10 Mistakes You’re Making with Raw Chicken

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Many home cooks may not realize the simple, but potentially dangerous mistakes they’re making with raw chicken. If not handled correctly, you may set yourself and your family up for some seriously sad tummy troubles.

These are 10 potential mistakes even experienced home cooks make with raw chicken.

Storing chicken improperly

The tiny drawing of a turkey on your refrigerator shelf may seem like a helpful hint for picking where you should store your cellophane-wrapped packages of poultry. That’s not always the best indicator.

Chicken juices tend to leak and drip from packages, which means if it’s stored on a shelf above ready-to-eat foods like fruits and vegetables, you could contaminate a great deal of the food in your fridge.

Solution: Place chicken packages on a plate or in a casserole dish, and store them on the bottom shelf or in the bottom drawer of your fridge. The plate will capture any juices that leak, protecting everything else you have stored.

Thawing incorrectly

We don’t mean to go all food safety police here, but this is one of the most dangerous and most common mistakes you can make with your raw chicken. At room temperature, the bacteria in these birds can quickly multiply.  Salmonella is especially prolific at these warmer temps. If you leave the chicken out too long such as you might when you’re thawing it for tonight’s dinner you could set up camp for bacteria that will result in foodborne illness (i.e. food poisoning).

Solution: Don’t put the frozen chicken on the counter or in the sink to thaw. While the center of the chicken is ice cold, the outer portions will be too warm to stop bacterial growth. Instead, thaw the chicken in your fridge up to two days ahead of when you plan to cook with it. That will give the chicken’s thickest parts plenty of time to de-ice while keeping the outside portions chilled and more importantly, safe.

Not letting chicken warm up a bit

After the last raw chicken mistake, this may seem counterintuitive, but hear us out: You don’t want to leave the chicken out too long (remember, food poisoning), but you also don’t want to cook it straight from the fridge.

Leaving the chicken out at room temperature for 15 minutes will make the chicken cook more evenly, helping you avoid a brown outside with a raw, undercooked inside.

Solution: When you’re gathering all of the ingredients for dinner, go ahead and take the chicken (in the plate or dish where it’s stored) out of the fridge. Let it sit for no more than 15 minutes.

Rinsing chicken before you cook it

If you give your birds a bath before you bake them, it’s time to stop. Raw chicken doesn’t need to be and should not be rinsed before cooking. You may think you’re rinsing away bacteria—salmonella is a big concern with chicken—but you may actually just be spreading it. In fact, research suggests you may splash bacteria as far as three feet from your sink when you rinse poultry.

Solution: Skip the bath. Cook chicken directly from the package, and you’ll cut down on possible contamination around your kitchen.

Not drying your chicken

Didn’t we just tell you not to wash chicken? We did. But you should definitely dry your chicken before you cook it.

That’s because fluids from processing and packaging chicken are often washed in a saline solution to keep it looking moist when on the shelf can make your chicken soggy when you put it right into the pan. A dry bird gets more beautiful browning and a wonderfully crisp sear.

Solution: Before you put the chicken in the pan or on the grill, give it a quick dab with paper towels. Better yet, let the chicken air-dry in the refrigerator for a few hours. To do this, you’ll place the chicken on a tray or platter and leave it, uncovered, in your fridge. The air will wick away moisture from the skin of the chicken, leaving it nice and dry for crisp searing. (Dry brining is a popular technique for getting really crispy turkey skin at Thanksgiving.)

Marinating your chicken the wrong way

Marinating is a great technique for adding flavor with minimal effort. You need only combine your chicken pieces with your homemade marinade and let it rest for several hours before it’s time to cook it.

However, you’re making a big mistake if you leave your chicken on the counter to marinate while you prepare all the other components for your meal. You could set yourself up for a foodborne illness.

Solution: Once you have your marinade, pour it into a zip-top bag or container that closes. (A lidded container is fine as long as the lid won’t fly off.) Then, add your chicken. Toss gently to coat the chicken in the marinade, and immediately put it back into the fridge. Toss or flip the chicken a few more times to get all pieces of chicken evenly coated.

