Cheap, fast, and delicious weeknight chicken recipe

Unlike my husband, I have a legitimate reason for perusing the Giadia cookbooks…

Her grilled chicken with basil dressing is one of my favorite go-to weeknight meals. Today I threw the marinade together when I came home from school and finished it up a few hours later with some wild rice and sauteed kale with garlic and hot red pepper flakes. Delish!

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First snow (and hot chocolate) of the season!

When we left mild, sunny Seattle yesterday morning to hike the Mt. Kendall Catwalk, we had no idea what was waiting for us at the top of the mountain. Tad and Karen were smart enough to bring warm hats but Alex and I didn’t realize how cold it would be. All we could think about on the way down was how to find a cheeseburger and some hot chocolate.

Lucky for us, Karen recommended Red Mill, a local burger joint on the west side of the lake. It is no Ikeda’s (though just as crowded), but it hit the spot. The vanilla and boysenberry milkshakes and the onion rings were the perfect end to our day.

Now that it’s raining more in the city, we’ve started looking for the ideal cup of hot chocolate. Lucky for us, we didn’t have to go very far today because Chocolati is only a few blocks down the street. I just tried their house blend and Alex had a half chocolate/half coffee. Both were awesome and very reasonably priced. Uh oh…

My first apple pie

Last night I made my first apple pie. I have toyed with pumpkin and lemon meringue in the past, but never an apple pie or anything with a double crust. After perusing the recipes in Cooks Illustrated, Magnolia Bakery, and America Test Kitchen, I decided to use my friend Sarah’s dough recipe and the filling from Cooks Illustrated.

Voila!

Voila!

Alex had the idea to make potato leek soup (can you tell we’re on a soup kick?) yesterday after spotting some enormous leeks at the Ballard Farmers Market. He used the chicken stock that we made from our roasted chicken last week and the final product was a rich, slightly earthy, hearty meal. I’m glad there is more in the fridge and freezer to get me through the week. First midterm on Friday…

Mother-in-law’s chicken

My mother-in-law shared a simple, yet delicious-looking, roasted chicken recipe with me earlier this week that I vowed to make last night. Sad as it may be, the idea of going to the grocery store after school and making my first whole chicken really got me through a long, soggy day. Things got even better when Alex said he was going to make our friend Mark’s butternut squash soup recipe to go along with it.

I won’t get into the gory details of just how full our bellies were, but it’s safe to say that it was so good, we couldn’t stop eating it. We managed to polish off a 5 lb chicken in about thirty minutes. I highly recommend this recipe for it was just as tasty, if not better, than the Zuni Cafe chicken. I know I know, big promises, but it was *that* awesome. This will certainly become a staple in my recipe binder so thank you Joyce!

Mother-in-law’s chicken (inspired from the roast chicken recipe in the barefoot contessa cookbook)

  • 1 5-6 lb roasting chicken
  • kosher or sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 large bunch fresh thyme
  • 1 lemon, halved
  • 1-2 heads of garlic, cut in half crosswise
  • 2 TB butter, melted
  • 1 onion, thickly sliced
  • 1 cup chicken stock or white wine (to de-glaze pan)
  • Optional: 6-8 new red potatoes, 4 carrots

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Remove the chicken giblets. Rinse the chicken inside and out. Remove any access fat and leftover pinfeathers and pat the outside dry. Place the chicken in a roasting pan. Liberally (don’t be shy) salt and pepper the inside of the chicken. Stuff the cavity with the bunch of thyme, both halves of the lemon, and all the garlic. Brush the outside of the chicken with the butter and sprinkle again with salt and pepper. Tie the legs together (I didn’t do this part) with kitchen string and tuck the wing tips under the body of the chicken. Scatter the onion rings (and if you want, add 6-8 whole new red potatoes and 4 carrots cut into quarters) around and underneath the chicken.

Roast the chicken for 1 1/2 hours or until the juices run clear wen you cut between a leg and a thigh. Remove to a platter and cover with aluminum foil for about 10 minutes while you prepare the gravy. Set the oven on low and put the vegetables back in to keep warm. Remove the fat from the chicken pan and add either a cup of chicken broth or white wine to the pan, scraping up the brown bits that are stuck on the bottom. Stir on high heat for about 3-5 minutes until gravy thickens.

