armadillas


Spells

Today I’m going to go on a little rant for ranting’s sake. You see, I’ve been job hunting, submitting applications left and right. There must be near 30 applications out there with my name on them- and that’s just from the past three days. Needless to say, it’s not a fun process. No, not at all.

But it would be really nice if one of these applications turn into my saving grace and someone gives me a ring or shoots me an email. My fingers are double crossed. It’s ridiculous how easy it is to find a crap job that pays next to nothing and offers even worse hours, and how hard it is to find something stable. Eh, but that’s the complaint of everyone nowadays, isn’t it? At least by some miracle I manage to get my bills paid, have a roof over my head and food in my belly, and have supportive friends with which to drink wine and rant. Even when life seems low, there’s always a spec of gold to be found.

Plus, let’s talk about this magnificent weather. As a gal more inclined to favor the winter months over the summer months, this past week of 73 has been absolutely perfect. I took much joy in flinging open the windows and shutting off the a/c. I’ve even donned a sweater thrice already. Perhaps I’m acting a little prematurely, but this summer was pretty rough and I’m ready to welcome better times. So here’s to pumpkin spice, knee high boots, sweaters and scarves, mint hot chocolate, crisp air, hard cider, snuggling, bon fires, falling leaves, and all the other great things that come along with cooler temps. Ah, I’m in love and we’ve barely begun.

So let’s make some chicken. Remember those wings/drumettes I made the other day? Well, it just so happens that I had a second package of drumettes eager to be cooked. Mmm I’m thinking teriyaki!

Ingredients:

  • 1 package chicken drumettes
  • 1/2 cup teriyaki sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • Lemon juice
  • Pepper

I promise, one day I’m going to do these things up with flour and see how it goes. You know, just to see if the skin gets crunchy and not just crispy. But today, I chose the marinade route. You can’t go wrong with a good marinade. Wash your drumettes and put them in a bowl or shallow dish. If you have freezer Ziploc bags. that would work even better!

Pour the teriyaki sauce and oil over the chicken

Drizzle with as much lemon juice as your lemon-loving heart desires

Add a heaping spoonful of garlic. With cold weather coming, garlic keeps the flu away

Now mix with your hands! Or shake your freezer bag up. Set aside for at least half an hour to get the flavors going. The longer it sets, the better.

Arrange chicken on a foil lined baking sheet. Baking sheets help the skin crisp up better in my opinion, but by all means you can use a regular baking dish.

Bake for 40 minutes at 425 degrees. If you’re a little silly like me, forget to SPRAY the foil with PAM. Guess I like aluminum with my chicken! Serve with some fried rice.

Advertisements

Let them fly

It’s FOOTBALL SEASON! That means I have the perfect excuse to eat excessive amounts of junk food on Wednesdays and Sundays. What a beautiful sport! Of course, I am joking. A little bit at least. I’m not very big on snacking. Not only is it bad for my wallet, but it’s also bad for my waste line. So I watch my Redskins win by sipping lemon water and maybe having some popcorn. But that doesn’t mean I don’t indulge every once in awhile. After all, today is our first game of the season. What kind of fan would I be if I didn’t…make some wings?!

That’s right, today I decided to try my hand at cooking up some wings. Well, technically they are little drumettes, but who’s really paying that close attention? Anyway, I play around with a few different ideas on how to prepare them. Since my kitchen is small, I opted against frying. I really hate how it makes the whole house smell like grease. But did I want to marinate my wings and then bake them? Or perhaps dredge them in flour to make them extra crispy? There seemed like so many options for my oven.

In the end, I chose to simply bake them on high heat. The skin got nice and crispy without worrying about if adding flour was going to make the whole lot soggy. Plus, no frying!

Ingredients:

  • 1 package chicken drumettes
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons canola oil
  • Buffalo sauce (I used Texas Pete Fiery Sweet)
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Rinse the drumettes and pat them dry with paper towels

Hit those babies with salt and pepper!

 

Line a cookie sheet (or your trusted pizza pan) with some aluminum foil. If you forgot (as usual) to preheat you oven, go ahead and do that now. 4oo degrees please! One day you’ll be a good baker and remember to preheat, one day…

Take your seasoned chicken and mix it up with some oil. I would prefer to use olive oil, but I was plum out so canola oil will just have to do. No worries! This step can be done in a bowl if you prefer, but I rather save some clean dishes and coat the chicken right on the lined cookie sheet

 

Get your hands in there!

