Oven Roasted Chicken

The crispy, well-seasoned skin of a roast chicken is one of life’s finer things. And that smell…ohhh Lord, don’t even get me started on that smell. Who doesn’t love the smell of a roasting chicken?  Savory and sweet a smell that reminds me of my childhood and the time when my mother went through a “lets make roast chicken every night phase.” I know if you are in the local area you are probably wondering “what in the world possessed her to roast a chicken in this hellish weather…its been over 100 degrees out here people. The desire to drink a cold orange wheat beer from Hangar 24, that’s what got into me. Hangar 24 Orange Wheat beer taste exactly how you expect an orange beer to taste. It has the perfect blend of fresh natural oranges and beer.This beer is a perfect addition to a roasted chicken. While the chicken is dry roasting on the outside, the chicken is being bathed with steamy beer that is slightly tart and filled with crisp orange flavors. The beer keep the chicken meat fragrant and wonderfully moist. The result is tender, falling-off-the-bone meat, encased in salty, herby, crispy skin.

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Ingredients:
1 Medium-Sized Chicken, innards removed
Juice From 1 Orange
1 Yam, peeled & cut into roughly 2-inch chunks
1 Orange, cut into 8 slices
1 Bottle Hangar 24 Orange Wheat
2 Springs Fresh Rosemary, whole
1/4 Cup Butter (solid), plus 3 tablespoons (melted)
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 1/2 Tablespoon Honey
2 Teaspoons Fresh Rosemary, chopped
1 Teaspoon Freshly Grated Orange Zest
Salt to Taste
Freshly Ground Pepper
Directions
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, 3 tablespoons of melted butter, and honey. Pour 1/2 the mixture in a chicken-sized roasting pan and toss with the yams, sweet potatoes, or butternut squash, orange slices, 1 teaspoon of the chopped rosemary, 1/2 teaspoon of the orange zest, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt and freshly ground pepper. Mix and set aside. Next rub down the chicken with the remaining olive oil mixture, inside and out. Then rub the remaining chopped rosemary, orange zest, salt, and pepper onto the chicken, rub it really well on the skin and the inside as well, this is key. Place the chicken in the roasting pan and arrange the yams (or whatever you are using) and orange slices around the chicken. Place the rest of the butter inside the chicken and under the skin. Place the leftover rosemary springs inside the chicken as well. Pour the Hangar 24 Orange Wheat and orange juice around the chicken, do not pour over the chicken since it would wash off the rub.

Winter Bounty – Citrus Salad

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We have been hosting Life Group (bible study-ish) at our home every Tuesday for a few weeks now. I like it because there is always some sort of dinner involved which means that we get to gather around the table and  make meals they are never fussy or elaborate, they are just simply delicious. I crave this sort of thing, meals with people who I enjoy being around. I soak it right up – in our home, sharing our walk with the Lord, and the lives that we are living –  yes dirty dishes and all, I enjoy it all. This salad will join us this Tuesday, I love sharing meals with them and sharing my love and respect for food with them, I  feel like an educator. This salad is simple.  Crisp leaves of romaine lettuce, tuscan kale, pink grapefruit, sweet blood oranges,  with crispy avocado. This salad is filled with textures, fragrant, and exploding with a perfect combination of sweetness and tartness… I know what you’re thinking salad in the winter?! But in the winter if we can call Southern California winter…a real winter. In the winter you can find some of the best citrus. My father in law grows some of the best tasting blood oranges and I get to enjoy them in the winter. Feel free to add your favorite protein to this salad. I paired it with a beautiful cut of salmon.

