Juniper Berry Rub Chicken Roast with Potatoes

A little while ago, my cousin sent me this juniper berry rub. (I’m so lucky to have a cousin that lives in California, although I will feel luckier when she moves back to the east coast.) But it’s nice to get a little bit of California flavor out here on the east coast. This is such a nice spice combination, a little salty, a touch sweet from the juniper and allspice and a hint of citrus. I started using this back in autumn and it made everything extra special but now that the holidays are over and I’m not quite ready, (I’m never ready for the holidays to be over) this juniper berry rub is just the perfect fix for getting a little missed holiday flavor in on a Tuesday night.Enjoy!


  • 2 chicken breasts, skin on, bone-in
  • 3-4 Yukon Gold potatoes, cut-up
  • 1 head of garlic, broken up into cloves
  • 1 cup of water
  • a little olive oil
  • the amazing juniper spice rub

Drizzle a little olive oil in the bottom of a baking pan. Season both sides of the chicken breasts with the spice rub and place in the pan. Spread the potatoes and garlic cloves around the chicken breasts and sprinkle with a little sea salt. Drizzle the pan with a little olive oil and pour the cup of water over the potatoes and garlic cloves. Bake uncovered for about an hour and fifteen minutes at 350 degrees, until the chicken breast are tender and the juices run clear. Check the pan after about an hour for doneness and adjust the baking time as needed. Serves 2-3 with possibly some leftovers to toss into salad the next day.

DSC05173 The amazing spice rub…Be sure to check out their other spice rubs…They look like they will add alot of excitement to any mid-January meal.

A Lucky Bowl of Potatoes

Winter has taken the warmth and all, of any inspiration that I had in the kitchen or any part of the house. It’s been a looong winter…the longest that I can remember. And I’ve slowly been emerging from my hibernation, (which was unintentional.) But sometimes we have to go deep to emerge even brighter and I’m hoping that’s what will happen come spring. Last weekend I went to a gem and mineral show that I go to every year and in years past, they have always warm, sunny, dare I say balmy but not this one. Although the sun was out there was an undertone of chill in the air. And this past week had the same feeling, but who can ignore such a happy-go-lucky day such as St. Patrick’s Day? Full of life with all of the emerald green everywhere, including mashed potatoes this year. Although you may get some disapproving looks from purists, one bite and I’m sure you will have a green mashed potato convert. Have a lucky day!

  • 1&1/2 pounds potatoes peeled and quartered (any kind of potato that you like)
  • 3 cups tightly packed baby spinach, roughly chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup goat milk (I’ve been obsessing over goat milk lately but of course, you can use any kind of milk you like, heavy cream included.)

Boil the potatoes until fork tender in generously salted water. Drain and keep warm. Into the same pot, combine the butter and garlic and lightly saute over low heat, so you don’t burn the garlic. You want it to get nice and lightly golden, so it’s sweet. Low and slow is key here. Once the garlic is just right, add in the potatoes, milk and spinach and roughly mash. Season with salt if needed. Garnish with a lucky four leaf clover made out of spinach leaves for fun. This is nice served for breakfast with buttery over easy eggs. Serves about 4. Enjoy!


Spanish Style Chicken & Beans

Ah…a nice soupy-stew with warm flavors of saffron, garlic and lots of Manzilla olives, nice and salty, lets summer linger on a little longer. This is a flavorful pot of beans to have on the stove to enjoy throughout the weekend. It’s great served piping hot for those cool summer evenings and nice at room temperature for those hot afternoons, especially when thickened a bit. Serve with a full bodied Spanish olive oil to drizzle over your chicken and beans and a bowl of chopped olives and capers, so everyone can top their bowls as they like. Enjoy!

