Bundt Pan Rotisserie Chicken

Bundt Pan Rotisserie ChickenTechnological Wonders
I had a plan to talk about Irish food this week—for obvious reasons—everyone is Irish this Friday.

That plan was blown out of the water by one of those ubiquitous cooking videos that pop up daily on my Facebook feed (sometimes hourly). Most of the time I kinda just glance at the video and move on to other things. Every so often, though, I spot that one video, and I drop everything to watch it. Because my mind is blown. (Or there is a lot of chocolate.) Today was one of those days. Total lightbulb moment…I’m still recovering.

If you’ve ever heard of Beer Can Chicken you will get why I was compelled to watch the video, and then immediately make the recipe. I mean it’s genius. Of course, this would be great, it’s Rotisserie Chicken in your home oven. Brilliant! And it looks weird which is always an excellent reason to make anything—if only to keep people guessing about your mad scientist cooking skills…

Adding this recipe to my weekly rotation was easy since we have roast chicken at least once a week. My only complaint is that you can only make one chicken at a time (unless you have two bundt pans). I like to use the second chicken as the base for some other meal later in the week. I know, first world problems!

Feel free to get wacky with the ingredients and the rub for the chicken. I left the carrots and onion out and went with all potatoes and then mixed a spicy dry rub with the olive oil and rubbed all over the chicken. That made for some tasty taters…

Have fun with this one!

Bundt Pan Rotisserie Chicken
Adapted from Delish

Ingredients
3 cloves garlic
2 carrots, chopped
1 onion, quartered
1/2 lb. Yukon gold potatoes, quartered
2 large bunches of fresh herbs such as thyme and rosemary
Extra virgin olive oil
1 3/4 lb chicken (gizzards removed)
1 lemon, sliced
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper Read more…

French-Style Beef Stew with Carrots and Parsnips

French-Style Beef Stew with Carrots and ParsnipsRainy Days and Mondays…

When the weather is as rainy as it has been the last week, I look to the things that warm me up. Usually, it’s something slow roasted or slow cooked in the crock pot. It could be pot roast or it could be a turkey breast but whatever the ingredients, it is a bowl full of warmth and comfort.

Last Sunday, while we contemplated lining the animals up two by two, I threw some beef chuck in the crock pot and made some tasty beef stew. And, it was the perfect answer to the wind and rain, especially served with warm crusty bread to sop it all up. Yum.

There is a multitude of recipes for beef stew you just have to decide which one is your favorite. That’s the hard part for me. Sometimes I want straight up stew with all that beef flavor. (Like my Batchelor Beef Stew.) Other times I like French-Style Beef Stew with Carrots and Parsnips and some red wine. And then there are the times when dark beer and onions make a great combo too. (Check out my Beef and Guinness Stew.) Depends on my mood…

So, this is the one I made this weekend. If you wish, it is easily done in the slow cooker. Just follow these directions. But instead of cooking in the Dutch oven, you put it all in a large crock pot on low for about 8 hours, or until the beef is falling apart tender.

French-Style Beef Stew with Carrots and Parsnips
Serves 6 Read more…

Chicken with Tarragon and Mustard

Chicken with Tarragon and MustardJanuary, the good and the bad.
Well, we made it. We survived the holidays. Now it’s back to normal life—which is in some ways good and some ways bad.

I don’t think I could have kept up with the eating and drinking (at least not the way I was doing it), so to be back to normal is good. However, there is the post-holiday let down. The excitement, the parties and good cheer are gone. It’s just the daily routine. It’s kinda boring.

January can also be what I call the food doldrums. The cold winter months can be less than exciting ingredient wise. Sure there are plenty of good soups to battle the cold air and rain, but I get bored with that after a while. Yes, you can always throw together a roast dinner but again, meh. The produce offerings are tasty but limited. This is the time of year to get creative with your dried beans but even then, for me, there is just not that much excitement. On top of all that is the need to lighten things up and eat better…

January is definitely when my slow cooker gets the most use, mainly because I am worn out from all of the holiday cooking. So, I go looking for new ideas for the slow cooker. A few years ago I stumbled on a series of slow cooker cookbooks that are not the usual pot roast or pork shoulder. Each book is devoted to a particular cuisine. There is the French version, the Italian, the Mexican, Mediterranean and even the Indian.

