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.

Book Club · Gluten Free · Health · New Favorite · Salads · Skinny · Vegan · Vegetarian

Watermelon Heirloom Salad

Book Club almost always inspires me to try making something new and the Watermelon Heirloom Salad has been on my list of ‘must try’ since my sister-in-law, Betty, told me about it.

I served this in July with tomatoes and watermelon in season. It is a refreshing salad especially during the hot days of summer. The salad was served with the feta on the side since some of our members are Vegan.  Easy peasy and satisfies all.  What a wonderful fusion of great flavors.  It’s now one of my favorite summer treats.

WATERMELON HEIRLOOM SALAD

3 large heirloom tomatoes (about 1.5 pounds), cored and cute into chunks or 2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved (I used multi-color cherry tomatoes)
4 cups cubed watermelon
1/2 cup fresh mint, roughly chopped
1/2 cup fresh basil, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar (I used Champagne vinegar)
juice of 1 lime
Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup fresh feta (don’t skimp on the quality of the feta)
1 lime, cut into wedges

  • Combine the tomatoes, watermelon, mint and basil in a bowl.
  • In a separate bowl, mix together olive oil, vinegar, lime juice, salt and pepper to taste.
  • Pour olive oil mixture over the fruit and toss to mix.
  • Cover and refrigerate for several hours.
  • Just before serving, sprinkle the feta over the salad (or on the side). Serve with lime wedges and sea salt.

Recipe from FreyFarms

Garden · Health · New Favorite · Salads · Vegan · Vegetarian

Arugula and Cinnamon Basil Salad

Cinnamon Basil…who knew there was such a thing.  I grew Cinnamon Basil in my garden, not really sure what I would do with it.  It truly has a cinnamon essence and is great in salads.  I adapted this recipe, adding chopped walnuts and Craisins to add a fruity, crunchy addition to the salad.  Next time, I may add a little crumbled goat cheese.  Mmmmm.

ARUGULA AND CINNAMON BASIL SALAD

6 cups rocket (arugula)
1 cup cinnamon basil, torn (I used a little less)
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup Craisins

DRESSING

1/3 cup red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons water
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup sugar
1 dash salt

  • Put the dressing ingredients in a jar, cover, and shake well.
  • Put the rocket, onion, walnuts, Craisins, and basil in a salad bowl and toss, with a little dressing.

Recipe adapted from Food52.com

Breakfast · Cookies and Bars · Health · Holidays · New Favorite

Maple Pumpkin Oatmeal Breakfast Bars

Breakfast oatmeal in a bar or cake form is my favorite.  Most of this year I’ve been eating my Breakfast Oatmeal Bars, but a favorite fall flavor of pumpkin and maple is calling my name.  Daughter, Megan, told me about these bars and made a batch for me a few weeks ago.  They are absolutely delicious and the original recipe was posted by IowaGirlEats,  a website my girls and I love!

Since I didn’t have Pumpkin Spice, I made my own from a recipe on Taste of Home.

I like my breakfast bar with a dollop of Greek yogurt and fresh fruit on the side with hot coffee! It doesn’t hurt to warm the Breakfast Bar for a few seconds in the microwave, either.  Healthy and delicious breakfast!

Maple Pumpkin Oatmeal Breakfast Bars

2-1/2 cups gluten-free old fashioned oats, divided
1 cup milk, any kind (I used unsweetened almond milk)
1/2 cup pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
1/2 cup pure maple syrup (not pancake syrup)
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 Tablespoons chia seeds
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup pecan halves, roughly chopped (optional)

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees then spray an 8×8″ baking pan with nonstick spray and set aside.
  • Add 1 cup old fashioned oats to a food processor or blender then process until oats have turned into flour. Set aside. (Alternatively you could use a scant cup oat flour.)
  • Add milk, pumpkin puree, maple syrup, coconut oil, egg, and vanilla to a large bowl then whisk to combine. Add remaining 1-1/2 cups oats, oat flour, chia seeds, pumpkin pie spice, baking powder, baking soda, and salt then stir to combine. Fold in chopped pecans then pour batter into prepared baking pan.
  • Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until the edges are golden brown and the center has set. Check on the bars at the 25 minute mark – if the edges are browning too quickly, place a piece of foil on top of the baking pan. Cool before slicing into bars then store in the refrigerator, or individually wrap bars in saran wrap and freeze.

Recipe from Iowa Girl Eats

Maple Pumpkin Oatmeal Breakfast Bars

Breakfast · Cookies and Bars · Gluten Free · Health · New Favorite

Berry Oatmeal Breakfast Bars

These Berry Oatmeal Breakfast Bars are great for breakfast on-the-go or for a snack.  The bars are free of refined sugar and gluten.  The original blueberry recipe from Iowa Girl Eats is delicious (of course everything she makes is!).  My second batch was made with blueberries and raspberries…Yum!  I may try to substitute applesauce for the bananas on a future batch for family members that don’t like the taste of bananas.

