Wednesday, July 30, 2008

What's For Dinner: Roasted Chicken and Vegetable Gratin

Today my hands are fragrant with lemon, rosemary and garlic.

Summer Vegetable Gratin

Lemon and Rosemary Chicken

I was giving Dad's new ovens a workout. I made the chicken in the Convection oven and the Gratin using the convection setting in the Microwave/Convection Oven.
I spent most of the day in the kitchen but everyone agreed that the results were well worth it.

The Summer Vegetable Gratin is a recipe out of Cook's Illustrated Magazine (the people who do the America's Test Kitchen TV show.) It has a lot of steps and a lot of prep but it is really something special when you eat it. (As of now this link leads to a video showing how to make the Gratin - no telling how long they will let the link stay active)

The Lemon and Rosemary Chicken is an adaptation of a recipe from my Pampered Chef days. I think I have really improved upon it! I used an upright chicken roaster that has a well for liquids which we use for making Beer Can Chicken on the grill. The roaster is ideal for a Convection oven because it stands up the chicken allowing the air to circulate over all surfaces of the chicken and it has a well you can fill (with lemon juice in this case) which will steam the chicken form the inside, keeping it moist and juicy. It also has a kind of bowl at the bottom of it which catches all the juices as the chicken roasts so it doesn't drip down into the oven. Click Here for Weber Poultry Roaster & photo.... I used the thermometer probe that hooks into the oven, but at home I use a prober thermometer which has a long wire that runs out of the oven to a little timer/controler that beeps to alert me when the meat has reached its target temperature. It's great becuase you don't have to keep peeking at the chicken or taking it out of the oven to take its temperature.

Lemon and Rosemary Chicken

1 broiler/roaster whole chicken (3 - 5 pounds)
2 Tbs. Salt
3 Garlic Cloves, pressed or minced
3 Tbs. Rosemary, minced (I used fresh from the garden)
2 Lemons
Olive Oil

Zest 2 lemons, reserve lemons. To make the rub, combine lemon zest, salt, garlic, and rosemary in a small mixing bowl. If using upright chicken roaster with a well, juice the lemon and put lemon juice in the well.
Remove "extras" from chicken cavity and discard. Wash chicken and pat dry with paper towels. Use scissors to trim away any excessive flaps of skin.

Rub some of the salt rub inside the cavity of the chicken and place it on the roaster. Slip one or two fingers between the skin and the breast of the chicken wiggle and sweep your finger to loosen the skin so that you can get some of the salt rub under the skin. Repeat for the left and right side of the breast and also on the back of the chicken. Drizzle the chicken with olive oil and rub it in. Next rub the salt rub all over the outside of the chicken. If using the upright chicken roaster with a well, place the "cap" on top of the bird to prevent steam escaping from the hole at the top of the bird.

Preheat oven to 350 and roast until a thermometer inserted into the thigh of the chicken (without hitting the bone) registers 170-180 degrees F. Let the chicken rest for at least 10 minutes before removing from the roaster and carving. This will allow the juices to redistribute themselves throughout the meat of the bird. If you carve without allowing this rest period the juices will run out all over your cutting board resulting in drier, less flavorful chicken.

Enjoy! - And let me know what you think when you try it.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008


We had an earthquake this morning at about 11:45.

Ethan and I were playing Wii bowling in the TV room at my Dad's house in Villa Park, California where we are visiting for the month. There was a jolt and Brent (my brother) called out "earthquake" from upstairs. I called Ethan to come shelter under a doorway with me. The ground rumbled, then it shook a bit after that. If you've experienced a few earthquakes you'll know that different types of quakes feel different. This one had 3 different types of sensations which I don't remember as being usual (but I HAVE been living in Texas for 7 years so my memory could be fuzzy). It seemed to last longer than usual. In most of my past experiences, by the time you know you're having one, it's over. This one we had time to react and time for me to start giving Ethan some earthquake safety information. My measure of when things had stopped moving was an old oven in the side yard that's waiting to be hauled off that I could see thru the sliding glass door. The microwave on top of it was teetering back and forth. When everything was over, the chandelier in the dining room was still swaying pretty good.

Everything seems fine, as of an hour after the quake I had not yet heard reports of any damage. It was reported as a 5.4 in magnitude on my local TV sat ion which is moderate in strength . The epicenter was in the Chino Hills/Diamond Bar area which is about 20 miles from where we are.

I saw a news report that rides had been shut down at Disneyland (for inspection I would expect) so I am VERY GLAD that we went to Disneyland YESTERDAY instead of today!

