Meal Plan Monday ~ May 30th

Happy Memorial Day! I hope everyone is enjoying the long weekend! I’m so excited that summer weather is finally upon us. Now, when Logan asks, “Can we go to the beach?” I can finally say, “YES!” The poor kid has been yearning to build sandcastles for the past few weeks, ever since he came across the mesh bag filled with last year’s beach toys.

Now that the weather is so hot and humid, I like to go with easy recipes that have fresh, bright flavors. I love to experiment on the grill and am looking forward to trying out several new recipes this summer!

Here’s what’s on the menu for this week:

Memorial Day: Grilled Tri-Tip Steaks with Mushrooms and Onions, Corn on the Cob
Tuesday: Pierogies with Hot Sausage, Side Salad
Wednesday: Clams, Mussels and Shrimp in a Garlic Wine Sauce, French Bread, Side Salad
Thursday: Barbecued Chicken, Red Potato Salad with Bacon Blue Cheese Vinaigrette, Cornbread
Friday: Leftovers
Saturday: Grilled Mediterranean Vegetable Sandwiches
Sunday: Leftovers

What’s on your menu this week?

Meal Plan Monday — May 23rd thru 30th

This past weekend, John and I installed a new countertop, sink and faucet in our kitchen. The project took all day Saturday, so the weekend’s menu plan got shifted a bit. The great thing about menu planning is that you can always swap out meals or change things around if plans change.

This week’s menu is simple, partly due to my muscles being extremely sore from having to lift a countertop through my kitchen window, but also because I want to focus on other things this week. I have some household tasks that need attending to and I’m hoping the weather will be sunny and warm so Logan and I can do some outdoor activities.

Here’s what’s on the menu for this week:

Monday: Leftovers
Tuesday: Whole Wheat Spaghetti with Excellent Meatballs
Wednesday: Mum’s Everyday Lentils, Trader Joe’s Vegetable Samosas, Naan
Thursday: Leftovers
Friday: Egg, Ham and Spinach Pizza
Saturday: Green Chile Chicken Burgers, Grilled Corn on the Cob, Avocado and Tomato Salad
Sunday: Leftovers

What’s on your menu this week?

Engagement Chicken

Glamour Magazine folklore tells the tale of a magical chicken, a chicken so delicious, so irresistible, men fall into a spell and begin to think of marriage. The story of this magical chicken dates back nearly 30 years, when then-Glamour fashion editor Kim Bonnell gave the recipe to her assistant, who made it for her boyfriend. A month later, they were engaged. The recipe got passed along to other women, three of which later became engaged. This magical recipe was promptly dubbed “Engagement Chicken.” In 2004, the recipe was published in Glamour Magazine. Since then, over 60 readers have become engaged after making this chicken for their loved one. Even Beth Ostrosky, Howard Stern’s wife, admits to making this dish not long before she and Howard became engaged.

Six years ago, I came across the Engagement Chicken recipe and decided to make it for my then-boyfriend. When I placed the roasted chicken on the table, my boyfriend gawked. Never before had I made such a beautiful chicken, roasted to a perfect golden brown. One bite and he was hooked. He marveled at the juiciness of the bird, the hint of lemon, the crispness of the skin. When he looked at me, I could see stars in his eyes. Three weeks later, my boyfriend proposed.

Seriously? No! Until recently, I had never heard of Engagement Chicken. I found the tale quite intriguing, though. I mean, a chicken so delicious that it made men think of marriage? It sounded extremely far fetched. Regardless, I decided to give it a try. For years, I had been searching for the “perfect” roast chicken recipe. You know, the kind of recipe you always go back to, because it’s simple yet delicious. Well, my search is over. This is the perfect roast chicken recipe.

On a side note, I apologize for the not-so-good photo of this amazingly delicious chicken! It didn’t occur to me until after I carved the chicken that I should have taken a picture of it breast-side up!

Engagement Chicken

Tweaked from Glamour Magazine

What You’ll Need:

1 (3 to 4 lb) chicken
Kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
½ cup fresh lemon juice, plus 2 additional lemons, cut into quarters
10 cloves garlic, smashed
2 onions, thickly sliced
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 tablespoon flour
Extra Virgin olive oil

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Remove the giblets from the chicken, wash the chicken inside and out with cold water, then let drain for about 2 minutes. Pat dry with paper towels. Place the chicken, breast side down, in a medium roasting pan. Pour the lemon juice all over the chicken, inside and out. Place the smashed garlic cloves inside the cavity of the chicken, along with six of the lemon quarters. Brush the outside of the chicken with olive oil and sprinkle the chicken liberally with salt and pepper. Tie the legs together with kitchen twine. Place the sliced onions and remaining lemon quarters around the chicken in the pan. Season with salt and pepper. Pour the wine and chicken stock into the bottom of the pan.

Put the chicken in the oven, lower the temperature to 375 degrees, and roast for about 1 hour and 15 minutes, until the juices run clear. If the skin begins to darken too much, tent lightly with aluminum foil while roasting. Once done, remove the chicken and place on a platter. Cover with aluminum foil and allow to rest for 10 to 15 minutes while you prepare the sauce.

