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Roasted Chicken…and sides (Bacon Creamed Corn / Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes)

Hey everyone, I know it’s been a few weeks since my last major post or update. I have been absolutely swamped and haven’t made anything other than a quick meal here and there. I would have posted any of those if I thought they were anything post-worthy, since I know it helps to sometimes have recipes for things that take very little time during a work week, but I didn’t even take any pictures along the way.

I wouldn’t claim myself to be a master cook/chef by any means, but besides how expert chefs may make an egg or an omelet, some people also think that one who can make a simple roasted chicken well must also have some skills to pay the bills.

I’ve done this very few times in the past, mainly because before I was a bit nervous that I would end up with an overcooked bird outside, but still clucking inside. Thankfully, none of that happened back then or now. I would say that the major reason is time. This can take a couple hours of prep and cook time, so it’s not really a convenient weeknight meal. I think it’s suitable for people who have those extra hours, or for a family dinner on a weekend. Done well, even with few ingredients, it can amaze and surprise your guests. 

I didn’t do too much with this one. Just gave the chicken a wet spice rub with some butter, paprika, oregano, thyme, rosemary, lemon zest, and salt and pepper. One of the tricks is to not only get the outside skin, but also underneath the skin, so that the seasoning can get into the meat of the bird. I also put some lemons into the cavity, as well as some salt and pepper inside to make sure all parts of the chicken were seasoned well.

 I served the chicken with some roasted garlic mashed potatoes, as well as some bacon creamed corn.

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What You’ll Need:

 Chicken and Spice/Butter Rub

– 1 roasting chicken, about 3-4 lbs

– zest of one lemon

– 4 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened (I accidentally over warmed the butter and melted it, but it was ok)

– 1 Tbsp smoked paprika

– 1 tsp dried oregano

– 1 tsp dried thyme

– 1 tsp dried rosemary

– ½ tsp garlic powder

– 2 tsp Kosher Salt (adjust for your taste)

– 1 tsp ground pepper

Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes

– 2 lbs red potatoes, cubed into one inch cubes

– 2 heads of garlic, halved horizontally through the cloves (see picture)

– ¾ cup sour cream

– ¼ cup milk (or heavy cream if you really want it to be rich….this measure is approximate depending on how you like the consistency. More milk/cream for thinner potatoes, less for thicker ones)

– 2 Tbsp unsalted butter

– Salt and Pepper to taste

Bacon Creamed Corn

– 2 ears of fresh corn, shucked and corn cut off the cob (approximately 1 ½ cups fresh corn kernels)

– 3 slices of bacon (I used center cut, with less fat in it)

– ¼ cup of heavy cream

– 1 tsp smoked paprika

– small amount of cayenne pepper, depending on your heat preferences

 The How-To:

** Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit while you prepare the chicken

Chicken

1- Place chicken in a baking dish or roasting pan. Season the inside with salt and pepper

2- Combine all of the ingredients listed after the chicken and mix well

3- Using your hands, spread half of the mixture on top of the skin, all over the chicken

4- Use your hands to separate the skin from the chicken breast and spread evenly the rest of the rub mixture under the skin, over the flesh of the chicken. Cut the lemon in half, squeeze some juice into the cavity, and place both halves into the cavity.

5- Tie the chicken legs together as seen in the picture

6- Cook the chicken until the skin is golden, and a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh (not touching a bone) registers 165 degrees Fahrenheit, between 1.5 to 2 hours. If the skin starts to brown or burn before the inside is cooked, cover it with some foil.

Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes

1- At the same time you put the chicken into the oven, you can roast the garlic for the first hour. Cut the two entire heads of garlic in half, then place in some foil, sprinkle with salt, and a little oil. Close up the foil packet. Garlic will be done when it is golden brown, soft, and sweet smelling/tasting. 

2- Place the cut potatoes in a saucepot, cover with cold water, and bring to a boil. Cook until a fork goes through the potato with no effort, or taste and see when done.

3- Once the potatoes are done, turn off the heat, drain well, and put the potatoes back into the pot over the warm stove to dry any excess water.

4- Mash or rice the potatoes (I mashed since I had the skins on), then add in salt, pepper, roasted garlic, cream/milk, and sour cream. Season to taste, and make sure the garlic is completely mashed in.

Bacon Creamed Corn

1- Another thing to do while the chicken roasts and the potatoes cook is slice the 3 slices of bacon, and cook in a skillet over medium heat until it starts to render the fat out and begins to become crispy.

2- Shuck and cut the corn, then add to the skillet with the bacon and bacon drippings. Season with salt and pepper. Cook until it begins to soften a little, about 5 minutes.

3- Add the heavy cream, paprika, and cayenne pepper, and cook for another 5-10 minutes. Season appropriately with salt and pepper if needed.

