Thursday, October 30, 2008

Winner, Winner - Chicken Dinner

Williams Sonoma has the best catalogs. It isn't just their merchandise that intrigues me. Nestled amongst the pages of their desirable goods are the most amazing recipes. They are very unique and enticing. This particular recipe has been taunting me for months now. Every time I turn the page and see these bacon chickens my mouth begins to water. I pushed off making them because honestly, what would Forrest and I do with two whole chickens? It seemed like way too much food for the two of us. But this week I bit the bullet and forced myself to get creative with the leftovers. I roasted two chickens on Sunday night - then I used the leftovers and made Chicken Pot Pie on Monday night and Chicken Salad Sandwiches tonight for Forrest's trip tomorrow to Westpoint, NY to see the Army v Air Force Game. I am sure glad I finally made this recipe!

Roast Chicken w/ Bacon and Pan Gravy
Modified from Williams Sonoma


2 chickens, each 4 to 4 1/2 lb.
Olive oil as needed
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
12 to 16 bacon slices
2 Tbs. finely diced shallots
1 tsp. all-purpose flour
1/2 cup white wine
1 cup chicken broth
1 tsp. minced fresh thyme
2 Tbs. cold unsalted butter, cut into 2 pieces


Position a rack in the lower third of an oven and preheat to 450°F.

Blot the chickens dry with paper towels.

Rub the back sides with olive oil and season on both sides with pepper.

Place the chickens, breast side up, and tuck the wings behind the breasts. Drape the bacon slices over the breasts.

Place the chickens, bacon side up, on a rack in a roasting pan. Roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of a thigh, away from the bone, registers 170°F, 1 to 1 1/4 hours; tent the chickens with aluminum foil if the bacon becomes too dark. Transfer the chickens to a carving board, cover loosely with foil and let rest for 10 minutes.

Discard all but 2 tsp. of the fat from the roasting pan. Set the pan over medium-high heat and warm the reserved fat. Add the shallots and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 2 minutes.
Stir in the flour and cook for 30 seconds. Add the wine, stirring to scrape up the browned bits, then whisk in the broth. Simmer until the sauce is slightly thickened, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the thyme and butter.

Carve the chickens and arrange on a warmed platter. Drizzle with some of the sauce and pass the remaining sauce alongside. Serve with champ. Serves 8.

These chickens were so tasty and the pan gravy was the best I have ever had. I wanted to drink it! I highly recommend making mashed potatoes so you have something else to serve with this incredibly delicious pan gravy!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Pie, Pie, Me oh My!

After hearing that I was planning on making Chicken Pot Pie, my boss told me a story about an incredibly delicious pot pie she once had. When she had her son (5 years ago) some friends of her mother's brought tons of food over shortly after the baby was born. Included in that array of food was this infamous pot pie. She said it was the best pot pie she has ever had - perfect amount of chicken, potatoes, carrots and peas. It must have been amazing if she is still talking about it five years later!

I can only hope that one day I make meals that people are still reminiscing five years down the road. Food has a powerful effect on people and it can easily evoke emotion, bring back pleasant memories, and bring people together. Stories like her's make me strive for perfection in the kitchen. Hopefully I can bring someone the happiness her mom's friend brought her.

Individual Chicken Pot Pies
William Sonoma


8 Tbs. (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into
1/2-inch cubes
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
4 cups chicken stock
1/2 tsp. chopped fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup chopped yellow onions
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup peeled and chopped carrots
1/2 cup chopped white button mushrooms
1/2 cup chopped red-skinned potatoes
1 cup chopped cooked chicken
1/2 cup cooked fresh or frozen peas
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Four 6-inch squares frozen puff pastry
1 egg, beaten with 1 tsp. water


Preheat an oven to 400ºF.

In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the flour

and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture smells fragrant and nutty, 1 to 2 minutes. Slowly add the stock, whisking until smooth, and bring to a boil.

Add the thyme, bay leaf, onions, celery, carrots and mushrooms and cook until the vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes.

Add the potatoes, chicken, peas, salt and pepper and cook until the potatoes are tender, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool for 5 minutes. Remove the bay leaf and discard.

Divide the filling among 4 ovenproof bowls and place on a baking sheet.

Brush the rims of the bowls with water. Place 1 pastry square on top of each bowl, pressing lightly on the edges.

Brush the puff pastry squares with the egg mixture.

Bake until the pastry is puffed and golden brown, about 20 minutes. Let rest for 5 minutes before serving.

