat for about an hour or until the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees.

For the oven: Place a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in the skillet. Set the chicken breast side down the hot pan and allow it cook for 10 minutes to brown. Flip the chicken over and transfer it right into the oven. Cook for 60 minutes in the oven or until the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees.

Carolina Gold Grilled Pork Chops

My mom has been up in Asheville for the summer so my thoughts turned to the many different Carolina styles of barbecue. I decided to virtually head down I-26 from her and try the South Carolina style (mustard based). I had pork steaks instead of a whole hog so I didn’t need to use a sauce. Instead, I rubbed on a basic mustard based spice mix on the chops and then melted some butter and mixed it with more rub to baste the chops while they cooked. Because these aren’t particularly thick, instead of letting them come to room temperature before going on the fire, put them on the grill right out of the fridge.

Carolina Gold Rub

3 tablespoons dry mustard
2 tablespoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons black pepper
2 teaspoons paprika
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

Mix together. Sprinkle generously over pork or chicken. Store any remaining in an air tight container.

Grilled Chops

4 pork chops
1/2 cup kosher salt
12 peppercorns
2 black teabags

Bring 3 cups of water to a boil. Add the salt, peppercorns and teabags and stir to mix. After 5 minutes, remove teabags and add a cup of ice cubes. Stir to lower the temperature of the water. Mix with another 4 cups of water and add the chops.

Brine the chops for 1 hour – no more or they will be too salty. Rinse and pat dry. Lay out on a rimmed baking sheet and rub both sides with dry spice mix. Place in refrigerator overnight.

Use 2-3 tablespoons of remaining rub to mix with 4-6 tablespoons of melted butter.

Set up your grill for indirect grilling. Start the chops on the cool side for 4 minutes per side. Move to the hot side and baste with the butter/rub mixture for an additional 2 minutes per side or until done.

Simple Meatloaf

Meatloaf is one of those comfort meals. It comes together pretty quickly, so is perfect for a weeknight meal and has just enough good stuff in it to make your body happy as well as your soul.

1 pound ground beef
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped bell pepper
1 egg, lightly beaten
8 ounces canned diced tomatoes with juice
1/2 cup bread crumbs or crushed saltines

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Mix all meatloaf ingredients well. Shape into a loaf and place on rimmed baking sheet. Bake one hour.

Some people like a glaze on top of their meatloaf (I use the leftovers to make sandwiches and cover those with ketchup so I generally don’t glaze it). Here is a basic recipe for a glaze:

1/2 cup ketchup
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Dash Worcestershire sauce
Dash hot pepper sauce
1 tablespoon honey

Combine the ketchup, cumin, Worcestershire sauce, hot pepper sauce and honey. Brush the glaze onto the meatloaf after it has been cooking for about 10 minutes.

Oxtail Mushroom Barley Soup

I recently picked up a copy of the Picayune’s Creole Cook Book that was originally published in 1900. It is still a popular title today with its recipes from New Orleans’ past. I thought this would be a perfect way to the end the year – homage to the past as we step into the future!

I used their recipe for Ox Tail a la Bourgeoise (pg 87) as a jumping off point for my own oxtail mushroom barley soup (I hate peas and turnips, so I left them out while adding things I do like). Needing to do some chores outside, I made it in the slow cooker. Also, I added the wine in too batches as some of the flavor (in addition to the alcohol) cooks out over long simmers. Adding a bit more wine before serving lends a brightness to the dish.

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Rich, hearty and delicious!

