Monthly Archives: July 2011

Summertime- and the Living Ain’t Always So Easy

Today when I logged on to Facebook, I was greeted by a status reading:

Want a cheap and easy way to do a good deed today? Buy some cold water and share it with people who can’t get indoors — those living or spending the day on the streets, at the parks, or in the alleys behind our houses and offices. Thanks to Sam Lehman for this great idea!

But seriously, how amazing is this idea? It is so simple, but could make such a difference in someone’s life. This summer has been a scorcher, especially here in Washington, DC (heat index of 116 degrees F RIGHT NOW!?). All of us lucky enough to be relaxing in our air-conditioned apartments, browsing the web (reading my blog, of course) need to be careful in this heat, but don’t have too much to worry about. But think about all those people in the world who do not have a cool place to take shelter, or no access to drinking water. Do a good deed and if you see one of those people, buy them a bottle of water.

I challenge all of you reading this to go out and buy a pack of water bottles and hand them out!

Also, please spread the word! The more people who hear this idea, the more people we can help in the streets. I would like to give a special thanks to my friend, Sam Lehman who sparked this all with a Facebook status. Check out his blog, Hungry Sam for more food thoughts.

(Photo credit: Urban Canteen)

Tabbouleh with Chicken (Or Tofu)

What is Tabbouleh? I bet most of you have no idea what I am even talking about. Well, let me tell you. Tabbouleh is a Levantine (originally from Lebanon) wheat salad. I have traveled to the middle east and have always had many friends from the region, so this is a dish I started enjoying early on. It is super simple, and the light lemony flavor is GREAT for summer time!

 

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups boiling water

1 cup bulgur wheat

1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)

Olive oil

Kosher salt

1 whole (2 split) chicken breast, bone in, skin on

Freshly ground black pepper

1 cup minced scallions, white and green parts (1 bunch)

1 cup chopped fresh mint leaves (2 bunches)

1 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (1 bunch)

1 hothouse cucumber, unpeeled, halved lengthwise, seeded, and medium-diced

2 cups halved cherry tomatoes

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare the bulgur wheat according to package directions. Add the lemon juice, 1/4 cup of olive oil, and 1.5 teaspoons of salt to the bulgur as it sits and cooks. Set aside for about an hour to let cook through.

*Next, rub chicken with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast in the over for 35 minutes, or until just cooked. Again, set aside and let cool off.

Remove chicken meat and dice into medium pieces and add to the bulgur wheat. Then add scallions, mint, parsley, cucumber, tomatoes, 2 teaspoons of salt, and 1 teaspoon of pepper. At this point, you MUST taste the dish to see if it needs more seasoning! The most important thing when cooking is to taste your food! Make sure it is seasoned to tasted. You can either serve immediately or refrigerate and serve cold. The longer the Tabbouleh mixture sits, the flavors will intensify and improve.

 

Cool, refreshing Tabbouleh can be used as a side dish or a main dish. When I know I am cooking for a vegetarian and meat eating audience, I love to use this dish! Follow the same directions, but serve the chicken or tofu on the side and allow guests to help themselves.

*This step is easily replaced with Tofu! Cut extra firm tofu into cubes and sprinkle with the same seasonings. Roast in the oven until crispy and use in place of the chicken.

