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You'll find over 325 of my favorite recipes here, including ideas for Quick meals, Cooking for 2, Feasting on Leftovers, and cooking with 5 Ingredients or Less. I'm adding new posts regularly; you can subscribe by email or RSS feed if you'd like to receive the latest recipes. Bon appétit!

Rack of Lamb for Two

October 2, 2014

By Kath Dedon

 

If you and your sweetheart like lamb, this Rack of Lamb for Two is perfect for a special evening at home.

Is it just me, or has rack of lamb become wildly expensive in the past few years? It’s always been expensive, but I don’t recall that it seemed prohibitive 30 years ago. It was something that was part of our regular rotation when we were newlyweds.

On a trip to Costco this week I spotted rack of lamb from Australia for $11.99 a pound. That’s still expensive, but it’s much less expensive than what I see in the grocery store. Having had good luck with other meats from Costco, I decided to give it a try.

I used my favorite recipe from my old Sunset Cooking for Two…or Just for You cookbook. It’s foolproof, and that’s what you want with an expensive cut of meat.

The lamb was fantastic and a real treat! I am glad to know that I can get a top-quality rack of lamb at a more reasonable price at Costco.

I like to make the lamb the star of the meal, so I usually serve it with a simple vegetable and a salad. Serve with a glass of red wine and  it feels like a “date night” at home!

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Rack of Lamb for Two_edited-1

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Rack of Lamb for Two

(Adapted from a recipe in Sunset Cooking for Two)

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(print the recipe)

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Serves 2

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1½ tablespoons butter, at room temperature

1 tablespoon minced parsley

1 small clove garlic, minced or pressed

Dash of salt and pepper

An 8-rib rack of lamb

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Costco rack of lamb

Costco rack of lamb

  1. Preheat the oven to 400˚.

 

  1. Mix the butter, parsley, garlic, salt and pepper together.

Ingredients

  1. Put the rack of lamb, meat-side up, on a rimmed baking sheet. (I covered mine with foil for easy clean-up.) Spread the butter mixture over the meat.

Butter spread on lamb

  1. Roast for 30 minutes.

 

  1. Remove lamb from the oven. Cover with foil and let it rest for 10 minutes.

 

  1. Cut the roast into individual chops and serve.

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Rack of Lamb for 2

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Brussels Sprouts with Sausage

September 30, 2014

By Kath Dedon

 

Today I present a new recipe, Brussels Sprouts with Sausage, from Mark Bittman’s brand-new cookbook, How to Cook Everything Fast: A Better Way to Cook Great Food. I can’t wait to get my hands on it; I pre-ordered it and it will be delivered 1 week from today.

One could argue that I already have too many cookbooks, including several by Mr. Bittman. So why do I need this new tome of 2,000 recipes? If you’re at all familiar with my blog, you know that I am a Mark Bittman “groupie”. I love his simple instructions and relaxed attitude. Don’t have a certain ingredient? Use something else. In fact, he usually offers suggestions for substitutions. The message in all of his books: Don’t make cooking harder than it needs to be. Cooking delicious meals with real food does not need to be difficult.

I always learn new and useful information from his books. Even his most basic cookbook, aptly titled How to Cook Everything the Basics, taught me a thing or two. My current favorite roast chicken recipe is from that book.

Anyway, I am eagerly awaiting my new Mark Bittman cookbook.

The Seattle Times recently published an article about Bittman and included two recipes from the new book: Fastest Chicken (or Eggplant) Parm and Brussels Sprouts with Chorizo. Since I had Brussels sprouts in the refrigerator I decided to try that one.

I wanted to use Isernio’s Chorizo, but the store I chose was out of it. They did have Isernio’s Hot Chicken Sausage so I bought that. Bittman had suggested that chorizo, sausage or bacon could be used for the recipe. The sausage was really good, but I think chorizo would make it even better!

I really liked this recipe for Brussels Sprouts with Sausage. It takes just a small amount of sausage to deliver a lot of flavor, especially if you pick a hot variety. It’s a great side dish to serve with grilled or roasted meat or fish. It could also be paired with a substantial meatless dish to make an almost vegetarian meal. (The article did mention that several Times readers said they liked to use Soyrizo, a vegan meat substitute. So that’s an option as well.)

