Foolproof Roast Chicken

Foolproof Roast Chicken | www.kiwiandbean.com

I’m writing to you from the wild west coast this week. The kids and I came out here for a couple of weeks to take in our family’s Thanksgiving festivities and check out the Food Bloggers of Canada annual conference (more on that to come).

Foolproof Roast Chicken | www.kiwiandbean.com

It has been a very long time—17 years—since I last spent time in Vancouver during the fall. (Aside: Am I really talking about my adult life in increments of 17 years? Scary.) And while Ontario and Quebec get all the attention for their colourful autumn foliage, I’d forgotten that fall in BC is beautiful too. In it’s own warm, drizzly, Mario-Brothers-magic-mushroom kinda way.

Skeptics: those are real mushrooms, I swear. I spotted a whole family of them under a holly bush by the edge of a busy street.

Foolproof Roast Chicken | www.kiwiandbean.com

Foolproof Roast Chicken | www.kiwiandbean.comPerhaps it’s the weather, or some sort of weird poultry celestial alignment, or maybe I’m just an exceedingly diligent recipe tester (yup, that’s it), but in the two weeks I have been here, we have roasted FOUR chickens. All of them AFTER Thanksgiving was done.

Foolproof Roast Chicken | www.kiwiandbean.com The roast chicken is a humble thing, but so satisfying—impressive, even—if prepared in the right way. (And yes, after this 2014 roast chicken run, I am fairly convinced that there is one foolproof and perfect way to do it. Read on!) It’s also the holy grail of fast family food, because with a little planning one chicken can be stretched into three dinners. Eat half the chicken with roasted tubers and salad the first night; toss the remaining half into a casserole the second night (I am crushing on enchiladas right now; recipe to come), and then turn the carcass into a flavourful stock for a soup, stew or risotto on the third night.

I’ve tried countless recipes and methods for roasting chicken in my search for one that was easy enough for a weeknight dinner, but flavourful and moist too. I’m not a trussing and trimming kinda gal so the winning method had to be more of a throw-the-darn-bird-in-a-pan kinda thing. And while I do recognize the value of a good brine, I am still traumatized from dropping an entire pot of turkey brine on my kitchen floor last Christmas. I know brining is great, and I’m all for brining at Christmas and Thanksgiving and stuff, but it’s too much trouble—and clearly far too dangerous—for the weekly roast.

Foolproof Roast Chicken | www.kiwiandbean.com

What I’ve discovered from all this tasting, testing and brine-dropping is that there are five basic steps to poultry perfection:

  1. Start with a very good very big chicken. By very good, I mean the best you can afford, whether it be free range, all natural, organic, or some combination of the above. And by big, I mean about 4 to 5-ish pounds, or at least big enough that you will be left with lots of leftovers for a future meal.
  2. Stuff the very good very big chicken with flavour—a quartered lemon, and a couple of handfuls of fresh herbs—and rub it down with oil and a little salt and pepper. This super simple combo adds a surprising amount of flavour.
  3. Roast the chicken on a bed of sliced onion. This leaves you with a soft oniony pan gravy type of thing that takes the chicken to a whole other level. At 9 months old, the Beansprout DOGS the soft onions before just about anything else that I place on his highchair tray. It’s a sign.
  4. Roast the chicken in a 400 degree oven. You need a little heat to crisp up the skin. Yes, the SKIN. Which brings me to 4(a). DO NOT REMOVE THE SKIN. I grew up eating skinned roasted chickens, and (sorry mom), they suck. They really really suck. If you are watching your waistline, ditch the potatoes and wine and dessert and salad dressing and just about EVERYTHING else before you ditch the skin.
  5. And most critical: Use a digital meat thermometer to test for doneness. I resisted this for years and figured I could test for doneness by cutting into the chicken or jiggling the leg to see if the “juices run clear” (wtf). But my digital oven-safe meat thermometer has been a game-changer. Put one on your Christmas list.

The full Foolproof Roast Chicken recipe appears below. I’m suggesting that you eat half the meat on day 1 and save the other half for a later meal (like the kick-ass Chicken, Goat Cheese & Spinach Enchiladas, pictured below), but that is totally optional. I’m also suggesting that you boil the heck out of the chicken carcass—because homemade chicken stock is about 156 times better than that crappy boxed or canned stuff—but that step is optional too, of course. If you do make the stock, stash it in the freezer for a soup, risotto (I have an excellent baked butternut squash one that I will share soon) or stew.

