Easy Roasted Chicken and Veggies


I made this colorful concoction for our Easter dinner this year. It was delicious and so easy to prep ahead when you have guests.

I started the night before by washing and chopping all my veggies, and setting some minced garlic to marinate overnight in olive oil. 

In the morning I tossed about 8-10 red potatoes and a handful of carrots in a big bowl with my garlic and olive oil mixture from the night before. Then I sprinkled them with salt and pepper and put them on my baking stone. I coated the chicken thighs (boneless, skinless, about 2.5 pounds) in the same oil and garlic mixture and placed them around and on top of the potatoes and carrots. Then I threw in some chopped onion pieces and celery stalks for flavor and good measure. 


Next, I coated all my veggies. I had pre-chopped red onions, yellow squash, red peppers, broccoli and asaparagus. For this tray I chose veggies that were colorful for spring and ones that would roast quickly. (The potatoes and carrots went on the tray with the chicken because they would need a longer cooking time.) I coated them in an olive oil, garlic mix with rosemary and oregano added, and sprinkles of salt and pepper. These all got spread on a second tray.

Before roasting


I baked the chicken first. 45 minutes at 400 degrees. When it was done, I took it out to sit and put the second tray with the veggies in the hot oven (still at 400 degrees) for 20 minutes. Everything was perfectly roasted. It was an easy, delicious and flavorful meal.

Roasted to perfection. 400 for 20 minutes.


We had carrot cake for dessert, but that will have to be another recipe. 🙂

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Make Ahead Chicken Pot Pie

We had dinner guests planned for a Sunday afternoon a couple of months ago and I needed a make ahead meal. Chicken pot pie wouldn’t normally fall into that category but I’m pleased that I came up with a version that my whole family loved! I even liked it and I’ve never been a huge chicken pot pie fan.

This would be a great meal for holiday gatherings or when you are planning to have house guests as you can do all the prep in advance.

Here’s how I implemented my make ahead plan:

(Note: This made three 9-inch pies. So these proportions will feed a crowd. I even had some filling leftover that served as leftovers on top of egg noodles.)

Two Days Ahead: I cooked up a bunch of chicken leg quarters in my crockpot overnight so that I would have plenty of good meat and broth.

The Day before: I deboned my chicken and strained my broth. Then I assembled my veggies – garlic, onions, celery, carrots, potatoes, corn and peas. I prepared the filling by sautĂ©ing the onions and celery in olive oil with salt and pepper. Then I added 4-5 minced cloves of garlic along with the carrots and potatoes. After those had sautĂ©ed for a few minutes I sprinkled on about 2-3 tbls of flour and stirred until the vegetable mix was coated and all the flour was absorbed. Then I poured my chicken broth over the mix and added 3 cups of heavy cream. I let it simmer for a few minutes until the sauce began to thicken. Then I turned off the heat and let it cool. The veggies don’t need to be cooked all the way through at this point as it will finish cooking the day of. Once cooled I poured it all in my big crockpot and stirred in my shredded chicken meat. Then it went in the fridge overnight.

Next I prepared the crust. I used a recipe for freezer biscuits that I modified to use as a pie crust topping instead. Mix 6 cups of flour, 2 tbls baking soda, 1 tsp salt, 1 tbls sugar and stir in 4 cups of heavy cream. Let the dough rest for about 10 minutes after you’ve mixed it together. Then divide it in thirds and pat it out into three rough 10-inch circles about 1/2 inch thick. Be sure that the circles are big enough to go over the edges of your pie plate. Lay the dough out on cookie sheets and cover with wax paper or greased plastic wrap and freeze overnight.

The Day of: Pull the crock pot out of the fridge and set it to cook on high for about four hours. The veggies will finish cooking and then you’ll only need about 20 more minutes in the oven to cook the dough.

About a half our before you want to eat, fill your pie pans about 2/3 full with your hot, steamy filling from your crockpot. Add your frozen dough topper and cook each pie separately on 400 for 20 minutes. It’s not a bad idea to put a jelly roll pan under your pie plate just in case you accidentally overfill the pie plate and the sauce spills over like mine did. Your chicken out pie should cook up beautiful and tasty.

