Refridgorator Pickles

 

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Anyone who knows me, knows of my love for pickles, really anything pickled I will eat. I always have and I always will. I find the salty and tangy flavors satisfying and I personally believe they pair with just about any meal. But hey. that’s just me.

Not too long ago, a good friend of mine introduced me to this recipe and I have been making them every week ever since. What are refrigerator pickles you ask? Good question. Refrigerator pickles are pickles that are pickled and stored in the fridge. They are good for about 2 weeks. This is opposed to pickles that are canned and can be stored for the long term.

This recipe is for a sweet pickle yet, they are still quite tangy and they are super easy to make! I hope you enjoy these as much as I have.

Easy Refrigerator Pickles

Recipe courtesy of Abigail Robinson

Ingredients:

  • 3 c water
  • 1 c vinegar
  • 1/2 granulated sugar
  • 1 Tbsp salt
  • 1/4 of a medium-sized onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 Tbsp black peppercorns
  • handful of fresh dill
  • 2-3 cucumbers, sliced any which way you like

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Note on Ingredients: Think of the amounts listed with the ingredients above as ratio suggestions. This is what appeals to my taste buds but, if you prefer your pickles sweeter, then add some more sugar. Want them to taste more tangy? Add another splash of vinegar.

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Directions:

Let’s get this easy-peasy brine started; combine the water, vinegar, sugar, and salt in a small saucepan and place over low heat. Stir the mixture occasionally and leave the mixture on the stove top until the salt and sugar have completely dissolved. Once dissolved, remove from the heat and allow the mixture to cool.

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Once your brine has cooled to room temperature pour the brine into the container that the pickles will be living in (I typically leave them in a large plastic container or large glass jar). Add the chopped onion, garlic, peppercorns, fresh dill, and sliced cucumbers to the brine and seal up the container.

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Allow the cucumbers to sit in the brine for at least 8-12 hours before trying the pickles.

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Store them in the fridge in a sealed container for 7-10 days.

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Easy Refrigerator Pickles

Recipe courtesy of Abigail Robinson

Ingredients:

  • 3 c water
  • 1 c vinegar
  • 1/2 granulated sugar
  • 1 Tbsp salt
  • 1/4 of a medium-sized onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 Tbsp black peppercorns
  • handful of fresh dill
  • 2-3 cucumbers, sliced any which way you like

Directions:

Combine the water, vinegar, sugar, and salt in a small saucepan and place over low heat. Stir the mixture occasionally and leave the mixture on the stove top until the salt and sugar have completely dissolved. Once dissolved, remove from the heat and allow the mixture to cool.

Once your brine has cooled to room temperature pour the brine into the container that the pickles will be living in (I typically leave them in a large plastic container or large glass jar). Add the chopped onion, garlic, peppercorns, fresh dill, and sliced cucumbers to the brine and seal up the container.

Allow the cucumbers to sit in the brine for at least 8-12 hours before trying the pickles.

Store them in the fridge in a sealed container for 7-10 days.

Homemade Sour Gummies

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I’ve seen these all over Pinterest and I really wanted to make some homemade sour gummies (aka sour patch kids) that weren’t artificially flavored.

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Before I jump into this recipe, I would like to talk about some of the ingredients listed below; I rarely name brands in my recipes, because while there are a few brands I always go to, in general I like to let readers choose which products to use, it’s your food after all! However, for this recipe I have noted the brands for two ingredients and here’s why;

I strongly recommend Simply Lemonade since the whole point of this recipe (for me) is to cut back on artificial flavors. If you look at their ingredients, it is just water, lemon, and sugar. So the way I see it, it’s just saving me the trouble of making lemonade from scratch. You can certainly use any kind of juice, freshly squeezed, or store bought that strikes your fancy.

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The other brand I mention is Knox for the gelatin. This is because not all gelatin is created equal, and I can’t with confidence say you will get the same results with other products. So, save yourself the trouble and use Knox gelatin, it can be found in most large grocery stores. I promise they are not paying me!

Homemade Sour Gummies
Recipe Adapted from Knox Gelatine

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Ingredients:

  • 1 c Simply Raspberry Lemonade*
  • 1/4 c freshly squeezed lemon juice (1-2 lemons depending on size)
  • food coloring (optional)
  • 2 packets of Knox Gelatin

*A note on ingredients; as noted above, you can use any kind of juice, lemonade, or flavoring you like but the trick is, that all of your liquid adds up to 1 1/4 c. The ratios in this recipe are really important to ensure the gummies hold their shape.

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Directions:

In a small sauce pan over low heat, warm the lemonade, lemon juice and food coloring (if using). Once the mixture is warm (not even boiling or simmering), add the gelatin.

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Stir with a fork until completely dissolved (2-3 minutes).

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Pour the mixture into a mold of your choice. I used a square brownie pan, but candy molds or a cake pan would work equally well.