Wouldn’t these be great to freeze and have on hand especially for busy Moms once the kids are back to school?

BERRY BREAKFAST OATMEAL BARS

  • 2.5 cups certified gluten-free old fashioned oats, divided (I actually just used the food processor on all of the oats)
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup mashed banana (about 2 small or 1 large banana)
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 heaping cup of berries
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees then spray an 8×8″ baking pan with nonstick spray and set aside.
  2. Add 1 cup old fashioned oats to food processor or blender and process until oats have turned into flour (Note:  I blended the entire 2.5 cups).  Set aside.  Alternatively you can use a scant cup of oat flour.
  3. Add milk, mashed banana, honey, coconut oil, egg, and vanilla to a large bowl then whisk to combine.  Add remaining 1.5 cups oats, oat flour, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt then stir to combine.  Fold in the berries then pour batter into greased baking pan.
  4. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until the edges are golden brown and the center has set.  Cool before slicing into bars and store in the refrigerator.  Alternatively, you can individually wrap the bars in Saran Wrap and freeze.

Recipe adapted slightly from: Iowa Girl Eats

Breakfast · Cakes · Gluten Free · Health · New Favorite · Skinny · Vegetarian

Cran-Apple Oat Cake

Gluten-free eating means I rarely eat toast, breakfast pastry, etc.  Sometimes, I just need a carb ‘fix’ and this recipe sounded delicious.  I slightly altered the original recipe and loved the results. The second time I made this recipe, I substituted blueberries for the Craisins and baked in muffin paper/tins.  I’ve shared both versions with good feedback.  I’ll even admit that I didn’t eat all of it soon enough and the last piece was a bit dry.  I thought, ‘why not put almond milk on it?’ like a bowl of oatmeal. It was delicious.

A new favorite for my gluten-free recipe box!

CRAN-APPLE OAT CAKE

2 cup old-fashioned oats
1 cup unsweetened almond milk
3 single-serving packets of Pure Stevia
2 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce
1/3 cup egg whites
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 small tart apple, chopped
1/2 cup Craisins (original recipe called for cranberries)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

  • Soak the oats in the almond milk in the refrigerator overnight.
  • In the morning, combine all ingredients.
  • Spread in greased 9-inch pie plate (or muffin tins).
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.

Recipe adapted from Briana-Thomas

Family Favorites · Gluten Free · Health · New Traditions

Sweet Potato Chili (aka Paleo Chili)

When the temperatures drop and the snow flies, my mind races to a great bowl of chili. My oldest daughter, Megan, has been raving about the Paleo Chili, that I will refer to as Sweet Potato Chili. She is on a Whole-30 and Paleo diet, and she referred to this chili in her post on Life Love and Garlic.

I modestly adapted the originally recipe and the result was amazing. I’m not on a Paleo diet, but I LOVE this recipe. I could see this recipe easily adapted to Vegan by browning mushrooms (with a dash of olive oil) instead of beef and substituting vegetable broth for beef broth.

SWEET POTATO CHILI (AKA PALEO CHILI)

1 pound ground beef
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and diced small
1 – 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 1/2 cups beef stock
1 tablespoon paprika
1-2 cloves minced garlic
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon hot sauce (optional)
2 tablespoons lime juice (optional)

  • Chop onions and bell pepper and place in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat with ground beef. Using a spatula or wooden spoon to break up the meat, as it browns, into small pieces.
  • Once the meat is browned and the onions are soft, drain fat if needed.
  • Add crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, beef stock, and all spices except hot sauce and lime juice. Stir well.
  • Add peeled and diced sweet potatoes. Bring to a boil and then reduce to simmer. Simmer for 30 minutes or until sweet potatoes are fork tender.

Optional:  Add hot sauce and lime juice. Taste. Adjust seasonings as needed.

Recipe adapted from Sweet Potato Chili from The Lucky Penny Blog

Gluten Free · Health · Vegan · Vegetarian

Spinach Tomato Lentil Soup

In the New Year, many of us have vowed to lost weight (5% for me) and eat healthier. This recipe from Aggie’s Kitchen grabbed my attention with the healthy vegetables and protein of the lentils. It’s an easy soup to make and full of nutrients. It makes a large batch and I found I added more and more water since the soup gets quite thick. I’ve shared some with a vegan friend and frozen some for a later treat.

