Easy Breakfast

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We inherited nine chickens a few weeks ago. The new ladies settled in quickly making peace with the five chickens already living on the McCoy ranch. I think the new girls inspired the old chickens to lay a few more eggs because we went from getting one maybe two eggs a day to 11 or 12 sometimes 13 eggs in a day.

Needless to say, we give eggs away, we eat a lot of scrambled eggs for breakfast and I am constantly looking for ways to use eggs. Can you put an egg on it? Doesn’t matter, we’re going to try!

After two weeks straight of scrambled or fried eggs on toast, I couldn’t eat them one more day. I needed a change. Like right that very moment. I’m always looking for ways to add vegetables into my diet and breakfast is one place I really struggle. I throw handfuls of spinach into smoothies but that’s about it. I wanted something quick and easy, healthyish and to use up some of the eggs collecting on my kitchen counter. For this recipe, I used a little breakfast sausage and a bunch of vegetables dug out from my refrigerator. I skipped the cheese but that would be a delicious addition to this recipe. I sprinkled mine with a little hot sauce and a slice of avocado. Crisis averted. Still eating those eggs but funny how a small change can make such a big difference.

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Egg Casserole Muffins

  • 12 eggs
  • 1/2 pound breakfast sausage (you could also do ham or bacon instead), crumbled and browned, drained well of grease
  • 1 medium zucchini, diced
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 2 cups fresh spinach, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste

Start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 12-cup muffin tin well with cooking spray or line with muffin papers. In a large sauté pan, cook breakfast sausage until cooked through. Drain on paper towels and set aside. Using the same pan, sauté the zucchini, onion and pepper over medium-low heat until the vegetables are golden brown. Stir in the spinach and cook for 2 more minutes or until the spinach wilts. Salt and pepper. Turn the heat off and stir the sausage back into the vegetables.

In a separate bowl, whisk eggs together until well-combined. Salt and pepper eggs. To prepare the ‘muffins’ scoop the vegetable mixture into each muffin tin so that it’s about 1/3 to 1/2 way filled. Pour the eggs over the vegetables until each muffin tin is filled to the top. If you want to, sprinkle with cheese. Bake for 20 minutes until the eggs are firm and slightly brown around the edges. Allow to cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Run a sharp  knife around the edges of the muffins before flipping them out of the tin. Allow to cool completely before storing in the refrigerator. To eat later, simply microwave the eggs for 30 seconds until they are warmed all the way through.

 

Grilled Honey Sriracha Drumsticks

IMG_7949I pulled a patio chair into the grass yesterday and sat with my face tipped to the sun. The wind was blowing and the animals were all complaining (loudly) because they saw me sitting there and couldn’t figure out why I wasn’t feeding them. The kids ran around me playing, intermittently asking me questions and tattling on each other. But I just kept my eyes closed, feeling the heat on my shoulders, enjoying the breeze, happy to be outside.

It was ten minutes of bliss before real life took over again and I got up to water the chickens and break up an argument and find a snack for a hungry kid. Not that life isn’t blissful, it is sometimes, but it’s busy and demanding and the days go by so fast. I’m feeling that a lot lately. I look at Jackson in particular, in all his 8-year-old boy-ness, and time feels like it slips past faster and faster each day. I crammed Scarlet into the stroller on Monday to go for a walk. Her head touches the shade and her legs dangle past the foot rest but she was happy for a ride and I was happy to push the stroller again, something I used to do daily for so many years when my kids were little. As I huffed and puffed up the country roads I couldn’t deny my kids aren’t that little anymore. A weird, happy, bittersweet acknowledgement. Motherhood, it really is ALL the feelings.

These drumsticks were a bit of a happy accident and another step in my quest to learn to cook meat better. I’m finding that marinades are key as well as being open to trying different cuts of meat. I had never bought drumsticks before, but they were easy and quick to grill and so juicy and flavorful. I made sweet potato ‘fries’ to go with them (I skipped the thyme this time) and cut up a bunch of veggies and fruit for the kids. Such an easy tasty spring dinner and one I think we’ll make again and again.

Grilled Honey Sriracha Drumsticks

  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 3 heaping tablespoons sriracha sauce
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons rice wine OR apple cider vinegar
  • salt and pepper
  • 3ish pounds chicken drumsticks (12-15 drumsticks)

In a large bowl whisk together honey, sriracha, olive oil, garlic and vinegar. Add drumsticks to marinade, turning and mixing well until the chicken is well-coated. Salt and pepper drumsticks liberally. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and put in the fridge for at least 2 hours. 30 minutes before you plan to barbecue, pull chicken out and let sit on the counter.