 

All done for now. Bake for 45 minutes for some nice crunch. I do like added texture myself

 

After 45 minutes, remove the chicken from the oven and admire your handy work. Just lovely! At this point, you can make your own buffalo/wing sauce and toss it all together. But it’s game day and I was feeling lazy so I just heated up some Texas Pete in the microwave. That’s just how we do things sometimes. Toss…

 

 

…and serve! If you haven’t noticed, I served my wings with extra sauce on the side because I like to get messy (and the fiery sweet is more sweet than fiery), but feel free to serve with some ranch or blue cheese. It’s your game food after all!

 

Go SKINS!

 


Arya and the queenmaker


Clearly, I’m going through a phase. I might even be prone to admit it’s a slightly obsessive phase. It’s the blogs I tell you, the blogs! I can’t help it. Whenever I’m feeling a little on the bored side and decide to open up Pinterest in my browser, I always end up stumbling upon some recipe or another and then being transferred to a blog. Lovely blogs, mind you. Inevitably, I  fall in love.

Today I fell in love with Stella. I don’t even know how I ended up on a page with Stella’s adorable face, but there she was looking at me with her dark, shining eyes. Oh yeah, Stella is a dog and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have dog envy. Sigh. Stella’s mamma is pretty cool, too.  I enjoy her posts and she has some pretty good looking recipes I intend to try out when my pockets aren’t feeling so empty. Check her out here at Witty in the City!

Anyway, one of her recipes that caught my attention was her mama’s roasted chicken. I’m a big fan of chicken. I’m a big fan of roasted chicken. I’m also quite the fan of those roasted veggies found under the roasted chicken. Witty in the City mentions that her family vies for the crispy ones. Girl after my own heart! I also like her philosophy in regards to cooking as you go. I’m not a mis-en-place type of gal either. It takes a certain amount of fun out of things.

Back to the chicken. With empty pockets, my cooking habits are a little limited at the moment, but that doesn’t mean I can’t improvise. I may not have whole chicken pieces, but I have a few skinless, boneless breasts on hand. And the only vegetables here may be a bag of onions and I think a few cans of green beans. Well, I don’t do the canned green beans thing, but I do have a bag of apples. With September right on our heels, why not do an autumn inspired pseudo-roast? Onions, apples, chicken, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, lemon, and thyme. A lovely meal is forming in my head as we speak. Plus some garlic! Can’t forget the garlic. Some of these combinations might sound a little weird, but I have a good feeling about it coming together into something beautiful. Mmm mmm mmm

Ingredients:

  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 granny smith apples (or apples of your choosing)
  • 1/2 onion
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • Sea salt
  • Pepper
  • Cayenne Pepper
  • Thyme
  • Cinnamon
  • Brown sugar
  • Lemon juice

Maybe you noticed that I didn’t include any real measurements with the spices. That’s because this was my first attempt at this recipe and thus felt it best to eyeball everything. You’ll be fine! We’ll get to that in a moment. But first thing is first. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.  Now line a baking sheet with aluminum foil- or in my case, a pizza pan. Let’s make clean up a breeze!

Take your apples and give them a rough chop. Toss them onto the foil

Do the same with your onion. I separated the layers as best I could

Doesn’t it all look so pretty?

Okay, rinse your chickies! Place the rinsed off breasts right on top of the apples and onions. Gorgeous I say!

Onto the spices. Seriously, don’t be afraid to just eyeball everything. First, I sprinkled everything with some salt and pepper. Then I dashed on some cinnamon and brown sugar. I tried not to be too liberal with the cayenne (got to remember the boyfriend). Finally, a few shakes of thyme plus a spoonful of garlic here and there and we were in business. You know your own tastes better than I do. Follow your instincts.

 

At this point, drizzle lemon juice over the whole deal. An added option is to drizzle everything with some olive oil, but I omitted it. Oh, the choices! Pop the pan into the oven for about 45 minutes. In about 5 minutes your little house is going to be very aromatic

 

I had my doubts about this creation, but it turned out better than I expected. The boyfriend didn’t think it was too bad either, though he didn’t help himself to the crispy onions and apple bits. More for me! I think next time I might use the garlic and brown sugar to make a glaze. I’m just not the biggest fan of dry rubs. But it wasn’t bad, not bad at all. Nice and juicy!


