Roast Chicken, Passionate Potatoes, and Goat Log

My cousin Hannah turned 18 last week. I took her out for coffee yesterday, and gave her a choice in birthday presents. She could have a quilt for her bed in college OR makeup from whatever counter she wanted at Macy’s. (I know. I am an amazing cousin.) After some deliberation, we went to Tea Time Quilting on Tulane here in the Heights. (Tulane! Roll Wave! PS- Did you know that Hanky Panky came out with a collegiate collection, and that Tulane is part of it!?! What good fortune!)

Jana, the owner, also runs Jana’s flowers on the same corner. Let me tell ya’ll: she is a trip, in a good way. She talks fast, walks fast, and knows her stuff. I think she is awesome, and I try to buy whatever I can from her. They also have a ton of fat quarters there, literally boxes upon boxes, all sorted by color, so if you’re into precuts you have to check this spot out. We walked around for a few minutes and ended up leaving with a pattern which later went out the window when we found fabric Hannah loves online that requires something different.

Free Spirit Fabrics have a TON of great lines. I have Deer Valley (how coincidental) as the shade in my bathroom, and have bought several yards of this and that for different projects. All of it is awesome. Hannah is deliberating over the Cottage Garden line. I happen to think it is amazing. They kind of have a Matisse-Floral-On Acid thing going. Love it.

On the way home from Tea Time, she decided to stay for dinner, and boy was that an excellent decision. First of all, Hannah and I found yet another common bond while hanging at my house: we are both serious Martha Stewart fans. Second of all, we ate roast chicken. I love roast chicken.

Now, if you did not know that Martha Stewart had little blurbs on Comcast OnDemand, I’m sorry you’ve missed out so far. They are wonderful. This month is (of course) all about Halloween. She makes glitter pumpkins, a shrunken head tree, and a scary candy bowl that Nikki told me I was not allowed to make because it would bring me too much pleasure in scaring innocent children. We watched almost all of them while I cooked yesterday.

On to roast chicken. I have something to say to anyone out there who cooks: don’t be afraid of the whole bird. You can’t be. They are so much better than the standard boneless skinless chicken breast. I bought a large organic, free-range, never-been-frozen chicken at Kroger yesterday for about $11. It fed Justin (who counts as two people), myself, and Hannah with enough left over for two lunches or a batch of chicken tetrazzini. Seriously, that was a good deal. It would have been even cheaper if I had gone with a bird with fewer bells and whistles, but that was not available fully thawed. I just rubbed it down with a compound butter and stuffed it with lemon halves and herbs. Easy.

Last week Mom had Bunco at her house. She had to make an appointment day-of, so we worked it out that I could help her cook. She made individual pot pies. While we were at Central Market, she found purple fingerling potatoes. I didn’t know purple potatoes existed, much less that they are incredibly good for you and packed with nutrients and antioxidants. Last night, when Hannah and I spotted baby Purple Passion Potatoes at Kroger, we bought them. 🙂

They were a little sweet, and about the same texture as a sweet potato. And they were bright purple inside. I boiled them in salted water and hit them with some finely chopped parsley, butter, lots of black pepper, some crushed red pepper because we like it hot, and a little cream cheese. I’ve done it with sour cream before (if you do this make sure to get a brand name container because the nicer stuff tends to hold up to heat better), and it would be good with goat cheese. I mean goat log.

The goat log part comes from the salad. Justin LOVES goat cheese. I credit myself with that introduction. I try to get him surprises at the grocery store, like some crazy mango-pineapple-guava juice or the supremely spicy Sabra hummus… or goat cheese. Hannah and I, being juvenile, thought that serving “goat log” would be hilaaarious. I mean, really. Goat log. Makes me giggle now.

I made a spinach salad with cherry tomatoes, the goat log, grated carrots, and a homemade lemony vinaigrette. I think it would have been nice with balsamic, too. Grated carrots, along with caramelized onions, are underrated in my opinion. Carrots are good for your eyes, and are loaded with nutrients. They are also cheap.

In Germany, they serve all kinds of little salads with meals. Karrotensalat, literally translated “carrot salad,” is my favorite. Some varieties utilize vinegar, others use a mayonnaise or sour cream base. I couldn’t get enough of it over there. They also had wonderful potato salads, cucumber salads, tomato salads, and more. If you are heading to Deutschland anytime soon, make sure to order them at lunchtime.

