Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Roast Chicken

Since I'm playing hide-and-seek with my camera cord, I had to borrow Martha Stewart's roast chicken photo.

Because I can't wait to blog about this fabulous roast chicken.

It's a hybrid chicken - part Chef Judy, part Martha Stewart.

I first came across the idea of a dry brine two days before Thanksgiving. Too late to use it for my Thanksgiving turkey.

So I've been practicing on chicken. This method was originally developed for roast chicken anyway. The chicken has to dry brine for three days before you plan to cook it, so it does require some planning ahead. And it seems excessive. But it's worth it. Those who know say you CAN dry brine for less time, but the longer the brine, the better the flavor.

Dry Brined Roast Chicken

For the dry brine:

1 whole chicken (4-6 pounds)
1 TB kosher salt

1. Rinse the chicken and remove any giblets. Pat it dry with paper towels. (My chicken is usually frozen at this point...it still works. Just rub the salt over the frozen chicken and it will thaw as it dry brines over the course of three days.)

2. Rub the tablespoon of salt all over the chicken.

3. Place the chicken in a ziploc bag, squeeze the air out and seal it.

4. Let it sit in the refrigerator for 3 days. For a Sunday dinner of roast chicken, I start it dry brining Thursday morning.

5. The night before you plan to roast the chicken, remove the chicken from the bag and place it in the refrigerator, uncovered, overnight.

Now you're ready to roast!


Dry brined chicken
1-2 TB butter, softened
salt and pepper
2 onions, cut in 1/2 inch slices
1 lemon
3-4 tsp minced garlic
4 sprigs fresh thyme (or 2 tsp dried thyme)

1. Allow chicken to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before cooking.

2. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

3. Place onion slices in the bottom of a roasting pan (or glass 9x13 baking pan).

4. Pierce entire surface of the lemon with a fork. Insert garlic, thyme and lemon (it's still good, even if you don't have a lemon...I never seem to have one on hand) into the chicken cavity. Place the chicken on the onions in the roasting pan.

5. Spread the softened butter over the surface of chicken, and sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. I read somewhere that sprinkling the chicken with paprika makes it extra pretty...but my paprika just burned and made my chicken not so pretty.

6. Place in the oven, and roast for about 1 1/2 hours, until the skin is deep golden brown and crisp. The breast temperature should read 180 degrees, the thigh 190 degrees.

7. Remove chicken from oven, and transfer to a cutting board. Let the chicken stand 10 to 15 minutes before carving.

You can go here for instructions on making a gravy.

More details about dry brining a chicken or turkey can be found here, with FAQ's here.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Whole Wheat Freezer Rolls

I made crescent rolls for the first time last Thanksgiving. I gave this recipe (scroll down past the white rolls) from No Empty Chairs a try. The freezing instructions for this recipe intrigued me. If it worked...how convenient!

I made the dough, formed the rolls (I did crescents) and let them rise. Then I baked the rolls half way, then froze them. When I was ready to eat them, I let them thaw on a cookie sheet for 10-15 minutes, then baked them up and they were piping hot for dinner.

It took me a couple of tries to get the baking times right, but now I am really happy with the process. They are so quick that sometimes I will bake up a tray in the morning and pop some scrambled eggs inside when they come out of the oven.

Whole Wheat Rolls

2 cups warm milk
1/2 cup warm water
2 eggs
6 TB honey
¼ cup canola oil (or light olive oil)
5 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup vital wheat gluten
1 TB salt
1 TB instant yeast
1 – 2 cups additional whole wheat flour


Whisk together wet ingredients.

Add 5 cups flour, wheat gluten, salt and yeast and mix until well combined.

Knead (by hand or with mixer) in enough additional flour so that dough just begins to form a ball. Knead for 5-6 minutes.

Let the dough rest for 10 minutes before shaping rolls.

Shape into crescents (or balls, or knots). Let rise until double (1-2 hours) on a baking sheet (lined with parchment paper) . Bake 10-12 minutes at 375 degrees, until the rolls barely start to brown. Cool on a wire rack, then place back on the cookie sheet and let them freeze in the oven an hour or so. Transfer the rolls to a ziploc bag and return to the freezer.

To bake frozen rolls: Defrost the rolls on a cookie sheet for 10-15 minutes (while the oven preheats to 375 degrees). Brush the tops of the rolls with egg wash (1 egg plus 1 TB water) and sprinkle on coarse salt, sesame seeds and poppy seeds. Bake the rolls for 7-10 minutes, until golden brown. If you don't want to do the egg wash/salt/sesame and poppy seeds, just wait until the rolls come out of the oven and brush the tops with butter. Mmmm.

