Sunday Baked Chicken Supper

Sunday Roast Chicken - served

Hearty, delicious and homey – Sunday Baked Chicken Supper

When I was a child, nearly every Sunday, my Grandma made a baked chicken. It just wasn’t Sunday without those delicious smells coming from the kitchen and that pageantry of presenting that big meal. As an adult, Sundays felt a little incomplete, or not really official, if I didn’t make a baked chicken. With four children, the craziness of the weekend and just inadequate planning on my part (you do have to plan for making a baked chicken), that tradition fell by the wayside. But on a chilly weekend recently, I just had a hankering and had to make a nice chicken dinner for the family. Drawing on a variety of recipes and methods I’ve collected over the years, I came up with an easy, straightforward recipe I think you’ll love.

Sunday Roast Chicken - herbs and garlic

Herbs, garlic cloves and some lemon, inside the cavity of the chicken, will lend flavor as it bakes.

Sunday Baked Chicken Supper
Serves 6 or 4 with leftovers

Ingredients:
1 5-7 pound chicken, whole
1 onion, sliced
The cloves of one head of garlic, peeled
Roasting veggies of your choice including potatoes, carrots, beats, turnips, parsnips, celery cut into big chunks
Fresh herbs of choice but thyme and rosemary were used in this recipe
1/2 a lemon, cut in half
1 TBS butter, melted
Olive oil
1 cup chicken broth
1-2 TBS flour
Salt & Pepper

Sunday Roast Chicken - raw veggies

We used turnips, beats, carrots, onion and garlic here. But you could use other root veggies of your choice like potatoes, parsnips and rutabagas. See below for why I did not cook the vegetables in the same pan as the chicken (besides space).

Method:
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

1. Make sure you’ve taken out the bag of gizzards and whatnot (I call it the “bag of yuck”) from inside the chicken. Not every chicken comes this way but I didn’t check once and accidentally baked the bag right in. Don’t make that mistake!

2. Place 1/2 of the sliced onion on the bottom of your roasting pan to create a bit of a bed for the chicken. Place the other 1/2 of the onion in a separate roasting pan that will hold the vegetables (more on that in a moment).

3. Pat the chicken dry with a paper towel. Place the fresh herbs and lemon pieces inside the bird. Brush the melted butter over the chicken, then salt and pepper the bird.

4. Place your veggies of choice in the second roasting pan. I keep the veggies separate from the chicken so that they don’t come in contact with the juices of the chicken. While the chicken and the vegetables can definitely benefit from the flavor the other yields, I like to make extra vegetables and then use them with other dishes later in the week. Because they didn’t touch the chicken, they have a longer “shelf-life” and will also go better with other dishes, like beef or pork. The only time I absolutely cook chicken and veggies together is in my Go-To One Pot Chicken and Peppers recipe  which you’ve got to try on a busy night!

5. Drizzle a little olive oil over the veggies and toss them around.

6. Put both pans in the oven, side-by-side, and put on the timer for 45 minutes. At that point, switch the pans around so they are on the other side and rotated to ensure even baking. Stick a fork in the veggies to see if they are done. If so, remove them at this point. If they are not, stir them around and put a lid, or aluminum foil over them to prevent them from drying out and to create a little steaming to hurry along the baking.

7. Depending on the size of the chicken, it will need another 45 minutes, for a total of 1 1/2 hours (maybe more). A meat thermometer stuck in the thickest part of the thigh should read 165 degrees when it is done.

8. Remove the chicken to a cutting board and let it sit for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, make the gravy.

9. Pour the drippings into a small pot and add the chicken broth. Add some herbs like dried basil, rosemary and thyme plus salt and pepper to taste. Make a slurry of the flour and a little cold water in a small bowl and whisk it in to the gravy, boiling the mixture until it thickens a little. Making the gravy is totally optional!

10. Slice the chicken and serve it with the roasted veggies and a drizzle of gravy if desired.

Enjoy!

 

Sunday Roast Chicken - roast chicken

Mmmm, golden brown! You can’t believe how delicious the house smells! Well, you’ll see when you make it!

Sunday Roast Chicken - roasted veggies

Roasting brings out entirely different flavors of vegetables. Onion and garlic tie all of the flavors together.

The Easiest Spaghetti and Meatballs Ever By Edan Goode

I love spaghetti and meatballs. It makes me feel so Italian to eat it and I’m not Italian. Visions of that cute scene in “Lady and the Tramp” come to mind with the two dogs’ little doggie lips meeting over a plate of spaghetti and meatballs. But the idea of making meatballs, what with the different kinds of meat, bread crumbs, egg, herbs, frying, etc., it just intimidates me.

Recently though, my son asked if I could make spaghetti and meatballs sometime. Visions of the entire process, which I had tried once, came flooding back and I immediately felt weary. But then I thought of a way to simplify things, gave it a go and the whole family raved.

