Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Roast Chicken - The Lazy Way

Warning: You are about to see the not-so-gourmet side of the Gourmet Mommy. Food snobs beware.

There are so many recipes and techniques for roasting a chicken out there it's overwhelming. When you start looking at the advice given, the rules, the "don't do this" and "never do that" and "always to this" you can start to get dizzy.

At least I can.

See, we buy our chicken in bulk. Our neighbours raise chickens and slaughter them, so we buy 20 or so large, whole birds in the fall to last us the year. It's healthy, economical, and delicious! I love that I can use the leftover carcass to make homemade chicken stock.

But here's the problem - I could never remember to thaw the bird ahead of time.

Besides, all these complicated processes? I kept thinking that there must be an easier way.

Turns out, there is.

This, friends, is a whole, raw, completely frozen chicken. All I did was pull it out of the freezer, peel off the plastic bag and plunk it into my roaster. Grody, I know.

Now, we roast it

ALL you have to do is splash a little water into the bottom of the pan. You don't even have to do that except that it means more gravy (and who doesn't love more gravy!). Put the lid on tight, put it in your oven set to 350 degrees, and forget about it for five or six hours. I usually put it in at lunch time to be ready for supper.

Of course if you've got a smaller bird it won't take as long, but you get the general idea. Just cook the dang thing.

Here's the best part - the chicken comes out of the oven moist, tender, and completely falling off the bone. The skin on the top even crisps up nicely!

Six hours later, the lighting is crummy. But you get the idea.

See the bones bursting through the skin? That means it's falling-apart tender and delicious. 

A few things:
  • You see I used a rack. You don't have to. I don't really find it makes any difference, the rack just happens to be in the roaster so I don't take it out. I'm lazy when it comes to chicken, in case you hadn't noticed. 
  • You see I put the chicken breast side down. You don't have to. I'm just not a huge fan of white meat anyway, and roasting it breast side down makes it a little more moist. 
  • You see that it's ugly. It doesn't matter, it tastes good, it was no work, and that's what's really important in life. 
After the chicken is done I take it out and set it on a platter, pull it apart and we dig in. I make gravy with the drippings in the bottom, adding lots of salt and pepper and using a mixture of three parts brown rice flour and one part arrowroot to thicken it (gluten free, and healthier than white flour). 

Enjoy your roast chicken dinner! We usually have ours with mashed potatoes OR cauliflower, carrots, peas, coleslaw, and homemade Lady Ashburnham pickles (Eli's favourite). 

The next day you can pick off the leftover meat and make a soup or a casserole, then use the bones to make homemade chicken stock

Congratulations. You just did virtually no work, and you have a roast chicken dinner to show for it. That's my kind of gourmet!

Linking up to The Purposed Heart, Like a Bubbling Brook and these other blog hops:

Growing HomeA-Wise-Woman-Builds-Her-HomePhotobucket

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Blog Design on a Dime WINNER

*Drumroll please*

And the winner of the Blog Design on a Dime e-book IS...

Entry #43, Naomi.

Thanks to all who entered to win. If you didn't win, you can grab your own copy of the book by clicking on the link below. Happy blog designing!


Friday, January 20, 2012

My Favourite Pizza

I think pizza is underrated. It seems that everyone demonizes pizza - blaming it on their inability to loose weight or their poor health. To be sure, pizza from your favourite fast food place or the food court in the mall is terrible stuff. It's loaded with processed ingredients, chemicals, and unhealthy fats. But pizza that you make yourself at home can actually be a great option for several reasons.

  • It's frugal. You don't have to use a lot of meat (which can be pricey). 
  • It's healthy. Make your own crust, top with loads of veggies, and drizzle with healthy olive oil. 
  • It's easy. It comes together fast, cooks quickly and can use whatever leftovers you have in the fridge. 
  • It's popular. I don't know about your family, but when I announce that it's pizza night at our house everybody celebrates! 

My family's favourite is a simple tomato and asparagus pizza that I invented out of the leftovers in our fridge one night. It's become an often-requested favourite!

Read the rest over at Growing Home.

Growing Home

Linking up to Plan to Eat.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Pesky Little Brother

When Theo was first born, it seemed like it would be forever before my boys would be able to start playing together. My helpless infant went, for the most part, completely ignored by my toddler. Only the occasional bout of the hiccups would spark some interest - "Mum, a Fee hiccuppin?" - or loud crying if we were confined to the car would produce "NO Fee! Dop ky-ing! [stop crying]"

But for the most part, Eli went on his merry way in life oblivious to the new addition.

