Chicken GIzzards Are Gross

Tonight I roasted a chicken.  In order to roast a chicken, you have to clean out the gizzards.  Yuck.  I’ve done it several times, but it never gets easier.  With that being said, I want you to know that cleaning out the nasty gizzards is well worth the effort.  Roast chicken is a delectable treat, but it does take some time.  So plan to have at least 2 hours of oven time.  Also, fresh herbs are really important for the best flavor.  The plants on my back deck are still going strong despite the fact that it’s October 20! If you don’t have herbs on your back deck, you can easily grab some of the store.  Also, you can mix up the fresh herbs to customize the flavor to your liking.

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2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley

1 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary

4 tsp olive oil

1 tsp salt

2 tsp mustard

1/2 tsp pepper

4.5-5.5 lb whole chicken (cleaned out and washed with cold water)

1.  Preheat the oven at 375.  Mix the first six ingredients together in a bowl.

2.  Gently loosen the skin of the chicken with your fingers and then rub the mixture under the skin.  Make sure it’s rubbed evenly over the breast and the legs.

3.  Tie the legs together with kitchen twine and tuck the wings under the bird.

4.  Place the chicken breast side down in a roasting pan with a rack.  Roast for 60 minutes covered.  After 60 minutes, take the chicken out and carefully flip it over.  Roast for another 60 minutes uncovered.

5.  Make sure to check the temperature of the chicken before taking it out of the oven.  Use a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh.  If it’s 165, you’re good to go.  If not, roast it for 10-20 more minutes until it’s done.  Let the chicken rest for 10 minutes so the juices can redistribute.  This is really important I thought it was a unecessary step, but it really does make the chicken juicier.

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I served the chicken with mashed potatoes and asparagus.  Yum!

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Enchiladas on the Light Side

Well, good Sunday evening to you!  I hope your weekend was delightful.  Mine was a bit busy, but overall I had a good time.  I’ve been thinking a lot about faith and doubt lately, and one of my friends told me some wise words.  She said that faith is a choice.  We will always have doubts and questions about God, what he’s doing and who he is.  That is a normal part of the human existence.  However, we can still choose to believe in God despite our doubts.  That may sound crazy to those who do not believe, but Hebrews 11:1 makes a pretty clear statement about what faith is: “Faith is the reality of what we hope for and the proof of what we do not see (Common English Bible).”  Faith isn’t about what we can tangibly see and touch.  If it was, it wouldn’t be faith at all.  Faith is about choosing to place your trust in Jesus despite your doubts.  I’m willing to take that challenge.  I hope you will as well.

Tonight’s recipe is for chicken enchiladas with a light green chile sauce.  You may be thinking that light means tasteless, but you’re wrong!  These enchiladas are fantastic!  I found the original recipe from another blogger named Tiffany, but I changed it up to make it lighter.  You can check out the original here: http://mylitter.com/recipes/chicken-cheese-enchiladas-recipe/

Here are my modified ingredients:

10 Mission fajita size tortillas (6 inches or so)
2 cups cooked, shredded chicken (I poach two boneless skinless chicken breasts in water and shred it once it’s cooled)
2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese (one 8 oz block will do the trick)
3 Tbsp. olive oil
3 Tbsp. flour
2 cups chicken broth ( I prefer homemade, but Kitchen Basics brand broth is excellent if you are going with store-bought)
1 cup fat-free sour cream
1 (4 oz) can diced green chillies
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a 9×13 pan. Mix chicken and 1 cup cheese.
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Roll up in tortillas and place in pan seam side down.
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In a sauce pan, heat up olive oil, stir in flour and cook 1 minute.  Add broth and whisk until smooth.  Heat over medium heat until thick and bubbly.  Stir in sour cream and chilies.  Do not bring to boil, you don’t want curdled sour cream.
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Pour over enchiladas and top with remaining cheese, and if you like green onions and black olives.
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Bake 22 min covered, remove foil and then broil for 3-4 min to brown the cheese.  Watch it carefully to ensure it doesn’t brown too much.  Serve with fat-free refried beans, shredded lettuce and chopped tomato.
Nutritional info:
Serving size: 1 enchilada with sauce
Calories: 289
Fat: 13.7
Saturated fat: 6.1
Carbs: 22.4
Protein: 18.4