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Citrus – Avocado Salad
2- pink grapefruits
1- blood orange
4- cups of romaine
2- cups of tuscan kale

Dressing
2 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
3 tbsp of Greek yogurt or coconut cream (coconut cream for paleo)
Left over citrus juice
Sea salt & pepper

Avocado Wedges
1 cup of almond meal
1 teaspoon of sea salt
1 egg
1 firm ripe avocado wedged

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Instructions
Segment the citrus and remove all skin and white pith. Do this over a bowl to collect any juice that drips. In a large bowl combine the greens and citrus
Preheat oven to 450 degrees line baking sheet with parchment paper. In a shallow bowl mix the almond meal, salt and pepper. In another bowl whisk the egg. Peel and cut avocado into 1-inch wedges. Dip avocado in egg mixture and then into the meal (repeat) and set on the baking sheet. Bake until toasty brown, 8-10 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.
Make a dressing with the remaining juice, yogurt it coconut cream, salt, and pepper and whisk until combined and creamy.
Dress the salad with the dressing and top with the crispy avocado wedges. enjoy!

My Mother’s Kitchen – Caldo De Res

California seems to have skipped fall and gone directly into winter, temperatures have dropped as low as 30 degrees at night…I understand that 30’s might not be cold at all in other parts of the country, but in California that’s freezing. Caldo de Res, Mexican beef soup, is perfect for these unusually chilly nights. It’s the ultimate comfort food – soothing, soulful soup, a hearty beef broth flavored with aromatic vegetables and herbs. This one was prepared in my mothers kitchen! I am blessed enough to have a mother who can make magic in the kitchen and who has used her skills to bring her family to the table time after time. I was one of those kids who grew up with a mother who prepared wholesome food regularly. She taught me the power that lies in cooking and sharing of meals. In my mother’s kitchen, meals are prepared with the love and care that my mother learned from my grandmother. This dish celebrates the traditional dishes of my childhood and my mother’s devotion to her family.

Ingredients – Beef Stock

2 lbs of beef shank bone in
4 garlic cloves
1 sweet onion
2 bay leaves
1 tbs of pepper corn
Sea salt to taste
1 cilantro bunch

Directions

  1. Heat oil in large, heavy-bottomed pot and brown meat  all sides, about 15-20 minutes.
  2. Add water, and all ingredients mentioned above, cover and simmer 1 hour, or until meat is tender
  3. When meat is tender I like to remove the meat and put it aside, I like to let the broth cool down so all the fat rises to the top solidifies. At this moment I remove that layer of fat and discard it.
  4. You will now have a flavorful broth free of any unwanted fat

Ingredients Part 2- Vegetables

2 -sweet corns cut in half
1 cup of fresh green beans
2 – Chayotes (Pear Squash) wedged
3 – carrots, peeled and cut
1 – small cabbage wedged
1- small bag of frozen yuca-root
2- plantains peeled and cut
5- small potatoes cubed skin on
2 tbsp of fresh Mexican oregano

  1. Bring broth to a boil and add a garlic clove, oregano, and some more cilantro
  2. Add the sweet corn and yuca-root to the broth and cook for 5 minutes
  3. After 5 minutes add the cabbage, carrots, potatoes, plantains, green-beans,and chayote to the broth
  4. Taste and adjust seasoning to your liking
  5. Garnish with cilantro. Serve with lime wedges, fried chili, avocado, and warm corn tortillas.
  6. All ingredients except for the yuca-root and plantain are local and organic.

For a traditional bowl of caldo de res, vegetable size matters, rustic is best. Traditional Caldo de Res does not have plantain and yuca-root but I grew up with a Mexican-mother and a Honduran-father. This is two cultures coming together!

You can adjust the veggies to make this paleo and whole30!

Pumpkin Risotto

The air is getting crisper and nights are getting longer, its sign that fall is on its way but those are the only signs because summer is still lingering; I patiently wait. Summer in October? you ask… yes! I know this because my garden still has tomatoes and I’m still wearing tank tops and flip-flops, for a girl who has spent most of her life in California fall is a fleeting moment that I absolutely enjoy and try to take in as much as possible! I’m a sucker for pumpkin anything. Seriously just ask the people at my Trader Joe’s. They got smarter and decided to have a whole shelve dedicated to all things pumpkin – pumpkin-coffee, pumpkin butter, pumpkin chai, pumpkin loaf mix, pumpkin chocolate, and so much more…I of course had to have one of each 🙂 I think it makes me feel closer to the season which is why my kitchen becomes a solace for all things fall.  But nothing makes me as happy as pumpkin risotto! The warm and decadent rice perfectly tender to the tooth is rich and fragrant with the spices of fall.

