Spatchcockalypse Now!!!


(a spatchcocked chicken preparing to rest)

Actually several hours ago for dinner. Since we’ve not had a recipe post for a while (cough, no pressure TaMara, cough), I’ve broken out the frilly apron, the tiara, and got to work. For dinner tonight I roasted a chicken. Specifically I spatchcocked it. For those not up on all the hip, culinary terms to spatchcock is to butterfly a chicken, game bird, or other type of poultry by removing the backbone and then grilling or roasting it. This is done so that the bird has a more uniform shape and the white meat won’t get dried out while you’re waiting for the dark meat to cook all the way through.

I preheated the over to 500 fahrenheit and cut the backbone out. Then I rubbed it all over with olive oil, then kosher salted, freshly cracked black peppered, and paprikaed liberally. I then placed the chicken onto my broiler pan, which has very nice drainage slits over the foil wrapped bottom catch pan. I inserted my probe cooking thermometer into the meatiest portion of one of the breasts, set the thermometer to go off at 150 degrees fahrenheit, and into the oven it went. You will want to keep an eye on it in case the skin darkens too fast you can lower the oven to 400 degrees, which is what I did with about 15 minutes to go. All told you’re looking at no more than 1 hour cooking time for a 7 lbs chicken.

When the thermometer measured the internal temp at 150 I took it out, put it on the lovely platter above, tented it with foil, and let it rest for ten minutes before slicing. I then finished off preparing the mashed potatoes and the lightly sauteed veggies. After ten minutes I drained the pan drippings/au jus into a gravy cup, sliced the chicken, took some more pictures, and took everything to the table. All in all an easy and tasty Sunday supper!



Open Thread: Trump Thinks E coli Gets Too Much Attention

In a fact sheet posted online Thursday, the campaign highlighted a number of “specific regulations to be eliminated” under the GOP nominee’s economic plan, including what they called the “FDA Food Police.”

“The FDA Food Police, which dictate how the federal government expects farmers to produce fruits and vegetables and even dictates the nutritional content of dog food,” it read…

The fact sheet was later removed from the website and a new fact sheet detailing Trump’s economic agenda did not include mention of the FDA.

The FDA recently completed an overhaul of the food safety system with seven rules to better protect consumers from food-borne illnesses. Manufacturers of both animal and human food are now required to implement preventive controls to minimize the risk of contaminating food when it’s manufactured, processed, packed or held by a facility.

Trump’s economic policy plan also calls for “an immediate halt to new federal regulations and a very thorough agency-level review of previous regulations to see which need to be scrapped.”…

This from a notorious germophobe. Of course, what that ‘float’ was really about is the usual Republican aversion to being “forced” to spend money just to keep other people safe. Because spending a few extra pennies on providing sanitary facilities for those lettuce-pickers is just like being forced to pray to Allah — it’s a religious issue, really!

Standing Up By Sitting Down To Eat: Salsa Justice Warriors Unite!

In response to Marco Gutierrez’s remarks expressing concerns about an invasion of Taco Trucks I decided to strike a blow for Salsa (Verde, also Roja and Crema and guacamole) Justice and went for Mexican food tonight. Never has standing in solidarity, by sitting and eating, tasted so good. Also, the corners of my neighborhood are still clear of taco trucks, so I’m going to keep Balloon Juice set at TacoCon 5 for the time being. So grab your forks my Salsa Justice Warriors and head for the comments – open thread!


(Guacamole Mexicano)


(Beef Tacos)


(El Paso Burrito with Salsa Roja, Crema, and Verde)

Sunday Evening Open Thread

I love to cook, but I don’t usually bake — it requires too much precision. But I made some blueberry scones today that turned out pretty well:


I used a recipe from Epicurious, modified slightly to account for the dearth of Meyer lemons (had to use regular instead).

My kiddo is on a road trip, which makes me nervous as hell. So I’m cooking and baking up a storm as if that will keep the forces of evil luck at bay. It doesn’t make any sense, but it’s that or Xanax.

Next on the menu: fish tacos. What are you up to?

Late Night/Early Morning Open Thread: All You Can Eat Buffet

Thanks to commenter JCJ for the recommendation, here’s the Brook’s Falls live feed bear cam from Katmai National Park in Alaska. So tune in and watch the grizzlies eat all the salmon they can eat!

A Late Night Snack

With TaMara’s move it seems like forever since we’ve had a recipe post. So I’ve broken out the emergency tiara, frilly apron, and matching oven mitts and we’re under way!

We’re keeping it light tonight because of the summer heat. First up is a broccoli quiche.