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Place in freezer for 10-12 minutes. To de-mold the gelatin, run a butter knife around the edges.

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Then cut the gummie into 4 sections for easy removal from the pan.

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I then placed the gelatin on a paper towel and cut out shapes with a cookie cutter.

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I used the smallest cookie cutter I own so they are little bite-sized adorable gummies, but they are just as good at any size.

Store the gummies in a an airtight container and keep at room temperature or in the refrigerator.

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Homemade Sour Gummies

Recipe Adapted from Knox Gelatine

Ingredients:

  • 1 c Simply Raspberry Lemonade*
  • 1/4 c freshly squeezed lemon juice (1-2 lemons depending on size)
  • food coloring (optional)
  • 2 packets of Knox Gelatin

*A note on ingredients; as noted above, you can use any kind of juice, lemonade, or flavoring you like but the trick is, that all of your liquid adds up to 1 1/4 c. The ratios in this recipe are really important to ensure the gummies hold their shape.

Directions:

In a small sauce pan over low heat, warm the lemonade, lemon juice and food coloring (if using). Once the mixture is warm (not even boiling or simmering), add the gelatin. Stir with a fork until completely dissolved (2-3 minutes).

Pour the mixture into a mold of your choice. I used a square brownie pan, but candy molds or a cake pan would work equally well. Place in freezer for 10-12 minutes. To de-mold the gelatin, run a butter knife around the edges. Then cut the gummie into 4 sections for easy removal from the pan.

Place the gelatin on a paper towel and cut out shapes with a cookie cutter. Store the gummies in a an airtight container and keep at room temperature or in the refrigerator.

 

Bruschetta Stuffed Chicken

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Today’s recipe is for Bruschetta Stuffed Chicken. In the past I’ve been weary of cooking chicken breasts, often times they take forever in the oven and I’m worried about drying out the chicken. But recently I was inspired by this chicken recipe, and I thought, why not just blast them on high heat? So, I gave it a try and presto, I got moist chicken breasts that took about a half hour in the oven.

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That being said I nee you to bear in mind, when you make this in your own kitchen that the cooking times and the amount of filling you will need is going to vary depending on the size of the chicken breasts. Mine happenend to be pretty big, so if you have some that are on the smaller side they will most definately take less time to bake.

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One more thing, this recipe is great for making ahead of time. Stuffing the chicken and letting it set, enhances the flavor the longer the filling has a chance to sit and let the flavors meld together. I even find that the leftovers taste even better than when I cook them for the first time.

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Bruschetta Stuffed Chicken

Ingredients for Stuffing:

  • 1  tomato, medium sided, diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 shallot, diced
  • 1/4 c grated cheese (Parmesean, Romano, or Asiago, or a blend of the 3)
  • 1 bunch of fresh basil

Ingredients for crumb coating

  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 c grated cheese
  • 1/3 c breadcrumbs, unseasoned
  • 3 chicken breasts

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

Assemble all of your ingredients for the filling into a small mixing bowl and set aside.

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Spray a baking sheet or pan with cooking spray and set aside. Butterfly the chicken breasts. I rarely do a nice job on this, so don’t worry if you butcher it a bit, they will still be tasty. Just make sure there is some semblence of a pocket to put the filling in.

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Combine the ingredients for the crumb coating (except chicken) on a plate. Take the butterflied chicken breasts and coat the outside in the breadcrumb mixture.

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Place the chicken breasts on the prepared cooking pan and spoon 1/3 of the tomato basil mixture into the pocket of the chicken. Repeat this process with all the chicken breasts.

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If I have any left over breadcrumb mixture, I sprinkle it on top of the chicken and pat some more into the sides of the breasts.

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Roast in the oven for 30-35 minutes (depending on the side of your chicken breasts). Allow the chicken to rest for 5-10 minutes before eating, this is important, because this helps the chicken breasts retain their moisture.

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Buon Appetito!

Can’t get enough of homemade Italian food? Check out my articles on homemade pasta sauce and homemade meatballs.

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Bruschetta Stuffed Chicken

Ingredients:

For the stuffing:

  • 1  tomato, medium sized, diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 shallot, diced
  • 1/4 c grated cheese (Parmesan, Romano, or Asiago, or a blend of the 3)
  • 1 bunch of fresh basil

For the crumb coating:

  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 c grated cheese
  • 1/3 c bread crumbs, unseasoned
  • 3 chicken breasts

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.Assemble all of your ingredients for the filling into a small mixing bowl and set aside.

Spray a baking sheet or pan with cooking spray and set aside. Butterfly the chicken breasts. I rarely do a nice job on this, so don’t worry if you butcher it a bit, they will still be tasty. Just make sure there is some semblance of a pocket to put the filling in.

Combine the ingredients for the crumb coating (except chicken) on a plate. Take the butterflied chicken breasts and coat the outside in the breadcrumb mixture.

