Thursday, February 21, 2019

Mediterranean Meatballs with Orzo Salad


This was one of those meals that I was certain would be hated and detested by all my children. As I was rolling out the meatballs and seeing the flecks of white from the feta cheese and the bits of green from the parsley and spinach, I could just envision all the children balking and gagging and possibly picking their food apart so as to avoid the suspicious flecks and specks. I met Paul for lunch shortly after I had finished forming the meatballs and left them to rest in the fridge and told him, "I don't know what I was thinking making this for dinner tonight. I know everyone is going to hate it!"

But, you know what? Nobody hated it. Well, except Lucy. And even she didn't exactly hate it, she just didn't eat anything but she rarely eats dinner even when it's pizza, so she doesn't count.

Matthew praised the meal and called me "a genius" and "an amazing chef." He might have been trying to earn an extra story at bedtime or possessing some ulterior motive like that, but I don't care. I took the compliments and ran with it. Emma even praised the Orzo salad and I normally can't get her to touch anything with lettuce, olives, or vinaigrette with a 10-foot pole.

Daniel was a fan. This kid. He so has my heart. I can't get over how voracious his appetite is. Even without teeth, he gobbles down as much meat as we are willing to give him. He's so different than my other kids who far preferred carbohydrates at his age. But he's all about the meat! Although in this picture, I'm obviously trying to distract him with applesauce and cheerios. Notice he's not eating them. He's waiting for me to fry up some bacon.


The beauty of this dinner is just how adaptable it is. I love Greek flavors and have lately been throwing them together with every protein I can and then serve it on top of a salad of some sort. That's what I did with these meatballs - I put together an Orzo salad with Mediterranean flavors and serve the meatballs over top. However, these would also be amazing served stuffed inside a pita along with lettuce, tomato, red onions, and Tzatziki sauce. You can also use ground turkey instead of ground beef for a healthier option.


Mediterranean Meatballs with Orzo Salad

For the meatballs:
2 pounds 90% ground beef
4 ounces crumbled feta cheese
1 cup chopped fresh spinach
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 egg, beaten
1 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 heaping teaspoons salt
1 heaping teaspoon garlic salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
Zest of one lemon

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Cover a baking sheet with foil. Grease thoroughly.

In a large bowl, combine all ingredients and mix thoroughly with clean hands. Shape into walnut
sized meatballs. Place meatballs in prepared pan so they are just touching.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until meatballs are browned and cooked through, flipping once during cooking. Serve with the Mediterranean orzo.

For the Mediterranean Orzo:
16 ounces orzo pasta
1 large yellow or red pepper, diced
1 medium tomato, chopped
1/2 cup kalamata olives, chopped
1 cup fresh spinach, finely chopped
1/2 cup fresh basil, finely chopped
1/2 cup herbed feta crumbles
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
The zest of 1 lemon
Salt & pepper, to taste

Cook orzo according to package directions. Rinse with cold water and drain.

In a large bowl, toss pasta with chopped bell pepper, olives, spinach, basil and feta. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. You will need a generous amount of salt and pepper.

In a medium bowl, whisk together olive oil, lemon zest, and vinegar. Season with additional salt and pepper. Pour over pasta vegetable mixture and stir to combine. Chill before serving.


Monday, February 18, 2019

Cheeseburger Chowder


Looking back on my life over the past ten years, I realize that I have changed in one, very distinct way.  I'm not referring to the obvious changes like an increase in wrinkles, a prominence of gray hair suddenly sprouting on the temples (actually that's Paul, not me...but my day is coming!), an inability to sleep for more than two hours at a time without being awoken by a hungry little midget, or being the not-so-proud owner of a large, non-sexy vehicle that can cram as many human beings inside as possible without being a city bus. What I want to talk about today is why, ten years ago, I never once would have considered serving something called Cheeseburger Chowder for dinner.

