Poultry

Smoky Bacon Wrapped Chicken Thighs

Smoky Bacon Wrapped Chicken Thighs

INGREDIENTS:
  • 4 bone-in, skinless chicken thighs
  • 8 slices of bacon
  • 2 tsp Smoky Spice Blend 
    • 1 Tbsp. chipotle powder
    • 1 Tbsp. smoked paprika
    • 1 Tbsp. onion powder (eliminate to make this FODMAP-free)
    • 1/2 Tbsp. cinnamon
    • 1 Tbsp. sea salt
    • 1/2 Tbsp. black pepper
DIRECTIONS:
  1. Combine all spices in a bowl, then store in a small container. 
  2. Preheat oven to 375.
  3. Sprinkle the chicken thighs with 1 tsp of Smoky Spice Blend, then wrap each one in 2 strips of bacon.
  4. Sprinkle with the remaining Smoky Spice Blend and bake for approximately 40 minutes.

Recipe from Balancedbites

Family · Family Favorites · Garden · Home · Soups and Stews · Vegetarian

Roasted Tomato Soup

Campbell’s Tomato Soup and grilled cheese were common in our house when the girls were growing up. Now that I’ve discovered homemade tomato soup, the canned stuff is out the door. I roast tomatoes all summer and freeze them for soup and sauces in the winter. The tomatoes I had frozen did not have garlic and onion in them, so I sautéed the onion in a little olive oil and added the garlic when the onions were brown. The end result was delicious. The soup was a little thick, so I added water to gain the consistency I like.

The perfect lunch or dinner for a snowy winter day!

Roasted Tomato Soup

INGREDIENTS:
  • 3 lb. Roma Tomatoes (I used a variety of tomatoes from my garden)
  • Olive Oil
  • 1/2 small onion
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 cup milk or cream (I used Half and Half)
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3 tablespoons fresh basil (I used pureed frozen basil)
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Water or milk to thin the soup to your liking
DIRECTIONS:
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Line cookie sheet with parchment paper. Cut tomatoes in half, drizzle with oil. Add onions, garlic, salt and pepper.
  3. Roast for 40-50 minutes, until the tomatoes start to brown. (At this point you can freeze the tomato mixture for later or proceed with the recipe.)
  4. Scrape the tomato mixture into the blender and add the milk or cream, Parmesan cheese, basil, tomato paste, and sugar. Puree until completely smooth and adjust seasonings to taste.
  5. Serve immediately with grilled cheese for dunking. Yum!

Recipe adapted from thereciperebel.com

https://www.thereciperebel.com/easy-roasted-tomato-soup-and-a-giveaway/

Czech Heritage and Dishes · Soups and Stews

Simple Sauerkraut Soup

Sauerkraut Soup is a wonderful winter meal, reminding me of my Czech roots and of my Mother’s homemade sauerkraut.  I’m obsessed with trying new recipes, particularly those of my family roots.

I have followed TresBohemes.com for some time and enjoy their stories and recipes.  This one is delicious and easy to make.  As they say in the Czech Republic, Dobrou chuť (Enjoy Your Meal)!

SIMPLE SAUERKRAUT SOUP

1/2 tablespoon duck fat (you can use butter or olive oil if you prefer)
1 Polish Kielbasa, sliced
2 large potatoes, peeled and diced
1 jar sauerkraut (lightly rinsed and drained)
1 cup fresh cabbage, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon paprika
1 teaspoon garlic powder
salt and pepper
water to cover
2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons butter
Sour Cream

  • In a large soup pot, melt the duck fat over medium heat.
  • Add the klobasa and cook until lightly browned.
  • While the klobasa is cooking, peel and cut the potatoes.
  • Once the potatoes are diced, add them to the pot.
  • Next add the sauerkraut and fresh cabbage.
  • Stir everything together.
  • Now add the paprika, garlic powder, salt, and pepper.
  • Stir again and then add water until all of the ingredients are covered (you may add more or less water depending on how thick you like your soup).
  • Next raise the heat to high and bring the soup to a boil.
  • Once the soup has reached a boil reduce the heat to low, cover with a lid, and simmer for 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
  • The soup is finished when the potatoes and cabbage are soft.
  • To thicken the soup slightly and to give it a creamier texture, I like to make a rue once the soup is cooked.
  • To make the rue, cook the flour in a small pan over high heat, stirring continually, until it turns a light brown color. Then add the butter, continuing to stir the mixture until it forms a thick golden paste. At this point you should remove the pan from the heat.
  • Now add a ladle of the soup liquid into the rue and stir it until combined. Repeat this step until the rue has thinned in consistency. Once you have added 3 or 4 ladles of the soup liquid to the rue, you may pour the rue into the soup and stir to combine.
  • Serve garnished with a spoon of sour cream and a slice of Czech rye bread.