I have tried recipes from them all, but I tend to reach for The French Slow Cooker the most. One of my favorite recipes is Chicken with Tarragon, Mustard and Cream because it’s uncomplicated and tres French. The original recipe calls for heavy cream (and it is good that way), but I usually lighten it up with 2% milk instead. And, just be aware that the sauce won’t be as rich, which is good…and bad.

Chicken with Tarragon and Mustard
Adapted from The French Slow Cooker by Michele Scicolone
Serve 4 to 6
Read more…

Moussaka

MoussakaThe Kickasserole

I gotta say, it was a good Christmas this year. Not one clunker gift could be found amongst the massive pile of paper and cardboard. We were all spoiled rotten. One of my favorite gifts has my thoughts spinning…

At Christmas time each year it’s a pretty safe bet that I will receive something that is at the very least related to cooking. This could be a cookbook, or a subscription to my favorite cooking magazine, or even some bizarre ingredient. But more often than not, it is a tool to be used in the preparation of food. This year was no different. What was different however was the personalization on the side. I received a gratin dish with “Amy’s Kickasserole” engraved on the side. It is a thing of beauty, and beyond awesome! But it is also as if a challenge has been issued.

One does not simply cook any old thing in a dish that says Kickasserole. No my friends, leave the mac & cheese or the baked ziti to the plain white earthenware. The Kickasserole is destined for much more interesting and grander fare, which is why my mind has been spinning. What would be the perfect recipe for the maiden voyage of the Kickasserole?

I have come to the conclusion that I can’t make anything that I have made before. That would be boring. It needs to be an event. So here’s the plan. One of the other gifts I got was a Greek cookbook. My daughter and I have decided we are going to cook from it for New Year’s Eve. And one of the recipes we will be making is one of my favorite dishes, Moussaka. I have never made it before. Ever. So I think it is the perfect choice to ring in the New Year and to begin the new era of the Kickasserole…

Moussaka
Adapted from Kokkari: Contemporary Greek Flavors
This is the cookbook from Kokkari Estiatorio, my absolute favorite Greek restaurant in San Francisco. If you have not had a chance to eat there, I highly recommend you make reservations! Read more…

Amy’s Spaghetti and Meatballs

Amy’s Spaghetti and MeatballsSmiling Is My Favorite
Because it is the week before Christmas, you will have no problem finding Christmas-themed shows or movies available on your television. In some cases, they are streaming 24/7. Some folks are not a fan of this annual occurrence. Personally, I am okay with it.

There are a lot of good holiday movies out there (some not so good ones too…), and everyone has their favorite. People like my brother-in-law, are fans of the classics. For him, it’s not Christmas unless he is schnuggy on the sofa with warm Gingies watching It’s A Wonderful Life. For others it’s not Christmas unless Hans Gruber is falling off of Nakatomi Tower in Die Hard. Nothing says the holidays like blowing stuff up. Although, lately it seems that nothing says the holidays like StarWars.

For my father, nothing says the holidays like mischief. My dad loves little kids, and this time of year it is turned up a notch. Dad just gets a kick out of kids. It makes no difference if he is related to the child or not. If there is a little kid within range, Dad is going to interact with them. And, if said child is “up to something” so much the better, in his eyes. For that reason, while it may not be his actual favorite holiday movie, I always associate the movie Home Alone with my Dad. Here’s why.

Years ago, my parents were in town to pick me up from college, and for whatever reason Home Alone was the only thing on TV. (Don’t ask me why it was on in June, but it was.) While watching the movie, Dad was laughing so hard he had tears rolling down his face, and we were concerned about his oxygen intake. It got so out of hand that my mother and I were more entertained watching him watch the movie, than actually watching the movie. So, right or wrong, I will always think of Home Alone and Dad when I think of holiday movies.

If I had to choose my favorite, it would be Elf. Though I do enjoy a good A Christmas Story marathon, Elf is a must-watch to get into the Christmas spirit (other than singing loud for all to hear, and having a tickle fight). I have seen this movie hundreds of times and it never fails to make me laugh. The one-liners sustain me through the year.