  • 1/2 pound Great Northern Beans, soaked overnight
  • 1 whole chicken breast, bone in, skin on, cut into pieces
  • 1 medium size Russet potato, peeled and diced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small shallot, minced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon tomato paste
  • a few dashes of piri piri hot sauce
  • 4 cups of water
  • generous pinch saffron
  • generous pinch epazote
  • generous pinch ground annatto
  • handful of Manzanilla olives, sliced or halved
  • a few capers
  • sea salt

Heat up the olive oil in a large Dutch oven, until sizzling hot. Season the chicken with sea salt and add to the pot, being careful, as the oil can splatter. Turn the chicken pieces so they lightly brown. Add in the garlic and shallot, giving it a good stir so they turn translucent. It should only take a few minutes. Add in the rest of the ingredients, except for the olives, capers and sea salt and cover. On high heat, bring up to a boil. Once it comes to a boil, lower the heat to a low setting and allow to simmer for about an hour and a half, until the beans are tender, stirring occasionally. If you would like your soup a little thicker, remove the lid and increase the heat, until it thickens. Add in the olives and capers until warmed through. Adjust the seasoning, depending on the saltiness of the olives and capers. Serves 4. Double the recipe if using a pound of beans.

DSC03535/chicken and beans

Blue Potato, Goat Cheese & Lemon Thyme Bake

It’s that time of year where red, white and blue is everywhere with the fourth of July right around the corner. If you aren’t hosting a barbecue, you most likely going to one. And this is a great dish to bring or to have on the table, as it’s tasty at all temperatures. I thought the potatoes came out nice on their own but then I paired them with tomatoes sauteed in butter with slivers of garlic and fresh lemon thyme leaves and then it became extra special. It’s not only nice to have on the fourth, but great for a light lunch with a green salad or part of a brunch…or a midnight night. It’s good at all times…Enjoy!

  • 1 1/4 pounds blue/purple potatoes, thinly sliced
  • 1 1/4 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, thinly sliced
  • 5 oz. creamy goat cheese, crumbled
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup full fat Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 heaping teaspoon lemon thyme leaves plus for garnish
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • sea salt
  • ground black pepper

In a saucepan, combine the goat cheese and heavy cream. On low heat, whisk the cheese and the cream together until blended. It takes about five minutes. Allow the mixture to cool and add in the yogurt, pepper and the lemon thyme leaves. Set aside. In a 8×8 square baking pan, (a heavy bottomed one works best) take a tablespoon of the butter and grease the pan. Begin layering the potatoes, alternating between the gold and the blue, gently salting in between layers. After you have four layers, about half of your potatoes, spread a thin layer of half the cheese and cream mixture on the potatoes, along with the rest of the butter, broken up. Continue layering, topping the potatoes with the cheese and cream mixture. Bake in a pre-heated oven for 1 hour at 375 degrees, until brown on top. Makes 9 squares.

Can you find the spot where I snuck off a perfectly crisp blue potato? I couldn’t resist! (lol)

Cannellini Bean, Potato & Beef Marrow Bowl/Spread

I always thought of beans, potatoes and beef marrow as hearty winter food but if you serve it warm; at room temperature with a green salad on the side, it becomes a nice change from the ordinary warm weather dinner fare. But what’s even more special is the spread version; creamy with the potatoes and beans; super flavorful with the fatty marrow. Serve with salty anchovies and capers on the side for a nice contrast. Mmmm…it’s really so good and a nice addition to your table for a party. Serve with some gluten free crispbread and you have a completely gluten free appetizer. Enjoy!

  • 1&1/2 cups cannellini beans, soaked overnight
  • 2 small Yukon Gold pototoes, diced to about the size of the beans
  • 4 small marrow bones, about an inch thick or a little larger
  • 4 cups water
  • a few allspice berries
  • sea salt
  • anchovies
  • capers
  • olive oil
  • fresh ground black pepper

In a large Dutch oven, combine the beans, potatoes, beef bones, the allspice berries, water and sea salt. Bring to a boil on high heat. Once it is at a rolling boil, lower the heat to low and simmer for about an hour and a half, until the beans are soft and tender. Serve as is at room temperature, (discarding the berries) with a sprinkling of fresh ground black pepper for a meal. (The beef marrow is really flavorful. If you are not a fan of beef marrow, you can always, of course, leave it out.) Or if making the spread, remove the marrow from the bones and let the mixture cool completely. Once cool, remove the allspice berries and puree with a hand immersion blender and serve with anchovies, capers, olive oil and fresh ground black pepper. This is nice, as you can have some for dinner and have the leftovers made into the spread. Makes 5 cups.

