In the Advent Kitchen -- December 11
Baked Chicken Quarters
Maple Crunch Apples
This really is a dinner you can prepare, put in the oven, and leave to cook while you read the newspaper or even take your evening shower and don your bunny slippers. For a salad, simply toss some lettuce greens of your choice with some tomatoes, onions, and a bit of feta cheese. Add a tablespoon or two of lemon juice, a tablespoon of olive oil, and a grind of lemon pepper, and you have a salad. Steam the green beans—fresh or frozen—in the microwave. You can bake the chicken and maple crunch apples at the same time, or put the apples in the oven to cook while you eat your chicken. The apples need about 40 minutes to bake. Either way, the aroma of the chicken and apples will be incredible! Let the apples stand until they reach room temperature or serve them warm with low-fat frozen yogurt or ice cream to cool them. This low work, inexpensive, but delicious menu would be wonderful for guests.
Baked Chicken Quarters – Serves 4+
This recipe is inexpensive, easy to put together, and incorporates little potatoes—whatever type you like—to make dinner extra simple. If you’d like, you can cut up the chicken quarters or use already cut up legs and thighs or a combination. Go for what’s on sale, but don’t remove the skin from the chicken until you eat it—it will keep the meat moist and tasty. Although the aroma of the lemon, herbs, and garlic baking with the chicken and potatoes will make your mouth water, otherwise the meal requires little attention on your part, leaving you free to do other things.
4 chicken leg quarters with skin attached (about 5 pounds)
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 lemon sliced and seeded
1 teaspoon of garlic powder
2 teaspoons of dried oregano leaves
1-2 teaspoons of dried rosemary
1 teaspoon of dried parsley
1 teaspoon of dried thyme
½ teaspoon of pepper
1 teaspoon of salt
½ cup of water
1-2 tablespoons of olive oil or olive oil mist
15-20 small potatoes, washed well (fingerling, red, or whatever you have)
Coat a large casserole dish or 9 x 13-inch pan with non-stick spray. Add the chicken pieces to the pan and drizzle them with lemon juice. Sprinkle on the lemon zest, the garlic powder, oregano, rosemary, parsley, thyme, pepper, and salt. Lay the slices of lemon on top of the chicken. Add the potatoes around the chicken. Drizzle or mist the chicken well with olive oil. Bake the chicken for about an hour until the meat is very tender, the juices run clear, the skin is crispy, and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the chicken reads 165 degrees. Let the chicken stand for 5 minutes before serving it with the little potatoes.
Maple Crunch Apples – Serves 4
This is a great family dessert—quick, easy, and comforting. If they are lucky and you make it for them, your guests will enjoy the dessert, too. The apples bake up soft and fragrant with just a hint of sweet maple. The topping adds a welcome sweet crunch with warm cinnamon and allspice. Serve the apples with a bit of low-fat whipped topping or ice cream. Don’t forget to spoon some of the juices from the baked apples on top!
2 large cooking apples, peeled, cored, and cut in half, from top to bottom
1 tablespoon of melted butter or Smart or Earth Balance
1 tablespoon of maple syrup
2 tablespoons of brown sugar
1 tablespoon of butter
½ teaspoon of cinnamon
¼ teaspoon of allspice
1 tablespoon of flour
1 tablespoon of oats (quick or regular)
2 tablespoons of pecans, chopped
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and coat an 8-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Cut, starting at one edge of an apple half, almost but not all the way down to the bottom (where you removed the core). Continue to cut the apple at 1/8 inch or so intervals. The idea is to make thin slices without cutting all the way through the apple. Fan the apple half out a bit and put it in the prepared dish. Repeat the process with the other apple halves. Drizzle each apple half with a little butter and maple syrup. Bake the apples for 30 minutes or until they’re tender. Combine all the topping ingredients until crumbly. Sprinkle the topping ingredients on the baked apples, squishing some of the crumbs between the slices. Return the apples to the oven and bake them for about 10 minutes more or until the topping has browned a little. Let the apples cool for at least 5 minutes before serving them.