Monday, April 30, 2007


I discovered this recipe about a month ago. Not much to say about them except that they are so delicious! I'm taking them to work tomorrow to share the yumminess. This recipe makes 3-4 dozen cookies if you don't eat too much of the dough!

White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies (made by Julia)


  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1-1/2 cups white sugar
  • 2 eggs (at room temp)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 10 oz white chocolate chips
  • 5 oz. chopped macadamia nuts


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
  2. In a medium bowl, cream together the butter and sugar. Stir in the egg and vanilla. Combine the flour, baking soda and salt, stir into the creamed mixture. Finally, stir in the white chocolate and nuts. Drop cookies by heaping teaspoonfuls onto an ungreased cookie sheet, about 2 inches apart.
  3. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven, until lightly browned. Cool on wire racks. When cool, store in an airtight container.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

BBQ without the grill

I've been craving bbq but since we don't have a grill (well the tiny george foreman grill doesn't really count) I decided to try shredded bbq chicken sandwiches in the crockpot. I love crock pot meals, especially on the weekend when I'd rather be out and about than cooking all evening. With a side of baked beans and corn on the cob it was a delicious summery meal!

Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken (made by Julia)


3 large chicken breasts (skinless, boneless)
3/4 cup water
1 1/2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons vinegar (any type)
1/2 teaspoon cumin
20-25oz bottled barbeque sauce (we used KC Masterpiece)

Place chicken, water, Worcestershire sauce, vinegar and cumin in slow-cooker set on low. Cook for 6 hours. Drain juices. Shred chicken right in slow-cooker using two forks to pull it apart. Pour in barbeque sauce; stir to combine. Cook on low for an additional hour. Serve on buns with your choice of sides. Makes about 4-6 servings.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

A Chili's Favorite

I love the southwest eggrolls at Chili's, thanks to Robin for introducing me to them freshman year in college on one of our many trips to Chili's when we probably should have been studying! Sometime last year I got the recipe off a message board and I've made them a few times since. They of course do not taste just like the Chili's version but they are healthier and just as tasty. No frying involved! I serve them with a side of guacamole, this time I added some ranch dressing to create the "avacado-ranch" dipping sauce that I get at Chili's (though mine is more of a guacamole and less of a salad dressing).

"Skinny" Southwest Eggrolls (made by Julia)


5 oz. can cooked chicken breast

1/3 c. corn kernels (frozen or canned)

1/2 c. canned black beans, rinsed and drained

2 tbsp. frozen spinach, thawed and drained

2 tbsp. jarred jalapeno juice

2 tbsp. salsa

½ tbsp. minced fresh cilantro (optional, we don't like cilantro so we leave it out)

½ tsp. cumin

1/3 tsp. salt

pinch cayenne pepper (also optional depending on how much heat you want)

1 c. shredded reduced-fat Monterey Jack cheese (I often use the Mexican cheese blend)

3-4 flour tortillas

vegetable oil

Combine all but the last three ingredients in a saucepan. Stir over
medium-high heat until well blended. Remove from heat and stir in
Monterey Jack cheese until melted. Spoon even amounts of filling into
tortillas. Fold ends and roll, securing with a toothpick. Place
eggrolls on oil-coated cookie sheet, and brush rolls with oil. Bake at
425* for 15-20 minutes, flipping eggrolls half way through to brown on
both sides. Serve with salsa or guacamole.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Another fantastic quiche

So I'm sitting here at work trying to plan our menu for the next week and all I can think about is how much I love quiche. We've had two quiches in the last month and I will probably wait awhile before making one again but I figured I'd post this recipe in case anyone else is up for trying a quiche soon. It's another allrecipes find.