This cat has some mind control over me, for sure, as I just can’t get enough of this plate, lol!


Creamy Beet, Potato & Petite Pea Salad

Don’t limit your potato salads to summer barbecues, add in seasonal peas and beets and it puts a nice spin on the humble tuber salad. Yukon Gold potatoes are my favorite potato, golden in color and just deliciously creamy. Last night, I had one right out of the pot, sliced and steamy hot with a little butter and salt. It was so satisfying that I didn’t even need anything else. Sometimes, I just love simple dinners. But today is another day and it’s a salad day! Enjoy your creamy beet, potato and petite pea salad with anything from sauteed portabella mushrooms to grilled fish on the side. Enjoy!

  • a little more than half a pound beets, (about 1 large), cooked until fork tender
  • a little more than half a pound of Yukon Gold potatoes, (about 1 large), cooked until fork tender
  • 1 cup frozen or fresh petite peas, cooked until tender
  • 1 hard-boiled egg, finely minced
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream
  • small handful fresh dill, finely chopped and a little extra reserved for garnish
  • sea salt
  • ground black pepper

Cool all of your ingredients. (I cooked them the night before and let them cool so they are easier to handle.) Cube your beets and potatoes and add in the egg, mayonnaise, heavy cream, dill and seasonings. Taste and adjust the seasonings as needed. Makes 3-4 side salads.

Colcannon with a Sunny-Side Up Egg

So, at the time I didn’t know I was eating a traditional Irish dish. But really, when I think about it, colcannon is sort of like the filling in pierogis. When I was younger, my mom would sometimes make this for dinner on Fridays because it was meatless and would top it with a fried egg. My even more favorite version of this was made on non-Fridays, with chunks of fried slab bacon. (I know, I know…so wrong yet, so right.) As I’ve grown up to make my own variation, I top mine with a sunny-side up egg and the yolk just runs into the natural butteriness of the potatoes (although butter does help the level of butteriness of this dish) and the sweetness of the cabbage. Such great comfort food. This is great for breakfast or dinner. If you like, top the colcannon with crushed potato chips for a little bit of crunch. Enjoy! Happy weekend and St. Patrick’s Day!

  • 1/2 a head of green cabbage, sliced and roughly chopped (about 1&1/4 pounds)
  • 4 Yukon Gold potatoes, (about 1&1/2 pounds) peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 medium onion, sliced (a heaping cup)
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter plus 2 tablespoons
  • 1/2 cup half and half, divided
  • sea salt (obsessed with pink Himalayan sea salt right now.)
  • 4 eggs *optional
  • a handful of kettle cooked potato chips, crushed *optional

In a large Dutch oven, combine the onions and 4 tablespoons of the butter, allow to sweat, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. (If you like your onions a little more caramelized, allow to brown a little more.) Next, add in your cabbage and sea salt. Cover and cook for 40 minutes, stirring occasionally. If it begins to brown, add a little bit of water, about a tablespoon at a time, as needed just to stop the cooking process a bit. The water will evaporate. In the meantime, cook your potatoes until fork tender. Once done, add to your potatoes the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, 1/4 cup of half and half (milk or heavy cream is fine to substitute) and the sea salt. Mash until nice and smooth, although chunks are just fine, if you are in a chunky-mashed-potato-kind-of-mood. Once the cabbage is tender, add in the mashed potatoes and the remaining 1/4 cup of  half and half. Combine well and adjust the seasoning, if needed. If topping with the egg, make the eggs one at a time and keep the colcannon piping hot. Once ready, spread it on a plate and top with the egg and pass around the crushed potato chips. Serves 4.

