Garlic Roasted Summer Squash And Tomatoes…

Get ready for the onslaught of summer squash. If your garden has been anything like mine in recent years you will soon be inundated with more summer squash than you can handle. It often gets to the point where you can’t even give the squash away. So think about different ways you can use of all of that squash.

Over the years I’ve posted a wide variety of recipes using summer squash and you can find those recipes in my recipe index. Today’s recipe is very basic. It is quick and easy and a great way to use your squash to accompany just about any meal.

So let’s talk about garlic roasted summer squash and tomatoes…

garlic roasted summer squash and tomatoesLesson Learned 1 – For the best results, let the olive oil, garlic and seasoning rest: A great way to infuse your olive oil with the flavors of the garlic and Italian seasoning is to combine them all together and let the mixture sit for 5-10 minutes before coating the squash and tomatoes. That way you will get a great infused olive and those flavors will permeate the squash and tomatoes during the roasting process.

Lesson Learned 2 – once again it is important to cut the squash rounds into evenly thick pieces: I cannot sing the praises of a mandolin slicer enough. It is truly the best way to cut veggies into rounds that are uniformly thick in size. The reason you do this is so the squash cooks evenly and you don’t wind up with some pieces overcooked, some undercooked and some just right. Eliminate what I call the Goldilocks And The Three Bears dilemma and use a mandolin slicer. And once again, I cannot stress enough to use the finger guard whenever using the mandolin slicer. Accidents can happen very easily if you don’t.

Roasted summer squash and tomatoes

Lesson Learned 3 – Use firm tomatoes in this recipe: I would not use overly ripe soft tomatoes in this recipe. A firmer, slightly less juicy tomato holds up best during the 30 minute roasting time. I used firm cherry tomatoes in this recipe but you can also cut up roma tomatoes or use firm campari tomatoes.

The prep on this recipe is quick and the result is fabulous. And with squash season upon us, this is a great recipe to have in your hip pocket. Try it and let me know what you think…

GARLIC ROASTED SUMMER SQUASH AND TOMATOES...

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 45 Minutes Including Prep
  • Difficulty: Easy
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INGREDIENTS:

1 large or 2 small zucchini squash

1 large or 2 small yellow squash

1/2 cup firm cherry tomatoes, halved

3 Tbs. olive oil

3-4 cloves of garlic, minced

1 1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning

1 cup shredded parmesan cheese

Salt and Pepper, to taste

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a lipped baking sheet with foil. Spray the foil lightly with cooking spray.

Mix together the olive oil, garlic and Italian seasoning. If you can, let the mixture sit for 5-10 minutes to infuse the olive oil with the garlic and seasoning.

Slice the squash into 1/8 slices (using a mandolin slicer is preferred). Cut the cherry tomatoes in half. Put the squash and tomatoes in a large bowl. Pour the olive oil mixture over the vegetables and stir to evenly combine.

Spread the vegetables out evenly onto the prepared baking sheet. Season the mixture with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the parmesan over the top of the vegetables. Roast for 30 minutes or until the vegetables are tender and the parmesan is golden brown. Serve immediately.

Garlic Roasted Summer Squash And Tomatoes

Garlic Roasted Summer Squash and Tomatoes

Garlic Roasted Summer Squash And Tomatoes

Garlic Butter Roasted Carrots…

This recipe could not be any more basic but it produces a side dish rich in flavor. Whenever you caramelize something it produces a sweetness that is awesomely delicious. And because this blog is dedicated to those beginning to feel their way around the kitchen, this recipe is perfect because it produces spectacular results with very little effort. If you’re looking for something to boost your confidence in the kitchen, this one’s is for you!

So let’s talk garlic butter roasted carrots…

Lesson Learned 1 – Use lots of garlic: I used 4 big cloves of garlic in this recipe and you can even add more if you want. Just be aware that the garlic will turn dark in the oven but that’s ok. It will still infuse the carrots with great garlic flavor.

Saute the cloves in the butter for a good 3-4 minutes and just when you start to see some slight browning on the edges, remove the mixture from the heat and pour it over the carrots. Make sure the carrots are evenly coated with the butter/garlic mixture. Use your hands if you have to to make sure they’re coated all over.