Place the chicken breasts on the prepared cooking pan and spoon 1/3 of the tomato basil mixture into the pocket of the chicken. Repeat this process with all the chicken breasts.

If I have any left over breadcrumb mixture, I sprinkle it on top of the chicken and pat some more into the sides of the breasts.

Roast in the oven for 30-35 minutes (depending on the side of your chicken breasts). Allow the chicken to rest for 5-10 minutes before eating, this is important, because this helps the chicken breasts retain their moisture.

The Meatball Formula

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A few weeks ago I shared with you my recipe for pasta sauce. It was a very personal recipe to me which brings back memories of childhood. As much as any one kind of food can be, my homemade pasta sauce is part of who I am. It makes me think of my Nana, whom I was very close with, it makes me think of my Mom who taught me how to make it, and mostly it makes me think of Sunday dinners with family sitting around the table. As with my pasta sauce recipe, my homemade meatballs have a similar effect. To me a bowl of pasta and sauce with meatballs is home. The ultimate comfort food. And most importantly a part of my past. A page in my family history.

So with that, I introduce to you my recipe for meatballs aka the meatball formula. I’m calling this a formula because this seems to be the perfect ratios for what I consider the ultimate meatball. The formula calls for 3 lbs of ground meat. I like to use ground beef and ground turkey in a 2:1 ratio, so I typically use 2 lb of ground beef and 1 lb of ground turkey.

Now, keep in mind you can easily modify this; for example, you can use 1 lb of ground pork or veal in the place of turkey. Did my Nana make meatballs with ground turkey? No. Did she bake them in the oven? No, she fried them. But this is how I make my meatballs, so feel free to put your own spin on it.

Similarly to when I make pasta sauce I make big batches of meatballs, and freeze them so that I can defrost a few at a time as needed. The meatball formula can be doubled to make an army of meatballs, or reduced to make an amount appropriate to your needs. But, as I’ve said before, it’s my blog so I get to do it my way.

The Meatball Formula

Ingredients:

  • 2 lb ground beef
  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 cups breadcrumbs
  • 3 cups Romano cheese, grated
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 bunch of parsley, chopped
  • salt, a generous pinch
  • pepper, a pinch

Directions:

Combine all ingredients one large mixing bowl.

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Mix with hands until all ingredients are evenly distributed. It’s messy, and cold but get in there! This my favorite way to cook-with my hands!

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Once the mixture is evenly mixed it’s time to start forming meatballs.

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Roll the mixture into 1 1/2 inch balls and place on lightly greased baking pans.

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I also like to make a few dozen mini (1/2 in) meatballs to add to soups.

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These mini meatballs do not need to be browned before freezing or cooking. Just toss them into soups as they are boiling.  Aren’t they adorable?

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Preheat oven to 375  and bake the meatballs for 10 minutes. Remove the meatballs from the oven and flip the meatballs over so that all sides brown evenly. Bake for an additional 8-10 minutes, the meatballs should be lightly browned on the outside.

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If freezing the meatballs, first freeze them on the baking pan, then after 12-24 hours transfer them to a large freezer bag. This way they will not stick together and you can easily remove as many as you need for meals.

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If cooking let the meatballs cook with sauce for a few minutes to ensure they are cooked all the way through. These meatballs make delicious meatball subs or sliders, or are perfect to go with some pasta and sauce.

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I hope you enjoy these meatballs as much as I do! Buon appetito!

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Baked Italian Meatballs

Ingredients:

  • 2 lb ground beef
  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 cups bread crumbs
  • 3 cups Romano cheese, grated
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 bunch of parsley, chopped
  • salt, a generous pinch
  • pepper, a pinch

Directions:

Combine all ingredients one large mixing bowl. Mix with hands until all ingredients are evenly distributed.

Once the mixture is evenly mixed roll the mixture into 1 1/2 inch balls and place on lightly greased baking pans.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and bake the meatballs for 10 minutes. Remove the meatballs from the oven and flip the meatballs over so that all sides brown evenly. Bake for an additional 8-10 minutes, the meatballs should be lightly browned on the outside.

If freezing the meatballs, first freeze them on the baking pan, then after 12-24 hours transfer them to a large freezer bag. This way they will not stick together and you can easily remove as many as you need for meals.

If cooking let the meatballs cook with sauce for a few minutes to ensure they are cooked all the way through.

Brown Chicken Stock aka Liquid Gold

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Alright folks, I’ve shared with you some of my favorite chicken recipes (Roasted Chicken Thighs and Spatchcock Roasted Chicken), but don’t throw away those bones! In fact, I always have a “bone bag” in my freezer and and as we make these dishes the discarded bones go into this freezer bag rather than the trash. Once I have a full gallon-sized zip lock bag or more and a rainy day with no plans I make this chicken stock.

