Fresh Herbs

Our local farmers market was bustling with people last week. Everyone seemed to be out enjoying the first days of cool Fall weather. All the vendors had long lines but I didn’t want to leave empty handed so we stopped at a vegetable stand that was offering some fruits to sample. Just the thing I needed to occupy the boys while I picked up a few things and waited in line to pay.

You know how at the supermarket register there are displays of impulse items designed to prompt a last minute purchase? Well, this particular vendor had a similar set-up, although instead of packs of gum, there were little bundles of fresh herbs. While waiting we played a game of smelling the herbs to see who could guess what the different kinds were. Of course the boys didn’t get any right but it occupied them long enough to reach the end of the line.

When our turn came, I had them choose their favorite smelling herb and it was unanimous, they all loved the rosemary. Liam said it smelled like a holiday, which immediately sold me, so I added a few sprigs to our order.

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Here is a dish that I think would be perfect for any holiday – it was fast, easy, and the perfect accompaniment to the fish appetizer I cooked last week. All I had to do was put it in the oven and let it do its thing. This left me plenty of time to gut the fish we had caught that day. See my post from last week on the How To’s of gutting a fish.

Rosemary Chicken w/Roasted Veggies 

Ingredients:

2 russet potatoes, cut into 1/2” cubes

1 cup carrots, diced

1 onion, diced

2 Tbsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped, divided

1 Tbsp fresh thyme, finely chopped, divided

1 Tbsp garlic salt, divided

1/2 Tbsp salt, divided

1/2 Tbsp black pepper, divided

6 Tbsp olive oil, divided

8-12 pieces of chicken, legs & thighs, bone-in, skin-on

 

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a large rimmed baking with parchment paper and set aside.

Peel and dice the potatoes and place them in a bowl of cold water. Dice the carrots and the onion and place in a large mixing bowl. Drain and rinse the potatoes and then pat dry. Add the potatoes to the onion and carrots. Add half of the rosemary, thyme, garlic salt, salt, pepper, and olive oil to the chopped vegetables and mix well. Spread the vegetables on the baking sheet in a single layer.

IMG_6183 In the same large mixing bowl, add the chicken and combine with remaining half of the spices and olive oil. Mix well to coat. Nestle the chicken among the vegetables and place in the oven.

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Roast for approximately 60 minutes, until chicken is cooked through and the skin crispy, and vegetables are caramelized.

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Note 1: Soaking the potatoes in cold water will draw out the starch and help them crisp while roasting.

Note 2: I would recommend only using dark meat for this recipe so the meat doesn’t dry out while the vegetables caramelize.

And the VERDICT is:

Matthew (age 6): “Chicken bones, my favorite!”

Liam (age 4): “Is this too healthy?”

Dylan (age 4): “I got the foot!”

The only change I would make to this recipe is to add more carrots. Otherwise, a very successful dish.

What do Superheroes eat?

The other night at dinner, one of the boys brought up an interesting question – What does Batman eat? Well, as you can imagine this sparked quite a philosophical debate. Matthew insisted that superheroes eat “regular” food, Dylan thought Spiderman only ate spiders, and Liam was adamant that Superman eats soup, all kinds of soup, but ONLY soup.

There were a few things they did agree on. Superheroes eat A LOT and they like to eat in restaurants. Although they were not sure where these restaurants were, you know the ones that serve spiders…

Growing up I preferred Barbie to Batman but who doesn’t remember Popeye and his spinach. I am not even sure my kids would know who Popeye is BTW. Wow, that makes me feel old! I remember my mother used to make a dish with potatoes (from a box) mixed with spinach (from a can) – and I loved it. I wanted to update the dish here using fresh ingredients. Here is our version:

Superhero Spuds

Ingredients:

2 large russet potatoes

Olive oil

Kosher salt & black pepper

2 strips bacon

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 cups fresh spinach, rough chopped

2 oz. Mascarpone cheese

1/4-cup milk

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Scrub potatoes clean under cold running water. Poke potatoes with a fork several times. (This is important! If you don’t poke hole, potatoes will explode in oven.) Rub each potato with olive oil and season with salt. Place on a baking sheet and cook for approx. 1 hour 15 minutes. They will crisp on the outside and should give a little when pressed.

