Archive | January, 2017

Sheet pan chicken

22 Jan

Cooking seems to be equal parts high art and necessary chore. Sometimes I would be perfectly content to putter around the kitchen all day long. Other times, I just want to toss something in the oven and just forget about it.

dinner is served

This dish would be perfect for those easy dinner days. You literally toss together whatever sounds good or whatever you have in your fridge, put some chicken thighs on top of it all and toss it in the oven. And you pull out the most delicious, nutritious dinner you could imagine!

nutritious dinner

This is not so much a recipe, but more of a guideline for a delicious meal. This is how I make mine…you can use other vegetables that you prefer, making sure to choose ones that roast well like root vegetables. You can also swap out the protein; to keep it simple, select something that roasts in the same time as the vegetables, such as pork chops or sausages. Fish would also work here, but you’d have to roast the vegetables for a while on their own before adding the fish for a shorter amount of roasting time. Half the fun is experimenting and making this dish your own – let your imagination run wild!!

So first, I cut up the vegetables I’m going to use.

raw vegetables

Some of my favorites are onions, potatoes, carrots, mushrooms, cauliflower and broccoli. So let’s start with those, cut up into bite sized pieces. And since I still have some rutabaga left over from the pasties, I’ll chop that up and add it to the mix. Along with a buttercup squash that I’ve had around for quite a while.

vegetables in bag

I cut them all up and place them into a plastic bag, drizzle with olive oil, add crushed garlic, salt and pepper and any other seasonings that you like and toss together to coat all the vegetables completely and evenly with the oil and seasonings. If you have any fresh rosemary or fresh thyme, add them to this mix. They add quite a nice flavor to the dish.

Then pour all the vegetables onto a heavy baking sheet pan.

vegetables on pan

Go ahead and dry the chicken thighs. I love to use chicken thighs with the skin on and bone in because the meat is so tender and flavorful and never dries out. And the skin crisps up so nicely!

You could season the chicken with salt, pepper, paprika and garlic powder or go nuts and use jerk seasoning or garam masala or curry powder. Other seasonings that are fantastic are anything by Chef Earl, a local fixture at the St Paul farmers market. Every time I make this dish, I use something different to season the chicken and I have yet to find a seasoning that I don’t like here. Today, I used a little Arisco, some paprika that my brother brought me from his trip to Hungary and some fresh cracked pepper.

Place the chicken thighs atop the vegetables and place into preheated oven for 45 minutes.

chicken ready for oven

Check the vegetables at 45 minutes and if they don’t seem done, leave them in another 15 minutes. Sometimes, I like to have the vegetables nice and browned, other times just having them be soft and cooked all the way through is good. You can check the potatoes and carrots for doneness by sticking a fork in them. If they are soft enough, the fork will  slide right in. If they are still hard, roast them for longer.

I’ve never had any issues with the chicken not being cooked all the way through, but if that’s a concern for  you, put a meat thermometer into the largest piece of the chicken and make sure it measures at least 165F/74C.

Look at the crispy skin on this piece!

crispy skin

Sheet pan chicken


6 skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs
1 bunch of broccoli, broken into florets
1/2 head of cauliflower, broken into florets
1 8oz package of mushrooms, halved
1 pound of baby red potatoes, chopped in large pieces
4-6 medium sized carrots, peeled and chopped in large pieces
1 onion, chopped in large pieces
1/2 rutabaga, peeled and chopped in large pieces
1/2 buttercup squash, peeled and chopped in large pieces
4 garlic cloves, pressed
2-3 tablespoons of seasoning
2-3 tablespoons of olive oil
cracked pepper
2 sprigs of fresh rosemary or fresh thyme

Preheat oven to 425F/220C.

Peel and chop the vegetables. Make the harder, longer cooking vegetables slightly smaller and make the softer, faster cooking vegetables larger. Place in large plastic bag or large bowl, drizzle with olive oil, add seasoning, pressed garlic and salt and pepper to taste and toss well to coat all the vegetables evenly. Add fresh rosemary or thyme sprigs.

Pour onto heavy baking sheet pan.

Dry chicken thighs well with paper towels. Rub the thighs really well with seasoning of  choice. Place atop the vegetables on the sheet pan.

Roast for 45 minutes, then check vegetables and chicken for doneness. If not done, return to oven for another 15 minutes or until done.

You can easily double the quantity of ingredients and make two pans at the same time. That way you’ll have lunches for the rest of the week. You’re welcome!

There are lots of variations on this dish here and here and here. Enjoy!


Pasties, Iron Range-style

16 Jan

Quite a bit has happened since I last posted here. I’ve met and married a wonderful man named Paul and we will be celebrating our 2nd wedding anniversary this coming April.


Paul is from a part of northern Minnesota called the Iron Range because of it’s rich iron deposits and many iron mines. I’ve learned so very much about the Ranger culture and cuisine, of which the pasty is one of the most beloved parts. Oh, and it is “pasty” (rhymes with “nasty”) as in a Cornish pasty, not the inappropriate stripper wear or the bland color that my skin turns after a long Minnesotan winter.