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P.S. If you’re in the Seattle area you can hear Mark talk about his new book and fast cooking at 7:30pm on October 14 at Town Hall. :) http://goo.gl/ffWM6o

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Brussels Sprouts with Sausage

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Brussels Sprouts with Sausage

(Adapted from a recipe in Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything Fast)

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I used ghee since I had just made a fresh batch, but you can also use olive oil as the original recipe suggests.

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(print the recipe)

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Serves 4

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2 tablespoons ghee (or olive oil)

3.3 ounces fresh hot Italian sausage (each Isernio link is about 3.3 ounces)

1½ pounds Brussels sprouts

½ cup water

Salt and pepper to taste

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Ingredients: Sausage (I used only one link), ghee, and Brussels sprouts

Ingredients for Brussels Sprouts with Sausage

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  1. Trim the Brussels sprouts and cut them in half.
  1. Heat the ghee in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the sausage and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 3 – 5 minutes.

Sausage in the pan

 

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  1. Add the Brussels sprouts to the skillet. Add the ½ cup of water. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cover and cook for about 10 minutes, or until just tender. (Smaller sprouts may take less time.) Check on them a time or two and add a bit more water, if necessary.

 Sprouts after cooking for about 10 minutes

Brussels Sprouts with Sausage in the pan

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  1. When the sprouts are just about done, remove the cover and raise the heat to medium high. Cook, stirring just once or twice, for a couple of more minutes. The liquid should evaporate and the sprouts should be starting to get brown.
  1. Taste and add more salt and pepper if necessary. Serve hot or warm.

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3 Brussels Sprouts with Sausage

 

 

 

 

 

Cucumber Tomato Salad with Feta Cheese

September 2, 2014

By Kath Dedon

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Yesterday was Labor Day and we had a simple family dinner. I grilled cheeseburgers and Metropolitan Market’s superior nitrite-free hot dogs. Laura was thrilled that I had bought some cream cheese and made caramelized onions so she could have a “Seattle dog”. (I have to say that the sweet-salty-creamy combo is quite good.)

The burgers and dogs were clearly the stars of the meal. I wanted a side dish that would be simple and fresh to serve with them. With our abundance of cherry tomatoes, a recipe on Jeanette’s Healthy Living sounded perfect. I swapped cherry tomatoes for the 2 tomatoes that Jeanette used, and 1 English cucumber for the 2 regular. She added extra-aged goat cheese to her salad. Knowing that Byron doesn’t like goat cheese, I used feta.

The Cucumber Tomato Salad with Feta Cheese was the perfect side dish with the rest of the meal. I only took one quick iPhone photo of the salad, but I just had to share the recipe. It’s so quick and easy to put it together. I highly recommend it, especially if you have fabulous homegrown tomatoes. It’s like summer in a bowl!

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Cucumber Tomato Salad with Feta Cheese

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Cucumber Tomato Salad with Feta Cheese

(Adapted from a recipe on the Jeanette’s Healthy Living blog)

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(print the recipe)

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If you use regular cucumbers you may want to seed them. It’s not necessary with the English cucumber.

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Serves 4 – 5

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1 long English cucumber, peeled (or 2 regular cucumbers)

2 – 3 cups cherry tomatoes, cut in half (or 2 tomatoes, chopped)

1 red pepper, chopped

1 green onion, cut into thin slices

2 -3 ounces Feta cheese, cut or crumbled into small pieces

A drizzle of extra virgin olive oil

A drizzle of white balsamic vinegar

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  1. Cut the peeled cucumber into quarters lengthwise and then slice.
  2. Toss all of the ingredients together in a bowl.

Could that be any easier?

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We need a ladder to harvest the cherry tomatoes from our 9-foot plant!

Bob harvesting tomatoesa

Cucumber Tomato Salad with Feta Cheese 2

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A Day Trip to Paradise

August 27, 2014

By Kath Dedon

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I have no recipes for you today. This post is all about a fantastic day trip for those of you living in or visiting the Pacific Northwest.

How many people can say that they can take a day trip to Paradise? Last weekend Bob and I did just that. Paradise is the main, and most popular, visitors area in Mt. Rainier National Park.

