Monday, September 29, 2014

Putting the "Cock" in Spachcocked Chicken..... and Wings so Good You May Never Go to Hooters Again (or at least for their wings... or something....)

I don't know how those of you with tiny humans do it.

I really don't.

How do you manage a home, work life, trying to eat healthy and maintain a social life with children?

I can barely balance work, home and eating healthy with a dog.

At least with a dog if I'm having a rough day I can just pound back a bottle of two or wine and I know I won't scar her for life.  With kids you have to actively try not to kill them.

I can drunkenly cuddle with my dog, snap her collar and leash on her and stumble down the street to let her out.  I can measure a few scoops of her food and pour them in the bowl while hammered.

I can't even imagine trying to dress a toddler after having consumed your child's weight in shots of Bacardi or a Tonka Truck full of wine.

Fuck that.

I just don't know how anyone in their right mind balances things.

In "holy shit where did this year go?" news, I can't believe fall is here.  It seems like just yesterday I was trading in scarves and boots for t-shirts and flip flops.  Now I'm welcoming the changing of the seasons with open arms and delighted that the air is just a bit cooler.

Fall and winter means cozy candles, cuddling up on the couch watching football, wearing sweaters to hide the "I didn't go to the gym because I was busy drinking wine and making horrible life decisions" layer of fat that was packed on post-4th of July festivities.

Let's face it - there really isn't a whole lot to do after the 4th can really just start to phase off going to the gym at that point.

I'm pumped for cooler weather.  I love walking the dog when the air is crisp, I love being able to use my oven and not sweat all of my makeup off.  I dream of different stews and soups, and I adore watching the leaves turn colors, spending my weekend watching football, and I can't fucking wait to put up my Christmas tree.

I'm one pair of Ugg boots away from going full-on white girl and diving into a vat of Pumpkin Spice Lattes.

I'm that excited for fall and winter.

I managed to whip up a few dishes this past week that while they're not a total homage to the changing of the seasons, they're still super yummy.

Spachcocked Chicken
Hah...she said "cock".

Other than having a giggle-worthy name, this is a fancy way of saying "Hey, I split a chicken and roasted it flat".

Since I'm now not getting off of work until 5:30, and since I'm in Chicago, my commute is around an hour, I try to look for faster ways of doing things.

Enter Spachcocked Chicken.  You're really just roasting a chicken that has had its spine removed and has been flattened.  It's easy and a fanfuckingtastic time saver.

Hey. They don't just call me "Easy and Fast Carey" for nothing.

1 whole chicken (mine was between 4 and 5 pounds)
1 - 2 lemons (you can also use limes like me if you realize that one of the lemons you bought from the grocery store is no bueno)
10 cloves garlic (you can use more or less, depending on your preference)
1/2 yellow onion
Salt and Pepper
2 1/2 T. Olive Oil

1. Preheat your oven to 425°.

2. Place chicken, breast side down on your work surface (I covered my cutting board with the brown paper my butcher wrapped the chicken in).  Starting at the thigh end, cut along 1 side of the backbone with kitchen scissors or a chef's knife.  Turn your chicken around and cut along the other side. Discard the backbone or save for a stock.

 3. Flip your chicken, now back-side down and press firmly on the breastbone to flatten.

4. Rub chicken with 1 T of olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

5. Thinly slice your lemons/limes, peel garlic, and thinly slice onions into wedges.

6. Drizzle 1 T of olive oil on a baking sheet in an area slightly larger than the chicken.  Place the lemon/lime slices in a single layer on top of the oil.

7. Place chicken, breast side up, on top of the lemons/limes.  If you have remaining lemon/lime slices, you can loosen the skin on the chicken and slide the lemon/lime slices under the loosened chicken skin.    Place a few sprigs of rosemary and thyme on either side of the chicken.

