The Baker Upstairs: July 2020

7.15.2020

Simple and Delicious Roast Chicken

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This simple and delicious roast chicken is so easy to make, and so tender and flavorful!

This simple and delicious roast chicken is so easy to make, and so tender and flavorful!

Okay, I know I posted before about how I haven't had the energy for cooking elaborate meals lately, but sometimes a girl just needs a delicious roast chicken, you know? Luckily, this roast chicken is super simple and easy to make, with almost no hands on time. I've always been intimidated by the thought of roasting a chicken before, but it really is much simpler and more straightforward than I had previously thought. It's actually pretty doable, even on a busy night. It does take a little time to cook, but it couldn't be simpler to make. Just rub the chicken with a spice rub, sprinkle a little butter on top, and throw it in the oven until it's golden brown and delicious. It doesn't get easier than that!

This simple and delicious roast chicken is so easy to make, and so tender and flavorful!

This chicken is super delicious by itself, but it's also great to use in any recipe calling for rotisserie chicken. The spice rub gives the chicken a delicious but still subtle flavor, which makes it great for adding to other recipes. We ate about half of this chicken the first night with mashed potatoes and roasted carrots on the side, and then I used the remaining chicken to make this delicious cheesy chicken and broccoli pasta later in the week. I love a meal that does double duty!

This simple and delicious roast chicken is so easy to make, and so tender and flavorful!
 
Simple and Delicious Roast Chicken

1 whole chicken, neck and giblets removed
2 teaspoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
2 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces

Preheat the oven to 375. In a small bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, salt, pepper, garic powder, and smoked paprika. Sprinkle the spice mixture over the skin of the chicken, rubbing gently to work it into the skin. Place the chicken in a heavy dutch oven. Sprinkle the butter pieces over the top of the chicken. Place the lid on the pot and cook in the preheated oven for 1 hour. Remove the lid from the pot and cook for an additional 30 minutes, until the skin is crispy and brown and the temperature in the thickest part of the thigh is 165. Remove from the oven and let sit for 15 minutes before carving and serving.

This simple and delicious roast chicken is so easy to make, and so tender and flavorful!

7.13.2020

Simple Roasted Carrots

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These simple and delicious roasted carrots are the perfect easy to make side dish!
   
These simple and delicious roasted carrots are the perfect easy to make side dish!

With all of the craziness going on in the world lately, I have totally been relying on grocery pickup for the last several months. I generally hate grocery shopping, so I've been using grocery pickup on and off for several years now, but it has been a lifeline for me over the past few months. I actually haven't stepped foot in a grocery store since the beginning of March, which is pretty nuts! Most of the time it's a great experience, I get everything I ordered, and it's easy and low stress. One problem I've noticed, though, is that somehow my mental inventory of how much food we have in the house keeps getting off track, and I therefore end up with seven packages of tortilla strips in my pantry, or six containers of strawberries in my fridge. Right now I've got fresh carrots coming out of my ears! Last week I ordered three packages of baby carrots, then totally blanked on them and ordered two large packages of whole carrots this week. We do really like carrots, but I've been struggling to come up with fun ways to use them up instead of just eating them cold with ranch dressing. 

These simple roasted carrots are an easy and delicious side dish that's quick enough for a busy weeknight meal. They are so easy to make that you can toss them together in just a few minutes, and let them cook while you prepare the rest of your dinner. I've never really liked the flavor of steamed carrots, but roasted carrots are totally delicious! They get just slightly caramelized around the edges, and they're soft and tender in the middle. The olive oil and salt and pepper enhance the flavor and make them extra delicious!

These simple and delicious roasted carrots are the perfect easy to make side dish!

If you don't have whole carrots on hand, you can easily make these roasted carrots with baby carrots instead. They're just as delicious, and even easier to make because you can skip the peeling and cutting. These roasted carrots are always a favorite with my family!
Simple Roasted Carrots

4-5 large carrots, peeled and cut into sticks
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme or 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme

Preheat the oven to 425. Line a baking sheet with parchment or foil. Place the carrot sticks on the baking sheet and toss with the olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, until soft and just slightly caramelized around the edges. Remove from oven and sprinkle with thyme. Serve hot.
 
These simple and delicious roasted carrots are the perfect easy to make side dish!

7.08.2020

Quick Chicken Noodle Soup

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This quick chicken noodle soup has all the flavor of traditional chicken noodle soup, but is so much faster to make!
 
This quick chicken noodle soup has all the flavor of traditional chicken noodle soup, but is so much faster to make!

As I've mentioned before, I have been so sick during this pregnancy that it's hard sometimes to come up with meals I can tolerate. I mostly stick with relatively bland, small meals, and I'm usually so tired that I don't have the energy to put together an elaborate meal anyway. Some of my meals lately have gotten very depressing, like the piece of toast with a string cheese on the side I had for dinner last night. :) I haven't had many cravings with this pregnancy, but last week I was craving this amazing chicken noodle soup I had at my friend Alicia's house a few years ago. By the way, if you're not already a fan of her blog, you absolutely must check it out! She is one of the most talented people I've ever met, and everything she touches is gorgeous. Anyway, we had dinner at her house one night, and she and her husband made the glorious soup, and it has been cemented in my mind as the pinnacle of all chicken noodle soup deliciousness. 

