Monthly Archives: October 2014

In Case You Haven’t Had Enough Pumpkin

It’s kind of a crazy thing the flavor of pumpkin has really monopolized the entire Fall season, over the past several years. I only say this because I’m seeing things flavored pumpkin, that I’ve never seen before. There are Pumpkin Oreos, breakfast cereal, M&Ms, potato chips, gum, jello, ice cream, yogurt, coffee, tea, beer and condoms. Condoms?? I thought that this was all getting to be a bit much, until yesterday~ I was shopping for kitchen hand soap. I really like the kind that’s scented like lime & coconut, or maybe almond, grapefruit or pomegranate. I about choked when my eye caught pumpkin scented soap. Really? It didn’t even say “pumpkin spice,” but just “pumpkin scented.” Really? C’mon…

Real pumpkins

Real pumpkins

I’m really not anti-pumpkin, though I think the world has gone quite mad about turning every, single last thing that we eat, see or smell into a pumpkin. In fact, I have a wonderful recipe for pumpkin muffins that you might like to try, just in case you also have managed to shield yourself from the avalanche of pumpkin products.

I really like my muffin recipe, just because it’s pretty healthy, with only having a half cup of sugar and butter. The pumpkin is full of vitamin A, and then they can be made from whole wheat flour, without anyone even taking notice. I like to add walnuts and raisins for texture, and then I garnish with sprinkling of turbinado sugar and  pumpkin seeds.

Canned pumpkin

Canned pumpkin

 

The recipe is also really easy, too. Just grab yourself a can of pumpkin and get to it.

Here’s what you’ll need:

1-2/3 cup flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon ginger

1 cup canned pumpkin

½ cup sugar

½ cup milk or buttermilk

2 eggs

½ stick (½ cup) butter, melted

1 tablespoon molasses

½ cup chopped walnuts

½ cup raisins

turbinado sugar for garnish (optional)

pumkin seeds for garnish (optional)

—————————————————————

Preheat oven to 400º F.

In medium sized bowl, whisk dry ingredients together~ flour, salt, spices and baking soda. Set aside.

In larger bowl, combine sugar, pumpkin, butter, molasses, eggs and milk or buttermilk.

Mix dry into wet ingredients

Mix dry into wet ingredients

Gradually add flour mixture to pumpkin mixture, mixing just until everything is moistened.

Garnish first with turbinado sugar

Garnish first with turbinado sugar

Pour into paper-lined muffin tin. If garnishing, sprinkle tops of muffins with turbinado sugar…

Then sprinkle with pumpkin seeds

Then sprinkle with pumpkin seeds

…and a few pumpkin seeds, pressing the seeds down lightly into the batter.

Ready for the oven

Ready for the oven

These are now ready for the oven. Bake muffins for 20-25 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.

Cooling

Cooling

Cool on wire racks. Makes 1 dozen.

Pumpkin muffins

Pumpkin muffins

Good for breakfast or a snack

Good for breakfast or a snack

Good for a Halloween treat

Good for a Halloween treat!

Have a Happy Halloween!

Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner!

I’m in the mood for roast chicken, and it’s probably because I’m feeling the “winds of change” blowing. Yes, it finally feels a bit like fall here, because the winds finally started up again, and it looks like a bit of rain may be coming with them. This usually means that I’m ready and willing to fire up my oven again, since it’s not so hot outside.

Roast chicken with lemon, garlic and herbs

Roast chicken with lemon, garlic and herbs

I have a favorite roast chicken recipe, that I clipped from a newspaper, many years ago. That’s not a great source to acknowledge, but It’s the best I can do. But, I’ve also made it so many times that I know it by heart. It is Roast Chicken Stuffed with Rosemary, Lemon and Sage.

 

Olive oil, lemon, garlic and herbs

Olive oil, lemon, garlic and herbs season this chicken

What makes it a favorite are the herbs and garlic that are tucked under the skin with olive oil. Then the roasting process starts with the chicken placed in the pan breast-side-down, so that those herbs get heated up first, the skin starts getting a bit brown from the start, and your kitchen starts getting really fragrant! The chicken is also stuffed with rosemary, more garlic and chunks of lemon, so the meat is permeated with wonderful flavor. I love this recipe so much, that back when I was single, I made it almost every Sunday for a year. I would feast on it the first night, and have chicken sandwiches for lunch for a week. If there was any left by the end of the week, it would go into soup.