Chicken stock is one of the staples I like to have in my kitchen at all times, and if you’ve got the time (and the bones) this one is seriously worth it, it really is liquid gold in my kitchen.

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Brown Chicken Stock

adapted from Bon Appetite MagazineBrown Chicken Stock

Ingredients:

  • 5 lb chicken bones
  • cooking spray
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 carrots (or 16 baby carrots), peeled, rinsed, and diced
  • 2 celery stocks, diced
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • handful of black peppercorns
  • 10 parsley sprigs
  • fresh thyme
  • fresh sage
  • 2-3 bay leaves

Directions:

Adjust the racks in the oven so one is on the bottom third of the oven, and the other is in the top third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Arrange the bones in a single layer in a large roasting pan.

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(I know it looks kind of gross but hey, sometimes cooking ain’t pretty!)

Coat a baking pan with cooking spray and place the diced vegetables in it. Set aside. I do not recommend using a 9×9 pan as pictured above, the vegetables are too crowded and take to long to roast.

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Roast the bones for 15 minutes on the bottom rack of the oven. After 15 minutes place the vegetables on the top rack of the oven and roast for 20 minutes (let the bones continue roasting in the oven). Remove the vegetables from the oven and coat them in the tomato paste.

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Return to the oven and roast for an additional 10-15 minutes. The bones and vegetables should be a nice deep brown color (and smell amazing).

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Place the bones and the roasted vegetables into a large pot. While the roasting pan that the bones were in is still hot pour a cup of water in and scrape the brown bits up from the bottom of the pan. Pour the mixture into the pot with the bones and vegetables.

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Add 16 cups of water, and all remaining ingredients to the pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat and allow the mixture to simmer for 3 hours.

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Now for the fun part! Remove the stock from heat and using a slotted spoon remove the solids.

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Once the big pieces are out of the way, strain the stock through a fine mesh sieve.

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Return the stock t0 medium-low heat and simmer for an additional 1 1/2 hours.

Remove the stock from the heat and allow to cool. Once cool, spoon off the excess fat.

The stock will keep in the freezer for up to 3 months or in the refrigerator for 3 days, I like to store it in quart-sized zip lock bags. I typically put about 3-ish cups of stock per a bag and let them freeze flat so that once they are frozen solid I can stack them or stick them in small places in the freezer. To defrost them place the bags in a sink of hot water.

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Brown Chicken Stock

Adapted from Bon Appetit Magazine

Ingredients:

  • 5 lb chicken bones
  • cooking spray
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 carrots (or 16 baby carrots), peeled, rinsed, and diced
  • 2 celery stocks, diced
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • handful of black peppercorns
  • 10 parsley sprigs
  • fresh thyme
  • fresh sage
  • 2-3 bay leaves

Directions:

Adjust the racks in the oven so one is on the bottom third of the oven, and the other is in the top third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Arrange the bones in a single layer in a large roasting pan.

Coat a baking pan with cooking spray and place the diced vegetables in it. Set aside. Roast the bones for 15 minutes on the bottom rack of the oven. After 15 minutes place the vegetables on the top rack of the oven and roast for 20 minutes (let the bones continue roasting in the oven). Remove the vegetables from the oven and coat them in the tomato paste. Return to the oven and roast for an additional 10-15 minutes. The bones and vegetables should be a nice deep brown color (and smell amazing).

Place the bones and the roasted vegetables into a large pot. While the roasting pan that the bones were in is still hot pour a cup of water in and scrape the brown bits up from the bottom of the pan. Pour the mixture into the pot with the bones and vegetables.

Add 16 cups of water, and all remaining ingredients to the pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat and allow the mixture to simmer for 3 hours.

Next, remove the stock from heat and using a slotted spoon remove the solids. Once the big pieces are out of the way, strain the stock through a fine mesh sieve. Return the stock to medium-low heat and simmer for an additional 1 1/2 hours.

Remove the stock from the heat and allow to cool. Once cool, spoon off the excess fat.

The stock will keep in the freezer for up to 3 months or in the refrigerator for 3 days, I like to store it in quart-sized zip lock bags.

The Bird is the Word

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It all started this past November a few days before Thanksgiving. First of all, if you don’t already know this, you should; Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. I love, love, love it. I love all of the cooking/baking/love that goes into it. This year I was able to host my very first Thanksgiving, and even though I’m pretty sure I drove my husband crazy, I loved it. But I was spending so much time focusing on which side dishes to prepare (See: Butternut Squash Mac & Cheese, Roasted Mushrooms, and Buttermilk Biscuits ) that I really kind of forgot the turkey. I know, I know, that’s crazy talk.

So a few day before Thanksgiving, I started looking at different recipes for roasting a turkey. That’s when I came across various claims that spatchcocking a turkey is the fastest and greatest way to roast a turkey. So let’s back up, today’s word of the day is spatchcock. This is a cooking technique for poultry where the back bone is removed, the bird is pressed flat, and then cooked. Basically it’s a fancy word for butterflying a whole bird.

