Lemon Garlic & Herb Chicken with Lemony Carrots and Potatoes

Hi Tumblrs! Happy Friday! I hope you are all having a fine summer and enjoying the start of Fall. Summer has been going by so fast! I’m shocked that the kids are back in school already. Is that just a California thing? The days are getting shorter, and nights are getting cooler. Yay, I love it. I’m still cooking, gardening and writing as much as I can. I have about 3 to 5 vegetable gardens I’m working on, in various stages of growth, harvest, demise, replanting, re-seeding, watering, weeding, fertilizing, pest and critter control etc. Anyway, all that work makes me hungry.   

This is an easy dish to make if you have a busy schedule but still want some amazing home cooking. My husband and I always say “home food is best”. It’s true, not just because of price, going out to eat is expensive, but it’s way more cozy and relaxing at home. And you’ll always buy or grow better quality ingredients for yourself than a restaurant will, like free range organic chicken, the most flavorful olive oil, and organic vegetables. 

Here is an easy dish perfect for chilly nights when you worked your ass off all day long and just want to throw everything in the oven and watch some smellovsision. This dish is lemony, garlicky, and deliciously savory. It’s addictive. You will find yourself eating the lemon slices from the top of the dish, they come out like tangy candy.

This is easy, the whole dish cooks in one pan. Here’s how: Wash and dry cut up chicken pieces, add to a large baking or roasting pan. Wash, clean and cut 2 to 4 potatoes into large 2 inch -ish cubes. Same with 3 or 4 carrots. Peel 1 onion and slice into large wedges. Crush and mince 5 to 8 garlic cloves. Chop fresh parsley, basil, cilantro, tarragon, dill, whatever you have, or all of them. Add all of these to a large baking dish, drizzle with about 4 tbsp olive oil, kosher salt and pepper, and 1 tablespoon palm sugar or brown sugar, optional. Cut a large lemon in half, squeeze the lemon juice on, straining out the seeds. Slice another small lemon into rounds, try to remove as many seeds as possible. Toss to coat everything. Arrange the pan with the chicken pieces on top of the vegetables, and lemon slices on top of the chicken. Add another grind of fresh ground pepper and another small pinch of kosher salt. Bake at 375 for about 45 min to 1 hour until cooked through and amazing. Yum! Home cooking is the best. 


Homemade Mexican Food 

 I love to make serious Mexican food from scratch. I live and work in Southern California, so there are Mexican restaurants all around. Most of them are awesome. The ones I don’t love as much are maybe not my favorite because their ingredients aren’t the best, like cheap corn products, or questionable meats. So sometimes I like to spend a couple hours making homemade Mexican everything from scratch. Home made Mexican food, using the best quality ingredients, is delicious and easy to do. It’s a little time consuming, but worth the flavor explosion. The Mexican grocery stores around here are cheaper than any other grocery stores, so that’s good too.

The top picture was the other dish I made to possibly submit to the cheesy Chopped competition, taquitos, stuffed with chicken and poblanos, with ancho chili cheese dipping sauce, shredded lettuce, chopped tomatoes and fresh guacamole. It was delicious. My Hubby and I loved every bite. I didn’t use this photo because after I made it, I saw on their inspiration page they suggest taquitos, so I changed my dish to Fried Chicken & Waffles. Thanks to anybody who voted for me. They don’t announce the winner of round 2 until June 27th. Fingers are crossed and all good luck charms in my small jeans pocket. 

The second picture is a chicken and bean tostada I made the next day because I still had a lot of ingredients. This dish has home made restaurant style salsa, avocado crema, and beans and rice. This was also amazingly delicious. Here are some of the basic components I like to make for a Mexican feast. 

For easy Guacamole: mash avocado, mince shallot, squeeze of fresh lime or lemon, chopped cilantro, chopped tomato, s & p. 

For Avocado Crema: Mix plain yogurt or Mexican crema with a few spoonfuls of the Guacamole.

For easy Salsa: Fresh tomatoes (or a can of tomatoes) in a blender, salt & pepper, 1 garlic clove, chopped cilantro, 1 seeded jalapeño or red chili flakes, lemon or lime juice. Blend until blended but still chunky. Add minced onion that you have rinsed in cold water, at the end. The rinsing is so the onion doesn’t take over.

Tomatillo Salsa: Roast hulled tomatillos in the oven, at 400, with a small onion, a jalapeño pepper, and 2 garlic cloves, for about 20 minutes. Blend the cooked ingredients with lemon or lime juice, cilantro, salt and pepper. 

For Easy Taquitos: Roll your favorite cooked ingredients (chicken, potatoes, charred peppers, cheese) in a softened corn tortilla, secure with toothpicks, fry in hot oil for 3 or 4 minutes.

Easy Cheesy Ancho Sauce: 1 tbsp Butter, minced shallot, salt, pepper, 1 tbsp flour, cook until flour cooks, 1-2 min. Add 1 ½ cups chicken stock or Milk, whisk until it thickens. Turn off heat, add 1 cup shredded cheese and 1 tsp Ancho chili powder. yum.

