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Cooking While (Really) Hungry

When Food Sharing Network contributor Rose Ellen Lorber-Termaat decided to cook exactly what her heart desired the results included three true taste treats: Greek Lemon Chicken with Celery and Potatoes, Old-Fashioned Cheesy, Crunchy Mac and Cheese Casserole, and her Cookie Exchange Winner, Chocolate Crackle Cookies.

Cooking While (Really) Hungry

I have grocery shopped while starving, and the expected result always occurs. I impulsively (compulsively) buy anything and everything that my heart desires. It’s usually a hodge-podge of items from soda and snacks to produce and poultry. The other night I decided on an impulse to cook what my taste buds were longing for, my version of comfort food – something from my childhood and something from my young adult world.

I recreated a dish that my grandmother often made, Greek Lemon Chicken with Celery and Potatoes. This dish is simple and fairly easy to make. I cook by taste with this dish. It never tastes quite the same each time I make it, but it’s always good. So I put together a recipe that captures the essence of the Greek dish but leaves room for a cook’s personal interpretation.

The other dish I made was an Old-Fashioned Cheesy Crunchy Mac and Cheese Casserole. I search the Internet for ideas, then wind up winging it on my own, depending on what type of macaroni and different cheeses I have in my kitchen. I like a baked mac and cheese because I crave the crunchiness of the crust.

And for dessert, I made a more recent favorite, A Cookie Exchange Winner: Chocolate Crackle Cookies. These are easy, and the dough can store in the freezer until you are ready to bake them up.

Greek Lemon Chicken with Celery and Potatoes

The Basics:

  • 1 whole chicken, split chicken breasts or chicken thighs – your preference
  • 1 large celery stalk (greens and all)
  • 1 white onion
  • 4 Idaho potatoes
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tsp. thyme
  • 1 tsp. dill
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice (or juice of 2 lemons)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Clean and prepare the whole chicken (or rinse and pat dry the chicken parts). Rub the chicken with olive oil and lay it out on a 9 x 12 inch glass lasagna pan.

Wash celery stalk. Cut off core at bottom. Cut off approximately 1 to 2 inches of the greens on top, leaving some of the leaves. Cut the stalks into 2 to 3 inch pieces. Place them in the pan around the chicken.

Wash and skin 4 Idaho potatoes (these are my favorites, but just about any potato is good). Cut them into large chunks and place them on the pan around the chicken.

Skin and slice a white onion, and place the rings on top of the celery and potatoes.

Skin and chop the garlic cloves. Sprinkle on the chicken and vegetables.

Pour the lemon juice over the dish. Season with dill, thyme, and salt and pepper to taste.

Bake in a 350 degree oven covered for about 1 hour for pieces and 1.5 hours for whole chicken. Uncover and let chicken brown in oven another 20 minutes.

Check for doneness. Juices should run clear. Wiggle the leg on a whole chicken. It should be easy to separate the leg from the cavity.

Allow chicken to rest for 20 minutes before carving or serving.

Old-Fashioned Cheesy, Crunchy Mac and Cheese Casserole

The Basics:

  • 3 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1 white onion
  • 2 tbsp. white flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/2 tsp.  salt
  • 1/2 tsp. dry mustard
  • 1/2 tsp. ground pepper
  • Vegetable oil
  • 3 cups of shredded Mozzarella, Colby Jack or American cheese (or any combination thereof)
  • 1 8 oz. box of macaroni (elbow, bowties, twists – your preference)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Bring a pot of water to boil. Add salt and a few tablespoons of vegetable oil. When water boils, add macaroni and cook 8-10 minutes until firm. Drain and set aside.

Finely chop the onion, and sauté it in a pan with melted butter for approximately 2 minutes.

Stir in flour and continue to cook another minute, stirring. Stir in milk, salt, pepper and dry mustard, stirring until mixture boils and thickens into a sauce.

Add the cheese together and stir until melted. Remove pan from heat.

Combine macaroni and cheese sauce, and place in a 2-quart baking dish.

Bake at least 30 minutes, uncovered, until bubbly and top begins to brown (I bake this a little longer to get a good crunchy crust on it).

A Cookie Exchange Winner: Chocolate Crackle Cookies

The Basics:

  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 4 squares unsweetened baker’s chocolate
  • 2 ½ cups white flour
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt (optional)
  • Powdered sugar (for rolling the cookies in before baking)

Melt the butter and chocolate together in a bowl in the microwave on high for 1 ½ to 2 minutes. Stir to make sure chocolate is thoroughly melted. Let cool to room temperature.

In a separate bowl, mix together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.

Use a mixer to combine eggs with the flour mixture and butter/chocolate mixture.

Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 2 hours. Overnight is fine too.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Use a tablespoon to scoop out dough, roll in palms of hands to form balls, and drop into a bowl of powdered sugar. Toss the dough balls around in powdered sugar to thoroughly coat them.

Place cookies 1 to 2 inches apart on lightly greased cookie sheets. Bake 10 to 12 minutes. Tops of cookies should “crackle” apart.

These cookies are very soft when they come out of the oven. With a flat spatula carefully lift cookies off cookie sheets and place them on a cooling rack. A plate will do as long as cookies are not touching each other. They will need to harden for several minutes.

Even better! Double or triple the recipe. Bake as many as you like, and freeze remaining dough for next time.

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