SPINACH TOMATO LENTIL SOUP

1 lb. dried lentils
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 carrots, diced
2-3 celery stalks, diced
1 large onion, diced
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 red bell pepper, diced
2 large cans diced Italian tomatoes, with liquid
2 tablespoons vegetable bouillon (or replace some of water with vegetable broth
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
12 cups water
1 1/2 teaspoons dried parsley
salt and pepper, to taste
1 bag fresh spinach

  • In a large pot, heat olive oil and add vegetables, garlic, bouillon, spices and pinch of salt and pepper. Sauté vegetables in oil for about 7-10 minutes until soft and fragrant. Add diced tomatoes, water (or broth), and lentils to vegetable mixture.
  • Bring soup to a slow boil for a few minutes, then back down to a simmer. Simmer, uncovered, for about 20-25 minutes, until soup starts to thicken.
  • Taste for seasoning as its cooking, add more water if it gets too thick.
  • In the last 5 minutes of cooking, add fresh spinach leaves to soup and gently stir to combine.

Recipe Adapted from Aggie’s Kitchen

Health · Holidays

2014 Health Goals that make sense

The new year is a time for fresh starts, new goals, and hope for the future. This week I heard an interview on ABC with Dr. Richard Besser that outlined 5 ways that can improve your health without being overwhelming.

5 Ways to Improve Your Health in 2014

1)  Lose 5% of your weight:  We all have the desire to lose weight and, in reality, more than 5%; however, 5% is a great step toward improving our health. I can do that!

Day 2/365 - New Years Resolution

2) Take 5 Minutes and Move:  Our society is a ‘sitting society’ at work, at home, driving, etc. Take 5 minutes several times a day to get up and walk around, take a few flight of stairs…move!  When I was working at home one of my doctors suggested I set a timer that went off every 20-30 minutes to remind me to get up, stretch and move around.  We know that we are supposed to exercise 30 minutes a minimum of 5 days a week, but if that isn’t doable, chunk it down into smaller increments several times a day.  Beats nothing!  In 2014 my goal will be to increase my yoga practice and walk more (now that the darned boot is off!).

3)  Take 5 minutes every morning:  As Mom always said, breakfast is the most important meal of the day. I’ve always been good about breakfast, grabbing a Greek yogurt or a boiled egg. Take 5 minutes to make/eat breakfast and improve your mental state for the day and curbing binges later in the day.

English: American healthy breakfast in Chicago...

4) 5 Things You are Grateful for TODAY:  Each day focus on the positives in your life, taking mental note of the little things that make a difference. Did someone say hello to you today, open a door, call you to chat, etc.?  At the end of the day, before bed, think of those 5 things and perhaps jot them in a Gratitude Journal.  A few years ago, I pledged to review a daily reading in two different books and keep a gratitude journal.  I made it through the year and found it very inspiring.

Gratitude Journal

5)  Take 5 Minutes for You:  Time is such a precious commodity and most likely time for you is at the bottom of the list.  It was for me for many years.  There were too many family and work commitments and just not enough time for me.  I’ve learned the hard way that unless you take care of yourself, you cannot take care of anyone else.  The suggestion made by Dr. Besser was to meditate twice a day for 5 minutes.  Meditation, in my definition, is to clear your mind of all thoughts.  Clear the clutter and stress from your day and start anew.  While I do not practice meditation regularly, I find that when I do, it is wonderfully refreshing and I feel at peace.

For me, Prayer is also a critical piece of the formula for peace and comfort each and every day.

2014 is full of surprises and we will do the best we can do. My advise to those that are killing themselves with stress from work and family…slow down…enjoy and appreciate the little moments with joy and laughter…take care of yourself…and have a healthy, joyous New Year!

Family · Health

Getting the Boot!

Getting the boot is the pits! This time, the boot is the result of a stupid little stumble on the back porch. Another one of my klutzy moves! Another silly spill on the steps at home seven years resulted in a fractured fibula and ‘the boot’. So glad I kept this stylish gray fall footwear.

2013-11-21 10.44.35
Getting the Boot

When the incident occurred yesterday I toughed it out thinking it would get better. I climbed ladders, trimmed trees, raked and realized it wasn’t improving.  So much for listening to my body per Tuesday’s post!

After encouragement from friends on Wednesday night, I saw the Dr. and the x-rays spoke the truth I didn’t want to hear, a fractured 5th metatarsal.

English: A fracture of the fifth metatarsal of...
English: A fracture of the fifth metatarsal of the foot, commonly known as a en:Jones fracture (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

During my last episode with the boot I went to Europe and had a great time being pushed around Barcelona and Prague in a wheelchair and ‘hoofin’ it’ in Amsterdam with crutches. Another BIG thanks to daughter Megan for pushing me around on those beautiful (and bumpy) cobblestone streets. I made that work so how bad can this be?

DSCN1144

While I know I am totally blessed, these little ‘hitches in our giddy-ups’ are just annoying! Couldn’t be a better time of year to 1) go Christmas shopping, 2) shovel snow on my north facing driveway, 3) tell the Golden, Retriever, Joe, that it will now be another few weeks before we can go for a walk.

Joe

Seriously, it’s no big deal, just a hiccup.  This time of year, it’s a good reminder to slow down, be careful (on snow and ice), relax and enjoy the holidays.

Happy Friday!