It may have been Charlie Sheen's obnoxious use of the above term over the past week, but I came to a revelation of sorts this week in regards to my cooking: Winging it = Winning it! As I reflect on our meals over the past six months (yes, I keep a food journal), I realized that all of our very favorites have been either made up, interpreted, or tweaked from something I saw on the Food Network or decided looked good in Southern Living. Just give me the ingredients, and I'll figure out a way to get to the end result. The only problem with this method, is that I get so caught up in the moment, listening to my music, sipping my wine, and putting everything together, that I often forget to write down exactly what I did.
Cooking Light is a magazine I subscribe to, and is also a go-to website when I'm looking for new healthy weeknight recipe ideas that won't leave me stranded in the kitchen for hours after a long work day. I whipped this meal up in under an hour on Wednesday night and it was a WIN! The description of the recipe lured me in, but once I read through all of the steps, I neatly placed it back into my recipe binder. I had already swapped out squash for sweet potatoes and should have known that after that switch, it was all over! Sometimes you just have to go with the flow, and trust that your final result will just twirl on your taste buds. This surely did!
This might be the first time that I have posted an entire meal from start to finish...so don't let the lengthy directions scare you. I promise this was making its way to our bellies in under an hour!
Pan Roasted Chicken, Sweet Potatoes
and Chard Salad with Warm Bacon Vinaigrette
Recipe adapted from Cooking Light
4 chicken leg quarters
1 fuji apple, thinly sliced
1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
4 Swiss Chard leaves, thinly sliced
Bacon Vinaigrette (recipe below)
1 extra large sweet potato, cubed
Salt & pepper to season
1 Tbsp. real maple syrup
2 slices bacon, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup mushrooms, sliced
Red wine vinegar
Start by pre-heating the oven to 400 degrees. Place chicken leg quarters in a baking dish. To prepare your chicken, combine salt and pepper in a bowl. Lift chicken skin and rub with salt and pepper mixture, and add some minced garlic. I also stuff a slice of lemon under the skin for extra flavor. Drizzle with olive oil and lemon juice, and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a meat thermometer reaches 160 degrees.
Peel and cube the sweet potato, drizzle with very little olive oil and season with salt and pepper. I sauteed these in a pan until they were beautifully caramelized and golden brown. If you don't want an extra thing to "babysit" while you are prepping your salad, roast them on a baking sheet and throw them in the oven with the chicken for about 25 minutes. When they are done, toss with 1 Tbsp. of pure maple syrup.
Meanwhile, combine swiss chard, sliced apples and lemon juice in a large bowl and toss together. Set aside.
To make the vinaigrette, cook two pieces of bacon until nice and crispy. When the bacon is done, remove from the pan and leave the bacon grease. This will be used as the oil portion of the vinaigrette. Do not turn the stove off, to keep the grease warm. Mince two cloves of garlic and sautee in the bacon oil. It will sizzle immediately so constantly stir it until the garlic is cooked. Add some red wine vinegar to de-glaze the pan and get all of the juicy bacon flavors. Toss the sliced mushrooms into the pan and coat with the vinaigrette. Serve warm over the chard salad.
Note: The bacon I used was extremely lean and did not yield a lot of oil while cooking. I added in about an extra tablespoon of olive oil to my vinaigrette.