roast chicken with gravy

It’s fall. My favorite season.

For the first time in many years, fall weather came in, as preferred, the day after Labor Day. I appreciate that timely arrival of cool crisp weather. I’m not a fan of 100 degree days in September, or at anytime, actually.

Today was a nice 66 degree day. Perfect day for a lovely roasted chicken dinner.

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When I roast chicken, I think ahead to the gravy. Must have gravy with roast chicken! And the best gravy is gravy that has terrific flavor. By cooking the chicken in tons of flavor — carrots, onion, celery, garlic, salt, pepper, honey — the gravy will be loaded with everything it needs to make you savor each bite. And I don’t mean to boast, but I make some seriously terrific non-lumpy flavorful gravy.

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Roast Chicken With Gravy

Into a roasting pan (or similar deep oval baking pan), put in a chopped onion, chopped celery, a large peeled and sliced carrot, and as many garlic cloves as you like (I used about 6).

Pour in one cup of chicken broth.

Place a rinsed and dried roasting chicken on top of the chopped vegetables.

On top of the chicken, sprinkle a generous amount of salt and pepper and garlic powder.

Then pour some honey on top of that. Cover with a foil tent, and place into a hot oven.

Now is a good time to add some baking potatoes to the oven as well.

A few times during cooking, possibly every 20 minutes or so, spoon some of the liquid over the chicken.

Remove the foil after 40 minutes.

Continue cooking until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F.

When the chicken is done, remove from oven and place on a serving tray.

Allow it to rest while you make the gravy.

In a saucepan over medium heat, melt butter and whisk in an equal amount of flour (I used about 2 tablespoons of each).

After a minute or two whisk in one cup of whole milk.

Add the liquid from the roasting pan (use a strainer so that you get only the liquid).

Continue whisking, allowing the mixture to thicken.

When you get a gentle boil, turn off heat.

Transfer gravy to serving bowls.

I like to use a gravy boat as well as decorative creamers.

It’s nice to have a few on the table so that each person can reach one without passing the one gravy boat back and forth.

Serve.

Enjoy.

Repeat often throughout the fall.

triple chocolate cake squares

It’s no surprise to those of you who know me or who have followed this blog for a while: I love chocolate. I also like cooking and baking from scratch — as few boxed and prepared ingredients as possible. But … when it comes to chocolate, I’ll bend the rules when I have to. And this recipe is perfect when I’m in a rule breaking mood.

This recipe came from the recipes collected for a wannabe cookbook I was in charge of putting together over a decade ago, at a volunteer organization I worked at. I have no idea who submitted it or where it originated from. And that cookbook never came about, though this recipe has been in my binder (and made often) since that time.

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Triple Chocolate Cake Squares

1 small box chocolate pudding mix (approximately 3.4 ounce size) — use the cook and serve type, NOT INSTANT

2 cups milk

1 box chocolate cake mix

1/2 cup chocolate chips + 1/2 cup chopped nuts (walnuts taste good in this) OR 1 cup chocolate chips

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Heat oven to 350F.

In a large sauce pan, cook the pudding with the milk as directed on the pudding box.

start with milk in a saucepan

add pudding mix to milk

over medium heat, whisk pudding mix and milk together

once it starts boiling, remove from heat

Remove from heat immediately, and stir in the dry cake mix.

remove from heat and add cake mix to hot pudding

stir cake mix into pudding … do not use the whisk!

ready to put into the pan

Spread this combination into a greased¬† or silicone-lined 9×13-inch pan.

spread the mixture into the pan

Distribute chocolate chips (and nuts, if including those) on top of the pudding and cake mixture.

distribute chocolate chips on top

Bake at 350F for 20 to 25 minutes. Do not over bake.

hot out of the oven

COOL COMPLETELY.

Cut into squares and enjoy!

YUM!

*Note: When I first started making this recipe, I used the chocolate chips and nut combination, but now my youngest son has severe tree nut allergies, so I use only the chocolate chips. Today I made them with mini chips, though regular size chips work well too.

tarragon chicken salad

Almost twenty years ago a favorite aunt, who has since passed away, found a recipe for tarragon chicken salad in her local newspaper, and tried it. She like it very much, and so did I. I’ve made this recipe many times over the years, and have changed it ever so slightly. Each time I make it I remember my aunt, and that puts a smile on my face.

