Roasted Dinner

I’ve been itching to get back to a little “Farm to Table” cooking.  Which is a little tricky in the winter here in Michigan since fresh produce isn’t readily available.  So this is a little bit more of a concept, of a meal I hope to make in the up-coming summer or fall.

While deciding on what to make for dinner as I was shopping yesterday morning, I stumbled upon our grocery store having a sale on whole chickens for $0.99 a pound!  I almost walked away thinking a whole chicken was more than I wanted to take on, but then this cute little one for $3.50 caught my eye.  Dinner under $5, I am sold. Also, rationally we are planning to raise chickens for meat this spring, and they, of course,will be whole, not just boneless, skinless breasts.  Game on.

The green beans are in fact the ones I put up this summer and the cream is from our milk cow, so I am still maintaining “Farm to Table” status ever so slightly.

Here is what I came up with for my menu:

Rosemary Roasted Chicken

Dual Roasted Potatoes

Creamy Green Beans

 

I would like to note here, that I hate cooking one thing at a time because things are supposed to go in the oven at different temperatures.  I usually pick a temperature and just go for it, that’s the case here.  I pre-heated my oven to 375′

For the Rosemary Chicken, I combined:

1 tsp. crushed rosemary

2 TBSP softened butter

Salt

Pepper

1/2 tsp (or one small clove) finely minced garlic

I then rubbed this all over and under the chicken skin.  To really get great flavor if you gently poke a hole into the skin and separate it just a little from the meat you can stuff it with the butter seasoning.  I used a broiling pan (one that has slats in it that sits on a deeper one to catch the drippings), so I got a really crisp skin.

Dual Roasted Potatoes:

1 medium sweet potato, peeled

2 medium russet (or other white) potato, peeled

1 small onion

Olive oil

Butter

Salt & Pepper

1 clove minced garlic

Pour about 1 TBSP of olive oil into your baking dish ( I used a 9×13″ ), place this in the oven to heat up while you chop the potatoes.

The sweet potatoes will take slightly longer to cook than the regular potatoes, so cut those first into about 1″ chunks.  Carefully pour into your hot pan.

Cut the remaining potatoes and add about 5-10 minutes after the sweet potatoes.  Allow these to cook undisturbed for about 20 minutes.  Then gently try to stir, if the chunks are still sticking to the pan, wait another 10 minutes.  Once you are able to gently move the potatoes around in the pan, add 1-2 TBSP butter and the onion that has been cut into about 1″ chunks.  Add Salt and Pepper (about 1 tsp and 1/2 tsp respectively).  Roast for another 20-30 minutes, stirring once or twice.  Add the garlic and finish roasting about another 20-30 minutes until golden and crisp.  Your potatoes and chicken should finish roughly the same time.

Meanwhile, while everything is roasting in the oven, the green beans come together quickly.  Now, I normally would NOT add parmesan cheese and WOULD add mushrooms, but as fate would have it, I had no mushrooms and I had to punt.  Crispy bacon is always welcome with green beans, feel free to add it!

Creamy Green Beans

2 cups green beans (mine were frozen)

1/4-1 cup whole milk

2-4 TBSP cream

2 TBSP butter

1 TBSP flour

2 TBSP parmesan cheese

1 clove finely minced garlic

salt & pepper

In a large sauce pan add 1 TBSP butter and warm the green beans or if using fresh cook until just barely fork tender.  Add the salt, pepper and garlic.  Cook a couple more minutes.  Add the remaining butter and flour, stir this well into the green beans (this is also where you would add mushrooms).  Allow this to cook for just a minute or two and add 1/4 cup of milk and stir until creamy.  Add the cream.  If your sauce is looking too thick, continue to add small amounts of milk until you reach your desired consistency.  Add the cheese just before serving.

The entire meal process looked a little something like this:

Now, if you wanted to use the expensive boneless, skinless breasts, you sure can.  You will need to start them after your potatoes, by about 30 minutes.  I would also cover them with foil after smearing them with your butter mixture, to help keep them moist.

Also as a side note, to get really crispy potatoes and chicken skin, use your convection setting if you have one 🙂  Enjoy!

Yogurt & Honey Wheat Bread

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I’ve been busily playing around with yogurt since I have discovered how to make it at home, and am quite happy with my success (I’ll share it here when I am sure I have it perfected). I modified one of my favorite white bread recipes to come up with this. I am sure it would be equally tasty as an all white bread or even a darker wheat if that’s your preference.   I found it tastes even better the second day.

