Monday, May 9, 2011

Roasted Chicken

I am still experiencing a meat aversion, which, according to my doctor, is normal for pregnant women. I just hit 18 weeks and we find out the baby's gender on May 18th. Add that to my ever-growing stomach, and this whole thing is becoming more real by the day! Hubby and I keep asking each other what we got ourselves into, but we're very excited (along with terrified).

Anyway, back to the food. I have been feeling so guilty about only cooking vegetarian meals for Hubby and me, so today I decided to roast a whole chicken. My first one. Probably best to go for something a little less daunting when trying to get back into cooking, but hey, go big or go home, right? And I'm glad I chose this particular venture because the results were absolutely delicious! I have often gotten a whole roasted chicken from Fred Meyer or Costco and been pleased, but it is SO much better when you do it yourself at home. Not only does it taste better, but it also makes your house smell like heaven.

Now, with my meat aversion, Hubby ended up doing most of the prep work, but I supervised. When asked if he thought the extra work was worth it, he couldn't say because his mouth was full of chicken. He picked at the carcass for quite a while too, so I know it was good. This is a basic roasted chicken recipe, but it can certainly be jazzed up with additional herbs, onions, potatoes, lemons, etc. We liked the simplicity of it and the way the flavor of the chicken wasn't masked by seasonings, but to each his own, right?

Roasted Chicken
*From me!

1 whole chicken, about 4-6 pounds
Olive oil
Kosher salt

Preheat the oven to 425º. Remove the chicken from the bag and pull out the giblets. Use tongs if the thought of sticking your hand up a chicken's rear isn't appealing to you. Rinse the chicken completely, inside and out. Pat dry with paper towels. Drying the bird will ensure that the skin is crispy.

Sprinkle on a generous amount of kosher salt.

Add freshly ground pepper to taste. This means LOTS for us!

Drizzle on a little bit of olive oil.

Beg your hubby to rub it in for you if you're pregnant and feeling nauseous when you think about touching the raw chicken. Or do it yourself if you're superwoman. (I am not, FYI).

Add more pepper, if so inclined. Or other herbs. This is also the point at which you might want to stuff a lemon up the chicken or add cut up onions or potatoes to the pan. Up to you. However you're going to do it, the chicken bakes for 85-90 minutes, depending on weight. Check the temperature of the bird with a meat thermometer when you think it's done, making sure to insert it away from any bones to get a true reading. You should also cut one of the legs to make sure the juices are running clear.

Once the chicken is done, carve and enjoy! We had ours with kale chips and sweet potato casserole.

It was delicious! Hubby has fallen in love with me all over again. He even called himself a meat whore. I didn't comment on the inappropriateness of the statement, but smiled indulgently and asked if he'd like more chicken. He screamed yes.

Kale Chips

There are so many recipes out there that I want to try (eventually . . . ), but this one has been floating around the blogosphere for a while and I've been so curious about it. So today I decided to try making kale chips. And oh my goodness, am I glad I did! These were delicious! They were crispy, salty, peppery, and yummy. I liked the chips more than Hubby, but I think this had something to do with him being tired of all things non-meat. According to the mommy blogs out there, children enjoy these chips as well. Score one for the mommies! Plus, the health benefits of kale are phenomenal, so why not try it and see how the little ones like it?

As a side note, these are best right out of the oven. Don't reheat them or they get chewy and make sure you spread the chips out in a single row on the baking sheet so they can get crispy.

Kale Chips
*From many blogs!

1 bunch kale
Olive oil
Pepper (or just use salt if you don't want that peppery kick)

Preheat oven to 350º. Hold the thick stem of the kale in one hand and, with the other hand, pinch the stem and run your hand up to remove the leaves. Place leaves in a single layer on a parchment lined baking sheet.

Pat the kale dry with a paper towel, if necessary. Drizzle on a little bit of olive oil.

Add salt.

Then pepper, if desired.

Toss with clean hands.

Bake for 12-16 minutes, or until the kale is crispy. Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Penne with Roasted Asparagus and Balsamic Butter

Well, I am still having a bit of a tough time with cooking during this pregnancy. I've been living on cereal, fruit, and salads with no meat. Chicken=yuck! My poor, poor husband has been living a vegetarian life at home, which is why we've been eating out a lot. (The waitress comes to our table and Hubby practically screams, "Steak or a burger! Steak or a burger, for the love of God!")

He's been a good sport about it all and doesn't complain too much at home, especially since pregnancy is a lot harder for me than it is for him. I've been feeling okay, but have been having a really hard time sleeping at night. I'm a stomach sleeper, so I constantly wake up when I'm on my side. Exhaustion is all par for the course in pregnancy and babies though, right?

Fortunately, yesterday I had enough energy to attempt this recipe. Although 20 minutes from prep to table isn't exactly time-consuming or difficult, it was a far cry from the black bean burritos and grilled cheese sandwiches I had been serving for dinner. Nick was even okay with the fact that there was no meat in this dish, which turned out to be absolutely delicious. The asparagus was perfectly roasted, the penne was al dente, and the balsamic butter sauce was heavenly. It was also a great dish for Hubby to take to work since it could be eaten hot or cold. It's not always easy to get to a microwave when you're out arresting bad guys, after all!

Penne with Roasted Asparagus and Balsamic Butter
*From Food and Wine

1 pound asparagus
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons salt, divided (I only used 1 teaspoon)
1/2 teaspoon black pepper, divided
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon brown sugar
1 pound penne
1/2 cup butter (1 stick), cut in pieces
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese, plus more for serving

Heat the oven to 400º. Snap the tough ends off the asparagus and discard. Cut the spears into 1-inch pieces. Place asparagus on a foil-lined baking sheet and toss with olive oil and 1/4 teaspoon each of the salt and pepper. Roast for 10-15 minutes or until tender. Turn off the oven, leaving the asparagus in to keep it warm.

Meanwhile, put the vinegar into a small saucepan. Simmer until 3 tablespoons remains. Stir in the brown sugar and remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper and remove from heat.

Cook the penne in a large pot of boiling, salted water until al dente. Drain the pasta and toss with butter, vinegar, asparagus, parmesan, and remaining 3/4 teaspoon salt. Sprinkle additional parmesan on top and serve. Enjoy!