Too hot for comfort

There’s just no hope. I don’t think I’m ever going to master the art of pancakes. It’s just not going to happen. This morning- or rather this afternoon- I tried whipping up a batch for brunch and now my kitchen has been converted into a smokehouse. And the smoke is slowly seeping into every other room in the house. Naturally, the boyfriend had some criticism reserved for my little griddle cakes. I told him when he starts cooking he can start complaining. I’ve never denied that he makes better breakfast than I do anyway. Hmph! I think I’m going to stay away from breakfast for awhile. I forgot there was a reason I bought a waffle maker. Olaf!

But last night’s dinner was a success! My dad came over for a bit and then we were joined by the boyfriends brother so I put the Hamburger Helper back into the cupboard and decided to roast some chicken thighs instead. You see, I’ve discovered the world’s best chicken recipe. Actually, I don’t think it’s the world’s best as claimed by Pinterest, but it’s pretty darn good! The chicken was juicy and flavorful. I think a little while longer in the oven and I might have gotten a crisper skin as well. Mmm I love oven roasted chicken. I bet the marinade would work on a whole roast as well, something I’ll have to try next time I have a whole chicken on my hands. If you’re feeling a little tired of chicken, I’ve tried this recipe on pork, too. Gotta love versatile marinades!

Recipe adapted from Rachel Shultz

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup (the real stuff)
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Adobo seasoning
  • 1 pack chicken thighs (or cut of your choice)

If you’re silly like me, misread the directions and add equal parts Dijon mustard and equal parts maple syrup. Hopefully you’ll realize your mistake before it’s too late and bump the mustard up a little bit

 

And make sure to use REAL maple syrup and not that fake sugary stuff. Mine is straight from Quebec, a gift brought back for me by a friend almost 2 years ago. Took me long enough to pop that bad boy open!

(It’s in French!)

So yes, whisk together the mustard, syrup, and vinegar

Now take your chicken and give it a good rinsing off. Pat dry with paper towels. Place in baking dish and sprinkle with salt and pepper

If you’re feeling a little rebellious, add some Adobo. Aren’t those chickies beautiful?

Pour the sauce evenly over the chicken thighs and bake at 400 degrees for 45 minutes. Forget to take pictures. Be sure to check the chicken periodically to make sure the sauce isn’t burning. That’s what some of the reviews said, but I lowered my heat from the original recipe and everything was fine

Yum, I could smell the chicken from all the way outside! Remove from oven and serve with some roasted potatoes. You know, to keep with that theme

Such a simple recipe packed with great flavor! Remember my broiler craze? I think I”m about to embark on an oven craze…just in time for Fall. I’m so ready for cooler weather and all the great foods that come with it. Pumpkin, soup, apple cider, hot chocolate…the list goes on!


It’s not raining in Seattle

It’s raining. It’s been raining what seems like all week. But by my count that has technically only been two days, so I can’t really complain. I don’t mind a little wet weather anyway. Plus, gloomy days are perfect for pulling out the crock pot. Mmm hmmm.

Not too long ago Timeline activated on my FB (I held out as long as possible) and now I’m free to spend my days pinning away until the school year starts (finally got my TB screening squared away and am submitting the final bits of my application on Thursday- because that’s when they’ll do my fingerprinting). Needless to say, I’ve probably compiled enough recipes to last me the rest of 2012. One of those recipes is crock pot chicken and dumplings. Yummm! What a day for a good bowl of chicken and dumplings. Oh yeah, and I don’t have to do any work. Throw it in the pot, place a lid on it, and go finish your Supernatural marathon. Summers are great for marathons, aren’t they? Any excuse to drool over Dean (Jensen Ackles) and Sam (Jared Padaleki). To this day, I’m not sure which brother I would choose. Sweet, sensitive Sam who seems to have certain demonic connections with outbursts of rage and violence. Or gruff, wisecracking Dean who keeps his vulnerable side on lock down, always the tough guy, always the protector. Oh, the choices! Guess I’ll just have to take both, please. I’ve seen most of the later episodes by chance, but now am working my way season by season.

