Whole Roasted Chicken & Basically Gravy Potatoes

Tool Kit:

  • Your largest cast iron skillet
  • A digital meat thermometer 
    • Preferably one that you can tell it what temperature to go off at
  • One whole chicken 
  • One whole head of garlic 
  • One medium yellow onion quartered
  • One blood orange quartered 
  • Thyme
  • Rosemary
  • 6 tablespoons of butter
  • Roughly 20 idaho red potatoes quartered

A Few Notes:

  • I would not make this without a meat thermometer, it ensures that you are not over or under cooking the chicken and I promise you it will make a huge difference.

Let’s Do this!!

First preheat your oven to 425 F. Next, cut the top off of the garlic and quarter all of your veggies. Take the butter and mix in the thyme, rosemary, salt, and pepper and set it aside. Next, put your cut up potatoes at the bottom of your cast iron skillet and season them generously with salt, pepper, and rosemary. 

Now for the gross/ fun part: The chicken. Take that chunky bird and pat it dry, this helps you get extra crispy skin. Now place it on either a cutting board or you can put it right on the potatoes, whichever you find easiest. From the butt end of the chicken gently separate the skin from the meat. DON’T TAKE THE SKIN OFF!!! Now take about half of  that butter herb mixture we just made and stuff it in between the skin and the meat of the chicken. This will feel weird but it makes the meat flavorful and the skin extra crispy. Take the rest of the butter mixture and rub the bird down all over. This is the last awkward step I promise: put the orange, garlic, and onion all in the chicken’s butt. 

Now that the weird part is over, position the chicken on top of the potatoes breast side up. Put the meat thermometer into the thickest part of the chicken, set it to 160 (It will continue cooking up to the proper temperature when it is resting outside of the oven), and pop it in the oven. 

When it comes out the chicken will be crispy and the potatoes will be mushy and gravy like but oh so good.

Blueberry Syrup

Tool Kit:

  • 1 Cup sugar
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • The zest and juice of one lemon

Let’s Do This!!

Put all of the ingredients into your favorite sauce pan or enamel cast iron pot and put it on medium low heat. Stir every couple of minutes to ensure everything gets dissolved evenly. Once it starts to bubble, lower the heat and allow it to simmer while stirring for 2 minutes. 

Take off the heat and let it cool completely before putting it in a jar or squeeze bottle. 

Pour over pancakes, or add to a bubbly wine to make a fruity cocktail. 

Enjoy!

Mini Baked Alaskas

Tool Kit:

  • 4 mini bowls
  • Plastic wrap
  • Patience
  • Ice cream
  • French meringue
    • (see my french meringue recipe) 
  • Strawberry Cake
    • (see my strawberry cake recipe)

A Few Notes:

  • Okay so I want the record to show that I was beyond excited to make these. They feel like the ultimate fanciness level you can achieve as a baker. I mean it has layers and fire and it takes DAYSSSSS to make so it should be amazing. BUT after the days I put into these little lovely babies, it took so long to make that I bonded with them and named them it was an experience, I realized the most important thing. I HATE BAKED ALASKAS! They look pretty, and I really thought that I would love them but I just couldn’t. Now that we’ve gotten that over with, I think if you still want to give them a try you really should. The process is fun and we all seem to have the time now.
  • Another thing, when making the french meringue portion stop after they are fluffy so don’t go into the piping or baking portion of my french meringue recipe.

Let’s Do This!!

Set out your favorite ice cream and let it get soft and pliable. While you wait on the ice cream, prepare your mini bowls.  Take your plastic wrap and line the insides of your mini bowls. Next, place about one scoop of your ice cream into each mini bowl, cover with the plastic wrap, and place in the freezer overnight. 

The next day prepare your cake as instructed in my previous strawberry cake post. Cut out your cake with ring cookie cutters.  Take your mini bowls out of the freezer, uncover your ice cream, place the cake circles on top of the ice cream, recover, and put back into the freezer overnight.