Easiest Spaghetti and Meatballs Ever  

Serves 6

4-5 links of spicy or mild Italian sausage
1-2 jars of your favorite pasta sauce, any variety
1 tsp. dried basil or spoonful of pesto sauce * to taste
1 tsp. dried oregano to taste
Spaghetti or any other pasta shape you like

Step 1: Get a pot of water boiling. Remove the sausage from the casings by squeezing it out of one end, in small globs, about the size of a large marble. Let them fall onto a cutting board. When done, quickly and lightly roll each one into more of an actual round ball shape. If they are feeling too soft, put them in the refrigerator for 10 minutes before rolling.

Step 2: In a large, non-stick skillet, preheated on medium-high, brown the meatballs, turning them only when they release from the pan. They don’t have to be cooked through at this point, just browned.

Step 3: Transfer the meatballs to a pot with high sides that is large enough to hold the sauce. Pour in one jar of sauce and eye-ball it to see if you feel you need to add some or all of another jar. You want the sauce to be thin enough to ladle over the pasta but still meaty with the meatballs. Let the sauce simmer over medium heat while the pasta boils.

Step 4: Taste the sauce to see if the seasonings from the sausage and the jarred sauce have given you the flavor you want. If not, add the seasonings to taste. Also, if you feel it’s just a little too acidic, add 1 tsp. sugar which will round it out nicely.
* When you don’t have basil or just want extra-wonderful basil flavor, a teaspoon of pesto sauce works beautifully, especially since it also has pinon nuts, Parmesan cheese and olive oil built in. It’s a good little trick to remember for sauces and soups.

Step 5: Drain the pasta and ladle sauce and meatballs over it, topping with a few shakes or Parmesan Cheese if desired.

Watch the video to see the making of The Worlds Easiest Spaghetti and Meatballs in action:

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Expert Tips for Raising Healthy Eaters

Recently, I attended a Live Well 2013 conference, hosted by the Beef Checkoff. Besides learning lots of ways to cook healthfully with beef, I also learned some excellent tips about feeding the family that really spoke to me and to the mission of the E.A.T. blog. Afterall, E.A.T. stands for Everyone Around the Table. Here are just some of the tips from two of the speakers.

From Carol Byrd-Bredbenner, PhD, RD, professor, Rutgers University and Dayle Hayes, MS, RD (www.SchoolMealsThatRock.org)

The Importance of Breakfast:Silverware in Need of Polishing

Byrd-Bredbenner explained that the reason breakfast is so important is because it sets the stage for kids getting more nutrients throughout the day, it helps them focus better in school (which means doing better in school) and helps them to maintain healthier weights. Skipping breakfast leads to eating too much of the wrong foods later on in the day.

Hayes added an interesting point: It’s important that EVERY child have the opportunity to eat breakfast. Because, even if your child eats breakfast and is therefore able to focus in school, the kids who didn’t eat will be distracting your child.

Family Mealtime:

Eat together as a family as often as possible. Family meals lead to:

  • Better family communication
  • Stronger family bonds
  • Happier kids with fewer depression symptoms
  • Teens who are less likely to use alcohol, drugs or smoke
  • Eating healthier meals
  • Maintaining healthier weights

Don’t let the TV join you at mealtime. Turn it off. It’s a distraction to all of the positives of eating together. And when you are distracted, you are more likely to eat mindlessly and too much.

Try to keep family meal time calm. This is not the time to bring up big issues or get into fights. Kids will associate family time and healthy eating choices with meal time. So make the association positive.

There was a rule in Dayle Hayes’ home that the kids had to be home for dinner but they could bring a friend. The friend’s parents would later tell her their child ate spinach for the first time at her house. Great idea.

Fussy Eaters:

  • Offer only healthy foods
  • Be patient with new foods – it takes offering a food at least 15 times, on average, before a child will even try it. Keep trying.
  • Let kids decide how much to eat – they have an inborn ability to regulate how much they need to eat. Help them listen to their bodies.
  • Skip bribes! If you dangle dessert as a reward for eating a vegetable, then the vegetable becomes the hurdle to the reward, which you don’t want it to be.
  • Instead, reward with praise or a special activity, but NOT food. Keep food in the context it needs to be in.
  • Keep your cool! (Harder said than done, but important)

Grow Healthy Eaters:

  • Have healthy foods easily accessible – a fruit bowl, a bowl of baby carrots with hummus to dip in. The idea is to make it easy for kids to get the healthy foods.
  • Make it fun and interesting – grow a vegetable garden, cut veggies into cute shapes
  • Let babies play with their food – it helps them build familiarity with the smells and tastes of healthy food.
  • Let kids assemble their lunch, grow food, pick from the garden for dinner. Dayle Hayes told us she would give her children a bowl and send them out to the garden to pick peas for dinner. They’d end up eating them before they even reached the kitchen. Smiling, she would send them back out for tomatoes. She knew this would happen and let it be a way to encourage them to eat veggies.

It’s a new year. What better time to put some of these ideas into practice in your home! I know I’ll be doing so in my home while Everyone is Around the Table.

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