(Aaaaaand, to be sure you don’t miss any of these forthcoming recipes, subscribe to our newsletter, or follow along on Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest.)

Happy roasting season, friends.

Foolproof Roast Chicken | www.kiwiandbean.com
Foolproof Roast Chicken

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 35 minutes

Yield: 4 servings, plus leftovers

Ingredients

  • 1 4 to 5 pound roasting chicken
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 lemon, quartered
  • 2 handfuls of fresh herbs (I like a combination of sage, thyme and rosemary)
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Instructions

  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Put the sliced onions in the centre of a roasting pan that is large enough to hold the chicken.
  3. Reach into the chicken cavity and pull out the innards (if there are any). Put any innards into a small container and stash them in the fridge.
  4. Pat the chicken dry and place it---breast side up---on top of the bed of onions.
  5. Push half the fresh herbs and the lemon segments into the chicken cavity, gently squeezing the lemon segments to release some of the juice.
  6. Use your hand to gently loosen the skin from the chicken breasts. Coarsely chop the remaining half of the fresh herbs, and push them under the loosened skin.
  7. Rub the whole chicken with the olive oil, and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper.
  8. Roast it in the 400 degree oven until a thermometer inserted into the chicken thigh (be careful not to touch the thermometer to bone) reaches 165 degrees. This will probably take about 1 hour and 20 minutes. Remove the chicken from the oven and test the temperature in a few other spots to ensure they are at least 165 degrees.
  9. Cover the cooked chicken with a piece of foil and let it sit for 5-10 minutes.
  10. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board. Carve off the chicken breasts and refrigerate them for another meal. If you won't be using the meat within a day or two, cube the breasts, throw them into a medium zipper bag, and throw the bag into the freezer.
  11. Carve the rest of the chicken, place it on a large platter and spoon the onions and pan juices over top to serve.

Notes

We are dark-meat eaters, so we reserve the breast meat for a later meal. But you can do it the other way around if you prefer.

If you want to make chicken stock with the carcass and reserved innards : remove the lemons from the chicken cavity, then put the chicken carcass and innards (if any) into a large pot. Cover the whole thing with cool water and bring it to a boil. Reduce to low heat and let it simmer, uncovered, for about two hours. Strain, and refrigerate overnight. In the morning, remove any surface fat, and refrigerate or freeze the stock in containers or zipper bags.

I like to start the stock simmering before we even sit down to dinner, but if you don't have time to do this, or you'd prefer to cook it later, throw the carcass into the fridge or freezer and make the stock whenever you have time.

http://kiwiandbean.com/easy-foolproof-roast-chicken/

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Cooking for Beansprout, Part 3: Pasta Recipes

Healthy Pasta Recipes for Babies & Toddlers | www.kiwiandbean.comThe Cooking for Beansprout series is back this week with a couple of pasta recipes fit for hungry babes and toddlers (and their parents, of course). If you are just joining in, check out Part 1 and 2 of the Beansprout series, where I talked about baby-led weaning (i.e. what the heck is it?) and shared a few baby-led weaning recipes for our favourite meat patties, sliders and meatballs.

Today I’m talking about pasta, pasta, pasta!

Pasta is a fan favourite in our house, and a great food for baby-led weaning and beginner eaters. It’s an ideal finger food, for one thing—babes can easily pick up and gum small shaped pasta like fusilli, rotini, penne and macaroni. But it’s also a perfect little carrier for healthy veggie-packed sauces and purees. What’s more, thanks to some awesome food innovators there is now an incredible variety of pasta on the market—from whole wheat to ancient wheat-like grains (kamut and spelt, for instance), bean, lentil, buckwheat, quinoa and rice. We are particularly smitten with the bean and lentil varieties right now: in addition to being totally wheat-free (which we need, unfortunately), they pack an impressive punch of fibre, iron and other good-for-ya stuff, without any compromise on flavour or texture.

