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.

Appetizers · Breakfast · Czech Heritage and Dishes · New Favorite

Cabbage Pie

Cabbage Pie is a new recipe, similar to a Frittata.  I had cabbage that I needed to use and the other ingredients were on hand.  What a simple, delicious recipe. It’s easy to imagine my ancestors making a similar dish from these simple ingredients. I did not add cheese to my pie. Next time I would experiment with different cheeses and herbs.

CABBAGE PIE

1/2 head green cabbage, thinly sliced
one small onion, halved and thinly sliced
salt and pepper
3 eggs
salt and pepper
1/2 cup to 2/3 cup flour
Shredded cheese (optional)

  • Combine sliced cabbage and onion in a bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  • Beat 3 eggs and add salt and pepper to taste.  Pour egg mixture over cabbage and onions.
  • Add flour to cabbage mixture and stir to combine.
  • Add sunflower or canola oil to a non stick pan.  Heat oil over medium heat.  Add cauliflower mixture.  Cover skillet tightly with aluminum foil.  Place wooden cutting board (or heavy flat pan) on top of skillet.
  • Cook over medium heat for 15-20 minutes, until golden brown.
  • Remove cutting board and foil.  Flip cabbage pie onto plate and place other side down in pan.  Optional:  Sprinkle top with cheese and  cook until cheese is melted and bottom is golden brown.

  • Remove from pan.  Slice into wedges and serve.
  • Optional:  Top with a dollop of sour cream and chopped green onion.

Recipe from Olesea Slavinski on youtube.com

Breakfast · Casseroles · Garden · New Favorite · Vegetarian

Sweet Corn and Zucchini Pie

Fresh local sweet corn, zucchini from the garden and delicious mushrooms are a wonderful combination for this savory pie. My daughters do not like mushrooms, but another vegetable (roasted peppers, additional corn, etc.) would be just as good. I have served the pie warm and cold and enjoyed them both. This pie is so versatile it could be served for brunch or a light summer supper with a salad or with juicy garden tomatoes.

Sweet Corn & Zucchini Pie

INGREDIENTS:
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • half of a yellow onion, diced
  • 2 ears sweet corn
  • 2 large zucchini, sliced very thinly (about 4 cups)
  • 8 ounces sliced mushrooms
  • 1 tablespoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 12 ounces shredded cheese (I used both Mozzarella)
DIRECTIONS:
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Heat the butter in a large, deep skillet over medium high heat. Add the onions, zucchini, and mushrooms. While the veggies saute, cut the corn kernels off the cob. Add them to the pan and continue to saute until the veggies are soft, 5-10 minutes. Remove from heat.
  2. Once the mixture has cooled for a few minutes, stir in the basil, oregano, salt, cheese, and the beaten eggs. Line a pie pan (9-inch or larger) with parchment paper or just grease a pan with nonstick spray. Transfer the mixture to the pan. Arrange the top so the zucchini slices lay flat and look nice. Top with a little extra cheese for looks, cover with greased foil, and bake for 20 minutes. Remove foil and bake for an additional 5 minutes to brown the top. Let stand for 10-15 minutes before cutting into slices.

Recipe from Pinch of Yum

Family Favorites · Garden · Salads · Vegan · Vegetarian

Panzanella

Panzanella, or panmolle, is a Tuscan chopped salad of soaked stale bread, onions and tomatoes.  It often includes cucumbers, sometimes basil and is dressed with olive oil and vinegar. It is also popular in other parts of central Italy (per Wikipedia).  The first time I had this salad, about 10 years ago, I fell in love.

It’s a scrumptious salad, any time of the year, but especially when I have fresh tomatoes from my garden.  Fresh, flavorful and healthy!

PANZANELLA

3 tablespoons good olive oil
1 small French bread or boule, cut into 1-inch cubes (6 cups)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 large, ripe tomatoes, cut into 1 inch cubes
1 cucumber, unpeeled, seeded, and sliced into 1/2 inch thick
1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
1/2 red onion, cut in half and thinly sliced
20 large, fresh basil leaves
3 tablespoons capers, drained

VINAIGRETTE:

1 teaspoon finely minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons Champagne vinegar
1/2 cup good olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  • Heat the oil in a large sauté pan. Add the bread and salt; cook over low to medium heat, tossing frequently, for 10 minutes, or until nicely browned. Add more oil as needed.
  • For the vinaigrette, whisk all the ingredients together.
  • In a large bowl, mix the tomatoes, cucumber, red pepper, yellow pepper, red onion, basil and capers.  Add the bread cubes and toss with the vinaigrette.  Season liberally with salt and pepper. Serve, or allow the salad to sit for about half an hour for the flavors to blend.