Oxtail Mushroom Barley Soup

1 lb oxtail, disjointed
1 onion, diced (about 1 cup)
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 ribs celery, diced (about 1 cup)
2 carrots, diced (about 1 cup)
1 lb mushrooms, sliced
1 28 ounce can diced tomatoes with liquid
2 cups red wine, divided (I used Cabernet Sauvignon)
4 cups mushroom or beef stock
1 cup pearl barley
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon Cajun/Creole seasoning

Brown oxtail pieces in a skillet before transferring to the slow cooker. Sauté onion in the fat remaining in the bottom of the pan until onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Add in garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add in the celery, carrots and stir to combine. Use a slotted spoon to place veggies into the slow cooker so as to leave some fat in the pan. Put the mushrooms into the skillet. Cook until some of their moisture has been released. Place them into the slow cooker. Pour tomatoes, 1 cup of the red wine and stock into the slow cooker and stir well. Add in seasonings.

Set the slow cooker on high until it comes to a boil. Turn to low and cook for 4 to 6 hours or until barley is soft and tender. Cut any remaining meat off the oxtail and return the meat to the soup with the remaining cup of red wine. Taste for seasonings. Remove bay leaves and serve with bread – I made a batch of fresh corn cornbread to go with (recipe HERE).

German Sausage with Crusty Rolls

My brother-in-law, Wayne, contacted me about the upcoming Elberta German Sausage Festival. That reminded me that I had some German sausage I had picked up from my Dad at the beginning of the summer in the freezer that needed to be grilled.

Poaching and Grilling German Sausage and Brats

8-10 links sausage
4 bottles beer (don’t use your good imported stuff here)
1 large onion, quartered

Bring beer and onion to a boil in a large Dutch oven. Nestle in the sausage links together under the liquid and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 20 to 30 minutes. The internal temperature of fully cooked sausages should be around 160 degrees F.

While the sausages are simmering, build a small fire in your grill. Set it up for direct cooking and finish off the sausages with a couple of minutes per side for about 5 to 10 minutes total or until they pick up a nice char.

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You just can’t eat your wurst on a hotdog bun. You need a roll but not just any will do. You must have a crusty roll – what the Germans call brotchen. They’re hard to find in the states and, especially, in the South. When all else fails, sometimes you have to make your own.

The closest recipe I’ve found can be found on the King Arthur Flour website. Go to their blog for a good step-by-step guide with handy pictures. Be prepared – these take a while but they are so very good it makes it worthwhile.

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Don’t I have beautiful buns?

I only divided the dough into 8 pieces – I like a slightly larger bun to wurst ratio! I increased the cook time to 25 minutes.

Serve your German sausage with a good mustard and Hot German Potato Salad.

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Guten Appetit!

Gouda Malibu Chicken

I remember really enjoying Malibu Chicken from Sizzler Steakhouse as a kid and decided I wanted a version I could make at home. I also wanted to raise it up a notch or two by substituing gouda cheese for the Swiss of the original, marinading the chicken in a little honey before breading and baking instead of deep frying and broiling.

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Gouda Malibu Chicken

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1/2 cup honey
2 tablespoons lime juice
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup flour
2 eggs
1 cup breadcrumbs
1/2 cup shreadded Parmesan/Romana/Asiago cheese (I use the Kraft Shaker)
4 slices good quality ham
4 to 8 slices smoked gouda cheese

Pound the chicken breasts to a uniform thickness. Mix honey, lime juice, garlic, salt and pepper. Place chicken and marinade in a plastic, zip top bag for at least 4 hours.

Set up three pie pans and place flour in one, eggs (scrambled with a little bit of oilive oil) in another and the bread crumbs and cheese in the remaining one. Remove chicken from marinade and dredge in flour, coat in egg and cover in breadbrumbs.

Place chicken in a buttered baking dish and cook for 20 minutes in a 350 degree F oven. Flip over the chicken and place on the top of it a slice of ham and enough cheese to cover. Bake for another 20 minutes or until done.

Serve with honey mustard sauce

Honey Mustard Sauce

1/3 cup mayonaise
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon yellow mustard
2 teaspoons honey

Combine ingredients and whisk well. Taste and adjust as necessary. Store, tightly covered in the refrigerator until ready to use. It can keep up to 2 weeks, if stored properly.