Easy Tostadas: Fry organic Non GMO corn tortillas in hot oil until crisp. Top with refried beans, cooked chicken seasoned with chili powder, cumin and coriander, lettuce,  tomatoes, guac or avocado cream, & salsa.

For easy Mexican Rice: Oil or butter in a pan, add chopped onions, chopped garlic, chopped jalapeño, and rice. Sauté all ingredients together until fragrant. Add chopped tomatoes, s & p, and enough liquid to cook your rice, I think it’s usually 2 c water to 1 c rice.

For easy Refried Beans: The easiest way is buy a can of low fat organic refried beans. You could doctor it up with Ancho chili powder, maybe a little garlic powder, maybe a little cumin, or just heat it up and let the rest of the stuff you made flavor the beans. The slightly harder, but still easy way, is to buy dry beans, wash them, cook in a big pot with several cups of water or chicken stock, cook for a couple or more hours, add salt and seasonings, mash. Add to a baking dish with some cooked rice, top with cheese, bake until the cheese melts. 

Garnishes for me always include shredded lettuce, chopped cilantro, chopped tomatoes, and a fresh squeeze of lemon or lime. Seriously Yum.

Goat Cheese, Roasted Red Pepper, & Sun-dried Tomato Chicken Sandwich

This sandwich is easy and so delicious! I used leftover herb roasted chicken from dinner the other night. Start with everything French bread (toasted) spread with plain Goat cheese on the bottom, chopped sun dried tomatoes on the top, (the kind packed in olive oil), the cooked chicken, lots of sliced roasted red peppers, (char under the broiler, cover and steam, then peel and chop), mesclun greens, a drizzle with Balsamic vinegar de Modena (this stuff is delicious!) and garnish with peperoncini, and my favorite Castelvetrano olives. Yum!

J. C.’s Shepherd’s Pie

We made these delicious Shepherd’s Pies yesterday for my Dad’s Cookbook. I’m getting close to being done with cooking and photography for this project, but I still have to layout all the pages and export the files to go to the printer. I’m going to be working on it all week. It’s a lot of work, but I like working on big projects. These recipes are all coming out great, I think my Dad is going to be really surprised to get a recipe book of all his dishes for a birthday present.

This was delicious and easy. Here’s how to make J. C.’s Shepherd’s Pie:

Make mashed potatoes by boiling 5 or 6 potatoes in salted water, drain and mash with ¼ cup milk and 1 tblsp butter. Set aside while you make the filling.

My Dad’s version has ground beef, but You can easily make a vegetarian version of this by sautéing the veggies, maybe add some garbanzo or kidney beans, and then make veggie gravy the same way as described below, with flour and butter or oil, and veggie stock. 

Heat oven to 400

Brown 1 lb. Grass fed ground beef seasoned with celery salt & pepper. Drain away any fat. Add chopped vegetables, 1 onion, 2 carrots, 3 stalks celery and 4 crushed garlic cloves. Cook until fragrant. Remove all the veggies and meat from the pan and add 1 tblsp butter and 1 tblsp flour. Cook for a minute or two and whisk in 2 cups beef stock, and ½ bottle of beer, drink the other half. Whisk until it thickens up and add back the other ingredients. At this point add ½ cup corn, ½ cup peas and a big handful of chopped green beans. Season with celery salt, a little more pepper, big pinch of dried basil, a sprinkle of cinnamon, and 1 tablespoon Hungarian paprika or smoked paprika.

Cook the strew until it thickens up a little, about 10 minutes. Spoon into casserole dishes, top with some of the the mashed potatoes and swirl the top around to get crunchy bits, top with cheddar cheese if you want. Bake for 10 minutes until the cheese melts and its bubbly and hot.


Red Salad with Sweet Honey Garlic Dijon Dressing

This is delicious. I’m trying to eat healthy because the weather finally turned cold, well, cold for LA, which means cold at night. So now I’m craving mac & cheese. And steak. I love food and cooking so much, I could easily weigh 50,000 lbs. But I have to stay healthy. I made this big salad for lunch yesterday. I made extra so we could have it with dinner last night. I had some as part of breakfast today with eggs and potato cakes. This sweet crunchy salad makes you forget all about the foods that are bad for you. Sorta.

You can use any kind of salad greens and veggies you like or have on hand in your salad. I used red leaf lettuce, shredded beets, celery, julienned radicchio, thinly sliced purple cabbage, lemon slices and pomegranate seeds. Cleaning and chopping the veggies takes a bit of time, so make extra. You’ll be happy to have something healthy and ready to serve when suppertime rolls around. This goes great with all other foods. We had it for dinner last night with Asparagus Risotto. It was really good. It’s dressed with garlic honey mustard dressing. 

For the dressing, mix together: 1 tblsp dijon mustard, the juice of 1 lemon, 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar, 2 tablespoons plain white vinegar (for a nice strong vinegar bite), 2 tablespoons honey, a pinch of Italian seasoning, a pinch of dried tarragon, 1 garlic clove, smashed open and just let it sit in the dressing to flavor it, and salt and pepper. I think this dressing recipe makes about ¾ cup. Add more honey or vinegar to taste. You could also add the juice or an orange or tangerine for more acidity and sweetness.

