Trifecta Chicken

This recipe was created and perfected during the spring of 2020 when Dani, my Pandemic Pal (roommate during the pandemic), requested chicken and rice soup for lunch, more than 6 weeks in a row.  Seriously.  What can I say, she liked grandma’s recipe for chicken and rice soup! 

We take one chicken and make roasted chicken (I imagine for dinner on Sunday night), chicken stock for (use during the week and in the soup), and the leftover stock and chicken for chicken and rice soup. 

It’s a great way to get the most out of a purchase.  During the pandemic, we were only allowed to purchase two packages of chicken per grocery delivery, which was every two weeks, so we had to make it stretch.  Oh no!  This is beginning to sound like a story my great-grandmother might have told me about the Great Depression.  Anyway…

Ok, but why “Trifecta Chicken”?  It’s me being silly.  We get three recipes from one chicken. 

So…

Winner winner winner chicken dinner, it’s like we hit the trifecta! 

This term was popularized in the 1970’s (according to Merriam-Webster) and is described as a bet placed on three horses, where the person making the bet indicates which horses will come in first, second and third, in order.  Here, we make three recipes, in order with one bet or chicken!


Roast Chicken

This roasted chicken has a very crispy outside and a nice juicy inside with tender meat.

You’ll find I typically love simple recipes, which this is, and it’s also quite flavorful. 

A few times, Dani was in the kitchen as I took the chicken out of the oven and she had the opportunity to try the skin.  She thought she’d gone to heaven and bounced back!

My biggest recommendation for chicken, in general, is to buy the best quality you can afford.  If that’s what’s on sale, do that.  If it’s organic free range, go for it.  The better-quality chicken (and food in general) will turn into a better-quality meal.

A last note about this recipe is that you’ll see that I don’t “tent” or cover the chicken when it comes out of the oven.  B, a fellow chef, asked me about this as he reviewed the recipe.  I prefer not to cover the chicken as it rests because I want the skin to remain as crispy as possible.  Thanks B!

Don’t forget to check out the Trifecta Chicken recipe, which this is featured prominently in.


Beef Stew

When you’re in the mood for a hearty, easy and delicious meal, check out the Beef Stew recipe (links below).

This is a throw it in the pot, set it and forget it type recipe that I love. 

Sure, some recipes call for flouring and searing the meat first, and of course, that’s not wrong. 

However, it gives you a different type of stew.  The flouring and searing step allows the meat to stay together in cohesive pieces.  I like my stew meat flaked and mixed into the stew, without big chunks of beef.  Hence, the skipping of this step.

Plus, an extra perk is the simplicity of the whole thing.  Technically it’s a few steps.  Put the stuff in the pot and cook.  After it’s cooked add the slurry of cornstarch and water.

Also, I love tomato-y stew.  Which is why I’ve included the diced tomatoes in this recipe.  I had tried tomato paste, and other combos, but this is what’s worked best for me.

I hope you enjoy this fast and tasty meal.


Turkey Casserole Surprise

Not everyone loves a good casserole, and not everyone loves surprises.  But this recipe won the hearts and stomachs of my friends.

Peas are the surprise in this recipe.  I don’t always include them when I make it, but it sure adds an extra layer of flavor.

It’s a good go to, midweek meal.  If you’re short on time (and/or energy) try using dehydrated diced onion in place of the fresh onion in the recipe.  It can make it a bit quicker and just as yummy.


Vegetarian Meatloaf

Vegetarian Meatloaf?  Really?  Ok, so this version isn’t vegan, since I use eggs.  But it’s vegetarian and it’s a nice substitute when you’re craving that home cooked feel and comfort food, but not feeling beef, or are not a beef eater.

Whatever you do, don’t call it faux-meatloaf, or featloaf; Folks hate the sound of it. 🙂

I created this one when I was having weekly dinners with my dear friend Pip and her lovely daughter.  This was back in the days when Pip was wrapping up her masters degree and her daughter was quite little.

Pip is a vegetarian except eggs and some cheese, so I wanted to be able to make fun recipes for her, ones that I wouldn’t dislike eating either. 

Plus feeding a toddler/small child, I had a few challenges, and this was one I overcame.

I find it tasty and easy enough to keep in the regular rotation of dinners. 


Grandma’s Pasta Sauce

Now, much can be debated about what tomato sauce looks like, what it’s supposed to taste like and how it’s supposed to be made.  There are very few recipes that I will share a long back story on, because if you are really interested in you them can read about it on the blog page, but this one deserves special attention.

It was my last term of college, and I had finished my Associates culinary degree a few months earlier and was on track to complete my Bachelors Degree in Food Service Management in the coming weeks. 

I was at my grandma’s house for Thanksgiving.  Well, we all know that grandmas don’t last forever and sometimes their minds go before their bodies, so I wanted to take advantage of my time with Gram.  I wanted to get the secret family recipe for her delightful tomato sauce, which I could never replicate but LOVED.  Like I don’t eat much tomato sauce (teaspoons worth usually) but hers I piled on.

So I sit down at the dining room table (the very one I’m typing this up at right now, in my own home, 22 years later).  I’m an eager, fresh faced, college kid about to be thrown into the world of working people and wanted this special recipe so I could lord it over my friends. 

So I ask Gram, “will you tell me the recipe for your tomato sauce?”

“Why, of course,” she says while cooking up my second favorite, the left over turkey and rice soup from thanksgiving dinner. 

“You take a pound of chop meat, (as she calls ground beef), a pound of hot Italian sausage and a pound of sweet Italian sausage, out of the casing.  Sauté them up together.  Then add a green pepper and a white onion and cook that a bit.  (So far so good, right?)  Then you add a can of crushed tomato and a can of water of the crushed tomato (ooookaaaay….).  Add some garlic (it was ambiguous if it was crushed, fresh, powdered, etc., but I was waiting with bated breath, so I wasn’t going to interrupt her).  Then you take a large jar of Prego and pour it over the top and a jar of water from the Prego jar and mix it in.”   WHAT?!?!?!?!??!?!?!?  Wha?  Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat?  PREGO?!?!?  Souped up/tricked out Prego?  This is the family recipe I have been yearning for?

I. Was. Horrified. 

Like, no.  nononononononononono no way did my family eat from a JAR!!!  Here it is though in her own writing on a slip of paper she had laying around the house:

Such is the story of my very very NOT Italian family’s pasta sauce recipe.  I place it here, on the internet for you, internet people, to encourage you.  Don’t be ashamed of anything your grandparents or parents cook/cooked.  Unless it was freaky jello mold stuff.  That should be whispered about in back kitchens.

I write the above, not to shame my grandmother, but to lift her and her memory up for teaching me such wonderful lessons in life, including sometimes it’s just better to spend time with your family and make it a souped up sauce instead of a 3 day fiasco.