Yup, sci-fi/fantasy geek here! I don’t deny it. And I can’t wait to finish off the second season with a steamy bowl of goodness. Yeah man! This is my first time making chicken and dumplings on my own. The last time I tried to make a soup with dumplings…it turned into a pot of goop. There are a few reasons for that and I won’t go into detail, but I have complete confidence this time things will fly smooth. Being armed with a recipe from this lovely blog helps, I’m sure. Thanks Polish the Stars! Oh Pinterest, I can already see a good thing turning evil…

Recipe adapted from Megan

Ingredients:

  • 3 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 cans cream of chicken soup
  • 1 can chicken broth
  • 1 can peas
  • 1 can refrigerator biscuits
  • Pepper

Lightly pepper your chicken breasts and place them in your nifty handy dandy crock pot/slow cooker/whatever you wanna call it! I decided salt was not necessary. The cream of chicken smells salty enough in my opinion anyway

Go ahead and toss your two tablespoons of butter on top of the chicken. I didn’t bother cutting it up. No biggie

Now the wet ingredients! Pour the two cans of cream of chicken soup and the one can of chicken broth into the crock pot.  At first, I had my doubts about how much soup I’d get out of all this. Silly me. I’m pretty sure three cans is sufficient for a home of only two

 

Mmm looks appetizing

That’s it! Place a lid on the whole shebang and cook on high for 4 hours (or low for 8). Since I started so late we are taking the high route. I do tend to take my time, don’t I? Guess I should start pinning earlier in my day. By the way, no need to stir everything together. This is one of those things in life that can let itself go (hehe). After the prescribed time, it’s time for some added magic. Shred the chicken then put it back in the crock

Add the peas. We add them late so they don’t get too mushy. That’s my excuse anyway

Now for the dumplings! Take four of your flaky biscuits and cut them into little pieces. Drop them into the soup (or is it considered a stew?)  and cook for another half hour or until the biscuits are cooked

Voila! Dinner is served

Not too bad for a first attempt, though I do feel as those the dumplings were a little too doughy. Next time I might try a different approach.

I’m beginning to turn sweet on my crock pot. Last night I made a lovely Dijon pork in the crock pot that I’ll have to share later. Very flavorful. Another Pinterest discovery. I’m telling you, I see and addiction in the near future. I also found a bunch of freezer slow cooker meals. I’m thinking about whipping a few of those up this week. Quick and easy! Just remove from freezer, empty into pot, and a few hours later a full meal is served with no mess. Ingenious!

I still need to update everyone on Saturdays cook-off!


Under a minute

Mmm I’m not sure which I like better- Italian food or chicken. Really, these are the staples of my diet. If I’m not whipping up some sort of chicken dish, I’m usually eating something Italian (that is, when I’m not having a Chinese food attack!). I can’t help it. I grew up eating Italian. That’s my comfort food. Plus, some of my best dishes are Italian inspired. It’s just in the blood. It helps that there doesn’t seem to be very many mom and pop Italian restaurants around here either. I have no choice but to create my own. I’m sure there might be a few hole in the wall places somewhere that I just haven’t stumbled upon, but most of the joints so far are either chains like Olive Garden and Carrabbas…or are hella expensive. Remember my post about $5 calzones? Yeah, I’m not about to spend 15 bucks for something I can just make better myself.

There is one restaurant back home that I miss. Ah, Carini’s. Now they had some good food. How I wish there was a Carini’s here in the Hampton Roads. They had great pizza, great stromboli, awesome cheese fries. But my favorite dish hands down was the chicken parm sub. Oh man that was one good sandwich. I have yet to find a chicken parm to beat it. I don’t know if it was the delicious sauce, the generous amount of cheese, or the thick breast they used, but I’m drooling just remembering it. I might just have to open up my own mom and pop Italian place. Maybe I’ll recruit my dad to go into business with me.

Anyway, for memory’s sake I decided to make chicken parmesan for dinner. I would’ve made it into a sub, but unfortunately didn’t have any sub rolls. That’s okay! It was just fine without the bread.

Ingredients:

  • 2 chicken breasts (keep in mind I’m only cooking for two)
  • 1 bowl flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1 bowl bread crumbs
  • 4 slices provolone
  • Tomato sauce
  • Splash of milk
  • Salt
  • Pepper

For this recipe, we’re going to need some hardware. That’s right, we’re getting hardcore here. So, go find a hammer. Of course, if you have a nice kitchen with nice gadgets you can just use a  meat mallet. I prefer to keep things interesting

Now that you have your fancy hammer ready to go, pull out your chicken breasts. Lay down some saran wrap. Place your chicken on the saran wrap. Cover with another sheet of saran wrap. How many times can we say saran wrap?