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Let me just say, this blew my mind. I had never heard of it before and I was kind of fascinated by a technique that claimed to cut cooking down significantly and produce a juicy turkey with a crispy outside. But this was days before Thanksgiving, and I was not brave/crazy enough to experiment with this technique for the very first time on Thanksgiving.

Now let’s fast forward to a few weeks ago. My time had come, and I was ready to try this whole spatchcocking thing for myself. I bought a 4 lb chicken, brined it, and gave it a try. OH MY GOODNESS. It was magnificent! It was delicious! It was more than I dreamed it would be. Thankfully my husband called to say he would be working late that night because I almost ate the whole chicken myself. I have no regrets.

So without further ado, I give you my recipe for a fool-proof roasted chicken. Be brave! This yields awesome results and I will most certainly be doing this the next time I host Thanksgiving.

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Spatchcock Roasted Chicken

Ingredients:

  • brine for the chicken
  • 4 lb roasting chicken
  • 2 oranges
  • 2 lemons
  • cooking spray
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 2 tsp bacon fat (optional)
  • salt
  • pepper

Step 1: Brine the bird

You can use any brine you like. I halved this recipe from Pioneer Woman. I like this one in particular because it gives the bird sweet and savory flavors. I swear by brining whole birds before roasting, you’ll never have a dry roasted bird again! I recommend brining for at least 16 hours, or up to 24 hours before roasting.

Step 2: Spatchcock

Take the chicken out of the brine and allow it to drain for a few minutes.

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Place the chicken on a cutting board and pat dry with a paper towel.

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Using kitchen scissors, cut vertically along the backbone of the chicken on both sides and remove entirely.

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Flip the chicken over and press the bird as flat as you can.

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Step 3: Roast the chicken

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Place a cooling rack in a flat baking pan and put in the oven while it is preheating. Slice the lemons and oranges into thin round slices and set aside. Melt the butter (and bacon fat if using) in the microwave and set aside.

Once the oven is up to temperature, remove the hot pans from the oven. Carefully, spray the cooling rack with non stick cooking spray and arrange the lemon and orange slices on the the rack.

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Place the chicken on top of the citrus. Brush the skin with the melted butter (and bacon fat) and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

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Roast for 50-60 minutes until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165. Let the chicken rest for 10 minutes before cutting up and eating.

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Just look at that beauty.

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How you doin?

Sorry, I’ve been watching a lot of Freinds reruns lately. I regret nothing.

The wings and thighs are my favorite, and I love using the juicy meat from the breasts in sandwiches and soups. After carving the chicken, save those bones! Later this week I will share with you my absolute favorite recipe for brown chicken stock.

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Enjoy and let me know how your chicken turns out.

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Spatchcock Roasted Chicken

Ingredients:

  • brine for the chicken
  • 4 lb roasting chicken
  • 2 oranges
  • 2 lemons
  • cooking spray
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 2 tsp bacon fat (optional)
  • salt
  • pepper

Directions:

Step 1: Brine the bird. You can use any brine you like. I recommend brining for at least 16 hours, or up to 24 hours before roasting.

Step 2: Spatchcock

Take the chicken out of the brine and allow it to drain for a few minutes. Place the chicken on a cutting board and pat dry with a paper towel. Using kitchen scissors, cut vertically along the backbone of the chicken on both sides and remove entirely. Flip the chicken over and press the bird as flat as you can.

Step 3: Roast the chicken

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Place a cooling rack in a flat baking pan and put in the oven while it is preheating. Slice the lemons and oranges into thin round slices and set aside. Melt the butter (and bacon fat if using) in the microwave and set aside. Once the oven is up to temperature, remove the hot pans from the oven. Carefully, spray the cooling rack with non-stick cooking spray and arrange the lemon and orange slices on the the rack.

Place the chicken on top of the citrus. Brush the skin with the melted butter (and bacon fat) and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Roast for 50-60 minutes until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165. Let the chicken rest for 10 minutes before cutting up and eating.

Lemon Oregano Roasted Chicken Thighs

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Honestly, this dish is a staple in my house. I started making this a few years ago, when I was desperate for one-pot meals, and this one just stuck. I make this (or a variation of this) every two weeks or so. This can be attributed to a few reasons; the first being that it is quick and easy to make. I also love this recipe because it’s a building block for tons of other dinners. I often change the spice combinations and vegetables I’m roasting with the chicken so it doesn’t get boring.

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The last, and maybe most important reason we make this for dinner so often is because it’s with chicken thighs. Let me tell you, I used to think I didn’t like chicken. It turns out I was just drying out my chicken every time and that was really making my chicken dishes unenjoyable. Once I started cooking chicken thighs with this method I learned how absolutely amazing chicken can really be, crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside. It was literally a revelation to me that I had been ignoring, in my opinion, the best part of the chicken!

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And chicken thighs are so inexpensive. I buy big packs of them at the grocery store and freeze 4-5 thighs in a bag, so that when I’m making it for dinner I put the bag of frozen chicken in a sink of hot water and they defrost quickly. After they are defrosted I trim the skin so there is just a small amount on the top of the thigh, and trim the excess fat on the bottom of the thigh.

So, as you try this recipe in your own kitchen, I strongly encourage you to experiment with different spice combinations for the chicken and which vegetables get roasted with the chicken. If you like crispy chicken that is juicy and flavorful on the inside then this recipe is for you.

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Lemon Oregano Roasted Chicken

Ingredients:

  • 4-5 chicken thighs
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 1/2 c carrots, baby carrots, or cut into 2 inch pieces
  • 1 lemon, cut into quarters
  • oregano

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Pat dry the chicken thighs with a paper towel and place on a plate. Sprinkle the chicken thighs with salt and pepper. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in an oven safe pan over medium-high heat. Once the oil is shiny and easily coats the bottom of the pan place the chicken thighs, skin side down, on the the pan. Allow them to brown for 6 minutes. Carefully flip the chicken and brown the bottom of the chicken thighs for 6 minutes.

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Toss the carrots in a small amount of olive oil and add them to the pan around the chicken thighs. Squeeze the lemon slices over the entire pan (be careful, this will splatter a bit), place the lemon slices in the pan on top of the vegetables.

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Sprinkle oregano on the chicken thighs and then place the pan (uncovered) in the oven and roast for 18-20 minutes (depending on the size of the chicken thighs).

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The chicken is finished when it reaches an internal temperature of 165.

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Let the chicken rest for 5-10 minutes before serving.

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Lemon Oregano Roasted Chicken

Ingredients:

  • 4-5 chicken thighs
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 1/2 c carrots, baby carrots, or cut into 2 inch pieces
  • 1 lemon, cut into quarters
  • oregano

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Pat dry the chicken thighs with a paper towel and place on a plate. Sprinkle the chicken thighs with salt and pepper. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in an oven safe pan over medium-high heat. Once the oil is shiny and easily coats the bottom of the pan place the chicken thighs, skin side down, on the the pan. Allow them to brown for 6 minutes. Carefully flip the chicken and brown the bottom of the chicken thighs for 6 minutes.

Toss the carrots in a small amount of olive oil and add them to the pan around the chicken thighs. Squeeze the lemon slices over the entire pan (be careful, this will splatter a bit), place the lemon slices in the pan on top of the vegetables.

Sprinkle oregano on the chicken thighs and then place the pan (uncovered) in the oven and roast for 18-20 minutes (depending on the size of the chicken thighs).

The chicken is finished when it reaches an internal temperature of 165.

Let the chicken rest for 5-10 minutes before serving.

 

 

Pecan-Stuffed Mushrooms

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First things first, I love toasted pecans. I love their nutty sweet flavor. Un-toasted, I don’t give a fig about pecans, but toast those babies up and the flavor and crunch factor gets intensified and I love it.

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Now that that’s out of the way, let’s talk about this recipe; Pecan-Stuffed Mushrooms. This is from a cookbook from my Mom’s (sizable) cookbook collection. This is kind of a neat book because it was put together by a rotary club in the late 70’s in Upstate New York (where I grew up). It’s a collection of recipes that really capture the times (according to my Mom) and it includes recipes such as Hot Sherry Crab Dip, Chocolate Crepes, and cocktails such as Sunshine Slush. Apparently it’s all very “70’s” as my Mom says. I’m a product of the 80’s so I’ll have to take her word for it.

Anyway, these tasty little mushrooms are an awesome appetizer or side dish. They have a nice crunch to them thanks to those toasted pecans, and a pleasant tangyness to due to the Greek Yogurt.

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Pecan Stuffed Mushrooms

Adapted from Applehood and Motherpie

Ingredients:

  • 12 to 16 large button mushrooms
  • 2 Tbsp butter, melted
  • 1 Tbsp onion, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 Tbsp Plain Non-Fat Greek Yogurt
  • 3 Tbsp grated Parmesan Cheese
  • 3 Tbsp toasted pecans, finely chopped

Directions:

Clean mushrooms with a wet paper towel. Remove stems and set aside.

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Arrange mushroom caps on a baking sheet. Brush the mushroom caps with 1 Tbsp of the melted butter and set aside.

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Chop the mushroom stems. Using the remaining melted butter saute the mushroom stems, onion, and garlic cloves over medium heat until the onions are browned (about 5 minutes).

While sauteing preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Combine the sauteed mushrooms and onions and all remaining ingredients in a small mixing bowl. Fill the mushroom caps with the mixture.

