April – Orange Chicken with Cuties

April – Orange Chicken with Cuties

Cuties are seedless mandarin oranges from California. They are available in bags in most grocery stores, a single one provides 35% of your recommended vitamin C and has 45 calories, they pack powerful nutrition into a small self contained package. They are perfect for snacking or putting into a child’s lunchbox. On top of all that, they are incredibly juicy and tasty. I usually have a bowl on the kitchen counter ready for a quick snack attack.

But, have you tried cooking with them?

Roasted Chicken with Cuties

Roasted Chicken with Cuties

When roasted the orange slices are delicious; the ones on top become caramelized and crisp, the ones under the juices soft and sweet…rind an all. You can marinate the chicken overnight or prepare it hours in advance, a nice convenience. But it isn’t necessary if there isn’t time. Do make sure your baking dish is big enough to separate the chicken so it browns properly.

The original inspiration for this dish came from Yotam Ottolengihi’s book Simple. Then I saw an adaptation on the blog Alexandra’s Kitchen for Roasted Chicken with Clementines. I was sold. I made a few alterations of my own to adapt the recipe to what I had on hand. I used bone-in and skin-on thighs. You could use a whole chicken, cut into pieces. In that case monitor the breasts closely so they don’t overcook before the other pieces are done. The original recipe called for fresh fennel, I substituted onion slices as did Alexandra. The original also called for an anise-flavored liqueur, I used an orange flavored one. Alexandra used white wine.

The important ingredients here are the chicken and the orange slices.

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup of anise scented liqueur, orange scented liqueur, white wine or extra orange juice
  • 1/4 cup of olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons of orange juice
  • 3 tablespoons of lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons of grainy mustard
  • 3 tablespoons of light brown sugar or honey
  • 2 teaspoons of kosher salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 8 bone-in, skin-on chicken pieces
  • 4 Cutie oranges, unpeeled, and sliced thinly
  • a few sprigs of fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon of dried thyme
  • 2 – 3 medium onions, peeled and cut lengthwise, then into quarters
Roasted Chicken with Cuties

Roasted Chicken with Cuties

Method:

  1. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the wine or liqueur, oil, orange juice, lemon juice, mustard, brown sugar (or honey) and salt. Season with pepper to your taste.
  2. If you are roasting immediately:
    1. Preheat the oven to 475 degrees F.
    2. Place the chicken skin side up in a large roasting pan with the orange slices, onion, and thyme. Pour the sauce over and mix everything together. Some of the orange slices should be under the chicken and some on top.
  3. If you are marinating:
    1. Place the chicken with the orange slices, thyme and onion pieces in a large mixing bowl or plastic bag. Pour over the sauce and turn several times to coat. Refrigerate several hours or overnight.
    2. When ready to roast, preheat your oven to 475 degrees F.
    3. Place the chicken skin side up in a large roasting pan with the orange slices, onion, and thyme. Pour the sauce over and mix everything together. Some of the orange slices should be under the chicken and some on top.
  4. Transfer the baking pan to the oven.
  5. After 30 minutes, check on the chicken. If the skin is browning too quickly, turn the heat down to 400 degrees F and continue roasting until the skin is brown and crisp, probably another 20 to 25 minutes. Ovens vary a lot and the size of your chicken pieces will also determine how much longer you need to cook them. I found 50 minutes at 475 degrees F was enough for the thighs in my oven.
  6. Transfer the chicken, onions and orange slices with juices to a warmed serving platter. Let rest for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

Orange chicken is a big hit in our house and this is a much healthier version.

Roasted Chicken with Cuties

Roasted Chicken with Cuties

I’m going to share this with the folks at the Fiesta Friday virtual blogging party hosted by Angie. Come on over and think about adding your own post. It’s Fiesta Friday #375 this week.

