Orange Beer Can Chicken with an Apricot-Chipotle Sauce

8 06 2014

My hubs and I belong to Fresh Fork Market, a farm buying club which sources locally grown organic meats, cheeses and produce in Cleveland, OH. Fresh Fork puts together a weekly grab bag containing items in season sourced from local, sustainable vendors. The ingredients you get each week are fresh from the farm, and can typically be used together. The summer season just started and this past week we received our first grab bag, which had some beautiful produce as well as an organic whole young chicken. Immediately, I knew Sunday’s supper would be beer can chicken!

Beer or soda-can chicken is an awesome grilling technique. Outside of preparing the chicken and turning it half-way through cooking, the grill and the can literally will do all the work for you!

I always keep a citrus salt on hand with kosher salt, lemon or orange zest and a dried herb.  I happened to have orange salt this week, creating the base flavor of this dish and the reason I choose Hoegaarden for the beer which has complimentary citrus notes. Crispy, smokey and juicy chicken paired with a sweet and spicy sauce – what’s not to love!

If you’re a member of Fresh Fork, stay tuned for more recipes using the summer share! And if you’re not a member or aren’t local to Cleveland, search for a farm buying club in your area – you won’t be sorry you did!

Orange Beer Can Chicken with an Apricot-Chipotle Sauce

The following makes 1 small bird (compliments of Cuisine at Home, Real Simple and This Girl’s Gotta Eat):

  • 1 organic, whole young chicken
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • Orange zest
  • Dried rosemary
  • Red pepper flakes
  • 1 bottle (12 oz) Hoegaarden beer, and an empty 12 oz can (use a beer or pop/soda can)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3/4 cup sugar-free apricot preserves
  • 2-3 tsp chopped chipotles in adobo sauce
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 Tbsp red wine vinegar

Prepare your grill by lighting your grill and turning all the burners to high. Close the lid and let the temp come to 500. Then, turn off one of the burners to create indirect heat. You want to keep your grill between 325 and 400 for the duration of your grilling.

Clean out the cavity of the chicken, rinse and pat dry. Rub with 1 Tbsp olive oil and mix the rub by combining some kosher salt, orange zest, dried rosemary and red pepper flakes. Just eye ball it! Sprinkle some of the rub inside the chicken cavity. Sprinkle the outside of the chicken with more of the rub, enough to coat evenly – rubbing to make sure it sticks.

Fill the empty can with the beer and poke 3 more holes in the top of the can. Arrange the chicken cavity on the can. I used a beer can chicken stand. If you don’t have one it’s ok, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say it was easier! If you don’t have the stand, be sure to pull the legs forward to create a tripod of sorts so the chicken stands up.

Place the chicken over the unlit portion of the grill (once the heat drops to 325-400). Cover and cook until the skin is golden brown and crisp, juices run clear, and an instant-read thermometer registers 180°. Take the reading in the thickest part of the thigh, be sure not to hit a bone. The chicken will take about 1–1.5 hours. Rotate the chicken halfway through grilling (be sure to use a kitchen towel or oven mitts as the chicken will be hot). Once done, remove the chicken to a baking sheet or roaster and allow to rest for 15 minutes.

While the chicken is resting, make the sauce. Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about a minute. Add the apricot, chipotles, cumin and a 1/2 tsp salt. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring often until slightly thickened, 3-5 minutes. Stir in the vinegar and remove from heat.

Remove the chicken from the can and slice. Serve sliced chicken with the apricot-chipotle sauce and either a side of veggies or a salad. I made a simple kale salad dressed with lemon juice, olive oil and salt and pepper.

Sweet Potato-Spicy Turkey Sausage Soup With Kale

5 02 2014

The sweetness of the sweet potato really pairs well with the spicy sausage in this tasty fall/winter soup. Kale also enhances the flavor, while bumping up its nutritional value. Try making your own sausage with ground turkey – see This Girl’s tip below for a homemade sausage seasoning.