Paul loves his pasties, especially the ones made by church basement ladies for their yearly fundraiser. So I set out to try to make pasties, using his family recipe and trying to make it the traditional way…before attempting to add my twist to it (you know that’s going to happen, of course!). I made these twice, once on my own using the family recipe and the second time I had Pam, my sister-in-law, show me the tried and true way.


The crust is a simple flaky pastry crust. If you’re a pie maker, you’re quite familiar with the process. If you aren’t a pie maker (yet), here’s how you do it.

Measure out the dry ingredients in a large bowl, then add the shortening – we used butter-flavored Crisco and lard, but any brand of shortening would work.


Then begin cutting the fat into the flour. Using a pastry cutter is vastly easier than using two knives, but if you don’t have a pastry cutter, just use two sharp knives to cut up the shortening and help incorporate it into the flour.

When the shortening has been fully incorporated into the flour and is a bit grainy, then add the cold water and combine.


We kneaded the ball of dough briefly, just to make sure it was all combined



divided it up into 8 parts, wrapped each part in plastic wrap and left them to rest on the counter for 20 minutes.


In the meantime, we peeled and chopped up the filling ingredients–onions, carrots, rutabagas and potatoes.


After peeling and chopping, we combined all the vegetables in a large bowl and seasoned them with salt and pepper.


I don’t recommend doing as we did in our first attempt – we tried to speed things up by purchasing a bag of shredded carrots, however, the carrots poked out through the dough when we assembled them. Lesson learned – just take the extra 5 minutes and peel and dice actual carrots.

After the 20 minute waiting period for the crust was up, we rolled out each of the dough balls


and we began to assemble them. About a cup and a half of the seasoned vegetables, about a half cup of ground beef (approximately 1/4 pound) and a pat of butter went onto one side of the rolled out dough.


The first ones we made could have held a little more filling under the dough, so on our second attempt, we filled them a little fuller.


Then we brushed the edges of the dough around the filling with water and pulled the other half of the dough over the filling




and pinched or rolled the crust around on itself. You want to seal in all the juices, so crimp or roll the dough over and around the filling. You can also crimp it with the tines of a fork.


Then place on a baking sheet covered with a sheet of parchment paper and poke some vent holes in the top with a fork.

Pasties on pan

When you have a pan full of completely assembled pasties, placed about an inch apart in a baking sheet pan, they can go into a 350F/180C oven for 1 hour.


The pasties are ready!

The ones you don’t eat right out of the oven should be cooled fully, then wrapped in aluminum foil and put in a freezer bag and frozen for up to 6 months. You can reheat directly from frozen by putting them directly into a 350F/180C oven for 90 min. Keep the foil on it for the first hour, then open the foil to allow the crust to crisp up for another half hour.


Traditionally, an Iron Range pasty is served with Heinz brand ketchup (is there any other??). Other options are gravy or other sauces as desired…but not if you’re a Ranger.



4 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/3 cup lard or butter flavored Crisco (I use 2/3 cup lard and 2/3 cup butter flavored Crisco)
3/4 cup cold water


5-6 medium-sized potatoes, peeled and cubed
3-4 large carrots, peeled and cubed
1 onion, chopped
1/2 rutabaga, peeled and cubed
2 pounds ground beef (raw)
salt & pepper
4 tablespoons of butter


Place measured flour and salt in medium bowl, add shortening/lard and cut together with pastry cutter until the mixture is grainy and the fat has mostly been incorporated into the flour. Then add cold water all at once and mix, kneading with your hands until it becomes a smooth dough.

Then divide dough into eight pieces, wrapping each individual ball with plastic wrap and let rest on the counter for at least 20 minutes.

While the dough is resting, peel and dice the potatoes, carrots and rutabaga and chop the onion, combine in a large bowl and season with salt and pepper.

Preheat oven to 350F/180C.

Roll out each individual ball of dough into about a 12-14 inch oval, making sure to roll the crust pretty thin.

Then place about 1 cup of the vegetables in one end of the oval, 1/4 cup of the beef, crumbled over the top, then another 1/2 cup of vegetables and the remaining 1/4 cup of beef crumbled, topped with a pat (about 1/2 tablespoon) of butter. Feel free to squeeze the filling together to compact it so you don’t have vegetables spread all over the dough.

Using a small bowl of water, rub some of the water around the dough at the edge of the filling to help glue your dough together.

Then pull the dough up and over the filling, doing your best to remove air pockets and seal the top crust to the bottom where you spread the water. Then starting on one end, start crimping or rolling the crust over itself to seal the edges. You can use a fork to seal the crust, if you like, or just leave the crust thick and rolled.

Prick the top of the crust with a fork a few times to vent the pasty.

Then place prepared pasty on a baking sheet covered with a sheet of parchment paper. You should be able to fit three to four pasties on each pan.

Bake pasties for one hour and serve while hot with Heinz ketchup. Enjoy!


Allow pasties to cool fully on a cooling rack then wrap in aluminum foil and place in freezer bag and freeze up to six months. To reheat after frozen, place foil wrapped pasties on baking sheet in a 350F/180C oven for one hour, then open foil wrap and return pasties to oven for another half hour until fully heated and crusty.


%d bloggers like this: