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Chicken Roasted with Potatoes and Brussels Sprouts from My Pantry ShelfWeekday meals have become a bit uncivilized these days.  Blame it on the two working parents, the baseball games, or just plain lack of inspiration.  Whatever the cause there  have been a lot of simple salad/ taco/ kitchen sink meals pumping out of my kitchen, except of course for this meal.  Enter my new go-to “I-need-a-super-quick-meal-that-actually-feels -and-tastes-like-a-meal-worthy-of-my-family-sitting-around-the-table-for.”

Oven Roasted Chicken Thighs with Potatoes and Brussels Sprouts could not be easier.  Make a quick paste of garlic, oil, salt, and herbs to rub over the chicken.  Toss the potatoes and vegetables with oil, salt and pepper, then slide the whole thing in the oven and walk away.  Plenty of time to help the kids with homework, referee the driveway soccer game, coax the children out of the highest branches of the tree, or if your life is a bit more relaxing than mine, enjoy a glass of wine and a chapter of your favorite book.  The chicken roasts up tender with the crispiest of skin.  The potatoes and vegetables cook perfectly in the rendered chicken fat.  Next time I will make this with thighs and drumsticks to appease the little man of the family.  The dish is not only a great weeknight treat, but would be a fantastic dish to serve for company since all the work is done in advance.

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Spring may not be the typical season for stews, but they are comforting and sometimes we need a little comfort even when the sun is shining and the nights are warm. On one such pleasant evening, my family gathered around our garden table to enjoy this stew.  The recipe comes from 660 Curries, by Raghavan Iyer, that a friend generously gave to me as a thank you gift. Choosing from over 600 curries is a bit of a challenge.  This one stood out because it is composed of ingredients I generally have in stock (and perhaps you do too): potatoes, apples, carrots.  I also happened to have a leftover grilled pork tenderloin on hand, but the recipe below calls for uncooked pork.  Either works well.

Since it was a glorious spring evening,  I served Indian Pork, Potato, and Apple Stew with a shredded cabbage and carrot slaw to lighten the meal.  It also paired beautifully with a jar of Curried Cauliflower Pickles (which I need to make a double batch of next season, because one pint is NOT enough for our dinner table).  The stew was a tasty blend of rich flavors mingling with the sweet apple and heat from the spices.  This is quite a tasty stew for any season.

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Spring is officially here.  Time for fresh potatoes, crisp peas, and tender greens.  This dish celebrates them all.  With no resemblance to its more traditional mayo-based cousin, this potato salad is fresh and crisp with a delicate balance between marinated potatoes, plump peas, crunchy toasted walnuts, and peppery arugula.  The whole lot is tossed in a simple mustard vinaigrette to make an uncomplicated, appetizing side dish for any spring meal.

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Each year when the air turns cool, we start to crave hearty warm stews. This is  invariably one of the first ones I make of the season.  This year, I happen to have a huge bucket of olives from my first olive fermentation experiment (more on that later), so this was a natural to put in the rotation.   Tender chicken and hearty potatoes tossed with artichoke hearts and bitter olives sit in a pool of garlic lemon sauce.  This stew is at once bright and acidic, as well as hearty and nourishing. What is not to like? Many times this recipe has been a hit at our dinner table.  It is also great for lunch or as a warm meal to bring to a friend in need.  You can also make it a day ahead and reheat it when you are ready.

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Super Tasty Home Fries

November 14, 2011

Home-fried potatoes seems so simple, yet for years they eluded me.  The challenge lies in achieving a crispy browned exterior on the potato without having to use copious amounts of oil.  Starting with raw potatoes, I always found that the outside browned before the inside could cook through.  Since I always used oil rather judiciously, the potatoes would stick to the pan and we would miss out on the flavorful, crispy skin.  After much trial and error, I developed this recipe which results in perfectly seasoned potatoes with just the right amount of crunch, all with only a little bit of oil.

Super Tasty Home Fries start with cooked potato.  You can either boil them briefly or use leftover baked potato.  Either work well.  I used russet potatoes for the picture, but really any type of potato works well. The dish begins on the stove-top and finishes in the oven.  It works best with a cast iron skillet, but any oven safe pan will work.  In a pinch, you can spread out the potatoes on a baking sheet.  Saute the onion with the spices, then add the potato and toss in the oven.  For a cheesy touch, melt cheddar over the top of the potatoes in the final minutes.  These home fries are a staple at our house.  They really are super tasty!

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Irish Watercress Soup

March 15, 2011

St. Patrick’s Day in the United States is best known for the table top spread of corned beef, cabbage, and generous glasses of Guinness.  While my family does enjoy this time-honored meal (I am curing my own brisket for the occasion as we speak), there are many other dishes that can also serve to mark the day.  This year, I made Irish Watercress Soup in addition to the standard fare .

Watercress first came into my awareness while reading the children’s classic, Trumpet of the Swan.  Reportedly, it is one of the oldest known leaf vegetables to play a role in the human diet.  It comes from the same family, Brassicas, as broccoli and mustard, and the same genus as nasturtiums. The peppery bite is very reminiscent, though milder than the spicy taste of nasturtium flowers.  Blended into a traditional potato leek soup, it imparts a beautiful green color and bright peppery flavor.  This soup has a rich taste, despite being vegetable based and fairly low-fat.  It is hardy enough to serve as a main dish with a side salad and crusty bread.

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