March – Sheet Pan Mushrooms, Spinach and Sausages

March – Sheet Pan Mushrooms, Spinach and Sausages

A sheet-pan dinner, also known as a traybake in other countries, is an easy and time saving option during the week. The NY Times cooking section had a recipe for sheet-pan roasted mushrooms and spinach and I wanted to…

1. add a protein and

2. compare the sheet pan to the air fryer

‘What would happen if I added the spinach for the last few minutes in the air fryer?’ I remembered seeing a recipe for sheet pan sausages and thought ‘What would happen if I added sausages to the mushrooms and spinach in the sheet pan?’

Hmm…It would be a one pan dinner. Something we all could use during the week. 

I am going to share this with the Fiesta Friday group party. It’s Fiesta Friday # 371 and I am the co-host with Angie. Come on over to read the other posts with creative recipes, craft or gardening ideas.

So, here it is from start to finish.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. cremini mushrooms (or any combination that looks interesting and wonderful), trimmed and sliced thickly
  • 1 small onion, sliced into wedges
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped finely
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more as needed (I only used 1 tablespoon for the air fryer)
  • 4 Italian sausages or any kind that are your favorite
  • Kosher slat and freshly ground pepper
  • 5-6 large handfuls of baby spinach – about 2 6-oz containers

Method:

  1. In a large bowl toss the mushrooms, onion, garlic with the olive oil until everything is evenly coated

For the oven:

  1. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with foil or parchment paper.
  2. Spread the mushrooms and onion on the lined pan, nestle the sausages among them. After 10 minutes, turn the sausages over.
  3. Roast for 20 minutes total.
  4. Then add the spinach to the sheet pan (if not using sausages you may want to add a bit more oil to coat the spinach), tossing with the mushrooms and roast until wilted, about 5 more minutes total. Turn and toss the spinach and mushrooms after 3 minutes. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Note: we found that the sausages added enough additional oil that none was needed.

Mushrooms, onion, and sausages

Mushrooms, onion, and sausages – before

Mushrooms, onion, and sausages

Mushrooms, onion, and sausages – after

For the air fryer: 

  1. Set the air fryer to 370 degrees F for 20 minutes (see my post about air fryer mushrooms here)
  2. After 15 minutes add the spinach and toss to combine, you may need to add a spritz of olive oil.
  3. After 3 minutes, toss again.

I didn’t use the sausages in the air fryer although there is no reason they wouldn’t work.

Air fryer spinach and mushrooms

Air fryer spinach and mushrooms

And here are the ones cooked on the sheet pan:

Sheet pan spinach and mushrooms with sausages

Sheet pan spinach and mushrooms with sausages

Both methods were easy and resulted in a delicious side dish or meal. My husband preferred the sheet pan dinner, he found the mushrooms meatier. I liked the slight crispness and lighter air fryer dinner. Without the sausages this would make a delicious vegetarian/vegan dinner, serve it with polenta or another starch. Leftover mushrooms and spinach made a lovely filling for an omelet.

Air fryer spinach and mushrooms

Air fryer spinach and mushrooms

Sheet pan spinach and mushrooms with sausages

Sheet pan spinach and mushrooms with sausages

In My Garden – March 2021

In My Garden – March 2021

In My Garden I have hummingbirds. They are voracious at the feeder which hangs just outside the dining area window. From the kitchen I watch the nectar disappear seemingly overnight. In past years, the garden has been populated exclusively by Allen hummingbirds. They would disappear in early January, migrating further south, to appear again in late March. Sometime last summer the Annas arrived, they are year-round residents here on the coast. All summer and fall there were fierce battles between the two species both at the feeder and near their favorite flowers. I’d hear an orchestra of their calls whenever I worked in the garden, and my head was often buzzed. Things are currently much quieter right now. I expect their explosive fighting to resume soon as the more aggressive Allens return to fight for their territory and claim supremacy at the bottle brush shrub they all seem to love.

In my garden I see the very first signs of spring. It’s not only the shy green shoots emerging from the base of what looks like a dead stick, but also something about the light that’s different. It’s the clarity and piercing quality of the sunlight, like the shock you get when emerging from a long grey tunnel. You may not have even realized you were in the dark until the brightness hits your eyes. The plants must feel like that as well, a sudden awakening after a long sleep, emerging into new light. Part of the joy of the early spring garden is the search for those signs of new life, so different from the sometimes exhausting exuberance of summer.