Potato Cakes

What’s the only thing needed on a snow day? (Besides the more serious essentials, like shovels, snow boots, hats and gloves, etc.) Comforting…carb-loaded potato cakes, with a golden crust to hold in the creamy and warm inside. Did I mention these have bacon in them? I know, the story gets better…I don’t know how this happened but it happened, I found creme fraiche at a health food store on sale! I couldn’t wait to try it in my mashed potatoes and they came out great! The recipe is below for the mashed potatoes I made but if you have a tried-and-true mashed potato recipe, just set aside 2 cups for the potato cakes. For this recipe you’ll need cold mashed potatoes, so leftovers from the fridge are great. Stay warm, happy weekend and enjoy!

  • 1 pound skin-on Yukon Gold potatoes, roughly chopped
  • 1 heaping tablespoon creme fraiche or sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon crumbly Gorgonzola
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • sea salt
  • ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup finely cubed bacon *optional
  • plain or seasoned bread crumbs
  • 1/3 cup flour, sifted
  • canola oil for frying

Cook your potatoes until fork tender, drain and mash in the creme fraiche, cheese, cream, butter. Season with sea salt and ground pepper. Allow to cool and place in the refrigerator. Once you are ready to make your cakes, fry up the bacon in a touch of canola oil, until as crisp as you like. Allow to drain on a paper towel and mix into the mashed potatoes. Add in the flour and combine well. (Depending on the consistency of your mashed potato recipe, you may have to add more flour. They shouldn’t stick to your hands as you roll them.) Form into little balls, (using a cookie dough scoop works great.) and then roll them between your hands to smooth them out. Press the balls into the bread crumbs on both sides, forming little cakes. Heat up the canola oil until hot on medium-high heat in a non-stick skillet. Fry in batches, browning on both sides. About a minute on each side is enough. Drain on paper towels, then move onto a paper bag, so they stay crisp. Serve with sour cream. Makes 22 potato cakes.

Witches’ Roasted Chicken

I love this time of year, where street fairs fill the weekends and there is a touch of mystery of the season, in the air. The leaves were cascading down from their branches and the overcast sky completed the scene as small crowds stopped at booths, that had decorative wooden witches and black cats embroidered on puffy woolen pillows. It was a little quiet this year but it must have been the chill in the air that kept everyone home. I have to admit, it was chilly and used that excuse for a hot cup of snicker doodle flavored coffee. (It was delicious.) And although we enjoyed ourselves, I couldn’t wait to get home and make a nice roasted chicken with fingerling potatoes and earthy shiitake mushrooms. The Halloween spirit got me in the mood to make a chicken that a true witch would approve of! lol The chicken is very juicy as it sits in the buttery porchini broth and gets basted with it and knobby-finger-looking-fingerling potatoes complete the meal! Serve with a red leaf lettuce salad tossed with an olive oil and pear balsamic vinaigrette. I added a touch of truffle oil to make it more special and it was delicious! This serves 4. Enjoy all!

  • 1 5 pound chicken
  • 1 pound fingerling potatoes, halved lengthwise
  • 1/4 pound shiitake mushrooms, halved if too big
  • 4 tablespoons, unsalted butter
  • 1 porchini mushroom bouillon cube
  • 1 cup boiling hot water
  • 6 small garlic cloves, left in skin
  • fresh ground black pepper
  • 4 whole purple basil leaves plus more for garnish, green basil is fine too!

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. With a sharp knife, carefully cut down the back of the chicken, so you are able to open the chicken so it lays flat in the pan. You can cut down the other side and remove the entire back and reserve it for stock, if you like. (I ended up doing that and added cabbage, carrots, beans and scallions and it’s a nice way to start the meal, especially on a chilly autumn day.) If you feel uncomfortable cutting up the chicken, you can always ask the butcher to do it for you. After this last time, I think I’m going to invest in a nice pair of kitchen shears, to make this task easier. Lay your chicken down, skin side up, in a turkey roaster, or any pan big enough to hold the chicken, potatoes and mushrooms in one layer. Surround the chicken with the potatoes and garlic cloves. Dissolve the mushroom bouillon in the hot water and pour over the potatoes and garlic.