Now eat up and enjoy your guests! Your work is done.

Happy Easter – Handmade Easter Baskets for Everyone!

I made my oldest two crocheted Easter baskets six years ago when they were ages two and three. I finally got around to catching up to the other two. The little girls got some crocheted Easter baskets this year. We had lots of fun hunting eggs, spending the day with family and celebrating the joy of Easter.

I didn’t use a pattern. Just grabbed some scraps of yarn and started crocheting in a round adding stitches every other round. Once the base is as big as you want, just keep going without adding any more stitches and the sides will start to form. Crochet the handle with some rows of single crochets or a chain.

HAPPY EASTER!

The big kids’ Easter baskets

The little girls’ baskets

2016 Christmas in Review

2016 Christmas in Review

I love decorating for the holidays. Fall and Christmas are probably my two favorite. I like to post pictures of what we do each year as it varies from year to year. We like to do themes. This year the theme was an “Old Fashioned Christmas.” We based the idea on a literature book we had just finished in school about a family in the 1800’s. They decorated their tree with cranberries and popcorn. So did we. Here’s a gallery of our Christmas decorations.

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Our Little Pumpkin Snowman

I found a new use for our tiny pumpkins after Thanksgiving was over this year. A couple of weeks into December I realized I should do something with them. I had seen a post where someone had taken some large pumpkins, power drills and white paint and created a snowman for the front porch. I figured I try it on a smaller scale.

First the five year old painted the pumpkins white with craft paint. Then I glued them together (hot glue or super glue is best, craft glue is gummy), three stacked high. Next we painted a little face and buttons down his front. Then the eight year old crocheted a little red scarf and I whipped stitched him up a cute top hat from some felt scraps (trace and cut a big circle, cut a small circle out of the center and then cut a rectangle to size and stitch the three together).

Isn’t he cute? We’ll have to do this next year too.

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You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown

Actually, I suppose most of the honor of this title should go to Charles Schultz rather than to Charlie Brown. We watched the Charlie Brown version  of the Pilgrim story this evening. Somehow, I had never seen it before. It was a good reminder of the story of the first Thanksgiving. 

This little cartoon reminded me that the Pilgrims did not undertake the consideration of uprooting their families lightly. After all they had just done that very thing some 10 years before when they left England for Holland. And now they were considering doing it again. And what was it they looked forward to when they considered moving across the Atlantic Ocean? They faced “…invoncevable perils and dangers.” (Of Plymouth Plantation, Book I, IV).

There was the expense and the danger of crossing the seas, the length of the voyage, exposure to the elements upon arriving in America, famine, nakedness, want, sickness, disease, danger from unknown peoples, and “other cruelties too horrible to be related.” (Book I, IV). 

Yet, they made the decision to come anyway.

“It was replied that all great and honourable actions are accompanied with great difficulties, and must be both met and overcome with answerable courage. It was granted the dangers were great, but not desperate; the difficulties were many, but not invincible. For, many of the things feared might never befall; others by provident care and the use of good means might in a great measure be prevented; and all of them, through the help of God, by fortitude and patience, might either be borne or overcome. True it was that such attempts were not to be undertaken without good ground and reason, rashly or lightly; or, as many had done, for curiosity or hope of gain. But their condition was not ordinary; their ends were good and honourable; their calling, lawful and urgent; therefore they might expect the blessing of God on their proceedings. Yea, though they should lose their lives in this action, yet might they have the comfort of knowing that their endeavour was worthy.” (Book I, IV

So tonight I would like to thank Charles Schultz and William Bradford for reminding me to persevere and to look ahead to future generations when life feels uncertain. Thanks Charlie Brown for helping me to remember the lessons of my forefathers and not to forget the first Thanksgiving.

Fall Baking – Pumpkins + Apples = Pumplekin

So we decided to celebrate one of my favorite holidays today. Pumplekin! What? Never heard of it?

