Twice As Nice (Croatian Chicken Paprikash and a Warm Boho Salad)

Two New Favorite Dishes

Since I arrived home, I’ve been vacillating between the life I started to eke out a year and a half ago after the fire (sorry to bring that up again) and “life” — after 3-1/2 months in Minnesota — following Mom’s Parkinson’s diagnosis.

Basically readjusting to my space.

Yes, there actually is (or once was) such a place, but some days I forget what that feels like. Between multiple phone calls to/from the care center, my Mom, the Realtor trying to sell Mom’s house from afar, her doctors, home inspectors… let’s just say I’m workin’ on it… a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do!

Croatian Chicken Paprikash

Thank God for wonderful foodie friends who know me — or at least my love of GOOD foodand who’s recent recipes appealed to my sense of the familiar.

Pictured above is Croatian Chicken Paprikash by Jasmina Brasovic. OH MY! (Be sure to scroll down to her recipe for this on FB.) Even though my grandparents weren’t Croatian (they hailed from nearby Hungary), going back to my “Czech roots” — or at least the flavors that once fed me due to mutual proximity — has been instrumental in grounding me. I sooooo needed that!

Thanks, Jasmina, xo.

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Add to that an unconventional side dish: Maple Bacon Kale & Roasted Potatoes by Ally Phillips — a “warm salad” per my Boho friend, whom I know won’t mind that I subbed spinach (minus the chicken broth) and fried leftover baked potatoes in a pinch — and you have some extraordinarily good eatin’ on your hands (or plate), not to mention hearty Comfort Food by genealogical proximity.

Jasmina and Ally both have Croatia in common — twice as nice — plus exceptionally tasty recipes! My Grandma would have LOVED how these lovely ladies “cook.”

Nourishment is more than just eating — it’s food for the soul.

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Enjoying trying something new while attempting to get back to the “old,”

~ Kim

“Love Grows Where My Rosemary Goes” (Rosemary Garlic Roast Chicken)

Did you know the fastest climbing #1 hit record in history was “Love Grows Where My Rosemary Goes”?  It was.  Deemed a one-hit wonder, the song was lip-synched by The Greenfields — aka Edison Lighthouse.

Music history aside, rosemary tops the charts at my house, too.

This Rosemary Garlic Roast Chicken is infused with flavor and, best of all, it’s easy peasy.

Rosemary Garlic Roast Chicken

1 whole roasting chicken

Olive oil

Kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper

2 sprigs of rosemary (reserve one for garnish)

1 whole head of garlic

Preheat oven to 325° F.

Remove giblets and neck from chicken cavity.  (Save “parts” to simmer for stock, or discard.)

Rinse chicken inside and out with cool water; drain, then pat dry with paper towels.

Place the chicken breast-side-up in a shallow roasting pan; rub skin with olive oil.  Season liberally with salt and pepper.

Insert one rosemary sprig into the chicken cavity.  Cut the garlic head in half horizontally (peel & all) and insert into cavity with rosemary.

Lasso the legs together :) — truss or tie the drumsticks together with kitchen twine.

Roast uncovered for 2 hours (adjust roasting time as needed, depending on the size of your chicken — mine was 5 pounds) and baste once, halfway through cooking time.

Chicken is done when juices run clear.  (Test by slicing between the drumstick and thigh; if in doubt, use a meat thermometer.)

Remove twine; discard rosemary and garlic.

Transfer chicken to a warm platter and garnish with the remaining rosemary sprig.

(For a printable version of this recipe, please click here.)

By the way, Rosemary is alive and well…

And growing.

Enjoying life’s musical interludes,

~ Kim

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Fire and Ice

Well, the wind chill was 5° this morning (yes, in Oklahoma!) so I figured I better do a “heartwarming” post with Valentine’s Day just around the corner…

The first thing that came to mind was Southwest Chicken Satay.  (I took that photo in January mind you, while the weather was a tad warmer and I was manning — womanning?! — the grill.)