Ten years ago, I was a complete food snob. This was mostly because I didn't have any children and had loads of time to plan, execute, shop for, and make all kinds of gourmet recipes. Risotto, chicken Milanese, fresh french baguettes, fresh pasta, homemade sushi...all of these wonderful dishes were made in my tiny apartment kitchen! It was great actually because it was during that time that I learned how to cook and I am so very grateful that I had that brief time without picky little eaters to really develop my skills as a cook and baker so that, ten years later, I could retire and rely on boxed macaroni and cheese, frozen pizza, and hot dogs.

Because, dear readers, that is where my life is right now.

I might spend hours preparing a meal, only to serve it and then proceed to eat it myself while hearing the groans, wails, and protests from the little minions I helped create as they question my rationale behind serving them this swill! This has been such a frustrating experience that I actually cave on days where I am feeling the most vulnerable and weak and unable to take the taunting my children give me each time I try to feed them something delicious, nutritious, and homemade, and I actually give them what they want - the hot dogs, the macaroni and cheese, the frozen pizza.

The events of the following Calvin and Hobbes comic strip are a daily occurrence.



But I know that this is a really short phase in life, for soon my kids will grow up and their taste buds will grow along with them. We can have sushi later. We can eat risotto later. But for now, while they are little, I have to serve things that might tickle their palate while still being approachable to them. That's where this Cheeseburger Chowder comes in. Matthew spied a recipe for it and the name is what caught his eye. The recipe had the word "cheeseburger" in the title. To his little 9-year-old mind, of course it had to be delicious! Emma and Lucy were also equally intrigued, for they too would include cheeseburgers in their small list of foods that they will actually eat without complaint. As I said before, ten years ago I never would have even thought twice about making a recipe for something called Cheeseburger Chowder, but since my kids were actually asking for something different, I practically sprinted to the store to find the ingredients to make this for them. A mother's love knows no bounds.


And you know what? Shame on my snobby, 10-years-younger self, for Cheeseburger Chowder really is something delicious, comforting, and wonderful. No sashimi-grade fish, imported ingredients, or fancy, expensive seasonings that can't be found at a typical grocery store. This is American comfort food. Paul reveled in this soup, for it contains everything he loves - meat, cheese, and potatoes. He complimented me on it no less than four times while eating it. I should note that all the kids ate it as well, without complaint, although Lucy was disappointed that it did not contain any pickles (to her that vinegary condiment is essential to any decent cheeseburger). 

So break out the ground beef, cheese, and potatoes and make yourself a piping hot bowl of Cheeseburger Chowder. The most important part of our jobs as personal chefs to these little ones is that they do eat and that the food they eat isn't too terribly awful for them. This meal does just that...it's nothing fancy, but it certainly makes a good, homemade meal.


Cheeseburger Chowder

1 pound ground beef
1 teaspoon garlic salt
¾ cup chopped onion
¾ cup shredded carrots
¾ cup diced celery
1 teaspoon dried parsley
4 tablespoons butter, divided
3 cups chicken broth
4 cups peeled and diced potatoes
¼ cup all purpose flour
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, plus extra for serving
1½ cups milk
¾ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup heavy cream (optional)

Brown the ground beef in 3 quart saucepan. Drain and set aside.

In the same saucepan add 1 tablespoon butter and add onion, shredded carrots, parsley flakes, and celery. Saute until tender.

Add the broth, potatoes and beef and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer 10-12 minutes or until potatoes are tender.

In small skillet melt remaining butter (3 T) and add the flour. Cook and stir for 3-5 minutes or until bubbly. Add to the soup and bring to a boil. Cook and stir for 2 minutes. Reduce heat to low.

Stir in the cheese, milk, salt and pepper. Cook and stir until cheese melts. Stir in the heavy cream, if using. Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary. Serve, passing extra cheese to sprinkle on top.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

An Unwanted Luncheon Guest


When a product fails to meet your expectations, do you ever contact the company and let them know?