Recipe from Food Network, Barefoot Contessa

Garden · Home · New Favorite · Vegetables

Layered Baked Ratatouille

Ratatouille is a vegetable side dish filled with wonderful flavors.  Every time I say the word ‘Ratatouille’ I have to smile and think of the Disney animated film Ratatouille. The young rat, Remy, dreams of becoming a famous French chef.  Such a funny film, great to watch with children, grandchildren or in the privacy of your own adult home…no one needs to know you’re watching a cartoon!

Celebrate after watching the film by enjoying the real deal!

LAYERED BAKED RATATOUILLE

2 cups (16 oz.) crushed tomatoes
2 tbsp. tomato paste
1 small onion, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp. fresh thyme leaves (or 1 tsp dry) (plus more for sprinkling)
½ tsp. salt (plus more for sprinkling)
¼ tsp. pepper (plus more for sprinkling)
2 medium zucchini, thinly sliced*
2 medium yellow squash, thinly sliced*
2 small eggplant, thinly sliced*
2 red bell peppers, stemmed, seeded and cut into 1” squares
Olive oil
Parmesan cheese, to top (optional)

  • Preheat oven to 375F.
  • Spread 1 tbsp. olive oil in the bottom of a 9 inch cast iron skillet. In a small bowl, mix the crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, onion, garlic, thyme, salt and pepper. Pour the mixture into the base of your skillet.
  • Layer the sliced vegetables vertically around the skillet, packing them as tight as you can. (We find that it is easier to layer the zucchini, squash, and eggplant in the skillet and then go back in and tuck the red peppers within the layers after the other vegetables have been filled in.)
  • Season the top of the vegetables with additional salt, pepper, and thyme. Drizzle with more olive oil.
  • Place the skillet in the oven and bake for 45 minutes or until bubbly and the vegetables are softened and starting to brown slightly.
  • Garnish with Parmesan cheese, if desired.

Recipe from Curiouscuisinere.com

Family Favorites · New Favorite · Sandwiches

Runza

I know Runzas are a staple to my Nebraska and Kansas friends but not something we grew up with in Iowa.  A few years ago I was watching the television show, Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives where they visit Lauer-Krauts  in Brighton, Colorado.  A friend and I made the trek to Brighton to try one of their krautburgers and they were delicious, but frankly, too far a drive when you have a craving.

This recipe was close to what we experienced and I decided to give it a try.  It was very good and I would love to try making them with either a mixture of fresh cabbage and sauerkraut or simply with sauerkraut.  Growing up in Iowa, Mom’s homemade sauerkraut was amazing and I now love all things kraut!

IMG_7620 IMG_7616

RUNZA

Makes 10 Runzas

Dough:

1/4 oz packet of dry yeast
3 tablespoons sugar
4 large eggs
3 1/2 cups bread flour
12 tablespoons salted butter
2 teaspoons salt

Filling:

1 pound lean ground beef
salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoons salted butter
1 Vidalia onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon rosemary
1 tablespoon canola oil
1/2 head cabbage, chopped

