Roasted Root Veggies

This a classic common sense recipe. By that I mean, there really isn’t a recipe and you should probably learn this and add it to your portfolio of skills. It’s easy, delicious and can be adjusted to match many meals.

It’s perfect for daily dinners or if you splurge on some multi-colored carrots it can be fancy enough for gatherings and holiday dinners. I love drizzling this with some balsamic glaze or throwing a handful of leftover veggies on a salad the next day for lunch.

I’ve included rough ingredient estimates because I don’t think I’ve ever measured them.


  • Ingredients:
    • 4ish cups root veggies: carrots, sweet potatoes, red, yellow, purple potatoes, etc.
    • 2-4 tbsp olive oil
    • salt
    • pepper
  • Directions:
    1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
    2. Chop your veggies into 1-2 inch cubes/chunks.
      • Note: The smaller you cut, the faster they cook. If I’m in a big hurry, I chop them tiny to cut the cooking time down as much as possible.
    3. Toss the veggies with the olive oil, salt, pepper, and any additional spices you want.
    4. Spread them out on a lined baking sheet and bake 25-35 minutes,
      • Note: You’re looking for the insides to be soft when poked with a fork and outsides that are slightly shriveled/crisped.
  • Alternate variations:
    • mix it up with some different combos.
      • garlic powder and smoked paprika
      • rosemary and basil
      • apples and onion
      • lemon pepper and chives
      • cayenne and chili powder
      • add some sausage straight to the pan and make it a full pan dinner
      • the variations are endless, go crazy with them!

 

Prost! Mahlzeit!
Esther

Roasted Chicken

Everyone should know how to roast a chicken.

This is a staple of good home cooking and the base of so many good meals. I use my leftover roasted chicken for curry and use the carcass for homemade chicken bone broth. You can get at least 3 meals out of one whole chicken, which is incredible.

We thought we’d create a super-simple recipe for you all, just so you get the basics down. Once you’ve tried one flavor combination, you can try many more and just find one that fits your kitchen and your tastes. We like garlic and garlic and vampire kryptonite here so obvs that’s in our recipe. If that’s not your jam, sorry ’bout it and find another food blerg to read. (actually plz don’t – stay and be our friend).

Make sure you leave yourself enough time to roast the chicken, about 2 hours, and enough time to let it rest before serving it. I baked mine in my blue Le Creuset, which is just so pretty that you can even use it as a serving dish as well. If you have leftovers, just pop the lid on and put the whole thing in the fridge. Remember to cool it down, ya dingbat!

Ingredients:

  • 1 3lbs chicken
  • 1 stick butter, room temperature
  • fresh rosemary sprigs
  • 1 lemon, halved or quartered
  • 1 head of garlic (not a clove, folks, this is serious business)
  • twine or unflavored dental floss (to tie the chicken legs together)

Preheat your oven to 450. Make sure you dry the chicken well with a paper towel. Dry chicken skin = crispy chicken skin, and who doesn’t want that?

Next, place the chicken in your baking dish, whether that be a Le Creuset or a roasting dish. Make sure you place it breast-side-up. Rub the butter underneath the skin of the chicken. We have pictures of this, but it looks like I’m man-handling the chicken and that’s just not a good look for us. (NB: If raw chicken grosses you out, please, please talk to someone about it. You can’t live that way forever.) This recipe calls for kind of a lot of butter, but I don’t think butter has ever made anything worse, so use it all. Once you get all the butter you can under the skin, use what you have left inside the cavity of the chicken and on the legs and the back.

Fill the cavity of the chicken with rosemary sprigs, lemon slices, and garlic. With the garlic, I just slice the whole thing in half width-wise. You can also crush all of the garlic cloves for a bolder garlic flavor.

Place the chicken in the oven with the cover or tin foil on it for the next hour. Make sure you check on it every 15 minutes and spoon the melted butter and rendering chicken fat over the top of the chicken. Remove the lid or tin foil for the second hour and keep checking on it. Your chicken will be done when the skin is brown and crispy and the juice runs clear when you slice into it. The chicken in the feature picture isn’t actually cooked all the way – we were running out of daylight and oh wow you already stopped caring, didn’t you.

Serve with roasted veggies, salad, and a good, oaky chardonnay for a hearty dinner.

Egészségedre!

Hannah

Friday Faves: Trader Joes (Christmas edition)

Over here at CSK, we really love Trader Joe’s. From the prices to the variety of items, it just doesn’t get any better. During the holidays it can be hard to find the time to figure out decorations, make cookies, etc. so we thought we’d share some of our favorite Trader Joe’s shortcuts.