The main flower beds still look a little bare except for one of the winter flowering salvias with its bright red blooms. This one is Salvia gesneriflora ‘Mole Poblano’. 

The hummingbirds have already discovered it.

Back flower beds

Back flower beds as seen from the patio off the master bedroom

In the vegetable garden I’ve planted lettuce from 6-pack starts. You’ll see chives, chard and spinach in this bed as well. I will start lettuce from seed in another few weeks.

lettuce

lettuce and chard

The lawn (if you can call it that since it is dominated by dandelions) is green up. Although the weather is still cool, the longer daylight hours are stimulating everything into sudden growth.

The daffodils are flowering, their sunny yellow faces welcome sights in the rain. And the freesias are just about to bloom.

Daffodils

Daffodils

Freesias

Freesias

Later this month I will be putting out a layer of compost over the new shoots to support their rapid growth. It’s still a little cold and our last frost free date isn’t until next month so I want to wait as long as possible.

In my garden, or rather on my feet, I have new gardening clogs reflecting the colors of a spring meadow. The clogs brighten my mornings as I wander through the garden in my bathrobe, a cup of tea in hand, to check for new growth and any overnight damage by marauding insects or slugs. I find these solitary early morning check-ins one of the great joys of having a garden.

Gardening clogs

Gardening clogs

 

 

 

 

In My Kitchen – March 2021

In My Kitchen – March 2021

It’s the In My Kitchen time of the month. Known as IMK, this is a collection of posts from bloggers around the world detailing what is new in their kitchen. You will read about new ingredients, techniques, appliances, kitchen upgrades and gadgets. I’ve been part of the party for several years and have learned a lot. So come on over to Sherry’s Pickings (she hosts it) and read all about our kitchen adventures.

So, what’s new in my kitchen?

The kitchen in Oakland got some nifty new mats. These are waterproof, vinyl and padded for comfort.

Kitchen mats

Kitchen mats

I love the patterns and they make cleaning up spills a cinch. I purchased them through the Food 52 website, they have lots of designs available. Note: I do not receive renumeration from any product recommendation.

Also from Food 52 I purchased a small cast iron spice grinder.

 

I find that purchased ground spices lose their aroma and flavor very quickly. And when I grind them in my mortar and pestle they tend to fly out and land all over the place, including the floor and even in my hair. This small grinder allows me to grind just the amount I need for a recipe, and keeps everything where I want it…not the floor and certainly not on me.

In My Kitchen I have a couple of new cookbooks. These are vegetarian and vegan, which I am not. However, the recipes are wonderful and creative. Many of us are pursuing a more plant based diet and I recommend both of them.

First Mess is vegan, but you certainly wouldn’t feel deprived eating anything you created from this book. The pictures made my mouth water.

Description from Amazon: “Home cooks head to The First Mess for Laura Wright’s simple-to-prepare seasonal vegan recipes but stay for her beautiful photographs and enchanting storytelling. In her debut cookbook, Wright presents a visually stunning collection of heirloom-quality recipes highlighting the beauty of the seasons. Her 125 produce-forward recipes showcase the best each season has to offer and, as a whole, demonstrate that plant-based wellness is both accessible and delicious.”

Start Simple is vegetarian and also very creative.

Description from Amazon: “From veteran food writer, recipe developer, and creator of the James Beard Award-winning Jarry magazine comes an innovative approach to vegetarian cooking.

What have I got to eat? It’s a question we ask every time we open up the refrigerator or pantry door. It might be eggs, some cheese, and half a loaf of bread, or a box of wilting greens, garlic, and some sweet potatoes. Though these ingredients may not seem like much to make a delicious meal, recipe developer and author Lukas Volger knows it’s all you need. In Start Simple he offers a radically new, uncomplicated, and creative approach to cooking that allows you to use what you already have on hand to make great meals you didn’t think were possible.”