If you want to bake them without freezing:

Let them rise until doubled, then bake on a greased cookie sheet at 375 degrees for 15-18 minutes.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Chocolate Raspberry Truffles

It's no secret that I'm in love with the chocolate raspberry combination.

For Thanksgiving I made a pecan pie and pumpkin pie. All well and yummy, but I needed a chocolate dessert in there too.

So I decided to give chocolate truffles a try.

And why not add raspberry?

I was so happy with how they turned out. They were extremely rich and dark. The chocolate coating had the perfect snap, just like AB promised. I had some Dutch Process Cocoa from Penzeys that I used for the outer coating...I think I'm in love!

So follow the directions for Alton Brown's chocolate truffles. Replace the brandy with 3 tablespoons of seedless raspberry jam.

They truffles were a mess to roll into balls. But I read somewhere that the uneven ball shape adds to the charm and is reminiscent of actual truffles, that aren't perfectly round. So I went with that. :)

I can't wait to make these again.

Grandma Hats

Great-grandma sent the girls some cute warm hats.

They have been so great for this ridiculous winter.

And I guess our house is a little cold too, they get plenty of wear indoors also.

Thanks Grandma!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Snow...snow...more snow

And the snow just keeps coming.

The kids were tickled to go out in the first snow.

Kitty was happy to lick her snowball.

Thanks to dad, they got to build a snowman.

And go sledding. J pulled them around the backyard and all the way to the park to sled down a preschool sized hill. It was a little bit cold for Kitty, but Boo has been talking about it for days.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Christmas 2010

We took a Hanukkah approach to Christmas again this year and let the girls open one small gift each night leading up to Christmas. They looked forward to it every day and it spread out the new toy excitement.

Kitty gingerly opening her first gift.

This was Boo's reaction to every gift she opened. She would squeal with excitement and exclaim, "This is just what I wanted for Christmas! I'm so happy!"

Putting out cookies on Christmas Eve...Kitty saw her opportunity to get away with something.

Christmas Morning...

Kitty was thrilled with her new tricycle.
And Boo was equally happy with her kid camera.

Oh dear...
Christmas is over for another year.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

2011, here we come

We had a rough December.

I am hoping we got all the drama and illness out for the entire winter.

I wish we could say we got all the snow and frigid weather done with for the winter as well, but it's not looking good. We're in for about 5" of snow today.

We are getting back into the routine of school and work and the rest of life.

So far this year...

Boo is in love with Broadway music. At the top of her list is Wicked. Her favorite song is "What is this feeling?" and she knows all the words. I'm so proud that at four years old she knows words like "loathing" and "detestation". Also "unadulterated".

Sound of Music
comes in second place. She loves the end with the Nazi soldiers, she calls them the 'nasty soldiers'. She loves to announce, "The nuns are the good guys, even though they broke the cars."

Thanks to the Oscar the Grouch song, "I Hate Christmas", Boo has picked the phrase, "I hate that". So we're trying to replace that with, "I don't prefer that." So now she yells, "I don't free-fur that!" And it's hard to take her seriously.

Kitty is in an eat-everything, sleep-a-lot phase, hopefully making up for her eat-nothing, cry-a-lot sick phase. She is fascinated with the potty, so I'm hoping for a quick potty training phase when we get to that. She loves her books and her dogs. She loves to color, but is limited to crayons as she has the bad habit of biting the tips off of markers.

Here's to a great 2011!

Monday, January 10, 2011


Early in December we celebrated the German tradition Nikolaustag. Except we put the shoes by the fireplace, not outside the door. We had an absurdly cold December.

Boo was beside herself with excitement. Who knew it would be so fun to put shoes by the fireplace?

I didn't plan ahead like I should have, and didn't have oranges...or nuts...or chocolate...so the girls got leftover Halloween pretzel bags in their shoes.

But they were tickled with their treats anyway.

Frohe Weihnachten!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Homemade Graham Crackers

I may never have to make sugar cookies again!
Now, I like sugar cookies. But I can't stand frosting them. And if I'm going to eat cookies, I'd really prefer them to be loaded with chocolate.

But I can't deny my kids the fun of rolling and cutting out sugar cookies with holiday cookie cutters.

BUT, I found a new food blog, Two Peas and Their Pod. And they have the easiest, tastiest, reasonably healthy recipe for homemade graham crackers. And they have no interest in rectangular graham crackers. They use...wait for it...cookie cutters!
So we made some during the holidays. The dough was easy to work with and the kids had a great time with the cookie cutters.
Kitty was a fan of the dough.
And the crackers turned out great. Addictive, in fact.
I made some more graham crackers for my work's Kid's Christmas Party. And this time I couldn't resist some chocolate drizzling.
Yum and yum.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Go Colts!

Getting ready for the big game tonight with kettle corn and potato skins.