Slice the chicken onto a platter and serve immediately with the warm gravy.

Mark’s butternut squash recipe

  • Tart apple
  • Yellow onion
  • Decent sized butternut squash (you can use any sweet squash here)
  • Vegetable or chicken broth
  • Cloves
  • Cinnamon
  • Nutmeg
  • Optional: creme fraiche

Chop and saute the onions until translucent. Add the sliced and peeled apple. Add the peeled and diced butternut. Add enough broth to cover the butternut (don’t use too much) and simmer until the butternut is soft all the way through. Transfer the squash/apple/onion mixture (with a slotted spoon) to the food processor and puree using as little broth as possible. Transfer the pureed mixture to another pot and add the remaining broth until it is the desired consistency. Save the extra broth if you plan to refrigerate the soup and add it when you warm it up. Add spices as desired. Top w/ Creme Fraiche if desired.

Carmelita

Tonight we decided to take advantage of the Urban Eats 3 entrees for $30 deal at Carmelita with our friends Sarah and Mike. It is a vegetarian restaurant down the street from our house and has been on my “to-try” list since I got here. The restaurant was packed at 7:30 which is a great sign in Seattle. Oddly, restaurants and bars don’t really seem to fill up around here.

The best part of the meal was at the beginning; a roasted sunchoke soup with truffle oil and chanterelle mushrooms. None of us could accurately describe a sunchoke, which is actually a type of sunflower that looks like ginger, after seeing it on the menu. Intrigued and sold by our server who swore it was better than the butternut squash special, we all ordered it to start. It had a nutty, creamy consistency and was absolutely delicious.

I wish I could say I was as excited about the rest of my meal. I had the grilled corn risotto with sweet peppers, smoked jack cheese, and tomato pesto which was somewhat bland and boring. My dessert was a bit better; an English breakfast flan caramel topped with three blackberries, though I much prefer my childhood neighbor’s creme caramel recipe. Sometime I’ll have to dig that up and make it at home.

While I won’t be planning a second visit anytime soon, I’m glad I went for the soup alone. If you have any recipes that use sunchoke, please send them over!

A Sunday full of soup, sun, and sleep

(and some studying but that’s not as fun to write about). Today was a gorgeous fall day and since I still can’t run, Alex and I went for a walk around the lake. The trees are mostly red and yellow now with only small sections still green. It’s such a cool feeling to be in constant awe of my surroundings here.

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I decided today was the day to prepare the freezer for winter. This afternoon, I made a spicy roasted-tomato basil soup and a beef and bean chili. The kitchen still smells of onions, garlic, roasted tomatoes, and cumin. Bring on the rain!

My first visitor!

My friend Allison from San Francisco flew up to visit last weekend. When I asked her what she wanted to do, she said that she was just along for the exploration ride. Throughout the weekend, we hit up a variety of neighborhoods, shops, restaurants, cafes, and had an exciting visit to the University of Washington ER (it’s really nice!).

I’d been dying to check out the University District Farmers Market which we did after an early start on Saturday morning. Allison was a bit shocked at the 45 degree temperature at 9am but I was just happy to see some blue sky. We picked a fantastic day for the market as there happened to be an apple (and cider) tasting of 20 different varieties and we learned which ones are best for baking, eating, sauce, etc. I’m still amazed at how cheap (and gorgeous) the flower bouquets are in Seattle.

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We noticed a cute little cafe (Blue Dog Kitchen) near our parking spot so we popped in seeking some coffee and warmth. The employees behind the counter were so friendly and welcoming that we decided to stay for lunch. I’m glad we did. They had just finished making tomato and butternut squash soups! They have a chai lavender tea on the menu which I’m curious to try on my commute home one of these days.

That night we paid a return visit to Via Tribunali for pizza and then went around the corner to Molly Moon for ice cream. Although I wasn’t very impressed with my tasting a couple of months ago, this time I was obsessed. We shared a cup of boysenberry sage and a cup of chocolate. The chocolate was dark, rich, and simple. They might actually have something on Bi-Rite, though I can’t say that for their honey lavender, salted caramel, or scout mint.