When you’re finished with the marinade, throw the bag right into the trash or empty it from the container down the sink. Marinade that has come into contact with raw chicken is not reusable, even if you boil it. It’s just too risky. Instead, save some of your marinade before you combine it with the chicken, and use it for a last-second brushing before serving.

The raw chicken comes into contact with other foods

If space is at a premium in your petite kitchen, you may be tempted to reuse surfaces (i.e. cutting boards) to keep from dirtying up extra dishes. Don’t do it.

Chop raw chicken on a separate prep board from other ingredients you might be slicing or mincing for your meal. If you chop kale on the same board you sliced chicken, you could cross-contaminate the leafy greens with juices from the bird. That’s possible even if you wipe the board down with a sanitizing towel. Bacteria are just too difficult to eliminate without a high-temperature wash, like that of a dishwasher.

Reusing kitchen tools without washing

If you use the same tongs to flip raw chicken as you do to toss the side salad you’ve prepared, you may be cross contaminating your raw ingredients with the bacteria from your raw chicken. This increases your risk for foodborne illnesses and food poisoning.

Solution: You need to set aside all utensils that come into contact with raw meat, and don’t use them for other foods. Then, you should wash them thoroughly after each use so as to prevent the spread of poultry juices.

Not washing your hands after handling raw chicken

Your hands are the most useful tool you have in your kitchen. They’re also the most likely to spread bacteria.

Indeed, you may easily cross-contaminate your entire kitchen if you use your dirty hands to handle chicken, turn on a sink, grab a fork from the drawer, and open the refrigerator. Each surface you come into contact with may now harbor potentially deadly bacteria.

Solution: Take extra care to notice what and where you touch after handling raw chicken. Better yet, “save” one hand for non-chicken related tasks. As soon as you’ve flipped the chicken or put it in the bag for marinating, use your non-chicken hand to turn on the faucet at the sink and pump some soap. Wash your hands thoroughly, and dry with a clean towel. Don’t use a towel you’ve used to wipe down surfaces around your kitchen, or you could pick up any bacteria the towel is hiding.

Ripping skin off the meat with your hands

If you’ve tried tugging chicken skin off breasts, thighs, or drumsticks before cooking them, you know how slippery those pieces can be. One stuck-on piece of sinew and your main course may be sent flying into the floor.

It’s also smart to leave the skin on cuts like thighs and drumsticks because the fat can infuse the meat with flavor during the cooking process. You can just remove the skin before serving.

Solution: Give your grippers a rest and use a paring knife instead. The short knives are easy to grip and quickly cut away at the tough tissue. They can also be easier to handle, which reduces the risk of losing any precious meat during the trimming process.

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10 Mistakes You’re Making with Raw Chicken

Basic Orecchiette Pasta

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This handmade pasta is delicious with the classic broccoli raab sauce, with an uncooked sauce of tomatoes and basil, or in a cream sauce with mussels and mint. The dough comes out best if you work the water in very slowly; don’t try to bring in too much flour at one time. Flour amounts are listed by weight (oz.) and by volume (cups); use either measurement.

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I made mine with chicken and home-made pesto with basil from my garden, with a little cilantro and parmesan on the top.  It was yummy and very easy.  It does take a little time. I usually watch the cooking channel or a funny movie.  You have to happy when you cook.

Ingredients

225 g/ 1 1/2 cup semolina flour

255 g/3/4 cup + I Tbl unbleached all-purpose flour

255 g/1 cup warm water

2 tsp salt

Preparation

1. In a bowl, whisk the flours together well. Mound the flour on a work surface, make a deep well in the center and pour 2 Tbs. of the water in the center. With two fingers, stir in a little flour from the walls of the well. When the water is absorbed and a paste has formed, repeat with more water until you have a soft but not sticky dough.

You can do this in your KitchenAid with the dough hook.