You can share just about any of your favourite pasta recipes with baby, minus the super salty or spicy ones maybe. I like these two in particular, because they are simple to make and packed with vegetables:

Spaghetti with Avocado Spinach Pesto (aka “Monsterghetti”)

Pasta With Spinach Avocado Pesto | www.kiwiandbean.com

I will never understand why it is that monster associations make green food more appetizing to small people. But it works in our house, so I run with it. Both the Bean and the Beansprout go nuts for this blend of garlic, spinach, avocado, basil and lemon juice. Kiwi and I love it, too, but we add a sprinkle of salt and a generous turn of the pepper grinder, and drop the Monster moniker. I adapted this recipe from the great vegan cookbook Oh She Glows, by Angela Liddon.

Pasta With Spinach Avocado Pesto | www.kiwiandbean.com

To make it:  in a food processor, purée one garlic clove, a small handful of fresh basil, the flesh of a ripe avocado, a large handful of fresh baby spinach, 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil, 4 teaspoons lemon juice, and as much water as you need to thin it to a nice consistency. Toss with hot cooked spaghetti and sprinkle with freshly grated parmesan cheese (optional). To serve the pasta to baby, use sharp kitchen scissors or a small knife to chop the cooked spaghetti into 1-inch segments. 

Pasta with Hidden Veggie Bolognese 

Don’t let the first year of your babe’s life go by without capturing the obligatory baby-covered-in-bolognese photograph!

My go-to meat sauce these days is this Crouching Turkey, Hidden Veggie Pasta Sauce. It’s chock full of veggies, which makes it more nutritious and more flavourful (I promise) than a standard issue bolognese. I freeze small portions of leftover sauce in snack sized zipper bags or glass containers, so I can pull it out for super-quick kid lunches or dinners.

Hidden Vegetable Pasta Sauce | (Cooking for) Kiwi & Bean

I would LOVE to hear from you (in the comments below): are you finding these recipes helpful (whether for baby-led weaning or otherwise)? And if yes, what other recipes would you like me to post? Breakfast ideas? Veggie ideas? Rice and grain ideas?

AND…for more great family recipes and food stories, subscribe to our newsletter by entering your email in the box below, or follow along on Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest.

 

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Brain Boosting Banana Berry Breakfast Bars
(and a Baby Brain Organics giveaway!)

Brain Boosting Banana Berry Breakfast Bars | www.kiwiandbean.com

Two years into this food blogging experiment, I can tell you that it’s pretty much the most expensive, time-consuming and thankless hobby I could have picked. Now don’t get me wrong, I LOVE it. And I especially LOVE you for being among the 14 people who actually read and follow along. Thank you. But sometimes I wonder why I didn’t just go with stamp collecting or badminton or knitting. People love hand knitted scarves, right? No one’s nearly as excited for my tweets about baked salmon.

But there are some really awesome upsides to this food blogging thing, I will admit. Like if you hang out on social media for long enough (you know, tweeting about salmon), you are bound to discover some pretty cool people doing some pretty darn cool stuff.

Brain Boosting Banana Berry Breakfast Bars | www.kiwiandbean.com

So it was with my discovery of Baby Brain Organics. Someone introduced me to its founder—Amy Brown—on Instagram (there is no shame in making friends on Instagram people, no shame). She’s a mom and a pilates instructor, and she’s toiling in the small business trenches, for which she (and all her fellow entrepre-mamas) deserve major props.

Her product is a blend of ground seeds (quinoa, chia, hemp and flax) that you can add to just about anything—smoothies, mashed potatoes, cereal—to give it a little boost of heart and brain-healthy fats and fibre. Amy is hoping to launch a line of Baby Brain Organics granola bars too, and she’s running an Indiegogo campaign right now to help her kickstart the project. So cool.

Brain Boosting Banana Berry Breakfast Bars | www.kiwiandbean.com

Today Amy and I are teaming up to bring you a super dose of BBO superfood: a chance to win yourself a big ol’ three-month supply of the stuff, and a recipe for BBO-containing Brain Boosting Banana Berry Breakfast Bars (you totally tried to say that 5 times fast, didn’t you?).

