Clementine Roasted Free-Range Chicken

I am slightly obsessed with this cookbook, Jerusalem. Some of the pages are stained from use with various sauces and splatters, a sign of a well-used cookbook . In it I just happened to notice one detail that has literally changed the way I cook free range chicken.

by Yottam Ottolenghi

by Yottam Ottolenghi

 

For the first time in January I cooked a true free range bird we raised here at home on pasture. These birds are large, long-legged, lean and just a little different than the chickens you can buy at the grocery store. Free range birds have more dark meat, making them more flavorful. The legs on our birds are about twice the length of a grocery store bird, but the breasts are smaller.  Contrast that to a typical bird sold in American grocery stores, raised in a warehouse that is pumped with antibiotics, growth hormones, and  grain, so that they grow super fast with zero exercise. This results in near-non-existent leg muscles, more fat, and large breasts. They usually cannot hold heir own weight up on their weak little legs. It’s a sad situation…and a good reason to avoid brands like Tyson and Purdue and support your local farmers. I personally love Savannah River Farms and know they raise birds, but I think more options are showing up at the Forsyth Farmers market every year, too.

I thought I could cook our free range chicken just like any old chicken and decided to roast it in the oven with olive oil, fresh herbs,  root vegetables and salt and pepper. No problem, right?

Well, the chicken came out dry on the outside, tough, and partially raw on the inside.

What did I do wrong?

According to Yottam Ottolenghi, cooking the chicken whole was my first mistake. In his cookbook, he cuts up the chicken and lets it roast in in some sort of delicious marinade and makes a grain side dish cooked in the juices.

I decided try that, cut up the chicken (after watching this Youtube video on how to cut up a whole chicken because I have never actually done that before) and out came this incredibly flavorful, tender, chicken.

Another perk is the roasting takes 35- 45 minutes, so you can make this recipe any night of the week if you prep the marinade the day before.

We have 27 new chicks as of March 9th, a mix of different breeds for egg-laying and meat,and I have been enjoying watching them go from little puffballs to doubling in size in about a week.

 

Meet Mr. Popper, based on the book Mr. Popper’s penguins. Can you tell why!?

 

Mr. Popper

Mr. Popper

 

 

Clementine Roasted Free Range Chicken

Serves 3
Prep time 15 minutes
Cook time 45 minutes
Total time 1 hour
Meal type Main Dish
Misc Serve Hot
From book Jerusalem
Try this Clementine Roasted Chicken for an easy and flavorful weeknight meal.

Ingredients

  • 1 free range chicken (quartered, skin on)
  • 3 clementines (sliced thinly short-wise)
  • 1 onion chopped into thin rings or slices
  • 3 teaspoons fennel seeds (crushed)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 pink grapefruit, juiced
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 1.5 teaspoons salt
  • 3/4 teaspoons freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons grain mustard
  • 2 cups basmati rice (cooked)

Directions

Step 1
Combine the grapefruit and lemon juice, olive oil, wine , mustard and fennel in a large bowl and mix with a whisk.
Step 2
Place the chicken in a deep roasting pan and coat the chicken with the marinade. Pour all of the marinade over the chicken.
Step 3
Place the onions around the chicken and the sliced clementines on top of the chicken and in the pan.
Step 4
Cover the pan tightly and let it sit in the refrigerator at least 4 hours or overnight to marinate the chicken.
Step 5
Preheat the oven to 475 degrees. Sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper .
Step 6
Roast at 475 degrees uncovered for 35-45 minutes. It will get pretty dark and have crispy skin.
Step 7
Serve with basmati rice . This is delicious with sliced cucumbers and yogurt and fresh tomatoes on the side.

In love and light,

Lydia

 

Sweet Potato Roasted Pepper Soup

You can tell a great deal about a person by what lies in the depths of their refrigerator.You know you do it, snoop through someone’s refrigerator while visiting.

The “empty-fridge person”? That just blows my mind. How do manage to eat out 3 meals per day? And never snack?

Then there is the beer-only fridge…I won’t name any names since some of my former roommates may or may not read my blog.

The there is my mother-in -law’s fridge, that perfect fridge. You know….the one that is bright white and all the tupperwares match and are perfectly stacked by size. The vegetables are in the crisper where they are supposed to be the foods are labeled and dated. The sauces look nice and tidy in the fridge door, nary a drip or drop anywhere to be seen around the caps.

And then.

You have my fridge.

About once I week I find myself cursing as I reach into the back trying to find that darned piece of ginger wrapped in foil and my hand hits something sticky. The soy sauce spilled back there somewhere. My dog is sticking his face in there trying to lick it up, amidst the small stacks of leftovers haphazardly packaged in foil and plastic wrap. You can see  an  open-air bowl of noodles my husband placed on the top shelf with no cover on it. Random piles of vegetables are placed haphazardly on every space available. Even though I clean it out every 2 weeks, it looks as if it hasn’t been organized in months.

I’m just that messy apparently.