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If you’re a self-proclaimed cheese addict like myself, sprinkle some additional cheese on top of the mushrooms.

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Cook in the oven for 18-20 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the cooking time. The mushrooms should be tender and the tops brown.

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The cook time might vary slightly depending on the size of the mushrooms, so keep an eye on ’em.  Serve warm.

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Pecan Stuffed Mushrooms

Adapted from Applehood and Motherpie

Ingredients:

  • 12 to 16 large button mushrooms
  • 2 Tbsp butter, melted
  • 1 Tbsp onion, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 Tbsp Plain Non-Fat Greek Yogurt
  • 3 Tbsp grated Parmesan Cheese
  • 3 Tbsp toasted pecans, finely chopped

Directions:

Clean mushrooms with a wet paper towel. Remove stems and set aside.

Arrange mushroom caps on a baking sheet. Brush the mushroom caps with 1 Tbsp of the melted butter and set aside.

Chop the mushroom stems. Using the remaining melted butter saute the mushroom stems, onion, and garlic cloves over medium heat until the onions are browned (about 5 minutes).

While sauteing preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Combine the sauteed mushrooms and onions and all remaining ingredients in a small mixing bowl. Fill the mushroom caps with the mixture.

If you’re a self-proclaimed cheese addict like myself, sprinkle some additional cheese on top of the mushrooms.

Cook in the oven for 18-20 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the cooking time. The mushrooms should be tender and the tops brown. Serve warm.

 

 

Lick Your Plate Clean Spaghetti Sauce

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Before we delve into this recipe there are a few things you need to know:

First, this recipe is near and dear to my heart. I grew up eating Italian food and loving every bite. It didn’t matter if it was made by my Mother, my Nana, or any other relative, I just couldn’t (and still can’t) get enough homemade Italian food. This recipe, to me, is a big part of my childhood. To the annoyance of many I have insisted that homemade sauce is ALWAYS better than jar sauce. To be honest, most have disagreed. Some have even scoffed at how long it takes to make sauce and claim it is not worth it. But despite the criticism and doubts, I still feel very strongly about making pasta sauce from scratch. I urge you to give it a try. It is not difficult recipe and to me, nothing provides more comfort than a belly full of homemade sauce.

For some of the ingredients listed below there are no measurements. Why? Because this is how I learned to make sauce, so this is how I’m going to explain it. Make this recipe just once and you’ll get a feel for it.

This makes a big ole’ batch of sauce. Why? Because I make sauce in big batches, freeze it in smaller containers and than defrost for quick weeknight meals. BUT here’s the beauty of this recipe, it can easily be reduced by cutting back on the tomatoes. Want to make a small batch? Just use 1 can of diced tomatoes and 1 can of crushed tomatoes. Want to make an even bigger batch than this? Increase the tomatoes so that you use 4 cans of diced and 4 of crushed. The key is to keep the varying texture of tomatoes even, so that there is always an equal amount of each.

The last thing you should know is that the title of this post has been inspired my my husband, who literally licks his plate clean every time I serve it.

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Clara’s Pasta Sauce

Ingredients:

  • olive oil
  • 1 bunch of fresh parsley
  • garlic, minced
  • 3 cans (28 oz) of diced tomatoes
  • 3 cans (28 oz) of crushed or pureed tomatoes
  • 1 can tomato paste
  • dried oregano
  • dried basil
  • salt
  • pepper

Directions:

Start out by getting everything ready to go, mince a few garlic cloves, chop the parsley, and open all of the cans and have them near the stove top ready to rock and roll. Trust me.

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Next coat the bottom of your sauce pan with olive oil. You want enough to coat the bottom of your pan so this will vary depending on the size pot you are using. Heat the oil over medium-high heat and when the oil is warm add your chopped parsley and a few cloves of garlic to the pan. Garlic lovers, feel free to load up on garlic here, otherwise 3-4 cloves ought to do it.

Stir the parsley and garlic frequently. The garlic should be toasted and brown, but not burned. Do not walk away from your pot, keep an eye on that garlic because it will go from browned and lovely to burned and acrid quickly. Burned garlic ruins sauce. If you burn the garlic, dump out your pot and start over.

Ok, so the garlic is nice and browned, now it’s time to add all of your tomatoes and the tomato sauce. Gently pour them all into the pan and set the cans aside.

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Now, take one of the empty cans of tomatoes and fill the can about 1/3 of the way with water. Carefully swirl the water around the can to rinse the excess tomato from the can.

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Then pour the tomato-ey water into each can and repeat the process to clean all of the cans.

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Pour the tomato-water mixture into the sauce and stir to combine.

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Now it’s time to add some spices. How much basil? About this much.

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How much oregano? Slightly more oregano than basil.

