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.

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

Czech Heritage and Dishes · New Favorite · Soups and Stews

Kettle Goulash

Over the past year, I have tried several versions of Hungarian/Slovak/Czech Goulash.  This recipe used pork and a lot of paprika and marjoram.  At first I was hesitant to use that much spice but, trust me, it’s worth it.  This flavorful Goulash soup is wonderful paired with a crusty bread.  

KETTLE GOULASH

1 ¼ lb. pork shoulder (you may substitute with beef or use half pork and half beef)  into 1-inch cubes
1 large onion, finely chopped
3 tbsp. lard or cooking oil
2 garlic clove, crushed
2 tbsp. paprika
1/2 tbsp. ground caraway seeds
1 tbsp. marjoram
12 oz. potatoes
1 medium carrot diced
2 stalks of celery chopped
1 medium parsley root diced (I substituted 1 chopped red pepper)
1 large tomato chopped (I substituted a 16 oz. can diced tomatoes)
1.5 liter (or 4.2 cups) water
Salt and pepper
  • Heat oil or lard in a large pot and cook the onions until translucent.
  • Add the meat and fry until it is pale brown and sealed.
  • Add parsley, carrot, celeriac, paprika, marjoram tomato and simmer over low heat until the meat is half cooked. (I added garlic at this point vs. later
  • Add water and simmer gently for another 30-40 minutes.
  • Add potatoes and cook for further 10-20 minutes until the potatoes are cooked.
  • At the very end, add the crushed garlic and cook for another minutes.
  • Turn off the heat and season with salt and pepper.
  • Serve hot.

Recipe slightly adapted from Global Slovakia course Slovakia: Beyond the Known

New Favorite · Salads · Vegan · Vegetarian

Peach Quinoa Salad

Fresh Colorado Peaches are the best!  Quinoa is a favorite so why not pair them together with other scrumptious ingredients for a yummy, cool summer salad!

PEACH QUINOA SALAD

1/4 cup chopped parsley
1/4 cup lime juice
1 tsp. agave nectar or honey
1 tsp. sea salt
1/2 cup olive oil
3 cups cooked quinoa
1 Tbsp. chopped parsley
2 fresh Peaches cut into chunks
1/2 cup dried wild blueberries (or bing cherries)
1/2 cup spicy pecans chopped
1/2 cup diced carrots
1/2 cup diced celery
1/2 cup diced cucumber
1/2 cup diced red pepper
1/4 cup chopped scallions
1/4 cup red onion diced

  • Mix the first 5 ingredients in a bowl; set aside.
  • Add the other ingredients together in a larger bowl.
  • Mix in the dressing. Garnish with parsley. Serve.

Recipe from reluctantentertainer.com

New Favorite · Vegan · Vegetarian

Vegan Winter Lentil Stew

Vegan Winter Lentil Stew is a flavorful, hearty winter stew.  I first tried this soup when hosting book club and preparing two stews 1) Vegan and 2) Beef Stew.  The key to the flavor in this soup is the Dijon mustard.  Who knew it could pack such a yummy punch.  Even non-lovers of lentils and beans have enjoyed it.  If you insist on adding a protein, go for it!  I’m sure it would be delicious.

WINTER LENTIL STEW

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 yellow onion
4 cloves garlic
4 carrots (about 1/2 lb.)
4 stalks celery
2 lbs potatoes
1 cup brown lentils
1 tsp dried rosemary
1/2 tsp dried thyme
2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1.5 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp brown sugar
6 cups vegetable broth
1 cup frozen peas