  • To make the dough, combine 3/4 cup of very warm water, a pinch of sugar, and the yeast in a bowl. Let it sit until it blooms. If you’ve never done this before, pop yourself some popcorn and sit back and enjoy the show. You’ll know what I mean when the “blooming” begins. Okay, maybe it’s not that cool…
  • Add 3 of your eggs and whisk with your yeast mixture.  Add 2 cups of your flour to the liquid and mix well with a wooden spoon.  Add the butter, the sugar, the remaining flour and salt and mix well.
  • Knead the dough on a floured surface for about 5 minutes.  Place the dough ball in a buttered bowl and let sit for one hour at room temperature.  Transfer to the refrigerator and let sit for at least an hour.
  • Remove the dough and divide into 10 equal portions. Roll into separate balls and let sit covered while you make the filling.
  • Speaking of the filling, get your ground beef sizzlin’ on a skillet.  Season as desired with salt and pepper.  Cook until lightly browned, then remove the beef from the skillet with a spoon and place it in a bowl, leaving most of the grease behind.  Add your butter to the skillet and begin sizzlin’ your onion.  Cook until translucent, about 10 minutes or so.  Add your garlic, thyme and rosemary and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes.  Add this whole mixture to the bowl with the beef.
  • Next, using the moisture still in your skillet, get the pan nice and hot.  Add your cabbage and stir constantly until the cabbage is lightly browned and translucent-ish.  It may seem like a lot of cabbage at first, but it shrinks down substantially.  Add the cabbage to the beef mixture.
  • Flatten your balls of dough with a rolling pin.  Each dough saucer should be about 8 inches in diameter.  Place 1/3 to 1/2 cup of filling in the center of each dough-saucer and pull the edges together and pinch to enclose the filling in the dough.  To avoid a thickened dough-seal, I actually cut off the excess dough with cooking shears.  If you don’t do something like this, you’ll find a doughy center as you take your first chomp.
  • Preheat the oven to 375° while the runzas sit and rise for a bit.  Brush some of the egg (your remaining egg of the 4 you originally had) on the top of each runza to give it a nice browning while in the oven.  Cook the runzas on a greased baking sheet for about 25 minutes or until golden brown.

Recipe from Highheelsandgrills.com 

New Favorite · Soups and Stews

Broccoli Cheddar Soup

Cold winter nights mean hearty soups in my kitchen. Broccoli Cheddar Soup is always a favorite when dining out but I’ve rarely made it.  This is a great recipe that has become a family favorite.

IMG_7524

BROCCOLI CHEDDAR SOUP

1 tablespoon + 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1 small/medium sweet yellow onion, diced small
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced finely
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups low-sodium vegetable or chicken stock
2 cups fat-free half-and-half (I used regular half-and-half)
3 cups broccoli florets, diced into bite-size pieces
2 large carrots, trimmed, peeled, and finely chopped
3/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika or regular paprika, optional and to taste
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard powder, optional and to taste
pinch cayenne pepper, optional and to taste
8 ounces grated extra-sharp cheddar cheese, with a small amount reserved for garnishing bowls

  • In a small saucepan, add 1 tablespoon butter, the diced onion, and sauté   over medium heat until the onion is translucent and barely browned, about 4 minutes. Stir intermittently.
  • Add the garlic and cook about 30 seconds, stirring constantly so it doesn’t burn. Remove from heat and set pan aside.
  • In a large heavy-bottom pot, add 4 tablespoons butter, flour, and cook over medium heat for about 3 to 5 minutes, whisking constantly, until flour is thickened. You are making a roux and it’s very important the mixture is thick or soup will never thicken properly later.
  • Slowly add the vegetable stock, whisking constantly.
  • Slowly add the half-and-half, whisking constantly.
  • Allow mixture to simmer over low heat for about 15 to 20 minutes, or until it has reduced and thickened some. Whisk intermittently to re-incorporate the ‘skin’ that inevitably forms, this is normal.
  • While mixture is simmering, chop the broccoli and carrots. After simmering 15 to 20 minutes, add the broccoli, carrots, and the onion and garlic you previously set aside.
  • Add the salt, pepper, optional paprika, optional dry mustard powder, and optional cayenne.  Stir to combine.
  • Allow soup to simmer over low heat for about 20 to 25 minutes, or until it has reduced and thickened some. Whisk intermittently to re-incorporate the ‘skin’ that inevitably forms, this is normal.
  • Optional: I used a Braun hand blender to blend the vegetables into a creamier consistency.
  • While soup simmers, grate the cheese. After simmering about 20 to 25 minutes, add most of the cheese, reserving a small amount for garnishing bowls. Stir in the cheese until melted and incorporated fully, less than 1 minute.
  • Transfer soup to bowls, garnish with reserved cheese, and serve immediately. Soup will keep airtight for 5 to 7 days in the fridge. Reheat gently in the microwave.