All in all, last night was capital. I love nothing better than being with the people I love. Feeding them and giving them presents are a close-second tie. I am so happy I get to make Hannah a quilt that she can take north with her. I know it’s sentimental, but I am honored that I get to be a part of her growing and finding herself as an artist, even if it’s just that I get to help keep her warm at night. I am so happy I have the luxury of making roast chicken on a weeknight. Seriously, Justin’s whole face lit up when I said, “roast chicken.” He smiled even wider at the prospect of S-S-S-Hummus. Hannah ate her weight in passionate potatoes and walked out with the recipe on a 3×5 card. I’m going to have to get mom to make her a cookbook with all the food we ate growing up in it like she did for Elise and I. What a wonderful evening spent in the company of Hannah, Justin, and Martha Stewart. I’m a lucky lady.

 

Side Note: All recipes are under Roast Chicken Dinner on the Recipes page. 🙂 Happy cooking.

Chicken Contest

A few weeks ago Justin and I were talking about where we were going to eat for dinner, and no one wanted to choose. This is a common occurrence with us. The common solution, which Justin suggested then, was rock-paper-scissors. Whoever lost had to decide where we were going AND pay. I “lost.” I chose Popeye’s. I won.

That night, the chicken contest was born. We decided to try all the fried chicken we could find and decide what was best. Before you read on, I should warn you: this contest, if you can even call it that, is completely arbitrary and has no rules. The reliability and validity of our findings are poor, and our methods are questionable. If you decide to go by something we say, you do so at your own peril. 🙂

Since that Saturday, we have been eating fried chicken for lunch or dinner every Saturday. Popeye’s was first, and it was delectable.The biscuits were buttery, the red beans and rice were spicy, and the chicken was juicy, crispy, and good good good! The people who work at the Popeye’s on Shepherd at W 11th are incredibly nice. The whole shebang constitutes a pleasant dining experience. I was truly delighted with my choice and purchase. I won like Charlie Sheen.

I think one of the reasons I like Popeye’s is that it’s the chicken I grew up on. When we were growing up, Elise knew two kinds of chicken: chicken on the grill (which is exactly what it sounds like) and chicken on the bone (FRIED chicken!). That’s still one of my favorite Elise-isms. She has so many good ones. When we ate chicken on the bone we either ate it at home, when Dad made it, or at Popeye’s. Dad does make some tasty fried chicken, for the record. I can eat a LOT of it. Yum. Dad, if you’re reading this, I’m saying nothing more than, “You have not made fried chicken in a long time, and you know we all really like it when you do.” He also makes the world’s best potato pancakes. There’s a good story about those, but I am starting on a tangent.

Back to the chicken contest.

The next week we went to KFC, and it was gross. I mean it. Disgusting. The chicken was soggy! Literally. Soggy. Ew. The gravy (which I had to try, because Cartman on Southpark is sooo obsessed with it) was nasty. The quality of service was poor. I mean, Justin asked for a breast and a thigh (hehehe, I know I’m like an 11 year old but that’s still funny to me!), and they couldn’t even do that! The girl was downright rude! Everything was just gross. I don’t ever think I will go back.

I wanted to write a letter to Southpark telling the producers that Cartman has no logical reason to be obsessed with such a terrible place. I mean, remember the episode where the guys get mad at Cartman because he eats all the skin off the bucket of chicken, and he says, “I don’t get what ya’ll are mad at I left you the good part,” after they come back from helping Stan’s mom bring in groceries? Directly after that he leaves. Well, that’s pretty bad. Hilarious yes, but awful. Now imagine that the chicken skin was soggy. THE HORROR!

I wanted to write another letter to Popeye’s, offering my services to their marketing team. If they don’t want to hire me, that’s fine, but they need to hire someone. I mean, how is KFC beating them?! How is it that Popeye’s is that much better, and people still eat at KFC?! Marketing! Everyone knows KFC: the face, the jingle, but of the four people I polled, all of whom are serious Popeye’s fans, no one could sing, “Love that chicken from POPEYE’S!” No one! It’s kind of sad, really. If someone at Popeye’s reads this, I would be happy to work for ya’ll and help turn this thing around.

KFC doesn’t deserve a letter.

Last week was by far the most interesting in the contest yet: Justin likes Church’s the most now. That’s right. Church’s beat out Popeye’s in a national spicy recipe taste test, and Justin agrees with the majority! I liked the chicken. It was about the same as Popeye’s for me. I also liked that they had okra. I love okra. What I was unimpressed with (which Justin liked) were the red beans. I thought they were lacking. Justin really liked them, though, and they weren’t bad, but they weren’t my favorite.