  • Dice the onion and mince the garlic. Add the olive oil, onion, and garlic to a large soup pot and begin to sauté over medium heat.
  • While the onion and garlic are sautéing, dice the celery, then add it to the pot and continue to sauté. As the celery, onion, and garlic are sautéing, peel and chop the carrots into half rounds. Add the carrots to the pot and continue to sauté.
  • As the onion, garlic, celery, and carrots are sautéing, peel and cube the potatoes into 3/4 to 1-inch pieces. Add the cubed potatoes to the pot along with the lentils, rosemary, thyme, Dijon, soy sauce, brown sugar, and vegetable broth.
  • Briefly stir the ingredients to combine, then place a lid on the pot, turn the heat up to high, and bring the stew up to a boil. Once it reaches a boil, turn the heat down to low and let it simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Toward the end of the simmer time, when the potatoes are very soft, begin to mash the potatoes a bit as you stir. This will help thicken the stew.
  • Finally, after 30 minutes, stir in the frozen peas and allow them to heat through. Taste the stew and add salt if needed. Serve hot and enjoy!

Recipe from: Budgetbytes.com  

Appetizers · Holidays · New Favorite · Vegetarian

Gobble Gobble Vegetable Platter

Let’s be honest.  Thanksgiving is typically not a vegetable-rich zone.  I love the idea of adding a vegetable platter for adults and children to munch on before, during and after the main event.

 

Inspired by Pinterest, I made this platter last year thinking my 4 year old grandson would think it was cool.  In passing, he may have thought as much but the adults seemed to enjoy it more.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family.  Wishing many blessings to you and yours.

Eatingrichly.com

Garden · Gluten Free · New Favorite · Vegan · Vegetables · Vegetarian

Sweet Potatoes, Carrots and Apples Roasted with OJ

Roasted Vegetables are my absolute favorite yet I didn’t discover this technique until a few years ago.  My carrot harvest this year was the best I’ve ever had, despite Joe’s (my 12 year old Golden Retriever) attempts to steal the carrots out of the basket.

I found this wonderful recipe which did not call for apples, but in later versions I added the apples and loved the added sweet/tart bites.

SWEET POTATOES & CARROTS WITH APPLE CIDER THYME

2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
3 medium-large carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch rounds
1-2 apples, peeled and chopped in large pieces
1 small red onion, cut into 1-inch pieces
3 whole garlic cloves
1/4 cup apple cider
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp chopped fresh thyme
salt and pepper to taste

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  • Place cut sweet potatoes, carrots, red onion and garlic cloves on a baking sheet and spread them in a single layer.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together apple cider, olive oil, thyme, salt and pepper. Drizzle mixture all over vegetables and toss to coat evenly.
  • Roast for 35-45 minutes, until vegetables are caramelized to your liking. Serve immediately.

Adapted from http://www.myjewishlearning.com/blog/food/2014/10/13/sweet-potatoes-and-carrots-with-apple-cider-and-thyme/

Family Favorites · Salads · Vegan · Vegetarian

Cilantro-Lime Vinaigrette for Quinoa Salad, Green Salad or Marinade

Cilantro is an herb that people either LOVE or HATE.  I’m on the love side of Cilantro. It brings such a fresh, aromatic addition to select dishes, including this Vinaigrette and Salad. This Cilantro-Lime Vinaigrette was a discovery a few years ago and I love it, especially on a summer Quinoa Salad, enjoying the salad throughout the week.

CILANTRO LIME VINAIGRETTE

3 T extra virgin olive oil
3 T red wine vinegar
2 T freshly squeezed lime juice
1 small jalapeno pepper (or less) chopped
1 clove garlic, halved
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1.5-2 tablespoons fresh cilantro

  • Put all ingredients in food processor or blender. Pulse until ingredients are blended. Shake before serving.

QUINOA SALAD

  • To prepare the quinoa, cook 1 cup quinoa to 2 cups liquid (water or chicken broth) for 15-20 minutes. Drain. Cool.
  • Then I throw in whatever I have on hand: onion, peppers, beans (garbanzo or black beans), carrots, celery, tomatoes, etc.  I’ve never had a combination I didn’t like.  You can use it as a side dish or add a protein to make it an entrée.
Garden · Gluten Free · New Favorite · Skinny · Vegan · Vegetarian

Spring Garden Vegetable Soup

Can you tell I’m in the mood for spring? My past two recipes have been all about it! This Spring Garden Vegetable Soup has also been in my ‘must make’ stack.  I like the versatility of this recipe, easily adapting to Vegan or Vegetarian (using vegetable stock and omitting the cream and chicken) and it is Gluten-Free.