Recipe from tresbohemes.com

Desserts · Family · Family Favorites · Holidays

Chocolate Mousse by Megan

Megan is the dessert queen of our family.  She whipped up this decadent dessert and served it in an antique compote dish of my Mother’s.  It was rich, velvety and so wonderful.  Perfect for your Valentine’s Day dinner…or anytime you want to spoil your family and friends.

CHOCOLATE MOUSSE

6 ounces (170 g) semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
6 tablespoons (89 g) unsalted butter, cubed
4 large egg yolks
1/4 cup (50 g) granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup (240 ml) heavy cream
Sweetened whipped cream, chocolate shavings, and fresh strawberries for garnish, optional

  • In a small heatproof bow, combine the chocolate and butter. Set the bowl over a pot of barely simmering water. Stir constantly until chocolate is melted and smooth. Remove from heat but leave the pot of simmering water on the burner.
  • In a medium heatproof bowl, whisk the egg yolks and sugar together until well combined. Set the bowl over the pot of barely simmering water and whisk for about 5 minutes, until the mixture turns pale and becomes slightly stiff. Remove from heat.
  • Stir in the vanilla followed by the chocolate mixture. Stir for a few more minutes to allow the mixture to cool then set aside until it cools to room temperature.
  • In a large bowl, whip the cream to soft peaks. Whisk 1/4 of the whipped cream into the cooled chocolate mixture. Use a silicone spatula to gently fold in the remaining whipped cream until fully mixed in.
  • Divide the mousse among four 6-ounce ramekins and refrigerate until set, about 1 hours.
  • Garnish with whipped cream, chocolate shavings, raspberries, or strawberries if desired.

HOMEMADE WHIPPED CREAM

1 cup (240 ml) heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar

  • In a medium bowl, whip cream with an electric mixer on medium-low speed just until soft peaks form.
  • Add vanilla extract and sugar. Continue to whip until the cream forms stiff peaks. Make sure not to over beat, the cream will become lumpy and butter-like.

Recipe from bakedbyanintrovert.com

Cookies and Bars · Family · Holidays

Valentine’s Day Cookies

Valentine’s Day brings back memories of making Valentine’s Day cards, making and eating sweet treats, and enjoying wonderful dinners with those I love. Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be an expensive, extravagant day.  It’s really about being with or talking to those you love.  I often express my love through cooking, as my Mother did.

These colorful cookies were fun to make, to share and to eat.  Share a batch with those you love and enjoy the day!

VALENTINE’S DAY M&M COOKIES

New Favorite · Vegan · Vegetables · Vegetarian

Roasted Cauliflower with Pine Nuts and Raisins

Cauliflower is a vegetable I has grown to enjoy, raw and roasted.  I’ve roasted cauliflower with or without broccoli and other vegetables dozens of time, drizzled with olive oil and kosher salt.  Adding toasted pine nuts and raisins was a delicious treat! I chose to roast flowerettes vs. cauliflower steaks.  Either way, it’s delicious!

The recipe could easily be adapted to Vegan by substituting olive oil for the butter.  I used traditional raisins and dried parsley and, in the future, I plan to try the recipe with Craisins or dried cherries instead of raisins.  Play with it…Make it your own… Enjoy!

ROASTED CAULIFLOWER WITH PINE NUTS & RAISINS

2 heads cauliflower
Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
Kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons pine nuts
1/4 cup golden raisins
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/4 cup fresh parsley, torn

  • Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Cut off the cauliflower stems, then place the heads cut-side down and slice into 1/2-inch-thick steaks. Arrange on a baking sheet in a single layer. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper on both sides. Transfer to the oven and bake until golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes, flipping after the first 10 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, add the pine nuts to a dry medium sauté pan and toast over medium heat until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Add the raisins and butter and season with salt. Cook, tossing, until the butter has melted and coats the pine nuts and raisins. Off the heat, stir in the parsley.
  • Transfer the roasted cauliflower to a serving platter. Pour the pine nut-raisin mixture over the top. Season with salt.

Recipe from Valerie Bertinelli/Food Network 

Appetizers · Family · Family Favorites · Holidays

January 19 – National Popcorn Day

Who knew there was a National Holiday for Popcorn? I am a popcorn fan from way back. I generally take mine with real butter and salt along with a great movie. Although, I would never turn down a bag of kettle corn at the farmer’s market!  I’ve been known to make myself a popcorn birthday cake, too!

Whenever I travel back to Iowa, you can always find a bag or two of local popcorn in my luggage for the trip home.

