Beer Can Chicken For The Win

This is a very easy Sunday night meal that gives the best leftover chicken for the rest of the week. Cook 2 and your weeknight protein is set.

Beer Can Chicken

(NY Times Recipe)

  • 1 whole chicken, approximately 4 to 5 pounds
  • 4 tablespoons sweet paprika, or mild smoked paprika
  • 2tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon granulated white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon chile de arbol or red-pepper flakes, or to taste
  • 1 can beer, ideally yellow in hue, with the top half consumed or poured off (Tecate is a great choice)
  • Barbecue sauce (see recipe, or use whichever recipe you like), for basting chicken and for serving (optional)

Build a fire in your grill, leaving approximately half the grilling area free of coals. If using a gas grill, turn burners to high and then, when ready to cook, turn off the burner on the side where you will place the chicken. If using an oven, heat to 425 degrees.

Remove neck and giblets from chicken. Rinse the chicken in cold water. Pat dry.

Combine all the spices in a large bowl, then apply the dry rub to the chicken, inside and out.

Put the beer can on a solid surface. Pick up the chicken and, taking a leg in each hand, put the cavity over the can and slide the bird down onto it. Carefully transfer the bird and the can to the cool side of your grill, its back to the fire, balancing the chicken upright and using the legs to support it in this position. If using an oven, place the chicken upright in a roasting pan using the same method and place carefully into the heat.

Cover the grill and cook for approximately 1 1/4 hours, basting with barbecue sauce twice during the final half-hour if you’d like, until the breast meat registers 165 degrees on an instant-read thermometer or until the legs are loose in their sockets. (If you’re using an oven, you can tent the bird with foil after 45 minutes to keep the skin from getting too dark.) De-can and carve.

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Peach Crisp

I’ve made tons of crisps over the years. I’ve done all the berry combinations and have always loved how easy they are to throw together. Then, I had this one. You guys, it is mind blowing good. The peaches with the pecans, not to mention the stick of butter. It is perfectly crispy with warm oooey peaches. You should make this today.

Peach Crisp

Adapted from a recipe found on Pinterest.

Filing

  • 5 cups peeled and sliced peaches (the recipe says thinly but I coined them to be too soft so I fattened up the slices a little)
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Crisp

  • 3/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup flour
  • 2/3 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup unsalted pecan pieces
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Mix the filing ingredients together in one bowl. Add to a 9″ round pie pan.

Mix the crisp ingredients together in a separate bowl. Sprinkle on top of the peach mixture. It’s going to sit really high like a mountain.

Bake on a cookie sheet for 40-45 mins. Let it cool for 20 mins before trying to take a bite. It’s like molten lava underneath.

Enjoy with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top.

Cooking by the Camp Fire

I went all out at this year’s annual 4th o’ July camping trip. No, I didn’t stay up late, hooting and hollering over charades. In fact, I was in bed before the kids most nights. And no, I didn’t start my day with Mary’s and continue with beers/wine until sundown. Rather, I prepped and cooked my toosh off.

I made Jan’s cobbler, fried donut holes, made Schmitty’s chicken and taziki wraps and topped it all off with firepit pizza – which was by far, the biggest success. I’m still craving it.

Next time you go camping or have a craving for delicious cobbler, donuts or pizza, try out these recipes. They were a big hit!

Jan’s cobbler
* 3 cups blackberries (or combo of berries)
* 3/4 cup brown sugar
* 3/4 cup rolled oats
* 1/2 cup flour
* 1/8 cup grated asiago cheese
* 1/2 tsp salt
* 3 oz butter (chilled and cut into 1/4″ bits)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Lightly butter a deep pie dish (or you can double the recipe and use a 9×12 baking dish). Put the berries in the dish. In a separate bowl, mix the next five ingredients. With fingers, squash in the butter with the mixture until its course and crumbly.

Sprinkle the topping over the fruit and bake until top is golden brown and fruit is bubbly.

Let it cool before diving in. This travelled really well in the cooler and tasted great chilled.

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Schmitty’s Chicken Wraps
* 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
* 1/2 cup olive oil
* 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
* 1 TBSP dried oregano
* zest of half a lemon
* pinch of salt and pepper
* 3 garlic cloves minced
* pint of cherry tomatoes, cut in half
* 1/2 red onion, sliced in strips

Wisk everything together in a medium bowl. Reserve half the marinade. Out chicken in a ziplock bag with half the marinade and freeze if you’re going camping.

