Roasted Chicken with Vanilla Bean Butter Sauce

Vanilla is our ingredient of the season. So far we’ve made some vanilla-infused vodka (great for milkshakes!) and a double vanilla cake. Today we’re turning our attention to a savory dinner.

Do you have any snow on the ground? We had a fantastic snow day yesterday! I read that Boulder’s 16+ inches in yesterday’s storm is more than the average snow for the month. I was so distracted by the sledding, matinees, and requests for banana cream pie, that I forgot to post. And I think Sarah’s off taking photos of staircases and doorways, so who knows when we’ll hear from here again ;-)? Anyway, today we’re sharing an amazing use for vanilla, and I really hope you’ll give it a try.

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When we picked vanilla as the ingredient of the season. I knew I wanted to experiment with some savory dishes. That said, I didn’t have anything in particular in mind, and never in my wildest dreams did I see this savory roasted chicken on the horizon! We eat a lot of roasted chicken, and I’ve become so partial to our chicken with the flavors of preserved lemon and olives, but this dish is far on the other end of the spectrum. The flavors are more subtle, of course there’s the vanilla, but there’s also a mild nutty-ness from the browned butter. It’s a nice compliment to our repertoire of chicken dishes.

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Thanksgiving Inspired Tapas

We’re republishing this yummy Thanksgiving inspired Tapas post from last year because it was so darn yummy.  Steal a recipe or two (or all five) for your big dinner this year.

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Happy Thanksgiving! I know, I’m a couple days early, but I wanted to show you how I celebrated Thanksgiving with my bf  last week.  I’m currently visiting a friend in Florida so I wanted to celebrate with K before I left.  I decided to create a tapas inspired Thanksgiving because it is perfect for couples, small families or those who are scared of cooking a turkey (me!). With some prep the night before, this all came together in under an hour.  Can you believe it?! I think my favorite part was the aioli tossed potatoes and the fact that everything is bite sized.  Eating tapas helps me slow down, enjoy the meal and talk between tiny bites.  We had a bunch of leftovers too and who doesn’t love that?!

One thing I try to do before starting to prepare a huge meal is to write a schedule.  I jot down all the names of the recipes in the order that I should start them.  That gives me a general guide so I’m not standing over the stove wondering what to do next.  At the end of the post, I’ll share my schedule with you.  I think it’d be easier to understand after you read the recipes.

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Garlic Tossed Green Beans with Toasted Pine Nuts

  • Half of an onion
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts
  • 1 lb green beans, trimmed
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Fill a tea kettle with water and turn it on to boil.
  • In a large sauté pan, pour 1 tablespoon of olive oil and turn the burner onto medium heat.  After a couple minutes, when the oil has heated up, add the pine nuts.  Toss the nuts every couple minutes.  When they start to pop or turn slightly brown, use a slotted spoon and place the nuts on a paper towel to drain. Turn the burner off for a moment. This should take no more than six minutes.
  • Place the trimmed green beans in a medium sized pot.  Pour the boiling tea kettle over the green beans and turn the burner on high heat.  Time the beans for seven minutes.  The green beans should be cooked, but still crisp. Once they’re done, drain them in a colander.
  • While the green beans are cooking, finely chop half an onion and two cloves of garlic. Add the onion to the sauté pan that you toasted the nuts in. Sprinkle a little salt over the onions.  Cook the onions on medium low heat until they are soft and translucent, about five minutes.  Add the garlic and continue to sauté for two more minutes.
  • By this time the green beans should be finished boiling.  Add them to the sauté pan and drizzle the remaining tablespoon over the green beans. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Stir the beans around to coat them with onions and garlic and add the pine nuts.  Stir for another minute or two to incorporate all the flavors and serve.

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Brown Sugar and Maple Syrup Glazed Carrots

  • 1/2 lb of baby carrots or large chunks of full-sized carrots
  • 1/4 cup of maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons of brown sugar
  • Preheat the oven to 375°.
  • Whisk together the maple syrup and the brown sugar.
  • Put the carrots in a cast-iron pan or a vessel that is able to be baked.
  • Add the carrots to the pan and pour the glaze over them.  Don’t worry if the carrots aren’t completely covered or saturated. The glaze will bake into the carrots just fine.
  • Cover the pan with tin foil to create a steaming effect.
  • Time for thirty minutes. Check the carrots by piercing them with a fork.
*These measurements are based on baking carrots for 3 people – increase as necessary.

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Roasted Brussel Sprouts

  • Stalk of brussels sprouts
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • Preheat the oven to 375°
  • Optional step: Wrap the stalk of brussels in plastic wrap and microwave for three minutes.
  • Whisk together olive oil, cayenne, salt and pepper.
  • Place the brussels sprouts in a glass baking dish and drizzle with olive oil mixture.
  • Place in the oven and bake for 30 minutes.
*I like my brussels sprouts nice and brown, if you don’t, check the sprouts every ten minutes.