Mashed Potatoes & Trust

As I’ve thought more about this blog, I want it to be a place where people can find good ideas for food, but I also want it to be a place where people can be refreshed.  My mother picked out the name “Cherith Brook” for me.  The Cherith Brook was an actual brook in the Old Testament, and it was the place God sent Elijah when he was in exhile. While Elijah stayed by the Cherith Brook, God sent manna and Elijah drank from the brook to quench his thirst. My mother hoped that I would live up to my namesake by being a place of refreshment for others.  So here is some refreshment before I dive into today’s recipe.

Yesterday I was walking out of the YMCA and a family was walking in.  They were a normal family, but I noticed that their little boy was completely limp in his father’s arms.  His arms and legs were sprawled out and dangling losely.  My first thought was concern, but as I looked at that boy’s face, I saw that he was simply quiet and at rest. He trusted his dad.  There was no doubt or fear on that boy’s face.  He was just leaning on his dad and going along for the ride.  I want to be more like that boy when it comes to my relationship with God.  I want to be completely at rest and trusting as I lean into God.  This is how God intended us to be: just like that boy with a sweet, childlike trust in his father.  Lord, please bless me as I lean into you and help me to trust.  Bless my friends and family and help them to trust as well.

Now, onto the creamy, dreamy, steamy mashed potatoes!  Could I have used anymore adjectives?  Probably, but I like to keep things simple.  😉  The key pieces to this recipe are the crock pot and the broth.  Slow cooking the potatoes in broth adds a richness of flavor that can’t be beat!  Here are the ingredients:

3 lbs Yukon Gold or red potatoes, cut into 2 inch pieces (Yukons have a nice buttery flavor but red potatoes have a creamy flavor and texture…it’s a hard choice, I know!)

6 cloves of garlic, halved

1 bay leaf

3.5 cups of chicken or vegetable broth

1 cup of Greek Yogurt, sour cream or milk (this really depends on your taste- I’ve tried all three and like each one!  If you want to make this recipe lighter, use fat free or light versions of your dairy product of choice.)

1/4 cup of butter

Salt and pepper to taste

2 tbsp chopped parsley (optional)

1.  Put the potatoes, garlic, bay leaf and broth in the crock pot.  Cook on low for 8 hours or high for 4 hours. In the photo below, you’ll see that I boiled the potatoes in a regular pot on the stove because I was pressed for time.  The potatoes were still made good and they took about 45 minutes to get them soft enough.  However, if you can do the crock pot thing, it makes the flavor so much deeper!

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2.  When the potatoes are almost done, put the butter in a saucepan and melt it carefully.  Be sure to keep the butter from browning by keeping the burner on low heat and stirring frequently.  If using milk, add the milk to the butter and let it warm up.  If you use Greek yogurt or sour cream, do not add either one to the pan.

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2.  After the potatoes are done cooking, drain them and put them in a large mixing bowl. Remove the bay leaf.  Add the butter and milk (or yogurt/sour cream).  Some people prefer chunky mashed potatoes, but I like them smooth.  If you like yours smooth, crank up your mixer and let it whip up the potatoes for 5 minutes.  Yes, 5 minutes.  You won’t regret it.

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3.  Once the 5 minutes are up, season your potatoes with salt and pepper to taste.  If you’re feeling fancy, mix in some chopped parsley.  Enjoy!

Helpful tip: I’ve made this recipe many times and doubled it.  The extra freezes beautifully and comes out tasting just as good as the first time!