On Sunday, we went over to Fremont and marveled at the treats in the display at Flying Apron. There are some adorable shops in the neighborhood that I would love to spend more time in if I had more time and a job. Our last outing was to Macrina Bakery in Queen Anne. YUM! They seem to be more of a breakfast and baked goods cafe rather than a lunch spot, but we enjoyed our pre-made veggie and goat cheese sandwiches and spinach salad nonetheless. I loved their coffee too.

It was so nice to have a friend from home up here with whom to share my new surroundings. Seattle is especially beautiful now that the trees are changing and there is a “winter is coming” crisp feeling in the air (sorry Allie!). Thanks for coming to play!

Allie and I in the ER

Allie and I in the ER

Valentines Day in October

It looks like Valentines Day at our house! Alex sent me flowers on Monday and then made brownies upon returning home yesterday. Yum.

As good as a girl can get

1 2/3 cups soft unsalted butter

13 ounces best bittersweet chocolate

6 large eggs

1 TB vanilla extract

1 2/3 cups sugar (I use less)

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp salt

1 1/3 cups toasted, chopped walnuts

pan measuring 13 x 9 x 2 1/2 inches

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line your brownie pan with foil or parchment or use a butter/flour nonstick spray. Melt the butter and chocolate together in a large heavy-based pan (I use the microwave). In a bowl or large wide-mouthed measuring cup, beat the eggs with the vanilla and sugar. Measure the flour into another bowl and add the salt.

When the chocolate mixture has melted, let it cool a bit before beating in the eggs and sugar, and then the nuts and flour. Beat to combine smoothly and then scrape out of the saucepan into the lined pan.

Bake for about 24 – 28 minutes. When it’s ready the top should be dried to a paler brown speckle, but the middle still dark and dense and gooey. This is the trick, don’t take it out when it’s too runny on the inside (give it a shake), but don’t let the entire pan get hard or the brownies will be too dry. Remember, they will keep cooking even after you take them out of the oven!

Alex has made these twice in the last two weeks and I have to say, they are much better when you don’t make them (or do the clean-up) yourself!

*Makes a maximum of 48 but only 16 for us (cut into larger squares). I can’t figure out where I found this recipe but I’ll re-post if I can find it.

Favorite Banana Bread

A few weeks ago I decided to host a banana bread “taste test” for some friends and neighbors. I made my old standby from Nigella Lawson and a new one I’d found in Cook’s Illustrated. We were all overwhelmed by how moist, flavorful, and delicate Nigella’s was compared to the Cook’s recipe, which was quite dense and more appropriately suited for banana bread french toast. I peel, Ziploc, and freeze bananas that get too ripe so they are always ready to use when I get a banana bread craving. Enjoy!

Banana Bread
adapted from Nigella Lawson’s How to be a Domestic Goddess

scant 1/2 cup golden raisins
6 tbsp or 3 oz bourbon or dark rum
1 cup + 2 tbsp all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs
4 small, very ripe bananas, mashed
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1 tsp vanilla extract
9×5 inch loaf pan, buttered and floured or lined with parchment or foil

Put the golden raisins and rum or bourbon in a smallish saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat, cover, and leave for an hour if you can, or until the raisins have absorbed most of the liquid, then drain.

Preheat the oven to 325F and get started on the rest. Put the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium sized bowl and, using your hands or a wooden spoon, combine well. In a large bowl, mix the melted butter and sugar and beat until blended. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then the mashed bananas. Then, with your spoon, stir in the walnuts, drained raisins, and vanilla extract. Add the flour mixture a third at a time, stirring well after each bit. Scrape into the loaf pan and bake in the middle of the oven for 1 to 1 1/4 hours. When it’s ready, an inserted toothpick or fine skewer should come out cleanish. Leave in the pan on a rack to cool, and eat thickly or thinly sliced as you prefer.

Variation: Replace 2 tbsp of the flour with good cocoa powder and add 4oz chopped bittersweet chocolate or chocolate chips.