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Lesson Learned 2 – Cut the carrots in one inch chunks on the diagonal: One inch chunks work well for this roasting time. Cutting them on the diagonal makes them look prettier.

Lesson Learned 3 – Make sure you flip the carrots during the roasting process: You want to make sure the carrots caramelize on all sides so check them after 15-20 minutes and flip them over so the other side can caramelize as well.

When I first took these carrots out of the oven I thought perhaps I had browned them too much. I was wrong. These carrots had such a wonderful sweet flavor and the darkened areas were rich and sweet. The main thing to remember is to flip them so they caramelize on both sides.

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I have to say I could not believe how sweet and delicious these carrots were. This is a great recipe for when you want to impress but also want something insanely easy. Enjoy!

Garlic Butter Roasted Carrots

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Time: 50 Minutes Including Prep
  • Difficulty: Easy
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INGREDIENTS:

4-6 large carrots, cut in 1 inch lengths on the diagonal

5 Tbs. butter

4-5 cloves of garlic, minced

Salt and pepper to taste

Flat leaf parsley for garnish

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a saucepan melt the butter. Add the garlic and cook for 3 – 4 minutes being careful not to burn the garlic.

Put the carrots in a large bowl and add the butter/garlic mixture. Toss until all the carrots are completely covered.

Spread the carrots out on a prepared baking sheet (I covered my sheet with aluminum foil and sprayed it lightly with olive oil cooking spray), making sure they are not crowded and that all the butter/garlic mixture is poured onto the sheet.

Roast for 30 – 40 minutes making sure to flip them half way through the roasting process. Remove the carrots from oven and salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with flat leaf parsley and serve. Enjoy!

Garlic Butter Carrots

Slow Cooker Honey Garlic Chicken…

I think I have a love/hate relationship with slow cookers. The concept of the slow cooker is undeniably fabulous – put something in the pot when you leave the house in the morning and voila, when you come home from work, you have a meal ready to go. The challenge is to find or create slow cooker recipes that in the end not only produce a meal but a flavorful one, one that is not cooked to the Peter Principal of bland. I’ve tried many variations of slow cooker recipes and have only a few that I think I’ve perfected. This is one of them.

What I’ve found with a slow cooker is if you vary what you are slow cooking with either other ingredients not in the slow cooker or ingredients that you put in the slow cooker near the end of the cooking process you’ll get a much better outcome. So is the case with this recipe.

So let’s talk slow cooker honey garlic chicken…

Browned Chicken ThighsLesson Learned 1 – The best type of chicken to use and how to prepare it: For this recipe and for most slow cooker recipes involving chicken, I use chicken thighs. I recommend using bone in, skin on chicken thighs for this particular recipe. Slow cooking tends to take the moisture out of chicken and by using these types of chicken thighs you protect yourself against getting dried out, bland chicken. I recommend searing the thighs briefly over a very hot heat, preferably in a cast iron skillet, before putting them into the slow cooker. Then after the meal is prepared, I recommend putting the chicken under the broiler just briefly the crisp up the exterior skin a little. As I mentioned earlier, I think the process of slow cooking is merely a part of the cooking process and not the entire thing. By searing and then briefly putting the chicken under the broiler at the end, you’ll wind up with a juicier, more flavorful outcome.

all-clad-6.5-qt.-slow-cookerLesson Learned 2 – Get to know how your slow cooker cooks: All slow cookers are not created equal. Some have higher default temperature settings than others. I have an All-Clad slow cooker and I love it, but I’ve learned over time that I can lessen the cooking time on my chicken recipes and they turn out better. Many of the recipes I read from which I based this one called for the cooking time to be 7-8 hours on low. In my experience and with my slow cooker I know I can cook chicken for 6 hours on low and I wind up with chicken that is cooked through but doesn’t taste like chalk. Especially with this recipe where you open the slow cooker twice during the cooking process to baste and to add the haricot vert. So be aware, you may have a few disappointments before perfecting recipes in your slow cooker. But there is nothing like the convenience of a slow cooker and once you find your groove with yours, you will love it!