Alright, pound out your anger! Or just have some fun. If using a hammer, be gentle with your chicken. A hammer doesn’t have as large of a surface as a mallet. Nice and thin!

Preheat you oven to 450 degrees before you forget and have to waste precious time before you can eat. Okay, build an assembly line! Set out your bowl of flour. Season with salt and pepper generously or to taste. Whisk your egg with some milk and set it out in the next bowl. Finally, pour some bread crumbs into another bowl. I used pre-seasoned Italian style


Dredge your chicken cutlets through the flour. Shake off the excess flour

Dip chicken into egg mixture

Dredge through breadcrumbs

Heat a skillet on medium heat. I like medium heat because I’m prone to burning things when I turn up the heat. So I like to play it safe. But if you think you can handle high heat, go for it! Drizzle oil into pan

We aren’t cooking the chicken all the way through. Just until nice and golden on both sides. Mine aren’t as pretty as they could be, but it’s still going to taste rad. Once desired color is reached, put into a baking dish. You can also leave the chicken in the skillet if it’s ovenproof. Save on dishes!

Spoon tomato sauce onto chicken

Layer with provolone

Bake for 15 minutes uncovered. Mmmmmmmm

Boil some spaghetti while the chicken is cooking and warm up some more tomato sauce. I spruced mine up with a little crushed red pepper flakes and some fresh basil from the garden

Don’t forget to salt your pasta water!

Dinner is served! Don’t forget to sprinkle with some parmesan

It might not be Carini’s, but the boyfriend surely wasn’t complaining. Are there any restaurants that you guys miss from your hometown? I know I sure can name a few!

Tijuana

 

 

 

 

 


A picture says a thousand words

It’s always fun cooking with friends, especially if they are the ones doing the cooking. Of course, the whole dinner is a group effort, but there’s a need for someone to take charge. For the most part, I find that person to usually be me. The kitchen is just where I like to be. But sometimes you need to step back and give someone else the reins. Last night, they were handed over to Alan

He made us curry. Aimee acted as sous chef, slicing the zucchini, chopping the onion, and grating the ginger. I diced the chicken and cooked the rice, silently reminding myself not to chase people out of my kitchen. It’s a good thing to have friends that know how to cook! Allison provided the entertainment on Alan’s Mac. We watched a  Karmin video and then she introduced us to Beauty and the Beat. Oh yeah, Aimee was also our photographer. Sure, I snapped a few shots myself but her camera is by far more superior than my little rinkydink phone.

As of yet, I do not have the recipe for Alan’s curry, but there are plenty of pics for you until I can procure it.

Yum! Great meal. I do prefer red curry a little over yellow curry, but I was not complaining! Oh, and we got our free slurpees from 7-11. You know, since it was 07/11

 

 


The Forbidden Question

You see that? That’s a chicken. A very lovely chicken if I do say so myself. I’m rather fond of chicken. It dominates the meat selection in my fridge. But we’ll get back to her in a moment. I have a story to tell first!

Not so long ago, an acquaintance of mine proceeded to ask me what my favorite food was. I’m not one for exaggerations, but I’m pretty sure the whole room quieted and stared at her. It was like a scene from a movie. Sharp intakes of breath were gasped all around us. Then all those faces turned to me expectantly. Suddenly, I was in the Old West, gun poised to defend my honor. Sweat trickled down my brow as I waited for the town clock to strike, or at least for the gears in my brain to turn and impossibly narrow down a single piece of food to be my favorite. Somehow, as if watching from afar, my mouth opened and I managed to squeak out a choice for my audience. A girl next to me applauded my selection and then the duel was over.

Goodness gracious! Never, never ask a cook such a horrid question. As someone who appreciates food with a good portion of my soul, I find it impossible to select a single item and declare it to be my favorite food. I’d much prefer to hand you a list. Naturally, I have a favorite something within a given category. I have a favorite ice cream flavor (vanilla or pistachio) and I have a favorite soda (ginger ale) and I have a favorite berry (blackberries). But to choose a  number one is quite unreasonable. Perhaps I could manage a top ten…if I was being forced onto a deserted island. Food is like music. It’s a mood thing. Depending on your mood, you might prefer jazz to rap one day and indie to classical on another. I might seriously be digging some artichoke dip for lunch one day. Then by the time dinner rolls around all I want is lo mein.