Slowly but surely, that's changing.

Exhibit A:

This sort of thing happens regularly now. Eli loves to make his little brother laugh. I missed it because I didn't get the camera out in time - but Theo was giggling hysterically. Other favourite laugh-inducers are growling, dancing, and belly-kissing.

Of course, Theo is not just a passive spectator. He too attempts to engage his brother, and already I can see the "annoying little brother" syndrome starting.

My apologies for the continuous lack of pants. It's a daily battle - I usually lose. 

Eli asked me to strap his sword to his side, and then was so proud of himself he wanted a picture taken. Theo didn't want to be left out of the excitement.

A short battle ensued. Rather than intervene, I snapped pictures. They are too cute!

Eli's exasperated look here just kills me.

For the most part, these boys get along famously. But of course there will be some conflict. They're human, and they're brothers.

My hope is that they grow up to be close friends. It might take a long time, but I'm going to do my best to teach them to love and forgive each other.

Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins - 1 Peter 4:8

For those of you that have children, what is your best strategy for helping them get along? I'm going to need all the advice I can get!

PS: Don't forget about the Blog Design on a Dime GIVEAWAY happening now!

Linking up:

Monday, January 16, 2012

Blog Design on a Dime E-book GIVEAWAY

I'm so excited to be hosting my first real giveaway here at Gourmet Mommy, especially when I'm so excited about the prize - a copy of Blog Design on a Dime, a new e-book by Jacinda Vandenberg.

Jacinda blogs over at Growing Home, and I've greatly enjoyed reading her posts for months. I was drawn to her from the beginning when I noticed our similarities - we're Canadian girls, the same age, married within a month of each other and each with two children, again born within a couple months of each other. We're both second-generation homeschoolers who love blogging, delicious food and learning about homemaking. 

But here's where the similarities end because Jacinda is a much more prolific blogger than I, and she's fabulously talented at blog design. She does all her own design work and her blog is lovely. Here's the kicker - in her own words:

  • I am not a blog designer
  • I don’t own or know how to use any photo editing software (Photoshop? Adobe? What’s that?!)
  • I don’t have a clue about HTML coding, CSS, or any other funny term
  • I have never spent a dime on my own blog design

Jacinda taught herself how to design, and to help the rest of us not so talented folk out, she wrote this e-book. It's a simple instruction manual for how to use the free online program Picnik to design lovely and creative headers, buttons, and social media icons, and how to install them on your blog.

I snapped up a copy as soon as she published and read the whole thing. I knew I was going to be giving a copy away, so I figured I should probably give some of the projects a shot. With Jacinda's help, I was able to design the social media buttons you now see to the right of the screen. I think they look pretty good, if I do say so myself, and they even work! Her installation instructions were clear and easy to follow, though I did have to wait until my kids were napping so I could concentrate!

I also designed the profile picture and Welcome design for my new Facebook Page. Head on over and check them out - I'm so pleased with how they turned out!

In fact, I was having so much fun with my new-found skill, I went ahead and designed a blog header to surprise a friend of mine. Holly blogs over at Ruby Red Shoes. The best part of that design, though, is not my layout but the painting on the right, because she did it! And she only started painting a year ago. (I know this is off topic but I feel the need to brag about my more talented friends.)

Now to the fun part, a copy of Blog Design on a Dime for one lucky Gourmet Mommy reader! Use the Rafflecopter form below to enter. Giveaway ends Friday. Of course if you simply cannot wait to start reading, feel free to grab your own copy by clicking on the link in the sidebar or at the bottom of this post.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Lesson Learned

Some lessons are only learned the hard way. See that innocent looking pajama-clad two year old sitting on the couch there? For some reason, when I tell him things, he doesn't believe me.

For some reason, he has to experience it on his own.

Last week I was mopping our dining room floor. Eli was in the kitchen, and to walk to the living room you can either go through the dining room, or through the hallway. I warned him repeatedly to stay out of the dining room, since it was slippery. I used that word repeatedly. "Eli, do not step on the floor. Go around. It's slippery."

I could see the gleam in his eye. The stubborn, "I'm going to do it my way" look on his face.