Since I didn't have a whole chicken on hand, and the craving hit around 5:00 in the afternoon, it was imperative that I come up with a viable solution using what I already had in the house. My homemade version turned out totally fantastic, and only took around 30 minutes to make. It's not quite the same, obviously, but it was a really great substitute that satisfied my cravings without making me exhausted. That is a total dinner win!

This quick chicken noodle soup has all the flavor of traditional chicken noodle soup, but is so much faster to make!

Quick Chicken Noodle Soup

1 tablespoon butter
2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
1 medium onion, diced
1 cup celery, diced
2 teaspoons minced garlic
8 cups chicken broth
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon dried parsley
2 cups shredded cooked chicken (rotisserie chicken works great!)
2 cups shell pasta

Heat the butter in a large heavy pot over medium heat. Add the carrots, onion, celery, and garlic, and cook until the vegetables are softened and fragrant. Add the chicken broth, salt and pepper, parsley, and cooked chicken. Bring the soup to a simmer, then add the shell pasta. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the pasta is tender, about 10-12 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.
This quick chicken noodle soup has all the flavor of traditional chicken noodle soup, but is so much faster to make!

 

7.06.2020

Easy No-Knead Artisan Bread

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This easy no-knead artisan bread is so simple to make, and tastes just like it came from the bakery!
   
This easy no-knead artisan bread is so simple to make, and tastes just like it came from the bakery!

After months of not feeling well enough to bake, I am finally getting back into the swing of things and having a great time baking some of my favorite recipes. Lately nothing sounds better to me than freshly baked bread, and this easy no-knead artisan bread is perfect! It takes almost no hands-on time to make, is so simple my nine year old can mix it up herself, and it tastes like it came from the bakery. It's the perfect easy bread recipe!

This easy no-knead artisan bread is so simple to make, and tastes just like it came from the bakery!

I made this bread for dinner with soup a few nights ago, and when my husband came home from work, he was a little confused and asked if I had made a trip to the bakery for the bread (knowing I rarely leave the house these days). He couldn't believe I had made it myself! I'm choosing to take that as a sign that the bread was fantastic, and not a complete lack of confidence in my baking skills. :)

This easy no-knead artisan bread is so simple to make, and tastes just like it came from the bakery!

This bread does take a little time to make, but it's super easy to mix up in the evening before bed, and then bake the next day. It's best on the day it's made, but it does make really excellent toast the next day if you happen to have any leftovers. I love that you can take just four simple ingredients and make something so completely delicious! 
No Knead Dutch Oven Crusty Bread

3 cups flour
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon yeast
1 1/2 cups water

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and yeast. Add the water and stir until a soft and sticky dough forms. Cover and let rest 12-18 hours. After the dough has rested, preheat the oven to 450 with a dutch oven inside. When the oven has heated, heavily flour your hands and your work surface and shape the dough into a ball. Place the ball of dough into the preheated dutch oven, cover, and return it to the oven. Bake 30 minutes, then remove the lid and bake 15-20 minutes more, or until golden brown. Enjoy!

adapted slightly from Jo Cooks

This easy no-knead artisan bread is so simple to make, and tastes just like it came from the bakery!

7.01.2020

Strawberry Cream Cheese Bread

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This tender and sweet strawberry cream cheese bread is so delicious, and so easy to make!
 
This tender and sweet strawberry cream cheese bread is so delicious, and so easy to make!

I hope you're not sick of strawberry recipes yet, because I still have some great ones coming your way!  This strawberry cream cheese bread is a classic recipe at my house, and one I love to make whenever we have fresh strawberries on hand. It's perfect for brunch or dessert, and has the best light and tender texture. It's another one of those simple recipes that's completely delicious and easy to make!  

This tender and sweet strawberry cream cheese bread is so delicious, and so easy to make!

This strawberry cream cheese bread can easily made in four mini loaf pans instead of a large loaf pan, or even made in a muffin tin instead for adorable individual servings. The baking time will change depending on the size of the mini loaf pans, but I would suggest starting with a time of 30 minutes, and checking about every five minutes after that to see if they're done. If you're making muffins, 18-20 minutes should do the trick (but again, test for doneness before pulling them out). 

This tender and sweet strawberry cream cheese bread is so delicious, and so easy to make!

This bread is perfectly sweetened, and the strawberries studded throughout are delicious little pockets of joy. The cream cheese makes the texture even more tender, almost like pound cake, and adds some richness to the batter as well. This is one of my favorite sweet breads!
Strawberry Cream Cheese Bread

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 cups strawberries, chopped

Preheat the oven to 350. Grease a loaf pan and line with parchment paper. In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the butter, sugar and cream cheese until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition, then add the vanilla. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture, and mix just until combined. Add the buttermilk and stir gently until just combined, being careful not to over mix. Carefully fold in strawberries with a spatula, trying to break them up as little as possible (the batter will be thick). Bake 50 to 60 minutes, until the loaf is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean.
This tender and sweet strawberry cream cheese bread is so delicious, and so easy to make!