One dish

Roasted chicken acorn squash with sumac brown butter

 

I am fairly certain that last year was the first time I started cooking with acorn squash. I made roasted chicken with acorn squash with a sumac brown butter recipe I found in Food & Wine Magazine the other night and now my husband wants us to grow acorn squash next year. It is no wonder how our garden area keeps growing and growing. We are kind of running out of space where we have them all. I think we have 8 raised beds of various sizes. A couple of them are huge. One of the them I hate, it is too wide and built into a hill; I find it too hard to weed and I don’t like it so I pretty much ignore it.
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I dislike that bed so much that I asked if we could take it apart and reuse the lumber to make a different bed; ya know one that I will like. I have a strong sense that I am shit out of luck but hey it was worth a try right?
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If you have an opportunity to try sumac spice I don’t think you will be disappointed. Ground sumac has a tangy lemony flavor, although less tart than lemon juice. A small sprinkle also adds a beautiful pop of color to your dish as well. So check it out if you see it. Or buy it online like we did.
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roasted chicken and acorn squash with sumac brown butter
Serves 4
great sheet pan dinner the legs and squash cook in the same amount of time. Plus easy clean up!
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Ingredients
  1. 4 chicken leg quarters
  2. 31/2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
  3. 4 teaspoons lemon zest, divided
  4. 2 teaspoon black pepper, divided
  5. 2 medium acorn squash, halved and then cut into 1/2 inch slices
  6. 3 tablespoon olive oil
  7. 3 thyme sprigs
  8. 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  9. 1 teaspoon honey
  10. 1 teaspoon sumac, divided
  11. 1 teaspoon Cajun spice, or Aleppo pepper spice
Instructions
  1. on a rimmed baking sheet evenly sprinkle 2 teaspoons salt, 2 teaspoons lemon zest, and 1 teaspoon black pepper on both sides of the chicken, refrigerate, uncovered overnight or at least 8 hours.
  2. Place chicken on the counter for about an hour so it comes to room temperature. Preheat the oven to 450'F Add the acorn squash to the baking sheet; drizzle both with some extra virgin olive oil. Sprinkle squash with 1 teaspoon of salt and remaining black pepper. Spread fresh thyme sprigs around the chicken and squash.
  3. Bake for about 35-45 minutes or until the chicken at the thickest part of the thigh reads 165'F and the squash is tender. Transfer chicken and squash to a platter, Discard the thyme sprigs. reserve the pans juices.
  4. Heat the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until browned, roughly 3-4 minutes. Scrape the pan juices from the baking sheet into the saucepan. Whisk in the honey, 1/2 teaspoon sumac, remaining teaspoons lemon zest and remaining salt. Drizzle all over chicken and squash. Sprinkle with Cajun or Aleppo pepper, thyme leaves and remaining sumac.
Notes
  1. You should be able to find sumac at a Middle Eastern market or online.
Adapted from Food and Wine Magazine
Adapted from Food and Wine Magazine
Cooking at Clark Towers https://cookingatclarktowers.com/
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Quick garden fresh tomato sauce

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Over the years I have processed my tomatoes using different methods. Freezing them as sauces, freezing them as chunks and cooking down and canning them as well. I can’t say that I loved anything that I have done before or that I have a true plan of what to do with all of them.. This year I have so far made salsa, spaghetti sauce and yesterday I made pizza sauce. All were successes.