The night before heading out, put the tomatoes an onions and the other half the marinade in another ziplock bag and leave in the fridge.

Grill off the chicken over the camp fire and serve with wraps, taziki and the marinated tomato mixture.

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Camping Donuts
* 1/2 cup veggie oil
* 1 package of instant biscuits (you know, the kind that pops out of the canister)
* 1/4 cup sugar
* 1/8 cup cinnamon
* 1 brown bag and some paper towels

Put your sugar and cinnamon into the brown paper bag and set aside. Heat up the oil in a frying pan over med/low heat.

Break each biscuit into four pieces and roll into a ball.

Gently drop one hole into the oil. It should create bubbles instantly around the edges. Put the rest of your holes in the oil but don’t crowd the pan. You’ll need room to turn the holes over as they cook.

As soon as they’re golden brown, drain on paper towels and then drop into the paper bag. Give ’em a little shake and then watch them get gobbled up.

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Camp Fire Pizza
* 1 package ready-made pizza dough (you can handmake the dough if you’re motivated, just freeze it for better travel)
* 1 container of marinara (I got the stuff from the refrigerated section)
* 1/2 cup mozerella, 1/4 cup parmesean, 1/4 cup asiago – all grated
* olive oil
* dried oregano
* toppings (we did two pepperonis and one zucchini and summer squash) we obviously tripled the recipe
* disposable grate for grill

Get the coals ready.

Cut up any toppings really thin (they don’t really cook).

Roll out the dough – I just pulled on the sides until it was pretty even and rather thin.

Rub olive oil on one side and place the oiled side down on the disposable grill. Set this on the campfire grate and stand watch. It’ll bubble and get chat marks. It should be done in about 2-5 mins.

Remove from the fire and oil the top side. Flip the pizza and top the recently cooked side with sauce, cheese, toppings and a sprinkle of oregano. Top with a foil tent and place back on the fire. Cook for another 2-5 mins checking the bottom and rotating when necessary.

Pull it from the fire. Cut it up. And wait for the OMGs.

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Orzo Salad

The weather can’t make up its mind. We went from comfort food earlier this week to pasta salad and grilled ribeye last night. And this wonky weather has given the whole family a nasty cold.

I don’t mind either weather type. It’s really this cold that sucks. Who wants a stuffed up nose when all this amazing produce is popping up at the farmers’ markets? I can’t taste a thing!

Well, if you’ll remember from last year’s post about the Summer’s bounty, I live for Sunmer veggies. Heirloom tomatoes kissed by the sun, zucchini and cucumbers and the crunchy, sweet, colorful bells. We haven’t had our first heirloom yet but I couldn’t resist mixing this pasta salad together highlighting the start of our Summer bounty.

And many thanks to my BFF for the salad recipe inspiration years ago during one of our many awesome camping trips. xoxooxox

Orzo Salad
* 1 tomato (if you can get heirloom, do it!), diced
* 1/2 cucumber, diced
* 1/2 red onion, diced
* 1 1/2 cup cooked orzo pasta, cooled
* 1 handful of pitted kalmata olives, sliced
* 1/2 red, yellow or orange bell pepper, diced
* 1/2 zucchini, cut into 4 spears lengthwise and then sliced thinly
* 6-7 leaves of fresh mint, sliced
* 4 leaves if basil, sliced
* 1 handful of crumbled feta
* glug of olive oil and balsamic vinegar (to taste, think like you’re dressing a salad and then add from there)
* pinch of salt and pepper

The key to this recipe is the size of all the veggies and adjusting the oil/vinegar/S&P. Hint: the cucumber and red onion should be little dices no bigger than the orzo.

Now that you have carpel tunnel syndrome from chopping so much. Mix everything together and put it in the fridge to cool.

Enjoy with a grilled steak for an easy (well besides all the dicing) Summer meal.

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Mexi Pie

This is a dish with a lot of memories. My Mom used to make this pretty regularly and taught me to make it by the time I was a tween. It’s soooooo simple and easy-peasey. As long as you’ve got a good can-opener, this dish could be made in 10 mins or less.

I know, I know, I said can-opener. I usually try to stay away from that tool but this dish is worth the extra sodium. Just keep it for special occasions, like a Monday!

