Roasted Chicken, A Classically Simple and Easy Recipe

Some nights call for dinner to be extravagant with several complicated side dishes and main entrees, but nothing can ever beat the simplicity of an excellently prepared roasted chicken, luckily this recipe from Epicurious does the trick, as it allows you to show off your cooking expertise with minimal excess. This particular recipe from Epicurious, comes by way of Chef Thomas Keller, who is known in the culinary world for his dining finesse, and that expertise is made even more obvious in this simple, roasted chicken recipe that doesn’t require an exuberant amount of preparation or extra ingredients. What results from finely-tuned, technical cooking is a roasted whole chicken with flavorful and crispy skin that’s absolutely delicious to the last bite.

Ingredients for Roasted Chicken:

Directions for Roasted Chicken

  1. In order to properly start this recipe, you’ll want to preheat your oven to a heat of 450 °F. While you’re awaiting your oven to heat, you’ll remove the packaging from your 2-3-pound farm-raised chicken and rinse it. Dry your chicken extremely well with paper towels both on the inside and out. The point is to have it as dry as possible because the less the chicken steams during the cooking process, the better the final product will be because of the dry heat in the oven.
  2. Next, salt and pepper the chicken cavity thoroughly before you truss the bird. Trussing is a cooking practice that ensures succulent, evenly-cooked poultry that looks as good as it tastes. Begin your trussing by placing the chicken breast-side up, and running the center of a piece of butcher’s twine under the neck in the front of the bird. Then, bring the string up towards the wings and legs and use your thumbs to tuck the wings in as you bring the string around towards the legs. Keeping the string tight in order to force the wings firmly against the body. The string should roughly follow the contours of the chicken breast. Essentially, you’re ensuring that the chicken will cook evenly by keeping the wings and legs close to the body and placing the ends of the drumsticks over the top in order to cover the top of the chicken breast and to keep it from drying out.
  3. After your chicken is trussed, salt your chicken with a uniform coating so that the end result will be a crisp, salty, flavorful skin. Season the rest of the chicken with pepper, to taste. Afterwards, place your chicken into either asauté pan or a roast pan with the breast side of the chicken facing upwards.
  4. Once your oven is up to 450 °F, place the pan of chicken into the oven. If you’d like, you can baste the chicken thoroughly with butter and the roasting juices throughout the cooking processes, but this recipe’s author suggests leaving the chicken alone during the roasting process because they are of the belief that basting throughout the roasting will create steam.
  5. Roast the chicken until it’s done, which ought to take 50 to 60 minutes or until it’s reached a safe internal temperature of 165 ºF on a thermal meat thermometer that’s inserted into the densest part of the bird. Once it’s cooked, remove it from the heat, add your minced thyme to the pan, baste the chicken with the pan juices and thyme, and then let it rest for 15 minutes on a cutting board.
  6. Remove the twine that is trussing the roasted chicken, and then separate the middle wing joint. Remove the legs and thighs. Next, cut the breast down the middle and serve it on the bone with one wing joint still attached to each. Cover the meat with fresh butter afterwards, and serve with mustard on the side, and also a simple green salad, if you wish.
  7. Enjoy your roasted chicken.

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Awards Announced by Governor Edwards to Assist in Closing Digital Gaps in Louisiana

Louisiana Governor, John Bel Edwards, announced that over the course of the next 18-24 months, over $35 million will be distributed in order to bring affordable high-speed internet to nearly 15,000 locations, according to this article from The Houma Times.  The goal is to close the digital gaps seen in many areas throughout the state.

The announcement was made as the Louisiana Governor was joined by federal, state, and locally elected officials and community leaders at the state’s inaugural Broadband Solutions Summit. This was where it was also announced by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), that Louisiana is the first state in the nation to have received two grant awards funded by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, a law that will help to expand internet service statewide in order to close digital gaps. The two grants were a State Digital Equity Planning Grant for $941,542.28 and a Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment Program planning grant for $2,000,000.

It was also announced that two new parishes, Vernon and LaSalle Parish, will also be impacted by this second wave of awards that have been provided through Louisiana’s broadband program, Granting Unserved Municipalities Broadband Opportunities, or GUMBO.