Well, let me tell you about this wonderful New England holiday. Actually, we made it up. Pumplekin was born with lots of laughter around a table full of friends. We took two of our favorite parts of fall – pumpkins and apples and we came up with Pumplekin. We pick a day in the fall, usually in November, to gather together play games and of course, eat wonderful food made of pumpkins and apples. There are even culinary contests and the competition is fierce sometimes. Well, we decided to do our Pumplekin baking today. Here’s what we made. Some recipes are old and some are new. Try some of them to spice up your fall. You could even make your own Pumplekin holiday.

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Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread

An old standard at our house: Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread! This has been one of my favorites for years. I can’t get through the fall without making this. Click on Family Favorites for the regular recipe and on Allergy-Friendly Recipes for the modified versions for those with food sensitivities (gluten, dairy, soy, nut and egg-white free).

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Homemade Toffee Pieces


Next on the list is a Pumplekin award winner! Apple Pie Cheesecake! This is an allergy-friendly version of a Kraft recipe.

The first thing we did is make our own toffee since the store bought toffee has ingredients that don’t work for us. We used this simple recipe from the Pioneer Woman which had only four ingredients. This was our first successful attempt at candy making. It worked great and is delicious. I made a half recipe and it made a lot. I think we’ll have enough crumbled toffee chips with just this half batch for the rest of our lives. Lol. Also, I didn’t do the chocolate part that they did. I just used the toffee recipe.

Then, once we had that ready the girls and I went to work on the cheesecake.

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Apple Pie Cheesecake

Next, we peeled, cut and cubed three small apples (you need about 2 cups). Sautee them in 3 tbs.of butter, 1 tbl. sugar, 1/2 tsp. of cinnamon, 1/4 tsp. of salt until the butter and sugar are syrupy. Set these aside to cool while you assemble the crust. Drizzle 2 cups of crushed gingersnap cookies with 4 tbls. of melted butter and press into the bottom of a pie pan.
Now for the cheesecake. Yay!

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Pumpkin Butter

Mix  2 – 8 oz. packages of cream cheese with 1/2 cup of sugar and 2 tsp. of vanilla. Then add 1/2 cup of sour cream and 6 egg yolks. Mix until all the eggs are combined with the cream cheese mixture. Then stir in 1/4 cup of toffee bits, 1/4 up of chopped pecans and half of your apple mixture. Pour into the pie pan with your prepared crust and bake on  325 for about 35-40 minutes or until the center is set. Once cooled chill for 4 hours and then top the cheesecake with the remaining apples, some of the chopped nuts and toffee. Yum!


Pumpkin Butter 
was next on the list. This is an old favorite for us too. You can find the recipe on the Allergy-Friendly Recipes page. It’s great on biscuits or toast. And it lasts a really long time in the fridge so don’t worry if you don’t eat it up right away.

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Pumpkin Cream Cheese

And last but not least – Pumpkin Cream Cheese! I saw a tub of pumpkin cream cheese at Trader Joe’s a few weeks ago and had to try it. As soon as I tasted it I knew I would have to make my own. It’s delish. My girl’s want to eat it by the spoonful. I looked at a few recipes online and ended up mixing 1-8 oz package of cream cheese, 1/2 can pumpkin, 3 tablespoons of brown sugar, 1/2 tsp. vanilla, 1/4 tsp. salt, 1 1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice. Mix and store in the refrigerator.

Other great fall recipes you might enjoy:

Spiced Chai Tea (I call it Christmas Chai, but it’s great for fall too.)

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls
And if you know me. fall is my favorite time of year to cook and decorate for. Here are some of our fall decorations from years past complete with leafy twinkle lights.

This is how we get baking done these days. We got lots done while she napped don’t you think? 🙂

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Pumpkin bread – make extra and freeze it.

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Toffee poured out to cool.

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Pumpkin Cream Cheese Spread

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Apple Pie Cheesecake

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Pumpkin Butter