The next day, prepare your french meringue as instructed by my previous french meringue post. Preheat your oven to the highest setting, and take out your mini bowls. Unmold your naked unbaked alaskas and place them on a silicone mat. Cover them with the french meringue mixture, make sure you get it completely covered or else the ice cream will melt, and place in the oven. Keep an eye on them, this step should not take long. Once you notice the tops getting nicely toasted pull them out and enjoy. Or realize you also hate baked alaskas.

Strawberry Lemonade Mini Cakes

Tool Kit:

For the Strawberry Swirls:

  • 1 Cup sugar
  • 1 cup chopped strawberries

For the Cake

  • 2 Cups Sugar
  • 2 Cups Flour
  • 2 Teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 packet of strawberry jello
  • 1 teaspoon of kosher salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • ⅔ cup oil
  • 3 eggs

For the icing

  • The zest and juice of 2 lemons
  • Powdered sugar (spoon in a little at a time till it is at your preferred consistency)

A Few Notes:

  • You can opt to make these in cupcake tins or mini cupcake tins and it will make around 12 normal sized cupcakes or 24 mini cupcakes. You can also just leave it as a sheet pan cake and it will also be magical. I was just working on a different project that I wanted to use this same cake base for (coming soon) and decided to use less ingredients and only make the cake once.
  • Make sure your cakes are completely cooled before adding the icing. Trust me, they are super ugly otherwise.

Let’s Do This!!

Start by chopping up a cup’s worth of strawberries and put them in a bowl with the cup of sugar and let them sit for about 10 minutes. Then add the sugar to a saucepan on low heat, stir it occasionally until it bubbles up and turns into sticky strawberry goodness. Take it off the heat and allow it to cool completely.

While you are waiting on your strawberry simple syrup to cool, start on your cake batter. Combine the flour, baking soda, jello packet, and salt in a bowl. In a larger bowl (or in the glass bowl of your stand mixer) combine the sugar, eggs, milk, and oil. Next slowly add in your dry ingredients and mix until they are one happy homogenous family. 

Preheat your oven to 325°F and get out either your bake sheet or your cupcake tins and line them appropriately. Pour in your batter and then swirl in your cooled strawberry simple syrup. You can make the swirls by scooping in a spoon full in different locations and then run the spoon back through it.

Put it in the oven and start checking its donness around the 15 minute mark.

If you are making them any other way than as mini baby tiered cakes you can skip right on to the icing step. Otherwise, take two different sized round cookie cutters and cut them out of the cake. 

Now for the icing. Take your powdered sugar (start with a small amount first of about two or three spoonfuls first) and create a well in the center. Add about a spoonful of your lemon juice and a pinch of your zest into the well and mix to combine. Add more lemon juice if it is too thick and add more icing if it is too thin. And you can add more zest if it isn’t zesty enough.

If you are making the baby cakes then take a spoonful of the icing and put it on top of one of your larger cake circles and then put one of the smaller circles on top. This should hold it in place. Next add all the icing you want on top of this and let it drip down the sides. Continue till all of your cakes are frosted and enjoy!

The Easiest Vegan Thai Curry

Tool Kit:

  • Anywhere between 5 tablespoons to a whole can of your favorite curry paste 
    • For this one I used a green curry paste
  • 1 can of full fat coconut milk
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • Cayenne pepper to taste
  • 4 large garlic cloves minced (or more if you like it garlicy)
  • Pick a few of your favorite in season veggies (OR fruit if you are feeling extra brave or just if you feel like arguing about what is technically a fruit and not a veggie)
    • For this one I used:
      • 1 medium yellow onion cut into thick strips
      • 3 bell peppers julienned (one of each color)
      • Pineapple roughly chopped
      • 1 bag of whole cherry tomatoes

There is absolutely nothing I crave more than a big batch of SPICY thai curry. NOTHING. If it was socially acceptable to eat this all day every day I 100% would no questions asked. The longer you let this simmer the thicker it will be so try to at least let it simmer for a good 30 minutes. I know it’s so hard to not dig in especially when you can smell it’s magic but I promise it will make it that much better.