Risotto is one of those dishes that can easily intimidate a cook but it’s very easy to make. There are two simple rules NEVER add all the liquid at once and be PATIENT. On one of my trips to a local farmers market I picked up a jar of freshly made pumpkin puree if you have access to freshly made puree buy it! If you don’t I highly encourage you to make your own its very easy! Of course you can use can puree (I like the Trader Joe’s one) but you have not had pumpkin risotto unless you try making it with the fresh stuff!

Yield: Makes 6 first-course servings
Ingredients

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
1/2 cup of pumpkin puree
2 (2 1/2- to 3-inch-diameter) pumpkin cut into 1/4-inch cubes
1 1/2 cups chopped white onion
1 small shallot chopped
1 garlic clove finely chopped and smashed
1 cup arborio rice
3 cups low-salt organic chicken broth or vegetable broth
1/2 of good parmesan cheese, grated
2 sage leave
1 rosemary spring
1 french tarragon spring
Sea-salt to taste
Pepper to taste

Topping
Baby arugula

Instructions
Place broth, sage, pumpkin puree, and rosemary in a pot to simmer and keep at a low simmer. Melt the butter in a large heavy saucepan over medium heat.  When it is melted add the pumpkin cubes and cook for about 5 minutes, add the onion, shallot, and garlic and cook until translucent, another 4 minutes.  Add the rice and stir for about two minutes so it can absorb the butter and toast a bit. Add one ladle of stock and stir constantly until absorbed. In the last few minutes add the Parmesan and stir in. Repeat this process until risotto is slightly al-dente, definitely not soupy or mushy. Serve immediately and top with arugula and the remaining cheese.

Thai Basil Noodles

I am gentle cook one that believes that food goes beyond what sits on the plate. The delight that comes from placing a hand-selected seed into the soil and watching it grow and eventually make its way into my kitchen is like no other. My garden has been producing some wonderful herbs and produce – basil, rosemary, peppers, squash, salad blends, and so much more. This dish is the perfect solution for a garden exploding with thai-basil.

If you love Asian food but have been afraid to try making some of your favorite dishes at home, this dish is perfect and once you have all of the ingredients it takes less than 15 minutes! Healthy, full of flavor, and fresh!

Ingredients

  • 3 cups of fresh Thai-basil
  • 1/2 Sweet Onion Chopped
  • 1/2 Shallot Chopped
  • 1 garlic clove finely minced
  • 1/2 tbsp of grated ginger
  • 1 small packet of Vietnamese Rice Noodles ( cook them according to package instructions)
  • 1 cup of dried shitakee mushrooms (soak in warm water for 15 minutes)
  • 1 tbsp of fish sauce
  • Dash of rice vinegar
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Low sodium soy sauce to taste
  • 1/2 tsp of crushed chili
  • 1 tsp of brown sugar

Directions

If you’re using dry noodles, put them in a bowl and pour boiling hot water over them to submerge completely. Soak for as long as the package instructions require. Do the same for the mushrooms. When they are soft drain and cut into strips.

Stir together soy sauce, rice vinegar, fish sauce, brown sugar, lime juice, chili, ginger, and garlic stir until sugar is dissolved. Set aside.

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a wok or heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic, onions, shallots, and some of the basil (the basil will infuse the oil); saute 30 seconds. Add mushrooms, drained noodles, and soy sauce mixture. Saute, stirring and tossing until everything is evenly coated and heated through, and all the liquid has been absorbed. Turn off heat and stir in chopped basil.

Garden to Fork – Basil Pesto

A basil explosion has taken place in my garden. This heat that we are experiencing in the “fall” here in California is pro-longing our summer harvest. I harvest baskets full of this stuff. So what does one do when your garden is rampant with all sorts of basil! Well, you make pesto of course.

 

Bring out the food processor and throw a handfuls of basil and pine nuts into a food processor with a garlic clove. Add a handful of really good Parmesan and some freshly squeezed lemon juice and some zest. Yes, lemon! The lemon brightens and makes the pesto lighter. Bring out the best olive oil and drizzle over the fragrant and bright pesto.