Don't worry, the puppy photos have nothing to do with this post. He's not the product that we are disappointed in. Same goes for the children.

Recently, Paul and I were enjoying lunch on a Saturday while the kids played outside with the dog. We decided to "make" a package of organic stew that is both healthy, due to its high vegetable content, and economical. It's one of the only prepared foods we ever purchase on a regular basis because it is incredibly delicious. Paul says he doesn't even normally miss the meat since it's so yummy and filling on its own.



Well, we sat down to eat and Paul was just about to take a spoonful when he noticed something unexpected, unwanted, and rather disturbing floating in his bowl of stew. He gingerly picked it out, placed it on a napkin, and passed it over to me so that I might confirm that the thing was in fact what he thought it was.

It was.

So, I grabbed the package of stew out of the garbage and turned it over to find where the company might be contacted with any questions or concerns. This was definitely concerning. Only an email address was provided, so I sat down to type the following message out. To preserve the identity of the company in question, certain items have been redacted.

*****

Hello there,

I have been a huge fan of the Tasty Bite Indian Madras Lentils for several years now. I buy them in bulk at Costco and eat them at least once per week. They are fabulous.

HOWEVER, my fondness for this product has now been spoiled because I prepared a bag for lunch and enjoyed 3/4 of the product before discovering, to my horror, that there was a large beetle in my bowl among the beans. I instantly wondered if this was a poisonous beetle and did a little research and found that it is probably a subspecies of the common Leaf Beetle which enjoys feasting on legumes. While I generally support your mission to bring whole, organic food to the table, this is going a bit far, don’t you think?

I want to alert you to this fact so you can work on quality control in packaging this product in the future so as not to lose more fans because otherwise it's a pretty tasty product.

For your reference, the barcode number on the infected package is 8273300002. The expiration date is September 30th, 2019 and the timestamp on it is 08:23:31.

Should I be pitching the rest of the box? Please advise as to my next actions. I'm unsure if I am willing to continue purchasing Tasty Bite products in the future if I am going to be eating bug protein.

Attached is a couple pictures of my six-legged luncheon companion. I have more should you need to see additional photographic confirmation.

Thank you for your attention to this matter,

Monica

*****

As I was typing this out, admittedly giggling a bit while doing so - the majority of this was written to be very tongue-in-cheek, Paul was conducting a little research of his own seeing if he would die after eating his bowl of stew. He claimed that his mouth was feeling a bit numb. His primary concern was that the bug in question may have consumed some fertilizer and died as a result of poisoning and perhaps some of the poison had leeched into the stew. And he thinks I'm the worry wart.

I should note that the company in question immediately responded to our inquiry and launched an investigation of the contaminated batch. They were extremely responsive and very courteous. 

Here is a picture of our little friend, just in case you were curious.


Cute little guy, isn't he?

Don't worry, I shan't be posting a recipe because I imagine all appetites have been spoiled by this post.

But tell me true, would you complain to the company if this had happened to you?


Monday, February 11, 2019

Pork Carnitas with Salsa Verde


All the best parenting books claim that you should strive teaching your children from an early age how to responsibly complete chores and contribute to the general maintenance of the household. Ever since Daniel started crawling, his favorite place to be is underneath the kitchen sink, rummaging through the contents within.Of course he WOULD choose the place where all the harshest chemicals and cleaning agents are kept. It was during one of his raids that he discovered the Swiffer duster, which has quickly become his new favorite toy. Whenever I see his diapered little butt quickly moving towards the kitchen sink cabinet, I quickly intercept him and hand him the duster because that's what he was looking for anyway. He likes to wave it around and tickle his own face with it and occasionally accidentally whack Lucy with it. Since he was showing such an attraction towards household cleaning products, I figured it was high time we put that little guy to work and get him started with earning his keep around here.

He thought it was one big joke...