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Meanwhile cook the bacon in a skillet until crisp. Remove bacon from skillet and drain on paper towels.  Leave about 1 tbsp of bacon drippings in the skillet and add the garlic. Cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes and then add the chopped spinach. Sauté until spinach is completely wilted. Remove from heat and set aside.

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When potatoes are cooked allow them to cool and then slice in 1/2 and scoop out the centers, leaving about 1/4” border.

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Place the scooped out potato, mascarpone cheese and milk in large bowl and mash together. Add in spinach and bacon, reserving some bacon to sprinkle on top. Add salt and pepper to taste.

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Fill the scooped out potatoes with the spinach/potato mixture and top with the reserved bacon. Heat oven to 350 degrees, place potatoes on baking sheet and cook until heated through and browned in spots, about 25-30 minutes.

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And the VERDICT is:

Matthew (age 5): “Bacon makes everyone big and strong – more bacon next time”

Liam (age 4): “I am only eating the bacon and I like the skin, it tastes like chocolate”

Dylan (age 4): “Mommy made a BAD dinner tonight…”

Ouch, I guess I was too overzealous with the spinach in Dylan’s opinion. Everyone tried some so I would definitely make these again. Maybe cut down on the spinach and put almost all the bacon on top so they will think I added a lot more. Sneaky I know….

Latkes – Baked vs. Fried

It’s that time of year – latke time! There is nothing like a fried potato pancake to get into the spirit of the season.

I decided to try baking and frying for a healthy experiment. I was curious to see which the boys would prefer. Would they even notice?

After some research I found there is much debate in the latke world about this subject. The diehard latke fans seem to feel they should never be baked. I wanted to see if there was a huge difference in taste, as it would mean a substantial cut in fat and calories in the baked version. Although for the boys this is not an issue right now – for me it is! And if I bake them and the taste is right, then I get to eat more than one. Bonus!

I took a basic latke recipe and added some grated vegetables. This recipe is fairly easy, although grating the vegetables is slightly challenging with three little boys in superhero capes running under my feet screaming “in the name of the Emperor!”

Zucchini & Carrot Latkes

Ingredients:

1 large Russet potato

1 small yellow onion

1 carrot

1 small zucchini (should be about 1/2 cup shredded)

1 large egg

1-tsp baking powder

1-tsp salt

3 tbsp all-purpose flour

Vegetable oil for frying

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Directions:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Lightly oil a baking sheet.

Peel the potato and carrot, and remove the outer skin from the onion. Grate onion, potato, carrot and zucchini onto a kitchen towel or cheesecloth and wring out as much moisture as possible. This step is crucial in the baking version or you will be chiseling the pancakes off your baking sheet.

Transfer potato mixture to a large bowl and stir in the egg. In a separate small bowl, mix together the baking powder, salt and flour, and then stir that into the potato/egg mixture.

Baked:

Drop 2-3 tablespoons of potato mixture onto baking sheet (not too thick). Bake for 15-20 minutes, then turn pancakes and bake an additional 10 minutes or so until crispy.

Fried:

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In a large skillet heat 1/4 inch of oil over medium high heat until hot. Drop 2-3 tablespoons of potato mixture and cook for 3-4 minutes a side until golden and crispy. Drain excess oil on paper towels and serve.

Can you guess which is which? The fried are on the left…

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And the VERDICT is:

Matthew (big bro)

Fried: Super Yummy!

Baked: I like it a little but I don’t like it a little

Liam (little bro)

Fried: I like this latla

Baked: Did Matthew like this latla?

Dylan (little bro)

Fried: I love that big thing! Can we eat this before Hanukkah?

Baked: Yuck

Bottom Line: Latkes should always be fried never baked! What was I thinking anyway??? Live a little, eat fried latkes!