Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Vegetarian No More (or how to flat roast a chicken)

Silas tried his first bite of chicken a couple of weeks ago. And then he tried another bite and another bite... He loved it! As of about a month ago (really even before then) he became VERY bored with anything pureed. Not that he didn't care for the taste but rather the fact that mommy was feeding it to him with a spoon. Silas is still too young to master the skill of feeding himself with a utensil of any sort so I had to get creative with finger foods. Ripe pear, cantaloupe, bananas. Bits of toast. Cheerios. Carrots, peas (popped out from their hulls), green bean, sweet potatoes, zucchini. I started adding the tiniest bit of seasoned salt to some of veggies since he was starting to get bored with them as well. He gobbles them up now! You have to be careful to not add much sodium to your baby's food. It can make their organs work overtime to process it and we don't want that!

Back to meat. Dan has been working in a lot of chicken processing facilities recently so seeing a whole, roasted chicken is usually a less-then-appetizing sight for him. I recently bought a whole chicken from the store and decided to try a new recipe while he was out of town. Not only was it a new recipe but a whole new method of chicken roasting too! Brace yourselves. Here we go...

SPATCHCOCK! Weird name but a great method for roasting a chicken quickly. I felt pretty fancy cutting out the backbone with my super sharp kitchen shears and then popping the breastbone down with the palm of my hand to flatten the chicken. Here's the recipe that I used (in my own words because the book is in the kitchen and I'm not. And well, I'm comfy on the couch). This is an adaptation from the recipe for Flat Roast Chicken in the book Mad Hungry - Feeding Men and Boys by Lucinda Scala Quinn.

1 3-4 lb roasting chicken (also sometimes referred to as a fryer chicken)
2 Tablespoons of butter
1 Tablespoon of olive oil
1 Tablespoon of lemon juice

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Remove the backbone from the chicken. Rinse and pat dry with paper towels (you don't want all of the extra water in the pan). Season the chicken on both sides with salt and pepper to taste. Heat a large cast iron skillet (mine is either 12" or 14") on medium high heat. Once hot, add the tablespoon of oil and ONE tablespoon of butter. Swirl to coat the pan. Add the chicken to the skillet skin side down. It will be crazy loud but resist the temptation to flip it! If you move it too soon you will tear the skin. Let the chicken be for about 3 minutes so the skin can get nicely crisp and brown. Remove from heat, flip the bird over in the pan (careful so you don't tear the skin too much!) and put the whole thing into the oven. Roast for about 45* minutes or until the bird is evenly browned and has an internal temperature of 165 degrees. Remove from oven and transfer bird to cutting board or platter to rest for 10 minutes. Swirl remaining tablespoon of butter and lemon juice into the pan juices to create a simple but tasty sauce for the chicken. Carve, spoon on the pan juices and serve. DELICIOUS! So simple and SO good.

*My bird took about an hour because it was slightly larger then 3-4 lbs.
Now if that isn't a look of satisfaction, I don't know what is!
"Here, Mom. Want some?"

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Guilty Pleasure Confession

I don't know if it's the fact that I grew up watching old musicals that made me fond of this particular artist or what but I really have a soft spot for the vocal talents of Anthony Newley. I hadn't even remembered Mr. Newley from my musical days gone by until my dad started singing one of his songs while walking around the house recently. That led to looking up youtube videos which led us to reading up on his bio which led to the discovery that he wrote the song Feelin' Good! Consequently that song in particular has been a huge hit for Michael Buble' but I don't know if Newley ever actually recorded it himself. If anyone knows, please enlighten me because I would LOVE to hear it.

Anthony Newley had a very unusual style for his time. Flamboyant is the word that comes to mind although he was as straight as an arrow. He has been sighted as being a HUGE influence (vocally) for an artist that is now wildly famous. I will give you a hint. His real name is David Robert Jones.

Here is a video of a young Newley performing Who Can I Turn To from the Broadway musical The Roar of the Greasepaint - The Smell of the Crowd (which I have never seen). Let me know what you think!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Basement - The FLOOD and the renovation part 1

What a mess! Our basement flooded BIG TIME this past Sunday. Both family rooms downstairs (which are both carpeted) were saturated with water. After spending the whole morning and afternoon sucking up the water with shop-vacs and steam cleaners we realized that our sump pump wasn't plugged in. Oh my. No wonder the water kept rolling in! My father-in-law kept track of the amount of water he was sucking up and he called it a day somewhere around 150-200 gallons. I won't bore you with all of the details but let's just say that we have a lot of work to do to get things back to normal. Some mold has been discovered and it will take some doin' to get rid of it (cutting out and replacing drywall, etc).

An extreme before and after renovation was featured on design*sponge today. It motivated me to really beautify my home and encouraged me that we will have a nice finished basement some day! Here is the link to this incredible makeover.

How about you? Any renovations in your future? Big or small, a renovation/makeover can be very satisfying. Even if you're just cutting some old jeans off to be a new pair of summer shorts.