Note: it is so much better the next day. So make extra.

Mexi Pie
adapted to be a little healthier than Mom’s recipe

* 1/2 can of black beans
* 1 Tbsp cumin powder
* 1/2 tsp salt and pepper
* 1/4 tsp chili powder
(Above ingredients replaced 1 can no-beans Hormel chili in Mom’s recipe)
* 1 can cream of mushroom soup
* 1/2 can of chicken stock
* 1/2 rotisserie chicken (or 2 “Dolly Parton” sized chicken breasts – as Mom would say, boiled)
* 1 can of diced green chilies (tiny can)
* corn tortillas
* flour tortillas
* shredded Mexican cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, mix first six ingredients. Shred the chicken. Slice the tortillas into 4″ wide strips.

Put a row of corn tortillas into a pie dish. Then a row of flour tortillas. Put half your shredded chicken then half your wet ingredients in a layer. Add a bit of cheese. Repeat, finishing with a lot of cheese (I didn’t put cheese on my half and it was still delicious). Cover with foil and cook for 30-45 mins. It’ll be bubbling. Let it sit, uncovered to thicken for 15 mins before serving.

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And remember to save some for the next day. The tortillas soak up the flavors and its delicious pan fried like this.

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Serve with avocado, cilantro and sour cream.

Enjoy!

Homemade Ricotta

I love making this cheese because it makes me feel like an accomplished homesteader. Something about a basic ingredient being elevated into something new makes me feel like I’ve achieved the impossible. It also stirs visions of life among cloth covered wagons and tipi living (I’m part New American and part Native American).

The act of turning milks into cheeses and preserving fruits, veggies and meats is so simple and basic and it feels so “right”. I know, we now have the convenience of stores where you can buy this stuff already made. And refrigeration has nearly obliterated preserved foods from our diet leaving only meager snack foods like dried fruits in trail mixes, or wasabi peas at bars, beef jerky on camping trips, or jam in our PB&Js.

Forget these conveniences and give it a try. Turn back the clock (heck, break the clock) and take some time to do a task our ancestors have done for centuries. Make some cheese. Dry some apples. Can some tomatoes. They will be better than any store bought option, I promise!

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homemade ricotta
Adapted from a recipe from smitten kitchen.com

• 3 cups goat milk
• 1 cup heavy cream
• 1 tsp sea salt
• 3 TBS fresh squeezed lemon juice

Combine the milk, cream and salt into a pot and heat the milk to 190 degrees on medium low heat. I bought a candy thermometer just for this recipe. Be sure not to burn the bottom by stirring often. I use a wooden spoon. Definitely don’t walk away from the pot. It’ll go quickly.

Turn off the heat and add the lemon juice, then stir it once or twice, gently and slowly. Let the pot sit undisturbed for 5 minutes.

Line a colander with a few layers of cheesecloth and place it over a large bowl (to catch the whey). Pour the curds and whey into the colander and let the curds strain for at least an hour. At an hour, you’ll have a tender, spreadable ricotta. At two hours, it will be spreadable but a bit firmer, almost like cream cheese. (It will firm as it cools, so do not judge its final texture by what you have in your cheesecloth.) Eat the ricotta right away or transfer it to an airtight container and refrigerate until ready to use.

You can keep the whey to lactose ferment things like cabbage into saurcraut. Check out the Nourishing Traditions cookbook for more recipes using whey.

Happy preserving!

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Spinach Dip

To me (and I apologize in advance), Super Bowl Sunday means scrumptious bits and funny commercials.

Our menu today consists of my BFF’s chili recipe, nachos, chicken wings and spinach dip. I’ll post the most important recipe, the chili once I have clearance from my BFF. In the meantime, here’s the spinach dip recipe. Go Niners!!

(BTW: does anyone else remember the 49ers song, “49ers, ha! we’re dynamite!”)

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Spinach Dip

* 1 pkg. Simply Organic Spinach Dip mix OR Knorr Vegetable Soup mix [dry mix]
* 2 cups sour cream
* 1/2 cup mayonnaise
* 10 oz. frozen chopped spinach defrosted
* 2 green onions, finely chopped
* 4 oz. of water chestnuts, drained and diced into tic tac sized pieces

Mix it all together. Pop it into the fridge for at least 30 mins.

Serve with sourdough bread.