Sunday, October 25, 2009

Day of Rest

Good things that happened this weekend:
1) I worked all day Saturday (well, that's not so good, but the events I worked on went well and are now over, and that's very good).
2) A seasonal flu shot was procured for Baby J!  Whew!  And he took said flu shot and his six month vaccines like a champ, without spiking a fever or getting any sickie symptoms at all (which is what happened with his four month vaccines, which was not fun).
3) He also started saying "mamamamama".  Which is pretty awesome.  I am not going to give that legit first word status until it is actually directed at me, but it's amazing to hear nonetheless.  Makes my heart sing.  I am also pretty sure he said "Obama" to another baby at the grocery store, but I could be wrong.
4) I took my first run back (not counting my run in July which nearly killed me -- too hot, too long, too soon -- and then it scared me off of running again until now), and didn't die, puke, keel over on the side of the road or cry.  In fact, I feel pretty good!  Woo hoo!
5) I finally had the time to do a bit of cooking today.  I love to cook up a whole bunch of different things on Sunday, in order to have lots of good leftovers and lunch options for the week.  With another busy work week coming up, I really went for it today.  On the menu:
For Sunday dinner
Lemon and Garlic Roast Chicken
Tassajara Warm Red Cabbage Salad from 101 Cookbooks (had to use the Cabbage Monster before it turned on us)
Cheesy Herbed Polenta
For weekday lunches
Southwestern Chicken and Orzo Salad
The roast chicken is a simplified version of Ina Garten's Perfect Roast Chicken from the first Barefoot Contessa Cookbook.  I've modified it to make it more simple and added my own secret ingredients, and it is always a huge hit.  This is just a classic, flavorful, easy recipe, and perfect for a Sunday night, as there are so many uses for leftover chicken during the week.  

1 yellow onion, sliced
1 (5 to 6 pound) roasting chicken
1 large bunch fresh thyme
1 lemon, cut in half
1 head garlic, cut in half crosswise
2 tablespoons fresh sage leaves
olive oil
Kosher salt, fresh ground pepper and paprika
Ginger Ale or apple juice or cider for basting
1) Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
2) Remove the chicken giblets. Rinse the chicken with cold water.  Take a handful of kosher salt and give the chicken a salt scrub.  Pat dry with paper towels.
3) Line a roasting pan with sliced onions and place the chicken on top. Liberally salt and pepper the inside of the chicken. Stuff the cavity with the bunch of thyme, both halves of the lemon, and all the garlic. Stuff sage leaves (secret ingredient #1) under the skin around the breasts. Close the cavity with poultry pins or tie the legs together across the cavity with kitchen string.
4) Pour about 2 tablespoons of olive oil over the chicken, and cover generously with kosher salt and fresh ground pepper.  Finish with a sprinkling of paprika.
5) Roast the chicken for 1 1/2 hours, or until the juices run clear when you cut between a leg and thigh. Baste every 20 minutes with ginger ale or apple juice or cider (secret ingredient #2 -- there is something about the sugars in the liquids that make the meat a little sweeter and caramelize on the skin -- truly delicious!).

Southwestern Chicken and Orzo Salad

This was a favorite recipe when I was pregnant.  It is packed with healthy protein and folate, with some satisfying carbiness to boot.  You could easily leave out the chicken for a vegetarian salad.
1 lb. orzo pasta
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
8 oz. pepper jack cheese, grated
1 bunch cilantro, chopped
1/4 red onion, finely chopped
1 15 oz. can black beans, drained
1/2 chicken, shredded (it is up to you how much light vs. dark meat to use according to your preference)
juice of 1 lime
olive oil, red wine vinegar, sea salt, pepper and hot sauce (we like Cholula) to taste
1) Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add the orzo, and cook according to package instructions, 8-10 minutes, until done.  Drain, and rinse immediately with cold water to arrest cooking (this will keep you from having a gelatinous mass to deal with when you are ready to toss all the ingredients together).
2) Add tomatoes, cheese, cilantro, onion, beans and chicken to a large mixing bowl. Add pasta. Toss thoroughly.
3) Dress to taste with lime juice, olive oil, and hot sauce creating the blend of moisture, acidity, and heat that you prefer.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Says the husband, "This stuff is so awesome, it would even be good with tofu."

Sunday dinner in all its glory:

Now it is time for me to put my feet up and enjoy the rest of this day of rest.
Have a wonderful start to your week!


  1. Did you use the chicken from the one you roasted for the orzo salad? Also, on a scale of 1 to 10 (1= even I could do it....10= only you could do it), where would you place this cabbage recipe? Be honest.

  2. Good questions, Ab. I did use the chicken from the one we roasted for the salad. I made the salad with everything but the chicken, and stuck it in the fridge while we ate dinner. When the leftover chicken from dinner was cool, I chopped about a breast and a half of it and added it to the salad. As for the cabbage, it wasn't impossible, but it was labor intensive with a lot of steps, and it helps that we have a food processor to cut the cabbage into perfect ribbons -- it would take a lot knifework to do that by hand. I'd give it a 7 on the difficulty scale for your average layperson. But, so worth it -- even B, who was very skeptical, really liked this dish.

  3. yummers! i'll have to try your chicken recipe on our freezer full of pheasants. also, this weekend i picked 5 lbs (!) of tomatillos off my under-cover-volunteer plant (it's hunkered down in the raspberry patch). i whipped up enough enchilada sauce for dinner AND a couple quart jars for the freezer. thanks jane for the inspiration!

  4. Hey Jane-

    Made the orzo salad, it was great! I did add some corn, Trader Joe's has really good, sweet frozen corn that was a good addition.