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I used my potato smasher to breakdown the tomatoes even more

Yesterday I was also canning the last of the pickles, I have a ridiculous 50 pint size jars of pickles and since the water was already boiling I processed the salsa we didn’t eat so we could have it for later. I think I have found out how to deal with all the tomatoes last Wednesday night after work I made homemade spaghetti sauce and Italian meatballs for dinner. They were delicious and I used up all of the ripe tomatoes I had on hand. Yesterday I made pizza sauce with the next batch of ripe tomatoes.
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I like this recipe for fresh garden tomato sauce because it came together fast enough for a weeknight dinner. My husband was pretty surprised I pulled it off in only a few hours; most of it hands off. He thought you had to cook them down pretty much all day to have it taste good. Proved him wrong.
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Quick fresh garden tomato sauce
a great way to use up some of your garden tomatoes
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
40 min
Total Time
50 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
40 min
Total Time
50 min
Ingredients
  1. 5-8 pounds tomatoes
  2. 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  3. 2 tablespoons olive oil
  4. 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  5. 4 cloves garlic, minced
  6. handful chopped basil
  7. 2 bay leaf
Instructions
  1. If you are using a food mill don't worry about getting all the seeds and skins off.
  2. If you are not using a food mill you will want to cut the tomatoes in half horizontally and squeeze the seeds into a garbage bowl. And you could grate each side of the tomato on a box grate and throw the skins into the garbage bowl.
  3. If you are using a food mill then just chunk up each tomato, I cut around any of the ugliness and the stems.
  4. Add either the chunked tomatoes or the tomato pulp into a low but wide saucepan over high heat. Add the salt, olive oil, tomato paste, garlic, basil and bay leaves. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to a brisk simmer.
  5. Reduce the sauce to almost half, stirring occasionally. Until the sauce is medium-thick or to your liking. Season with salt to your taste.
  6. If you are making meatballs like I did, add them to your sauce, it will help season the sauce.
Cooking at Clark Towers https://cookingatclarktowers.com/

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Had to throw some of my sunflowers into the picture!

 

 

Cheesy Mashed Potato Casserole

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Here is another thing to do with leftover mashed or smashed potatoes. I know like that’s a thing it usually is in my house only because I tend to make way too many; pretty much all the time. The great thing about this is you don’t actually to have to wait for leftovers. You can buy mashed potatoes already made from the store, which I will confess they are actually really good or make a batch just for this, Here is what I did.  I had some leftover smashed potatoes, some shredded cheese that needed to be used and literally 4 eggs left in the carton. Which is how it all came together.
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I am not complaining at all but I buy waaaayyy too much food, my fridge and freezers are generally full at all times. I actually get a lot of satisfaction by using up what I have on hand, I try to plan meals around what’s in there and I am trying to have my daughter do the same. She likes to go through cookbooks and make something that catches her eye; which is great but not always what we have on hand.  She is trying more we have a TON of cucumbers so her lunches have been using quite a few of them.

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Sauteing or sweating my onions

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Draining my bacon

OK back to this easy but delicious casserole dish that we had for dinner on Thursday night. I can see this for Sunday brunch for a crowd, who am I kidding I would eat this any day of the week.

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who wouldn’t love this?

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More eggs would fit but I didn’t have anymore!

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OK the site to my recipe isn’t working grrrrrrr.

Ingredients
leftover mashed or smashed potatoes
2 cups shredded cheese
4-6 eggs
1 small onion diced
butter
milk
4 slices bacon
scallions or chives

Directions
If your potatoes need a little more love to make them creamy add some butter and milk while re-heating them.
in a saute pan that can go in your oven heat up a tablespoon of butter and the diced onion; just till translucent
add the creamy potatoes and mix till combined
cover with 3/4 of the cheese
make 4-6 wells with the back of a spoon; one for each egg
crack the eggs into the wells. sprinkle with a little salt and pepper to your liking
cover with the remaining cheese
bake for 12-14 minutes, you want the whites cooked and the yolks a little runny
while in the oven cook your bacon till crisp. I diced mine before cooking so the pieces were more uniformed
once out of the oven sprinkle with bacon and scallions or chives and serve.