I dislike wasting good food. Sometimes it’s a struggle to use up all the fresh veggies we have in the fridge before they go bad, so I survey the fridge as the end  of the week nears and use past-due foods  in the best way I know how: a soup! Whatever doesn’t make it into the soup goes to chickens as long as it is not moldy.

I made this soup with leftover sweet potatoes and a bag of peppers that was about to bite the dust.  This has to be one of the easiest soup recipes I have made to date.

sweet potato red pepper soup

Roast the veggies, dump in the pot, puree.

Done.

A clean recipe that will get you into swimsuit-ready shape.

Top with pepitas (pumpkin seeds), feta, or sliced avocado and a side of crusty bread .

 

In other news, the Barred Rock ladies are officially hitting puberty.

 

Barred Rock Chicks in November

Barred Rock Chicks November 2012

 

grown barred rock hen

Barred Rock Hen April 2013

Our first tiny brown egg appeared in the coop yesterday after 4.5 months of waiting. It’s entirely too cute to eat. Don’t you agree?

The first  2 tiny brown eggs.

The first 2 tiny brown eggs.

 

 

 

Roasted Sweet Potato Red Pepper Soup

Serves 6
Prep time 15 minutes
Cook time 40 minutes
Total time 55 minutes
Dietary Gluten Free, Vegetarian
Meal type Appetizer, Main Dish
Misc Freezable, Pre-preparable, Serve Hot
This low calorie and flavorful roasted sweet potato red pepper soup is the perfect fast weeknight meal.

Ingredients

  • 2.5 cups red bellpepper (chopped)
  • 2.5 cups peeled sweet potato (cubed)
  • 1/4 cup chopped green onions
  • 1 teaspoon chinese 5 spice powder
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon fresh minced garlic
  • 5 cups no salt added chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chopped rosemary
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

Directions

Step 1
Preheat oven to 400 degrees and combine first 8 ingredients in a large bowl. Sprinkle with 1/8 t salt and toss well. Place mixture on a cookie sheet and bake for 30 minutes.
Step 2
In a soup pot or large saucepan, combine the roasted veggies,chicken broth and another 1/8 teaspoon of salt. Bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Place half of the mixture in a blender. Cover blender with a towel and puree. Repeat with remaining veggies in the pot until mixture is smooth. Top with rosemary, feta cheese or pumpkin seeds. Serve,

 

 

 

A Skinny Banana Bread

Well hello there! I’ve missed you.

Things have been nutzo lately, but finally I have a calm week to sort out  recipes and blog a bit. Big changes are happening over here. I can’t say  much more yet. I can tell you that we are considering adding 2 ducklings to our growing menagerie though. February/March is that time of year I become overly excited about Spring and begin to plan garden beds, order plants and seeds, start seeds, and dream of what else we can add to the homestead to make it more sustainable. Little baby chicks start hatching, the feed and seed store puts out fliers, herbs start sprouting, and my wheels start spinning. Just last night my husband and his buddy spent several hours preparing vegetable seeds for planting, placing them in paper towels dipped in a seaweed fertilizer, into a plastic bag and put into indirect sunlight in our guest bedroom. We are ready for Spring!

The more I research ducks, the more I believe they would be a perfect fit for our urban farm. Did you know khaki campbell ducks lay nearly as many eggs as chickens? I had no idea that ducks could be good layers, but apparently, this specific breed lays eggs throughout the year and can co-habitate with chickens. They are friendly, enjoy splashing in mud and water(umm we live on a marsh!), and are a domesticated, non-flying breed.

photo from backyardchickens.com

photo from backyardchickens.com

Long story short, I want some.

I also want a piece of this banana bread  right now.

banana bread skinny

Banana bread is really a breakfast cake, not a health food. It usually contains sugar, butter/oil and flour and very little of the healthy stuff, bananas. Why use butter and sugar when you can make a delicious bread without them? Even Paula Deen is catching on (finally) after her diabetes scare.

In this recipe whole wheat flour replaces white flour, orange juice replaces the sugar, and overly- ripe  bananas replace nearly all the fat.

I eat mine for breakfast spread with almond butter and a side of fruit or as a pre-run snack!

Happy eating!

I will update you on the duck situation soon. I hope to have 2 cute little balls of fluff soon, but may end up with 5 balls of fluff because that’s usually the minimum order number. Would anyone want a few ducklings?

Skinny Banana Bread

Serves 8
Prep time 10 minutes
Cook time 1 hour
Total time 1 hour, 10 minutes
Allergy Egg, Peanuts, Wheat
Meal type Breakfast, Snack
Misc Freezable, Pre-preparable
Try this naturally -sweetened and ultra-moist skinny banana bread for a light breakfast or snack.

Ingredients

  • 3 bananas (very ripe)
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1 egg (large)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 can organic garbanzo beans
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Directions

Step 1
Blend the chickpeas, bananas, peanut butter and egg in a food processor until smooth.
Step 2
Pour the banana mixture into a bowl. In another bowl combine the dry ingredients.
Step 3
Stir dry ingredients into the wet mixture and pour into a parhcment-paper lined loaf pan.
Step 4
Bake for 1 hour at 350 degrees. (may require a bit longer-test the center for doneness).