8. Roast chicken in the preheated oven for 20 minutes.  Toss onions and garlic in remaining 1/2 T. of olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Scatter around chicken and continue to roast, an additional 30 minutes or until a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast reaches 165°.  (I also like to take a temperature around the thigh)

9. Transfer chicken to carving board and allow to rest 5-10 minutes.  Carve and enjoy!

Alright. Now I want everyone to take a deep breath in, exhale and say the following with me:

Thank You Sweet, 6 Pound, 8 Ounce Baby Jesus... Football Season is Back!

If you know anything about me, you know that I adore football season. High school, college, or NFL...I love football.  I enjoy commentary. I enjoy strategy.  I enjoy watching rookies become break-out stars, and veterans show both fans and adversaries why they're still in the game.  It's fantastic.

I also love football food.  Bar food.  The kind of food you order with 3 or 4 friends along with a bucket of beers when you're out watching the game.  Or the kind you can absolutely make at home.

Chris is a huge LSU fan.  And since I'm a super-supportive girlfriend, I granted his wish and made him some wings to chow down on while he was watching his Tigers.

Ginger-Garlic Wings
But rest assured, these aren't just your typical Hot Wings.  I'm not about to slather wings with Hot Sauce and call it a day.

Plus, I'm not a fan of hot wings.  They taste weird.  This recipe takes wings to a whole new level of deliciousness.  It's spicy and sweet. Tangy and .. not tangy.  I dunno. I don't have an antonym for tangy right now. I'm tired and it's Monday.

4-5 pounds of wings, tips trimmed
4 T. vegetable oil
salt and pepper
1/2 T Frank's Red Hot
1 cup, flour
2 T. ginger, finely minced
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
1/2 T. Asian Chili Paste
1/8 c. orange juice
1/4 c. rice wine vinegar
1/2 c. brown sugar
Baking Oil Spray
Vegetable Oil (if you want to fry the wings after you take them out of the oven)

1. Preheat your oven to 400°

2. Trim up your wings.  Place in a bowl and toss with vegetable oil, salt and pepper and Red Hot (the only time in this recipe I'll use it...but it gives the wings a nice kick).

3. Place your wings in a large Ziploc bag with flour.  Shake it like a Polaroid Picture, coating the wings evenly so there is no "wet" remaining.

 4. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray with your non-stick baking spray.  Place your chicken on the sheet so that the wings aren't touching. Spray the tops lightly with the spray.

5. Place in your preheated oven to bake for 30 minutes.   Flip and then put back in the oven for an additional 30 minutes or until the internal temperature of the wings reached 165°.

6. For the sauce, combine garlic, ginger, Asian chili paste, OJ, Vinegar and brown sugar in a saucepan over medium-high heat.  Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer, stirring occasionally until you reach a desired consistency.  Taste your sauce as it is cooking and play around with the flavors.  want it sweeter? Add some more brown sugar and orange juice.  Want it a little more tangy? Add a little more vinegar. Need more garlic?  You get the drill.  (Feel free to do this while your chicken is cooking).   Remove from heat.

7. Once your wings are done, you can either toss them in your sauce, or fry them up to crisp up the skin.  (I'm a fan of forgoing the frying as I like fitting into my clothes, but since it was a request from Chris, and Chris is a southerner who would fry beer if he could, I tossed some oil in the pan and fried that shit to perfection).
8. If you're frying your wings, add oil to a skillet until it fills the skillet halfway.  Heat to 350° and place chicken in the oil, being careful not to overcrowd the pan, about 2-3 minutes.  Flip the chicken and continue cooking, an additional 2-3 minutes.   Place on a paper towel to rest.

9.  Once your chicken has drained, or right after you take your chicken out of the oven, place chicken in a large bowl.  Drizzle some of the wing sauce over the chicken and toss to coat.  Place on a serving platter and serve with blue cheese, ranch, carrots and celery.   Enjoy!

I realize that only one of the recipes above are really healthy.  If you're making the wings, you can skip the flour all together or sub out a healthier flour like almond flour.

I'm always looking for new recipes, so please feel free to send me yours... or bonus?  Take pictures of the food you made using my recipes like a total hipster and let me see them!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Getting My Ass Kicked in the Gym

This past week I had my first appointment with a trainer.