Last night some friends of ours had a Buddy The Elf themed party, and it was great. While we didn’t make snow angels or snuggle, we did manage to eat the four basic food groups: candy, candy canes, candy corn and maple syrup. And, of course, there was spaghetti…

Amy’s Spaghetti and Meatballs
Yield 6  servings
I usually double the recipe for the meatballs when I make them, because I like my meatballs the size of tennis balls. If you prefer to make them smaller than that, just go with a single recipe. Read more…

Spanish Chickpea Stew with Kale and Salt Pork

Spanish Chickpea Stew with Kale and Salt PorkSpanish Feast

A couple of weekends ago we had our cookbook club dinner and I have to say it was one of the best dinners we have had in a while. It may have been the subject matter. You can’t go wrong with Spanish fare…

The book was Curate by Katie Button, and I don’t think there was anything that we made that wasn’t fantastic. Everything was good. Even the octopus—and I am not a huge fan of octopus. The very best part? The book is intended for American kitchens, which means the ingredients aren’t hard to find and the recipes aren’t too involved.

One of the recipes I made was Stewed Chickpeas with Collard Greens and Salt Pork. Because of schedule overload I had to make this the night before, and it was so good that my husband and I couldn’t keep ourselves from having a bowl. This stew is more like a hearty soup, but it makes for a super (see what I did there? ) satisfying bowl that hits the spot on a cold night.

I would definitely recommend using the Edison Grainery Garbanzo Beans that we have here at the store, as they seemed to re-hydrate better than others I have tried. And, I choose to use kale rather than collards.

Serve this with some warm crusty bread and a nice Spanish Rioja….

Spanish Chickpea Stew with Kale and Salt Pork
Adapted from Curate by Katie Button
Serves 4 to 6 as a main course
Read more…

Molded Gingerbread Cookies

Molded Gingerbread CookiesProject Cookies

Let’s face it, the world would be a much darker place if we didn’t have cookies. There are thousands of different cookies in the world, and I am on a mission to try them all. A cookie Bucket List, if you will…

I have found that in general, cookies tend to fall into three different categories: Everyday, Holiday, and Project.

Everyday cookies are the ones you can whip up fairly quickly and easily when that cookie craving kicks in and you must have cookies now! These would be your chocolate chip, oatmeal, snickerdoodle, peanut butter (you know, the classics).

Holiday cookies are just that. These are the cookies you make for Christmas, Hannukah, Easter, etc. They are the family favorites or the recipes that are only taken out to be used at special times of the year. These can be drop cookies, bars, biscotti, rugelach, thumbprints, shortbread, press cookies…the list goes on.

Last but not least is the category I call Project Cookies. These cookies are the high maintenance diva cookies. While most of these recipes can generally be found under the holiday heading, these require a heck of a lot more planning and time to make them turn out right, and can have difficult to find ingredients, or they are just fussy to make.

Hence, they have their own category. Examples include springerle cookies, molded shortbread, French macaroons, Swedish Rosettes, any sugar cookie using royal icing and lastly, Gingerbread in molded cookie, house or man form. These are the cookies that take two days to make.

Don’t get me wrong, they are worth it. And I am planning to do little project baking this weekend to get in the holiday mood. I seem to not be there quite yet. However, a batch of Molded Gingerbread Cookies should help me transform into Mrs Claus.

This past November, I gave my sister a springerle rolling pin for her birthday and I will admit I had a hard time giving it away. (I am hoping she will let me borrow it!) While you can obviously use it for springerle cookies it is also fun, and the ingredients are easier to find, to use it for Gingerbread.

Molded Gingerbread Cookies
Yield is dependent upon the size of the mold.
Read more…

Amy’s Sage Stuffing

Amy’s Sage Stuffing Traditionally Bad

I can’t speak for your family, but in my family there are holiday traditions that are sacred. And these cannot be messed with without serious repercussions. The rules are more strict for Christmas, but the other holidays still have their musts.

There must be Gam’s purple glasses on the table for Easter and, of course, a ham. There must be warm Gingies and Ebleskiver for Christmas. (There is no wiggle room for this one. Ebelskeiver in the Summer is a capital offense—though I have noticed a relaxing of the rules a smidge in recent years…) Thanksgiving is no different, though I do think it’s time for some thought and self-reflection on this one. Here’s why…

For my entire childhood, there were creamed onions on the dinner table for Thanksgiving. The only people who liked them were my grandfathers. And it baffles me to this day that they did. They smelled horrible as the onions bubbled in their sauce on the stove. And, the taste made me gag, Still does—even worse than red cabbage. (Seriously. I am gagging as I write this…) Of course there were always left overs, ’cause after my grandfathers had their serving, that was it. No one else went within five feet of ‘em.

