Sexy Cast Iron Skillet Chicken

A good friend of mine gifted me a cast iron skillet for Christmas and I was skeptical on using it, because I have never really delved into that area of expertise. Well, last night I was feeling adventurous, and I had been wanting to roast this whole chicken I had in the fridge. I’ve been reading up on a lot of posts lately with chef connoisseurs alike saying cast iron is the only way.

So there I was, in my kitchen, cracking open the package on this new and intimidating piece of hardware. I followed direction to preheat the skillet in the oven at 450F. Meanwhile, generously rubbing this 5 pounder with olive oil, and all of my favorite herbs/spices. It was still raw and it looked divine! I knew this experiment would be good, but I was also prepared for disaster. Upon much research, I was informed this was not only the tastiest way to roast a chicken and get the crispiest skin, but the fastest as well! I am an advocate for that! Mine took an hour, including resting time, and I can proudly say this was the best chicken I have ever had. It was everything you want in a roasted chicken- extra crispy skin, packed with flavor, and juicy all the way through. And the pan drippings?! Oh.. they were on a whole different level of scrumptious. We may or may not have dipped our pieces of chicken in it …

Just see for yourself:

Your mouth is watering now isn’t it? I served this with a simple salad, and it was the perfect meal. Lately my salads have been consisting of mixed greens, chic peas, bean sprouts and shaved red onion. I am in love with these flavor combinations and textures, but any salad will do. It is really the refreshing aspect of a salad alongside chicken like this that really compliments, but doesn’t overpower the amounts of flavor the chicken provides.

Do yourself a favor, and instead of going out this weekend for dinner, pick up a whole chicken (something small, 3-5 lbs), and make this recipe. If you don’t have a cast iron skillet, make sure it’s on your wishlist because this cooking style is GOLD.

Ingredients:
1 – 5 lb whole chicken
1/4 cup olive oil
4 sprigs fresh rosemary
4 sprigs fresh thyme
1 lemon, halved
1 T dried minced garlic (fresh could work too)
3 T smoked paprika
2 t kosher salt
2 T cajun seasoning (I used Tony’s)
1 1/2 T garlic powder

Directions:
1. Preheat your oven to 450F, and let your cast iron skillet get hot in the oven.
2. Remove the insides of the chicken, rise, and pat dry.
3. Stuff your chicken with 1 half of the lemon, 2 sprigs of rosemary, and 2 sprigs of thyme.
4. If desired, tie the legs of the chicken together with butcher’s twine.
5. Tuck the wings of the chicken under the bird, so they do not burn.
6. Massage the bird well with the olive oil, including under the skin, use more if needed.
7. Generously sprinkle the paprika, cajun seasoning, salt, garlic powder, and minced garlic all over the bird’s skin. Squeeze the other half of the lemon on the top of the bird. Finish with the remaining rosemary and thyme, minced.
8. Once the bird is seasoned, place it breast side up in your cast iron skillet.
9. Bake at 450F for 1 hour, or until the thermometer reaches 160F in the thickest part of the bird (normally the thigh). Once the chicken is resting it will continue to cook to the perfect temperature.
10. Halfway through cooking time, baste your bird with the pan drippings.
11. Once the chicken is done cooking, remove from the oven and let rest for 15 mins before serving. (THIS IS IMPORTANT!! The rest time will ensure your chicken is nice and juicy)

*Note: depending on the size of your chicken, cooking time may vary.

Lean Three Bean Chili

Happy December Everyone!

Now that the winter season has approached us, it felt only necessary to warm up next to a hot bowl of comforting chili.

Chili can be made so many ways, from slow cooking all day in your crock pot, to quickly simmering on your stove. Being such a hearty meal, I usually slow cook my chili on days I know will be super busy. But there are just some mornings that you can’t get out of bed and forget to set your crock pot! Before you know it, it’s 7PM and you have a ton of work to catch up on, but don’t want to order take out for dinner. This recipe is for you! This chili recipe from Skinny Mom can be ready in twenty minutes and tastes like the flavors have been marrying all day.