Keep the dressing and salad separate until ready to serve. The vinegar makes the veggies wilt, so it doesn’t keep long once dressed. The veggies stay crisp in the fridge for a couple days without dressing. Add nuts, sliced pears or apples, and crispy garlic croutons if you get a hankering’. Serve with risotto, or grilled fish. Or mac & cheese and steak. Yum! 

Bolognese with Egg Noodles

It’s drizzling today. This is the perfect kind of comfort food for chilly, rainy days. I could eat this every day, it’s so delicious! 

In a heavy bottomed pot, saute chopped onions seasoned with salt and pepper in 2-3 tablespoons olive oil and 1tablespoon butter. Add chopped celery, chopped carrots and chopped garlic. Once they’re softened and fragrant, push the veggies off to the side and add grass fed ground beef, and a little more salt and pepper. I like to use grass fed ground beef, but it’s especially important in a dish like this where the meat is the main flavor of the sauce. Let the meat sear and get color on the bottom, (also important for flavor).  

 Let the ingredients cook together until the meat is no longer pink. Drain off any fat. Add 7 or 8 chopped mushrooms and let them cook until they get some color. Add 1 can whole peeled tomatoes, blended, a pinch of cinnamon, ½ tsp dried basil, ¼ tsp sugar, 1 cup red wine, 1 tblsp tomato paste, ( I like the kind that comes in a tube, I keep it in the fridge and use it for stuff like this as needed), salt and pepper, and a bay leaf. Bring up to heat then reduce to simmer, stirring occasionally to prevent it from sticking on the bottom. Let it simmer and bubble for a while until it thickens and becomes amazing. Meanwhile heat a pot of salted water for the spaghetti. Cook according to package directions until al dente. When you drain it, reserve a little of the cooking water. Toss the spaghetti with the sauce in a pot on the stove, adding a little bit of the water from the spaghetti pot if you need to thin it out slightly. The starchy water helps the whole thing come together. Top with Parmigiano reggiano and fresh basil leaves. I like wide noodles with this, it’s also good with macaroni.


Edible landscape update:

We Have Grapes! Yummm, I took these photos this morning in the back yard. I must wait until this bunch is mostly rosy pink before I cut it off the vine and devour them. Waiting is hard work…. are they pink yet?

The first pic in this series shows a massive squash vine that volunteered and is taking over a large portion of the back yard. It’s got these little squashes on it that look like a cross between two other squashes from last year. It also has tons of flowers. I might be making stuffed squash blossoms later today. The other plants in that pic include strawberries, lemongrass, tomatoes, kale, oregano and blueberry shrubs. The second picture is a blooming artichoke. Last picture, Grapes!


Addicted to Crack Salad

I gave my Brother in Law a jar of this Miso Ginger Dressing and he said it was like Crack. This dressing is way better than Crack because it won’t leave you dying on the floor in a quivering mass of sadness, regret and heart failure. It also makes all of your vegetables taste amazing, Crack doesn’t do that. I digress.

In a bowl, grate a small nub of fresh ginger root, smash open one fresh garlic clove (you just leave it in the dressing, smashed open and whole, to flavor the dressing but not overpower it), 2 tblsp rice wine vinegar, 1 tblsp miso paste, 2 tblsp tahini paste, 3 tblsp honey or (1 tblsp sugar or brown sugar,) fresh ground black pepper (no additional salt is needed because the miso paste is very salty), a tiny amount of red pepper flakes (you can add more to taste on individual salad plates, this way it’s versatile for different palates) and 1 tblsp salad oil. Mix well and dissolve all lumps, except the lump of garlic. Serve on freshly chopped raw vegetables, I used red cabbage, garden kale, arugula, carrots, cucumbers and green onions.  You could serve this with roasted sweet potatoes and cooked quinoa to make it into a full dinner instead of just a salad.

The dressing will store in the fridge for a couple weeks. Take the garlic clove out after a day so it doesn’t overpower the whole thing.

The kale in this salad is from our garden. We have 4 kinds of kale growing in our garden right now; Russian Red, Curly Purple, Curly Green, and Tuscan Lacinato Kale. I love Kale salad! Good thing it’s really good for me because I can’t stop eating it. The great thing about growing Kale is that it’s remarkably heat tolerant and sturdy, unlike softer lettuces and greens, which wither in the heat, get bitter and start to bolt. This stuff keeps right on growing from spring into summer, and is harvestable even during the hottest part of the day. Yum!

I just came back from the print shop with 6 copies of a very early, rough manuscript style edition of my first cookbook! Yay! This is my Dad’s cookbook, and I’m giving him a copy for his birthday this weekend. I’m so excited, relieved, and exhausted to be this far with this project, and I can’t wait to tweak it to perfection and self publish. But for now, I’m thoroughly enjoying the frosty cold beverage on the cover, and more than happy to take a break from creating pages in pages. Have a lovely weekend everybody! Happy Birthday Dad!