Apricot Roasted Chicken

Apricot Roasted Chicken

There are often extremely difficult moments in life—days during which you feel as though you will not be okay. In the end, time will heal almost everything, but waiting seems impossible.

In those moments, food plays an important role for many. Personally, I gravitate towards homecooked meals that warm and ease my soul.

Two weeks ago I made the difficult decision to let go of my dog and best friend of 13 years. Although I know it was the correct decision to ease her suffering, it was the most difficult decision I have ever had to make. My friends and family really stepped up to be there for my husband and I. The showering of food (and booze if I am being honest) kept my home full while my heart was empty.

I cannot think of a more soul warming meal than roasted meat and a couple of sides. A meat and two or three (or four) is a staple southern meal. Growing up, dinner most nights included meatloaf, country fried steak, pot roast, salmon patties, or pork chops.

So when you go through something difficult you often lean towards bits of nostalgia—the good moments. A full plate of love-filled food is a plate full of nostalgia for me. A lot of my childhood consisted of sitting in the kitchen with my mother as she cooked me dishes from the heart.

Although she never roasted chicken like this, I think this recipe is easily one that you can add to your repertoire of food to cook and share with others. The preparation calls for an arrangement of vegetables at the bottom of your roast pan and a slathering of sweet sticky apricot preserves. The result is a juicy home roasted chicken with a slight Asian flare.

I am going to leave this recipe here because it is my hope that you share a homecooked, heart-filling meal with friends or family. Even if you are not going through your own battle, and just want a good meal, this dish will serve you well. Now get in the kitchen and make memories.

Apricot Glaze Roasted Chicken

Apricot Glaze Roasted Chicken

Ingredients

  • 1 Whole Chicken
  • 1 Bunch of Fresh Thyme
  • 1 Jar of Apricot Jam
  • 2 Yellow Onions, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 Lemon, halved
  • 6 Cloves of Garlic, peeled
  • 2 Cups of Chicken Broth, and more as needed
  • 1/3 Cup of Red Wine Vinegar
  • 1 Cup of Dried Apricots, sliced in half
  • 5 Tablespoons of Butter
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Olive Oil

Instructions

  1. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Prepare the chicken by patting it dry with paper towels.
  3. Sprinkle salt and pepper into the cavity of the chicken then stuff the chicken. Add in one half of the lemon, half of the whole fresh thyme sprigs, two cloves of garlic, one half of one onion, and approximately six dried apricots.
  4. Coat the chicken in juice from the remaining lemon and in olive oil, rubbing them into the skin. Generously sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper then tie the legs together with cooking twine.
  5. In the bottom of the roasting pan place the remaining onion, apricots, and thyme. Pour the chicken broth over the vegetables.
  6. Finely chop the remaining garlic, and sprinkle approximately 3 cloves worth over the chicken broth.
  7. Place the chicken on top of the vegetables in the roasting pan.
  8. Place the roasting pan on the middle rack in the oven to roast.
  9. You will initially roast the chicken for 15 minutes at 450 degrees before turning the temperature down.
  10. While the chicken initially roasts, prepare the glaze.
  11. In a small saucepan combine the jar of apricot preserves, butter, red wine vinegar, and remaining chopped garlic. Mix until everything is combined and season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove the glaze from the heat.
  12. After the initial fifteen minutes has passed, reduce the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and baste your chicken with its first coating of apricot glaze.
  13. If the pan ever becomes dry, add in more chicken stock.
  14. Glaze the chicken every 15 minutes, cooking the chicken until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.
  15. Once the chicken reaches the desired temperature, remove it from the oven and allow it to rest before serving it.
  16. While the chicken rests, create a sauce to serve with it.
  17. Combine any drippings from the pan with the remaining glaze and heat in a saucepan over medium-high heat.
  18. Reduce the sauce until it reaches the desired thickness or is reduced to approximately half. Season the sauce with salt and pepper to taste
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https://epicuropedia.com/2019/03/21/apricot-roasted-chicken/

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The Ultimate BLT

The Ultimate BLT

A bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwich is one of those dishes that instantly triggers nostalgia for me. A good BLT is one of my mom’s favorite foods, which means so often growing up she would throw together a BLT for our supper.

