Herbed Roasted Chicken & Vegan Spiced Apples & Potatoes

IMG_2896.JPGYou know those dishes that you create without any plan and you find yourself surprised at how well they come out? Well, needless to say this is one of those dishes. And yes, despite being trained to know how to cook, chefs indeed have those moments of ah-hah, that’s delicious. It’s not like the roasting of chicken is a complicated process that requires the need of bells and whistles because it doesn’t. And that’s why we flock to it as our go-to meal when there is minimal time for fussy dinner preparation. Not that I make fussy meals or anything, cough.

Over the summer my wife and I visited Asheville, NC for the Food Blogger Forum. An event where food bloggers gather and discuss our passion for food, blogging, and the art of creating community. I received a little jar of what was labeled vegan spice. At first, I had no idea what the heck the stuff was or how I was going to properly utilize it to fit into our meals, but one night I saw the spice while in the midst of trying to decode what we were going to eat for dinner based upon the scant selection of ingredients in our fridge. If there’s anything I hate more than folding laundry, its trips to the grocery store once I’m already home for the evening.

I looked in the fridge and there it was staring at me, a whole bird, two sweet potatoes, three new red potatoes and some Mutsu apples from Chattanooga that I had just purchased at Whole Foods Market. Before I knew it, I had reached for the cast-iron skillet on the shelf and I set the chicken in the pan. After a brief moment of hesitation I placed the chicken back onto a cutting board and proceeded to cut it in half after realizing we probably won’t eat the whole thing. I turned the oven to 425 degrees. I seasoned both halves of the chicken with kosher salt, fresh ground black pepper, finely minced thyme, oregano and I tucked two pats of unsalted butter beneath the skin, set it aside. I rinsed the potatoes and apples, removed any eyes from the potatoes that didn’t look edible and cut them into chunks. Just in case you were wondering I cored the apples. I tossed the potatoes and apples in two teaspoons of the vegan spice, one tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil, and a smidge of kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste.

I put the chicken in the center of the cast-iron skillet and nestled the potatoes and apples around it but being careful not to completely cover the skin, because crispy skin is the key to the perfect roasted chicken. I walked away and began to write this post while I waited for it to cook and for my wife to come home. The cooking time is somewhere between 45 min to an hour, of course this is subjective based upon your oven, so properly temp your chicken for a internal temperature of 165º. There may have been some Parks & Recreation in the backdrop, laugh-out-loud, because that show slays me! I’m so grateful for Netflix…sigh. But any-who, I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as the wife and I did. I’m already in need of ordering more of that vegan spice because I’ve been using it so often. You can order it here. Enjoy and I’d love to hear about some of your ah-ha dishes that turned out un-expectedly well.

Hearty Chicken Noodle Soup

easy chicken noodle, Hearty chicken noodle soup, chicken, noodle, soup, local, forkfullThere’s no such thing as a season for soup! I could eat soup all year around and I’m pretty sure if the wife would allow, I would. My grandma used to make huge pots of soup and we would freeze it and eat it for days and weeks. It was an event to walk in the door and be swept into a state of euphoria by the pot on the stove. Chicken Noodle, Split Pea, Chicken and Rice, Neck-bone Vegetable Soup, sooo good! If you have never had neck-bone soup, you haven’t lived.

What I’ll be sharing with you today is one of my wife’s favorites, Hearty Chicken Noodle. This recipe can sometimes be tailored to fit her mood but here’s the standard version. This soup can be eaten anytime you desire but perfect for a rainy day.
Hearty Chicken Noodle
1 small yellow onion
2 stalks celery
1 lg. potato
3 carrots
2 skinless chicken breast
3 cans chicken stock
2 c. egg noodles
1/2 c. white wine
2 T. unsalted butter
salt & white pepper (to taste)

1.Preheat oven to 375. Rinse chicken breast and season both sides with salt and pepper. Bake for 35 min or until an internal temp of 165 is reached. When chicken is done, set aside, allow to cool.
a.Take 4 c. of water and 2 T. of salt. Allow to come to a rolling boil. Add your noodles and cook to your preference. I know some prefer them
al dente while others like them fluffy and soft. Drain noodles, rinse under cold water to stop cooking. Toss in a T. of vegetable oil and set aside.
2.Chop your first 4 ingredients in to a small dice or chunky if you so choose. But make sure all are the same size or cooking times will differ. Separate into 4 containers. Your going to sweat your onions (cook until transparent) for about 3 min. on med high heat. Then, add carrots and celery, saute for another 3 min.
3.Add your white wine and allow to reduce by half. Add your 3 cans of chicken stock and potatoes. Allow soup to come to a soft boil and cook until potatoes are tender.
4.Tear chicken in thin strips and add to base.Enjoy!
5.Now, I enjoy keeping my noodles separate from the soup. This way your noodles won’t get soggy and compromise the integrity of your soup before you can enjoy it the next day.

Garnish: finely chopped parsley

Get Creative: If you’re in the mood for soup but want something different. Take your left-overs and add:
a. a bag of frozen mixed vegetables
b. 1/4 c. of heavy cream and 1/2 can of tomatoes
c. veggies like squash, zucchini, snow peas, or sweet potatoes

I like to call this the soup without borders.