We started with trying to teach him how to actually dust with the duster. He can pull himself up very efficiently and at a staggering two feet tall can reach a respectable height. I showed him how to run the duster over the top and sides of furniture to try to trap dust particles. He smiled his most enchanting toothless, gummy grin and seemed to generally get the idea. He grabbed the duster back from me and began making the general motions that I had just showed him by moving it back and forth. I complimented him and then went back to making dinner. When I looked over to check on his progress, he was sitting on the floor dusting his own toes. Obviously that lesson failed.


Considering my school-age kids can't seem to remember where to hang their coats day in and day out, I'm not really sure what my expectations were with Daniel. (Please note that this whole thing was written with extreme sarcasm. I know perfectly well that a 9-month-old cannot be expected to clean).

My best helper is Lucy by a long shot. Ever since I bought a new mop about a year ago, Lucy has been obsessed with it and is constantly begging me to let her wash the floor. The thing is, she actually does a decent job of it - so I am more than happy to let her wash away!


Then there is Emma, who is honestly a very detailed-oriented individual who can be of the greatest help when she puts her mind to it. For example, we instructed Emma to clean up her craft table in the basement since she had made quite the mess of it when she was cutting up paper to make snowflakes. She whined and moaned about it for a while and then got down there and finished the job. We only intended for her to clean up her table, but she ended up straightening up the entire basement and she did a fantastic job. Everything was in its place, right down to the perfectly placed throw pillows on the couch. She's also very good about keeping her room clean. This is a stark contrast to her brother Matthew who can't seem to keep anything clean. However, he is very good at scooping up and throwing away Peyton's poop in our backyard.


My goal is to one day train one of these little people I helped create  to cook dinner for me. I love to cook, but cooking dinner every night can get tiresome and stressful at times. This is especially true when there is a little baby crawling around on the floor, rummaging through all the kitchen cabinets, and whiny kids who are simultaneously hungry, tired, and unwilling to finish their homework. I'm usually helping with homework while cooking and making sure the baby doesn't eat dried up macaroni and cheese off the floor.

That's why I generally like meals that can be made in steps, even if there are multiple steps to be done, throughout the day. Like this recipe for Pork Carnitas. The steps to complete this authentic staple of Mexican cuisine can be spread out throughout the day. First, the pork is prepped and then braised in the oven for 3 1/2 hours. Then, everything is strained, the juices from the pork are reserved, and the pork is shredded and stored in a refrigerator until ready to be served.

A basic tomatillo salsa is made from the reserved liquid and then that is refrigerated until serving time. To serve, the pork is heated under a broiler, which also serves to crisp it a bit. Easy! Serve with the salsa, cheese and pork piled high on tortillas. Throw a bag of chips on the table and call it a meal! Even better, this makes enough for us to have leftovers the following day. This is one of Paul and Matthew's favorite type of dinners. The leftovers the day after are one of mine.


Pork Carnitas with Salsa Verde
from The Food Lab

2 medium onions
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
3 pounds boneless pork butt (shoulder), rind removed, cut into 2-inch cubes
Kosher salt
1 medium orange
6 cloves garlic, split in half
2 bay leaves
1 cinnamon stick, broken into three or four pieces
1/4 cup vegetable oil
6 medium tomatillos (about 1 1/2 pounds), peeled and split in half
2 jalapeƱo peppers, split in half lengthwise, stem removed
3 limes, cut into wedges
1 avocado, thinly sliced or cubed
1 cup crumbled queso fresco or feta
24 corn or flour tortillas (we love the street taco size)

Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 275 degrees. Cut one onion into fine dice and combine with cilantro. Refrigerate until needed. Split remaining onion into quarters. Set aside. Season pork chunks with 1 tablespoon salt and place in a 9 by 13 glass casserole dish. The pork should fill the dish with no spaces. Split orange into quarters and squeeze juice over pork. Nestle squeezed orange pieces into casserole. Add 2 onion quarters, 4 cloves garlic, bay leaves, and cinnamon stick to casserole. Nestle everything into an even layer. Pour vegetable oil over surface. Cover dish tightly with aluminum foil and place in oven. Cook until pork is fork tender, about 3 1/2 hours.

