We all lead incredibly busy and stressful lives. Because our lives are so busy, we often compromise with our food choices. So, for the next year I plan to publish 3 simple recipes every week that can be made ahead of time, so that you will have food available and ready for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Food is basic to our wellness. Without it, we cannot survive, and what I hope to share over the next year is that food can be easy, nutritious and fun!
What I hope to accomplish
I’ve been cooking for more than 50 years. My mom taught me how to make a white sauce and gravies when I was 6 years old. That’s when I got my love of cooking and food. I am a foodie. I love to partake in the sacred sensuousness of life and food is a big part of that. I’m not a vegan or vegetarian, but I will share vegan and vegetarian recipes. My only agenda is that food should be made fresh, from local, organic ingredients whenever possible. You should know where your food comes from. Get to know your local farmers market and support it.
My recipes are not necessarily original. They are adaptations and variations of recipes that I love from the more than 500 cookbooks that I own. There are countless, endless variations on each of the recipes that I will publish. I invite you to share your own versions. Experiment and share and post your variations here or on my Facebook fan page.
Ready to get started? Ok, let’s go!
Basic Roasted Chicken
Everybody should know how to roast a chicken. It’s a basic dish that everyone can enjoy. Many people are intimidated by the whole chicken, but there is no need to be. I’ve adapted a recipe that I originally picked up from America’s Test Kitchen and I have to say the it is absolutely foolproof.
- An oven, set to 450 degrees
- One 12-inch non-stick fry pan, oven proof and rated for 500 degrees
- 3-1/2 to 4 lb whole, organic chicken
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- salt and pepper
- 1 tablespoon each of finely chopped, fresh rosemary and oregano*
*NOTE: use any fresh herbs that you like. Basil works, tarragon works. Experiment. No fresh herbs? No problem. 1 tablespoon fresh equals 1 teaspoon dry. Experiment and have fun!
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
- When oven reaches temperature, place the non-stick pan on the middle rack. Let the pan heat in the oven for 10 minutes
- While pan heats, rinse chicken and pat dry
- Rub chicken with olive oil and season with salt, pepper and herbs. Make sure the cavity of the chicken is seasoned
- Tie chicken. Don’t know how to do this? No problem. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to tie a chicken
- Remove pan from oven, place chicken in the fry pan, breast side up, and set pan on middle oven rack.
- Set timer for 30 minutes
- When timer goes off, turn the oven off completely and leave chicken and pan in the oven
- Set timer for another 30 minutes
- When timer goes off, remove chicken from oven and check temperature with instant-read thermometer. Chicken should be at 160-165 degrees. And juices should be running clear.
That’s it. You now have a perfectly roasted chicken. Allow the chicken to cool a bit and carve it. Don’t know how to carve it? No problem, here’s how to carve a chicken.
Simple Chicken Salad
The roasted chicken will easily provide 4 servings. If you are cooking for just one or two people what do you do with the leftovers? Chicken salad is a great, simple choice. But, my chicken salad is not some heavy, mayo-laden version. It’s light, bright, fresh and delicious.
- 1 leftover chicken breast, 1 drumstick, 1 thigh, skinned, taken off the bone and coarsely chopped
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped red onion
- 1 celery rib, finely chopped
- 1 carrot, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
- 2 tablespoons, golden raisins
- 8 cups of your favorite lettuce or micro greens, torn into bite size pieces
- 1 tablespoon, fresh chopped basil
- Basic vinaigrette (see below)
- In large bowl, combine all ingredients
- Add vinaigrette to taste
That’s it. You now have a lunch or dinner salad. Combine with 1/2 cup lentil pilaf (recipe below) and you have a very lovely meal!
There are endless variations on this recipe. You can experiment with different herbs, different vinegar, red onions versus shallots. Experiment and have fun!
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1 garlic clove, finely minced
- 1-1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar (experiment with red wine, white wine or champagne vinegar)
- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Put the mustard and garlic in a medium sized mixing bowl
- Mix vigorously with wire whisk
- Add vinegar and continue to mix vigorously
- Slowly add olive oil, continue to mix until emulsified
- Add salt and pepper and mix until incorporated
That’s it. You’ll never have to buy salad dressing again!
I love lentils. They are so good for you and they make a perfect accompaniment to everything in this post. Here’s a very basic recipe, but you can do countless variations. Experiment with the herbs, add sliced mushrooms. How about adding curry powder for an Indian-inspired lentil dish? Add chopped spinach. What about a fiery chopped chili? The combinations are endless, so experiment and have fun!
- 8 oz. dried lentils
- 2 garlic cloves, finely minced
- 2 sprigs fresh rosemary, chopped or 1 teaspoon dry
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 small onion, coarsely chopped
- 1 small carrot, coarsely chopped
- 1 small celery rib, coarsely chopped
- 2 cups, crushed canned organic tomatoes
- 5 cups water
- salt and pepper to taste
- In large saucepan, combine water, lentils and bay leaf
- Bring to boil until lentils are soft and most of water is evaporated, about 15-20 minutes (don’t over cook!)
- When lentils are done, drain water and set aside. Remove bay leaf and discard
- Heat olive oil in non-stick fry pan
- Add garlic and rosemary and saute for about 30 seconds until fragrant
- Add onions, carrot and celery and saute for 4-5 minutes until onions are clear and carrots and celery soften
- Add crushed tomatoes and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes
- Add lentils and reheat for about 5 minutes
- Add salt and pepper to taste
There you have it. You now have 3 simple and healthy meals.
What are your variations? Share, share, share! And above all, enjoy the food you prepare. Enjoy the bounty of life. It’s a very beautiful thing!
Next week: Sauces and grilled, whole fish!