Sweet Potato-Spicy Turkey Sausage Soup With Kale

Sweet Potato-Spicy Turkey Sausage Soup With Kale

The following serves 4 (adapted from Everyday Food):

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced large
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Pinch red pepper flakes
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 lb sweet or spicy Italian turkey sausage (I made my own spicy sausage seasoning to use with ground turkey, see below for recipe. You could also buy bulk sausage.)
  • 2 sweet potatoes (a little over a pound), peeled and diced medium
  • 6 cups reduced-fat, low-sodium chicken broth
  • 4 cups roughly chopped kale
  • Grated parmesan for serving

In a large pot or dutch oven, heat oil over medium-high. Add onion and garlic and cook until onion is soft, about 5 minutes. Add red pepper flakes and season with salt and pepper to taste. Add turkey sausage and cook, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon, until browned, about 6 minutes.

Add sweet potatoes and broth, bring to a boil, continue to boil for 5 minutes. Reduce to simmer, add greens, and cook another 4 minutes. Taste and season with salt if needed. Serve with parmesan.

This Girl’s Tip: Spicy Italian sausage seasoning (adapted from Tasty Kitchen): When my family makes our own dried sausage we usually just use a spice blend of salt, pepper, garlic powder and cayenne pepper – but because I’m not using pork, I thought I needed some additional flavor to make the turkey taste more like sausage. So I adapted a blend I found from Tasty Kitchen, along with my family’s, and it worked great. 

Make this seasoning in advance; mix all ingredients together and store in an air-tight container. When you need sausage, mix 2-3 Tbsp of the seasoning with 1 lb ground turkey, chicken or pork. If you have time, mix the meat with the seasoning a day or two in advance and store covered in the fridge so the flavors can blend into the meat.

  • 3 Tbsp kosher salt
  • 3 Tbsp dried Italian seasoning
  • 2 Tbsp ground black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp dried parsley
  • 2 Tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 Tbsp paprika
  • 1 Tbsp fennel seeds or ground fennel
  • 4 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp ground cayenne

Spicy, Lemony Spaghetti With Roasted Garlic Asparagus

31 01 2014

Get dinner on the table fast with this simple, fresh pasta dish. This spaghetti is bright and lemony, with a nice kick of heat. Serve it as a side along with a protein, or as a main dish like I have here with roasted asparagus. Delicious with a crisp white wine!

Spicy, Lemony Spaghetti With Roasted Garlic Asparagus

Spicy, Lemony Spaghetti With Roasted Garlic Asparagus

The following serves 4 (compliments of This Girl’s Gotta Eat):

  • 1 bunch asparagus, ends trimmed
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 6 cloves garlic, chopped
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 lb whole wheat spaghetti
  • 1 Tbsp chili pepper paste
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
  • Fresh parsley, chopped
  • Red pepper flakes

Preheat oven to 425. Toss asparagus spears with olive oil, half the chopped garlic and kosher salt to taste. Roast 10-15 minutes.

Meanwhile, boil a large pot of water and season liberally with salt. Cook spaghetti to al dente according to package directions.

In a large saute pan, heat 1/2 cup of olive oil over medium-high heat. When the oil is shimmery, lower the heat and add the rest of the chopped garlic and chili paste, stirring constantly so garlic doesn’t burn. If you want it even spicier, add a pinch of red pepper flakes as well. Cook on low for 5 minutes, stirring often. Add the zest and juice of 1 lemon, and season with salt to taste.

Reserve about a cup of the pasta water, then strain the cooked pasta and add it to the chili-lemon oil in the saute pan. Toss spaghetti in the sauce over low heat, adding some of the pasta water to bring the sauce together. Remove from heat and add the grated parmesan.

Divide pasta among plates and garnish with parsley and a few red pepper flakes. Top with asparagus spears and serve with more grated parmesan.

Savory Bread Pudding with Spicy Sausage, Gouda, and Sun-Dried Tomato

15 01 2014

Last week I shared that Orlando Baking Company asked me to taste-test their True Grains, 100% whole grain bread and blog about what I thought ( Next up in the sample package, their Honey Grain bread, hence this second installment of my taste-testing adventure.