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Next add the salt and pepper and stir to combine. Allow the mixture to come to a simmer then reduce the heat to low and cover. Cook the sauce for 3-4 hours, stirring every 20-30 minutes. Stirring the mixture and keeping it on a low temperature is key, as tomato burns easily. Keeping the heat low and stirring the mixture will prevent that. There is no fixing burned sauce. If you burn the bottom of the pot, I’m sorry, but the whole batch of sauce will taste burned. Do not burn your sauce.

Taste the sauce about half-way through the cooking process to determine if more seasoning is needed. You will know the sauce is done when the tomatoes no longer have a raw taste to them and taste a little bit sweeter.

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Clara’s Pasta Sauce

Ingredients:

  • 2-3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 bunch of fresh parsley
  • 3-4 garlic cloves
  • 3 cans (28 oz) of diced tomatoes
  • 3 cans (28 oz) of crushed or pureed tomatoes
  • 1 can tomato paste
  • dried oregano, to taste
  • dried basil, to taste
  • salt, to taste
  • pepper, to taste

Directions:

Start out by getting everything ready to go, mince the garlic cloves, chop the parsley, and open all of the cans and have them near the stove top.

Next, heat 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil in a heavy bottomed pot over medium heat.

Next coat the bottom of your sauce pan with olive oil. When the oil is hot an easily coats the bottom of your pot saute the parsley and garlic. Stir the parsley and garlic frequently. The garlic should be toasted and brown, but not burned. Do not walk away from your pot, keep an eye on that garlic because it will go from browned and lovely to burned and acrid quickly. Burned garlic ruins sauce. If you burn the garlic, dump out your pot and start over.

Once the garlic is a golden brown add the canned tomatoes and tomato paste. Then, take one of the empty cans of tomatoes and fill the can about 1/3 of the way with water. Carefully swirl the water around the can to rinse the excess tomato from the can. Pour the tomato-ey water into each can and repeat the process to clean all of the cans and pour the tomato-water mixture into the sauce and stir to combine.

Add 2 tablespoons of oregano, 1 tablespoon of basil, 2 teaspoons of salt, and 1 teaspoon of pepper.

Allow the mixture to come to a simmer then reduce the heat to low and cover. Cook the sauce for 3-4 hours, stirring every 20-30 minutes. Stirring the mixture and keeping it on a low temperature is key, as tomatoes will burn easily. Keeping the heat low and stirring the mixture will prevent that. There is no fixing burned sauce. If you burn the bottom of the pot, the whole batch of sauce will taste burned. Do not burn your sauce.

Taste the sauce about half-way through the cooking process to determine if more seasoning is needed. You will know the sauce is done when the tomatoes no longer have a raw taste to them and taste a little bit sweeter.

The Tuna Salad Alternative

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Howdy! Today I have a quick and delicious recipe that makes a great make-ahead lunch or just an all-around yummy snack; the Tuna Salad Alternative.

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I personally am not a fan of tuna salad or chicken salad. For one, I don’t care for too much mayonnaise in general, but also canned tuna grosses me out a bit.  I stumbled across this recipe not too long ago and had to try it out right away. What really caught my attention was the use of chickpeas in place of tuna or chicken. I made a few alterations to the recipe and I was so pleased with the final results that I had to share it with you.

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I hope you enjoy this and I promise holiday baking posts will be coming soon.

The Tuna Salad Alternative

slightly adapted from LaurenConrad.com

Ingredients:

  • 1 can of chickpeas (15 oz), drained and rinsed
  • 1 celery stalk
  • 1 1/2 TBSP rice wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup fat-free Greek yogurt
  • 1 Tbsp mustard
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp cumin

Optional Additions:

  • Handful of nuts of your choice, roughly chopped
  • Handful of raisins or dried cranberries, roughly chopped
  • 2 TBSP pickles, roughly chopped

The Tuna Salad Alternative Ingredients

Directions:

Roughly chop the chickpeas, celery, and optional additions.

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix together.

Serve on toasted bread, your favorite crackers, or on top of a salad and enjoy!

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It’s certainly not the most complicated recipe in the world, but it is yummy! What are your favorite additions to a tuna or chicken salad? I’m partial to dill pickles, or a crunchy nut such as pistachios.

If you’re enjoying these posts and don’t want to miss any new ones be sure to join my other Reckless Readers and subscribe to receive new posts via email.

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The Tuna Salad Alternative

slightly adapted from LaurenConrad.com

Ingredients:

  • 1 can of chickpeas (15 oz), drained and rinsed
  • 1 celery stalk
  • 1 1/2 TBSP rice wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup fat-free Greek yogurt
  • 1 Tbsp mustard
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp cumin

Optional Additions:

  • Handful of nuts of your choice, roughly chopped
  • Handful of raisins or dried cranberries, roughly chopped
  • 2 TBSP pickles, roughly chopped

Directions:

Roughly chop the chickpeas, celery, and optional additions. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix together.Serve on toasted bread, your favorite crackers, or on top of a salad.