Despite their position as the Thanksgiving pariah, the onions were still there year after year. My grandfathers have been gone for a while now, and I think it’s time that we consciously uncouple from the onions…as a public service. Who’s with me?

So, I asked a number of my friends if they had similar experiences with their Thanksgiving feast. I was pleased to know that my family wasn’t alone in it’s tradition weirdness. Not surprisingly, the one Thanksgiving side that avoided any bad press was the stuffing. I mean it makes sense. How can you go wrong with seasoned buttery bread goodness? And if you make your own not from a mix? Forgeddaboutit!

It’s got to be simple though. None of that newfangled stuffing. If you get funky with the stuffing, we might have problems…

Amy’s Sage Stuffing
Serves 6
This recipe for Amy’s Sage Stuffing tastes best with fresh sage, and is only as good as its ingredients. But it’s so good…
Read more…

Comforting Slow Cooker Pot Roast

Comforting Slow Cooker Pot RoastGive me Comfort…
When I sat down yesterday to write this post, I came up with nothing. I was having a difficult time putting together a coherent thought. To say that I was distracted by Tuesday’s events would be a gross understatement—frankly, I wanted go back to bed. Since that was not an option, I chose to comfort myself with carbs.

There is something about the starchy and the cheesy that can make the most difficult of days just a tad brighter. Also, little slow-cooked protein can go a long way towards a positive attitude adjustment. The combination of the two has been my M.O. for the past couple of weeks.

In fact, over the weekend I made a Slow Cooker Pot Roast with mashed potatoes and gravy. (That’s a whole lot of comfort in a crock pot.) There’s nothing easier than pot roast and it’s a great way to have dinner done when you walk through the door at the end of the day…

Comforting Slow Cooker Pot Roast
Adapted from the Food Network
Read more…

Spiced Apple Cake with Cinnamon Cider Glaze

Spiced Apple CakeCake Walk

This week I am full-on geeking out.

“Why?” you might ask.
“Because Halloween is Monday,” she said.
“Why would that cause you to geek out?”
“Because I was a history major, and my main focus was Celtic history.”

Still confused? (Buckle up. It’s about to get nerdy…)

The modern day celebration of Halloween has it’s roots in the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, which celebrated the end of the summer and the harvest season. The Celts believed that during the festival of Samhain, the spirits of their ancestors would walk amongst the living. Villagers would make offerings of food and wine in order to make contact with the spirits of loved ones who had passed away.

With the good comes the bad. So, for those spirits who were not welcome, the villagers would wear disguises so that they would not be recognized. And the costumed villagers would then lure the evil spirits away with a parade.

As Christianity spread across Europe, the harvest holidays (including Samhain) were basically absorbed into a Christian celebration called the Feast of All Saints and All Souls. So, the food and wine offerings were replaced with soul cakes, which were spice cakes that were baked and given to the poor. They would in turn pray for the souls of the departed as thanks for receiving the cakes.

The concept of Halloween arrived on American shores with the Irish Immigrants in the mid-19th century. Halloween, as we know it, complete with peanut butter cups, Trick-or-Treating, and rubber masks, didn’t really come about until the 1950s. (If you’ve made it this far, thank you. My kids would be rolling their eyes and writhing in pain right now.)

This Friday, my daughter’s school is having their Fall Fest carnival with games, pie eating contests, and the most popular attraction of all…the Cake Walk.

The Cake Walk is basically musical chairs with Devil’s Food. Families donate a cake and the kids walk around in a circle to Halloween-themed music. When the music stops, you find a number. And, if your number is called, you win the cake of your choice. Yee Haw!

Since there is a cake decorating contest to go with it, most people bring Halloween-themed cakes. I, however, will be going the super-traditional spice cake route, as only a card-carrying history nerd can. It will probably be picked last.

Spiced Apple Cake with Cinnamon Cider Glaze
Adapted from King Arthur Flour
Read more…