Midwest is Best

A midwestern guide to all things homemaking

Archive for the category “Recipes”

Tomatillos… my new obsession

Have you ever heard of Tomatillos?  I hadn’t really until a few years ago.  Then I started seeing them regularly in the grocery store.  If good ‘ole Fareway carries them regularly, I feel that many people must purchase them regularly.  I was not one of these people.  However, I may be a convert now.This is a tomatillo.

tomatillo

They kind of look like green tomatoes with a papery skin on the outside.  I had no idea what they tasted like but yesterday was Cinco de Mayo and I wanted to make something festive.  From the name, I decided I would include these in my Cinco de Mayo feast.  So I purchased a few and was left wondering what on earth I should do with these.  (Especially difficult since I still had no idea what they tasted like.)

I decided to play it safe and after several Pinterest searches was inspired to make a tomatillo guacamole.  I got out my trusty food chopper and diced a few of these babies up.  Turns out they taste AMAZING.  They remind me a bit of rhubarb in the way that they are tangy and juicy but their flavor is more of a cross between a tomato and a pepper.  And as it turns out they pair fabulously with avocado (but then again what doesn’t?). I made a simple guac and paired it was some chips, baby bell peppers, and our steaks for a Mexican inspired meal.  The recipe for the tomatillo guacamole is listed below and for a fair warning – it is quite addictive 🙂

Tomatillo Gaucamole

2 medium tomatillos1 ripe avacado
6-8 cherry tomatoes (more or less as you prefer)
Small handful of cilantro
Salt and pepper to taste

Combine everything in a food chopper and blend until you reach your desired consistency.  I like mine slightly chunky and with lots of black pepper.  This can be served with chips or veggies.  Tonight we are even trying it as a topping for our grilled chicken breast.

I’m trying to find other recipes that include tomatillos as I am completely hooked on them now.  Anyone have any great suggestions?  Most recipes I’ve found use the tomatillos in some form of a salsa.  This website had 10 great ideas for using tomatillos.  I also like the idea of chicken verde enchiladas!  That might be our “leftovers” dinner tomorrow night 🙂

If you haven’t yet tried this great little vegetable (or fruit – I guess I’m not really sure what it is), I challenge you to give it a go.  This salsa is super easy, healthy, and tasty!

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How to Roast A Perfect Chicken

Recently I’ve had several friends ask me how I roast a chicken, so last night I snapped a few pictures during the roasting process and thought I’d share my roasting knowledge here.  First, it is important to know that I LOVE roasted chicken.  I love it because it is super easy to make and you can have many meals out of the leftovers – very economical! Plus, with this roasting process the chicken always turns out beautiful, juicy, and full of flavor.  I know that there are 10,000 ways to roast a chicken but I like this method because its quick and I always have these ingredients on hand.

First you need yourself a good, whole chicken.  I prefer to buy mine at the meat counter at Fareway.  It is cheaper and usually better quality than the pre-packaged ones you can find in the cooler section.  However, if you are at Wal-mart and don’t want to make a separate trip to the grocery store than pick up the packaged one and be on your way! I often buy 2-3 chickens at a time and freeze the others.  If you do have a frozen chicken, give it an entire day and night to completely thaw in the refrigerator.  Most chickens no longer come with the giblets inside of them but it is always a good idea to take a peak and make sure 🙂 My little guy is pictured below.  He is just over 3 pounds.

Tuesday Night Dinner!

Tuesday Night Dinner!

My go-to seasonings

My go-to seasonings

Now your chicken is ready for a few flavor enhancing seasonings.   You will need chicken stock, garlic, olive oil, salt, pepper, and some Italian seasonings.

I use a 7-quart cast iron dutch oven to roast in but any covered roaster will do.  Pour about 1/2 cup of chicken broth into the bottom of the roasting pan.  The broth will help keep the chicken moist and juicy so make sure it covers the entire bottom of the roasting pan (plus some).  Then I add my minced garlic to the broth – usually about a healthy teaspoon.  Adding it to the broth allows the garlic to infuse into the broth and gently flavor the chicken.  The next part is my favorite… you go a head and give you little chicken a massage! I pour a small handful of olive oil into my palms and go to town with a chicken rub-down.  You could also use softened butter (which tastes delicious and gives a more golden and crispy skin) but I was trying to be healthier so olive oil it is 🙂  Next, sprinkle 1-2 tsp of salt, 1 tsp of black pepper, and 1 tsp of Italian seasonings all over the chicken.  Give it a few pats to ensure the seasonings stick and plop him in the roasting pan.

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Ready to go in the oven!

This whole process should take you less then 5 minutes to prepare the chicken.  Then throw the covered roasting pan into the oven at 375* and wait.  I have a convection oven (which decreases cooking time) so it usually takes about 1 1/2 hours. If you have a conventional oven it may take just over 2 hours. When there is about an 1/2 hour of cook time left, go ahead and take a peek.  Your chicken should be getting browned and fragrant. I use a meat thermometer to check the doneness of the chicken as it makes a smaller puncture mark, but feel free to cut into the thigh or breast to check for any pink.  I try not to make any cuts in the chicken until I am ready to serve it since each cut allows some of the juices to drain out and can result in a less tasty chicken.  Unless you go all Edward Scissorhands on it – you should be fine 🙂

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All Done!

There you have it! A perfectly roasted chicken!  Like I said, there are 10,000 ways to roast a chicken but this is quick, simple, and works for me EVERY time.  I get compliments on it all the time.  Below are a few more suggestions of tips I’ve learned along the way…

  • If you have fresh herbs – use them.  I prefer the flavor of fresh over dried.  Just chop/tear them up and add them to the top of the chicken, inside the chicken, and floating in the broth.
  • Leave the lid on the roaster once you take it out if the rest of your dishes aren’t ready yet.  It will gently steam the chicken and keep it juicy until it is ready to be served.
  • Eat the legs and wings on the first night.  Leave the chicken breasts for leftovers.  (The legs and wings don’t have as much meat as the breast and usually aren’t as tasty the next day.)
  • Cover the roasting pan while you eat dinner.  Then when you’re done, go back and de-bone the rest of the chicken.  That means get as much meat off as you can.  I use my hands and nothing else.  Once roasted correctly, the chicken will literally fall right off the bone with a quick tug.  Do this the night that you cook it.  It is much harder to get  the meat off the bone the next day.
  • Store the leftover chicken with a little bit of the broth from the bottom of the pan.

I usually use the leftover chicken throughout the rest of the week but it can also be stored in ziplock bags and frozen.  Some of my favorite “leftover” recipes are listed below.

  • BBQ Chicken Sandwiches, Salads, Pizza, or Quesadillas (if you couldn’t tell… I really like BBQ Chicken!)
  • Chicken Pot Pie
  • Chicken and Noodle Soup
  • Chicken Alfredo Pasta
  • Chicken Salad Sandwiches
  • Chicken Meatballs
  • Chicken, Brie, and Green Apple Panini
  • Chicken Enchiladas

The list could go on and on but I usually have the groceries on hand to make these dishes!  Are you inspired to roast a perfect chicken now?  Try it out and let me know how it goes!

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