 

 

Garden Salsa

This week was not spent in the kitchen and most of my garden tomatoes are still not ripening. I literally had to google what the heck is wrong with them. Apparently my original thought was completely wrong. I thought my plants were so large and the roots and earth were not getting enough heat. I did not know that some varieties will not turn red on the vine if the temperature is above 85’F.  I had no idea I thought the heat is what they needed most. IMG_4209.JPG
There are a few other factors such as they are spending too much time growing larger plants, leaves and flowers than ripening their fruit. That makes sense to me. We did end up cutting them back a bit; being careful not to lose any of the tomatoes so maybe in a week or so they’ll reward us?  Thank you google!
IMG_4216.JPGMy grandfather had a huge garden in the backyard; I can see him sitting in his chair drinking a Miller beer just watching over it for hours. I wonder when plants were not doing what they were supposed to be doing who did he ask?

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Seed them so your salsa doesn’t get too wet

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chop them as uniform as you can

We have been picking a few cherry tomatoes and some roma tomatoes. So I spent yesterday morning on making some salsa with my onions, tomatoes and jalapeno. My green peppers were too small to pick just yet and I had other garlic I needed to use up before I dig into mine.

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keep the tomato and green pepper roughly the same size –  everything else smaller

Garden Salsa
quick and easy garden salsa, everyone will love
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Ingredients
  1. roma tomatoes; seeded and chopped
  2. green peppers; seeded and chopped
  3. yellow onion; peeled and diced
  4. jalapeno; seeded and diced
  5. garlic cloves; chopped fine
  6. kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper
  7. balsamic vinegar - a dash or two
  8. 1-2 packets of sweet and low
Instructions
  1. the amounts you use for each ingredient is totally up to you. I will give you an approximate ratio so it will be well balanced.
  2. 12 roma tomatoes, 2 green peppers, 4 jalapeno, 6 garlic and 2 onions seemed to make a nice amount of salsa and the ratio seemed to work out nicely
  3. adjust for how you like your salsa. want it hotter add more jalapeno or leave the seeds and veins in them.
  4. add the sweet and low and a few dashes of the balsamic vinegar
  5. finish it off with a little salt and pepper to taste
Notes
  1. the sweet and low may sound a little odd but even that little amount brings a brightness to the salsa. I would suggest trying it without it and then add it and you will see.
Cooking at Clark Towers https://cookingatclarktowers.com/

Garlic lemon sheet pan chicken thighs

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So I didn’t get to making my pickles last weekend so this weekend it is a must. The cucumbers are still the strongest crop we have this season and both veggie drawers are full.
IMG_4177Last night my son and his fiance were coming over for dinner and to discuss their wedding and reception ideas; yes it is a little over a year away but you have to come up with some sort of plan to give everyone some time to make some of their wishes come true.
IMG_4181I decided that dinner needed to be less hands on so we had plenty of time to chat. Sheet pan dinners are pretty cool and if you have never tried making them you should add it to your list; I bet they will make it into your weekly dinner rotation.
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They are easy, you don’t need a lot of ingredients or do they take a lot of prep time. Your oven does most of the work leaving you time to do more important things. Plus clean up is super quick.
IMG_4183I had a family pack of chicken thighs, my husband picked an onion a turnip some potatoes and a few carrots. Sounds like dinner to me.  Yes I use a few sheet pans but I was making a lot of chicken. And you want to make sure everything has room to roast otherwise your veggies will steam and it’s just not the same.
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Garlic lemon sheet pan chicken thighs
sheet pan dinners
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Ingredients
  1. 8 chicken thighs, bone in skin on
  2. Kosher salt and black pepper
  3. 3 tablespoon olive oil
  4. 1 lemon squeezed
  5. 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  6. 6 cloves garlic, minced
  7. wash, peel and chop 2 or more vegetables of your choice
Instructions
  1. pre-heat oven to 400'F
  2. season both sides of the chicken thighs with salt and pepper
  3. in a large bowl add the olive oil, lemon, sugar and garlic
  4. add chicken thighs and let marinade while you peel the vegetables
  5. place the thighs skin side down onto the sheet pan covered in parchment paper
  6. in a clean bowl add the veggies one at a time or all together, olive oil, salt an pepper
  7. add the veggies to another pan and make sure there is room for them to roast or grab another sheet pan to spread them out
  8. bake for 35 minutes, turn the veggies and flip the chicken.
  9. bake for another 30 minutes until the veggies are cooked through slightly browned
  10. If needed set the oven to broil and brown the chicken skin - I had to.
Cooking at Clark Towers https://cookingatclarktowers.com/