Another important thing to make sure you do when preparing for this dish, and really anything you do in the kitchen, is your mise en place!!! We have all heard Chef Ann on Worst Cooks in America yell this to her recruits, and if you haven’t I highly recommend you go watch it right now, it really boosts up your self esteem in the kitchen. Anyways, mise en place, getting everything chopped and in order before you start cooking is so important especially with dishes with garlic that if you turn away for one second too long everything ends up tasting a little bitter. It also keeps you from getting absolutely frantic in the kitchen trying to hurry up and get one thing chopped or diced or minced before that thing on the stove bursts into flames. 

A Few Notes

  • This servers about 6 people
  • Best served on top of a bed of rice or quinoa but I have also put it on top of spinach and made a curry salad which was so good
  • You can add any meat to make it a non vegan/vegetarian option

Let’s Do This

Do all of your mincing and chopping first then get out a deep pot or enameled cast iron dutch oven. Add in olive oil, and put it over medium-high heat. Then add and sweat your onions. Once the onions are clear/ translucent, add in your bell peppers and cook them for about 5 to 10 minutes. Next add in your garlic and stir until fragrant. Once your kitchen smells garlicy and yummy, add in your softer veggies and or fruit. Give them a stir and add in your spices and curry paste. Stir it around till everything is coated and then pour in the coconut milk. Bring the curry to a boil and then let it simmer with the lid on for about 30 minutes or until it is at the desired thickness. Serve over your favorite grain or salad mix and enjoy!

Blood Orange & Olive Oil Challah Bread

Tool Kit:

  • 1 cup of blood orange juice ( about 2 or 3 oranges)
  • The zest from the blood oranges that you plan on juicing (about 2 or 3 oranges)
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 2 ¼ teaspoons of instant dry yeast
  • 6 cups all purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ⅔ cup of your favorite olive oil
  • 1 egg
  • Egg wash
    • 1 egg beaten with a splash of water

This bread recipe was inspired by an old Molly Yeh Orange Juice Challah Bread recipe from 2018. I developed this one after trying to make hers but accidentally putting the wrong amounts of different ingredients in and loving it. After that I changed things up each time and ended up with this recipe.

A Few Notes

  • Total Time needed: ~ 4 hours

 (depending on how long they end up needing to bake)

  • You can make the dough the night before and let it rise in the fridge overnight instead of rising on the counter for 2 hours
  • How to braid bread
    • Once you have portioned your dough out and rolled them into even snakes pinch the tops of each snake/ strand together then proceed to braid as you would normally..
  • Challah bread is best eaten within the first 24 hours. However, if you don’t finish it all within its time frame don’t throw it out! Instead, turn it into a french toast or repurpose it by turning it into a bread pudding. I can never keep the bread long enough to do this though, it’s always gone within the first couple of hours.

LET’S DO THIS

Start by first zesting and juicing the blood oranges. Next, fit your stand mixer with the dough hook and add in the flour, sugar, salt, and yeast. Mix it on low for a minute to let everything get mixed together. Then add the warm water, olive oil, egg, and orange juice and let the mixer do its magic on a nice low to medium speed  until a sticky dough is formed.

Find your favorite giant bowl and oil it up so that the dough won’t stick, add the dough, cover it with plastic wrap or beeswax wrap , and leave the dough alone to rise for 2 hours. 

This next part is all about you and whatever you want your bread to look like. You can divide it into four even pieces like I did, or you can choose to do two or even one I am not here to judge. Just whatever you choose, make sure they are in even pieces. Then take your even pieces and divide each of those into either three smaller pieces, like I have done, or you can go a more traditional route with six smaller pieces. Now roll them out like you would when making  play-dough snakes as a child and braid till you can’t braid any more. You can braid these into loafs or make circle braids, it is really all up to you. You do you. 