Quiche Lorraine

1 recipe pastry for a 9 inch single crust pie
6 slices bacon (I use turkey bacon it is tasty and low fat)
1 onion, chopped
3 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups shredded Swiss cheese
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C).
Line pastry with a double layer of aluminum foil. Bake in preheated oven for 8 minutes. Remove foil and bake for 4 to 5 minutes more, or until crust is set. Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C).
Place bacon in a large, deep skillet. Cook over medium high heat until evenly brown. Remove bacon from pan, crumble and set aside. Reserve 2 tablespoons bacon grease in skillet. Cook onion in reserved drippings until tender; drain and set aside.
In a large bowl, mix together eggs, milk and salt. Stir in bacon and onion. In a separate bowl, toss cheese and flour together. Add cheese to egg mixture; stir well. Pour mixture into hot pastry shell.
Bake in preheated oven for 35 to 40 minutes, or until knife inserted into center comes out clean. If necessary, cover edges of crust with foil to prevent burning. Let quiche cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Pasta Night

Here's a quick vegetarian meal that Tyler really likes. I didn't make any major changes but I did toss in some chopped up asparagus that I sauted until tender. I garnished with some fresh parm, yummy.

Giada's Lemon Spaghetti (made by Julia)

1 pound spaghetti or angel hair pasta
2/3 cup olive oil
2/3 cup grated Parmesan
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (about 3 lemons)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1/3 cup chopped fresh basil leaves (I use the stuff from my spice rack and season to taste)

Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes. Meanwhile, whisk the oil, Parmesan, and lemon juice in a large bowl to blend.

Drain the pasta, reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid. Toss the pasta with the lemon sauce, and the reserved cooking liquid, adding 1/4 cup at a time as needed to moisten. Season with salt and pepper. Garnish with lemon zest and chopped basil.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

A tale of two cakes

I was looking through photos and found this one of the Hummingbird Cake I made for Tyler's birthday. It was my first cake from scratch and I was so excited that it turned out. I grew up on cake from a box or the store bought kind. I still love those (see funfetti goodness below) but now I love the challenge of making a cake from scratch. Hummingbird Cake is a favorite of Tyler's family, and when I googled the recipe I discovered that it is the most requested recipe in Southern Living Magazine history.

Hummingbird Cake (made by Julia, woo hoo!)

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 large eggs, beaten
1 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 (8-ounce) can crushed pineapple, undrained
1 cup chopped pecans
2 cups chopped bananas

Combine first 5 ingredients in a large bowl; add eggs and oil, stirring until dry ingredients are moistened. (Do not beat.) Stir in vanilla, pineapple, 1 cup pecans, and bananas.

Pour batter into three greased and floured 9-inch round cakepans. Bake at 350° for 25 to 30 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire racks 10 minutes; remove from pans, and cool completely on wire racks.

Cream Cheese Frosting

1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 (16-ounce) package powdered sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup chopped pecans

Beat cream cheese and butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth. Gradually add powdered sugar, beating at low speed until light and fluffy. Stir in vanilla. Fold in chopped pecans.

Spread Cream Cheese Frosting between layers and on top and sides of cake. Store in refrigerator.

A couple of changes that I made: I didn't have 3 pans, so I made it in 2 which meant it had to cook longer and may have been a bit denser. I also forgot to combine the chopped pecans with the frosting before I put it on the cake so I just dumped them on top!


Funfetti Cake (made by Tyler for Julia's bday)

Follow directions on Funfetti Cake Box
Frost with Rainbow Chip Frosting, other frostings are just not the same.
Eat it fast before it falls apart.

I'm not really sure if my husband had ever frosted a cake before...

The cake split apart and the top layer started sliding off the bottom was still yummy!

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Another semi-homemade dessert

We went to a game night at friend's home yesterday and in lieu of a rich and chocolaty dessert we took mini-fruit pizzas instead. I saw the recipe on the Pillsbury website a few weeks ago and bookmarked it in hopes that I'd have an occasion to make them soon. Now that strawberries are back in season I am always looking for an excuse to eat them! These were quick to make and tasted great! We are still chowing down on the leftovers! I used fruit I had on hand, strawberries, kiwis, and mandarin oranges.