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leftover takeout white rice

If you have ever ordered takeout from a Chinese, Japanese or Thai restaurant you probably ended up with a container or two or even three of white rice. I mean who is not going to eat the fried rice first over the plain, sticky and starchy white rice am I right?
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If you are anything like me you can’t just throw it away. So you put it in the fridge with the rest of the leftovers since you ordered way more than you could ever eat in one sitting and wait for someone to eat it. Until it stays in there a week, or more and you end up throwing it away on fridge clean out day. I too am guilty of this!
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I started out thinking I was going to make fried rice, but with the ingredients I wanted to add to my dish we ended up with a stir fry. You might think they are similar and they basically are. Both using leftover rice, both cooked on high heat with a little oil. You cook them both in a wok but you don’t have to if you don’t have one. Both have some veggies and a protein plus a little soy sauce or oyster sauce; maybe some hoisin sauce top with a few sliced scallion and you’ve got a meal.
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Here is what I threw in my stir fry – you make yours with what you like and what you have on hand.

2 containers leftover white rice
2 chicken breast
2 carrots – match stick
1 medium onion
1 can water chestnuts
1 can baby corn chopped
1/2 bell pepper
handful pea pod
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoon hoisin sauce
3 cloves garlic – minced
1 teaspoon ginger – grated
kosher salt and black pepper

Prep by slicing and dicing all of your ingredients.
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heat your pan with a little oil and add the chicken or whatever protein you are using if it is not already cooked. Remove from heat, add the onion, carrots, pepper stirring constantly around the pan until lightly cooked, add the garlic stirring for another minute or two. Add the remaining already cooked veggies along with rice and chicken. Add the soy sauce and the hoisin. It only takes a minute or two for everything to come together.
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Serve topped with sliced scallions.
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Meatloaf – low sodium low fat

My mother might be shocked to read this blog – nothing bad trust me just me making and sharing a meatloaf recipe someone might have to pick her up off the floor! I am sure everyone has a childhood food trauma – OK trauma might be a little harsh but I am still not a meatloaf fan by any stretch. My poor husband sometimes orders it out since I pretty much never ever make it.
IMG_4063My mother might fall over again when she reads that I not only made a meatloaf but I used ground turkey WHO AM I? When I was a punk teenager my mother tried to pull off ground turkey as ground beef – who did she think she was kidding – my teenage self was not falling for it one bit. My adult self is far more evolved I usually have a package or two in the freezer.
IMG_4065.JPGYou might be wondering why I would even attempt making this meatloaf; but my Dad should be eating a lot more healthier than he has his entire life so I guess I am going to try to convert him on a few things I know he likes. I feel that if I can make him a couple staples that are lower in sodium and with healthier choice of protein maybe he’ll try a little harder.
IMG_4066.JPGI found this recipe from Genius Kitchen and changed it from ground beef to ground turkey. Yes I did try a bite of it, but I also put a chunk out on the table for the fam, immediate and extended, and they all liked it a lot so I think it is a winner.
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Low-Sodium Low-Fat Meatloaf
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Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
1 hr
Total Time
1 hr 30 min
Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
1 hr
Total Time
1 hr 30 min
Ingredients
  1. Meatloaf
  2. 1 tablespoon olive oil
  3. ½ cup onion, chopped fine
  4. ⅓ cup celery, chopped fine
  5. ⅓ cup carrot, chopped fine
  6. 2 pounds ground turkey
  7. 1 cup rolled oats
  8. 1 egg
  9. 2 teaspoon garlic, minced
  10. 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  11. ½ cup milk
  12. 2 teaspoons Mrs Dash seasoning mix
  13. ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  14. Sauce
  15. 8 ounces no salt tomato sauce
  16. ¼ cup brown sugar
  17. 1 tablespoon yellow mustard
  18. 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350F
  2. Saute onion, celery, carrot and garlic in the olive oil just till tender, let them cool a bit.
  3. In a large bowl mix all the meatloaf ingredients together using your hands.
  4. Shape into a loaf and place in a baking dish.
  5. Combine the sauce ingredients in a small bowl and pour over the meatloaf ingredients.
  6. Bake for 1 hour.
Adapted from Genius Kitchen
Adapted from Genius Kitchen
Cooking at Clark Towers https://cookingatclarktowers.com/