Earlier this year in July, Governor John Bel Edwards announced the first wave of GUMBO awards as a result of the American Rescue Plan’s $130 million investment to provide broadband access to more than 66,000 households and small businesses through Internet Service Providers in 50 parishes. Governor Edwards commented on this additional opportunity to the July 2019 announcement by saying, “in 2019, we set a goal to close Louisiana’s digital divide by 2029, and this announcement is another step in the right direction.”

He continued, “I am so grateful for the progress we are making, thanks to the help from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration. Some of us take access to broadband for granted, but there are still many people who do not have reliable or affordable connections, especially in the rural parts of our state. If we can connect those communities, we will improve health outcomes, grow our economy, increase access to educational opportunities, and enhance the quality of life for so many people.”

Veneeth Iyengar, the Executive Director of ConnectLa, commented on this second round of awarded funds by saying, “we are grateful that NTIA has quickly approved our plans to draw down the first funds in the country for BEAD and Digital Equity to develop not only the 1st 5-year strategic plan for the state but also the first digital equity plan. “The approach we are going to take to address access, affordability, literacy, and the lack of devices will be highly innovative and move Louisiana’s economy forward.”

These GUMBO awards highlight the groundwork originally begun by Gov. Edwards in 2019 when the Governor signed an executive order that created the Broadband for Everyone Louisiana Commission. This Commission was created with the goal of eliminating the digital gaps in the state of Louisiana by 2029. Then, in 2020, Gov. Edwards created ConnectLA’s Office of Broadband Development and Connectivity, which is led by Executive Director Veneeth Iyengar,who called the establishing of ConnectLA the culmination of all “the hard work that our stakeholders (teacher, parents, small business owners, public safety, parish officials etc.) have given towards addressing the digital divide. These investments will not only address the access issues but will create hundreds and thousands of good paying jobs that will impact people’s trajectory in their communities.”

Additionally, in order to address the estimated 462,000 Louisiana citizens who lack basic digital literacy skills, ConnectLA partnered with the Louisiana Board of Regents, the Louisiana Department of Education, and the State Library of Louisiana, in order to establish pilot programs in multiple parishes to reduce the digital literacy rate by 50%.

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Coastal Center at Nicholls Partners with BALANCED Media | Technology

Nicholls State University has made another monumental step towards putting their soon-to-be-constructed Coastal Center on the forefront of technology development, according to this news release from the university. The monumental step being Nicholls State University’s recently signed an agreement with the award-winning technology company, BALANCED Media | Technology. The company, BALANCED, specializes in advanced data infrastructure and using AI technology in order to enable both humans and machines to work together, complementing one another’s strengths and countering their weaknesses. The agreement that was signed between the award-winning technology company and Nicholls was reportedly made possible through the Nicholls Foundation’s support.

Nicholls President Dr. Jay Clune commented on the agreement by saying, “this is a unique opportunity to change the trajectory of our region and Nicholls State University. The partnership of Nicholls State University and the Coastal Center with BALANCED Media | Technology will allow Nicholls State University researchers to use an Advanced Data Infrastructure and the patented HEWMEN technology platform to solve some of our most pressing coastal problems and create a working coast.”

Dr. Clune’s mentioning of the school’s utilization of BALANCED Media | Technology’s HEWMEN® platform, ensures that Nicholls’ state-of-the-art research being conducted at The Coastal Center at Nicholls will be able to create unique opportunities that will be able to benefit the Gulf Coast region both economically and environmentally. The research conducted at the Coastal Center will focus on studies pertaining to the Atchafalaya River and the Terrebonne and Atchafalaya Basins, so now the conducted research will be aided by BALANCED’s HEWMAN® platform and the brevy of innovative technology solutions that come along with it.

This is because the soon-to-be-built Coastal Center at Nicholls is thought to become a leading research facility as it supports a “working coast” in the Coastal Center’s right against coastal land loss. The Coastal Center’s inception was originally established in 2019 thanks to a memorandum between both the State of Louisiana, through the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, and Nicholls State University. Dr. Clune commented on the historic agreement by saying, “this opportunity will allow our researchers to collaborate globally on an unprecedented scale by leveraging the advanced tools in data refinement to access information that has been out of reach until now.”