The biscuits at Church’s, however, were really good. They put honey on them as part of the baking process. I am a huge fan. They were some of the yummiest biscuits I’ve ever had. They also looked like homemade biscuits: nice and ugly. Nothing like some good homestyle cooking. I wonder if I can figure out how to duplicate that…

What with both the chicken and biscuits being delectable, I’d say I am also a Church’s fan. I guess the best way to put it is this: if I wanted chicken, I wouldn’t pass up a Church’s to get to a Popeye’s. I would pass up KFC to get to anything else.

On a side note, I had surgery last week, and I was still sort of on pain killers when we ate Church’s, so my opinion is most likely a little skewed. That’s also why I didn’t write on the blog at all. Sorry about that, but everything I wrote was complete nonsense. Think Alice In Wonderland. I actually decided to work on a story, and wrote a good 2500 words on it, but the next day re-read it and had to delete delete delete. I had, in my delerium, decided to add magic to the plot. Nikki got a real kick out of that when I told her. Narrator foul. 🙂

Tomorrow should be good. Justin and I are going to try Hartz Chicken Buffet. Rod and Zsazsa said they have eaten there several times and that it’s pretty good. We’ll see about that! Popeye’s still reigns supreme for me.

What’s for dinner? : The answer in 11 EASY steps!

Last night it was American food. Good old-fashioned Gulf Coast grub. We had baked chicken, macaroni and cheese, and greens.

It was EASY. You know those people who talk about burning water? Here is a weeknight dinner even they can cook! Here it is in easy steps…

(Don’t be scuured. Most of the longer steps are filled with parenthetical notes. I promise they’re easy.)

1. Defrost the chicken. If your chicken is not frozen, skip ahead to 2.

2. Marinate the chicken in Allegro’s Hot and Spicy Marinade. This stuff is the bomb. It works great with everything. Venison is a particular fave of Justin and mine. Most stores carry it or its less spicy cousin. The spicy one is not that spicy though. Let it soak this up for 15 or 20 minutes. (You can do this for up to 4 hours. If you want to do it all day I would recommend diluting the marinade 1:1 with water, or else it can get a little salty.) While it’s soaking, preheat the oven to 350°F.

3. Use two paper plates. Crack an egg on one and scramble it around. Pour about a handful of breadcrumbs per piece of chicken on the other, and season them up. I like lemon pepper, plain pepper, cayenne, oregano… Basically this is your chance to go to town with any herbs or spices you like. Garlic powder, anyone?

4. Now, there is a proper way to do this and the way I do this, which requires substantially less time, resources, and dirtying of dishes (or paper plates). If you feel like being fancy (or culinarily correct), this is where you would dump some flour out onto a third paper plate and dredge the chicken in that first. I don’t think it matters enough to bother so I just go straight into the egg and straight into the crumbs. (Note: Make sure you mix the spices in. I had a lot of cayenne sitting right on top once and surprised a guest because all the spice ended up on their piece. Oops.) Then put the chicken smooth side up on a sprayed pan. Lather. Rinse. Repeat as needed. Pop it in the oven.

5. Put water in the mac pan and get the bowl with the milk, “cheese,” and butter ready. (I feel bad for all ya’ll who thought this would be fancy macaroni and cheese. This is the blue box kind. At Foodarama, the off brand is on sale every third week for 35¢ per box. There is a little less in there, but seeing as it’s a side dish, that doesn’t matter so much. I’m all for generic.) Open the can of greens (yes, the can… preferably a big can at that. You don’t want to run out of greens. Substitute green beans, peas, or whatever vegetable blows your skirt up. If you’re worried about sodium, rinse the canned veggies in a colander or use frozen ones. Frozen cut okra goes especially well in a pan with a can of diced tomatoes or RoTel. More on that some other time.) and toss it in a pan. Don’t turn that on. Walk away.

6. Go relax for ten minutes. 😉

7. Check the chicken. Turn it around in the oven if you need to. (I need to. My oven is vintage. It’s got little triangles on it, and the 1960’s equivalent of a popcorn button.) Turn on the mac water. Go relax for another 5.

8. Put the mac in the water and turn the greens on medium low heat. (Medium high if you’re using my favorite frozen okra!) Set the table, complete with trivets. * Check the noodles. If they’re done continue. If not, go give boo a kiss (you can give him more kisses, but don’t get too involved because you might be in danger of forgetting the noodles on the stove.) and repeat from * until you can move on. Boo will like this step, especially if you’re quick with setting the table.

9. Drain the noodles. Mix them with the sauce stuff. On the table it goes. Put the greens on a trivet on the table. Get the chicken out (total cooking time should have been around thirty minutes; cut in and make sure the pink is gone) and put it on the other trivet.