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Mount Rainier National Park map

Knowing that Mt. Rainier National Park is wildly popular in July and August, we knew we should probably get an early start. We left the house at 8:00am and headed south via highway 161 through Puyallup, South Hill, Graham and Eatonville. We learned that the traffic is pretty horrible through Puyallup and South Hill, not because there is so much traffic, but because the numerous traffic lights are not coordinated to keep the traffic moving. We’d take a different route next time.

We reached our first destination, the Copper Creek Inn and Restaurant, at about 10:00 and stopped for breakfast. The restaurant is just 2 miles from the Nisqually entrance to Mt. Rainier National Park and has been popular since 1946. We felt lucky to get a table right away because it was full of people who were obviously on their way to the Park.

Breakfast was fantastic! The eggs and hash browns were perfect. Bob’s ham was delicious. The toast was made with homemade bread and served with blackberry jam and raspberry butter. As we were getting ready to leave, we got a glimpse of a big tray of homemade dough for hoagie rolls ready to be baked for the lunch menu’s French dip sandwiches. They serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Don’t miss it if you have the opportunity to eat there.

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Copper Creek Inn and Restaurant

Copper Creek Inn

After breakfast we continued on to the Park. It costs $15 a day for a car and its occupants to enter the park, but if you are over 62 you can get a lifetime pass for all of the National Parks in the whole country for just $10. Such a bargain! I told Bob that we should perhaps get an RV and travel from park to park. (Just kidding!!)

National Parks Pass

It took 30 or 40 minutes driving on a winding road to reach Paradise. When we were about halfway there, we began seeing signs that said the parking lots were full. “Be prepared to drive through.” We remained optimistic that we would find some place to park.

As we got closer to the parking lots, we noticed people parking on the shoulder and hiking in the rest of the way. We got to the main parking lot at about 11:40 and, sure enough, it was full with cars circling around. We noticed a family getting ready to leave, and parked behind them waiting to pull in when they left.

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The view of “The Mountain” from the parking lot at Paradise (#18 on the map below). See the man heading towards us in the biking outfit? He and his family were about to leave their parking space which they bequeathed to us. He and his son(?) prepared their bikes to ride down the mountain and the rest of the family took the car.

Paradise_edited-2

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Read more about the map and the other points of interest here.

aRerainier_map_850w

 

It was so crowded around the parking lots and visitor center (#18 on the map). There were people from all over the world, as evidenced by all of the different languages we heard. We were amazed, though, that once we got out on the trails, there weren’t that many people.

We hiked around the trails for about an hour and a half and were delighted to see that we were not too late for the wildflowers. They were beautiful!

A meadowa

A meadow full of flowersa

Love the Indian Paintbrush!

Indian Paintbrush

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We especially enjoyed the Nisqually Vista Trail (#21) which took us through meadows of wildflowers and then led us to the Trail to the Nisqually Glacier View (#19.) It went along a ridge with a fabulous view of the Nisqually Glacier and a roaring glacial river.

Nisqually Vistaa

Meadow and mountaina

Tadpoles in a little pool!

tadpolesa

The Nisqually Glacier

Nisqually Glaciera

Roaring glacial river – wish my photo could have captured the sound

Roaring glacial river

 

When we found our way back to the parking lot, we went in to the Paradise Inn, which was built in 1916. It’s a rustic, but beautiful, building. There’s a lovely dining room available. I don’t know how it is, but they say they use organic and local ingredients.

 Paradise Inn

Paradise Inn

Inside Paradise Inn – bustling with activity….and nappers

Inside Paradise Inn

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After viewing the lodge we went back to our car and continued east to the Grove of the Patriarchs (#8). Once again, the small parking lot was full, but we have a small car and Bob managed to squeeze it into a spot.

At the Grove of the Patriarchs we went on the 1.5 mile loop trail to see an amazing forest of some of the largest and oldest trees in the area. Over the years, many of them have fallen over the trail, so they were cut where they fell to clear the path.

Lots of fallen treesa

Twin towering trees

In order to get to the “grove” with the most amazing trees, you have to cross a wobbly bridge over a creek. It’s suggested that you go one person at a time.

