Tonight’s Meal

First, on yesterday’s Fauxtisserie Chicken – meh. I was initially excited because the chicken basically de-boned itself when I pulled it out of the slow cooker – but I think ultimately that was because it was OVERcooked. The wings, thighs and drumsticks were in good shape, but the breast meat is almost mushy. If I do it again, I’m going to cut an hour off the cook time.

On to tonight: for once, I wanted to have dinner ready when G walked through the door. Unfortunately, I realized I didn’t have one of the ingredients (ricotta isn’t something we normally have around). So Charlie and I ran to the store, and food was ready VERY shortly after G came home. We had baked ziti, which I didn’t tell G was a weight watchers recipe (and I added a little extra mozz on top, so maybe it wasn’t exactly a WW recipe in my kitchen…), and which uses jarred sauce – two things he’s not generally a fan of. But he actually really liked it – the tomato and basil sauce from Trader Joe’s is very nice, and the combo of red pepper flakes (I used more than it called for, which was a good decision), ricotta, freshly grated parmesan reggiano, and sauce was very good. It was quick and made a lot (good thing G liked it, since we’ll probably have it for dinner again tomorrow night, and probably at least another night after that!).

On the side, I tried this apple and gorgonzola salad. I really liked the combination of the maple and the gorgonzola – it had that salty sweetness that I enjoy. And the crunch of a good apple is hard to beat. I made half of the dressing and only used 1/2 an apple for the two of us, and we had hearty salads with dressing left over.

All in all, tonight’s meal was a hit!

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Gazpacho

I love gazpacho this time of year, which is a little odd since I’m not really a fan of hot tomato soup or tomato juice (unless it’s also got vodka, lots of horseradish, and celery or olives in it!). But something about the combination of cucumbers, tomatoes, celery salt, onions – mmmmm.  So a couple of weekends ago, I tried (and forgot to post about) this recipe from Barefoot Contessa.

I realized when preparing it that my red wine vinegar was really old. REALLY old. But I decided to give it a try anyway. Which was probably not the best idea, because the vinegar had gotten stronger over time, and it totally overpowered the other flavors in this soup.

I definitely plan to try this recipe again, because I liked the flavors a lot OTHER than the strong vinegar taste. Hopefully with fresher vinegar, it will be a hit!

Trying another new one today – Fauxtisserie Chicken from Our Best Bites.It took very little time to prepare – I slipped rosemary from our garden and some garlic slivers under the skin, and coated it liberally in Lowry’s Seasoned Salt. Now we just wait for 8 hours while it cooks in the slow cooker. It would be great to have a good rotisserie chicken option that I can make at home for chicken salads, quesadillas, etc – so i’m hoping it’ll turn out well!

Blood Orange Salad, minus the blood oranges

I’ve been wanting to try this Blood Orange Salad, but I missed blood orange season. But I decided it was worth a try with a regular orange. George is going to be home on the late side tonight, so I could get away with just a salad for dinner. The little guy just asked for a second helping of bell pepper slices, so apparently he was in need of some veggies too!

The salad is good. Great?  Maybe, with a more flavorful orange and crisper endive (bought the endive over the weekend, and it didn’t hold up as well as I would have liked).  I definitely will try it again with blood oranges, since I love the color combo – but until then, I’m not sure I’ll make this one again. I do love the fact that it makes dressing for one, though. I almost never buy salad dressing anymore, since homemade is SO much better – but homemade dressings just don’t endure in the fridge very long. I need to find more dressing recipes that I can easily cut in half or thirds! Suggestions, anyone?

Carnitas, Round II

Not that I don’t love my family, but it’s really, REALLY nice to get an occasional weekend away to hang out with old friends. And that’s what I was supposed to be doing this weekend. But due to the aforementioned sickness, I couldn’t leave my husband at home alone with the kiddo – and even if I could have pawned the kiddo off on someone, George was sick enough that I couldn’t in good conscience leave him on his own either.

So since we had no plans all weekend other than a birthday party this afternoon, I decided to cook.  Todays’ recipes were slow cooked pork carnitas (different recipe from last time) and lime sherbet.

First off, there’s nothing better than slow cooker recipes on the weekend. I don’t really like them during the week because even though I know they’re made for cooking things while you’re gone, I can’t really wrap my mind around leaving something cooking all day when I’m not in the house. Our nanny and Charlie are in and out, but not with enough frequency for me to feel all that comfortable leaving food cooking. But on the weekends, bring it on. Food prep started by 10 a.m. means dinner is ready by 6:30 or so, with no scrambling around. This afternoon, for instance, Charlie and I went to a birthday party and then I came home, put him down for a rest (George was also home resting) and went to the pool to swim laps. When I came home, all I had to do was cook some black beans and heat up some tortillas, and dinner was ready.

The pork was good, but not great. I have been spoiled for carnitas by the place by my Maryland office that makes spicy, tangy pork and pineapple carnitas that I love. These didn’t really have the kind of flavor/kick I was hoping for. They really just tasted like pork – juicy, succulent pork which is good, but I’m still looking for a carnitas recipe that knocks my socks off. With this one, I think you could drain the meat and toss it with some barbecue sauce and have a pulled pork sandwich. It didn’t have the flavor I was expecting for carnitas.

The lime sherbet is delicious!  Well, I’ve only tasted it in “soft serve” form, right out of the ice cream maker while I was packing it up, so I haven’t had much yet. But it’s now in the freezer, and I plan to have more very soon. Nothing says summer like homemade ice cream!  And this recipe couldn’t be easier – no custard making, no crazy prep – just zesting and juicing some limes to mix with sugar, half and half, water, and a pinch of salt. Right out of the ice cream maker, it was fresh and creamy and delicious. I can’t wait to try more!

Roast Chicken

George has been sick for the past week. And I’m talking really sick – running a fever for at least 6 days straight (probably more, he just didn’t take his own temperature last weekend while Charlie and I were away), could barely get out of bed, two trips to the doctor sick. No fun. His fever finally broke yesterday,  but he was feeling really low energy after not eating much all week, and still fighting a sore throat. So last night, I figured comfort food was in order. And to me, it doesn’t get more comforting than roast chicken.

Usually I do my mom’s garlic and rosemary roast chicken recipe I posted previously, but I thought garlic might be a little much after not eating for days. So I did a little googling and landed on this one: My Favorite Simple Roast Chicken from Epicurious.

Verdict: EASY EASY EASY and good. I skipped the butter and thyme, and just kept it really simple. The salt made the skin really crisp, and I liked that there was no added fat – but the chicken was still really moist. I used less salt than the recipe called for, and it was plenty – the chicken needed no additional seasoning. I think the leftovers will make a good chicken salad.

I made a simple green salad on the side and these no-fail potatoes that are always a huge hit at my house, including for the littlest member: Sarah’s Smashed Potatoes. I don’t season the potatoes with salt, other than the salted water they boil in, and I line my baking sheet with parchment paper to shorten the clean up (there’s already plenty of clean up with the roasting pan scrubbing going on)!

This one is definitely on the make again list.