Her recipe did not require special ingredients or fancy techniques, just a bit more care. She would quickly pan fry some bacon, which she usually had on hand in the fridge, slice some tomatoes from the garden, and slather toasted white bread with mayo. After watching her prepare countless sandwiches I realized what made her homemade version my favorite version. Aside from the addition of love, my mom seasoned every layer of her sandwich with salt and pepper.

First the mayo is lacquered on the bread then hit with a sprinkling of seasoning, the next layer is added and seasoned, and so on. As you can imagine, building a sandwich with tomato that has a sprinkling of salt and pepper far exceeds a sandwich with plain tomato.

And although I feel that you can never go wrong with classic BLT, I wanted to push the limits on what a BLT can be. With that in mind, I did not want to change the backbones of the sandwich by adding or using a bunch of random things. In the south people love to throw a fried green tomato onto a BLT in an attempt to heighten the recipe–I was not about to do that.

My approach is to amplify the already existing ingredients of a BLT. Add some garlic to the mayo, use better tomatoes, etcetera.

I use this Balsamic Onion Jam recipe to make the jam I use on the sandwich.

A few notes:

  1. Garlic confit can make you very sick if you do not cook it and store it properly. I recommend using it immediately and if you want to save it, freeze it.
  2. I purchased a loaf of homemade bread from a local baker. I recommend opting for a better bread than normal sliced bread from the grocery store.
  3. The true secret to making any BLT so much better is to salt and pepper every layer, even your smear of mayo.
  4. Finally, bake your bacon. This is a trick I learned during my short time as a line cook. Most restaurants place bacon in a single layer on a sheet pan and bake it instead of pan frying it. It keeps the kitchen cleaner (bacon grease does not spatter everywhere) and you are able to tend to other things in the kitchen while the bacon bakes.

An Ultimate BLT

All of the prepared ingredients

Ingredients

  • 2 Heirloom Tomatoes
  • 1/2 Pound of Thick Sliced Bacon
  • 8 Slices of Country White Bread
  • Balsamic Onion Jam, link to recipe can be found above
  • 1 Head of Garlic
  • 1/2 Cup of Olive Oil
  • 1 Cup of Mayonise
  • 1 Head of Romaine Lettuce
  • Salt & Pepper

Instructions

  1. First, bake your bacon. Heat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Arrange your bacon in a single layer on a sheet pan, or two if needed. Bake for approximatley 45 minutes, or until bacon is the texture that you like.
  2. While the bacon cooks, make the garlic confit. Peel the garlic cloves. In a small saucepan, combine your olive oil and peeled garlic.
  3. Heat oil over medium low heat. Cook garlic until soft, approximate 45 minutes to 1 hour.
  4. Once your bacon is cooked, remove it from the oven and let the bacon drain on paper towels.
  5. With your cooked garlic, make your garlic aioli. Finely chop 3 cloves of garlic. Combine the chopped garlic with the mayonnaise and a pinch of salt and pepper. Store the remaining cooked garlic for another use.
  6. Rinse off lettuce and tomatoes, then set aside to dry.
  7. Slice the Romain lettuce into bread size pieces. Slice the tomatoes.
  8. Toast your white bread.
  9. Smear each piece of toast with maynaoise, then salt and pepper the mayonnaise.
  10. Next place on your romaine, then a layer of bacon, and a layer of tomatoes. Salt and pepper your tomatoes.
  11. Spoon over your balsamic onion jam. Finish the sandwhich by topping it with a piece of bread with mayonnaise.
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https://epicuropedia.com/2019/02/09/the-ultimate-blt/

 

 

Butternut Squash & Lentil Curry

Butternut Squash & Lentil Curry

Colder weather means throwing something in the crockpot before work, letting it cook all day, and coming home to a bubbly, home cooked meal. The preceding is especially true when your book club decides to host their monthly meeting at your house.

I can think of no better way to feed a bunch of hungry ladies than to prepare something that is quick and easy.

If you are like me, crockpot cooking can be difficult because there are so few dishes or variations of dishes that you can make in a crockpot—soup, roast, or chili seem to be the go tos.