The bouncy bridgea

A LARGE fallen tree

Bob and the big fallen treea

A very large treea

Leaving the “grove” and getting ready to cross back over the bridge, Bob observed that the creek looked like a very promising fly fishing creek. I know he made a mental note to check it out in the future.

nice stream

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There were picnic tables available, so we pulled out our picnic lunch. Bob was so excited to have fried chicken, even though it was from the deli and not homemade. I was happy with leftover roast chicken.

Fried Chicken lunch

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After lunch we headed north on 410 to take a different route home. We decided to take the 6-mile side trip up to Crystal Mountain just to see what it looks like in the summer. We were amazed at how busy it was! They have really developed a popular summer destination. Once more, there was NO PARKING in the main lot. We parked illegally since we were only going to take a quick look. There were a lot of people like us, just up to visit. There was a also wedding party getting ready to take the gondola up to the restaurant for a wedding.

A slope at Crystal Mountain Ski Area in the summer

Crystal Mountain

 

We quickly looked around, and then returned to 410 and continued north and west to Enumclaw and then north on 169 through Maple Valley to head home. The drive home was really much prettier than the morning drive and it was nice to see different sights.

We arrived home at about 6:30 and felt like we had had a full day. It turned out to be more of an expedition than I was expecting, but it was so much fun to be out in the mountain air on a beautiful summer day. There’s a reason the visitor center and the Inn were named Paradise. It is really beautiful and I highly recommend it!

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Nisqually Glacier 2

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Sweet-and-Sour Peppers with Oil-Cured Olives

August 19, 2014

By Kath Dedon

 

I have made Sweet-and-Sour Peppers with Oil-Cured Olives twice in the last three days. It is that good, and it is very easy to make.

The recipe is adapted from one in Domenica Marchetti’s The Glorious Vegetables of Italy, which is an inspiring cookbook with a lot of gorgeous photos. I didn’t change much, but I did lower the salt a bit and substituted 1 tablespoon of honey for the 1 tablespoon of sugar that Domenica uses.

We loved this simple preparation as a side dish, but it also makes a great antipasto offering. Domenica suggests using it in a frittata, on a pizza, or tossed with pasta.

Sweet-and-Sour Peppers with Oil-Cured Olives is perfect for summer entertaining since it can be made ahead of time. It’s fantastic served hot, warm, or at room temperature. If you make it in advance and refrigerate it, let it come to room temperature before serving.

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Sweet-and-sour peppers with oil-cured olives

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Sweet-and-Sour Peppers with Oil-Cured Olives

(Adapted from Domenica Marchetti’s recipe in The Glorious Vegetables of Italy)

 

(print the recipe)

 

Serves 4 – 6

 

I made the recipe to take to a dinner party, so I chose to double it to serve 10 – 12. It was easy to do, but I used 2 large skillets because it would have been difficult to prepare the 8 peppers in one pan.

 

Ingredients for 4 – 6 servings (for one pan)

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 large red peppers, cut lengthwise into ¾-inch strips

2 large yellow peppers, cut lengthwise into ¾-inch strips

1 cup thinly sliced red onion (about ½ large)

¾ teaspoon fine sea salt

1 tablespoon honey

3 tablespoons white wine vinegar

¼ cup (about 45g) oil-cured olives (about 15 olives)

 

1. Prepare all of the ingredients so they are ready to go. (This technique is known as “mise en place” and it really does make the cooking process easier.)

2. I like to cut the ribs out of the peppers for a better presentation.

Cutting the ribs out

3. Cut the pits from the oil-cured olives, and cut them in half.

olives

4. Measure the white wine vinegar.

vinegar

5. Add the honey to the vinegar.

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Two sets of “mise en place” ingredients for 2 skillets when I doubled the recipe.

Salt, olives, honey and vinegar

Mise en place

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6. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When it is shimmering, add the peppers and the onions. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 15 minutes, or until the peppers are starting to soften.

 

I used 2 skillets when I doubled the recipe.a

recipe doubled

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7. Sprinkle the salt over the peppers. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, for an additional 15 minutes. The peppers and onions should be soft and just starting to brown a bit.

8. Stir the honey and the vinegar together to make sure the honey is well-blended in the vinegar. Pour the mixture over the peppers. Raise the heat to medium-high and cook, stirring, for about 2 minutes or until most of the vinegar has evaporated.

9. Stir in the olives and cook, stirring, for another 2 minutes.

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finished - one pan

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10. Put the peppers in a serving bowl and serve hot, warm, or at room temperature.