You may think of dessert when you hear bread pudding, but you can make it equally savory as you can sweet (think of it like stuffing). Because this Honey Grain bread is a bit on the sweeter side, I thought it would offset spicy sausage…winner!

Usually bread pudding is made with a crusty loaf of bread or day-old bread, but you can easily turn any bread into a base for bread pudding by simply leaving it out uncovered overnight, or toasting it in the oven. The benefit to using bread like the Honey Grain in a dish like this, is for its nutritional value. Honey Grain is 100% whole grain containing OMEGA 3, which is an essential nutrient that promotes cardiovascular health.

Savory Bread Pudding with Spicy Sausage, Gouda, and Sun-Dried Tomato

Savory Bread Pudding with Spicy Sausage, Gouda, and Sun-Dried Tomato

The following serves 4-6 (adapted from Adventures in Cooking):

  • 4 eggs, whisked
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 lb bulk hot Italian sausage (you could also use mild/sweet)
  • 5 cups dense bread or day-old bread, cubed (since I used a softer bread, Orlando True Grains Honey Grain, I cubed it and toasted in the oven first)
  • 2 and 2/4 cups skim milk
  • 1 cup gouda cheese, grated
  • 1 cup sharp white cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1 bag (3.5 oz) julienne cut sun-dried tomatoes
  • 2 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped – plus more for garnish
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (or black pepper)
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt

Preheat the oven to 350.

Cook the sausage in a small frying pan over medium heat, stirring frequently, until slightly browned and cooked. Remove from heat and set aside.

In a large bowl, mix together the eggs, milk, rosemary, salt, red pepper flakes and 1 Tbsp of the fresh parsley. Add the bread, garlic, cooked sausage, sun-dried tomatoes, cheddar, and 3/4 cup of the gouda. Mix and allow to sit, 5 – 30 minutes depending how much time you have, or until the bread is soft and wet.

Spray a 9 x 13-inch rectangular or 10-inch circular casserole dish with non-stick spray and pour the mixture in. Sprinkle the top with the remaining fresh parsley and gouda.

Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 10 – 15 minutes before serving.

You could also make this bread pudding as a side dish. If making ahead of time, in the morning for instance…just keep it covered in the fridge until you’re ready to bake.

Peanutty Chicken and Broccoli Pad Thai

13 01 2014

I was feeling the Asian influence tonight, and tried something new with this quick and deliciously spicy, chicken pad thai. The highlight here is on the sauce, offering a hybrid flavor between traditional pad thai and a peanut sauce, which intrigued me immediately. Most Asian recipes I’ve seen call for fish sauce, which isn’t an ingredient I have or think to buy. But this recipe didn’t need it, so I gave it a whirl – and good thing I did. YUM!

On top of being tasty, this is versatile…pick your protein (chicken, beef, shrimp, tofu), a veggie such as broccoli, whatever noodle you want/have along with toppings to garnish with, like nuts and herbs, and get to cooking!

Peanutty Chicken and Broccoli Pad Thai

Peanutty Chicken and Broccoli Pad Thai

The following makes 3-4 servings (adapted from Taylor Made):

  • 4 small boneless, skinless chicken breasts, sliced into thin, bite-sized pieces
  • Small head of broccoli, chopped into florets
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp sesame oil
  • 6-8 ounces lo mein noodles (or rice noodles, whole wheat fettuccine, spaghetti squash)
  • 1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp Sriracha
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • 2 Tbsp natural peanut butter (creamy or crunchy)
  • Juice of 1/2 a lime, plus lime wedges for garnish
  • 1/4 – 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (optional for more heat)
  • 1/4 cup chopped peanuts or cashews
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro or parsley
  • Green scallions, chopped for garnish

In a wok or large skillet, heat the olive and sesame oils over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook, tossing occasionally until cooked through.

Meanwhile, prepare noodles according to package directions. What I used only took 4 minutes to cook in boiling water. So after 2 minutes, I added the broccoli florets to the boiling water to quickly blanch along with the lo mein.

Prepare the sauce by whisking together the soy sauce, Sriracha, garlic, honey, peanut butter, juice of 1/2 a lime and red pepper flakes. Set aside.