Mini Fruit Pizzas (made by Julia)

1(18-oz.) pkg. (20 cookies) Pillsbury® Ready to Bake!™ Refrigerated Sugar Cookies
1(8-oz.) pkg. cream cheese, softened
2tablespoons frozen limeade concentrate, thawed
1/2cup powdered sugar
10fresh strawberries, quartered
1kiwi fruit, peeled, cut in half lengthwise and cut into 10 slices
1/2cup fresh blueberries
1/2cup fresh raspberries

1 . Bake cookies as directed on package. Cool 10 minutes or until completely cooled.
2 . Meanwhile, in medium bowl, combine cream cheese, limeade concentrate and powdered sugar; beat until smooth.
3 . Spread each cooled cookie with 1 tablespoon cream cheese mixture. Arrange fruit on top of each. Serve immediately, or cover and refrigerate up to 2 hours.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

The perfect weekend meal

This is my second quiche in as many weeks. I first discovered this recipe while on Weight Watchers over a year ago, but had misplaced the recipe since then. After some extensive googling I located a copy and decided to whip it up this weekend. It's easy and tasty, we needed a light dinner for tonight and the quiche is just right!

Broccoli-Cheddar Quiche (made by Julia)

  • 6 oz pie crust, 9-inch, refrigerated (I use the frozen Pillsbury deep dish crusts to save time)
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup red onion(s), chopped
  • 1 1/4 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup low-fat shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 large egg(s)
  • 2 large egg white(s)
  • 1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp table salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper, freshly ground
  • 10 oz frozen chopped broccoli, thawed and well-drained
  • 1 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese


  • Preheat oven to 375ºF. Press pie crust into bottom and up sides of a 9-inch, removable-bottom tart pan or a 9-inch pie pan; refrigerate until ready to use.

  • To make filling, heat oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add onion and sauté until soft, about 3 minutes. Transfer onion to a large bowl and add ricotta cheese, cheddar cheese, egg, egg whites, mustard, oregano, salt and pepper; mix well and fold in broccoli. Spoon mixture into prepared crust and level surface with a wooden spoon; sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

  • Bake until a knife inserted near center comes out clean, about 35 to 40 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before slicing into 8 pieces.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Tyler's turn in the kitchen

Tyler discovered this stir-fry recipe about 6 months ago and it is now one of our favorite meals. We've tried other stir-frys but keep coming back to this one. Our recipe is adapted from a Rachael Ray 30 minute meal recipe. You can make this with chicken or beef. We eat so much chicken that we usually make this with london broil just to shake things up. Tyler is not comfortable enough with this whole "food blogging thing" to write an intro himself but here's what he said when I asked if he had tips for this recipe: "Taste the sauce as you go along, be careful not to let it get too salty." There you go folks, tips from the chef himself ;)

Satay Stir-Fry with Orange Scented Jasmine Rice (made by Tyler)

3 3/4 cups water
2 oranges, zested
2 cups jasmine rice, rinsed
2 tablespoons canola oil
Flank steak or london broil cut into thin strips
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 bag of your favorite variety of stir fry veggies.

Satay sauce:
4 rounded tablespoonfuls chunky peanut butter
3 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons honey
1-inch ginger root, peeled and minced
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 orange, juiced

Heat water with orange zest to boiling. Add rice, return to boil, stir. Cover pot and reduce heat to simmer. Cook rice until tender, 18 minutes. Fluff with fork.

For stir-fry, heat a large nonstick skillet or wok over high heat. Add beef, garlic and onion, stir-fry 3 minutes. Add remaining veggies and stir-fry 5 minutes more. Heat all ingredients for sauce together in a small pot over low heat, stirring the sauce until all ingredients are combined. Add sauce to meat & veggie mix, stir until coated. Serve over orange-scented jasmine rice.

Game Night

Tyler and I had some of his work buddies over for game night yesterday. I'm proud to say that I beat all of them in some Vegas Showdown board game. I'd never played it before but apparantly I am a natural at building fake hotels and casinos, who'd of thought? Since there wasn't much time to prepare dinner I went the easy route, baked ziti and a bagged salad and ready to bake garlic bread. I don't have any pictures but here's the ziti recipe.