This soup is light and, oh, so healthy.  Daughter Sarah served a small bowl to 10-month old grandson, Evan, and he really liked it!  I served the soup with the not-so-healthy baked Red Lobster Biscuits (which Evan DEVOURED) but a hearty whole-grain bread would be wonderful paired with this soup.

SPRING GARDEN VEGETABLE SOUP with ASPARAGUS, ARTICHOKES, PEAS & SPINACH


6 cups stock (chicken or vegetable)
4-6 cups water (to reach desired thickness)
1 tablespoon butter
1 leek, cut into half circles
2 ribs celery, trimmed and cut into half-inch thick pieces on the diagonal
3 carrots, trimmed and cut into half-inch thick pieces on the diagonal
1 15-ounce can artichoke bottoms, tough bits sliced off and discarded, remaining parts cut into lengths
16 ounces frozen artichoke hearts (from Trader Joe’s)
8 ounces asparagus, woody ends snapped off, skin pared off if tough, spears cut into one-inch lengths, tips set aside
8 ounces frozen peas
8 ounces frozen spinach
Generous salt & pepper to taste
1/2 teaspoon tarragon
Cream to taste (1/4-1/2 cup)
Optional: 2-3 cups chopped chicken
  • In a large pot, melt the butter. Add the leek, stir to coat with butter and let cook until just soft.
  • Add the celery and carrots to the pot, stirring to coat with butter and cooking until soft.
  • Add the artichoke bottoms, artichoke hearts and asparagus lengths (leave the tips aside).
  • Add the stock and bring the soup to a boil. Reduce the heat to maintain a slow simmer until all the vegetables are cooked through. (Optional: Add cooked chicken at this point).
  • Stir in the asparagus tips, peas and spinach and let cook through. Add water to reach desired thickness.
  • Taste, then season with salt and pepper. Stir in cream to taste. Best if left to rest for 24 hours before serving.

Recipe adapted from ALANNA’s TIPS

New Favorite · Skinny · Vegan · Vegetarian

Asparagus Tapenade…almost Springtime treat!

Tender stalks of asparagus at the store are a sign that Spring is upon us (or at least we hope it is). This recipe for Asparagus Tapenade has been in my stack of ‘must try’ recipes for a long time.  I wish I could remember where the recipe came from so I could give proper credit.

Asparagus Tapenade is a great recipe for anyone, but is a tasty treat for those practicing a Vegan or Vegetarian diet.

I served the Tapenade with vegetables and bits of bread.  It was great with both but I LOVED it on artisan bread. 

ASPARAGUS TAPENADE

1 pound asparagus (thick spears work fine)
1/4 cup pine nuts
2 large cloves garlic
1/2 cup fresh basil or fresh tarragon
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons fresh thyme, optional
1/4 teaspoon fresh pepper
Additional salt and pepper to taste
  • Bring pan of water to boil over high heat.
  • Rinse and trim ends from asparagus, then cut in 1 – 2 inch pieces.
  • Add asparagus to water, return water to boil, reduce heat to medium. Cook until just soft and still bright green, about three minutes. Drain well.
  • Meanwhile, toast pine nuts in a dry skillet over medium high, stirring occasionally, watching carefully to avoid burning.
  • Add remaining ingredients to a food processor. Add toasted pine nuts and cooked asparagus. Pulse until thoroughly blended but still roughly chopped.
  • Transfer to clean container and refrigerate until fully chilled. Serve with crackers, vegetables and/or on crostini/bread.