Set large fine-meshed strainer 1 quart liquid measure or bowl. Using tongs, remove orange peel, onion, garlic, cinnamon stick, and bay leaves from pork. Transfer pork and liquid to strainer. Let drain for 10 minutes. Transfer pork back to casserole. You should end up with about 1/2 cup liquid and 1/2 cup fat. Using a flat spoon or de-fatter, skim fat from surface and add back to pork. Shred pork into large chunks with fingers or two forks. Season to taste with salt. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Transfer remaining liquid to medium saucepot.

Add tomatillos, remaining 2 onion quarters, remaining 2 garlic cloves, and jalapeƱos to saucepot with strained pork liquid. Add water until it is about 1-inch below the top of the vegetables. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce to a simmer, and cook until all vegetables are completely tender, about 10 minutes. Blend salsa with hand blender or in a stand-up blender until smooth. Season to taste with salt. Allow to cool and refrigerate until ready to use.

To serve: Place casserole dish with pork 4-inches under a high broiler and broil until brown and crisp on surface, about 6 minutes. Remove pork, stir with a spoon to expose new bits to heat, and broil again for 6 more minutes until crisp. Tent with foil to keep warm.

To serve, add two to three tablespoons carnitas mixture to center of tortillas. Top with salsa verde, sliced avocado, chopped onions and cilantro, and queso fresco. Serve with lime wedges.

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Blog Hopping!


Hello Friends!

Today, I am guest posting at my friend Maddy's blog. Maddy and her husband Joel just welcomed their 4th child, a precious little baby Boy they have named Blaise. He's the sweetest little thing and I know he will be absolutely spoiled by his big sisters and big brother. Congratulations, sweet Pidel Family!

Maddy is a hard-working, energetic Mom and health coach who runs her own blog and community encouraging mothers to be their best selves for their families through proper nutrition, exercise, and routine self-care. Her blog is a wealth of information on how to achieve this lifestyle. I was honored to be asked by Maddy to write a guest blog post for her while she takes a much needed break to bond with her brand new baby. I happily complied by sharing a recipe for a rich and creamy Wild Rice and Mushroom Soup.

Please head over to Maddy's blog to see the post. While you're there, please take a look around and see all that she has to offer! Head on over to by clicking on the link: maddypidel.com.

Have a wonderful weekend!


Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Kouign Amann


Who doesn't enjoy watching The Great British Baking Show? All those super nice, happy contestants just baking away under a little tent in the English countryside. No backstabbing. No drama. Just a group of people who legitimately enjoy baking trying to do the very best they can with the challenges thrown at them. It's a nice relaxing change of pace from most American cooking competitions, like Hell's Kitchen (which is ironically run by a Brit who couldn't be more different than Mary Berry).

For those of you who love the GBBS as much as I do, I wanted to tell you about the exciting new project that my recently married sister has undertaken. She has started a blog where she will be tackling each of the technical baking challenges on the Great British Baking Show and providing honest feedback about the difficulty of each recipe. So far, she has made Mini Pear Pies, Princess Cake, Ciabatta, Tiramisu Cake, Florentines, Cherry Cake, and an interesting pastry called Kouign Amann (pronounced "queen- a-mawn").


Sophie texted me while she was making these weird little pastries that are made from a laminated dough and then baked in a muffin tin. I had never once heard of them and neither had she, but after having a rough week making the detested Princess Cake recipe, she was thrilled to report that this recipe actually was turning out perfectly as it was supposed to. Basically, they have a soft, croissant-like texture on the inside and a crunchy, caramelized crunch on the outside. I did a quick little internet search on them and found that the New York Times dubbed it "the fattiest pastry in all of Europe." Wow, that's saying something.