Baked Ziti (made by Julia)

1 pound dry ziti pasta (penne is a good substitution)
1 onion, chopped
1 pound lean ground beef
2 (26 ounce) jars spaghetti sauce (I prefer Classico, the cabernet marina is my favorite)
6 ounces provolone cheese, sliced
1 1/2 cups sour cream
6 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add ziti pasta, and cook until al dente, about 8 minutes; drain.

In a large skillet, brown onion and ground beef over medium heat. Add spaghetti sauce, and simmer 15 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Butter a 9x13 inch baking dish. Layer as follows: 1/2 of the ziti, Provolone cheese, sour cream, 1/2 sauce mixture, remaining ziti, mozzarella cheese and remaining sauce mixture. Top with grated Parmesan cheese.
Bake for 30 minutes in the preheated oven, or until cheeses are melted.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Chocolate time

I needed a dessert for game night but I didn't want to have to buy any ingredients since we are trying to tighten our grocery budget. These cookies can be made with ingredients most people have in their pantry all the time. They are perfect for satisfying any chocolate craving! My mom made them for us growing up, one of my favorites!

Chewy Chocolate Cookies

1 1/4 cups softened butter
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
2 cups flour
3/4 cup Hershey's cocoa powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt

Cream butter & sugar in large mixing bowl, add eggs and vanilla, blend well.

Combine flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt, blend into creamed mix.

Drop by teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes. Cool until set 1 minute, cool completely on wire rack.

Makes 4 1/2 dozen cookies

Monday, April 16, 2007

Warm soup, Cold day

This is one of my favorite recipes. My friend Kristen gave it to me in college and it's the only potato soup recipe I've made since. It is thick and creamy and perfect on a cold day. Since winter seems to keep going on and on this year I figured mid-April was still okay for soup. Usually we only make chili's and soups from the first day of fall to the first day of spring. I love this soup so much I may make it year round...hope you enjoy it!

Restaurant-Quality Baked Potato Soup

3 russet potatoes
3 tablespoons butter
2 cups chopped white onion
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 cups chicken stock
2 cups water
1/8 cup cornstarch
1 1/2 cups instant mashed potato flakes
1 teaspoon salt

3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/8 teaspoon dried thyme
1 cup heavy cream (I always substitute fat free half & half or skim milk to make it healthier)
1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
8 ounces bacon - cooked and crumbled (turkey bacon is a tasty and healthier alternative)
2 green onions, chopped

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Bake potatoes for 1
hour, or until done. Set aside to cool. (I pop them in the fridge for 3o minutes)

Melt butter in a 3 quart saucepan over medium heat. Saute onions until
tender and golden brown. Stir in flour, and cook 5 minutes to make a
roux. Pour in chicken stock and water. Add cornstarch and mashed potato
flakes. Season with salt, pepper, basil and thyme. Bring to a boil,
reduce heat, and simmer for 5 minutes.

Remove the skin from the cooled potatoes, and discard. Dice the
potatoes into 1/2 inch cubes, and stir into soup, along with the
half-and-half. Simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, or until thick. Spoon into
bowls, and garnish with shredded cheese, bacon and chopped green onion.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Tart and sweet

Blueberry-Lemon Bread (made by Julia)
We love blueberry bread (I usually just use blueberry muffin mix) but I'm trying to learn to bake more things from scratch. This was an easy recipe and very tasty! I got it on where I get most of my recipes. I love reading reviews from other people to get a good idea of how to tweak the recipe and get the best results. In this case I decreased the sugar to 3/4 cup to help the sweetness balance with the tart lemon flavor. I left off the sugary glaze because I wasn't really in the mood for it.