Researching the history of popcorn, I found popcorn.org to be a great resource of the history and recipes:

Popcorn Dates Back Thousands of Years

Biblical accounts of “corn” stored in the pyramids of Egypt are misunderstood. The “corn” from the bible was probably barley. The mistake comes from a changed use of the word “corn,” which used to signify the most-used grain of a specific place. In England, “corn” was wheat, and in Scotland and Ireland the word referred to oats. Since maize was the common American “corn,” it took that name – and keeps it today.

It is believed that the first use of wild and early cultivated corn was popping. The oldest ears of popcorn ever found were discovered in the Bat Cave of west central New Mexico in 1948 and 1950. Ranging from smaller than a penny to about 2 inches, the oldest Bat Cave ears are about 4,000 years old.

Popcorn in the New World

Popcorn was integral to early 16th century Aztec Indian ceremonies. Bernardino de Sahagun writes: “And also a number of young women danced, having so vowed, a popcorn dance. As thick as tassels of maize were their popcorn garlands. And these they placed upon (the girls’) heads.” In 1519, Cortes got his first sight of popcorn when he invaded Mexico and came into contact with the Aztecs. Popcorn was an important food for the Aztec Indians, who also used popcorn as decoration for ceremonial headdresses, necklaces and ornaments on statues of their gods, including Tlaloc, the god of rain and fertility.

An early Spanish account of a ceremony honoring the Aztec gods who watched over fishermen reads: “They scattered before him parched corn, called momochitl, a kind of corn which bursts when parched and discloses its contents and makes itself look like a very white flower; they said these were hailstones given to the god of water.”

Writing of Peruvian Indians in 1650, the Spaniard Cobo says, “They toast a certain kind of corn until it bursts. They call it pisancalla, and they use it as a confection.”

In South America, kernels of popcorn found in burial grounds in the coastal deserts of North Chile were so well preserved they would still pop even though they were 1,000 years old.

Recent History

The use of the moldboard plow became commonplace in the mid-1800s and led to the widespread planting of maize in the United States.

Breakfast Food

Although popcorn is typically thought of as a snack food today, popcorn was once a popular breakfast food. Ahead of its time and very likely a role model for breakfast cereals to come, during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, popcorn was eaten just as we eat cereal today.

Long before the advent of the corn flake, Ella Kellogg enjoyed her popcorn ground with milk or cream. Although she discouraged in-between meal snacking, she urged others to eat popcorn at meals as popcorn was “an excellent food.” Ella understood, as her husband did, that popcorn was a whole grain. John Harvey Kellogg praised popcorn as being “easily digestible and to the highest degree wholesome, presenting the grain in its entirety, and hence superior to many denatured breakfast foods which are found in the market.”

The Great Depression

Popcorn was very popular from the 1890s until the Great Depression. Street vendors used to follow crowds around, pushing steam or gas-powered poppers through fairs, parks and expositions.

During the Depression, popcorn at 5 or 10 cents a bag was one of the few luxuries down-and-out families could afford. While other businesses failed, the popcorn business thrived. An Oklahoma banker who went broke when his bank failed bought a popcorn machine and started a business in a small store near a theater. After a couple years, his popcorn business made enough money to buy back three of the farms he’d lost.

Popcorn and the Movies

Unlike other confections, popcorn sales increased throughout the Depression. A major reason for this increase was the introduction of popcorn into movie theaters and its low cost for both patron and owner. One theater owner actually lowered the price of his theater tickets and added a popcorn machine. He soon saw huge profits.

The “talking picture” solidified the presence of movie theaters in the U.S. in the late 1920’s. Many theater owners refused to sell popcorn in their theaters because they felt it was too messy. Industrious vendors set up popcorn poppers or rented storefront space next to theaters and sold popcorn to patrons on their way into the theater. Eventually, theater owners began installing popcorn poppers inside their theaters; those who refused to sell popcorn quickly went out of business.

Popcorn sales increase throughout the Depression. A major reason for this increase was the introduction of popcorn into movie theatres.

World War II

During World War II, sugar was sent overseas for U.S. troops, which meant there wasn’t much sugar left in the United States to make candy. Thanks to this unusual situation, Americans ate three times as much popcorn as usual.

Slump and Bump

Popcorn went into a slump during the early 1950s, when television became popular. Attendance at movie theaters dropped and with it, popcorn consumption. When the public began eating popcorn at home, the new relationship between television and popcorn led to a resurgence in popularity.

Today

Whether stovetop popped, fresh from the microwave or ready to eat, Americans love popcorn. In fact, Americans today consume 15 billion quarts of popped popcorn each year. That averages to about 47 quarts per person.

