Long time no see, and just in time for Fall.

Well things have shifted majorly in my world. I realize its been over a year since my last update. Since then I have gotten a new job, moved, got pregnant, had a beautiful baby girl, and after a very brief maternity leave (if you want to call it that), I am back working part time from home.

10710790_10152422381540888_4426890037188315255_nWhile this cutie pie is napping I have sometime to start dinner, and post.

During my pregnancy, I didn’t have any of those “crazy pregnancy cravings” you hear so much about.  Chalk it up to my enjoyment of most foods, or what have you, I found myself eating the same foods as usual, when I wanted to eat.  That was the problem.  I was exhausted most of the time, still working 40 + hours a week, to cook food.  On top of that, nothing really sounded good.  I ate a lot of cheeseburgers, macaroni and cheese, and there were many a night of bread/cheese/meat plates.  It was summer after all, and we had just moved to a second story apartment with no A/C.  I was NOT going to be turning on the oven any time soon.  None of this made for good writing material in my opinion.  I have a food blog dedicated to celebrating food, not whining about how my condition makes things sound yucky.

Getting to the point, its now autumn, my favorite time of year.  I have had weeks of doing nothing but child rearing and watching the food network, and I’ve been itching to get back in the kitchen.  I’ve been warming up the past couple weeks starting off with roasted root veggies and chicken, some soups, and baking cornbread.

Tonight’s dinner started early.  Pot Roast!  Pot Roast is one of those meals that immediately brings me back to holiday dinners at my grandmother’s, and while I make my pot roast differently than she did, the end result is that same comforting meaty hug.  Remember, pot roast takes some time to cook if you want that truly fall apart, melt in your mouth, tenderness, so give yourself time.

I’m starting off with a 2lb chuck roast.  There are only two of us eating, and this will stretch from dinner tonight to lunches tomorrow (pot roast is the one leftover my husband gobbles up).  If you are serving 4 or more and want some leftovers, choose a 4+ lb roast.  I should also mention, this can be done with a Brisket as well, but you will need to alter the cooking time.  I am allowing 3 hours per pound of meat.  I don’t use a meat thermometer with pot roast to tell if its done.  I simply stick a fork in it and try to pull some meat off.  If it comes off easy, its done, plus I get to sneak a taste before dinner.  😀

You can cook a pot roast on its own, but I like to add some starchy veggies to cook in with the meat and soak up all that beefy goodness as they roast together.  You can use, turnips, potatoes, corn, parsnips, carrots, whatever you fancy.  Since its fall, I have been into the seasonal root veggies.  I found some Parsnips and Rainbow Carrots at the produce market, so that’s what I am using along side two smallish yellow onions, and the half empty container of baby bella mushrooms I found in the back of my refrigerator (oops).

I started this process by chopping the parsnips and carrots into 1 inch pieces, and quartering the onions.  In a pan I heated up about 3 Tbsp of Olive oil and 1 tbsp of butter.  I browned all of my veggies with some salt and pepper first, just to get some color, and added them to my cooking vessel (dutch oven, deep casserole dish, roasting pan, whatever you are using).

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Then I seasoned (generous sprinkle of salt and pepper) and browned the meat on both sides creating a crust that will keep everything nice and juicy.

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This took about 4 or 5 minutes on each side, medium high heat.

I set this bad boy on top of my veggies, and poured in 1/3 of a cup of chicken stock into the sizzling hot pan to pull up all the yummy brown bits that stuck to the bottom, and then poured it all over the meat and veggies. You can substitute the Chicken stock for beef, veggie, a nice dark beer, or even water.

I added 1 can of diced tomatoes, a few dashes of Worcester Sauce, a few dashes of red wine vinegar, and enough chicken stock to come up about half way on the meat (about 2 cups).

This is going to cook at 275 until done.  Like I said, about 3 hours/lb, so mine will cook about 6 hours.

The finished product!  Now time to eat.

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Pot Roast Dinner for Two

2 Medium Yellow Onions

2 Parsnips

4 Rainbow Carrots

Any amount of Baby Bella Mushrooms (I used about 1 cup)

3 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 Tbsp Unsalted Butter

2 Lb Chuck Roast

1 14.5 oz Can Diced Tomatoes

2 1/3 cups Low Sodium Chicken Stock

1 Tbsp Worcester Sauce

1 Tbsp Red Wine Vinegar

Salt and Pepper to taste

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Roast A Chicken

Oven-roasted chicken is one of those entrees that can be appropriate to serve in a variety of situations, and as you will see after you try my recipe, its super easy.  Having the family over for dinner?  Roast some chickens.  Need a Monday night dinner with hopes of leftovers for the weeks lunches?  Roast a chicken. Have a $10 budget for a pot luck dish?  Roast a chicken. Are you seeing a trend yet?

Seriously though.  I bought a medium/large whole chicken at my local butcher for under $6. Everything else I used came out of my garden or was already a part of my pantry.  Very little planning was involved aside for taking into account how long a whole chicken takes to roast, compared to individual pieces.

Just a quick note about the seasonings and spices I chose to use in this recipe.  You can use any flavors, seasonings, spices that you prefer.  I happen to be a fan of Rosemary, Garlic, Cayenne Pepper, and Smoked Paprika.  Also, those were the bottles in the front row of my spice rack, so voila.

Here’s what you need:

A Chicken… duh.   Actually, you need a whole chicken.  I buy my meat from a meat market that sells really high quality, local, organic, grass fed (blah, blah, blah, no I didn’t ask what the chicken’s name was) meat for an excellent price.  You can use the fryers they sell at the grocery store and still make a tasty bird.

Other ingredients:

Garlic – 4 to 5 cloves

Fresh Rosemary – 3 or 4 sprigs

Lemons – 2 whole

Black Pepper – to taste

Salt – to taste   (I used a specialty salt from my local spice store that was shallot flavored.  YUM!)

Cayenne Pepper – 1 tsp

Smoked Paprika – 1 tsp

Unsalted Butter – 3 Tbsp

Olive Oil – 3 Tbsp

Red Wine Vinegar – 1 Tbs

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Instructions:  Preheat your oven to 425° F with your rack in the middle.

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Line you baking pan with foil and place the bird on the tray.  Squeeze your lemons all over and inside the chicken, then stuff the squeezed lemons into the cavity of the bird.  Lift the edges of the skin covering the breast and poke your finger in so that you make a separation between the skin and the meat.  Stick some rosemary under the skin, then put the rest in the cavity of the bird.  You will also stick cloves of garlic and pieces of butter under the skin as well.  As the butter melts your bird will suck it up and keep the meat nice and juicy!

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Rub the bird down with the spices, cover it with foil and bake it for 20 minutes.

After 20 minutes, turn the oven down to 375°F and bake for another 50 minutes.  Take the foil off and rub the chicken down with the olive oil and vinegar whisked together and bake the bird for another 20 minutes or until the skin is crisp and the inside temperature of the chicken reads 165°F.  You will need to use a thermometer for this (I hope that’s obvious) and make sure the thermometer is stuck in the chicken meat, not touching bone.

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If you want a side dish, try sauteing some potatoes and broccoli in some of the chicken drippings from the roasting pan.  You will need to add seasoning to the veggies since hopefully, all the seasoning from the chicken stayed on the chicken for your dining delight.

Enjoy, and let me know how your chickens turn out!