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Aioli Tossed Potatoes

  • 1 egg – room temperature
  • 2 garlic cloves, pressed
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • sprinkle of pepper
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 lb of very small potatoes
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
  • Bring a medium-sized pot of salted (add the tsp of salt) water to boil. Add the potatoes and cook until just soft.  Test the potatoes by piercing them with a fork.  About ten minutes.
  • Whisk together the room temperature egg, pressed garlic cloves, olive oil, and fresh lemon juice.  Sprinkle some pepper into the aioli.
  • Slowly drizzle in the vegetable oil, little by little while whisking the aioli.
  • When the potatoes are cooked, drain them and put them in a large bowl.
  • Toss the warm potatoes with aioli and parsley.
  • Let sit for 10-15 minutes before serving so that aioli soaks into the potatoes.

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Warm and Spicy Grilled Pork Skewers

  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • Juice from one large lemon
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, pressed
  • 3 tablespoons roughly chopped parsley
  • 1/2 – 1 lb pork
  • skewers
  • The marinade must be made the night before; please keep that in mind.
  • Whisk all the spices, garlic, lemon juice, parsley and olive oil in a bowl.
  • Cut up the pork pieces into quarter-sized chunks and place in a single layer in a shallow nonmetallic dish.
  • Pour the marinade evenly over the pork pieces, cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge. Ideally, you should stir the pork two or three times over the course of 8-12 hours.
  • 8-12+ hours later, place the pork pieces onto skewers.  If you’re using wooden skewers, soak them in water for at least twenty minutes prior to grilling.
  • Place the pork skewers on the grill or broil them.  I used a George Foreman grill and it took approximately 6 minutes to grill each group of skewers.

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Also shown in the photos are cranberry goat cheese topped crackers and mini no bake pumpkin pies.  I picked up the goat cheese from Trader Joe’s; served at room temperature, it is the perfect appetizer. The mini pumpkin pie recipe will be shared tomorrow, so stay tuned 🙂

After typing all those recipes, I realize that seems like a lot to do, but with a little preparation it comes together quickly.  The night before you can prep by washing the carrots, brussels, green beans and potatoes.  Chop a big pile of parsley and make the marinade and the aioli as well.  I also did a mental walkthrough of all the recipes and pulled out garnishes, gadgets, pots, pans and serving dishes for everything.  It’s a small step, but it really helps on the morning of.  That way everything is sitting out on the counter ready to be grabbed at a moments notice.

The day of, start by making the brussels sprouts and carrots.  Then bring several pots of water to boil for your beans and potatoes.  After your green beans are completely finished and the potatoes are tossed with aioli, quickly grill up the pork skewers.  By that time the oven veggies should be finished up and you are ready to serve dinner!

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Pumpkin Chili

Pumpkin is our ingredient of the season. If you like this pumpkin chili, you might want to check out our stew and curry too!

Pumpkin Chili! In our house, chili was one of the first dinners that we learned to make. Our mom had a really simple, kid-friendly recipe (ground beef, canned beans and tomatoes, chili spice packet). Side note : can’t wait to teach Alex to make that one; look for that as a Cooking with Kids post in a couple of years. I was always really psyched to for chili night, but as I’ve grown, so have my tastes. Now I love a chili packed with fresh veggies, and fortunately for me, this chili has not one, but two types of pumpkin. Victory!

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I used two types of pumpkin because they each do something different for the dish. The fresh pumpkin holds its texture well when cooked, making it another vegetable that easy to identify in this chunky chili, while the pureed pumpkin adds a creamy texture to the chili liquid.

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Pumpkin Curry

Pumpkin is our ingredient of the season. We’re a big fan of pumpkin desserts (cookies, and popsicles, anyone?), but we’re not opposed to drinking our pumpkin or putting it on our face! Oh, and if you like the idea of a pumpkin soup, but don’t want the spice of a curry, check out this stew!

I’m trying to figure out how to introduce this pumpkin curry. Here are my options : 1. it’s so easy to make! 2. it’s delicious; everyone, including little Luc and Alex, loved it! 3. on a personal note, cooking curry brings back so many awesome memories from my time visiting Sarah in Thailand. All three introductions are true, and together, they have me wanting to make a pot of this curry every night. You should probably make it too.

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In Sarah’s post about Bangkok, she briefly mentioned the cooking class that we took together at Silom Thai Cooking School. It was such a great traveling experience. I love eating Thai food, and I’m happy to experiment with recipes I find online and in cookbooks, but it was reassuring to have experienced teachers show us how to make a handful of dishes and confirm that, as I’ll show you today, making a delicious curry is really that simple.

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Lemon & Herb Salt

This past summer lemon was our ingredient of the season. We’ve created a dandy of an archive of lemon posts, and we’re still not done!

