An excerpt from the latest Simon Hopkinson book "Second Helpings of Roast Chicken" published by Hyperion.

secondhelpings2.jpgOne of the most astute observations on the contrary pear was noted exactly by the great Eddie Izzard during one of his wonderful shows. Izzard's gripe and frustration are well grounded. You buy a couple of pounds of slightly under-ripe, clean, and unblemished pears, with the innocent intention of allowing them to ripen up over a few days at home. "Hmmm, yes, I will arrange them in that bowl I think, put them on the sideboard, and enjoy them with some Roquefort on Friday when Michael and Gloria are coming for supper." Then, as if by magic, that very afternoon they will suddenly decide to blotch and bloat, their insides turning to a fluffy mass of woolly flesh, bereft of both taste and texture.

In fact, so frustrating is the fresh pear that when wishing to use some to fashion a hot pear desset, such as the one that follows, I will often find myself reaching for a can of Del Monte. ("This cook he need a perfect pudding? He say yeah!") But then – and I know I'm not alone here – I have always enjoyed a can of fruit, so long as it has been stored in the fridge for a few hours to become really cold. Similarly, its perfect partner, a welter of Carnation Milk, should also be well chilled for maximum enjoyment.

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baked-sweet-potato.jpgI fell in love on February 1, 2009. Two days later we got into our first and only fight. About root vegetables, specifically yams.

Before I continue I should say that I consider myself well versed in the subject. For six months in high school, I refused to eat anything but yams for dinner. Baked yams with butter. Baked yams with bananas. Yam fries. Boiled yams. Mashed yams. My mom could have thought my behavior toddler-esque the kind of thing my three-year-old cousin does “I no eat green things.” But my mom doesn’t know how to cook. So for her, my phase turned out to be pretty convenient. Poke some holes in it. Pop it in the oven. Forty minutes later, kid’s fed.

I grew out of the yam craze around the time I started making out with younger boys and failing AP Calculus exams. I have no idea if the two are related.

The point is. Yams and I have a history.

Cut to five years later.

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pumpkinwhoopieDid you know the "Whoopie pie" is the State Treat of Maine? I had no idea states had designated treats. I'm dying to know what the state treat is here...it better be candy bacon.

While making these I started thinking about why these tasty little cakes have such a silly name. I did a little research and found Whoopie pies to be a Pennsylvania Amish and New England phenomenon. I suppose this is why I never had them as a child.

Apparently the Amish women would bake up these little desserts (likely with leftover cake batter) and put them in their husband's lunches. The men would pull out these treats and yell, "whoopie".

So...this is where I laughed out loud. I just don't see a bunch of guys yelling out, "whoopie" for cake. Do you?

Oh well, maybe they did. It was a different time. It just sounds funny. There are also three states that claim to be the birthplace of the Whoopie pie; Maine, New Hampshire and Pennsylvania. This little dessert has quite a history!

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upsideapple.jpgIf you consider yourself "pie crust challenged", this recipe is your new best friend.  I first saw this pie over at Lisa's blog and I knew I had to give it a try, it looked delicious.

While I have no problem making pie crust, so many people have had bad experiences making pie crust from scratch and have just given up.  It does take practice.

This recipe was intriguing as it uses refrigerated pie crust.  I normally do not like the texture of refrigerated pie crust as opposed to homemade but a homemade pie crust is unnecessary here.  With all the sticky goodness on top of this pie your crust efforts would be lost in the shuffle.  Save homemade crust making for another pie where the crust is showcased.

This pie is absolutely fantastic and after the hubby and I ate our share, we both agreed we prefer this apple pie to regular apple pie any day.  That shocked me, but it's that good.  The flavor is out of control gooey, cinnamony and just overall out of this world. 

We are just done with regular apple pie...can you believe it?  I still can't.

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chicksalad.jpgGive me a sweet and salty combo and I’m a happy Farmer. My Autumn Harvest Chicken Salad suits said liking marvelously.

Chicken salad likes and dislikes can be about as individual as eye color, yet that is the appeal of the dish…one can create, add, take away, or combine just about any flavors and textures to make his or her very own chicken salad. Enter this Farmer’s Autumn Harvest Chicken Salad.

It is fall, ya’ll, if my raving autumnal posts haven’t given away that fact already. With a season change, flavor changes are also craved and chicken salad is a dish in which to inject these seasonal cravings. From apples to roasted pecans and walnuts to cranberries and a tangy dressing, this salad is easy, serves plenty of folks, and has just the right amount of tweaks to make it a new favorite. Roasting is the trick for this chicken salad.

Roasting the chicken and the nuts brings about a layer of flavors, a depth of richness that only this cooking technique can bring to the table, literally! I lather the thin chicken cutlets with olive oil, sundried tomatoes and garlic, and then season with cracked salt and pepper. These thin cuts of meat roast quickly at 400 degrees and make the house smell as if you’ve been cooking for days.

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