I tested out this recipe a few weeks ago on my husband, so when my book club meeting was scheduled for my house I thought the recipe would be perfect. The most work this recipe requires is steaming some jasmine rice for the side.

A beautiful bowl of lentil and butternut squash curry

There is no added fat or meat, which results in a relatively healthy dinner. The base is made entirely of vegetables and a little bit of low sodium chicken stock. Low calorie cooking means more room for wine.

As the seasons change you can trade out the butternut squash for something more seasonal like mango or sweet potato. You literally throw everything into the crockpot the morning before your meal is planned, and let the lentils cook down with the vegetables until a thick creamy curry is created.

Just like you can switch out the vegetables that fill this curry, you can pick any of you favorite toppings to sprinkle over each finished bowl. I opted for cilantro and pickled onion, but the leftover seeds from the butter squash would have also been delicious roasted then peppered over the top.

Chopsticks sit besides this rice filled bowl of curry

Butternut Squash & Lentil Curry

Plated bowl of curry topped with cilantro and onion

Ingredients

  • 1 Butternut Squash, peeled, seeded, and cubed
  • 2 Cups of Red Lentils
  • 1 Pear, peeled and cubed
  • 3 Cups of Water
  • 1/2 of a White Onion, diced
  • 1 Cup of Vegetable Stock
  • 3 Tablespoons of Red Curry Paste
  • 2 Teaspoons of Garam Marsala
  • 2 Teaspoons Fresh Ginger, peeled and grated
  • 2 Teaspoons Turmeric
  • 1 Can of Coconut Milk

Instructions

  1. In a crockpot, combine all of your ingredients (except for the coconut milk) and mix together.
  2. Cook for 8 hours over low heat.
  3. Once finished cooking, pour in your coconut milk. Allow to cook for an additional five minutes to warm the milk.
  4. Serve finished curry over rice or noodles.
  5. Your choice in toppings is optional. Fresh cilantro, pickled onion, roasted squash seeds are great options.
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https://epicuropedia.com/2019/01/04/butternut-squash-lentil-curry/

Boiled Peanut Hummus

Boiled Peanut Hummus

For this post, you get a very short and simple recipe. This recipe that I love and go back to time and time again, so just because it is easy does not mean it is not delicious. I also wanted to share with you a savory recipe, which I feel as though I so rarely do.

Boiled peanuts are about as southern as it comes, and if you have never tasted them I am truly sad for you. For many southerners boiled green peanuts, although the concept of are one of those snacks that we turn to time and time again. Stop in almost any gas or this post, you get a very short and simple recipe. This recipe that I love and go back to time and time again; however, just because it is easy does not mean it is not delicious. I also wanted to share with you a savory recipe, which I feel as though I so rarely do.

Boiled peanuts are about as southern as it comes, and if you have never tasted them I am truly sad for you. For many southerners boiled green peanuts are one of those snacks that we turn to time and time again. Stop in almost any gas station below the mason Dixon, and you can grab a cup of hot (maybe not so fresh) boiled peanuts. On the short drive to Tybee Island from Savannah, there is a stop to get fresh steaming hot boiled peanuts, and let me tell you there is nothing better than sitting on the beach eating salty peanuts with an ice cold Coke. I even served boiled peanuts as a passed hors d’oeuvre at my wedding alongside pimento cheese sandwiches.

Often times our eyes are much bigger than our stomach, and we buy a bag that is too large to consume. Instead of letting the extra peanuts go to waste, I use them up replacing garbanzo beans with boiled peanuts in my hummus recipe. The result is something salty and delicious, perfect for scooping up with a toasted triangle of white bread.

I use this recipe time and time again because it is one of those dishes that your friends rave about when you bring it to a party or tailgate. When I am feeling extra fancy, and southern, I love to put a jar of the hummus on a platter next to homemade pimento cheese, bacon jam, and my pickled vegetables.

For those of you that have never tried boiled peanuts, I hope this recipe pushes you to step out of your comfort zone, or at a minimum inspires you to create something totally new from an everyday classic recipe.
I included red pepper in the recipe, which is optional. If you are like me and like a little kick, then add it. The hummus is just as delicious without it, so use however much you like.