Because of our bountiful bushes I was able to whip up a hefty batch leaving me enough pesto to fill up three mason jars. I’m lucky I know. I am thinking of freezing it and making more pesto to take advantage of the bountiful harvest before it’s gone for the winter.  So far we have eaten it, marinated with it, explored the world of sandwiches,  turned it into an appetizer, shared with friends,  and ate it with warm pasta.

DIY Basil Pesto
A great recipe to make with fresh basil from your garden before winter

Ingredients

  • 2 C. fresh basil leave
  • 1/4 C. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4C. pine nuts, toasted (or walnuts)
  • 1/2C. grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced 1/2 lemon zest and a squeeze of juice
  • Dash of fresh pepper

 

Instructions
Blend all ingredients in the food processor, add the lemon juice and finish it up with olive oil. If you don’t have a food processor do not be scared check out this video. I have made pesto this way before and it does not disappoint.

 

Garden to Fork – Tempeh BBQ Burger

Whether you’re a vegetarian, practicing meatless Monday, or simply wanting to try something new – this recipe is AMAZING. Meat what, who?  This burger explodes with flavors – sweet caramelized yellow and red bell peppers, garden grown heirloom tomatoes, (I have an assortment of tomatoes, some from my garden and some from Trader Joe’s) garden grown lettuce, perfectly melted Muenster cheese, and of course BBQ sauce! This meal is hearty enough even for the most devout meat lovers. And the perfect dish to impress your vegetarian friends.

This lettuce is a 1″ heirloom plug that I bought from the farmers market…amazing how a 1″ plant can produce so much food.

The burger itself is a treat but the fact that it comes with perks makes it all that better… letting a piece of Trader Joe’s tempeh sit in a puddle of BBQ sauce and freshly chopped garlic is much easier and less time consuming than grilling meat burgers. If you have never tried Tempeh I highly recommended its nutty and full of texture.  Tempeh is sold next to the tofu and other soy products at Trader Joes or Clark’s Nutrition Stores.

Tempeh BBQ Burger

Serves 2-4
1/2 pound tempeh, cut into square patties
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup of good BBQ sauce
Slices of your favorite cheese
2 garlic cloves finely chopped
Fresh black pepper
4 organic whole wheat buns
1/2 a yellow bell pepper julienne
1/2 a red bell pepper julienne
1/4 lb of assorted heirloom tomatoes chopped
Organic lettuce leafs ( mine is an heirloom plant that I got from Rolling Hills Herbs and Annuals)

Place tempeh patties into a shallow dish and cover with BBQ sauce and garlic, turning to coat. Let it sit for about 10 minutes

In a hot pan lightly coated with olive oil sauteed the bell peppers.

Coat grill – skillet with cooking spray and heat to medium high. Remove tempeh from dish and place on grill. Grill until dark grill marks appear, turning once, about 10 minutes total. Place bun on grill immediately place cheese on top half of the buns. Toast buns until cheese has melted. Remove from heat. These burgers can be grilled outside as well, I did not since its been about 11o degrees outside :-/.

Assemble your burger with all the toppings. I used vegannaise since I don’t like mayonnaise and added extra BBQ sauce, we recently shot a wedding and the B&G gave Lucille’s BBQ sauce as favors so that’s what I have been using, I love it. Feel free to change up the ingredients!

P.S Leave out the cheese and add some avocado and you’ve got a delicious vegan meal.

Summer Harvest – Homemade Pizza

Pizza is one of my all time favorite foods and luckily for me my husband feels the same way. Homemade pizza has been on my mind for what seems like years. I love the idea of making dough from scratch, waiting for it to rise, and topping with all sorts of goodness. There are some things in life that you can’t have too much of. Pizza! is one of them.