When Paul heard that review, he wanted me to make it. Butter is his first love. Cheese is his second. I'm his third. It's ok, I've come to terms with that.

After Sophie raved about how breezy and relaxing the recipe was to follow, I tackled it one gloomy Sunday afternoon while I was not exactly feeling very well but thought some therapeutic baking might lift me out of my doldrums. The recipe was a breeze to put together. There is lot of waiting between steps and none of the steps are overly complicated. While I was waiting between turning my dough, I actually went back and watched the episode of the GBBS where these were featured as I couldn't imagine they were all that troublesome to the contestants. On the show, a few individuals had some minor issues, but overall I think they were all pretty successful attempts. This is a simple pastry as long as you have the patience to wait between steps.

Well, the Kouign Amann baked up beautifully. Brown, puffy, and piping hot when I grabbed them from the oven, I nearly burnt my fingers trying to pry them out of the muffin tin. Paul and I bit into one while it was still warm and swooned at the rich, buttery flavor. However, I tried one the next morning alongside my cup of coffee and thought they tasted even better at room temperature. My kids were all over these as well. The recipe only made 12 and they all vanished by the time my kids discovered them. My only complaint about these pastries is the mess they created when eaten by my angelic children - the pastries were so flaky that little bits of buttery crumb littered the floor where my children sat stuffing their faces full of buttery dough.

I shall be making these weird little things again! They were a different, interesting, and delicious new pastry that I had never before heard of and am now happy to welcome into my recipe archive. Thank you, Sophie for introducing me to this treat!

You should head over to Sophie's blog to read about her experiences attacking all the technical challenges from The Great British Baking Show. Her blog name is Piece of Cake and can be found here.

Also, try your hand at Kouign Amann! It's a great recipe to start with if you have never before worked with a laminated dough before (like croissant dough). Guarantee you'll be able to produce a treat even Paul Hollywood would be happy to eat!


Kouign Amann
from Paul Hollywood of The Great British Baking Show

Note: I am presenting this recipe exactly as written on the BBC Food website. You will need a food scale to complete this recipe.

300g/10½oz strong plain flour, plus extra for dusting
5g fast-action yeast
1 tsp salt
200ml/7fl oz warm water
25g/1oz unsalted butter, melted
250g/9oz cold unsalted butter, in a block
100g/3½oz caster sugar, plus extra for sprinkling

Put the flour into the bowl of a freestanding mixer fitted with a dough hook. Add the yeast to one side of the bowl and the salt to the other. Add the water and melted butter and mix on a slow speed for two minutes, then on a medium speed for six minutes.

Tip the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and shape into a ball. Put into a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with cling film and leave to rise for one hour.

Sandwich the butter between two sheets of parchment paper and bash with a rolling pin, then roll out to a 14cm/5½in square. Place in the fridge to keep chilled.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to a 20cm/8in square. Place the butter in the centre of the dough diagonally, so that each side of butter faces a corner of the dough. Fold the corners of the dough over the butter to enclose like an envelope.

Roll the dough into a 45x15cm/18x6in rectangle. Fold the bottom third of dough up over the middle, then fold the top third of the dough over. You will now have a sandwich of three layers of butter and three layers of dough. Wrap in cling film and place in the fridge for 30 minutes. This completes one turn.

Repeat this process twice more, so you have completed a total of three turns, chilling the dough for 30 minutes between turns.

Roll the dough into a rectangle as before. Sprinkle the dough with the caster sugar and fold into thirds again. Working quickly, roll the dough into a large 40x30cm/16x12in rectangle. Sprinkle the dough with caster sugar and cut the dough into 12 squares.

Grease a 12-cup muffin tin well with oil. Gather the dough squares up by their four corners and place in the muffin tins, pulling the four corners towards the centre of the muffin tin, so that it gathers up like a four-leaf clover. Sprinkle with caster sugar and leave to rise, covered with a clean tea towel, for 30 minutes until slightly puffed up.

