We had family over for dinner yesterday so we did our typical Sunday dinner with way too much food. We started off with appetizers of buffalo chicken pizza and some homemade guacamole and tomato salsa with some chips. Then for dinner, I tried to do everything in one roasting pan to help cut down on the clean up. We made a couple of roast chickens with roasted root vegetables that we had picked up at the farmer’s market on Saturday. This also included some fresh beets that I roasted and they turned out wonderful. The whole dinner was very easy to prepare, although it took about 2 hours in total to cook. I used recipes from Mark Bittman’s “How to Cook Everything” for the meal yesterday.
Roast Chicken with Root Vegetables
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 whole chickens, 3 to 4 pounds each, trimmed of excess fat
2-3 russet potatoes, scrubbed and chopped
1/2 pound parsnips, peeled and chopped
1/2 pound carrots, peeled and chopped
1 sweet potato, scrubbed and chopped
1 onion, peeled and quartered
6 whole cloves of garlic
Heat the oven to 450 degrees. Mix together the olive oil and thyme and some salt and pepper. Put the chickens, breast side up, on a rack in a roasting pan. Toss all the vegetables together in a large bowl with 3/4 of the herb and oil mixture and scatter in the bottom of the roasting pan beneath the chickens. Roast the chickens in the oven for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, spoon some of the herb mixture over the chicken and the vegetables. Shake the pan gently so the vegetables turn and cook evenly.
After roasting for another 10 minutes, the chicken breasts should begin to brown (if they don’t, wait a few more minutes until they are brown). Turn the heat in the oven down to 325 degrees, baste again with the remaining herb mixture, and roast until an instant read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh reads 155-165 degrees.
Remove the chickens from the oven and raise the oven temperature to 425 degrees. Continue roasting the vegetables while the chickens rest before carving, about 15 minutes or until the vegetables are tender. Serve the carved chickens with the vegetables scattered around them.
We served the chickens and vegetables with a fresh tomato and cucumber salad dressed with extra virgin olive oil, salt, pepper and a little diced shallot. You could just as easily only make one of the vegetables for this meal instead of the mix, but the mix turned out quite nice and gave us a good variety. I also made some fresh beets that I roasted with this meal. Now, not everyone is a fan of beets in general. I think some people were scarred in childhood by being forced into eating them, but fresh roasted beets taste unbelievably delicious. They have a very sweet flavor from their natural sugars, and once you have roasted them they are great hot or cold. Roasting them really is the best method for cooking them.
4 large beets, scrubbed, greens cut off (leave a bit of the greens on the end to help stop them from bleeding all over while they cook)
Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Wash the beets well. Wrap them individually in foil and put them on a cookie sheet or in a roasting pan. Bake, undisturbed for 45 to 90 minutes, until the thin blade of knife pierces one with a little resistance. Remove the beets from the foil and carefully and gently rub the surface of the beet to remove the peel. Dress lightly with extra virgin olive oil and salt and pepper.
If you bake them in foil, you don’t really have to worry about them staining anything (unless of course you drop a piece on your shirt while you’re eating. Thankfully, none of us did). You could also take the roasted beets, cut them and saute them gently with some butter or olive oil after roasting for some added flavor, but I think they are great just this way. Everyone seemed to really enjoy them, and I had leftovers tonight with dinner.
I decided to try something completely different for dessert last night. I had seen a recipe from Cook’s Country for something called Magic Strawberry Ice Cream. The name intrigued me so I read up on it and it claimed to make ice cream with the need of an ice cream machine or maker. I figured why not, let’s give it a try.
Magic Strawberry Ice Cream
8 ounces strawberries, hulled
1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
1 ounce white chocolate chips
1 tablespoon vodka
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
1 1/4 cups heavy creamed, chilled
Process the strawberries in a food processor until smooth, about 30 seconds (puree should measure about 3/4 cup). Microwave the sweetened condensed milk, white chocolate chips and vodka in a large bowl until the chocolate melts, about 1 minute, whisking halfway through cooking. Whisk in the strawberry puree, vanilla and salt.
Using a stand mixer fitted with a whisk, whip the heavy cream on medium-low speed until foamy, about 1 minute. Increase the speed to high and whip until soft peaks form, 1 to 3 minutes. Whisk one-third of the whipped cream into the strawberry mixture, then gently fold in the remaining whipped cream, 1 scoop at a time, until combined. Freeze in an airtight container until firm, 6 hours or up to 2 weeks. Serve.
I know you are probably asking, why is there vodka in this recipe? Well the berries have a lot of moisture all on their own and the ice cream would crystallize and ice over. The vodka prevents this from happening and lets the berries do their thing. I have to say, I was very skeptical this would work but I could tell before I even combined the puree with the whipped cream that this was going to taste good. The puree itself smelled exactly like a good strawberry ice cream. Once everything was combined and had set, it was perfect and tasted awesome. What made it even better for us was that Michelle’s grandmother had unknowingly made a strawberry shortcake to bring for dessert, so it was absolute perfect with a little ice cream on the side.
Of course, if I was smart I would have taken pictures of everything, but Sean reminded me about after most of the ice cream was gone, so I didn’t get a picture of it (he’s actually finishing the ice cream right now). Oh well, maybe next time. Now that we know how easy it is to make, I’ll certainly make it again.
That’s it for tonight. I have 2 chicken carcasses to make stock with tomorrow and I never did get to make chicken salad sandwiches the other night, but maybe I will do that tomorrow and post the recipe with some potato salad and cole slaw. We’ll have to see what else comes along this week. Work has kept me very busy lately, so I haven’t had time to blog, but I will try to fit some in this week. Until then, enjoy your evening and enjoy your meal!