Easy Roast Chicken

easy roast chicken | bacon is the way to happiness

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There is something so satisfying about cooking a whole bird. From Cornish Hens to turkey, nothing tops that joy of pulling out a beautifully browned bird. The processes between purchasing, assembling, cooking, and consuming said bird can be quite intimidating.

I speak from experience. I have ruined my fair share of Cornish Hens and whole chickens. Trust me.  I have under cooked and over cooked. And all other sorts of crazy things.

However, a while ago, I swore off buying chicken breasts. Week after week, it just gets too derned expensive. Particularly if you buy organic! I have heard many a grandmother say that the best way to cook chicken for your family is by purchasing a whole chicken and using it for all its worth. I finally decided to give it a try about a year and a half ago and I became hooked.

One 3 to 4 lb chicken lasts us through several meals. But wait! There’s more. You can use the carcass (and giblets) to make stocks.  (Stay tuned for a post on making and freezing chicken stock and vegetable stock to get you through the winter).

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Easy Roast Chicken
Yields: 8 servings
Time: 10 minute prep | 1 hour 15 minute cook + 15 minute rest time

3-4 pound whole turkey
1/2 onion, quartered
3 garlic cloves
1 lemon, halved
2 TBS unsalted butter, melted OR 2 TBS canola oil
1 TBS fresh herbs (sage, rosemary, bay, and/or thyme), minced
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
Kitchen twine

 

Directions:

1. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.

2. Remove the giblets (should be all kept in a bag… it’s okay if you have to close your eyes to remove them. You’re in good company). Rinse and pat dry the inside and outside of the bird, making sure that it is very dry.

3. Place the garlic cloves, lemon, and onion into the cavity of the bird. Bind the legs of the bird using kitchen twine (I cross the legs and twisty-turny the twine until it is secure).

4. In a small bowl, combine the herbs and about 1 TBS salt and about 2 tsps pepper. Pour in the melted butter or oil. Using a basting brush, brush the herb mixture on every square inch of the bird.

5. Place into a roasting pan and cook for an hour to an hour and 30 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.

6. Remove from oven and allow the chicken to rest for 15 minutes.*

7. Slice chicken and serve immediately. Save the onion, garlic, and carcass for later to make a stock.*

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*Cook’s notes: 

1.  I cannot stress how important this rest time is! I have ruined many a chicken until I figured out that I really do have to let it sit to finish cooking!

2. If I don’t immediately begin making stock, I store mine in a large bag in the fridge, if I can get to it within the next few days, or I place it in the freezer until I have time.

 

 

Pumpkin & Sunflower Seed Loaf

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Many things are worth the wait: happiness… success… donuts.

And, from what I have heard: cronuts.

Things that are worthwhile usually take time. Take for instance, this loaf. There is no difficulty in making this bread in comparison to other bread-baking, but it does take a good amount of patience. It requires several rises (make that three, or so…). It requires a handful of kneading sessions (literally).

If you’ve ever been so fortunate as to have your teeth sink into a seeded loaf of bread, you’ll know that there is hardly any bread that feels as hearty and fulfilling (and hardy, and filling).

The only pumpkin you’ll find in this loaf are its seeds. Along with sunflower seeds. Seedy bread is good! Sometimes being seedy is okay. Okay, well, usually never, but in this singular time, we like seedy. Perhaps we’ll stick with the term “seeded” bread.

These here loaves I made to accompany a bratwurst hash I made for some pals on the occasion of the birth of their daughter! Babies are just the best. Best celebrated by eating. And also by squishing their little cheeks.

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Pumpkin & Sunflower Seed Loaf
Adapted from: David Norman at Food & Wine
Yields: 2 loaves

1 TBS active dry yeast
1 TBS kosher salt
1 TBS granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups water, warm (110 degrees)
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1 cup pumpkin seeds
1 cup raw, sunflower seeds
1 TBS pumpkin pie spice

Directions:

1. In a large cast iron skillet over medium heat, toast your seeds for approximately 2 minutes, stirring frequently.

2. Whisk together the yeast, salt, and sugar. Stir in 1 cup of the water and 1 cup of flour. Cover with plastic wrap and let it rise for 3 hours.

3. Pour the remaining water in a bowl with the cornmeal and stir until well combined. Allow it to cool.

4. Add the cornmeal mixture to the risen dough, as well as the remaining flour and pumpkin pie spice to create a soft dough.

5. Knead the dough on a floured surface until smooth and elastic, for more or less 15 minutes. Knead in the pumpkin and sunflower seeds until well combined. Place the dough back into the bowl, cover with plastic wrap and allow it to rise for 1 hour.

6. Turn the dough out on a lightly floured work surface, for about 1 minute. Place back into the bowl and recover with the plastic wrap until it has doubled in size (about 1 hour).