Brain Boosting Banana Berry Breakfast Bars | www.kiwiandbean.com

If you’ve been here before, you know I have something of a love affair with make-ahead breakfasts. So it shouldn’t surprise you then that my go-to BBO recipe would be a make-ahead breakfast of champions. Not only are these bars packed with the healthful goodness of chia, quinoa and flax, they are vegan, free of wheat, sweetened almost exclusively by banana (yes!) and—most importantly—super freakin’ delicious. They’ve got a jammy raspberry layer sandwiched by two lawyers of chewy, banana-y, coconut-y oats, the whole thing a little reminiscent of a date square or one of those coffee shop blueberry oat bars, but with a nutritional punch and none of the guilt. While I’ve called them breakfast bars, they also make a great afternoon snack or lunchbox treat.

If you’re jonesing to make yourself a batch of these bars (you are, I know you are), and you don’t have any Baby Brain Organics on hand, scroll on down and follow the prompts for a chance to win yourself three bags of the stuff. Or Amy sells it on her website too.

Brain Boosting Banana Berry Breakfast Bars | www.kiwiandbean.com

Click here to view this promotion.

Brain Boosting Banana Berry Breakfast Bars

Ingredients

  • 1 cup mashed ripe bananas (about 3 medium bananas)
  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons Baby Brain Organics
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 2 cups frozen raspberries
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Finely grated zest of half a lemon
  • 1 tablespoon coconut sugar or brown sugar (optional)

Instructions

  1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Line a 8 inch square baking pan with a sling of parchment paper (cut two pieces of parchment paper about 4 inches longer than the pan, and criss-cross them over each other to make a sling formation).
  2. Combine the mashed banana, rolled oats, cinnamon, sea salt, 1/4 cup Baby Brain Organics, coconut oil and coconut in a medium bowl. Combine the raspberries, remaining 2 tablespoons Baby Brain Organics, maple syrup, lemon juice and lemon zest in another bowl.
  3. Press 2/3 of the oat mixture into a thin layer in the parchment-lined pan. Distribute the raspberry mixture evenly over top. Place dollops of the remaining oat mixture over the raspberries and gently press it down. You want to distribute it somewhat evenly over top of the raspberry layer, but it won't cover the entire thing, and that's ok. Nothing wrong with a rustic look.
  4. Sprinkle the whole thing with the sugar (if using) and bake in the 375 degree oven for about 40 minutes, or until nicely set and starting to brown around the edges.
  5. Cool for 10 minutes or so and then use the parchment paper to lift the bars out of the pan. When completely cool, cut them into squares.
http://kiwiandbean.com/brain-boosting-banana-berry-breakfast-bars/

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Quick Maple-Dijon Salmon

Maple Dijon Salmon | (Cooking for) Kiwi & Bean

So I’m slightly embarrassed to disclose that my kid has a maple syrup fetish. Is that weird? If a stranger asks for her name, she almost always responds with “Maple Syrup”. When her teacher asks her what she did over the weekend, her usual response? You got it—”Maple Syrup”. This is a real thing.

Kiwi and I have tried to make sense of this, but we haven’t come up with much.

Perhaps the best explanation is that *I* have a maple syrup fetish, and it has rubbed off on my three year old. *Fetish* is maybe too strong a word, but I will admit that I am at least mildly—and probably closer to moderately—obsessed with the stuff. The last time my mom visited my house, she actually remarked on the maple syrup supply in my basement: “Well at least you won’t run out of maple syrup anytime in the next century!”

I’m Canadian, ok, so cut me a little slack. And there was a great sale at Costco, which is always sooooo hard to resist. But I also use maple syrup as my sweetener of choice, in just about all my muffins, granola, pancakes, waffles and oatmeal.

And in my salmon, apparently. Continue Reading →

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Mushroom, Caramelized Onion & Cheddar Burgers

Mushroom, Cheddar & Caramelized Onion Burger | (Cooking for) Kiwi & Bean

So I had planned to share a nice warm and stewy fall recipe today, the second day of October. And then BAM, Mother Nature served up a week of sunshine and summer temps. Which, when you live in Canada especially, is something you don’t take for granted or ignore or treat with anything except the utmost respect and gratitude. So I stashed away the Dutch oven, moved aside the slow cooker for the week, and threw some burgers on the barbeque for a little summer Swan song. Continue Reading →

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Cooking for Beansprout, Part 2: Patty Cake Patty Cake

Meat Patties, Sliders and Meatballs | (Cooking for) Kiwi & Bean

Welcome back to my Cooking for Beansprout series, where I’m dishing up recipes that you can share with your babes. If you are the mom, dad, or caregiver of a mini person, this series is for you! If you are just joining me, check out the Introduction (and giveaway!) and this Baby-Led Weaning Primer.