I am looking forward to cooking from them both and sharing my favorites with you.

I’ve been playing around with the air fryer that I received for Christmas. Vegetables cooked in it have been a big hit. There isn’t any vegetable that I don’t enjoy roasted, now I don’t have to turn on the oven for a small batch. So far the biggest successes have been with Brussels sprouts, delicata squash, and mushrooms.

You will find the recipe for the mushrooms here. Both the squash and the Brussels sprouts were cooked at 400 degrees F for 20 minutes with a shake in the middle. Cutting the delicata into slightly thicker slices seemed to work the best. The middle was meltingly soft but the outside was delightfully charred. When in season, delicata squash is my favorite of the winter squashes because the peal is edible. I love tossing them in a salad along with crunchy nuts, sharp red onion, arugula and a mustardy dressing…cubes of sharp cheddar cheese optional.

In the air fryer, I have also cooked a pork tenderloin and chicken cutlets. I’ll post the chicken cutlet in the next few days. The pork tenderloin was very successful. Bone in chicken thighs were less successful, but a bone in chicken breast turned out juicy and delicious.

The chicken cutlets I used boneless and skinless breasts, cut in half horizontally, then breaded and cooked in the air fryer with only a few drops of oil. Stay tuned for the recipe, it still needs a little fine tuning.

Air fryer chicken cutlets

Air fryer chicken cutlets

I’ve been having fun with it, I only wish it didn’t take up so much space on the counter.

In My Kitchen I have a batch of moonlight cherry tomatoes. This year I have found the cherry tomatoes in the grocery store lacking in flavor. I don’t remember this being the case last year but it certainly seems to be this year. Have any of you readers found the same thing? Anyway, I decided to try an idea from the barefoot contessa to concentrate the flavors by roasting them overnight. It’s an easy recipe…preheat your oven to 450 degrees F, cut the cherry tomatoes in half, lay them cut side up on a parchment or foil covered sheet pan, sprinkle with a little salt and olive oil (my mother used to add a tiny drop of brandy). Put the sheet in the oven, turn off the heat, and leave them overnight. That’s why they are called moonlight tomatoes. It did help concentrate and sweeten the tomatoes, they were excellent stirred into scrambled eggs the next morning.

Moonlight cherry tomatoes

Moonlight cherry tomatoes

And finally, in my kitchen I always have my trusty sidekicks. Although their attention is completely self serving, they hope I will be clumsy and drop a tidbit.

Casey

Casey – are you going to share a slice of that pork with me?

Quinn

Quinn – play fair, you can’t give my sister something and not share with me!

What’s happening in your kitchen this month?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

February – Air Fryer Mushrooms

February – Air Fryer Mushrooms

Using the air fryer to cook mushrooms has been a revelation. Why, you might ask? Easy, hands off, lower in fat, and delicious…I will answer. I used a mixture of brown crimini with a package of organic ‘Chef’s Sampler’ mushrooms. But you can use the commonly available white mushrooms as well. The ‘Chef’s Sampler’ is a mix of Alba Clamshell, Forest Nameko, Velvet Pioppini and Maitake Frondosa.

Mixed Mushrooms

Mixed Mushrooms

The small clustered mushrooms turn crispy as if they were deep fried. The volume will reduce significantly so use more than you think you will need.

Ingredients: (2 servings)

  • 4 – 6 cups of mixed mushrooms, wiped with a damp cloth if dirty. Cut the larger ones in half.
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon of kosher salt

Method:

  1. Toss the mushrooms with the tablespoon of olive oil and the kosher salt
  2. Cook in the air fryer at 370 degrees F for 15 to 20 minutes, shaking at the half way point

That’s all.

Air Fryer Mixed Mushrooms

Air Fryer Mixed Mushrooms

Sautéing them in a pan will use much more oil or butter, and requires your attention. Try this method if you have an air fryer, I think you will find it delicious.