Roast Chicken with Garlic & Brown Butter Green Beans

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I’m stepping aside from the plant based proteins for one post and going back to a former recipe upon request. If you have been following my blog, you understand that I have made a choice to eliminate land animals (chicken, beef, pork) from my diet due to personal health goals. Striving towards a healthier lifestyle with diet is a very difficult task but i’m choosing to take it one step at a time, day by day to get by. I’ve learned to discipline myself and hold back on buying and cooking with the usual animal proteins I once loved to work with. A trick I have found to keep active with this change it to meal plan every week. Come up with a menu for what I will cook that week, write up a grocery list and shop for only those items. It not only saves me time and money but it keeps me motivated to cook again as I actually have a plan as to what I am going to prepare for that day or evening.  I am also married to a Chef, keeping a strict vegetarian diet is almost near impossible when food and culture is everything to us. I have to at least keep dairy, eggs and seafood in my diet or I wouldn’t be able to keep this blog going!

About two weeks ago on a cold Sunday evening, I went about the usual relaxing after dinner to a netflix show with the hubs until I decided to come into the computer room and check my emails, per usual I was distracted by facebook before doing anything else. Scrolling through the feed I came across my dear friend Tony who had posted about his apartment catching fire. Shortly after reading his post, I had seen numerous reports of an apartment fire very close to me which happened to be the same building my friend Tony lived in. I was worried for him and his girlfriend, however via his post, everyone was okay and out safely, their belongings and apartment were to be determined after the fire report. I was just happy to hear everyone was okay. The next day I messaged my best friend April who happens to be Tony’s sister about the fire, she confirmed everything and agreed to meeting with me as I wanted to help with anything I could. She told me over lunch that a gofundme page was set up in their name to help raise money in any funding they might need towards new housing, clothes and all personal items to start over. I offered to give money but was quickly denied as they requested I provide nothing more than a full meal for them to enjoy as Tony & his Girlfriend Moira were living off pop tarts and pizza rolls for the time while lodging at a friends house until they get their life back on track. 

When you lose everything in a fire, you also suffer personal traits you once enjoyed such as cooking because you don’t have your own kitchen and equipment to work with. Working in someone else’s can become challenging and most often awkward as you don’t want to abuse your welcome. I asked “What should I make?” and the answer was simple, “Just cook a whole bird with their favorite sides, green beans & broccoli.” This was literally the easiest task I’ve ever had and I couldn’t be more excited because I knew exactly what I wanted to do and it felt good to go back in time and pull from the archives one of my favorite techniques for a great meal, a simple brine and roast method. This recipe is comparable to the one I was provided when I worked at the Greenbrier. Working in the Forum-an Italian based restaurant, we would brine whole Chicken and then roast the next day. Then pulling the meat from the bone to be used in one of our pasta dishes. If I ate Chicken still, this would be one of my go to recipes. This brine not only adds great flavor, but keeps the right amount of juices in tact for a moist texture. 

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Mise en Place for the Brine:

  • 4 Cups Water
  • 2 Cups Granulated Sugar
  • 1 Cup Brown Sugar
  • 1 Cup Salt
  • 1 Tablespoon Black Peppercorns
  • 3 Bay leaves
  • 1 Small Bunch Parsley Leaves
  • 1 Small Bunch Thyme
  • 1 Whole Chicken ( I used about a 5 LB bird, insides removed)

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Mise en Place for the Roasting:

  • 1/2 Stick Butter, cut in cubes
  • 1 Bunch Fresh Thyme
  • 1/2 Lemon, sliced in rounds
  • 2 Celery Stalks, chopped small
  • 2 Carrots, peeled, chopped small
  • 1/4 Yellow Onion, chopped small
  • Vegetable Oil for brushing on top
  • S&P, for Seasoning

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Method of Prep:

  • In a wide 3 gallon pot, bring water, both sugars and salt to a simmer, continue to mix until both sugars are dissolved. Turn off heat, add in peppercorns, bay leaves, parsley and thyme. Allow the herbs and spices to steep for 10 minutes. Remove from stove and place in refrigerator to cool completely.
  • Remove pot from refrigerator, place whole bird in the brine. Fill with water until the Chicken is completely submerged, about 8 cups more. Cover and set in refrigerator overnight (or at least 4 hours).
  • When ready, set the oven to 325 degrees. Remove Chicken from brine and place on top of a roasting rack. Stuff the end of the Chicken with celery, onion, carrots (Mirepoix),  thyme sprigs and Lemon rounds. Under the skin of the breast, stuff with the butter cubes. Using a pastry brush, lightly oil the top of the chicken and season with s&p. Place in the oven and cook for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.
  • Enjoy!

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***You can save the used brine and reuse it again up to 3 times, just continue to use only raw poultry or pork in the brine. This brine will hold up to 1 week as long as it’s sealed tightly.