Now place them on a baking sheet and allow them to rest for 30 minutes. If you live in a dryer environment I recommend putting a towel over them for this second rise to help prevent the dough from drying out. 

Preheat your oven to 375 F. While you wait for your oven to preheat, go ahead and brush the egg wash mixture onto your bread and sprinkle them with your favorite finishing salt. Now you are so close to having this bread, I am so excited for you!! Place them in the oven and leave them alone. Start checking on them in about 15 minutes and keep checking them every 2 minutes until they are golden brown and make a crunchy hollow sound when you tap the top.

The Put-on-everything Roasted Garlic

Tool Kit:

  • 2 whole heads of garlic
  • Aluminum Foil OR Parchment Paper
  • 2 teaspoons of olive oil
  • Salt & pepper

This will be both the fanciest/ most extra thing you can do while also being the easiest. Roasting your garlic before adding it to things like mashed potatoes (recipe coming soon) can really elevate a dish. Or if you just want to impress your dinner guests by going the extra mile, roasting your garlic and then putting it on the dinner table with bread to have a DIY garlic bread is always appreciated.  It takes everything in me not to eat this right out of the oven, garlic is my everything, so be warned it’s delicious.

LET’S DO THIS

First preheat your oven to 400 F. While the oven is preheating, cut the tops off of the garlic heads and place them each in their own small square of foil. Fold up the sides of the foil to avoid spillage. Now drizzle olive oil over the garlic heads, season with salt & pepper, and enclose each garlic into their foil homes. 

Place them each in the oven and check on them around the 15 min mark (however you should be able to smell when they are done since the whole house will smell like roasted garlic.) They should be a lovely golden color and soft to the touch. If not, put them back in and check back every 5 minutes.

Orange Creamsicle French Meringues

Tool Kit:

  • 4 egg whites
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of vanilla bean paste
  • The zest of 1 orange
  • Piping bag

A Few Notes:

  • The ratio I find works best is 4:1 (4 egg whites to 1 cup of sugar) but if you happen to have more than 4 egg whites saved up from a previous project then adjust the sugar accordingly.
  • This makes roughly 24
  • So people say not to attempt anything that involves whipping egg whites when the humidity is over something like 85%. I am not sure if this is true or not since I have been too scared to try it, I don’t like wasting ingredients on purpose, so I avoid making these if there is a forecast for rain that day.
  • The estimated time this takes overall is about 3- 5 hours depending on the size and if you are doing one batch at a time or if you have a double oven so plan accordingly
  • You can make these pretty if you’d like by adding gel food coloring when you add in your flavorings or you could paint on luster dust at the end. Make it your own and have fun! I left mine plain because it was about 11pm by the time I finished and was not feeling anything but sleep.

Let’s Do This

Seperate your egg whites from your egg yolks and save your egg yolks for another project (I made hollandaise sauce with mine but an ice cream base sounds really good right now too.) Next add them to the bowl of your stand mixer and, with your stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, set it to a medium high speed and let it do its thing.

Once the egg whites look frothy, slowly add in the sugar, and then beat the mixture on a medium high to high speed until stiff peaks are formed. This step takes longer than you think it will so be patient. You can tell if they are stiff peaks or not by turning the whisk attachment upside down (or the bowl) and everything should stay in place. Once the stiff peaks are formed add in the vanilla bean paste and the orange zest and beat on low for a minute longer.   

Arrange the oven rack to the center and preheat the oven to 225 F. While you wait for the oven to warm up, fit your piping bag with whatever piping tip you desire, here is where you can make them your own design and really go crazy with it, fill up the piping bag and pipe them onto either a baking sheet lined with parchment paper OR a baking sheet lined with a silicone mat. I used silicone mats for mine but use what works best for you. Put them in the oven and start checking them around the 1 hour 30 min mark. They should be solid on the bottom and not sticky to the touch.

Enjoy them within 3 days for best results.

April