After the chicken was done (it had a pop-up timer, but I didn’t trust it since it was either broken, or will only pop when the chicken is shoe leather), I broke it down by removing the breasts, thighs, and drumsticks. I served it with the sides above, which were great. The corn was awesome, try it out!

I hope this works out for you all. It wasn’t very difficult, and the longest time was the roasting time.

Enjoy!

– Anthony

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Garlic-Lemon Shrimp and Garlic Mashed Potatoes

No time for a cheesy title today, Lol. Gotta get some work done, but I wanted to post this first. While at the grocery store, I decided to make something quick, somewhat affordable, and not deep fried or take-out for dinner tonight. I saw some shrimp at the seafood counter, and they looked fresh (and smelled like the ocean). If they have a strong seafood/fishy smell, they aren’t that fresh.

This is a quick and easy meal, requiring probably 30 minutes or so if you prep/cook the shrimp while the potatoes are cooking. It has a good, but not overpowering, garlicky taste. Add some red pepper flakes to the shrimp to add a little heat. You can also add a little white wine to the oil/butter before adding the shrimp, but I didn’t have any available.

What you’ll need:

Shrimp:
– 1 lb of shrimp of 41-50 count shrimp (this means that there will be about 41-50 shrimp in each pound in this size)
– Juice of 1 medium lemon
– Zest of the lemon
– 6 (or more) garlic cloves, finely chopped
– ½ teaspoon dried oregano
– ½ teaspoon garlic powder
– red pepper flakes (to taste)
– kosher salt
– black pepper
– 1 ½ Tbsp butter
– ¼ cup olive oil

Potatoes:
– About 5-6 medium red potatoes, cubed (peeled or not, depending on your preference)
– 6 whole garlic cloves (3 for the milk/cream, 3 to boil in the potatoes)
– ¼ cup sour cream
– 1 cup milk, ½ cup cream (may or may not need all of it)
– 3 Tbsp of finely chopped chives
– 1-2 Tbsp butter (or more if you desire richer potatoes)

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The How-To:

Potatoes:
1: Cube the potatoes, and place in a medium sized saucepot
2: Add enough cold water to cover the potatoes, and add the 3 garlic cloves
3: Place over medium heat and let cook until it comes to a slow boil. Keep cooking until the potatoes are fork-tender (can be pierced with a fork with no effort)
4: Strain the potatoes and add back to the hot pot, put over low heat for 30 seconds to dry up any remaining water.
5: Mash the potatoes to your desired consistency (try to avoid overworking them, or they may become gluey)
6: Add the sour cream, butter, and chives. Stir the potatoes.
7: Add the milk/cream mixture slowly while stirring, until the potatoes are the consistency you’d like
8: Season to your taste with salt, pepper, and even some extra garlic powder if you’d like

Shrimp:
1: While the potatoes are heating, make sure the shrimp are deveined and the shells are removed
2: In a bowl, add the shrimp, oregano, garlic powder, salt, and pepper and toss until evenly coated
3: Heat the skillet over medium heat, then add the olive oil and butter for a minute
4: Add the garlic, and sauté over medium heat for a minute or so, avoiding turning the garlic too brown (it will get bitter if it gets this far)
5: Add the shrimp and lemon zest to the pan, cook until they are opaque and change color all-over, about 3-4 minutes. Make sure to stir or toss them, and remove from heat to avoid overcooking the shrimp.

Serve the shrimp with the potatoes, spooning some of the oil and butter mixture on the plate.

Enjoy, and good eating!

– Anthony

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What a Soup-er Idea: Pumpkin & Butternut Squash Soup

YES, the cheesy heading has returned. Sorry it’s so late, but after the few days off for Thanksgiving, and the multiple posts that I did that weekend, I got reeeealllly busy when I headed back to work.

This is a soup I kinda took inspiration from by watching a couple seasons of Top Chef and a few Food Network shows about 3 or 4 years ago…or somewhere around there. This was when I was first starting to learn how to cook. I’ve made it every Thanksgiving since then.

 It’s really a simple soup, with the basic soup ingredients such as celery, onion, carrot, and broth/stock. It’s a puree style soup, meaning it is thicker and creamier than regular soups that aren’t blended. A small touch of cream makes it slightly rich, but nothing overpowering. And since I usually make this at Thanksgiving, I put in some cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg. Not enough to make this a liquid pumpkin pie, but enough to remind you of the season. Plus, those spices are amazing with the pumpkin/squash. And again, this is by memory. The ingredients below are approximate, besides the pumpkin and the squash. The rest can be played with a little.

 What You’ll Need:

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**Note**: Getting all of the ingredients that need to be chopped/sliced/cut/etc. done before starting to assemble the soup, aka mise en place, will save you time.