And here’s the recipe:


1 9 inch pie crust

5 eggs

1 ½ cups 1 % milk

2 cups of shredded cheese (officially the recipe calls for Swiss, but I like to use the six cheese Mexican blend)

¾ tsp salt

¼ tsp cayenne red pepper

¼ tsp sugar

Broccoli cut into tiny florets

1/3 cup minced scallions

(This is a vegetarian quiche, but if you want to add ham or bacon or crab or shrimp just toss it on in)

Heat oven to 425 degrees, Prepare a nine inch pie crust. Grease a deep pie pan/quiche pan, place the pie crust in it, and crimp the crust.

Sprinkle cheese and broccoli and onion in pastry lined pan. First cover the bottom of the crust with a layer of cheese. Then cover that with the minced scallions. Then cover those with another layer of the shredded cheese. Cover this with the broccoli florets and then a final layer of the shredded cheese. If adding a meat or seafood product, put 1/2 of it with the scallions and 1/2 with the broccoli.

In a separate bowl beat the remaining ingredients together and pour over the quiche filling in the pie pan.

Bake for 15 minutes at 425 degrees. Reduce oven temp to 300 degrees. Bake for 30 min longer or until knife inserted 1 inch from edge comes out clean. Let stand 10 min before cutting.

Next up a cool, refreshing, and simple mixed melon and pineapple salad.


This really doesn’t require much of a recipe. I balled out 1/4 of a watermelon and 1 cantaloupe. I then chunked up one fresh pineapple and mixed it all together. Then into the fridge to chill before serving. I wasn’t going for anything fancy here, but use whatever fruit combinations you like the most.

And for the dessert, something light(er) and summery: Lemon layer cake with lemon buttercream frosting.

Curd_Crumb_Coat Cake_Side Cake_Top

The first picture is of the cake crumb coated with lemon curd. An important note: I did not candy the lemon wedges; they are purely for decoration unless you’re channeling Stonewall Jackson and like sucking on lemon wedges. In which case, knock yourself out, enjoy your forced march up the Shenandoah Valley, and DUCK!!!!

This isn’t my recipe, nor one that I’ve been using for years and don’t remember where I got it. So I’m just going to link to where I got it from rather than post it. It is very, very easy to make. I did not, however, make the cream cheese lemon frosting that is at the link. Instead I just made a basic buttercream and added the zest and juice of one lemon and 1 teaspoon of lemon extract to make a lemon buttercream.

Enjoy and open thread!

Zika-Skeeto-Infested Hellhole (Open Thread)

We went birding this morning but got off to a late start, which is a recurring theme in our birdwatching chronicles. Whose fault is that, I wonder? Hmmm? Hmmmmmm? Anyway, here’s where we set off with our field glasses; it’s a park along the shores of Tampa Bay:

shoreline june 2016

Looks nice, doesn’t it? But in fact it is a zika-skeeto-infested hellhole! We’re used to slathering ourselves in Deep Woods Off and sunscreen before even going out to check the mail, so of course we’d sprayed ourselves down thoroughly. But the mosquitoes were so thirsty for our blood that they dive-bombed our eyeballs and burrowed into our ear canals. Not pleasant.

We didn’t see many birds due to the aforementioned late start and because the tide wasn’t optimal for shorebirds. But we did see this antediluvian critter:

snapping turtle june 2016

I believe it is a snapping turtle. It had just emerged from a weed-choked canal, hence the crap on its shell. We weren’t sure if it was a snapper or an alligator turtle, which looks very similar only with more ridges on the shell. But we decided it was a snapper.

We also saw this lovely pelican flying around hunting for fish:

pelican june 2016

You can always count on pelicans around here. Even if every other bird is hidden away from the heat, the hardy pelican will still be in evidence. Ibises too, but they are as common as pigeons around here, so I didn’t bother taking a picture of those goony birds.

We saw plenty of eagles and ospreys in their nests, but they nest so high up it’s not worth getting a shot unless you have a camera with a telephoto lens. All I had was my iPhone and field glasses, which I used in combination to get a shot of St. Pete across the bay:

st pete june 2016

Yeah, no. That didn’t work too well. Maybe someday I’ll get an actual camera. But with that, we beat a hasty retreat, down approximately a pint of blood each thanks to the relentless mosquitoes.

Now I’m figuring out the order in which I will run a bunch of errands and generally procrastinating on cleaning the house. I’ve got a houseful of people coming over tomorrow to celebrate three things at once: Father’s Day, our daughter’s graduation from high school and the annual summer departure of the snowbird relatives.

I’m planning to make ropa vieja and yellow rice since it’s the sort of thing that holds up well when people are showing up at unpredictable times, and it doesn’t require use of the oven — it’s too goddamned hot to use the oven!

I will also make a key lime pie since that is my hubby’s favorite dessert and perhaps roasted shrimp cocktail, plus a big old salad. What are you up to today?