Yogurt and Honey Wheat Bread

2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast

3 tablespoons honey

8 ounces warm water

1 cup (8 ounces) plain yogurt

2 teaspoons salt

1 cup wheat flour

3-4 cups white flour

 

In a mixing bowl dissolve the yeast and honey in the warm water until the yeast bubbles and expands (about 5 minutes). Add the yogurt and wheat flour. Mix until just smooth on a low speed. Add the salt and 2 cups of white flour. Mix at a low speed, gradually increasing until dough starts to come together and smooth out. Gradually add the remaining white flour until a soft dough forms.

Please note, the more you mix the dough the more flour it will take and the denser it will be. I recommend turning the dough out onto a flour board when it just forms a ball and knead by hand for the last cup of flour. This should result in a lighter bread, it will take about 10 minutes of kneading.

Place back in the mixing bowl (or another large bowl if you don’t mind the dishes) and cover with a towel. Place in a warm place to ride for about an hour or until doubled.

Turn out onto a lightly floured board and knead for a minute. Divide and shape to fit your bread pans (Make sure to grease these!!)  This recipe will make about 2 regular sized loaves or 4 mini loaves.   Allow to rise for another 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 425’F. Brush with butter and bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes until golden brown and hollow sounding when tapped in the top.  Allow to cool on a baking rack for 15 minutes before turning out of pan. If the loaves are sticking, wait a few more minutes.

Enjoy!  Want to save them for later? After completely cool wrap in plastic wrap and freeze!

Happy Birthday Aunt Royleen!

My Aunt Royleen always requests a rather eclectic birthday meal.  One thing we can always count on is a soup.  I am pretty sure the last couple years it has been French Onion Soup, as it was this year.

At the table, for her birthday we had 2 babies, 1 toddler, 2 tweens and 10 people have met the age requirement to be adults.  On the menu, as mentioned above there was French onion soup with homemade croutons (of course!) and swiss cheese, lamb patties wrapped in bacon and served with a yogurt dill sauce, white bread, butternut squash puree, white rice and corn (so the kids would eat a veggie).

The evening started with the babies playing on the floor, the visiting baby crawled over to be social and my little girl screamed in his face, making him cry also.  Then after a few moments of calm,she decided to creep over to him.  She then got fairly close, looked right at him and started bawling, thus causing the poor boy to cry.  What a  little bully she was being!

Where is Aunt Royleen?  Is she going to be late for her birthday?

Well, she was supposed to be on time, but something changed at work and she said she would be a little late.  I don’t know exactly how late that means…

Everyone can start on soup anyway, she can catch up when she gets here.

Come on girls, let’s get your plates ready.  (Mom is in the kitchen with the tween-agers getting their plates ready to go for them.  It is important to note that these girlies get their own table and special blue plates to be fancy.  So I don’t often hear what their conversation is about).

Can you say pray—–

Bless-this-house-oh- Lord, we pray— Keep-us-safe-by night–and day.  Amen

A little bit of a rap beat tonight for prayers? (Giggles)

 

This pale stuff here on the table is our failed attempt at butter… if you want to try it on your bread.  It’s ok, we just don’t have the butter touch. (The attempt at butter looked a bit more like pale yellow whipped cream, but it did have a light butter flavor to it!)

Hey!  When did you get here?? Happy birthday!

Just now.  Thanks

Dad, can you get her some more soup? DAD!  DADDY!  HEY! Please get your granddaughter so more soup please! (She was sitting on my lap and the baby had me wedged in on the other side, so I couldn’t get up without shifting everyone.)

Oh,she wants more?

Yes.  Thank you!

This little girl loves the soup!  I wonder who taught her that?

Why wouldn’t she like soup?

Her Mom is not a soup eater–

So you don’t like any soup, at all?  What about stews? Gravy?

I love stew, gravy is good.  It’s not that I don’t like the taste of soup, I don’t like that it is so watery.  I don’t even drink that much water in the day, let alone want to eat liquid.  But it tastes good.

 

I had an idea for your work.

Oh yeah?

You said the seniors like picking their meals from the farmers market, what about doing some gardening with them?

You know we used to do something like that downstate and I didn’t think it would work out because I didn’t think they would be the crowd that wanted to get dirty gardening and they loved it.  I’ve tried similar things up here thinking, they would be more the gardening type and there really wasn’t as much interest.

Well, that’s different.  I wonder why?

(The main course makes its way to the table)

What is this?

Lamb patties wrapped in bacon with a yogurt dill sauce.  The sauce was made with the homemade yogurt.

Is this the lamb your husband wanted help taking?

Yes.  Everyone, this is Rob…. in case you wanted to know who you were eating.

Thanks, Rob!

Thank you, Rob.

You know… he taste’s like a Rob (sarcasm) By the way where is your husband? He hasn’t been here lately (exaggerated suspicious look), but the meat pies were delicious (and insert Sweeny Todd jokes here).