 

 

Light Egg Salad Sandwiches

Lately I have been so tired of the same old lunch items: avocado sandwich, veggie burger pita, or leftovers. I needed something different this week.

Eggs to the rescue!

I don’t usually eat eggs for lunch, but realize they are an  even more frugal, muscle-building  alternative to  lunch  meats or cheese.

We don’t keep lunch meat in the house, so lately I have been reaching for the eggs for a quick meal. Yes, egg salad smells eggy, and your coworkers might turn up their noses at your egg sandwich but who cares? Enjoy it.

egg salad

I realize mayonnaise is not exactly healthy, but now that you can buy the kind made with olive oil and no corn syrup, a dollop here or there is not so bad.

This egg salad incorporates fresh plain Greek yogurt, boiled eggs, some olive oil mayo, and….a secret ingredient.

Tofu.

And it is delicious, y’all.

Remember tofu takes on the flavor of most anything you add it to, so some chopped tofu is really just a protein-packed filler to make the eggs go further and lower the fat content.

Although, more and more studies are showing no correlation  between eggs and cholesterol, so enjoy your fat in the yolks.

I don’t think I’ll be eating anything but this at lunch-time for a while. I apologize in advance to my coworkers, but they tempt me all day with donuts and pizza so this is just payback.

The chickens were intrigued while I was photographing the sandwich, so it was difficult to get a photo that did not have a chicken eyeing my sandwich.

Did you make that with MY eggs?-says Sage the chicken

“Did you make that with MY eggs?”-says Sage the chicken

Right now I have some “healthy” flourless blondies in the oven, and if they are not a complete disaster, I will share soon.

Light Egg Salad Sandwiches

Serves 8
Prep time 5 minutes
Cook time 10 minutes
Total time 15 minutes
Allergy Egg, Soy
Meal type Lunch, Main Dish, Salad
Misc Serve Cold, Serve Hot
This lighter twist on herbed egg salad has a secret ingredient!

Ingredients

  • 1 dozen eggs
  • 1 block extra firm tofu, drained but not pressed
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil mayonnaise
  • 2-3 tablespoons plain Greek yogurt
  • 1.5 teaspoons paprika
  • 2 tablespoons sriracha hot sauce
  • 1 teaspoon celery salt
  • 1 teaspoon fresh dill, chopped (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chives, chopped
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion, rinsed
  • toasted wheat sandwich bread or ciabatta
  • spinach for garnish

Note

To lighten this recipe, leave out half of the eggs yolks (after the eggs are boiled)!

Also, you can serve this egg salad on top of salad greens with a balsamic dressing for an even healthier and lighter meal.

Directions

Step 1
Bring a pot of water to a boil, and place the eggs in the water. Turn the heat to low and cover for 10 minutes.
Step 2
After 10 minutes, pour out the hot water, rinse the eggs in cold water, and fill the pot with cold water and 1-2 cups of ice.
Step 3
In 5-10 minutes, start peeling the eggs.(The cold should make the egg shrink from the peel).
Step 4
Meanwhile place your tofu in a medium-sized bowl and smash with a fork. Toss in all of the boiled eggs and mash, mash , mash it all together.
Step 5
Add in other ingredients.
Step 6
Serve atop toasted bread.

 

 

 

 

Change

I like marching onward in life , and embracing change as it comes…..but please please don’t ask me to change my daily routine. Go DANCING on a Thursday night until 2 in the morning when I have to get up at 5 a.m.? Yeah right. Spontaneously put aside my scheduled blogging time or  workout time? fuggetaboutit.

I need to work on that. I don’t enjoy that last minute change. Old lady over here.

But bringing home more chickens?

I like that change.

I picked up five fluffy little chicks and brought them to their new heated home in our shed.The Orpington, which I immediately dubbed “Orpie”, is a buff color, and she is showing her behind in the photo above because she is camera shy. If you are curious about this breed, you can read more here. The other four speckled chicks are Barred Rocks, and you can read more about the breed here.  I can already see these breeds are much more calm than our Ameraucaunas, and I have heard wonderful things about both breeds as family pets in terms of their friendliness and egg-laying reliability.

Another HUGE change for us is coming in December (fingers -crossed). We are closing on a new home  and  if all works out, will be moving 2 turtles, 5 fish, 2 dogs, 1 kitten, 5 chickens ,5 chickies, and 1 man to a bigger and better yard! I cannot wait! I have been stuffing myself with too much food in anticipation.

Besides dreaming about the new house and not running much, I made this pumpkin butter and cannot help slathering it on everything.

This is the perfect gift to bring your new neighbors with a hunk of hearty bakery bread, or you can keep it all to yourself and spoon into your oatmeal, onto a sliced banana, bread, and even use it in a dessert.

Expect many delicious Holiday recipes on this  blog in the coming months,but  made-over to include nutritious ingredients and less sugar!

To Your Health

Lydia