Americans today consume 15 billion quarts of popped popcorn each year.

 

 

Health · New Favorite · Poultry

Change Your Life Chicken

I’ve listened to the podcast ‘The Lazy Genius’ for a while and especially enjoyed the episode talking about her recipe ‘Change Your Life Chicken’.  It sounded so easy and I love roasted vegetables.  Never in my life have I set my oven for 500 degrees F, but I was up for the experiment.  I chopped carrots, sweet potatoes, potatoes and onions.

My oven must run extra hot so I only needed to roast the chicken and vegetables for 35 minutes.  The chicken skin was crispy, the vegetables were cooked through and some were crispy.  It was a delicious dish and a quick meal.  I would have especially loved this recipe when I was working full-time, needing to get dinner on the table quickly.

The instructions below are taken word for word from Thelazygeniuscollective.com website.  She does a great job of explaining the process.

CHANGE YOUR LIFE CHICKEN

What You Need

  • chicken thighs with the bone and the skin
    Yes. I said thighs. That have the bone and the skin. Trust me on this. You can do breasts if you want, but we’re a thigh family to the bone. (I love chicken humor.) Adults eat one, hungry adults eat two, and weird picky tiny kids eat a half.

  • two handfuls of vegetables per person
    You can use whatever you have. Options: onion, carrot, potato, green bean, asparagus, leek, sweet potato, and cauliflower. (Avoid mushrooms, zucchini, squash, and broccoli with this method.) I’ll share some favorite combinations at the end.

  • olive oil, salt, and pepper

How You Make It

1. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. Not a typo. Five hundred.

2. Line a baking sheet with heavy duty foil. Your pan needs to hold your vegetables comfortably – not too close together, not too far apart. Heavy duty is less likely to tear, i.e. to get dirty from chicken grease. Do not use glass. It will shatter. I’d recommend not using any kind of baking dish with high sides because you won’t get the same kind of crisp. Baking sheet… like you use for cookies.

3. Cut your vegetables, and toss with olive oil, more salt than you think you need, and black pepper. These are the sizes to go for: large bite-sized. Carrots take the longest, so make those thinner than the rest. Consider cooking speeds with the vegetables you choose.

Green beans don’t need cutting, so those get tossed with the rest. Notice how cozy the vegetables are with each other but that there isn’t more than one layer.

4. Peel the skin back from the chicken. Don’t wig out. It’s cool. You want to generously season both sides of the chicken with salt and pepper, but you want to season under the skin. So pull back the skin, season, and fold the skin back over.

5. Pat the chicken skin dry with a wad of paper towels. This is how you get magic crusty chicken skin, i.e. the state fair craze somebody needs to start. The best order is to place the chicken skin side down on the vegetables, season, flip, pull back the skin, season, put the skin back, and pat dry. The worst is drying the skin and then realizing you forgot to season the bottom.

6. Place the chicken skin side up directly on top of the vegetables. Here’s what happens: the fat from the chicken skin will seep into the vegetables underneath, imparting flavor and moisture while the exposed vegetables get a tiny bit charred. It’s a perfect marriage of texture and flavor. I’m not showing you a photo of raw chicken because raw chicken.

Ew.

7. Bake at 500 degrees for 50 minutes. Don’t worry if the chicken will be done; it will be. And we don’t have to be concerned about the vegetables burning at such a high temperature because they’re nestled closely together. The most you’ll get will be a few crusty edges, and those are delightful.

And since blog posts don’t have sound effects yet, trust me on the crispiness of the crust. In the Instagram story, I tapped it, and it sounded like a little magic chicken woodpecker. You’re allowed to invent bird species when dinner is this easy.

And that’s it! Then you eat. Bonus: any leftover vegetables are a great snack/lunch straight from the fridge for busy days. (Except for potatoes. Leftover potatoes have a weird texture and are a little depressing. See: old French fries.)

Variations

Start with what’s above, but once you feel comfortable with how it works, feel free to change it up.

  1. Add fresh rosemary or thyme to the vegetables.

  2. Rub the chicken (not the skin) with lemon or orange zest. (Rosemary and orange are a heavenly match.)

  3. Reinvent the meal with different vegetable combinations: onion, potato, carrot; leek and asparagus; onion and sweet potato, green bean and cauliflower. If you love it, try it. The worst that can happen is it’s not great and you won’t make it again.

  4. Same goes for exotic spices. Go nuts with curry powder, a taco seasoning blend, or whatever you want to try. You won’t know if it works until you try.

  5. Use chicken breasts with the bone and skin if you must; be sure to bump the time to an hour. I can’t vouch that it’ll be as good, but I’m not your chicken boss.

