Monday, February 28, 2011

Baking Chicken experiment

I had a great day at work, the first one in a long time, so I decided to celebrate by baking a chicken and posting it.  The experiment here was two fold.  1) I'm using the timer setting on my thermometer for the first time, and 2) I'm trying a new sauce on the outside of the bird.

Baking a chicken is VERY easy.  Especially when you've got a butcher like mine who sells half chickens.  Half chickens are perfect for two people and even provide us with leftovers for the next day.
 I should have started taking pictures earlier in the process, sorry, but this is what we've got.

Start with your chicken half bone side up. Sprinkle it with salt and pepper. Whisk 1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard with 1 tablespoon of lemon juice (or use a fork because who's really going to get out a whisk for such a small amount of sauce).
This is what a bottle of lemon juice and a bottle of Dijon look like without showing any brand names, in case you didn't know.

Use your pastry brush to apply the "sauce" to the underside of the chicken. I use the term sauce lightly. It's going to bake into a crust. Then spread 10 to 15 sprigs of fresh thyme and 4 to 5 cloves of minced garlic on the bottom side. Keeping the garlic and fresh herbs under the chicken flavors the meat without burning them.

This is what the underside of the chicken should look like when it's done. Please don't judge me for the jar of garlic. They only had Chinese garlic at the market and it looked nasty.

Flip the chicken over. We're going to give it the same treatment as the underside. First salt.
You can tell I'm salting the chicken here because you can see a chicken in the picture. Oh wait... I just realized I took a picture of my salty hand.

Pepper the top side, same as the bottom.

Brush your sauce/ crust mixture onto the top.

Next we're going to move onto side dish number one. Potatoes. I like potatoes if you didn't notice. We're going to chop them up, season them, and bake them in the same dish as the chicken.
Scrub your potatoes and cut them in half this-a-ways.

Then quarter those halves, this-a-ways.

Oh my gosh, is that a normal picture of a person salting food. I think I hear angels singing. Salt and pepper your potatoes.

Guzzle a tablespoon or two of olive oil over the taters. Toss it all together with your fingers so that every tater has enough seasoning. Add these around the chicken.

This is the prebaked product.

And here is the prebaked product with my thermometer probe buried into it's breast. Literally. Apparently you're supposed to stick the probe in horizontally not vertically. Someone told me that after the mess that you're about to read about.

I set the alarm on my thermometer to 167, which is 2 degrees above the 165 degree recommended on the website I looked at two weeks ago. Are you noticing something wrong with this situation? After the bird reached 167 I took the bird out to rest and cranked the broiler up to 450. I put the potatoes back in to get a nice crisp skin while the bird rested. At this point I also had finished some frozen vegetables. You have to eat your veggies before you can have desert kids!

I started to cut open the bird when I realized the juices were running pink and not clear and it was still raw in the middle. Grrr!

So I pulled my now GORGEOUS potatoes out of the oven, put the bird back in the oven, and waited 20 minutes. 20 minutes later, the juices appeared to be running clear and the thermometer was reading over 180. Drat I thought. This bird is overcooked! It was a lie. There was still some pink juice under the chicken and it was STILL raw inside.

So in that bird went for ANOTHER 20 minutes. Don't ask me why I was baking at 20 minute intervals. I have no idea.

20 minutes later, I walked back into that kitchen fists raised, guns blasin', and cussin' up a storm that would make a fleet of sailors blush. The bird was finally done. My potatoes were now cold as were my vegetables. So back into the oven went the potatoes. Into the microwave went the vegetables. In my state of low blood sugar I managed to scramble this plate of food together.
And then I ate it! This one had a really good sized thigh. In my house, I get the thigh and my husband gets the wing and the drumstick. I hate chicken breast, so the breast gets saved for another recipe the next day. The lemon Dijon crust was lovely, but I didn't eat all of the skin because it's not that healthy. You can have a little bit and still feel good. Husband did eat all the skin.

And by the way, SAVE YOUR CHICKEN BONES. And any skin you don't eat. And all the fat, garlic, thyme, and good bits from the bottom of the pan. Put it in a container and stick it in the freezer. I'm going to show you how I make chicken stock sometime soon.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Experimental Broccoli Soup

AHH! Once again I realized I should be posting a recipe half way though making it. But this time I bit the bullet and just photographed half of the process instead. I promise I'll do better next time. This week I bought 3 stalks of broccoli to steam in salt water for side dishes. After cooking the florets, I decided to save the stalks and see if I could make soup with them. My original plan was to make chicken noodle soup, but I decided I wanted chicken tortilla instead. I'm a bit obsessed with chicken tortilla soup right now. You can see my recipe here:

At the grocery yesterday, they didn't have any non factory chicken (Angry Eyebrows!!!) so today's soup is actually black bean tortilla soup. That's fine, I love black beans.