2. Knead the dough on a lightly floured surface until it’s smooth and supple, 7 to 8 minutes. If it crumbles during kneading, wet your hands to moisten the dough slightly. Cut off a golfball-size chunk of dough; cover the rest with plastic wrap. Roll the chunk into a cylinder about 1 inch in diameter. With a very sharp knife, slice the cylinder into disks about 1/8 inch thick

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3. Pick up a disk. If it’s squashed from cutting, squeeze it slightly between your thumb and index finger to return it to a circular shape. Put the disk in the palm of one hand and press down on it with the thumb of your other hand. Swivel your hand (not your thumb) twice to thin the center of the ear, leaving the rim a little thicker. If the dough sticks to your thumb, dip your thumb in a little flour as you work. Repeat with the rest of the dough. As you finish the disks, lay them on a clean dishtowel. When you’ve shaped an entire cylinder, sprinkle a little flour over the ears and repeat the process with a new chunk of dough.

4. If you’re not cooking the pasta immediately, spread the rounds out on floured baking sheets and leave them at room temperature at least overnight, or until they’re hard enough that you can’t slice them with a knife. (The time they take to dry depends on humidity and the moisture level in the dough itself.) Once the orecchiette is dry, transfer them to covered jars and store at room temperature.

5. You can as an alternative, freeze them on a baking sheet with parchment and then put in a sealed container once they are frozen.  Cook directly from the freezer – do not thaw.

 

6. Bring a large pot filled with salted water to a simmer over medium-high heat.  Add the orecchiette and simmer until they float to the surface, 2-3 minutes.  Simmer for 1-2 minutes more, until al dente.  Remove immediately with a slotted spoon and serve right away.

 

The recipe I used is from “Pasta by Hand” by Jenn Louis and I totally recommend buying this book!

Basic Orecchiette Pasta

Garlic Butter Mushroom Stuffed Chicken

Aren’t we all looking for a million different ways to use chicken.  I found this recipe on Cafe Delites, a blog I follow, but will make a few changes next time I make it.  The sauce was very heavy.  I made it early in the afternoon and put it in my warming drawer.  This is one you need to make and immediately serve or the sauce gets gummy and too think.  I served it over sautéed spiraled squash and the sauce was great on that.   Pasta is always a wonderful choice or rice when the a sauce is creamy and garlicky!  And whatever you do, do not count calories on this one.  It comes in about 600 calories per serving.  Not a diet night!
Screen Shot 2018-02-02 at 10.03.01 AMMushrooms:
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 8 ounces (250 grams) brown mushrooms, sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley chopped
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
Chicken:
  • 4 chicken breasts, skinless and boneless (I only used two and it made enough for four)
  • Salt and pepper, to season
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley (Fresh is always better to me)
  • 8 slices mozzarella cheese  (I prefer fresh Mozzarella, so substituted)
  • 1/4 cup fresh grated parmesan cheese
Garlic Parmesan Cream Sauce:
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 large cloves garlic minced or finely chopped (Okay so I love garlic and used 4)
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1-1/2 cups half and half
  • 1/2 cup finely grated fresh Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch cornflour mixed with 2 teaspoons of water (OPTIONAL FOR A THICKER SAUCE)   [I do not recommend, as it made the sauce way too think]
  • 2 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley
Instructions
Chicken:
  1. Preheat oven to 200°C or 400°F.

  2. Melt butter in a large (over 12-inch or 30 cm) oven proof pan or skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and sauté until fragrant (about 1 minute). Add in mushrooms, salt and pepper (to your tastes), and parsley. Cook while stirring occasionally until soft. Set aside and allow to cool while preparing your chicken.
  3. Pat breasts dry with a paper towel. Season with salt, pepper, onion powder and dried parsley. Rub each piece to evenly coat in seasoning.

  4. Horizontally slice a slit through the thickest part of each breast to form a pocket. Place 2 slices of mozzarella into each breast pocket. (I was using fresh, so put about four or five slices)

  5. Divide the mushroom mixture into four (in my case two, but next time I would cut each in half, as they were large) equal portions and fill each breast with the mushroom mixture. Leave the juices in the pan for later. If there are any left over mushroom, you can use them later. Top the mushroom mixture with 1 tablespoon of parmesan cheese per breast. Seal with two or three toothpicks near the opening to keep the mushrooms inside while cooking.