Not only was this a super quick meal to make, it was also a great meal for the days you haven’t gone grocery shopping yet! Canned beans, tomatoes, and chicken stock are three main things that I stock in my pantry for times like this.

As you can see, the recipe is for Turkey Chili not Bean Chili .. HUH?! This recipe can be made both ways. As I mentioned, I had no food in the house but beans! Instead of ground turkey, I simply added one more can of beans. Nothing else was changed, except the omission of cinnamon.

Chili is so versatile, you can really add what you want as far as toppings – cheddar cheese, sour cream, chives, jalapenos, sliced avocado, fresh chopped tomatoes, sliced olives, crushed tortilla chips or shredded lettuce. Go wild!

Gnocchi with Brown Butter Sauce

10410577_10152776641940759_7095539157681312170_nAnother one of my genius/no food in the house concoctions. This was a big hit with the boyfriend.

Ingredients:
1 Package of gnocchi
Handful of broccoli
Jalapeno chicken sausage, sliced
1/2 stick butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small shallot, minced

Directions:
1. In medium saucepan, add butter, garlic and shallots. Cook on low, until butter turns slightly brown. Wait until all the foaming subsides.
2. Meanwhile, cook your gnocchi in a pot of boiling water. It is done when it floats to the top. Strain.
3. In another pan, cook the broccoli and sausage.
4. Add the cooked gnocchi to your butter pan.
5. Toss with the chicken sausage and broccoli.
6. Sprinkle with a bit of shredded Parmesan.

Grilled Sirloin Steak

11140107_10152773601730759_5564632257978717176_nMy boyfriend’s specialty is steak. Over the years, he’s gotten more creative with cooking (no more Ramen for this guy!), and steak is his favorite thing to cook. I must say, I am super impressed with his steak skills. We can thank Gordon Ramsey for that on YouTube.

He knows I’m a snob for really tender steak (I usually order a filet mignon, even though the cut lacks flavor). He’s gotten me to enjoy a sirloin, which definately has significant flavor.

He uses a big blend of spices, and creates almost a crust on the steak (WARNING: spicy!). I don’t know how he gets it perfect everytime, but this is one dish I know I can sit back and wait for.

Pita Pizza

If you haven’t already figured it out, I like quick recipes. But quick, doesn’t have to mean it lacks flavor.

I got this idea from the FitGirlsGuide 28 Day Jump-start.

This program has taught me I can still eat all my favorite foods, and be healthy.

PIZZA.

In particular, buffalo chicken pizza *swoon*

IMG_20150519_212021Ingredients:
1 whole grain pita
Franks Red Hot Sauce
Shredded Chicken
Part-skim Mozzarella cheese
Green onions
Broccoli

Bake in a hot oven, directly on the rack, at 400F for 10 minutes. I like to eat this along with a side of fruit, usually strawberries.

Black Bean Burger – Skinnytaste

11181815_10152793767000759_1460618886155592203_nOne of my favorite gifts this past Christmas that I received was the Skinnytaste Cookbook. I have yet to make every recipe, but not one has dissapointed me yet. This recipe is so simple, and delicious, that I double it, and freeze them individually for later use. It’s been a life saver, to just grab this out of the freezer, and have dinner ready in 5 minutes (and it’s not processed #WIN).

 

Grab her cook book, and get this recipe! It is gold.

I even put it on top of a hard corn tortilla to make tostada’s for lunch.

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Spicy Corn Fritters

Hi guys!

Sorry I have been MIA for so long. I’ve been so wrapped up in a party I am planning for my boyfriend’s birthday. More about that later! We have almost zero food in our house right now, and have been too busy or tired to go to the grocery store.. So I whipped up this recipe utilizing what I had on hand. It turned out bangin’!