When the chicken is cooked through, turn the heat to medium-low. Add the cooked noodles, broccoli and the sauce, toss to combine and let heat through for a couple of minutes.

To serve, divide among plates and top with chopped nuts, cilantro or parsley and lime wedges.

Spicy Orange Chicken with Asparagus and Brown Rice

4 01 2014

Usually you’ll find orange chicken battered and fried in restaurants…delicious, but not very healthy. This is a fast, better-for-you spin on the classic Chinese take-out. It’s extremely flavorful and offers a nice kick of heat, although as the cook, you can control the level of spice. Since the hubs and I enjoy spicy foods, I played around and added some Sriracha to the sauce which we really enjoyed. Will be making this meal again very soon!

Orange Chicken with Asparagus and Brown Rice

Spicy Orange Chicken with Asparagus and Brown Rice

The following serves 2 (adapted from

  • 2 Tbsp sesame oil
  • 2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cubed or sliced into strips
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 – 1 tsp red pepper flakes (I use more because I like it spicy)
  • 1 bunch asparagus, chopped
  • 2 tsp low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tsp honey
  • 2 tsp sesame seeds
  • Juice of two oranges, zest from one orange
  • Sriracha sauce (optional)
  • 1 cup cooked brown rice
  • Handful green onions, chopped

Cook rice according to package directions, but rather than using water to cook the rice I recommend using chicken or veggie stock. It helps add flavor to the rice. Season with salt to taste.

Heat the sesame oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook the garlic and red pepper flakes for a minute until fragrant, then add cubed or sliced chicken and saute about 8 minutes, or until no longer pink. Add the asparagus and cook another 4-5 minutes.

In a bowl whisk the soy sauce, honey, sesame seeds, orange juice and the rest of the zest. This Girl’s Tip: If you want it a little spicier, add a squirt of Sriracha sauce. Add the mixture to the skillet with the chicken and cook for another few minutes until well combined and sauce thickens a bit. Taste and season with a little salt if needed.

Divide the rice among two plates and serve the chicken, asparagus and orange sauce over rice. Don’t worry if the sauce is a little thin, the rice will suck it right up! Garnish with green onions.

Whole Wheat Penne with Spicy Sausage and Broccoli

17 06 2013

I saw a fabulous sausage and broccoli stoup (thicker than a soup but thinner than a stew) recipe from Rachel Ray that I eventually want to try. I love getting creative with other people’s recipes…so on this warm June night, I turned Rachel’s stoup into a delicious pasta dish of my own!

Whole Wheat Penne with Spicy Sausage and Broccoli

Whole Wheat Penne with Spicy Sausage and Broccoli

The following serves 4-6:

  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 head broccoli, cut into bite-size florets
  • 2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 package hot Italian turkey sausage (or mild), casings removed
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/8 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • Low-sodium beef stock (or chicken stock)
  • 1 large can (28 oz) stewed, whole or diced tomatoes
  • 1 can (15 oz) white beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 box whole wheat penne
  • Parmesan cheese, grated

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, salt it, add the pasta and cook to al dente according to the package. In the last 3 minutes, add the broccoli and continue to boil. Drain pasta and broccoli.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the sausage and cook, crumbling and breaking up with a wooden spoon, until browned, 5 minutes or so. Stir in the onion and garlic and cook until softened, another 5 minutes. Season with the nutmeg and salt and pepper to taste.

This Girl’s extra tip: Add a little chicken or beef stock, whatever you have on hand, to deglaze the bottom of the pan (two or so good turns of the pan) and scrape up any brown bits on the bottom. This will give a little more depth to the sauce.

Next add the tomatoes and their juices (if using whole tomatoes like me, be sure to break up the tomatoes with the back of a wooden spoon). Add the white beans and return to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Taste sauce and season with salt if needed.

Finally, add the cooked pasta and broccoli to the sauce, stirring well over low heat for a minute. Don’t add all the pasta and broccoli at once, at a little at a time, continuing to stir until most of the liquid in the sauce has been absorbed.

Serve with grated Parmesan cheese.