Hey, you know better than to make her mad.

Where is your husband anyway?

Running sugar beets.

Here, I’ll hold the dishes so you can scoop.

Thanks.

Baby love the lamb!

I’m the new lead caregiver for my client now.

Does that give you better hours?

I think it will be about the same.

I thought it was going to be all desserts for dinner tonight?

There is no dessert..

There has to be dessert, I will just keep waiting.

Maybe Aunt Royleen didn’t request a dessert.

There is dessert, I am sure of it.

No, it’s not a dessert.

Oh! By the way, the school party is Monday morning…

That’s nice, we won’t be here.

Shoot that’s right!

What’s going on?

Oh, their big sisters Halloween party is Monday morning and it’s really inconvenient to take the littles with me.

NO!

Oh…

No! Cats, maybe, kids no. (laughing)

I can’t believe you did your glucose test without getting sick.

She didn’t get sick?  That’s not even fair.

Hey, I have come home to her eating Hersey kisses and maraschino cherries juice and all, sugar should not be a problem.

But that stuff is so gross!

It just tasted like Hi-C or something like that.

Nasty.. well good for you.

I really thought there would be multiple desserts, oh I see it, I can’t believe I didn’t notice those before.

(cleaning up of dinner dishes)

I wish I could be all covered in food like that (to the baby who was thoroughly caked in squash, rice, and lamb) do you think anyone would mind?

Cinnamon Rolls!

See, they aren’t a dessert, they are a breakfast.  The frosting is partly made with homemade cream cheese too.  I didn’t have enough to do all homemade cream cheese though.

Can you take a picture?

Ok, everyone!  Happy Birthday to you, Happy birthday to you, Happy Birthday Aunt Royleen! Happy Birthday to you!

I wasn’t sure how they were going to turn out.  I had just gotten the dough ready when the phone rang and I hear “The cows are gone, get here now!”

WHAT!?!

Yeah.  A friend stopped and told me she almost hit our calf, and that the cow and calf were out in the road!

Thankfully, big sister was there to watch the littles, who were half naked because I was in the process of getting them ready for bed.  So I ran out the door.  Thank GOD that cow is so food driven she heard the bucket and came running back to me.  She had also called her dad who was running corn in our field, so they came over.  I had them back in the barn shortly after Mom and Dad got there.

That’s scary.

It sure is.

I remember when I was growing up a car crashed into a fence and this farmer had like 200 cows, and they all got out.  I remember the next day there was no school and everyone was out looking for the cows.  People we walking around, they were on quads, I had grabbed my horse and was out looking….

Looking for cows in corn fields is bad…

Dad would know, he’s had some bad experiences.

Ironically, with the girls’ cow, the one who saw ours out.

Well, I am pretty tall and my horse was pretty tall, so I could kind of see over the corn.

Chasing cows through corn is just bad.

Are you feeling ok? (My sister looking at my glass)

Why? Can you pass the milk?

Because you just finished your glass of water…

(It is an interesting point to note here, that I notoriously never finish a glass of anything, especially milk, there is almost always at least an inch left in the bottom.  To change drinks I will wash the glass out or  just get a new one.  It’s weird, but who doesn’t have a quirk?)

Wow, I guess I was thirsty, don’t’ worry I am sure I won’t finish the milk.  (for those wondering I did not)

A few people start to trickle out here gradually.

PSST MOM!!  What?

MOM! Come out here to the kitchen.

Ok, let me finish my sentence…

(Whispers… I made a birthday card for Aunt Royleen, you need to sign it and she can’t know.  I signed the card)

Bounding out to Aunt Royleen…

HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!! I MADE THIS FOR YOU!

Awe, thank you!  That’s very nice (maybe just a little teary eyed)

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Baked custard

Looking for a little comfort on this chilly fall morning? Look no further than this rich and warm baked custard.

This custard is the one my mom would always make when we weren’t feeling well as kids and to warm everyone up as an after dinner treat.

The custard you see here is a little modified from the original recipe as I wanted to make it as “farm-to-table” as I could using our cows milk.   I also used fresh eggs from a local chicken raiser.

I hope you enjoy and this recipe becomes a comfort food favorite for your family!

 

Baked Custard

3 large eggs

1/2-3/4 cup sugar

3/4 tsp vanilla extract

Two 12 oz can evaporated milk or 16oz farm fresh milk

small dash nutmeg

cinnamon

Beat eggs and sugar in a 1 quart oven proof bowl. Add the milk,vanilla and nutmeg. Mix well with a spoon. Sprinkle top with cinnamon and bake in an oven preheated to 325’F for 45 – 60 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

Serve warm or refrigerate

Serves 4-6

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