Tag Archives: comfort

The Perfect Roast Chicken


The chicken you see above cost a little over $2. Not $2 per pound, not $2 per serving. Two dollars flat. It was about 4 pounds and was on sale at the local grocery store – I noticed all these old ladies leaving with a dozen birds, so I knew a good deal was on.

The beauty of roast chicken is that it does triple-duty. We had leftovers for two full meals and then boiled the leftover bones or whatever to make a delicious stock. Our leftovers are becoming tortilla chicken soup tomorrow.

Back to the roast chicken.

You can really do anything with this recipe, but I’ll include my adaptations to the original Ina Garten recipe.


1 whole roasting chicken, giblets and extra fat removed and stored for later (boil them in your chicken stock).

kosher salt


1 bunch fresh thyme

1 lemon, halved

1 head garlic, cut crosswise, or whatever you have on hand.

2 T butter, melted

1 large yellow onion, thickly sliced

4 carrots, cut into chunks

1 bulb fennel, cut into chunks

1-2 pounds of red or new potatoes, cut into chunks

olive oil



Preheat oven to 425.

Rinse the chicken inside and out, pat dry. Remove any pin feathers. On the inside, liberally salt and pepper, then stuff with half the fresh thyme, all the lemon and garlic.

In a roasting pan (or large baking dish), combine the onions, carrot, fennel and potatoes (you could also add garlic – live dangerously!). Toss with salt, pepper, thyme and olive oil (you could add other herbs if you have them, and I used dried thyme). Spread the veggies in an even layer.


Now, tie the chicken’s legs together with twine and tucks its wings under its body. Brush it all over with the butter and sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. I also added paprika, for color and because my mom did. Use your gut instinct! Place the bird on top of the vegetables.


Roast for 1 1/2 hours, or until the juices run clear when you cut between the thigh and the leg (mine was perfect after this time). Tent foil over the chicken for another 20 min. Remove the chicken to a platter and serve with the roasted vegetables and fennel fronds, for decoration.


You’ll notice that some of the veggies got nearly black. They are delicious! In fact, I kept all the “burned” pieces for myself – they were so caramelized that they stuck to my teeth with sweet, savory goodness.

To serve, plate up the chicken and vegetables and spoon over extra juices from the roasting pan. We had this with bread and a simple salad – ta da!

What a satisfying meal.  As I hope you can see from the pictures, it is a feast for the eyes and the belly. One chicken feeds four people easily.

Now, if you don’t mind, I have to check on my chicken stock. Enjoy, friends! xoxo


Jalapeno-cheddar cornbread


Whenever I think of cornbread, I think of that “Arrested Development” episode with the corn-baller fryer that keeps burning people and when they couldn’t sell it in the U.S., they started selling it on Mexican infomercials.

This cornbread is baked safely in your oven, not deep-fried, but it still has spice that anyone will appreciate.

All you do is buy cornmeal and follow the cornbread directions on the back. Why not? Once you’ve mixed the wet ingredients with the dry ingredients, stir in:

1 seeded jalapeno pepper, minced

4 green onions, chopped

3/4 c. shredded cheddar cheese

Sprinkle the last 1/4 c. of cheese over the top of the cornbread and bake it according to the instructions, adding at least 10 more minutes to account for all the cheese in there (at least, mine took an extra 10 minutes). It should be moist but not mushy in the thickest part. As soon as you cut the bread open, you’ll know if you cooked it long enough! And it won’t hurt to go back in for a few minutes, if you need it.

I served this cornbread with Hoppin’ John,  which I’ve made many times, but this time used fresh ingredients in place of canned – I have all this farmers market food to use up!

I used 1 minced jalapeno instead of the canned green chilies, 2 chopped heirloom tomatoes in place of the canned diced, and chicken stock instead of water (increase the water to 1 c. to account for the fresh tomatoes).

We were very pleased with this comforting and satisfying meal. (And yes, that is a big piece of butter oozing out of my slice in the picture. Butter is a must.)

Good luck having only one serving, friends!

Baker’s delight

I’ve been craving baked goods lately.

When we came back from Fourth of July at my folks’ place, I had three bananas that were over-ripe. You know what that means…

I baked up this moist, sweet banana bread. I just love the smell of it wafting throughout my house! This was my breakfast and snack for three days straight (not to mention all the thick slices that you-know-who took).

A warm fall smell in the middle of summer.

A warm fall smell in the middle of summer.