  • 1/3 cup butter, melted
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons lemon zest
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries

  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup white sugar


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour an 8x4 Inch loaf pan. In a medium bowl, mix flour, baking powder and salt together and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, cream the butter and 1 cup sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, and beat well. Mix in the juice of 1 lemon. Add the flour mixture, alternating with the milk. Fold in the lemon zest and blueberries. Pour into prepared 8x4 inch loaf pan.
  3. Bake for 60 to 70 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean. For the glaze, combine 1/4 cup sugar with 2 tablespoons lemon juice. Drizzle over cake while still warm.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Potstickers aka the tastiest thing I have eaten in months

Tyler and I love our sister-in-law Xue's potstickers. Since we only see her once a year that's about as often as we have them. We got a craving and decided we were up for the challenge. I had to drive all over town to find the potsticker wrappers (Giant and Safeway do not carry them, but Wegman's does) and it was so worth it!

Pork potstickers (made by Tyler)

Recipe is a cross between Xue's and one I got from one of my favorite food bloggers.

1/2 lb ground pork
1 Tbsp sesame oil
2 Tbsp soy sauce
2/3 cup green onions
1/4 head Napa cabbage, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
Potsticker wrappers (they are small and round, you need about 30-40)
1 Tbsp vegetable oil

Mix raw pork, sesame oil, soy sauce, green onions, cabbage, and garlic in a bowl. We did not find in neccessary to run it through a food processor, we just mixed it by hand.

Lay a potsticker wrapper on a flat, dry surface and put a Tbsp of mixture in the middle. Using your fingers, dampen the wrapper surrounding the filling and fold the dumpling, pressing the seams together.

Add oil to a skillet over medium heat and add dumplings (we cooked about 12 at a time in our large skillet) Add 1/2 cup water to the pan and cover tightly until all the liquid cooks off. Flip when the dumplings are golden brown on one side. They will be done with they are slightly browned on both sides and a potsticker cut in half reveals no pink.

Serve with your favorite dipping sauce.

Tyler's dipping sauce: a mixture of soy sauce, sesame seed oil, and green onions.

Tyler hard at work, I just took the pictures!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Rough Day. Need Cookies

The oh so popular Big Fat Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies
(made by Julia)

Recipe from

I like to refrigerate the dough for about 30 minutes before I bake the first batch.

To keep the cookies from getting all puffy I slam the cookie sheet down on the stove top a couple of times when I remove them from the oven. It releases the air and they flatten out.


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips


  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Grease cookie sheets or line with parchment paper.
  2. Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt; set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, cream together the melted butter, brown sugar and white sugar until well blended. Beat in the vanilla, egg, and egg yolk until light and creamy. Mix in the sifted ingredients until just blended. Stir in the chocolate chips by hand using a wooden spoon. Drop cookie dough 1/4 cup at a time onto the prepared cookie sheets. Cookies should be about 3 inches apart.
  4. Bake for 15 to 17 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the edges are lightly toasted. Cool on baking sheets for a few minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Monday night Mexican

Black Bean and Rice Enchiladas (made by Julia)

I bookmarked this recipe on a few weeks ago and this made a quick and easy (not to mention really tasty) Monday night dinner. We love Mexican food and I'm trying to make one vegetarian meal a week to cut down on how much we spend on pricey meat at the grocery store and to cut fat in general.

I made a couple of modifications based on what we had in our pantry. Instead of topping the enchiladas with salsa I used a can of mild enchilada sauce. I also omitted the cilantro since neither of us is a fan.

This picture is not so great, I was in a hurry to eat and didn't have much patience to get a beautiful shot. Plus I think it's kind of challenging to make enchiladas smothered in sauce and cheese look pretty. ;) Despite how they look they tasted great and we will definitely make them again, maybe with some green onion on top and some black olives inside.