I do have a weakness for Chinese food, it’s true. Well, I have a weakness for most Asian cuisines really. My father may be Italian and instilled in me a deep passion for Italian cooking (which comprises my personal best dishes), but he also shared his love for take out with me, the result being that fried rice, pork dumplings, and soy are never far from my mind. In fact, it was kimbap that I chose as my favorite food that day. My Korean aunt introduced kimbap to me several+ years ago and I became instantly addicted to it. It’s a rice dish that, in my opinion,  resembles a Califronia roll…only much tastier. My favorite filling consists of rice, carrots, cucumbers, artificial crab meat, pickled radish (yummy yummy danmuji) and spinach all wrapped up in seaweed. I need to find a Korean bakery or restaurant around here. It’s been awhile!

As much as I love Asian cuisine, I”m not very good at preparing it. I’ve attempted to make kimbap three times now, each of which led to disaster. My fried rice is a hit or miss. My pho ga was thrown out almost immediately. I think the only thing I’ve engineered successfully to date is lumpia (an entry just dying to be posted). But I haven’t given up the fight, as proven by this:

Please, don’t stop drooling on my account. I’m right there with you! This, ladies and gentlemen, is what I shall call Chinese Black Chicken. Ah man, it was good. It was ambrosial. It was, without doubt, a winner! I mean, just look at it. Look at that caramelized color. Notice the browns and the reds and the blacks. You’re staring at a work of art. And it was so juicy! I’m going to have to make it all over again right now if I keep going on like this.

Breathe. Focus. Continue.

Chinese Black Chicken is very easy to make. After a little marination, you pretty much let her do her own thing and go on about your business. There’s some extra interaction involved half way through, but other than that this is a perfect meal to cook when you don’t feel like hovering over the stove for half the night. Even the most ardent chef likes to step away from time to time. I’m also sure it would impress anyone you’re trying to impress. Parents, friends, in-laws, love interests. Feel free to let chickie here use her powers of persuasion.

Ingredients:

  • A relatively small whole chicken, 4 lbs depending on how many you want to feed
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 tbs honey
  • 1 tbs sesame oil
  • 1 tbs garlic
  • 1 tbs soy sauce
  • 4 tbs oyster sauce

Whenever handling raw chicken from the store, I always wash it in cold water first. Helps me sleep better. So take your whole chicken and give her a good rinse down. Don’t forget to remove the innards. I discarded mine, but do with them what you will. Pat your chickie dry with some paper towels. Isn’t she a beaut?

Place your chicken in a container or bowl large enough to marinate her in and give her a s&p (that’s salt and pepper) spa treatment, inside and out. Rub, rub, rub! Then mix all other ingredients together in a separate bowl. If you’re trying to take pictures like I was, put the rest of the ingredients on a plate. Or you could just dump them directly on your chicken. Your choice

Now that your marinade has been well photographed, your chickie would appreciate you to get on with the spa treatment. Rub her down real good, taking special care to get some of the marinade inside the cavity as well

This is one happy girl! Let her luxuriate for a few hours. The longer she marinates, the tastier she will become. Buuuuut, I stuck her in the oven after only an hour and a half. It was a lazy day. I didn’t even start the marinade until 3. Oops! Anyway…once you’re ready to roast your bird, preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil (that’s right, a cookie sheet!). Gently, as not to slop marinade all over your kitchen, place your chicken onto the cookie sheet. There is probably some left over sauce in your bowl. Douse her with it. Don’t waste good flavor!

Alright, roast that chicken! After 20 minutes, turn your oven down to 375 degrees and pull your rack out halfway. See all that juice on the bottom of your cookie sheet? Brush it back onto your chicken. This, my friends, is called love. You gotta love your chicken if you want her to love you back. She will dress to impress with a little bit of extra love

Roast your chicken for another 45 minutes. The skin is going to be nice and crispy on the outside yet super juicy on the inside. It’s like magic. Let’s not neglect to dote upon her lovely coloring

I give you a 10! An A++

Do you know what else would impress? A salad with homemade Sesame dressing! I love making my own vinaigrettes. It’s so simple and only takes a couple minutes. Go ahead! Try it for yourself.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/2 sesame oil
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1 tbs minced garlic
  • 1/2 tbs sugar
  • A bit of fresh or powdered ginger