Several times he tried to step out onto the floor only to be confronted with his equally stubborn mommy insisting that he not walk. So he waited until I was mopping on the other side of the room and had my back turned.

He saw his chance and took it.

He bolted across the room as fast as he could. Of course, his bare little feet quickly lost their footing on the slick damp floor and he slid and fell, giving his head a good whack.

I ran to him and scooped him up, half concerned for his well being and half laughing at his obstinacy. He wasn't hurt at all and didn't cry. I held him in my arms and he rubbed his little head, looking shocked.

"I told you not to step on the floor or you would fall Eli!"

Understanding spread across his face. I could see the revelation happening. "Mommy... SLIPPY!" 

That's one way to learn a new word. 

Don't forget about the Blog Design on a Dime e-book giveaway, coming Monday!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Something New

I'm so excited to be announcing the launch of my newest endeavour - the Gourmet Mommy Facebook fan page!

See my fancy-schmancy splash page? I made that. All my myself! Nevermind that it took me half the day, I'm still super proud of myself. And I could not have done it without help.

Which brings me to my next announcement! To celebrate the launch of the Facebook page, Gourmet Mommy is having our first ever giveaway! I'm going to be giving away one free copy of my new favourite e-book, Blog Design on a Dime.

BUT... you have to wait until Monday. Check back then for your chance(s) to win! If you just can't wait, you can click on the banner below to get your own copy for just $4.99.

See you on Monday!

Blog Design on a Dime

Affiliate link

Monday, January 9, 2012

So Blessed

Yesterday we had 15 people over for lunch, not including us. This isn't an unusual occurrence, there's a group of us at church that take turns having everyone else over for lunch. This week was our turn to host again.

We had a wonderful afternoon of food and fellowship, but by the time everybody left I had a roaring headache. I looked around at the piles of dirty dishes and the chaos, and then told my husband that I had to lie down. He graciously told me to go ahead, he would watch the boys.

I woke up half an hour later with the headache slightly diminished. I stumbled out into the living room to find that my beloved had changed and fed the baby, cleaned up the dishes, loaded and run the dishwasher, and was currently wearing Theo in the Ergo while wiping down the table and counters.

I have the best husband in the world.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The Coleslaw Fairy

This was what my Mom got me for Christmas.

Isn't she beautiful? To be honest, when I first got married I had no idea what to do with a food processor. I really didn't have much use for one. Mom had a little mini one that we used every once in a blue moon, but it just wasn't a kitchen gadget I grew up using. Fast forward a few years and a lot of learning about cooking later, and I found myself drooling over food processors. Perfect pesto evaded me. Hummus was always too runny in the blender. Coleslaw was a pain to chop. 

So I was very excited to get this lovely machine this Christmas. I brought it home and unpacked it, figured out all the moving parts (and there are a LOT), and decided to make some coleslaw. I'm embarrassed when I look back at my coleslaw recipe in my original recipe binder I first started putting together when I got married. It calls for a package of pre-shredded coleslaw mix, and a quarter cup of white sugar, among other things. No way this health nut is going to be using those ingredients now!

Did I mention my wonderful husband bought me a set of Cuisinart knives for Christmas too? See that big beautiful shiny chef's knife there? I'm in culinary heaven. 

Anyway, all you need for coleslaw is cabbage and a carrot. I didn't use a whole cabbage, I was trying to be temperate. I used close to half of it. I used the grater attachment to grate the carrot and then the thin slicer to do the cabbage. It was so fast and easy, I may have gotten a little carried away. More about that later. 

I don't have measurements for dressing the coleslaw because of course that's all going to depend on how much cabbage and carrot you prepared. Who needs measurements anyway, we all know how coleslaw is supposed to look. Just dump and stir until it looks right! For mine, I used homemade mayonnaise, lots of grainy dijon, a splash of white wine vinegar, and salt and pepper until it tasted right. If you like things a little sweeter add some honey, but I find the carrot does wonders for making it sweet enough already. 

It was delicious. 

However, there was also several pounds of it. As much as we love coleslaw (and OK, Cory doesn't even really love it that much), there was no way. So I did what I usually do when I have too much food, send it over to our neighbours. They have four kids, two of whom are teenage boys, so I'm usually pretty sure they can polish off my leftovers. And if they can't, at least it will be them throwing it out, not me, so I don't have to feel guilty. 