Actually, we have more of a “smoker” than a grill now, but I’ll get to that in a moment.

Our winter has been pretty mild so far — no complaints from this former Minnesotan — especially when the lake looked like this a couple of winters ago:

(It came as a pretty big surprise to see ice along shore — we moved here to be warm.)

But then, life is full of surprises…

Take gift-giving, for instance.  The Man Of Few Words is a spontaneous soul when it comes to presenting tokens of his affection.  Rather than giving gifts on “expected” days (like birthdays, anniversaries or Valentine’s Day… ), he prefers to surprise me the other 362 days of the year.

Like the day he hauled home this:

A bouquet of roses it ain’t, but now instead of firing up the ‘ol Webber wanna-be, I get to “grill out” the Okie-fashioned way — yeehaw!  I love it!  (And him.)

Getting back to the food part of this post…

Southwest Chicken Satay with Lime Rice

4 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (which don’t dry out like chicken breasts potentially do on a “grill” the size of a Volkswagen…)

1/3 c. honey

1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar

1 Tbsp. taco seasoning mix (click here for a fabulous homemade version — thanks, Isabelle!)

1 T. freshly grated lemon zest

1 T. freshly grated orange zest

2 green onions, minced

1 clove garlic, minced

Wooden skewers

Combine all ingredients (except skewers) in a large zip-top-style bag.  Seal and shake.  Refrigerate 2 hours.

During the last 30 minutes of marinating, soak skewers in water and make Lime Rice (see below.)  Now would also be a good time to fire up your grill (or smoker) — unless you have a gas grill.  (I’ll trust you to know how long it takes to heat to medium-high.)

When the chicken is done marinating, take it out of the bag (discard marinade), remove the skin, and slice the meat into thin strips.  (Yes, I know — it’s probably easier to slice the chicken into strips before marinating it, but I do it this way so the marinade doesn’t overpower the meat — I like my chicken to taste like chicken.)

Thread the strips onto the skewers; grill over medium-high heat, turning several times until cooked through.  (Watch closely so the honey in the marinade doesn’t burn, unless you like blackened chicken…)  Serve with Lime Rice.

Lime Rice

2 cups hot, cooked rice (prepared without salt)

Grated zest & juice from 1 lime

Kosher salt, on the side

Combine rice and grated zest.  Drizzle with lime juice and salt to taste.  Easy peasy.

As for the Valentine’s portion of this post…

The photographer in the spoon wishes y’all a Happy Valentine’s Day!

Enjoying the warmth of true love and surprises,

~ Kim

A Chicken By Any Other Name

I like surprises, don’t you?  They keep life fresh and interesting, especially when it comes to relationships. ;)

But first, allow me to share an unexpected award from my lovely friend at Shirley’s Luxury Haven!

Shirley bestowed this award upon me recently (as well as the Versatile Blogger Award, which I’d previously received and passed along), so I’ll limit my acceptance to the “Cherry On Top Award” with grateful thanks for BOTH!  If you haven’t visited Shirley’s blog, please click on the link above and prepare to be pampered, amazed and delighted! 

Before passing along this award, I did some “research” and again found a variety of protocols to follow.  I’m not sure why they change along the way, but here’s what I found…

Answer this question: “If you could go back and change anything about your life, what would it be and why?”; Share your favorite photo (not necessarily food); Pass it on to 15…10…6… other bloggers; Tell 6…7…10…things about yourself, etc…

Instead, I hope you don’t mind if I make make up my own rules.  Here are five exceptional bloggers who truly put that “little bit extra” into all they do — hence the “Cherry On Top!” Please pass this onto bloggers who you feel do the same and include any or all of the above — or not.  Surprise!

1)  Isabelle At Home

2)  Basilmomma

3)  Cooking Healthy For Me

4)  The Culinary Lens

5)  ChopinandMySaucepan

Congratulations Isabelle, Heather, Ann, Mike, and Chopin & Mysaucepan — and thanks again, Shirley!  Your blogs keep me inspired, happy, cooking, and SURPRISED!