Recipe slightly adapted from Averiecooks.com  

Breakfast · New Favorite

OMG Scrambled Eggs…with Pesto, Bacon, Roasted Tomatoes & Peppers

OMG Scrambled Eggs were an experiment, a gamble that paid off.  ‘OMG’ was the first thought that came into my head when I took the first bite. Adding the coincidentally roasted fresh tomatoes and peppers was a fantastic addition.
I also made this recipe combining the tomatoes and peppers into the egg cups and loved them as well.
The recipe could be adapted easily to add more bacon, cheese, pesto or whatever floats your boat. Worth trying!  I may be dreaming of this tonight.

OMG SCRAMBLED EGGS

3 slices bacon, sliced into 1 inch pieces
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 bunch swiss chard (or kale) stemmed and chopped
1 dozen eggs, whisked
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons pesto
1/4 cup mozzarella cheese
roasted tomatoes and peppers (optional)
  • Sauté the bacon in a non-stick skillet until cooked about half way.
  • Add onions and cook through.  Drain most of the bacon fat off.
  • Add Swiss chard and cook until it wilts.
  • Add the eggs, salt and pepper, and pesto.
  • Stir the eggs often to assure they cook through.
  • Add cheese when eggs are about half way cooked.
Serve with warm roasted tomatoes and peppers.
MUFFIN EGG CUPS: Mix all ingredients together, including the chopped roasted tomatoes and peppers. Grease muffin tins and bake egg cups at 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes until done in the center and golden brown.
Family · Garden · Home · Italian Dishes · New Favorite · Pastas · Vegan · Vegetarian

Roasted Tomato, Sausage and Pesto Sauce

Fall brings the bounty of tomatoes, basil and much more. Older daughter, Megan, told me about a roasted tomato and pesto sauce she made. I tweaked it a bit to serve my tastes. I love the idea of adding pesto to a rich, red tomato sauce. It was delicious and definitely a new recipe for my collection.

ROASTED TOMATO AND PESTO SAUCE

1 pound Italian sausage, cooked and drained
3 cups roasted tomatoes and peppers, cooled and blended (recipe below)
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 tablespoon olive oil
3-4 garlic cloves, diced
Cube of pesto (about 1/3 cup)
26.5 ounce can San Marzano tomatoes, chopped or blended
1 cup water
1 tablespoon fresh, chopped basil
1 pound cooked pasta (I used bow tie pasta) and 1 cup of pasta water
Parmesan Cheese (optional)

  • Core and slice tomatoes. Halve and remove seeds from peppers.
  • Arrange the tomatoes and peppers on a heavy cookie sheet (I line with parchment paper).  Drizzle with Avocado oil and sprinkle with sea salt or kosher salt.
  • Roast at 400 degrees until the edges of the vegetables start to char and are cooked through.
  • Blend the mixture to a smooth consistency.
  • Cook and drain the sausage. Drain and set aside.
  • Sauté onions in olive oil and when almost cooked through, add the garlic. Continue to salute until garlic is cooked through.
  • Add roasted tomatoes and peppers, pesto, San Marzano tomatoes, water, basil and sausage.
  • Heat thoroughly.
  • Add 1 cup of pasta water to sauce. Stir.  Add drained, cooked pasta, and stir to mix thoroughly.
  • Serve with Parmesan cheese.
Appetizers · Family Favorites · Garden · New Favorite · Vegan · Vegetarian

Fresh Corn and Tomatillo Salsa

My garden continues to produce plenty of tomatillos and when paired with fresh sweet corn, cilantro and seasonings, it makes a wonderful salsa. I’ve also used it to top my favorite Papusas from the Farmer’s Market. It wold also be wonderful paired with chicken or fish. A new favorite!

CORN AND TOMATILLO SALSA

4 ears fresh corn kernels
2 seeded and finely chopped jalapeno peppers
4 cups husked, chopped tomatillos
1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons water
3 tablespoons fresh, chopped cilantro
tortilla chips

  • In a large skillet, combine the corn kernels and jalapeño peppers. Cook and stir for 10 minutes, until the jalapeños are soft.
  • Add the tomatillos, green pepper, onions, lime juice, water and coriander to the corn and jalapeño mixture. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
  • Remove from heat. Cool. Stir in cilantro.
  • Cool salsa in the refrigerator until ready to eat.
  • Serve with tortilla chips

Recipe adapted from:  http://allrecipes.com/recipe/19686/corn-and-tomatillo-salsa/?internalSource=search%20result&referringContentType=search%20results