It was more of a "fitness assessment" where I step on a scale in front of a gym full of people, hold a device that tells me what a fatass I am, and then have a conversation about how achievable my goals are before getting down to a workout more grueling than I have drug myself through in the past year and  a half.

The workout was probably 30 minutes.   It makes sense - short, sweet, high impact, high energy workout before I completely fall on my face and groan about how every muscle fiber in my body hurts and how I don't get fatigued sitting on my couch and drinking wine.

It was a great workout. I used my entire body and the exercises were quick. I think my trainer knew there was a gleam in my eye that said, "bitch, if you do not get me out of these wall sits in the next 15 seconds, I will cut your unborn children".

After the workout, I staggered, sweaty and whimpering to the trainer's desk to discuss pricing and training plans.  Of course after hearing about how I can achieve my goals and how I can achieve my desired targeted body fat percentage in less than a year I was all about anything they wanted me to sign up for.

Unfortunately, after I was shown the price for training, I was quickly snapped back to reality that while I would love to jump head-first into a 52-week training program, my wallet wouldn't appreciate being dragged through the mud. Plus I kinda need to pay rent, and I can't just set up residence in the gym.

So now I have a decision to make in terms of what I can afford and how I can make my goals and my finances be this harmonious skipping-through-meadows thing.

I started a new job on Monday and I can't even begin to tell you how nice it is not to have to wake up at 4:30 in the morning an dhow nice it is to be back in the city.  It's wonderful.  The gig is pretty great, and the commute is delicious.

The only unfortunate thing is now that my day ends at around 5:30, I'm going to need to figure out the balance between continuing to make healthy meals, hit the gym, and be able to see the Cajun and Roux on a normal basis.

Probably it will be a lot more freezer meals, healthy casseroles I can just pop in the oven, and things I can shove in a crockpot.

Until I get all of that hammered out, I want to share with you two recipes I made this week that I absolutely adore.

Korean Turkey
I'll admit it. I stole this recipe from another blog. I stole it so hard....and then I tweaked it.  I try not to eat a lot of red meat, and one great alternative I use is ground turkey or ground chicken. I use that shit in about everything.  I don't even think I have a package of ground beef in my freezer. And if I do?  You bet your sweet red-meat-eating ass I'm buying at least 90/10 if not 96/4.   Think of your heart, yo.

But if you're sticking to ground beef or your budget can't afford the slightly more expensive, leaner cuts, feel free to use ground beef in this recipe.  It'll be just as yummy.

1 pound ground turkey (feel free to use ground beef, chicken or bison)
1/4 - 1/2 c. brown sugar (use a little more if you like things a bit sweeter)
1/4 c. soy sauce (I used a gluten free)
1 T. sesame oil
1/3 c. chicken stock
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 inch ginger, minced (pro tip!?  peel your ginger with the back of a spoon.  Works WONDERS)
1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
salt and pepper (to taste)
rice (to serve the meat over - I used white rice because that's what I had on hand; however, feel free to use brown, wild, or any other variation you like)
1 bunch green onions, sliced thinly

1. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and brown your meat in a pan with sesame oil and minced garlic.  Drain any excess fat (I skipped this step since I used ground turkey; however, if you're using ground beef, you will need to drain the fat).

2. Prepare yo rice according to package directions.

3. Add brown sugar, soy sauce, ginger, stock, red pepper, salt and pepper to the cooked meat.  Simmer for 5-7 minutes to blend flavors thoroughly and reduce the stock.

4.  Serve over rice and top with scallions.

For some reason I really like to blend fruit with protein.  I'm not sure exactly why, but I love it. Chicken stuffed with sage and apples? Yes please. Turkey with cranberries and orange peel? Oh my.   I can't get enough.

So naturally, I dug up a recipe and tweaked it a bit.

Roasted Pork Chops with Peaches
There is something about pork that lends it self to balance quite well with fruit.  Specifically, peaches.  It's fantastic.

