Simply Roasted Chicken

I love those rotisserie chickens you can get from the deli counter at the supermarket, and the ones at Costco are even more fabulous. But there’s something about roasting your own chicken in the oven that seems extra special (and kind of impressive if you’ve never done it before).

The smell will get you first, that savory chickeny, sumptuous smell. Then when you take it out of the oven, it’s a sight to be seen, with it’s glistening golden skin, and tender juicy meat. But once you bite into your first piece of homemade, oven roasted chicken perfection that doesn’t take all day or even a whole lot of patience, you’ll never want to waste your time with store bought precooked cluckers ever again. Mmmm… cheekehn, guuuod cheekhen!

1 whole chicken, 4-5lbs
Salt & Pepper
Butchers twine or tin foil

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Wash your chicken inside and out, and remove any giblets and the neck (you can use them for stock if you want to make gravy later). Dry VERY well inside and out as well. This part is super important, as the more moisture there is, the less crispy your skin will be.

Season the clucker in the cavity and all over the skin generously with salt and pepper. Place on a roasting rack with wings tucked underneath, and tie up the legs with butchers twine (or you can use a crumpled up piece of tin foil if you don’t have twine).

Bake at 425 degrees for 60 minutes or until a meat thermometer stuck in the thickest part of the thigh reads 160 degrees. Remove from oven, resist the urge to cut into it and devour your masterpiece, and let rest for at least ten minutes.

Then devour away!!! (PS the leftover bones make a great stock when simmered in water for a few hours with a bay leaf and a whole onion.)

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Rasta Nachos

My husband Dan’s favorite thing to eat is nachos. Any kind of nachos! The nuclear yellowish orange cheesy nachos with jalapenos you get at a baseball park, Roberto’s Carne Asada nachos, Memphis Championship BBQ’s nachos, and any other combination of chips, cheese and toppings. Honestly!

So one day we decided to fiddle with an idea for a Caribbean style nachos recipe, that included slow cooked jerk seasoned pulled pork, pineapple, and a bunch of other things that we had in the fridge. This recipe is all his, the execution was up to me. And boy did this collaboration turn out to be a hit! We both hope you enjoy these as much as we did!!

The Caribbean Pulled Pork–
2 pounds of boneless country style pork ribs, or shoulder roast
1 cup Caribbean jerk marinade
Enough water to cover the pork

Put the pork, marinade, and water in a slow cooker, and cook on low for 6-8 hours. (Or if you’re in a hurry to try these babies, you can put the same ingredients into a large pot, bring it to a boil, turn down the heat to low, and simmer for about two hours. You’ll get the same effect, but the meat won’t be AS tender as the slow cooker method).

Remove the meat with a slotted spoon, and shred with two forks, then set aside. It will be literally falling apart, and so flavorful and juicy you’ll want to use this pork for everything!!

The rest of the kitchen sink–
1 bag blue corn tortilla chips
2-3 cups shredded pepper jack cheese
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can pineapple chunks in juice, drained
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 medium red onion, diced
1/2 bunch cilantro chopped
1/4-1/2 cup pickled jalapeño slices
1 avocado, diced
2 tbsp lime juice

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Prepare a 9″ x 13″ baking dish by lining the bottom and sides with parchment paper or foil. Set aside.

In a medium mixing bowl, combine the black beans, pineapple, bell pepper, red onion, cilantro, and half of the jalapeño slices, and set aside.

Dump about half the chips into the lined baking dish, top with half of the pork, drizzle with a tiny bit of the jerk marinade, then add half of the bean mixture on top, and sprinkle with half the cheese. Repeat with the rest of the ingredients, ending with cheese.

Bake at 425 degrees for 10-15 minutes, or until the middle layer of cheese is melty. Remove from the baking dish, place on a serving platter, top with remaining jalapeño slices, the avocado, and lime juice. Then pop in your favorite reggae album, and dive into the flavor party that’s about to happen in your mouth!

(Now, obviously this makes quite a large serving. Please feel free to halve this recipe, but take my word for it, even if there’s only two of you, there probably won’t be any leftovers!!)

Chicken Enchisagne

I’ve been making this recipe for as long as I’ve been cooking for a crowd… which is longer than I’d care to admit. It’s super easy to put together, even easier to cook, is great as leftovers, and is one of my favorite “go-to’s” for a potluck since you can prepare it the night before.

I’ve tried many variations on the ingredients, and have found each to be unique and as wonderfully delicious. Please check those variations out at the end, and feel free to create your own and share as well!

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 large can of your favorite red enchillada sauce
1 can cream of chicken soup
2 cloves of garlic, smashed and peel removed
3 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
2 cups of shredded cheddar or jack or your favorite combo of cheeses
1 small onion, chopped
1 can of large black olives, drained and sliced in half
1/2 bunch of cilantro, roughly chopped
18-20 corn tortillas
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Grease or spray a 9″ x 13″ baking pan (I like glass for this recipe), and set aside.

In a medium pot, add your smashed garlic, and extra virgin olive oil, and sauté for about a minute, until just fragrant. Add the enchillada sauce and cream of chicken soup, and stir. Add salt and pepper to taste. Simmer on medium low for about ten minutes, or while you prepare the rest of your ingredients.

In a large mixing bowl, add your shredded chicken, onions, black olives, and cilantro, and combine well. Add all but 1/4 cup of the shredded cheese and lightly fold together, being careful not to squish the cheese into lumps!

Remove your sauce from the heat, and start by dunking one tortilla into the sauce, covering it completely on both sides. Place the enchi-sauce soaked tortilla in the prepared baking dish in the corner, and repeat until the bottom of the dish is covered in six to eight overlapping saucy tortillas!