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This chicken salad is nice on its own, or on a green salad (as in the photo below), and especially good on croissants or sourdough bread.

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Tarragon Chicken Salad

1/4 cup mayonnaise

2 tablespoons sour cream

1/2 teaspoon mustard of your choice (I prefer horseradish mustard, but use Grey Poupon or Spicy Brown mustard when that’s not available.)

1 teaspoon white wine or red wine vinegar

2 cups chopped or shredded cooked chicken

1 tablespoon dried or fresh chopped tarragon

salt and pepper

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In a large bowl, blend together mayo, sour cream, mustard, and vinegar.

Stir in the chicken and tarragon.

Season with salt and pepper, if desired.

Serve immediately, or chill, covered, for up to one day. Personally, I prefer for it to chill at least one hour before serving.

*Note: This recipe can easily be doubled or tripled.

quick pizza dough

We make homemade pizza weekly. And for years we’ve made our pizza dough in the bread machine. You can find our recipe here. Over the weekend, my daughter asked if we could make homemade pizza for dinner, only an hour before dinner time. No way. Not enough time. But wait … she had found a recipe online for quick pizza dough and wanted to give it a try. How could I say no to that!

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It really was quick. Start to finish — dough to slicing the pizza — less than one hour. And the dough was fluffy and light and perfect! A new favorite pizza dough, perfect for last minute pizza cravings!

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*Recipe source here: Everybody Likes Sandwiches¬† (In that version, there is an added ingredient of 2 tablespoons of chopped fresh rosemary, which we did not include. If you haven’t clicked that link yet, what are you waiting for???? Excellent site … go … now! But then come back here, okay? Thanks!)

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Quick Pizza Dough

1 packet or 2 1/4 teaspoons yeast

1 cup warm water

2 1/2 cups flour (we used unbleached all-purpose flour)

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon honey

2 tablespoons olive oil

cornmeal

pizza toppings of your choice (we used a tomato sauce we had on hand, mozzarella cheese, and finished it off with dried basil and oregano)

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Heat oven to 400F.

In a large bowl, add in the yeast and warm water and stir until the yeast dissolves.

Add the flour, salt, honey, and olive oil and stir with a wooden spoon or similar utensil vigorously until combined.

The photos below illustrate how vigorously my daughter stirred this:

Let dough rest for 10 minutes. (*Note: You can allow this to sit a little longer, if you’re busy or the phone rings or whatever, but we’ve found that the closer to 10 minutes, the better!)

Sprinkle cornmeal onto a baking sheet, pizza pan or similar baking pan and press dough until your desired thinness. (*Note: Dough may still be a bit sticky, but don’t worry, it will be okay.)

Add toppings of your choice.

Bake until pizza crust is golden and cheese is bubbly — ours took about 17 minutes.

Ready for the oven.

Out of the oven.

cookie bars

When I was growing up, one of my favorite cookies, other than typical chocolate chip cookies, were a version of these. They go by many names, and there are just as many variations.

Today I took a few recipes and fiddled around a bit to make what I like.

One of these recipes that I based these on came from 1994 (the date listed on the recipe found in my recipe binder). The others were found online. One version didn’t have oats. One had more eggs. One used chocolate chips. Two used chocolate candy bars. One used only brown sugar, while the others called for a combination of brown and white sugar. The recipe below is what I actually made, and is a combination of all the recipes I reviewed today.

And … yahoo! … success! They are delicious!

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Cookie Bars

1 cup butter, softened

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 egg yolk

1 cup flour

1 cup oats

1/4 teaspoon salt

4 chocolate bars, broken into small pieces OR 2 cups chocolate chips (*Today I used the chocolate bars.)

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Heat oven to 350F.

In mixer bowl cream butter and sugars.

Add vanilla and egg yolk.

Add combined flour, oats and salt. Mix well.

Spread into a 9×13 pan either ungreased, lined with parchment paper, or lined with a silicone baking mat.

Bake for 25 minutes. (Depending on your oven, it may take up to 30 minutes, but be careful not to over bake!!!)

Remove from oven and distribute chocolate on top of warm cookie base.

Turn off oven.

Return pan to oven for 1 or 2 minutes.

Remove from oven and use a spatula to spread the chocolate over the cookie base.

Wait 30 minutes, then cut into bars.