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And, yes, I did wear my onion goggles to slice the onion! :)

onion goggles

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Sweet-and-sour peppers with oil-cured olives - tall

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Mongolian Beef

August 11, 2014

By Kath Dedon

 

Mongolian Beef is one of my favorite things to order in Asian restaurants so I was excited to try Cooking Light’s lightened up version. I’ve made it twice now. When I made it a couple of nights ago Bob said, “This is really good!” And it really is! It may be lighter than the restaurant versions, but it doesn’t skimp on flavor.

I adopted the recipe to serve 2, but I increased some of the sauce ingredients and aromatics (garlic and ginger) to make it just a bit saucier and spicier. For example, the original recipe calls for 1 tablespoon each of garlic and ginger to serve 4. I used 1 tablespoon each of garlic and ginger to serve 2 and it was perfect for us.

This Mongolian Beef is a quick and easy dinner for 2 that I know I’ll be making often. Once you have all of the ingredients prepped, it cooks in less than 5 minutes making it a perfect choice for a hot summer night! (It’s going to be at least 90˚ in Seattle today!)

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Mongolian Beef

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Mongolian Beef

(Adapted from a Cooking Light recipe)

 

Cooking Light suggests using a large nonstick skillet and my new T-Fal skillet is perfect. I think if I were doubling the recipe, though, I’d cook the beef in two batches so the pan isn’t too crowded. Then just add all the beef back in when you add the onions and the sauce.

 

(print the recipe)

 

Serves 2 (double for 4 servings)

 

1½ tablespoons lower-sodium soy sauce (I used gluten-free tamari)

¾ teaspoon sugar

¾ teaspoon cornstarch

1½ teaspoons dry sherry

1½ teaspoons hoisin sauce (I used gluten-free Wok Mei)

¾ teaspoon rice vinegar

1 teaspoon chile paste with garlic (such as sambal oelek)

¼ teaspoon kosher salt (use less if you’re using table salt)

2 teaspoons oil

1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger

1 tablespoon (about 3 cloves) minced fresh garlic

½ pound sirloin steak, cut across grain into thin slices

8 medium-sized green onions, cut into 2-inch lengths

Some of the ingredients

Some of the ingredients for Mongolian Beef

 aTop sirloin thinly slicedGreen onions, sliced

 

1. Mix the first 8 ingredients together.

2. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Add the oil and tilt the skillet to spread it around.

3. Add the beef, ginger, and garlic to the pan. Cook until the beef is done and starting to brown (2 – 3 minutes).

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I found tongs made it easy to separate and turn the beef slices. Beef, ginger, and garlic

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4. Add the green onions and cook, stirring, for about 30 seconds.

Add onionsa

 

5. Add the sauce and cook, stirring, for 30 – 60 seconds, until hot and thickened.

Add sauce

 

6. Serve over rice noodles or steamed rice.

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Mongolian Beef 2a

Gluten Free Southern Fried Chicken

July 23, 2014

By Kath Dedon

 

For more than 30 years I have been hearing from Bob about how outrageous the fried chicken was at Chez Heléne in New Orleans. The chef behind the chicken was Austin Leslie. Austin had lived primarily with his Aunt Helen growing up and had learned a lot about cooking from her before working at a couple of restaurants. When Aunt Helen opened Chez Heléne in 1964,  Austin was ready to go to work for her.

I never got to try the food at Chez Heléne; Austin closed it in 1995. He moved on to other ventures and continued to cook his legendary Fried Chicken.

Austin wrote a wonderful cookbook that was published in 2000 called Austin Leslie’s Creole-Soul: New Orleans’ Cooking with a Soulful Twist. It has his chicken recipe along with many other recipes that I’m eager to try. If you like soul food, this is the real deal.

I decided to make Gluten Free Southern Fried Chicken using Austin’s recipe. I was curious about how the recipe would compare with my Buttermilk Fried Chicken which we love. They’re very similar, but Austin uses a mixture of half-and-half (or light cream), a beaten egg, and water instead of buttermilk. He doesn’t soak the chicken; in fact, he says not to soak the chicken.

One of his “secret” techniques is to pierce the largest part of each piece with a heavy two-pronged fork after they have cooked for about 8 minutes. It lets some of the oil seep in to speed up cooking without making it extra greasy.