I just had another report from Diamond Bar which is pretty much right on top of the epicenter. At the house with the treehouse from my post High In The Treetops ... drawers were open and pictures were crooked, a clock had fallen off the wall and a candleholder fell from the mantle and broke, but no serious or structural damage could be seen.

For more about the Richter Magnitude Scale and other earthquake information, follow the link:

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

What's For Dinner!


What's For Dinner: BLT Pasta

Last night I made BLT Pasta for dinner. In this instance BLT stands for Bacon, Leek, and Tomato. Bacon leek and tomatoes are cooked together in a skillet, you make a cheese sauce with Gruyere cheese, mix it all together with elbow macaroni in a baking dish, top it with bread crumbs and zap it under the broiler. It was delicious.
It is from Rachael Ray's Cookbook 365: No Repeats. I love this cookbook, it is the one I seem to be cooking out of the most on a day-to-day basis.

Here is a link to the recipe online.
Click Here for BLT (Bacon, Leek and Tomato) Pasta recipe.

Monday, July 21, 2008

A Disney Day

We met Heather in front of the "L" in California adventure. Ethan had a great time playing on the letters. The Green Army Men from the Toy Story movies were quite entertaining.

No trip to Disneyland is complete without a trip to Mickey's House to meet Mickey. The line was long, and there was crankiness, but once he got in to see Mickey Ethan was all smiles.

After riding Buzz Lightyear's Astro Blasters (an interractive electronic shooting gallery ride/game) Ethan was begging for a blaster like the one in the ride. Since this was the second year he begged for it, I got him one.

This little boy was behind us in line at the shop and he and Ethan had a pretend shoot-out in front of the store with their new blasters. Later in the day when we were in Toontown - the little boy recognized Ethan and they had Round II of their shootout. I think we accidentally left the blaster at Papa's house. The noise it makes is VERY annoying and I think Uncle Brent finally hid it from him.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Fire Pit Fun

Sunday, July 20 2008.
Ethan had a wonderful time chasing bubbles. He would much rather chase and destroy than create. We roasted hot dogs and marshmallows and made s'mores. After Dark we played the alphabet game.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Together Again

July 19, 2008
Robert was able to fly to California and spend the weekend with us. It was such a treat to have the family together if only for a few days. We went Hiking at Oak Canyon Nature Center in Anaheim Hills.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Laguna Beach, California

Saturday July 12 Laguna Beach, California. We could not have had a more beautiful day for the beach. After climbing all over the rocks at the tide pools Ethan was ready to play in the water.

He had a great time watching the surf come in and out with Papa. He jumped and giggled, running in and out of the water. We built a mound of sand with a moat and waited for a big wave to come up and sweep it away.

Papa let the waves bury his feet; Ethan wanted to stay until Papa's feet were deep enough that he and Papa would be the same height.

Later that day we went swimming, then we took the Trolley up PCH and had dinner at Sapphire

We walked back along the boardwalk and noted how the waves sound different after dark. There were so many things to see on the dark ocean; waves crashing blue in the darkness and the moon shimmer on the water. Up stairs and cliff paths we made our winding way stopping to look at the waves and the water, the moon and the rocks from different vistas along the way. Worn out from a day of activity and salt air, Ethan fell asleep on the drive home thru the canyon. Over breakfast the next morning he said it was a day he would remember for the rest of his life.

More About Dining at Sapphire Laguna, CA

Their food is described as "Comfort food inspired by cuisines from around the world..." I didn't know what that meant BEFORE dining at sapphire but after having experienced it, I would say that is an accurate description. The menu was more expensive than what I am used to with most entrees in the $30 price range, but I felt it was more than appropriate for the caliber of food.

I had the Onion Dusted Lamb Sirloin with Bleu Cheese Gnocchi, Rapini, Tomato Basil-Olive Jus. This was the most delicious lamb I have ever had, I could never have imagined how olives could go with this dish but it was wonderful. Dad had Grilled Berkshire Pork Porterhouse with a Casserole of Black Eyed Peas and Cabbage, Apple Gravy. Debbie had Pan-Seared Beef Tenderloin & Lobster Ravioli with Creamed Spinach, Wild Mushroom Ragout, Chervil Butter. I had a taste of both the pork and the beef tenderloin... everything was excellent but I would have to say that the tenderloin was the most delicious and and taken in combination with the fantastic sides paired with it, I think it was the best dish on the table. (Ethan had Fried Chicken and shoestring Fries from the kids menu) The food was impeccable! It was food like the amazing imaginative things you see on a show like Iron Chef America with unusual combinations, uncommon ingredients, and artistic presentation. It was a unique and memorable experience. I wold love to go back and try the Chicken Pot Pie. The desserts and salads we saw at other tables looked fantastic so I'm hoping to get back sometime and try some of those.