In speaking on what the agreement signing means for their award-winning technology company, CEO of BALANCED Media | Technology Robert M. Atkins said, “Nicholls has a wealth of data, and BALANCED has the technology to unlock that data. Through our partnership, solutions to the problem of coastal restoration will move from possibility to reality. As commercial partners join us in this effort, we not only protect our coast and the industries that rely on it but also pave the way for new industry and the preservation of our heritage.”

As of now, the Coastal Center at Nicholls State University is projected to be completed and open its doors in early 2024. The Coastal Center will focus its aims and sights on research, education, and solutions to the southeasternLouisiana Gulf Coast’s coastal problems. This will include community resilience and the preservation of community culture and history.

Nicholls Foundation President Christopher Riviere said, “This is an extremely exciting time for Nicholls State University to partner with a technology company like BALANCED. The Nicholls Foundation is committed to supporting endeavors like this one that will not only benefit Nicholls, but also the entire bayou region.”

In establishing this innovative partnership between their new Coastal Center and BALANCED Media | Technology,Nicholls State University is ensuring that their absolute best efforts are being put forward towards solving the detrimental coastal problems in Southeastern Louisiana.

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Louisiana Reflects One Year After Hurricane Ida

With the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Ida making landfall on Louisiana’s shores having recently passed, The Houma Times released a retrospective article that took a look back on how recovery efforts in the Bayou Region have taken shape in the past twelve months, as the area begins to prepare for yet another hurricane season.

The article focuses on how “Louisiana’s Cajun Bayou” saw the Category-4 storm’s destructive storm surges and winds brought with them the closing of local restaurants, attractions, events, and so much more, but despite all this, the storm didn’t deter the Cajun sense of perseverance against adversity. On the morning of August 30, many will recall that “neighbors helped neighbors, communities helped communities, and friends from around the country rushed to Louisiana’s aid, showcasing a shared camaraderie in the wake of the storm.

Similarly, Nola.com released a one-year reflection piece that detailed a collection of recent post-Hurricane Ida coverage that has been written by NOLA.com and The Times-Picayune about what’s happening in the state in terms of housing, insurance, power, and more.” Some of this coverage, in particular this piece that focuses on the communities of St. John Parish, details how LaPlace, Louisiana’s residents are still rebounding from the August 29th storm, despite still being in harm’s way for the upcoming hurricane season.

The informative article reported that according to the Louisiana Office of Community Development, “nearly 5,000 owner-occupied homes and some 3,700 renters were affected by [Hurricane] Ida” in St. John Parish with data suggesting “that, on a per-capita basis, St. John was Louisiana’s hardest-hit parish.” This data also purported that over 75% of homes in the parish had sustained wind damage claims, which is the highest rate of any Louisiana Parish. This was in addition to St. John Parish also seeing 60% of its homeowners with flood-insurance policies also file claims.

It’s well-knoen that St John Parish was particularly hit hard by Hurricane Ida, but one year after the fact has seen a recovery that has unfortunately been challenged by the state’s homeowners insurance crisis, which was triggered by the four hurricanes that have made landfall in Louisiana since late 2020. Since then, “eight companies have collapsed under financial strain and a growing number of them are pulling out of Louisiana, [and these] failed insurers have left behind more than 26,000 unresolved claims for the state’s industry bailout program to handle.”

St. John Parish Councilman Robert Arcuri commented on the recovery efforts in the area saying, “the devastation after the storm was incredible because not only did people flood, but we also had a lot of structural damage on properties. We still have a lot of residents that are fighting with their insurance company and some of them are just starting to rebuild. That’s a problem, but it’s not a big problem; I see a lot of progress that’s happening in our parish.”

Elsewhere in the state, local leaders at the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness or GOHSEP, have reported that they are hard at work to prepare for what’s to come in 2022’s hurricane season and beyond. Specifically, GOHSEP has since revamped how they communicate with federal and state agencies “to clarify the responsibility and investments in sheltering, rescue, and response.”

