Saturday, January 14, 2012

Roasted Chicken... 'Cause Everyone should have a GoTo Roasted Chicken Recipe


There is nothing easier than roasting a chicken.  There are just about as many roasted chicken recipes as there are bloggers.  Mine combines Savory Herb butter, Roasted Root vegetables, rubbed with Olive Oil, but roasted with the herb butter and chicken fat dripping into the pan making them extra rich and delicious.  I also "Steam" my bird with a modified "Beer Butt" Chicken system.

I also use a remote probe thermometer to monitor the internal temperature of the bird.  Stuck in the thickest part of the chicken and readable outside the oven, no need to open and close (losing heat).  160 degrees... PERIOD.  This guarantees a moist tender juicy bird.  And when the bird is done, the vegetables are also!  While I do use a thermometer, the time is usually around an hour and a half (depending on the size of the bird).




I make so many roasted chickens that I own a fancy "Beer Butt" chicken ceramic dish.  In reality, you can easily simply use a normal large casserole dish, line the bottom with the vegetables and wedge a can in the middle.  Still works the same.

And speaking of beer, while the alliteration of Beer Butt sounds special, in reality there is no real difference in the taste of the bird no matter what type of liquid you use.  I like to fill the cavity in my dish (or you can use a regular can) with Orange Juice, then stuff two halves of a lemon in the cavity so the bird is "steamed" in citrus juices from the inside.

And finally, I stuff as much of the herb butter between the skin and the meat of the breast.  It melts and oozes into the meat as it roasts, as well as falling into the root vegetables to help season them.

So, take a look at the photos above, but Here's what I did...

Ingredients:

@5 to 6 pound Chicken
1 stick Butter, Softened to Room Temperature
1/4 cup "Not Your Grandmother's Herbes de Provence" (or any commercial savory spice mix)
1 Lemon sliced in half
4 medium Russet Potatoes, quartered
4 medium Sweet Potatoes, peeled and cut same size as the Russet
4 Carrots, peeled and sliced
2 Medium Onions, quartered
Green Bell Peppers, Jalapenos, Radishes, Turnips... Add about anything that roasts.
1/2 cup Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper to season Root Vegetables
1/2 a can of liquid (if you use a real can, be sure and remove the top).

  • Slice all of the vegetables, rub them down with the olive oil and Salt and Pepper them.  Line a baking dish with the potatoes
  • Mix the Butter and the  "Not Your Grandmother's Herbes de Provence", rub the Chicken and push as much of the butter between the skin and the meat of the breast.
  • Cut a lemon in half, stuff into the chicken cavity.  Balance the bird on the can of liquid so the steam goes into the "butt" of the bird.  It will look like he is sitting on the vegetables, but as the liquid heats and starts to boil, the steam will heat the lemon and steam from the inside.
  • Insert the remote probe thermometer in the thickest part of the meat.
  • Roast in 400 degree oven until the temperature reads 160 degree.
  • Keep an eye on the bird.  If it starts to get too dark, you may need to cover with foil during the last 30 minutes.
  • Allow the bird to rest for 30 minutes before cutting.
  • Save the bones to make stock!







That last shot is my bag of bones waiting to be put in my freezer to become chicken stock later in the week!

And of course, a roasted chicken with roasted root vegetables is one of my "Top Five" Main Dishes!

Printable recipe...
For the time being...

Click the image to the left for a printable copy of this recipe. When the large image appears, right click the image and select "Copy Image". Then open a word document file, click paste and print. Prints on an 8 1/2 by 11 sheet of paper.

Soon, it will become a PDF file that you simply have to click and print.




Plus, here's the printable recipes for "Not Your Grandmother's Herbes de Provence", Click to enlarge...

Friday, January 13, 2012

52 Ways I Made my Food Blog Better - Learn a Photo Editor FREE!


OK, Here's another post that if you ask 100 bloggers what they do, you will probably get at least 20 different answers.

But, this is what I do, with the program I use and I am content.  i am sure there are better, more professional ways to do this, but Bottom Line... This works for me and my Food Blog is better because I use a FREE Photo Editor.


OK, I am going to go through my process, with a whole lot of screen grabs.  BUT, it is incredibly easy to get started.  In fact, they have a "Getting Started Guide" that explains better than I how it works.   BTw, you do know to just click the blue letters to follow the link.

First, you need to download the free Picasa 3 Software.  I have been using this for about two years and there has never been a charge.  Free does indeed mean FREE!

Take a rainy (snowy) Sunday afternoon and poke about.  push some buttons, follow a tutorial or two and learn what is what and how to make the program do what you want.  I can edit my photos in about 1 minute per.  And they do look better.