1975114_10152869459810759_1634297702593951691_nIngredients:
12 oz bag frozen corn
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1 clove of garlic, minced
2 TBSP of green onion, thinly sliced
1 4 oz can of diced green chilies
1 jalapeno, diced small
Zest of 1 lime
1 TBSP Chipotle Sauce (I used Cholula’s Chipotle Hot Sauce)
2 eggs
4 TBSP brown rice flour
4 TBSP all purpose flour
salt & pepper to taste
1/4 cup Olive oil

Directions:
1. Defrost the corn in a colander under hot water. Before adding the rest of your ingredients, make sure the corn is fairly dry.
2. Mix the corn, cilantro, garlic, green onion, jalapeno, lime zest, and Chipotle sauce.
3. Add eggs and flour, mix well.
4. Heat olive oil in a hot frying pan (Medium heat)
5. Add corn mixture to pan, and press gently, to form a shape.
6. Turn heat to low-med.
**DO NOT OVERCROWD PAN
7. Flip your fritter when it is golden brown.
8. Using a slotted spoon, rest fritters on a paper towel to drain excess oil.
9. Top with Trader Joe’s Salsa Verde, avocado slices, and a dollop of sour cream.

I had plenty of leftovers using this recipe, (we’re only 2 people), so we ate the for breakfast the next morning too! Added a poached egg on top. YUM!
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Dreamy Polenta

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One of my go-to meals on weekdays because its so easy and versatile.

Recipe:
Serves 2 people

1/2 cup dry polenta
2 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup part skim ricotta
1 teaspoon garlic powder
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
1. In a microwave safe bowl, add polenta and water. Microwave on high 7 minutes.
2. If the polenta still has visible water on top, give it another minute or so in the microwave.
3. Immediately stir in the ricotta.
4. Add seasoning.

The reason i love this so much is because it pairs well with so many things.

Tonight I marinated some chicken beasts in chipotle, and baked them for 20 minutes. I also sauteed spinach with olive oil and garlic.

A few other ideas:
(A protein of choice + a vegetable)
– Veggie burger + roasted cherry tomatoes
– Salmon + balsamic brussel sprouts
– Poached egg + spinach or kale (or both!)

Tip- you can also replace the ricotta with another cheese. (Goat, cheddar, etc.)

Spinach Lasagna Roll-ups

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For those nights you want some comfort food. I love making these in large batches, and freezing the rest (using my new vaccuum sealer!)

Recipe:
6 whole wheat lasagna noodles
4 large handfuls of spinach
1/2 cup ricotta
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1 jar of your favorite marinara (I like Arribata)
Mozzarella cheese (for the top)

Directions:
1. Cook the pasta according to the box. Then rinse under cold water.
2. Saute the spinach with the olive oil and minced garlic.
3. Once the spinach has wilted, transfer it to a bowl and mix in the ricotta, salt, pepper, and garlic powder.
4. Lay your pasta flat on a paper towel, add filling.
5. Roll the pasta.
6. In a baking dish, pour a small amount of marinara sauce to just cover the bottom of the pan.
7. Add pasta roll ups, top with more marinara and some mozzarella cheese.
8. Bake at 400°F for 15-20 minutes

Tip- make sure to cover the noodles with more sauce if you do not like crispy edges.

Spinach Pie

10305051_10152659395385759_4430306052300344012_nIf you know me, you know that, besides tacos, pizza is my next favorite food.

Living in the tri-state area, I get the best pizza there is.

Some nights when I am feeling lazy (but still want a home cooked meal), I make my own pizza! Pair it with a nice glass of Sterling Pinot Noir, or Carnivor Cabernet Sauvignon and your night is set.

One night I was feeling ambitious, and made my own pizza dough as well.

This spinach pie is officially my favorite pizza of all time. I think I converted Edgar as well, who loves a traditional cheese pizza.

Once the dough was ready, I rolled it out into a nice square, and topped it with some creamed spinach, and an egg. Simple!

Tip – Brush the crust with some olive oil to get a nice crispy crust.

You can use a hot pizza stone, but I don’t have one. I used a cookie sheet and it came out just as good!