Take about half of the chicken mix, and sprinkle over the tortillas. Repeat the tortilla soaking, and top the chicken mixture with another layer of them. Then sprinkle the rest of your chicken mix on top, and do a final layer of saucy tortillas.

Top with the remaining 1/4 cup of shredded cheese (this would be the point where you could throw some foil on top and and wait until morning to bake!), and bake at 375 degrees for 30-40 minutes or until it’s bubbling all the way through.

Cool for about ten minutes before cutting into eight portions (or six if you’re really hungry!), and serve the yummy enchisagne with a dollop of sour cream on top.

Now, here are a few variations I’ve tried and really liked:

Green Chile Shrimp Enchisagne
Replace the enchillada sauce with green enchillada sauce, omit the black olives, use pepper jack cheese instead of cheddar, use about two cups of cooked diced shrimp in place of the chicken, and add a can of diced green chiles to the shrimp mixture. This is fabulous with a little extra cilantro on top too!

Chipotle Chicken Enchisagne
Add one to three chopped chipotle chiles in adobo to the chicken mixture (depending on how hot you want it), replace the onions with green onions, add about 1/4 cup of sour cream to the sauce mix along with a few teaspoons of the adobo sauce.

Shredded Beef Enchisagne
Replace the chicken with 1 1/2 cups cooked shredded beef seasoned with cumin chili powder and garlic salt, and instead of adding cheese to the meat mixture, sprinkle it on top before adding the tortilla layers.

Yeast-Free Bread (update includes GF recipe too!)

Diaper rash is an ugly thing, especially when your little one is so sensitive to anything itchy and uncomfortable (what a way to start a recipe, right?! Sorry!). Unfortunately it is also one of the most common things parents will have to deal with on a daily basis.

Now, my C’s doctors have told me over and over again that it has nothing to do with what she eats, and everything to do with how often her diaper is being changed, and her environment (well actually the environment of her diaper!). I BEG TO DIFFER!

We’ve been prescribed antibiotic cream, tried Desitin, A&D, Aquaphor, baby powder, switched to ultra sensitive wipes, and even different diapers, you name it. But the only thing I’ve found that really truly helps, is cutting out yeast from her diet.

This proved to be quite troublesome when we stopped feeding her sandwich bread, since right now all she wants to eat is peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and grilled cheeses (*sigh*). Anywho… Here’s my answer to the “diaper rash, no yeast but Cizzle wants bread” dilemma. Hope you like it!

Yeast-Free Bread

2/3 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup pancake mix
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg, beaten
1/3 cup applesauce
2/3 cup milk (or soy milk!)
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons black strap molasses

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees, then spray or grease, and flour the bottom of a loaf pan. Set aside.

In a large bowl combine the dry ingredients, wisk and set aside. (Note: if you don’t have pancake mix, just use an extra 1/3 cup of flour with a little extra baking powder, about 1/4 teaspoon. I actually ran out of flour when I made this the first time and used the pancake mix for the rest, but it turned out great! So why change a good thing?)

In a small bowl, combine wet ingredients, and slowly incorporate into the dry, trying not to over mix. The dough should be a bit sticky and be able to form into a loaf, but not too wet. If it’s one way or the other, add more flour or milk until it comes together.

Drop the dough into the prepared loaf pan, and spread into the corners (I used a greased non-stick spatula to get it down in there). Bake at 350 for 40-50 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out dry and the top of the loaf is golden brown.

This bread needs to be cooled well before slicing, but it is fabulous warm! It toasts well, makes great French toast, and is lovely for sandwiches.

Update: it’s been well over two years since I’ve read this one, and our eating habits have certainly changed, especially with the Jackson boy addition to the Cizzlepie crowd. We are now trying with all our might to be gluten free (mainly due to my newly found sensitivity), and dairy free since my “lactardation” seems to be ever present since the arrival of our booming baby boy in April of 2012… Yes he’s almost two. Wow.

So to suit this yeast free bread to our new, or your, dietary needs, just omit the pancake mix, as well as the two flours, and replace with two cups of gluten free flour mix, along with 1/2 tsp of xanthan gum, and of course replace the milk with your favorite milk substitute. And voilà! GF, DF, YF bread!!

Picky Pancakes

During this wonderful pre-toddler stage my Cizzle is in, she is learning to be a diva, a spy, a professional at playtime, a rock (aka couch) climber, and an eyelash battingly sweetly defiant monster amongst many other things. But she is also learning to be a picky eater, mostly due to the fact that she’s been cutting all of her molars at the same time, otherwise she would normally eat anything I put in front of her. So I have really had to be quite creative lately with her meals.

This is a little recipe I came up with during one of my frantic mornings telling her “…you can’t just eat applesauce and crackers ALL day! I have to get something somewhat healthy and nutritious into you little diva!”. And after trying just about every piece of fruit, whole grain cereal, and organic yogurt in my arsenal, I figured pancakes would never be turned down.

1 cup pancake mix
1/3 cup whole wheat flour
3 tbsp baby oatmeal cereal
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
About ten frozen and thawed or fresh blueberries

Smash the blueberries with back of fork in a small bowl, add the oatmeal cereal and applesauce, mix well and set aside.

Mix the whole wheat flour with the pancake mix, then add water until desired pancake consistency (if you don’t have whole wheat flour, just use pancake mix as normal. This just makes me feel a little bit better about making her pancakes).

Pour pancake mix into a preheated pan in small silver dollar size drops, spoon some of the “filling” on top, then add a little more pancake mix on top of that, just so the filling is covered. Cook as usual, and cool well before serving to your little toddler (or big kid, or you!), as the middle will be quite warm. Yum!

I’ll add pictures of the actual pancakes once I get the hang of this blogging thing, but in the meantime, here is my CizzlePie’s debut.

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