The puff pastry on these pies were amazing. I added ALOT of Salt and Pepper since the filling did not have very many spices besides the thyme and bay leaf which I found lent only a mild flavor. The filling turned out with the right amount of flavor, but I strongly suggest tasting before you fill the ramekins so you can adjust the seasonings to your taste. I used 7 oz ramekins and made six pies with a ton of left over filling. This recipe serves a ton more than 4 people. It was fairly easy to make and would be awesome for a big family dinner. I think I could have made almost ten pies if I had enough ramekins and an extra pack of frozen puff pastry dough. This was a really yummy meal on a very cold day - perfect comfort food!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Tendency to Waffle

Like most women I sometimes have trouble making up my mind. In most regards I am pretty decisive, but when it comes to choosing something to eat I am a mess. I never know exactly what it is I feel like eating and even with the aided suggestions of a second party I can't nail down what it is I want. This morning I had no such issue. As soon as I woke up I knew I wanted to eat waffles and immediately headed into the kitchen to try out the waffle recipe I have been eying. Although I knew I wanted waffles and I wanted them right away - that isn't what I got. This recipe was really tasty, but I found it to be way too involved for the morning. It took a really long time to prepare the waffle batter and what seemed like forever to make each set of waffles. I would also cut this recipe in half (unless you are feeding a large crew), it made way too many waffles.

Classic Belgian Waffles
Recipe Courtesy Emeril Lagasse

  • 2 cups cake flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 large eggs, separated
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 cups milk
  • non-stick cooking spray

Preheat the waffle iron according to the manufacturer's instructions. In 1 medium bowl sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. In a second bowl use the wooden spoon to beat together the egg yolks and sugar until sugar is completely dissolved and eggs have turned a pale yellow.

Add the vanilla extract, melted butter, and milk to the eggs and whisk to combine.

Combine the egg-milk mixture with the flour mixture and whisk just until blended.

Do not over mix. In third bowl, beat the egg whites with an electric mixer until soft peaks form, about 1 minute.

Using the rubber spatula, gently fold the egg whites into the waffle batter. Do not overmix! Coat the waffle iron with non-stick cooking spray and pour enough batter in iron to just cover waffle grid.

Closeand cook as per manufacturer's instructions until golden brown, about 2 to 3 minutes.Serve immediately.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

"Washed" into Our Lives

My husband is a true southern gentleman and exhibits this aspect of his character often. He always holds open doors for women, offers his seat to elderly ladies on the Metro and is ready to assist people in need in any way. Just last week Forrest's manners paid off for the both of us. He offered his assistance to a young mom at the dry cleaners who was struggling with her clothes and her young baby. He noticed during his offer that the mother had both LSU and Tulane stickers on her car. Always eager to meet fellow Louisianians, Forrest introduced himself and struck up a conversation. One thing led to another and after some email exchanges the lovely couple and their beautiful new baby came over for dinner on Saturday night for all of us to get to know each other. I thought is was the perfect opportunity to use my last pound of frozen crawfish from home and my last stick of authentic Louisiana andouille sausage. Our new friends were totally worth using the last of my well traveled ingredients ;-)

Corn, Crawfish and Andouille Chowder
Courtesy of Emeril Lagasse

  • 6 ounces andouille sausage, cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 1/4 cup olive or vegetable oil, divided
  • 1 cup finely chopped onions
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped carrots
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped celery
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 3/4 cup finely chopped red bell peppers
  • 3 cups fresh corn kernels (from 4 ears)
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 6 cups chicken or shrimp stock or canned low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 cups (1/2-inch cubes) peeled russet potatoes
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons Essence, recipe in link
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 pound cooked, peeled Louisiana crawfish tails (with any fat)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream, optional
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives
  • Chopped fresh parsley, for serving

Place a large soup pot or Dutch oven over medium heat and add the andouille and 2 tablespoons of the oil.

Cook, stirring, until the andouille is browned and has rendered its fat, about 5 minutes. Add the onions, carrots, and celery and cook, stirring often, until vegetables are soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Add the remaining oil, bell peppers, and corn to the pot and cook for 10 minutes, stirring often.

Sprinkle the flour over the vegetables in the pot and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes.

Add the chicken stock to the pot and stir to combine. Add the potatoes,

Essence, salt, cayenne, and thyme to the pot and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and continue to cook for 20 minutes, or until potatoes are very tender. Add the crawfish

and heavy cream,

if using, stir to combine, and cook for 5 to 10 minutes, just until crawfish are heated through. Stir in the chives, taste, and adjust the seasoning, if necessary.

Serve in soup bowls, garnished with the parsley.

This chowder was amazing! It was very spicy, so if you don't like spicy or are sensitive to high spice I would reduce the amount of cayenne in the recipe. If you are from New Orleans and are used to spice or if you just like spicy food then follow the recipe exactly - you will be pleased. Adding the cream at the end is optional but I highly recommend it, it gave the chowder an amazing richness and a very smooth texture. I also urge you to use fresh corn on the cob. The sweetness of the fresh corn was evident in every bite and definitely worth the extra work of cutting it off of the cob (Note to self: buy a corn on the cob zipper!)

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Stick Around

There are tons of different types of food available on a stick. Ice cream, corn dogs, sausage, alligator (if you are from New Orleans this won't seem so odd) and cookies to name a few. I don't know if food is more fun to eat on a stick or if it is just easier. Here is a version of my favorite type of salad on a stick - Caprese Salad Skewers. Fun to make, fun to eat and even more fun to serve!