  1. Pie crust
    • Making your own pie crust is (though worthwhile) very time-consuming and most pre-made pic crusts taste like all the preservatives they have in them. But let us sing the song of the Trader Joe’s premade pie crust. They’re flaky; they’re subtly sweet; they’re crumbly. It’s the perfect “buttery flaky crust.” (Anyone? Anyone?).
    • Tip: make sure you roll it out yourself to make it a little thinner. These pie crusts can be pretty overwhelming to a galette or a two-crust pie if you don’t thin them.
  2. Macarons
    • As we said, who has time to make fancy desserts for all the Christmas parties? Not us. But thankfully ol’ faithful TJ’s has so many great premade desserts. These are one of Essie’s all-time favorites.
  3. Veggies & Greens Salad Mix
    1. We love all of their salad mixes, tbh, but this one takes the cake. The crunchy veggies with the sweetness of the dried pear and the saltiness of the pistachios is a combination worth fighting for. And don’t get us started on the honey-ginger dressing. We also like to add a little sharp cheddar crumbled on top for an extra boost of protein.
  4. 3-Cream Brie
    • Good cheese can be SO expensive. We used to groan when we saw photos of beautiful charcuterie boards, because we knew it’d be around $50 to make even the smallest one. Not so, thanks to TJ! You can get this creamy, sexy brie for so cheap. Grab a baguette and some dry Italian salami and it’s the prettiest little appetizer you’ve ever seen.
  5. Eucalyptus
    • Balsam is great. We love evergreens, really we do, but sometimes you just want something a little different for your Christmas wreath or centerpiece. TJ’s has beautiful eucalyptus for cheap and when combined with a sprig of red berries it looks delicately festive.
  6. Chocolate Mousse Cake
    • Really this should read: CHOCOLATE MOUSSE CAKE. CHOCOLATE. MOUSSE. Want us to say it one more time? No? Ah, ok. We can chill. But really, we don’t think this one needs any explanation.

There you have it: our top six favorite shortcuts for this month. What are your favorites?

Happy cooking!

-Essie + Hannah

 

 

 

Kinderpunsch on St. Nikolaus Day

Happy St. Nikolaus Day!

St. Nikolaus and I had a rocky start to our friendship. In southern German and Austrian homes, St. Nikolaus comes for a visit, bringing gifts in exchange for songs and kisses.

My first encounter with him at our door was when I was two. My poor father, who was in fact the man underneath the St. Nikolaus costume, still tells the story about how “pure terror” filled little Essie’s eyes when he came in the door. Even with his fake white beard removed, this is still the best picture my mom was able to snap:

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In case you’re worried I always rewarded my parents’ efforts to create special traditions and memories for their children with fear and ingratitude, I offer these pictures that later years were more successful and smile-filled:

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However, since I don’t live with my parents anymore and I have yet to convince Dave, my husband, to dress up as an Armenian Bishop, our St. Nikolaus Day celebration will be more low key. It’ll include some popcorn, Kinderpunsch, and cozy Advent candles.

Kinderpunsch is a hot beverage served in steaming mugs at German and Austrian Christmas markets. This non-alcoholic alternative to Glühwein is a mixture of cider, juice and tea.

Three years ago, Dave and I spent Christmas overseas with my Austrian relatives and visited as many of the markets as possible. We made a point to buy a Punsch at each one and kept the mugs as souvenir. Every Advent I love unpacking our little mug collection and making this Kinderpunsch recipe as a cozy tradition.


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  • Ingredients:
    • 1 cup orange juice
    • 1 cup apple cider
    • 1 cup water
    • 1 cinnamon stick
    • 1 bag hibiscus tea
    • 1/2 tbsp honey
  • Instructions:
    1. Heat juice, cider, water and cinnamon to a simmer.
    2. Add tea bags for 2-3 minutes.
    3. Remove tea bags.
    4. Add honey.
    5. Allow to simmer for at least 10 minutes. You can just keep it on the stove quietly simmering while it fills your home with amazing smells.
    6. To serve, fill into cozy Christmas mugs and sip with loved ones, preferably with a lit candle or two or ten.
  • Serves: 2 (I highly recommend tripling or quadrupling this in a huge vat and enjoying it every evening this week)

Prost!

