Chicken Stew with Sweet Potatoes & Kale

I can’t believe I have been withholding this recipe from you lovely people for so long. Please don’t hate me. I have been way too busy enjoying it, like, every other week. Thank God my husband loves it just as much.  I don’t know what I would do if he asked me to stop making it. That will never happen, though. I’m sure of it.

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Reasons why I love this dish:

1. It is healthy

2. It is the most delicious stew I have ever tasted. Seriously, I feel like my tastebuds are doing the Electric Slide every time a bite goes in.

3. It will last me 3 days…and I DO NOT tire of it, even after that long.

4. It is super easy to make.

5. I can make bone broth from the carcass and innards after I am done with the chicken.

Chicken Stew with Sweet Potatoes and Kale

2 tablespoons butter

1 large yellow onion, sliced thin

2 large garlic cloves, minced

2 tablespoons flour

2 quarts chicken stock

1 whole, organic chicken, innards removed

1 tablespoon salt

1 teaspoon pepper

2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1.5-2 inch cubes

about 6-9 kales leaves

fresh parsley, finely chopped

Cooked white rice to serve with stew

Preheat oven to 350.

In a large (oven-safe) stock pot, melt butter over medium-high heat. Cook onions until they are soft, then add garlic and stir around until it’s nice and fragrant (about 30 seconds).  Add flour and stir around for another 30 seconds or so. Slowly add chicken stock and stir to get all the flour bits off of the bottom. Submerge the chicken in the stock, add the salt and pepper, and add the sweet potato cubes around the chicken. Bring to simmer.

When the stew is simmering, cover stock pot and place in oven. The cooking time will depend on the weight of the chicken. For a 3lb chicken, an hour will do. I had to cook a 4lb bird for 1.5 hours last week.

When the chicken is done, remove the pot from the oven. Let the covered pot rest while you are cooking your rice. Carefully remove the chicken to a plate or large cutting board.  Cut or tear the kale into bit-sized pieces and add to the stew, along with the parsley. What we like to do is serve the stew over rice and eat the legs the first night. When we are finished with dinner, we go back and shred the meat from the bone then toss it in the stew and refrigerate for the next night.

The next night, I like to use some of the stock in the stew to make the rice. More flavor, baby! Anyway, we eat this for at least 2 nights, sometimes even 3.  It could serve about 6 in one night, though.

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Have a wonderful Tuesday!

 

 

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Backyard Chickens?

My husband and I have really been considering adding a small flock (if 3 or 4 can be considered a flock) of chickens to our backyard.  Two years ago, I couldn’t imagine myself typing those words, but now I am finding it harder and harder to go on living without these amazing little birds in my life.  Now, if my mom is reading this she’s probably raising an eyebrow, wondering what in the world the Arizona sun has done to her poor daughter’s brain.

It’s fried, mom.  Like an egg! Speaking of eggs…chickens lay those things. I like eggs. What I don’t like is spending $5 a week on a dozen organic “cage free” eggs.  It makes me sad. If I had chickens, they would give me eggs in exchange for a little love and attention. So there.

Also, chickens are funny and entertaining. And yes, this is really one of the reasons I would like to keep chickens.

My one concern, and I’ll admit, it’s a big one, is that my dog will kill all the chickens. I imagine those words running through his little brain the second he sees them…”kill all the chickens”.  It’s not that he’s hungry, he just has such a strong prey drive and likes to kill everything that moves. Except people. And other dogs. It’s scary.

The Stuff of Nightmares.

The Stuff of Nightmares.

Oddly enough (I say that, but it’s really not that odd since it’s chick season), all of my favorite homestead bloggers have been blogging about keeping backyard chickens! Just thought I’d share a few here in case any of you are considering becoming a crazy chicken lady, like myself.

6 Reasons to Keep Backyard Chickens

Keeping Backyard Chickens 101

The Basics of Backyard Chickens

(and just because I love to eat cookie dough) The Number One Reason Why YOU Need Chickens

On top of that, I have been reading A Chicken in Every Yard and The Urban Homestead.

And if my friends and family aren’t quite convinced that I’ve gone completely crazy, I’m looking into urban beekeeping. Yep. It’s true.

 

Weekly Dinner Menu {12/2 – 12/7}

Weekly Dinner Menu

 

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday! We spent most of the week in California with my husband’s family, which is always fun! I was loving the change in scenery from brown to green and spent most of my time admiring everyone’s colorful landscaping.

Anyway, here’s what we’re having for dinner this week. I like to share my weekly dinner menu with my readers just in case they have as hard a time coming up with something good and wholesome to cook for dinner as I do. I hate coming up with meal plans and have even considering hiring someone to do just that for me. Haha. My husband doesn’t help much since he only has one answer whenever I ask him what he wants for dinner: tacos. I think he married the wrong woman. I am not a taco fan.