Lesson Learned 3 – Ingredients to add at the end of the cooking process: In this recipe you add the haricot vert (green beans) during the last half hour of cooking. At the time I added them, I also scooped some of the sauce over the chicken just to add a little more moisture to it. (I also basted the chicken with the sauce about half way through the cooking process). By adding the green beans at the end they turned out crisp tender and were delightful. Put in only the amount you intend to have for that meal. If you have leftovers, cook a fresh bunch of beans at that time.

Also, if you want crisp tender onions you can add frozen pearl onions in with the haricot vert during the last thirty minutes.

Slow Cooker Honey Garlic ChickenCertain ingredients only take a short amount of time in the slow cooker (like beans, shrimp, frozen okra) but others take the full cooking time (like carrots, potatoes and onions). The ones you cook the entire time should always be cut into large chunks so they don’t fall apart at the end. The ones you put in for a short time can go in as is.

I think you’ll like this recipe. It definitely is easy and with a few simple tricks you can achieve great flavor as well. Try it and tell me what you think!

Slow Cooker Honey Garlic Chicken…

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 6-8 Hours
  • Difficulty: Easy
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INGREDIENTS

8 bone in, skin on chicken thighs

baby new potatoes (or red potatoes quartered)

baby carrots (or 4-5 large carrots cut into chunks)

1 large sweet onion, quartered (or frozen pearl onions)

haricot vert (thin green beans), enough for your initial serving

1 Tbs. butter

1 Tbs. garlic infused olive oil (you can use plain olive oil)

1 1/2 cups low sodium soy sauce

1 1/2 cups clover honey

3/4 cup ketchup

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 1/2 tsp. dried basil

1 tsp. dried oregano

1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes (you can add more if you want it spicier)

Salt and pepper

DIRECTIONS

In a cast iron skillet, heat the butter and olive oil until the butter is melted. Pat dry the chicken thighs and season them with salt and pepper. Place them skin side down into the hot pan. Sear them until light golden brown, about 3 minutes. Remove the chicken thighs from the pan and set aside.

Whisk together the soy sauce, honey, ketchup, garlic, basil, oregano and red pepper flakes. Place the potatoes, carrots and onions (if using frozen pearl onions, add them during the last 30 minutes of cooking time) in the slow cooker. Season with salt and pepper. Place the chicken thighs on top of the vegetables. Pour the soy sauce mixture over the chicken and vegetables. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours (this time depends on your slow cooker and its default temperatures). Half way through the cooking process baste the chicken with the soy sauce mixture.

One half hour before serving add the green beans and baste the chicken again (add the frozen pearl onions at this time). If desired, before serving, place the chicken thighs on a baking sheet and put them under the broiler for approximately three minutes. Serve immediately.

Ingredients ready for slow cooking

Ingredients ready for slow cooking

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Herb Roasted New Potatoes…

As you can imagine, I check out a lot of food blogs to see what others are making. I am impressed by the skill and creativity I see in a lot of them. And I say to myself, why can’t I be like that? But I am who I am, and what I make is based on my upbringing, my tastes, and sometimes even an adventurous spirit. But by and large, I am a pretty simple cook who likes to make simple things and be very successful at doing so.

Don’t get me wrong, my palate has matured over the years and I now enjoy many things I never would have dreamed of eating when I was younger. But when push comes to shove I’m basically a meat and potatoes girl (as is reflected by my recipes). So this recipe will come as no surprise.

Herb Roasted New PotatoesI like this recipe both for it’s simplicity and its flavor. Plus during the summer months I grow a lot of herbs and am always looking for ways use my fresh herbs in recipes. So this one fits the bill. I used my flat leaf parsley and lemon thyme as well as garlic to provide the aromatics. I love the added boost of the lemon thyme, but if you don’t have it or can’t find it, you can achieve the same affect by adding some lemon wedges to the roasting process. All in all, the hardest part of this recipe was making sure I didn’t slice the potatoes all the way through but just deep enough so they would fan out slightly. The rest was a breeze.