Okay, back to the topic at hand…

Back when the hubby and I were newlyweds (many moons ago), he surprised me by informing me that “chicken once a week” was often enough for him. (A surprise to this poultry lover!)  Seems he’d eaten a fair share of fowl in his bachelor days and he was ready for some meat and potatoes cookin’, ala yours truly.  No problem, though.  I’ve had free reign in the kitchen, as well as his respect and confidence in my ability to manage the grocery budget — and menus — at my discretion.  LOVE IT!  LOVE HIM!

Then one dark and stormy night…  I roasted a whole chicken.

Generally on such occasions, I’d “break it down” after dinner, freeze the leftovers and reintroduce them somewhere past Day 7 the following week.  (Or make separate meals to accommodate both of our tastes.)  The things we do for love!

But, it was late and I was tired, so I wrapped what was left of that delectable chicken and put it in the fridge.  I was also pressed for time for dinner prep the following night.  What to do…

The opposite of surprise in a relationship is familiarity.  It’s that lovely/loving quality that emerges over time, like the patina on a cherished piece of furniture or the hugged-thin spots on a favorite teddy bear’s coat.  Somehow, I just knew my man wouldn’t mind “Chicken Round Two” given the circumstances.

(It’s like those times when I’ve added an extra handful of breadcrumbs to a meatloaf or a couple of extra egg whites to an omelette) — he trusts my judgement and expects good food!  Plus, I had a hankerin’ for something chicken-y and — well — the only trick was getting around the title.  (I wasn’t being deceptive… just “creative”…  make that familiar.)

How do you not mention chicken, as in: “Sweet-Sour Chicken?”

Sweet-Sour Chicken

2 chicken breasts, cooked and cubed (I used leftovers…)

1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced

1 green bell pepper, seeded and diced

1 sweet yellow onion, diced

1 (20 oz.) can of pinepple tidbits, drained (reserve juice)

2 T. oil (I used part sesame oil/part olive oil)

Sweet-Sour Sauce (recipe follows)

Hot cooked rice

For the sauce:

1 T. reserved pineapple juice

1 T. cornstarch

1/2 c. Turbinado sugar

1/2 c. soy sauce

1/4 c. white vinegar (apple cider vinegar is good, too)

1 clove of garlic, finely minced

1/2 t. ground ginger (or freshly grated ginger if you have it)

Freshly ground pepper, to taste

Prepare the main ingredients first.  (You’ll want them ready to wok and roll when your oil gets hot. :)  Set aside.

In a small saucepan, combine sugar, soy sauce, vinegar and seasonings; heat until boiling.  Combine the reserved pineapple juice (1 T.) with cornstarch; whisk into sauce.  (Keep whisking — it thickens fast!)  Remove from heat when mixture becomes thickened and bubbly; set aside.

Meanwhile, heat the oil (whatever combo you choose) in a wok or large skillet.  Add peppers and onions; sauté until the veggies are nearly cooked; push to the side.

Add pineapple tidbits; allow them to caramelize a bit before giving everything a good stir.  Place cooked, cubed chicken over the top.  At this point, remove the pan from the heat and cover — since the chicken was already cooked, it only needs to reheat.

When warmed to your liking, uncover and stir in sauce until everything is coated — or serve on the side if you like.  Ladle over hot cooked rice.  Chopsticks optional.

When my hubby dearest walked through the door that night and asked “What’s for supper,” I answered with a cheerful (and truthful), “Try this!” and gave him a taste.  His reaction…?

The Man Of Few Words aka Man Of Fewer Chicken Dinners said:  “This is really good!”

After the first helping, he dished up seconds.  After the second helping, he admitted to contemplating thirds!  (Which is very unlike him.)  When he got up from the table he asked, “So what did you say this stuff was called again?”

I grinned and replied:  “Stir Fry.” … ;)

Enjoying life’s little surprises,

~ Kim