  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 (15 ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes and green chilies
  • 1/4 cup picante sauce
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 cups cooked brown rice
  • 8 (6 inch) flour tortillas, warmed
  • 1 cup salsa
  • 1 cup reduced fat shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves


  1. In a large nonstick skillet, saute the green pepper, onion and garlic in oil until tender. Add the beans, tomatoes, picante sauce, chili powder, cumin and red pepper flakes; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, until heated through and mixture thickens. Add rice; cook 5 minutes longer or until heated through.
  2. Spoon a rounded 1/2 cup down the center of each tortilla. Fold sides over filling and roll up. Place in a 13-in. x 9-in. x 2-in. baking dish coated with nonstick cooking spray. Spoon salsa over each tortilla. Cover and bake at 350 degrees F for 25 minutes. Uncover; sprinkle with cheese and cilantro. Bake 2-3 minutes longer or until cheese is melted.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Easter Sunday, new beginnings

I love reading food blogs and despite my husband's teasing have decided to create one of my own, modest as it may be. It will be fun to chronicle our cooking (mis)adventures and look back on them later.

Easter Sunday we stayed busy in the kitchen. Well Tyler did most of the work and I cheered him on and took photos.

Garlic-Rosemary Roast Chicken with Potatoes (made by Tyler)

Recipe from a nestie whose name I cannot recall, when I googled this recipe it came up on the Viva Paper Towels website, which explains the constant recommendation to use paper towels in the directions!

In this variation, the jus is omitted and the potatoes roast in the flavorful drippings. The roasted garlic cloves can be spread on bread and eaten alongside the chicken.

Serves 3 to 4
Chicken and Brine

1/2 cup table salt
10 cloves garlic , unpeeled
3 sprigs fresh rosemary
1 whole chicken (about 4 pounds), giblets discarded

Garlic-Rosemary Paste

2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary
2 medium cloves garlic , minced or press through garlic press (2 teaspoons)
1/8 teaspoon table salt
ground black pepper
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil plus extra for brushing chicken

1 1/2 pounds small red potatoes or Yukon Gold potatoes (2-inch), quartered
10 cloves medium-large garlic , unpeeled
1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1. FOR THE CHICKEN AND BRINE: Combine salt, garlic, and rosemary in zipper-lock bag; seal, pressing out air. Pound with meat pounder or rolling pin until garlic cloves are crushed. Transfer mixture to large container or stockpot and stir in 2 cups hot tap water; let stand 10 minutes to release flavors. Add 1 1/2 quarts cold tap water and stir until salt is dissolved. Submerge chicken in brine and refrigerate 1 hour.

2. Remove chicken from brine and pat dry with paper towels. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 450 degrees. Set V-rack in small roasting pan and lightly spray rack with nonstick cooking spray.

3. FOR THE PASTE: Stir together rosemary, garlic, salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and 1 tablespoon oil in small bowl. Rub about 1 1/2 teaspoons of paste in cavity of chicken. Carefully loosen skin over breast and thigh on each side; slip half of remaining paste under skin on each side of breast, then, using fingers, distribute paste over breast and thigh by rubbing surface of skin (see illustrations 1 through 3, below). Tie ends of drumsticks together with kitchen twine and tuck wings behind back. Rub all sides of chicken with 2 teaspoons oil and season with pepper. Set chicken breast-side down on prepared V-rack and roast 15 minutes.

4. During first 15 minutes of roasting, toss potatoes, unpeeled garlic cloves, olive oil, and salt and pepper in medium bowl. After chicken has roasted 15 minutes, scatter potatoes and garlic in single layer in roasting pan; roast for another 15 minutes.

5. Remove roasting pan from oven; decrease oven temperature to 375 degrees. Using tongs or wads of paper towels, rotate chicken breast-side up; brush breast with 1 teaspoon oil and stir potatoes. Continue to roast until chicken is medium golden brown and instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of breast and thigh registers about 160 and 175 degrees, respectively. Transfer chicken to large plate.

6. While chicken rests, transfer potatoes and garlic to large paper towel-lined plate and pat with additional paper towels. Carve chicken and serve with potatoes and garlic.

Asparagus sauted over medium heat in olive oil, sprinkled with salt and pepper. (made by Julia)

Strawberry-banana trifle. (made by Julia)
I suppose you would call this a "semi-homemade" dessert. I layered store bought angel food cake with vanilla instant pudding, cool whip, strawberries, and bananas. It gets soggy after sitting in the fridge overnight so it's best to make it and eat it promptly.