10. Ring the dinner bell. Stand at the stairs and yell. Do whatever it is you do, girl, cause I know you do it well.

11. Bon Appetit. Other things you can put on the table are hot sauce and ranch dressing for the greens and chicken. If that’s really not enough food for your family make a salad. Cut up a head of lettuce and throw in some cherry tomatoes… add some grated carrots if you’re feeling really fancy. See? Easy pesy.

Ta-da! Dinner in about thirty-two minutes, if you don’t count marinating time. 🙂

I hope you enjoyed my dinner tutorial. Let me know! I can start doing them once a week or something. Dinner in eleven steps or less type thing.

Welcome / Green Chile Week+ / Etc.

I’m very glad this blog is finally up and running. Welcome, readers! In other words: Welcome, Mom and Rod and Zsazsa!

About two weeks ago I stopped at Whole Foods to pick up dinner. Upon entering I found a 1.9 bushel box of HOT green chiles. In other words, it was a ten pound box of heat, spice, and wonder for less than a Hamilton. So I purchased it and brought it home. Then the chiles sat there while I went out of town for a week. Then I came home and started playing with them. I had to throw some away as they had gotten mushy, but it was ok. I had roughly 8 lbs. left. In about ten days, green chiles were a major ingredient in six dinners. List as follows.

1. The first night, Justin and I had green chile and shrimp enchiladas. They were quite tasty.

2. Two nights later, Nikki came over and we had green chile and chicken enchiladas. She wasn’t a huge fan of the roasted chile I made her try. Apparently she got a “hot” one, and had to down a glass of milk to keep from spontaneously combusting. Thank heaven she remembered her Lactaid or the night would have been a disaster.

3. On Monday, with our new friend Rochel over, we were supposed to have chiles rellenos. Instead, we had shrimp wrapped in green chiles, battered, fried, and smothered in cheese, green salsa, and yummy sauce. In other words, we had “WhyDidn’tYouTellMeYourFriendWasComingAt7-BecauseNowIts6-AndYouKnewAt3!-IAmBeyondFrazzled-TheChilesHaveShreddedUnderTheBroiler-NoChilesRellenosTonightSeñor-IWillHaveToCallForPIzzaIfICan’tThinkOfSomethingElseSoon-IHopeThisPoorGuyIsAGoodEater-Whatever-WhenInDoubtDeepFryItAndWalkAway.” It was good fun. Rochel was a good sport about everything, and despite my initial misgivings, the little shrimp and chile poppers turned out well. I ate several. The evening itself was a great success. I liked Rochel a lot. We all had a frank discussion about spirituality, which is interesting with a first-time dinner guest. We watched professional wrestling, and then Rochel went home with the advice to check out either Second Baptist or First UU on Sunday morning. We went to UU and listened to a hilarious sermon that included a hot pink cast, QT gas stations, and Precious Moments figurines. Rochel’s GPS failed him on his way to Second. I am going to volunteer to go with him next weekend so he won’t have to go alone.

4. Steak Smothered in green chiles with rice and salad.

5. Jambalaya and green chile vegetable medley.

6. Green Chile Meatloaf.

7.  Coming Soon: Green Chile Macaroni and Cheese, Chicken Stuffed with Green Chiles, Some Tasty Main Dish and Green Chile Cornbread

For your viewing pleasure, I thought I would post a picture from my recent trip to the northern states.

Nebraska Pic

Welcome to Nebraska, My Texan Friend!

I had a marvelous time up there. Really I did. Everyone was really nice, and the weather was perfect. High eighties, sunny, slight breeze… I had a great time. 🙂

Recipes are going to go up somewhere else. I don’t know where yet. I also have not figured out how exactly to write them down. I am not a measure-er, and I don’t want anyone to come down on me for posting useless recipes that say things like, “Add some cumin.” The last thing I want in my email are hostile notes asking, “Just how much is ‘some’ cumin? That’s not an accepted measurement.” I think some is roughly a teaspoon. A bunch, for spices anyways, is usually around a tablespoon, and a little bit is usually less than a half teaspoon. I think. My family doesn’t really measure, either. I mean, we do if it needs to be measured, or if trying something new and we are having guests that night. Well, unless you’re me. The hostess-with-the-mostess gene seems to have died out with me. See above story about our poor guinea pig guest for proof.

I shall sign off now. It is getting very close to day time. The only reason I was up at all was because I woke up for no reason, and when I stepped across the hall to the ladies’ room SoCo came flying by out of nowhere and scared me into a state of wired frustration. Quite the productive vanishing hour.