  6. Heat the same pan the mushrooms were in along with the pan juices (the garlic butter will start to brown and take on a ‘nutty’ flavor). Add the chicken and sear until golden. Flip and sear on the other side until golden. Cover pan and continue cooking in preheated oven for a further 20 minutes, or until completely cooked through the middle and no longer pink. (I always check temperature to be sure it makes it to 170 degrees)

  7. Serve, with pan juices and any remaining mushrooms, on top of pasta, rice or steamed vegetables.  To make the optional cream sauce, transfer chicken to a warm plate, keeping all juices in the pan.

Sauce:
  1. Fry the garlic in the leftover pan juices until fragrant (about 1 minute). Reduce heat to low heat, and add the mustard and half and half .

  2. Bring the sauce to a gentle simmer and add in any remaining mushrooms and parmesan cheese. Allow the sauce to simmer until the parmesan cheese has melted slightly. (If the sauce is too runny for your liking, add the cornstarch/water mixture into the centre of the pan and mix through fast to combine into the sauce. It will begin to thicken immediately). [oh yes it did and it was way too thick to look good]

  3. Season with a little salt and pepper to your taste. Add in the parsley and the chicken back into the pan to serve. (I like to plate my food, so could not imagine serving dinner from a pan) . 

Garlic Butter Mushroom Stuffed Chicken

Arroz con Pollo

Arroz con Pollo

Made this the other night after watching an episode of America’s Test Kitchen.  It is so good.  My husband, who is not a foodie, said to please add this to my repertoire of dinners.

Arroz con Pollo (Rice with Chicken)

Though chicken and rice is a classic combination, creating a single Latin American version was far from simple.

WHY THIS RECIPE WORKS

A staple in Latin American kitchens, arroz con pollo combines inexpensive ingredients—chicken, rice, and spices—in a filling one-pot meal. To make our version, we chose moist chicken thighs, which we browned in a Dutch oven to build flavor and render fat. We used the food processor to transform onion, cilantro, cubanelle pepper, garlic, and cumin into a flavorful sofritothat serves as the backbone for the dish. We found that we preferred medium-grain rice to long- and short-grain varieties because it gave the dish a creamy, cohesive texture. Sazón seasoning does double duty here, adding both savory flavor and vibrant color.

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INGREDIENTS

Serves 6
1 cup fresh cilantro leaves and stems, chopped
1 onion, chopped (1 cup)
1 Cubanelle pepper, stemmed, seeded, and chopped (3/4 cup)
5 garlic cloves, chopped coarse
1 teaspoon ground cumin
½ cup mayonnaise
3 ½ tablespoons lemon juice (2 lemons), plus lemon wedges for serving
Salt and pepper
6 (5- to 7-ounce) bone in chicken thigh, trimmed
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 cups medium-grain rice, rinsed
1 tablespoon Goya Sazón with Coriander and Annatto
2 ½ cups chicken broth
¼ cup pimento-stuffed green olives, halved
2 tablespoons capers, rinsed
2 bay leaves
½ cup frozen peas, thawed (optional)

Sazón is a spice blend common in Latin American cooking. We developed this recipe with Goya Sazón with Coriander and Annatto (or con Culantro y Achiote). It can be found in the international aisle of most supermarkets; however, other brands will work. (One tablespoon of Goya Sazón equals about two packets.) If you can’t find sazón, use our homemade version. You can substitute 3/4 cup of chopped green bell pepper for the Cubanelle pepper. Allow the rice to rest for the full 15 minutes before lifting the lid to check it. Long-grain rice may be substituted for medium-grain, but the rice will be slightly less creamy.

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Process cilantro, 1/2 cup onion, Cubanelle, garlic, and cumin in food processor until finely chopped, about 20 seconds, scraping down bowl as needed. Transfer sofrito to bowl.