Despite the multiple levels of preparedness going into effect across the state at various levels, one of the most effective methods of preparing for the next storm is to get an emergency kit ready on your own accord. Luckily, Louisiana’s Get a Game Plan organization has a collection of resources to not only stock your own emergency kit, but they have a guide to preparing yourself and your family for conceivably every possible scenario.

In his statement concerning the anniversaries of Hurricanes Ida, Katrina, and Laura, Governor John Bel Edwardsissued the following words to the citizens of Louisiana, “the road to recovery is never easy, and we still have much work ahead of us. But I am optimistic knowing that Louisiana is in a much stronger place than we were even a year ago. Homes, businesses and schools are being rebuilt. More of our citizens are employed than ever before. Our levee system has never been stronger. There is no challenge we can’t overcome by working together, and I am inspired by the people of this great state who continue to persevere.”

These words ring true, not only because they highlight how the state of Louisiana has bounced back in some ways after each storm, but because it sets the tone for yet another hurricane season as one that ushers in an air of preparedness, foresight, and community.

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Reliably Delicious and Convenient Blackened Chicken Alfredo Recipe

Sometimes the easiest and more simplistic recipes are what’s best for any particular weeknight or last-minute meal. This is due to the fact that they are reliably convenient, delicious, and consistently a crowd-pleaser. The same can be said about Louisiana Cookin’s outstanding recipe for blackened chicken alfredo, as its simplicity doesn’t make concessions when it comes to flavor, seasoning, or taste.

Ingredients for Blackened Chicken Alfredo: 

  • 1 (16-ounce) package of fettuccine, cooked according to individual package directions
  • 3 boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 6- to 8-ounce each)
  • 2 tablespoons of blackened seasoning mix
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 2 cups of fresh cherry tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon of chopped shallot
  • ½ teaspoon of finely chopped garlic
  • ¼ cup of dry white wine
  • 2 cups of heavy whipping cream
  • 1 cup of freshly-grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3 tablespoons of chopped fresh parsley, for garnish
  • ¼additional cup of freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for garnish

Directions for Blackened Chicken Alfredo:

  1. In order to start this recipe, you’re going to want to preheat your oven to 425°F. While your convection oven is preheating, take a baking sheet and line it with an inner layer of aluminum foil.
  2. Take your 3 boneless and skinless chicken breasts out of their packaging and sprinkle them each with your blackened seasoning mix. Either while wearing gloves or with carefully-washed hands, rub the blackened seasoning mix into the chicken breasts, ensuring to coat all sides.
  3. Then, in a large skillet, pour in your olive oil, and place this atop your stove burner. Turn the stove to medium-high heat, and heat your olive oil in the skillet while being sure to spread the oil throughout the pan. Once the oil is properly heated, add your seasoned chicken breasts into the hot oil and cook them until they are nicely seared. This should take no longer than 4 to 5 minutes per side. Be sure to flip them together and not multiple times, in order to secure a strong sear. Once they’re seared, remove the chicken from the skillet and transfer them to the prepared pan that you lined with foil from earlier.
  4. Place the pan into your 425°F oven for approximately 10 minutes. The idea here is to bake the chicken until they are firm and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the chicken breast registers at a safe internal temperature of 165°.
  5. Meanwhile, take the same skillet that you seared your chicken in from earlier and cook your tomatoes in it until they are slightly blistered and their skins have burst open. The process of blistering and bursting cherry tomatoes should take about 3 to 5 minutes maximum. Once the skins have burst, reduce the read of the stove burner to only medium, and add in your chopped shallot and finely chopped garlic. Continue to cook for an additional minute. Afterward, add in your ¼ cup of dry white cooking wine and use your cooking utensil such as a wooden cooking spoon to scrape the fond or browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Stir these bits into the white wine and vegetables and continue to cook the contents of the skillet for an additional 2 minutes.
  6. Afterward, stir in your heavy whipping cream and continue to cook until the contents of the skillet are thickened and bubbly. You can achieve this by stirring occasionally for approximately 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in your single cup of freshly-grated Parmesan cheese until it’s completely melted and well-combined. Next, add your fettuccine, which you cooked according to the package’s directions, into the skillet. Either using your wooden cooking spoon or tongs, toss the fettuccine with the cheesy mixture to fully coat the noodles.
  7. When you remove your chicken from the oven, slice each chicken breast in elongated strips or according to your particular preference and place them on top of the pasta. If desired, garnish the plates of this dish with fresh chopped parsley and freshly-grated Parmesan cheese to your liking.
  8. Enjoy your alfredo with your favorite side dish or just alone.