10 oz. package couscous
1 T. olive oil
4 bone-in pork chops, 3/4" thick
2 peaches, cut into wedges
1 small red onion, cut into wedges
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 T. rosemary, chopped
1/2 T. fresh thyme
3 T. white wine vinegar
1/4 c. fresh parsley, chopped
salt and pepper, to taste

1. Preheat oven to 400° F.

2. Cook couscous according to package directions.  Set aside, covered.

3. Heat oil in ovenproof skillet or pot over high heat.  Season pork chops with salt and pepper and brown, 3-5 minutes per side.  Set aside on a plate.

4. Add the peaches, onion, garlic, rosemary vinegar, 1/2 tsp of salt and 1/2 tsp of pepper to the skillet/pot.  Cook, tossing for approximately 1 minute.

5. Return rested pork chops and any juices to the pot. Top with chopped parsley and transfer to the oven and roast until the pork is cooked through and the peaches are tender, 8-10 minutes.

6. Serve the pork on top of the couscous.


That's all I got for now. I've managed to recover from my training extravaganza so naturally, why not try to make myself even more sore? I'll be taking my new golf clubs out and try not to make myself look like a complete fool this afternoon.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Back After an "I'm Too Busy for Life" Hiatus: Pork Rind Crusted Fish and a Lemon Chicken and Potato Casserole

Shit, you guys...I've fallen off the blog wagon.

I was really trying hard.

I was trying to bring you some legit recipes and blogs and shit and keep it up.

But much like my escapades at the gym, and getting my bidness right and tight, I've fallen off the wagon harder than Lindsay Lohan.

Except I'm a tiny bit more sober than she is.

And you know... I'm more of a fan of balls in my face than vaginas.

So it's been more than two months since my last blog entry and I can't even believe it is already September.  The fact that it's barely broken the '80s these last few months probably doesn't help the fact that hasn't at all felt like summer, but combined with the fact that literally every fucking weekend I am doing something, time sure has flown.

I'm not complaining at all.  I can't wait for cooler weather, excuses to pair boots with leggings, oversized sweaters and long tunics with pretty scarves.  I'm also more excited than my dog after hearing the word "walk" at the prospect of having a weekend where I don't have to do a God damned thing.

I understand this is coming across as incredibly first world problems here.  "Ohhh I'm so busy going off to lake houses and weddings and brunches and things to be able to sit at home and watch my DVR".

If I were any more of a white girl in the above quote, I'd be sipping from a Pumpkin Spice Latte (helloooooo fall!) and buffing up some Uggs.

There really isn't anything white girls love more than lake houses and brunch than Starbucks and North Face hoodies.

So quick recap?  I've been able to get up to my parents' lake house a few times already this summer, I went to the wedding of some good friends, spent some time on a boat, and relaxed lake-side with  good friends.  I've been still working out and doing the healthy eating thing...mostly.  I've definitely taken advantage of the summer and summer-drinks, so I don't feel as healthy and as energy-filled as I did a few months ago.  I need to get back to that. I need to get back in the groove.

I'm thinking that after the Cajun's birthday this past weekend, I'll do another 10-day cleanse to "reboot" my system so-to-speak.

So in keeping with the spirit of my previous blogs, here are a couple of recipes I'll be leaving you with.

A couple of months ago, Chris and I had a fish fry with some friends.  Since one of the friends is doing the Atkins thing and regular batter for fish fry is pretty much an Atkins no no, I decided on an alternative batter.

The fish I used in the below recipe came from the lake my parents live on.  While we like to do the catch and release thing, the lake has a ridiculous amount of crappie which are excellent pan fish. And there is nothing I like more than catching my dinner and then turning around and filleting it.

This recipe's batter/coating has practically zero carbs, will make you happy to be an American, and that will make your whole kitchen smell like bacon.

Drum roll please?

Pork Rind Crusted Fish ... 'Murica Style
What is more 'Murican than pork and things that are deep fried? Although I have to admit, to save on calories and the mess of a pot of grease in my kitchen, I decided to forego the actual "fry" in the fish fry for baking my fish off in the oven.