My interpretation of Ina Garten’s Chicken with Tabbouleh

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Show-Stopper Roast Chicken

There is nothing more impressive to guests, or your stomach, than a perfectly roasted chicken. What seems like a complicated feat is actually one of the easiest and best recipes to have in your repertoire. This particular recipe is great to serve to your special guy (can you say new *engagement chicken!?) because it is wrapped in BACON! Who doesn’t love bacon? Ok, my roommate doesn’t like bacon, but I don’t need to make this for her. But any single, hungry guys out there are welcome to come over for dinner!
But seriously, how amazing does that look? Lets get into making it. You will need the following ingredients:
1 roasting chicken, about 6 lbs
Kosher salt and pepper
1 bunch of fresh thyme
4 lemons
3 heads of garlic cut in half
2 tablespoons of melted butter
1/2 lbs of sliced bacon
1 cup of white wine
1/2 cup of chicken stock
First, preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Remove chicken giblets (anything inside of the chicken) and rinse the entire chicken both inside and out. Pat the outside dry and place the chicken in a large roasting pan. Liberally salt and pepper the inside of the chicken and stuff the cavity with the thyme (saving enough to garnish the dish later), 1 halved lemon, and 2 halves of garlic. Brush the outside of the chicken with butter and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Tie the legs together with kitchen string (or, if you are like me and forget to buy kitchen string every time you go to the store, don’t tie them) and tuck the wing tips under the body of the chicken. Quarter 2 of the remaining lemons and place around the chicken with the rest of the garlic. Lastly, lay slices of bacon over chicken until it is covered (this is obviously the best part!).

Put chicken in the oven and roast for 1 hour. After this time, remove the bacon from the chicken and set aside. Finishing roasting the chicken for another 1/2 hour, or until the juices run clear when you cut between the leg and thigh. When the chicken is done, set aside and cover to keep warm so you can make the gravy.

Using the fat drippings at the bottom of the roasting pan, add the wine and chicken stock and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat and simmer for about 5 minutes or until reduced by half.

Everything is now ready to come together! Place the chicken on a nice serving dish and garnish with the bacon, roasted garlic, reserved fresh thyme, and the remaining lemon sliced. Serve the gravy on the side and enjoy!

As you can see above, I served the chicken with sides of sautéed zucchini and small roasted potatoes. The zucchini is one of my go-to vegetable sides that is easy to make and very delicious. The cute little potatoes are also great with the chicken because not only are the tasty (and of course every good chicken meal needs a potato side) but they are fun to eat because they are so small! When making small potatoes like this, the key is to buy them all in similar size so they cook evenly.

Slice up the chicken, load up the plates, and enjoy! I lucked out and the chicken breasts were perfectly juicy and moist. Ladle some gravy on your plate for a little extra flavor (I found it to be dominantly wine flavored, which I enjoyed). This simple but delicious meal will wow guests and provide ample leftovers for you to enjoy later! Enjoy your Show-Stopper Roast Chicken!

*For those of you who don’t know what engagement chicken is, it basically is a simple but amazing recipe for roast chicken. The story goes that a girl who makes this roast chicken for her significant other will soon after be proposed to because it is just that good. Hence, engagement chicken!
**This recipe is my version of Ina Garten’s Lemon & Garlic Roast Chicken
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Roasted Garlic Smashed Potatoes

Potatoes are a great go-to side dish for almost any meal. Everyone always loves a good starch. I find that a personal favorite, and crowd pleaser, is garlic smashed potatoes. The first question you are likely asking yourself is, “What’s the difference between mashed and smashed?” Well, the big difference affects both the texture and aesthetic of the dish. When making smashed potatoes, you leave the skin of the potatoes on and then mash, as opposed to peeling them. This adds an extra layer of texture that contradicts the creamy-smooth potatoes, and also a nice bright color (if you use red potatoes).

The recipe is super easy and doesn’t take much work at all, and the ingredients are as follows:

1 head of garlic

EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil)

2 lbs of red potaotes

Salt and pepper

5 tablespoons of butter

1/3 cup of milk

First things first, preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Take the garlic and slice off the top of the head. Drizzle the garlic with EVOO, wrap in tin foil, and bake in the oven about 30 minutes or until tender and fragrant. Slicing the top off helps the garlic roast better, and makes it easier to remove the cloves from the skin.

Clean the potatoes and quarter them. Put potatoes in a pot filled with cold, salted water and bring to a boil. Cook the potatoes until they are fork tender. Drain and put back in the pot (by returning to pot you now have an easy place to mash!). Add the garlic to potatoes and mash.

While the potatoes are cooking, heat the butter until it is melted. Add melted butter and milk to the potatoes and mash up together. Sprinkle in salt and pepper to taste. Then actually taste it! The most important part of getting a recipe right is tasting it. Depending on what you like, you may want to add more butter or milk. Garnish with a tad of parsley (optional) and serve!


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