Monday: Perfect Roast Chicken with sautéed Brussels Sprouts

Tuesday: Easy Chicken Salad Wraps with Sweet Potato Fries

Wednesday: Pork Roast with Apples & Onions and Wild Rice

Thursday: Rich Autumn Pork Stew with 30 Minute Rolls

Friday: Leftovers from Thursday

Saturday: Pizza night using this crust recipe

In other news, I have decided to get a real tree this year! I have come to the conclusion that having a real tree is better for the environment and for my family. Who knows what those fake trees are made of. On top of that, they always cut my hands up when I’m fluffing their branches and nothing beats the smell of a real tree..not even that Yankee candle. Also, I learned that I can either use the tree as mulch for my garden OR I can participate in this cool thing called TREECYCLING! If Yuma, AZ has a program for it, then your town has a program for it, so check it out!

Until next time…

Sweet Potato & Vanilla Risotto

Fall weather is setting in for most of the US, but it’s still pretty warm here in Arizona.  I’m okay with that because I can still turn my AC to 65, put on a sweater, drink some hot tea, and make yummy Fall meals like this one!

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This recipe was adapted from Giada De Laurentiis’s Giada’s Kitchen cookbook.  I loved her Butternut squash risotto, but I love sweet potatoes and carrots, too! Also, I needed to add some meat to the dish for my husband, so I added shredded chicken and exchanged the vegetable broth for chicken broth.

Sweet Potato & Vanilla Risotto

4 cups chicken broth

1 vanilla bean

2 cups sweet potato, chopped into 1 inch cubes

1 cup chopped carrots

2 chicken breasts, cooked (I boiled), then shredded

2 tablespoons butter

1 small sweet onion

1 1/2 cups Arborio rice

1/2 cup dry white wine

3/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese

2 tablespoons chopped chives

salt and pepper

In a large saucepan, heat chicken broth over medium-high heat. Split vanilla bean down the middle, remove seeds with a small knife, then add seeds and bean to the broth. When the broth comes to a boil, add the sweet potatoes and carrots. Turn the heat down to medium, and simmer for about 10 minutes, or until the sweet potatoes are tender (carrots will still be firm to the bite).  Remove vegetables with a slotted spoon, but keep the broth simmering over low heat.

In the meantime, grab another large saucepan and heat the butter over medium-high heat.  Add the chopped onion an cook for about 3 minutes.  Add the rice and stir to coat with the butter. Pour in the wine and simmer until the wine is almost evaporated.  Add 1/2 cup of the simmering broth and simmer until the liquid is almost completely evaporated (3 to 4 minutes). Continue to do this, while stirring the rice, until the broth is gone (discard the bean pod).  The rice should be tender and the mixture should be nice and creamy! If you like your rice a bit more tender, you can heat a little more broth and keep adding until the risotto is to your liking.

Gently stir in the vegetables, chicken, parmesan cheese, and chives. Taste to see if you need to add salt and pepper. Top with another sprinkle of parmesan cheese and a little bit of chives. Enjoy!

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You can totally leave the chicken and exchange the chicken broth for some vegetable broth to make this a meatless or vegetarian meal. Have a great Tuesday, everyone, and tune in tomorrow for a delicious dessert!

Enchilada night!

My husband spent about a week out in the middle of nowhere in 115 (probably even more!) degree heat. So I wanted to make him a special dinner on the night he came home. He loves anything Mexican when it comes to food. His favorite thing that I make is shrimp tacos.  If you’re good, I might share the recipe one day!

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Quick Enchiladas

Makes about 12 enchiladas

2 chicken breast, boiled, and shredded

half an onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 small can diced green chilies

1 tablespoon chili powder

1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon dried basil

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

about 2 cups of your favorite enchilada sauce *I normally make my own, but was in a hurry, so I used the canned sauce*

2 cups shredded cheese 

12 corn tortillas

Cilantro and green onions to garnish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Heat some oil in a small pan and cook onions and garlic until the onions are nice and soft. Add the spices to the pan and cook for about a minute. In a large bowl, combine shredded chicken, onion mixture, green chilies, 1/4 cup of the enchilada sauce, 1 cup of shredded cheese, and 1 or 2 tablespoons of cilantro.

Heat the corn tortillas in the microwave between two damp cloths to soften them up so they don’t break while you are stuffing them. Oil a casserole dish big enough to hold 12 enchiladas. I also like to put a few tablespoons of sauce in the bottom of the dish. Fill the tortillas with about 2 tablespoons of filling, roll, and place in the dish seam side down.  Top enchiladas with remaining sauce and remaining cheese. Cover with foil and bake for 25 minutes. After 25 minutes, remove foil, and bake for 5-10 more minutes, until the cheese is bubbly and starting to brown.