Turn your barbecue on and allow to heat to about 400 degrees. Using a fork or tongs, place the drumsticks on the grill. The chicken should cook in about 5-10 minutes and you’ll need to turn the drumsticks several times to insure even cooking and to get grill marks on all sides of the meat.

*We made the mistake of putting the cover down on our grill and the chicken started to cook much too fast, burning the skin a bit. Aaron happened to notice right away and flipped the drumsticks. They still tasted really good but if you aren’t into a bit of char, don’t cover the chicken and walk away. They just cook too fast.

Spring Break Vibes and More Chicken

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Spring break is here and I’m not going to lie; it’s been a bit of a rocky start. We started the weekend with a funeral and a last-minute cancellation of the spring-skiing trip we were planning to take. The kids are wound up and wild with their day-long freedom which means endless wrestling, bathroom humor and constant eating ALL. DAY. LONG. The Zags lost last night which was so sad but as a Spokane native, wow, it was amazing to see them go all the way to the national championship.

We worked in the yard a lot over the weekend and it’s fun to see the grass greening up and the trees juuust about to bud out. A long coffee date this morning with a friend and her girls was just the pick-me-up I needed. Below is the newest Kitchen Captivated column, out last Friday. If you’re local, I also wrote a feature on Rod’s House, an organization serving homeless teens.

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I had dinner with a girlfriend a few weeks ago and we spent half the evening lamenting our respective gardens swapping ideas on the benefits and challenges of raised beds, composting and why the heck we can’t seem to get carrots to grow. Seriously, why are carrots so hard? I can grow a potato and an onion in the ground but not once have I had success with carrots.

Our husbands smiled and shook their heads at us as we came up with grander and grander plans as the night wore on.

Both of us, clearly, are novices but it’s something we both enjoy and get excited about. In our lovely Valley with its abundant sunshine and rich soil (unless you live where I live and the clay is thicker than mud), it seems almost impossible not to at least attempt growing something.

The physicalness of getting my hands dirty, laboring over tender seeds and the satisfaction that comes when tender shoots poke out of the ground is deeply satisfying. Gently tending those little shoots in bated anticipation of what will develop, every day wandering out to the garden looking to see if the vine is growing? Is that blossom actually going to become a cucumber? It’s all very thrilling really. And frustrating when the dogs eat the broccoli and trample the baby sunflowers and weeds take over the pepper patch so all that’s left is 500 jalapenos and two plants loaded down in green tomatoes. Not that any of that has ever happened to me of course.

What does seem to work well in almost any situation is herbs. Pick up an Italian parsley, a basil and a rosemary plant from your local nursery or hardware store and put them in a pot on your patio or in the ground. Make sure they have lots of sun. Water them a little bit every day. Watch them grow and grow all spring, summer and into the fall.

Then when you feel particularly proud of your gardening skills, make this lovely chicken dish for your family using a local Washington wine and the fresh herbs from your garden and suddenly you will find yourself a little more in love with our town and Valley and your family will appreciate this (easy) and delicious meal. You can enjoy the rest of the open bottle of wine in the warm spring air and contemplate adding a few more plants to your garden.

This recipe is only slightly adapted from Ina Garten’s Chicken Piccata recipe. I streamlined it just a bit and slightly reduced the amount of overall butter. Crispy breaded chicken drizzled in a decadent lemon wine sauce comes together in less than 30 minutes. If you’re feeling extra adventurous, pair this dish with this risotto  for the perfect spring meal.

Chicken Piccata

  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 extra large eggs, whisked with a tablespoon of water
  • 1 12 cups seasoned dry bread crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
  • 13 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 12 cup dry white wine
  • fresh parsley, chopped

Preheat oven to 325 degrees and line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Slice the chicken breasts in half so that you have two thin pieces of meat. Sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper.

On a shallow plate, mix a pinch of salt and pepper into the flour. On a second plate, beat the eggs with 1 tablespoon water. Place the breadcrumbs on a third plate. Dip each breast in the flour, shake off the excess, dip in egg mixture and finally coat in the bread crumb mixture.

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in large sauté pan over medium heat. Add chicken breasts, two at a time, to the pan and cook for 2 to 3 minutes on each side until golden brown. Place them on the lined sheet pan while you cook the rest of the chicken. Heat more olive oil in sauté pan if needed and cook the rest of the chicken. Place them on the same lined pan and bake in the oven for 5-10 minutes while you make the sauce.