7.  Turn the dough out one last time on a lightly floured surface and split it in half.  Shape into round loaves. Sprinkle cornmeal on a baking sheet and place the loaves on top for one final rise (I promise) until the loaves have doubled in size, about an hour and a half.

8. Place a pizza stone in the middle rack of your oven and preheat it to 500 degrees. Place a roasting pan underneath your baking stone  on the bottom rack for the duration of the preheating.

9. Using a serrated knife, slash the tops of the loaves three times. Transfer them to the baking stone. Pour 1 cup of hot water into the roasting pan and close the oven door!

10. Bake for 10 minutes.

11. Reduce the oven temperature to 450 degrees, and bake for another 15-20 minutes, or until the loaves are nicely browned.

12. Let the loaves cool completely (about 30 minutes) before slicing it down and enjoying!

See wasn’t that worth the wait?!

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Cook’s notes:

1. The original recipe calls for an overnight rise to create a starter. If you have the time, I encourage you to do this. It sounds like a lot of fun. I did not have the time, unfortunately! So I allowed for as much time as I could for the very first rise.

 

Pumpernickel Rolls

pumpernickel rolls | bacon is the way to happiness

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Pumpernickel. What a fabulous word. It just rolls off the tongue with such ease, doesn’t it? Pumpernickel!

As a child, I was absolutely intrigued by this word. This inquisitiveness expanded  beyond  the word, to this edible substance called “pumpernickel.” Until I tasted a caraway seed. Ick. Gross. Nevermind. After wiping off my tongue, I decided that it was too grown up tasting for me.  I was back to only caring for potato bread, despite its lack of exoticism.

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Pumpernickel. Just fascinating sounding. Like Nicholas Nickelby…. Nebuchadnezzar.... Rachmaninoff…. Nevertheless…. or Rasputin. Loved saying his name and musing over Rasputin in my youth. Bizarre, I know.

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I like sifting. It makes me feel as if I know what I am doing.

When I come up with recipes, I often write them out on the back of an important letter or another paper of note. So it is quite often that my recipes become misplaced. With this recipe, it was such an occasion. After much searching, it was recovered in the piano bench.

Not really sure why it was in there. Perhaps it was Rasputin.

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Pumpernickel Rolls
Yields: 12 rolls
Time: 10 minute prep, 1 hour + 10 minute rise, 25 minute bake

2 TBS yeast
1 cup of brewed coffee, warm (about 110 degrees)
2 TBS water
5 TBS unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp salt
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup rye flour
1 TBS molasses
1 TBS cocoa powder
Caraway seeds

 

Directions:

1. In a bowl, combine the yeast, sugar, coffee, water, and molasses. Set aside for a few minutes, until the mixture is bubbly!

2. Add the butter and egg to the  yeast mixture.

3. Sift together the all-purpose flour, rye flour, cocoa powder, and salt. Whisk in the brown sugar.

4. Add the yeast mixture into the flour mixture.

5. Knead for 3 to 5 minutes, until the dough becomes together. Cover with plastic wrap and allow it to rise for 1 hour.

6. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

7. Divide the dough into 12 pieces and form into round balls. Place onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (or a Silpat!).

8. Brush the tops of the dough balls with water. Slash the tops once with a serrated knife. Sprinkle on some caraway seeds. Let them stand for 10 minutes.

9. Bake for 25 minutes, or until golden brown.

10. Cool on a baking rack for 10-15 minutes before digging in!

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Homemade Tortillas

homemade tortilla | Bacon is the Way to Happiness

Some things go like hot cakes in our house.
Bagels. Gingersnaps. Hot cakes. Tortillas.

I’m not quite sure what it is about homemade tortillas that make them disappear into thin air.

Perhaps it is that tortillas are just so versatile, so we tend to use them in every meal. You can fill them with scrambled eggs and have a breakfast burrito. Or put in lunch meat to make a wrap! Make tortilla chips!! Use them for tacos, duh! You can put Nutella on them. ….or just butter (don’t judge).

They are a blank canvas for whatever may be  your eating desire.

This recipe was a happy accident. I was flat out of oil. Fail. So I decided to replace it with melted butter.

….butter. The only thing better would be bacon fat.

That’s a thought.

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Homemade Tortillas
Yields 8 six inch tortillas

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
1 tsp salt
3/4 cup water
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted

 

Directions:

1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, and salt.

2. Using a spatula, add the water and butter. Dough will be very dry as it comes together, but will become a bit sticky. You don’t it too sticky though, add flour if it is a sticky mess!

3. Turn the dough out 10 times on a lightly floured surface, until the dough has a nice elasticity.  Cover. Let it sit for 15 minutes.

4. Divide into 8 pieces. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough out until it is about 6 inches wide.

5. Heat a cast iron skillet on medium. With a DRY skillet (avoid the temptation to grease it), cook each tortilla for about 30-60 seconds each side. When the tortilla blisters a little bit, you know it is time to flip it.