2. Process mayonnaise, 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice, 1/8 teaspoon salt, and 2 tablespoons sofrito in now-empty processor until almost smooth, about 30 seconds. Transfer mayonnaise-herb sauce to small bowl, cover, and refrigerate until ready to serve.

3. Pat chicken dry with paper towels and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Heat oil in Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering. Add chicken to pot skin side down and cook without moving it until skin is crispy and golden, 7 to 9 minutes. Flip chicken and continue to cook until golden on second side, 7 to 9 minutes longer. Transfer chicken to plate; discard skin.

4. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons fat from pot and heat over medium heat until shimmering. Add remaining 1/2 cup onion and cook until softened, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in rice and Sazón and cook until edges of rice begin to turn translucent, about 2 minutes.

5. Stir in broth, olives, capers, bay leaves, remaining sofrito, remaining 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper, scraping up any browned bits. Nestle chicken into pot along with any accumulated juices and bring to vigorous simmer. Cover, transfer to oven, and bake for 20 minutes.

6. Transfer pot to wire rack and let stand, covered, for 15 minutes. Fluff rice with fork and stir in peas, if using. Discard bay leaves. Serve with mayonnaise-herb sauce and lemon wedges.

INGREDIENT SPOTLIGHTMEDIUM-GRAIN RICE

After experimenting with long-, medium-, and short-grain rices in our Arroz con Pollo, we decided to call for the medium type, which produced a distinct texture that we preferred. Medium-grain rices (such as Bomba) produced a creamy, cohesive result because their exterior starches thickened the dish while the grains remained firm and distinct. Long-grain varieties like basmati or jasmine will do, but the dish will be less creamy. Finally, short-grain varieties, like Arborio or sushi rice, produced a creamy texture because short-grain rice starts to release its starch (and more of it) at a lower temperature than long-grain rice does.

  • Medium-Grain: Best for arroz con pollo
  • Long-Grain: Too separate
  • Short-Grain: Too sticky

INGREDIENT SPOTLIGHTSAZÓN

Sazón (the term means “seasoning” in Spanish) is the signature spice blend of Latino home cooks; it’s used in everything from beans and rice to soups, stews, and more. There are many blends (we call for Culantro y Achiote in our Arroz con Pollo recipe), and ingredients vary, but sazón traditionally contains ground annatto (or achiote) seeds, which give dishes a rich yellow color. Garlic powder, cumin, and coriander are also often included. Sazón also typically contains monosodium glutamate (MSG), which is what supplies the savoriness. Look for sazón in the Latin American or international section of the supermarket.

SIGNATURE SEASONING

There are many Sazón varieties. Make sure you pick the right one.

THE AMERICAN TABLE 

PUERTO RICAN FLAVOR

Now in its 38th printing, Carmen Aboy Valldejuli’s Puerto Rican Cookery (1975) stands as one of the most enduring 20th-century cookbooks focused on that island’s complex cuisine.

Why so complex? As Aboy Valldejuli (cousin to Hollywood star José Ferrer) explains it, “One can seldom be exactly sure of how any really ancient dish began, of course. But it is safe to say that our cocina criolla [creole cuisine] was initiated by the first human inhabitants of the islands, the Arawaks and the Taínos. For almost five hundred years the basic ingredients the Indians used have been enriched by the culinary skills of newcomers—Spanish, British, French, Danish and Dutch settlers, and slaves brought forcibly from Africa. The delicate blends and innovations of five centuries have developed a genuine cuisine.” Also traceable back to Taíno culture? Good old American-style barbecue, based on techniques the original islanders called barbacoa.

Carmen Aboy Valldejuli worked with her husband Luis on many of the recipes in Puerto Rican Cookery, including a chapter on rum cocktails.

Arroz con Pollo

Chicken breasts with Brown Butter-Garlic Tomato Sauce.