Today I’ve got patty recipes! Meat patties, sliders and meatballs are perfect for beginning eaters, because (1) you can chop them into soft bite-size pieces perfect for little hands and teeth-less mouths (or even puree them if that works better for your babe), (2) you can pack them with interesting flavours (like lemongrass, ginger, fresh herbs, garlic and caramelized onions) and super-nutritious grated or mashed veggies, and (3) you can make larger adult-size versions (burgers!) for the big people in your family. They are also great for batch-cooking; I like to make a large quantity, bake them up, cool them down, and freeze them in zipper bags for quick lunches and dinners. Continue Reading →

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Pumpkin Pie Buckwheat Pancakes

Pumpkin Pie Buckwheat Pancakes | (Cooking for) Kiwi & Bean

More pumpkin. Because I can’t get enough of it. Can’t stop won’t stop. My kids have totally jumped on the bandwagon too, and how can I possibly deny them the pleasure: “no children, you’ve had enough squash for one day”. Continue Reading →

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Cooking for Beansprout, Part I: An Intro and a Giveaway!

Cooking for Beansprout | (Cooking for) Kiwi & Bean

I’m so excited to launch a new series on the blog today—Cooking for Beansprout—where I will share awesome recipes and tips for feeding the littlest member of your family. If you are a mom, dad or lover of a mini person, then this series is for you!

I started this blog when I was cooking for Kiwi and Bean, and now I’m cooking for Beansprout too. He’s 8 months old and VERY hungry. It’s honestly a challenge to keep up with his voracious appetite. The teenage years are going to be, um, expensive?

We introduced the Beansprout to solid food using my own hacked-up version of the “baby-led weaning” approach. Which is frankly just a fancy way of saying “Mama is too lazy to make purees.” But it’s also—in my humble opinion—the most fun and joyful way to set your child down a path of healthy adventurous eating. Watching a seven month old feed himself spears of watermelon, chunks of a sweet potato lamb burger, or pieces of thai chicken patties (and yes, I’m absolutely going to share these recipes) is truly magical.

To kick off the series, I’m giving one lucky reader the ultimate baby-led weaning library: Baby-Led Weaning and The Baby-Led Weaning Cookbook, both by Gill Rapley and Tracey Murkett. To enter the giveaway, scroll all the way down to the bottom of this post and follow the instructions. It will ask for your email address, but never fear—I won’t sell it or share it or even use it for my own promotions without your permission.

In the meantime, I’ve put together a little Baby-Led Weaning Primer, with a quick and dirty summary of how it works and why it is amaaaaaaazing.

And if you want to be notified when I share new baby-worthy recipes, subscribe below!

Click here to view this promotion.

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Crouching Turkey Hidden Veggie Pasta Sauce

Hidden Vegetable Pasta Sauce | (Cooking for) Kiwi & BeanAmongst parents of young kids, the “hidden veggie” debate is just about as raucous as the co-sleeping, nanny vs. daycare and vaccination ones.

In one camp are the moms and dads who think that vegetable-feeding, and food generally, should be full-disclosure, and that kids should be taught to love veggies and not coerced to eat them. In the other are parents who just want their kids to eat vegetables (darn it!) and have no issue conducting covert cauliflower operations in order to make it happen.

I fall somewhere between the two camps, I think. I serve my kids lots of fresh vegetables at every meal: steamed, sautéed, roasted and mashed. But I am more than happy to sneak in a few extras for good measure. Not just for the kids’ health and longevity, but for mine and Kiwi’s too. There is no such thing as too many vegetables. Continue Reading →

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Make-Ahead Breakfast: Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal

Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal | www.kiwiandbean.com

Yep, I said pumpkin. Are you ready for this?

I’m getting a super-head-start on pumpkin this year because (1) I still have cans of pumpkin leftover from last year’s pumpkin mania, (2) yum!, and (3) it’s a great excuse to feed my kids squash before noon. Continue Reading →

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