Caprese Salad Skewers


Ciliegine (little cherry size fresh mozzarella)
20 Basil Leaves
1 Pint of Grape Tomatoes
6-8" skewers
Sea Salt
Cracked Black Pepper
Olive Oil
Balsamic Vinegar


Skewer 1 Cherry Tomato onto a Skewer.

Roll 1/2 of a Basil leaf

and Skewer on top of the tomato.

Skewer 1 Ciliegine on top of the basil.

Arrange Caprese sticks on a platter and sprinkle with sea salt and pepper. Mix 1/4 cup of olive oil and 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar and pour on top of the Caprese Sticks and serve.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Goldfish Goodbye

My nephew IV recently got three goldfish that he named Tri, Sin and Cherrie. In order to try and cut his devastation off at the pass, his mom explained to him several times that they would most certainly not live long because stereotypically that is what gold fish do. Well true to form, one if his new buddies didn't even make it through the first night. My brother informed his wife that Tri, Sin or Cherrie had kicked the bucket as the family slept. IV's mom, Allison, was sure that IV would handle the news well since she had already explained to him (with much drama) that this was going to happen. When IV awoke his mom reminded him that he needed to say goodbye to his goldfish for the day. As IV peered his pale blue eyes over the edge of his fish bowl he said, "Bye Bye, see ya - wait a minute, something is wrong here, that fish is just lying on the bottom! Ohhh I know what happened, it got dead!!!" His mom explained to him that he needed to get the net and remove the deceased fish and flush him down the toilet. IV did so and Allison was fully expecting a big ceremonious farewell somewhat similar to the Cosby episode when their pet goldfish died. Much to her surprise, IV dumped the fish in the toilet bowl, dropped his pants and relieved himself as he does every morning before school. I guess you can say that the child was less than disturbed by the passing of his new pet.

As I told Forrest this story as it had been relayed to me, he couldn't stop laughing. From what I hear Forrest was quite the mischievous youngster and he has a special place in is heart for my nephews when they do things that remind him of his early years. In order to keep Forrest's spirits up after his daily dose of family stories, I made him one of his favorite meals that he could eat all week long.

Zucchini, Sausage, and Feta Casserole
Modified from Cooking Light 2007


2 1/2 cups uncooked ziti (short tube-shaped pasta)
8 ounces chicken sausage ( I used Chicken Andouille)
Cooking spray
1 teaspoon olive oil
5 cups thinly sliced zucchini (about 1 1/2 pounds)
2 cups vertically sliced onion (about 1)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (2 ounces) crumbled feta cheese (I used 4 oz)
1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
2 slices of toasted wheat bread


Preheat oven to 400°.

Cook pasta in boiling water 5 minutes, omitting salt and fat; drain.

Remove casings from sausage. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add sausage to pan; cook until browned.

Remove from pan. Heat oil in pan. Add zucchini, onion, salt, pepper, and garlic.

Cook 10 minutes or until vegetables are tender and zucchini begins to brown, stirring occasionally.

Combine broth and flour in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk.

Add broth mixture to pan; cook 1 minute.

Combine zucchini mixture, sausage,

pasta and feta cheese in a large bowl; toss well.

Spoon pasta mixture into an 11 x 7-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle evenly with mozzarella cheese. I also put two pieces of toasted wheat bread in the food processor to make bread crumbs and added them on top with the cheese for some extra texture.

Bake at 400° for 20 minutes or until bubbly and lightly browned.

This meal is amazing. I have made it several times and the flavor is great. It doesn't hurt that it is somewhat of a light pasta dish. I strongly suggest using andouille sausage as I did. The robust flavor of the sausage add a whole layer of flavor and the feta cheese rounds it out perfectly. Besides the great taste this is also an easy meal to throw together on a weeknight.

Friday, October 10, 2008


I would never dream of bothering with yeast and kneading in order to make bread. I am very risk averse and the entire bread making process seems so jeopardous. Beer bread felt like a perfect fit for me. The recipe I found stated that the prep time was only 3 minutes - I was sold.

I modified the recipe by adding jalapenos and White X-Sharp New York cheddar from a small general store in upstate New York that we purchased on a trip to visit Forrest's grandparents. I also used Abita Restoration Pale Ale as a homage to my home state (Louisiana). It was my attempt at personalizing this extremly easy bread recipe.

Beer Bread
Recipe modified from RecipeZaar


3 cups flour (sifted)
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup sugar
1 (12 ounce) can/bottle beer (I used Abita Restoration Pale Ale)
1/4 cup jalapenos
1/2 cup shredded white cheddar
1/4 cup melted butter


Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Mix dry ingredients and beer.

Add to mixture, 1/4 cup of jalapenos and 1/4 cup shredded cheddar.

Pour into a greased loaf pan.

Pour melted butter over mixture.Add 1/4 cup shredded cheddar to the top of the loaf

Bake 1 hour,

remove from pan and cool for at least 15 minutes.

This bread was amazing. I really only took 3 minutes to prepare. And although it took an hour to bake, both Forrest and I agreed that we would have waited several more if necessary. The results were amazing. The crust was crunchy and the center was light and fluffly.