***Save your chicken bones and use for a stock! Take used bones from the carcass and seal in a ziploc bag. Place in the freezer for up to 3 months and use for homemade stock!

Green Beans Mise en Place:

  • 1 Bag Green Beans, ends trimmed
  • 2 Cloves Garlic, minced
  • 1/2 Lemon
  • 1/2 Stick Butter
  • S&P, TT

Method of Prep:

  • Bring a large pot of water, about 5 cups to a rolling boil. Blanch beans by dropping in water, allowing to steep for 2 minutes. Remove from boiling water and drop in ice water to shock or stop the cooking.
  • Drain water from beans. Bring a large saute pan over medium high heat. Add in butter and allow butter to lightly brown, you will begin to smell a light nutty aroma. Add in garlic and stir until lightly browned about 1 minute. Add in Beans, season with salt and pepper. Toss until coated well with butter and seasonings. Reduce heat, using a zester, zest the 1/2 lemon rind over beans. Squeeze in fresh juice and toss again to coat. Cook until al dente, approximately 4 minutes.
  • Enjoy!
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Twice Baked Cauliflower

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I’m continually looking for new low carb recipes. When this video for a twice baked cauliflower dish popped up in my news feed on facebook, I thought to myself, that’s a new recipe I haven’t seen yet & it looked too good not to try! 

I’ve always loved cauliflower, raw or cooked. The internet has countless recipes that are using cauliflower in place of proteins and other high carb foods. The cauliflower head is very versatile and can be used grated as a rice or other grain substitute, cut thick to mock a “steak”, mashed up as a side dish, pureed as a sauce or into a soup, pulsed fine to mimic “cheese” on a salad. Cauliflower can be a substitute for flour and made into a pizza “dough”, cut into florets and tossed in buffalo as “wings”, even molded together and fried as a “tater tot” in place of potatoes. The Cauliflower possibilities are literally endless.  

I had tweaked this recipe a little bit from the original. I always love the inspiration from other food bloggers but will always put my own twist on a recipe. Obviously this recipe is made vegetarian, but if you would like to go full loaded twice baked, add bacon into the mix! The end result of this is super creamy & makes a great side dish with dinner. I served this as a side of pan seared salmon and roasted Brussels sprouts for dinner. This baked cauliflower dish is even great on its own! I am looking forward to making this again and next time adding in some different spices or vegetables. 

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Mise En Place:

  • 1 Head of Cauliflower, florets removed, chopped up small
  • 4 oz Cream Cheese, cut in cubes
  • 1/2 Cup Shredded Cheddar Cheese
  • 2 Tablespoons Butter
  • Scallions, as a Garnish
  • S&P, TT

Method of Prep:

  • Turn oven to 350 degrees. Remove core and stem from cauliflower. Cut florets into smaller chunks. Cook in a medium pot of salted boiling water until cauliflower is tender but not soft, approximately 5-7 minutes. Drain well and & mash with a potato masher, still leaving some chunks.
  • Mix in butter & cream cheese until smooth. Season with salt & pepper.
  • Once cauliflower is mixed well and creamy, add into a gently greased casserole dish. Top with shredded cheese. Bake in the oven, uncovered 15-20 minutes or until cheese is lightly browned.
  • Garnish with scallions & Enjoy!

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Roasted Beets

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You can’t beat beets. One of my favorite root veggies the sweet, earthy and colorful beet. They’re not only a chock-full of everyday nutrients like B Vitamins, Iron, Copper, Magnesium & Potassium, these ruby gems also are a gold mine of health boosting nutrients. 

Beets are rich in nitrates—a compound that relaxes and dilates blood vessels. That means better circulation, and possibly lower blood pressure.  Beets are good for lowering inflammation and blood pressure. They also help to detoxify the body, boost immunity, and prevent respiratory issues. They also help lower your risk of chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes and stroke. I think you get the idea when I say, nothing beats a beet. 

I don’t know too many folks who dislike beets, but I’m thinking the ones that do, have never had a freshly roasted beet. They are probably used to something from a can & ya’ll don’t want to know my feelings on canned vegetables! Beets can be prepared numerous ways but roasted is the way to go. The beets in this recipe are rich and firm bursting with juicy flavor. They take a bit to cook but absolutely worth the wait. You be the judge of how you want to drop the beet..If you know what I mean! 

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Mise en Place:

  • 4 Medium Red Beets
  • Olive Oil
  • S&P
  • Tin Foil
  • Latex Gloves
  • Kitchen Towl

Method of Prep:

  • Turn oven to 300 degrees farenheit
  • Trim beets off the green and rinse under cold water cleaning away any dirt from skin
  • Pull a long sheet of tin foil, about the length of a sheet pan
  • Place the beets on the foil, drizzle enough oil to lightly glaze each beet. Use your hands to massage the oil around each beet. Sprinkle with S&P
  • Close the foil around the beets, creating a pouch. Place on a sheet tray and set in oven for 50 Minutes
  • Check to see if the beets are cooked through by taking a pairing knife and inserting it through the center of a beet. If the knife slides through softly, beets are ready to pull. if beet still feels firm in the center, place back in the oven for an additional 15 minutes.
  • Open up foil to remove the steam and allow the beets to cool down to room temperature for approximately 20 minutes.

