The realization set in today that I was running the risk of writing an all canning blog this year – and of course that is not my intent. It is just that, having recently discovered my love of canning, I want to share it with everyone. But rest assured, my family does not sit down to dinner with a jar of jam and a spoon. We also eat salsa.

I kid, I kid.

Roasted chicken is frequently on the menu. Roasted chicken is where it is at. As far as I am concerned, Roasted chicken is the platonic ideal, the ultimate pinnacle of Chicken Cookery.

The business end of the Bird.

Once, after roasting a chicken to pull apart for a casserole I realized that the golden crispy skin would just go to waste.

So I ate it. All of it. The skin from an entire chicken.

That is how I feel about Roasted Chicken.

Roasted Chicken

The Hardware: roasting pan, oven set to 425 degrees, kitchen twine.

The Software:

A whole Chicken
Stuff to shove up its’ butt
Salt & pepper

Most recipes call for one to place “aromatics” into the “cavity” of the chicken. Not being one to pussyfoot around – I just think of it as shoving stuff up the chicken’s butt.

I am also very liberal in my definitions of “aromatics”. Mostly I look in the fridge and go “hmm, I wonder if that would work” and my response is usually “don’t know until you try”. I have yet to have any major failures. Since there has been a cornucopia of citrus in my home – citrus is what I ended up with. I also had left over fresh thyme, so why not?

Wash and dry your chicken well. Have 2 tangerines, cut one in half and peel & segment the other one. Clean a handful of fresh thyme. Place the chicken on your pan spine side up and sprinkle liberally with salt & pepper. Turn the bad boy over and shove 1/2 of the tangerine inside, then most of your thyme and follow with the second 1/2 of the tangerine.

Because I wanted to, this time I ran my hand under the skin and loosened it so I could shove the tangerine segments and thyme between the meat and the skin. Make sure to get some down into the leg and thigh area and evenly distribute everything. Season the top side with more salt & pepper then tie up his little legs like he is in a B-rated horror movie. One with Bruce Campbell preferably.

Cook until done – it usually takes about an hour. Roasted chicken and I have a love/hate relationship with the whole cooking time thing, that is why I have a meat thermometer. 165 is my goal temp and then I let it rest for 10 minutes before carving.

Except for the tail – I eat the tail right away.

I you look carefully you can see the thyme under the skin. mmmmmmm

Make sure you save all of the bones, juice and stuff to make stock. Stock is half the reason I roast whole chickens.

What are your favorite things to shove up a chicken’s butt?

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Considering that the sponsor herself at thursday night smackdown was unable to keep her deadline (for good reasons) I am hoping that my tardiness will not eliminate me from participation. And since I am relying on her good nature (HAHAHA) I am going to confess that not only did I not make this on Tuesday for Hobo Tuesday; I did not even make it for dinner! It was my lunch, today, Thursday.

Whew, I feel better now that I’ve gotten that off of my chest.

Actually, I don’t know if I would let myself participate, because I didn’t even follow the theme. I don’t do spicy, but I do do things that could be spicy if you wanted them to be. Take this:

Heuvos Rancheros en Cocotte

You got your Mexican in my French! No you got your French in my Mexican!

In a fit of literalness I have decided to call this exactly what it is:

Huevos Rancheros en cocotte from my own demented little mind

Hardware: a cute oven safe ramekin and an oven.

Software:
1/3 C doctored up canned black beans
2 eggs
2 T milk
2 big pinches of shredded cheddar cheese
1/8 C salsa (I use Pace, so sue me)

My beans were left over from burritos a few days ago, I start with a can of black beans and add a bunch of garlic, cumin, oregano and Liazano Salsa until they taste good; hence doctored up. Take your cutsey little ramekin and lube it up with butter (hey, this dish is 1/2 French – gotta work butter in somewhere) and pre-heat the oven to 375 or so.