Maple Roasted Carrot Salad

Happy Easter!!!  Have a wonderful day!

If I was better at this blogging thing I would have given you this recipe last week so you could make it today as part of you Easter dinner. I plan on making it later today for my fam that will be here for dinner. I first made this and blogged about this recipe back in 2016. I am looking forward to having it later today, I can taste it already!

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I also am planning on making a carrot cake with cream cheese frosting or it might turn into carrot cupcakes; both sound appealing to me.  I’ll have to see how the day progresses.

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Right now the house is super quiet. all I can hear is my fingers tapping on the keyboard. Which is very unusual around here. At the very least the dog is wanting something; could be out, could be attention or mostly could be a treat; but even he is still sleeping.  In less than an hour all things are going to change. My son and his fiance and my in-laws will all be here for pancakes, sausage and home fries.

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We have had Easter morning pancakes long before my kids were even born. And yes even though the kids are adults I will be hiding eggs. Which is almost as much fun for me as it is for them to find them.  I do love that I can truly hide them. The only problem is me keeping track of where I put them.
 
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If you happen to not have the ingredients on hand and there isn’t an open store near by I hope you keep this recipe in the back of your mind as it is easy to bring together; yes there are a few steps but nothing you can’t handle. The flavors meld so nice together and  you’ll look like a rock star placing it on the table for all to share.

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The Marcona almonds used to be something you had to look for around here but not now. I can get them pretty much at all of the grocery stores around. Which is great and now I have them on hand ALL the time. They are awesome by the handful as well as in sweet or savory recipes.  You should check them out if you haven’t already.

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Maple-Roasted Carrot Salad
Preheat oven to 425’F

2 pounds carrots
¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup pure maple syrup
⅔ cup dried cranberries
⅔ cup freshly squeezed orange juice (2 oranges)
3 tablespoons sherry wine vinegar
2 cloves garlic (grated)
6 ounces baby arugula
6 ounces goat cheese
⅔ cup Marcona almonds (roasted/salted)
1½ teaspoon Kosher salt
½ teaspoon Freshly cracked black pepper

Prepare carrots to 1 inch wide and 2 inches long – because they are roasting at a high temperature you don’t want them too small.

Place in a medium bowl with the olive oil, 1 tsp salt and pepper toss together. Using 2 sheet pans (they need space you don’t want them to steam) Roast for 20 minutes, tossing once until the carrots are tender. Transfer all of the carrots to one sheet pan and add the maple syrup. Toss and roast for another 5-10 minutes just till the edges caramelize. Watch them. Once out set aside for 10 minutes.

Combine the cranberries and orange juice in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer then set aside for 10 minutes.

In a small bowl combine the vinegar, garlic, ½ teaspoon salt. Whisk in 3 tablespoons of olive oil.
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Place the arugula in a large dish, add the carrots, cranberries in their juice, goat cheese crumbled, almonds and the vinaigrette. Toss and serve at room temperature.