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Peeling the Beets:

All beets purchased from the produce section of the grocery store, need to be peeled before eating. How to do this is simple but I highly recommend you wear latex or rubber gloves to keep your hands from turning purple from the beets bleeding as the skin is removed. I start with placing a kitchen towel in both hands. Placing the beet in my left hand, on top of the towel (because i’m right handed), take the towel in your right hand and begin to push downwards  on skin. If the beets have been cooked all the way the skin will peel off very easily. If the skin is harder to peel, your beets need to be cooked a little longer. Continue to do this around the whole beet until all the of the skin is removed. Cut into quarters, or slice into rounds and add to any meal of your choice!

Enjoy, Cheers!

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Cauliflower Steaks

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It’s a well known fact that fresh is always better than frozen products. When it comes to vegetables though, the shelf life for them being fresh and kept in the fridge goes faster than I can keep up with in my back and forth work schedule.

During the slow winter months, also knows as our off season at the Country Club, I try to use this free time to do a lot more cooking at home. The only thing I wish this side of Cleveland would offer is more farmers markets. I would much rather spend my money there than at the grocery store any day. Even though I’m doing a lot more cooking at home, I’m still watching how much produce I bring home. I can only use up so much of it at one time during the week. Like I said, fresh vegetable always seem to wilt or rot on me before I get to using them.

I’ve always had a liking for cauliflower, raw or cooked didn’t matter to me. A fellow co-worker mentioned how she will make roasted cauliflower for her 2 little kids at home. She roasts it in the over with oil, salt and pepper and then sprinkles loads of Parmesan cheese and tops it with fresh made pesto, she really talked the roasted cauliflower recipe up. I figured if 2 kids under the age of 6 will eat it, it’s gotta be good. Usually I steam cauliflower so I was ready to try something different with roasting it. I took the basic ingredients: salt, pepper, and EVOO and added a few more spices to it to really make the flavor pop. The recipe makes the best entree, or side dish, you choose.

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Prep Time: 10 Minutes

Total Time: 25 Minutes

Mise en Place:

  • 1 Head of Cauliflower, stem & leaves removed, cut (You will get 3 steaks out of 1 head)
  • 1/2 Cup EVOO
  • 1 Teaspoon Garlic Powder
  • 1 Teaspoon Paprika
  • 1 Teaspoon Italian Seasoning Blend
  • S&P, TT

Method of Prep:

  • Heat Oven to 350
  • Once cauliflower is cut, place on a sheet tray
  • In a small bowl mix together EVOO & seasonings
  • Using a pastry brush, brush oil over the front and back of cauliflower, brush along the tops and sides as well. Season with S&P.
  • Place in the oven and roast for 10 Minutes. Turn over and place back in the oven for an additional 15 minutes or until tops of cauliflower are golden brown.
  • Enjoy!
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Spinach & Artichoke Dip

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Rumor has it there’s a super bowl game going on tomorrow; talk about a Sunday-funday, eh. Anyways, if you’re a last-minute planner or for lack of a better term a procrastinator, I’ve got a dip for you that is always a huge hit amongst a group of football advocates and alcohol connoisseurs. If you’re hosting a party of your own for the big game and looking to please a crowd, spinach artichoke dip is a great compliment. If you’re looking for more snack ideas, be sure to check out last years Superbowl post for other healthy alternatives and quick recipes!

Of course this doesn’t have to be made just for football season. This is a great dip to serve for birthday parties, picnics or appetizers before a holiday feast! You can serve this dip hot or cold and it only takes 15 minutes, if that, to assemble. If you’re a big cheese head, you can sprinkle your favorite cheese on top and bake it in the oven until melted. Extra cheese is always okay.

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Gluten Free/Vegetarian/Grain Free

Mise en Place:

-1 Can Artichoke Hearts, drained, rough chop

-1 10 OZ Pack Frozen Spinach, Thawed, drained

-1 8 OZ Pack Cream Cheese, softened

-1 Teaspoon Garlic Powder

-1 Teaspoon Salt

-1 Teaspoon Paprika

-1 Teaspoon Black Pepper

-Tortilla chips (or desired food to dip with)

Method of Prep:

-Drain the chopped spinach and make sure to squeeze out as much excess water as possible.

-In a large bowl add all ingredients and mix well to combine with a spoon.

-Taste and adjust seasonings if possible. I started out small with using a teaspoon of each spice. You may find that it’s not enough. Just add a little more at a time and keep tasting until it meets your satisfaction.

-If you plan to bake your dip, pop it in the oven at 350 degrees and bake for 15 minutes or until hot.

Enjoy!

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