Except for the chicken, I followed the usual directions on the FarmBell website. Then, after I had the other vegetables chopped, I got out the broccoli stalks and gave them a good scrub in the sink.

I chopped them into disks.

Including the skinny bits at the tops.

And then quartered the disks. My hope was that DH wouldn't notice the small pieces of broccoli among the small pieces of green pepper.

When I got to the tough bottoms of the stalks, I stopped. Towards the bottom of each stalk there was an area where I almost had to force my knife through. When I got to this point in the stalk I decided to stop.

This is the soup after it's been simmering in the crock pot for only an hour before the milk and corn starch has been added. At this point, it smells WONDERFUL!

And this is after the milk and corn starch.

Ready to eat!

DH quiz time: "What do you think is in this soup?"

And his answer: "Broccoli." So he could taste it but he told me he didn't care because he likes broccoli. And it's a very nutritious vegetable. We should all have more broccoli in our diets.

Canning Jars

Mother-in-law and I went second hand shopping yesterday. I found these really pretty Ball and Mason canning jars.

This is a wide mouth.

This is my favorite. I love the pretty design around the food items. It's the same pattern as the wide mouth, but it's a quart instead of a pint.

I can't wait to fill them with tomatoes and green beans next fall!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Tasty Potatoes

So last week I did some experimenting in the kitchen and thought it would be great to add some experimental posts to my blog to show that every endeavor in the kitchen doesn't have to be a success, but some are. But since my hands were either completely covered in goo or we'd already consumed the food when I had these thoughts, you get no pictures or recipes. And since we all have to start somewhere, and usually we have to start small, I give you tasty potatoes. We've had these for dinner the past two nights.

In order to get the taters nice and crispy, we need a screaming hot oven, so preheat it to 450.

Scrub you potatoes (you don't have time to peal them) and slice them in half lengthwise.

This is a bad example because my two halves are not even. Do not slice your potatoes like this. You can see that I'm only making 3 tonight, but this recipe works for whatever amount of potatoes you need.

Depending on the size and thickness of your potatoes, cut 4 to 5 wedges from each half. Pile the wedges onto your baking sheet.

You need to drizzle a few tablespoons of olive oil over your potatoes, which is easier to do if they are piled close together. I kept pressing the wrong button on my camera phone and ended up with potatoes swimming in olive oil. Don't drown your potatoes like me. We need a small amount of fat to keep the potatoes from burning and sticking to the pan in the high heat. We're not oven frying here.

Sprinkle on a teaspoon of salt and a half teaspoon of fresh ground black pepper.

Tonight I wanted garlic flavored, so I added about a half teaspoon of garlic powder. You can use whatever seasoning you want here. Rosemary is also very good. Sometimes I keep it simple and just use salt and pepper.

Go ahead and use your fingers to toss the wedges in the seasoning and oil. This helps make sure that you have oil and seasoning evenly covering all of the potatoes.

Spread the wedges evenly out on the baking sheet with one of the white sides down.

Bake for a blurry 15 minutes. Note to self, no more timer pictures.

After 15 minutes, the bottoms of the wedges should be golden brown. Using a spatula or fork, flip the potatoes over to their other white side. Bake these for 10 more minutes.

We had these Tasty Potatoes with pot roast and vegetables.

Albus the cat is ready to eat. Please note, this is my husband's serving, not mine. That's a lot of meat and potatoes!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentine's Day

Today is a significant day for two reasons. 1) It's Valentine's day. My husband made dinner, which he usually doesn't do unless I'm sick. We had heart shaped blueberry pancakes, eggs and bacon.

When He gave me the plate he explained that there are three hearts at the bottom and two hands holding up the sun. :)

And number b) Today I officially handed in my letter of resignation. I told my principal and the important people I work with last month, but my principal told me that it wouldn't be official until I submitted my letter to the board. So today, with no idea what I was doing, I addressed my envelope to the board c/o the superintendent, and stuck it in the bucket that goes to the high school. I hope that's how you're supposed to resign.

Sunday, February 6, 2011


Not that you're reading this, but do you every worry that you'll never be happy? Do you every worry that you can make changes to make your life better, but it doesn't really matter because you're not going to make anything better? I do. I worry that I'm leaving one bad job for another. That maybe I just don't have the social skills to ever enjoy working with other people. I don't want to be the girl that "doesn't play well with others", but I worry that that's who I am.