 

Recipe – Ina Garten the Chew episode

Sage Butter Garlic Pork Chops

A couple of weeks ago I made pork chops for dinner. Sound simple enough but apparently they were the best pork chops my husband has ever had. I am not entirely sure how to take that. Were all the other pork chops terrible? Am I too sensitive? Was it my way of preparing them or was it because I bought them from a butcher? Honestly I believe it was the butcher but I am going to take a little of the credit. I mean I went to the butcher shop and bought them, I seasoned them and I cooked them to the correct temperature. So I can take some of the credit right?
IMG_4016For some of my local followers I got them at the Flying Butcher in Nashua and they were bone in. I will be picking them up again soon. Maybe I will make them differently just to see if it was me or them? Let it go Donna!
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I didn’t start out adding apples, white wine and a little chicken stock but I couldn’t help myself. I had all on hand and they go so well together it was hard not to add the apples.

I started with just making seasoned chops and was going to make a simple garlic butter and sage pan sauce with sweet potato rosemary chips on the side. I ended up adding apples, wine and a little chicken stock. I really don’t measure so if your pan is too dry add more liquid.
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Ingredients

Ingredients 4 bone in pork chops Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper 2 tablespoons butter Olive oil 5-6 sage leaves 1-2 apples peeled and sliced 2-3 garlic cloves chopped ¼ cup white wine ½ cup chicken stock Potato wedges 1-2 sweet potatoes Rosemary chopped Olive Oil

Directions

Directions Let the pork chops sit on the counter and come to room temperature while you get everything out. Season both sides with salt and pepper. IMG_4008IMG_4009If you are making the sweet potato chips, peel and slice, drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper them; add chopped fresh rosemary. Place them a sheet pan and place in a 350’F oven for about 30 minutes; flipping once. Till they are soft and have a little color IMG_4005IMG_4007IMG_4017Heat your pan a little and then add some olive oil. Once the pan and oil are heated add the chops. Let them sit there for at least 3 minutes. Flip them and let them sit there for another 3 minutes or so. Continue flipping after 2-3 minutes until they are cooked through. I recommend 145’ internal temperature for a juicy chop. Once cooked through remove them from the pan and set aside. IMG_4011IMG_4012IMG_4013Add white wine or just use chicken stock to deglaze the pan. Add the butter and sage as well as the apples and garlic and saute till the apples are cooked through. Adding stock as needed. This should take around 5-6 minutes. Place the chops on your serving dish and pour the apple mixture over them and enjoy!

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Roasted sheet pan dinner

It is finally feeling a little like spring around here. The sun is shining, the wind isn’t too bad and the bugs are not around yet so I spent 4 hours outside raking and still have another 4ish or at least someone else has another 4 or so I mean I don’t want to have all the fun!
IMG_4025.JPGI mentioned the other day I wanted to make a sheet pan meal. Well it was worth the wait. It was easy to prep, mostly hands off cooking and the flavor was on point. I will confess I was a little hesitant to add everything including the chicken into one bowl but everything was going to be cooked on the same sheet and at 425’ for 35-45 minutes it will be fine!
IMG_4018I will be making this again; and am looking forward to playing around with different flavors; I think there is endless possibilities to try. It actually might become a staple this summer especially when there is so many other things to do with the longer days.
IMG_4019I do want to mention that you might need to pay attention to what veggies you are cooking. Carrots take longer than potatoes, beets take longer than carrots you get the picture. If you want to stagger than you can, I did not and beets and carrots were cooked but still had a little firmness to them. You can also slice the carrots smaller than the potatoes so the cook around the same time.
IMG_4020.JPGIngredients
6 chicken thighs
2-3 potatoes – or use 6-7 small baby reds
4-5 carrots
3 beets – optional
1 large onion sliced
2-3 garlic cloves sliced
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary chopped
¼ cup olive oil
2 lemons juiced
Salt and black pepper

Directions
Peel and slice the veggies and place in a large bowl. Season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper on both sides; add them to the bowl. Add the oil, lemon, rosemary and season with salt and pepper.

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I added the beets after I put everything else on the sheet – didn’t want everything purple

Spread everything out on the sheet pan. For easy clean up (it still made a mess but it was less) cover your sheet with non stick foil. Spread everything out the best you can and bake for 35-45 minutes.
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