Pour everything into a jar. Shake jar vigorously. Put jar in fridge for a spell. Serve with your greens! I love a good sour, tangy vinaigrette, so I do equal parts oil and vinegar. But make this to your own tastes preferences. Experiment! Just please make sure to taste it before you decide to pour the whole thing on your salad. Also, these measurements make a decent amount of salad dressing so feel free to downsize a wee bit. Note: the chicken tastes quite fabulous dunked in this vinaigrette as well.  Mmmmm

I wish I had more veggies for my salad…

Tijuana


Oh, Costa Rica

Today was one of those rainy days. I live on the east coast and tropical depression Beryl (is that what it’s called) made its presence known. The sky was grey, rain pattered against my window nonstop, and my yard was flooded. Obviously, I decided it was a good idea to stay in. But my day was far from dreary. There are so many wonderful things you can do on a rainy day. For example, you can snuggle in bed with that book you’ve been meaning to finish for over a month now. Or you can curl up on the couch and watch a new movie from Redbox. Best of all, you can take a nice hot shower and then spend the rest of the afternoon walking around the house naked. Rainy days are rad!

(A market in Heredia)

What is my favorite part of rainy days, you ask? Stick-to-your-ribs food! You know what I’m talking about. The kind of food that speaks to your soul. Like chili. Like banana french toast. Like baked ziti. Like arroz con pollo- that’s rice with chicken for those of you unfamiliar. Ah, arroz con pollo! What a relationship the two of us have. You see, a couple years ago I spent part of my summer studying abroad in Costa Rica. Though I had the opportunity to experience some pretty tasty dishes (had the best fish I’ve ever tried), it would be a lie to say that my meals were varied. If I never see gallo pinto again as long as I shall live…I will die most satisfied. Arroz con pollo was a rather prominent guest in my diet that month as well. For the longest time, I’ll admit, I was pretty keen on leaving arroz con pollo in Costa Rica where it belongs. But all this rain today has reminded me of that summer down down south in Central America (June is part of their wet season- it rained every afternoon like clockwork) and arroz con pollo tugged a little on my heart strings

(This is gallo pinto with toast, fruit, and coffee)

Now, the recipe I’m about to share is not authentic arroz con pollo. It’s an easy concoction I whipped up with ingredients I already had on hand. I’m not above using substitutions and taking shortcuts. It makes things a little more interesting!

(My mamatica served some bomb guacamole on the side of her arroz con pollo!)

Ingredients:

  • Skinless, boneless chicken tenderloins
  • Mojo marinade
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 Green bell pepper
  • 1 Red bell pepper
  • 1 Onion
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 2 pks Sazon
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 cups uncooked rice
  • 1 can diced/crushed tomatoes
  • 1 bay leaf

Marinate chicken in Mojo. This step isn’t really necessary. If you like, you can just season your chicken with salt and pepper. But this entry is about using what you have on hand and I just so happened to have some unused mojo in my fridge. So I popped that bad boy open!

Meanwhile, chop bell peppers, onion, and garlic. I cheat and use pre-minced garlic. Saves me a little time and my hands don’t smell for days. Try not to slice your thumb off, which is exactly what I tried to do. Fortunately, I was not successful and a band-aid saved the day

Drizzle olive oil into a deep pan, preferably a dutch oven of sorts, set on medium-high. Toss in your chopped veggies and garlic and listen to them sing! Cook until everything starts to soften

Then add salt, pepper, and the 2 packages of Sazon (which can be found in the International or Mexican aisle of your local grocery store). This is what it looks like

Now add the marinaded chicken, cubed into bite size pieces. If you like, you can precook the chicken and shred it into the pot

Once the chicken looks about halfway cooked, add the can of tomatoes. At this point, you can also add the bay leaf

Pour in the wine and let bubble for a few minutes. Next, add the chicken broth. Bring to a roiling boil. Now add the rice

Finally, turn heat to low. Cover your pot and leave it alone for 25-30 minutes. Now, I know you’re going to be tempted to check on your little pot of gold, but it’s best if you don’t. This is because once you open that lid, you’re going to be tempted to stir everything together. That would be bad. That would be very bad. Stirring will not give you good arroz con pollo. It will give you sticky arroz con pollo- that’s sticky rice with chicken…not quite what we’re going for here. So, step away from the pot, head toward the living room, and watch the latest episode of Girls. Have a glass of some leftover wine while you’re at it!