Essie

 

Chicken Curry

We tried Whole30. Really, we did. It ended with a wimper, not a bang, at day 6 as I realized on a bench in Monterey, CA that we couldn’t eat at any of the restaurants in the area. (ok ok maybe we could have, but I didn’t have enough blood sugar to figure out which ones had food we could eat and which ones didn’t.) So Whole6, it is. Bless all you people who actually manage to get through those 30 days. (I did come to many realizations during these fated Whole6 – we hardly ever eat enough veggies and my default is pasta dishes.) In all my recipe research for Whole30, one of the meals people kept talking about on Whole30 was CURRY.

I love curry. Any kind of curry. I will sweat and cry through it because it’s just so good and my spice tolerance is just that bad. During these days of Whole6 I was determined to make a good curry, with whatever we were allowed to have, and thus was this curry recipe born. The first time I made it, I didn’t understand the conversions from grams to teaspoons, so I added almost half the jar. My husband sat across from me laughing as I cried my way through that bowl of curry. (His spice tolerance is significantly higher than mine.)

First, you’ve got to find a curry paste you like – I can’t do a *ton* of spice, but I do like a little heat in my curry, so I went with the Yellow Curry Paste from Mae Ploy, which we found at our local Safeway. It has no weird additives or preservatives or MSG, so it’s my jam. And the taste is fantastic. Try to find one that was made with kaffir leaves – it makes a world of difference in the taste. (There was a little diner in my college town that served – and still serves – the best curry I know, so this recipe is inspired by that).

Here are the ingredients (because I used yellow curry paste, I thought I might as well use ingredients that are largely yellow, but you can add pretty much any veggies and it’ll probably by good. I’m going to try adding green beans this week):

  • 2 cans coconut cream (you can also use canned coconut milk — I like the texture of the cream better)
  • 1 C chicken stock
  • 3 red potatoes, chopped
  • 5 small carrots, chopped (don’t peel them!)
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp of fresh ginger, grated (you can use more… I’m a total sucker for fresh ginger so I over-ginger it. This is me being temperate)
  • 2 tsp Mae Ploy Yellow Curry Paste (or another curry paste of your choice)
  • 2 1/2 cups shredded chicken
  • 2 C fresh spinach
  • Jasmine rice, for serving
  • Peanuts (optional)

**I haven’t actually measured anything before, so this is my best guesstimate. Essie and I really like emphasizing cooking by instinct here, so just go with your gut. If your gut lies to you, don’t blame me. You figure out what amount of each item you want in your curry – just make sure you give it time to cook. If it’s over cooked, that’s ok! Trying again is always a good thing.

Start with a deep pan (I use my Le Creuset, but you can use a deep pot or a really big frying pan) – add enough olive oil to grease the pan. Add diced yellow onion, minced garlic, and grated fresh ginger. The fresh ginger here is key — the dried stuff just doesn’t have the same kind of sweetness or spice to it. Cook until the onions are soft, but not brown. If you see or smell that the garlic is burning, turn down the heat and move your pan off the burner for a bit. You can slow down the cooking of it simply by moving the pan off the heat.

Add in diced carrots (I use the organic rainbow carrots from Trader Joe’s because they’ve got just such good flavor in them) and diced potatoes. About the not peeling them note above: peeling carrots takes away all of their natural sweetness. Make sure you scrub them really well so most of the dirt in the wrinkles is gone, but do.not.peel.them. Cook until they start to soften. Add in 2 tsp of the curry paste and stir until everything is thoroughly coated.

Add 1 C of chicken stock and 2 cans of coconut cream. Salt to taste. Add in shredded, cooked chicken. (When I make roasted chicken or am making chicken stock, I keep the chicken from that for meals like this. You can also just use an unseasoned/lightly seasoned rotisserie chicken). Add in 2 handfuls (or more!) of fresh spinach and let it wilt (alternate between covering the pan and stirring it into the curry).

Simmer on low until potatoes are soft. Serve over Jasmine rice & garnish with peanuts for some extra crunch.

I’d love your feedback your curry adventures!

Egészségedre!

Hannah

Friday Faves: Christmas Decor

Happy Friday!

Have you decked your halls? Hung your mistletoe? Filled every nook and cranny of your home with cheer and joy?

Oh no? Don’t worry, neither have we. Hannah is still living in an Airbnb and Essie hasn’t done anything other than put candles everywhere. It’s ok, decorations are meant to bring joy and not stress. Let them happen organically, as time and inspiration find you.

We enjoy simple, homemade decor, especially if the ingredients are cheap and already in our kitchens. Here are two of our favorites!