Top the enchiladas with cilantro and green onions. Enjoy!

Adobo Chicken

It’s no secret that I love Giada’s recipes (see HERE and HERE).  I make sweet & sticky drumsticks ALL OF THE TIME.  I mean, at least 3 times a month.  So delicious. Anyway, I was watching her show the other day and saw her making the Adobo Chicken and I knew I had to make it soon or I would die.  Thankfully, I quickly gathered the ingredients and made it just in time.

So, so, so very delicious.

So, so, so very delicious.

You must make this ASAP. I think that I have decided that it is on the same level (Level “Amaze-balls”, as my sister-in-law says) as sweet & sticky drumsticks.

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Just follow the link I provided in the first paragraph to this amazing recipe! I served cilantro-lime rice and broccoli alongside these lovely drumsticks.  I want to let the chickens who sacrificed their lives know that they did not die in vain.  Their drumsticks fulfilled any chicken’s ultimate destiny.  Thank you, chickens.

If you’re still searching for something to make for tomorrows big game, this would be a great dish!! Have a wonderful Saturday!

For my sister

Well, after 42 long weeks, my sister finally gave birth to Annabelle.  It seemed to be an easy labor until she was fully dilated and her epidural slipped out.  My poor sister felt all that terrible pain when she was least expecting it. And to top it all off, Annabelle had to be sucked out by a vacuum! But all is well.  She was born a hefty 8lbs, with a full head of dark brown, curly hair.

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She is still in the hospital at the moment, but should be going home tomorrow morning.  I was thinking of her when I was trying to decide what to make for dinner tonight.  She is nursing, so she needs all the nutrients she can get. If you know my sister, then you know she is not much on healthy foods. Her favorites come in a box having undergone the maximum processing.  And if you’ve seen the things I cook on my blog, then you know I am completely opposite.  So I tried to find a happy medium, for her sake.  This recipe is from the Better Homes & Garden cookbook, I just added a few things to make it a bit more healthy.

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I decided to go with a casserole since it’s a one dish meal that includes all the food groups. And she can make it ahead of time and there will be plenty of left overs.

Tex Mex Chicken Casserole 

Adapted from Better Homes & Garden cookbook

1/2 cup yellow onion

1 box of chicken rice & vermicelli (Rice-a-roni!)

2 cups cooked chicken (I boil 3 chicken breasts ahead of time, then cut into cubes)

2 cups water

1 14.5 oz can of chicken broth

1 cup tomatoes, chopped (about 3 roma tomatoes)

1 small can diced green chills

2 cups fresh spinach leaves

1 can black beans (rinsed)

1/2 cup cilantro, chopped finely

1 1/2 teaspoon chili powder

1 teaspoon dried basil

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1/8 teaspoon ground cumin

2 cups of your choice of shredded cheese

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.  Sauté the onion over medium heat in a little bit of olive oil until tender.  Add rice, along with the seasoning, and cook and stir for 2 minutes or so. Add chicken broth and water, bring to a boil, then cover the mixture. Simmer on low heat for 20 minutes. The liquid will not all be absorbed.  In a large bowl, combine all of the ingredients, except the cheese.  When everything is combined, transfer mixture to a 3 quart casserole dish.  Cover with foil, and bake for 25 minutes.  Remove foil, sprinkle cheese on top, and place back in the oven for 5 – 10 minutes, depending on how melty you like your cheese.  Sprinkle any remaining cilantro you might have laying around on top of the cheese.

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I know my sister will omit the onion, tomatoes, and cilantro, however, Stephanie, do not omit the spinach or black beans!! Baby Annabelle needs some good food! I love you, and I’m so proud of you. I hope you can get some use from this recipe.

Cornish hens with grapes and shallots

It is finally cooling off here in Arizona.  It’s about 70 in the mornings then it climbs up to around 90 in the afternoons.  That is pretty nice weather compared to what it was a month ago!  This week is my fall break from school.  I have been spending it playing with Miles, crocheting, catching up on my Food & Wine subscription, and cooking.  Yesterday I was in the mood for something sweet, so I decided to make cornish hens with grapes and shallots, along with a brown rice-quinoa mixture, and broccoli and cauliflower.

My cute, little cornish hens waiting to be baked.

The grapes turn out to be super sweet after 45 minutes in the oven. The recipe is found in Martha Stewart’s Everyday Food cookbook.  I just did a few things different, like I do with most of the recipes found in this particular book.  Many of them have turned out quite bland, or would have, had I not tweaked them just a tad.