Lesson Learned 1 – Know your oven: I researched similar recipes to mine and many of them suggested baking the potatoes for an hour at 350. That would never work for me. At high altitude you often have to set your oven temperature higher and cook things longer. I set my oven temperature at 375 and for the last ten minutes cranked it up to 400. Next time I make this recipe I will start at 400 degrees and check the potatoes after 45 minutes. For me, I am thinking that 400 degrees for an hour will be optimum. At sea level, I would suggest starting at 375 and checking the potatoes for doneness at 45 minutes. If they are not done, make a decision from there whether to cook them longer at the same temperature or to crank up the oven.  Keep in mind the size of the potatoes matter. New potatoes are small but can still vary in size and that will affect the roasting time. The larger the new potatoes the longer the roasting time. Check your potatoes at 45 minutes and plan for at least an hour. That way you won’t go wrong.

Sliced New PotatoesLesson Learned 2 – Don’t throw out the garlic: I recommend using a full head of garlic when roasting the potatoes (you can even use more if you like). You don’t need to peel it, just cut off a small portion of the top. It will not only provide a delightful aromatic during the roasting process, but will also give you sweet soft garlic cloves that you can either spread directly on bread or use with butter to make a garlic herb butter that’s great for making garlic bread. You get that extra added benefit with this recipe.

If you  like rich, creamy potatoes infused with an herb and garlic flavor, this recipe is for you. Let me know what you think about the recipe after you make it.

Herb Roasted New Potatoes…

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 75 Minutes Including Prep
  • Difficulty: Easy
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INGREDIENTS:

2 pounds new potatoes, scrubbed

1/4 cup olive oil (I used garlic infused olive oil)

2 Tbs. melted butter

1 Large head of garlic, top trimmed

1 – 2 Tbs. chopped flat leaf parsley

4 – 6 sprigs lemon thyme (if using regular thyme cut up half a lemon into wedges and add)

Salt and freshly cracked black pepper

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 375 (for high altitude 400 degrees). Melt the butter and add the olive oil to it. Cut slits into the potatoes being careful not to slice them all the way through. Place the potatoes in a roasting pan (I lined my with foil, but that is discretionary). Put the garlic head in the middle of the potatoes. Baste the potatoes and garlic with half of the butter/olive oil mixture. Sprinkle the potatoes with the chopped parsley and place the thyme sprigs in between the potatoes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Half way through the roasting process baste the potatoes with the remaining butter/olive oil mixture. Check the potatoes for doneness at 45 minutes. If they do not appear to be almost fork tender raise the temperature of the oven to 400 degrees and roast at least an additional 15 minutes or until the potatoes are fork tender. Serve immediately.

Ready To Go Into The Oven

Herb Roasted New Potatoes

Herb Roasted New Potatoes

Lemon Chicken With Garlic And Capers…

If you happen to glance at my recipe page and notice a plethora of chicken recipes there’s a reason for that. I simply love chicken, no two ways about it. A lot of people blog a wide variety of recipes. I simply blog recipes that I like. If my recipes don’t fit the bill for you, no worries. There are so many websites to choose from these days so I’m sure you’ll find what you’re looking for if it’s not here.

Not only do I blog recipes that I like, but also ones that are simple but can challenge you in some regard to move yourself out of your comfort zone. My goal is to be your test kitchen by doing the work up front and giving you insights on how to be successful. I wished for a long time that I had someone who would do that for me. It can get frustrating when you fail to get things right time after time. So hopefully I can demystify a few things for you, and I hope I can learn some things from you as well.

So back to this chicken recipe. It’s relatively simple. What takes the most time is the prep. But I love to prep. Chopping, mincing, dicing, slicing – it’s therapeutic for me. Don’t let the prep make you shy away from making this. So much can be done ahead and then once it’s time to cook, everything goes relatively quickly. I made this with a brussels sprouts, pancetta and sun-dried tomato side and it was a little tricky balancing the steps between both. But it was all worth it when my husband kept saying, “This dinner is really good.” Enjoy this recipe and my lessons learned…

IMG_2614Lesson Learned 1 – Cooking with lemon slices: First you need to slice the lemon into even-sized thin rounds. The best way to do this is with a mandolin slicer. In a past recipe I spent quite a bit of time talking about how great a mandolin slicer can be and also how dangerous it can be to use. Just be careful when you use one. But as you can see from the picture, the mandolin will give you even-sized thin rounds.

