The Easiest Roast Chicken, Ever.

by Michelle on February 13, 2015

So I have a confession to make: until a few weeks ago I have never been able to successfully roast a chicken. This shocks me as I have prepared far more complicated meals with great results, but for some reason I cannot master the roasted chicken. It always comes out under done, forcing me to put it back into the oven several times, which then results in it being dry and generally unappealing. (The friends and family who were subjected to my disastrous roast chicken this past January can attest to this.)

I had just about given up on roasting a chicken considering that it’s very easy to buy one already cooked at the grocery store (which I often do) when I came upon this recipe from Jamie Oliver on Food52.com. I was intrigued by how foolproof it seemed, the RAVE reviews, and the combination of milk and lemon peel which promised to produce a “strangely appealing” sauce. I bought a small roasting chicken, got out my 3.5 quart Le Creuset pot, and hoped for the best.

Oh my word, I cannot adequately express how good this chicken is. Like, falling off the bone tender, with this rich, lemony sauce that is beyond delicious. (It’s easy too, and only requires one pot, which is how I like to roll in the kitchen these days.) Johnny couldn’t get over how good it was and I couldn’t believe that I actually successfully roasted a chicken. And it was cooked through. And not dry! I have made this dish twice now and it was fantastic both times. If you’re looking for a Valentine’s Day dinner that will fill your belly on what promises to be a frigidly cold evening, this is it friends. It will not disappoint!

Jamie Oliver’s Chicken and Milk (from Food52.com)

One 3-pound organic chicken (if it’s a little over 3 pounds, that’s OK)

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

4 ounces (1 stick) butter or olive oil

1/2 cinnamon stick

1 good handful fresh sage, leaves picked

Zest of 2 lemons, peeled in thick strips with a peeler

10 garlic cloves, skins left on

1 pint (2 cups) whole milk

Preheat the oven to 375° F and find a snug-fitting pot for the chicken. Season the chicken generously all over with salt and pepper and fry it in the butter or olive oil, turning the chicken to get an even color all over, until golden. Remove from the heat, put the chicken on a plate, and throw away the butter left in the pot (or save for another use). This will leave you with tasty sticky goodness at the bottom of the pan, which will give you a lovely caramel flavor later on.

Put your chicken back in the pot with the rest of the ingredients, then cook it in the preheated oven for 1 1/2 hours. Baste with the cooking juice when you remember. (Oliver leaves the pot uncovered, but you can leave it partially covered if you’d like it to retain more moisture and make more sauce.) The lemon zest will sort of split the milk, making a sauce, which is absolutely fantastic.

To serve, pull the meat off the bones and divide it on to your plates. Spoon over plenty of juice and the little curds. Serve with wilted spinach or greens and some mashed potato.

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People often rave about spaghetti squash as a tasty alternative to pasta. When roasted, it should be easy to scrape the flesh into long, thin strands—hence the name. This was not the case for me, however. The couple of times I tried to make spaghetti squash, it didn’t look much like noodles to me. More like a big pile of mush.

And then I saw this method on the blog Steamy Kitchen where the blogger throws the entire squash into the oven, uncut, and leaves it in there for an hour. When it emerges she lets it cool, then slices it open, removes the seeds and scrapes the squash into long, luxurious strands. My farmers market still has spaghetti squash, so I picked one up and decided to give this a try because really, what could be easier than throwing an entire vegetable into the oven and forgetting about it for a while? And it worked! The squash emerged fork tender and when I cut it open the strands shredded as promised. From there I sauted it with a generous amount of butter, parmigiano, parsley and garlic, as Steamy Kitchen recommended. We ate this tasty dish as a side, but with an addition of chicken or shrimp, it could easily become a main dish!

Spaghetti Squash with Parsley, Parmigiano and Garlic (from Steamy Kitchen)

1 small spaghetti squash (about 3-4 pounds)

2 tablespoons butter

2 cloves garlic, finely minced

1/4 cup finely minced parsley (or basil)

1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)

1/4 cup shredded Parmigiano

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Pierce squash a few times with sharp paring knife (to let steam escape). Bake spaghetti squash for 60 minutes, or until a paring knife pierces easily through skin with little resistance. Let squash cool for 10 minutes.

Cut squash in half, lengthwise. Use a fork to remove and discard the seeds. Continue using fork to scrape the squash to get long, lovely strands. If the squash seem difficult to scrape, return the squash to bake for an additional 10 minutes.

Heat a large saute pan with the butter and the garlic over medium-low heat. When garlic becomes fragrant, add parsley, salt and spaghetti squash strands. Toss well, sprinkle in the  cheese and taste to see if you need additional salt. The spaghetti squash should have a slight crunch (i.e. not mushy) – but if you like it softer, cover the pan and cook 2 more minutes.

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Coconut Milk Mint Chocolate Truffles

by Michelle on January 19, 2015

I am a huge dark chocolate lover. I eat it every day and on the rare occasion when my stash runs out, I have been known to hit up the dark chocolate chips in my pantry. So when I came upon this recipe on Instagram, I knew I would be making these ASAP. Like the flourless brownie muffins, these truffles were posted by wendy_martinezb, a personal trainer with a wealth of healthy, inventive recipes. These are no exception. They don’t contain refined sugar yet they’re deliciously rich, so one should satisfy your craving. Plus, they’re easy to make, saving that chocolate stash from ever becoming low again.

Coconut Milk Mint Chocolate Truffles

Makes 12 truffles

5 ounces dark chocolate, 70 percent Cacao or higher, finely chopped

1 tablespoon coconut oil

1/2 cup light coconut milk

1/2 teaspoon pure mint extract

1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (Go for the good stuff, Dutch processed, if possible.)

Place chocolate, coconut oil, and mint extract in a small bowl and mix well. Set aside. In a small saucepan, bring coconut milk to a gentle boil, then add it to the chocolate mixture, whisking gently until combined. Place chocolate mixture in a bowl, cover, and refrigerate for at least four hours or overnight. Using a melon baller or scoop, scoop out one tablespoon of the chocolate mixture. Roll into a ball and then roll in the cocoa powder. Repeat with the remaining truffles. Store in the fridge for up to a week or the freezer for three months.

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