Put the beans into the ramekin and make two beds for your eggs by pushing things around with a spoon and then carefully crack the eggs into their little troughs. Sprinkle some salt and pepper on them and then drizzle the 2 T of milk over top. Put in oven for about 8 minutes (or until things start to bubble and the whites look opaque) and then pull out and sprinkle the cheese around the bubbling edges and slide it back into the oven for a few more minutes. Take the eggs out when they still look underdone and let it rest for a couple of minutes. Spoon salsa over top and you are done.

Talk about a protein bomb! I guess you could work in some veggies with the beans if you are so inclined – but I thought it was great as is. Now, there are several locations where one could make this spicy. Jalapenos in the beans would be an obvious choice, but more sneaky would be sprinkling some cayenne over the eggs so that it looks like paprika. The hotter the salsa, the hotter the entire dish. I am a wuss, so mild all the way baby!

The Damage:
1/3 can black beans = .30
2 eggs = .42
Milk = .05
Cheese = .15

Everything else is pantry. I feel comfortable including Salsa as a pantry item considering it outstripped Ketchup as the most purchased condiment in the US.

The total comes to .92. I only cooked for one, but my hubby would have loved this had he been here – doubling the cost comes to $1.84 to serve 2 people, actually, to fill my husband we probably would have had to use more beans so lets call it an even $2.00.

At least traditional in my family. This is one of the side dishes that make the holiday complete, especially at Easter. My family’s traditional Easter protein is Ham, and really, nothing goes better with ham than CHEESE!

My Grandmother made this dish as does my mother, and I have been known to make it not only for the holiday but for pot-lucks. It really shines at a pot luck, just make sure that you get your dish back, because this cannot be made in just any old casserole dish; it must be made in a souffle dish.

With taste like this, who needs fancy schmancy poufyness?

With taste like this, who needs fancy schmancy poufyness?

When it comes down to it, anyone with a little bit of culinary savvy will read this recipe and say “Hey, that looks like a souffle recipe”. And well, they would be right. But in my family it has always been called a pudding and that is what I am sticking with. I have, on occasion, peered into the oven and seen it rising majestically over the rim of the dish. But who has time for the pussyfooting that a souffle takes when you are trying to churn out a holiday supper for the gathered horde?

If it falls, it falls and it is a Pudding. It tastes divine whatever you call it.

Grandma Willette’s Cheese Pudding

The Hardware:

Round Souffle dish, Stand mixer or hand mixer or masochistic tendencies + a whisk.

The Software:

10 Slices White bread, crusts removed
1 Stick Butter
3 Eggs separated
2 C Milk
1 lb Shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese
1 t Salt
1/4 – 1/2 t Ground Red Pepper (also known as Cayenne hoo-ah!)
1 t Dry Mustard Powder

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees and slice the crusts off of your bread. If you are doing some kind of traditional stuffing you might want to re-purpose the crusts – or feed them to your dog. Cut the bread into cubes about 1/2 square.

Melt butter in your baking dish and add cubed bread, set aside. Combine your egg yolks with the milk and add salt, red pepper (hoo-ah!) and mustard powder. Stir in the god-awful amount of cheese and then fold into the bread cubes and butter.

Beat egg whites until stiff, using a mixer is preferable but hey if you dig the pain of doing it by hand – who am I to judge? Fold stiff egg whites into the other mixture and bake for 35 – 45 minutes or until set.

The cooking on this one is a judgment call – sometimes it comes out perfect and sometimes it is a bit soupy. This year was a soupy year, but I think that was because my Mom assembled the whole thing early in the morning and then put it in the ‘fridge. Oops.

Busted!

Oooh yeah!

Oooh yeah!

I did not actually prepare the Pudding in the picture, but I did consume it – soupy-ness and all. Not only is it divine with the ham(assemble a fork with ham and then cheese in the same bite) but I poured the soupy part over my broccoli which made it much better.

Hacks:

Watch the red pepper in this, it can get really hot really quick – but some people like it that way. Also, you can easily double the batch and it comes out just fine, just make sure your dish is big enough.