IMG_2625In the recipe you actually sauté the lemon rounds. It gives the chicken and sauce a delightful flavor and also serves as a garnish for the chicken when you serve it. The trick is to cook them quickly, no longer than about 45 seconds. Once you notice the lemons starting to turn brown, as you can see in the picture to the right, remove them from the pan. You want them to be slightly browned but you don’t want them to loose their shape or too much of their sections.

Lesson Learned 2 – Make sure the chicken breasts are no thicker than 3/4 inch: The thin breasts cook quickly, about 4 minutes per side. I took regular chicken breasts and with a sharp knife cut them in half. That gave me 3/4 inch pieces. You can also take a breast and pound it out to that thickness and then cut it into portion size pieces. Whatever is easier.

10-piece-2.25-10.25-glass-bowl-setLesson Learned 3 – Be organized when making this recipe: I like this recipe not only because it’s flavorful, and believe me it is, but because once you’re done with the prep, the rest is a breeze and goes quite quickly. But the trick is to be organized and have everything prepped up front. I systematically go through the list of ingredients and see what needs to be done with each. Then I put each ingredient into little prep bowls and set them aside until it’s time to use them. Just be careful, you don’t want to prep some things too far ahead. Something like flat leaf parsley that you use for a garnish is best prepped right before you want to use it. If I’m not sure about something I prep it, cover it with plastic wrap and put it in the refrigerator until it’s time to start cooking. I am not suggesting doing your prep hours in advance. I normally start, depending upon the requirements of the recipe, about an hour before I plan on cooking it. The key is to have everything chopped, diced, sliced, etc., before you start. You will have no time to do this work once you start the cooking process.

Now that I come to think of it, this really applies to any recipe. It is so important to understand it and stick to the process, especially when you’re learning to maneuver your way around a kitchen. Ready recipes thoroughly (at least twice all the way through), understand the terminology, prep ahead and go through the process as designed. This will help to ensure your success with any recipe.

I really like this recipe and will definitely make it often. I hope you try it and let me know what you think.

Lemon Chicken With Garlic And Capers

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 50 Minutes Including Prep
  • Difficulty: Easy
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INGREDIENTS:

2 small lemons cut into thin rounds

1 1/2 tsp. of sugar

4 cloves of garlic, halved

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts 3/4 of an inch thick

2-3  Tbs. olive oil (I used garlic infused olive oil)

2 Tbs. butter

2 tsp. grated shallot

1/2 tsp. grated garlic

1/2 tsp. dried oregano (use can use 1 fresh spring as well)

1 fresh thyme sprig (you can use dried – I preferred to have at least one herb fresh)

1/2 cup dry white wine

1 cup unsalted chicken stock

1 tsp. flour

1 Tbs. capers, drained and rinsed

flat leaf parsley for garnish, optional

Salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:

Slice the lemons and combine in a bowl with the sugar and garlic. Set aside. Season chicken with salt and pepper. In a large skillet over medium high heat add the oil. Swirl to coat the pan. Add the chicken to the pan and cook about 4 minutes each side. Remove the chicken front the pan, put on a plate and cover with foil to keep warm.

If needed, add some oil to the pan and add the lemon mixture. Cook stirring occasionally until the lemons start to turn a light brown. Remove the mixture from the pan and set aside.

Add 1 1/2 tsp. butter to the pan and once melted add the grated shallots, grated garlic and herbs. Cook for about a minute. Add the wine and deglaze the bottom of the pan. Continue to cook until the wine is almost completely evaporated. Season with salt and pepper. Add the flour and stir for about a minute, just to remove any floury taste. Add the chicken stock and whisk while bringing the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat and continue to whisk until the liquid has thickened and reduced by a third. Remove herb sprig(s) from pan. Add a remaining butter and capers. Stir until the sauce gets shiny. Add the chicken and lemons back into the pan. Cover the chicken with the sauce, cover the pan and cook for and additional 2-3 minutes. Serve garnished with flat leaf parsley.