Here is my edited picture of a lemon...


And here is the photo I would use on my blog.  It has been color corrected, color enhanced, Cropped and resized...


Not perfect (it has a touch too much blue), but certainly better than the original.

Alright, here's the 101 of how I got from A to B...


Alright, here we go.  When you open Picasa, On the left side bar you have choices of files.  Mine load automatically as the dates the photos were downloaded into my computer.  You can change file names as you like, move photos from one file to another.  Me, Date loaded works fine.

Find the photo you want to edit, hover your cursor over the image and RIGHT CLICK your mouse.  Select "VIEW AND EDIT" from the options that appear.


And here's my lemon in all of it's unedited glory.  Good enough, but not great at all.  Too dark mainly, and no ... well, no zing to it.  Let's fix that...


On the left side, you see a bunch of tiny photos.  One of those reads "I'm FELLING LUCKY".  You can fiddle and fiddle with all of the buttons, but most of the time, I just hit the "I'm FEELING LUCKY" button and the image is fixed.  That's my secret, one button.  See the difference between the photo edited with the "I'm FELLING LUCKY" button and the screen grab just above it with no edits.  Picture turned brighter and the color has been improved.

So now it's time to crop...

Back to the left side, all those little photos, one of them reads, "CROP"... OK, that's the button we want.


And look at the options.  Manual, and lots of different proportions.  Don't get hung up on the actual inches for size, we are going to edit the size (resize) later.  But go about half way down and you will see , "SQUARE: CD COVER" as an option.

HOORAY, conveniently enough, most of the recipe submissions sites (including eRecipeCards.com), wants you to submit square images!  Once you click the square button, you get a standard LIGHT COLORED BOX over a darker back ground.  You can move the box and select just the image you want.  You can also resixe the light box by dragging the corners. So that you end up with this...


And we are almost done!  All that I need to do now is to resize.  Now, there are LOTS of benefits to resizing.  Best of all, your blog will load faster.  My photos as taken are more than 2,000 to 3,000 pixels square.  If I left them that size, the photos would take a couple seconds to load if using high speed internet connection.  But if I use dial up, they can take up to a minute.  Bad for my blog.

By cutting the size down I can confidently add several photos to each post without worrying about the load time.

And of course, a resized photo is MUCH easier to load on eRecipeCards.com as well.

NOW, Picasa offers an advanced feature (Still FREE), called, "PICNIK".  In fact, one of the buttons on the left (all those little photos) reads, :EDIT IN PICNIK".  You can click that button, and resize easy enough, but I do not use it.  Bottom line, it takes several seconds to load an image into PICNIK, edit and save.  Actually, several minutes to complete the task.  If Picasa is the only photo editor that you have on your computer, go ahead and resize with PICNIK.  Better to resize even if it takes a couple of minutes.

OR, I discovered my computer came pre-loaded with Microsoft PAINT.  I do not do much with Paint, other than RESIZE.  Combined with Picasa, it is easy and takes seconds to resize...

First, at this stage, you are done with the image in Picasa, but it needs to be saved.  Left click the top left side option of "FILE" and click "SAVE"!

OK, back to resizing...

Here's what I do...


OK, look at the image above.  Still in Picasa, move your courser over the image and right click.  On the option list that appears, one of them is, "OPEN WITH".  See that little tiny arrow to the left, same row as "Open With".  Hover the cursor over the little arrow (do not push anything yet) and magically, more options appear.  On my computer, one of those options is, "OPEN IN PAINT".  If you have that option, push that option (left click this time).


OK, the image is TOO BIG to even fit on the screen.  So, let's resize in just a couple of clicks.  In the row of control buttons, third column from the left, you see 3 options... Crop, resize and rotate.  We want to hit resize...

And here is what appears...


See the 100.  That is the percentage.  Just highlight the first 100, I reduce to just 22 percent and hit OK...


And fast as you can say, Bob's your uncle"... A resized photo appears.

BUT

One important step is left.  Save the photo.

Still in Paint, the top row, far left side has a dark blue button.  Move your cursor over that, left click it and you have more options... One of which is SAVE.


Click that and the photo is SAVED!!!  Edited for color and brightness, cropped and now resized!

This was one of the most important ways that I have made my Food Blog BETTER!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Whatever Ya Got Cookie Bars



These are called "Whatever Ya Got" Bars because that's the ingredient list.