See?! And you doubted me. Well, go ahead. You can give it a little stir now. Then scoop yourself a bowl and continue your afternoon HBO marathon. Bring on the next rainy day (probably tomorrow)!

Pura Vida!

Tijuana


Cow Tongue

No, this entry isn’t really about cow tongues. I’m not entirely sure that I’d be inclined to try a cow tongue, or any type of tongue for that matter. But today I did notice that I have a slight obsession with tongues. Well, with my own tongue at least. There I was sitting at my computer perusing Facebook for a decent profile pic (is that what it’s called?) to post here, when a pattern in my poses began to emerge. It seems I have a ferocious tendency of poking my tongue out…especially when within close proximity to food. Rather than chuck this up as some weird, freaky habit, I’ve concluded that it is indeed a survival mechanism. I just haven’t figured out what kind of survival mechanism yet…

Look! Here I am sticking my tongue out before making Chicken Fried Steak

Yup, and that’s me holding a turkey. With my tongue out. Needless to say, I know how to keep a dinner party classy

Anyway…besides my tongue obsession, I’ve also recently become obsessed with The Pioneer Woman. I  want her life! Live out in the country? YES! Live on a working ranch? YES! Husband that wears chaps? YES PLEASE! Oh oh pick me, pick me! Wouldn’t that be just divine? (insert longing sigh here). I haven’t been following her blog for very long (didn’t even know she was famous and had her own Foodnetwork show until about a week ago), but I’ve already tested out a few of her recipes. I think the appropriate term might be Pioneer Goddess. Her food is m mm mmm! Tonight I was inspired to make a slightly tweaked version of Marlboro Man’s Second Favorite Sandwich. It just might be my #1

You must please forgive the quality of my photos. My poor camera suffered a tragic accident some time ago and has yet to be replaced. Now I’m left with only the lowly quality of my trustworthy cameraphone. We make do, my friends, we make do!

Alrighty! Let’s start with some ingredients:

  • Chicken breasts, boneless and skinless (mine were also already thin sliced)
  • Lemon Pepper Seasoning (I used Mrs. Dash)
  • Baaaaacooooooooooon (that would be bacon)
  • Colby Jack Cheese (but any cheese of your liking would do, I’m sure)
  • Lemon juice (because I really really love lemon)
  • Pepper (to create our own pepper bacon since all I had was unpepper bacon)
  • Sandwich buns (I bet kaiser rolls would work out better)
  • Basil (I just happened to have some on hand)
  • (Maybe this entry should have been titled “parenthesis”)

(The basil and pepper are not pictured. Oops!)

Cook up the bacon on med-low! My chicken was still slightly frozen, so I had to give it a little bath while the bacon was sizzling away. And yes, I did add my own pepper

Sizzle sizzle sizzle sizzle

Originally, I was only going to cook half the pack…but the temptation to snack was too strong. Measures had to be taken and future breakfasts had to be sacrificed for the greater good of my taste buds. Look! You can kinda see the pepper

This is my dash-ified chicken and leftover bacon grease (hmmm, perhaps breakfast can be saved with biscuits and gravy? Nah, I don’t think so). I didn’t  pound my chicken flat because, frankly, I was a little lazy. Plus my breasts were already thin sliced. That counts, right? Note to self, invest in some wax paper

Pop chicken into slightly bacon-greased pan. I also added lemon juice here. Then some more later. And maybe even a touch more at the end. I’m telling you, I’m a lemon addict!

Can you smell it? Your kitchen has been transformed into heaven. Between the bacon and lemon pepper, I’m not sure which one smells more heavenly. When the time is right, flip chicken over and begin layering with bacon. What a marvelous idea!

Now add cheese and cover until everything is nice and bubbly. I swear my mouth is watering.

Isn’t that the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen? Patience, fellow foodies, almost done!

Assembly time! I tore up some of my basil and put it on my bottom bun.

Like lemon, basil is another great love of mine so I might have sprinkled some more on top, too

Oh, baby! You need to stop whatever it is you’re doing right now and go cook this up. It is the bees knees. The corn was pretty good, too. Nice and fresh!

Thank you Pioneer Woman! Gee, I want her cookbook soooo bad. I really love her step-by-step recipe guides. If only all cookbooks were so helpful, not to mention colorful. Now let’s talk about blogging for a second. I don’t think I like my theme very much. The color is nice and bright, but the page is so narrow. I’ll work on it folks. Just give me time.

Yay for first entry!

Tijuana