 

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Quick Dinner Rolls

quick and easy dinner rolls | Bacon is the Way to Happiness

I am in love with baking.  The feeling of flour on my finger tips. Smoke clouds of flour dust rising into the air. Flaky, crusty, and warm bread fresh out of the oven.

It is positively romantic.

That is, until I inevitably forget my hands are covered in goopy dough and touch my hair. Gross.

Now that the summer heat has passed, I try as often as I can to get my baking fix. One simple way to do this is by making dinner rolls.

These dinner rolls are fast and easy to make. The only thing faster is to go out and buy already made rolls. But, depending upon where you live in relation to a store, these still may be faster.

…and, not to mention, are more delicious.          Whoops. I mentioned it.

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Quick Dinner Rolls
Yields 6 very large rolls or 12 small rolls
3 1/2 cups All-Purpose Flour
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/4 cup warm water
2 TBS active dry yeast
2 TBS granulated sugar
1 tsp salt
1 large egg

Directions:
1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Grease your baking vessel very well. You want this to be incredibly greasy. Think 7th grade school picture greasy.  My container of choice was a cast iron skillet, but feel free to use a baking dish of any kind.**

2. Proof your yeast** by combining water, yeast, sugar, and salt in the bowl of your mixer. Allow to sit for 5 minutes.

3. Equipped with a dough hook, begin combining your ingredients. First add butter, egg, and 1 cup of flour.

4. Slowly add the flour, one cup at a time, until the dough comes together to form a ball.**

5. Separate and shape the dough into either 6 or 12 balls and place into your greased baking dish. It is okay for the rolls to touch. In fact, it’s encouraged

6. Bake for 10 minutes for small rolls and 15 minutes for 6 large rolls, or until golden brown. I always check in 5 minute increments.

7. Allow rolls to cool for 5-10 minutes before removing, if you can stand it.

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**Notes:

1. Baking times can vary, as a result of the dish you are using. If it is a glass dish, it will be a longer baking time than when using a metal container.

2. Proof your yeast. I am never quite sure whether the yeast I have will work, so I always always proof it. It’s super easy and only adds a few minutes to your baking, and will guarantee your dough will rise. (There’s nothing worse than making the effort to bake and not having yeast activate.)

3. Depending upon the day’s humidity, it may require more or less flour. The more humid the day is, the more flour it will require. This is a sticky, wet dough (think opposite of pizza dough, but not quite as soupy as pancake batter). But if it is too runny, add more flour (by the tablespoon). If it is too dry, add water (also, by the tablespoon)

Bacon is the Way to Happiness

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I am a gal who wears many hats. I am a wife and a mother. I work in a flower shop. I write. And I cook.

Because of the way life took me in 2012 (loss and new career ventures), I found myself unable to write about food any longer.  I had lost my voice. I was unable to walk into the kitchen, pick up a knife with gusto (don’t worry, I’m not psycho), and cook from the heart. So, I decided to let the blog go.

Since then, so much as happened. I had a baby. The flower shop I work for went from the owner plus one employee (ahem, me) to a booming business that does upwards of 150 weddings each year with seven employees. I have scaled back from full-time at the shop to working weddings and managing the shop’s social media. And I have begun writing again.

I was approached by ShopRite to rejoin their blogger panel entitled Potluck.  I adored contributing in the past and jumped at the opportunity to do so once again. However, this brought forth a new reality: I was going to have to resurrect the food blog.

But how does one do that exactly? I originally imagined it required some sort of voodoo or Harry Potter magic. In reality, all it takes is a few words and some clicking.

Well, I suppose it does require a bit more than that.

To those of you who were so kind (and more likely bribed) to follow my blog in the past, welcome back. Thank you! I am sure you have noticed that I decided to make some changes. One major change was the name of the blog.

I’ve decided to change the name of my blog from “Cleanliness is Next to Godliness” to “Bacon is the Way to Happiness.” Half-whim, half-contrived. Inspired by a touching moment I had (alone) while cooking bacon. The house smelled amazing as two slices sizzled on my grandmother’s cast iron skillet. I realized that bacon is perhaps the way to happiness. It was in this moment that my house was clean, I had on makeup, and my son wasn’t trying to hurtle himself toward injury.

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And bacon.

Here you will see some recipes I have shaped, others I’ve tested. As well as other little glimpses into my world. I have also kept all of my old posts, dating all the way back to my humble (read: embarrassing) beginnings.

So, hello to old friends and new! It is so nice to see you.

Hot Mulled Bourbon

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This time of year is completely intoxicating isn’t it? Thanksgiving comes to an end and with it, comes the beginning of the Christmas season!