Especially after Christmas baking season, I like to make these with whatever I got in the pantry.  You know those half opened bags of chocolate chips, nuts, brittle... maybe even some leftover Halloween candy.  Just about anything can be used in these.  The basic recipe is a classic that I believe was originally on a can of Condensed Milk (I could be wrong).  At the least, I remember having these at just about every Church Basement Pot Luck Dinner 5 decades ago.  That's how old the recipe (and myself) is.


For this particular bar I used up a partially opened bag of Coconut (Although any kind of candied fruit will work).  I also had some Toffee Bits left over from a different cookie I made.  I had half a bag of Cashews (usually I use peanuts).  A staple is almost always Milk Chocolate Chips, but I also had an open bag of White Chocolate as well as Butterscotch chips.

A great way to use up what's in the pantry!

About the only thing that you have to use is a couple of cans of Condensed Milk.  The rest really is, Whatever Ya Got...

Here's what I did...

Ingredients:

12 Graham Crackers, smashed into crumbs
1/4 cup Sugar
1/4 cup Cocoa
4 TBS (1/2 stick) Butter, melted
2 cans unsweetened Condensed Milk
1/2 cup of a variety of "Treats"
For these... Cashews, Milk Chocolate Chips, White Chocolate Chips, Butterscotch Chips, Toffee Bits and Coconut
Feel Free to add more or less of any ingredient and to add something new!

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • Combine Graham Cracker crumbs, sugar, cocoa and butter, press firmly into 9X13 greased pan and bake for 10 minutes
  • Pour two cans of sweetened condensed milk over the baked crust, add the toppings
  • Bake for another 40 minutes, allow to cool before cutting the bars
  • Serve and enjoy!




So good... EVERYTHING I like!

Deserves a spot as one of my "Top Five" Cookies!




This is such a wonderful recipe to have around after Christmas baking season...

I make these whenever I need to clean out my pantry... A can of Condensed Milk and literally whatever I got... half empty cans of nuts, 1/4 of a bag of coconut, some chocolate chips, add some butterscotch chips, toffee bits... whatever you got and you have a candy bar and a clean pantry!

Uniquely Delicious!

*************************************************************************

So,  I am pleased to list this as one of my Growing list of  "52 Ways to Cook COOKIE, BARS and TRUFFLES"!!!

Old school like classic criss cross peanut butter to new takes on interesting recipes like a beautiful Red Velvet with the cream cheese mixed inside the cookie, accented with white chocolate chips!  Even a Pineapple Cream Cheese EASY Bar with only 5 ingredients! 
Stop on by, there's always a new cookie in the cookie jar!

****************************PINTEREST**************************

Come and find me on Pinterest... Any of my "52 Ways to cook" Boards are worth following.  If you like this post, please take a second and "Pin" this to your own boards... Better yet, if you are part of a foodie group board please take a second and add this post to your group pins... best way to show your Love!

And BTW, if you are not yet part of a group board, drop me an email at Contact@eRecipeCards.com and request to be added to my group board... FAVORITE FOOD BLOGGERS! (be sure to include your pinterest ID when you write)  Once you are added, any pins you add will be seen by 10s of THOUSANDS of followers of the board (and growing daily).

Rules, only 2... 
  1. In order to join you need to start following the group board as well as at least one of my boards.
  2. And you must ONLY pin original sources, posts from food related bloggers only.  If you are a blogger, this is a great way to have thousands of potential readers see your work,  If you are a fan of bloggers, a great way to share your favorites...
    Come and be a part of ... FAVORITE FOOD BLOGGERS! on Pinterest

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Deviled Eggs - He Cooked - She Cooked




Throwdown with Bobby Flay... Well, make that throwdown with Dave and Jackie.  Take a look at the top photo.  It's subtle, but there are differences...

She cooked... A basic, tried and true classic.  Little Mayo, little Dijon, little milk, Salt and Pepper... Fancy it up with a pipping bag and a sprinkle of smoked paprika.

He Cooked (Very Lazy)... Cajun garlic Aioli... Fancy it up with a pipping bag and a sprinkle of smoked paprika.

I make up a batch of Cajun garlic Aioli every once in a while.  When I do, just add the mashed up egg yolks and you have quite a snack....

Here's the quick recipe for the Aioli...
1 cup Mayonnaise
Zest from one Lemon
Juice from one Lemon
1/2 TBS Dijon Mustard
4 Garlic cloves, smashed and minced
1 tsp Big Easy in a Jar (Cajun Spice mix)

Put everything in a mini chopper, small food processor or a blender and whirl away!

So you see, even though I was very lazy to just add a pre-made spicy mayo, it packs quite a wallop... Cajun Spices, Savory Spices, Garlic, Dijon and Lemon.


So, here's what HE did...

