Happy New Year, Chasing Light, and the Best Roast Chicken


Happiest 2016 to all of you!  This post is first and foremost a wish for that, but also a mishmash of recent happenings and things to come.

If you have ever dabbled in photography, then you know what it means to “chase light”.  There is even an Instagram hashtag dedicated to it – which totally makes it a legit thing, of course.  Last month, I spent a lot of time doing that as the skies in Upstate New York turned from a golden fall hue to a blah winter grey.  In fact, I actually shot what I had originally intended this post to be, in early December – but my chicken looked bluish and dull and sad, so I just scrapped it – and all of my food photography projects really – to chase another kind of light instead.

One of my favorite authors/poets/Insta accounts – Tyler Knott Gregson – wrote this:  “Chase the light, whatever and wherever it may be for you.  Chase it.”  It’s so simple, but when I first read that well over a year ago, it resonated with me, and I’ve been thinking about it since.  For me, it means to follow the happy, essentially; do the things that not only keep you afloat, but fill you up too.  So, on this mini-blog reprieve, I’ve been doing exactly that.



I went to L.A., which though it may sound weird, was really healing for me.  I felt like a completely different human than the one who left there a few years ago (She was kind of down and lost.  I am still lost on some issues, but you know, #life.  : )), in the best way possible.  I ran on the beach, went to actual yoga classes, ate numerous kale salads (I am never not going to love kale, even if it is so 2014.), and met with people who have been very integral to helping me grow this space, whom I had never seen face-to-face – and we hashed out all kinds of new projects that I am very excited to share in the coming months!

I spent the weekend on Catalina Island with one of my favorite people in the world, and we walked and talked, drank wine, had a mini hotel room party complete with comedy and Christmas carols, ate a funny breakfast, watched other tourists zip-lining, walked a bit more, played mini-golf (I lost!  Boo.), and then went to the arcade where I redeemed myself and we took home some sweet friendship bracelets…as is tradition.  It was the best.

Then I flew home, and hopped on a train to New York City for the annual holiday trip that I take with my Mom and sister.  Mostly, we love to wander when we are there; in and out of all of the shops, through the green markets, and up and down the decorated streets.  We ate a whole lot of Thai and Indian food, and finished our trip with a takeout pizza and cheapo bottle of wine, devoured while sitting on the pretty floral carpet of our hotel room at the Waldorf.  I guess you could say it was our laid back version of “Eloise at the Plaza”.  The pizza was fantastic, but the giggles and laughs that ensued as a result of that scenario, were better.

While in NYC, I also got to see another person I love who I have been missing for far too long.  She gave me a tour of the Yelp offices, and while I am not sure I could ever go back to working in Sales, if I absolutely had to, it would be so much fun to do it there!



Other happiness-inducing things I have done in my down-time:  tackled the ever-growing piles of books and magazines next to my bed, cleaned everything, created a new Tumblr account for an extra dose of inspiration, practiced even more yoga, snuggled Sneaks as often as possible, shared lots of Prosecco and stories with my cousins on Christmas Eve, made this prime rib for my family on Christmas Day (I was super proud of how well it turned out!) and this roasted chicken for “Sunday Dinner”, with said family, for the last 2 Sundays in a row.

I had planned to talk more about the concept of Sunday Dinner; how much I love it and how I am going to start a series related to it here, but as I was still in vacation mode as of last night and missed posting it and wanted to share all of this randomness – in photos and words – with you too, I am going to save that until this weekend.  I figured that if I couldn’t start my series with this recipe, then starting the year off with it – in the very least – was just as good.

Cheers to more happy, light-filled, favorite, “best” (Like this chicken!) things in 2016!












The Best Roast Chicken with Lemon and Sumac
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Mains
Serves: 4-6 servings
  • 5-6 pound roasting chicken, cleaned, rinsed and patted dry
  • 1 tablespoons salt
  • 1 head garlic
  • 2-3 lemons, halved
  • 2 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon ground sumac (optional)
  • Pinch of ground pepper
  • 1 medium-sized onion, quartered
  1. To do the night before you plan to cook your chicken: Make sure the chicken is as dry as possible. Place the chicken in a large bowl, and sprinkle with the salt, patting it into the cavity and the skin, as you go. Loosely cover with parchment or wax paper, and refrigerate overnight.
  2. Remove the chicken from the refrigerator and allow it to come to room temperature. Preheat your oven to 500 degrees.
  3. Stuff the cavity of the chicken with the garlic and lemons, and truss the legs and wings, if desired.
  4. Place the chicken in a large cast iron skillet or roasting pan, breast-side-up.
  5. Mix the butter, olive oil, sumac, and pepper together in a small bowl. Drizzle the butter mixture all over the chicken, coating both sides, and allowing any excess to drip into the pan.
  6. Roast at 500 degrees for approximately 20 minutes. Lower the heat to 425 degrees and continue to cook for another 50 to 60 minutes, basting with the pan juices occasionally. You will know the chicken is done when the juices run clear and the thigh meat is starting to fall away from the bone.
  7. Remove from the oven, cover with tinfoil, and allow to rest for at least ten minutes before carving.
The sumac is optional in this recipe, however, I love it because it has a zingy citrus flavor that works really well with the lemon! Feel free to sub in any other dried herbs and spices as you like. The only non-negotiable here is salting the chicken in advance as that will ensure you get a flavorful, crispy skin!


5 Responses to Happy New Year, Chasing Light, and the Best Roast Chicken

  1. Anonymous says:

    What beautiful work you do – – and that chicken looks super delicious – Happy New Year!! May all good things come your way in 2016!!

  2. Happy New Year! Wishing you health and happiness…

  3. katelon says:

    Sounds like you had a great holiday season. It’s wonderful you have such loving and supportive family and friends to share with as that is rare these days.

    Thanks for the recipe!

    • jjbegonia says:

      I did; Thank You! I am truly fortunate to have the friends and family I do. ❤️ Happy 2016!

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