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Don’t Miss an Opportunity to Visit Washington State

With its diverse landscape, a multitude of natural resources and rich history, Washington State is the perfect destination for anyone looking to get away and experience the absolute most. From Seattle’s busy cityscape to the Pacific Ocean beach towns of the coast and Olympic National Park’s lush rainforest, there are plenty of reasons why you should visit Washington State. In fact, this handy guide from the travel blog The Culture Trip details the numerous “Reasons Why You Should Visit Washington State,” so consider referring to that resource the next time you’re planning a vacation to a destination with a lot to offer.

San Juan Islands

One of Washington State’s best-kept secrets from the rest of the country has to be its stunning San Juan Islands, which are a group of islands in the northwest corner of Washington State that are known for their natural beauty and spectacular views. The San Juan Islands are accessed by Washington State Ferries, which depart from Seattle via the San Juan Clipper, which will bring you straight to Friday Harbor. Alternatively, you can take the Puget Sound Express from Port Townsend to Friday Harbor, or you can take a seaplane from Seattle, Everett, or other locations in the area. The majority of the San Juans consists of uninhabited islands; however, approximately 700 people live on San Juan Island year-round, and for good reason! The sparse population leaves plenty of space for boaters and hikers seeking peace and solitude while exploring this beautiful part of the world.

A Collection of National Parks

Washington State is home to 18 national park sites, including Mount Rainier National Park, which is a famous icon in the Washington Landscape, an active volcano, and one of the most picturesque mountain ranges in the world; this is because it’s home to some of the highest peaks in Washington—including Mt. Rainier itself at 14,411 feet (4,392 m). While there are many hiking trails that offer incredible views, perhaps one of the best ways to experience this national park is by taking advantage of its proximity to water activities like kayaking or rafting on rivers like the Nisqually Riveror White River. Also in the state is the impressive  Olympic National Park, which is a park heralded for its immense diversity in terms of precipitation, elevation, and wilderness. Olympic National Park boasts more than 75 miles (120 km) of coastline along its 1 million acres, making it one of only three U.S parks with an ocean view from every point within its boundaries—and includes beaches like Third Beach near Forks where you can watch humpback whales offshore.

Nearby Apple Orchards

If you’re in the mood for something less hiking or water traversal-intensive, then look no further than the sheer joy that comes along with exploring the apple orchards of Wenatchee Valley and Yakima Valley. In the Wenatchee Valley and Yakima Valley, you can find some of the largest apple orchards in the United States. These valleys are home to more than 3,000 varieties of apples, including Honeycrisp (named after its sweet taste), Grimes Golden (which has an exceptionally long shelf life) and Winesap (with a deep red flesh that is juicy and flavorful). If you visit these areas during harvest season (fall into winter), you’ll see workers picking apples by hand at night by torchlight to avoid damaging them during transport. You’ll also notice large tractors moving bins full of apples along conveyor belts before they’re transported via rail car or truck to be sold as fresh fruit or processed into juice or cider products around the world.

Breathtaking RainForests

The Hoh Rainforest on Washington State’s Olympic Peninsula is one of the largest temperate rainforests in the U.S,and it’s guaranteed to take your breath away. The Hoh Rain Forest was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, so it’s definitely worth visiting if you’re in Washington if not only for the sights of “a lush, green canopy of both coniferous and deciduous species [and] mosses and ferns that blanket the surfaces add another dimension to the enchantment of the rainforest.”

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