I can’t wait to make it again. But in the mean time, I have a zucchini in the fridge that isn’t going anywhere…

Thanksgiving novice

Well, I think I’m still full from our national day of gluttony.
I must say that Thanksgiving dinner was a success, although we probably made more dishes than we could handle.
I included some of our dishes below, but those exclude mom’s carrot ribbons with almond butter, cheesy broccoli and clover-leaf rolls.
I was mostly in charge of the turkey, and I must say that buying an organic or free-range bird is totally worth it. The white meat is darker than traditional turkey breasts, so it’s more juicy and full of flavor. Because I decided to sort of wing the recipe, I was nervous the whole three hours of cooking, but stuffing the herbed butter under the skin was a good idea. What doesn’t taste better with butter?Also, brining is a must.
We had breakfast today at Pilot Butte Drive-In and are looking forward to mom’s turkey soup tonight, followed by more board/card games.
Dining-room table ready for grubbin'

Dining-room table ready for grubbin

Brined, rubbed with herb butter, stuffed with aromatics

Brined, rubbed with herb butter, stuffed with aromatics

My roasted cauliflower with herbs, lemon and parmesan

My roasted cauliflower with herbs, lemon and parmesan

Mom's cranberry sauce with orange


Smiths sweet potatoes and cornbread/cranberry/apple/sausage stuffing

Smiths sweet potatoes and cornbread/cranberry/apple/sausage stuffing

Garlic mashed potatoes

Garlic mashed potatoes

Gobble gobble, bitches!

Gobble gobble, bitches!

Dad took this picture of his plate.

Dad took this picture of his plate.


Here stands one of my favorite dishes of all times. And I swear, it brings every man to his knees.

Pasta puttanesca is a dish that allegedly originated in the brothels as a way to lure men. Well, it has lured me, too.

I love any dish with the following ingredients melted together in olive oil: garlic (6 cloves), anchovies (1 tin, drained), capers (3T), black olives (20, chopped). Throw in some red pepper flakes, 32 oz. crushed tomatoes and 14 oz. diced tomatoes and you have a delicious dish, but don’t forget the cracked pepper and parsley.

I tossed my puttanesca sauce with linguine (my favorite thick pasta), and then we shredded Parmesan cheese over the top.

Served with crusty bread and a simple bitter salad, I give you pasta puttanesca. A simple pleasure, a simple delight, a simple love.


Chipotle chili with Mexican cornbread

My proto-sister-in-law sends me all sorts of delicious and healthy recipes that please the tummies of our boys. Her pecan-crusted halibut with a dijon cream sauce was AMAZING, and this chipotle chili was hearty, complex, spicy and perfect for a cold night. Plus, it makes enough to freeze the leftovers.

I think the secret ingredient is the cocoa powder. Or the red wine. Or perhaps all those chipotle chilies in adobo. Or maybe the fact that I ground my own coriander seeds!

People kept telling me that spices are best freshly ground, like coffee, but I never tried it. Luckily, I have an old coffee grinder that worked perfectly for this. Wow – freshly ground spices are way more pungent than whatever we buy bottled in the store.

I like chilis that have big chunks of stew meat in them, as this one did. I happened to have some beef stew meat in the freezer from Safeway’s discount food bin.

It also had two kinds of beans and called for Spanish chorizo. I subbed that out for Mexican chorizo, which has the texture of ground beef and is super spicy. It added a different texture and I liked it, but will try the more solid, Spanish kind next time.

This soup cooks for at least an hour and a half, so make sure you have the time before starting it. We topped ours with avocado, sour cream and shredded cheddar cheese.

Made with my boyfriend’s famous Mexican cornbread (pimentos, green chilies, cheese, etc.).

Even those of us with the biggest appetites couldn’t have more than one bowl!

Merissa’s chipotle chili

* 2 links Spanish chorizo sausage (about 6 1/2 ounces), thinly sliced
* 1 1/2 pounds beef stew meat
* 1 1/2 cups chopped onion
* 4 garlic cloves, minced
* 1 (7-ounce) can chipotle chiles in adobo sauce
* 3 tablespoons tomato paste
* 2 teaspoons sugar
* 1 teaspoon salt
* 2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa
* 1 teaspoon ground coriander
* 1 teaspoon dried oregano
* 1 teaspoon ground cumin
* 1 cup dry red wine
* 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
* 2 (14-ounce) cans less-sodium beef broth
* 1 (28-ounce) can whole tomatoes, undrained and chopped
* 2 tablespoons masa harina
* 2 (15-ounce) cans pinto beans, rinsed and drained
* 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained


Heat a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add chorizo to pan; sauté 3 minutes or until browned. Remove chorizo from pan. Add half of beef to pan; sauté 5 minutes or until browned. Remove beef from pan. Repeat procedure with remaining beef. Add onion and garlic to pan; sauté 3 minutes.

Remove 4 chipotle chiles from can, and chop. Reserve remaining chiles and sauce for another use. Add chorizo, beef, chopped chiles, tomato paste, and next 6 ingredients (through ground cumin) to pan, and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in red wine, lime juice, beef broth, and tomatoes; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.

Gradually stir in masa harina. Add pinto beans and black beans; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 30 minutes.