One of our favorite things to do during autumn when the leaves turn vibrantly colorful is to go hiking in the mountains. At these elevations, around 8,000 feet (2,400 meters), the leaves change sooner than they do in other places and they also don’t last long as winter arrives swiftly. We went to Mueller State Park, located about an hour outside of Colorado Springs, and spent a day hiking among the pine trees and aspen trees. The temperatures were cool and the skies were clear, so it was a perfect day to spend time in the mountains on some trails that we haven’t previously hiked.
The great thing about hiking in the high country is that you get a mix of seeing the changing colors up close as well as the tapestry of colors across the skyline. The park is located on the backside of Pikes Peak and the scenery was simply amazing as it almost always is at this time of year. The colors are mostly the golds and yellows of the aspen groves surrounded by the deep greens of the pine trees, which is different than the reds and oranges that you find in most places. If you get a chance to visit Colorado in autumn, we’d highly recommend that you get into the mountains, even if just by car.
One of our favorite meals this time of year is to have roasted chicken with roasted vegetables. Using a can to stand the chicken upright is a great way to get the chicken to roast evenly on all sides and the can helps the inside of the chicken cook more evenly as well. We used our tajine as the base to put all of the vegetables, allowing the drippings from the chicken to coat the vegetables, which makes them even more favorable. It is certainly the type of meal that can be found almost anywhere that you travel as there are so many different ways that chicken and vegetables can be roasted together. You can choose whatever type of root vegetables are in season, but be sure to keep them all about the same size.
1 whole Roasting Chicken
10 small Red Potatoes
14 Baby Carrots – multicolored
12 Brussel Sprouts
1/2 Red Onion – cut into chunks
4 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 tbsp Dried Rosemary – roughly chopped
1 tbsp Dried Thyme
2 tsp Powdered Garlic
Salt and Pepper to taste
Coat the vegetables with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 1 teaspoon of garlic powder, salt and pepper, and place them in the base to the tajine (or a shallow baking dish). Coat all sides of the chicken with the remaining olive oil, garlic powder, rosemary, thyme, and salt and pepper. Place a can that is large enough to support the chicken, and that has been washed and dried, inside of the chicken cavity, placing the closed side of the can towards the top of the chicken. Put the can with the chicken in the center of the tajine, surrounding it with the vegetables. Place the chicken and vegetables into the lower rack of an oven that has been preheated to 350 degrees and roast for 15 minutes per pound. Remove from the oven and let rest for 20 minutes. Carve the chicken and serve with the roasted vegetables.