For the sauce, wipe out the pan with a dry paper towel. Over medium-heat, melt 1 tablespoon butter, then stir in lemon juice, white wine, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.

Simmer sauce until reduced by half. Remove pan from heat and stir in the rest of the butter. Serve one chicken breast on each plate and spin the sauce over the meat. Finish with fresh parsley.

 

 

Meatloaf ‘Muffins’

IMG_7671The McCoy family zoo grows again (not including the baby cows: two here, one to go). Because we are crazy and despite the fact that some family members are allergic, we decided to make all Luke’s dreams come true. Oh Lukey, such an animal lover, he’s been begging for a cat for almost two years.

Meet Bella, the sweetest little rescue kitten from the Humane Society. To say we are all a little smitten would be an understatement. Luke cried fat tears of happiness two days in a row so I figure my parent-of-the-year award should be showing up any day now in the mail.

And speaking of parenting, can we talk about basketball tournaments for 8-year-olds (6 games!) on the same weekend as daylight savings? And cruddy colds? And soccer practice in gusting wind and pouring rain? Did I mention daylight savings? Gah.

One kid might be crying tears of joy but I can assure you the rest of us were not. So maybe no parenting award anytime soon.

How about a meatloaf recipe? Because sometimes (well most of the time really) dinner just needs to be simple and quick and healthy-ish. I usually make roasted potatoes on the side and maybe a few carrot sticks for kids or a basic salad. Leftovers freeze well which comes in handy on busy crazy nights.

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Meatloaf ‘Muffins’

  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 medium carrots, grated
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup seasoned (Italian) bread crumbs
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1 teaspoon deli mustard
  • 1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground pepper
  • barbecue sauce

In a medium sauté pan, heat olive oil over medium-low heat. Cook onion and carrot for 3 to 4 minutes until the vegetables are soft. Take off heat and set aside. In a large bowl mix together beef, vegetables, bread crumbs, ketchup, mustard, Worcestershire, eggs and salt and pepper. Spray muffin tin with cooking spray. Scoop meat mixture into muffin tins. Top with barbecue sauce. Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes. Baking time will vary slightly based on how big your ‘muffins’ are.

 

Spicy Roast Pork

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My goal this year is to learn to cook meat better. Seems simple right? But actually, for me, not so much. I only went through about 15 whole chickens before I finally got the hang of it. I have quite the history of either way overcooking meat to the point of in-edible rock-hard nastiness or the extreme opposite, I’ve served many a raw chicken breast to my family. Aaron cuts into the wobbly mess, takes one look at it and promptly offers to call for take-out.

I have grand visions of perfect pork tenderloin and juicy steaks perfectly pink in the middle right off the barbecue. And for the love of all things, I just want to make non-rubbery chicken before the year is over.

Meat braised in wine or stock and cooked in the oven for a really long time seems to be right up my alley. I’ve got that down as long as all it requires is copious amounts of liquids and to be left alone in an oven but after a winter of almost weekly pot roasts, I needed something new to try.

As I was flipping through a Barefoot Contessa cookbook, a recipe for a slow-roasted pork roast caught my eye. I didn’t have some of the ingredients but decided to go for it anyway, using what I had. The result was a juicy pork roast with a smoky spicy kick. It made my house smell delicious and we ate leftovers all week. You could use a boneless pork butt (that’s what I usually buy at Costco) but for maximum flavor and juiciness I would buy a bone-in roast.

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Spicy Roast Pork

  • 1 (4-5 pound) pork butt
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 1 chili in adobo sauce (scrape out the seeds to reduce heat)
  • 2 teaspoons adobo sauce
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cumin
  • pinch of cayenne
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2-3 cups white wine

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Place pork in a roasting pan, pat dry with paper towels and salt and pepper liberally. Place the garlic, onion, chili (and sauce), spices and apple cider vinegar in a food processor. Pulse for a few seconds until a paste forms. Drizzle in the olive oil until well incorporated. Using a spatula, spread the sauce all over the pork. Pour the wine into the pan and cover tightly with aluminum foil. Cook for 2 hours and then remove foil. Cook for an additional 2ish hours until the meat is tender and cooked through. If the wine begins to evaporate, add another cup to the pan. Remove from the oven and cover tightly with foil for 15 minutes. Slice thinly to serve.

*The size of the roast and the temperature of your oven is going to determine how long it takes to cook. Use a meat thermometer and pull pork from the oven when it reads between 145-150 degrees.