Sharing Stories in Bits & Bites

Winner Winner Chicken Dinner’s been a couple days since I talked to Deidre and promised I would share a recipe that is a family favourite. I got stuck! How can that be?! Pondering, salivating and thinking of all the recipes we have enjoyed over the’s changed so much.

If I want my family to laugh out loud, or groan…probably groan more. I would say El Paso Pilaf. Otherwise named by friends of the family as El Paso Piss Me Off. We ate it so often. It is basically rice and beans with lentils, peppers, salsa and a few spices to resemble a Mexican meal. But it’s sole purpose during the years I made it was to feed a family on a low budget and still feel like they had enough nutrients. These are from our vegan days before it was the thing to do – or one of the things to do – there are so many ways to eat!.

Or I might pick Carrot Tofu Scramble – then YOU will – might? – laugh out loud. So will the family but they do remember how we fooled many a preteen guest with this dish. “Hey this is a great Chicken dish’ as we all smiled to one another. Or Uncle Bud. He really was fooled. Until we told him. That was fun.

There is all the variations of pasta and veggies with a scattering of meat or chicken – tomatoes, cheese, peppers, onions always a part of the recipe. Bill and I just cooked sausages the other day – in this way and laughed to ourselves. The sausage tasted like weiners and the pasta was mediocre. Tasted like the 70’s! What happened?

Pizza is a ritual about once a month…a trip to Cure in Cobble Hill for their house made andouille sausage, bacon and sometimes the dough. The Vitamix does a good job though. Caramelized onions, tomato passata seasoned with fresh garlic, basil and oregano. Top it with smoked cheese. Pizza stone dusted with cornmeal – BBQ as close to a wood fired oven as we have – Voila!

And during the busy years of raising kids and working long hours, we really enjoyed a meal out. And occasionally we still do. But mostly, we love to cook at home for ourselves and our friends. Simple, nourishing meals that sustain and satisfy. Which leads me to the ‘recipe’ that Deidre wished me to share. The one that is a family favourite. I think I would have to say, ‘Winner Winner Chicken Dinner!’ It is classic, easy, takes a bit of prep but really comes together in the end like a wee symphony of flavours of downhome roasty goodness.

Take a roasting chicken. Stuff with garlic cloves, fresh rosemary sprigs, sliced lemons. Place breast side down in a roasting pan on a rack above a small amount of water and the usual garlic, onions, carrots and celery to have a great starting juice for the gravy. I always put in a bay leaf but Bill scoffs at it and says it makes no difference. I say it does, do you? I then sprinkle the bird with a little pepper and balsamic vinegar just to colour it a little. Roast in 400 degree oven for 20 min and then at 350 for remainder of time needed. About 20 min per pound in total. I use a thermometer so I don’t overcook it, and it is juicy everytime. I think breast down helps that too with all the juices running down.

Along with the chicken, I make a full baking sheet of root veggies to roast alongside the chicken. No matter the number of people coming to dinner. The oven is on, the tray is full and then I have enough for many guests or for many nights. Potatoes, beets, carrots, yams, squash. Fave way to prepare is to cut in similar sizes and toss in olive oil, sprinkle with paprika and a dash of salt. That’s it. These will be done before the chicken so I either wait to start or keep warm once done. Both ways work. Sometimes I will boil and mash the potatoes rather than roast.

Got to round out the colours so a quick toss of leaves – whatever is fresh on hand – spinach, romaine, cabbage or not technically a leaf – broccoli. Quick salad created with oil and vinegar or citrus juice and honey. Current favourite dressing is 1 part olive oil, 1 part apple cider vinegar and 1 part soy sauce, add grated ginger. Hollyhock’s Engevita Yeast Dressing is another one to slurp up with gusto. Shared below. I once asked what the delicious dressing was from Duncan Garage and they quickly just gave me the copy shown here…so yum.

Once done, let it sit for 5 minutes. Carve. Save the bones for broth. There is time to make the gravy using a little cornstarch and cold water swirled in a mug, whisk it in once the juice is boiling again. Season with thyme, marjoram and a little salt and pepper. Let thicken. Always put gravy in a heated vessel to keep it piping hot.

I think you know the rest. Put out for all to see…first to take in all the gorgeous colours, we’ve already been smelling the flavours develop. The table is full of people and the meal is always more nourishing this way.

By the way, this is usually the Sunday night meal. Drop on by. I am sure there is enough. You won’t leave hungry. ~ Shelly Sims

Chicken Dinner

February 20, 2018
: 6
: Medium


  • 1 large roasting chicken
  • 1 head of garlic
  • 2 lemons
  • 2 fresh rosemary sprigs
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 medium carrots
  • 2 medium celery stalks
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • balsamic vinegar, to taste
  • bay leaf
  • various root vegetables such as potatoes, celeriac, beets, squash, turnips, fennel, etc.
  • ½ cup nutritional yeast flakes
  • ⅓ cup water
  • ⅓ cup tamari or soy sauce
  • ⅓ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tbsp. crushed garlic
  • 1½ cups sunflower oil
  • Step 1 Heat oven to 400°F
  • Step 2 Peel head of garlic, crush a couple of cloves and set aside for dressing. Place remainder of garlic cloves inside chicken cavity with sliced, lemons, sprigs of rosemary and bay leaf.
  • Step 3 Brush chicken with balsamic vinegar and then season generously with salt and pepper.
  • Step 4 Lightly oil a baking sheet with some olive oil and place chopped onion, carrots and celery on the bottom middle. Then place the chicken breast-side down on top of these vegetables.
  • Step 5 Place your cut-up root vegetables in a salad bowl and sprinkle with olive oil. Season the vegetable with salt and pepper, toss and then arrange these root vegetables around the edges of the baking sheet, surrounding the chicken.
  • Step 6 Place pan with chicken and vegetables in the oven and bake for 20 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F and roast for approximately another 20 minutes per pound of chicken. Internal temperature should read between 165°F or greater.
  • Step 7 Combine the ingredients for the salad dressing: nutritional yeast flakes, water, tamari, apple cider vinegar, crushed garlic and sunflower oil in a salad bottle or a bowl and mix well.
  • Step 8 Drizzle dressing over a simple salad of fresh greens and serve with the roast chicken.
  • Step 9 The root vegetable can be finished as a mash or just served as is, right out of the oven.

3 thoughts on “Winner Winner Chicken Dinner”

  • I’m going to make this on Saturday night for the kids! The pictures are lovely and I really like the story. Also curious about the carrot-tofu scramble 🙂

  • Carrot Tofu Scramble

    The following is the basic recipe that I start with. First though I freeze the tofu when I get home to give it a meatier, chewier texture once thawed and cooked. Once thawed, I crumble with my hands . As for the soy sauce the amount is your preference. I have also substituted braggs amino acids for the soy sauce. I personally love the carrots very soft and the tofu browned well to increase the flavour. Tofu takes on the flavour of the foods it is with being rather bland on it’s own.

    2 tablespoon olive oil
    1 pound carrots, grated
    1 pound extra-firm tofu, drained and crumbled
    1/3 cup soy sauce
    1/3 cup sesame seeds
    1 teaspoon dark sesame oil

    In a skillet, heat the oil over medium heat and cook the carrots, stirring, for 15 minutes. Add the crumbled tofu and cook, stirring, until carrots are soft. Add the sesame seeds and cook several minutes, stirring. Add the soy sauce and cook 1 minute more, stirring. Stir in sesame oil. Serve hot over rice.

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