– 2 small Pie Pumpkins (usually available at the stores during the holiday season), or a one medium pumpkin (the kind you carve, lol)

– 2 small butternut squash

– 5-6 stalks of celery (about 2 cups chopped)

– 4 or 5 carrots (about 2 cups chopped)

– 3 small sweet onions, roughly cubed

– 4 or 5 cloves garlic, chopped

– 8 cups of chicken stock/broth (or vegetable, if you want to keep it vegetarian)

– 6-7 strips of thick cut bacon, cut into thin strips (optional if you want to keep it vegetarian)

– ½ tsp dried thyme, or a few springs of fresh thyme

– 1 tsp cinnamon powder (add in slowly, taste the soup, add more or less if you wish)

– ½ tsp all-spice powder

– ground or freshly grated nutmeg (add a small pinch or a few grates, and go light on this, otherwise it will be dessert)

– Heavy cream, about ¼ cup, or more or less, depending on how rich you want the soup

– Kosher salt

– Black Pepper

– Oil (canola or olive oil, avoid extra virgin for high temp cooking)

 The How-To:

 ***NOTE***: I prepared the pumpkin and squash differently this year, hoping to get it cooked more evenly and more quickly. This turned out to be a mistake because as I peeled and cubed the squash, especially the butternut, the sap of the skin or the starches in the vegetable coated my hand and caused a strange reaction. My hand appeared to dry out and looked like it was chapped, and my fingers went numb…like I couldn’t straighten them out. I searched for this reaction online immediately and found that others have had the same reaction.

If you are going to peel and cube the squash, wear some food prep gloves just in case. Otherwise, just cut both the pumpkins and the squash in half, scoop out the seeds, and roast for a longer period until the flesh inside is tender.

The pictures will show the vegetables cut up and cubed, but I will put the recipe as I have done in the past to avoid the reaction in any of you.

Steps 1-7 can be done the night before and the pumpkin/squash cubes can be cooled and then stored in airtight containers in the fridge. Otherwise, start early before wanting to prep the soup so that the squash is ready to go.

1: Preheat an oven to 375 degrees

2: Cut the tops and bottoms off of the pumpkins and squash

3: Cut each pumpkin and squash in half, then scoop out the seeds using a spoon

4: Drizzle some canola or olive oil inside the squash and coat (try to avoid extra virgin here to avoid smoking in the oven)

5: Season the pumpkin and squash flesh with some kosher salt and black pepper

6: Roast in the oven on sheet trays with the rack just below the center for about an hour, (give or take depending on the tenderness), or at least until soft

7: Let cool for an hour or so, until room temperature, then either store in the fridge, or put aside to use in the soup (refrigerate if you aren’t going to use right away after cooling to avoid food safety issues)

8: In a large stock or soup pot, or even an enameled cast iron pot, add some canola or olive oil

9: (Optional step if using bacon) Heat over medium-low heat, then when the oil is ready, about 3-5 minutes, add the bacon and slowly render out the fat. You can leave the bacon in at this point, as I’ve done in the past, or this year, render until crisp, drain on a paper towel, and serve it as a crispy garnish to the soup

10: Turn the heat up to medium or medium-high. Add the onions, garlic, celery, and carrots to the bacon drippings (or if you’re really health conscious, drain the bacon drippings first, then add fresh canola or olive oil to coat the bottom of the pot)

11: Cook the vegetables until they start to become tender, and the onions begin to become translucent. Add the thyme at this point.

12: Add the roasted squash and stir, cook for a minute or two.

13: Add the broth, whichever you like, and stir the soup. Cook over medium heat for about 30 minutes, stirring. At this point, add the cinnamon, all-spice, and nutmeg. Season appropriately with salt and pepper as well.

14: Either blend the soup in the pot using an immersion blender (a hand blender), or in half-full blender carafes, blend in batches and transfer blended soup to another pot on a low burner.

***SAFETY NOTE***: Blending hot liquids or soups with a closed lid will create steam and could blow the top off of the blender, splattering the soup around. Take the pouring guard out of the blender top and cover with paper towels or a clean kitchen towel.

15: Holding the top down and covering the opening, PULSE the soup a couple times, then start on low speed and work up. Puree for about 30 seconds, or until smooth. Repeat with the rest of the soup, transferring the blended soup to the other pot.

16: Add the cream to the pureed soup, and cook for about 15 more minutes. Season to your tastes (salt, pepper, spices, etc). If it is too thick, add more broth to thin out to your preference.

Serve as is, or add the bacon (or even some small toasted croutons) on top for some texture

Happy Belated Thanksgiving again, haha. Enjoy!

 – Anthony

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