6 Eggs, boiled for 6 minutes, Cooled, sliced lengthwise, Yolks removed
Add 3 tsp "Cajun Garlic Aioli" to the yolks, mash together until smooth
Put 1 rounded tsp of the yolk/Aioli mix in the center of each Egg half
Be fancy if you have a piping bag
Accent with Smoked Paprika


And Here's what SHE did...

6 Eggs, boiled for 6 minutes, Cooled, sliced lengthwise, Yolks removed
Add 2 tsp Mayonnaise to the egg yolks
Add 1 tsp Dijon Mustard
Add Salt and Pepper to taste
If needed, add 1/2 tsp of milk at a time to get the yolks smooth
Put 1 rounded tsp of the yolk/Mayo mix in the center of each Egg half
Be fancy if you have a piping bag
Accent with Smoked Paprika

A GREAT little snack, wonderful to serve as an appetizer or just to have around the house to nibble on...

BTW, we did have guests over the other night and made them do a blind tasting.  Her's won (the classic).  BUT when just Jackie and I tasted, for us, mine won (The Cajun flavored).  SO I guess it's a tie!

And of course, Deviled Eggs just have to be on any "Top Five" appetizer list!


Printable recipe...

For the time being...

Click the image to the left for a printable copy of this recipe. When the large image appears, right click the image and select "Copy Image". Then open a word document file, click paste and print. Prints on an 8 1/2 by 11 sheet of paper.

Soon, it will become a PDF file that you simply have to click and print.

Plus, here's the printable recipes for "Big Easy in a Jar" And for "Not Your Grandmother's Herbes de Provence", Click to enlarge...





Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Potato Skins Party Buffet


HMMM... I guess I am still doing Bar Snacks.  Although these actually are more of a party idea.  I served them with burger sliders, but the hit was a buffet of choices to load up a potato skin.  We only had 4 people at the event, so the toppings were limited.  But in the past I have done a baked potato party with a dozen choices.

It can not be easier.  First bake the potatoes.  You can easily microwave them (but this will yield a softer "skin").  I prefer to bake them.  Wash and scrub a russet potato, rub with a little Olive Oil, pierce the skin 4 times with a fork (so the steam can escape and your tater does not split while cooking) and bake in a pre-heated 350 degree oven for 1 hour.  A fork should be able to freely insert and release when the tater is done.  This gives you a crispier "bar quality" potato skin.

To make them skins, cut the taters in half, lengthwise so they sit widest.  Take a spoon and hollow out some of the potato to make a little boat (Save the extra potato for a mashed potato snack next day with the leftover toppings).

Then just load up.  Bake them one more time for about 10 minutes so any cheese that is added melts.


And of course, provide a variety of dipping sauces.

So, here's what I did...

6 small/medium size Potatoes
3 different good melting cheeses (or more if you have a larger party)
Chose from Cheddar, Mexican Queso, Swiss, Pepper Jack, Blue Cheese, Brie,  etc.
5 different toppings (or more)
Chose from Bacon Caramelized Bacon, Onions, Caramel Onions, Green Onions, Sausage, Chili, baby Shrimp, Crab Meat, Sausage (try some Chorizo), Cranberry Sauce, How about a Waldorf Salad to top?, roasted garlic... The choices are only limited by your imagination!
3 different dipping sauces
Choose from BBQ Sauce, Honey Mustard, Sour Cream, Peanut Sauce, Hot Wing Sauce, Hot Pepper Jelly, Sweet green Onion Cilantro, Ranch Dressing... Again, only limited by your imagination.

First bake the potatoes.  You can easily microwave them (but this will yield a softer "skin").  I prefer to bake them.  Wash and scrub a russet potato, rub with a little Olive Oil, pierce the skin 4 times with a fork (so the steam can escape and your tater does not split while cooking) and bake in a pre-heated 350 degree oven for 1 hour.  A fork should be able to freely insert and release when the tater is done.  This gives you a crispier "bar quality" potato skin.
To make them skins, cut the taters in half, lengthwise so they sit widest.  Take a spoon and hollow out some of the potato to make a little boat (Save the extra potato for a mashed potato snack next day with the leftover toppings).
Then just load up.  Bake them one more time for about 10 minutes so any cheese that is added melts and finally add toppings
And Enjoy!




And of course, Potato Skins are on everyone's "Top Five" list of Bar Snacks!


Printable recipe...

For the time being...

Click the image to the left for a printable copy of this recipe. When the large image appears, right click the image and select "Copy Image". Then open a word document file, click paste and print. Prints on an 8 1/2 by 11 sheet of paper.

Soon, it will become a PDF file that you simply have to click and print.

FMP