So I piled some into a bowl and asked my husband to take it over. He left and returned, but it wasn't until several hours later that he mentioned to me that they actually hadn't been home, so he had just left it in their fridge. I made a mental note to tell her but... I forgot. I remembered later that night and wrote her on Facebook, but apparently she didn't get the note until morning and had spent the night... well, in her own words: "I knew it!!!!!! I drove my family crazy last night (and even frightened some) with my conspiracy theories."

So Holly, I'm sorry for totally weirding you out. I'm sure I would find it strange if a bowl of food from an unknown source appeared in my fridge while I was gone too. Next time the coleslaw mood strikes, I will do my best to warn you in advance.

Linking up to Recipe Swap Friday and these other blog hops:

Sunday, January 1, 2012

A New Year's Resolve

My New Year's resolution started just over a week early this year. I decided to try eating gluten free for a while.

See, my Mom discovered a few years ago that she is sensitive to gluten and can't have any. And these things do tend to run in the family. I decided to give it a go and see if it can't help my eczema at all. I've had eczema to varying degrees of severity for most of my life and I'm just getting very, very tired of it all. Especially since I started having children and it spread to my hands and (worst of all) the tips of my fingers. When the pads of your fingers are cracked and bleeding and your nail is starting to lift off the nail bed, you are ready to try anything.

So, as we packed the car and settled in for the five hour drive to my parent's house for Christmas, I mentioned to Cory that I thought I would try eating gluten free while we were there, since I knew my Mom would be cooking most things GF already.

It wasn't that bad. Since it was the holidays my Mom kept the house stocked with delicious GF treats - blueberry cobbler, pumpkin pudding, rhubarb custard cake - and lots of ice cream to top it with! The hardest part was actually being surrounded by all the Christmas chocolate and not being able to partake.

But I got through. Mom had cooked a wonderful Christmas goose, which was fantastic. Gravy was thickened with brown rice flour, the stuffing was made with gluten-free bread, and there were lots of desserts I could eat.

Now that we're home, it's not very difficult when I'm cooking. When I planned my menu for the week I barely even thought about choosing gluten free foods. Since so much is naturally GF already, a few very small substitutions will suffice. Use brown rice pasta instead of wheat, thicken sauces with brown rice flour or arrowroot instead of wheat flour, and check the labels on any bottled sauces to make sure they haven't snuck any wheat into them (soy sauce and worchestershire you have to watch for).

HOWEVER, today was my first real challenge. I made our breakfast at home, "breakfast bowls" (just sausage, onion, diced tomato, basil, and beaten eggs all tossed into a bowl, topped with cheese and baked - YUM), and then like every Sunday we went to lunch at a friend's house. She had made a beautiful chicken pot pie. Of course pie is very much out of the question, so for lunch I ate some green beans and a very large helping of salad. It was delicious, and no doubt very healthy, but it was difficult smelling that pie. Dessert came out - platters of cookies and squares and an elegant trifle. I thought about nabbing a rice crispy square to munch on since I was feeling a bit left out, but I reminded myself that I really don't even like rice crispy squares and I refrained.

We left lunch and went to another friend's house for supper (this isn't a usual occurrence, just so happened to be a busy day!). She had made a lovely roast beef dinner with potatoes and peas and carrots. I was happy to be able to eat everything, though I gazed rather longingly at the gravy that I couldn't have.

Dessert was the most difficult moment of the day. A large, homemade, chocolate swirl cheesecake. Cheesecake is my favourite. It was even gluten free! Oh the humanity! I had to steel myself internally and remind myself of why I gave up chocolate in the first place. I remembered how awful the migraine headaches are, and how I'm completely unable to function when one has hit me hard. I tasted a tiny corner of Eli's piece that didn't have any chocolate swirled into it, and let that be enough.

And now? I'm home and devouring corn chips and homemade black bean dip with a relish. I sort of felt like I had earned it after having to hold back all day. And I didn't even mention the New Year's Eve party at the church! Thank God for corn chips.

It's been nine whole days since I ate any gluten. My eczema has not improved, exactly, but it stopped getting worse. Part of me wants this to work so that I don't have to deal with cracked fingers anymore. Another part of me wants it to not work so I can go back to eating yummy gluten!

I will keep you updated...