IMG_8736

Boiled Peanut Hummus

Category: appetizer, dip, hummus

Cuisine: American

Boiled Peanut Hummus

Ingredients

  • 4 Cups of Shelled Boiled Peanuts
  • 2 Cloves of Garlic, peeled
  • 1 Teaspoon of Salt
  • 1/2 Cup of Tahini
  • 1/2 Cup of Olive Oil, plus more as needed
  • 1/2 Teaspoon of Red Pepper in the powered form, optional

Instructions

  1. In a food processor, combine your shelled peanuts, garlic cloves, salt, tahini, olive oil, and red pepper if you like.
  2. Blend on medium until everything is combined and broken up. The consistency will not be totally smooth.
  3. If the mixture is too thick, add as much olive oil as necessary to get the hummus to the consistency you like.
  4. Store in a sealable container until ready to serve.
  5. Serve with vegetables of your choice, or toasted slices of white bread.
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https://epicuropedia.com/2018/08/15/boiled-peanut-hummus/
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Smoked Oysters Two Ways

Smoked Oysters Two Ways

Since the holidays are officially over, my friends and I are looking for excuse to continue having celebrations. Last year, by happenstance, we threw together an oyster smoking and Christmas Tree burning party. I can’t decide if this was due to receiving a Big Green Egg as a Christmas present making my husband and I anxious to cook every meal on it or because my friends and I ‘s had nothing to do with our leftover Christmas trees. Nevertheless, the first party was a hit. I threw together a menu with almost everything done on the egg, including smoked bread, oysters, and sea bass.

This year my friends were sure to ask that we have another party with he same oysters, but instead of preparing the entire menu I asked everyone to bring over something we could throw on the egg. The result was perfect, first course was smoked bread to rip and dunk in truffle white cheddar spread and top with prosciutto. Next, my friend, Maria, prepared a traditional Caesar with romaine we lightly grilled, then topped with homemade dressing and fresh cracked black pepper. Finally, we had smoked oysters two ways. These babies are quick and easy. Together we all quickly shucked the fresh oysters, then I topped them with the butters, threw them on the grill for three minutes, then passed around the tray. Each oyster flavor stands up on its own. The chipotle butter is balanced with sweet honey, firefly chipotle, and bitter whiskey. The Parmesan brings needed relief from the heat with the savory taste of garlic and herbs.

Once our bellies were full, we gathered around the fire pit in my backyard and picked off each tree one at a time. It is amazing the hours of fun burning dry christmas trees results in. I am not going to lie, we coordinated each tree burning with a related song. Nelly’s Its Getting Hot in Here, Snoop’s Drop It Like It’s Hot, and Lil Wayne’s Fireman were just some of the our brilliant picks.

Chipotle Bourbon Butter

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 stick of softened butter
  • 2 tablespoons of chipotle sauce
  • 1/2 clove of garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons of bourbon
  • 1 tablespoon of honey
  • A dash of salt

Directions:

In a small food processor, combine all ingredients until fully combined. Transfer into small Tupperware container and store in fridge until ready to use

Parmesan Parsley Butter

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 stick of softened butter
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons of fresh parsley
  • 2 tablespoons of finely grated Parmesan
  • A dash of salt

Directions:

In a small food processor, combine all ingredients until fully combined. Transfer into small Tupperware container and store in fridge until ready to use

Smoked Oysters Two Ways:

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 bushels of cleaned fresh local oysters
  • Wood Chips
  • Chipotle Bourbon Butter
  • Parmesan Parsley Butter

Directions:

An hour or two prior to cooking, soak your wood chips in a bowl of water to prevent burning too quickly. Once ready to cook, get your smoker, grill, or big green egg to a semi-high heat; I cooked these at about 400 degrees farienhiet. While smoker is heating, start shucking your oysters making sure to keep all the briny juice in. Organize your oysters on a large tray, and top each one with a teaspoon of your desired butter. Set aside until your smoker is ready.

Once the smoker is at desired temperature, add you wood chips. Give the chips a minute or two to begin smoking. Place your oysters in single layer on the smoker, and cook for three minutes until the butter is bubbly; you should be able to shut the lid for a minute or two. Remove, place back on tray, and serve immediately.