Cornish Hens with Grapes and Shallots

4 cornish hens (about 2lbs each)

fresh thyme

2 cups seedless grapes

10 – 12 shallots, peeled with root ends chopped off

4 tablespoons butter, melted

4 garlic cloves, halved

salt & pepper

olive oil

Preheat oven to 450. On a large, rimmed baking pan, toss grapes and shallots with thyme, salt, pepper, and enough olive oil to coat everything.  Rinse hens and pat dry with paper towel. The gizzards should already be removed, if not, remove the insides. Place 5 or 6 sprigs of thyme inside the hen, and salt and pepper the inside as well. Rub the hens with the garlic clove halves and place them inside, as well, when finished. Use kitchen string to tie the legs together. Brush each hen with butter all over, and generously salt and pepper them.  Take some of those fresh thyme leaves and put them on the hens, too.  These babies need as much help in the flavor department as possible.  Bake the hens for about 45 minutes.  They should be golden brown and the juices should run clear when pierced with a knife in the thickest part of the leg.

I served my little hens over a bed of brown rice and quinoa, flavored with a red wine vinegar-butter mixture, with some little trees on the side.  Delicious and nutritious! This is definitely something I will be making again.

Well, I’m off to spend some QT with my little buddy and finish a blanket for my first niece, Annabelle, who will be here in January! Have a great Tuesday!

 

 

 

Roasted chicken & lemon vinaigrette

Me and Milo had a wonderful visit with family and friends in Kentucky. Now we are back home in Arizona where is does not feel like Autumn one bit. I had to light my Autumn Leaves Yankee candle and roast a chicken just to get back into the Fall mood.

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I forgot the green beans so I just served up a healthy salad with homemade lemon vinaigrette.

Homemade salad dressing really is the way to go if you are like me and like to know what you’re putting into your body. I love making vinaigrette because there are really no limits on what kinds you can make! The only real rule is that it needs to consist of 1 part acid (vinegar, citrus juice, etc…) to 3 parts oil. I normally make a cup at a time since it only keeps for two weeks in the refrigerator, so I do 1/4 cup vinegar or citrus juice and 3/4 cup olive oil. You can use whatever type of oil you like and whatever acid you like!

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Roasted Chicken

1 5lb frying chicken (you can use a roaster, of course, but it will need to cook longer)
A bunch of fresh thyme
1 lemon, quartered
1 head of garlic, cut in half crosswise (so you are able to see all of the cloves)
5 carrots peeled and chopped into 2 inch pieces
About 10 whole baby red potatoes
Half of an onion, cut into wedges
Olive oil
Salt
Pepper
Butter

Preheat oven to 450. Clean chicken inside, check for leftover pin feathers, cut off excess fat, and pat dry. Salt and pepper the inside of the chicken and stuff with the bunch if thyme, the quartered lemon, and the garlic head. Tie the legs together with kitchen string.

Melt about 3 tablespoons of butter and coat the chicken with the melted butter. Generously, and I mean that, salt and pepper the outside of the chicken.

Place vegetables in the bottom of a roasting pan and toss with olive oil, salt, pepper, and any thyme you might have leftover. Place the chicken on the veggies with his little leg bones sticking up. Try to tuck the wings underneath of him so they don’t burn.

Roast the chicken for about an hour and 15 minutes. It’s done when the skin is golden brown and crispy and the juices run clear when the thickest part of the thigh is cut.

Lemon Vinaigrette

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (1 lemon)
3/4 cup olive oil
1 garlic clove, quartered
Fresh ground pepper

Mix all the ingredients together and store in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

Rosemary chicken and potatoes

This is a meal I make on a regular basis, probably 2 or 3 times a month. It’s simple, healthy, and so yummy! It is also a quick fix, just add a green vegetable and you’ve got yourself a well balanced dinner! I normally add oven-roasted asparagus or broccoli.  Tonight I had a fresh salad with homemade balsamic vinaigrette and pan-braised onions with rosemary.

Rosemary Chicken with Roasted Red Potatoes

Rosemary Chicken with Red Potatoes

(adapted from McCormick. I just traded in fresh ingredients for the dry)

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon paprika

2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, minced

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper

6 – 8 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs

1 1/2lbs small red potatoes, halved. If they are a little bigger, then quartered

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Mix all ingredients except chicken and potatoes together in a large bowl.  Add the chicken and potatoes and toss to coat. Place potatoes on foil-lined, large cookie sheet. Cook the potatoes for 20 minutes. Move potatoes to the side and place chicken thighs on cookie sheet. Cook for another 35 – 40 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.

Enjoy!