As September’s weather is straddling the line between summer and fall, we found that the combination of flavors in this bright and savory lemon & herb salt do the same!

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While doing some canning at the beach, I noticed this recipe in a copy of Preserving by the Pint and was immediately excited to try it. I love fresh herbs and am always looking for new ways to preserve their flavors as the plants fade in our late-summer garden. On the other hand, it’s taken me quite a while to appreciate lemon flavor in my savory dishes. Thank goodness I’ve come around, because this chicken dish is something I would not have made a few years ago, but we had it again last night for dinner (it’s just that good!). What I’m getting at is that a few years ago, I would have turned my nose up at this simple seasoning recipe, and what a shame it would have been. This seasoning is simple to make and adds a flavorful punch to a variety of savory dishes, making creative weeknight cooking a breeze.

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Preparing the seasoning requires just a bit of chopping and time. I did my chopping on a day when people were constantly coming in and out of the beach house, and every single person asked what was cooking and remarked that the kitchen smelled great. The chopping releases an amazing blend of aromas from the herbs, lemon zest, and garlic.

Once chopped, the mixture is spread out on a plate and left to dry for a couple of days. Since we were making this on the humid east coast in the middle of August, I put my plate in front of a fan to help with the drying process. If I were to make this at home in Colorado, the fan would be completely unnecessary because the air’s so dry. So use your discretion and help the drying process with a fan or warm oven if you’re in a high humidity environment.

Lemon & Herb Salt

Lemon & Herb Salt

Ingredients

  • zest from 4 lemons
  • small bunch parsley
  • 3-4 sprigs of rosemary
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 2 Tbsp coarse sea salt

Instructions

  1. Wash the parsley and rosemary and remove the leaves from the stems. This can be tedious with the parsley, but do the best you can, and a few stems are fine.
  2. Roughly chop the herbs. Add the zest and chop together with the herbs until well combined. Add the garlic and continue chopping. Add the salt, and... continue chopping until all ingredients are finely chopped.
  3. Spread the mixture on a plate and allow it to dry for at least 48 hours. It should be completely dry, with no sign of moisture.
  4. Store in a jar and use anywhere you would like to add a bit of flavored salt.
http://liveseasoned.com/lemon-herb-salt/

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After the seasoning has dried, you can use it on any variety of dishes. One night we tried it on our roasted summer veggies, which were a combination of summer squash, onions, potatoes, and corn. They were delicious, but I didn’t *love* the flavor of lemon on the vegetables (can’t win them all!). The next night we sprinkled the seasoning on and in some fish freshly caught by our pop. I included a pat of butter inside each fish because they were on the leaner side. Our mom loved the fish so much that she made sure to confirm that I “took a picture for the blog”. Everyone loved the fish, and it couldn’t have been easier to make.

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I have to admit that I never buy seasoned salt or herb mixes from the spice section. Instead, I sprinkle on the combination of individual herbs I want for any particular dish. That said, this seasoned salt was so easy to make, and it’s motivated me to experiment with the rest of the fresh herbs in our garden to develop a number of custom salts that will let me preserve those flavors and use them all winter long.

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Ridiculously Easy Fish Tacos

The title says it all. These are so easy, it’s almost like you didn’t cook, except you do make the slaw, so that counts for something. While everyone will love these, I immediately thought of them as the perfect dish for busy families, because they are relatively healthy, can easily feed a crowd, and again, are so. darn. easy. But beyond that, their simplicity  would make them a great party food, especially for an end-of-summer shindig. I’d serve these with some agua fresca and mojitos followed by toasted coconut and avocado lime popsicles for dessert. BAM.

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Mint in your Lamb Meatballs?

Mint is our ingredient of the season. Of course we made mojitos. We also made some saladsiced teaagua fresca, a body scrub, and… deodorant!

I’ve been sitting on this recipe ever since Sarah and I picked mint as the ingredient of the season. It’s not that mint is the star of the dish, it’s just that, when do you ever expect to see mint in a meatball recipe? You might think it’s expected in a lamb meatball recipe, but the cookbook actually refers to these as beef meatballs. And mint isn’t the only thing flavoring this dish; it calls for four different fresh herbs and over a half dozen spices! If that sounds complicated, it’s worth the effort.

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This recipe comes from the cookbook Jerusalem. If it sounds familiar, I shared a couple of recipes from the book in April. Or maybe you read a review of the book, or heard that a Jerusalem craze is taking over the nation (it’s the #1 cookbook on Amazon in the natural food cooking category). I have to admit that I didn’t realize it was that popular until writing this post, but I completely understand the compassion for this book. The range of recipes are exciting, they are made from ingredients that I want to eat, the book’s photographs are wonderful, the descriptions of places and history transport you… Through food, this book blends religions and cultures, if only it could bring peace to a troubled land.

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