Sweet and Spicy

Yes, those are the words what most people use to describe me, but in this instance I’m talking about the dip I made tonight.  He he he… This dip is for my girl’s small group meeting tomorrow night, and I’m hopeful the ladies will enjoy it.  We will be discussing how we experience poverty in our lives.  Even though none of us are poor financially (at least compared to the rest of the world), we all have our areas of poverty in our lives.  We will explore how to let God fill those areas of poverty with his glorious riches.  It is indeed sweet that our God would want to fill up our empty areas and it is even sweeter that he is the only one who can truly fill us.  God certainly is sweet in many ways, but sometimes life gets a little “spicy” and we have to lean into him to cool us off.  I certainly experienced some spice today at work with several students having issues and many, many meetings, but God is refreshing to me and allows me to “cool off” in his presence.

So, now for the sweet and spicy recipe…drum roll please!  Tonight’s recipe is courtesy of McCormick spices, however I have modified it quite a bit by lightening it up and adding more spice.  Are you surprised that a spice company would have good recipes?  Well, don’t be.  Many food companies post recipes on their websites that are quite good.

Italian Roasted Red Pepper DipSo here’s the modified recipe:

1/2 cup light mayonnaise

1/2 cup light sour cream

1 7 oz jar of roasted red peppers, very well-drained

2 tbsp of parmesan cheese

3/4 tsp garlic powder

3/4 tsp of Italian seasoning (I prefer to use a special blend I purchased on a recent family vacation from a quaint spice shop in Prescott, AZ.  The spice blend is called “Vinnie the Knuckles” and it’s delightfully different from other Italian spice blends because it has fennel in it.)  You can order it here: http://spicetravelerprescott.com/blends/

If you want your dip spicier, add a dash of crushed red pepper!

Place all ingredients in a food processor and blend to your desired level of smoothness.  Or you can hand chop the peppers and stir them in with the rest of the ingredients.  Either way you go, you’ll have a sweet and spicy treat!  Put the dip in an airtight container and let it sit in the fridge overnight so the flavors can blend.  Serve with veggies or pretzels, as a spread on sandwiches or even as a salad dressing  The possibilities are endless!  Enjoy!

Homemade Gnocchi- Enough Said

Good Sunday evening to you!  Today I did something I’ve never done before: I made homemade gnocchi.  I was nervous about how it would go.  How long would it take?  Would I be up to my elbows in flour?  Would they taste good?  Well, the answers are as follows: 30 minutes, no and yes!  I was only up to my wrists in flour and it was a surprisingly quick process.

The recipe tonight is borrowed from allrecipes.com and was written by a woman named Shelbi.  Shebi, thank you for this gift!

Here is one important note before you start this recipe: strain the ricotta so that a good bit of the liquid can come out.  This is important because the texture of the gnocchi will be too sticky if you don’t strain the ricotta!  I put mine in a small mesh colander over a bowl in the fridge for the afternoon.

http://allrecipes.com/recipe/ricotta-gnocchi

1 (8 ounce) container ricotta cheese

  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour, or as needed

 

Directions

Stir together the ricotta cheese, eggs, Parmesan Cheese, salt, pepper, and garlic powder in a large bowl until evenly combined. Mix in 1 cup of flour. Add additional flour if needed to form a soft dough.  I used my Kitchenaid Mixer and it worked ike a charm.  Once you have mixed everything together, put the dough into the fridge for 15-20 minutes so it can harden up a bit.  This makes it easier to roll it out in the next step.

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Divide the dough into 3 or 4 pieces, and roll into 1/2-inch-thick ropes on a floured surface. Cut each rope into 1-inch pieces, and place on a lightly floured baking sheet. Place in the refrigerator until ready to use.  If you want to make extra and keep some for later, place gnocchi on a baking sheet in the freezer.  Once they freeze, put them in a container or plastic bag and pop them back into the freezer.

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Heat a large pot a lightly salted water to boiling.  Add gnocchi and once the water returns to a boil, let them cook for 3-4 minutes.  Be sure to test one and see if it’s still too firm in the center.  The length of cooking time will depend on how big you cut your gnocchi.  If you are cooking your gnocchi frozen, it will probably take 5-6 minutes.

Serve with your favorite sauce, plenty of parmesan cheese and enjoy. Salut!