Divide 1 tablespoon of the butter into four pieces. Take your 4 basil leaves and stuff one under each of the legs and each of the breasts along with a piece of butter. Take 1 tablespoon and cut into small pieces. Top the chicken with the butter. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of the butter to the potatoes. Place in the oven and roast for 30 minutes. After the 30 minutes, remove the pan and add the mushrooms. Baste the chicken, potatoes and mushrooms with the liquid from the bottom of the pan. Roast for another 30 minutes. After the 30 minutes is up, baste your chicken and vegetables again. Place back in the oven and roast for another 40 minutes. Remove your chicken and let it rest for 5 minutes, covered, before you carve it. (If you want more of a crispy skin, you can place the chicken under the broiler for a few minutes, watching it through the oven window, so it doesn’t burn.) Garnish with some strips of basil. The roasted garlic cloves taste delicious when spread on the potatoes or chicken!

Spanish Style Pork Chops

Smoked Spanish Paprika, what a great spice to have in your cabinet! When I started sauteing the garlic and I added the paprika, it tasted so good, I wanted to just eat it, alone, lol, maybe on crusty bread. And my head started spinning with possible ways to use this spice. This is a new addition to my spice cabinet, that I am really excited about! Once you open the tin, you get a burst of earthy smokiness and a subtle unexpected sweet aroma. This recipe is a little time consuming, so make it when you don’t have to rush or when you have a pair of helping hands in the kitchen. Enjoy with Manchego mashed potatoes to get a little taste of Spain in your kitchen tonight. Enjoy!

For the pork chops you will need:

  • 4 center cut pork chops, about 1 1/4 pounds
  • 1/2 cup plain bread crumbs
  • 1/2 teaspoon Smoked Spanish Paprika, divided
  • 1 teaspoon Vegeta or any all purpose seasoning you like, divided
  • fresh ground black pepper
  • flour for dredging
  • 1-2 eggs
  • canola oil
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 4 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes in juice
  • 1 teaspoon capers
  • 1 heaping tablespoon halved Manzanilla olives

For the Manchego mashed potatoes you will need:

  • 1 1/2 pounds potatoes, roughly chopped, skin left on, cooked until soft
  • 1/4 cup grated Manchego cheese
  • 2 oz. light cream
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • sea salt
  • handful of raw sliced almonds, toasted *optional

Start off my setting up your breading station, having the flour, eggs and bread crumbs on separate plates, with an extra for the breaded chops. To the bread crumbs add 1/4 teaspoon of the paprika, 1/2 teaspoon Vegeta and fresh ground pepper. Adjust the seasoning of the breadcrumbs as needed. In a heavy bottomed pan, heat up the canola oil. Put enough oil in the pan, to fry the pork chops. You want to fry the pork chops on medium heat, until light golden brown on both sides. They will finish cooking in the oven. Once done frying your pork chops, drain on paper towels and set aside. In a heavy bottomed pan, combine 2 tablespoons of olive oil and the minced garlic, 1/4 teaspoon paprika and a few saffron threads. Let the garlic cook on low heat until soft, add in the can of tomatoes, with the juice, 1/2 teaspoon of Vegeta, the capers and the olives. Crush your tomato mixture with a potato masher to break down the tomatoes a little bit. Let this cook for 10 minutes. Place your pork chops down in a single layer, in a 13×9 baking pan. Spoon your tomato mixture over the pork chops and around them evenly. Drizzle a little extra olive oil over the top. Place in a 350 degree preheated oven for 20 minutes. If making the Manchego mashed potatoes to go with your pork chops, you want to put them on the stove the about same time that you start sauteing your garlic. To your cooked potatoes, add the butter, cream, cheese and salt. Mash until combined and creamy and adjust the seasonings as needed. Top with the toasted almond slices and enjoy!