Reservations are required, we had the extreme good fortune to get in on a cancellation. I think my first choice for seating would be on the inviting patio. The dinning room was very Laguna, eclectic with handcrafted blown glass lighting fixtures, elegant comfortable seating around large round tables and many interesting details to take in, one wall had a basket weave texture to it our table conjectured that perhaps the wood on that wall was salvaged from barrels or casks. The dinning room was noisy but in a bustling comfortable way, I did not feel at all anxious about having my 9-year old with us and there were many children present. This isn't one of those fancy restaurants where you have to talk in hushed voices and worry about using the correct fork. The menu is available online and does list prices so you can see what you are getting into.

200 South Coast Hwy
Laguna Beach, CA 92651
Sapphire Laguna: 949-715-9888

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

What's For Dinner: Broccoli, Ham and Potato Casserole

This casserole is hearty and yummy. It was so good that I made it again a few nights later as a broccoli side dish omitting the ham and potatoes. It's nice to find a casserole that does well with fresh broccoli florets instead of frozen chopped. It got the thumbs up from my 9-year old.

I got the recipe out of a back issue of Paula Deen Magazine but I don't have that with me here in California. I found the same recipe online on a website for Smithfield ham.

Click Here for the recipe  I make mine with only 3 diced potatoes (instead of 4) and 3 heads of fresh broccoli as per the magazine version.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Rustic Trail Park Scrapbook Pages

Click Photos for Larger View
Click Here to see the other set of pages from this same day.

I love these papers (Rustic Trail by CTMH), they are so perfect for all the things that little boys love to do! The quote says "To touch the earth is to be in harmony with nature." The quote seemed perfect for the day. Ethan, like most boys, is nearly always in the dirt... he loves to pick up sticks and rocks and bits of mulch, he collects them like little treasures. These photos are from quite a few years back and I get so nostalgic seeing his younger self struggling to carry his backpack across the grass. It was such a stab at independence for him back then. How they grow!

I always try to lead the eye through the page, usually when I have a page where "something just doesn't feel right" it ends up the problem is that the eye does not know where to go. I try to make a smooth path the your eye will follow without your having to think about it. In this layout whether your are drawn to the deep cocoa color or the brighter Dutch Blue you will be led to look at all the photos on the page. Although very simple I am particularly pleased with the way these pages came out, they seemed to me to have good balance. Balance of color, balance of warmth and cool, and balance so that the page elements do not overshadow the photos.

All Products by CTMH. The page concept is "Abstract" from the book Cherish from Close To My Heart. Colors are: Bamboo, Dutch Blue, Olive, and Cocoa. Stamps: Back to Nature

Friday, July 4, 2008

Paper Bag Album

In honor of the 4th I thought I would share a paper bag album that I made. This album is made using 3 paper lunch sacks.

I did a lot of distressing with sanding and rubbing an ink pad directly on the paper. I did not use any patterned papers just solid colored cardstock. The stripe and star patterns are also stamps from the stamp set.

Stamps by CTMH: Spirit of '76 (retired) and Snap Crackle Pop!(retired)
Colors used: Outdoor Denim, Cranberry, Sunny Yellow

Click Here for Paper Bag Album Instructions.

High in the Treetops

On July 4th Ethan got to explore a backyard treehouse.
Here you can see how high up on the hill it is.

It's a long way down to the house (this picture is taken from the
BASE of the tree not up in the treehouse.)
Next he learned how to feed Shelly.

Shelly loves cactus.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Life's A Jungle Card

This little card is great for many occasions such as a forgotten birthday, for a child, "Never forget how much I love you." A thank you, "I'll always remember what a great time we had. Thanks for a memorable day!" As a reminder of how much you care, "Remember, I'm always thinking of you."

The elephant was stamped in Grey Wool and colored with chalk on a tag made from white, textured card stock. I sponged the edge of the tag with Grey Flannel Ink to soften the edges. The grey card stock was sanded to reveal the white core. The patterned card stock was created by stamping on colored card stock with ink of the same color (tone-on-tone stamping.)
Colors are Grey Wool, Heavenly Blue, and Sweet Leaf.
All products CTMH

Stamp Sets: Life's A Jungle (July Stamp of the Month) and Autumn Splendor