Preheat oven to 220C/200C(fan)/425F/Gas 7. Bake the pastries for 30-40 minutes, or until golden-brown. Cover with foil halfway through if beginning to brown too much. Remove from the oven and leave to cool for a couple of minutes before turning out onto a wire rack. Be careful not to burn yourself on the caramelized sugar, but don’t leave them to cool for too long, or the caramelized sugar will harden and they will be stuck in the tin.

Serve warm or cold.

Monday, February 4, 2019

Weeknight Greek Chicken


Lucy has a very strange way of singing her current favorite song "Old MacDonald". She loves to get audience participation, so she always solicits the crowd when deciding what animal to sing about next. Usually this is when I'm busy trying to make dinner and Lucy will come up and ask on repeat, "And on that farm he had a.....what, Mommy? What did he have? What's on his farm? Mommy? Mommy?"


But that's not the strange part. After you  name an animal, let's say a duck in this case, she will then proceed to sing the rest of the song but always adds her own lyric at the end:

With a quack quack here,
and a quack quack there,
here a quack
there a quack
and everywhere a seagull.
Old MacDonald had a farm. 
E-I-E-I-O!

Did you catch it? And she legitimately thinks that is part of the song. Believe me, Emma, the resident Lyric Nazi, has tried many a time to set Lucy on the path of righteous knowledge but Lucy will not be swayed. She insists that the lyric is in fact "and everywhere a seagull." And you know what? She's been singing it so often like that that I have found myself with the song stuck in my head while in the shower or driving and I am also singing it with that lyric in my head.




But you know, I see how it frankly makes sense to a three-year-old. Lucy thinks Canadian Geese are seagulls. That is another hot point of contention among her know-it-all siblings. These "seagulls" are everywhere - in the parking lots, in the playgrounds, even near my kids' school. Why wouldn't they be hanging out on Old MacDonald's farm?

And on that farm he had a chicken...

..and we ate it for dinner!

Musings on children's songs aside, I have a great weeknight recipe that is easy, simple, yet delicious enough to serve to guests! This Greek Chicken is made by marinating chicken thighs in a lemon and herb mixture and then baked in a cast-iron skillet until done. The thighs are then given the broiler-treatment to render the skin crispy and crunchy. The resulting juices blend with the marinate to create a magnificent pan sauce that can be drizzled over the chicken once served. I like to serve this with a side of couscous - which takes about five minutes to prepare - and a Greek salad. It's a meal that my kids all enjoy eating. It's an easy meal that tastes like you worked on it all day.


Greek Chicken
from Cook's Country

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
5 garlic cloves, chopped
6 (3-inch) strips lemon zest, chopped, plus 1 tablespoon juice (or use 1 tablespoon grated zest)
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1½ teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
½ teaspoon pepper
3 pounds bone-in chicken thighs

Combine oil, rosemary, thyme, garlic, lemon zest, salt, oregano, coriander, pepper flakes, and pepper in large bowl. Cut three ½-inch-deep slits in skin side of each chicken breast, two ½-inch-deep slits in skin side of each thigh, and two ½-inch-deep slits in each drumstick; leave wings whole. Transfer chicken to bowl with marinade and turn to thoroughly coat, making sure marinade gets into slits. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to 2 hours.

Adjust oven rack 6 inches from broiler element and heat oven to 425 degrees. Place chicken, skin side up, in 12-inch cast iron skillet. Using rubber spatula, scrape any remaining marinade from bowl over chicken. Roast until breasts register 160 degrees and drumsticks/thighs register 175 degrees, 30 to 35 minutes.

Remove skillet from oven and spoon pan juices over top of chicken to wet skin. Heat broiler. Broil chicken until skin is lightly browned, about 3 minutes, rotating skillet as necessary for even browning. Let chicken rest in skillet for 10 minutes. Transfer chicken to shallow platter. Stir lemon juice into pan juices, then spoon over chicken. Serve.