1 bag pork rinds
1 lb. fish o' choice (we used a mild white fish that my family and I caught from our lakehouse)
Salt and Pepper or Mrs. Dash (to taste - go easy on the salt if you're using that since you're using pork rinds and there is plenty of salt in those puppies)
2 T. garlic powder
3 eggs
1/3 cup water (or milk)

1. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees.
2. Crush the pork rinds in a gallon Ziploc bag or food processor until bread-crumb like consistency.

3. Place crushed pork rinds in a large bowl with salt, pepper (or Mrs. Dash) and garlic powder.  In a separate bowl, whisk eggs in with milk or water.

4. To prepare your fish, run your fingers over the fillets and remove any bones.  Pat your fillets dry and begin to dredge yo shit.  No need to season the fish in this step since your pork rind mixture is super seasoned.

5. To dredge, dip your fish in the egg, allow the egg to drain off a bit and then dip in the pork rind mixture. Helpful tip?  Use one hand for dredging in the wet, and your other hand for the dry.

6. Place prepared fish on a lightly greased cookie sheet and bake in your preheated oven for 12 minutes.

7. When done, your fish should be flaky, tender, and slightly translucent in the center and your breading will be a golden brown color.

One more recipe!  

The other day I was in the mood for a comfort, stick to your bones, easy kind of casserole.  I didn't want to spend a lot of time on prep. It was long day, it was fairly nice out, and I wanted to enjoy some time with Chris and Roux not in my kitchen.  I think the prep for the next recipe maybe took me 15 minutes?

Lemon Chicken and Potato Casserole
It's really good, super easy, and I snagged to from another blogger who got it from her grandmother's chruch cookbook.  I think those kind of cookbooks, or any kind of community cookbook are often times hidden gems.  You have years of real cooks testing out recipes to make them perfect.  They're not always the healthiest recipes, but 9 times out of 10?  They're going to be absolutely amazing.

2 cans, cream of chicken soup
1/2 c. milk
2 pounds, Yukon gold potatoes, sliced no larger than 1/8"
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 small (or 1/2 medium) onion, thinly sliced
1.5 pounds, chicken breasts
salt and pepper (to taste)
1 lemon, thinly sliced
1 T. chopped, fresh thyme
1 T. chopped, fresh rosemary

1. Preheat oven to 425° Fahrenheit and spray a deep 9 x 9 baking dish (or regular 9 x 13 casserole dish) with nonstick cooking spray.

2. Add cream of chicken soup and milk to small saucepan. Heat over medium-high heat until simmering. Stir frequently. When simmering for a few minutes, remove from heat and set aside.

3. Slice your potatoes and onions thinly. 1/8 of an inch should be your maximum width.

4. Add potatoes and onions with salt and pepper, garlic, and herbs to a mixing bowl.

5. Cube up your chicken and add to the large bowl.

6. Pour the soup/milk mixture over the mixture in the bowl and toss to coat.

7. Add to the greased mixing dish and tuck the lemon slices into the mixture randomly.

8. Cover the top of the baking sheet with aluminum foil and bake in the oven for at least 1 hour or until the potatoes are knife-tender.

9. Remove the foil and increase oven temperature to "broil". Place pan back in oven and broil for 3-5 minutes or until the top of the casserole has browned.

That's it for today. Hopefully I'll have some time to add some new recipes next week.  Now that football is back (thank the Lord Baby Jesus for that one), I'll have a little more time to sit on my ass with my computer.  I just need to remember to actually take photos when I'm cooking.

I start a new job tomorrow. I'm really excited to be back in the city and for the new opportunity. My hours will change so where I would get off work before at 3:30 and had time for an hour or two of prep, I'm now out of work at 5:30 and will need to figure out some more freezer meals to toss in a crockpot before heading to work in the morning.  Especially since I joined a new gym and plan on heading there 3-4 times a week after work.

How do people balance work and working out? Seriously - if any of you have an idea, help a sister out.