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.

Snow Days

I know most people would be baking cupcakes this week for Valentine’s Day but the last thing my kids need is more sugar. Since we were snowed in this weekend we had plenty of time on our hands to do some baking. I had to come up with something I could make with ingredients we already had on hand. With a foot of snow on the ground I didn’t relish the thought of a trip to the supermarket with three kids in tow.

I found what looked to be a fun recipe for bread that seemed easy enough for us to tackle between sledding, snowball fights, and snow angels.  The recipe was originally for Parmesan and Thyme Bread (see http://www.unihomemaker.com) but I adapted the recipe according to what I had in stock.

All three boys were enthusiastic sous chefs, as always. The kitchen was destroyed but when there is 12 inches of snow falling outside there is really no choice but to grin and bear it…

PARMESAN EGGPLANT BREAD

Ingredients:

1 small eggplant

Sea salt

Vegetable oil for frying

2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour, plus 1/2 cup for frying eggplant

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

1/2 tsp baking soda

1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated, reserve some for top of bread

1 sprig of fresh rosemary, stripped and finely chopped, reserve some for top of bread

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1/2-cup olive oil

1/2-cup sour cream

1-cup milk (I used 2%)

4 slices ham, diced, reserve some for top of bread

2 Tbsp of marinara sauce (optional topping)

 

Directions:

Wash the eggplant and cut off top and bottom. Slice 1/2” thick pieces and place on baking sheet lined with paper towels. Sprinkle both sides with salt and cover with paper towel. Allow the eggplant to sweat for 30 minutes.

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Heat 1/4 inch of vegetable oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Dip eggplant in flour and fry in skillet until golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Let cool, dice, and set aside.

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Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 9X13-baking pan.

In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt, pepper, baking soda, Parmesan cheese, and rosemary.

In a medium bowl whisk eggs, olive oil, sour cream and milk. Slowly pour the egg mixture into the flour mixture and mix until moistened. Fold in the ham and eggplant and pour batter into the baking pan, distributing evenly. Sprinkle remaining ham, eggplant, and rosemary on top, along with a drizzle of marinara sauce.

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Bake for approximately 25 minutes or until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. Let the bread cool slightly before serving.

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And the VERDICT is:

Matthew: “It looks good but tastes funny”

Dylan: “Bread with yucky things on it!”

Liam: “Not eating that eggofant”

I guess I should have stuck to baking cupcakes! The hot chocolate we made with the bread went over much better….