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Brussels Sprouts With Pancetta…

I’ve never been a big fan of brussels sprouts. Cooked cabbage of any kind doesn’t do anything for me. The meal I dread the most is corned beef and cabbage (sorry to any of my readers that love CB&C) – I could just gag. But my husband loves brussels sprouts and has often asked me not only to eat them but also make them. I now can empathize a little more with my mother who was not a great cook. She had a limited palate and she refused to make anything she didn’t like. I get it now. It’s hard to get excited about making something you don’t like. But if you know me, you know I like a good challenge. Was there a brussels sprouts recipe out there that could actually get me to eat and enjoy them? I had my doubts.  And so my research began…

I looked at a wide variety of recipes and came across a couple of combinations that sounded interesting. One involved cranberries, feta cheese and nuts (and that will be a future blog) and one involved pancetta. Making brussels sprouts with pancetta is a little less involved so I thought I would try it. The results were quite interesting…

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Recipe Rating: A – I even had to admit that the results, for me, were very palatable and for my husband, who is a brussels sprouts lover, it was phenomenal. The combination of the pancetta, garlic and chicken stock infused the brussels sprouts with flavor. I actually made this recipe twice (as I had a lot of brussels sprouts and extra pancetta) and enjoyed it. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t kid myself into thinking that brussels sprouts will now become my vegetable of choice, but at least I know there is a way to prepare them that I can live with and that brussels sprouts lovers truly enjoy!

IMG_1491Lesson Learned 1 – The difference between pancetta and bacon: Both pancetta and bacon are made from pork bellies. The difference is how they are prepared. Bacon is brined and smoked. Pancetta is seasoned with a lot of salt and pepper then rolled and wrapped in a casing to keep its shape. Pancetta is cured but not smoked. You can easily substitute bacon for pancetta in any recipe. I cut the pancetta into lardons just like I would bacon and added the brussels sprouts once the pancetta began to crisp. What I learned in making this recipe is, if you use pancetta, wait until the very end to add any salt to the sprouts. The nice thing about brussels sprouts is they highly absorb the flavors they are cooked with, and in this case they absorb the salt and pepper from the pancetta. I found it best to use unsalted chicken stock as well and to taste the sprouts at the very end to see if they needed any additional salt or pepper. I found that I needed very little salt at the end, much less than I would have added originally. So be careful. You can always add more salt, but you can’t take it away. You don’t want the brussels sprouts to be too salty.

IMG_1617Lesson Learned 2 – Boiling the sprouts before putting them in the skillet: You need to do this otherwise the sprouts will not cook all the way through in the time allotted for the recipe. I found putting them in boiling water and letting them cook for 5-7 minutes is the best way to get the desired end result. The remaining time they cook (approx. 25 minutes) in the skillet will then be sufficient to produce tender sprouts.  Also it is important to try to make the sprouts of equal size. If some of them are too big, cut them in half or in quarters. That way they will all cook evenly.

This recipe is easy to prepare and if can be enjoyed by someone who is not the biggest fan of brussels sprouts, imagine how good it will be for someone who loves them. I can now say that I have eaten brussels sprouts and enjoyed them – something I thought would never have come out of my mouth!

Brussels Sprouts With Pancetta…

  • Servings: 2
  • Time: 35 Minutes
  • Difficulty: Easy
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INGREDIENTS:

1/2 pound fresh brussels sprouts, trimmed

2 Tbs. olive oil (I used garlic infused olive oil)

2-3 ounces of very thinly sliced pancetta cut into lardons

2 cloves garlic, minced

3/4 cup unsalted chicken stock

DIRECTIONS:

Start a pot of water boiling on the stove (do not add any salt to the water at this time). Once the water comes to a boil put in the brussels sprouts and cook for 5-7 minutes.  Drain the brussels sprouts and set aside.

Add olive oil to a hot pan. Add the pancetta and cook until the edges start to crisp. Add the garlic and cook for 30-60 seconds until the garlic becomes fragrant. Add the brussels sprouts to the pan and cook until they begin to brown. Turn them over and allow them to cook a little longer or until the second side begins to brown. Add the chicken stock, scrape any bits off the bottom of the pan and cook until the broth reduces to the point that it is just coating the sprouts. Serve immediately.

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