By Kim Dannies
For better or worse, the holiday season can really throw the schedule off—the lists are long and the time is short. Now is a good moment to reflect upon what brings us real joy and let the rest go. A goal for making our homes feel like a cozy haven is that we have time to sink into the comfort we have created and experience a buffer against the holiday jingle and jangle.
Delicious meals are essential to this process. It’s cold outside; we need to eat well to maintain stamina and good humor, so plan meals with care. Personally, I think there is nothing finer than a simple roasted chicken (paired with a fruity shiraz) for dinner. It perfumes the air with citrus, herb, and garlic, it is cheap, and it feeds many (even fussy guests). Supplement it with easy, creamy pasta and you are more than halfway to bliss. So, don’t get your tinsel in a tangle this holiday season. When you make time to relish the joy, all will be merry and bright, even if every little detail is not just right.
Simple roasted herb chicken
Choose a bird, note cooking directions and weight, unwrap, discard giblets and rinse under cool water. Place in a roasting pan and sprinkle salt all over the skin. Stuff the bird with a big lemon or orange that has been sliced in half, a few garlic cloves, and a handful of rosemary, sage and/or thyme. This step can be done two days ahead. Roast the chicken (20 minutes per pound) in a 375-degree oven.
Creamy goat cheese pasta
This simple sauce is amazingly versatile. Prepared a day ahead (or even frozen), it is best on whole-wheat penne pasta (16-24 ounces) boiled for 12 minutes. In a food processor or blender, mince three garlic cloves and the peel of one lemon. Add 2 cups fresh basil leaves, 8 ounces creamy goat cheese, 1/2 cup milk, and the juice of the lemon. Blend 30 seconds until a thick sauce forms; season with sea salt and fresh pepper. Toss sauce with hot pasta. Recipes serve 6.
Kim Dannies is a graduate of La Varenne Cooking School in France. She lives in Williston with her husband, Jeff; they have three twenty-something daughters who come and go. For archived Everyday Gourmet columns go to kimdannies.com.