Place a small saucepan on the stove, over medium-high heat. Add a few tablespoons of the chicken juices, then sprinkle in the flour. Stir constantly, until it thickens. Add the remaining juices from the roasting pan, including the onions. Let simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, until the sauce reduces. Carve the chicken and serve with the warm sauce and onions. Wait for a proposal.

Menu Plan Monday –May 16th thru May 22nd

For the past few weeks, I have completely flaked on Meal Plan Monday. The husband and I, in an effort to lose weight and be more health conscious, have decided to cut back on the gluttony. We’ve decreased our red meat intake, pumped up our veggie portions, and have been consuming more fish and lean chicken. Needless to say, the past few weeks have been extremely dull. If I see one more plate of grilled chicken cutlets and steamed broccoli, I’m going to fling it across the room.

This week’s menu is an effort to bring back the flavor, without loading up on the fat and calories. So, here it is!

Monday: Leftovers
Tuesday: Engagement Chicken, Parmesan-Roasted Broccoli
Wednesday: Eggplant Rolls with Spicy Tomato Sauce, Side Salad
Thursday: Leftovers
Friday: Salmon with Lentils and Mustard-Herb Butter
Saturday: Spicy Grilled Chicken Wings, Corn on the Cob, Avocado and Tomato Salad
Sunday: Whole Wheat Penne Puttanesca with Chicken

What’s on your menu this week?

Roasted Picnic Shoulder with Fingerling Potatoes

Although it’s mid-May, there’s still enough of a chill in the air to turn on the oven without making the kitchen uncomfortably hot. Knowing there would be few opportunities left to make a roast, at least until next Fall, I had my little brother, Stephen the Butcher, bone out a beautiful picnic shoulder of pork. I fantasized about smothering the pork in herbs, drooling before I even brought it home to actually season it.

Picnic shoulder comes from the lower part of the pig’s shoulder. It can be a fatty piece of pork, so be sure to have it trimmed. Picnic shoulder is an inexpensive cut of meat and is extremely versatile. It can be barbecued, braised, roasted, used in stews or kabobs. This is the cut most commonly used for one of my favorite dishes, barbecued pulled pork. Picnic shoulder is also used to make smoked hams and ground pork. In many Spanish-speaking countries, especially those in the Caribbean, picnic shoulder is extremely popular during the holidays and special occasions, used to make pernil, a slow-cooked roast richly seasoned with salt, pepper, cumin, oregano, a splash of bitter orange, and lots of garlic.

When I first thought about bringing home a picnic shoulder, I immediately thought about making pernil. I could almost taste the succulent pork, which would have tasted even better dipped in mojo. I quickly dismissed that idea, deciding to think outside the box, using some flavors I had never tried before with pork. I came across a recipe for an easier, American-ized version of porchetta, and decided that rosemary and sage were the way to go. It proved to be a fantastic decision.

Roasted Picnic Shoulder with Fingerling Potatoes

Roasting the pork shoulder on a bed of fingerlings results in tender, flavorful potatoes that require almost no work!

Boneless Picnic Shoulder

If you’re uncomfortable boning out a pork shoulder, or any cut of meat for that matter, just ask your butcher. They’ll be more than happy to help!

Prepare to get your hands dirty! You’ll want to rub the seasoning into every nook and cranny of the pork!

Stuffed with goodness, this pork smells delicious before it even goes in the oven!

Pork Crackling is Gooooooood!

Don’t be afraid of roasting this baby at high heat. Keeping the skin on protects the rest of the meat, leaving it juicy and flavorful. The added bonus is the pork crackling, a delicious treat!

Roasted Picnic Shoulder of Pork with Fingerling Potatoes

Adapted from Anne Burrell

What You’ll Need:

For the Pork:
3 sprigs fresh rosemary, leaves finely chopped
1 bunch fresh sage, leaves finely chopped
20 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes
Extra-virgin olive oil
1 picnic shoulder of pork with the skin, bone removed
Kosher salt
black pepper
For the Potatoes:
10 garlic cloves, smashed
2 pounds fingerling potatoes, cut lengthwise
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup chicken stock
Kosher salt
1 bundle fresh thyme

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Combine the rosemary, sage, garlic and crushed red pepper in a small bowl. Mix with enough olive oil until a paste has formed. Cut the sides of the pork so it opens and lies flat on your cutting board. Rub the paste all over the inside of the pork shoulder, then sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Roll the pork and tie tightly with butcher’s twine.

Place the potatoes at the bottom of a large roasting pan. Season with salt, then toss in the bundle of thyme. Rest the pork roast on top of the bed of fingerling potatoes, making sure the pork skin faces up. Rub the top of the pork with a bit of oil and put in the oven. Roast for about 30 minutes. By this time, the skin should start to become a gorgeous brown color. Don’t be afraid of browned pork skin – it’s tasty!

Add the wine and chicken stock to the roasting pan. Roast for another 2 to 2 ½ hours, basting the skin occasionally with the pan juices. Tent the roast with aluminum foil if you feel the skin is becoming too dark, but be sure to remove the foil during the last half hour of cooking.

Once the roast is done, remove from the pan, cut the string, and let the pork rest for about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove the skin and cut into large squares. Slice the pork and arrange on a platter with the fingerling potatoes, making sure to spoon lots of the the pan juices on top. Garnish with pork crackling and serve. Prepare to chow down!