For the flour, I substituted the America’s Test Kitchen’s gluten free flour blend and it worked amazingly well. Bob said he couldn’t tell the difference between it and regular wheat flour.

So what was our verdict? Both recipes produce fabulous fried chicken, but I think I may have liked Austin’s recipe a little bit better. It had been so long since Bob had eaten at Chez Heléne that he couldn’t really compare it to the restaurant’s. He just declared it to be delicious and requested that I make it again next week tomorrow. (I said no.)

I liked the fact that you don’t have to plan ahead to soak the Gluten Free Southern Fried Chicken. The actual cooking seemed a little more labor intensive with Austin’s recipe, but part of the reason for that was because the chicken breasts I had were too large. Even after cutting them in half I had to do the chicken in 2 batches. It’s hard to find a small chicken, but it works much better if you can find one. The whole chickens at my store were 4 – 5 pounds, so I opted for 3.16 pounds of cut-up chicken. Even then, the breasts were too large.

If you feel like indulging in some soulful Southern food, I highly recommend this Gluten Free Southern Fried Chicken. If you don’t have a problem with wheat (or gluten) just substitute all-purpose flour and you’ll have fabulous Southern Fried Chicken!

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Gluten Free Southern Fried Chicken closer

 

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Gluten Free Southern Fried Chicken

(Adapted from Austin Leslie’s recipe in his Creole-Soul cookbook using the gluten free flour blend from The How Can This Be Gluten Free Cookbook from America’s Test Kitchen)

 

The recipe suggests garnishing the finished chicken with chopped dill pickles, chopped garlic, and chopped parsley before serving. Bob doesn’t remember that from Chez Heléne so I didn’t use it. Perhaps Austin used it later in his career.

 

(print the recipe)

 

Serves 4

 

Ingredients clockwise from lower left: flour, egg, peanut oil, half & half, salt, pepper (in grinder), and chicken

Ingredients for fried chicken

 

1½ cups peanut oil for frying

1 (2½ – 3) pound fryer, cut up, or pieces

Salt and Pepper

1 egg, lightly beaten

1 cup half & half (or light cream)

1 cup water

3/4 cup gluten free flour blend (or all-purpose flour, if you don’t need gluten free)

Chopped dill pickles for garnish (optional)

1 Tbsp. chopped garlic (optional)

1 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley (optional)

 

1. Heat the oil in a large skillet to 350˚. (This takes a good 10 – 15  minutes.) Use a thermometer for frying for best results; I find it’s essential.

Oil reflecting the wall behind the stove. The thermometer is extremely helpful.

peanut oil in cast iron skillet and thermometer

 

2. If you have too much chicken for 1 batch, preheat the oven to 170˚ (warm), and put a large baking sheet in it. Put racks in the baking sheet if you have some.

racks in a baking sheet

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3. Cut the chicken breasts in half so they will cook more quickly and evenly. Rinse them well to remove any little bits of bone there may be from cutting them in half and dry them off with paper towels.

4. Sprinkle the chicken pieces with salt and pepper.

5. Combine the egg, half & half, water, 1 teaspoon salt, and a bit of pepper in a bowl.

6. Put the flour in another bowl or pie plate.

7. When the oil is 350˚ dip the chicken in the egg batter first and then in the flour. Add them skin-side down to the pan. Do not crowd the pan! (I did the breast pieces first because they were so large and did the rest of the pieces in a second batch.)

8. Cook the pieces for about 5 – 6 minutes; pierce the thickest part of each piece with a large, two-pronged fork and turn them over for an additional 5 – 6 minutes. Monitor the temperature of the oil and adjust the heat as needed. (Large pieces may take a bit longer. My large breast pieces took a total of about 18 – 20 minutes.)

I found it best to cover the pan, especially with the larger pieces. I used another baking sheet for a makeshift lid.

makeshift lid

 

9. As the pieces get done, use tongs to remove them from the pan and put them on the baking sheet in the oven to keep warm.

10. If it’s necessary to do 2 batches, repeat with the second batch after the first is done.

11. Garnish the finished chicken with the pickles, garlic, and parsley if you’re using them and enjoy!

 

Gluten Free Southern Fried Chicken 2

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