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Simple Summer dinner with beautiful tomatoes from Central Market is perfect for a warm evening.  Cooking is a joy to me, but the down side is there is too much good food to it, so I decided to veer away from America’s Test Kitchen and Paul Hollywood’s cooking as some light dishes might be good for the waistline.  (or lack thereof)  This one was very quick and easy and I loved the richness of the sauce.  My granddaughter has not yet developed a taste for tomatoes, but when the tomatoes were removed, she ate the entire piece.  Served with Parmesan Risotto ALA Diana, a summer salad with lettuce from our garden and tiny baby carrots and beets, as my granddaughter loves both.

Recipe:
YIELDServes 4 (serving size: 1 chicken breast and about 1/3 cup tomato mixture)

Browned butter is the quick cook’s best-kept secret: Less than two minutes in the pan caramelizes the milk solids in butter for a fragrant, nutty note in any dish. Try not to chop the tomatoes too finely; you want them somewhat chunky so they’ll break down in the sauce faster, but you also want them to retain some shape. If your chicken breasts are larger than 6 ounces (some can be as big as 12 ounces), halve the two breasts horizontally instead of pounding them thin. Serve over a bed of whole-wheat couscous, whole-grain polenta, or brown rice.

Ingredients

  • 4 (6-oz.) skinless, boneless chicken breasts
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 3/4 teaspoon black pepper, divided
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 6 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 2 cups halved grape tomatoes
  • 3 tablespoons fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves

NUTRITION INFORMATION

  • calories 341
  • fat 17.3 g
  • satfat 5.6 g
  • monofat 8.1 g
  • polyfat 1.6 g
  • protein 39 g
  • carbohydrate 5 g
  • fiber 1 g
  • cholesterol 139 mg
  • iron 1 mg
  • sodium 443 mg
  • calcium 36 mg
  • sugars 4 g
  • Est. Added Sugars 0 g

How to Make It

  1. Place chicken breasts on a cutting board; pound to a 1/2-inch-thickness using a meat mallet or small, heavy skillet (all four breasts should fit in one large skillet). Sprinkle chicken with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.

  2. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Add chicken to pan; cook 4 to 5 minutes on each side or until done. Remove from pan; keep warm. Do not wipe pan clean.

  3. Reduce heat to medium. Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper, butter, and garlic to drippings in pan; cook 2 minutes or until butter just begins to brown, stirring frequently. Stir in tomatoes; cook 2 minutes or until tomatoes are wilted. Spoon tomato mixture over chicken; sprinkle with parsley.

     

Hope you enjoy this yummy summer dinner.  We sure did!

 

Chicken breasts with Brown Butter-Garlic Tomato Sauce.

Simple yummy meals

Simple greens are always wonderful for a Spring Dinner.  These were purchased from a local farmer at a Farmer’s Market this last weekend.  Add a little avocado (always good), some cherry tomatoes, and a few blueberries and you have a delicious salad.  I like the Italian way with dressing, but use Champagne Vinegar instead of Balsamic, as it is a little lighter.  I add a teaspoon or so of the best Olive Oil I can find.  Perfection with a little freshly grated Regiano Parmesano added on the top.

*Note:  I try to buy Regiano Parmesano that has the rind on two of the sides, as it has much more flavor closer to the rind. I grate it right before serving, so the flavor is fresher.  I keep the rind in the freezer and throw into soups for additional flavor, just pulling out what remains before I serve.  I noticed our local gourmet grocery store has started selling the rinds.

Tonights main course was a recipe I found in the newest edition of Skinny One Pan Dining.  Almond crusted Chicken with Fresh Spinach.  It was a delight!

Almond Chicken

A couple of tips.  Start the pan very hot, then lower temperature, so it does not burn, but is cooked all the way through.  I used Glutton Free Panko and put it with the Almonds and the Rosemary in my little blender, so they were all the same size.

Rosemary grows like a weed in the Pacific Northwest, so I have it several places in my garden and on my deck in my potted herb garden.  I just added another pot this weekend, so I could Dill and Mint.

Take it from me, do NOT plant mint in your yard, as it will take over your yard.  I did this one of my first houses and it took over the whole side of the house, sort of like bamboo, or Creeping Jenny.

Simple yummy meals