Meh, yes I am. Make this chicken, y’all, and change your life.

If you run into any Change Your Life Chicken issues, I dedicated an entire episode of The Lazy Genius Podcast to it. Listen to it here.

My Roots · New Favorite · Soups and Stews

Cabbage Roll Soup

Cabbage Rolls were not a part of my childhood but I enjoyed them as an adult at Hungarian restaurants. I’ve never made cabbage rolls but I loved the idea of soup, my go-to meal in winter.

This is a simple and wonderful soup.  The rice absorbs much of the broth, but you could easily add more broth or vegetable juice.  Yummy!

CABBAGE ROLL SOUP

1 large onion diced
3 cloves garlic minced
1 pound lean ground beef
½ pound lean ground pork
¾ cup uncooked long grain rice
1 medium head cabbage chopped (core removed)
1 28 ounce can diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons tomato paste
4 cups beef broth
1 ½ cups V8 or other vegetable juice
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon thyme
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper to taste

  • In a large pot, brown onion, garlic, pork and beef. Drain any fat.
  • Stir in chopped cabbage and let cook until slightly softened (about 3 minutes).
  • Add all remaining ingredients, bring to a boil and reduced heat to medium low. Cover and simmer on low until rice is fully cooked (about 25-30 minutes)
  • Remove bay leaf and serve.
If you prefer a thinner soup, add more beef broth to reach desired consistency once rice is cooked.
Italian Dishes · New Favorite · Soups and Stews

Italian Wedding Soup

Welcome to 2022! Italian Wedding Soup was on the menu after seeing this recipe on one of my favorite blogs, IowaGirlEats. I had the ingredients on hand and needed to take a meal to my daughter after giving birth to my 5th grandbaby. Be careful that you don’t eat all for the tiny meatballs when they come out of the oven. They are delicious! Next time I would make a double or triple batch of the meatballs, so I would have them in the freezer when I want to make the soup. Serve with a hearty Italian bread.

Italian Wedding Soup

INGREDIENTS:
  • 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 medium carrots, thinly sliced (~1 cup)
  • 2 celery stalks, thinly sliced (~1 cup)
  • 1 large shallot or small onion, chopped
  • salt and pepper
  • 10 cups chicken stock
  • 1 parmesan cheese wedge rind (optional)
  • 3/4 cup dry gluten free orzo
  • 3oz fresh baby spinach, roughly chopped
  • 1 egg
  • 2 Tablespoons freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • For the Pork Meatballs (makes ~75 meatballs):
    • 1/2 cup small-torn pieces of soft gluten free white bread (crusts removed first)
    • 1/4 cup finely grated onion + juices
    • 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
    • 1 egg, whisked
    • 2 cloves garlic, microplaned, pressed, or finely minced
    • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • Pepper, to taste
    • 1lb ground pork (I used Italian Sausage)
DIRECTIONS:
  1. For the Meatballs: Preheat oven to 400 degrees then line a half sheet pan with parchment paper or non stick sprayed foil. To a large bowl add torn bread and grated onion then mix to combine and let sit for 1 minute. Add parmesan cheese, egg, garlic, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper then stir to combine. Crumble ground pork over the top then use your hands to mix until just combined.
  2. Use a teaspoon to portion meatballs out then gently roll in your hands and place on prepared baking sheet – meatballs can be very close together but not touching. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown and cooked to an internal temperature of 160 degrees. Set meatballs aside – can be done a few days ahead of time.
  3. Meanwhile, heat extra virgin olive oil in a large soup pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add carrots, celery, and shallot/onion, season with salt and pepper, then saute until the vegetables are tender, 8-10 minutes. If the vegetables are taking too long to soften, I like to add a glug of extra chicken broth to the pot then place a lid on top and let them steam for a few minutes.
  4. Add chicken stock and parmesan cheese rind (if using) then turn heat up to high to bring liquid to a boil. Add pasta then turn heat down to medium-low and simmer until pasta is al dente, 20 minutes or so. Add cooked meatballs then stir to combine. Bring soup back up to a bubble (may need to turn heat up a touch) then add spinach and cook until wilted and tender, 2-3 minutes.
  5. Whisk egg and parmesan cheese together very well in a small dish. Give the soup a couple of big stirs to get the liquid swirling in one direction then slowly stream in egg mixture. Continue to stir to create small threads of egg (NOTE: the eggs are NOT curdled, they are COOKED – like egg drop soup!) Taste then add more salt and/or pepper if desired. Let soup sit and thicken for 10-15 minutes before removing parmesan cheese rind, scooping into bowls, and serving.

Recipe from Iowagirleats