A crispness is in the air. The soft scents of pine and cypress are abundant. Naturally following these things are wonderful Christmas Carols.

Today, one has particularly been stuck in my head:  Holly Jolly Christmas. And more specifically one line: “I don’t know if there’ll be snow, but have a cup of cheer.”

I don’t know about you, but when Burl Ives tells me to do something, I darn well do it. I suggest you do the same.

Last week, my husband mentioned that he would love to find a warm winter spirit that involved bourbon, that wasn’t too sweet. Since then, I have been unable to think of anything else. I’ve perused the internet for recipes to come up with something that might be worthy of his criteria. I came up empty handed. So, I decided to come up with something on my own!

Boy, oh boy, was I pleased with the results. And so was my husband!

I do believe we have found our Christmas 2012 Cup of Cheer!

Hot Mulled Bourbon
Yields: 2 servings

 

Ingredients:
1 cup bourbon
1 tsp vermouth
Splash of a dry red wine
2 TBS granulated sugar
1 tsp orange juice
4 splashes of Angostura bitters
1 TBS mulling spices, wrapped up in cheesecloth and twine
1/2 cup of water

Directions:
1. In a small saucepan, combine all ingredients and bring to a low simmer, do not boil.
2. Simmer for 10 to 15 minutes.
3. Serve in mugs with cinnamon sticks and enjoy!

Butternut Squash Fries

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Have you ever found yourself rudely awakened in the morning? Awakened during the last crucial 5 to 10 minutes of sleep before your alarm goes off? Perhaps by a hound dog?

And as a result, you want nothing more than to give Morning a roundhouse kick to the face.

I know this scenario all too well.

Sometimes you need a little oomph or a wonderful thought to get you to raise from your bed. This morning, that thought for me was of butternut squash fries. …And a hot cup of Joe with almond milk and a pinch of pumpkin pie spice. Nom.

No matter what you use to make fries, it seems that you can’t go wrong. Whether you make French Fries, Freedom Fries, Sweet Potato Fries…. they all taste so darn good! It is the same with using butternut squash.

There is such a sweetness with these fries that is unmatched. It is a light and healthy alternative to overly fried French Fries. And to be honest, I eat mine plain! No sense of dipping these fries into any condiment or aioli. It is just too good to cover up!

Butternut Squash Fries
Yields: 4 servings

Ingredients:
2 butternut squash, peeled and deseeded
Extra virgin olive oil
1 TBS kosher salt

Directions:
1. Preheat your oven to the broiler setting. If you have to decide between a low or high setting, choose a high setting.
2. Slice your butternut squash into even fry sizes. It is imperative to get them close to even, so that they cook for about the same time.
3. Place onto a prepared baking sheet (either parchment paper or oil is fine). Drizzle oil over top of the fries and sprinkle with salt.
4. Place under the broiler. Keep a sharp eye on the butternut squash. Set your timer to 2 minutes. And check your fries in 2 minute intervals. When they begin to nicely brown on one side, flip them and continue to check them in 2 minute intervals until a desired brownness is reached. The cooking time will differ depending upon the size of the fries and your oven.

Salmon with Maple-Bourbon Glaze and Caramelized Onions

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We definitely do not eat enough salmon in our house. It is so scrum-diddle-dee-dumptious that not eating it enough should be a crime. On second thought, maybe it already is a crime. Oh boy, it may even be a felony. I need to look into this for myself and for you.

…Wait one second while I close the blinds and turn off all of the lights, so it looks like no one’s home, just in case a police officer drives by….

 We also do not consume nearly enough bourbon in our house. Okay, so I’m not being completely honest. We probably consume somewhere between an adequate and a healthy portion of bourbon in the Malloy household. What? Don’t judge.

One thing is for sure, I do not cook with bourbon enough. Bring me a bible, friend, for I am telling you the truth!

This is a simple and delicious dinner that is gourmet, but made on a dime.

Salmon with Maple-Bourbon Glaze and Caramelized Onions
Yields: 4 servings and 1/2 cup of glaze

Ingredients:
4 salmon fillets
1 cup onion, sliced thinly
1 tsp sugar
Extra virgin olive oil
For the Glaze-
2 TBS maple syrup
2 TBS + 1 oz. bourbon whiskey (2 TBS to cook with and 1 oz to drink while you cook… snicker)
1 TBS white vinegar
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tsp dark brown sugar
2 cups arugula

Directions:
1. Prepare the salmon to your heart’s content by either grilling, baking, or poaching.
2. Meanwhile, heat 1 TBS of olive oil over medium to medium-high heat. Add onions and sugar. Cook for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onions become caramelized.
3. For the glaze, whisk together all of the ingredients.
4. Place the cooked salmon fillets on top of arugula. Top with 1/4 cup caramelized onions on each fillet, and place 2 to 3 TBS of the glaze on each fillet.