Friday, November 21, 2014

Snovember and Healthy Comfort Food

Well, it has been a snowy week. Remember those gorgeous sunset pictures from last week? Here is the same view this week. We got over a foot of snow in about 24 hours. Which was on top of another 4-6 inches a couple days before. We've beat out the 115 year record for amount of snow in November. We are up to over 28 inches that have fallen, and we still have almost 10 days left.

Have I mentioned that I am not ready for the whole snow thing yet? 'Cause I'm not. Cancellations abounded-both Monday and Tuesday. My kids did not get a snow day, but I did let them play outside way earlier than normal. It makes my heart feel all warm and fuzzy to see them trucking around out in the snow.

Snowy weather makes me want to cook (and eat) comfort food. It must be a primordial hibernation instinct or something.

But, who says that comfort food has to be unhealthy?

Today I have two comforting recipes to share. Lemon Rosemary Chicken and Cinnamon Roasted Butternut Squash. What's more comforting than that? These two recipes are both gluten-free and dairy-free. They both utilize a high roasting temperature (425-450 degrees), and they both are simple and delicious.

Lemon Rosemary Chicken uses fresh rosemary and lemons. Which is great because I am loving the unique taste of fresh herbs lately. I know its not the season and they are a splurge, but fresh herbs taste and smell different than dried herbs. Fresh rosemary smells rather piney. Dried rosemary is tough and hardly rehydrates even when cooked a long time. Fresh rosemary has a pleasant taste and texture.

The skin stays on the chicken through the baking. It seals in the flavor and moisture. Feel free to eat, or not eat, the skin according to your preference. Like I tell my kids...if you don't want that, I'll eat yours... 

The pans for both recipes are lined with foil for ease in clean up.

Lemon Rosemary Chicken
8-10 bone-in chicken thighs or 4-6 bone-in chicken breasts
1-1/2 Tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
1-1/2 tsp lemon zest
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1-1/2 Tbsp olive oil

-Early in the day (at least 4 hours before cooking), mix the rosemary, minced garlic, salt, pepper, zest, juice and olive oil in a small bowl.
-Rinse and pat dry the chicken breasts. Rub the rosemary mixture into the breasts. Place on a pan and cover with plastic wrap. Marinate 4-6 hours.
-Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Line a roasting pan with foil, and place the chicken breasts on it, skin side down. Roast in a 450 degree oven for 15 minutes, flip over, and roast another 15-30 minutes, until the meat is tender and the juices run clear.

Cinnamon Roasted Butternut Squash
2 medium butternut squash
3 Tbsp olive oil
3 Tbsp brown sugar
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1-1/2 tsp kosher salt
dash cayenne

-Heat the oven to 425 degrees. Line 2 large baking sheets with foil.
-Prepare squash by peeling, seeding, and cutting into 1” cubes. You want 12 cups.
-Toss the squash cubes with the oil, sugar, cinnamon, salt and cayenne until well coated. Divide between the 2 baking sheets, trying not to crowd or else the edges won’t brown.
-Roast the squash for 40-45 minutes, turning the squash once and rotating the pans once, until the edges are golden and the centers are tender. Check occasionally to make sure it is not getting overdone.

Note: I cook both recipes at the same time/temp (450 degrees) and I just watch the squash and shorten its roasting time as necessary.

Have a wonderful weekend!