Friday, July 8, 2011

Channeling my inner Ina

One of the perks of having some "free time" in the summer is that I am able to take day trips, including a day trip to the beach. The other day I went to meet friends in Long Beach and got to sit on the beach! Delightful!

I hate to arrive anywhere empty-handed so I brought a salad with me. My friend, Christine was a might impressed by my summer salad and asked how I came up with it. Well, here was my quick summer salad.

Strawberry Summer Salad
Need: Couscous, lemon, olive oil, S&P, 6 Large strawberries, ricotta salata cheese, mint and Basil
Cook 1 package of couscous following package instructions. Let it cool.
In a large bowl - wash and zest lemon and then juice it and add 1/4 cup olive oil and some S&P.
Add the cooled couscous and mix in with the dressing.
Hull and chop 6 large strawberries.
Chop mint and basil - bout 1/4 cup of each.
Cut ricotta salata cheese into 1/2 inch pieces.
Add remainder of ingredients to bowl - stir.
I actually made a bit more dressing in a lil bowl - lil lemon, olive oil and S&P and put that on top and gave one last stir.
Christine approved at Long Beach.

Now, when we were at the beach Christine and I talked about cooking and how infrequently she cooked because she's not sure of what recipes to use or how to "throw things together." Meanwhile I am constantly making up my own recipes or using the food network stars recipes as a base for imitation since I can't stand looking at a recipe unless it's baking.

I thought of this when I decided to cook Billy a homecoming meal today. Channeling my inner Ina I went with a roast chicken and potatoes with broccoli. Anyone who watches Ina knows that her favorite meal for Jeffrey on a Friday is a roast chicken so I went with that. I also made a side lentil salad. While I was cooking I tried to think about exactly what I was doing so I could repeat it and perhaps Christine could repeat it as well. (should she want to!)

Lentil Salad
I started off by rinsing and draining the lentil - combining 1/2 cups with 1 cup chicken broth and let it simmer for 30-40 min.
I let the lentils cool then added them to a medium bowl.
I chopped 2 tomatoes into 1 inch pieces - add them to the bowl
Chop 1/4 cup basil - add to the bowl
Chop mozzerella into 1 inch pieces and add to the bowl
Make the lemon olive oil dressing and add to the bowl - stir.

Roast Chicken
Preheat oven 400 degrees
Rinse and pat the chicken dry, removing the packet of insides
Olive oil the inside of a roast pan - add the chicken
Olive oil the chicken - it's like his sunscreen - and add S&P
Tie his little legs together and tuck in his wings (I must admit when I have no strings - sometimes I fudge this step).
Zest one lemon onto the bird and chop and squeeze half the lemon onto the chicken
Cut the other half into four and insert the four slices and fresh rosemary and thyme into the chicken.
I took a little crushed rosemary and thyme on the chicken
Add a lil chicken broth and white wine
Cook for 30 min at 400 degrees then reduce heat to 350 and cook for another 40-50min or until juices run clear.

Rosemary roasted potatoes
While you put in the chicken at 400 - you can add the potatoes.
Wash 5 large potatoes dry and put in the micro for 2 min - let them cool
Take a dish and drop some olive oil down add the potatoes
Add a little more olive oil, S&P and some fresh rosemary chopped
Mix with your hands - and put in the oven for about 30-40 mean until potatoes cooked through and brown.

Garlic Broccoli
Nothing compliments dinner like something green and billy loves broccoli.
I added a little olive oil to a pan and chopped some garlic and added that - letting it get a nice beach tan and then added the broccoli and sauteed it in the pan. I added a splash of white wine and some lemon zest and juice to the pan.
I toasted almonds - you could also use pine nuts and added them to the pan - let it get warm and put in a dish.

These recipes were delicious, sprint quick and also they allowed me to use all my home grown herbs in my garden - rosemary, thyme, basil, mint, etc.

Go ahead - tri them!

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