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Essie: Cinnamon Ornaments

Ingredients:

    • 1 cup of applesauce
    • 1 1/2 cups cinnamon
    • 1 tbsp cloves (optional)

Directions:

  1. Mix applesauce with cup of cinnamon and cloves in kitchen mixer. Slowly add additional cinnamon as mixer continues to mix. It should leave the sides of the bowl and become a nice ball of dough. If it looks too wet, add more cinnamon. Too dry, add more applesauce.
  2. Spread parchment paper on cookie sheets.
  3. Sprinkle cinnamon like you would flour on your surface. Roll out the dough until it is 1/8-1/4 inch thick.
  4. Cut various shapes out with cookie cutters and use a tooth pick or straw to make holes for stringing.
  5. Preheat your oven to 200 degrees. Bake for 1.5-2 hours. Turn off your oven and allow to continue drying overnight. They should be completely dry and rock hard, otherwise put them back in the oven and give them more dry time.
  6. Thread a string through the holes, hot glue onto ribbon or just hold them up to your nose and sniff the lovely cinnamony scent.

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Hannah: Dried Oranges

So, I made these for the first time last year, inspired by my friend Libby, who lived in Germany at the time. She had decorated her beautiful evergreen tree with dried oranges and combined with the lights on the tree they look like tiny stained glass windows. I loved how festive and simple they are so it’ll be a returning decoration for our home

“Ingredients”:

    • 3 or so oranges
    • thin string
    • a tapestry needle
    • parchment paper
    • a baking sheet.

Slice your oranges into slices that are about 1/8″ thick. You want them to be thin enough that they dry in the oven, but not so thin that they’re very brittle and break.

Lay the orange slices on parchment paper on the baking sheet and bake them at the lowest temperature your oven has. Libby set hers at 100, but my parents’ oven didn’t go lower than 180, which worked just fine. Bake them until they’re dry and stiff. When I made them they were still fairly sticky and pliable. This could take quite a few hours, so pop them in while you’re doing other stuff and come back to it!

Thread your tapestry needle with the string and weave the thread through the top of the orange slice so it hangs flat. If you just thread it through once, the oranges will face to the side, which is a very different look. The stickiness of the oranges should hold them in place fairly well so you don’t have to knot the string or anything to keep them from sliding to the middle when you hang them on your mantle. If you hang them on your tree, simply thread it through the top of the orange and tie it off like a little ornament.


Tag @commonsensekitchen on the socials to give us a peek at your kitchen crafting adventures. Happy decorating!

Hannah & Essie

Apple Crisp

Just a month ago, we were drowning under one of Michigan’s biggest apple crops. My mother sent me home with buckets and buckets from her tree. We made more apple sauce, pies and crisps than we could possibly eat. We may have even been a little sick of apples, though we didn’t want to admit it because they were so good.

Finally, we threw out hands up in the air and just started freezing them. My mom has one of those handy dandy peelers that does it all for you. We’d get them all peeled, cored, and cut, stick them in bags and freeze them. This is by far my new favorite way to process fall apples. It’s been so nice to grab a bag or two and make baked apple goodies whenever I want.

Seasonal cooking means we use what currently grows and is ripe. However, we also put away some of that bounty to enjoy later. This apple crisp is ideal for apples that aren’t perfect or pretty to look at, like previously frozen ones, seconds or just a little older.

I’ve been perfecting this recipe all fall, so it truly is the best. All goopy and bubbly and just the right amount of sweetness without overshadowing apples’ natural flavor.


  •  Ingredients:
    • Crumb topping:
      • 1/4 cup flour
      • 1/2 cup old fashioned oats
      • 1/4 cup sugar
      • 1/2 tsp baking powder
      • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
      • 1/3 cup butter diced into small chunks
    • Apple filling:
      • 4-6 cups apples, peeled and cut
      • 4 tbsp butter
      • 1 tbsp flour
      • 1 tbsp lemon juice
      • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
      • 1/4 cup sugar
      • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • Directions:
    1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
    2. Sift together all crumb topping ingredients except butter until well mixed.
    3. Add butter and incorporate with hands or fork until crumbly. Set aside.
    4. To make the filling, melt the butter in a saucepan or in the microwave.
    5. Add the flour, lemon juice, vanilla, sugar and cinnamon. Mix well.
    6. Pour over the apples and stir until the apples are well covered.
    7. Dump apples into a baking dish (pie plate, 8×8, etc).
    8. Crumble the topping over it.
    9. Bake for 30-45 minutes, until apples are bubbly and topping is toasty.

Mahlzeit!

Essie