As of late, my edible garden has been on steroids specially the basil and tomatoes. So it was only natural that I’d make pizza. I am new to gardening but I am already reaping the benefits of it. I am absolutely in love with growing my own food it’s so gratifying. Yesterday I threw  together a quick pizza lunch with a huge handful of basil and tomatoes. Topped it with creamy mozzarella and monterrey jack, Italian oregano (from my garden), lots of garlic (from my garden) fresh basil, and fresh tomatoes, how could this pizza go wrong? And you know what? It turned out just fine. Actually better than fine–it was delicious. The crust was a great medium-thin thickness, chewy in the middle and crisp on the outside, and the simple combination of ingredients made this pizza sweet, fresh, and light! We enjoyed it with a cold Orange Wheat Hanger 24 brew.

I used this recipe if you try it let me know how it goes.

I like my Pizza  a little over done. I like crispy pieces of cheese and a slightly toasted crust! Which was handmade and seasoned with rosemary, black pepper, and garlic!

Ingredients:

  • 1 ball pizza dough, rolled out for 1 10-12 inch pizza
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup crushed tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 1 tbsp of finely minced oregano
  • 1 garlic clove thinly sliced
  • 1/2 of cherry tomatoes
  • 1/2 pound fresh mozzarella, torn into small chunks
  • 1/4 pound of Monterrey Jack
  • Red pepper flakes, to taste

Summer Pasta

Summer is officially here and mornings are getting warmer and warmer…this usually means that my meals will become lighter and quicker. Although I am California born and raised I dread the summer, I’m a scarf and coats kinda of girl not proper attire for 98 degree weather. The heat and preparing for my sisters’ wedding has made my time here seldom, hence the lack of post. But I promise to be more consistent on my post. Here is a quick and fast recipe that my husband loves! He loves his pasta drenched in sauce I call it pasta soup 🙂  What I love about this dish is that its quick but full of flavor. It feels just right for the warm days ahead – simple, a bit luxurious, and bright with the acid-laced taste of farmers market tomatoes. Summer means perfect tomatoes and basil growing in my garden.

Pasta with Tomato
Serves 4
Ingredients: 
1/2 pound dried Penne
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 small onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 can organic tomato sauce or marinara sauce
Salt And Pepper, to taste
1 cup of kale
Grated Parmigiano Reggiano, to taste
Fresh basil, chopped

Directions:
Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of pasta water.

Heat oil over medium heat. Add onions and saute until softened and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and saute for a minute or so, until fragrant. Be careful not to let the garlic burn. Add kale and heirloom tomatoes and saute for about 1 minute. Pour in tomato sauce and add salt, pepper, to taste. Stir and cook over low heat for 25 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.Remove from heat add cheese to taste, then check seasonings. Stir in pasta and chopped basil and serve immediately. (Thin with pasta water before adding basil if needed or if you are like my husband add extra sauce.)

Spring Spirit Salad

Dear Rainbow Chard

Where have you been all my life?

Love Cynthia

It happens often I fall head over heals for new to me foods and dishes…but this time it happened with a green, rainbow chard has changed my life, that of my husband, and future kids.

I have  to admit that I have absolutely no memory of ever eating rainbow chard.  I suppose that it’s not a very common ingredient.  At least not in our diets. It doesn’t appear on restaurant menus too often. To be quite honest I had never paid much attention to it at the grocery store. Saturday morning I picked up a bunch at the Farmer’s Market. There it was piled high in a mountain of rainbow steams and beautiful green leaves.  Not really sure how I lived 24 years without encountering it. But now that we have met it has not failed to inspire me. I am still learning how to use it.

This salad encompasses all of the color and flavors that are popping up all over the farmers market. The bitter rainbow chard paired with a sweet orange honey vinaigrette is absolutely amazing. The quinoa adds texture and a dose of goodness… I decided to add some mango to sweeten the deal… It was the perfect poolside meal.

instructions –

Cook the quinoa according to package instructions. Add some chopped garlic, sea salt, and black pepper.

Make the orange vinaigrette by mixing the freshly squeezed orange, 1 tbsp of olive oil, sea salt, back pepper, two tbsp of organic honey, and poppy seeds in a mason jar…shake until emulsified.

Chop the rainbow chard and mango and toss everything together in bowl! Enjoy!