Parsley Bonanza

The parsley plant on my back deck has gone nuts.  I think it realizes it only has a few more weeks (at best) to show us all it’s got.  So, in honor of the prolific parsley, tonight’s meal featured said herb in every component.  If you don’t have a parsley plant, not to fear!  It is fairly cheap to buy a bunch at the grocery store year round.  So knock yourself out!

Tonight’s recipe came from Cooking Light (I’m a big fan if you couldn’t tell!).  I find that their recipes are quite tasty, albeit sometimes they can be complicated.  In some of the recent issues, however, they have made an effort to publish quick and easy recipes.  This one is one of those.

Lemon-Parsley Chicken with Corn and Tomato Salad

Photo: Brian Woodcock; Styling: Cindy Barr
Yield: Serves 4 (serving size: 2 chicken cutlets and about 1 1/4 cups salad)
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon rind
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh garlic
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper, divided
  • 4 (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, halved lengthwise to form 8 cutlets
  • Cooking spray
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 5 cups torn Boston lettuce
  • 1 cup fresh corn kernels
  • 1 cup heirloom cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves

Preparation

  1. Preheat grill to high heat.
  2. Combine minced parsley, lemon rind, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a small bowl. Sprinkle chicken with parsley mixture; let stand 10 minutes. Place chicken on grill rack coated with cooking spray; grill 3 minutes on each side or until chicken is done.  (I modified this by adding olive oil to the mixture so as to not have to spray the grill rack with cooking spray.  2 tablespoons should do it.  I also let it sit for longer than 10 minutes (it ended up being closer to 30), which produced good results!)
  3. Combine juice, oil, mustard, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a large bowl; stir with a whisk. Add lettuce and remaining ingredients; toss to coat.

Mary Drennen, Cooking Light
SEPTEMBER 2013

Nutritional Information

Amount per serving

  • Calories: 311
  • Fat: 12.1g
  • Saturated fat: 2.1g
  • Monounsaturated fat: 6.4g
  • Polyunsaturated fat: 1.7g
  • Protein: 39g
  • Carbohydrate: 11.9g
  • Fiber: 2.5g
  • Cholesterol: 109mg
  • Iron: 2.4mg
  • Sodium: 603mg
  • Calcium: 54mg

As an added side, you should make this super easy couscous.  It literally takes 5 minutes to cook.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cups water
  • 1 cup uncooked couscous
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 tablespoon butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preparation

  1. Bring water to a boil in a small saucepan. Stir in couscous; cover. Remove from heat; let stand 5 minutes. Stir in parsley, butter, garlic, lemon juice, kosher salt, and pepper.

Enjoy the parsley bonanza!

Lots of tomatoes

Today was hot.  And humid.  It was so humid this morning when I drove to work that I had to turn the defog on high and run my windshield wipers the whole way!  Summer is roaring its last roar, and to celebrate, I cooked with tomatoes tonight.  Tonight’s recipe was from Cooking Light, and it is fairly simple in terms of effort needed, but the taste is far from simple.   I served it to my dad who loves meat, and he didn’t even notice it was vegetarian!

This recipe calls for cherry tomatoes, but if you don’t have any, use regular ones chopped up.  Enjoy the last of your summer tomatoes with this tasty treat!
Tomato Ravioli Recipe

Tomato Ravioli

  • 1 pound cherry tomatoes
  • 2 shallots, cut into wedges
  • Cooking spray
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 12 ounces cheese ravioli
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 425°. (I modified this a bit and preheated my oven to 400)
  2. Halve half of tomatoes. Arrange cut tomatoes, whole tomatoes, and shallots on a jelly-roll pan coated with cooking spray. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon oil; toss. Bake at 425° for 35 minutes. (At 400 I baked mine for 25 minutes and they were plenty tender.)
  3. Add 2 tablespoons oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper to pan. Bake 10 minutes.
  4. Cook ravioli according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain ravioli, reserving 1/4 cup cooking liquid. Add ravioli to tomatoes; toss. Add cooking liquid, if needed. (I didn’t need the cooking liquid, but have it just to be safe.) Garnish with chopped basil.

Vanessa T. Pruett, Cooking Light
AUGUST 2013