Here’s what you’ll need:

1 medium to large whole chicken
Fresh rosemary, 3-4 5-inch sprigs
Fresh sage, 3-4 large leaves
Fresh parsley, a small handful
5 cloves garlic
olive oil
1 lemon, cut into slices or wedges (I’m using Meyer lemons~ more is good for garnish, too)
Salt & pepper
Trussing pins and string

Potatoes for roasting along side, if desired…thinly coat them with oil or cooking spray to keep them from sticking

——————————————————————–

Preheat oven to 400°.
Prepare a roasting pan with cooking spray or a thin coat of oil. Thoroughly wash the chicken, removing giblets and neck from cavity. Pat dry with paper towels, and stuff the cavity paper toweling to dry the inside. When dry, rub salt inside the cavity.

Loosen the skin from the breast meat

Loosen the skin from the breast meat

A spoon can be helpful

A spoon can be helpful

Very carefully, without tearing the skin, loosen the skin of the chicken by gently running your fingers up under the skin of the breast. You also want to break the membrane that binds them together in the center. (The backside of a teaspoon can help break that membrane, if necessary.)

 

Tuck the wings

Tuck the wings

Fold and tuck wings beneath chicken.

 

Loosely stuff the cavity with garlic, lemon and rosemary

Loosely stuff the cavity with garlic, lemon and rosemary

Alternate placing rosemary sprigs, (crushing them first should release oils to enable them to give off more flavor) lemon wedges or slices, and the remaining three whole, smashed garlic cloves loosely into the cavity, until it is just full. Stuffing them in tightly will just take longer for the chicken to cook, and it’s not really necessary.

 

Mince the parsley, sage and garlic

Chop the sage, parsley and 2 cloves of the garlic together, until you have a small pile of finely minced herbs.

 

Tuck the herbs under the skin

Tuck the herbs under the skin

Next, carefully pour a couple of tablespoons of olive oil under the loosened skin, gently massaging the outside of the skin to spread it underneath. Then, carefully put the herb mixture under the skin, again gently massaging the outside to try spread it evenly. If you can manage to do this without breaking or tearing the skin, then you are going to have a great roast chicken!

 

Pin and truss~ you can probably do this better than I can

Pin and truss~ you can probably do this better than I can

Truss chicken with pins and tie with string, tuckng the tail inside, being very careful not to stab yourself~ those buggers can be very sharp.

 

First roast it breast-side down

First roast it breast-side down

Salt & pepper all sides of the chicken to taste, then place breast-side down into the roasting pan. You can add some lemon slices to roast if you like, also~ they make a nice garnish. Roast for about 15-20 minutes, then remove from oven. Lower oven temperature to 350°.

 

Flip the chicken

Flip the chicken

Carefully flip the chicken over so it is breast-side up, and place back into the oven to finish roasting, about 1 – 1½ hours, depending on size/weight of the chicken. The chicken is done when juices run clear.

This is also a good time to add some potatoes to roast along with it, if you’d like. Just make sure that they are coated in a little bit of oil,  so they don’t stick to the pan. The oils and juices of the chicken will give them plenty of moisture, as the chicken cooks more.  Just be aware that this may add some to the cooking time.

 

Let it rest

Let it rest

When the chicken is done cooking, cover it and let it rest for at least 15 minutes.

 

Rosemary & lemon stuffed chicken

Rosemary & lemon stuffed chicken

Serve with potatoes

Serve with the potatoes

Remove the potatoes with a slotted spoon and put them into as serving bowl.

Remove pins and string from chicken before serving, and carve it up. Enjoy!

 

Flavorful and juicy!

Flavorful and juicy!

Leftovers make a great sandwich!

Leftovers make a great sandwich!

As I said before, the leftovers make wonderful sandwiches!